Making Jeddah pretty: Seaside city unattractive due to poor infrastructure

Published June 3rd, 2014 - 10:14 GMT

Jeddah’s poor infrastructure is often cited as a reason for the cutback in tourism projects and investment in the city with real estate experts quoting the growth rate of real estate and tourism projects on Jeddah Corniche at less than 5 percent. However, the city continues to receive large numbers of tourists, especially from within the Kingdom each summer.

Talal Samarqandi, a member of the Engineering Offices Committee of the Jeddah Chamber for Commerce and Industry (JCCI), said: “Jeddah needs a strategic development plan covering all sectors including transportation, communication, sport, health and the renovation of the streets and main thoroughfares.” He added that this plan will attract businessmen to invest in Jeddah and guarantee good profits for their future tourism projects.

Speaking to Arab News, he said: “The problem with Jeddah Corniche is the difficulty in obtaining a license from the Jeddah Municipality which is causing the slow growth in real estate and tourism in the city.” He put the current growth rate at below 5 percent and noted the absence of foreign tourists on the corniche.

However, efforts are under way to project the Bride of the Red Sea as a viable tourist center with the launch of the Jeddah Ghair festival this summer. Mazen Batterjee, vice president of the JCCI, said recently at a press conference held to announce the schedule of the 24-day summer festival: “The JCCI plans to make the Jeddah summer festival the biggest tourism festival in the Kingdom, aiming to attract over 3 million visitors.”

“We are keen to promote domestic tourism in Jeddah but we want to extend the experience to other Gulf countries, keeping in mind the different cultures. The aim is to attract more than 3 million tourists to the region with an expected turnover of over SR 3 billion in tourist spending,” he added.

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) has announced several new initiatives to transform Jeddah into a top global tourism and commercial capital in the next five years, according to SCTA president Prince Sultan bin Salman. 

“Jeddah is likely to become one of the most sought-after destinations in the Middle East following the completion of new projects such as new the King Abdulaziz International Airport, upgrading of accommodation facilities and the major expansion of the two holy mosques in Makkah and Madinah,” the prince said.

He said that one of the main objectives of the national tourism development plan is the provision of job opportunities for the citizens which will be accomplished through the Tourism Human Resources Center (Takamel).

Prince Sultan stressed the importance of the continuing support for the tourism sector, the financing of big projects and the stimulation of tourism investments in order to enhance touristic competitiveness among neighboring countries, which will transform the country into an attractive destination for citizens and tourists alike.

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