Historic Red Sea shipwreck to attract 7 million dive tourists

Historic Red Sea shipwreck to attract 7 million dive tourists
1 / 4
Historic Red Sea shipwreck to attract 7 million dive tourists
2 / 4
Historic Red Sea shipwreck to attract 7 million dive tourists
3 / 4
Historic Red Sea shipwreck to attract 7 million dive tourists
4 / 4
Short Url
Updated 24 November 2021

Historic Red Sea shipwreck to attract 7 million dive tourists

Historic Red Sea shipwreck to attract 7 million dive tourists

The vast Red Sea Project encompasses urban development, mass tourism and the ‘greening’ of an entire region — in addition to the cultural dimension: A major potential draw for around 7 million dive tourists to Saudi Arabia. 

No fewer than 1,600 archeological sites have been identified in the region, of which 20 have been narrowed down as potential touristic attractions. These include Nabataean and other pre-Islamic remains as well as Islamic-era ports and castles.

Perhaps the most significant of these is an early 18th Century shipwreck, discovered in 2016 and very likely of Egyptian origin. The ship’s construction has apparently no parallels and continuity with present-day traditional Arab boats, judging by the massive dimension of its frames and the presence of unusual architectural elements.

“We don’t know a lot about this period in Saudi history,” Michael Slage of The Red Sea Development Company told Arab News, “or what life was like for sailors traversing the Red Sea region back then, which is why this wreck is extremely important to excavate, as it will give us a better picture.” 

 

 

The ship’s relatively large size indicates that it was capable of going as far as China and India to bring back goods ultimately destined for the Ottoman Empire and Europe.

The TRSDC is partnering with the Saudi Ministry of Culture’s Heritage Commission along with a team of archaeologists from the University of Naples “L’Orientale,” the oldest school of sinology and oriental studies in Europe. The UN team have conducted a survey of the wreck and will undertake the laborious and sensitive job of salvaging the wreck and ultimately displaying its fascinating contents in a purpose-built museum. 

“Our plans are to create a unique destination unlike any other in the world,” the senior director, venture development and innovation at TRSDC, said. “Access to the treasures of the shipwreck will be either through diving on the site or viewing them in the museum, and our goal is to have these in place when the rest of our development is ready to welcome visitors on a large scale.”

Of particular interest is a horde of 2000-plus Chinese porcelain cups and jars, possibly meant for sale to pilgrims in Makkah for the purpose of collecting holy “ZamZam” water. Many are still in excellent condition even after hundreds of years on the sea floor. These items depict, for example, a junk on a river, a multi-storied pagoda and human figures. 

Other artifacts include items reflecting the day-to-day life of the crewmen including their Ottoman pipes, remains of meals and the plates they ate from, and even a perfectly preserved coconut. 

“We believe that this will be a unique dive site”, Slage said, “attracting many of the 7 million dive tourists around the world. For non-divers we are looking at other ways to access the site through submarines and glass bottom boats as well as visiting the museum to see the artifacts being conserved and displayed.”

The wreck and its associated museum will contribute to Saudi Arabia’s position as an important cultural hub. 

“According to UNESCO, 60 percent of visitors’ choice in destination are influenced by having heritage assets in place,” Slage said. “And 40 percent will stay longer than in locations without heritage assets. We, therefore, believe that by developing accessibility to our heritage sites, of which the shipwreck is only the first of many, we will be able to attract a significantly higher number of visitors.”


Pandemic to cost global tourism $2.0 trillion in 2021: UN

A flight crew walk through the terminal at Sydney Airport, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. (AP)
A flight crew walk through the terminal at Sydney Airport, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. (AP)
Updated 29 November 2021

Pandemic to cost global tourism $2.0 trillion in 2021: UN

A flight crew walk through the terminal at Sydney Airport, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. (AP)
  • A total of 46 destinations — 21 percent of all destinations worldwide — currently have their borders completely closed to tourists, according to the UNWTO

