Saudi Arabia’s historic transformation towards a new era of travel took centerstage recently at the Saudi Tourism Forum. Driven by a vision to fortify tourism as a strategic source of diversified growth, industry leaders set out to unlock the full potential of social, cultural, and economic reforms with a roadmap for the industry in the Kingdom.
We heard from players across the public and private sectors, Saudi Arabia’s ambitions to accelerate tourism to the forefront of economic growth and diversification continue to reach new heights. The Kingdom recorded 93.5 million domestic and international visitors in 2022, with total tourism spending amounting to SR185 billion ($49.2 billion) — an astounding 93 percent year-on-year increase.
We at Red Sea Global were thrilled to spotlight the value of the sector — not just for the economy, but for people and the planet — during two panels at the forum. Themed around the spirit of Saudi hospitality and the future of destination management shaped by sustainability, our discussions explored how the leadership’s vision and foresight continue redefining tourism in the Kingdom. The sector is driving unprecedented growth of new industries, fostering investment capabilities unmatched by any other nation, and creating a pipeline of employment opportunities. This is where responsible tourism developments — like ours at The Red Sea and Amaala — have a role to play.
I am pleased to see young Saudis become stakeholders in this transformational process, taking charge as architects of their nation’s future and embracing new opportunities.
Our unique, strategic geographical position is our greatest asset in this endeavor. Our defining characteristics are unique and diverse — untouched islands, sweeping desert dunes, mountain canyons and dormant volcanoes — coupled with a rich cultural heritage, spread across an area almost the size of Belgium. An exclusive enclave of luxurious resorts and world-class residential estates offer natural attractions set amidst the sun, sea, and sand. New standards in regenerative tourism development will aim to preserve this natural abundance — not only by protecting the environment and enhancing it for future generations, but tracking our success against a commitment to deliver 30 percent net conservation benefit to local ecosystems by 2040.
We are partnering with international brands to bring the very best that the world has to offer to Saudi Arabia. Our recently announced subsidiaries — WAMA and Galaxea — will define incredible guest activities above and below water, while our latest collaborations with Clinique La Prairie, a leading longevity clinic, and Jayasom, an integrative wellness resort, will welcome guests to experience an all-encompassing approach to health at Amaala. Our success will be further documented as we welcome our first guests to our flagship destination, The Red Sea, this year and receive our first domestic flights to the purpose-built Red Sea International Airport.
As we bring our pioneering ambitions to life, there is one core belief that puts our developments in pole position as flourishing global destinations — that human capital is galvanized into joining us in our remarkable journey. I am pleased to see young Saudis become stakeholders in this transformational process, taking charge as architects of their nation’s future and embracing new opportunities.
As part of our ambition to inject 120,000 new jobs into the local market, we are witnessing thousands of new career paths already being forged across multiple disciplines — be it sustainability, hospitality, engineering, finance or management. These exciting opportunities are future-proofed by extensive knowledge-sharing and capacity-building programs — from vocational training to scholarship opportunities with some of the world’s leading educational institutions, and even our in-house graduate program. We remain committed to playing a responsible role by being employers of choice who promote diversity and inclusivity through training, coaching, and support systems for professional growth.
What we are doing at Red Sea Global is building a future. It is, therefore, no coincidence that our own futures are inextricably linked to its evolution.
• Ahmad Darwish is the chief administrative officer at the Red Sea Global.