IHG in talks with Saudi Arabia to bring luxury hotels to Red Sea tourism project

SOURCE: The National

Time: April 22, 2018

Intercontinental Hotels Group, which operates the Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn brands among others, will bring its luxury hotels to Saudi Arabia’s planned Red Sea tourism destination as the country pushes to transform its economy.

IHG is in talks with developers in the kingdom to bring its top brands, potentially the Intercontinental Resorts or Regent hotel, to the eco-resort spread over a lagoon of 50 islands, Pascal Gauvin, the managing director of India, Middle East and Africa at IHG, told The National on the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.

“We will be involved in the project in the Red Sea, we are working with them, we are looking at what brand will better fit their market, we are looking at what are their needs in terms of the environment and help them work in that direction,” he said. “There is a lot of common points between our thinking and what they want to do.”

The global hotel company is also entering preliminary talks to discuss business opportunities in Saudi Arabia’s NEOM project, a $500 billion mega-city on the Red Sea coast near the Egyptian resort of Sharm al Sheikh, Mr Gauvin said.

Initial groundbreaking at the Red Sea project is scheduled for the third quarter of 2019 with the first phase to be finished by the end of 2022 and will be developed by the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund.

IHG is bullish on the Middle East market, where it seeks to grow by 25 percent its number of hotels over the next three to five years. It wants to capitalise on Saudi Arabia’s focus to develop its tourism industry on a large scale as the kingdom diversifies its economy away from reliance on petro-dollars.


The first phase of the Red Sea project will include the development of hotels and luxury residential units as well as all logistical infrastructure.

“They’re looking at the way they’re going to develop, what they want to start with, when will be the first resort and how long it will take to build, so really there’s a lot of details about logistics because you’re creating everything from scratch,” Mr Gauvin said.

IHG expects to sign contracts for the deal “for sure” but discussions are still ongoing and more meetings are scheduled, he said. It is “too premature” to decide on the number of hotels in the deal.

There is also a possibility for IHG to introduce its lifestyle brands, the mid-scale hotels of Indigo or Holiday Inn, but plans for hotel types have yet to be finalised, he said.

IHG, which has 5,300 hotels globally, has 84 hotels in the Middle East. It’s got 31 hotels in Saudi Arabia and signed a deal with Hokair group to bring 10 Holiday Inn Express hotels to the Kingdom.


Al-Ula Museum

SOURCE: Saudi Tourism

April 22,2018

It was established to highlight the cultural and historical aspects of Al Ula region and to educate the community on the national heritage of the Kingdom. The museum is managed by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) and was established in 1405 H (1985) on an area of 10,380 square meters. It  was opened to the public in 1987.
The museum consists of:
  • Showcase halls
  • Administration office
  • Survey and drawing labs
  • Photography lab
  • Restoration and testing labs
  • TV hall
  • Researchers’ housing
  • A library containing specialized books, in addition to related periodicals and pamphlets
  • Storages

Image result for al ula museum

Al Ula Museum of Archaeology & 

Image result for al ula museum

Madain Saleh in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia …
Showcase halls:
Entrance hall: It contains text paintings, maps showing the archaeological sites of Al Ula, a model of one of the facades of Madain Saleh, the network of museums in the Kingdom, in addition to a number of photographs and heritage objects.
Prehistoric Section: It displays texts and photographs illustrating the beginning of human being, formation of earth and its geological layers, and the Stone Ages and tools.
Pre-Islamic Section: The showcasing here starts immediately after the Stone Ages and ends at the Pre-Islamic period. It shows a collection of artifacts, paintings, inscriptions and writings on rocks, in addition to text and images telling the story of Pre-Islamic times, and the most important archaeological sites of the era, such as the Hijr (Madain Saleh) and the Khoraiba sites.
The Islamic Period Section: It narrates the start of Prophet Mohammad’s Migration to Al Madina, the reigns of Caliphs and successive Islamic periods in addition to showing a range of various relics including texts, paintings, photographs, manuscripts and maps dating to that period and that were found in the Al Mabyat site in Al Ula region.
Kingdom’s Unification Section: It talks about the stages of the establishment of the First Saudi State until the present time through a number of paintings, photographs and films depicting different stages of progress of the Saudi State, in addition to some selected heritage relics from Al Ula.
Work is underway to study special scenarios for museum showcasing techniques in an effort to re-establish Al Ula Museum as a modern world-class museum.
Visiting hours:
Morning period:From 8:00 am to 12:00 noon
Evening period:From 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Al Ula Museum, Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), Al Ula City – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Tel: 014/8841536 / Fax: 014/8840585

