2005 News Story

Madinah Province targeted for tourist attractions

As part of its tourism strategy, the Supreme Commission for Tourism (SCT) plans to develop the Nabatean city of Madain Saleh and the ancient settlement at Al-Ula as well as the Red Sea beaches around Yanbu and the historic battlefields of Islam at Badr, Uhd, Khandaq and Khaibar. The 20-year strategy aims at promoting Madinah Province as a leading center of tourism and covers infrastructure projects such as roads and the construction of tourist accommodation. At present Madinah has only 41 hotels with 9,500 rooms. It is estimated that the Kingdom as a whole requires 129,000 hotel rooms and 74,000 furnished apartments to accommodate a growing number of tourists from abroad as well as from inside Saudi Arabia. The study expects the Kingdom's tourism revenue to reach SR101 billion [U.S. $26.97 billion] by the year 2020.

In Madinah Province, major tourist attractions include the ruins of the historic Hejaz Railway that was built by the Ottomans and destroyed during the First World War; Madain Saleh, location of 131 tombs of the Nabatean tribes who settled and flourished in the area around 500 BC; and Al-Ula, one of the oldest human settlements.

The International Tourism Organization has reported that 7.3 million people visited the Kingdom last year, 3.5 million coming for umrah (the lesser pilgrimage), 1.3 million for Hajj, and 2.5 million for medical treatment and conferences.