Massive investments worth over $810 billion in mega tourism projects across Saudi Arabia is expected to transform the kingdom into one of the largest leisure tourism sectors in the world between now and 2030, according to a research conducted by the Middle East and North Africa Leisure Attractions Council (Menalac), the leisure and entertainment industry council representing the Middle East’s dynamic leisure attractions sector. Here is Trade Arabia‘s from Riyadh.
Saudi to be among world’s big leisure tourism hubs by 2030
These include the $500 billion mega development Neom which leads the list of the mega projects followed by the $10 billion Qiddiyah Project, spread across 334 sq km in Riyadh.
The third project is Amaala, or the Saudi Riviera, located in the northern region with an area of 3,800 sq km, and developing islands in the Red Sea with a total area of 34,000 sq km.
Once completed, it will deliver a futuristic mega sustainable city.
According to the report, Saudi Arabia is looking to more than double its investment in recreation from the current 2.9% to 6% by 2030.
Mishal Al Hokair, Board Member of Menalac, said: “Saudi Arabia has an array of dynamic plans and attractions planned over the next few years, each of which will add to the fast growing Leisure and Entertainment sector.”
“Its Vision 2030 will change the entire economic and tourism landscape of not only Saudi Arabia, but the entire Middle East region, that will have a massive positive knock-on effect on the leisure tourism industry,” noted Al Hokair.
“Once the current Covid-19 situation improves, the investment and development in the Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector will bring massive opportunities for the industry. It is time for everyone to prepare for the next big growth,” he added.
Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), the country’s tourism regulator, said the mega tourism projects being developed by Public Investment Fund will be spread over an area of more than 64,634 sq km, with a value exceeding $810 billion.
In addition, SCTH will be developing museums in various Saudi regions, and preserving Saudi heritage with a cost of more than $1.3 billion.
Saudi Arabia foresees that the national tourism will significantly contribute to the gross domestic product as the most growing non-oil economic sector. The tourism revenues increased to more than SR193 billion ($51 billion) in 2017, and to more than SR211 billion ($56 billion) in 2018, SCTH said in a report.
In 2017, the kingdom’s tourism sector had attracted $28.6 billion, more than six times the world average in tourism capital investment, it added.
Despite the current situation with regards to Covid-19, Saudi Arabia is pushing ahead with construction of some of these massive projects. A number of construction contracts have recently been awarded following the partial re-opening of the economy after the lockdown.
Red Sea Development Company has recently awarded construction contracts worth $1 billion while Neom has awarded Bechtel and Aecom programme management contract.
Changes and growth in Saudi tourism landscape will help leisure attractions operators in the Middle East and North African (Mena) countries. The recent reopening of the land borders by Saudi Authorities will help boost regional tourism in the GCC region.
SCTH plans to facilitate investment SR171.05 billion that will boost the tourism industry capacity and the number of hotel rooms to 621,600 rooms and boost the tourism sector’s contribution to the GDP by 3.1 per cent, and increase direct employment to 1.2 million jobs.
Prakash Vivekanand, the board member of Menalac, said: “The latest news from Saudi Arabia is very encouraging. The government wants to push ahead with the mega projects that will not only boost the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) but also the tourism sector.”
It will create massive opportunities for all the players in the leisure attractions business and we could count on an exciting future for the industry in the Mena region.”
According to Saudi Arabia’s General Investment Authority (Sagia), the country wants to increase investment in recreational facilities to 6 per cent from the current 2.9 per cent per annum – more than double the current level, as part of Saudi Vision 2030.
“In 2017, the Saudi tourism sector had attracted investment of SR172 billion ($28.6 billion), which was six times the world average in tourism capital investments,” according to a report by Sagia. “Investments are expected to rise 5.5 per cent per annum over the next ten years to SR200 billion ($54 billion) per annum.”
Rosa Tahmaseb, Secretary General of Menalac, said: “The leisure attractions industry in the Mena region is upbeat with the new opportunities that are arising in Saudi Arabia.”