Saudi Arabia’s first Taj hotel to open in holy city

SOURCE: Arabian Business

Time:  April 21, 2018

Indian Hotels Company Limited says 340-room hotel will open in Makkah in 2023


The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) has announced its foray into the Saudi holy city of Makkah with a partnership with Umm Al Qura Development and Construction Company.

The Taj hotel brand operator will develop a property in the city’s King Abdul Aziz Road (KAAR) project, one of the largest urban rejuvenation projects in Makkah.

Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and CEO of IHCL, said: “We are honoured to partner with Umm Al Qura Development and Construction Company in bringing the first Taj hotel to Saudi Arabia.

“This signing is aligned to our strategy of a strong focus on global growth markets and to be present where our guests travel to. We are committed to expanding our presence in the MENA region.”

This hotel will be IHCL’s fourth venture in the MENA region. The company manages Taj Dubai located in the Burj Khalifa downtown area. It will also open another two hotels in Dubai in the next 12-18 months.

The proposed hotel is situated within walking distance of the Grand Mosque (Masjid Al-Haram), the main attraction for over 6 million pilgrims who visit the city each year.

It will also be in close proximity to commercial offices, retail stores and restaurants within KAAR project. The hotel, scheduled to open in January 2023, will have approximately 340 keys, banqueting facilities and several restaurants.

Mohammad Al Ganawi, CEO of Umm Al Qura Development and Construction Company said: “We are delighted to partner with The Indian Hotels Company Limited. We look forward to working with them to bring the iconic Taj brand to the unique development project in Makkah.”

As the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the site of his first revelation of the Quran, Makkah is the holiest city in the religion of Islam.


Saudi Arabia looks to the future — by stepping 5,000 years into the past

Time: April 21, 2018

  • Kingdom developing tourism sector as part of economic diversification strategy
  • Vision 2030 foresees 1.2 million new tourist jobs by 2030

It is the leading global event for Middle Eastern tourism and it opens on Sunday in Dubai. The Arabian Travel Market attracts the big players of the industry and the wannabes. It showcases 2,800 products to more than 28,000 potential buyers and generates deals worth more than $2.5 billion.

No wonder the world wants to be there, from spas to safaris, from Armenia to Zanzibar and all points between in both the globe and the alphabet.

But this year, one destination is set to attract more attention than any other: Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom’s tourism industry has hitherto centered primarily on the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah; last year’s Hajj attracted around 2.35 million pilgrims, with about 1.75 million of those coming from abroad.

When it comes to non-religious tourism however, it is in the unique position of creating that industry more or less from scratch, which is an enviable place to be.

“It means we are able to learn from the mistakes of others and we can take the best from everywhere,” said Amr Al-Madani, CEO of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia’s archaeological treasure house and home to the Unesco-listed Madain Saleh.

“And we are determined to offer the best in every way,” he added.

Al-Madani recently returned from presenting the plans for Al-Ula at a high-profile gala at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, an occasion that coincided with the visit of Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, the driving force behind Vision2030, the ambitious program designed to revamp not only the national economy but Saudi society as a whole.

Once regarded as practically off-limits to visitors and particularly Westerners (although that was never true), Saudi Arabia is throwing open the gates, as part of plans to diversify its economy and create jobs for its citizens.

The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic development plan, designed to create new revenue streams to lower its reliance on oil, envisages the creation of 1.2 million new jobs in the tourism sector by 2030.

Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority in February said it planned to invest $64 billion in its entertainment sector in the coming 10 years. This investment will include the development of a countrywide network of cinemas, following the lifting of a ban last year.

As well as opening up the 5,000-year-old wonders of Al-Ula, there are plans to develop 34,000 square kilometers of Red Sea coastline and 50 outlying islands into luxury beach resorts.

The scheme has already attracted Sir Richard Branson, founder and boss of the Virgin Group, as its first international investor. He is involved in developing the islands — which he described as “breathtakingly beautiful” — as luxury destinations, and has also visited Madain Saleh.

“This is an incredibly exciting time in the country’s history and I’ve always felt that there is inothing like getting a first-hand impression,” he said after his visit.

He praised the Crown Prince for his vision, telling Arab News, “If you want to succeed you should have an idea and a plan to implement it and just do it. He is doing that and his heart is in the right place.”

Though he is overseeing the development of the Al-Ula sites, Amr Al-Madani said one plan was to offer two-center holidays: “Some days exploring the archaeology and the nature in Al-Ula and then a few days relaxing at the beach,” he said.

As well as unspoilt beaches, the Red Sea coast also enjoys the best climate in Saudi Arabia with pleasant sea breezes offsetting the heat.

The Red Sea project is expected to generate 35,000 jobs.

The Royal Commission has already recruited the first 200 future employees who will work in Al-Ula. The group — half boys, half girls — are all high school-leavers or university students from the region. They have already begun three months of training in Riyadh, learning languages and undergoing assessment by psychologists and careers advisers and will later be dispatched to several locations in Britain and the US to continue learning.

Al-Madani said Al-Ula should be ready to receive its first tourists in three to five years, eventually accommodating a million to 1.5 million a year.

This article was first published in Arab News

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ThePlace: Al-Bujairi Quarter, the historic gateway to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Diriyah

SOURCE: Arab News

Time: April 21, 2018

Al-Bujairi Quarter is the gateway to the historic area of Al-Diriyah. It overlooks the eastern edge of Wadi Hanifah, just opposite to Al-Turaif neighborhood. The late Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulwahab and many scholars lived in Al-Bujairi district.

The High Commission for the Development of Riyadh has developed the area in an urban way to restore its historic splendor through modern institutions and facilities. Visitors can see the Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulwahab Mosque. They can also enjoy shopping in the multi-activity shops.

Tourists can also visit the Mohammed bin Abdulwahab Foundation, which represents the most important cultural elements in the neighborhood. The building has a westward slope, allowing visitors to use its roof as a viewing platform, including the view of the Al-Turaif district.

The foundation is a specialized Islamic research and scientific center that aims to be an international research hub that serves researchers within modern institutional frameworks.


The things tourists to see when they visit Saudi Arabia


Time: April 20, 2018

Saudi Arabia will begin issuing tourist visas in the first quarter of 2018, a first for the kingdom as it undertakes major economic and social reforms.

According to Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz “all government approvals” are in place for the launch of electronic visas next year to “all nationals whose countries allow their citizens to visit” Saudi Arabia.

“We are now just preparing the regulations – who is eligible for the visas and how to obtain them,” said Prince Sultan, head of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.

The owner of a Jeddah-based tour operator said that guided tours will begin in February 2018.

For those who have not visited this beautiful country, they have notions of what it is like… here are some pictures that are likely to dispel those notions and give a potential tourist to KSA an idea what they can expect to find and where they should go.



IN PICTURES: White hail bedazzle Saudi Arabia’s al-Baha mountains

SOURCE: Al Arabiya

18 April 2018

Al-Baha city in Saudi Arabia was blanketed what seemed like patches of white snow after strong storms brought a wave of hail accompanied by heavy rain.

Al-Baha city in Saudi Arabia was blanketed what seemed like patches of white snow after strong storms brought a wave of hail accompanied by heavy rain.

Hail patches in Al Baha. (SPA)

According to the Saudi Press Agency, the storm passed over several provinces in the kingdom including Bani Hasan and Almandaq on Tuesday.

