I remembered while we were waiting for our flight, I saw a bunch of leaflets about Saudi Arabia's Tourism. I actually laughed at the thought. You ask why? It's not because they don't have any beauty to offer but it's because there are a lot of narrowed-minded local citizens here that often think bad about what you are doing. Probably they are thinking that you are spying on them or whatever.
When it comes to beauty, there are a lot of things they can actually offer. For start, Saudi Arabia loves sculptures and I too am fascinated with lots of their sculptures. Here in Jeddah, you'll find numbers of sculptures almost line-up in Corniche Road and it is a sight to see for everyone. Whenever I see their sculptures, all I could do was admire them - didn't dare take pictures of them. Why? I am afraid that their police might catch me and put me in jail for it. I remembered a friend who did experience this first hand, a fellow blogger - Pepe of Camera ni Cabrera. I forgot how long he was detained but the thought is just so discouraging.
I also remembered a Saudi officemate of mine (take note Saudi) who took some pictures for surveying purposes for our company. A police saw him taking pictures and confronted him. I forgot what happened next but at the end the police (I think) got angry and smashed his camera and broke it. Well, this may have happened a few years ago but still the thought of your hard-eaned money being smashed into pieces in less than a second is seriously - again discouraging.
Another time while I was with my family in Roshan Mall about two months ago. My wife and I were so fascinated with their murals which is actually their way of covering un-occupied shops. It is a very nice idea to put something artistic instead of people seeing an empty shop. We happened to find one masterpiece which is we think famous among Arab paintings, so my wife posed with my son and I took the picture. Once I took the photo, the security guard came rushing toward me and told me not to shoot photos and said it was forbidden. I looked around to see if there was a warning sign about taking pictures but found nothing so I tried to reason with him but ke kept on saying it is forbidden. Since he approached me with calmness, I just followed what they think is "forbidden".
One other time while we were on Hyper-Panda, we found an odd-shaped vegetable and tried to take pictures using our camera phone. A local citizen told us not to shoot pictures and told us it is "forbidden". My wife got angry of the guy and told him that it's just a vegetable but the guy kept on blabbering in Arabic so I never understood what he was saying. Thinking he won't win the argument, the guy just left with his stroller of groceries. I thought he was an official or from Hyper-Panda's management or crew but he was just a nobody like us. We continued taking photos by the way (lol!).
Looking at some of their sculptures that were once beautiful but now full of dirt and has stockpile of birds dung, I thought to myself.... perhaps if they let others appreciate their arts, people may have put more value into it by taking care of it and not trash it since they can't appreaciate it even if they want to.
Now going back to the leaflet I am holding that time, I asked myself "Are they really ready for tourism?" - What do you think guys?