RIA, Saudi Arabia’s New Riyadh-Based Mega-Airline

RIA, Saudi Arabia’s New Riyadh-Based Mega-Airline

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Saudi Arabia is making an unprecedented investment in tourism, to a scale we’ve never seen before. As part of this, the country plans to launch a new airline, intended to compete with the likes of Emirates. We first heard rumors of this in mid-2021, but it now sounds like the airline is getting closer to launching.

Saudi Arabia’s new Riyadh-based airline

At the direction of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, Saudi Arabia is hoping to boost its tourism industry, as the country looks to diversify from oil. Saudi Arabia is hoping to welcome 100 million visitors per year by 2030, which is a lofty goal. The country put this plan into action shortly before the pandemic started, as Saudi Arabia started issuing readily available tourist visas. Of course coronavirus has been a setback in that regard.

For the past year, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has been working on launching a new airline, with the goal of creating international connectivity in order to promote tourism. Saudi Arabia already has Saudia, the Jeddah-based airline that belongs to SkyTeam.

Rather than expanding that airline, the goal is now to develop a new Riyadh-based airline that would serve both tourists and business travelers. Here’s what we should expect, according to Arabian Business:

  • The airline is expected to be named “RIA,” but that hasn’t yet been finalized
  • The airline could launch as soon as Q4 2022, though that timeline seems highly optimistic, in my opinion, since launching an airline takes longer than that
  • Saudi Arabia plans to invest $100 billion in aviation by 2030, and at least $30 billion would be invested in this new airline
  • Saudi Arabia is targeting 30 million international transit passengers annually by 2030, compared to under four million at the moment; this would require the airline to operate over 150 routes
  • The new airline hopes to compete directly with Emirates in terms of scale, as Emirates serves 158 destinations
  • A CEO has not yet been appointment for the new company

A source claims the following about Saudi Arabia’s goals:

“We are talking about a brand-new airline that aims to do what Emirates did in a quarter of the timescale. It’s unprecedented in the history of aviation. It’s also why they have yet to appoint a CEO – whoever takes this job will have to deliver the most ambitious targets you can imagine.”

There were also initially reports about a new airport being built in Riyadh, though there’s not a further update on that as of now.

Riyadh Airport terminal (RUH)

For context on aviation in Saudi Arabia, in addition to full service flag carrier Saudia, the country currently has two other airlines, both low cost carriers:

  • There’s Flyadeal, which is owned by Saudia
  • There’s Flynas, which is owned by a Saudi prince
Flynas, one of Saudi Arabia’s other airlines

Why not just expand Saudia?

When this concept was first rumored last year, I wondered if anything would come of it. It now seems increasingly likely that this new airline will actually be formed. I’m still not sure I get the logic of Saudi Arabia starting a second major global airline, though?

  • Saudia has been growing significantly, including modernizing its fleet
  • Saudia has done a good job serving both Jeddah and Riyadh, by often operating alternating frequencies to the two cities
  • While I think there are situations where it can make sense to split up airlines (like what Aeroflot did with Rossiya… well, at least before the invasion of Ukraine), I’m not sure I get the concept of creating two competing global long haul airlines, in terms of synergies, brand recognition, etc.

I suppose that perhaps the government thinks Saudia has “legacy” issues, and starting from scratch might just be easier. But at that point doesn’t it almost make sense to shut down Saudia, send the planes to the new airline, and start over, rather than having two competing government-owned airlines?

The airline faces one biggest challenge, though, if it hopes to compete with Emirates. I think it goes without saying that a lot of people generally aren’t comfortable with traveling to or through Saudi Arabia, or supporting a Saudi Arabian company. If this airline actually wants to compete on the global stage for transit passengers, the key is Saudi Arabia relaxing restrictions, including around alcohol, clothing, conduct, etc.

Places like the UAE have shown that you can have laws based on Islam while still attracting tourists from all over the globe. That’s not to say that I agree with all of the UAE’s laws (of course), but it’s objectively a place that many feel comfortable traveling to, with fairly few problems.

