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Prince Sultan: Tourism is key economic driver

Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), has commended the government’s support for tourism, saying it reflects the state's belief in the importance of tourism as a key economic driver and creator of jobs for citizens.
Prince Sultan was addressing the opening ceremony of “Manama: Capital of Arab Tourism 2013" at the National Theater of Bahrain yesterday under the patronage of Bahrain’s Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa.
"Tourism is an important tool for achieving significant economic development and creating huge job opportunities." He said this explains the Saudi government's persistent support of tourism, which has the added benefit of promoting the country's culture.
He stressed the Kingdom’s support and development of ongoing heritage and tourism projects.
The Council of Ministers recently approved the establishment of a specialized company for hospitality and heritage in the Kingdom. Many other resolutions are expected to be issued in this respect, reflecting government's focus on rehabilitating historical, cultural and archaeological monuments.
Prince Sultan spoke about new excavations being carried out by 25 national and international teams in various regions of the Kingdom. “We have plans to establish 12 small and big museums,” he added.
The SCTA has recovered over 14,000 antiquities and relics from abroad, in addition to 3,000 from within the Kingdom. Its heritage exhibitions in France, Spain, Russia, Germany and recently in the United States drew a large number of visitors.
Prince Sultan highlighted tourism’s role in strengthening the national economy. “Tourism contributed SR 116 billion (5.4 percent) to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and created 670,000 jobs in 2011,” he pointed out. Saudis represent 26 percent of the Kingdom’s tourism workforce.
He praised the remarkable development of Bahraini tourism, and its rehabilitation of historical sites. He said Manama was worthy of being chosen as the capital of Arab tourism given its distinguished culture and tourism projects.
"On this great occasion, we see Bahrain re-introducing itself as a home of great culture and deep-rooted history and as a home of diverse humanitarian and political growth through the ages,” the prince said. The SCTA chief saluted King Hamad for his development efforts in Bahrain, despite recent political pressures and challenges.
He emphasized the historic ties between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. “We are proud of the continual development and modernization efforts taking place in Bahrain, especially the efforts to recover Bahrain's memory through rehabilitating heritage sites, and bringing out Bahrain's identity related to cultural aspects,” he said.
Prince Sultan commended the efforts of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to boost their development in all areas by making use of their natural and human resources.
He said the Arab world can play an important role in building a future world based on its historical accumulated knowledge. “Hence, the Arab citizen should restore his genuine position in carving out humanity’s future."
In her speech, Minister of Culture of Bahrain, Sheikha Mai bint Mohammad Al-Khalifa, welcomed Prince Sultan, commending him for attending the event.
“Saudi Arabia is a source of inspiration for us in light of its cultural and historical potential,” she said.

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