Established in 1963 from an initiative by Prince Karim Aga Khan, head of the Ismailis, the Costa Smeralda extends over an area of 2400 hectares in the north-east of Sardinia, and falls almost entirely under the jurisdiction of the municipal territory of Arzachena (the remaining part belonging to Olbia). Protected by a registered trademark, the Costa Smeralda borders with numerous prestigious tourist locations such as Porto Rotondo (a village created by the Venetian Counts, Luigino and Nicolò donà dalle Rose), Poltu Quatu, Baja Sardinia and Cannigione.
Extending over a stretch of coastline of twenty kilometres, the Costa Smeralda is characterised by the presence of pristine beaches and numerous islands including Cappuccini, Bisce, Li Nibani, Mortorio, Le Camere, Soffi and the Maddalena archipelago. The heart of the Costa Smeralda is Porto Cervo (in the local Galluran dialect “Monti di Mola”), but other places like Romazzino, Capriccioli, Cala di Volpe, Golfo Pevero, Pantogia and Liscia di Vacca are well known and highly appreciated. A Historic symbol of Porto Cervo, is the Stella Maris church, built in the nineteen sixties by architect Michele Busiri Vici, and overlooks the new Marina and Monte Moro, with a style that fits perfectly with the surrounding architecture.
In 2012 the holding property of the Costa Smeralda, including the extra-luxury hotels Pitrizza, Cala di Volpe, Romazzino, Cervo, Pevero and Tennis Club were transferred by US financier Tom Barrack to the Emir of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (who operates the sovereign fund of Qatar) for the sum of 750 million euros. The Arab state has recently acquired 49% of the capital of Meridiana, the airline founded by the Aga Khan, based in Olbia, at the Costa Smeralda airport. The Sate of Qatar is currently building the so called Mater Olbia, a medical clinic and a research centre of absolute excellence in the south of the city and a short distance from the airport.