No, I’m Not Visiting Saudi Arabia (For Now)…

Several of you have asked if I still plan on going to Saudi Arabia in light of recent events, so I figured I should provide an update on that.

Why I was planning on going to Saudi Arabia

I think there’s value in seeing just about anywhere in the world firsthand if possible. You learn a lot about people/places by seeing a country firsthand, meeting locals, etc.

Saudi Arabia is one of those countries that I doubt I’ll love, but that I’d nonetheless like to see. The country was supposed to start issuing tourist visas as of April 1, 2018, in an attempt to boost their non-religious tourism. The crown prince has said that he wants to “modernize Islam” in the country (though it’s questionable if his actions so far have reflected that).

Unfortunately they haven’t stuck to that timeline, though an interesting opportunity to get a visa presented itself recently. In December there will be a Formula E race in Riyadh, and Saudi Arabia is issuing e-visas for the purposes of attending this event. Beyond attending the Formula E race you’re encouraged to explore the country, and can travel around freely (well, except for some sites that are off limits for non-Muslims).

So I was thinking of going so that I can see the country for myself.

In light of recent events…

It goes without saying that recent events disgust me. While there are credible theories, we don’t yet know exactly what happened and who is behind it.

What I do know is that it makes me feel extremely uncomfortable. Not because I’m worried my safety would be at risk if I visited Saudi Arabia, but my gut is just very uneasy about all of this, and my interest in visiting has waned a bit.

Let me be clear — this doesn’t reflect the people of Saudi Arabia, so I hate “punishing” a country based on the actions of a leader. I’ve met a lot of lovely Saudi people over the years.

At the same time, we have to follow our guts, and in this case it just doesn’t feel right.

The “slippery slope” argument

A lot of people might say “well wait a second, you’re fine going to a country that has laws that could punish gays with death, but this is where you draw the line?”

The truth is that I think all of this is a very slippery slope. Very. Here’s a Wikipedia page showing LGBT rights in countries across the globe. If I were to only visit countries with truly progressive policies, I’d be going very few places.

It’s true that on one hand it seems a bit weird to say a journalist being killed is what makes me feel odd, rather than the other laws the country has. But we have to follow our guts, and in this case it’s one of those issues where I’m drawing a line, at least for now.

Why I travel to countries with policies I strongly disagree with

Why do I travel to countries that have policies I strongly disagree with?

The first reason is that it allows me to form my own opinion. My one takeaway from traveling places is that we’re all a lot more similar than we think. Really I think that’s the biggest lesson we can take away from travel. It seems like most of the problems in the world arise from perceived differences, when really those differences should be overshadowed by our similarities.

We live in a world where fear often arises from unfamiliarity. Over the years there have been a countless number of stories of someone being kicked off a plane in the US because they “looked” Muslim and were having a phone call in Arabic.

I don’t think that’s because the person who was “scared” had bad intentions. I do think they were genuinely scared. The problem is that this fear arises from unfamiliarity and ignorance. It doesn’t matter what it is in life, if we’re unfamiliar with something we’re often scared of it.

I remember my first ever trip to the Middle East about a decade ago. I was apprehensive before going, because I feared everything would be so different. It was eye-opening for me.

In many ways I even relate this to being gay. Why have we seen a shift in LGBT rights in the US and elsewhere? Because people just come out, and when you know gay people, it seems a lot less scary.

People fear differences, and they stereotype based on the little knowledge they have. This can apply whether we’re talking about Muslims in the US or gays in the Middle East. We’re all the same, deep down.

As far as I’m concerned a huge reason for the change we’ve seen in LGBT rights is simply people coming out to friends and family, and over time that changes public opinion.

Bottom line

I wasn’t meaning to make this political, though I guess naturally that’s how it evolved in trying to explain myself.

The current situation in Saudi Arabia just doesn’t sit right in my gut, and I want to see how this unfolds. That’s why I’m not going to Saudi Arabia for now.

That being said, in the future I do hope to visit. As humans we have so much in common, and our differences are all fairly minor.

While I respect those who say “I refuse to visit a country with XYZ laws,” I do tend to think that’s a slippery slope. My personal philosophy is that I’ll go anywhere that I consider to be relatively safe, because I think there’s more to be gained by interacting with people and showing similarities, and it’s also always eye-opening for me.

Comments

  1. “Why I travel to countries with policies I strongly disagree with”

    The honest answer is: “Because that is how I make a living”.

  2. Good decision. In this case, Saudi Arabia’s recent PR moves are directly meant to counteract to their increasing crackdown on dissent. Given your platform, going to Saudi Arabia would essentially be consenting to being used.

  3. Applause. Reasonable people, responding without black-and-white absolutism, are the only hope for the world. Yes, we must all draw lines, beyond which we won’t go. But these should be very far, very tolerant, or we’ll all be intolerant boors, erecting walls instead of travelling, embracing difference, meeting the “other”. There is a black and white principle behind Lucky’s careful, nuanced explanation: compromise and openness is better than moral righteousness. Westboro or Lady Gaga?

