(Riyadh-NewsHalal-Sha’ban17,1438H) Saudi Arabia and Oman reportedly will lead the GCC’s multi-billion dollar investments in cultural tourism with a series of projects to develop new cultural attractions.
According to the research, compiled by Colliers International, Saudi Arabia is ready to invest up to US$2bn, one of the highest commitments of any government to cultural tourism in the region, with a number of projects and targets set out under Saudi Vision 2030, Saudi media reported.
Under the vision, by the year 2030, Saudi Arabia will increase the number of public and private museums from 155 to 241, increase the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites from four to 10, and increase the number of archaeological sites suitable to visit from 75 to 155.
In addition, the Kingdom will increase the number of archaeological heritage sites from 10 to 28 and increase the number of activities and cultural events from 190 currently to 400 annually.
In 2015, Oman pledged investments of $2.5bn for the Omagine Project – a mixed-use development set on 245 acres of prime beachfront facing the Gulf of Oman, which is an integration of cultural, heritage, educational, entertainment and residential elements.
Although most tourism in Saudi Arabia still largely involves religious pilgrimages, there is growth in the leisure tourism sector. After several expanding project in Makkah and Madina, the two holiest sites for Muslim around the world, more pilgrims are expected to visit for performing Hajj and Umrah.
Among the initiatives outlined in the Saudi Vision 2030 is to increase the number of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims to 30 million annually. Reports show that the number of people visiting Makkah to perform hajj is increasing year by year, estimating the growth from 12 million in 2012 to almost 17 million by 2025, further strengthening the religious tourism sector’s contribution to the national economy.
Trend of visiting middle eastern and other Islamic countries among Muslims around the world is growing sharply while increasing number of Muslim youth avoiding to visit Europe and United States for the purpose of tourism.