SCTH president: Saudi Arabia oriented to promote, enhance tourism

SCTH President Prince Sultan bin Salman, center, attends the 22nd session of the General Assembly of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Chengdu, China, on Wednesday. (SPA)
Updated 15 September 2017
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SCTH president: Saudi Arabia oriented to promote, enhance tourism

CHENGDU, China: Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), stressed the importance of tourism and the need to empower it to support and enhance the economy and create more job opportunities.
This came during a speech delivered on Wednesday by Prince Sultan at the opening of the 22nd session of the General Assembly of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Chengdu, China.
He also pointed out that Saudi Arabia has worked with UNWTO to achieve the largest growth of the tourism sector.
“Under the direction of King Salman, Saudi Arabia is moving with all its power to promote, empower and support tourism at all levels to continue more successes and leaps that are in line with the aspirations of citizens, residents and visitors of the Kingdom,” the prince added.
He also pointed out that “tourism is the second sector in terms of numbers that provide job opportunities for Saudi citizens.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping explained the importance of supporting tourism in the world because it is an important channel for the exchange of knowledge and cultures among countries, economic development and job creation.
“The incoming tourism to China accounts for 10 percent of the local economy as 95 million people visit the country per year. China comes in fourth place at the international level.”
He added that the volume of spending on domestic tourism reaches more than $600 billion and that China is working at full capacity to further develop tourism because of its strength in providing real employment opportunities for citizens.
“The best way to develop the economy is through the empowerment of tourism and removal of obstacles it faces in various fields, and encouraging people to travel and enjoy the world,” he said in a speech delivered by his deputy prime minister.
The Chinese president stated that tourism is a job for all. He called for the mutual opening of doors and announced China’s desire to work with all countries to develop solutions for travel visas.
“Fifty-eight percent of passengers annually get visas; therefore, it is necessary to facilitate and improve procedures bilaterally with countries so that tourism can perform its role,” he said.
The secretary-general of the WTO, Taleb Rifai, cited the need to promote international tourism and support travel. He also said that 1.2 billion people travel annually and expected that the number will reach 1.8 billion people in 2030.
The General Assembly of the WTO, at its 22nd session, is the largest assembly to be held in the history of the UNWTO, with some 1,100 officials and 75 ministers representing more than 132 countries.
Bahrain and Egypt have been elected members of the executive council for the Middle East region along with Saudi Arabia, which is already a member of the council.


World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

A Saudi woman and her friends celebrate her first time driving on a main street of Alkhobar city in eastern Saudi Arabia on her way to Bahrain on June 24, 2018. (AFP / HUSSAIN RADWAN)
Updated 25 June 2018
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World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

  • As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips
  • The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet 

JEDDAH: The world awoke on Sunday to images and video footage many thought they would never see — newly empowered Saudi women taking the wheel and driving their cars.

As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-time drivers.

The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet.

“I hope doing so on the day when women can drive on the roads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shows what you can do if you have the passion and the spirit to dream,” she said.

In a tribute to Saudi female drivers, the Lebanese soprano Hiba Tawaji released a special video of a song she performed live in Riyadh at a concert last December “Today women in Saudi Arabia can legally drive their cars,” she said. “Congratulations on this achievement, this one’s for you!”

Back home in Saudi Arabia, the atmosphere was euphoric. “It’s a beautiful day,” businesswoman Samah Algosaibi said as she cruised around the city of Alkhobar. 

“Today we are here,” she said from the driver’s seat. “Yesterday we sat there,” she said, pointing to the back.

“I feel proud, I feel dignified and I feel liberated,” said Saudi Shoura Council member Lina Almaeena, one of the first women to drive in the Kingdom.

She told Arab News that the event was changing her life by “facilitating it, making it more comfortable, making it more pleasant, and making it more stress-free.”

Almaeena urged all drivers to follow the traffic and road safety rules. “What’s making me anxious is the misconduct of a lot of the drivers, the male drivers. Unfortunately they’re not as disciplined as they should be. Simple things such as changing lanes and using your signals — this is making me anxious.

“But I’m confident: I’ve driven all around the world when I travel, especially when I’m familiar with the area. It’s really mainly how to be a defensive driver because you have to be.”