Saudi Arabia, which not so long ago wanted almost nothing to do with tourism and then, two years ago announced it would go all-out to be one of the world's top tourism destinations, is back on the path.
Last year, the panedemic put a stop to tourism in most countries, and Saudi Arabia was no exception. But the desire to diversify its economy and benefit from the jobs that come with tourism have not abated, and the Saudis now say they are expecting 50 million visitors in 2022.
That's an ambitious reach; pre-pandemic only five countries had more than that. And those other countries don't have a daunting reputation for banning alcohol, imposing strict dress codes on women and making it hard to get visas. Although the reforms announced in late 2019 addressed some of that, and Tourism Minister Ahmed Al Khateeb says the process will continue. But, he said, the rules will not ease enough to allow foreigners to drink alcohol.
Image: Madain Saleh by Sammy Six/Wikimedia