By Glen Carey
World’s biggest oil exporter to develop tourism as it tries to diversify economy.
Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s biggest economy, expects revenue from tourism to increase 4.8 percent in 2010 as the kingdom tries to attract more visitors and religious pilgrims, the official Saudi Press Agency said.
Tourism revenue will reach SR66bn ($17.6bn) and rise to SR118bn in 2015, the Riyadh- based news service said, citing Saleh al-Bakhit, the deputy chairman for investments at the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities.
Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and the world’s biggest oil exporter, wants to develop its tourism industry as it tries to diversify its economy away from oil and create employment for its youth. Saudi Arabia is building a $5.3bn rail line that can transport 3 million people between Mecca and Medina and is expanding Jeddah international airport to handle 30 million passengers by 2012.
Saudi nationals represented 117,384 of the 457,658 people employed by the tourism industry at the end of 2009, the Saudi Press Agency said, citing al-Bakhit.
The Riyadh-based tourism commission wants to attract more investment and will start a development company to identify new opportunities in the kingdom, al-Bakhit said, according to the news service. The government will allow long-term land leases for tourism projects, he said.
Jabal Omar Development, a real-estate developer in Mecca, is building 27 hotels with a combined 15,000 rooms. The first will open in 2011. Kingdom Holding, the investment company controlled by billionaire Prince Alwaleed, plans to open a five-star hotel with 1,000 rooms, restaurants and retail space in Islam’s holiest city.
Saudi Arabia receives at least 2 million visitors a year from 160 countries for the annual pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca. The commission also wants to promote its Red Sea coastline and historical sites, including Madain Saleh and Souq Okaz, as tourist destinations, al-Bakhit said. (Bloomberg)For all the latest Saudi Arabia news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
All I'm asking is, if a group of Japanese tourists came to Saudi - would the women be forced to cover their hair and wear black abayas? Will the group be allowed to have a starbucks together or will the group have be split into singles and family sections? These are legitimate questions! What guarantees would the Japanese women have that they won't be confronted by a man with a long beard and a short thobe?
Dear, you need to understand the reality that the law of the land is paramount. You have to respect the culture, law and norms of the country you are in. The entire world cannot turn into Ibiza if you are a party animal. . If a women wearing Scarf is not acceptable (by law) in France, and you are fine with that, then you have to accept what the Mutawwa says in Saudi Arabia. . If you have to split then split and have coffee.
It's a "human" failure rather than a "religion" failure. The illogical and wayward actions of a particular culture do not represent the faith of ISLAM. Many of the things that Muslims do, especially in countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, are in spite of Islam and not because of it. There's a very thin line between religion and culture and many people can't tell the difference and that's too bad. No one to blame but these Muslims who give their faith in a bad name.