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Thu 7 Jan 2010 08:15 AM

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Saudi travel to US set to decline amid strict security

Tougher airport checks following bomb attempt to deter Saudis from US travel.

Saudi travel to US set to decline amid strict security
NEW CHECKS: Passengers from 14 countries face extra screening measures at US airports. (Getty Images)

Fewer Saudis will travel to the United States due to the increased security measures imposed on travellers from 14 countries including the Saudi Arabia, it has been reported.

Abdulla Abo Khamseen, executive general manager of Kanoo Travel and a member of the executive committee of the travel industry, told the Saudi Gazette, relatives of some 40,000 Saudis who study at US universities will be reluctant to visit them.

“Our citizens, particularly the parents and relatives of the some 40,000 Saudis studying at various universities in the US, frequently travel there to visit students. Now they will be extremely concerned about these so-called special scrutiny measures,” he told the paper.

He told the paper last year about 200,000 Saudis travelled to the US.

Saudi Arabia has been listed among 14 countries whose citizens are required to go through extra security screening at US airports.

The measures were brought in following an attempt to blow up a US airplane on Christmas Day. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is accused of trying to detonate a bomb on the plane as it was about to land in Detroit.

“The tightening of security measures that will affect our students and their relatives will cause our citizens to wonder whether it is wise to travel to America at this time. US tourism will suffer a further setback,” Abo Khamseen told the paper.

Meanwhile, Abdul Rahman Al-Zamil, president of the Riyadh-based Export Development Centre, said the heightened US airport security would harm Saudi-US trade.

“Any obstacles imposed on passengers would affect trade and tourism traffic,” he said in a statement published by Al-Hayat daily, quoted by Arab News. “It will have a major impact on trade and other business dealings between the two countries.”

Saudi exports and imports to the US last year were valued at SR147.4bn and SR45.9bn respectively.

But, Saud Al-Suwaileh, administrative director of Saudi-American Business Council, told the paper the extra screening would not affect business relations.

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