Saudia’s 777 first class cabin

Bottom line

In order to build its tourism industry, Saudi Arabia is planning on launching a new airline based in Riyadh. With this plan, Saudia would be the primary airline of Jeddah, while the new airline (potentially named RIA) would be the primary airline of Riyadh, targeting business travelers and tourists. I’m not sure why the country doesn’t just expand Saudia, though.

Saudi Arabia seems serious about investing tens of billions of dollars in this concept and building its own Emirates. However, in order for it to be successful on the global stage, the perception around Saudi Arabia is going to need to change, and that’s going to take some work on the government’s part (beyond spending a fortune on golf players).

What do you make of Saudi Arabia’s aviation plans?

Conversations (51)
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  1. Yousef Al Ghareeb Guest

    I agree with all the points raised, I think they will have an issue within the domestic and international market, after all the GCC international heavy density routes are limited

  2. Aman Guest

    Well I think part of the decision to create a new brand would be to make this an airline serving an international transit market and retain Saudia as an airline primarily serving a local clientele.
    This means RIA will be able to serve alcohol and have a culture that mirrors Emirates without having to alienate their traditional customer base.
    The objective of this airline is obviously not about turning a profit- rather it...

    Well I think part of the decision to create a new brand would be to make this an airline serving an international transit market and retain Saudia as an airline primarily serving a local clientele.
    This means RIA will be able to serve alcohol and have a culture that mirrors Emirates without having to alienate their traditional customer base.
    The objective of this airline is obviously not about turning a profit- rather it is to drive tourism to Saudi Arabia.
    While, I don’t identify at all with Saudi Arabia’s values, I would have no issues transiting particularly if they are able to offer deeply discounted fares- which I suspect will be part of the game plan as well.

  3. Ian Guest

    Saudia's difficulty is the Jeddah base, which means the airline services the religious tourism market focussed on Mecca.

    Umrah and Haj crowds and their needs don't always fit well with the world markets MBS is determined to mine.

  4. M John Davies Guest

    I assume KSA can sustain another airline certainly of this magnitude.
    Its a very ambitious undertaking but with the financial support of the Saudi Government it should work.
    I understand the wish to develop tourism in the Kingdom; I lived with my family and worked in Riyadh for over 12 years.

  5. Aymen.L Guest

    Saoudi Arabia Probably wants to build a brand new reputation, rather than working on changing cultures within the existing one. That has proven to be a major headache in the past.
    They want an airline that blows minds and excites people, not just a big airlines. I see the logic very clearly. The Prince's mind is way ahead in the future and his vision requires you to really open your mind and think bigger...

    Saoudi Arabia Probably wants to build a brand new reputation, rather than working on changing cultures within the existing one. That has proven to be a major headache in the past.
    They want an airline that blows minds and excites people, not just a big airlines. I see the logic very clearly. The Prince's mind is way ahead in the future and his vision requires you to really open your mind and think bigger and think much better especially.
    I lived through 2 major airlines merging (as an employee) and several years later they still struggle to unify the culture of employees from both airlines, in many cases they still east seperately in the break room and discreetly hate each other....
    Culture, technology, service, quality and expectation would be radically different from that of the current Saoudi Airline. A new airline that wants itself in the image of Neom and the futuristic, unique in the planet concept....RIA has to match or at least rival that type of image and excitement. Saoudi airline as it is now, is NOT capable of such a change even if you pumped $30 billions and had the best intentions.
    Also Saoudi Arabia is a big country. Nobody thinks its weird that France, UK, US, or others have many different airlines with more than 1 hub within each country.

  6. Azzo Baik Guest

    Saudia customers' service sucks. As a saudi arab national I would rather choose another airline when traveling abroad.

