Category Archives: Govt

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque ranks 1st in Middle East for top attractions and 3rd globally for cultural and historical experiences

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (SZGM) has secured top positions globally among the most revered cultural and historical landmarks, according to the 2024 report of leading travel and tourism platform TripAdvisor. Recognition in the report, derived from the analysis of more than eight million data points provided by travellers of diverse nationalities, is a testament to the mosque’s universal appeal and the rich experiences it offers. SZGM’s unique cultural and historical experiences have earned it 10th place globally and the first position in the Middle East in the Top Attractions category among 25 world-class attractions. In the Top Experiences category, SZGM secured 17th place globally and second in the Middle East for the travel experience from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, which includes Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Qasr Al Watan, and Etihad Towers. Furthermore, in the Cultural and Historical Experiences category, it ranked third globally, showing significant progress compared to 2023, with improvements of five ranks in the Attractions category, three in Experiences, and four in Cultural and Historical Experiences. His Excellency Dr Yousif Alobaidli, Director-General of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre (SZGMC), said: “The mosque’s realisation of this global milestone reflects the vision of our leadership. This accomplishment is the fruit of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre’s five-year strategic plan to enhance its services and offer visitors new experiences. These results also underscore the centre’s success in training over 250 young UAE Nationals in the field of cultural tour guidance and visitor services. These individuals are staff of the centre and graduates of the Ibn Al Dar programme, which is part of the AL Shabab AL Banie initiative. They are responsible for delivering more than 5,000 cultural tours annually within …

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GACA reports 17% increase in the number of passengers over the past six months in Saudi Arabia

According to the statistics by GACA, there was a 17% increase in the number of passengers over the past six months, reaching approximately 62 million passengers, compared to 53 million passengers during the same period last year. The number of flights also reached approximately 446,000, marking a 12% increase compared to the same period last year, which saw 399,000 flights. Additionally, the airfreight volume in the first six months of 2024 witnessed a 41% increase, reaching 606,000 tons compared to the 430,000 tons in the same period of 2023. The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) released air-traffic statistics showing significant growth in the number of passengers and flights during the first half of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023. During the first half of this year, GACA launched several development projects, including the development and expansion of Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport, the inauguration of the development and expansion of Al-Ahsa International Airport, the launch of the new additional international departure terminal at Taif International Airport, and the introduction of the self-driving air taxi experience for the first time during the Hajj season. Furthermore, the authority granted the first operating permit for building cleaning using drones, which illustrates its commitment to enabling safe and innovative advanced air mobility solutions. It also launched a knowledge-testing center for aviation personnel and the first phase of electronic gates at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh. In terms of service quality provided to passengers, GACA won two gold awards for Best Customer Service and Best Public Service Center in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region, the Consumer Protection Association award for excellence in protecting passengers’ rights, and the …

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Diriyah announced US$2 billion mixed -use development in northern region

Diriyah announced over SAR7.8 billion ($2 billion) mixed -use development in northern region. It involves the construction of advanced educational institutions, cultural venues, modern offices, and a luxury hotel. Diriyah Company announced the signing of a contract with El Seif Engineering Contracting Co. Ltd (ESEC), in partnership with China State Construction Engineering Corporation Limited (CSCEC), for a large-scale construction project in the northern part of Diriyah. The project will be executed by some of the most prominent real-estate developers from Saudi Arabia and around the world, contributing to the realization of the Diriyah Company, which represents one of the most important historical and cultural destinations in the Kingdom and a key project of Saudi Vision 2030. The agreement was signed by Diriyah Company Group chief executive Jerry Inzerillo, ESEC chief executive Eng. Ahmed Al Bassam, and CSCEC’s KSA Branch chief executive Chuanhai Wei. Construction work is set to commence in the third quarter of this year. “This represents a major step in our accelerating development strategy and commitment to making Diriyah one of the most important and prominent tourist, humanitarian, and cultural destinations in the world,” Inzerillo said. “This contract is one of the largest in terms of size, scope, and significance within the development plan for the Diriyah project. This agreement also represents another example of the close economic relations and strong commercial partnerships being established between Saudi Arabia and China,” the chief executive said. The agreement is a testament to the local and global stature of the Diriyah project and its ability to attract more economic opportunities to the Kingdom. The project offers tremendous investment opportunities and an attractive business environment characterized by the highest standards of governance, …

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Ministry of Tourism announces: inbound visitors’ spending surpasses SAR 45 Billion during Q1 2024

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has witnessed a 22.9% increase in visitor spending in the first quarter of 2024 compared to 2023, with total expenditures surpassing SAR 45 billion. Additionally, the “travel” item reports that the Kingdom earned SAR 24 billion, reflecting a growth of over 46% compared to the same period in 2023. Preliminary data from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) on the balance of payments’ “travel” item indicates that travelers from the Kingdom spent approximately SAR 21 billion during the same timeframe. The increase in inbound visitors’ spending in the Kingdom marks another milestone in the ongoing success of its tourism sector. In 2023, the Kingdom topped the UN Tourism list for the highest growth rate in both international tourist numbers and tourism receipts among the world’s leading destinations, compared to 2019. This achievement highlights the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism and other components of the Saudi Tourism Ecosystem in promoting the tourism sector and contributing to the national economy’s growth. It is a key aspect of the National Tourism Development Strategy. The released documents have confirmed the effectiveness of the efforts by the Tourism Ecosystem to position the sector as a global leader. This has been achieved through the implementation of best practices in tourism development, the enhancement of tourism services and products, and ongoing collaboration with all government entities to support the development of the Kingdom’s tourism sector.

