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First Neom flights set to boost Saudi tourism push

NEOM Bay Airport
Aircraft travelling from NEOM Bay Airport to selected destinations will have a joint NEOM-Saudia livery

The new city of the future’s Neom Bay Airport will launch Saudi Airlines flights to Dubai and London

Neom, arguably Saudi Arabia’s most ambitious development project, has announced a partnership with the country’s national carrier to drive tourism to the $500 billion city of the future.

The deal with Saudi Airlines, known as Saudia, will see weekly international flights launched to selected destinations from Neom Bay Airport, representing the inauguration of commercial services at the airport.

Saudia will begin with weekly flights to Dubai International Airport by the end of June, with plans to expand to London soon after. 

Aircraft travelling to the selected destinations will have a joint Neom-Saudia livery, according to a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

Neom sits at the crossroads of three continents, with 40 percent of the world accessible within a four-hour flight. 

Saudia director general, Ibrahim Al-Omar, said: “This partnership is in line with Saudia’s ambition to support Saudi Vision 2030 by increasing passenger traffic domestically and regionally, as well as expanding our connections to global destinations. 

This is an exciting step in our journey to provide the best possible air connectivity to Neom and a signal of our rapid growth

Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of Neom

“As Neom continues to progress, demand for travel there is only increasing, making it a natural addition to our list of destinations.”

Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of Neom, added: “Neom Bay Airport is a key enabler of Neom’s development, facilitating efficient access to Neom for residents and business partners, and drastically improving the ease with which Neom can connect with people from all over the world. 

“This is an exciting step in our journey to provide the best possible air connectivity to Neom and a signal of our rapid growth.”

He said increasing direct connectivity to Neom is an important step in promoting the further development of the ambitious giga-project. 

Located in a vast region in the northwest of the country, NNeom is at the heart of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s drive to diversify the country’s economy and covers 26,500 square kilometres, and will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy. 

Although little has yet been built, the joint-stock company has made a flurry of announcements over the course of the past 18 months. 

Making ambitious plans a reality

Both The Line, a 170km-long network of hyper-connected smart communities, and Oxagon, an industrial city featuring the world’s largest floating structure, were launched last year.

A third region, Trojena, was announced in March, as was the subsidiary Enowa, which will lead the development of Neom’s sustainable energy and water systems. The Line alone promises to create 380,000 jobs and contribute $48 billion to the country’s GDP by 2030.

The Neom flights are another piece in Saudi Arabia’s growing tourism jigsaw puzzle.

It has six World Heritage sites recognised by Unesco, including Historic Jeddah and the Al-Ahsa oasis. 

The target is to increase the tourism sector’s contribution to 10 percent of GDP by 2030 and attract 100 million visitors.

According to new data from Colliers, the performance of Saudi hotels in the first quarter of this year returned to similar levels to those in 2019, before the pandemic hit.

As demand has recovered, there has also been an increase in the supply of hotel rooms. Riyadh has seen a 10.2 percent increase, while there has been a 10.4 percent rise in Jeddah and a 3.5 percent increase in Al Khobar.

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