  7. Steve the Manc Guest

    To be honest although saudia has improved within the kingdom itself it has a low reputation perhaps from customers experience in Saudi as opposed to internationaly. Always use Saudia from the UK as they go to Manchester Airport. Never had a problem.with them except internal flights that get cancelled at last minute. Although since flynas has been operating seems to be a lot less. The international service great on saudia actually better than etihad.

  8. MFB123 Guest

    Putting politics aside, I just don’t understand this plan at any level. First, the demand of local Saudis, along with expats, seeking to escape KSA on weekends and during holidays compared to people attempting to fly inbound, is literally off the charts- no one (with disposable cash) wants to spend their leisure time in KSA. Second, while I feel safe on Saudiia, the airline has issues, specifically with how they treat third country nationals, specifically...

    Putting politics aside, I just don’t understand this plan at any level. First, the demand of local Saudis, along with expats, seeking to escape KSA on weekends and during holidays compared to people attempting to fly inbound, is literally off the charts- no one (with disposable cash) wants to spend their leisure time in KSA. Second, while I feel safe on Saudiia, the airline has issues, specifically with how they treat third country nationals, specifically women. People have commented on the dry state of Saudia, I would be happy if they just showed movies without burring any visible skin on women (for that matter, it would be nice if they would simply give their flight attendants uniforms that fit, rather than the baggy things they wear now). Third, the Saudi’s are not known for their business acumen or their customer service skills (I’m curious if they will replace the prayer room on planes with revenue seats). I think starting something less ambitious like an “open”, matwa free, resort community on the Red Sea would be a good place to test demand (I’ve not been to KSA since 2016, so things may have changed a bit).

  9. Paul Guest

    The main point here..is not building a new airline but instead improving the existing Saudia into a better one.
    Lots of over paid lazy employees and redundant workforce. If these attributes are not corrected, it does not matter how many airlines they introduce it will fail miserably.

  10. Levin Yeo Guest

    If you remove the blindfold of stereotype and assumption, you'll notice that Saudi Arabia is taking a page out of UAE. It fascinates me that they are choosing Saudia to be the Etihad of Saudi Arabia but both carriers are partners after all.

    RIA is undoubtedly referencing SIA, or Singapore Airlines, obviously. Or Iberia. Given Riyadh like Madrid is in the middle of the dessert, this will be interesting.

    Will SaudiGulf still be around, though.

    ...

    If you remove the blindfold of stereotype and assumption, you'll notice that Saudi Arabia is taking a page out of UAE. It fascinates me that they are choosing Saudia to be the Etihad of Saudi Arabia but both carriers are partners after all.

    RIA is undoubtedly referencing SIA, or Singapore Airlines, obviously. Or Iberia. Given Riyadh like Madrid is in the middle of the dessert, this will be interesting.

    Will SaudiGulf still be around, though.

    Saudi Arabia doesn't need Westerners with their conclusions. The world will be increasingly and shockingly Muslim as we others become the significant minority. I for one would love to see RIA try to do this dry, what with the alcohol free products the alcohol brands have been pushing here in Singapore lately, there is a lot of areas to explore.

    1. red_robbo Guest

      Sorry, but I haven't got a clue what you're talking about!

  11. bobert Guest

    MBS's Vision 2030 seems to be about launching new projects to grow his personal fame and legacy - not about what's best for the Kingdom, or things that actually make sense. See other pet projects like The Line.

    Expanding Saudia doesn't create a new entity to tie his name to.

  12. oliverwolson New Member

    Just finished a long haul through Jeddah with Saudia. Ben is correct about legacy issues and the need for something new. The hard product (777) was the worst I have ever flown long distance. Old. Half of the entertainment broken and non-functional (coming and going!). Pretty bad food. Understaffed. And.... the new Jeddah terminal was horrible! Confusing. Lack of stores. (I could not buy aspirin, paracetemol or ibuprofin anywhere in the terminal!)

    Briefly, I would...