Al Baha’s mountainous green landscape. (SPA)

Many citizens including youth and families set out to enjoy refreshing weather conditions, especially with summer knocking on the doors.

Waterfalls in Al Baha valleys after rain. (SPA)

The cool in the air allowed the citizens to get fresh air while the mesmerizing greenery, magnificent mountainous landscape, snow-capped lands and breathtaking waterfalls catered to the various senses.

Fresh weather was enjoyed by citizens across the country. (SPA)

Al Hokair ties deal to bring Holiday Inn Express to Saudi

Time:  April 19, 2018

Al Hokair will build 10 Holiday Inn Express hotels over the next 15 years.

Al Hokair will build 10 Holiday Inn Express hotels over the next 15 years.


Al Hokair Group has signed an exclusive master development agreement with Intercontinental Hotel Group to build the first Holiday Inn Express properties in Saudi Arabia.

Al Hokair will bring Holiday Inn Express, the fastest growing brand in International Hotel Group’s (IHG) 13-strong portfolio, to Saudi Arabia for the first time ever.

At least 10 hotels will be built over the next 15 years.

The first Holiday Inn Express to be built in Saudi Arabia will be a 200-room hotel in Jeddah, followed by openings in cities such as Riyadh.

All 10 of the yet-to-be-built hotels will be operated under long-term franchise agreements, according to the exclusive master development deal.

Revenue gains will start to appear in the first quarter of 2020, Al Hokair said.

Operator Al Hokair already manages six Holiday Inn hotels in Saudi Arabia, but does not manage any for sister brand Holiday Inn Express.

Managing director, Al Hokair Group, Sami Alhokair, said the company was “delighted” to broaden its commercial partnership with IHG. He said the agreement would “strengthen” the Saudi operator’s presence in the Kingdom and keep its commitments to the Vison 2030 industrial strategy on track.

“Holiday Inn Express is world renowned brand, offering great value to the guests and, in the absence of an adequate supply of mid-market hotels to cater to the increasing demand, this signing presents us with unprecedented opportunities to capture the volume segment.”

IHG’s managing director for India, Middle East and Africa, Pascal Gauvin, said: “IHG has a strong legacy in Saudi Arabia, which is a key market for us in the Middle East. We are proud to once again collaborate with our esteemed long-term partner Al Hokair Group to bring the Holiday Inn Express brand to the country, and further expand our offering to domestic and international travellers alike.

“The tourism landscape in Saudi Arabia is rapidly changing and we are excited to leverage the huge growth opportunities that Saudi Vision 2030 presents, particularly given that one of the biggest pillars of the plan is to bring more tourism into the country.”

He added: “We are the largest operator in Saudi Arabia, with a strong portfolio of 31 hotels across four brands, offering specialised stay experiences, and with this signing we are further extending our consumer appeal by offering quality, yet affordable accommodation for savvy travellers.”

 This article was first published Construction Week Online.COM

Saudi Arabia Is Gradually Emerging As A Dental Tourism Hub

Time: April 17, 2018

Saudi Arabia has been emerging as a preferred destination for dental tourism in the world largely due to affordability of dental services when compared to other western countries. This has also helped in ameliorating the overall market size of dental market in the recent years.

The Kingdom has been ranked third among all the GCC countries in terms of dentist per 10,000 residents in 2016. Dentists in Saudi Arabia are majorly concentrated in places namely Riyadh, Jeddah and Al Khobar and the remaining cities mainly possess various unorganized dental clinics which may become organized with the passing years.

Also, the number of dentists in the market has had a direct correlation with the overall market size and the country has witnessed a rise in number of graduates in the field of dentistry and more dentists have been passing out over the years. Increasing number of dentists has resulted in expansion of the market size during 2011-2016. It has increased from 8,100 dentists during 2011 to 16,887 dentists during 2016 at a CAGR of 15.8% during these years.

