MADINAH — Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said that Saudi Arabia pumps SR375 million annually to support enhancing the skills of Saudis in the tourism sector.

“This contributed to raising their rates to 40 percent and we are targeting 50 percent. We are also working to facilitate the issuance of licenses instantly instead of the current duration of five days,” he said while addressing the Manafea Forum in Madinah.

Al-Khatteeb said that the tourism sector is on its way to enter the club of the top ten globally and contribute to about 10 percent of the economy by 2030 after reaching its contribution five percent last year.

Speaking at the forum, Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said that the year 2023 witnessed the greatest increase in history in the number of Umrah pilgrims, reaching five million pilgrims, an increase of 60 percent over the previous year. “We began preparing for the Hajj season, with the end of the last day of the last season, and we launched a center for managing Hajj projects and following up with all the relevant parties,” he said.

The Madinah Chamber, in cooperation with the Makkah Chamber and the Islamic Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, organized the second edition of the Manafea Forum under the slogan “An ambitious investment for a promising future vision.”

The forum aims to contribute to achieving the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the goals of the Doyof Al Rahman Program, which target to enrich the visitor experience, and reach 30 million Umrah pilgrims and five million Hajj pilgrims by 2030, in addition to empower the private sector by providing more investment opportunities, in a way that enhances the contribution of Makkah and Madinah in the gross domestic product of the regions of Makkah and Madinah.

The Manafea forum is being held to support the tripartite agreement signed between the Makkah Chamber of Commerce, the Madinah Chamber of Commerce and the Islamic Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture in December 2022 with the aim to transform Makkah and Madinah into hubs for financial and business activities in the Islamic world.

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