Georgia, Saudi trade volume soars 200 percent
Georgian Airways started operating direct flights from Dammam to the capital Tbilisi for the first time
Trade volume between Georgia and Saudi Arabia increased by 200 percent and Saudi investments exceeded $100 million, said George Janjgava,Ambassador of Georgia to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, who is the first resident Georgian Ambassador working in the Kingdom.
He said that from January to September 2016, more than 20,000 Saudi tourists and 6,000 non-Saudis (residents in Saudi Arabia) visited Georgia. It is expected that by the end of this year that the number of Saudi tourists will increase to 30,000.
Last year, Georgia was visited by 10,000 Saudi citizens and 3,000 residents of the Kingdom. He pointed out that Georgia is becoming a new tourist destination for Saudis because they can enter the country without a visa and stay there for one year like the US and EU citizens.
Also, foreign residents from Africa and Asia living in Saudi Arabia who possess Saudi Iqama (Residency Permit) can enter Georgia with their original Iqama and stay in the country for three months.
He pointed out that the Kingdom imported from Georgia around 90,000 heads of sheep, mineral water, army vehicles for medical purposes etc.
During this summer, in King Fahd Airport in Dammam, Georgian Airways Company started operating direct flights from Dammam to the Georgian capital Tbilisi for the first time.
During the coming period, the Embassy will be working on establishing direct flights from King Khaled International airport in Riyadh and King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah to increase trade and number of tourists from Saudi Arabia.
The Ambassador mentioned the advantages of investing in his country, investors can cooperate with European Union countries due to Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement –DCFTA.
Gorgia also has Free Trade Agreements with CIS countries and Turkey and has recently reached FTA with China. He pointed out that Georgia is looking to attract large Saudi companies in the future.
Georgian Ambassador mentioned that his country is rich with pure water, that there are thousands of rivers and springs (there are 2,500 springs of mineral water). Georgia has a big potential for therapeutic and spa tourism. Country’s population is around 4 million.
Major touristic cities are Tbilisi, Batumi, Borjomi and Kutaisi. Also, there are 12,000 historical and cultural monuments. Some 6 million tourists visited Georgia last year.
This article was first published by the Saudi Gazette on Monday, October 10, 2016.