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WATCH: Messi shatters stereotypes in Saudi Tourism’s newest campaign

The campaign shines the spotlight on Saudi’s open and welcoming culture and the importance of inspiring young Saudi women to reach their full potential


Saudi’s national tourism brand ‘Saudi Welcome To Arabia’ has kicked off a global marketing campaign, featuring football icon 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.

Addressing these misconceptions head-on, the campaign’s call-to-action encourages visitors to discover the “unexpected beyond outdated stereotypes”, with a hero video featuring Messi breaking down metaphorical ‘walls’ of various misconceptions about the country.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 Red Sea to the mountains in Aseer, snow-covered Tabuk, the coastal city of Jeddah and Riyadh, its capital.

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 is a combination of TV, social, digital, and OTA tactics activated over three months.

It is the latest in a series of initiatives by Saudi Tourism to foster the “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 an invitation to travellers “to broaden their horizons and explore uncharted corners of the world”.

Messi shares a close bond with Saudi Arabia

Lionel Messi is one of many international figures who took that pledge. Messi has a close connection with the kingdom being a frequent visitor to the country, including most recently with his wife, Antonella and their two children. 

The campaign launches ahead of Messi’s much-anticipated Saudi return playing two matches with his current Club, Inter Miami, against Al Nassr on  February 1 and against Al Hilal on January 22.

Shining the spotlight on female Saudi trailblazers

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 leading the kingdom’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.

Event-filled winter in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is hosting 17,000 events that will attract visitors this winter, with ongoing events including Riyadh Season, Jeddah Season and Diriyah Season.

Events coming up include the Saudi Cup (February 23-24), Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (March 7-9), AlUla Arts Festival (Feb 9-March 2) and AlUla skies festival (April 10-27).

 In other news, Saudi’s eVisa programme now includes 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 SAUDIA.

Travellers can use the Stopover Visa to explore Saudi and perform Umrah.


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