Domestic tourists took 10.5 mln trips to Saudi cultural sites in 2021: Report

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Domestic tourists made more than 10 million trips to cultural sites in Saudi Arabia in 2021, a 30 percent increase on the previous year, according to a new report.

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While the lifting of pandemic restrictions played a part in the spike in numbers, increased investment in cultural sites was also a factor, the Ministry of Culture said in its ‘Report on the State of Culture in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 2021.’

The ministry has spearheaded a massive expansion in the Kingdom’s cultural offerings that has seen a boom in the number of cinemas, theaters, art exhibitions, museums, libraries, and cultural events.

A wide range of initiatives have bolstered the industry since the launch of Saudi Arabia’s National Culture Strategy in 2019.

The in-depth report outlines a variety of grants and support funds, art and literary residencies, cultural competitions, business accelerators, and educational programs on offer.

Besides a spike in participation in organized cultural activities, there was an increase in the number of domestic tourists enjoying the natural beauty of the country.

Popular destinations included nature reserves in the provinces of Asir, Jizan, and Medina, while Mecca and Tabuk were chosen for their mountainous areas, the report showed.

“The Kingdom is undergoing an unprecedented cultural transformation and which is continuing to gather pace. We have built an environment that enables creatives to flourish; proud of their shared history while eager to embrace their future,” said Prince Badr bin Abdullah, Minister of Culture, in a statement.

The Ministry of Culture highlighted the “promising” number of museums in the country when compared to other Arab states.

While numbers are still below those of other countries such as the United Kingdom and Japan, which boast 47.9 and 45.3 museums per one million people, Saudi Arabia’s 8.6 museums per million still outshine numbers in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Morocco, which have 0.9, 1.3, and 1.2 museums per one million people respectively.

Film has also proved exceptionally popular in Saudi Arabia since a ban on public cinemas was lifted in 2018.

In that year, $2 million (7,621,055.06 riyals) was spent on cinema tickets.

The ministry’s report said that $54.8 million (206,162,822 riyals) was spent on ticket sales in 2021.

All in all, the ministry counted 304 museums; 85 public, ministry-affiliated libraries; 262 theaters; 75 galleries and exhibition halls; 54 cinemas; and 20 literary coffee shops in Saudi Arabia.

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