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Saudi unveils $2.1bn plan for Taif tourism development

Saudi unveils $2.1bn plan for Taif tourism development

The private sector is expected to provide nearly 90 per cent of the funds for the project

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage has announced a SAR8bn ($2.1bn) plan for the Souq Okaz tourism development in Taif with the private sector expected to pick up most of the bill.

Through the project, the tourism commission is hoping to develop the kingdom’s first integrated cultural tourism destination with facilities including cultural centres, museums, recreational areas and a conference centre.

It also aims to make the city of Okaz, which has a history of hosting visitors in guesthouses, into a business centre.

Read: Saudi pushes ahead with plans to turn Taif into summer resort

The plan covers a total area of 10 million square metres with total investment of more than SAR8bn for all the stages. Of this, the government is expected to provide 11 per cent and the private sector 89 per cent.

The funds will be allocated to infrastructure, including the road linking Taif Al-Jadeed Airport to the Riyadh-Ta’if highway, water and electricity works and the Okaz National Park, and several portfolios put forward for private sector participation amounting to more than SAR7bn ($1.86bn)

There will also be five main projects: the Okaz Museum, Exhibition and Conference Centre, the Arab Poetry Academy, which will host festivals and events, the Okaz Souk itself, an art and creativity centre and Okaz Park.

A further 18 major projects are targeted at the private sector, according to Saudi Press Agency.

Among them are recreational parks, heritage shopping villages, open markets, accommodation lodges, environmental camps, heritage inns, shopping complexes, spa resorts, heritage hotels, hotels and business centres.

A social club, international schools, health clubs, sports facilities, tourist apartments, tourist and treatment tourism complexes and tourist lodges complete the list.

The project is the second major tourism announcement this week after the kingdom revealed plans for a major new international resort area encompassing a 30,000 square kilometre stretch of islands, beaches and other attractions on the Red Sea.

Read: Saudi unveils major Maldives-inspired tourism project on the Red Sea

The Maldives-inspired project will see the development of resorts on more than 50 natural islands between the cities of Umluj and Al-Wajh in partnership with major hotel operators.

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