A memorandum of understanding for the Dream of the Desert luxury train project was signed at the Saudi Tourism Forum in Riyadh.

SAUDI ARABIA: A Dream of the Desert five-star luxury cruise train service on the North South Railway from Riyadh to Al Qurayyat on the border with Jordan is planned to launch in 2025.

A memorandum of understanding for the project was signed at the Saudi Tourism Forum in Riyadh on March 15 by CEO of Saudi Arabia Railways Bashar Al Malik and Paolo Barletta, CEO of Italian high-end hospitality company Arsenale which is working with Accor to launch Orient Express La Dolce Vita slow travel cruise trains in Italy next year.

Production of the Dream of the Desert train is to begin this year, using Z1 coaches similar to those used for the Italian project.

The work will be undertaken in Puglia and Sicily. The train will have 40 cabins, with the styling inspired by Saudi heritage, while the ‘craftsmanship, quality of onboard services, interior design and know-how’ will be ‘proudly Italian’.

SAR will provide traction and maintenance services, replicating the partnership between Arsenale and Italy’s FS Group.

Al Malik said he train would ‘enrich the tourist experience in Saudi Arabia’, offering a luxurious option for local and international tourists.

Barletta said the project would ‘promote the discovery of a magical and exciting territory’.

He said ’rail cruising is the future of tourism and Arsenale wants to make it available in the world’s most beautiful places, introducing this fascinating and sustainable new way of travelling.

‘We are glad to say that Saudi Arabia is the first country outside of Europe in which we are bringing our luxury train expertise. This partnership proves that there are no limits to passion and no barriers capable of stopping the will to go beyond the imaginary.’