With Ireland on the list of 49 countries in which travellers will now be able to get tourist visas for Saudi Arabia, here are our tips for readers who can’t wait to get to the kingdom.
The country has five Unesco World Heritage sites, a rich Bedouin heritage, magnificent beaches, and matchless seas for divers and snorkellers.
Next year it hopes to have the planet’s tallest building, the 1km Jeddah Tower.
However, while one or two aspects of its severe social code have been relaxed, holidaymakers need to understand that the Saudi Arabian concept of human rights is very unlike our own.
The distribution of bibles is illegal, as is adultery, apostasy, participation in public demonstrations, the sale of alcohol or pork, criticism of the kingdom’s atrociously poor record in the women’s rights, fair trials, and freedom departments, and, in the words of the travel advisory issued by our department of foreign affairs, “homosexual behaviour”.
Beheading, hanging, stoning, amputation, crucifixion, and lashing are the punishments for serious crimes.
The department advises a “high degree of caution”. Wish you were there?