Recently Foster + Partners shared pictures of their upcoming design, the Saudi Arabian Hotel in Sand Dunes as a component of The Red Sea Project Tourist Development on the western shore of the country. Set to be worked around 100 kilometers northeast of the town of Umluj, a seashore town on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast, the hotel complex will be surrounded by a far-off desert scene. The project is one of two inland hotels being constructed as a feature of The Red Sea Project, which will see a chain of around 90 uninhabited islands in the Red Sea formed into a tourist resort.

“As an architect, you design for the present, with an awareness of the past for a future which is essentially unknown”

Norman Foster

Saudi Arabian Hotel in Sand Dunes designed by Foster + Partners - Sheet1
Saudi Arabian Hotel-Community buildings topped with umbrella-like forms ©Foster+Partners

Name of the project: Southern Dunes
Location: Saudi Arabia
Architect: Foster + Partners
Year of completion: 2022

Saudi Arabian Hotel in Sand Dunes designed by Foster + Partners - Sheet7
Saudi Arabian Hotel-40 Villas shelter made of wavy timber roofs. ©Foster+Partners

Named Southern Dunes, the Foster + Partners-planned hotel will contain 40 villas protected by asymmetrical wood rooftops. The Saudi Arabian Hotel villas will be organized in two lines to take advantage of the perspective on the surrounding dunes. Every villa will be covered by a wooden wavy rooftop. Alongside the villas, the development will contain gathering structures, a spa, a huge pool, and a few cafés. Staff convenience for 700 employees is likewise being built as a feature of the project. 

Although few insights concerning the hotel have been delivered, visualizations show villas with wavy wood rooftops finished off with fabric upheld on timber frames. In contrast with the angled form of the villas, the public structures and spaces are shielded by multiple bent umbrella-like structures supported by timber sections. Public structures will be topped off with umbrella-like structures.

Saudi Arabian Hotel in Sand Dunes designed by Foster + Partners - Sheet2
Saudi Arabian Hotel-Villas shelter made of wavy timber roofs. ©Foster+Partners

Foster + Partners designed the Saudi Arabian Hotel to be fabricated utilizing materials that are suitable for the hotel’s desert area to reduce its reliance on counterfeit cooling. “From our work previously in the desert, one of the most important things is to avoid using what we call high thermal mass materials,” said Gerard Evenden, head of the studio at Foster + Partners. If stone or concrete are used in the desert, the issue is that over time it warms up and it turns into a thermal mass. “They radiate heat and they hold the heat. And because in the desert they are being baked every day, they never get cooled,” he continued. 

This implies that to reduce temperatures you need to pump in the systems to bring down temperatures inside these structures because these structures are simply getting hotter and more sizzling.

Saudi Arabian Hotel in Sand Dunes designed by Foster + Partners - Sheet4
Saudi Arabian Hotel-Elevation of the Villa of the hotel with asymmetrical wooden roof ©Foster+Partners

The structures will be lightweight constructions. The studio designed the structure for the hotel to be lightweight and intends to create components offsite to accelerate the construction process. 

“So the physical makeup of your buildings needs to be lightweight. Lightweight materials. Simple materials that construct together” said Evenden. “They can then be transported as finished items. The more transportable finished items we can bring, the better,” he proceeded. That will lead to not only exclusive to quick responsive structures yet will likewise prompt amazing energy-effective development.

Designed as part of the first phase of The Red Sea Project, the Southern Dunes hotel is set to open in 2022. Foster + Partners has also designed the Coral Bloom Resort on Shurayrah Island, which mimics the colors and shapes of coral reefs native to the area.

Saudi Arabian Hotel-Community buildings topped with umbrella-like forms ©Foster+Partners

The Red Sea Project – being created over 28,000 sqm of pristine grounds and waters along Saudi Arabia’s west coast – is on target to invite its first visitors before the end of 2022, with the launch of the international air terminal and a couple of inns. Each of the 16 hotels, part of Phase I will be active by end of 2023. 

Upon completion in 2030, the objective will include 50 resorts, presenting up to 8,000 rooms and more than 1,000 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland locales. Tourists to this location can likewise absorb the lavishness of extravagance marinas, greens, golf courses, and recreation offices, clearing desert ridges, mountain ravines, torpid volcanoes, and old culture and heritage sites.

Saudi Arabian Hotel in Sand Dunes designed by Foster + Partners - Sheet3
Saudi Arabian Hotel-Internal site, public spaces sheltered with umbrella-like forms ©Foster+Partners

It is one of several projects designed by Foster + Partners as a feature of the tourist development, which its makers are charging as the “world’s most ambitious tourist advancement”. The studio has designed a ring-formed hotel on stilts and is likewise transforming the dolphin-molded island of Shurayrah into a vacation resort. 

Foster + Partners lately finished four rapid rail line stations in the Saudi Arabian urban cities of Mecca, Medina, Jeddah, and King Abdullah Economic City – one of a few gigantic foundation projects presently being embraced in the country. The studio is likewise dealing with the plan of a completely automated megacity in Saudi Arabia called ‘Neom’, in spite of the fact that its designer British architect Norman Foster briefly suspended himself from the project advisory board because of the death of a journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2019. Another significant advancement in the nation will see the development of a 170-kilometer-long linear city called “The Line”.


A highly motivated architecture student, environmentalist, reader & an energetic person, Vibhuti Bhambri is interested in various sustainable, historical, traditional and economical aspects of architecture, curious to learn, research and spread this knowledge via blogs and writings. Aiming to use knowledge and experience in day to day life.