“We see massive opportunities for our industry being created by more than a $1 trillion investment in the Saudi economy between now and 2030,” she noted.
Tahmaseb called upon all leisure industry stakeholders, both suppliers and operators to explore these opportunities and ascertain how they can take a leading role in helping Saudi Arabia develop its leisure facilities in the coming decade.
According to her, tourism and entertainment are an essential part of the Saudi Vision 2030 which is aimed at diversifying the Saudi economy by reducing its dependence on oil.
Saudi Arabia aims to develop versatile tourism destinations, which include several coastal sites, marvellous islands and distinguished heritage areas, all of which will require a high level of expertise, support and the most innovative attractions, technology and experiences to ensure the kingdom becomes one of the top tourist and entertainment destinations in the Middle East within the next few years.
“Despite the short-term setback created by the Covid-19 pandemic, the long-term prospects for our industry remain bright. One example of this can be seen in the dynamic projects planned for Saudi Arabia,” she added.-TradeArabia News Service
Stretched across Bahrain’s north-eastern coastline, Diyar Al Muharraq is among Bahrain’s most anticipated projects, which will be an archipelago of seven man-made islands.
Located off the shores of Muharraq, the kingdom’s historic former capital, construction is well underway on the 12.2km2 masterplan development, which is part of a joint venture with Abu-Dhabi based real estate developer Eagle Hills.
Speaking to Construction Week, Diyar Al Muharraq CEO Ahmed Alammadi said they have been working on the development since 2007 and described the project as a “huge masterplan” for any region, especially “for a small island such as Bahrain”.
“For the whole development, we plan to have four to five phases. In Arabic, Diyar means ‘a small town’ and the reclaimed land is around 10km, which will feature 8 public beaches,” Alammadi tells CW.
“We have started phase 1 on the south island, which is 5.3km. As part of the 5.3km, 1km of this is part of our joint venture with Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills to establish Eagle Hills Diyar, which is a local based developer in Bahrain.”
The development will feature facilities including villas worth $1.3m (AED 5m) which comprise a mix of modern and traditional Arabic designs, two reputable hotels that also integrate residences, as well as one of Bahrain’s largest shopping malls.
“Within this joint venture with Eagle Hills, we are developing a 2,000m2 shopping mall, the Vida and Address hotels, as well as two residential towers,” Alammadi added.
“The 2,000m2 shopping mall will be one of the largest shopping malls in Bahrain. Vida hotel and Vida residences, Address hotel and Address residences, as well as the two residential towers, which will be named Marassi Residence, will all be linked to the mall.”
Marassi, which is Arabic for ‘multi-port’, is a mix of residential, commercial properties and extensive retail, entertainment and dining options. It will feature 2km of sandy beaches, as well as a dedicated harbour for cruise liners.
In terms of construction, Alammadi outlined that building works have started on all of the projects.
“The development of all these towers, along with the mall, which are all under construction, except the Marassi residence, have been handed over and should be ready by 2021.”
Another part of Diyar Al Muharraq’s built-up areas is Al Bareh, located on the west side of the masterplan development, comprising seafront villas that have been completely sold out, according to Alammadi.
As well as Al Bareh residential plots, there are two villa types, Al Bahar 1 and Al Bahar 2, which feature the latest smart-home technology and measure between 805m2 and 972m2 respectively.
With views over Diyar Al Muharraq’s main canal, the residences are built around a number of key spaces, including traditional courtyards and swimming pools.
Another milestone for the development was the handover of its Deerat Al Oyoun under the Mazaya scheme.
The Mazaya scheme is part of Bahrain’s Ministry of Housing initiative in collaboration with the private sector for the provision of social housing for citizens who are listed on the Ministry of Housing waiting lists.
Deerat Al Oyoun will comprise more than 3,000 villa units and is located close to the Dragon City retail precinct, as well as schools, healthcare facilities, and entertainment facilities.