  4. Awesome post, couldn’t agree more. Thank you for recognizing the people of Saudi Arabia and the government (and leadership) are not the same. Having married into an Arabian Muslim family I have learned a lot and do what I can to defend and help educate the difference between what is actual and what is perceived through stereotypes and the MSM. The Khashoggi tragedy/travesty makes us all sick and it’s worth pointing out to others that outside the Gulf, the Levantine countries utterly detest Saudi Arabia and their governments sick policies, mentalities, war in Yemen and now this gruesome murder of a journalist. Some members of my wife’s family are even stating they refuse to go on Hajj because the $$ for expenses flows right to the KSA royals. To non Muslims this may not seem like a big deal but for those who understand the Pillars of Islam this is a huge deal and if more Muslims follow suit perhaps this may help bring some much needed change.

  5. Ya great excuse. Please I think we all know that the reason your not going is because Saudi Arabia crosses the line like way crosses into extremism. And as a Christian I would be scared to go there forget about being gay. For all u know someone there will know ur blog recognize u and have u arrested on immortality charges. Please don’t try to come up with bad excuses about journalists get
    ting killed as ur reason not to go,even without that as a gay or non Muslim person there was way to much risk in going. And either way what the hell does it mean that there’s places in the country only Muslims can go to. Why would u go to a country filled with such garbage.

  6. I find your reasoning kind of silly (but of course you’re entitled to it).
    Just in recent years, Saudi Arabia has been involved in mass murder in Yemen (not to mention their more or less open support of several terrorists, including those who attacked the US on 9/11, which they didn’t move a finger to stop or even investigate), and now the murder of this guy (who supported the regime) is the last straw? All righty then.

  7. One million percent agree with what you’ve said in this post. However, will you take advantage of the award space on Virgin Atlantic and Gulf Air’s 787s for some dank reviews anyway?

  8. That’s because you are not a Christian. Or are you?

    Republicans don’t want to give up on the money from Saudi Arabia as long as it’s only non whites getting slaughtered. Or maybe its non Christians or non Americans? Who knows. Their morality is very flexible.

  9. ahhhh … welcome to the “since nearly no one is perfect, then me visiting South Sudan and praising Qatar at every corner is the same as visiting Malaysia or Morocco”

  10. @Lucky writes, of the brutal murder of a journalist in Saudi’s consulate: “While there are credible theories, we don’t yet know exactly what happened and who is behind it.”

    Actually I think we pretty much do. There is very strong evidence that the Saudi Crown Prince order a hit on a journalist. He was dismembered with a saw in the Saudu consulate in Istanbul. The Turkish government has audio recordings of the whole affair that U.S. and other Western Intelligence agencies consider credible. The Saudis apparently are already backing off their earlier lie that they don’t know what happened and trying to claim it was a rogue murder that the Crown Prince did not authorize. Rebutting this theory, Turkey has footage showing several officials close to the crown Prince arriving in Istanbul by plane in time for the murder and leaving later the same day, shortly after the body was hacked up. They were accompanied by a Saudi expert on autopsies, clearly confirming that the operation had premeditated lethal intent — and the journalist was killed and dismembered basically immediately after he entered the embassy, undermining any claim that this was “just” an interrogation gone wrong.

    I suppose @lucky could be referring to the fact that it’s not clear whether the journalist was tortured and dismembered while still alive, or if he was killed first and then sawed into pieces. But the basics of what happened and who was behind it is pretty clear at this point. To suggest otherwise is just ignorant.

  11. @Rui Great point. The media and everyone else is so concerned about this one guy, but kids are being killed in Yemen at an alarming rate by the Saudis (and the US by proxy). It’s unbelievable that this one guy is where everyone draws the line.

    @Matthew If you think you’re going to be arrested in Saudi Arabia because you’re a Christian, you’re an idiot.

  12. @John sums it up pretty well. There is NO way the crown prince was not in on the act. The resources put in place to carry out this gruesome murder could not have been given the green light without the crown prince’s consent. It’s interesting, the Turks keep leaking details little by little. It won’t surprise me if the audio recording also includes taunting from the torturers that says something to the effect of ‘with special compliments from the crown prince.’ Anyways, take a look at the newspapers out of the UAE and Bahrain…very little mention of this story due to keeping solidarity with The Kingdom of Darkness at all costs.

  13. @ Matthew — Respectfully, safety wise I’d still have no fear whatsoever visiting. That’s not my issue.

  14. Great post and (so far) relatively good commentary…The essence of your topic being the need to continue to travel and press into things which are uncomfortable, outside our current mental sphere, or otherwise not our #1 choice to visit, because it counteracts the ignorance in the world. Yes, it is wise to do so with a grain of wisdom. Other very recent stories of happy-go-lucky, well-intentioned but foolish travelers who’ve visited other countries and ended up dead (at least three come to mind) also support this point. But I 100% agree that we find more in common with others when we travel, and hopefully our discussions with those back home who are ignorant in the most basic meaning of the word creates change for the better. Rick Steves has an excellent TED talk on this from several years ago. I also really appreciated your discussion that people coming out, who are our own loved ones, has helped change policy. As with travel, this nearness of human experience has made “them vs us” become less well-defined. Love it.

