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After launching a wave of investments in air travel and hospitality brands, Saudi Arabia is preparing the next leg of its effort to bolster tourism and business traffic. The Kingdom wants to attract $80 billion of new private investments in pursuit of 70 million annual foreign tourist arrivals by the start of the next decade. The number of international travelers that arrived in Saudi Arabia rose by two-thirds last year, reaching an all-time high of 27.4 million.

Though overall GDP contracted in 2023, the non-oil portion of the Saudi economy surged by 4.6%. New investments in technology and mineral resources, as well as expenditures flowing from the Vision 2030 project, are likely to bolster the Kingdom’s growth prospects in the year ahead. The Saudi government maintains a very low debt to GDP ratio, but has begun tapping sovereign debt markets at their most aggressive pace in seven years recently. Over the past year, MSCI’s index of Saudi Arabian equities has outperformed its emerging market peers significantly.

Related ETF: iShares MSCI Saudi Arabia ETF (KSA), iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM)

Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia announced it was seeking to attract as much as $80 billion in private investment into the tourism industry, a major catalyst for boosting its non-oil economy. Per Bloomberg, The government plans to spend some $800 billion on tourism over the next decade as it attempts to reshape Saudi Arabia as a major hub for business and leisure travel. The ultimate goal of the Kingdom is to draw 150 million tourists a year by 2030, with about 70 million of them coming from abroad.

Last December, MRP noted that the first six months of 2023 saw a 142% YoY increase in Saudi Arabia’s tourist count and a 132% increase in overall tourism revenue compared to the same period in 2022. The 14.6 million international visitors to the Kingdom in the first half generated revenues of SAR 86.9 billion (equivalent to roughly $23.9 billion). Per Argaam, 27.4 million international tourists visited Saudi Arabia in the full-year period, spending SAR $250 billion. That is a jump of nearly two-thirds from the 16.6 million tourists who visited in 2022, according to World Tourism barometer.

Saudi Arabia has invested heavily into the future of its tourism industry recently, establishing a…

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