Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) has commenced an official partnership with the world's pre-eminent Twenty 20 cricket league, the TATA Indian Premier League (IPL). An event to inaugurate the partnership was held in Mumbai, attended by the Secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Jay Shah, Vice President of BCCI, Rajeev Shukla, and Honorary Treasurer of the BCCI, Ashish Shelar, along with representatives from the Saudi Tourism Authority, including Alhasan Aldabbagh, President of APAC.
Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO and Member of the Board at Saudi Tourism Authority, said, "India and Saudi share a vibrant youth culture, and sport is an ideal platform to engage and inspire young people. Saudi is committed to supporting excellence in the world of sports and inspiring greater participation and improved quality of life among Saudi and global audiences alike. Sport, like tourism, brings people together in harmony and fellowship, bridging cultures and sharing perspectives on the world around us. These values are central to Saudi culture and are championed by young people from all around the world."
Cricket is one of the most popular sports around the world. Through this partnership, STA aims to tap into a strong fanbase between the two countries, encourage affinity and increase awareness of Saudi as a leading destination for Indian travelers, especially among young people. With more than half of its population below the age of 30, India shares a similar demographic profile with Saudi Arabia, where 58 per cent of the local population is in the same age group.
As part of Saudi's tourism strategy, India represents immense potential as it is expected to be Saudi's largest tourism source market by 2030. The partnership is a strong example of Saudi supporting the country's Sports sector. Saudi continues to strengthen its competitive advantage in the market, and it will look to welcome more than two million visitors from India this year.
Rajeev Shukla, Vice President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India said, "We are pleased to welcome Saudi Tourism Authority on board as an official sponsor for the 2023 edition of the IPL. The IPL partnership is a powerful channel to engage with its vast audience and support the Saudi Tourism Authority's objective of creating brand awareness in India as well as among fans from the entire cricketing world. We hope that through this partnership, we inspire and grow the cricket fanbase in Saudi and in collaboration with STA, create exciting opportunities for them to engage with the game."
IPL is one of the biggest events on the international sporting calendar and the partnership adds to a growing portfolio of STA's global strategic relationships. Partnerships like IPL are a key pillar of Saudi's tourism strategy as they bring fans, athletes, and nations together while sparking curiosity from those that may want to be among the first to visit Saudi as a destination.
The dynamic partnership builds on Saudi's history and love for cricket, with the first governing cricket body established in 2003. In 2020, the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation (SACF) was established and it currently looks after 16 regional associations in 11 cities, and counts 8,000+ registered players and 400+ registered clubs, with a total participation of 35,000 in domestic cricket tournaments and championships. The Saudi cricket national team is presently ranked 32nd out of 180 nations in cricket.
Saudi is a diverse destination with rich cultural, historical, and spiritual sites. Saudi recently announced that Indian visitors are eligible for the Stopover Visa, which will allow passengers traveling to a final destination in SAUDIA or Flynas to visit Saudi for up to 96 hours. A complimentary hotel night in Saudia is included.