  15. @ Rui N. — You’re not wrong, like I said, I think any sort of slippery slope argument can easily be disagreed with. I know it’s often about media focus, but often a situation that impacts just one person gets a lot more press than widespread issues. I’m not saying that’s right, but it is true…

  16. @ John — I think we’re on the same page. I said we have “credible theories” of what happened and that we don’t know “exactly what happened.” That means we don’t know the exact details, and it seems you’re saying the same thing.

  17. “For all u know someone there will know ur blog recognize u and have u arrested on immortality charges.” – Matthew, 7, of someplace they’re quite willing to judge others (I presume ;).

    Interesting point: If you’re found guilty of immortality, can they still put you to death?

  18. Why on earth does it matter if a Saudi national is murdered on effectively Saudi soil (Saudi Consulate in Turkey) when there are mass travesties at home that don’t receive the equivalent outrage? Murder is evil hands down. This is nothing more than the media’s use of this singular evil as a crudgel against the president. It’s despicable and a con job. The media’s omission of relevant tragedies that actually have importance is astounding. Example: Nearly 100 law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty during 2018, where’s the press? Where’s the outrage? The U.S. media talking heads consider this victim (Khashoggi) more of their own as a columnist or Wash Po contributor than their own American breathren. Disgusting selective outrage used as a tool. Lucky, even citing this disturbing case in your rationale is either disingenuous or a misplaced concern. Consider a paradigm shift….it’s possible I guess, but one murder at a time. Sad.

    Additionally, Debit/Credit you are a pathetic sack of sh!t.

  19. @ Lucky “As far as I’m concerned a huge reason for the change we’ve seen in LGBT rights is simply people coming out to friends and family, and over time that changes public opinion.”

    That is true, Lucky, but it’s just a part of the story. As a gay man in my late 40s, I also know that much change in this country came from boycotts, demonstrations, and direct action during the midst of the AIDS crisis. It was not just about visibility – in fact, visibility often provides an illusion of equality, allowing people to claim that things are more progressive than they are.

    And if that visibility is punishable by death (in the case of Saudi Arabia, among other countries) or ostracism (in the case of many others, including our own in many parts), then there’s not much room for “coming out” as an agent of change.

    I, too, travel to countries that demonize and punish sexual minorities. But I was also on those front lines three decades ago. I worked really hard for change in this country and others, and I it was not just about being out. Change requires courage and sacrifice.

    So perhaps that’s something to think about: what can you do, as a gay man, to create change in countries where your fellow humans can’t? As a gay man in Saudi Arabia, who is careful not to get yourself in trouble by being affectionate, or disclosing your sexual orientation, can you really create change? Or do you just compound the status quo for the locals, while retaining the privilege of being a white gay man from the West who gets to go home at week’s end?

    As your generation likes to say, it’s complicated.

  20. Trump repeatedly attacking journalists and the Republicans leaders with their thumbs in their mouths is exactly why Saudi Arabia was emboldened to kill a journalist.

    That’s right his blood is on the hands of white male Republicans for whom money is everything.

    Read this: ttps://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/19/us/politics/trump-greg-gianforte-montana.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

    White male Republicans represent a physical threat to civilized people.

  21. Where do we draw the line? Canada ripped First Nations (Canadian version of American Indians) kids from their parents. They taxed Chinese people using a head tax. Boycott Canada?

    On the other hand, I agree about the concept of boycotts. I boycott Russia. I will not travel to RUSSIA. Saudi Arabia is also on the list but closer to the threshold.

  22. On one side, your post is good written and your logic is good, though it seems you don’t know that much about SA and it’s actions in the world – otherwise you would have drawn your line long before this case that just got some extra publicity but is definetily FAR from being the worst from them.

    The only weird feeling I have about this is that (while fully understanding that this is your blog and you have full right to write anything here) why the hell is so much attention is drawn several times to whether or not one american guy visiting SA. Please, you are one of 7,5 billion people doing or not doing some things every day. While your blog stays focused on what you do – and you do it good – it’s nice to read. But you tend to step on a thick ice a lot lately. Probably you are trying to find new format or increase your media coverage by touching common topics, but please, please, stay who you are – an avionic travel blogger. We have just enough of politics and “personal opinions on every possible trend in the word” on Facebook and other places.

    Thank you and keep up with your work.

  23. Lucky….I don’t want to quibble over words, but I do think we know “exactly what happened.” Khasshoggi had his fingers cut off. He was beheaded. He was dismembered by a doctor that told the others to “listen to music.” The Saudis that came into Turkey to do this were associated with the crown prince. What more do you want to know…whether the killers were left- or right-handed?

    I love ya man, but this goes way beyond “credible theories.” You don’t need a theory when you know what happened.

  24. @Matty Tailwinds

    I don’t totally disagree with you, but I also don’t totally disagree with Debit on this one. The entire relationship with Saudi Arabia for as long as I can remember has followed the money. Trump (and hence the Republicans seeing that he is in charge) won’t go on the offensive towards Saudi Arabia. Not now and not previously . How would it be possible for Trump to brag about the 110 billion dollar arms deal and in the same sentence condemn the country? It’s all very unfortunate.

