30 September, 2019
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmon says he takes "full responsibility" for the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But the crown prince is denying reports that he ordered the killing.
"This was a heinous crime," Prince Mohammed told the American television show "60 Minutes." "But I take full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia, especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government."
Khashoggi entered the Saudi diplomatic office in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2, 2018. There is no evidence he ever left the building. Saudi Arabia has charged 11 people in connection with his killing.
The crown prince's comments were broadcast two days after Saudi Arabia announced plans to open its doors to foreign tourists. The Saudi government launched a new visa program for 49 countries on Friday. And it is appealing to foreign companies to invest in the country's tourism industry.
Saudi Arabia has tightly controlled the flow of foreign visitors for more than half a century. Recently, the Muslim kingdom has begun to ease its rules. Men and women are no longer required to be in separate areas in public places. And, women are no longer required to wear black clothing from head to foot.
Saudi Arabia's tourism chief Ahmed al-Khateeb noted that alcoholic drinks will still be banned. "We will have enough tourists to come to Saudi Arabia to enjoy other things," he told the Reuters news agency.
Until now, most of the foreigners going to Saudi Arabia have been business travelers, individuals working in the country and their families. The government approves special visas to Muslims who want to visit Mecca and Medina, two of Islam's holiest cities.
For the Saudi government's new plan to succeed, Saudi Arabia must hold down threats from Iran, its long-time enemy.
The government blames Iran for an attack last month on Saudi oil processing centers. Iran denies the accusation.
Khateeb said the country is "very, very safe" and the attack would not affect plans to increase tourists.
But why would a tourist want to go to Saudi Arabia?
"We have a great culture where many, many tourists would love to come and explore this culture and learn more about it and see it and experience it," said Khateeb.
The government wants to bring in 100 million tourists a year by 2030, more than double the current number. It also wants to create more than one million tourism jobs.
Getting hundreds of thousands of Saudis into the workplace remains a major issue for the crown prince. Currently, the official unemployment rate is over 12 percent.
I'm Susan Shand.
The Reuters News Agency reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
journalist – n. a news reporter or media worker
heinous – adj. shockingly evil
commit – v. to carry out
tourist – n. someone who makes a trip for pleasure or cultural reasons