Aman Resorts Coming To Saudi Arabia?!

Filed Under: Hotels

Aman Resorts are among my favorite in the world. They have properties in a lot of incredible destinations, with a big focus on nature. Historically I followed the brand blindly, though I feel a bit more lukewarm about them following a recent Aman stay.

Aman has some interesting new properties in the pipeline, many of which aren’t as “off the beaten track.” For example, there are Amans under construction in Kyoto, Cabo, and New York City, all of which I’m very curious about.

A few weeks ago Aman announced one of their most surprising locations yet (and somehow I only saw this announcement now).

Three Aman Resorts Coming To Saudi Arabia

Aman will be opening three resorts in Saudi Arabia in 2023.

This is thanks to a partnership deal with the Royal Commission for AlUla, and this will mark the first Aman properties in the Middle East.

As part of this agreement, Aman will develop three luxury resorts. Design work is expected to start in the coming months, with the first hotel to open in 2023.

Vladislav Doronin, CEO of Aman, said the following:

“With the addition of spectacular AlUla, this takes us to 10 properties situated near or in UNESCO heritage sites, making it a fitting location for our first destination in the Middle East.”

Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammad bin Farhan Al Saud, minister of culture for Saudi Arabia and the governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla, said the following:

“The decision by Aman to open its first resorts in the Middle East in AlUla shows the promise and progress of the vision for AlUla to become a worldwide destination for those seeking unique experiences. This partnership will be the next step in the development of the yet to be discovered masterpiece that is AlUla.”

Would I Visit An Aman In Saudi Arabia?

This is an interesting time for Saudi Arabia. A couple of years back Saudi Arabia wanted to develop a huge international tourist industry, and by 2030 they hoped to welcome 30 million visitors per year (compared to 18 million in 2016, a vast majority of which were visitors on a pilgrimage). They also hoped to create a more “open, moderate Islam,” as leaders described it.

Historically the country has been closed off to non-religious visitors, though they were supposed to start issuing tourist visas as of April 2018. As of now they still aren’t issuing them.

I’m not sure what exactly happened there,  though I suppose between the jailing at the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh and Khashoggi’s death, Saudi Arabia has an uphill battle ahead of them. Even many of us who were previously intrigued by the prospect of visiting Saudi Arabia are put off at this point.

It used to be that I was interested in visiting Saudi Arabia because I think just about everywhere is worth seeing, even if they have laws I strongly disagree with. I also largely refused to draw lines with visiting destinations, since it’s a slippery slope.

Nowadays I’m a bit different. Until things change in Saudi Arabia I’m not interested in visiting (and this isn’t even about gay rights, but things beyond that as well).

That being said, I do imagine that these properties could be beautiful. Saudi Arabia has some stunning landscape from what I’ve heard, and I do love properties near UNESCO sites like this.

But for now I’m not comfortable traveling to Saudi Arabia, no matter how nice of an Aman there is.

How about you — would you travel to Saudi Arabia to stay at an Aman?

  1. Looks like stunning landscape; sparse locale… back to Aman roots. Just not interested in supporting this regime… if one had opened in Jordan as rumored I would visit…..

    Funny is that I haven’t seen any mention of this on Amans website or their own social media….


  2. An expat lady in Riyadh here, which is not a bad place at all for miles & points game, lol !

    Already heard of Aman news here … might work well for high class Arabs/Saudis and expats who have to get their butt seated inside the kingdom somehow. If Aman allows me to swim in bikini outdoor in that heritage setting, I would go. lol

  3. I travelled to Saudi Arabia for the Formula E Race. Everyone asked, oh my god you went to Saudi Arabia! How was it? Was it fascinating? And my talking point is: What was so interesting about the country was how uninteresting it truly was. It’s a really boring country, with nothing to do. We had trouble finding a tour guide, or activities to do. There was zero tourist infrastructure, and overall, it seemed as though they were not too happy to have Westerners roaming about their country. Honestly, I’d wait until the tourism industry is further developed before I’d even considering traveling there.

