Local tourism, digital transformation on the rise in Saudi Arabia

The potential for a significant expansion in Saudi Arabia’s digital tourism industry has encouraged Clear trip. (SPA)
Updated 30 June 2018

Local tourism, digital transformation on the rise in Saudi Arabia

  • The potential for a significant expansion in Saudi Arabia’s digital tourism industry has encouraged Clear trip, the second largest online travel agency in India, which has a presence in the Middle East, to acquire the famous Saudi travel aggregator Flyin
  • Digital marketing is also required to build anticipation, and promote Saudi’s leisure and heritage tourism among the novice travel destinations by 2030

RIYADH: A report issued by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) says that local tourism trips reached over 44.5 million in 2017, with total spendings around SR47.9 billion ($12.7 billion).

Local tourism accommodation is experiencing a rapid growth, reaching a total of 7,385 licensed establishments with an increase of 426 percent from 2009 to 2017, and around 43 international hotels are operating.
The potential for a significant expansion in Saudi Arabia’s digital tourism industry has encouraged Clear trip, the second largest online travel agency in India, which has a presence in the Middle East, to acquire the famous Saudi travel aggregator Flyin.
Although the acquisition amount is undisclosed, Flyin today obtains 60 percent of market share, making it the largest online travel agency in the Middle East.
Weighing the strengths of joint resources, Flyin has access to a broad consumer database in Saudi Arabia for being the largest, while Clear trip has the technical expertise and long experience of travel and tourism in the MENA region.
Aside from the partnership’s expected outcomes of enhancing product development and customers’ online experience; this is an opportunity to capitalize on Flyin’s experience in the Saudi market by enhancing its role in aligning with the 2030 Vision of leisure and heritage tourism.
To stimulate growth in the number of domestic travelers and tourists, the approach must be innovative in introducing local-destination programs, and providing new content of conveniently packaged trips that add different experiences to make traveling inside the Kingdom attractive for Saudi and non-Saudi customers.
There’s an opportunity for Flyin to minimize the gap between local consumers’ needs and domestic tourism, by collaborating with small offline travel agencies and leveraging their experience in that field, and understanding the market needs.
Digital marketing is also required to build anticipation, and promote Saudi’s leisure and heritage tourism among the novice travel destinations by 2030.
On the other hand, the public sector has begun several initiatives to achieve the objectives of the National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020 in easing domestic tourism and digital transformation.
For example, SCTH initiated the Kafala program to finance tourism projects of commercial establishments, while listing Saudi’s fifth heritage site in UNESCO. SAMA’s approved mada debit cards will make online electronic purchases accessible to everyone, and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology have created a new framework for Cloud computing, while spending SR150 billion on the IT sector by 2022.


Diriyah Gate to be a global, historical and cultural landmark

Updated 22 November 2019

Diriyah Gate to be a global, historical and cultural landmark

  • Diriyah is home to Al-Turaif District, built in 1744 and known as one of the largest clay cities in the world

DIRIYAH: With the establishment of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), the historical site of Diriyah will become one of the largest and most important international destinations.

The DGDA seeks to transform the site into a location to host activities and events aimed at exchanging historical and cultural knowledge through museums and venues spread throughout
Al-Turaif District.

 The DGDA aims to celebrate the people of Diriyah by telling their stories and demonstrating their social, cultural and historical the roots, as the cradle of the first Saudi state and a symbol of the beauty of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and
its people.

 Diriyah is home to Al-Turaif District, built in 1744 and known as one of the largest clay cities in the world. It was registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2010 — one of five Saudi sites listed.

Not far from Al-Turaif District is the historic Al-Bujairi District, which was a center for spreading science and knowledge during the prosperity of Diriyah, as the capital of the first Saudi state. 

Today it houses many commercial centers and cafes and is the perfect destination to experience Saudi cuisine.

One of the historical landmarks in Al-Turaif District is Salwa Palace, which is located in the northeastern part. It is the largest of its landmarks and spans over 10,000 square meters. It was founded by Imam Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed bin Saud in 1765, and is historically known as the home of the first royal family. 

The palace houses the Diriyah Museum, which presents the history and development of the first Saudi state through works of art, drawings, models and documentaries.

BACKGROUND

At the northern end of old Diriyah, the town of Ghusaybah sits atop of a plateau surrounded by the Hanifa Valley on three sides.

Salwa Palace forms an integrated architectural system with its residential, administrative, cultural and religious units.

 Al-Turaif District also includes the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Mosque, known as the Great Mosque or Al-Turaif Mosque. It is adjacent to Salwa Palace on the north side, and Imams used to lead Friday prayers there.

 To make movement between the mosque and the palace easier, Imam Saud bin Abdul Aziz built a bridge to connect them on the upper floor. The mosque houses a religious school to teach religious sciences. It was formerly the largest mosque in the Arabian Peninsula and was built to symbolize the strength and unity of the Saudi state.

 At the northern end of old Diriyah, the town of Ghusaybah sits atop of a plateau surrounded by the Hanifa Valley on three sides. It was settled by Mani’ Al-Muraydi, the oldest ancestor of the House of Saud, in the 15th century. 

Ghusaybah is a well-established location, carefully chosen for the establishment of the new governorate, and its location played a major role in the protection of Hajj convoys and trade passing through its areas of influence in Al-Arid region.

 Ghusaybah was the seat of an independent governorate before the founding of the first Saudi state. It provided protection for the northern gate of Diriyah during the campaign of Ibrahim Pasha in 1818.

 Samhan is one of the historical areas south of Ghusaybeh on a triangle overlooking the valley when it meets another tributary, the villages of Omran. It directly overlooks the districts of Qusayrin, Mrayih, and Al-Turaif. This location was important during the reign of Imam Mohammed bin Saud and his son Samhan, being a well-fortified site during the siege of Diriyah. It was selected by Imam Abdullah to be his defense headquarters.

 In the field of philanthropy, one may mention “Sabala Moudhi” which was founded by Imam Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed bin Saud, who made it a charitable endowment in the name of his mother, Moudhi bint Sultan bin Abi Wahtan, wife of Imam Mohammed bin Saud. 

It is located east of the Salwa Palace on the southeast of Al-Turaif District. It is a two-story building and was established to provide free accommodation for visitors coming to the city of Diriyah.