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Saudi Arabia Red Sea Project: Who is on the global advisory board?


The twelve names were released for the Red Sea Project advisory board. Among them are known personalities in the global travel and tourism industry.

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Saudi Arabia has very big plans for the development of the Kingdom’s luxury travel and tourism industry, and the newly found Red Sea Development Company owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund invited a global team of travel and tourism leaders to join the advisory board for this billion dollar project. Many see this as an indication for Saudi Arabia to open up to western tourists.

The newly formed “global advisory board” is made up by twelve international experts in business, tourism, sustainability, and environment.

The advisory board will help set the agenda and plan for Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Project, a vast tourist development aimed at opening the economy, located off the kingdom’s western coast. The Red Sea Project is part of an ambitious plan to create an ultra-luxury tourism destination for nature, adventure, wellness, and culture, as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

John Pagano, CEO of the Red Sea Development Co that seeking the assistance of the top consultants to guide the company is an important factor to execute this project on global standards.

The advisory board members will carry out multifunctional roles when working with the company’s Board of Directors and its executive team and will advise the company’s Board of Directors, which is led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The board members have initially met in New York earlier in March to express their initial visions on the project. Their second meeting was in Saudi Arabia in July during which the team visited the project, its unique land, and marine ecosystems, and presented their views on the development and sustainability strategies of the project.

The members of the Advisory Board are:

Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group – Sir Richard is a serial entrepreneur known for his ambitious forays with the Virgin Group, creating eight different billion-dollar companies in eight different sectors. Sir Richard’s experiences building Virgin Hotels, Virgin Holidays, Virgin Limited Edition, and Virgin Airways will inform the strategic implementation of many aspects of The Red Sea Project.

Steve Case, Chairman and CEO, Revolution – As the CEO of Revolution, an investment firm dedicated to building “built to last” businesses, Case has established a legacy for creating some of the strongest businesses in history. He revolutionized the Internet through AOL, and negotiated the largest merger in business history. Case will work with The Red Sea Project’s executive team to bring transformative business management to the project.

Philippe Cousteau Jr., Co-Founder and President, EarthEcho International – Cousteau Jr. is a multi Emmy-nominated TV host, author, speaker and social entrepreneur. He advises on best practices for social and environmental sustainable development and through his non-profit, EarthEcho International, prepares the next generation to solve the environmental challenges the world faces.

Carlos Duarte, Professor, Red Sea Research Center – Duarte’s leadership in biological oceanography and marine ecology will serve to inform conservation at utmost scientific level. His Red Sea expertise, and versatility as a world-leading marine ecologist, makes him a core part of the environmental protection initiative behind The Red Sea Project.

J. Carl Ganter, CEO, Vector Center — Ganter is an expert on water security who focuses on the intersections and impacts of changing water, food, and energy resources globally. His experience with Vector Center’s data analysis, contextualization, and reporting will help guide The Red Sea Project’s leadership on risk identification and mitigation, investment, and environmental and sustainability initiatives.

Paul Holthus, Founder, President, and CEO, World Ocean Council – At the World Ocean Council, Holthus is responsible for a global multi-industry leadership alliance blending private sector interests and market forces to develop practical solutions for achieving ocean sustainability. Holthus will advise on best practices in business-led marine environmental management and sustainable development.

Aradhana Khowala, CEO & Founder, Aptamind Partners – Khowala’s accomplishments in travel, tourism and hospitality will lend valuable insight into building and scaling the project. Her appreciation for tourism as a force of good will help bring together luxury hospitality and environmental conservation together with community engagement for The Red Sea Project.

Sven-Olof Lindblad, CEO, Lindblad Expeditions – Lindblad’s experience in building world-class expeditions, particularly marine-focused trips aboard intimate ships, is an excellent resource for The Red Sea Project. Lindblad’s work with National Geographic and his understanding of cultural nuance in remote regions of the world will help inform the project’s vision, development planning and guest experiences.

William McDonough, Founder, William McDonough and Partners – McDonough brings a wealth of experience relating to environmental design and sustainable development. McDonough is a leading environmental thought leader of our time, the co-author of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, and a strategic advisor to many of the world’s largest firms. He brings invaluable perspective to all environmental facets of the project.

Frits Dirk van Paasschen, Senior Advisor, TPG Capital – Investment and business expert, van Paaschen has a strong understanding of consumers’ mindset, industry disruption and sustainability. His experience as the former CEO of Starwood Hotels and in the C-suite of various Fortune 500 companies will provide important counsel to The Red Sea Project.

Vijay Poonoosamy, Director of International and Public Affairs, QI Group – Poonoosamy is also President of the Hermes Air Transport Organisation. He started his career as an Aviation Lawyer in London, was the Managing Director of Air Mauritius, the Executive Chairman of Airports of Mauritius and the Vice President International and Public Affairs of the Etihad Aviation Group. He has served on the Board of Directors of the US Travel Association, the Board of Governors of the International Aviation Club and as Chairman of IATA’s Industry Affairs Committee. Poonoosamy will be vital for planning transportation to the Red Sea.

Sonu Shivdasani, CEO and Joint Creative Director, Soneva – Often referred to as the founder of Six Senses, Shivdasani is an experienced hotelier who has built and prepared some of the most luxurious and environmentally pioneering hotels in the world. Shivdasani’s work in addressing environmental challenges for imaginative projects will provide valuable counsel to The Red Sea Project to steer it in an environmentally conscious direction.

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.