MSC Cruises has signed a deal with Cruise Saudi, a public investment fund, to develop the cruise industry in Saudi Arabia.
The company will launch a Red Sea cruises programme for winter 2021/2022.
Fawaz Farooqui, managing director of Cruise Saudi, and Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises, signed a framework agreement in the Saudi capital city Riyadh to mark the beginning of the new partnership.
MSC Magnifica will homeport in Jeddah, one of the largest cities of Saudi Arabia. From there, the ship will operate seven-day Red Sea cruises including calls at AlWajh, the gateway to the Unesco World Heritage site of AlUla, which has only recently launched plans to begin tourism. MSC Virtuosa will also sail the Gulf for the winter, with calls at the Saudi Arabian city of Dammam.
Farooqui said: “We are delighted to work with MSC Cruises and are keen to forge a long-term partnership. We look forward to exploring opportunities to increase the number and size of vessels operating on Saudi routes in the future. Saudi Arabia has a lot to offer visitors, and the new collaboration will open doors for intrepid travellers from across the globe to be amongst the first to experience the rich Saudi heritage and warm, hospitality. Meanwhile, through welcoming international tourists to these emerging destinations, it will create new sources of income for local communities.”
Vago added: “Having witnessed at first-hand the richness of the local heritage, I am impressed with Saudi Arabia’s ability to preserve its traditions and culture and make them available for the world to see. I am delighted that MSC Cruises will be in a position to contribute to the Kingdom’s opening to international visitors through becoming a premier cruise destination and I look forward to helping tourists from all over the world as well as from the Kingdom discover the incredible wonders that this country has to offer, including the untouched beauty of its coast line and historical sites.”
The two companies expect to bring a total of up to 170,000 guests to Saudi Arabia during the winter 2021/22 season.