The behaviour of GCC tourists in European countries has not gone down well with the locals there, and has also sparked huge resentment at home.
The tourists have been seen throwing litter, stealing ducks from parks, cutting and cooking them on video, setting up bonfires on lake shores, smoking shisha, dancing on folk songs on streets, and squatting under the Eiffel Tower!
Not only did this draw backlash from the European media, it also drew severe criticism among the GCC nationals.
A number of writers and journalists said the attitude of some Saudi and GCC tourists in Europe caused offended Saudi Arabia, and tarnished the image of the Arab, GCC and Muslim citizens abroad.
They argued in this context that Austria — a popular destination for GCC residents — was right in its decision on reducing the number of tourist visas issued to Saudi and Kuwaiti applicants.
In an article carried in a Saudi-based Arabic daily, writer Khalaf Al Harbi described this summer as exceptional for the GCC tourists in Europe as they have done what could not be done, and had recorded their brazen attitudes in audio-visual tapes.
The article said the tourists from the GCC states had danced on the camel folk songs on high-end streets in European cities, stolen ducks from parks, cut and cooked the birds, and shot everything on camera.
"They put the generous pots on bonfire by the side of the lakes, smoked shisha, and in France they squatted on the ground under the Iconic Eiffel Tower," he wrote.
This "disgraceful" attitude and behaviour strengthened anti-Arab trends, and might prompt some European states to take actions restricting the influx of GCC tourists, such as Austria, he warned.
Elaborating, Al Harbi said the parliament of Salzburg in Austria had issued a decision on the basis of a proposal put by MPs, making it mandatory for the government in Vienna to reduce the number of tourist visas granted to the citizens of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
"The parliament also asked the Austrian embassies in Riyadh and Kuwait to provide the visa applicants with booklets explaining the Austrian culture," he recalled.
In another article titled "Fashaltoona", or "You let us down," a lady journalist Bashaer Mohammed wrote in Al Watan Arabic daily said the behaviour of GCC residents was an attempt to expel the Saudi tourists from Czech Republic, and make it binding on the embassy, according to some media outlets, to reform what had been spoilt by its citizens.
"I blamed the Czechs for not imposing strict restrictions on Saudi tourists from the beginning, for littering parks and playgrounds and messing the public places," she held.
"The Saudi who demanded the building of parks and playgrounds in his home country is, in fact, he who destroys them and re-demanded the setting up of the same," she said, and this was a testimony of the countries where he — the Saudi tourist — holidays in, be it the Czech Republic or any other country."
Members who frequented the social networking websites stressed on the importance of building what they termed as a cultural thought aiming at respecting others, respecting public places irrespective of the region.
"We as GCC citizens have become, in the eyes of some Europeans, as violators of animal and environment rights, needless to say as brutal as some others have dubbed us, after some GCC youths had stolen ducks from lakes, cooked and ate the birds, as if they did not find something to devour," wrote Maisa Rashid Ghadeer.
Municipalities in some European countries have, in reaction to these rowdy attitudes, recommended increasing the prices of accommodation for GCC tourists, and reduce the quota of visit visas.
By Mustafa al-Zarooni
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