Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO and board member of the Saudi Tourism Authority

Fahd Hamidaddin
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Updated 26 June 2020

Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO and board member of the Saudi Tourism Authority

Fahd Hamidaddin is the CEO of and board member of the Saudi Tourism Authority.

He is responsible for delivering on the authority’s mandate to build domestic and inbound visitation by developing, packaging and distributing tourism offerings in collaboration with the industry. He also oversees the development of the Visit Saudi destination brand and the monitoring of visitor experiences.

Before taking on his current role, Hamidaddin served as chief of investment, strategy and tourism marketing officer for the Saudi Ministry of Tourism. He played a leading role in launching the electronic visa and introducing the Visit Saudi brand with a global campaign that established the Kingdom as the world’s most exciting new tourism destination.

The Saudi Ministry of Tourism recently launched the “Saudi Summer” initiative in an effort to resume and promote domestic tourism activities in the Kingdom.

During a virtual press conference on Wednesday, Hamidaddin said 81 percent of Saudis are unwilling to travel outside the Kingdom this summer, according to an extensive survey on tourism. The ministry is working to empower local businesses in the industry and help them overcome the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The pandemic has left people feeling stifled. Our role is to turn that feeling into something that could help them relax. People just want to breathe right now,” he said.

Previously, Hamidaddin was chief commercial officer at King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) beginning in 2012. His responsibilities included the company’s marketing, corporate communications, and sustainable development groups. He also led the city’s customer experience, investment promotions, and activation, and strengthened KAEC’s strategic partnership with key media outlets to help promote it as a residential and business destination.

Before joining KAEC, Hamidaddin was chief of marketing and competitiveness at the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), where he won five international awards for communications, advertising campaigns and online marketing strategy.

In addition to sitting on the board of the Saudi Tourism Authority, Hamidaddin is also a member of the board of trustees for the Prince Mohammad bin Salman College for Business and Entrepreneurship, the board of the General Authority for Conventions and Exhibitions and several government committees.


$800bn plan to turn Riyadh into cultural hub for the Middle East

Updated 06 July 2020

$800bn plan to turn Riyadh into cultural hub for the Middle East

  • Saudi capital’s planning chief unveils ambitious strategy ahead of G20 urban development summit

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is launching a SR3 trillion ($800 billion) plan to double the size of Riyadh in the next decade and transform it into an economic, social and cultural hub for the region.

The ambitious strategy for the capital city was unveiled by Fahd Al-Rasheed, president of the Royal Commission for the City of Riyadh, ahead of key meetings of the U20, the arm of the G20 leaders’ summit that deals with urban development and strategy.

“Riyadh is already a very important economic engine for the Kingdom, and although it’s already very successful, the plan now, under Vision 2030, is to actually take that way further, to double the population to 15 million people,” he told Arab News.

“We’ve already launched 18 megaprojects in the city, worth over SR1 trillion, over $250 billion, to both improve livability and deliver much higher economic growth so we can create jobs and double the population in 10 years. It’s a significant plan and the whole city is working to make sure this happens.”

About $250 billion in investment is expected from the private sector, with the same amount generated by increased economic activity from population growth, finance and banking, cultural and desert tourism, and leisure events.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 18 megaprojects have already been launched worth over $250 billion.
  • 7 million trees planted in Riyadh in the next few years.
  • King Salman Park will be bigger than Hyde Park in London.

“We must also ensure the growth is managed properly, so there will be a focus on transport and logistics, including the Riyadh metro which will open at the beginning of next year. The aim is to increase productivity,” Al-Rasheed said.

The plan involves the creation of a “mega industrial zone” focusing on advanced technology such as renewables and automation, and biotechnology and aquaponics. Another key feature is sustainability, with energy conservation, the circular carbon economy with its emphasis on reducing emissions, and water management, all priorities.

“You will see 7 million trees planted in Riyadh in the next few years, and King Salman Park will be bigger than Hyde Park in London,” Al-Rasheed said.

The city also aims to be a Middle East artistic and cultural hub. An opera house is being considered, as well as public art shows with 1,000 works commissioned from around the world. “We have not seen anything like it since Renaissance Florence,” Al-Rasheed said.

The plans will be discussed this week during online meetings of the U20 linking Riyadh with Houston. The Texas oil capital is suffering a new spike in coronavirus cases and pandemics will be on the agenda. “We want to deal with this one, but also be ready for the next one,” Al-Rasheed said.