Abdulla Al Jumah on Saudi Arabia’s ‘game-changing’ e-visa
If doing what you love for a living can be considered lucky, then Abdullah Al-Jumah may very well be one of the luckiest men in the region.
Still in his early 30s, the Saudi national has visited more than 100 countries, written three books about his adventures and has grown a fan-base of like-minded young readers from across the GCC.
“The idea of traveling and exploring the world is not a new concept for Saudis, even though it has never been a big part of our culture,” says Al-Jumah. “A large part is down to the growth of Social Media in the region, which has allowed people to see and learn about parts of the world that they had not experienced before.”
This year the Kingdom announced its new e-visa system committing to open up its borders for tourist to visit. He describes it as an absolute game-changer, and fantastic for tourism in general.
As for Al-Jumah, while he’s modest enough to play the ‘right place at the right time’ card, his passion for travel and commitment to doing what he loves is clear evidence that within the Kingdom (and the region) previous borders are now very much surmountable.
We sat down with Al Jumah as part of Esquire’s 10 for the next 10 issue. You can read the whole interview below:
How did you get started?
I have written three travel books, but my breakthrough actually came with my book documenting my travels in Europe.
I was backpacking all over the continent and something about it triggered something within the youth in Saudi Arabia and the GCC who found a relatability with an author from their own country.
Is travel something that people in Saudi have always been interested in?
The idea of traveling and exploring the world is not a new concept for Saudis, even though it has never been a big part of the culture.
But I do think with the advent of the internet and more importantly Social Media people were able to see and learn about parts of the world that they had not experienced before.
I think it is a positive element of social media, and I use my status on there to encourage people like me to get out there and explore for themselves.
I think Saudi opening up to global tourism is an absolute game-changer in the region
Saudi has opened up for tourism this year. How do you view that?
I think Saudi opening up to global tourism is an absolute game-changer in the region. Saudi Arabia is a massive country and has a lot of tourism potential in terms of geography, history, religious heritage which I am sure will be of interest to tourists.
I think it will have just as big an impact on tourism in the GCC region, as it will within the country itself – the impact of welcoming international tourists into their country, and have different people exploring and appreciating the culture will have a great effect on the people of the country.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
I feel privileged that I have been able to travel so much, and equally privileged that I have helped encourage people to follow their dreams – not necessarily travelling, because this is my passion, but I try to encourage people from the region that it is a wide world out there and they shouldn’t be afraid of chasing their dreams and follow them through.
What goals have you set yourself?
Having seen the positive impact that I have had on people within the region, I want to take my writings and social media profile to the next level and continue to be a positive example for people from the region.