Home Headline News Luxury Travel The Riyadh Oasis

Well-heeled Saudis frolic in an artificial oasis built on salmon-coloured dunes, splashing the cash after a year-long pandemic lock-in that dovetails with efforts to discourage citizens from splurging overseas.

Coronavirus hobbled Saudi Arabia’s plans to boost tourism and entertainment, new sectors central to a strategy to diversify the oil-reliant economy.

Luxury oasis draws elite Saudis locked in by pandemic | MENAFN.COM

But cushioning the blow is a lucrative market of Saudis forced to spend their money at home.

The Riyadh Oasis — a high-end desert retreat with palm-fringed pools, pop-up restaurants and luxury tents — seeks to lure Saudi high-rollers barred since the start of the pandemic from their usual overseas escapades, amid some of the world’s most stringent coronavirus measures.

The sprawling retreat, billed as a “five-star winter sanctuary”, marks the latest government attempt to reverse a decades-old trend of Saudis spending billions of dollars abroad annually.

The Riyadh Oasis: A luxury retreat in the desert for elite Saudis locked in  by Covid-19 pandemic | Deccan Herald

“Water, palms, sand,” said a Saudi guide, ushering in guests arriving at the retreat on the outskirts of Riyadh, in a fleet of luxury cars, from Bentleys to Maseratis. “The oasis has everything.”

Unveiled in mid-January for a three-month season, the oasis — whose pricey tickets have spurred resentment among the less affluent — is the first in a series of entertainment offerings since the pandemic.

“The oasis caters to Saudi HNWs (high net worth individuals), targeting those who could not visit the US or Europe for their annual jaunts,” a Riyadh-based banker told AFP.

– Travel ban –

For decades, citizens of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf petro-states were seen as top-spending clientele in Europe, largely because of a dearth of entertainment options at home.

Saudi Arabia’s annual outbound tourism market is expected to soar to more than $43 billion by 2025, according to the Dublin-based group Research and Markets.

Some $18.7 billion was spent on tourism overseas in 2019, according to a central bank report.

The government, battling a pandemic-triggered economic contraction, seeks a slice of that revenue.

Saudi Arabia recently announced it was extending a ban on overseas travel for its citizens from March 31 to May 17.

The government attributed the decision to a delay in the arrival of coronavirus vaccines in the kingdom, which has reported over 383,000 infections and more than 6,500 deaths.

But the move intensified public speculation the ban was aimed at shoring up the economy by boosting domestic spending.

Official data in recent months has shown a spike in domestic tourism and hotel reservations.

But the bonanza may be short-lived.

A customer survey this month, by the tourism company Almosafer, said over 80 percent of Saudis plan to travel abroad within six months of the lifting of travel restrictions.

Still, the top crude exporter, which has identified leisure and tourism as the main engines of economic reform, is pushing a long-term strategy.

Alongside music festivals and sporting events, hundreds of movie theatres are planned after a decades-old ban on cinemas was lifted in 2018.

– ‘Targets the top cream’ –

The kingdom is also building a Walt Disney-style entertainment city known as Qiddiya, and a luxury resort destination along the Red Sea — both worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

“These developments should encourage more local spending,” said a 2019 report by the global consulting firm McKinsey.

“Currently, more than 50 percent of Saudi spending on leisure and entertainment is outside the kingdom, with categories such as luxury nearing 70 percent.”

But the steep cost of entertainment offerings has stirred public resentment, especially after a tripling of value-added tax last year dented household savings.

The daily rent of the tented “glamps” at the oasis cost upwards of 13,000 riyals ($3,500).

“The glamps cost nearly a month’s salary for me,” one Saudi media worker told AFP, declining to be named.

“The joke in my office is; this caters to a class of people who won’t use toilet paper unless it’s made from real silk. It targets the top cream, the top one percent.”

Adel Alrajab, chief executive of Seven Experience, one of the companies that helped set up the Riyadh Oasis, acknowledged it was “not targeting everyone”.

“You don’t expect the masses to go to five- or six-star hotels,” he told AFP.

In 2019, Turki al-Sheikh, the head of the kingdom’s General Entertainment Authority courted criticism after he suggested Saudis struggling financially could take on credit card debt to pay for entertainment activities.

“This ‘only for the rich’ approach could backfire,” a Gulf-based Western official told AFP.

“(The kingdom) will have to find a balance between pricing and ensuring wider Saudi participation.”

You may also like

logo-white

Your Trusted Source for Capital Markets & Related News

© 2024 LiveTradingNews.com – For The Traders, By The Traders – All Right Reserved.

The information contained on this website shall not be construed as (i) an offer to purchase or sell, or the solicitation of an offer to purchase or sell, any securities or services, (ii) investment, legal, business or tax advice or an offer to provide such advice, or (iii) a basis for making any investment decision. An offering may only be made upon a qualified investor’s receipt not via this website of formal materials from the Knightsbridge an offering memorandum and subscription documentation (“offering materials”). In the case of any inconsistency between the information on this website and any such offering materials, the offering materials shall control. Securities shall not be offered or sold in any jurisdiction in which such offer or sale would be unlawful unless the requirements of the applicable laws of such jurisdiction have been satisfied. Any decision to invest in securities must be based solely upon the information set forth in the applicable offering materials, which should be read carefully by qualified investors prior to investing. An investment with Knightsbridge is not suitable or desirable for all investors; investors may lose all or a portion of the capital invested. Investors may be required to bear the financial risks of an investment for an indefinite period of time. Qualified investors are urged to consult with their own legal, financial and tax advisors before making any investment. Knightsbridge is a private investment firm that offers investment services to Qualified Investors, Members and Institutions ONLY. Qualified Investors are defined as individuals who have met those Qualifications in the relevant jurisdictions. Members are defined as individuals who have been accepted into the Knightsbridge membership program. Institutions are defined as entities such as banks, pension funds, and hedge funds. If you are not a Qualified Investor, Member or Institution, you are not eligible to invest with Knightsbridge. All investments involve risk, and there is no guarantee of profit. You may lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Knightsbridge is not a registered investment advisor, and this disclaimer should not be construed as investment advice. Please consult with a qualified financial advisor before making any investment decisions. By accessing this website, you agree to the terms of this disclaimer. Thank you for your interest in Knightsbridge.