Saudi Arabia News

world cup: Saudi anticipating tens of 1000’s of World Cup followers: Minister

Saudi Arabia is placing on 240 flights per week and easing overland journey to draw tens of 1000’s of soccer followers attending the World Cup in neighbouring Qatar, the dominion’s tourism minister advised AFP on Wednesday.

The efforts are meant to jumpstart the nascent tourism sector within the as soon as closed-off kingdom, which solely started issuing vacationer visas in September 2019 — simply months earlier than the coronavirus pandemic decimated the trade globally.

With costs excessive and lodging choices restricted in Doha, Qatar’s Gulf neighbours are anticipated to absorb an overflow of followers, organising greater than 160 every day shuttle flights between them and enjoyable visa necessities.

Conservative Saudi Arabia, the place alcohol is illegitimate, has provided multi-entry 60-day visas to holders of the World Cup’s Hayya go, the obligatory allow obtainable to ticket-holders.

Weekly flights from Saudi to Qatar will soar to 240 through the month-long event, up from six usually, tourism minister Ahmed Al Khateeb stated on the sidelines of an investor discussion board in Riyadh.

For overland travellers, officers have upgraded roads from Riyadh and cities in japanese Saudi Arabia — that are nearer to Qatar — to the border, Khateeb stated.

They’ve additionally expanded petrol stations, web connectivity and entry to first support and different medical providers alongside the route, he stated.

A newly launched 10-lane border crossing “does not take you greater than 10 minutes” to go via, he added.

Facilitating cross-border journey may give ticket-holders a Saudi different to lodging in Doha, the place a couple of million followers are anticipated.

“I believe we’re prepared relating to transportation, mobility, airways, airports, borders, healthcare, telecommunications. We’re prepared and excited,” Khateeb stated.

“We will not look forward to the World Cup to start out and we will not wait to welcome our visitors from everywhere in the world.”

He added: “We’re working with the (vacation spot administration corporations) and the tour corporations in Europe and Latin America and Asia, and we predict tens of 1000’s of packages to be offered.”

Saudi Arabia has raised eyebrows with its objective of attracting 30 million international vacationers yearly by 2030, a component of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Imaginative and prescient 2030 reform agenda meant to diversify the oil-dependent economic system and speak in confidence to the world.

Whereas the dominion has in recent times relaxed guidelines barring cinemas, gender-mixed live shows and sporting extravaganzas, different rules together with the alcohol ban and legal guidelines in opposition to homosexuality stay in place, doubtlessly denting its enchantment.

One high-profile characteristic of the tourism push is so-called giga-projects spearheaded by Prince Mohammed, together with the $500 billion futuristic megacity generally known as NEOM, a budding arts hub amongst historical Nabatean tombs in Al-Ula, and the Crimson Sea Mission, a Maldives-style resort vacation spot.

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