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Travel and hospitality news from the Middle East. All the important stories, exclusive interviews, plus authoritative opinion and analysis

Israeli Muslims could visit Saudi holy sites

Israel expects religious tourism to Saudi holy cities

Israel sees religious tourism among its Muslim population as a major benefit of a peace deal with Saudi Arabia, Israeli minister of tourism Haim Katz said in Riyadh this week.  “Twenty percent of Israel is Muslim, two million, and they will come to Mecca easily,” Katz told AGBI on September 27 at a gala dinner […]

Qiddiya tourism

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

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 […]

Tourism visa encourages GCC visitors

UAE announces new visa for GCC in tourism push

The UAE minister of economy has announced plans for a new visa to allow travel within the GCC countries, in a bid to boost local and regional tourism. The GCC visa being considered will allow those residing in the bloc to travel easily among the six members states – the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, […]

Haim Katz is the first Israeli minister to make an official visit to Saudi Arabia

Israeli minister makes historic visit to Saudi Arabia

Israeli tourism minister Haim Katz made the first ever public visit by a member of the Israeli government to Saudi Arabia this week, attending a World Tourism Day event in Riyadh.  The Israeli ministry of tourism said Katz was leading a delegation on a two-day stay in the Saudi capital as part of the United […]

PIF-backed Asfar to open new mountain resort in 2025

Construction has commenced this month on the Saudi sovereign wealth fund-backed Gamra mountain resort project in Al Baha, the kingdom’s southwest region. The project is due to open in the first half of 2025. Saudi Tourism Investment Company (Asfar) will develop the project in partnership with Ebda, an adventure, sport and entertainment company, as the […]

Mountain, Mountain Range, Nature

Tourism masterplan unveiled for Saudi’s highest peak

The first of three phases of Soudah Peaks, a luxury mountain tourism destination set 3,015 metres above sea level on Saudi Arabia’s highest peak, will be completed in 2027. The phase will have 940 hotel rooms, 391 residential units and 32,000 square metres of retail space, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported. Crown Prince and […]

Marriott's W Hotel in Lake Village, part of Saudi Arabia's Neom giga-project, will have 236 rooms, including 47 suites

Marriott to open two luxury hotels in Neom’s Trojena

Global hotel chain Marriott International will open two luxury properties in Trojena, a year-round mountain destination in the $500 million Neom development. The deal with the US hotelier includes Saudi Arabia’s first W Hotel and a JW Marriott property. “We are excited to work with Neom to develop these two properties in one of the […]

RAK film tourism

Lights, camera, action: RAK seeks leading role in film tourism

The UAE is no stranger to the silver screen, whether it be Tom Cruise dangling perilously from Dubai’s Burj Khalifa in Mission Impossible blockbuster Ghost Protocol, or Vin Diesel powering his $3 million supercar from one Etihad Tower in Abu Dhabi to the next in the seventh iteration of the Fast and Furious franchise. Ras […]

Dubai luxury hotel tourism

Dubai and Qatar expand luxury hotel portfolios

Thousands of luxury hotel rooms are set to open in Dubai and Qatar over the next few years as the hospitality sector bounces back from the pandemic. In Dubai, about 9,200 hotel rooms will be completed by the end of 2023, according to real estate consultancy Knight Frank. More than two-thirds of the supply will […]

The General Authority of Civil Aviation says passenger protections are vital for a robust aviation sector

Saudi airlines issue $15m refunds to passengers

Refunds of SAR58 million ($15.5 million) for flight cancellations, delays and loss of luggage have been issued by Saudi airlines over the past two years, it was revealed on Monday. The figures were announced by the General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca). Enhanced passenger rights protection regulations, which come into force in November, will result […]

Lebanese economic activity relies a lot on tourism

Economic activity in Lebanon remains sluggish

Lebanon’s economic activity appears to have contracted in August following a summer business lull according to a purchasing managers’ index published on Tuesday.  The PMI is a monthly report based on survey responses from businesses regarding five subdivided performance indicators including new orders, output and employment. The report, compiled by BLOMInvest Bank and the ratings […]

