Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

11 Jul, 2022

Thai-Saudi travel set to boom after red-carpet treatment for Riyadh business delegation

Bangkok — A team of more than 100 high-level delegates from Saudi Arabia visited Thailand between 3-7 July 2022 as part of the roadmap set by the two countries following the historic diplomatic patch-up in January 2022. The group consisted of 57 corporate executives plus senior representatives of the Saudi Tourism Authority, the Saudi Fund for Development and other Saudi public/sector institutions.

A follow-on from the sizeable 134-member Thai delegation which visited Saudi Arabia between May 15-18, the Saudi visit will give a major boost to economic and commercial relations in line with the two kingdoms’ respective future development agendas — the Saudi Vision 2030 document and the Thai 20-Year National Strategy (2017-2036). It is expected to lead to a surge in business, leisure and MICE travel between the two countries over the rest of this year, and beyond.

The Saudis, many of whom were visiting Thailand for the first time due to the 32-year rupture in relations, got to see and experience major Thai landmarks such as the Eastern Economic Corridor area, the Halal Science Centre, the ICONSiam shopping mall and convention centre, the Dusit College, Siriraj hospital and much more.

The Riyadh Chamber of Commerce refers to itself as the biggest chamber in Saudi Arabia. The delegation, led by Chairman of its Commercial Committee Mr Kareem Al-Enezi, was hosted by the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade led by its chairman Mr Sanan Angubolkol. The delegation included representatives of Saudi companies in the fields of construction, jewellery, health, pharmaceuticals, travel and many more. There were four representatives from the Saudi tourism sector, and four women executives.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai hailed the visit as being part of the “Roadmap to Strengthen Bilateral Relations between Thailand and Saudi Arabia”. He said the two kingdoms would advance their ties based on the principles of Mutual Trust, Mutual Respect and Shared Interests.

The visit will boost Saudi travel to Thailand this summer, especially after Thai Airways International starts four weekly flights to Jeddah on August 19. Saudi Arabian Airlines is already flying six flights weekly from Riyadh and Jeddah.

This dispatch provides highlights of the Saudi visit, and the benefits for the peoples of both countries. I am proud to be the only journalist providing this roundup. As of this week, neither of the chambers had uploaded much information about this historic trip on their websites or Facebook pages.

The Eastern Economic Corridor visit 04 July 2022

The Eastern Economic Corridor Development plan aims to transform the Thai’s economy by moving away from labor-intensive industries towards the production of innovative products, and a more service-based economy. Located in a geographically strategic part of Thailand, bordering Cambodia, the project focuses on four core areas: infrastructure, business/industry, tourism and new cities. Similarly, the Saudi Vision 2030 blueprint is designed to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism. It, too, includes mega-projects such as Al-Ula, a massive tourism complex, King Abdullah Economic City, a center of logistics and industries, and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

The complementarities are obvious, and both sides can learn a lot from each other’s experiences in managing this transition. This event gave a chance for the Saudis to hear from Mr Poramet Ngampichet, the newly-elected Mayor of Pattaya City, Dr.Kanit Sangsubhan, Secretary-General of Eastern Economic Corridor Office, and Mr Chattan Kunjara Na Ayutthaya, a Tourism Authority of Thailand deputy governor in charge of the Middle East region, on their respective plans and priorities.

The Halal Science Centre, Chulalongkorn University, July 5

The Halal Science Centre, Chulalongkorn university, is one of Asia’s pre-eminent certification bodies for Halal products. It will play a major role in the certification and export of Thai-made Halal products to Saudi Arabia and also host Saudis academics and students wishing to benefit from the experience. This exchange is already in the pipeline and will be actioned in the months ahead.

In this session, the Saudis received a detailed briefing from Assoc. Prof. Dr. Winai Dahlan, Founder and Director, about the HSC history, operations, management and scientific processes. They also toured the Centre after the lecture. The welcome pack distributed to the Saudi delegates included two English-language books written by Dr Winai on Islamic principles of science and multi-culturalism, as espoused by the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh).

The event was hosted at the Sasin School of Management, Thailand’s leading educational institution for graduate students specialising in business, sustainability and entrepreneurship. That was another showcasing opportunity. Outside the lecture hall, the HSC provided space for SME exhibitors, mostly food, beverages and health products.

The Business Forum at ICONSiam July 6

The Business Forum was held at one of Asia’s leading mall-cum-convention centre, the ICONSiam. This was designed firstly for the two sides to understand each other’s institutions, facilities and processes for doing business. The Saudi representatives were from the Saudi Export Development Authority, Saudi Fund for Development and the Saudi Tourism Authority. The Thai side included representatives of the Thai Bankers Association, Department of International Trade Promotion (Ministry of Commerce) and the Thai International Freight Forwarders Association.

Several Memorandums of Understanding were signed between various business groups. The Thai Muslim Trade Association, a rapidly upcoming group of young Thai-Muslim professionals, was particularly active, signing MoUs with Saudi Arabia’s Nilufer company and Dr.Yousuf Abdullah Al-Humoudi Lawyers and Consultants.