Saudi Arabia Enjoys Red Sea Cruise as the Tourism Sector Opens Up


Majed Sait and his wife are spending their honeymoon on a cruise in the turquoise waters off Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast, says an article published in Reuters.

Tourism restricted

Foreign tourism inside Saudi Arabia was restricted and opportunities for domestic holidaymakers were limited until Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman began a drive in 2016 to bring social change and diversify the economy away from its dependence on oil.

Since then, Saudi Arabia has introduced tourist visas for foreign visitors and launched a series of tourism projects, including along the Red Sea coast, and the government has said it wants the sector to contribute 10 percent to the gross domestic product by 2030.

 Cruise ship launched

Saudi Arabia rented the MSC Bellissima from its Geneva-based operator MSC Cruises as part of its Saudi Summer campaign designed to encourage tourism from home and abroad. The onboard entertainment, which includes dance shows, concerts, and stand-up comedians, has been amended to cater to Saudi tourists.

Women need guardian

The cruise is also an opportunity for Dalal Mohammed, who booked the trip with her sister, to enjoy some of the new freedoms which came with the crown prince’s steps to dismantle the heavily criticized guardianship system. Women in Saudi Arabia still need a “guardian” – a male relative whose approval they require for various decisions, including marriage and divorce, but they are now free to travel on their own.

Travel with privacy

Five years ago it would have been unthinkable for her to go on a trip with only her sister and no male guardian, Mohammed said.

“Although we are traveling in the sea We still have privacy and we appreciated, that today, we swam in a swimming pool reserved for women, and we took dance lessons for girls only,” she said.

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