In my opinion, it is impossible to expect most people in the Kingdom to believe that there are about 1,300 islands located within Saudi waters in the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.
Most of these islands are uninhabited. The Saudi Geological Survey moved quickly to take a count of these islands and assess them in terms of their area, type and boundaries. Thankfully, SGS has documented them in a big voluminous book.
We have the highest number of islands compared to other countries in the Arab world. But unfortunately, there is no action to tap their high tourism potential for the benefit of Saudi people at a time when tens of thousands of citizens flock to many distant island states such as the Maldives and the Canary Islands during summer and winter. Some of them even ask: Is there any comparison between our islands and these world famous islands?
I can confidently say that these Saudi islands, with their high tourism potential, good environment and proximity to safe coastal areas, can be made more attractive to tourists. For this, it is essential to pump investments into these islands to develop their infrastructure and introduce more communications and transportation facilities, in addition to carrying out their proper maintenance.
Apart from this, the application of tourism rules and regulations with regard to awareness and guidance is also important. Travel and tourism agencies can play a great role in this respect in line with the laws of our country.
By getting access to more information about many of these islands, we find that they are the finest locations in terms of their beauty, nature and climate. I had enjoyed the splendor and magnificence of dozens of islands when I saw them in close proximity off the Red Sea beach in the Qunfudah region and Mudailef town. But unfortunately, there is no Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) presence in these picturesque islands, not to mention the condition of the rest of the islands located within the Kingdom’s territorial waters.
I want to ask some questions to the SCTA. Where is the SCTA to play its role in the case of these picturesque places, which were abandoned completely? Where is the commission to take their inventory and give them denominations?
The SCTA should at least maintain their identity and landmarks, as well as preserve the environment and cleanliness by protecting them from troublemakers, smugglers and illegal migrants.
We all hope that the concerned authorities would show keenness in tapping the enormous potential of these natural islands that are an integral part of our country.