Saudi Arabia launches new tourism initiatives within Vision 2030

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Traffic builds up on Sunday in the southwestern mountain city of Baha, which is experiencing an influx of visitors. Rich in natural and archaeological attractions and blessed with a temperate climate, Baha is one of the major tourist destinations in the Kingdom. (SPA photo)
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Traffic builds up on Sunday in the southwestern mountain city of Baha, which is experiencing an influx of visitors. Rich in natural and archaeological attractions and blessed with a temperate climate, Baha is one of the major tourist destinations in the Kingdom. (SPA photo)
Updated 17 July 2017

Saudi Arabia launches new tourism initiatives within Vision 2030

RIYADH: As tourism becomes a major driver of the Saudi economy with its huge employment-generating potential, Saudi Arabia has launched six major initiatives to stimulate the travel and tourism industry.
“The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) is reviewing its strategies to be in conformity with Vision 2030 and contribute in achieving the goals of the National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020,” said Mohammed Al-Nashmi, a spokesman of the SCTH.
Al-Nashmi pointed out that SR9.93 billion ($2.64 billion) have been allocated for these projects in the 2017 budget. According to a statement released by the SCTH, “the six initiatives are aimed at streamlining the travel and tourism sector.”
Religious tourism, including Haj and Umrah, has been a major revenue component of the sector. The statement said that one of the six initiatives is “The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Program for taking care of national culture and heritage.” A total of 79 projects will be implemented under this program.
“The Long Live Saudi Arabia Program is another initiative, while the development of Okaz city in Taif is yet another,” he added. Other initiatives include “the Kingdom as a Muslim destination initiative,” “the development of integrated tourism destinations,” and “the Kafalah program initiative” to finance commercial establishments for tourism projects.
While 18 million people visited the Kingdom in 2016, most of them came for pilgrimage. Hence, the SCTH plan is to promote its travel and tourism sector to foreign and domestic tourists. The Kingdom has a large number of interesting archaeological sites, pristine beaches, monuments, and a range of other holiday destinations. It is being promoted to become one of the biggest players in global tourism.
Tourism in Saudi Arabia is expected to generate around 1.2 million jobs for Saudis in the period until 2030. The tourism sector has been earmarked by the government as a key driver for growth in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic diversification strategy. The travel and tourism is the second-largest Saudized sector in the country. It currently employs about 900,000 Saudis.


Kids going stir-crazy in isolation? Here’s how to keep them occupied

Updated 10 April 2020

Kids going stir-crazy in isolation? Here’s how to keep them occupied

  • Saudi mothers relate challenges in keeping their children from getting bored amid nationwide lockdown

RIYADH: School’s out for the foreseeable future, but every child’s dream is every mother’s worst nightmare. With nowhere else to go during the day, and most entertainment venues in the city cordoned off, mothers are discussing how the crisis has affected them, and more importantly, what they’re doing to control it.

Dr. Marwa Elagra, an assistant professor at REU, told Arab News about how she and her three children (4th grade, 1st grade, and nursery) were coping with the new social distancing policy and the challenges it posed for their education.

“In the beginning, during the first few days, their schools weren’t yet prepared for the sudden shutdown. It took them almost a week to prepare themselves,” she said.

Despite a somewhat bumpy beginning, things are starting to pick up. 

“They have virtual classes now, and interactive livestreaming with a certain schedule. They can follow up with their teachers, just like in a real classroom. They also send videos that students can watch at any time,” she said.

However, she struggles with getting the children out of “vacation mode,” and convincing them that they still need to study.

“That’s the main challenge in all of this. It’s quite difficult to control the kids around the house, especially since you can’t take them out. They’re jumping around all over the place. They’re doing their homework, but their brains just aren’t in the zone for it,” she said.

They (children) have virtual classes now, and interactive livestreaming with a certain schedule. They can follow up with their teachers, just like in a real classroom. They also send videos that students can watch at any time.

Dr. Marwa Elagra, assistant professor

She hopes that things return to normal soon, or at the very least that a clear plan for the future will emerge after the proposed isolation period is up.

“I hope it doesn’t last for long, especially for primary classes. It is difficult to continue online; they need to interact with their teachers. It is a great pressure on us as moms, we can’t fulfill the role of teachers who are more experienced with children. I am in the academic field myself but I don’t have experience with kids,” she said.

She also has concerns about what these decisions could mean for her children’s academic future and hopes everything will be resolved soon.

“Are they going to give the kids exams or they will end school without them and just count the first term results? Are they going to stop and continue earlier at the beginning of the next academic year? This unclear vision of what will happen is creating the panic between most moms,” she said.

She also has advice for mothers going through the same thing. 

“Have more patience, support and encourage your kids to do more reading, and not only academic reading. Look at the positive side and make use of this long vacation in increasing the knowledge and skills of your kids,” she said.

Dr. May Al-Khudhairy, dean of the College of Applied Medical Sciences at Riyadh Elm University, is making the most of the time she is spending at home with her four children.

“I love having them home because during the week they get home so late that I don’t spend enough quality time with them. I’m even reconsidering all their after-school activities. I’ve forgotten how this time is precious and we need to savor it as long as possible,” she said.

With colleges across the country closed until further notice, Al-Khudhairy is also working from home, a situation that makes it easier to supervise her children and make sure their schoolwork gets done. 

“We sit outdoors and work parallel. The older kids will do their school assignments, and the youngest does her simple Pre-K activities that I find online, from sites like Storynory and Pinterest,” she said.

She recommends that mothers try to keep children occupied with tasks that can be both informative and entertaining. 

“We bake brownies and cupcakes and do experiments, like creating slime at home. Anything to keep busy. They paint, and every day they change it around. And of course, we wash our hands a zillion times a day,” she said.