Saudi Arabia has marked the opening of its first cruise terminal at Jeddah Islamic Port, in partnership with MSC Cruises, which has just commenced its first cruise season in the Red Sea.
Jeddah Cruise Terminal is the first in Saudi Arabia, while MSC Cruises is the first cruise line to sail roundtrip from the country ahead of anticipated major growth in the Saudi cruise market.
The cruise terminal has been developed by Saudi Ports authority ‘Mawani’ and the Saudi Cruise Company(Cruise Saudi), which was established six months ago to grow Saudi Arabia’s cruise tourism sector.
MSC Bellissima will be the first cruise ship to use Jeddah Cruise Terminal as she commences her Red Sea cruise season, sailing 7-night cruises roundtrip from Jeddah to Aqaba in Jordan, Safaga in Egypt and several Saudi Arabian ports.
The Saudi Arabian ports are Al Wajh and Yanbu, both of which are home to a host of UNESCO World Heritage Sites of ancient cultural and historical importance.
“The inauguration of the first cruise ship station represents an important step that contributes to the promotion and development of tourism trips on the Red Sea coast, and supports the growth of the tourism sector in the Kingdom,” said Fawaz Farooqi, Managing Director of Cruise Saudi Arabia.
“We’re targeting creating 50,000 job opportunities by 2025, increasing cruise ships, inaugurating additional ports beside Jeddah Islamic Port, and reaching 1.5 million visitors annually by 2028,” he added.
The General Authority of Ports President Omar Hariri added that choosing Jeddah Islamic Port to be the first cruise port in the country was a reflection of its strategic location midway down the Red Sea coast of the country.
He also said that the authority had put in place extensive plans to develop cruise infrastructure at the port.
“We worked with our partners to develop infrastructure, marine, and logistical services in Jeddah Islamic Port, by inaugurating a passenger terminal for cruise ships after developing it to accommodate more than 2,500 passengers,” Hariri said.
Saudi Arabia’s opening up to cruise tourism, and ambitious plans to expand its cruise sector beyond the cruises announced by MSC Cruises, will provide significant benefits to the Middle East cruise sector.