Ramadan is over and the Arab tourism season has started. Although the number of passengers during the holiday reached up to 250,000 on 150 flights daily compared to around 50,000 passengers on regular days, these figures will possibly change now, especially for those who did not travel during Ramadan.
My personal opinion is that most Gulf tourists do not enjoy travel as it should be, or rather as Western tourists do, although they spend a lot of money and often travel as groups or with large families. The reasons are many, but many have a wrong perception over why they want to travel, and their goals of traveling are mistaken. If the reason for travel was to boast that they spent the holiday outside their countries, then this is a ridiculous goal, and if the reason is shopping and buying more unnecessary stuff, then this is a bad excuse and only shows how shallow we are, because we have enough malls at home. This does not include those who travel for education or medical treatment.
Last year, the British Tourism Authority revealed that Kuwaiti tourists are the biggest spenders among tourists. The average expenditure of Kuwaiti tourists in London is around £4,000, while the average amount spent by French tourists in London is £350, which means that spending by a Kuwaiti tourist is 12 times more than the French tourist.
But there is ill-treatment at airports against Gulf tourists, particularly being treated as suspects and not as tourists who want to spend some time enjoying a vacation with their families or friends. This unfriendly treatment of Gulf tourists at airports is surprising, for the simple reason that we have never seen a Gulf tourist who committed a terrorist act in a foreign country. Terrorist crimes are usually committed by immigrant citizens of Muslim descent, and they are not tourists.
But I have never found a foreign government that has the courage to recognize and admit that its security danger is internal and not from Gulf tourists, who want to enjoy the atmosphere and scenery, relax and spend quite a lot of money.
Arab tourists travel during peak times due to its relation with school vacations during the summer. So it is the best time for traveling. But Arabs carry many bags, even for short trips to Dubai, for example! Despite the large number of bags that cause stress on their health, most Arabs until today are heavy travelers. Some behave provocatively, shipping their cars to vacation spots for boasting that they are rich or rent luxury cars for showing off. They quickly fall victims to this extravagance. I do not feel sorry for them because they asked for it.
A major mistake is the insistence of some women to wear the veil in states that prohibit completely the covering of the face, and here it is necessary to respect the laws of the state. No one objects over modest dress, but the niqab prevents others from identifying the person, and any country has the right to verify a person’s identity. Another key mistake is taking maids along, and it makes me wonder why they cannot even serve themselves for once?
There is a need to change the culture of the people about the goals of travel. If it was to only spend money and brag, then it is a distasteful reason, but traveling for treatment and study is a logical one. I also believe that families should not be neglectful in monitoring the behavior of their children and teenagers to ensure they avoid falling in trouble with the law and respect nature, especially the local flora and fauna. Gulf embassies must take responsibility for educating their citizens of the importance of respecting the laws of the state they are traveling to. No more harm to animals please!
By Muna Al-Fuzai