Total impact on cultural tourism “direct and indirect”
in the Kingdom exceeds SR 56.6 billion
Over 230 new heritage projects and 6 million tourism
trips will contribute to the support and expansion of cultural tourism.
Developing a number of cultural and heritage tourism
products in 25 tourism destinations.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia participated in the 2nd
International Conference of Cultural Tourism in Omani capital, Muscat, on 11-12
This participation falls in line with the Kingdom’s
increased attention towards cultural and heritage tourism with the
implementation of a set of heritage projects and event products related to
Kingdom is witnessing a quantum leap in the field of
cultural heritage led by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin
Abdul Aziz (may Allah protect him), the man of history and pioneer of heritage
and the first supporter of the projects and programs of preservation of the
Kingdom’s heritage in its diverse areas.
The cultural and heritage tourism is one of the main
elements and key patterns of tourism industry as it depends on cultural
heritage. It includes visiting
cultural heritage sites, cultural monuments, especially the historic landmarks
in cities and villages, in addition to cultural facilities such as museums,
theaters, exhibitions, popular souks, and the like.
Cultural tourism in the Kingdom:
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia enjoys a large number of
potentials that distinguishes it for such a type of tourism. Prominent among
them are, the Kingdom’s location, and its land that was, and still a meeting
point for human civilizations in light of its strategic location in the middle
of the continents, besides its important archeological sites that are spread
throughout its different parts, in addition to the Islamic history sites and
the huge and diverse cultural and urban heritage sites over a large geographic
The Kingdom has over 150 archeological sites that
are well-prepared for visiting and open for the public as well as 22 public
museums, 174 private museums and 50 urban heritage sites.
According to recent study by SCTH, the number of
domestic cultural tourism trips in the Kingdom has exceeded 6 million in 2016
including visits to museums, Islamic history sites, archeological sites,
cultural and art exhibitions, and cultural festivals.
The study estimated the direct spending of national
and international visitors of about SR 13.5 billion while the total impact of
spending on cultural heritage (total of direct and indirect spending), is about
SR 56.6 billion. The number of created jobs due to visitors’ activities in
cultural and heritage sites and from surrounding trade activities is 112,000
According to the study, the purposes of cultural
tourism varied with the interest of the visitors. For attending cultural festivals and events, it got 39.7% of
total of cultural trips, at a time in which the heritage sites have seen heavy
turnout by tourists and their visits on cultural trips clocked 20%.
Museums and exhibitions visits reached 8.1% of the
total number of visitors, while 5.1 million domestic tourists have visited the
cultural sites such as museums, heritage sites and cultural and tourism events.
New museums and development of museum display techniques which have been
carried by SCTH, in addition to rehabilitation projects in heritage and
archeological sites, have contributed to remarkable turnout towards these
SCTH, since its inception has paid great attention
to the integration of tourism with the heritage and culture through
establishing the “culture and heritage” program in 2002. The program set a plan
covering cultural tourism programs and works that are carried out by SCTH
The efforts of SCTH in the field of cultural and
heritage tourism included a number of areas, the most important of them are:
SCTH undertakes establishment and support of a
number of cultural, heritage and historic festivals, the most important of them
are, Souk Okaz, Historic Jeddah Festival, Desert Festival in Hail, Al Ghada
Festival in Onaiza, Al Badia Festival in Besha, Falcon Festival in Turaif
municipality, in addition to major national heritage festivals, such as Al
Jenadriah Festival and King Abdul Aziz Camel Festival.
SCTH has also undertaken development of a number of
tourism, cultural and heritage products in more than 25 tourism destinations
including historical souks, heritage villages, historical routes, popular
souks, folklore, traditional industries, and popular foods.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cultural
The new heritage projects that are under
implementation by SCTH under the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cultural
Heritage Initiative are expected to create remarkable increase in the tourism
and cultural trips in the Kingdom.
This leading program enjoys the support of the
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and is funded by the government under the
important initiatives of the
“Vision 2030” with more than SR 5 billion in its current phase.
The program covers 10 tracks and each track includes
a set of major heritage projects, totaling over 230 projects.