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Dubai offers new eco tourism experience for visitors

Dubai offers a new eco-tourism experience to visitors as the new Jebel Ali Beach Development Project receives approval which extends 6.6 km, the beach is poised to become a distinctive recreational destination that places a high priority on environmental preservation and the protection of local ecosystems and wildlife. The project features exceptional services, facilities, and public amenities. Offering a new eco-tourism experience, visitors to the beach can enjoy watching turtles in their natural habitat. Various measures and regulations will be put in place to protect them and provide them a safe nesting environment. These efforts align with the efforts of relevant bodies in the UAE to rescue, rehabilitate, and return turtles to their natural habitat and preserve the UAE’s rich marine environment. In line with the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to create the world’s best public beaches in the emirate, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, approved the Master Plan for the Jebel Ali Beach Development Project. Dubai currently has a total of eight public beaches: Al Mamzar Beach, Al Mamzar Corniche, Jumeirah 1, Jumeirah 2, Jumeirah 3, Umm Suqeim 1, Umm Suqeim 2, and Jebel Ali Beach. All of them have obtained the globally prestigious Blue Flag accreditation awarded to public beaches that meet its criteria including compliance with the programme’s standards such as marine water quality, environmental education, environmental management, public safety, and services for five consecutive years. The two beaches will be equipped with advanced technology services and systems, such as advanced lockers, Wi-Fi …

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Qatar launched its latest tourism project, Simaisma spanning 8 million square metres

Qatar launched its latest tourism project spanning 8 million square metres, featuring a 7km waterfront that stretches over Qatar’s eastern coastline. The project opens diverse investment avenues for the private sector, with over 16 plots available for development. These include luxury resorts spread across four distinct areas, a theme park, a world-class 18-hole golf course, residential villas, a yacht club and a marina, as well as restaurants and shops. In addition, the project will rely on sustainable construction and operation, incorporating cutting-edge smart systems and innovative technologies while prioritising the use of locally recycled materials. By boosting non-oil sector contributions to Qatar’s economy, empowering the private sector and attracting foreign direct investment, the Simaisma Project marks a significant milestone towards achieving the Third National Development Strategy 2024-2030. HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, launched the Simaisma Project, an initiative led by the Ministry of Municipality and developed by Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company. Set to become a new cultural landmark, the project will span over 8 million square metres, featuring a 7 km waterfront that stretches over Qatar’s eastern coastline. Speaking at the event, HE Abdullah bin Hamad bin Abdullah Al Attiyah, Minister of Municipality, emphasised the importance of public and private sector partnerships in achieving Qatar’s development. He explained: “We are steadily advancing towards realising Qatar’s national vision 2030, building a more prosperous and stable future for coming generations across the economic, social and environmental domains. We are thrilled to contribute to the growth of the tourism and entertainment sector by spearheading innovative projects that meet the rising demand in this crucial industry.” Eng Ali bin Mohammed Al …

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Visit Qatar welcomes GCC visitors to a memorable Summer Season with events and offers 

In line with the summer season, Visit Qatar has launched its Qatar calendar of events and ‘Your Summer Starts Here’ campaign, including a host of offers, events and fun activations targetting the GCC visitors. Curated for people of all ages, the ‘Your Summer Starts Here’ campaign showcases what the country has to offer from outdoor acitivities to exclusive offers in iconic locations. The campaign video shows Bahraini influencer and film-maker Omar Farooq head to Doha for a 24-hour visit where his friend, renowned Qatari athlete, Mutaz Barshim meets him. Together, both Barshim and Farooq experience Qatar’s curated summer offerings. Following its success last year, the Qatar Toy Festival returns to Qatar this summer in its second edition from July 15 to August 14 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center (DECC). The Qatar Toy Festival will be an unforgettable experience for families of all ages. Qatar is also home to several indoor parks including Doha Quest, Virtuocity, Angry Birds World and Trocadero. With world-class private beaches, Qatar is set to welcome GCC visitors to its shores. West Bay Beach, 974 Beach, Doha Sands Beach, Banana Island Resort, Doha Beach Club, Katara Beach and many others will be operating throughout the summer with special events and offers. GCC visitors can benefit from Visit Qatar’s promotions, including up to 40% in multiple locations by Katara Hospitality. Some of these promotions include a festive brunch, lunch or dinner, hotel stays among other exciting offers. Additionally, families with children can visit Inflata City at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) until July 13 for fun activities on inflatables. Msheireb Downtown Doha is hosting ‘Summer Nights’ until August 31 with immersive festivities catered to all …

