By Arab News
By Mohammed Al-Kinani
The chairman of the Saudi Federation of Marine Sports, Prince Abdullah bin Saud bin Mohammed on Wednesday launched the marina and boat club at the King Abdullah Economic City’s Bay La Sun Hotel.
The event was attended by the CEO and managing director of King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), Fahd Al-Rasheed, along with a number of KAEC executives.
Prince Abdullah bin Saud said that millions of tourists are expected in Saudi Arabia in the coming years, and “we have to get ready for that with all water-related activities and events we can organize.”
“I expect that there will be no less than a million tourist visas in the first two years, and the number will annually rise due to the good tourism reputation of the Kingdom,” he told Arab News.
He added that dive tourism was an important attraction in Kingdom as the Red Sea has been classified as one of the best seas in the world.
Responding to a question by Arab News as to why they chose King Abdullah Economic City in particular to start their activities, despite the fact that KAEC is nearly 100 kilometers north of Jeddah, the chairman said that marine sports events to be held in Jeddah would be in different parts of the city, and KAEC is not that far from the heart of Jeddah. “It is a 50-minute drive,” he said.
He added that KAEC would be a new platform for encouraging marine sports. He also added the federation is planning to set up clubs for marine sports so that they could prepare young people to compete in regional and international marine sports.
“We cannot have true marine sports unless we have clubs to prepare the youth to participate in regional and global competitions. For that reason, I have filed a request with the General Sport Authority to establish marine clubs in Jeddah, the Tabuk region, Yanbu, Asir region, Jazan, the Eastern Province and Al-Jouf’s Dawmat Al-Jandal Lake.
The group CEO and managing director of KAEC, Fahd Al-Rasheed, told Arab News that they were enthusiastic about participating in the promising success of the Saudi tourism industry.
“We are investing heavily in the leisure sector with over thirty projects in global sports and hotels, or in other areas,” he said.
Al-Rasheed added that their aim is to become a destination for tourism and leisure. “This year we have been able to attract 400,000 visitors for our leisure activities. Next year, our target will be 700,000, while we will be targeting a million visitors in 2019,” he said.
He further said that that they had many plans for marine-related leisure activities, and the opening of the club with the marina will significantly help them in attracting those who like to dive and enjoy the Red Sea, or those who would like to go fishing.
As an experienced developer, Al-Rasheed, former deputy governor for the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), pays great attention to protecting and preserving the environment.
“We want to be in a sustainable endeavor to protect the environment and to protect this treasure, the Red Sea, for future generations,” he added.