Major new Saudi tourism project to get underway

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Al Baha in southern Saudi Arabia is one of the favorite destination of holidaymakers in the Kingdom. (SPA)
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The Al-Haqu heritage site in the southern region of Jazan. (SPA)
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The beautiful Alkhobar Corniche Mosque at sunrise. (Shutterstock)
Updated 01 March 2019

Major new Saudi tourism project to get underway

  • Initiative to play a key role in developing the sector and providing jobs in the process

RIYADH: A major initiative mapping out 11 key tourism seasons for Saudi Arabia has been launched by government officials.

The “Saudi Seasons 2019” program, announced by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), aims to target cultural, sporting, historical and other attractions in the Kingdom likely to draw large numbers of visitors. 

It is hoped the experimental project will provide the road map for future tourism strategies and help to create new job opportunities.

The first of the 11 seasons will focus on the Kingdom’s Eastern Province and is scheduled to get underway in mid-March. Other tourism drives will center on the holy month of Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr, the cities of Jeddah and Taif, Eid Al-Adha, National Day, the capital Riyadh, Ad Diriyah, Al-Ula, and Hail.

The “Saudi Seasons 2019” initiative is the culmination of collaboration that has been going on since mid-2018 between several Saudi government departments under the leadership of a higher committee headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

The main government bodies that have worked together to draw up the program are the Ministry of Culture, the General Entertainment Authority, the General Sports Authority, and the Saudi Exhibition and Convention Bureau.

The first year of the project includes several programs designed to promote Saudi regions and cities with special cultural, tourist and historical features. Sporting and recreational events will be highlighted too, along with high-quality services such as accommodation and transportation in the targeted centers.

Tourism seasons for 2020 will be announced at the end of this year.

President of the SCTH, Ahmad Al-Khateeb, said the “Saudi Seasons 2019” initiative would play a key role in developing the Kingdom’s tourism sector, providing temporary and permanent jobs in the process.

He said the country was rich with important tourist assets including stunning natural landscapes, original Arab culture, prominent historical sites and well-developed infrastructures.

The commission also announced the launch of an electronic platform to provide visitors with information about the 11 seasons, the events taking place and how to book tickets.

Riyadh governor opens high-profile Saudi economic forum

Updated 40 min 38 sec ago

Riyadh governor opens high-profile Saudi economic forum

RIYADH: A high-profile conference to tackle some of the main challenges facing the Saudi economy was on Tuesday opened by Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar.

Speaking at the opening session of the influential three-day Riyadh Economic Forum (REF), the prince praised the Saudi business community for its cooperation with the government in helping to strengthen the country’s economic fortunes.

The ninth edition of the forum, being held under the title “Human-Centered Economy,” will discuss some of the key future economic issues confronting the Kingdom.

Thanking King Salman for his patronage of the event, vice chairman of Riyadh Chamber and chairman of the forum’s board of trustees, Hamad Al-Shuwaier, said important recommendations linked to the Vision 2030 plan would be announced during the gathering.

These would be related to the areas of public finance reform, the nonprofit sector, future jobs, the environment, and reverse migration.

“What distinguishes the forum, which serves as a research center for national issues, is its focus on the principle of dialogue and participation between all concerned, specialized and responsible parties within the economic and social community, by intensifying meetings and promoting participation in all study discussions, with the aim of touching barriers in a close and intensive manner.

“Accurately diagnosing the facts gives accurate results when identifying solutions,” he added.

Special sessions of the forum will aim to generate practical suggestions and solutions to help with economic decision-making and to establish the principle of dialogue and participation among sectors of the business community.

In July 2019, the REF held a panel discussion at the chamber’s Riyadh headquarters on a study detailing the role of balanced economic development in reverse migration and sustainable and comprehensive development in the Kingdom.

Its focus was to identify the obstacles preventing the movement of young workers between towns and big cities, as well as highlighting ways to improve the quality of life in small urban centers through an analytical survey of industrial and service resources in different regions.

Al-Shuwaier noted that the forum was special in bringing together a broad range of intellectual and practical minds from government and private sector organizations covering many fields.

He added that the chamber was working on the final touches to transforming the forum into an independent economic think tank that served national economic issues.

Ajlan Al-Ajlan, chairman of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), which organized the event, said the forum’s main objectives included using scientific studies and methodology to identify issues affecting the national economy, analyzing constraints on economic growth and working to combat them by learning from the experiences of other countries.

He pointed out that the forum coincided with the Kingdom’s presidency of the 2020 G20 summit of global leaders, being held in Riyadh in November, and that the eyes of the world would be on Saudi Arabia.

The forum is one of the participants in T20, an official G20 engagement group, with four topics related to important sectors discussed by the group.

The opening ceremony of the REF was followed by a session on future jobs, administered by Education Minister Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh. Delegates discussed employment requirements linked to the fourth industrial revolution and how to tackle the prospect of 40 percent of jobs becoming obsolete due to mechanization in the farming and industrial sectors.

The session highlighted that education should go hand in hand to prepare students for the jobs of the future.

Forum data showed its previous eight sessions attracted 33,938 attendees, an average of 4,243 participants per session.