First conference on tourism in Islamic countries to be held in Saudi Arabia

Arab News, August 10 – Saudi Arabia will host the first international conference on tourism and handicrafts in Islamic countries. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah will open the conference scheduled to be held in Riyadh on Nov. 7-14, according to Interior Prince Naif, who is chairman of the Supreme Commission for Tourism (SCT).

Organized in association with the Istanbul-based Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), an affiliate of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the conference will be accompanied by a number of activities including a handicraft show and a trade exhibition.

Prince Naif thanked the king for agreeing to open the conference and for his support for events aimed at promoting Islamic heritage and culture. He hoped that the conference would boost the Islamic handicraft industry that is behind the economic well-being of millions of citizens across the Islamic world.

Prince Naif also spoke about SCTs efforts in promoting the handicraft industry in the Kingdom and its role in strengthening the economy, fostering tourism and creating more job opportunities for Saudis. "In cooperation with nine government agencies, we have worked out a strategy and an executive plan to promote handicrafts," the SCT chairman said.

The conference will be held at King Abdul Aziz Historical Center in Riyadh and will focus on the cultural, heritage and economic aspects of handicrafts and the prospects of improving their quality through innovation and creativity and the application of new ideas and designs which will increase the craftsmens qualifications.

There will be live displays by Islamic craftsmen as if they were in their work places, an exhibition of magnificent handicrafts, a bazaar of handicrafts, an exhibition of the albums, catalogs and books on handicrafts in Islamic countries, according to Prince Sultan ibn Salman, secretary-general of the SCT.

Tourism ministers and officials, tourism-related organizations, chambers of commerce and industry and businessmen are expected at the conference. "We have also invited experts in handicrafts, tourism and marketing experts," Prince Sultan added.

The conference, which is aimed at promoting handicrafts and heritage in Muslim countries, will explore prospects of developing handicraft and other Islamic heritage activities in Muslim countries. "The conference aims at adopting an efficient strategy for the promotion and marketing of tourism in Islamic countries, preparing integrated tourism programs, improving tourism infrastructure and discussing prospects of holding common tourism festivals and events," Sultan said.

An international forum on tourism in Islamic countries will take place in Jeddah on Sept. 18-20 before the Riyadh conference. Organized by the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry in cooperation with the SCT and the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the forum is entitled: "Toward the Integration of Tourism In Islamic Countries."

The forums first working session, to be chaired by Prince Sultan ibn Salman, will discuss a paper on "The Status of Tourism in Islamic Countries and Areas for Development."

The second working session will focus on "Environment and Climate of Investment of Tourism — Experience of Dubai."

The secretary-general of the World Tourism Organization and representatives of other international organizations such as the World Travel & Tourism Council will address the Jeddah forum.