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Indian Premier League has a new sponsor, Saudi Tourism

Saudi Tourism Authority has become one of the new official sponsors of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The tourism arm of Saudi Arabia has partnered with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), in a bid to attract tourism to the gulf country. With this sponsorship, Saudi Arabia is looking to attract about two million visitors from India in 2023 and aims to make India the country’s largest tourism source by 2030.

“India and Saudi share a vibrant youth culture and sport is an ideal platform to engage and inspire young people. Sport, like tourism, brings people together in harmony and fellowship, bridging cultures and sharing perspectives on the world around us,” said Fahd Hamidaddin, chief executive officer (CEO) and Member of the Board at Saudi Tourism Authority, according to a press release.

Saudi Arabia has also hosted other sporting events including Formula One, Formula Two, Dakar Rally, and football tournaments for Italy and Spain, among others.

So far, tourists in Saudi Arabia have come from GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries including Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar, and Malaysia. To attract a wider group of tourists, including people from China, Japan, Italy and Mexico, the country is increasing airline activity.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia announced the launch of a stopover programme, where travellers could get a 96 hours visa digitally in about 60 minutes. The country is also in the process of opening nine dedicated visa centres across India.

This development comes at a time when GCC countries are trying to reduce dependency on oil and explore other revenue-generating streams. Qatar, for example, hosted the recently-concluded FIFA World Cup and has outlined plans to invest in soccer, technology, and financial institutions.

Saudi Arabia has also relaxed several regulations to attract visitors. People can now watch movies in a theatre, and women can drive and also travel without a male companion.

“Definitely, Saudi Arabia is a very safe place for women. And I believe women will have a good time here,” said Alhasan Aldabbagh, president of APAC, Saudi Tourism Authority.

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti

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