‘Milestone’ $26 billion deals spur tourism backing in Kingdom

The tower of the Marid Castle, with a base size of around 2 meters and a current height of 4.25 meters, is one of the Kingdom's top tourist sites. (SPA)
Updated 28 September 2019

‘Milestone’ $26 billion deals spur tourism backing in Kingdom

  • Domestic, global investors will unlock sector’s potential, says investment chief
  • Agreements span hospitality, leisure, transport and real estate development sectors

RIYADH: As Saudi Arabia opens its doors to tourists from across the world, the General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) have agreed partnerships with regional and global investors worth more than SR100 billion ($26.6 billion).

The agreements and memorandums of understanding (MOUs) signed at a ceremony held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh reflect the enormous potential Saudi Arabia’s growing tourism sector offers to investors across the Kingdom and the world.

Opening Saudi Arabia to tourism is a cornerstone in the implementation of Vision 2030, which seeks to diversify the country’s economy and reduce its dependence on oil.

Saudi Arabia expects to increase international and domestic visits to 100 million a year by 2030, attracting significant foreign and domestic investment, and creating more than a million jobs.

By 2030, tourism is expected to contribute up to 10 percent of Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product, compared with just 3 percent today.

The agreements demonstrate the private sector’s confidence in the potential of the country’s tourism sector and its prospects for future growth.

SAGIA Gov. Ibrahim Al-Omar said: “In Saudi Arabia, the market fundamentals are in place for a vibrant tourism industry, and we believe that the private sector will play a crucial role in unlocking this potential.

“At SAGIA, our role is to empower and enable domestic and international investors by identifying and developing new opportunities, fostering partnerships and shaping regulatory reforms. Signing these agreements represents a milestone for the Kingdom as we continue charting a path to a new diversified economy.”

Ahmad Al Khateeb, chairman of SCTH, added: “These exciting and wide-ranging agreements are only the beginning of the investment opportunities that will arise within Saudi Arabia, the world’s fastest-growing tourism sector. We anticipate more businesses from around the world will establish operations within the Kingdom as its unique attractions, culture and natural beauty become more widely appreciated.”

Agreements and MOUs signed by SAGIA include:
- Triple 5: Investment opportunities worth SR37.5 billion, with Triple 5 planning to develop mixed-use tourism, hospitality and entertainment destinations across the Kingdom.
- Majid Al Futtaim: MOU worth SR20 billion for a mixed-use shopping and entertainment destination that will create 12,000 jobs and include the region’s largest indoor ski slope and snow park.
- OYO Rooms: SR4 billion agreement with OYO planning to buy 10 or more upper-budget and luxury hotel properties across Saudi Arabia.
- Nenking Group/Ajlan Brothers: SR1.5 billion joint venture to build a landmark lifestyle destination in Riyadh to serve as an anchor point for the Kingdom’s entertainment industry.
- FTG Development: MoU to build a hotel, waterpark and retail development in Qiddiya, a 1,500-room hotel in NEOM, and a hotel between Jeddah and Makkah.
- Kerten Hospitality: Investment license worth SR270 million to develop mixed-use projects across the Kingdom.
- Tetrapylon: Investment license worth SR2.5 million to coordinate with tour operators across North America, Europe and Asia to highlight the Kingdom as a must-visit tourist destination.

Agreements and MOUs signed by SCTH include:
- Al Khozama: Two MoUs on the Mayasem Project and Harbor Project in Jeddah, along with other investment plans covering real estate, food and beverage investments, as well as facility management services and business development projects.
- Diriyah Gate Development Authority: Two MoUs, the first with Greg Norman Golf Design to establish a 27-hole golf course at Wadi Safar, and the second with AMAN Resorts to build an exclusive 40-room hotel in Al-Bujairi, overlooking the Wadi Hanifah Valley, and at the Taif UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Saudia: The airline agreed four MoUs involving the launch of the first commercial flights to NEOM, the creation of Saudi Arabia’s first destination management company; a joint initiative to promote the Red Sea Project as a luxury global destination; and an agreement with the Royal Commission for AlUla.

In addition, organizations including Alshaya Group, Shomoul, Radisson, Alrajhi Investment and Seera Group have made investment commitments totalling SR36.25 billion.

These investments come alongside a broad series of economic reforms promoting rapid growth in foreign investment in Saudi Arabia. The number of foreign investor licenses issued in the first half of 2019 was more than double the number issued in the same period the previous year.

Wait is almost over for music fans eager to learn who will headline E-Prix concerts

Updated 13 November 2019

Wait is almost over for music fans eager to learn who will headline E-Prix concerts

  • Organizers promise this year’s line-up of international stars at Diriyah event will be bigger than ever

RIYADH: The first of the major international music acts that will perform at the Diriyah E-Prix this month will be announced on Wednesday.

There were incredible scenes at the event last year when David Guetta, One Republic, the Black Eyed Peas, Amr Diab, Enrique Iglesias and Jason Derulo rocked the UNESCO World Heritage site. About 40,000 fans flocked to the Diriyah Circuit, on the outskirts of Riyadh, for the after-race concerts, the first unsegregated music events in Saudi Arabia

The stage is set for even bigger and better things this year, with the promise of another two nights of unmissable music on Nov. 22 and 23 as the E-Prix racing returns.

“If you were one of the 40,000 who were lucky enough to be part of that watershed moment (last year) for the Kingdom, believe me, you have not seen anything yet,” said Prince Abdul Aziz Al-Faisal Al-Saud, chairman of the General Sports Authority.

“Last year we told people before we announced (the acts) they should get their tickets early to avoid disappointment. Once we revealed who was coming, the tickets sold out incredibly quickly. This year will be the same but even bigger, so for music fans who want to enjoy the biggest concerts in Saudi Arabia, the smart move is to get your ticket now.”

The Diriyah E Prix kicks off the sixth season of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, the world’s premier all-electric motorsport series, with a double header of races. It also marks the start of Diriyah Season, a month of sport, entertainment, art, cultural festivities, food and retail experiences. Tickets for the Diriyah E Prix, which include entry to the after-race concerts, are available at www.diriyahseason.sa.