Qatar diversifies tourism product and service portfolio

Qatar diversifies tourism product and service portfolio
Updated 15 February 2015

Qatar diversifies tourism product and service portfolio

Qatar diversifies tourism product and service portfolio

Hotels in Qatar experienced strong performance in 2014, according to Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA).
Occupancy rates increased across all classes of hotels, with the average hotel occupancy rate reaching 73 percent in 2014 compared to 65 percent in 2013, said QTA officials.
The largest gains were experienced by the five-star hotels segment, which realized a surge of 71 percent compared to 61 percent in 2013. The strong increase in demand translated into revenue increases across the entire industry. RevPAR (revenue per available room) increased by 8.3 percent in 2014 with particularly strong performance in the five- and three-star segments, which witnessed gains of 9.5 percent and 15.5 percent, respectively.
A diverse range of events and activities in Qatar, along with a remarkable increase in regional and international marketing campaigns in 2014, contributed to growth of the leisure tourism sector.
Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) recently released its annual report for the tourism industry showing continued strong performance last year.
The figures show all key indicators of the tourism sector demonstrated improvement and growth compared to 2013.
QTA also highlighted the diversification and development of Qatar’s tourism product and service portfolio.
Qatar hosted large-scale events, conferences and exhibitions, such as the Doha Jewelry and Watches Exhibition 2014, the fourth Qatar International Motor Show, and the “Tourism in Tomorrow’s World” conference
QTA attracted more regional tourists through seasonal festivals such as Qatar International Food Festival, Souq Waqif Spring Festival, the fifth International Festival for Falcon and Hunting, and increasing live family entertainment such as Cirque Eloize and Disney Live, Eid festival in Qatar in addition to the Summer Festival.
Qatar hosted a range of high-quality sporting events, such as the Qatar Total Open and Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Tennis
Traditional competitions and events were organized in Qatar aimed at driving regional and international tourists such as the Desert Caravan Challenge,, the annual Sinyar and Al Galayel competitions.
These activities fall within the context of QTA’s efforts and initiatives aimed at providing authentic experiences to attract international tourists.
QTA launched a new tourism project called “Samana” in cooperation with Gulf Helicopters and Regency Travel and Tours. Under this project, helicopter flights are organized for tourists to view Doha’s landmarks from the air.
According to the QTA report, the tourism sector — although in its early stages of development — directly contributed QR13.6 billion (around $3.7 billion) to GDP in 2013, representing 4 percent of Qatar’s non-extraction economy.
The total economic impact of tourism, including indirect contributions, tallied QR28 billion (around $7.6 billion), comprising 8.3 percent of Qatar’s non-extraction GDP. Tourism also contributes substantially to the Qatar job market. In 2013, there were 61,000 jobs that directly supported by the industry.
Figures from the report further state that Qatar welcomed more than 2.8 million visitors from the around the world in 2014, representing 8.2 percent growth over 2013.
Since 2009, international visits to Qatar have increased by 91 percent with an average annual growth rate of 13.8 percent.
Qatar managed to attract visitors from several key markets, including GCC countries, which contributed 40 percent of the tourists visiting Qatar in 2014.
Another 28 percent of the visitors originated from various parts of Asia and Oceania, while 15 percent of tourists came from European countries.
According to the report, visits from all regions of the world have grown substantially over the past five years, with Asian/Oceania and GCC visitor markets expanding by 107 percent and 102 percent respectively since 2009. Visits from Europe have also surged by 82 percent over the past five years.
“These impressive results would not have been achieved without the hard work of QTA, and its public and private sector partners, based on the principles and objectives set out by the National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030,” said Issa bin Mohammed Al-Mohannadi, chairman of QTA.
“I am confident that the tourism sector’s achievements will continue to reach greater heights in 2015 through newly launched initiatives and products to enrich the tourism sector and diversify tourism offerings. The result will be more visits from tourists from all over the world, thus achieving the strategy’s goal of establishing Qatar as a preferred international tourism destination with deep cultural roots.”
Hotels experienced strong performance in 2014, according to QTA’s annual report.
Occupancy rates increased across all classes of hotels, with the average hotel occupancy rate reaching 73 percent in 2014 compared to 65 percent in 2013.
The largest gains were experienced by the five-star hotels segment, which realized a surge of 71 percent compared to 61 percent in 2013. The strong increase in demand translated into revenue increases across the entire industry. RevPAR (revenue per available room) increased by 8.3 percent in 2014 with particularly strong performance in the five- and three-star segments, which witnessed gains of 9.5 percent and 15.5 percent, respectively.
A diverse range of events and activities in Qatar, along with a remarkable increase in regional and international marketing campaigns in 2014, contributed to growth of the leisure tourism sector.
The report said that 2014 witnessed the launch of the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030, a turning point for the tourism industry in Qatar.
The strategy is designed to serve as a road map for developing the tourism industry over the next decades and to guide QTA in its efforts to turn Qatar into “an international tourism destination with deep cultural roots.”
QTA plays a key role in coordinating a sustainable tourism sector and increasing the contribution of this sector to a diversified national economy.


