More Saudi tourists to Thailand – despite travel ban

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Soi Arab in BangkokDespite a travel ban being in place since the 1990s, the number of Saudi tourist to Thailand is growing, Arab media reported on July 24.

Although there are no official numbers, it is estimated that several thousand Saudi citizens, 70 per cent of them men, are visiting Thailand per year either for health checkups or for leisure, risking questioning by Saudi authorities and a heavy fine. Reportedly, Saudi comes fourth in traveler numbers from the Gulf, behind the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait.

Saudi Arabia has imposed the ban after the so called “Blue Diamond Affair” of 1989, when a Saudi prince in Bangkok was robbed of his jewels and a short while later, allegedly with involvement of the Thai police, three Saudi diplomats in Bangkok were shot execution style and two days later a Saudi businessman was kidnapped. The details of these events are still unclear, but they led to a severe deterioration of Saudi-Thai economic and political relations.

Saudi citizens are obliged to get clearance from Saudi Arabian authorities if they want to travel to Thailand and give detailed reasons for such a trip. However, as per a report by Saudi newspaper Al Riyadh, many Saudis are circumventing the ban by traveling via third countries to Thailand.

There are even local Saudi travel agencies that arrange a suitable itinerary, mostly via Dubai, and offer hotel bookings and organised trips without official clearance from official governmental departments.

No Saudi has ever been refused entry to Thailand, but they face problems when going back to Saudi Arabia with the Thai immigration stamp in their passport. Apart from a financial penalty, they also risk a two-year general travel ban.

Saudi officials now urged travel and tourism agencies not to promote travel to “blacklisted” Thailand.

“Non-abidance of the travel ban on Thailand by these agencies would be considered a violation of the law and those who promote travel to this banned country would be questioned by authorities,” the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce said.

However, many Saudis who are traveling to Thailand “know nothing” about the penalties awaiting them if they return, Al Riyadh said,

Other countries where Saudis are not allowed to travel to are Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Israel and Pakistan.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Despite a travel ban being in place since the 1990s, the number of Saudi tourist to Thailand is growing, Arab media reported on July 24.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Soi Arab in BangkokDespite a travel ban being in place since the 1990s, the number of Saudi tourist to Thailand is growing, Arab media reported on July 24.

Although there are no official numbers, it is estimated that several thousand Saudi citizens, 70 per cent of them men, are visiting Thailand per year either for health checkups or for leisure, risking questioning by Saudi authorities and a heavy fine. Reportedly, Saudi comes fourth in traveler numbers from the Gulf, behind the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait.

Saudi Arabia has imposed the ban after the so called “Blue Diamond Affair” of 1989, when a Saudi prince in Bangkok was robbed of his jewels and a short while later, allegedly with involvement of the Thai police, three Saudi diplomats in Bangkok were shot execution style and two days later a Saudi businessman was kidnapped. The details of these events are still unclear, but they led to a severe deterioration of Saudi-Thai economic and political relations.

Saudi citizens are obliged to get clearance from Saudi Arabian authorities if they want to travel to Thailand and give detailed reasons for such a trip. However, as per a report by Saudi newspaper Al Riyadh, many Saudis are circumventing the ban by traveling via third countries to Thailand.

There are even local Saudi travel agencies that arrange a suitable itinerary, mostly via Dubai, and offer hotel bookings and organised trips without official clearance from official governmental departments.

No Saudi has ever been refused entry to Thailand, but they face problems when going back to Saudi Arabia with the Thai immigration stamp in their passport. Apart from a financial penalty, they also risk a two-year general travel ban.

Saudi officials now urged travel and tourism agencies not to promote travel to “blacklisted” Thailand.

“Non-abidance of the travel ban on Thailand by these agencies would be considered a violation of the law and those who promote travel to this banned country would be questioned by authorities,” the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce said.

However, many Saudis who are traveling to Thailand “know nothing” about the penalties awaiting them if they return, Al Riyadh said,

Other countries where Saudis are not allowed to travel to are Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Israel and Pakistan.

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