Saudi Arabia’s media has designated Turkey as an unsafe location due to rising petty crime aimed at Saudi citizens and gun violence, as part of a move by Riyadh to control where its citizens go on holiday, the Economist reported.
Saudi, much like many Arab governments, manages to turn even holidays into a political affair, the article said.
Riyadh-Ankara relations have been sour for some time over Turkey’s support for Qatar and the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul , among other issues.
A Saudi newspaper said that Turkey, which draws 39 million foreign tourists annually, is not safe for travel, while the kingdom’s embassy in Ankara has warned of rising petty crime aimed at Saudi citizens, the Economist said.
Another Saudi news story claimed that 2,187 people were killed in gun violence in Turkey in 2017, it added.
The campaign to discourage their citizens from travelling to Turkey, the article said, seems to be working as visitors from the Kingdom dropped 31 percent in the first quarter of 2019, according to official figures.
Tourism politics is not new in the Arab world, the Economist said, pointing to Egypt, a once popular destination for Gulf tourists, which Qataris now avoid it because of politics.
Elsewhere, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has forbidden travel to Lebanon since 2012, citing kidnapping risks, a campaign which has considerably decreased Emirati visitors to the country.
Egypt is another country that gets tough on travel, asking citizens under 40 years of age for a state-security approval before flying to Turkey.
Saudi’s King Salman may also may also hope to keep tourist at home by discouraging travel to Turkey, the article said, pointing to his staycations at the planned $500 billion city of Neom on the kingdom’s north-western coast, which remains uninhabited.