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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s efforts to consolidate its position as a global tourism hub is set to receive a boost with Qatar Airways launching services to the historic AlUla, Tabuk and the resumption of operations in Yanbu.

A statement issued by the Qatari national carrier on Thursday said: “Effective Oct. 29, 2023, Qatar Airways will commence operations to AlUla, followed by Yanbu on Dec. 6, 2023, and Tabuk on Dec. 14, 2023. These new routes will offer passengers even more options to explore the rich cultural heritage and natural wonders of Saudi Arabia.”

With the addition of these new routes, number of Saudi cities covered by the Qatari airline has jumped to nine with more than 125 flights weekly. The Saudi cities include AlUla, Dammam, Qassim, as well as Jeddah, Madinah, Riyadh, and Tabuk, Taif, and Yanbu.

Commenting on the launch of new routes, Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al-Baker said: “We are thrilled to introduce AlUla, Yanbu, and Tabuk as our newest destinations in Saudi Arabia. These cities offer a wealth of cultural, historical, and natural experiences, and we are proud to connect travelers from around the world to these remarkable places.”

The new routes to AlUla, Yanbu, and Tabuk are expected to facilitate business and leisure travel, further strengthening economic ties and cultural exchanges between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. 

AlUla, an UNESCO World Heritage Site with ancient rock formations, will be serviced with two weekly flights. 

Tabuk will see three-a-week, as will Yanbu.

“Passengers in Saudi Arabia traveling from these exciting new gateways will enjoy seamless connectivity to over 160 destinations worldwide, including China, Europe, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and the US,” said a statement.

Saudi Arabia has been ranked second globally in terms of tourist arrivals during the first seven months of 2023, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The Kingdom saw a 58 percent growth in tourist numbers up to the end of July, according to the Ministry of Tourism, compared to the same period in 2019.

The data was sourced last month from the UN World Tourism Organization and came from the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.

Source: Arab News

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