Diriyah, Jewel of the Kingdom: Tour guides act as ambassadors of culture, heritage at Saudi Arabia’s Expo 2020 pavilion
In Saudi Arabia’s nascent tourism industry, tour guides are doing their part to tell the nation’s story to new visitors. Across the Kingdom, heritage sites are bringing these experts in to introduce visitors from across the world to the culture, heritage, and natural wonders of the Kingdom.
Tour guides are also being sent to cultural missions abroad, too, the most impressive example being Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.
The Diriyah Gate Development Authority, custodians of the birthplace of the first Saudi state, has sent a group of five tour guides to the Saudi pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai to support the wider team of Saudi tour guides at the expo to educate the visiting public to the Kingdom’s wide range of cultural offerings and scenic natural locations.
For visitors to the Saudi pavilion, this group of young, passionate, and highly knowledgeable Saudi tour guides are bringing to life the story of how the first Saudi state was born, as well as introducing them to Diriyah’s role in defining the Kingdom’s culture and history.
Besides their daily duties meeting, greeting, and guiding the diverse international congregation who visit the expo, the young guides also showcase their skills during visits by dignitaries, the media, or at other special occasions.
One such special occasion came recently with the Expo Saudi Day on Jan. 7 in which various shows and displays were held to celebrate Saudi Arabia’s rich cultural heritage. The Kingdom’s tour guides were eager to make the most of the special day and used the opportunity to engage with even more visitors than usual.
Other memorable moments from the Expo Saudi Day included a grand musical show with a live orchestra and an opera singer, along with another troupe later performing the Royal Ardah, a traditional sword dance.
The Saudi tour guides’ time at the expo has coincided with Diriyah being named as the capital of Arab culture for the year 2030 by the Arab ministers of culture during their annual meeting as a part of the Arab League’s Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization.
Diriyah was chosen “due to its immortal symbolism at the level of culture locally and regionally, and its remarkable history with a civilized legacy that is still influential today,” according to the Saudi Press Agency.
More broadly, the Kingdom’s tour guides themselves embody the spirit of Vision 2030 and what it is looking to achieve, that is, the rediscovery of Saudi culture and history by the nation’s youth and their empowerment to realize their potential in brand new sectors for Saudi Arabia, such as tourism.
The tour guides in the Saudi pavilion have so far welcomed more than 2.5 million visitors from all corners of the globe and will be at the expo until the event closes at the end of March 2022.