RIYADH – Organizers of summer festivals in various parts of the Kingdom have decided to cancel music programs included in this year’s activities to express solidarity with the Syrian people.
Observers said the move was a gesture of sympathy for the Syrian people who have been repressed by forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad.
The summer resort city of Taif was the first to take such an action and other regions followed suit.
Major Saudi tourist destinations, such as Jeddah and Abha, which are known for lengthy musical evenings especially during the opening of the festivals, instead will hold poetry sessions.
Nearly 27 summer festivals marked their Kingdomwide launch in Riyadh early this month. Prince Sattam Bin Abdul Aziz, Emir of Riyadh region, opened the event at Ritz Carlton Hotel attended by a large audience. Prince Muhammad Bin Nasser, Emir of Jazan region, and Prince Sultan Bin Salman, President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), were present.
The regions and cities organizing summer festivals this year include Riyadh, Jeddah, Taif, Madinah, Dammam, Qassim, Ahsa, Asir, Baha, Tabuk, Hail and Qurayyat.
According to Prince Sultan, the Kingdom is keen to promote domestic tourism not only to retain at home the large number of people who would travel abroad to spend the summer, but also to let them enjoy the country’s diverse landscape and culture. Development of domestic tourism facilities will also ensure hassle-free vacations, especially for families, he said.
“Based on SCTA statistics, the 27 festivals that will take place in different parts of the country could attract 8.8 million visitors, which would mean a 10 percent increase over those of last year,” Prince Sultan said.
“We also expect to generate this year SR3.3 billion in business opportunities and 3400 summer jobs for young Saudis. Last year, 3000 summer jobs were created and the tourism revenue was estimated at SR3 billion.”
The SCTA chief said the summer festivals since 2005 have created over 45,000 temporary jobs for young Saudis.