JEDDAH: Officials in Al-Ahsa congratulated King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the city was named Arab Tourism Capital for 2019 by the Arab Ministerial Council for Tourism on Wednesday.
The decision confirms that Al-Ahsa fulfilled all the terms of reference set by the Arab League’s Arab Tourism Organization. Al-Ahsa officials said the decision is recognition of the city’s success in tourism, its historical and cultural value, and its archaeological sites. Al-Ahsa Mayor Adel Al-Mulhim thanked the king and crown prince for supporting efforts to promote tourism in Saudi Arabia. Al-Mulhim also thanked Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), for his attention to tourism and heritage in the Kingdom. Al-Mulhim hailed the support given by Prince Saud bin Nayef, governor of the Eastern Province, and by Prince Badr bin Mohammed bin Jalawi, governor of Al-Ahsa, to the city’s heritage. The council’s decision will contribute to preserving and investing in tourism in Al-Ahsa, Al-Mulhim said. The city is considered a world leader in handicrafts and folk art.
Its secretariat continues to do its utmost to develop tourism through a strong partnership with the SCTH and cooperation with relevant government agencies, Al-Mulhim added. “Al-Ahsa has a long history and a rich heritage dating back to the 5th millennium BC. It tells great stories as one of the most important places inhabited by human civilizations, and it will remain a constantly evolving cultural and civilizational painting that shares with the world a history full of authentic heritage,” he said.
Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Fereidah, general manager of the SCTH branch in Al-Ahsa, said the city would not have been named Arab Tourism Capital if not for the great support and care of King Salman’s government. “Al-Ahsa has received great care and attention from the leadership, allowing it to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site,” Al-Fereidah added.
Its designation as the Arab Tourism Capital “will boost the tourism industry in the Kingdom,” he said.
Tourism to Al-Ahsa Oasis is progressing at a fast pace due to the support of the country’s leaders, he added.
Al-Fereidah congratulated the people of Al-Ahsa and Saudi Arabia on this happy occasion, saying the city houses natural, archaeological and cultural treasures that attract tourists and heritage enthusiasts. Dr. Fuad bin Ahmad Al-Asheikh Mubarak, head of the General Establishment for Irrigation in Al-Ahsa, said: “The cultural heritage and great tourism components in Al-Ahsa stretch to thousands of years.”
The city “will see the implementation of major projects and services that meet everyone’s aspirations,” he added.
The director general of the Al-Ahsa branch of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Khalid bin Saad Al-Husseini, said naming the city as the Arab Tourism Capital reflects its competitiveness in Arab tourism. “Al-Ahsa is a continuously evolving oasis with beautiful nature, deep history, human culture and source of sustainability,” he added. “Al-Ahsa looks forward to further development, which we should achieve with our ideas… and by preserving it and enhancing its beauty to meet the aspirations of our leadership.”
Having Al-Ahsa chosen as the Arab Tourism Capital is a national achievement that bears many responsibilities and requires increased efforts to turn it into a city of unique beauty, Al-Husseini said.