Home Middle East 50th Meeting Regional Commission for the Middle East for UN Tourism

50th Meeting Regional Commission for the Middle East for UN Tourism

The United Nations (U.N.) Tourism held its 50th meeting of the Regional Commission for the Middle East from 22-23 May 2024 in Muscat, Oman. It witnessed the participation of high-level representatives from thirteen member states, including eight tourism ministers. Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili opened the ceremony by highlighting how the Middle East has become a global leader in tourism, education, jobs and investment.

Diversity and Innovation

The meeting focused on building a more diverse, innovative, and resilient sector. The unimaginable potential of wellness tourism was highlighted as a reflection of U.N. Tourism’s commitment to creating opportunities through diversification and building resilience. The meeting also highlighted the growing significance of gastronomy tourism as an essential means of rural development and cultural heritage. Secretary-General Pololikashvili formally presented the Omani Minister of Tourism and Heritage with a brochure on gastronomy tourism in the Sultanate. The former noted: “Pleased to hand over the Oman Gastronomy brochure to Minister of Heritage and Tourism of Oman, H.E. Salim bin Mohammed Al Mahruqi marking a significant milestone in our collaboration. Together, let’s savor and share the flavors of Oman with the world.”

Education and Investment

The Middle East has emerged as the leading region in both sectors. With U.N. Tourism, Saudi Arabia has provided training and technical education to several tourism workers, including at the new Riyadh School of Hospitality. Two hundred fifty-four greenfield projects have been announced in the Middle East between 2018 and 2023, representing a total capital investment of USD 15.2 billion, making the region rife with investment opportunities.

Investing in Tourism

On the second day of the meeting, the organisers held a conference titled “Investing in Tourism: Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainable Financing”. The conference was a platform to discuss the challenges of sustainable investment in tourism with a focus on technology, innovation, and education. It was pointed out that 13 greenfield projects were introduced in Oman in the period above, representing a capital investment of USD 1.83 billion. It was highlighted that the Middle Eastern countries announced 109 greenfield FDI projects abroad with a total investment of USD 6.8 billion. H.E. Salim Mohammed Al Mahruqi, Minister of Heritage and Tourism for Oman, emphasised the importance of growing investments in the tourism sector for the Middle East and the Sultanate.

Key Challenges

Panel discussions during the conference focused on exploring the priorities regarding investment in the tourist sector. The conference witnessed the participation of the Ministers of Tourism from Oman, Egypt, and Jordan, the President of Qatar Tourism, and delegates from the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, Oman Development Bank,  the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority, the Central Bank of Oman, the Authority for SME Development of Oman, Investments of Future Fund Oman, the Fujairah Adventure Center, and Ahli Islamic. A Portfolio focused on Jordan named “Tourism Doing Business Investment Guidelines” was also released. Secretary-General Pololikashvili stated, “Presented the UN Tourism Investment Guidelines to Jordan with Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, H.E. Makram Mustafa A. Queisi. This pivotal step will enhance sustainable tourism and drive economic growth.”

The members decided the 51st Regional Commission for the Middle East will be held in Doha, Qatar, in 2025.