Saudi Arabia will be welcoming international tourists before the end of this year. The announcement was made by the head of the Saudi Tourism and Heritage Authority, Ahmad al-Khatib, this week during a meeting of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in Russia.
“Saudi Arabia is proud to be one of the first countries to work with the organization in the preliminary studies for the Measuring Sustainable Tourism (MST) project,” Khatib said in his speech.
Saudi Arabia is considered one of the largest countries and will be re-enforcing itself on the global map through this initiative. This is part of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan, which aims to diversify the economy. For the past decade, the Kingdom has only been issuing visas to Muslims visiting for the annual pilgrimage and others for the purpose of business trips. However, recently the country has played host to many concerts and festivals in which performances were seen by popstars and rappers like Liam Payne, Janet Jackson and 50 Cent in Jeddah.
Currently, UAE invites most of the tourists to the Middle East. With Saudi Arabia next in line, many tourists in the UAE will have easy access to fly down to the Kingdom due to the low-cost flight routes which already exist with Emirates, Fly Dubai, Etihad, and Saudia airlines.
For the first time ever, international tourists will be able to take in views of the spectacular Nabatean city of Madein Saleh, witness the largest oasis on Earth, dwell into ancient histories, explore the iconic Red Sea Port city located in Jeddah, visit various fortresses, as well as tour the ancestral home of the Al Saud family.