RIYADH — Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said that Saudi Arabia has become a hub for innovations around the world with investments reaching SR800 billion.

In his speech at the inaugural session of the GREAT FUTURES initiative conference at King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh on Tuesday, he said that the Kingdom has witnessed a robust growth with regard to the issuance of tourist licenses by about 90 percent.

“This vital sector contributes 5 percent of the gross domestic product,” he said. GREAT FUTURES is one of the initiatives of the Saudi-UK Strategic Partnership Council, co-chaired by Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Al-Khateeb noted that GREAT FUTURES offers a chance to enhance cooperation and develop investments in 13 vital and promising sectors. The minister said it also represents an important forum for exchanging qualitative expertise and learning about the latest practices in priority and promising fields. “The conference serves as a mega platform for British companies to participate in the transformation achieved in Saudi Arabia. Thanks to Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia has witnessed transformations that have unleashed its enormous potential in various fields, especially tourism,” he said.

Al Khateeb said that he looks forward to Britain playing a vital role in Saudi Arabia’s path toward achieving Vision 2030’s objectives. “This year, Saudi Arabia has received more than 165,600 British tourists. Over 560,462 e-visas have been issued for British visitors since 2019,” he said while highlighting the significant need to boost communication and increase the number of British hotel operators in Saudi Arabia.

The minister said that Saudi Arabia continues to highlight its pioneering role in several fields, and seeks to enhance its position by hosting sporting events such as “Formula 1” and “WWE.” “These initiatives have made the Kingdom a center for international sports, and this enhances the infrastructure for sports. We seek to create a sustainable environment for these sports.” Al-Khateeb’s speech also touched on many opportunities in the field of tourism and cultural exchange between Saudi Arabia and Britain.

Meanwhile, Al-Khateeb met with the UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer. They reviewed the experience of an elite group of the country’s young men and women working in the tourism sector, after they acquired qualitative skills through their training program from the best British universities.

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