Saudi Arabia mobile bookings for air travel up 116% in 2017

Mobile platforms were popular for last-minute travel bookings. (Shutterstock)
Updated 20 March 2018

Saudi Arabia mobile bookings for air travel up 116% in 2017

DUBAI: Mobile bookings for air travel rose a hefty 116 percent in Saudi Arabia in 2017, although desktop remained the dominant platform in the wider region for purchasing flight tickets, travel company Cleartrip said in its 2017 Travel Insights Report.
Among the major cities in the region, Riyadh had the highest rate of mobile bookings at 32 percent of all transactions there, with Jeddah close by at 31 percent, the report said. Mobile bookings in the Kingdom also comprised almost a third of all ticket purchases last year, Cleartrip added.
The 2017 Travel Insights Report also noted that the majority of bookings in the region — and Saudi Arabia in particular — were usually made a week prior to travel, although the report noted that mobile platforms were popular for last-minute travel bookings.
“Interestingly, the findings showed that there is a clear correlation between the number of travelers per ticket and the platform used for booking,” Cleartrip said. The report consolidated proprietary information from Cleartrip as well as data from the company’s more than 400 partner airlines.
“We closely monitor the new and dominant trends in the market to inform our business and product decisions and the 2017 Travel Insights Report is a natural outcome of our intense focus on understanding and solving customers’ needs,” said Stuart Crighton, the founder and chief executive of Cleartrip.
Dubai was the top destination for travelers in the region last year, followed by Sharjah, Manila and Abu Dhabi. The Armenian capital Yerevan meanwhile was the most trending destination for 2017, with bookings posting a whopping 498 percent rise over the previous year, followed by Georgia’s Tbilisi and Nepal’s Katmandu with both destinations recording twofold increases in online bookings.
Yerevan and Tbilisi have been heavily promoted as affordable travel and tourism alternatives and are extremely popular destinations, particularly for individuals in the UAE who need to go on a visa run to renew their stay in the Emirate.

Cirque du Soleil in Saudi Arabia: The perfect tribute to a rich culture

Updated 25 September 2018

Cirque du Soleil in Saudi Arabia: The perfect tribute to a rich culture

  • Cirque du Soleil created a spectacular show in Riyadh
  • They paid tribute to Saudi culture and heritage

RIYADH: The circus — a place that is almost synonymous with joy and delight. Since time immemorial, circuses have been places of celebration and glee, and few as much as the premier name in the industry: Cirque du Soleil.

The show has had a devoted fan in me since 2006, when I attended a performance of their production “Quidam” and my definition of the word “circus” was turned upside-down. Their unique approach to art, performance, costumes and music has secured their status as a household name and a benchmark for all other circus shows to be measured against.

On Sunday night, Saudi Arabia’s National Day, the circus brought their incredible acrobatics to Riyadh’s King Fahad Stadium and it turned out to be a night to remember.

Prior to the event, Cirque’s Vice President of Creation Daniel Fortin offered little in the way of spoilers but hinted that we would see something the likes of which we never had before. With the promises of exclusive new acts, music, costumes and stage tricks piquing my excitement, I joined a throng of green-and white-clad spectators flooding the stadium. Performing to a sold-out crowd, the show kicked off at exactly 8.30 p.m. and the magic truly began.

Barely five minutes into the show, something stole over me as I settled into the rhythm of the music, something I saw flickering over the faces of those in the crowd around me: Recognition. We were seeing ourselves, our identity, echoed back at us, but with a twist. We saw ourselves through someone else’s eyes — someone respectful and admiring.

As a Saudi youth today, it has become an unfortunately common occurrence to face negativity from various outsiders, born of ignorance or fear. It has become dreary and repetitive to have to continually defend my people and my culture from those who have no wish to understand us.

But at this show? I saw my country once more through the eyes of an outsider, but this time, it was different. I saw my culture and my heritage lauded, celebrated, delicately fused with that tangible Cirque du Soleil flair. The attention to detail was careful, almost loving, but also daring and outlandish. It was a glorious fusion of classic Saudi aesthetics with the ethereal, bizarre beauty of Cirque du Soleil.

The symbolism was not always obvious, sometimes it was subtle, constrained to the beat of a drum or hidden in a snatch of song. Other times, it was blatant and bold, in the sloping hump of an elegantly clumsy camel costume, or the billowing of the Bedouin Big Top in the gentle breeze. And yet, unmistakeably, I felt the Saudi influences in every note of the performance. It felt like an homage, and yet it did nothing to diminish its own identity. It remained unquestionably a Cirque du Soleil performance, only below the usual circus frippery, there was a ribbon of something else that lay coiled beneath the surface. Something bright, vibrant green. Saudi green.

The spectacle rounded off with an astonishing display of fireworks, so plentiful that for a moment, the sky glowed bright as day. To me, each one felt like a promise fulfilled. A dream achieved. A miracle witnessed. Here, on my own home soil, it was the perfect tribute to a rich and vivid culture.