Revenue from pilgrims makes 3% of Saudi GDP

Updated 05 January 2013

Revenue from pilgrims makes 3% of Saudi GDP

Economists have estimated the Kingdom’s revenues from Haj and Umrah services in 2012 at more than SR 62 billion ($ 16.5 billion), 10 percent up from 2011 figures. They also said that Haj revenue accounted for three percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Fahd Al-Andeejani, professor of economics, said there are good prospects for the development of national industries. “We need more specialized markets to meet the needs of pilgrims who come for Haj and Umrah,” he added.
The professor said there are good prospects to establish Asian, European and American restaurants in Makkah and Madinah while highlighting the growing purchasing power of Saudis as a result of increase in salaries and oil prices.
Al-Andeejani estimated the annual expenditure of an Umrah pilgrim at $ 10,000. More than seven million pilgrims come to the Kingdom for Haj and Umrah and the money they spend could boost the Kingdom’s economy.
He called for providing world-class services to Haj and Umrah pilgrims. A lot of investments are required for this purpose. He estimated the Kingdom’s total revenue from Haj and Umrah at more than SR 62 billion.
Al-Andeejani called for greater efforts to create more job opportunities for Saudis during the Haj and Umrah seasons.
“Despite the large Haj and Umrah market, the sale of Saudi products including gift items was low,” said Khaled Al-Qurashi, owner of a Haj and Umrah service company. He said handicrafts of Saudi productive families lacked marketing channels required for its success. Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat Arabic daily, Al-Qurashi said Saudi gift items are facing big competition from Chinese products. He stressed the need for strengthening the capabilities of young Saudi men and women in making innovative gift items with a Makkah and Madinah touch for sale among pilgrims and other visitors.
He believed that Saudi products could make a revenue of SR 500 million to SR 800 million annually if properly marketed.
Fahd Al-Kabkabi, owner of shops selling souvenirs and gifts, urged Saudi youth to start small and medium enterprises to produce gift items to market among pilgrims.
“This is a potential area for young Saudi entrepreneurs to enter and progress. It can also create more jobs for Saudis,” he added. “We need more gift items made in Saudi Arabia to distribute among pilgrims.”
Al-Kabkabi urged traders to promote Saudi products by giving them good display at their shops.
According to Abdul Hameed Abalarry, director of King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, about six million foreign pilgrims performed Umrah in 2012.
He spoke about the coordination between the Haj Ministry and the General Authority of Civil Aviation in dispatching pilgrims to the airport, saying the ministry has agreed not to send any pilgrim to the airport without confirmed booking.
GACA officials at the Haj Terminal’s entrance make sure that only those pilgrims with confirmed booking are allowed to enter the airport in order to avoid overcrowding of passengers, he said.

Russian orchestra brings classical music to Saudi Arabia

Updated 18 June 2018

Russian orchestra brings classical music to Saudi Arabia

  • The prestigious world-class orchestra was hosted by the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra),
  • The orchestra has recorded symphonies and piano concertos by Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich

DHAHRAN: The Russian Mariinsky Orchestra treated its Saudi audience with masterpieces created by Prokofiev, Grieg, Vivaldi, Mozart and other maestros at a concert to mark the inauguration of the Ithra Theater in Dhahran in the Eastern Province.

It was the first performance of this renowned Russian orchestra not only in the Kingdom but also in the entire Gulf Cooperation Council region.

The prestigious world-class orchestra was hosted by the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), in collaboration with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Saudi Aramco, as part of Eid Al-Fitr celebrations.

“The Mariinsky Theater is one of Russia’s most distinguished and historic theaters. It has amazed audiences worldwide, including in Asia, Europe, North America and now Saudi Arabia,” Fatmah Al-Rashid, the acting director of Ithra, told Arab News. 

She said: “Ithra’s mission is to broaden horizons, and provide its visitors with a cultural window that reflects the richness of our world.”

The event was part of the cultural exchange between Russia and Saudi Arabia, which aims to strengthen the bond between the two countries.  

The CEO of the RDIF, Kirill Dmitriev, who is also a member of the Mariinsky Theatre’s board of trustees, said: “It is a great honor for RDIF to organize the first symphonic concert in the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We all saw the admiration of the center’s audience who listened to the enchanting playing of the Russian musicians conducted by the maestro Valery Gergiev, and their enthusiastic standing ovation for the Russian orchestra.”

The orchestra has recorded symphonies and piano concertos by Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, operas by German composer Richard Wagner, France’s Jules Massenet as well as Russia’s Sergei Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” and “Cinderella” ballet music.

Led by renowned conductor Valery Gergiev, the orchestra presented its first performance on June 16. In their second performance, they played Prokofiev’s Symphony No.1 and Edvard Grieg’s Holberg Suite and arias from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute.”

“It is a very important part of our relationship because our Saudi partners can see that we bring the best of Russian art, and we have a lot to be proud of,” the RDIF chief said.

“RDIF will further contribute to strengthening cultural relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Our next project will be a week of Russian culture later this year.”   

In 2017, RDIF and Saudi Aramco signed a memorandum to create a $1 billion mutual fund to invest in the energy sector. Relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia have actively developed in recent years due to the support of the leaders of both countries. 

In 2015, during the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Moscow, the sovereign fund of Saudi Arabia, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced its intention to invest $10 billion in Russian projects through a partnership with RDIF. 

The visit of King Salman to the Russian Federation in October 2017 gave a new momentum to these relations. The PIF has invested $2 billion in 15 mutual projects with RDIF. 

The concert was attended by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets, Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak, RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih, Saudi Information Minister Awwad Alawwad, and Saudi Aramco CEO Amin H. Nasser. 

The area of the state-of-the-art Ithra Theater is 1,500 square meters with a capacity for 900 people. It is the only proscenium theater in the Kingdom, a venue in which the audience faces the stage straight on. As a result, the moment a person steps into the auditorium, he is wowed by the look and feel of the famous traditional theaters in Europe, rather than simply a large hall with a stage. The proscenium arch, which frames the stage, is nine meters tall and 16 meters wide.