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Saudi Arabia Opens Coastal Water to Foreign Cruise Ships and Yachts To Boost Marine Tourism

In a landmark move, Saudi Arabia has opened up its coastal waters to foreign cruise ships, yachts, and even recreational submarines for up to 6 months to promote coastal tourism.

The guidelines published by the Saudi Red Sea Authority and the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority, aim to make Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea a global hub for luxury marine tourism.

With several new upcoming mega projects, such as Amaala on the Red Sea and NEOM’s Norlana resort on the Gulf of Aqaba, visitors will soon be able to enjoy a new level of coastal luxury.

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Streamlining Maritime Tourism

Saudi Arabia Opens Coastal Water to Foreign Cruise Ships and Yachts To Boost Marine Tourism
Image Credit AROYA Cruises

Saudi Arabia, a nation known for its rich culture and tradition, is now trying to redefine itself as a global hub for maritime leisure activities. The Kingdom has introduced a new set of procedural guidelines, marking a significant stride towards promoting coastal tourism.

The Kingdom’s initiative to streamline the entry process for marine vessels is a testament to its commitment to enhancing coastal tourism. 

The guidelines meticulously outline the procedures for temporarily admitting foreign yachts and other visiting marine vessels into all tourist marinas under the supervision of the competent authority. 

The Saudi Red Sea Regulations

Image Credit Camper Nicholsons

The Saudi Red Sea Authority (SRSA) has introduced seven new regulations. These include:

  • Private Yachts Visiting Regulation
  • Chartering Large Yacht Regulation
  • Tourist Navigational Agent Regulation
  • Cruise Ship Regulation
  • Marina Design and Operation Regulation
  • Marina Tourism Operator Regulation
  • Marine Coastal Tourism Vessel Classification Regulation

Image Credit Cruise Saudi

Key points of the regulations:

  • These regulations mandate that all yachts and marine vessels must be registered with the SRSA and carry a valid safety certificate. 
  • It is also essential for all crew members to be qualified to operate the vessel and provide safety and medical assistance.
  • The SRSA must license tourist navigational agents. 
  • Marinas must be designed and operated to minimize the risk of accidents and environmental damage.

Embracing the Blue Economy

Image Credit Red Sea Global

The SRSA is instrumental in this initiative. It is tasked with efficiently facilitating temporary entries and championing the cause of environmental conservation alongside tourism growth. 

By inviting tourists aboard their vessels to explore the pristine beauty of the Red Sea, the SRSA is striking a careful balance between promoting maritime leisure and the imperative to safeguard the environment. 

This initiative is anticipated to significantly contribute to the local economy, creating new jobs and fostering a culture of maritime conservation.

A Nautical Guide for Adventurers

Image Credit U Boat Worx

The procedural guide is essential for tourists eager to sail their vessels to the Saudi Red Sea. The eligibility criteria cater to a broad spectrum of marine vessels, featuring specific provisions for sailing ships such as catamarans, trimarans, and sloops. 

The guide underscores the necessity for shipping agents to register via an electronic application on the official website, ensuring a seamless process that prioritizes efficiency and compliance with customs and tax regulations. 

This meticulous approach guarantees hassle-free entry and underscores Saudi Arabia’s commitment to regulatory excellence and maritime safety.

A New Era for Coastal Tourism

Image Credit AROYA Cruises

Saudi Arabia’s latest move to welcome foreign marine vessels marks a new era for coastal tourism. This significant initiative aligns with the Kingdom’s vision for 2030, which aims to diversify its economy beyond oil. 

The Kingdom has been focusing on various sectors, including tourism, to achieve this goal. With this new procedural guide, Saudi Arabia is poised to transform the Red Sea region into a global hub for maritime leisure activities.

Accordingly, Cruise Saudi, a PIF subsidiary, and the Al-Madinah Regional Development Authority have recently entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to boost tourism in the culturally significant Al Madinah region.

This objective is centered around promoting economic development and generating social impact in the historic Al-Madinah region, aligning with the overarching goals of Saudi Vision 2030.

Expanding the Maritime Leisure Landscape

Image Credit U Boat Worx

The new regulations aim to cover many marine vessels, ranging from sleek motorized yachts to traditional sailing ships. The guidelines comprehensively overview the necessary procedures for temporarily admitting foreign yachts and other visiting marine vessels. 

This move is expected to encourage an influx of international tourists, contributing significantly to the Kingdom’s economy and job market.

Balancing Tourism Growth and Environmental Conservation

Image Credit Red Sea Global

While the SRSA is focused on bolstering coastal tourism, it is equally committed to championing the cause of environmental conservation. The authority is keen on inviting tourists to explore the untouched beauty of the Red Sea while ensuring the protection of its marine biodiversity. 

This balanced approach is expected to foster a culture of maritime conservation while contributing substantially to the local economy.

The Future of Coastal Tourism in Saudi Arabia

Image Credit Camper Nicholsons

With these new regulations in place, Saudi Arabia is well on its way to becoming a global hotspot for maritime leisure activities. The Kingdom’s initiative to streamline and simplify the entry process for marine vessels marks a significant stride towards enhancing coastal tourism. 

This move will stimulate economic growth, create job opportunities, and foster environmental conservation. As Saudi Arabia continues redefining its global image, the future of coastal tourism in the Kingdom looks promising.

Upcoming Mega-Projects

Image Credit Killa Design

Saudi Arabia’s ambitious vision for coastal tourism is further exemplified by its upcoming mega-projects. Amaala on the Red Sea and NEOM’s Norlana resort on the Gulf of Aqaba are just two examples of the luxury coastal experiences visitors can look forward to soon. 


Image Credit Red Sea Global

AMAALA, a destination for luxurious travel, is positioned to establish a fresh international benchmark for opulence and eco-friendliness. 

Situated on the coast of the Red Sea in the northwestern part of Saudi Arabia, this sanctuary offers a unique combination of sunshine, ocean, athleticism, art, and heritage throughout the year.

AMAALA has been specifically created for the needs of the most selective travelers. Visitors can indulge in various luxurious activities, from relaxing on unspoiled beaches to embarking on voyages from top-notch yachting amenities. 

Whether it be adventurers, sun-lovers, or astrology enthusiasts, AMAALA has something to delight all.

Image Credit AMAALA

By 2027, Amaala is expected to accommodate 3,000 hotel rooms spread out among 25 hotels. Additionally, there will be around 900 upscale residential options, such as villas, apartments, and estate homes. 

The guest experience will be enhanced by various high-end retail stores, fine dining options, and wellness and recreational facilities. 

Image Credit AMAALA

This area comprises three unique communities:

  • Triple Bay
  • The Island
  • The Coastal Development.

NEOM’s Norlana

Image Credit NEOM

NEOM has introduced NORLANA, a luxury and high-end destination situated on the stunning Gulf of Aqaba. 

NORLANA is meticulously planned as a select neighborhood comprising a luxurious hotel, grand mansions, beach-facing villas, and homes, accompanied by a superyacht harbor and a breathtaking 18-hole golf course.

Image Credit NEOM

Norlana features a state-of-the-art marina with 120 berths and a 70-room hotel, which are among its main attractions. This marina has been designed to serve as a global center for superyachts and provide water taxi services for residents and visitors. 

In addition, the marina will feature a members’ club for those who are passionate about yachting, providing a chance to relax and enjoy exquisite dining options while taking in breathtaking views of the waterfront.

Combined with the new regulations for marine vessels, these projects are set to position Saudi Arabia as a leading destination for luxury marine tourism.

Keep Reading: Red Sea Global: Your Ultimate Guide To Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Project

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