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Riyadh hosts first UNWTO regional bureau

Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al Khateeb and UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili - Picture by UNWTO

Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al Khateeb and UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili – Picture by UNWTO.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: The World Tourism Organization announced the establishment of a regional bureau in Riyadh, during the tourism sector recovery summit held in Saudi Arabia. 

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism stated that the summit will discuss the most important issues facing the re-initiation and sustainability of the recovery of the tourism sector, while Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb stressed the need for cooperation to enable the tourism sector to recover and build a more sustainable and resilient future. 

Deputy Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia, Princess Haifa bint Mohammed Al Saud – Picture by UNWTO.

At a ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili was joined by Her Royal Highness Princess Haifa bint Mohammed Al Saud, Deputy Minister of Tourism for Strategy and Investment, and the Kingdom’s Minister for Tourism, His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb to officially open the bureau. They were also joined by tourism ministers from across both Middle East and from every other global region, as well as by leaders from the private sector. The new office will serve as a hub for UNWTO to coordinate policy and initiatives across its 13 Member States in the region. This includes a number of tourism projects and products, among them the new “Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO”, launched on the occasion of the opening of the Regional Office. Alongside this, Riyadh will also be home to an expanded UNWTO International Tourism Academy, providing opportunities for people of all backgrounds from across the region, including women and youth.

United Nations’ Secretary-General António Guterres congratulated UNWTO on the occasion, saying “I believe that this Office will help the Middle East region recover its tourism sector as well as support the growth of rural tourism development worldwide.” 

Ahmed Al Khateeb, Saudi Minister for Tourism, added: “We are thrilled to host the new Regional Office in Saudi Arabia. This demonstrates our commitment to working with our partners at the UNWTO to develop a strong industry based on the principles of sustainability and opportunities for all, across the region and globally.” 

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