  25. A great read as always from Lucky. Thanks for sharing your viewpoints. I could not agree more with your core ideas that we are all more similar than different. Probably my favorite thing in traveling is meeting the people in that area and also challenging my own fixed ideas about other people and cultures.

  26. Last month Canada called out Saudi Arabia for jailing journalists and bloggers critical of the regime. The world stayed muted and didn’t publicly support Canada.

  27. Khashoggi:
    *He interviewed and traveled with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. On OBL death:
    (“I collapsed crying a while ago, heartbroken for you,” he wrote to the spirit of Osama bin Laden after the latter was killed in 2011 by U.S. special forces. “You were beautiful and brave in those beautiful days in Afghanistan before you surrendered to hatred and passion.”)

    *He was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supports Hamas.
    (“There can be no political reform and democracy in any Arab country without accepting that political Islam is a part of it. A significant number of citizens in any given Arab country will give their vote to Islamic political parties if some form of democracy is allowed,”)

    Meanwhile, Erdogan the Dictator of the new Turkish Caliphate, oversaw the killing of hundreds of citizens (students, journalists, judges, civil servants, professors, editors…) and thousands still remain in prisons. Turkey was instrumental in killing and/or supporting the killing of thousands of Kurds and Yazidis. Not to mention his open border policy of supporting ISIS (Islamic State) to help his ethnic and religious killing; and reselling the oil they stole.

    Oh, forget. We’re just blogging about Op-Ed contributor.

    Meanwhile, 100s of journalists have been tortured and remain in prison in Turkey. Newspapers and private companies taken over by the Islamist Erdogan to gain greater wealth and power.

    Prediction: we’ll start seeing more posts about how wonderful Iran tourism is.

  28. “The first reason is that it allows me to form my own opinion. My one takeaway from traveling places is that we’re all a lot more similar than we think.”

    Well, they didn’t throw ME off a bridge for being a Christian, so really we’re all the same.

    Gross.

  29. From my perspective, the main take away is that Lucky is taking in all this information, processing it himself, and taking action accordingly. Good for you, Lucky. Too many idiots eat what the media feeds them, like for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert; or they listen to other idiots like Debit.

  30. Just so you’re being consistent, do you intend to not patronize Saudi-owned travel businesses such as Four Seasons, Fairmont, Swissotel, Mövenpick, and Lyft?

  31. Lucky – honestly, I’m glad you’re not going to SA. There are many other parts of the world to see and explore and maybe go someplace you’ve already been, but go and be part of the local community (I recall how you liked PVR because there was no jet lag and you had a chance to really relax). Next time stay in town, walk the streets, hang out at the beach, dine off property, buy some really good art and trinkets. You’re married now, it’s not just you.

  32. “Respectfully, safety wise I’d still have no fear whatsoever visiting. That’s not my issue.”

    It’s one thing to be fearful. It’s quite another to be reckless.
    You should avoid SA until you know how this sorts out.

    If (a big, massively yuge if) our President keeps his word and does take “serious action” against Saudi Arabia… then all Americans who visit Saudi Arabia are in danger.

    It’s not a gay/straight/white/color/Christian/Muslim thing.
    it’s a political thing.

    What will (and can) happen:
    Americans will be arrested for “espionage” or some similar claim
    They will be detained as political theater.

    This is not uncommon in places like Iran and North Korea
    for instance: Xi Yue Wang from Princeton University.

    A case against you would be open and shut.
    You have blogged about your life, which is anti-Islamic
    But worse, your blog is a forum for anti-Crown comments.
    (doesn’t matter if you personally are anti-Crown)
    And unlike others, your prison would not be the Ritz-Carlton.

    As you say: there are many wonderful people of Saudi Arabia.
    However: their leaders are the worst in the world (yes. worse than Iran or North Korea)

    all that said… we all know that the American Government will excuse Saudi Arabia, as they always do. Because Trump loves autocrats, and Republicans love oil and money which SA has aplenty… and SA is theoretically our Ally which means they can murder American residents with impunity.

  33. You’re going to literally the worst country for gay rights, female rights, minority rights, freedom of expression, freedom of religion.

    What do you think you’ll take away from visiting Saudi Arabia?

    Might as well buy a holiday home in North Korea….

  34. I will say, it’s odd that it’s the murder of a single journalist has people finally waking up to what a medieval backwater Saudi Barbaria is. This is a country that publicly beheads people as it’s primary execution method (and has one of the highest execution rates in the world to boot), and (until very recently) forbade women to even drive a goddamn car (they are still forbidden from traveling without their male guardian’s permission fwiw). If internal human rights issues aren’t what gets you going, there’s plenty outside the country too: massacres of women and children in Yemen, the funding of Salafism around the world, and of course, a significant role in carrying out 9/11.

    None of that matters until some dude in turkey gets hacked to bits apparently.

