Saudi Arabia’s on a quest to become the next hotspot for Russian and Chinese tourists.
The CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) lauded the socio-cultural openings undertaken in the Kingdom under Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s (MBS) ambitious Vision 2030 program of far-reaching reforms, telling journalists that Riyadh will invest in Russia’s tourism sector but also wants more Russians visiting the country as well. Furthermore, he importantly noted that “The Russian-Chinese-Saudi Fund will also make investments into tourism in Saudi Arabia with backing from the Saudi government”, showing that the two OPEC+ Great Powers also want to bring the People’s Republic on board too, which is sensible enough when considering that Chinese tourists are the biggest spenders in the world.
The RDIF CEO also spoke very highly about Saudi Arabia’s only UNESCO World Heritage site in Al-Ula, which could contribute to the Kingdom’s tourist renaissance after it relaxes its previously strict visa regulations and finally opens up to foreigners in the near future. When combined with MBS’ other socio-cultural reforms such as allowing music to be played in restaurants, opening up cinemas, and letting women drive, it’s very possible that people from all across the world might be interested in seeing these fast-moving transformations in person during their next vacation, especially if the Saudi government heavily marketed the Kingdom and possibly subsidized some of its tourist packages.
Given the context of this analysis, it’s very likely that Riyadh will work closely with its new partners in Moscow and Beijing to promote its tourist industry to Russians and Chinese alike, especially seeing as how both of their governments will be jointly investing in these ventures. This is strategically important because it speaks to the growing closeness between these three countries and how their political relations are finally trickling down to the people-to-people level of intercultural exchanges. In addition, many Saudis will also be interacting with Russians and Chinese for the first time too, which could turn out to be a valuable cultural experience that might make them more interested in those two countries.
It should also be kept in mind that it won’t just be average Russians and Chinese taking their vacations in Saudi Arabia but some of the wealthy elite as well, who might in turn be inspired to invest further in the previously untapped tourism industry there or even some of the country’s other new projects such as the NEOM future city. Therefore, Saudi Arabia’s strategic courting of Russian and Chinese tourists, and the joint investments that these three governments have committed to in this regard, will help to take their relations to the next step and facilitate the Kingdom’s overall diversification away from its former American patron and towards the emerging Multipolar World Order.
The post presented is the partial transcript of the CONTEXT COUNTDOWN radio program on Sputnik News, aired on Friday Feb 15, 2019:
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