The WiB | Middle East | 23.11 |

Welcome to our WIB (week in brief), a round-up of important events, news and developments around the Middle East. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team.


China Trade Week | Dammam, Saudi Arabia | 26-29th November

Country spotlight | Saudi Tourism & CHINA

A week-long festival in Shanghai, showcasing Saudi Arabia’s cultural heritage and natural attractions underscored the importance of China, already an important trading partner, to the Kingdom’s future ambitions as a future tourism hub. One hundred thousand Chinese visitors flocked to Saudi Arabia in 2023, a figure Saudi Arabia plans to raise to five million by 2030 to become China’s leading long-haul destination.

These are huge numbers and the Kingdom is leaving nothing to chance especially services. Specialist schools and training programmes for tourism and hospitality professionals are in the works. The tourism ministry in partnership with entertainment mega project Qiddiya (being developed in collaboration with the UNWTO) is setting up The Riyadh School of Tourism and Hospitality. Expected to open around the end of 2024, it will offer diplomas and Master’s degrees to approximately 25,000 students every year by 2050.

With Approved Destination Status(ADS) in China, Saudi Arabia has access to China’s approved destination promoters and has enrolled 700 partners and Tencent’s WeChat. Recognising that one size will not fit all, it is developing a varied strategy, rooted in extensive research to target and attract a wide cross-section of tourist types from thrill seekers to culture buffs.

Tourism Spotlight | World Heritage Sites

Uruq Bani Ma‘arid Reserve, a pristine desert ecosystem in Saudi Arabia, has been designated a UNESCO natural heritage site, the first of its kind in the Kingdom although its seventh with UNESCO World Heritage status. It sits at the western edge of Ar-Rub’ al-Khali, thought to be the largest continuous sand sea on Earth. Spread over 12,750-sq km, it is home to 120 plant species and 526 animal species, including gazelles and the Arabian Oryx.

Airline Spotlight | Archer Aviation & HELICOPTERS

The electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) industry took off sometime ago and is fast approaching cruising altitude. Archer Aviation Inc. a leader in the sector has strengthened plans to run air taxi operations in Abu Dhabi and UAE by signing an MOU with Air Chateau, a leading private aviation operator based in the UAE. Air Chateau plans to purchase up to 100 Archer Midnight eVTOL aircraft at a cost of US$500M to operate in the region. Air Chateau offers last mile services such as inter-airport and inter-city connectivity and to ultra-high net worth individuals. The two firms will work together to develop the infrastructure needed to launch air taxi operations in the UAE along with MRO, support and eventually local manufacturing capabilities.

Opportunities | Human Development

Far too many developing countries and emerging economies target their growth and investment strategies at the top, ignoring the fact that without human capability, that is the local talent and skill needed to fulfil the potential of those strategies, their ambitions will remain unfulfilled. Saudi Arabia, with the benefit of other nation’s hindsight is determined not to make this mistake.

It has launched the Human Capability Development Program to invest in the skills education and potential of all its citizens targeting all stages of learning from early childhood education continuous or lifelong learning. One of Vision 2030’s realisation programs, it is a collaborative endeavour between the government, the non-profit sectors and private businesses to educated and develop ‘a resilient and strong educational base’ to prepare future generations for global opportunities.

Visit our insight pages for more information about industry trends and developments in MENA aviation, or get in touch to find out more about our aviation advisory services in Saudi Arabia, the GCC and the greater Middle East. 

Photo Credit by From Unsplash

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