Foundations have also been laid for the development’s Souq Al Baraha market amongst the residential communities.
Alammadi said all the preparations to begin work on Souq Al Baraha had been completed, and Almoayyed Contracting Group were appointed to complete the entire project and launch the project by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
“Souq Al Baraha will reflect the unique architectural culture of the Kingdom of Bahrain, in line with our eagerness to establish a Bahraini identity throughout various residential and commercial projects in the city,” Alammadi said.
Diyar Al Muharraq is certainly filling the gaps in Bahrain’s real estate market as part of the country’s economic vision 2030 agenda to build a better life for Bahraini people.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region significantly improved its T&T competitiveness since the last edition of the TTCI. With 12 of the 15 MENA economies covered by this year’s index increasing their score compared to 2017, the region was able to slightly outpace the global average in competitiveness growth. This is particularly important given that, in the aggregate, T&T accounts for a greater share of regional GDP than in any of the other four regions. MENA is also the only region where international visitor spending is greater than domestic visitor spending. Yet despite improved competitiveness and a strong reliance on T&T for overall economic growth, MENA continues to underperform the global TTCI score average.
MENA’s below-average competitiveness is primarily a result of low scores on indicators related to natural and cultural resources and international openness. The region’s historical and religious heritage and geographic features create the potential for significant natural and cultural tourism; yet, while some individual nations come close, no MENA country scores above the global average for natural resources and only Egypt and Iran score above for cultural resources. In fact, the entire region’s score in both of these areas has fallen in recent years. More needs to be done to expand habit protection and heritage sites. Moreover, digital demand for MENA’s natural, cultural and entertainment demand is fairly low, indicating potential gaps in marketing and traveller perceptions. One potential reason for this gap is continued safety and security concerns. Eleven MENA countries rank within the bottom 40 for terrorism incidents, with two among the worst 10 countries globally. Further, the region is plagued by geopolitical tensions, instability and conflict. Security concerns also play a role in why MENA members are some of the most restrictive when it comes to international openness, with only Qatar, Oman and Morocco making significant improvements. Consequently, travellers often face barriers when visiting the region, while the aviation and overall T&T sector is stifled by limiting bilateral air service and regional trade agreements.
More positively, stability, safety and security have started to recover throughout the region, slightly reducing travel fears and underlying one of the key reasons for the recent pickup in arrivals. Furthermore, it seems that there has been greater recognition of T&T’s importance, with broad regional improvements in T&T prioritization, including increased government funding and more effective marketing campaigns to bring back or attract new visitors. Greatly enhanced environmental sustainability also has the potential to pay dividends for natural assets (note that environmental sustainability comparison is influenced by the use of new data to measure marine sustainability). In addition, prices have become more competitive among countries within the region, amplifying MENA’s single biggest advantage relative to the global average. As one of the world’s main producers of fossil fuels, MENA includes some of the world’s lowest fuel prices, with some governments offering subsidies. Moreover, many of the region’s economies offer visitors greater purchasing power (especially Egypt, Algeria, Iran and Tunisia), which has been increased by lower exchange rates. Yet it is reductions in ticket taxes and airport charges as well as lower hotel prices that have primarily driven regional price competitiveness in recent years.
Infrastructure has also improved, with particularly impressive growth in the number of airlines and route capacity. Despite these gains, world-class infrastructure remains concentrated among the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. The Gulf countries have been able to use their natural resource wealth, central geographic location and relative security to develop world-class T&T infrastructure, defined by quality airports, ports, roads, tourist services and some of the world’s leading airlines. These efforts are in stark contrast to some other MENA nations that—due to a lack of investment and ongoing instability—have yet to develop competitive infrastructure, especially regarding air transport. Similarly, the region’s above-average score on the Enabling Environment subindex is due to the performance of the Gulf countries and Israel, which have developed economies, strong business environments, ICT readiness and some of the highest scores in safety and security. Finally, most regional economies also score near the bottom when it comes to female participation in the labour market, depriving the T&T industry of a greater labour and skills pool.
