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$1bn tourism school to open in Saudi’s Qiddiya

Qiddiya tourism Qiddiya
The tourism school at Saudi Arabia's Qiddiya giga-project aims to train 100,000 people a year
  • Tourism already employs 200,000 Saudis
  • School will train 100,000 people a year
  • Neom to welcome first tourists next year

Saudi Arabia plans to build a $1 billion tourism school in the Qiddiya sports, culture and entertainment city giga-project. 

The Riyadh School for Tourism and Hospitality will train workers from around the world, not only Saudi Arabia, tourism minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb told a UN World Tourism Organization gathering in the capital.

The training headquarters at Qiddiya, which is near Riyadh, is scheduled to open in four years’ time. “In 2027 we’ll move to our huge campus that will help young people around the world to get the best training,” the minister said. 

The Saudi government will also extend a programme to train 100,000 Saudis every year in tourism services for another ten years, spending $100 million each year, the minister said. 

The Saudi Real Estate Company said earlier this week it had won a SAR2.3 billion ($610 million) contract to carry out key infrastructure work on the development, which is being developed by the Public Investment Fund’s Qiddiya Investment Company. 

Qiddiya is one of the $1.25 trillion giga-projects which include Neom, the Red Sea Project and Amaala tourist resorts, entertainment city Seven, the Roshn and Jeddah Central housing projects, Murabba in Riyadh, five economic zones and numerous infrastructure developments. 

Tourism is one of the sectors the government hopes will help raise the non-oil sector’s share of GDP by 2030 as part of the Vision 2030 plan to diversify the economy away from oil. 

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said last week he wants tourist visitors to rise from 40 million per year to at least 100 million. 

Job creation

Al-Khateeb added that the Qiddiya tourism school will help create another 800,000 jobs in the tourism sector, after reaching 200,000 since the country opened to holidaymakers in 2019. 

He said the government aims to build up to half a million hotel rooms over the next 10 years in locations including Neom, Qiddiya and the Diriyya historical district outside Riyadh. 

Some of the tourism giga-projects will begin operating over the next year. 

Neom will welcome tourists for the first time in 2024 at Sandala island. Niall Gibbons, Neom’s head of tourism, said Sandala is intended to receive four million visitors a year by 2030.

The first three hotels – Six Senses, St. Regis and Ritz Carlton – will open this year at the Amaala ultra-luxury resort on the Red Sea coast, Red Sea Development Company’s head of investments and legal Gregory Djerejian said.