Saudi Aramco denies plan to embark on bitcoin mining activities

Saudi Aramco denies plan to embark on bitcoin mining activities
Updated 39 min 27 sec ago

Saudi Aramco denies plan to embark on bitcoin mining activities

Saudi Aramco denies plan to embark on bitcoin mining activities

DAHRAN: "With reference to recent reports claiming that the Company will embark on Bitcoin mining activities, Aramco confirms that these claims are completely false and inaccurate," Saudi Aramco said in a statement.


Kuwait plans region’s first city for electric carmakers

Kuwait plans region’s first city for electric carmakers
Updated 01 August 2021

Kuwait plans region’s first city for electric carmakers

Kuwait plans region’s first city for electric carmakers
  • Kuwait Ports Authority noted that electric carmakers do not use local distributors or dealers

DUBAI: Kuwait Ports Authority (KPA) has approved a proposal to build the Middle East’s first city to serve electric vehicle manufacturers, the authority said in a statement on Sunday.

The statement does not make clear where the project, called EV City, will be located.

The design and construction tendering process will be during the 2011/22 fiscal year, said KPA General Manager Yousef Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah.

KPA noted that electric carmakers do not use local distributors or dealers and sell their vehicles directly to consumers, adding that it was common for ports to provide certain infrastructure to manufacturers.

“KPA is able to provide all port and logistics services to the biggest global companies manufacturing electric cars,” Sabah said, adding that the project was in line with Kuwait’s Vision 2035 economic diversification plan.

The Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, has made huge gains after it invested more than $1 billion in electric carmaker Lucid in 2018.

Lucid Group listed last month after a merger with a blank check company, Churchill Capital Corp IV, in February in a deal that gave the combined company a pro-forma equity value of $24 billion. PIF owns 62.7 percent
of Lucid.


Saudi budget airline expands flights to Bisha

Saudi budget airline expands flights to Bisha
Updated 01 August 2021

Saudi budget airline expands flights to Bisha

Saudi budget airline expands flights to Bisha

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s budget airline flyadeal on Sunday launched operations from Dammam to Bisha.

The addition of the new destination to the company’s flight network is part of its expansion plans.

It is a pure low-cost airline, with passengers charged for meals and checked luggage, a model that has so far not had major success in the Middle East beyond UAE-headquartered Air Arabia. The Saudi government owns the airline through state carrier Saudia.

Ahmed Al-Barahim, executive vice president for commercial and customer affairs, vowed to ensure good service for passengers.

He said the airline will continue to expand its fleet and flight network.

Fahd Al-Harbi, CEO of Dammam Airports Co., said healthy competition between airlines will support the Kingdom’s drive to boost domestic tourism.


Saudi Arabia’s net foreign assets rebound from 10-year low on higher oil sales

Saudi Arabia’s proceeds from sales of crude oil increased with the global oil industry gradually recovering from the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). (Reuters/File Photo)
Saudi Arabia’s proceeds from sales of crude oil increased with the global oil industry gradually recovering from the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 01 August 2021

Saudi Arabia’s net foreign assets rebound from 10-year low on higher oil sales

Saudi Arabia’s proceeds from sales of crude oil increased with the global oil industry gradually recovering from the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). (Reuters/File Photo)
  • The value of Saudi Arabia’s oil exports in May increased by 147 percent to just over SR60 billion from a year earlier

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s net foreign assets rose 2 percent in June, recovering slightly from their lowest level in more than a decade as the Kingdom’s proceeds from sales of crude oil increased with the global oil industry gradually recovering from the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Data from the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) showed the foreign assets — a measure of its ability to support its dollar-pegged currency — rose by SR34 billion ($9.1 billion) to SR1.65 trillion from May to June. Total assets increased by SR16.18 billion to SR1.842 trillion, the central bank said on Saturday.

The value of Saudi Arabia’s oil exports in May increased by 147 percent to just over SR60 billion from a year earlier, while non-oil exports rose by 70 percent, the General Authority for Statistics showed last month.