  35. I respect Lucky’s post. He makes a good point. With all of the discrimination and bigotry taking place in America, should Lucky move out of America? Koreans believe homosexuality is a western phenomenon and do not officially recognize homosexuality or talk about it, should we not visit South Korea? The list can go on and on. Lucky will still want to visit many places including Saudi Arabia. He simply chose safety first and I can understand that. Within a certain amount of time, we will get to read about his trip report in the near future.

  36. Saudi Arabia to issue tourist E-Visa’s for 14 days for 640 Saudi Riyals (SAR).
    Their are lots of ppl who will not visit the USA because of their policies etc. and also to other
    countries. Let’s leave politics out . If the conditions presently or the near future does not full fill
    you needs to tour the country , then do not bash the country . Stick to what you do best …and you indeed are excellent with you blogs.

  37. I work in a liberal environment, and most of my associates are very open-minded and desire to make themselves more informed. This unfortunately means that I sometimes forget there are other-minded people out there. Its nice to be able to reliably turn to the comments on this blog to remind myself that that there are so many bonkers, bigoted people out there.

    Scared to go to Saudi Arabia as a Christian??? Throw christians off a bridge? This is willful bigotry. You people obviously watch too much 700 Club or Fox or whatever. You only get thrown off the bridge if you dissent, not for being a Christian. Come on.

  38. Ben, it’s totally OK to write

    “I visit countries who do morally objectionable things because that’s my job. It’s okay to have a job that makes you visit places where the government does bad things. I would visit Myanmar despite the Rohingya genocide, I visit China despite the repression in Xinjiang, and I choose to live in America despite the drone-strike killings of wedding parties and the locking migrant children in cages. I was planning to visit Saudi Arabia despite their national policy of bombing schoolbuses full of children. And, yes, I have visited many countries which have laws on the books outlawing my identity. It’s what I do.”

    That’s fine. It’s an OK stance to take. Lots of people overlook the evils of a government to do business with it — that’s okay!

    But your blog post doesn’t clearly call out what specifically is beyond the pale here.

    You might have argued:

    “Saudi Arabia’s apparent willingness to order the dismemberment of a journalist on foreign soil proves that the environment is too hostile to paid writers — include travel bloggers — for me to safely visit. I am worried that there is a chance officials might review my blog and detain or murder me based on its contents. While I normally rely on the aegis of being an American when I travel to hostile places, this no longer seems to be safe. Even though the risk of death is very very small — perhaps less than one tenth of one percent — it’s not worth it for me.”

    If you have some other argument, like

    “I don’t want to legitimize Saudi Arabia as a tourist destination because I think it unlikely that visitors will help spread culture and liberalize them. It seems more likely that visitors will be politely ignored but held up as an example that the world condones their actions,” then you could also make that argument, although I would note that this may disqualify you from further visits to some other countries.

  39. @lucky I really don’t understand how u wouldn’t be scared this is a country where the slightest infraction of there mostly extremist laws can get u whiped caned an arm cut off or death a country that is so bigoted that if on ur visa application u write that u are Jewish will not let u in to the country a country that is anti women gays and other minorities a place where I’m sure there is plenty of people who HATE GAY people there are so many beautiful places in the world where I’m sure even u haven’t visited Y GO THERE?????????

  40. Ben,

    You should not be travelling to countries that abuse their citizens, full stop. You have frequented the Middle East for some time, and they are some of the most barbaric countries in the world. Women that get raped have to marry their rapist, or face being stoned to death. If you speak against the government, especially in Saudi Arabia, you are beheaded. If you inadvertantly touch a member of the same sex, in the UAE, you are jailed. You have been to China, where they imprison anyone who disagrees with the dictatorial despot; they imprison anybody who supports Tibetan sovereignty.

    You should be stripped of your American and German citizenship. You have directly funded extremism and terrorism by travelling to the Middle East.

    You say the people don’t feel the same way as the governments, but by travelling there, you are funding the oppressive regimes. Look at America, Trump jailed 6 journalists for reporting on protests against him. They haven’t been heard from since. America keeps children in cages because of their parents’ doing.

    You’re a strange person, to knowingly, willingly, travel to these nations, including your own, and directly fund the oppressive regimes.

  41. Jamal Kashoggi, once an admirer and cohort of Osama bin Laden, despised the reforms instituted by Saudi Arabia’s 32 year old ruler. He endorsed a strict interpretation of Islam which was what the Saudis practiced before the reforms. He also felt that Erdogan of Turkey was vying for the lead role of keeper of the true Islamic faith in the middle east. So, he got whacked but women in Saudi Arabia will be driving cars, voting, dropping the veil, etc. Kinda’ sounds like a good trade off, huh?

  42. @John
    Khashoggi was NOT a journalist. He was a WP “contributor” who wrote a column — very different from reporters/editors. Contributors have a political point of view, usually, and are not bound/don’t necessarily adhere to professional journalistic standards. Indeed, his public criticisms of the Saudi regime are what may have prompted the incident,

  43. @debit
    You’re a peon and a bigot. I’ll start with your stupidity because that typically is the origination of bigotry: The president has done nothing in terms of treatment for the Press when compared to his predecessor. Trump’s words vice Obama’s isolating and ostracizing Fox News, spying on AP reporters, James Rosen, Sheryl Atkinson, et al, imprisonment of reporters for being the recipient of leaks. You’re a know nothing loser. As a result of being in ignorant jackass, your bigotry undermines any credibility. You should be recycled.

