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)
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Updated 27 October 2020

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.


Saudi vegan bodybuilder slams diet myths

Nutrition is the most important part when it comes to bodybuilding, then comes type of exercise, and good rest. (AFP)
Updated 29 November 2020

Saudi vegan bodybuilder slams diet myths

  • Ali Al-Salam, who stopped consuming animal products in 2017, says certain steps must be completed to have an athletic body

JEDDAH: The vegan diet has risen in popularity in Saudi Arabia in recent years and has been a constant topic of debate among Saudis, attracting the interest of many, including athletes.

Ongoing debates about whether the vegan diet is sufficient for normal people, let alone bodybuilders, abound, but one Saudi is answering them physically.
Veganism is a lifestyle that excludes all animal products from diets, clothing or any other purposes.
Over the years, a number of studies have found that people who eat vegan or vegetarian diets have a lower risk of heart disease, but other studies have also placed them at a higher risk of stroke, possibly due to the lack of vitamin B12, an essential vitamin that reduces the risk of anemia and neurological diseases.
Speaking to Arab News, 33-year-old Saudi vegan bodybuilder, Ali Al-Salam, who first started his vegan diet three years ago when he was suffering from high blood pressure, highlighted that the consumption of animal products is a deep rooted idea among bodybuilders and athletes.
“We always hear that in order to build muscle, we must consume animal products. In some parts of the world, there are people who can only have a small amount of animal products yet they live their lives healthily and comfortably and are not suffering from malnutrition — on the contrary, they have a lower level of chronic illnesses.”

When I consumed meat and animal products, I suffered from high blood pressure; it was 190 over 110, and I wasn’t even 30 yet. Two weeks into the vegan diet, it went down to 150. The vegan diet did what couldn’t be done with medications for me.

Ali Al-Salam, Saudi vegan bodybuilder

He said it also opened his eyes to what goes on in the dairy and meat industry; he began researching in 2016 and decided to become vegan in 2017.
“I was just like every other athlete, I used to consume a high amounts of protein. I remember in the last days before turning vegan, I used to have 10 egg whites and a piece of steak for breakfast to fulfil my protein needs. This made me think, ‘is this the only way to consume protein?’ And from then on, I started researching and got introduced to the vegan diet at a larger scale,” he said.
“When I consumed meat and animal products, I suffered from high blood pressure; it was 190 over 110, and I wasn’t even 30 yet. Two weeks into the vegan diet, it went down to 150. The vegan diet did what couldn’t be done with medications for me.”
He explained that bodybuilding does not solely rely on protein, and that there are steps that must be completed in order to reach an athletic body. Nutrition is the most important part, then comes type of exercise, and good rest.
“When we talk about good nutrition, it does not just rely on protein. Yes, it is important, but the amount of calories in general is more important,” he said.
“Let’s say you needed 200 grams of protein, does that mean if you consumed 200 grams of it, you would gain muscle? No. You need all the basic nutrients to reach a certain amount of calories in general,” he added.
He highlighted that as soon as people register for gym memberships, they immediately look for supplements because they think they cannot reach the needed amount of protein.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Veganism is a lifestyle that excludes all animal products from diets, clothing or any other purposes.

• Over the years, a number of studies have found that people who eat vegan or vegetarian diets have a lower risk of heart disease.

• But other studies have also placed them at a higher risk of stroke, possibly due to the lack of vitamin B12, an essential vitamin that reduces the risk of anemia and neurological diseases.

• Vegan athletes have more endurance, strength and faster muscle recovery, because the vegan diet is rich in antioxidants.

• Animal products sometimes cause inflammation, that your body needs to recover from in the first place.

“I’m talking about non-vegans here too, where their protein intake is already high. Marketing plays a big role here. People link protein to animal products because our society grew up with this idea as well.
“Can a vegan build muscle? Yes, when they eat right, exercise correctly and rest well. The misconception about protein stems from amino acids. People think vegan food lacks amino acids, and only animal products are full of them and that is far from the truth,” he added.
When comparing vegan athletes to regular athletes, he said vegan athletes have more endurance, strength and faster muscle recovery, because the vegan diet is rich in antioxidants which helps greatly in recovery, and because “animal products sometimes cause inflammation, that your body needs to recover from in the first place.”