Qatar Tourism bedouin camp

Qatar exceeds 2022 tourism figures in just eight months

The number of tourists in Qatar this year has exceeded the figure for the whole of 2022, with officials saying that hosting the Fifa World Cup has put the Gulf state on the map. Qatar Tourism data revealed that the country has welcomed more than 2.5 million visitors as of the last week in August. […]

Bicester Village

Middle East shoppers surge at UK’s Bicester Village

Travelling on the train to Bicester Village, do not be surprised if you hear announcements in Arabic as you approach the British designer outlet retail destination an hour from London.  This is just one example of the steps Bicester Village’s parent company Value Retail has taken in recent years to attract more Middle East shoppers.  The […]

The government wants farm owners to develop and promote agri-tourism experiences

Farmhouses the latest draw for Abu Dhabi’s tourists

Abu Dhabi is turning to farmhouses to add diversity to its tourism as the emirate aims to attract more than 24 million visitors in 2023. Authorities in the UAE capital are set to introduce a comprehensive policy framework to license and promote farmhouse tourism activity, with farm owners encouraged to develop and promote Emirati-led agri-tourism […]

Egypt's Soul Luxury Beach Resort spans 20km of waterfront and the phase one construction time frame is three years

Builder picked for luxury resort as Egypt tourism rebounds

A construction contract has been awarded to build the first phase of the $1.7 billion Soul Luxury Beach Resort on Egypt’s north coast.  Eagle Hills Properties, based in Abu Dhabi, has signed a $62 million contract with Egyptian company Orascom Construction. It described the deal as a “significant milestone” in the development of the resort, […]

Kuwait airport

Kuwait airport passenger numbers flying higher

Passenger traffic through Kuwait International Airport is forecast to grow by 7 percent this year, fuelled by increased activity across the summer months. Total passenger numbers to and from the airport is expected to reach 15.5 million, according to the Gulf state’s Directorate General of Aviation, up from 14.46 million passengers reported in 2022. Abdullah […]

Foreign tourist arrivals in Turkey surge 16% to 27m

Foreign arrivals in Turkey surged 16.22 percent year on year in the first seven months of 2023, the culture and tourism ministry data showed. The country received 26.76 million foreign tourists between January and July, compared to 23.03 million a year ago. In July, 7.14 million visitors arrived in Turkey, up of 7.25 percent year […]

Holiday Swap Dubai

Dubai lures UK travel firm as Saudi rivalry intensifies

Holiday Swap, a UK travel tech company that allows people to find holiday accommodation by swapping homes, is to establish its headquarters in Dubai.  Its new office will be located in Dubai Internet City. It aims to support 500 jobs there within two years. The vacation exchange and booking platform has more than one million […]

Neom has appointed JLS Yachts to manage Sindalah, the development’s first superyacht destination on the Red Sea

Neom appoints manager for superyacht destination

Saudi’s $500 billion giga project Neom has appointed a company to head its superyacht destination on the Red Sea. JLS Yachts, a Middle East-based yacht agency and concierge service provider, will manage Sindalah, which will be home to more than 5,000 berths. Set to open in 2024, Sindalah is one of the 41 Neom islands […]

A tourist visits the Pyramids in Egypt

Emaar to invest in Egypt tourism 

Emaar Properties, the Dubai developer behind the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall, is looking to expand into the hotel sector in Egypt, the company’s founder said in an interview. Gulf tourism is surging on Egypt’s Mediterranean north coast despite the country’s economic crisis.  “The north coast in Egypt has reached development levels in recent years […]

Abu Dhabi Spain

Abu Dhabi fund buys share of hotel group in Spain

Coral Reef, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, and Melia Hotels International have received approval to acquire a portfolio of 17 hotels from Equity Inmuebles in Spain and the Canary Islands. Financial details around the acquisition were not revealed. The deal was given the green light by the European Commission under EU merger regulations. […]