MADRID: The coronavirus pandemic will cost the global tourism sector $2.0 trillion in lost revenue in 2021, the UN’s tourism body said Monday, calling the sector’s recovery “fragile” and “slow.”
The forecast from the Madrid-based World Tourism Organization comes as Europe is grappling with a surge in infections and as a new heavily mutated Covid-19 variant, dubbed Omicron, spreads across the globe.
International tourist arrivals will this year remain 70-75 percent below the 1.5 billion arrivals recorded in 2019 before the pandemic hit, a similar decline as in 2020, according to the body.
The global tourism sector already lost $2.0 trillion (1.78 trillion euros) in revenues last year due to the pandemic, according to the UNWTO, making it one of sectors hit hardest by the health crisis.
While the UN body charged with promoting tourism does not have an estimate for how the sector will perform next year, its medium-term outlook is not encouraging.
“Despite the recent improvements, uneven vaccination rates around the world and new Covid-19 strains” such as the Delta variant and Omicron “could impact the already slow and fragile recovery,” it said in a statement.
The introduction of fresh virus restrictions and lockdowns in several nations in recent weeks shows how “it’s a very unpredictable situation,” UNWTO head Zurab Pololikashvili told AFP.
“It’s a historical crisis in the tourism industry but again tourism has the power to recover quite fast,” he added ahead of the start of the WTO’s annual general assembly in Madrid on Tuesday.
“I really hope that 2022 will be much better than 2021.”

While international tourism has taken a hit from the outbreak of disease in the past, the coronavirus is unprecedented in its geographical spread.
In addition to virus-related travel restrictions, the sector is also grappling with the economic strain caused by the pandemic, the spike in oils prices and the disruption of supply chains, the UNWTO said.
Pololikashvili urged nations to harmonize their virus protocols and restrictions because tourists “are confused and they don’t know how to travel.”
International tourist arrivals “rebounded” during the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere thanks to increased travel confidence, rapid vaccination and the easing of entry restrictions in many nations, the UNWTO said.
“Despite the improvement in the third quarter, the pace of recovery remains uneven across world regions due to varying degrees of mobility restrictions, vaccination rates and traveler confidence,” it added.
Arrivals in some islands in the Caribbean and South Asia, and well as some destinations in southern Europe, came close to, or sometimes exceeded pre-pandemic levels in the third quarter.
Other countries however hardly saw any tourists at all, particularly in Asia and the Pacific, where arrivals were down 95 percent compared to 2019 as many destinations remained closed to non-essential travel.

A total of 46 destinations — 21 percent of all destinations worldwide — currently have their borders completely closed to tourists, according to the UNWTO.
A further 55 have their borders partially closed to foreign visitors, while just four nations have lifted all virus-related restrictions — Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Mexico.
The future of the travel sector will be in focus at the WTO annual general assembly, which will run until Friday.
The event — which brings together representatives from 159 members states of the UN body — was original scheduled to be held in Marrakesh.
But Morocco in late October decided not to host the event due to the rise in Covid-19 cases in many countries.
Before the pandemic, the tourism sector accounted for about 10 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and jobs.


Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale transactions increase by 1.2% in October 

Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale transactions increase by 1.2% in October 
Updated 28 November 2021

Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale transactions increase by 1.2% in October 

Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale transactions increase by 1.2% in October 

RIYADH: The value of point-of-sale transactions in Saudi Arabia reached SR40.5 billion ($10.8 billion) in October, up by 1.2 percent compared to the previous month, the Saudi Central Bank reported.

Some of the sectors that helped drive the increase were restaurants and cafes, hotels, food and beverages, clothing and footwear. 

For example, sales in restaurants and cafes reached their highest level since at least January 2016.

The number of transactions rose markedly to over 495 million in October from the previous month’s 469 million transactions.

Some of the point-of-sale transactions could be conducted using mobile phones and cards, otherwise referred to as near-field communication technology.

The number of mobile phone transactions continued its expansionary trend, recording a monthly increase of 1.9 percent to hit 179 million transactions in October. Meanwhile, the number of transactions using cards was up by 8 percent to stand at 293 million transactions.

The value of transactions using mobile phones witnessed a 2.5 percent drop to SR11.5 billion in October while those performed using cards recorded an increase of 3.2 percent with the value reaching SR25.7 billion.


Saudi Tadawul Group sets IPO offer price at SR105 per share

Saudi Tadawul Group sets IPO offer price at SR105 per share
Updated 28 November 2021

Saudi Tadawul Group sets IPO offer price at SR105 per share

Saudi Tadawul Group sets IPO offer price at SR105 per share

RIYADH: Saudi Tadawul Group Holding Co. on Sunday set the final offer price for its initial public offering at the top of the range i.e. SR105 per share. 

