Tourism to contribute $70bn to Saudi Arabian economy in 2019

Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector is expected to contribute $70.9 billion to the Kingdom’s GDP in 2019. (SPA)
Updated 29 April 2019
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Tourism to contribute $70bn to Saudi Arabian economy in 2019

  • Religious tourism will continue to be the biggest contributor
  • Leisure tourism is also gaining traction in Saudi Arabia, with various projects and initiatives under Vision 2030

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector is expected to contribute $70.9 billion to the Kingdom’s GDP in 2019, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
International arrivals to the Kingdom are also expected to increase 5.6 percent per year from 17.7 million in 2018 to 23.3 million by 2023, according to research by Colliers in partnership with the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), which opened at the Dubai World Trade Center on Sunday.
Religious tourism will continue to be the biggest contributor to these numbers over the next decade, according to the research, with a goal of 30 million pilgrims to the Kingdom by 2030, an increase of 11 million from the 19 million Hajj and Umrah pilgrims that visited the country in 2017.
“More relaxed access to visas and the growth of the Umrah market are expected to be key drivers in the growth of international tourism in the Kingdom,” Danielle Curtis, Middle East exhibition director at the ATM, said in a statement.




Danielle Curtis, Middle East exhibition director at the ATM

But leisure tourism is also gaining traction in Saudi Arabia, with various projects and initiatives under the Vision 2030 reform plan already in progress.
“Saudi Arabia will see a vast expansion of its hotel and resort inventory during 2019, with over 9,000 keys of three, four and five-star international supply expected to enter the market,” Curtis said.
This will drive up competition in the country’s hotel scene, with projected growth in domestic and international visitors set to boost occupancy levels throughout 2019, according to Curtis.
A significant number of local tourist trips also adds to the upbeat forecast for the country’s tourism sector, with the number of domestic tourists exceeding 47 million in 2018, which Colliers said will increase to 70.5 million by 2023.


Huawei in public test as it unveils sanction-hit phone

Updated 19 September 2019

Huawei in public test as it unveils sanction-hit phone

  • Hit by US sanctions, Huawei's Mate 30 will not be allowed to use Google’s Play Store
  • Household-name services like WhatsApp, Instagram and Google Maps will be unavailable.
BERLIN: Chinese tech giant Huawei launches its latest high-end smartphone in Munich on Thursday, the first that could be void of popular Google apps because of US sanctions.
Observers are asking whether a phone without the Silicon Valley software that users have come to depend on can succeed, or whether Huawei will have found a way for buyers to install popular apps despite the constraints.
The company has maintained a veil of secrecy over its plans, set to be dropped at a 1200 GMT press conference revealing the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro models.
Huawei, targeted directly by the United States as part of a broader trade conflict with Beijing, was added to a “blacklist” in Washington in May.
Since then, it has been illegal for American firms to do business with the Chinese firm, suspected of espionage by President Donald Trump and his administration.
As a result, the new Mate will run on a freely available version of Android, the world’s most-used phone operating system that is owned by the search engine heavyweight.
While Mate 30 owners will experience little difference in the use of the system, the lack of Google’s Play Store — which provides access to hundreds of thousands of third-party apps and games as well as films, books and music — could hobble them.
Household-name services like WhatsApp, Instagram and Google Maps will be unavailable.
The tech press reports that this yawning gap in functionality has left some sellers reluctant to stock the new phones, fearing a wave of rapid-fire returns from dissatisfied customers.
Huawei president Richard Yu said at Berlin’s IFA electronics fair this month that his engineers found a “very simple” way to install the hottest apps without going via the Play Store.
Huawei could offer its own app store in a preliminary version, setting itself up as a competitor to the dominant Apple and Google offerings, observers speculate.
Over the longer term, the company could build out a similar “ecosystem” of devices, apps and services as the Silicon Valley companies that would bind users more closely to it.
The world’s second-largest smartphone maker after Samsung, Huawei earlier this month presented its proprietary operating system HarmonyOS, a potential replacement for Android.
The Mate 30 will not yet have HarmonyOS installed.
But it could make for a new round in the decades-old “OS wars” between Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s Mac OS, then Android versus Apple’s iOS.
Meanwhile, Eric Xu, current holder of Huawei’s rotating chief executive chair, has urged Europe to foster an alternative to Google and Apple.
That could provide an opening for Huawei to build up Europe’s market of 500 million well-off consumers as a stronghold against American rivals.
“If Europe had its own ecosystem for smart devices, Huawei would use it... that would resolve the problem of European digital dependency” on the United States, Xu told German business daily Handelsblatt.
He added that his company would be prepared to invest in developing such joint European-Chinese projects.