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Wed 7 May 2008 10:06 AM

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Saudis lining up to blast off into outer space

ATM: Tourists in kingdom showing most interest in taking space holiday - Virgin Galactic.

Saudi's are queuing up to blast off into outer space as the fledgling space tourism industry begins to take hold in the kingdom, aVirgin Galacticexecutive told ArabianBusiness.com on Tuesday.Speaking at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai, Sharon Garrett, head of space marketing at Virgin Galactic’s UAE agent Sharaf Travel, said tourists from Saudi Arabia were so far showing the most interest in taking a vacation into space.

“We have had a very strong response from travel agents at ATM, with particularly strong interest from Saudi Arabia. Several agencies from the kingdom have approached me to indicate their interest, plus agencies from Kuwait, Doha and Qatar,” she said.

The interest from Saudi Arabia was likely to have been sparked by the large number of high net worth travel clients there, she said.

Selling space travel was a unique role, and carried a hefty price tag of $200,000 per ticket. Interested travel agencies would need to apply simply to try qualify for the shortlist, she said.

Virgin Galactic’s space flights commence at the end of 2009, and the company has sold more than 200 tickets globally, representing over $30 million in deposits.

In April a Dubai-based Arab company became the first in the world to charter a space craft for its top management.

RELATED: Arab company charters space craft in world first

The company handed over $500,000 as a deposit to Virgin Galactic to charter one of the company’s commercial spacecrafts.

Details of the company are likely to be made public in July this year. Sources suggest the two hour flight in space will take place some time in 2010. The total deal, the first ever of its kind, is worth $1.2 million.

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Adil Mirza 11 years ago

I can only grieve at the mindset that allows for such shallow extravaganza while all around the world there are so many worthwhile opportunities of business projects that could help lives of so many people needing genuine sustainable business projects to happen around their areas. Why can’t the idea of setting up such helpful projects excite wealthy Saudis? Why are they after a few seconds of feeling high or useless fame of few seconds?… I just cannot understand such extravaganza. This amount of money can help setup so many excellent businesses in a country like Pakistan. Even a modern educational institute can be a sustainable business that can help a community. Anyone excited about setting up a small hospital within same budget? Why don’t such projects excite them?

Ali Aboucham 11 years ago

Why risk your life when you could sit in an IMAX theatre and do the same thing. And it only cost $18 a ride.