    Just finished a long haul through Jeddah with Saudia. Ben is correct about legacy issues and the need for something new. The hard product (777) was the worst I have ever flown long distance. Old. Half of the entertainment broken and non-functional (coming and going!). Pretty bad food. Understaffed. And.... the new Jeddah terminal was horrible! Confusing. Lack of stores. (I could not buy aspirin, paracetemol or ibuprofin anywhere in the terminal!)

    Briefly, I would not fly Saudia again unless they had tickets almost free (the reason I flew this time). However, if MBS were to invest in something that would truly compete with Qatar/Etihad/Emirates, I'm interested. Hopefully better equipment, amenities, staff, airport... and alcohol. It might work.

    1. Julia Guest

      The new terminal at Jeddah is many things, but horrible and confusing are two words I would not use to describe it. Though I will admit it does feel like there is too much of a focus on F&B outlets, but then, most airports are heading in that direction anyway...

  13. Nicola Guest

    My take on this.
    Saudia’s name (which is not at all a bad airline) is still linked with the old conservative prejudice about Saudi Arabia, Dubai has proven that one of the key factors of a place’s success is the airline. So this is why it’s launching a new one. A new name. A new experience. However, although there are rumors that Alcohol will be allowed in some areas soon, I don’t think that...

    My take on this.
    Saudia’s name (which is not at all a bad airline) is still linked with the old conservative prejudice about Saudi Arabia, Dubai has proven that one of the key factors of a place’s success is the airline. So this is why it’s launching a new one. A new name. A new experience. However, although there are rumors that Alcohol will be allowed in some areas soon, I don’t think that a national airline can serve it onboard and this will be also a major factor in its success. At least two third of the passengers like to drink and I know many that chose Emirates, even with a stopover, in order to be able to enjoy bubbly sips. Will it succeed? It depends. If there will be a subsidized war price then yes it will definitely succeed. Travelers are always searching for cheaper options.

  14. John Guest

    I came to read the huffing and puffing, indignant, self-righteous, pearl-clutching, outraged comments. I have not been disappointed. MBS is no angel. But ya'll talking like ya'll cleaner than a preacher's bedsheets!

    1. reddargon Diamond

      Good point, having any flaw at all certainly prohibits you from criticizing others, especially when the other person in this case is responsible for perpetrating massive and widespread human rights violations. This is certainly how the world works.

    2. Grey Gold

      Cleaner than a preacher's bedsheets? As in, very clean because he sleeps in little boys' beds and not his own?

  15. Steven E Guest

    Considering it has an unenviable reputation with regards to human rights and it being a “dry” airline.. good luck trying to compete on the international stage - I would not be comfortable flying them or traveling to the country- my people aren’t welcome

  16. Watson Gold

    I just came here to say $%&* Saudi Arabia.

    Maybe if they'd stop murdering journalists and subjugating women/LGBT I'd consider visiting.

    1. H-T Member

      I’m sure your reluctance to visit Saudi Arabia is wearing down on the locals and the economy.
      Oh what might you have.

  17. Iamhere Guest

    It takes time. Consider how long it took the other countries to handle their path forward. I wonder which alliance the new airline will join.

  18. Carrie Member

    I suspect that the OMAAT demographic is not the target audience of the proposed airline, particularly this female, independent travelling, car driving, champagne loving, self-indulgent .... you get the idea .... woman.

    It is interesting that this announcement comes at a time when the LIV and esports sportswashing debate is also prominent.

  19. JB Guest

    I don't think they will relax restrictions around alcohol, since the kingdom has to have the approval of the religious scholars. Makkah and Medina are holy sites and have been around for 1400 years. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia was created relatively recently. In its creation, the kingdom has to have the approval of religious scholars in order to stand, and I highly doubt they would ever allow alcohol.

    1. Malc Member

      You obviously have not been keeping up with what's been happening in Saudi Arabia. What you say was certainly true for a long time. It isn't accurate for the last five years.

