UNWTO strengthens its partnership with Saudi Arabia

Less than a year after the official opening of the Regional Office for the Middle East in Riyadh, plans for a series of projects to be executed from the hub have been further advanced, signaling the ever-closer cooperation between UNWTO and the kingdom.

A series of projects are being designed to make the UNWTO Regional Office a leader in tourism for rural development while making tourism opportunities accessible to all through a series of educational initiatives. See you in Madrid this week, Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary General and Saudi Minister of Tourism HE Ahmed Aqeel AlKhateeb agreed to advance their shared vision and committed to working closely together to realize the potential of the sector across the region.

Rural development and digitization

Among the projects managed by the Regional Office is the UNWTO Global Tourism and Rural Development Program aimed at making tourism a pillar of growth and opportunity for rural communities. The program includes the World’s Best Tourist Villages by UNWTO initiative, which is now in its second year after the inaugural competition attracted huge interest from destinations in all regions of the world. In parallel, the regional office will also focus on knowledge creation for trade policies and practices, training and skills development and on-the-ground technical assistance, with plans also in place to establish a first tourism observatory. and rural development in Riyadh.

Secretary General Pololikashvili and HE Minister Ahmed Aqeel AlKhateeb highlighted their commitment to guiding tourism based on education and innovation. From the regional office, UNWTO will help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to embrace digitalization through partnerships with the largest technology companies such as Amadeus, Mastercard, Cisco, Telefónica, among others already established. the UNWTO Digital Future Program aims to provide training on connectivity, e-commerce, big data and analytics, as well as online payments and security, to no less than 20,000 SMEs in 22 countries, including 5,000 in the first 12 month. Later this month (25-26 March), an UNWTO Tourism Tech Adventures Innovation Forum will be held in the United Arab Emirates.


Achieve the goal of creating more value-added jobs in tourism through education. To this end, a new UNWTO Knowledge Lab will be launched from Riyadh, while a first observatory on the quality of education and tourism jobs will also be set up to monitor the progress of the strategy. To ensure that the benefits of tourism education are enjoyed as widely as possible, 10 new online courses will be made available in Arabic through the UNWTO Tourism Online Academyand UNWTO will also work with higher education providers in the region under the new Tourism Teacher Training Programme.

Green investments for green transitions

In line with UNWTO’s broader commitment to advancing tourism for climate action, plans are in place to make the Regional Office for the Middle East a hub for promoting green investments in the tourism sector. tourism, both in the region and in the world, in particular through projects developed in partnership. with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and other partners such as the Saudi Tourism Development Fund (TDF) – responding to the UNWTO Climate Action Framework, outlined in the Glasgow Declaration, launched at COP26 .


About the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the specialized agency of the United Nations that promotes tourism as a vehicle for equitable, inclusive and sustainable development. Together with its Member States, international organizations and the private sector, UNWTO promotes safe and seamless travel for all. UNWTO is also working to make tourism the foundation of international trust and cooperation and a central pillar of recovery. As part of the wider United Nations system, UNWTO is at the forefront of global efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including through its ability to create decent jobs, promote equality and preserve natural and cultural heritage.

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