DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia will begin issuing select tourist visas soon to welcome tens of thousands of foreigners a year, part of a sweeping national reform plan.
The religiously conservative country currently does not issue tourist visas, though it ran a pilot program between 2006 and 2010 welcoming around 25,000 visitors annually to see Saudi Arabia’s ancient archaeological sites and vast landscapes of mountains, coastline, valleys, volcanoes and deserts.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, the head of Saudi Arabia’s tourism authority, Prince Sultan bin Salman, says easing visa restrictions on pilgrims and other foreigners would showcase Saudi Arabia’s rich, even pre-Islamic history. He says that promoting tourism among Saudis would encourage them to explore the country’s heritage and help forge a stronger national identity.
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts announced at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC), the signing of a new luxury hotel development in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The new Fairmont Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia is scheduled to open before 2020.
“The market for luxury accommodations in Saudi Arabia is growing at a rapid pace with an excellent outlook for investment performance,” said Sami Nasser, senior vice president of operations for FRHI in the Middle East, Africa and India (MEAI). “We are happy to increase our presence and our commitment in this dynamic region and look forward to successfully launching this new hotel while continuing to explore future development opportunities throughout the region and globally.”
Fairmont Al Khobar
Currently in development and set to open in 2020, Fairmont Al Khobar will be situated in Al Khobar on the coast of the Arabian Gulf. This area, together with the neighboring cities of Dammam and Dhahran, form the Dammam Metropolitan Area, the capital of the Eastern Province.
In addition to the 240 guestrooms and 12 serviced residences, the property will feature over 4,000 square meters of meeting and conference space including the largest ballroom in the province. A variety of food and beverage offerings including a vibrant lobby lounge, specialty restaurant and gourmet pastry café plus a range of wellness and fitness facilities, including a spa, will be available.
The hotel will be situated in a high-end commercial area of the city between the Al Khobar Corniche and the Central Business District (CBD), surrounded by parks, restaurants and shopping centers. The King Fahd Causeway, the city’s major transport route directly connected to neighboring Bahrain, is 10 minutes away from the development while King Fahd International Airport is just a short distance away.