A tourist island in Red Sea? New study looks at the chances

Updated 03 February 2013
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A tourist island in Red Sea? New study looks at the chances

JEDDAH: Makkah Municipality is preparing a study to build an island in the Red Sea, some 27 kilometers off the coast near Shoaiba.
International investment firms are involved in the study, which will be published in the near future, said the assistant secretary for the municipal investments development of Makkah Municipality.
He explained that the island would be converted into a green resort, conserving the marine wildlife, with a scuba diving club for diving enthusiasts. The resort would be located on an area of 1.2 million square meters.
The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) in Makkah has issued special requirements for the classification of tourist resorts. The resort will be priced according to its classification, said Abdullah Al-Sawat, SCTA executive director.
The SCTA encouraged investors in the resorts to provide requirements for licensing. Al-Sawat said the SCTA would impose strict controls on tourist resorts to ensure compliance with the classification criteria and standards.
He indicated at the same time that the SCTA through the public administration for the development of tourist sites hopes to create beaches with tourist attractions that are of interest to the residents of Makkah.
Makkah residents have recently asked the municipality and the SCTA to expedite the investments in Shoaiba Beach by establishing tourist resorts and recreational places.
Many residents said they preferred the beach for its tranquility, privacy and distance from the hustle and bustle.
Others said that the two-way road to Shoaiba Beach is dangerous and further away from Makkah than the Jeddah beach. There are no services and lighting along the road, as well as a shortage in hotels, tourist resorts and fuel stations in the region.


Tour operators and hotel groups sign up to Saudi tourism growth project

Saudi Arabia plans to create 1.2 million jobs in the tourism sector by 2030. (AN photo/Mo Gannon)
Updated 23 April 2018
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Tour operators and hotel groups sign up to Saudi tourism growth project

  • Vision 2030 has a goal to create 1.2 million new jobs in the industry
  • We are participating here to show people that Saudi Arabia has really changed: tour operator

DUBAI: From diving in the Red Sea to sand-skating in the desert, from Jazan’s Fifa Mountains to the archaeological wonders of Al-Ula, it has been impossible not to be wowed by all that Saudi Arabia has to offer on the opening day of this year’s Arabian Travel Market in Dubai. Travel posters of its varied regions blanketed almost every pillar in the concourse, through which thousands of visitors passed on their way into the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Center, part of a colorful Saudi tourism campaign. 

And if you somehow missed that on your way into the exhibition halls, then you couldn’t have missed the Saudi pavilion, featuring 60 travel-related agencies under the umbrella of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.

“We are participating here to show people that Saudi Arabia has really changed,” said Abeer Al-Rashed, project co-ordinator for Al Sarh Travel and Tourism, which organizes tours and helps with visa arrangements. “It’s not just a desert in Saudi Arabia. We have a lot of activities.”

The expanded role of tourism under Vision 2030, which has a goal to create 1.2 million new jobs in the industry, is top of mind for those with a foothold already in the region.

“We are thrilled at this accelerated pace of growth in Saudi Arabia and want to make sure that we’re aligned with that,” said Simon Casson, president of hotel operations for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Its Riyadh hotel, Four Seasons’ first in the Gulf when it opened in 2002, is now offering a tour of the Tuwaiq escarpment, otherwise known as the Edge of the World. 

Four Seasons’ plans for a hotel in Makkah, announced in the fall, are in the design phase, with construction expected to begin next year. “The site of the hotel is really the last remaining piece of land that’s ringside, if you like, and has a direct view facing onto the Kaaba, so that will partner very well with our Riyadh hotel,” Casson said.

As for more hotels? “I would say stay-tuned because we’re actively working on other opportunities within Saudi Arabia — not things we can announce at this time but we see a tremendous amount of opportunity as we look forward.”

Omer Kaddouri, Rotana’s president and CEO, also sees tremendous potential. It’s operating four hotels in the Kingdom right now and will have three more by the end of the year. 

“They’re building more reasons to travel there,” Kaddouri said, speaking of the recent changes. “I’d like to say that by the time they’ve reached their 2030 vision, Rotana will have no less than 20 operating hotels in the Kingdom, with more in the pipeline.”

As for the long-awaited Nobu Hotel in Riyadh, Khaled Al-Ashqar, director of sales and marketing, said it’s “very close” to opening. The boutique hotel, with a restaurant by chef Nobu Matsuhisa, will also have a tea lounge and a live cooking station in the Royal Suite. “I’m 100 percent sure it will be the spot of the city,” Al-Ashqar said.