Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Arab Media’s Take on Tourist Victims | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Perhaps the Saudi youth who reported being attacked and beaten by two Bahraini security guards was perhaps luckier than other Saudi tourist victims, for his attack was at least documented in images. In addition to this, this incident took place in the neighboring Kingdom of Bahrain that has a special and unique relationship with Saudi Arabia, and the Bahraini Interior Ministry took a firm stance against those accused of being responsible for this, trying them in military court. Other Saudi tourist victims who are subject to assault, theft, car-jacking, and other crimes in foreign countries are often not so lucky.

The writer Khalaf al-Harbi discussed the position taken by the Saudi media towards incidents such as this, and he said that they are not being reported for three illogical reasons; firstly there is a fear of being accused of prejudice and racism, especially if this attack took place in a neighboring Arab country. Secondly, the Saudi embassies are unresponsive towards journalistic enquiries about these attacks, either downplaying them or claiming not to have any knowledge about this, therefore the journalists find it difficult to find an official source [to quote], thereby decreasing the credibility of the news. Thirdly, some newspapers take into consideration the fact that the [Saudi] citizen in question may have committed a violation, and so does not deserve to be defended.

I support the need for such news to be published in the media, this is not in order to insult or embarrass the countries where these incidents takes place, or to incite media controversy, for incidents such as this could take place despite the country’s devotion to tourist safety, but rather because journalists have a responsibility to publish this news and raise awareness of incidents such as this. This allows the tourists to make informed and responsible decisions, because there are certainly differences between one country and another with regards to the security they provide tourists; for there are capitals and cities where families and children can walk around at night in complete safety and others where this is not even possible during the day. I still recall the story of a tourist who discovered a raggedly dressed [Arab] man walking back and forth in an airport lounge, repeating the words “to hell with traveling.” It turned out that this tourist had been taken in by a confidence scam [whilst he was abroad], losing all of his money and even his sanity in the process.