John Pagano: Saudi Arabia's Red Sea Project to reshape worker welfare

EXCLUSIVE: The Red Sea Development Co is doing "something different" in terms of worker accomodation, CEO tells CW

John Pagano is CEO of Saudi Arabia's TRSDC.
John Pagano is CEO of Saudi Arabia's TRSDC.

John Pagano, chief executive officer of The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), told Construction Week the developer was focused on creating an environment conducive to the welfare of workers that will build The Red Sea Project, a gigaproject backed by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman-led Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Pagano said the firm was focused on providing "something different" in terms of worker accommodation. 

“We are very much trying to break the business-as-usual case,” he explained, noting that typically, the responsibility of providing worker accommodation falls on contractors, which can sometimes lead to “difficulties with regards to the conditions" that workers are provided. 

“We’ve taken the initiative to actually deliver welfare accommodation so the contractors that will work with us [...] have to use our facilities, and we will set the welfare standards within the accommodation.”

With this in mind, the developer behind The Red Sea Project – a natural archipelago of more than 90 islands spread out across 28,000km2 on Saudi’s west coast – is setting high standards in terms of worker homes, which will include facilities such as gyms, a cinema, and outdoor spaces.

“We said ‘let’s do it ourselves, let’s procure it ourselves, and let’s make sure that we build the right standards’ so that we create an environment that's conducive to the welfare of the workers that are going to be there to deliver this vision,” Pagano said, explaining the strategy. 

“It's not just about building the project. These people are human beings and we need to treat them well.

"We hope that through the actions that are taking, we are going to do something that hasn't been done before – we're certainly trying to set new standards, and then go beyond that.”

Phase 1 of The Red Sea Project is due to open in 2022, and will include ultra-luxury hotels, residential developments, a marina, leisure and entertainment amenities, and additional infrastructure required to support the scheme.

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