Lavish lifestyle makes Saudi tourists ‘vulnerable’

A study showed that Saudi tourists traveling abroad are being exploited

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A number of market experts and citizens have confirmed that Saudis traveling abroad are being exploited due to their lavish life style, Al-Riyadh daily reported.

They said many Saudis expose themselves and their families to various dangers and negative situations by wearing expensive clothes, residing in luxurious hotels or furnished apartments and frequenting elite restaurants and shopping malls.

Such behavior makes them easy prey for predators who increase prices, knowing that Saudis are capable of affording such high prices.

Ahmad Al-Dumyati, a citizen, said he traveled to many countries in the east and west and faced many situations where he was a victim of exploitation.

He added that many Saudis abroad, especially in some Arab countries, are clearly exploited and charged higher prices for hotels, taxis, furnished apartments, restaurants and other services.

He noted that he has many times refrained from wearing the traditional Saudi thobe in an attempt to hide his identity with hopes that it will save him from exploitation and allow him to maintain his budget until the end of his trip.

Saleh Al-Hariri, another citizen, said he once traveled to an Asian country and upon arrival, one of the workers in the airport asked him for a tip, just because he was a Saudi.

He added that he received requests for gifts from taxi drivers and workers at recreational centers.

Bandar Hamid, a citizen, said during a trip to an Arab country, he spent more than his budget as he was trying to satisfy taxi drivers and some policemen to avoid embarrassing situations.

He noted that he had to cut his trip short and return home, because of such harassment.

Faisal Al-Ateeqi said many Saudis are subjected to exploitation abroad and called for the interference of the Saudi embassies abroad to coordinate with security bodies in their respective countries.

He also called upon embassies to set up a website that includes beneficial information for Saudi tourists abroad.

He added that Saudis should gather enough information about the countries they are traveling to and should avoid frequenting suspicious and unsafe areas.

Ahmad Al-Adwani said citizens in some western countries have incorrect stereotypes about Saudis, recalling that when he visited a store to buy some items, the salesman charged him much higher than the actual price.

When he tried to talk to the salesman about the higher price, he smiled and said: "You have an oil well in your backyard and these prices should not mean anything to you."

Majed Al-Zahrani said he spends more than his budget for his trip most of the time, as he pays more for products and services just because he is a Saudi.

Turki Al-Asmari believes Saudis are partially responsible for this image due to the luxurious life style they live.

Economic analyst Dr. Salem Barajah said the image of Saudis abroad is that they are very rich and this has subjected many of them to exploitation.

"Tourist guides believe Saudis are mobile banks," he said, adding that those traveling abroad should carefully plan their budget and update themselves with the latest exchange rates.

He also asked all Saudis to register their passports at the Saudi embassy and said the embassies have set up websites that include tourism information.

Economic consultant Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Senai said the problem of inflated prices abroad is not faced by Saudis alone, but by all Gulf tourists.

He asked for coordination between the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Ministry of Health to develop tourist areas in the Kingdom in order to cut down the flow of tourist traffic abroad.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on May 15, 2014.