Tourism in Saudi Arabia: Wish you were here

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America’s lost oomph

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Tourism in Saudi Arabia


Can the kingdom attract more visitors?



“SAUDI ARABIA could be one of the great travel destinations of the Middle East.” So starts Lonely Planet’s guidebook to the kingdom before enumerating some of its charms: deserted Red Sea beaches, the pre-Islamic monument of Madain Saleh, verdant mountains and the empty quarter with its endless sand dunes. Yet the book’s first and only edition was in 2004. Can the Saudi authorities persuade publishers that it is time for another?
Not for the first time the Saudis say they want more visitors. The pressure to attract them has grown. Jobs must be created for thousands of university students, soon to graduate. And though the country’s financial reserves could sustain the current sky-high level of public spending for several years, the government must start to find sources of income other than oil, which provides over 80% of its revenue.

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