A Saudi Girl Added a Little Chocolate to Sustainable Tourism Politics


Saudi Arabia may be the trigger and trend setter in building a better and a sustainable tourism world. A 10 year old girl knows.

The Diplomatic Quarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was built on the edge of Wadi Hanifa in the 1970s as living quarters for diplomats and the embassy area. Today the “DQ” is like a Green Eden and a contrast to the bustling capital city of Riyadh.

Embassies including from the USA, EU, Palestine, Iran, Russia, and other hotspots of the world are peacefully located within Saudi government institutions, including the Saudi Ministry of Tourism.

The diplomatic quarter reconfirms the importance world peace has in line with sustainable tourism.

Diplomats and government officials get together in the many trendy coffee places, restaurants, and parks. You can witness joggers from different countries saying “hi” to each other in this quiet and at the same time very active power machine for Saudi Arabia and the entire world.

I stayed 6 nights at the Marriott Diplomatic Quarters last week. Every morning I went for my morning coffee in one of the two Starbucks next to the hotel.

I remember Thursday morning drinking the best-ever hot chocolate at Cafe Bateel, a trendy coffee place next to my Marriott Hotel. A Saudi family was sitting at the table next to me. Their small 10 years old got up and walked over to me with a big smile offering me a large cut of her chocolate.

There was nothing staged, nothing planned, and she did not know who I was. I didn’t know who she was, nor did I ever see her family before.

This type of heart-warming experience is hospitality in its finest natural stage. Luckily such experiences are not isolated to Cafe Bateel, they are everywhere in Riyadh.

After being closed for so many years, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is opening its doors to visitors.

Tourism in Saudi Arabia is sophisticated and futuristic, but at the same time in its infant stage. It’s in need of sustainable positioning by experts, so another little girl in 10 or 20 years will also share her chocolate with a visitor.

It shows the approach by HE Ahmed bin Aqil al-Khateeb, the Saudi Ministry of Tourism to make the growth of tourism sustainable, and giving back to the world at the same time is a good way forward.

HE Gloria Guevara, a former Mexican tourism minister, and former CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) is now the Saudi minister’s advisor. She is still seen as the most powerful woman in global tourism. She is a champion of sustainable tourism and gets it.

Her entire department is working every day until late into the night to position the Saudi Vision 2030 in a way tourism, culture, and progress are not clashing.

With billions of dollars invested, how would Saudi Arabian tourism look in 2030?

Keeping cultural values is important, and for Saudi Arabia, it’s a chance to learn from the mistakes of other destinations. The Kingdom has the international experts, the vision, and the money to do this. If it means tourists would have to enjoy their Long Island Ice Tea after leaving the Kingdom, this should be ok, and most likely better.

In the diplomatic quarter in Riyadh, diplomats from different embassies, and government officials, officials from different departments all come together to enjoy tea, coffee, or a delicious dessert together. They may not always share the same table, but this little girl demonstrated how easy it was to get up and share a smile and a piece of chocolate.

Diplomacy with a heart

The world has to learn from. This is peace through sustainable tourism at its finest.

WTNJOIN | eTurboNews | eTN

(eTN): A Saudi Girl Added a Little Chocolate to Sustainable Tourism Politics | re-post license post content


About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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