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Opinion: Why We Should Start Visiting Our Tourist Sites First Before Inviting Foreign Tourists

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Saudi Arabia has no dearth of prospective mega tourist sites but regrettably while we continue to want foreign visitors to come and see them we ourselves have not visited them once.

One thing that I personally noticed is that the foreign tourist radar mark is something like this – they land in Riyadh visit Ad Diriyah, make their way to Madain Saleh then proceed towards Jeddah where they visit the Red Sea and fly back to where they came from.

While they are certainly missing out on many things, it is us who are to blame as there are hardly any tourism industries in place in most potential tourist sites. So why will a tourist visit them in the first place?

So here’s a three-point action plan if you want to change that.

1) Start Visiting Lesser Explored Places In Your City And Beyond

On any normal day, Jeddah’s Al Balad area, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site remains mostly deserted. The only people that are seen about there are the bachelors who live in those age-old structures many of which lean in precarious angles.

While this is not the case when there is the annual Balad festival, a tourist is not going wait for that. So what we have to do is that by starting to visit the place year round a bustling mini-tourist industry can come in a place like what we have by the cornice where Jeddahwis love to hang out. The street hawkers will come, food trucks will start setting shop and public transport will eventually include places like these on its travel routes.

2) Share Them On Social Media

Madain Saleh is becoming hugely popular thanks to all these wonderful photos posted of it on social media. There are many such places that have the potential of becoming major tourist sites so post their photos on social media using relevant hashtags and show the world what we have to offer.

Historically rich places like Ukhdood, Khayber and Rajajeel hardly have any photos available on Google leave alone social media.

3) Explore Saudi First Before You Travel Abroad

While the idea of travelling abroad is fantastic, our very own country has so much to offer so why not explore it first before going abroad? For starters, you can start by visiting our very own versions of popular international tourist sites. Take for example the Nufud desert in the north. Parts of it have the exact same reddish Mars-like sand that Jordan’s Wadi Rum is famous for or take Jizan’s Jabal Fayfa that carries a striking resemblance to the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia.

In short, explore, post photos of where you visited on social media and if you like them visit them again and again.

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