The Saudi government is seeking up to $20 billion in tourism investment through 2035 for the Al Ula archaeological site near Riyadh, according to media reports.
In an interview with Reuters, Amr Madani, the chief executive of the Royal Commission for Al Ula, said that the investments have the potential to create 35,000 jobs and contribute $32 billion to the kingdom’s GDP.
“The bulk of that in the beginning will be construction-led but steady state it will be tourism-led,” he said, adding that there will also be secondary industries present such as film production and sustainable agriculture.
The Saudi government – combined with a French cultural partnership – has already begun financing infrastructure projects at the site, which features Nabatean stone carvings similar to those at Petra in Jordan.
“We’d rather inject zero from public money, but the reality is we need to kick-start the investment,” Madani added. “We don’t know what the number is, but we’re committed to keep investing until we get to the right conditions where funds jump in.”
Additionally, Madani said that a number of investment vehicles will be considered, including long leases and joint ventures.
Saudi authorities eventually hope to attract as many as 2 million visitors to Al Ula. The plans have begun with 1,000 hotel rooms and desert camps, as well as a three month visitor season – ‘Winter at Tantoura’ – that just ended.For all the latest travel 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.
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