Ever since the world of tourism went through the biggest crisis the sector had ever seen, one country has made headline after headline.
This country is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. With Billions of Dollars to invest, His Excellency Ahmed Al-Khateeb became the go-to person for tourism leaders from around the globe.
When tourism ministers called the emergency number, HE Ahmed Al-Khateeb answered. As a good first responder and friend would do, responded first and worried about details later.
This raised the bar for him and his country tremendously, allowing tourism to shift geopolitics.
Mr. Al-Khateeb made many new friends around the globe. Educated in Canada, he can also have a Western mindset.
He managed to change world perception as a new world leader in tourism who even put a lime in the coconut when he took tourism relations with the Caribbean to a new level never seen before.
Tourism is Reforming Young People in Saudi Arabia
Under his leadership, tourism has also revolutionized his country. Party in Riyadh, until you drop, was a headline on nightlife in Riyadh by eTurboNews recently, showing a more open country with lots of young, educated people who are not really so different from many other teenagers in the world.
Under his leadership, a little Saudi girl added some chocolate to sustainable tourism.
In the past, the world of tourism did not know much about the Kingdom, except for Hajj. For decades, millions of Muslims from around the globe have performed Umrah. The kingdom, however, was closed to non-religious tourism and only started issuing tourist visas a month before COVID-19 hit.
This did not discourage, but encourage the country to make a difference. The minute COVID restrictions were lifted, Saudi Arabia was ready.
Having made new friends in the tourism world from around the globe, every day was a new record for tourism in Saudi Arabia.
One multi-billion-dollar megaproject after another was announced, getting everyone in the world talking.
Regional centers of the WTTC and UNWTO opened in Riyadh.
Brand-name sports stars became billionaires by associating themselves with this success.
The friendly face behind this open strategy was contrary to the image many in the world still had of Saudi Arabia.
This friendly face-changing narrative was given by His Excellency Ahmed Al-Khateeb, the minister of Tourism for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Advised by HE Gloria Guevara, the former WTTC CEO, and Mexican Tourism Minister, was seen as the most influential woman in the global tourism industry when she was asked to join the Ministry of Tourism as the top advisor almost three years ago.
The leadership team in the Saudi Ministry of Tourism can only be seen as a dream team and has a focus on women’s empowerment.
Insiders say the Ministry of Tourism in Riyadh is run more like a private company. It’s no exception to see the many small conference rooms with an international team of staff discussing issues, long after closing time.
His Excellency Ahmed Al-Khateeb
His Excellency Ahmed Al-Khateeb, the Minister of Tourism for Saudi Arabia, has over 25 years of experience in investment and financial services, during which he established, managed, and restructured a number of governmental agencies and companies. He is known for his ability to lead institutional transformation and achieve future visions efficiently and effectively.
His current job is not just ministerial but also includes several other high-ranking positions that fit in very well with his ministerial assignment.
- Chairman of Quality of Life Program Committee
- Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Fund for Development
- Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI)
- Secretary General and Member of the Board of Directors of Diriyah Gate Development Authority
- Secretary General and Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of New Jeddah Downtown
- Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Tourism Development Fund
- Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Tourism Authority
His Excellency Ahmed Al-Khateeb holds several board member positions:
- Member of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Council of Economic and Development Affairs
- Member of the Board of Directors of the Public Investment Fund
- Member of the Board of Directors of the General Authority for Military Industries
- Member of the Board of Directors of NEOM Company
- Member of the Board of Directors of the Red Sea Company
- Member of the Board of Directors of the National Development Fund
- Holds a BA from King Saud University
- Holds a Diploma in Wealth Management from Dalhousie University, Canada
Previous Positions the Minister had :
- Advisor to HRH the Crown Prince at the Royal Court
- Advisor to the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers
- Chairman of the Board of Directors of the General Entertainment Authority
- Minister of Health.
- Founder of Jadwa Investment Company.
- Secretary General and Member of the Board of Directors of Qiddiya
- Founder of the Customer Investment Department at Riyadh Bank.
- Founder of Islamic Banking (Amanah) – SABB Bank.
- General Manager of Private Services – SABB Bank.
According to HH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia intends to provide better opportunities for partnerships with the private sector through our three pillars:
Our position as the heart of the Arab and Islamic worlds, our leading investment capabilities, and our strategic geographical position. We will improve the business environment, so that our economy grows and flourishes, driving healthier employment opportunities for citizens and long-term prosperity for all. This promise is built on cooperation and mutual responsibility.HH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
We aspire to build the Kingdom’s bright future with the determination and zeal of Saudi youth. Our top priority is to support, train, and upskill young people to achieve #SaudiVision_2030His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb
The structure of travel and tourism development in the Kingdom is clear and displayed in a very transparent way on its ministerial website.
The Ministry of Tourism
- Laying down legislation, rules, and regulations for the development of the tourism sector
- Attracting quality investments
- Developing and supporting the human capital
- Issuing licenses and classifications for tourism activities and projects
- Providing an attractive investment environment
- Creating new job opportunities as part of the Kingdom’s tourism sector
The Tourism Development Fund
- Supporting investment and developing tourist destinations in the targeted locations
- Financing establishments active in the field of tourism
- Developing the latest technologies and infrastructure to serve the various tourism activities
- Concluding contracts and agreements with financing agencies
- Financing academic training centers, universities and institutes specialized in tourism
- Providing loans and launching initiatives related to the sector
Saudi Tourism Authority
- Highlighting the Kingdom as a global and local attractive tourist destination
- Developing tourism packages and products
- Participating in local and international tourism exhibitions
- Keeping a keen eye on new tourist experiences and suggesting improvements
Tourism Development Council
- Aligning national and strategic goals
- Coordinating efforts to develop the tourism sector
- Coordinating development, organization and follow-up efforts with relevant ministries and government agencies
- Coordinating with the concerned authorities to enable the private sector to invest in the tourism sector
- Evaluating activities and projects implemented by ministries and government agencies related to the sector
The National Air Connectivity Program
- Supporting airlines in establishing new domestic and international air routes
- Enhancing flight frequency, as well as flights to existing and targeted destinations
- Offering incentives to bridge the gaps related to air connectivity as required for tourism development in the Kingdom
- Supporting efforts related to the improvement and development of airport infrastructure
Saudi Red Sea Authority
- Identify present and future infrastructure requirements for navigation and maritime operations
- Create strategies and initiatives to facilitate marine activity, regulate navigation, and ensure its long-term viability
- Grant permits and licenses to govern the navigation and nautical activity within the geographical scope
- Review the competencies of the entities operating within the geographical scope and organize their activities as per the requirements of maritime security and safety
- Develop a mechanism focused on preserving healthy marine ecosystems within the geographical scope of navigation and marine activities
- Provide advice and administrative support services to nautical and maritime investors
- Increasing marine and nautical investment through marketing and hosting of conferences and forums locally and abroad