Saudi Arabia has updated its tourism website and now welcomes LGBT tourists.
“- Are LGBT tourists welcome to Saudi Arabia?
“Everyone is welcome to visit Saudi Arabia and visitors are not asked to provide such personal details.”
It is now on the Q&A page visitsaudi.com.
– I immediately had doubts about this: what if strange tourists can visit? We at Salaam believe this applies to Western tourists, says The Yesen al-Obaid. Hello NorwayHello NorwayNorwegian interest organization for queer people of Muslim background..
Al-Obaid, who came to Norway from Iraq at the age of 18, is a devout Muslim and gay.
He believes the invitation by Saudi tourism officials is an attempt to polish the country’s reputation internationally.
– As a gay Muslim, and an LGBT activist, I believe I would have been arrested if I had gone to Saudi Arabia. A lot because I look like a Saudi.
He points out that the experience of a gay white man may be different from that of a gay Saudi.
– A European can walk freely in the country, but can I? He says the report only takes a stance on tourists.
How queer among the local population should be treated is not specified.
– This statement applies to concessions for Western tourists who have already had the opportunity to travel in and out of the country. It does not apply to local people.
– Officials outwardly say that queers may come, but they don’t accept their own quirks, he says.
According to Al-Obaide, Saudi Arabia is one of two countries currently operating in the Middle East A single nationalismA single nationalismRefers to coming out publicly with support for LGBT people to improve their international reputation.. The second is Israel.
– From Israel, I hear a lot of talk about Tel Aviv Pride. But Israel’s current government is openly gay, says Al-Obaid.
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Challenge on tourism
Charlotte Lisa is a postgraduate in the Department of Criminology and Legal Sociology at the University of Oslo.
He explains that Saudi Arabia is in the process of developing a tourism industry where they also want to attract Western tourists.
– It is very obvious that this news comes in relation to tourism investment. He says there is no such notification from other authorities.
Lisa also believes that the call is an attempt to change the country’s reputation internationally. At the same time, he also points out that homosexuality is not openly accepted on the website.
– What Saudi Arabia is proclaiming here is a kind of “don’t show, don’t tell” attitude. You are welcome to come, but this means you must actively hide your identity and who you are.
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According to Lysa, Saudi authorities do not widely persecute queer people in the country. Homosexuality is also not expressly prohibited in the law.
– Such questions are to be decided by the judges in the country, and then they are interpreted against the religious rules. An absolutely dominant interpretation is that homosexuality is forbidden. He says there is no doubt about it.
Both Laisa and Al-Obeid point out that Saudi society has a very complex view of homosexuality. Thus, they say, Saudi Arabian citizens and expatriate workers are in a more vulnerable situation than tourists.
– As a devout Muslim, I am skeptical about the changes brought about by the whip. Progressive changes in recent times have been forced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. If you don’t agree with them, you will be imprisoned.
– What does it say about democracy in society? That being said, I believe this is a development that will spread through society over time, says Al-Obeid.
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