Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah visited three places last Wednesday in Makkah for inspection, King Faisal’s Palace, Al–Saqqaf Palace and Al-Zaher Palace.
The visits came in the light of the minister’s program of visiting cultural sites across the Kingdom, with the aim of inspecting their infrastructure and how to maintain their preservation.
The minister spoke to the people in charge of each site to consider together the kind of support that these places need.
Last April, the minister signed a memorandum of understanding with the chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Ahmad Al-Khatib, stating that all national historical places and the archaeology sector are to be transferred to the Culture Ministry.
Royal directives are issued stating the renovating of King Faisal’s Palace and turning the palace into a national museum.
As for the other two palaces, one thing for sure is that the Ministry is keen on preserving their heritage, for Al-Saqqaf Palace has always been important for Saudis since the arrival of King Abdul Aziz to Makkah. It has been the center for government, and hosted a number of prominent guests including Hajj missions and Arab ambassadors.
As for Al-Zaher Palace, it was built back in 1946 after King Abdul Aziz returned back from his visit to Egypt, and ever since it has been one of the official palaces of the Kingdom.
This is why in preserving these palaces, a part of the Kingdom’s heritage is being preserved as well. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Saudi authorities are working hard on boosting the Kingdom’s culture, which aligns with the 2030 Vision.
“Today marks a turning point in the history of our nation,” said the Minister of Culture, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan. “It is rare that a nation undertakes such a massive revival of its culture.”
“The transformation of arts and culture will benefit all Saudis, young and old, from every corner of our country. It will help build bridges of understanding. And for our children, we will build a Saudi Arabia where their creative spirits can flourish.” On the ministry’s Twitter account, the minister said a priority was to support Saudi talent.
Saudi Summer: Newest Campaign to Encourage Domestic Tourism
The Saudi Tourism Authority has launched a new campaign called ‘Saudi Summer’ to boost domestic tourism and encourage Saudis to explore the wonders of the Kingdom.
This follows the lifting of lockdown restrictions that lasted months, because of the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic.
The campaign comes after the STA’s extensive research that showed that 57% of Saudis are still worried about traveling by plane, while 85% are still planning to spend a 10-day holiday, and 78% showed interest in exploring the country.
The summer campaign encourages residents to explore the different stunning locations of the Kingdom, and discover its historical, natural and cultural treasures.
“The campaign also contributes to enhancing efforts by the Ministry of Tourism to revive the tourism sector, which was most affected by the repercussions of the coronavirus crisis,” said Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minister of Tourism and Chairman of the STA.
The campaign just launched today and will run until September 30th, it will be promoting ten locations across the nation. including: Jeddah and KAEC; Abha; Tabuk; Khobar, Dammam and Ahsa; Al Baha; Al Taif; Yanbu, Umluj; and Riyadh.
Ease into the Saudi summer.
Discover a wide range of tourist packages by:
– downloading the Visit Saudi app: https://t.co/GDoIcRNE6r
– or visiting our website: https://t.co/5EtN0F9236#Saudi #Summer pic.twitter.com/r09cA3biji
— Visit Saudi (@VisitSaudiNow) June 24, 2020
“The tourism sector resumes its activities with a renewed spirit and great hopes for moving forward at an accelerated pace, to achieve our aspirations in harmony with Saudi Vision 2030, which seeks to pursue economic diversification, attract investments, increase revenues and create job opportunities for citizens,” the minister added.
The Kingdom to Launch a $4bn Tourism Development Fund
In another attempt to diversify the economy of the Kingdom and attract more foreign tourists, Saudi Arabia has started a fund with an initial capital of $4 billion aiming at developing the tourism industry.
The Tourism Development Fund will launch a range of equity and debt investment vehicles and has $45bn in memorandum of understandings signed with private banks, according to a statement. “Funding will be deployed to support mixed-use destinations, to address gaps in the tourism value chain, and to enable technologically-enhanced tourism,” it said.
“The launch of the fund at this time, as the tourism sector faces unprecedented global challenges, is testament to investor and private-sector confidence in the long-term outlook for tourism in Saudi Arabia,” Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said in the statement.
Just last year, the Kingdom opened its doors to welcome international travelers, by launching a new visa regime while appealing to foreign companies to invest in the sector, which it hopes will contribute more than 10% of gross domestic product by 2030, up from 3% currently.
The country expects the tourism industry to contribute more than 10% of its annual GDP and create more than one million jobs by 2030.
The launch is part of the first phase of the National Tourism Strategy, which focuses on developing and enhancing 38 sites across seven destinations by 2022.
There’s no doubt that analysts do predict a severe economic hit this year, caused by the pandemic but let’s keep our fingers crossed that this shall soon come to an end.
Tourism Activities to Resume As of June 21st
Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb announced that the Kingdom will resume touristic activities as of June 21st after a hiatus that lasted for three months.
The hiatus that lasted months followed the lockdown measures that were imposed, in light of the of virus outbreak.
The minister made the announcement during a TV interview that followed an emergency meeting of the Arab Ministerial Council for Tourism that was held on Wednesday.
The minister said that Saudi Arabia is ready for the launch of the summer tourism program, which aims at boosting the domestic tourism.
“It was revealed in a research study carried out by the Tourism Authority that 80 percent of Saudi citizens want to take advantage of domestic tourism. We will launch the domestic tourism program for the public after having made necessary coordination with the Ministry of Health and the concerned higher authorities,” he said.
“Saudi Arabia has initiated a package of financial stimulus activities with a total value of more than $61 billion to protect jobs and businesses, and reduce the economic burden of the crisis. The domestic tourism sector has benefited from it as one of the important economic sectors, as it covered 60 percent of salaries of Saudi employees in the private sector for a period of three months,” he added.
The emergency meeting was attended by Arab tourism ministers and officials, who came together to discuss the challenges that the region is now facing because of the pandemic. Saudi minister Al-Khateeb was the one to head the virtual meeting.