JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coastline is destined to become a major global marine sports destination, according to a panel of leading industry professionals.
The sports committee of the American Chamber of Commerce Saudi Arabia (AmCham Saudi Arabia) joined private and public sector leaders on Wednesday at Al-Marsa Yacht Club, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, to share knowledge and best practices as part of the Kingdom’s rapidly growing sports and recreation sector.
The main aim was to link local and international industry experts with key stakeholders, as well as promote investment and partnership opportunities in the sports sector.
Maxwell Andrews, operations lead at KAUST, moderated an interactive session on “Marine Sports and Tourism” that included panelists Hassan Alkabbani, chairman of the Saudi Sailing Federation; Rosanna Chopra, executive director of Red Sea Global; Hussain Assaggaf, vice president of strategy and business intelligence at the Red Sea Authority; and Oliver Rees, general manager of the Jeddah Yacht Club.
Topics discussed included sustainable development and management models to build the best services for yachting, boat owners and those involved in water sports.
The session also discussed strategies to protect the Red Sea coast, promote eco-tourism, and to address regulations encouraging the marine and water sports industry.
Chopra highlighted Red Sea Global’s achievements and major projects, while also focusing on private yacht tourism.
During the panel discussion, she announced Red Sea Global’s involvement with the Ocean Race and Warner Bros. Discovery to help promote the round-the-world challenge and to drive awareness of the importance of “ocean health” to an international audience.
“Through such platforms, we aim to collaborate more, be transparent and learn from each other to reach our objectives further and faster,” Chopra said.
Panelists also shared their views on the initiatives to create jobs and opportunities in the marine sports industry.
Mohammad Tafesh, vice president of the chamber’s Jeddah chapter, said: “Today’s program represented one of the best opportunities I’ve seen short of a major exhibition that brings together key stakeholders in one of the most important pillars of the Saudi Vision 2030 ‘Enhanced Quality of Life.’”
Saudi Arabia is aiming to increase its appeal to “sport tourists” who will either visit the country for a major sporting event or to take part in recreational sports.
In line with the National Tourism Strategy, the Kingdom has ambitious goals to ensure that the sector contributes 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product by 2030, with 1 million jobs created along the way, and sports contributing to at least 1 percent of the economy.
“Through this event, we were able to find out how and where the private and public sectors can get involved and contribute to the Saudi sports industry,” Tafesh added.
Rola Osta, director of the chamber’s Jeddah chapter, said: “Our key speakers shared valuable insight on what the future will look like for the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia. From high engagement in water sports to opportunities for tourists and locals to enjoy the sea in various ways, the projects in the works will allow everyone to take part.”
She said that the plans will enhance business opportunities between Saudi Arabia and the US, increasing employment opportunities for all.
“This was evident this evening during Red Sea Global’s announcement about joining forces in new innovative partnerships with the Ocean Race and Warner Bros.” she said.
Osta described the AmCham Saudi Arabia platform as “a great place for business leaders to meet, explore partnership opportunities and expand their knowledge in various sectors.”