Saudi Tourism
Rijal Almaa village is located in the Assir Region, and is the capital of the Rijal Almaa Province. The village consists of about 60 palaces built from natural stone, clay and wood, and the palaces consists of several floors. The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities has adopted a rehabilitation project for the village Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Cairo: The number of tourists in Saudi Arabia surged to more than 100 million last year, a senior Saudi official has said, as the country seeks to become a global tourist destination.

Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al Khateeb said at an investment forum in Riyadh that the kingdom’s tourism sector last year fulfilled a target of 100 million tourists including 77 million local visitors and 27 million tourist arrivals.

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He cited a strategy charted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman envisaging 150 million tourists in the country by the year 2030 including 80 million local tourists and 70 foreign million arrivals.

The aim is also to make Saudi Arabia rank among the world’s top 10 tourist attractors.

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“The state has committed itself to training more than 100,000 young men and women per year, including 15,000 trained at the best world institutes to work in tourism,” Al Khateeb said.

He added that the Tourism Development Fund, set up in 2020, has financed more than 50 projects with around SR35 billion.

In recent years, the kingdom has introduced a set of facilities designed to draw more foreign tourists to the country as part of an ambitious development scheme designed to diversify oil-reliant economy.

They include the issuance of tourist visas on arrival or online for citizens of several nationalities. Entertainment tourism has recently taken strides in Saudi Arabia with a diverse calendar.

Al Khateeb last month said his ministry had signed multiple agreements for the introduction of major hotels into the kingdom to boost hospitality facilities.

Saudi tourism contribution last year rose 4.5% of the gross domestic product, according to the official.