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Saudi Arabia Pursues MICE Agenda at IMEX Frankfurt

The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic plan calls for investment in the meetings industry, but so far Saudi Arabia has not addressed cultural issues that may deter international events.

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage and the Saudi Exhibition and Convention Bureau aim to launch Saudi Arabia as a MICE destination at the upcoming IMEX from 16 to 18 of May.

Tariq A. Al-Essa, executive director of SECB calls IMEX, “The perfect place for us to meet thousands of influential event and meetings buyers face-to-face and to show them the opportunities in Saudi Arabia and many superb facilities that we could offer them.” Facilities include more than 600 hotels and multiple conference properties including the Riyadh International Exhibition and Convention Center.

The SECB is expected to make announcements at IMEX addressing some of the cultural and legal issues for international visitors to Saudi Arabia. Currently, it is not possible to obtain a visa to visit the country for Israelis, people with passport stamps from Israel, and women traveling without a male relative or sponsor. According to the U.S. State Department, women traveling to the country should dress conservatively, that means a long-sleeved, ankle-length, loose-fitting garment, and according to local custom, women cannot walk around without a male guardian. Since women and men are traditionally segregated at work, many office buildings still do not have female restrooms.

The SECB announcements expected at IMEX may be able address the physical restrictions on event attendees in the Kingdom, but it is not clear how the SECB can upgrade Saudi Arabia’s reputation on human rights. For example, LGBTQ rights are not recognized by the government of Saudi Arabia, and “immoral” activities, including homosexuality, are punishable by death.





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