Saudi Arabia, UAE plan joint visit visas to boost tourism

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum discussed bilateral ties during their talks on Thursday. (SPA)
Updated 29 November 2019

Saudi Arabia, UAE plan joint visit visas to boost tourism

  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visits headquarters of Expo 2020 Dubai

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia and the UAE on Thursday signed a raft of agreements which included a deal to issue joint visit visas for residents of both countries in a bid to boost tourism.

According to the UAE’s official news agency WAM, the accord, among six initiatives highlighted during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to the UAE, was part of a cooperation deal between the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) and the UAE’s Ministry of Economy.

The agreement will allow for the speeding up of the flow of traffic at ports of entry between the two countries.

A separate joint strategy for food security was also inked, aimed at tackling food challenges not only in Saudi Arabia and the UAE but throughout the region.

Enhancing cybersecurity and supporting the provision of reliable cyberspace for each country was another initiative agreed upon to find ways of preventing cyberattacks on the two nations.

On an economic level, it was agreed to issue an experimental digital currency strictly targeted for banks, with the aim of better understanding the implications of blockchain technology and facilitating cross-border payments.

The two countries will also develop a new mega-crude refinery with a capacity of 1.2 million barrels per day, integrated with a modern petrochemical complex at an initial cost of $70 billion (SR262 billion) in the state of Maharashtra in western India, to secure the supply of at least 600,000 barrels per day of Saudi crude oil.

FASTFACT

  • A Saudi-Emirati Youth Council is to be established to strengthen the partnership between youth in both countries, exchange ideas, and coordinate efforts to promote young talent.

A Saudi-Emirati Youth Council is also to be established to strengthen the partnership between youth in both countries, exchange ideas, and coordinate efforts to promote young talent.

Meanwhile, the two sides also signed four new memoranda of understanding (MoUs) in the health, culture, space and food security fields.

The first MoU was penned between the Saudi Ministry of Health and its UAE counterpart, and was followed by a cultural agreement signed between Noura bint Mohammed Al-Kaabi, the UAE’s minister of culture and knowledge development, and Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, the Saudi minister of culture.

A third MoU was inked in the field of space between Dr. Ahmad bin Abdullah Humaid Belhoul Al-Falasi, minister of state for higher education and advanced skills and chairman of the UAE Space Agency, and Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, Saudi minister of economy and planning.

The fourth accord on food security was agreed between Mariam Hareb Al-Mheiri, minister of state for food security, and Al-Tuwaijri.

During the Saudi crown prince’s stay, he visited the headquarters of Expo 2020 Dubai along with Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. 

The mega event, which features the participation of 192 countries, is scheduled to take place in the city under the theme of “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” from Oct. 20, 2020, to April 10, 2021.


Future Hospitality Summit: Tourism sector worst hit by pandemic

Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb attends a summit to discuss the challenges facing the travel and tourism industry. (Supplied)
Updated 10 min 29 sec ago

Future Hospitality Summit: Tourism sector worst hit by pandemic

  • Al-Khateeb says revival of travel, aviation is G20’s top priority

JEDDAH: Two sectors amassed billions in losses due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic this year — travel and aviation as well as hotels and hospitality.

According to Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb, who spoke at the Future Hospitality Summit on Monday, airlines will lose up to $6 billion while hotel occupancy rates, to date, are at under 10 percent their usual levels.
The summit was organized by the Ministry of Tourism and the Saudi Secretariat of the G20 as part of the International Conferences Program, honoring Saudi Arabia’s G20 presidency this year.
The travel sector is expected to lose up to 160 million jobs out of 330 million existing jobs by the end of 2022, said the minister.
“Our industry is driven mainly by the private sector and most of the companies operating in (it) are driven by profitability, therefore they wish to cut their costs to survive,” he said.
Job security, the safety of passengers and a fast recovery for the sector are at the top of the G20’s list of priorities, said Al-Khateeb.
“We met, all the G20 ministers, and discussed the main issues that are impacting our sectors. For the first time ever, we arranged a meeting with the private sector on Oct. 7. We listened to the private sector and tried to create bridges with the help of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). We came out of that meeting with a commitment to restore 100 million jobs,” he added.
The G20 meeting also resulted in the “adoption” of the secretary-general’s initiative, which is the development of rural areas around the globe. Al-Khateeb said securing jobs and training was the main goal, while improving the conditions of these areas to create travel destinations. “We took AlUla, a historical village in Saudi Arabia, as an example and we adopted AlUla’s framework on how to develop small villages,” he added.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The travel sector is expected to lose up to 160 million jobs out of 330 million existing jobs by the end of 2022.

• Airlines will lose up to $6 billion while hotel occupancy rates, to date, are at under 10 percent their usual levels.

The minister also talked about Saudi Arabia’s keenness to resume its tourism activities ever since the country reopened its gates to tourists in 2019, with several giga-projects, such as NEOM, the Red Sea Project, Qiddiyah and Diriyah.
Most of these projects were affected by the pandemic, but are now back on track.
The CEO of Diriyah Gate Development Authority, Jerry Inzerillo, said that Turaif’s Salwa Palace had to be closed to the public, and that the pandemic had changed how people walk around sites to maintain safety.
Inzerillo promised many activities would be launched at Diriyah this December, including a Samhan Historical Hotel and a soft opening for the Salwah Palace.
Other speakers at the summit discussed what the sector needed during the pandemic. Gloria Guevara, CEO and president of the WTTC, said global governmental cooperation was essential.
“Travel can resume when, through cooperation and coordination, the correct measures and protocols are in place to ensure hygienic and safe travels,” she said.
About 6,000 leaders, experts and interested people around the world are participating in the two-day conference.