Expats ‘feel safer’ in Kingdom than homeland

Updated 19 August 2015

Expats ‘feel safer’ in Kingdom than homeland

RIYADH: Expatriates feel Saudi Arabia is a safer place than their home countries despite the fact that the Kingdom is leading a war against the Yemeni rebels and other terror organizations and a couple of suicide attacks in the recent past.
Mahmoud Talaat, an Egyptian IT manager, said that being in KSA is such a pleasure. “I came to Saudi Arabia after the uprising in 2011. There was chaos in Egypt at that time. When I arrived in the Kingdom, I found peace and safety.”
Elham M., a Yemeni woman, said that in view of the prevailing circumstances in her country, the Kingdom is definitely a much safer place than the home country. “Saudi Arabi is my land and the way (Saudi) soldiers are sacrificing their lives for the safety of another country (Yemen) is beyond description,” a visibly emotional Elham added.
A Sudanese, who requested anonymity, said he enjoys staying in the Kingdom. Asked about the new developments in KSA, he said if he did not read it in the news, he wouldn’t have thought that there was Saudi Arabia was in war with Yemen. “Despite all this, the Kingdom is the safest country in the region.”
Persad P. a Sri Lankan citizen, said that when he chose Saudi Arabia to be his first destination. “Although there is war on the borders, we feel very safe inside the country.”
Nagwa Mousa, an Egyptian doctor, said Operation Decisive Storm and the relief works in Yemen reflect the humanitarian gesture of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman.

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

AD DIRIYAH: 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.”