Saudi tourists beat the ‘Trump slump’

Saudi visitor numbers grew by 4 percent from 276,000 in 2014 to 286,000 in 2015 — the latest years for which data are available. This represents sustained growth: In 2007, only 39,000 Saudis made the trip.
Updated 22 March 2018
0

Saudi tourists beat the ‘Trump slump’

NEW YORK: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is not the only Saudi visiting the US this week. Despite the 11,000-kilometer distance between Jeddah and New York, and flight times in excess of 13 hours, a surprising number of Saudis travel to America every year.
Saudis enjoy the US for its natural beauty, shopping in Bloomingdale’s and other department stores, and the beaches of California and Florida, said Ali Al-Ahmed, a Saudi who has hosted dozens of friends and relatives during the two decades he has lived in America.
“Many Saudis come to the US for schooling and medical treatment, but there are plenty of tourists, too, especially young couples,” Al-Ahmed told Arab News. “They like nature, seas and rivers, as well as shopping trips and the big tourist draws such as Disneyland.”
According to the US government’s National Travel and Tourism Office, Saudi Arabia is the 30th most important source of tourists to the US — well below the top markets of Canada, Mexico, Britain, Japan and China.
Saudi visitor numbers grew by 4 percent from 276,000 in 2014 to 286,000 in 2015 — the latest years for which data are available. This represents sustained growth: In 2007, only 39,000 Saudis made the trip.
But that growth may be coming to an end. US State Department figures show the number of non-immigrant visitors’ visas issued at its Saudi-based consulates fell sharply in 2017, President Donald Trump’s first year in the White House.
In 2014, when his predecessor Barack Obama was commander-in-chief, about 89,000 tourist and business visas were issued in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dhahran. That number dropped by 41 percent to 52,500 in 2017.
Tourism experts describe a “Trump slump” in US-bound travel, with currency exchange rates and fears of beefed-up airport security resulting in a 4 percent decline in visitor numbers last year.
The Middle East was particularly affected. A so-called “Muslim ban” on visitors from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan brought more visa rejections than in mostly Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia, that were not on the list.
From March to October last year, when Trump’s travel bans were tied up in court, tourist, student and other non-immigrant visa approvals were down 21 percent for people in Muslim-majority countries compared with the same period in 2016, according to State Department data.
Olivier Jager, CEO of ForwardKeys, a data analysis firm that looks at 17 million flight booking transactions a day, said the Trump slump may have bottomed out and Saudi tourism is picking up again.
“In 2017, flight data shows that arrivals in the US from Saudi Arabia were 10 percent down on the year before. This year there has been something of a recovery, with arrivals in the first quarter 6 percent up on the first quarter of 2017,” Jager told Arab News.
“Looking to the future, the recovery appears set to continue as bookings for the second and third quarters of 2018 are 15.7 percent ahead of where they were at this point last year,” he said.


Saudi Arabia's civil service ministry launches national training program for public sector employees

Updated 21 January 2019
0

Saudi Arabia's civil service ministry launches national training program for public sector employees

  • The “National Program for Rehabilitation and Training of Human Resources Personnel and Leaders in Government Agencies” which aims to expand the skills of government personnel
  • The training program is in line with the Saudi Vision 2030

JEDDAH: A national program aimed to train public sector employees in the field of human resources management has been inaugurated by the Ministry of Civil Service on Sunday.

The “National Program for Rehabilitation and Training of Human Resources Personnel and Leaders in Government Agencies,” which aims to expand the skills of government personnel, is in line with the country’s Vision 2030, according to the ministry.

“The Ministry of Civil Service will spare no effort in carrying out the roles entrusted to it to advance administrative development, including the modernization of the working environment in the public sector,” said Minister of Civil Service Suleiman bin Abdullah during the inauguration.

The program will explore best practices in human resources management in the public sector, and will discuss the basic principles of the employee life cycle. It will also train employees on methodologies of workforce planning, how to motivate employees to achieve their career objectives, how to foster a culture of group work, as well as highlight the role of digital technology in human resource.

Only Saudi nationals who have a college degree are eligible to join the program.

Government agencies will nominate the eligible employees, who will then be enrolled in a five-day course on human resource, where their abilities to obtain a certificate from UK-based Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development will be assessed. Successful candidates will finish a one-year training module, consisting of classroom and on-site activities.