Saudi Arabia’s first luxury train should start operations by the end of 2025, state-owned railway company Saudi Arabia Railways (SAR) has announced.
SAR and Italian hospitality company Arsenale Group have recently signed a 200 million Saudi riyals (almost €50 million) deal for the launch of the “Dream of the Desert”, a luxury train that will cross the Arabian desert from Riyadh to Al Qurayat, on the northern border of the country.
“The initial production phases of the Dream of the Desert carriages in Italy have recently commenced, and we can’t wait for the debut of our first train in the kingdom in the coming years”, Paolo Barletta, CEO of Arsenale, said in a statement.
The 40-cabin trains are being built in Italy, “fully customized and inspired by Saudi style and tradition” and will be delivered to the Middle Eastern Kingdom in the summer of 2025, with he first passenger rides scheduled for November 2025 and tickets supposedly going on sale at the end of the year. Each train will have a capacity of maximum 80 passengers and they will run a 1,300-kilometre-long course, guests being able to choose between spending one or two nights aboard.
“This agreement is one of the initiatives of the National Strategy for Transport and Logistics Services to improve the quality of life and support leading national strategies”, said Bashar Al-Malik, CEO of SAR, adding that the luxury train will also add an important tourism and entertainment option to the list of services the country is offering.
Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has been increasingly invested in tourism, part of Crown Prince and de facto ruler of the country, Mohammed bin Salman’s “Vision 2030”, a plan to diversify the country’s economy from oil by attracting business and tourism. Among other endeavours of the Saudi Vision, the country launched a new national airline in March 2023, Riyadh Air, with the ambition of tripling its air traffic to 330 million passengers by the end of the decade. Riyadh is also being transformed with several mega projects, all due for completion by 2030, when the capital will be showcasing the fruit of the Vision at the World Expo 2030.