Saudi Arabia wants to develop its tourism sector by opening up more to international tourists, especially Westerners. Many impressive projects have been launched lately in the kingdom.
It was in 2019, just before the health crisis, that Saudi Arabia began granting tourist visas to foreign tourists. The objective is to attract 30 million foreigners per year by 2030. After the health crisis, the kingdom seems determined to resume these ambitions in the tourist sector.
Saudi Arabia: measures to facilitate the movement of foreign tourists
With this in mind, the Saudi government has introduced a new tourist visa regime for citizens of European Union countries planning to visit Saudi Arabia.
According to Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism, the government has signed a new decree to ease the travel process for internationals planning to visit his country.
In the same vein, Saudi Arabia has launched training for thousands of Saudis to fill positions in the tourism sector, traditionally reserved for foreigners. This initiative is part of the Saudi public program ” Tourism pioneers “, launched last June.
Launch of a new airline competitor to Emirates
Who says tourists, says air travel. Saudi Arabia plans to launch a new international airline, the Arbian Business newspaper reported. The company should be named ” RIA “.
Once launched, this new carrier will become Saudi Arabia’s second national carrier, based in Riyadh. The current airline, Saudia, operates from Jeddah. ” We’re talking about a brand new airline that aims to do what Emirates did in a quarter of the time. “, said a source familiar with the matter to the same newspaper.
As part of the kingdom’s ambitions to reach 30 million foreign tourists by 2030, the new carrier is expected to operate more than 150 routes worldwide (Europe, North America, South America, Africa and Asia), underlines the same source.
The Kingdom has been working on the launch of the new company for 12 months. The project has already been submitted to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund for financing. However, the final decision will be taken by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, adds the same source.
Saudi Arabia: the megacity Neom will serve alcohol on a seaside island
Another major project initiated as part of the revival of the tourism sector; Saudi Arabia plans to create a new city named Neom in the northwest of the country. This new kind of megalopolis should extend over 170 km, from the Gulf of Aqaba to the desert.
The futuristic-looking $500 billion Saudi megacity is set to shake up all the rules inside the Kingdom. According to what the Middle East Eye newspaper reported on Saturday 17 September, alcohol will not be banned there.
Quoting documents consulted by Wall Street Journal, this newspaper specifies that “ wine, cocktail and champagne bars are planned on the red sea island “. Indeed, Neom, plans to serve alcohol in a resort that will open next year. There will also be a retail wine store with an impressive display.
So far, the consumption, import, brewing and sale of alcohol is strictly prohibited in the kingdom. Offenders risk penalties ranging from fines to long prison terms or floggings.
Saudi Arabia: will tourism upset the rules of use?
Will the opening to foreign tourists change all the rules of use in Saudi Arabia? Everything leads to believe it. In images of a plan for the resort island in question, ” cocktails being poured in front of what appear to be bottles of vodka, whiskey and wine are highlighted.
In other illustrations, images show ” women in bikinis and shirtless men in yachts and swimming pools “, specifies the same newspaper. Yet Saudi authorities last May denied reports that Neom had its own special status, similar to a “ country within a country and where alcohol consumption would be permitted.
Saudi authorities claimed that residents of Neom would be subject to the kingdom’s sovereignty, but it would have its own economic legislation. Thus, everything suggests that alcohol consumption will be exclusive to this new megalopolis.