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Saudi Arabia Opens Itself And Invests In Tourism

Saudi Arabia

Billions of dollars are being invested in tourism projects throughout Saudi Arabia

In a makeshift camp under a starry sky, Ghazi Al-Anazi talked about his experience in the fledgling Saudi tourist business. A decade ago, barely in his 20s, he started taking British business associates of his brother to see the wind-carved hills of the Saudi desert.

Now 31, he has a small fleet of S.U.V.s, nearly a dozen employees and a self-taught ability to cater to the whims of visitors from many nations.

“I know what they want to do, and what I need to do about it,” he said, ladling out a dinner of barbecued chicken and Middle Eastern salads to a couple of dozen tourists from France, Ukraine, Malaysia and the United States.

Mr. Al-Anazi and his business, Ghazi Tours, take up to 900 visitors a month on treks like this one to a dry riverbed dotted with venerable acacia trees north of Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

But he’s confident those numbers are about to multiply, as Saudi Arabia begins to open itself up as a major tourist destination. The government recently began issuing tourist visas for the first time, a remarkable shift for a traditionally shuttered society. [read more]

Source: Stanley Reed – The New York Times

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