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Philippines successfully hosts first UN Tourism Regional Forum on Gastronomy Tourism for Asia and the Pacific

Philippines welcomed over 600 global delegates of the inaugural UN Tourism Regional Forum on Gastronomy Tourism for Asia and the Pacific as it formally opened on Wednesday (June 26) at The Marquee of Shangri-La Mactan. Philippines successfully hosts first UN Tourism Regional Forum on Gastronomy Tourism for Asia and the Pacific Courtesy of the Department of Tourism – Office of Public Affairs and Advocacy. Co-organized by the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT), the UN Tourism, and the Basque Culinary Center, the event gathered participants from UN member-states, affiliate members, and tourism stakeholders from national and international organizations. A first of its kind in Asia and the Pacific the forum seeks to become a platform to celebrate the power of gastronomy tourism by bringing together destinations and international experts in an exchange of knowledge and best practices, in order to fully harness the transformative power of gastronomy tourism, especially its benefits to local communities and the environment. Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco, UN Tourism Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, BCC Director of Masters and Courses Idoia Calleja, Lapu-Lapu City Lone District Representative Ma. Cynthia “Cindi” King Chan, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard Chan, UN Tourism Ambassador for Gastronomy Tourism Chef Vicky Cheng of VEA Restaurant in Hong Kong, and foreign dignitaries led the ceremonial pouring of rice into a giant pusô, a rice cake made by boiling rice in a woven pouch of palm leaves that serves as a major culinary pride of Cebuanos, one of the diverse gastronomic offerings that can be found in the Philippines. The Philippines holds the honor of hosting this inaugural UN Tourism forum, after its election as Chair of the Commission for East Asia and the Pacific during …

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Travel & tourism in Egypt injected a record E£953BN in the national economy last year

The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2024 Economic Impact Research (EIR) revealed that the sector’s contribution to Egypt’s GDP grew almost 24% last year to reach a record E£953BN – nearly 21% ahead of the previous peak. The data also shows that across sector jobs, international and domestic visitor spending, the sector fully recovered last year to reach record-breaking levels. Domestic visitor spending grew almost 9% year-on-year to reach more than E£328.5BN, while spending by international visitors saw a strong 38.5% year-on-year growth last year, to reach E£470.4BN. Jobs supported by the sector grew almost 10% to reach more than 2.5MN, representing one in 12 jobs across Egypt. Although this is strong recovery, it continues to lag previous record job numbers for the sector, set 15 years ago in 2008, when job numbers reached 3.7MN. Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said; “Egypt’s Travel & Tourism sector has made an extraordinary recovery, surging past previous records, highlighting the sector’s resilience and its vital role in Egypt’s economy. “The Egyptian Government recognises the value of Travel & Tourism to the Egyptian economy and jobs, placing it at the forefront of the agenda, with a real focus on investment.” This year, the sector’s GDP contribution is forecast to reach almost E£988BN, accounting for 8.1% of Egypt’s economy. International visitor spending is anticipated to grow 6.2% to reach just under E£500BN this year, with domestic visitor spending expected to reach over E£340BN. Sector jobs are projected to grow 5.7% to reach 2.67MN, to account for almost one in 11 jobs in Egypt, although still below the previous peak.With the right government support, WTTC is forecasting that the sector could grow its annual GDP contribution to E£1.57TN by 2034, representing …

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GDRFA Dubai, Dubai Airports ink cooperation agreement to enhance passenger services

The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai has signed a cooperation agreement with Dubai Airports to enhance cooperation between the two sides, provide the best services to passengers and position Dubai Airports as a leader in offering premium services among international airports. The signing ceremony was attended by HE Lieutenant General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Director General of the GDRFA, and Paul Griffiths, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Airports. HE Lieutenant General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri said: “The agreement will significantly support GDRFA’s strategy designed to enhance cooperation with key partners and ensure the provision of integrated and effective services to passengers at Dubai Airports.” Al Marri emphasised that GDRFA is committed to offering top-notch services by adopting the latest technologies and best international practices, adding that the partnership with Dubai Airports is a significant step towards achieving the vision of making Dubai Airports among the best in the world by enhancing the travel experience and providing a safe and seamless environment for all travellers. Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, said: “This agreement marks another significant step in our ongoing efforts to solidify Dubai’s position as a world-leading aviation hub. Our partnership with GDRFA is essential for providing a seamless and efficient journey for all travellers at our airports. The agreement allows us to harness cutting-edge technology to streamline processes and further enhance operational efficiency, aligning perfectly with Dubai’s strategic aspirations for its aviation and tourism industries.” The partnership is set to upgrade the process of inquiring about registration at the smart gates via the website by providing a link on the Dubai Airports website, which would enable passengers to check their registration status in the …

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