The market has noticed a considerable growth majorly due to all the interrelated factors that include: increasing diabetic population, rising oral care awareness, improved technologies & modern healthcare infrastructure, growing demand for cosmetic dental services and targeted promotion of dental tourism. It has also been observed that government expenditure on healthcare has increased at a CAGR of 7.6% during 2011-2016.

An increased attention towards the physical appearance has geared the demand for oral grooming treatments including tooth whitening, cleaning, reshaping, broken tooth, tooth jewellery and cosmetic contouring. These changing preferences of the customers have further helped push the revenues from dental services and they have only been improving. The rising income levels of Saudi residents along with growing dental tourism in the country has led to an increased demand for cosmetic dentistry in the country.

Currently, Qatar has the highest dentist to population ratio among all GCC countries and the major institutions that cater to dentistry segment include Qatar University, Weil Cornell Medicine, College of North Atlantic – Qatar, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, Georgetown University in Qatar, Doha Dental and others.

In line with the evolving health and hygiene awareness in Saudi Arabia, oral hygiene is witnessing a growing focus amongst its consumers. According to Ken Research, the overall market has shown expansion at a CAGR of 9.1% during 2014-2016, recording revenues of $2.3 billion in 2016.

The government has been active throughout and has taken a number of reforms to ameliorate the dental health care system in the country. As a consequence, dental care services have improved significantly in the recent decades. The research report “Saudi Arabia Dental Care Market by Services (Endodontic, Prosthodontics, Implantlogy, Orthodontics, Cosmetic Dentistry, Periodontics), by Major Cities (Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam & Al-Khobar, Others) – Outlook to 2021” highlights that the healthcare expenditure in Saudi Arabia will rise from $25 billion in 2017 to $33.7 billion during 2021 at a CAGR of 7.7% during 2017-2021. This increase would ultimately result in the improvement of overall healthcare infrastructure, which will in turn boost the dental care services market in the country.

Saudi Arabia dental care services market is forecasted to grow at an exponential growth rate in the upcoming years. The sector is anticipated to represent a strong growth in the coming years that will owe to the overall increase in dental care spending, growing penetration by the insurance and increase in the per capital income.

This article was first published in Forbes

If you want more interesting news or videos of this website click on this link Forbes


Hiking places near Riyadh

SOURCE: Arab News
Time: April 17, 2018

RIYADH: The first Saudi Recruitment, Labor and Support Services Forum and Exhibition (RALS 2018) has been hailed as a success by firms who attended and called for it to be made an annual event.
RALS 2018 brought together recruitment companies to explore opportunities in the Kingdom at a three-day forum.
The event was opened on Sunday by Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center. Companies who took part said that events of this type should be organized on a regular basis as they helped to streamline the sector.
Speaking to Arab News at the forum Abdulwahab Waleed Aldayel, marketing director at the Al Ajeer Recruitment Co., said on Tuesday: “We see this forum as an opportunity to deliver the message that recruitment is a good sector to invest in.”
“We would like to change the image of the recruitment here in Saudi Arabia because it is understood in a very limited sense. The common perception is that the recruitment drive is to have a nanny or a private driver; this perception has to change. We wish to go for technology-driven recruitment in line with Vision 2030, that aims to diversify all aspects of development in the Kingdom to make life easy,” he said.
Tariq Alolaqi, senior director customer experience at the Saudi Manpower Solutions Co. (SMASCO), told Arab News: “We are happy to be part of the first recruitment, labor and support services forum … (we are) getting a good response from the clients.”
Yusef Ali Al-Awaji, director of international recruitment at Maharah Human Resource Co., told Arab News: “It is a privilege to be here at the first forum … it has been a great experience and an opportunity for all of us participating as different companies and sharing our experiences to move on for growth and contribution to the local labor market.”
Muhammed Almulhim, sales manager at the Mueen Human Resource Co., told Arab News: “This forum is well timed and needed, it came as a great help to all of us working in the labor sector. The response to the forum is hugely successful and it should be organized annually now.”

A large number of recruitment firms and offices accredited in the Kingdom’s labor market attended the forum and exhibition seeking to establish a culture of reliability between companies and the clients.