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UN Tourism

UN Tourism connects leaders for Investment Conference focused on Middle East opportunities

UN Tourism

At the UN Tourism conference, stakeholders discussed boosting sustainable tourism investment in the Middle East, emphasizing technology, innovation, and education as pivotal for sector growth.

Recognizing the growing status of the region as a global investment powerhouse, UN Tourism brought key figures together for a special conference on “Investing in Tourism: Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainable Financing”. Held within the framework of the UN Tourism 50th Regional Commission for the Middle East, the conference served as a platform to discuss the opportunities and challenges related to financing the tourism sector in a sustainable way, with a special focus on innovation, technology and education.

UN Tourism

Tourism Investments and the Middle East

The conference built on the massive momentum gaining around tourism in the region, including in the area of investments. According to UN Tourism data:

  • Companies in the Middle East announced a whopping 254 greenfield projects between 2018 and 2023. This ambitious development surge represents a total capital investment of USD 15.2 billion, with an average investment of USD 59.8 million per project. These projects were expecting to create more than 33,600 jobs during the same period (33,629).
  • 13 of these greenfield projects were announced in Oman (7 in Muscat and 3 in Zufar, representing a capital investment of USD 1.83 billion.
  • Middle East countries have announced 109 greenfield FDI projects abroad in the cluster of tourism, with a total investment of USD 6.8 billion.

Opening the conference, H.E. Salim Mohammed Al Mahruqi, Minister of Heritage and Tourism for Oman, acknowledged the importance of investments for growing tourism both in the Sultanate and across the Middle East and for building a more resilient and sustainable sector at every level.

UN Tourism Executive Director Natalia Bayona, who gave a keynote speech outlining investment trends and opportunities in the region, said: “The Middle East now stands as a beacon of tourism innovation and investments. The region invested almost USD 14 billion in the sector over the past 5 years, with USD 341 million of this invested in tourism tech, demonstrating the region’s commitment to building a more digital and impactful sector.”

Tourism and finance leaders explore key challenges

Panel discussions focused on some of the key priorities for stimulating and targeting tourism investments in the region, including effective partnerships, enhancing financial confidence and offering guarantees, and introducing greater innovation into financing mechanisms.

The high-level talks brought together the Ministers of Tourism from Oman, as well as Egypt, Jordan, alongside the President of Qatar Tourism and leading figures from destination management, investments and financing. Represented at the conference were the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority, Oman Development Bank, the Central Bank of Oman, Investments of Future Fund Oman, the Authority for SME Development of Oman, the Fujairah Adventure Center, and Ahli Islamic.

At the start of the conference, UN Tourism officially launched the newest edition of its growing portfolio of Tourism Doing Business investment guidelines. Focused on Jordan, the publication serves as a guide for investors, outlining the potential of the Kingdom’s tourism sector as well as key considerations related to foreign investments.

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