RIYADH: Al-Turaif historical district will host the G20 states in a cultural night on Nov. 20, according to Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) CEO, Jerry Inzerillo.
“This is a historic week,” he said, speaking at a media briefing on making Diriyah - birthplace of the Kingdom - one of the world’s greatest gathering places.
“Many years from now — 10, 20, 30 years from now, people will look at the Kingdom’s successful hosting of the G20 as a milestone.
Inzerillo said despite COVID-19 pandemic shuttering global tourism options, there remained high hopes in the Kingdom for the future of the sector.
“We can go back to where we were in September last year in welcoming people from all over the world. Now the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and the UN’s World Travel Organization (UNWTO) (have both named) Saudi Arabia as one of the fastest growing tourism countries in the world. We were filing 55,000 visas per week (before the pandemic),” he said.
He said prior to COVID-19, there was a vast interest in visiting, despite Saudi Arabia’s tourism visa scheme only being open to 55 countries, including Hong Kong and Macau.
“We will have more sites coming with UNESCO. We want to thank Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud for his leadership. We would like to also praise and thank our wonderful Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb for his steadfast leadership and opening up Saudi Arabia to tourism,” Inzerillo said.
He anticipated that COVID-19 would pass soon based on news from major pharmaceutical companies on the efficacy of their respective vaccine trials.
“This will pass, and the Kingdom will have its place worldwide as one of the top gathering places, and we are ready at the birthplace of the Kingdom, Al-Turaif and Diriyah, to welcome everybody,” Inzerillo said.
“People can come visit us. Our Al-Bujairi district is home to 20 new restaurants and beautiful walking esplanades. We have our first Samhan Nuzul Hotel under construction, in the beautiful Najd architectural style, which everybody will want to come and see. We also have our first cultural institution going up,” he said, adding the area would have one of the largest parks in Riyadh next to the the Wadi Hanifah UNESCO site.
“I am honored on behalf of our community in Diriyah, and on behalf of the DGDA, to say that we are moving full speed ahead, but the thing that I am most proud about is our team — the ladies and gentlemen who work at the DGDA,” he said.
“We will contribute SR 27 billion ($7.19 billion) to the GDP of Saudi Arabia. We will also be providing employment opportunities; 81 percent of our staff are from Saudi Arabia, and 36 percent of our staff are Saudi women,” he said.