The Saudi Arabian tourism industry has seen explosive growth in recent years – and it is no surprise. After opening its doors to visitors from around the world in 2019 thanks to the new e-visa programme, tourists have flooded in to explore what Saudi Arabia has to offer.
In fact, the Kingdom aims to exceed 70 million tourist visits in 2022 after drawing 62 million last year. According to Saudi Tourism CEO Fahd Hamidaddin, visits were up 130% in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the last quarter of 2019. International superstars such as football star Lionel Messi have even become brand ambassadors for Saudi Tourism.
Aside from mega-projects such as Qiddiya and Ad Diriyah that are springing up across Saudi Arabia, one of the most successful initiatives that is contributing to Saudi tourism industry’s success is Saudi Seasons.
The initiative, which allows residents and visitors alike to experience what Saudi Arabia’s diverse cities have to offer, is taking the Kingdom by storm. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2019, there were eleven Seasons throughout the country, including in Riyadh, Jeddah, Eastern Province and Taif.
Take Jeddah Season which recently kicked off on 2 May 2022 after a two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic – the event has already received more than 200,000 visitors in the first three days of launching. A 60-day extravaganza that comprises 2,800 events, 60 entertainment games, 20 concerts and four international exhibitions, many visitors will be able to explore one of Saudi Arabia’s most beautiful coastal cities and the surrounding Red Sea region.
There are nine zones, including Jeddah Yacht Club – home to some of the world’s most luxurious yachts and boats, as well as the first tourist port and school in Saudi Arabia. There are also a plethora of dining and entertainment experiences on City Walk and Prince Maajid Park. Visitors will be able to enjoy a variety of events including world-class fireworks displays, K-Pop performances, a science festival and Cirque du Soleil. These events will smash visitors’ preconceptions of what Saudi Arabia is like, and how it is changing at a rapid pace.
A centrepiece of Saudi Seasons is the retail offering that is enjoyed by so many visitors. Meshaal bin Omairh, Group CEO of Al Othaim Investment Co., a leading retail, entertainment and F&B company in the Kingdom, said that “Saudi Seasons helps to bring people together and enjoy the wide variety of shopping options that cities across the country have to offer. Developing from the values created by Sheikh Abdullah and in line with Vision 2030, our company looks to integrate the style and creativity of the retail offerings which are available at Saudi Seasons and incorporate that into the future of our malls”.
Looking forward, it is clear that Saudi Seasons is a vital part of delivering Vision 2030’s Quality of Life Program for the Kingdom. Crucially, Saudi Seasons is an opportunity that can’t be missed to help to improve the quality of life of residents and visitors to Saudi Arabia.
One way of doing so is by developing the necessary environment that enhances the participation and experience of citizens and residents in the life of the Kingdom. Saudi Season is clearly popular with domestic and international tourists and is thus an important tool to further the Kingdom’s economy.
For example, prior to Jeddah Season, Riyadh Season was celebrated by more than 15 million visitors. Not only are these events stimulating local economic growth through impressive job creation, but they are also showcasing the country’s cultural diversity, global openness, and a blend of entertainment.
The Government is taking a forward-looking view of how to best integrate different sectors of the economy into multiple events for people to enjoy. Saudi Seasons offers travellers and citizens of Saudi Arabia the opportunity to further develop their understanding of what the Kingdom has to offer. Local people who will be able to take advantage of the chance to working in engineering, hospitality, retail and other sectors during the festivals – all contributing to the economic success of our country.
The Saudi Arabian tourism industry is ever-evolving. Saudi Seasons helps to encapsule some of the most exciting elements of the Kingdom – its diverse culture, delicious food and varied retail offerings. The Kingdom’s exciting progress will undoubtedly impress any tourists who visit during the time that a city is hosting a Season.