Saudi tourism chief: Japanese people interested in learning ‘world’s cultures’

Prince Sultan bin Salman visits the “Roads of Arabia” exhibition in Tokyo. (SPA)
Updated 10 May 2018
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Saudi tourism chief: Japanese people interested in learning ‘world’s cultures’

  • Naruhito welcomed Prince Sultan and expressed appreciation for the role played by the Kingdom at regional and international levels
  • Prince Sultan also visited the “Roads of Arabia” exhibition at the National Museum in Tokyo

JEDDAH: Japan’s Crown Prince Naruhito received Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), at his palace in Tokyo on Thursday.

Naruhito welcomed Prince Sultan and expressed appreciation for the role played by the Kingdom at regional and international levels.

Prince Sultan conveyed the greetings of King Salman to the leadership of Japan, wishing the Japanese people progress and prosperity, and expressing keenness to consolidate bilateral relations between the two countries.

Prince Sultan also visited the “Roads of Arabia” exhibition at the National Museum in Tokyo. He said that King Salman has been supporting the archaeology sector in the Kingdom since its establishment 50 years ago.

Prince Sultan said that more than 250,000 people had visited, the largest turnout for any touring exhibition at the museum.

The exhibition’s next stop will be in Greece, in the middle of summer, following an invitation from Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos during his visit to the Kingdom.

The exhibition will also visit Abu Dhabi, at the invitation of the UAE government, before moving on more countries.

Prince Sultan said that Japanese people were very cultivated, aware and interested in learning about the world’s cultures, and those of the Arabian Peninsula in particular.

He said that the SCTH is currently working on more than 230 tourist and heritage projects and is coordinating with its partners on transport services and airports.

The Kingdom had been supporting and developing the tourist sector with billions of dollars, he said, in line with the strategy of developing national tourism advanced by the SCTH and adopted by the state in 2005.

Prince Sultan said that the Kingdom was experiencing high tourist growth and was considered one of the fastest-growing states in the region in hotel room numbers, which had increased by 6,000. This figure is expected to double in the next 10 years, he said.

 


Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

There was an explosion of joy at the podium when Antonio Felix da Costa lifted the winner’s trophy at the conclusion of the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix on Saturday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 16 December 2018
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Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

  • Three-day event at Ad Diriyah reaches spectacular climax in an unprecedented spirit of openness

The driver with the winner’s trophy was Antonio Felix da Costa — but the real winners were Saudi Arabia itself, and more than 1,000 tourists visiting the country for the first time.

Da Costa, the Andretti Motorsport driver, won the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix in front of thousands of race fans at a custom-built track in the historic district on the outskirts of Riyadh.

But in truth, the event was about much more than high-tech electric cars hurtling round a race track — thrilling though that was. The three-day festival of motorsport, culture and entertainment was Saudi Arabia’s chance to prove that it can put on a show to rival anything in the world, and which only two years ago would have been unthinkable.

The event was also the first to be linked to the Sharek electronic visa system, allowing foreigners other than pilgrims or business visitors to come to Saudi Arabia.

Jason, from the US, is spending a week in the country with his German wife, riding quad bikes in the desert and visiting heritage sites. “I’ve always wanted to come for many, many years ... I’m so happy to be here and that they’re letting us be here,” he said.

Aaron, 40, a software engineer, traveled from New York for two days. “Saudi Arabia has always been an exotic place ... and I didn’t think I’d ever be able to come here,” he said.

About 1,000 visitors used the Sharek visa, a fraction of what Saudi Arabia aims eventually to attract. 

“Hopefully we will learn from this and see what we need to do for the future, but I can tell you from now that there is a lot of demand,” said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, vice chairman of the General Sports Authority.

His optimism was backed by Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund and a visitor to Ad Diriyah. “Such events will attract tourists and are a true celebration for young Saudis who desire a bright future,” he said.

“The vision of moderate Islam, promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is important both for the region and the entire world, and its realization needs to be appreciated, respected and supported.”

The event ended on Saturday night with a spectacular show by US band OneRepublic and the superstar DJ David Guetta. “Just when you think things can’t get better, they suddenly do,” said concertgoer Saleh Saud. “This is the new Saudi Arabia, and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.”