The projects of the program includes preservation of
urban heritage sites, developing heritage villages, establishing and preparing
museums across the provinces, developing handicraft and traditional industries,
raising people’s awareness on the national heritage, securing required
financial support from the government to the projects of the urban heritage and
Program’s most important projects:
Rehabilitation of 4 palaces of the historic state in
the reign of King Abdul Aziz in the first phase (2020), in addition to 20
palaces in the second phase (2030) as museums across the municipalities. Establishing, preparing and operating
18 public museums in the first phase, rehabilitating 80 archeological sites in
the first phase besides 40 sites in the second phase to be added to already 70
sites opened for the public. Accordingly, the total number of archeological
sites ready for visitation is 190.
The program aims at increasing the number of
registered archeological sites in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List to 7 sites
by the end of the first phase and 10 sites by the end of the second phase, as
well as rehabilitating 18 heritage villages in the first phase and 22 towns in
the second phase, besides preparing and operating 17 handicraft creative
centers across different parts of the Kingdom.
The program for caring of Islamic history sites is
considered as one of tracks of the Custodian program for caring of Kingdom’s
cultural heritage. It concerns, preservation, rehabilitation and employment of
the Kingdom’s cultural heritage sites.
The program covers a number of projects including
the project of documentation of the Islamic history sites and the project of
rehabilitation of Prophetic Hijrah Route and the project of rehabilitation of
the Islamic History related sites, in addition to establishing visitor centers
at Grand Badar Battle as “Islamic Battle Museum”, Uhud Battle field, Al Khandag
Battle field, Al Hudaibia Historic site, Al Yamama Historic Site in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula,
Jabal Al Nour, Hira Cave and Thur Mountain.
Urban Heritage and Handicraft:
In light of the notable increase in the urban
heritage efforts in the Kingdom, SCTH has established the National Urban
Heritage Center in 2011, which undertakes a number of projects and programs in
partnership with many public departments and local communities. The most
important of them are, heritage villages and towns projects, historic State
palaces, city historic centers, and historic mosques.
In this line, SCTH has established the National
Program for Handicraft (Bari). The program, within five years, has managed to
implement a large number of training programs in an effort to quality the Saudi
artisans, and has engaged them in the festivals and exhibitions, in addition to
allowing their products to be displayed in the hotels and marketing their
products online, besides supporting them financially through micro loans for their
projects and encouraging them by various awards.
The number of registered artisans in the national
record of artisans so far has reached 3202 , male and female, across the
In this line, SCTH has established two companies to
support the investment activities in different areas of heritage in a way that
enhances heritage and cultural tourism. The first one is the Saudi Company for
Heritage Hospitality, which is one of heritage tourism investment companies
established by SCTH and approved by the government and was launched with a
capital of SR 250 million. The first fruit of the projects of this company was
Al Samhan Heritage Hotel in Historic Diriyah. The second company is the Saudi
Company for Handicraft, which was established under the initiatives of the
National Transformation Program and supported by SR 220 million. It aims at
preserving and developing the handicraft and national traditional industries.
SCTH efforts to link tourism to culture in the
GCC and Arab countries:
The SCTH and its President have played important
role in linking tourism with the heritage and culture regionally.
His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin
Abdul Aziz, President of SCTH, had urged the constituent meeting of the tourism
ministers in the GCC countries which was held in Kuwait in 2014, to link
tourism with culture and heritage, proposing to hold an annual gathering
of tourism officials with their
counterpart officials of culture. HRH President of SCTH repeated his proposal
at the meeting of the Arab, Tourism Ministerial Council which was held in
Sharjah in 2015.
In this effort, SCTH has prepared a unified draft to
achieve integration between the tourism sector and culture in the GCC
countries. The ministers of tourism in GCC countries approved the document last
year in their meeting in Riyadh. The document offers a comprehensive vision for
developing the mutual work between the two sectors for five years, besides it
focuses on the importance of considering tourism as a major force for
highlighting and preserving cultural heritage.
Study of economic impact of cultural heritage in
SCTH in collaboration with the World Bank has
conducted an economic study in an effort to detect the economic impact of the
national cultural heritage in the creation of job opportunities.
The study highlighted the major indicators of
cultural heritage in the Kingdom and evaluated the economic impact of
implemented investments in the restoration and rehabilitation projects of
cultural heritage sites.
The findings of the study indicated that, the
investment in the national heritage will have greater positive impact on the
national economy in terms of its contribution to increase and diversify of
national income sources, creating job opportunities for citizens on the sites
throughout regions. The study came up with a number of recommendations that are
under implimentation by SCTH. – SCTA