Saudis violate Thailand travel ban

Updated 24 July 2013

Saudis violate Thailand travel ban

Saudi citizens have reportedly broken a travel ban imposed on Thailand since 20 years ago by traveling through indirect flights on Gulf or foreign airlines, local media said.
Hotel bookings and organized trips were processed by local travel agencies but without official clearance from official governmental departments, Al-Riyadh daily reported.
Many people who are preparing to travel to Thailand during the Eid Al-Fitr holiday know nothing about the penalties awaiting them if they go to Thailand, including a financial penalty and a two-year travel ban based on a decision made by a committee at the Passport Department.
Traveling to Thailand is no longer confined to tourism, but expands into medical treatment, particularly in the field of orthopedics, as well as businesses covering the importation of clothes, accessories and electrical appliances, which necessitates reconsideration of the ban to meet the needs of citizens in terms of business, medical treatment and tourism, the paper said.
It is to be recalled that the negligence of Thai authorities to investigate a number of security cases, where some Saudi citizens were victims, led to the deterioration of relations between the Kingdom and Thailand for more than 20 years.
The Kingdom clearly asked Thailand to achieve justice in these cases in accordance with international treaties and conventions.
Since then, the Saudi Embassy in Thailand has spared no efforts in urging Thai officials for an end to all such cases in order to restore diplomatic and business relations between the two countries.
On the other hand, a traveler who goes by the nickname Abo Hussain, said he went with his family to Thailand for medical treatment due to the availability of international hospitals and professional medical experience at affordable prices, which explained the existence of a large number of GCC citizens there.
Husain Munawir, a tourist, called for the introduction of a new system for travel to Thailand, as some citizens have interests and relatives in that country.
Elias Siyaman, a tourist company representative, said there is clear growth in the number of Saudis tourists, where they come in fourth place among Gulf tourists. They travel through the closest airports to Bangkok. A large percentage of Saudi nationals come for tourism and 70 percent are single.

Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

There was an explosion of joy at the podium when Antonio Felix da Costa lifted the winner’s trophy at the conclusion of the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix on Saturday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 16 December 2018

Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

  • Three-day event at Ad Diriyah reaches spectacular climax in an unprecedented spirit of openness

The driver with the winner’s trophy was Antonio Felix da Costa — but the real winners were Saudi Arabia itself, and more than 1,000 tourists visiting the country for the first time.

Da Costa, the Andretti Motorsport driver, won the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix in front of thousands of race fans at a custom-built track in the historic district on the outskirts of Riyadh.

But in truth, the event was about much more than high-tech electric cars hurtling round a race track — thrilling though that was. The three-day festival of motorsport, culture and entertainment was Saudi Arabia’s chance to prove that it can put on a show to rival anything in the world, and which only two years ago would have been unthinkable.

The event was also the first to be linked to the Sharek electronic visa system, allowing foreigners other than pilgrims or business visitors to come to Saudi Arabia.

Jason, from the US, is spending a week in the country with his German wife, riding quad bikes in the desert and visiting heritage sites. “I’ve always wanted to come for many, many years ... I’m so happy to be here and that they’re letting us be here,” he said.

Aaron, 40, a software engineer, traveled from New York for two days. “Saudi Arabia has always been an exotic place ... and I didn’t think I’d ever be able to come here,” he said.

About 1,000 visitors used the Sharek visa, a fraction of what Saudi Arabia aims eventually to attract. 

“Hopefully we will learn from this and see what we need to do for the future, but I can tell you from now that there is a lot of demand,” said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, vice chairman of the General Sports Authority.

His optimism was backed by Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund and a visitor to Ad Diriyah. “Such events will attract tourists and are a true celebration for young Saudis who desire a bright future,” he said.

“The vision of moderate Islam, promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is important both for the region and the entire world, and its realization needs to be appreciated, respected and supported.”

The event ended on Saturday night with a spectacular show by US band OneRepublic and the superstar DJ David Guetta. “Just when you think things can’t get better, they suddenly do,” said concertgoer Saleh Saud. “This is the new Saudi Arabia, and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.”