The recent decline in Saudi Arabia’s foreign reserves to the lowest level in a decade was partly due to a lag between import payments and export receipts, the SAMA’s governor told Reuters last month.

The ratio of SAMA’s total assets at the end of July increased by 0.8 percent over the previous month and amounted to SR1.842 trillion. The rise in total assets is due to the rise in investments in securities abroad, which amounted to SR1.13 trillion, an increase of 0.5 percent over the previous month. The value of foreign exchange amounted to SR271 billion, an increase of 0.2 percent.

Net foreign assets declined significantly in 2020 as lower oil income strained finances and officials transferred $40 billion to the Kingdom’s sovereign fund to fuel an investment spree. The indicator — which topped $700 billion in 2014 after an oil boom increased savings — now stands at SR1.66 trillion.

The state’s general reserve declined during the period 2016 to 2020 from SR640 billion to SR358 billion, due to the increase in projects as a part of the Vision 2030 reform plans. The state is pouring significant funds on projects which will be compensated by future income, Zaed Alfaded, a financial analyst, told Arab News. These income streams are expected to increase with the country diversifying its economy away from oil and its price fluctuations, he added.

The government’s current account dipped from SR89 billion to SR52 billion, and then rose again to SR70 billion, as the government spent on its urgent requirements, Alfaded said.

Central bank data showed on Saturday that the issuance of SAMA bills, an indicator of increased lending to local banks, also declined, which Alfaded attributed to the bank’s plans to contain inflation and direct customers to save and invest. 

This strategy, he said, will reflect positively on the markets for trading in financial assets and other investment assets in the Saudi economy.


Saudi Arabia eyes global tie-ups to tap $20bn in cultural opportunities

In the wake of the G20 meeting last year, Saudi Arabia added culture to the forefront of its investment agenda. (Social media)
In the wake of the G20 meeting last year, Saudi Arabia added culture to the forefront of its investment agenda. (Social media)
Updated 2 min 57 sec ago

Saudi Arabia eyes global tie-ups to tap $20bn in cultural opportunities

In the wake of the G20 meeting last year, Saudi Arabia added culture to the forefront of its investment agenda. (Social media)
  • Public-private partnership seen as a means to increase sector’s contribution to GDP

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is seeking partnership with global partners including leading international museums as it sees its culture sector generating $20 billion in revenues and creating 100,000 jobs, while contributing 3 percent to its gross domestic product (GDP), a senior official said.

In the wake of the G20 meeting last year, Saudi Arabia added culture to the forefront of its investment agenda. The Ministry of Culture, which was established three years ago in the hopes of promoting cultural growth and supporting Vision 2030, sees that the sector has already attracted the interest and engagement of private companies both locally and abroad, Rakan Altouq, general supervisor for culture affairs and international relations, said in an interview on Sunday.

In addition to the public sector, the private sector is a vital contributor to cultural development and Saudi Arabia will benefit from this new strategy, as it will lead to an increase in its economy. As part of the Ministry of Culture, all 16 sectors with 11 dedicated commissions are engaged now to prepare the groundwork for economic activity. 

The Cultural Development Fund, created by the Ministry of Culture last year, is also a vital tool for bridging the financial gap that exists between public and private sector funding for cultural programs. By using the Cultural Development Fund, a bridge of capital will be provided, he said. Through Invest Saudi and the Shareek program that has been announced across the private sector engagement in Saudi Arabia, all of the targets they have developed cannot be achieved without private capital, and they are contributing to creating the right conditions for capital to invest in the culture sector.

Altouq said that the culture sector should not be evaluated in the same way as other more publicly owned sectors. Nonprofit organizations conduct many private activities, such as the visual arts sector, in the country. Further opportunities exist for establishing infrastructure in digital platforms; such investments have already been initiated by media and other regional companies. 

In the museum sector, the ministry has held numerous discussions with its partners around the world. Soon, the dedicated museum of Saudi Arabia will launch its strategy and seek partnerships with other museums around the world. The Museum Commission will launch its own communication strategy in the coming months to further develop that.

In the national cultural strategy, three main aspirations are outlined: Culture as a way of life, culture as an economic growth tool, and culture as an exchange mechanism among cultures.

As a first step, culture has been developed as a lifestyle in Saudi Arabia through connecting local communities to ensure that all citizens and residents have access to an extraordinary range of diverse cultural offerings in the region while preserving the rich cultural heritage. As for the culture for economic growth, culture will be seen in creative industries, which will allow Saudi Arabia to witness an increase in its GDP by 3 percent by 2030. Lastly, culture for global exchange is engaging the Kingdom and participating in international platforms such as the G20 and UNESCO.