    2. oliverwolson New Member

      Perhaps this is an argument in favor of a separate airline. Saudia, based closer to Makkah and Medina in Jeddah, can remain the 'dry' airline and the new airline to the business and 'western' tourist spots can be the exception with alcohol?

  20. Jay Guest

    MBS is a tyrant. I would never fly through Saudi Arabia.

    Qatar and the UAE are just as bad.

    Emirati laws discriminate against women, and LGBT individuals.

    Per wikipedia, "Homosexuality [in the UAE] is illegal and is a crime that is punishable with death, life in prison, floggings, fines, deportation, chemical castration, forced psychological treatments, honor killings, vigilante executions, beatings, forced anal examinations, forced hormone injections, and torture."

    I am consistently disappointed in my...

    MBS is a tyrant. I would never fly through Saudi Arabia.

    Qatar and the UAE are just as bad.

    Emirati laws discriminate against women, and LGBT individuals.

    Per wikipedia, "Homosexuality [in the UAE] is illegal and is a crime that is punishable with death, life in prison, floggings, fines, deportation, chemical castration, forced psychological treatments, honor killings, vigilante executions, beatings, forced anal examinations, forced hormone injections, and torture."

    I am consistently disappointed in my fellow gay men, and other westerners who believe in open society, who can't see past the nice champagne.

    1. Suzie Alcatrez Guest

      If it saved $1, I bet most people would fly this new airline.

  21. Rogern Guest

    Yes let's all go vacation to a country where they cut 80 people's heads off on the same day....sounds a real blast to mingle with savages.

  22. Robert Guest

    I'm really excited for our upcoming trip to Saudi to visit expat family in Dammam and Jeddah, so glad the evisa is finally a thing.

  23. TravelinWilly Diamond

    Until MBS commits to cease the murder and dismemberment of his perceived enemies, good luck at getting any moneyed visitors; the low-information budget travelers will be the only ones trekking to that particular hellhole.

    1. XPL Diamond

      My experience has been the opposite: the people with more time than money have the time to do research, while the high rollers presume their AmEx Centurion can ward off any problems. I've met exceptions of course, and I'll bet you have too.

      Agreed about MBS though. Upvoted for that.

  24. frrp Member

    Why would anyone ever fly on a saudi plane when they 1) wont serve alcohol 2) have no human rights?

  25. CAROLYNNE LOREK Guest

    Emirates has lovely accommodating F.A.s from all over the world-- can they do that? The Saudia male F.A.won't do any work -they let the foreigners do all the work.

  26. Aaron Guest

    How can a dry airline compete with EK?

  27. Andy Diamond

    I’m a bit surprised by the timinig. Five years ago, Saudia was really performing poorly and shutting them down was a real scenario. Nowadays, Saudia has dramatically improved performance and reduced the cost base. A fresh start rwlly makes no sense, now.

  28. Malc Member

    As has been written about elsewhere, the plan seems to be to have Saudia focus on religious tourism and the new airline focus on general tourism. The number of religious pilgrims is supposed to grow exponentially in coming years; they will expect a dry airline, and they want to go to the West Coast. Riyadh will host Qiddiya in future years – the largest entertainment city on the planet. They're banking not just on travellers...

    As has been written about elsewhere, the plan seems to be to have Saudia focus on religious tourism and the new airline focus on general tourism. The number of religious pilgrims is supposed to grow exponentially in coming years; they will expect a dry airline, and they want to go to the West Coast. Riyadh will host Qiddiya in future years – the largest entertainment city on the planet. They're banking not just on travellers using Riyadh as a transit hub but actually stopping over for a while. I think Qiddiya will be a huge drawcard when it's actually completed. Naturally, these passengers will not expect a dry airline.

  29. Jerry Diamond

    They will not have a globally competitive international airline following the Emirates model if they're going to be dry.

    1. Malc Member

      There is zero chance it will be dry. It's important to understand there are two Saudis now: there is the traditional, conservative aspect. and there is the mixed-gender dance parties aspect. The new Saudi caters to both approaches. The new airline will be part of the new style and certainly won't be dry. (They just take their time announcing such things.)

