2020 Medina Economic Analysis |


The city of Medina plays an important role in the cultural and historical makeup of Saudi Arabia. It is the final resting place of the Prophet Muhammad and is home to the Prophet’s Mosque, which the Prophet helped build after he fled from Mecca in 622 AD. Today, the Prophet’s Mosque is one of the largest mosques in the world and the second holiest site in Islam after the Grand Mosque in Mecca. As such, Medina is an important religious center for the world’s 1.9 billion Muslims, with millions of pilgrims visiting the city and its holy sites each year. Saudi Arabia’s far-reaching development strategy, Vision 2030, has identified tourism – particularly Islamic heritage tourism – as an engine of growth in the Kingdom’s non-oil economy, with Medina set to play a role central to these efforts. One of the main objectives of the Medina region is to increase the number of visitors and the quality of services, activities and offers available. The country is expected to see a gradual increase in the number of Umrah visitors over the next decade, with a target of reaching 30 million by 2030, up from around 19 million in 2019. Authorities believe this ambitious target is achievable and plan to galvanize private sector participation in the region to boost jobs in the tourism industry. Many developments in the Kingdom’s fourth-largest city – and across the region – are overseen by the Almadinah Area Development Authority (MDA), the body charged with spearheading development and generating growth from the private sector.

“The MDA plays an important role as an investment vehicle in the Medina region,” Hatem Merdad, director of economic development at the MDA, told OBG. “We cooperate closely with many stakeholders in the economy and work to ensure diversified and sustainable economic development, while safeguarding social investments in line with our development goals. It is very important that this balance is maintained throughout the region, ie between rural and urban areas. Our goal is to create a dynamic, healthy and cultural living environment that helps strengthen our ability to attract the best international and local talent and expertise, as well as profitable businesses.

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