    @Archer528
    Do not in any regard, whether partially or in full, agree with a moronic bigot. To address your main point, do you really think this evil action is worthy of changing U.S. foreign policy? End of story.

  44. @Brad
    When you wake up from your nap please enlighten me as to the names of the “journalists” that President Trump had jailed?
    Did that bigot Debit send you a link?

  45. derek says:
    October 19, 2018 at 11:35 am
    Where do we draw the line? Canada ripped First Nations (Canadian version of American Indians) kids from their parents.

    You realise the US JUST did that. Some kids are still separated form their parents. I don’t remember seeing an apology about that either (from the President).

  46. @Derek
    “Where do we draw the line? Canada ripped First Nations (Canadian version of American Indians) kids from their parents. They taxed Chinese people using a head tax. Boycott Canada?

    On the other hand, I agree about the concept of boycotts. I boycott Russia. I will not travel to RUSSIA. Saudi Arabia is also on the list but closer to the threshold.”

    The first Nations “school” incident happened a long time ago, and though not exusing Canada for that, we have learned and shown remorse.

    That is where the line should be drawn; every country has a bloody history but most evolved and became civilized.

  47. I fail to understand your logic, I am afraid. You either say that you visit all countries, regardless of how despicable the regime is, because you want to get some first hand knowledge of the situation there or you say you do not go there at all. I am OK with either choice but I simply don’t get what changed recently. As horrible as it is what the Saudis appear to have done to this journalist, it is in no way different than what they have done to hundreds and thousands of other people. Why is this murder any different? Moreover, Saudis are not very different from dozens of other governments, some of them allegedly civilized.

  48. To all the numbskulls that reference illegal aliens’ separation from their apparent children: First, shut your stupid mouths and understand that this is the result of establishing proof of parenthood or guardianship. Secondly, when it advertised and otherwise explained to the north bound migrants that there are tactics to gain entry into the U.S. these strategies will be employed. Thirdly, the child rape and trafficking that occurs yet gets no mainstream coverage is a gross negligence that undermines the reality and the victims. Fourthly, how loving our the supposed mothers who send their children on a harrowing journey to possibly fall victim to the third point or death. Fifthly, the alien holding facilities have been utilized across multiple administrations yet the rhetoric and propaganda changes its tone depending on the administrations political orientation. Lastly, what does comparing the boarding of migrant families have to do with either the murder of a Saudi national opinion writer or traveling to SA? Rhetorical, don’t respond Debit you bigoted dunce.

    Love your blog Lucky, but not for the troglodytes.

  49. Argh! Everyone: “SA” is South Africa. Saudi Arabia is abbreviated “KSA” (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia).

  50. @LarryInNYC- Thanks for pointing that out.

    SA has a proud history with the Mandela’s (and the African National Congress) by “necklacing” their opponents. South Africa, the global capital of rape. Now moving towards genocide against non-blacks.

  51. @Chris
    Truth in those words. There’s nothing like expropriation and rape-arations to heal old wounds. Welcome to Zimbabwe Part II. Does anyone actually think the Boers are going to hand over their firearms muchless their lands?
    But let’s continue nitpicking American responses, or lack there of, to issues abroad or tye U.S southern border. To the smug and holier-than-thou morality police: if you can’t or don’t make your bed in the morning then how the hell are you going to address humanity’s struggle towards enlightenment?

  52. There’s a point you missed.

    You and Ford are married. Why would you visit any country which doesn’t recognise your marriage?

  53. If you are going to avoid countries that murder journalists, then Russia has to be a no-go destination. And that goes for China and Cuba as well. Then there is South Africa, where white farmers are being murdered so as to steal their farms. We have to add Burma (no, I won’t call it Myanmar) with it’s genocide of the Rohingya.

    Then consider that Khashoggi was a supporter of the Muslim “Brotherhood” (sic), (which is the parent of al Qaeda), and whose members routinely slaughter Christians and Jews in Egypt. Especially ironic that the Turks are calling the Saudis barbaric, in view of the way Erdogan has imprisoned thousands of his political opponents (and no telling how many of them have died while in prison).

    Plenty of disgusting behavior to go around, and as far as I can tell, the only reason this is getting so much press is that he was a reporter for the Washington Post. Why killing a Muslim Brotherhood affiliated journalist is worse than killing ordinary people because of their religious, ethnic, or political status is beyond me. 🙁

  54. @ Robert Hanson- Brilliant and accurate post.

    One only needs to look at a list of nations with the worst human rights, and/or leaders in global terrorism. They are either one of, or, a combination of the following: Islamic or Communist/Socialist/Facist.

    It appears the Soros trolls are busy posting on travel blogs. They must be bored.

  55. Good decision. Saudi Arabia, Israel and Venezuela are the three major countries I wouldnt visit right now.

  56. Personally always thought travel should be fun. Really don’t see SA as fitting the bill (esp as a woman) regardless of yet more slaughter.

