New Saudi visa scheme to be announced 27 September, 50 nationalities expected to benefit

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Updated 06 September 2019
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New Saudi visa scheme to be announced 27 September, 50 nationalities expected to benefit

  • An event later this month will promote “the sights and sounds” of Saudi Arabia
  • Travel experts say tourism and leisure could account for 10 percent of gross domestic product by 2030

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is putting the final touches to a “game changer” initiative to attract international tourists, with a visa scheme to open the Kingdom to visitors from up to 50 countries, Okaz newspaper reported.

Although not officially confirmed by the government, industry sources told Arab New an event to showcase Saudi tourist attractions would take place this month, with a major global advertising campaign launched in the presence of leading international travel and tourism experts.

Leisure tourism — in a market hitherto dominated by pilgrimage — is a vital part of the Vision 2030 plan to diversify the economy away from oil dependency. Travel experts say tourism and leisure could account for 10 percent of gross domestic product by 2030, adding more than $100 billion a year to the economy.

The event on Sept. 27 will promote “the sights and sounds” of Saudi Arabia to a regional and international audience. Progress on other tourism projects — such as a nationwide digital events calendar and plans to expand the successful “Saudi Seasons” concept — will also feature. 

Work is already underway on a luxury resort on the Red Sea coast, visitor facilities at the historic AlUla area and an entertainment city at Qiddiya outside Riyadh.

HIGHLIGHTS

• An event to showcase Saudi tourist attractions would take place on Sept. 27.

• Leisure tourism is a vital part of the Vision 2030 plan to diversify the economy away from oil dependency.

• Travel experts say tourism and leisure could account for 10 percent of GDP by 2030.

• The event will promote ‘the sights and sounds’ of the KSA to a regional and global audience.

The economic effects of new tourist visas will be significant. The World Travel and Tourism Council said leisure and tourism accounted for 9 percent of the Kingdom’s economy in 2018, and forecast it would rise to 10.4 percent by 2029, calculated by direct and indirect economic impact. 

The property consultancy Colliers International estimated in a recent report that tourism and travel would make up 9 percent of the total GDP by 2026.

Imad Damrah, managing director of Colliers Saudi Arabia, told Arab News that foreign tourism visas would have a significant impact. “It will be a game changer for tourism, leisure and entertainment in Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“It will not just encourage more new people to come, but it will be easier for people who have already decided to come.”

Damrah believes Saudi Arabia can hold its own in the global tourism business. “Let’s get some perspective on this. If you come to Saudi Arabia, you can still go to Florida, or Dubai, as well. Every destination has its own attraction,” he said.


Saudi Arabia’s Defense Ministry displays Iranian drones, cruise missiles used in Aramco attacks

Updated 7 min 13 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s Defense Ministry displays Iranian drones, cruise missiles used in Aramco attacks

  • Press conference sceduled for 5.30 p.m. Saudi time in Riyadh
  • Officials will show evidence on Iran’s involvement in the Aramco attacks

RIYADH: A Saudi Defense Ministry spokesman will hold a press conference on Wednesday to provide information about Saturday’s attack on Aramco.

The conference at 5.30 p.m. Saudi time (2.30 p.m. GMT) will show evidence on Iran’s involvement in the Aramco attacks. It will also show Iranian weapons that were used in the attacks.

 

Weapons used to attack #SaudiArabia on display ahead of Defense Ministry press conference about Iranian involvement in Saturday's #Aramco attacks

 

Earlier, the Saudi ambassador to London said Iran was almost certainly behind the attacks on an oil processing facility and an oil field that cut the Kingdom’s oil production by half. 

The US has blamed Iran for the attacks and officials told Reuters that they originated in south-western Iran and involved cruise missiles and drones.

Iran-backed Houthi militants initially claimed they had carried out the attack from Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is part of a coalition supporting government forces fighting the militia. 

*With Reuters