In a major development, Saudi Arabia has announced to welcome tourists and visitors from the LGBTQ+ community in the country, as it aims to expand and opens up the kingdom to global communities.
The development came to the surface in the Q/A section on the Saudi Tourism Authority website which read that gay visitors are welcomed in Saudi Arabia. The move of Saudi Arabia welcoming LGBTQ+ visitors is another attempt to diversify the country.
“Everyone is welcome to visit Saudi Arabia and visitors are not asked to disclose such personal details,” is the website’s response to the question on its FAQ page: “Are LGBT visitors welcome to visit Saudi Arabia?”
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It is not known when the website was updated. The spokesperson of STA said that the policy had been in place but the archived version of the website on March 14, 2023, and before did not have the question and answer on the page.
Homosexuality is a serious offense in Saudi Arabia. The research on travel trends shows that same-sex people tend to spend more on travel than heterosexual couples.
Number of Middle Eastern countries are modernizing themselves by adopting liberal values. In December, Halloween was commemorated in Saudi Arabia with crowds of people attending a party in the country’s capital, Riyadh, dressed in spooky attire. It was the first time Halloween was celebrated in Saudi Arabia publicly with local families taking part in the celebrations.
As part of the continuing Riyadh Season, the “Scary Weekend” event was held on Thursday and Friday at Riyadh’s Boulevard. The Boulevard was transformed into a costume party with free admission for dressed-up guests as long as they donned frightful attire.
Saudi Arabia is also planning to send its first-ever woman astronaut on a space mission later this year, the latest move by the kingdom to revamp its ultra-conservative image.
Rayyana Barnawi will join fellow Saudi Ali Al-Qarni on a 10-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS), the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.
Barnawi and Al-Qarni will fly to the ISS aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as part of a mission this spring by the private space company Axiom Space, SPA and Axiom said.