Saudi officials: Visiting Turkey for tourism is 'unpatriotic'

Saudi officials say visiting Turkey for tourism is 'unpatriotic', urge citizens to go on staycations
2 min read
09 July, 2019
Saudi officials are urging citizens to avoid visiting Turkey for tourism and instead go on staycations inside the kingdom despite soaring summer temperatures, as relations with Ankara continue to sour
Saudi officials claim Turkey is unsafe for Saudi tourists [AFP]
Saudi officials are urging citizens to avoid visiting Turkey for tourism and instead go on staycations inside the kingdom despite soaring summer temperatures, as relations with Ankara continue to sour.

The Saudi officials claim Turkey is unsafe for Saudi tourists, as the two countries' relations continue their downward spiral since the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his country's consulate in Istanbul at the orders of the government in Riyadh.

"We are not against travel by citizens, but we must warn them that there are countries that seek to harm us and tear us apart," Dr. Mishaal al-Ali, Saudi ex-Shura Council member, told local newspaper Okaz Monday.

"The Turkish ruling party is known for its animosity towards Saudi Arabia and any progress by our blessed state," he added.

Other officials called for prosecuting 'unpatriotic' social media influencers who promote tourism in Turkey, calling on them to instead promote tourism inside the kingdom, despite the fact that temperatures may reach up to 55 degrees celsius in the summer season when Saudis usually escape the heat to more moderate climates.

"Social media influencers must show patriotism and use their activities to promote internal tourism and warn against unsafe destinations," Dr. Hussein al-Maliki, a serving Shura Council member, told Okaz.

Turkish-Saudi relations

Relations between rival Sunni powers Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been strained for years over their divergent positions on a number of issues in the region.

Beginning with the Arab Spring and not ending with the Saudi-led blockade of Turkey's ally Qatar, the two countries have had major differences over issues of democratisation, Islamist participation in power, and geopolitical crises.

But it was the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul by a Saudi hit squad that brought the relations to their current state of extreme crisis.

Khashoggi was killed, and believed to have been dismembered, inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by Saudi agents on October 2.

His remains have never been found.

The CIA has reportedly said the murder was likely ordered by MbS, the de facto ruler and heir to the Arab world's most powerful throne.

Since then, Saudi-funded media have campaigned heavily against Turkey, alleging without evidence that Saudi tourists are mistreated and face 'racism' in Turkey.

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