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Mumbai, 14 February 2023 – Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) has commenced an official partnership with the world’s preeminent Twenty 20 cricket league, the TATA Indian Premier League (IPL). An event to inaugurate the partnership was held in Mumbai today, attended by Secretary of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Jay Shah, Vice President 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.

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 percent 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.

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.

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 sport 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.”

Alhasan Aldabbagh, APAC President at Saudi Tourism Authority, said, “As part of our global marketing strategy, the Indian subcontinent region is a key market for STA and we are continually enhancing ways in which we can excite tourists from these countries and welcome them to Saudi. We are delighted to announce our partnership with IPL, because we know how important cricket is to our visitors from South Asia.

Through our partnership with IPL, we aim to increase Saudi’s presence and appeal in the Indian and South Asian markets. We are excited to show prospective South Asian visitors why they should consider Saudi not only as their next holiday destination, but also as a viable sports destination as we play host to prominent sports and entertainment events such as Formula One, WWE, and the Spanish Super Cup.”

Jay Shah, Secretary of Board of Control for Cricket in India said, “Over the years, we have seen the Indian Premier League emerge as a dominant force at the global stage, generating strong appeal in the sporting ecosystem. For us, it’s an exciting prospect that Saudi Tourism Authority has immense faith in the power of IPL to bring countries together. We believe that the partnership will help promote Saudi’s unique and diverse offering and position it as the leading leisure and tourism destination in the world. This partnership will create newer opportunities for cricket in Saudi and strengthen the sport in the region.”

Rajeev Shukla, Vice President of 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 Saudi Tourism Authority’s objective of creating brand awareness in India as well as among the 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.”

Ashish Shelar, Honorary Treasurer, of Board of Control for Cricket in India said “Our association with the Saudi Tourism Authority is a testament to the global appeal of the Indian Premier League. As each season passes by, the league has been consistently registering an uptick in its global fan base, expanding its geographical footprint. We believe this association will offer an opportunity for the sport to strengthen cricketing culture as well as the fan base in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We are confident that this collaboration will prove to be fruitful.”

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 on SAUDIA or Flynas to visit Saudi for up to 96 hours. A complimentary hotel night on Saudia is included.

Find out more about Saudi’s tourism offerings and visa programs on the Visit Saudi website.

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