  4. Oh, don’t forget to mention ongoing Saudization policy in the kingdom’s hospitality industry.

    Actually most interesting in the kingdom are Saudis. Usually lovely people with great sense of humour. It’s quite funny, even sometimes comical to see how things go when good-hearted but unpolished young Saudi are thrown into these hospitality jobs.

  5. If your Saudi business flight in 2016 is anything to go by in terms of service I think these properties might downright turn you off Amans

  6. “Closed off to non-religious visitors.”

    So, you are saying that certain people in my neighborhood, the evangelical Christian, the Mormon and the Hindu and the Orthodox Jew are all very welcome but my atheist neighbor does not qualify for a visa?

  7. Absolutely. I went to Mada’in Saleh in Al-`Ula 10 years ago. It’s the Petra of Saudi Arabia – one of the highlights of Saudi. Nicest hotel at that time was nothing to write home about. So, an Aman would be wonderul.

  8. When I went to Al Ula about five years ago there was only one hotel (the other had burnt down). It was mediocre at best.

    I liked Mada’in Saleh a lot. It’s like an intimate version of Petra. The landscape had some kind of quiet, spiritual power.

    As Charlie says above, it’s not the most stimulating country, and I can’t see hoards of tourists coming in the next few years. They’d need to improve their organizational abilities too.

  9. Sad to see you say you won’t visit Ben “unless things change”. I am sure it is not about human rights in general as you seem to be ok with visiting China , Russia and Turkey.

    Living in Saudi myself I can tell things changed and opened over the past few years in a shocking speed.

    I invite you to visit to see for yourself (as you always say you have to see with your own eyes before you can judge)

  10. Whether you’re old or young, if you’re reading this blog you probably have something that resembles a bucket list. And no matter how many places you’ve been, I can’t imagine a scenario under which this place would make it into the top 50 of anyone’s list.

  11. Your photos are of Jordan and Turkey…not of Saudi Arabia at all. There’s not a single photo of a “Saudi tourist site” anywhere on this post. Pretty damn misleading.

  12. @AS
    You’re wrong! Although the first pictures bear a resemblance to Petra they are actually of Madain Saleh (Saudi Arabia) and the pictures with balloons, despite resembling Cappadocia are from the Balloon Festival in Al Ula (Saudi Arabia). So no it is in no way misleading. I recommend you do your research first in the future 😉

  13. Glad Aman is going back to its roots… ie resort in the middle of nowhere but have an interesting backdrop. I wouldn’t mind going to this resort when it’s done…. seems like an interesting scenery. I wish Aman would open shop at places like Mongolia, Lhasa, Bagan etc.. I would be totally game!

  14. Despite the obvious problems with the Saudi regime, it is great to see Aman going back to their routes. These landscapes look absolutely marvellous. Very reminiscent of Amangiri, crossed with Cappadocia, Turkey and Jordan! I’ll agree with @Kevin that Aman should open in Mongolia or Tibet. I wish we actually saw progress on the quietly announced Aman Costa Rica, too.
    I found it interesting you didn’t do a writeup about Aman Costa Rica, @Lucky

  15. “What was so interesting about the country was how uninteresting it truly was. It’s a really boring country, with nothing to do.”
    Saudia Arabia is basically a land for Religious Tourism if you are a Muslim.
    And i can see Aman resorts being filled with wealthy Muslim tourists from all over the world.

  16. I’m writing this while sitting on the shore front in Jeddah. As a repeat business visitor to Saudi Arabia, I would not have imagined ever coming here for tourism.

    Things are changing though, and probably more rapidly than many people would expect. The new visa process was my first positive surprise this time, followed by the pleasant new integration of women in the workplace and in society in general. Certainly there are still many changes and further improvements to come.

    Aman’s roots had initially been focused a destination’s natural beauty and on the cultural discovery of the less-trodden path.

    With this ethos in mind, openness is required, and I doubt that by visiting a small Aman you’d be supporting the regime more than what you are doing already everyday by buying the fuel that drives our daily lives (and travel)…

    I’m personally excited about this news and wish the Amans a lot of success (there certainly will be challenges).

    For Saudi Arabia, I hope they can focus on creating a culturally rich tourism offer that highlights the positive aspects of their heritage, and not fall down the trap of following some of their neighbours fake tourist attractions.

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