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Last Updated: Friday, 27 February, 2004, 16:01 GMT
Jews barred in Saudi tourist drive
Israelis and Jews not welcome
Saudi Arabia is barring visits by Jews after launching a new visa scheme to try to attract more tourists.

The Saudi tourism department website said tourist visas would not be issued to Israeli passport holders or Jews.

Earlier this month, it began a drive to attract more foreign visitors by issuing visas to non-Muslim tourists for the first time.

It has traditionally only issued visas for work purposes, officially-approved visits and pilgrimage to Mecca.

There has not previously been an explicit ban on Jews travelling to Saudi Arabia, though people with Israeli passports or with Israeli stamps in their documents, have not been allowed in.

Move condemned

A page on the Supreme Commission for Tourism website originally said visas would not be issued to Israeli passport holders or those with a passport containing an Israeli stamp; "those who don't abide by the Saudi traditions concerning appearance and behaviours"; "those under the influence of alcohol"; or "Jewish people".

Visas will not be issued for... Jewish people
Supreme Commission for Tourism website
The page was later amended, removing details of the restrictions.

US Congressman Anthony Weiner denounced the prohibition against Jews and called on the US government to take action.

"It is very difficult to see the Saudis as anything other than a backward country with backward ideals and this reaffirms that," Mr Weiner said.

"I think the administration should take a hard look at this website and decide whether a country that has these policies should be considered our ally."

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