As a developer, people know The Red Sea Development Co. for its unique hospitality projects, strong sustainability messages and commitment to all aspects of Vision 2030.
But for us, the concept of development goes far beyond the “bricks and mortar” of our physical buildings. As a company established by the Public Investment Fund, our vision of development is not simply creating real estate value but economic, academic and career opportunities across the community.
A great example of this is how TRSDC approaches the provision of mobility across its projects. While Riyadh’s streets may not yet be full of Tesla and Taycan e-cars, prominent Saudi business leaders have invested in the technology for years, from Abdul Latif Jameel’s shareholding in Rivian to the new Lucid factory in KAEC.
In the same vein, as our CEO’s statement since our inception was to be a net-zero project, all our vehicles, vessels and planes must be fueled as sustainably as possible.
Is it simply about buying electric cars, buses and boats? While all our electricity will come from our solar farm, it is not the sole source we are investing in.
Drawing inspiration from investments by Saudi Aramco in green hydrogen, we have conducted feasibility studies with our partners to outline an approach for clean-fuel transport across our projects.
More than simply supplying a zero-polluting transportation network, we are stimulating a new requirement for hundreds of skilled technicians, analysts, engineers and programmers to manage, service, develop and, in the future, build new fuel energy systems.
A natural progression of the Kingdom’s steady investment in its youth education in technology and engineering over the past decades, companies such as TRSDC are placing themselves as facilitators for a new generation of entrepreneurial companies to supply and drive domestic demand.
While not a new invention, hydrogen as a fuel and electricity as a driver of clean mobility are turning the tables on traditional market leaders and embracing technology over tradition, which opens opportunities for Saudi entrepreneurs to make their mark.
Distribution or last-mile delivery is always the make-or-break of any product, and fuels are no exception. For example, the adoption of electric cars in Europe and the US has been facilitated by increased investment in charging stations in popular parking areas, easing ownership challenges.
Giga-projects like those in TRSDC’s portfolio also address this in pioneering hydrogen fueling stations for our future fleets. By absorbing the risk of new adopters to ensure our adherence to our founding principles, it lays the foundations for easier implementation of future fuel availability throughout the Kingdom as we have provided test bed applications.
I am not an engineer, rocket scientist or programmer, so how am I involved in these new technologies? Tasked with providing the most sustainable marine transport system possible, our mobility team has spent years researching, planning and analyzing the best options across all types of boats to transport people and products across all our coastal projects.
Following extensive international and domestic engagement with companies, the support gained from existing business owners in the hydrogen sector led us to develop our fleet of hydrogen-powered vessels with the aim of their ultimate construction and fit-out in the Kingdom.
Why import from overseas when by spending a bit more time in developing, we can create business opportunities for Saudi companies and graduates to play a part in the regeneration of the Red Sea coast.
And for me, this is the true aim of our development vision: To create new tourist and hospitality destinations to, in parallel, scale up the Kingdom’s wealth of talent and entrepreneurial spirit to decouple it from overseas or regional imports reliance across all sectors.
I see this as a very exciting time for fuel technology and the Kingdom. But it is not by chance. Businesses within the Kingdom have been innovating and using many different fuel technologies for years, driven by the need to innovate to provide power and water in off-grid areas.
And this now allows projects such as TRSDC to capitalize on the existing technology pool to embark on integration with new mobility and lifestyle concepts confidently.
The ability of TRSDC to confidently innovate and invest in its new fleet of hydrogen-powered commuter ferries and electric water taxis, knowing that both the fuel and technology maintenance can be achieved within the Kingdom, is made possible by the vision and direction of the country.
While innovating and pioneering are great, it is also comforting not to be alone in our values. TRSDC can contribute to Vision 2030 through its regenerative tourist destinations and by supporting the Kingdom as it lays the foundations for a new energy supply, preserving its status as a world leader in energy well beyond oil.
• Richard Haws is the director of Marine at The Red Sea Development Company.