The Middle East subregion is by far the more competitive of the two subregions, outscoring North Africa on nine pillars. Thanks to the Arab states of the Persian Gulf and Israel, the subregion is wealthier and more developed than the North Africa subregion. Consequently, it is no surprise that the Middle East scores above the global and regional averages on indicators related to enabling environment and infrastructure, with particularly high ranks on ICT readiness and business environment. Nevertheless, the subregion does trail the world and North Africa on T&T prioritization and policy and natural and cultural resources. In particular, many Middle East nations score relatively low on the International Openness and Natural Resources pillars, which represent the subregion’s greatest disadvantages relative to global competition. One of the Middle East’s highest-scoring pillars is Price Competitiveness, with some economies leveraging their fossil fuel abundance to offer lower fuel prices. Since the 2017 edition of the report, the subregion has improved across all pillars of T&T policy and enabling conditions, safety and security, ICT readiness and much of infrastructure, but declined or stagnated on other pillars.
This year, eight out of the subregion’s 11 members improved their TTCI score since 2017. Oman demonstrated the greatest improvement, moving up eight places to 58th. MENA’s safest (3rd) country recorded the subregion’s fastest improvement for its human resources and labour markets (103rd to 65th), and is among the most improved when it comes to international openness (116th to 97th), environmental sustainability (109th to 57th) and overall infrastructure (60th to 52nd). Yet some of the improvement in environmental sustainability is exaggerated due to new marine sustainability metrics. In contrast, the UAE had the Middle East’s largest decline, falling from 29th to 33rd, including the biggest percentage decline in score on the Safety and Security pillar (falling from 2nd to 7th) and Ground and Port Infrastructure (19th to 31st) and the subregion’s only decline on Environmental Sustainability (40th to 41st). Nevertheless, the country remains in the lead in the Middle East and is MENA’s top TTCI scorer, leading on ICT readiness (4th), air transport (4th) and tourist service (22nd) infrastructure. The Middle East’s—and MENA’s—largest T&T economy is Saudi Arabia (69th), which scores above the subregion’s average on most pillars, but near the bottom on international openness (137th). Plagued by ongoing conflict and a lingering humanitarian crisis, Yemen (140th), ranks at the bottom of the global index.
North Africa scores lower than the Middle East, but demonstrates far greater improvement in overall competitiveness. The subregion outscores the Middle East on five pillars and bests the global average on four. North Africa is the most price competitive subregion in the world, with three out of its four members among the 12 least-expensive economies covered in the report. North Africa’s greatest advantage relative to the Middle East is its natural and cultural resources—although it still underperforms the world on both the Natural Resources and Cultural and Business Travel pillars. The subregion also bests the MENA average in prioritization of T&T and environmental sustainability, areas where it has improved since 2017. On the other hand, North Africa has underdeveloped infrastructure and T&T enabling environment, contrasting some of the high performers in the Middle East subregion. In particular, North Africa trails when it comes to tourist service infrastructure and ICT readiness. The subregion’s strong rate of improvement is due to enhanced safety and security, overall T&T policy and enabling conditions and air transport and ground infrastructure.
All four members of the North Africa subregion increased their TTCI scores over 2017. Egypt (65th) is the subregion’s top scorer and its largest T&T economy. The country is also MENA’s most improved scorer. Egypt is price competitive (3rd) and has MENA’s highest score for cultural resources (22nd). Its improvement comes from increases on 11 pillar scores. These include the world’s second-best enhancement of safety and security (130th to 112th), albeit from a low starting base. Morocco (66th) demonstrates North Africa’s slowest improvement in TTCI performance. The country is a close second to Egypt when it comes to overall competitiveness, boasting the MENA region’s top TTCI scores on natural resources (63rd) and North Africa’s best enabling environment (71st) and infrastructure (69th). However, TTCI performance improvement is tempered by declining safety and security (20th to 28th), which remains well above the subregion’s average, and a deteriorating combination of natural and cultural (41st to 54th) resources. North Africa’s lowest scoring member is Algeria (116th), which nonetheless did move up two ranks globally. The country ranks low on business environment (118th), T&T prioritization (132nd), tourist services infrastructure (136th), environmental sustainability (133rd), natural resources (126th) and international openness (139th). On the other hand, Algeria is one of the most price-competitive countries in the world (8th).
