Saudi Arabia plans a luxury resort with eyes on the foreign tourist market.
By BECKY BROTHMANUpdated: AUGUST 6, 2017 14:10
When people think of 'sexy beach vacation,' Saudi Arabia doesn't normally come to mind.However Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the deputy prime minister of Saudi Arabia, wants that to change. In a bid to get more tourist dollars flowing into the kingdom, the 31-year-old prince has proposed plans for a luxury resort on the Red Sea.According to a report in The Telegraph, in an effort to convince Western sun-worshipers that Saudi Arabia is a must-visit destination, women will be allowed to sport bikinis at the resort.The Saudi government released a statement saying that, instead of the sharia law that Saudi citizens live under, the resort will be “governed by laws on par with international standards.”Women in Saudi Arabia are required by law to wear long robes called abaya and headscarves in public at all times. Though not legally required, most Saudi women also wear the niqab, which is a head and face covering that reveals only the eyes.Saudi women who do not abide by the strict dress code may be severely punished. News of the liberal resort comes mere weeks after the arrest of a young Saudi woman who was filmed walking through an empty street wearing a skirt and crop top.The woman was identified by her Snapchat username: Model Khulood. The video clip, showing the woman in a village called Ushaiqir, outside Riyadh, went viral on the social media and the Saudi authorities were then notified, leading to her arrest and detainment.
However, foreign visitors who stay at the future Red Sea resort -- set to be completed in 2022 -- will not have to worry about any repercussions for showing skin, according to the Saudis.The tourist site “will be an extremely safe and secure environment that will ensure the protection of all visitors in accordance with the highest international best practice,” the government statement read.No word on whether non-halal food, including alcohol will be allowed at the resort.Prince Mohammed bin Salman was appointed as Saudi Crown Prince on June 21, replacing Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. The promotion confirmed him as next ruler of the kingdom.Reuters contributed to this story.