Jamal Satli Iglesias, BlueBay Hotels’ Chairman, has been awarded the “Tourism Personality of the Year” award at the Second Arab Forum organised by the Arab Tourism Organization in the city of Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia, on November 20-21.
In the context of increased understanding and establishing harmonious relations between the Arab world and the international community, reference was made to the Spanish hotel chain BlueBay Hotels, which operates in several countries in the Middle East, and its chairman, Jamal Satli Iglesias as an influential figure in international tourism and his support and involvement in strengthening the tourism sector in Arab countries.
Jamal Satli Iglesias who holds the position of senior advisor, and was the first European advisor to join the Arab Tourism Organisation and the Arab League said: “I’ve been highly committed to the goals of the organization and the Arab League, and to do my part in helping to boost the economy of countries through tourism since I started as an advisor in the Arab League Tourism Organization in 2016. Today is a significant chapter in my professional career within the sector and the Arab world. I’m extremely proud of the work BlueBay Hotels has done, in collaboration with the Arab League tourism organisation, and also with the new Hubooking booking platform.”
The Second Arab Forum for Tourism Security, held under the logo: “Tourism and Security: two tributaries for Development” was attended by Dr Bandar bin Fahd Al-Fahid, Chairman of the Arab Tourism Organization, under the presidency of His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Bin Salman, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary-General of the Arab League, along with other senior tourism officials, ministers and princes, and leading authorities from the Arab League, represented by more than 15 countries. (Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Morocco, Tunisia, Kuwait, Algeria, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Mauritania, Somalia, Palestine and Comoros).
Different programmes and objectives regarding security and tourism in the Arab League member countries were established during the event, which was opened by His Royal Highness.
During the Forum, Jamal Satli Iglesias stated: “As professionals in the sector we must emphasise the importance of security in Arab countries to achieve economic diversification and open up to international tourism. The Arab Tourism Organization has been doing great work in supporting economic growth through tourism in countries such as Morocco, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia and of course, Saudi Arabia, which is now a major reference point with the launch of its national transformation plan.”
Saudi Arabia is moving to diversify its economy and open up to international tourism. The work being done by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage in developing the sector is hugely important, as is the ambitious Vision 2030 launched by His Highness the Crown prince and Minister of Defence, Mohamed bin Salman, which aims to promote tourism and leisure sectors as the country’s main economic engines. Vision 2030 is a wide-ranging programme of economic reforms to reduce the country’s dependence on oil. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, leisure and tourism will account for 10.4% of the GDP (compared to 9% today), which is equivalent to adding $100 billion annually to the economy by 2030.
Tourism is gradually gaining momentum within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which welcomed 9000 foreign visitors last year since the electronic tourist visa was approved. This new visa allows visitors from 51 countries, including members of the European Union, the United States, China and Japan, to visit the country for up to 90 days for a fee of $117 (about €107). The goal now is to attract 1.5 million visitors a year, without forgetting that the country receives more than four million visitors annually to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
Jamal Satli added:“Thanks to the great commitment and vision of our Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, His Highness Mohamed bin Salman, may Allah bless him and guide his idea of opening up the country of Saudi Arabia to a prosperous future, international tourists from all around the world will now have the opportunity to discover a country until now unknown. From beautiful beaches to pre-Islamic ruins, and even the very place where we are here today celebrating the Second Arab Forum for Tourism Security, Al-Ahsa, which is home to one of the largest and most famous oases in the region.”
The Chairman of BlueBay Hotels also highlighted the potential of a country that opens its doors to international tourism by attracting foreign investors for new resorts in the Red Sea, Wadi Al Disah, Amaala, Al-ʿUla or the NEOM smart city, for example.
In addition to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan, other items were also presented at the Second Arab Forum including, improving the professional skills of those working in the area of tourism security, enacting the necessary legislation to address the risks that threaten tourism, optimising cooperation between tourism security agencies and tourist destinations in Arab countries, strengthening cooperation with European countries and other tourist-exporting countries to counter the threats posed by radical cells and control them, being more involved in the European and global security system and benefiting mutually from experiences and information.
The Arab League Tourism Organization main objective is to provide its members with tourism advice and develop the tourism market to boost economic growth in Arab countries. Its structure and functioning fall within the framework of the tourism promotion initiatives undertaken by the Ministerial Council for Tourism, and it also coordinates activities with other Arab League institutions.