    The world is a big place & nobody sees absolutely all of it. Time is short – focus on the locations you know will be fulfilling for you.

  57. Just go if you feel safe. Your going to report on the place and not to support their government or policies.

  58. Lot of rationalization by white Republican males here for murder and why we should continue to accept money from Saudi Arabia. That’s my whole point and people here seem to prove it again and again. The most weird: others have been killed why does this one matter.

    Ask this: do you think if it was a non white or non Republican or non Christian or any minority but an American citizen instead, are you 100% confident that these white Republican males will stop rationalizing that murder. I am not 100% sure.

  59. Iran, Iran, and Iran! I think you’d love it.

    Personally the political behavior of Saudi Arabia has been extreme that I too am reluctant to visit even if they start issuing tourist visas.

    *Bombardment on Yemeni civilians whose majority is already suffering from malnutrition.

    *Qatar blockade – quite a childish behavior.

    *Cutting the diplomatic relations with Iran overnight.

    And the list goes on…

  60. Lucky sayz, “I wasn’t meaning to make this political …” Not exactly, political would like Democrats vs. GOP, Communist vs. Capitalist, etc. The current situation is about human rights and freedom of speech and not political per se. As a travel blogger, you are most certainly involved in freedom of expression.

    American Linguist Noam Chomsky wrote an essay titled “The Responsibility of Intellectuals” which was published by The New York Review of Books in 1967. The article decried the intellectual culture in the U.S., calling it subservient to power because most of the Thinkers, Intellectuals, and Academics were silent about human rights abuses in SE Asia (Vietnam War). And for that Chomsky was blacklisted and subsequently added to Nixon’s “enemy list”.

    Conversely, as a leading travel blogger, you have a responsibility to make a stand and show (guide) your readers (and their travel $$$) into choosing a moral position in the face of tyranny and atrocities committed by a regimes that opposes such freedom of expression.

  61. @Kalboz i think the only concern for the author is clicks/views/money. He could do more with his notoriety but if it doesn’t help him directly, why would he?

  62. Yet you visited Russia and China – two countries that murder journalists.

    Seems like you are actually making your decisions based on fads, not logic.

  63. Is this truly different from the “re-education” camps China instituted for Uyghurs in Xinjiang, or the summry execution policies of the Russian government? Saudi Arabia committed a despicable act which is no different from what many other countries commit – so I do not see why this should sway anyone’s opinion of a country (and its people) at all.

  64. I wouldn’t go if I were you or me.

    Because one wrong move or piss someone off and they chop off your head, let alone lifestyle or religion.

    Everyone should realize that this dude they killed was a terrorist in reporter’s clothing however….He was part of the Brotherhood, a Jihadi, and a fanatic. Sure they should not have killed him like that. But don’t think he was a boy scout or something.

    His murder doesn’t change the first part of the post.

    It’s an absolute monarchy. You breathe at the pleasure of His Majesty and His agents.

  65. @Mark,

    Jamal was not only a WaPo Journalist but also a US Resident which means he has the following Rights:

    As a permanent resident (green card holder), you have the right to:

    – Live permanently in the United States provided you do not commit any actions that would make you removable under immigration law
    – Work in the United States at any legal work of your qualification and choosing. (Please note that some jobs will be limited to U.S. citizens for security reasons)
    – Be protected by all laws of the United States, your state of residence and local jurisdictions

    https://www.uscis.gov/green-card/after-green-card-granted/rights-and-responsibilities-permanent-resident/rights-and-responsibilities-green-card-holder-permanent-resident

    As for others who are confusing this murder with lies about South Africa (unsubstantiated Right-wing media reports and a single Trump Tweet) or Native Americans (or First Canadians), shame on you! Let me remind you that the various regimes of South Africa (Colonialist Europeans in South Africa, the British, the former Rhodesia, Portuguese Angola, etc.) crimes committed against the indigenous Africans (crimes against humanity). A conservative estimate of the death toll of the apartheid government from 1948-1994 alone is 21K people killed. No one was held accountable for these crimes as if the Africans’ lives do not count. Mandela’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) forgave all crimes so long as the perpetrators confessed and asked for forgiveness. But some Africans cannot forget, and , hence, the post-apartheid anti-white racism. And if we go further back, we find that the Colonial whites (King Leopold of Belgium) and his mercenaries killed or caused the death of 10 million Africans in the Congo (90% of the population)!

    Similarly, the atrocities committed against the Native Americans were unparalleled and only matched by atrocities committed by Whites against African-American. The period immediately following the U.S. conquest of California (alone) has been characterized as a genocide. Under US sovereignty, after 1848, the Indigenous population plunged from 150,000 to 30,000 in 1870 and reached its nadir of 16,000 in 1900. Between 1846-1873, 16,000 California Native Americans were killed by non-Native Americans and most killers were paid per head for these killings. The dispossession and murder of California Native Americans during this period was aided and abetted by the institutions of the state of California and the Federal Government, which favored settlers’ rights over indigenous rights.

