Saudi Arabia first Gulf state to chair UNWTO Executive Council

Saudi Arabia first Gulf state to chair UNWTO Executive Council

The Kingdom was elected to the role at meeting in Marrakesh

Saudi Arabia has been elected Chair of the Executive Council of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) at the UNWTO’s 117th Executive Council meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco.

The Kingdom’s minister of tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said: “Saudi Arabia is honoured to have been elected Chair of the UNWTO Executive Council.

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“We firmly believe in the mission of UNWTO and look forward to working with all countries to advance the global tourism sector. Saudi Arabia has been an active partner to the UNWTO, launching initiatives, championing new thinking and opening the first Regional Office to help drive the agenda forward in the Middle East and beyond.”

He added: “At the heart of the UNWTO is a desire to promote tourism as a catalyst of economic development, which Saudi Arabia wholeheartedly supports. We have committed $800 billion of government investment into the Saudi tourism industry by 2030.

“Our imperative is that the development we seek, both as a nation and globally, is sustainable, inclusive and resilient. That’s how we will address the fast-changing needs of businesses, communities and the planet.” 

Saudi Arabia has previously served as first vice-chair of the Executive Council and will now replace the outgoing Chair, Ivory Coast. 

In its new role, Saudi Arabia will set the agenda for all meetings and will also facilitate and moderate meetings while encouraging actionable outcomes. 


The Executive Council is the second highest decision-making body in UNWTO after the General Assembly. Members meet at least twice a year and are elected by the General Assembly to reflect the geographic diversity of the UNWTO’s membership.

The standard term for the Chair of the Executive Council is one year.  

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