The market capitalization of the exchange stands at SR 12.6 billion as on the listing date, a statement issued by Tadawul said. 

The IPO order book was 121 times oversubscribed with the book-building process generating an order book of SR458 billion. 

The individual investor subscription period is scheduled to commence on Nov. 30 and ends on Dec. 2. 


Jordan’s draft 2022 budget forecasts $15 billion in state spending

Jordan’s draft 2022 budget forecasts $15 billion in state spending
Updated 28 November 2021

Jordan’s draft 2022 budget forecasts $15 billion in state spending

Jordan’s draft 2022 budget forecasts $15 billion in state spending
  • The government foresaw total revenues next year at 8.9 billion dinars, with 848 million in foreign grants
  • It has raised capital spending to 1.5 billion dinars, a 43 percent rise from the previous year

AMMAN: Jordan’s Finance Minister Mohamad Al-Ississ said on Sunday that the draft 2022 budget forecasts 10.6 billion dinars ($15 billion) in state expenditure and paves the way for a rebound in growth to 2.7 percent after the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Al-Ississ told a media briefing that Jordan had also last week successfully concluded the third review of a four-year program of International Monetary Fund (IMF) backed reforms to help it restore fiscal prudence for a sustained recovery.
Al-Ississ said that the government had increased its local revenues last year without raising taxes through a rare campaign to combat tax evasion and by a major restructuring of the tax and customs administration that ended exemptions.
It foresaw total revenues next year at 8.9 billion dinars, with 848 million in foreign grants.
Jordan’s economy was particularly hard hit last year by the shutdowns aimed at containing the virus, with unemployment at a record 24 percent amid the worst contraction in decades.
Inflation was, however, expected to rise to 2.5 percent next year from a projected 1.6 percent this year, Al-Ississ said.
Most state expenditure goes on salaries and pensions in a country which has among the highest government spending relative to the size of its $45 billion economy.
The government has raised capital spending to 1.5 billion dinars, a 43 percent rise from the previous year to help spur growth and improve infrastructure to help attract more investment, the finance minister said
Jordan’s commitment to IMF reforms and investor confidence in the country’s improved outlook helped it to maintain stable sovereign ratings at a time when other emerging markets were being downgraded, Al-Ississ said.
Al-Ississ said debt servicing on 29.4 billion dinars of public debt would drop next year with a push to expand preferential loans and grants away from more expensive commercial lending.


Saudi Arabia registers the new Bahri-owned oil tanker Rayah

Saudi Public Transport Authority raises the Kingdom’s flag on the new Rayah marine tanker in Dammam in the Eastern Province. (SPA)
Saudi Public Transport Authority raises the Kingdom’s flag on the new Rayah marine tanker in Dammam in the Eastern Province. (SPA)
Updated 28 November 2021

Saudi Arabia registers the new Bahri-owned oil tanker Rayah

Saudi Public Transport Authority raises the Kingdom’s flag on the new Rayah marine tanker in Dammam in the Eastern Province. (SPA)
  • The Rayah raises the total number of oil tankers owned by Bahri to 57
  • The tanker is made by Hyundai with a tonnage of 110,706 metric tons

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s transport authority raised the Kingdom’s flag on a new marine tanker in Dammam in the Eastern Province.
The Rayah tanker, which has been registered under the Saudi flag, is one of the national carriers owned and operated by Bahri, the Saudi National Shipping Company.
It raises the total number of national ships carrying the Saudi flag to 408 ships to date, with a tonnage exceeding 100 tons, increasing the carrying capacity of the Saudi merchant marine fleet.
The Kingdom’s fleet is experiencing rapid growth, and the addition of the new tanker is an important step in supporting business growth through developing marine capabilities and expanding shipping lanes in energy supplies to global markets.

The Rayah, made by Hyundai with a tonnage of 110,706 metric tons, raises the total number of oil tankers owned by Bahri to 57, and was registered by the regulatory and legislative authority for the Kingdom’s maritime transport sector.
Saudi Arabia’s marine fleet was ranked first regionally and 21st globally in terms of tonnage, according to the annual report of the UN Conference on Trade and Development last year.
“The Public Transport Authority will continue its endeavors and exert more efforts to enhance the logistics sector and national transport, especially maritime, and contribute to consolidating the Kingdom’s leading position on the map of shipping and global marine supply chains,” the body said in a statement.