INTERVIEW: CEO, Elaf Group, Ziyad Bin Mahfouz

Granting TTG insight into Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry, CEO, Elaf Group, Ziyad Bin Mahfouz speaks of tourism developments in the country and the Saudi Vision 2030.

TTG:  What tourism developments are currently underway across Saudi Arabia?

There is a lot of expansion going on now in Saudi Arabia and the government is keen to develop tourism through massive infrastructure investments such as the extension of Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport, the construction of metro rails around Makkah and Madinah, and the massive hotel developments in various cities including Riyadh, Jeddah and Makkah.

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Industry data shows that Riyadh alone has 6,657 rooms in 30 hotels under construction. As the Saudi government makes way for the diversification of the national economy, away from oil, the sector anticipates demand for more rooms in key cities in the Kingdom.

TTG:  Please tell us a little about the Saudi Vision 2030.

Saudi Arabia essentially focuses on three key themes: a vibrant society, a thriving economy and an ambitious nation.

Using the country’s rich assets – from the geographic to the cultural, social, demographic and economic advantages – the opportunity to transform the nation’s future is so huge, and [the KSA will] become known worldwide as the ‘heart of Arab and Islamic worlds’.

We are at the heart of three continents: Africa, Asia and Europe, and it is a golden chance for Saudi Arabia to connect trade and share our culture and heritage to the world.

There has never been a more exciting time for Elaf to showcase what we can offer visitors in Saudi, than now.

TTG: Why are people visiting Saudi Arabia?

While there is growing interest for people to visit the Kingdom for business, tourism for religious purposes remains the biggest market for tourism for the Haj and Umrah pilgrimages.

This year alone, the Kingdom has recorded 1,862,909 pilgrim visitors for Haj.