It’s no secret. Saudi Arabia has money problems. Some of this has to do with too much reliance on falling oil profits, exorborant spending by the royal family, and the ongoing war with Yemen. Now, tensions are rising between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia with accusations of declarations of war, Saudi ordering all of its citizens to leave Lebanon at once, and not to mention a less than peaceful relationship with Iran.
The Middle East is turbulent in the best of times and with one war raging in the Arab world’s poorest nation, resulting in famine and death on a large-scale, and a potential war with other Middle Eastern nations, Saudi Arabia, who just said they will be issuing tourist visas soon, doesn’t seem to have tourism as a top priority, when it is clear that they need the tourism dollars. But the country is trying to change, it is trying to open up and tourism is one of the best ways to do that.
Being an American, the closest I’ve ever gotten to Saudi Arabia is when my plane touched down in Jeddah on a flight to Asmara, Eritrea across the Red Sea. To me, Saudi Arabia has always been a land of mystery and intrigue. It’s like stepping back in time and witnessing an age-old culture that hasn’t caught up with the rest of the world – yet.
The Kingdom plans to open up to tourists of any nationality and religion, and to female tourists as well. That means a Red Sea adventure awaits for just about anyone with a sense of adventure. However, it’s not quite time to go abaya shopping just yet. Depending on how many people decide to apply for a tourist visa to this closed up kingdom, the wait could be longer than usual.