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Princess Haifa bint Mohammed Al-Saud Spearheads Saudi Arabia's Ambitious Tourism Expansion

Princess Haifa bint Mohammed Al-Saud assumed the role of Saudi Arabia's vice minister of tourism on July 3, 2022, as part of the Vision 2030 initiative. Expressing her appreciation to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman via Twitter, she views this appointment as a significant stride towards achieving the Ministry of Tourism's objectives. With a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of New Haven (2008) and an MBA from the London Business School (2017), Princess Haifa commenced her career at HSBC Holdings before transitioning to the Ministry of Higher Education. Having previously held the position of managing director at the General Sports Authority (2017-2019), she currently serves as the secretary-general at Formula E Holdings. Since March 2019, she has been the vice president of strategy at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, actively contributing to sports development and engaging in global discussions, such as the World Economic Forum in Davos (May 2022).

The global travel and tourism sector is rebounding, with the World Travel and Tourism Council predicting a return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023. In the Middle East, the data shows that the region's travel and tourism GDP was expected to more than double in 2022, driven by an 80% increase in international visitor spending. Established tourism hubs like Jordan and Morocco are contributing, but emerging players, particularly in the GCC countries, are making significant strides.

Saudi Arabia, in particular, stands out as a major investor, ranking third globally in 2021 with nearly $37 billion invested. Aligned with its Vision 2030 initiative, Saudi Arabia aims to attract 100 million international visitors by 2030, impacting not only its domestic tourism but also influencing neighboring countries like Bahrain. This growth may also challenge the established tourism hub in the UAE.

Princess Haifa bint Mohammed Al Saud, the Deputy Minister of Tourism, emphasizes Saudi Arabia's commitment to diversifying its economy through tourism. The "Visit Saudi" initiative targets international markets with tailored offerings, recognizing the importance of language and cultural considerations. Collaborations with Saudi travel platforms and the training of guides in specific languages demonstrate a strategic approach.

Princess Haifa advocates for regional collaboration, emphasizing that Arab countries are stronger together in the global tourism landscape. Drawing a parallel with retail, she envisions a concentrated regional presence as a magnet for the world, fostering healthy competition. As Saudi Arabia aims to increase its tourism contribution to GDP from 3% in 2018 to 10% by 2030, the sector becomes a focal point for economic growth and job creation.

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