Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
A few days ago, an important and interesting convention was held in Dammam. The convention was about the role of conventions and exhibitions in developing trade and industry in the Eastern Province (EP). The forum was held under the patronage of EP Gov. Prince Saud bin Naif and Prince Sultan bin Salman, president and chairman of the Board of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH). Male and female members of the business community from all across the Kingdom attended the event to hear and see the many ways to promote an industry. Holding exhibitions and conventions in the Kingdom and especially in the Eastern Province will have many benefits for the Kingdom and these benefits are not only economical, but also boost Kingdom’s global image and to educate people about the latest developments in their respective areas of interest. The Eastern Province is one of the 13 provinces of the Kingdom and covers almost one-third of the total area of Saudi Arabia. It is as large as the US state of Texas with a population of more than four million. And most important is that the Eastern Province has a lot to offer when it comes to the tourism sector because of its beautiful beaches, historical sites and industrial complexes. Many areas in the Eastern Province are of huge historical and archeological importance. Many of the sites date back to thousands of years. More than 3,000 years ago, the area became one of the most important parts of the world at the time when it connected many civilizations and connected the East to the West. The area is a witness to the old ways of connecting people together when Dilmun civilization was in parallel with Mesopotamia. And the area saw many historical events such as the overtaking of the Sumerians by the Akkadians in 1792 BC. And in the modern days of Saudi Arabia, the Eastern Province played a very big role in transforming the Kingdom into a modern state due to the discovery of oil. Places and cities like Al-Ahsa, Jubail, Qatif, and Dhahran can become huge economic and industrial tourist attractions. There are miles of green areas with beautiful palm trees in Al-Ahasa or Qatif and there are the most beautiful beaches on the Arabian Gulf Shores. And one should not forget the huge industrial plants in Ras Tanurah and Jubail. In other words, tourism in the Eastern Province if utilized can be both well time spent and very educational. The Eastern Province is situated close to all the Gulf States. The province stretches from north to south touching Kuwait and Sultanate of Oman and it is also connected with the Kingdom of Bahrain by a modern causeway. This unique geographical location gives it an edge over many other Saudi provinces. It is important to promote conventions and international exhibitions in the Eastern Province. The authorities should make efforts to promote such events by streamlining visa procedures so that foreign delegates can obtain visas without difficulty. It is in the interest of the Kingdom. Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Promoting Tourism in EP reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.