Saudi Arabia is probably not on your list of dream vacation spots – especially if you’re a woman traveller, or want to work on your tan, or get back to nature. However, seeking to boost its tourist offerings as part of a wider effort to diversify its sources of revenues, the oil-rich kingdom announced on Arabian Business.complans earlier this month to build the largest environmental tourism park in the Middle East. The new project, called Musma Park, is slated for Hail province in north-central Saudi Arabia.
According to the website of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, Hail province “is rich with its beautiful natural sites represented in the mountains, deserts, and the botanical and zoological life … there are some caves, craters, and beautiful plateaus with great scenery and soft breeze.”
Saudi Arabia’s tourism market actually generated nearly $19 billion in revenues last year – accounting for about 6.5% of the country’s GDP – and could reach $64 billion by 2019, according to ArabianBusiness.com.
However, Islamic tourism – the hajj or umrah – currently accounts for much of the kingdom’s tourism traffic. New tourist developments such as Musma Park and a series of projects on the Red Sea coast are intended to serve as a “Mecca” for tourists who come for reasons unrelated to religion.
Neighboring Abu Dhabi is also conducting feasibility studies for developing eco-friendly desert resorts, similar to the Al-Maha resort in Dubai, with an eye toward attracting European tourists.
(Image via saudiembassy.net)