  30. Jimbo Guest

    While it feels like another uber ambitious project that will most likely not hit it’s target, it does make sense to start from scratch than expand Saudia.

    This has to do with a conservative society that still remembers Saudia’s golden age (back in the 80s) and a majority of which still takes pride in it being a dry airline. Introducing alcohol to Saudia would be a big gamble.

    The subtlety in saying that the...

    While it feels like another uber ambitious project that will most likely not hit it’s target, it does make sense to start from scratch than expand Saudia.

    This has to do with a conservative society that still remembers Saudia’s golden age (back in the 80s) and a majority of which still takes pride in it being a dry airline. Introducing alcohol to Saudia would be a big gamble.

    The subtlety in saying that the new airline is aimed at “tourists and business travelers” is a bit of a giveaway to me.

    In a similar fashion, there has been rumors of special “zones” within the kingdom, these zones would allow alcohol and have different rules and regulations than the rest of the country, the new airline sounds to me like another one of those “zones”.

    My guess is that Saudia will be based out of Jeddah and focus on conservative, religious travel, particularly to the 2 holy cities, while the new airline will be a party.

    1. Donna Diamond

      Too many restrictions and the zone concept would have to be clearly delineated. I recall a friend going there on business with his wife some years ago and having to present proof of marriage to check into a hotel. Hopefully, they’ve done away with that craziness.

  31. bruh Guest

    If that were to happen, wouldn't they need a decent transit hub as well? Riyadh Airport needs to be renovated massively if they were to accommodate the transiting customers, and to match the "glamour" of transferring through DOH or DXB.

    The new North Terminal at Jeddah Airport is an amazing terminal to transfer through and I loved my experience there when I flew with Saudia last month. The AlFursan lounge was great. Jeddah Airport,...

    If that were to happen, wouldn't they need a decent transit hub as well? Riyadh Airport needs to be renovated massively if they were to accommodate the transiting customers, and to match the "glamour" of transferring through DOH or DXB.

    The new North Terminal at Jeddah Airport is an amazing terminal to transfer through and I loved my experience there when I flew with Saudia last month. The AlFursan lounge was great. Jeddah Airport, right now, is miles better than Riyadh. Riyadh will have to work on its terminal to steal the crowd from EK/QR/WY.

    Good luck to the new airline and I cannot wait to try them out once they launch operations.

    1. Eve Guest

      I think there is another issue Saudi Arabia has to fix. It is to relatively relax it’s visa policies against several markets. The reason gulf hubs like DXB and DOH are successful is due to the relatively relaxed visa rules, that especially is crucial for key markets like Indian subcontinents who make up a large proportion of pax for airlines like EK and QR. I remember before the pandemic EK and EY used to each...

      I think there is another issue Saudi Arabia has to fix. It is to relatively relax it’s visa policies against several markets. The reason gulf hubs like DXB and DOH are successful is due to the relatively relaxed visa rules, that especially is crucial for key markets like Indian subcontinents who make up a large proportion of pax for airlines like EK and QR. I remember before the pandemic EK and EY used to each fly a minimum of almost 4 flights to DEL (the same for other major Indian airports). In fact on the day I booked a flight from DEL to DXB once, I show 6 scheduled EK flights on the same day

      Without getting the pax numbers up from these markets, they can’t stay competitive with its gulf rivals

    2. Malc Member

      There's been talk for some time of Riyadh getting a completely new airport.

    3. Fonzi Guest

      You make me a bit confused. Im flying with them with couple of weeks but arriving to Terminal 1. The North Terminal is for other airlines i think.They have new lounge on T1. Did you mean that when flying on Saudia? That will be overnight not very keen on it somewhere read there are sleeping rooms there but could not find them.

