Saudi tourists’ behavior stirs social media storm

Social media users in Saudi Arabia have also posted videos and pictures online of Saudis acting strangely abroad

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Tourists from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states are the target of harsh criticisms on social media after photographs showing them cooking, littering and smoking shisha in public parks in countries they were visiting were posted online.

Social media users in Saudi Arabia have also posted videos and pictures online of Saudis acting strangely abroad.

Last week, there was outrage in the Saudi online community, after a number of local journalists sparked a heated debate about how Saudi tourists are perceived abroad.

The consensus among those online appeared to be that tourists need to respect the local customs and regulations.

Fahad Al-Harbi said: “Our people have done it wrong, I am very sorry and ashamed ... we should admit that some of our tourists have crossed the line.”

Othman Al-Shikhi posted: “Our tourists shall respect public order and social ethics in tourism activities. Obey their law and have good manners and they will no longer perceive that the Saudis are without manners.”

Hassan Al-Sulimi wrote: “Upset over the behavior of our tourists in Europe, but it is nothing new.”

Abdullah Al-Yami said: “The ‘uncivilized’ behavior of some tourists seems to affect our country’s reputation. Our tourists shall respect the local customs.”

Sultan Al-Hazmi said: “The heavy media reports about the issue, criticism and discussion online about the problems just show Saudis’ increasing awareness about it.”

On Facebook, Ahmed Al-Zahrani commented: “Foreigners come to Saudi Arabia and respect our rules and traditions; our tourists should do the same thing when they travel abroad.”

A number of bloggers and columnists picked up on the subject, discussing and criticizing the uncivilized behavior of their fellow countrymen.

In his column in Okaz, Khalaf Al-Harbe wrote: “This summer was exceptional for Gulf tourists in Europe.

They did whatever was impossible to do and recorded it modulated by sound and light. They did the camel walk along the poshest avenues of Europe.

They stole ducks, slaughtered and cooked them without mercy before the eyes of the camera. They lit fires to cook along lake shores and smoked the hookah sitting on the grounds next to the Eiffel Tower.

Bashaer Mohammed wrote in Al-Madinah: “What occurred this summer should make us stop and think. We need to carry out a study on the growing instances of irresponsible practices by our tourists to ensure that holidaymakers don’t get out of control, harming the nation's reputation abroad.”

She added: “I think Saudi Arabia and its citizens may have to pay for such acts that can put our diplomats in embarrassing situations.”

According to the latest statistics, the number of Gulf citizens traveling to Europe has grown tremendously in recent years, with nearly 50 percent of Saudi tourists now preferring Europe as their summer holiday destination.

The story was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Aug. 12, 2015

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