Trade volume between Saudi Arabia and Spain over $5bn: Minister
RIYADH: Buoyed by strong bilateral trade totaling $3.5 billion annually, Saudi Arabia and Spain look to play a key role in strengthening global tourism as both the countries continue to share strong business relationships.
As Saudi Arabia prepares to host the 116th Executive Council of the UN World Tourism Organization on June 7-8 in Jeddah, with around 180 participants worldwide, it can benefit from Spain’s expertise and experience in the tourism sector.
“There is a great opportunity in front of us and together we will seize it,” said Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb, during the Saudi-Spanish Investment Forum in Riyadh on Sunday.
The two countries announced a partnership last December within the UN World Tourism Organization to revitalize and strengthen the tourism sector after the pandemic.
“We are showing the world that collaboration and partnership will help protect jobs and livelihoods across the world,” said Al-Khateeb.
He also added that Saudi Arabia has now become one of the world’s most compelling places to invest.
The minister said the Saudi-Spanish Infrastructure Fund with a capital of $1 billion will finance infrastructure projects in the Kingdom, in addition to another fund worth $5 billion for private sector investments.
“We look to Spain with respect for what it has achieved domestically and internationally, and that’s in the heart of our model of Vision 2030,” he added.
Al-Khateeb highlighted the state’s giga-projects which are currently under development, including AlUla, The Red Sea, NEOM, Diriyah Gate and Qiddiya.
“The momentum of opportunities in these projects is incredible,” said Al-Khateeb.
Backed by its Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia has emerged as a key player in the world to revive the tourism sector post-pandemic.
Recent findings of a survey, conducted by YouGov and commissioned by the Saudi Tourism Ministry, found Saudis to be the most optimistic about the prospect of taking either a holiday or business trip abroad in the next six months, reflecting the strong performance of the Saudi economy.
The two-day UNWTO event that Saudi Arabia will host in a few days time will deliberate on all necessary measures to implement the council’s decisions and recommendations to support the sector.
The organization opened its first regional office in Riyadh in May 2021, to act as a hub for the UNWTO to coordinate policies and initiatives across 13 Middle East countries.
UNWTO sees the tourism sector as one of the most critical aspects of economic growth and an essential pillar for development.