Conducted biennially, the survey found that Oman is MENA’s safest country and overall third in the world. Oman ranks third in safety and security due to lower homicides rates (19th in the world), a reliable police force (5th), and low costs of terrorism (7th) and crime (3rd).
Oman also recorded the region’s fastest improvement for its human resources and labour markets (103rd to 65th) and is among the most improved in international openness (116th to 97th), environmental sustainability (109th to 57th) and overall infrastructure (60th to 52nd).
The top 10 countries this year are Spain, France, Germany, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Canada and Switzerland. India (40th to 34th) had the greatest improvement over 2017 among the top 25 per cent of all countries ranked in the report.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region significantly improved its T&T competitiveness since the last edition of the TTCI. ‘With 12 of the 15 MENA economies covered by this year’s index increasing their score compared to 2017, the region was able to slightly outpace the global average in competitiveness growth. This is particularly important given that, in the aggregate, T&T accounts for a greater share of regional GDP than in any of the other four regions,’ stated the report.
Consequently, it is no surprise that the Middle East scores above the global and regional averages on indicators related to enabling environment and infrastructure, with particularly high ranks on ICT readiness and business environment. Nevertheless, the subregion does trail the world and North Africa on T&T prioritisation and policy and natural and cultural resources.
This year, eight out of the Middle East’s 11 members improved their TTCI score since 2017. In contrast, the UAE had the Middle East’s largest decline, falling from 29th to 33rd, including the biggest percentage decline in score on the Safety and Security pillar (falling from 2nd to 7th) and Ground and Port Infrastructure (19th to 31st) and the subregion’s only decline on Environmental Sustainability (40th to 41st).
Nevertheless, the country remains in the lead in the Middle East and is MENA’s top TTCI scorer, leading on ICT readiness (4th), air transport (4th) and tourist service infrastructure (22nd).
Each country receives a score in categories from business environment, safety and security, health and hygiene, human resources and labour market and ICT readiness.
Archaeological Discovery In Egypt To Boost Tourism
Travelwirenews reports in a major archaeological discovery, Egypt on Saturday unveiled the tomb of a Fifth Dynasty official adorned with colourful reliefs and well preserved inscriptions. The tomb, near Saqqara, a vast necropolis south of Cairo, belongs to a senior official named Khuwy who is believed to have been a nobleman during the Fifth Dynasty, which ruled over Egypt about 4300 years ago. “The L-shaped Khuwy tomb starts with a small corridor heading downwards into an antechamber and from there a larger chamber with painted reliefs depicting the tomb owner seated at an offerings table,” said Mohamed Megahed, the excavation team’s head, in an antiquities ministry statement. Flanked by dozens of ambassadors, Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Enani said the tomb was discovered last month. It is mostly made of white limestone bricks. Ornate paintings boast a special green resin throughout and oils used in the burial process, the ministry said. The tomb’s north wall indicates that its design was inspired by the architectural blueprint of the dynasty’s royal pyramids, the statement added. The excavation team has unearthed several tombs related to the Fifth Dynasty. Archaeologists recently found an inscription on a granite column dedicated to Queen Setibhor, who is believed to have been the wife of King Djedkare Isesis, the eighth and penultimate king of the dynasty. Egypt has in recent years sought to promote archaeological discoveries across the country in a bid to revive tourism that took a hit from the turmoil that followed its 2011 uprising.
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