Forum explores Makkah’s investment potential

Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal and Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih sign a memorandum of understanding to start implementing the early stages of the ministry’s Al-Faisaliah Solar Energy Project. (SPA)
Updated 25 March 2019
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Forum explores Makkah’s investment potential

  • Pilgrimage services, solar power infrastructure and private investment on top of agenda

MAKKAH: The second Makkah Economic Forum kicked off on Saturday at the Hilton Jabal Omar, led by the governor of Makkah, Prince Khalid Al-Faisal.
Prince Khalid welcomed delegates, including government ministers, business figures and other members of the royal family, to the forum, which runs until March 26.
He then chaired a ministerial session held to discuss housing, hospitality, business development and infrastructure in Makkah, attended by the ministers of commerce and investment, justice, labor and social development, housing and Hajj and Umrah.
The president of the forum’s executive committee, Dr. Hisham Al-Faleh, stressed that the committee was keen to focus on sustainable development programs, and on building a solid foundation for an integrated partnership between the public and private sectors in line with Vision 2030 to strengthen the local economy.
Prince Khalid also signed four memoranda of understanding (MoU) on the forum’s opening day, the first of which concerned establishing the Islamic World Center in Al-Faisaliah Project.
The second MoU, signed on behalf of the Makkah Region Development Authority with the minister of energy, industry and mineral resources, Khalid Al-Falih, agreed to start implementing the early stages of the ministry’s Al-Faisaliah Solar Energy Project, including the installation of 2,600 MW of solar power capacity across the region.
Prince Khalid signed the third MoU with the minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Mohammed Salih Bentin, over operating responsibilities for the Pilgrims Oasis complex in Makkah, and the fourth with Ibrahim Al-Omar, governor of the SAGIA, to promote domestic and foreign investment in the region.
Operating along this year’s theme, “Road to an Urban Future: Invest in Makkah,” the four-day event focuses on urban development, public services and infrastructure, transport and logistics, and innovation around the Hajj and Umrah.


Umrah pilgrims now free to move around Saudi Arabia

Updated 28 min 1 sec ago
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Umrah pilgrims now free to move around Saudi Arabia

  • Previously, Umrah pilgrims were restricted to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah and the port city of Jeddah
  • Nearly 8 million Muslims are likely to perform Umrah this year

JEDDAH: Millions of Umrah pilgrims are to be granted the freedom to visit anywhere in the Kingdom during their stay, the Saudi Cabinet decided on Tuesday.

Muslims making the holy pilgrimage will be allowed to tour anywhere in the country as part of Saudi Arabia’s plans to boost tourism and the economy.

“The Cabinet has decided to exclude people coming to perform Umrah and to visit the Prophet’s Mosque (in Madinah), of the prohibition of movement outside Makkah, Madinah, and Jeddah. A royal decree has been prepared to this effect,” the acting media minister, Issam bin Saeed, said in a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Previously, Umrah pilgrims were restricted to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah and the port city of Jeddah.

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Vision 2030 aims to increase the country’s capacity to welcome Umrah visitors from 8 million to 30 million every year.

Nearly 8 million Muslims will perform Umrah in the Kingdom this year, and the Cabinet’s move will enable them to enjoy a broader experience of Saudi Arabia by visiting key landmarks, historic sites, tourist attractions and shopping centers.

“We are looking to enrich the experience of pilgrims and facilitate their arrival,” Dr. Amr Al-Maddah, chief planning and strategy officer at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, told Arab News. “Traveling around the Kingdom is an opportunity for pilgrims to visit cultural and tourist sites.

“At the same time, they will be allowed to arrive at any port in the country which will facilitate their arrival and expand the capacity to receive more pilgrims.”

Ministers hope their decision will help toward reaching Saudi Arabia’s goal of receiving 30 million Umrah pilgrims by 2030.

In the past, pilgrims were allowed to convert their visas into a tourist visa on the condition that they were registered with a tourism program. “This is no longer a requirement,” said Al-Maddah.

He added that they would now be free to plan visits to other Saudi cities, tourist destinations, festivals and events, within the period of their visa validity.

Al-Maddah said: “We want to make it available to everyone in order to enrich the experience of the pilgrims, which is one of the goals of Vision 2030.”

He noted that the authority responsible for implementing the Cabinet’s decision would be the Interior Ministry.