Saudi Arabia has launched a massive tourism development project that will turn 50 islands and other sites on the Red Sea into luxury resorts, the BBC has reported.
The Kingdom hopes to attract both foreign tourists and domestic visitors as part of efforts to diversify the Saudi economy.The plan is part of the country's aim to diversify its sources of income as oil prices have fallen.
Visa restrictions on foreigners are to be eased in the tourist zone. However, it is not clear whether dress codes and other restrictions in the conservative country will be relaxed.
Alcohol, cinemas and theatres are prohibited in Saudi Arabia.Women must wear loose-fitting, full-length robes known as "abayas" in public, as well as a headscarf if they are Muslim. They are not allowed to drive and often require a male guardian's permission to study or travel abroad.
Construction of the new resorts is due to start in 2019. The first phase will include developing a new airport as well as luxury hotels and housing, and is expected to be complete in 2022.
Saudi Arabia already plays host to millions of foreigners--for work and for the Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Islam's holiest city, Mecca. But its austere religious and social codes, have hardly proved enticing to tourists--and until recently, that's how the Saudis liked it.
Now, with oil revenues falling, fresh ways of earning income and...