  66. Thank you for this post. I like your thoughtfulness and honesty. Also your flexibility, in that you consider different points of view, but ultimately make your own decision and try to keep an open mind. I think as travelers we ALL draw lines about where we are comfortable traveling. These lines should not be judged..folks should be supported just gettin’ out there and meeting new cultures. And when it isn’t right…it isn’t right. Good on ya.

  67. Finally the Saudis admit they did it. But their confession is laughable. There is only one way to prove MBS was not involved in it. Release his calendar. If it doesn’t say kill khashoggi in it then he is innocent.

    Remember, while Republican males are scum.

  68. Finally the Saudis admit they did it. But their confession is laughable. There is only one way to prove MBS was not involved in it. Release his calendar. If it doesn’t say kill khashoggi in it then he is innocent.

    Remember, white Republican males are scum.

  69. I can understand where you are coming from Lucky. I recently went to a country that a lot of people in the U.S. are scared to travel to. In my gut I felt I still wanted to go. That the risks were worth it. As long as we use good sense we can make the decisions that are right for us.

  70. @Kelcy @Mark totally agreed.
    @Lucky it’s your call. I travelled for work (not tourism) to many countries where dictators are running governments for decades. Where civil liberties are miserable and yes my safety was my concern. From Reuters News: Saudi Arabia admits Khashoggi died in consulate, Trump says Saudi account credible | Article [AMP] | Reuters https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-politics-dissident/turkey-says-it-has-not-shared-khashoggi-audio-with-anyone-idUSKCN1MT1MH

  71. I agree, I was initially interested in visiting Saudi for the historical sites, but I draw the line at this recent murder and the war in Yemen. The US and Saudi have ruined Yemen, just imagine how great of a destination Yemen would’ve been had the war not happened, the landscape and history is as beautiful and rich as Oman.

  72. @Matty Tailwinds I think the issue here is less that he was murdered and more that he was a US Resident murdered by his own government for daring to speak against them

  73. @ JRMW — You accurately describe one concern. Other expats here in KSA are fearful of how this might play out.

  74. I share your view that the benefit of travel is to interact with, learn from and share cultural differences and similarities. However, on Ben’s short visits to countries that are particularly aggressive in persecuting members of the LGBT community, meeting one or two friends of friends or, more often, those in the travel and hospitality business, is hardly engaging with the local community. Perhaps Ben could reach out to members of the LGBT community in such countries…I am sure that the Human Rights Campaign or other organizations could facilitate that. In addition, with this blog, Ben has a large international readership that could help advocate for human rights. I have also greatly admired The Points Guy for organizing charitable causes in this regard…a personal effort and commitment on his point not related to his blog and digital media owners.

  75. Good decision, especially in light of yesterday’s egregious lies about their murder of Khashoggi. Obviously they can’t lie their way out of this and attempt to plaster it over given the audio tapes. Therefore boycotting this kingdom however possible makes good sense.

  76. I am scheduled for Saudi in exactly 8 days from now and I am not cancelling. As far as I am concerned, a person/country is innocent until proven guilty. Until I see evidence linking them to ill behavior, I shall not get my high horse and announce an entire country to be on my ban list.

  77. @LarryInNYC thanks for pointing out the difference between SA and KSA. It confused me for a moment as to why some people here were talking about South Africa. People also get to learn about geography here as well as travel advice, which makes sense since geography and travel have some kind of relationship with one another.

  78. @ Lucky

    PLEASE remove/ban/block Debit from those columns, not because of his/her/its political opinions, just because of the implied hatred, ill mannered and outrageous vocabulary, using “White Republicans “, “scum” and more in exactly the same way he/she/it might use the N word, “Faggot” or other nicety with obviously not an ounce of intellect behind it. Even Maxine Waters and Louis Farrakhan write better and THAT’s hard to acomplish.

  79. KSA can be considered quite a fabulous paradise. Because of the oppressive segregation of the sexes homosexuality is rampant and Lucky should not feel worried. KSA is a paradise for gays and gay English Language Instructors flock to the land for money, sunshine and great sexual and emotional contact. No American has yet been arrested or charged with “immorality” or “offences against society” – these are the true bad things that will get you into danger

  80. Lucky,

    Please ban Pierre. He is a white supremacist apologist. We know their playbook. Distraction and misdirection. Like trump’s rally and their Republican policies are not full of hate. No more accommodation for these white Republican scum.

  81. Glad you aren’t going. I don’t think travel writing is remotely appropriate for a country with this type of regime. It goes well beyond one reporter. They have slaughtered thousands of civilians in Yemen including many women and children, saudi police last year tortured and killed two transgender Pakistanis, the saudi government in the past has sent out literature to mosques in other countries calling for the murder of gay people, people are routinely jailed without trial and when they do get a trial its a show trial and nothing more. Women are denied basic human rights there heck its the last country on the frickin planet to give women the right to drive. Really don’t think hotel or airline reviews for this country is appropriate. This goes far beyond a country who isn’t progressive enough for you. This government is an abomination and shouldn’t be supported. Don’t get me started about the US foreign policy of both parties who pander to saudi arabia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *