Stock Saudi airport
Saudi passengers prepare to check-in for flights at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Image Credit: AP

Cairo: More than 500,000 Saudi nationals are expected to travel outside the kingdom during the current school vacation with Cairo and Dubai topping their destinations, according to travel operators in the kingdom.

The nine-day holiday, which runs through November 25, marks the end of the first semester for students in Saudi Arabia.

Travel officials have cited a rise in bookings for flights abroad as well as journeys for the Saudi holy city of Mecca to undertake Umrah or minor pilgrimage during the holiday.

Cairo and Dubai have stood out in Saudis’ travel bookings, according to travel expert Abdulrazak Al Zahrani, citing attractive offers, geographical proximity and availability of daily reservations for popularity of the two destinations.

The Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheikh and Bahrain are also leading destinations during the same break.

According to Bashir Arnus, an official at a travel agency, there is high demand among Saudis for flights heading to several Asian destinations while demand has dropped for flying to Europe.

“There are nearly 100 flights per week between the UAE and Saudi Arabia, a matter that strengthens the attractiveness of the Emirati destinations, mainly Dubai,” Mohieddin Hamouda, the manager of a travel firm in the Saudi city of Jeddah, told news website Sabq. He also pointed to Cairo, Morocco and Bahrain as major holiday destinations.

In August, more than 6 million students returned to their schools across Saudi Arabia after the end of their summer holiday.

The three-semester school year in the kingdom is spread over 38 weeks and features 60-day different holidays, in addition to a 68-day summer break.

According to an official schedule, the first semester ran until November 16. The second is due to begin 10 days later and runs until February 22, while the third will start on March 3 and end on June 10.