Growth in religious tourism plays key role in KSA’s post oil plan

INCREASED CAPACITY: Reports show that the number of people visiting Makkah to perform Haj is increasing year by year, estimating the growth from 12 million in 2012 to almost 17 million by 2025.
Updated 20 August 2016

Growth in religious tourism plays key role in KSA’s post oil plan

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s new post-oil economy plan as outlined in Vision 2030, which was announced recently, is receiving a huge boost from the tourism sector with the influx of tourists visiting the Kingdom for their Haj pilgrimage, starting this week. According to the Ministry of Haj and Umrah, more than 600,000 pilgrims are expected to arrive in Madinah this week before Haj.

Among the initiatives outlined in the Vision 2030 is to increase the number of Haj and Umrah pilgrims to 30 million annually. Reports show that the number of people visiting Makkah to perform Haj is increasing year by year, estimating the growth from 12 million in 2012 to almost 17 million by 2025, further strengthening the religious tourism sector’s contribution to the national economy. At present, the segment concerning tourism for religious purposes contributes up to three per cent in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Ziyad bin Mahfouz, CEO, Elaf Group, said: “The continued growth in religious tourism is a positive development that signals that the Kingdom is on the right track in its national economic plan. Religious tourism will significantly contribute to the country’s shift towards the post oil era. There is a huge room for growth in tourism, not only for religious pilgrimages.”
Industry data shows that Saudi Arabia has the most rooms under construction for hotel development in the region with 35,770 rooms in 81 hotels, with 24,133 rooms being constructed in Makkah alone.
“In line with our commitments to support the tourism sector, especially the segment of tourism for religious purposes and the Kingdom’s national economy, we are providing a wide range of services to facilitate and guarantee a comfortable stay in our hotels in Makkah and Madinah while performing Haj. Our hotels have been equipped with the latest facilities to accommodate Haj performers where they will enjoy both a relaxing and a religious ambience throughout their stay,” Mahfouz added.
“We continue to innovate with our service offerings for our guests such as extended and all-inclusive packages for all our hotels in Saudi Arabia, so that they can explore other parts of the country before or after their Haj or Umrah performance,” he concluded.


Music blooms in Saudi Arabia's mountain resort city of Taif as rose ensemble takes a bow

Updated 26 min 55 sec ago

Music blooms in Saudi Arabia's mountain resort city of Taif as rose ensemble takes a bow

  • An orchestra of Ukrainian and Russian musicians performed enchanting symphonies by Mozart and Beethoven at the Ward (Rose) Village
  • The month-long Taif Season festival highlights the city as a leading Arab tourist destination

TAIF: Hanging from suspended imitation rose flowers and dressed in white, an orchestra of Ukrainian and Russian musicians performed enchanting symphonies by Mozart and Beethoven at the Ward (Rose) Village in Taif’s Arrudaf Park as part of Taif Season.

The month-long Taif Season will run during August with more than 70 quality events designed to highlight the city as a popular Arab resort and leading Arab tourist destination.

Female musicians in the orchestra played from a height of seven meters, delighting large crowds with a spectacular performance of well-known symphonies.

Mashaal Al-Rashid, head of the company organizing the Rose Village Festival, told Arab News that the name ‘Rose Village’ was chosen in recognition of the importance of rose as the icon of Taif.

“The festival’s content was elaborated, and all the activities and events organized so as to promote the value, and the social and economic significance of Taif’s roses,” he said.

Al-Rashid said that the hanging roses orchestra was inspired by the beauty of Taif’s mountains and their startling roses. 

“Each flower carries a musician holding her instrument, delivering a breathtaking performance and an enjoyable experience,” he said.

The orchestra includes musicians from several countries who were selected after delivering string performances in various world capitals.

 Dr. Nayef Al-Buraq, dean of Taif University’s College of Arts, said that Taif’s character is based on its culture and location.

“It is a cultural tourist icon that evolves year after year to keep pace with the national Vision 2030, with events that attract visitors from around the world,” he said.

“The programs aims to promote quality of life, reflected through the joyful Taif Season that paints a bright picture of Saudi creativity,” said Al-Buraq.

He said that the challenges faced in preparing for this season included developing quality academic programs, highlighting popular arts, and attracting Arab, Saudi and international creative involvement.

“These challenges highlight the leading role played by the Kingdom’s government in catering for culture and arts, and turning this festival into a tourist and cultural event throughout the year,” he said.

Festival visitor Omar Al-Khalidi said that the event offers musical attractions and cultural arts that have long been absent from Taif.

“Everyone knows that Taif is the city of arts and culture, and the first Saudi city to host a movie theater. Arrudaf Park was the scene for concerts for well-known artists such as Abdullah Mohammed, Mohammed Abdu, Talal Maddah and many other Arab talents,” he said.