Tourism boost for Madinah, hub of Islamic and historical sites

People enjoy the performance of a horse rider at a recent event in Madinah. (AN photo)
Updated 06 February 2018

Tourism boost for Madinah, hub of Islamic and historical sites

MADINAH: Big steps are being taken to attract more visitors to Madinah, one of Saudi Arabia’s most important tourist regions. It has many Islamic and historical sites, most of them linked with the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
They include historical mosques and the locations of battles. Madinah was the capital of Islamic culture in 2013 and the capital of Islamic tourism in 2017, and it witnessed tremendous progress in the tourism sector.
Khalid bin Hussein Al-Shahrani, director general of the Madinah branch of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), told Arab News: “Madinah is witnessing continuous activity in the tourism sector thanks to the support and guidance of Prince Faisal bin Salman, governor of Madinah Region and chairman of the Tourism Development Council in the region.
“Madinah is considered one of the pillars of the National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020 and Vision 2030. Therefore, the Tourism Development Board seeks to revitalize tourism through many steps, including the development of facilities and service sites in addition to the preparation of the tourist accommodation sector which reached 565 facilities in Madinah area, as well as packages of activities and entertainment programs.”
The region will implement a number of investment projects that will contribute to the revitalization of tourism, providing revenue and more job opportunities in this vital sector, said Al-Shahrani.
He said Madinah includes 173 licensed travel and tourism agencies, and the SCTH is to license 55 tour operators and eight offices for booking tourist accommodation. The number of accredited tourist guides in the SCTH in Madinah has reached 63.
Shahrani also noted that Madinah runs tourist buses, which cover historical, heritage and tourist sites in the region. This project was launched in conjunction with the coronation of Madinah as the capital of Islamic tourism for the year 2017.

Saudi Arabia to release 1,000 Ethiopian prisoners

Ethiopian immigrants returning from Saudi Arabia arrive at Addis Ababa's Bole International Airport in this December 10, 2013 photo. Hundreds of thousands of undocumented Ethiopians were sent home in 2013 but they have apparently been replaced by new arrivals in the succeeding years. (AFP file photo)
Updated 20 May 2018

Saudi Arabia to release 1,000 Ethiopian prisoners

  • Hundreds of thousands of undocumented Ethiopian migrants were repatriated from Saudi Arabia in 2013.
  • Officials in Riyadh are in the process of deporting more than 500,000 Ethiopian migrants this year.

ADDIS ABABA: Saudi Arabia has agreed to release 1,000 Ethiopian nationals who have been in prison in the Gulf state for a variety of offenses, Ethiopian state-affiliated media said on Saturday.

The decision was made following a request by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was in Riyadh on an official visit this week, Fana Broadcasting Corporation reported.

The agency said among the detainees were 100 women. It did not disclose what the charges were. Hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian nationals live in the Gulf region, mostly in Saudi Arabia.

Officials in Riyadh are in the process of deporting more than 500,000 undocumented Ethiopian migrants.

So far, 160,000 have arrived back in the Horn of Africa country.

During his recent visit to Riyadh, Ahmed met with leaders of Ethiopian community and discussed setting up a strong partnership between the government and the community to address challenges they are facing.

The trip is his first outside Africa after three visits to neighbouring countries. The East African nation secured thousands of exit visas for its nationals and flew them back home.

Established diplomatic relations in 1948, Saudi Arabia is among the first Arab countries to open embassy in Addis Ababa.