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Saudi Tourism Launches Latest ‘Saudi, Welcome To Arabia’ Campaign Starring Lionel Messi; “Go Beyond What You Think!”

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  • “Go Beyond What You Think” invites a global audience spanning two continents and multiple channels, to discover the delightfully unexpected in Saudi
  • International football icon and Saudi Tourism Ambassador, Lionel Messi challenges misconceptions in latest global campaign
  • Visitors and locals encouraged to #ShareYourSaudi on social channels
  • From diverse destinations, events, entertainment and trailblazing Saudi females, the warm Saudi welcome and unmatched hospitality are visible throughout
  • Campaign builds on UN Tourism “Tourism Opens Minds” Initiative aimed at inspiring tourists to expand their horizons when selecting travel destinations

Today, Saudi’s national tourism brand ‘Saudi Welcome To Arabia’ has kicked off another global marketing campaign featuring football legend and Saudi Tourism Ambassador, Lionel Messi.

Launching across key target markets in Europe, India and China, the “Go Beyond What You Think” campaign is anchored on consumer insights, which revealed there are still common misconceptions about the destination, and invites audiences to experience the incredible and vibrant cultural transformation taking place across Saudi. Those that know Saudi are encouraged to share positive experiences and memories on TikTok and social channels using the bi-lingual hashtags #ShareYourSaudi and in Arabic #السعودية_بعيونك,.

The latest ‘Saudi Welcome to Arabia’ brand campaign is a combination of TV, Social, Digital, and OTA tactics activated over a three-month period. It is the latest in a series of initiatives by Saudi Tourism to foster broadening of perspectives, and bridging cultures through tourism.

The campaign brings to life the UN Tourism, ‘Tourism Opens Minds’ Initiative that launched on World Tourism Day in Riyadh in September 2023, which extends a compelling invitation for travelers to broaden horizons and explore uncharted corners of the world. Governments and industry were presented with a special pledge, calling on them to promote new and under-appreciated destinations while consumers pledged to ‘be open-minded to new cultures and destinations, holding an open heart while travelling’

Lionel Messi is one of many leading international figures who took that pledge. Messi has a fond connection with Saudi being a frequent visitor to the country, including most recently with his wife, Antonella and their two children last Spring. Both Messi and his family have expressed delight in their Saudi experiences and a desire to continue visiting the country.

Boldly addressing these misconceptions head-on, the campaign’s powerful call-to-action encourages visitors to discover the unexpected beyond outdated stereotypes, with a hero video featuring Messi breaking down metaphorical ‘walls’ of various misconceptions about the country.

The video showcases Saudi’s diverse locations, weather and terrain – from the pristine waters of the Red Sea to the lush green mountains in Aseer, snow covered Tabuk, the coastal city of Jeddah and Riyadh, the bustling capital. In celebration of Saudi’s activities and attractions, the Messi campaign highlights the Diriyah E-Prix, Riyadh Season’s theme park rides, AlUla’s hot air balloon flights and MDL Beast music events.

The campaign also places a spotlight on Saudi’s open and welcoming culture and the importance of inspiring young Saudi women to reach their full potential. Messi celebrates the Saudi women who have been trailblazers in their fields and leading Saudi’s cultural transformation such as the Saudi Women’s National football team, motorsport athlete Dania Akeel, DJ Cosmicat, and Rayyanah Barnawi, the first Saudi woman in space.

With a powerful entry, Saudi continues to pioneer a new era of tourism development and growth through the creation of new destinations and show-stopping experiences, embracing sustainability and enabling world-class culture, entertainment and sports scenes to flourish. Saudi especially comes alive during its sunny Winter Season – this year the country is hosting 17,000 events, making it ‘the world’s most happening winter’. Ongoing events include Riyadh Season, Jeddah Season and Diriyah Season, with notable events coming up including the Saudi Cup (February 23-24), Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (March 7-9), AlUla Arts Festival (Feb 9-March 2), AlUla skies festival (April 10-27) and much more.

Of note, the campaign is launching ahead of Messi’s imminent and much-anticipated Saudi return playing two matches with his current Club, Inter Miami, against Al Nassr on 1 February and against Al Hilal on 29th January.

For more information about Lionel Messi and “Go Beyond What You Think,” visit www.visitsaudi.com/en/Messi or www.visitsaudi.com/ar/Messi

It has never been easier to visit Saudi – visa initiatives have been continuously developed, with the eVisa program now including 63 countries and special administrative regions, the GCC residents visa, and the free 96-hour Stopover Visa.

Stopover Visa holders are eligible for a complimentary one night hotel stay during the stopover when booking with the national carrier, SAUDIA. Travelers can use the Stopover Visa to explore Saudi and perform Umrah.

Planning your visit to Saudi is easy at www.visitsaudi.com

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