    4. WB Guest

      I believe all airlines are now flying out of Terminal 1 (except for the Hajj flights which use the Hajj terminal). I flew into Jeddah in March on Qatar Airways and it landed at the new Terminal 1. It really is an amazing terminal. I had a family member recently visit the Alfursan lounge and they had great things to say about it.

      All of Saudia's flights depart from the New Terminal 1. The...

      I believe all airlines are now flying out of Terminal 1 (except for the Hajj flights which use the Hajj terminal). I flew into Jeddah in March on Qatar Airways and it landed at the new Terminal 1. It really is an amazing terminal. I had a family member recently visit the Alfursan lounge and they had great things to say about it.

      All of Saudia's flights depart from the New Terminal 1. The South Terminal was converted into a Covid vaccination center and I don't think it ever reopened. I'm not sure about the North Terminal (which was used by foreign airlines), but the foreign airline planes I saw (Emirates, Etihad, and PIA) were parked at the new T1.

    5. bruh Guest

      When flying through Saudia, you'll be transferring through the new terminal.
      There are sleeping rooms in the lounge, but there's only five of them, so its all based on your luck.

      The lounge there is painfully freezing and you don't get blankets either, so ensure you don't do the same mistake as I did by wearing a polo. Make sure to have a blanket or wear something to bear with the cold temperatures....

      When flying through Saudia, you'll be transferring through the new terminal.
      There are sleeping rooms in the lounge, but there's only five of them, so its all based on your luck.

      The lounge there is painfully freezing and you don't get blankets either, so ensure you don't do the same mistake as I did by wearing a polo. Make sure to have a blanket or wear something to bear with the cold temperatures. And there's also the "Special AlFursan Lounge Boarding Announcements" which are awfully loud. The rush hour in Jeddah is the 1AM-4AM departure bank and it was a struggle to sleep with these boarding announcements being played at a loud volume every ten minutes.

  32. Br Guest

    Re strategy, perhaps it's more about being easier to start from scratch with culture, leadership, etc than to try to refresh Saudia. It's probably too much of an uphill battle to get all their old guard on board with modernizing.

    I find their recent push for tourism to be utterly callous, delusional and disgusting, like everything MBS touches. Jamal Khashoggi and the myriad other political deaths and imprisonments, treatment of women, the list goes...

    Re strategy, perhaps it's more about being easier to start from scratch with culture, leadership, etc than to try to refresh Saudia. It's probably too much of an uphill battle to get all their old guard on board with modernizing.

    I find their recent push for tourism to be utterly callous, delusional and disgusting, like everything MBS touches. Jamal Khashoggi and the myriad other political deaths and imprisonments, treatment of women, the list goes on -- but also can a female tourist even rent a car by herself?

    1. Steve Diamond

      They have to start somewhere and are they not allowed to change their ways for the better? It wasnt too long about people had similar complaints on the UAE states. Makes sense to start a new airline and brand it RIA instead of anything with Saudi in the name.

    2. Br Guest

      I don't recall "similar complaints on the UAE states" of murdering journalists in NATO countries or stoning women to death.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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TravelinWilly Diamond

Until MBS commits to cease the murder and dismemberment of his perceived enemies, good luck at getting any moneyed visitors; the low-information budget travelers will be the only ones trekking to that particular hellhole.

7
reddargon Diamond

Good point, having any flaw at all certainly prohibits you from criticizing others, especially when the other person in this case is responsible for perpetrating massive and widespread human rights violations. This is certainly how the world works.

5
Jay Guest

MBS is a tyrant. I would never fly through Saudi Arabia. Qatar and the UAE are just as bad. Emirati laws discriminate against women, and LGBT individuals. Per wikipedia, "Homosexuality [in the UAE] is illegal and is a crime that is punishable with death, life in prison, floggings, fines, deportation, chemical castration, forced psychological treatments, honor killings, vigilante executions, beatings, forced anal examinations, forced hormone injections, and torture." I am consistently disappointed in my fellow gay men, and other westerners who believe in open society, who can't see past the nice champagne.

5
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