Tourist visas to be introduced

Updated 14 January 2014
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Tourist visas to be introduced

Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry is set to receive a shot in the arm following the government’s decision to issue tourist visas for the first time to woo foreigners intending to visit its historical sites.
The Council of Ministers has entrusted the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) with the task of issuing tourist visas on the basis of certain regulations approved by the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs.
The new tourism law aims at bringing about a qualitative improvement in the industry, which is expected to play a significant role in strengthening the economy besides creating thousands of jobs for Saudis.
“This is a very good move,” said Abdelelah Saaty, dean of the College of Business in Rabigh, while praising the efforts of the SCTA chief Prince Sultan bin Salman to boost domestic tourism. Saaty, however, pointed out that a lot more needs to be done to further strengthen the industry in terms of improving services, building facilities such as hotels and motels and training Saudis on how to handle foreign tourists.
“We should make Saudi Arabia a tourist-friendly country and people should feel it right from their arrival at the airport,” Saaty told Arab News. “We should also establish excellent service stations along our highways.”
He said most foreigners are interested in visiting historical sites and antiquities in the Kingdom. “I am happy to see that the SCTA is working to develop the historical region of Jeddah, which is one of the best tourist attractions in the city. Recently, I had taken a group of American academics to the region and they were highly impressed by it,” he said.
The new law stipulates that tourist areas are protected as public property and cannot be owned privately. It bans operators from participating in the sector without license. The SCTA has the power to penalize those who break the law, imposing fines up to SR 100,000 and cancelation of licenses.


Saudi youths construct historic market for Souq Okaz

Updated 2 min 27 sec ago
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Saudi youths construct historic market for Souq Okaz

RIYADH: A group of Saudi youths has helped to build a giant market for the latest session of Souq Okaz, one of the most famous historical attractions of its kind in the Arabian Peninsula.

A total of 67 young men and women took part in the construction of the historic market area extending over 41,000 square meters, as part of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage’s (SCTH) drive to support youth employment and skills in the Kingdom.

The work, completed over 35 days at the 13th session of Souq Okaz, was carried out with the assistance of 247 on-site workers of different nationalities.

The team participated in various roles including art, engineering, design, carpentry and blacksmithing, plumbing and electrics.

Souk Okaz has 200 shops selling pottery, silverware, glassware, wall arts and historical manuscripts, as well as textiles, handicrafts and leather goods. The market also includes restaurants and cafes.

SCTH is working with partners to maintain and improve the services and facilities at Okaz Souq for the new season of unique events and programs.