Saudi Arabia to lift 30-year-long travel ban to Thailand after Blue Diamond Affair

Saudi Arabia to lift 30-year-long travel ban to Thailand after Blue Diamond Affair
Saudi Arabia has agreed to lift a travel ban on its citizens to Thailand, in an effort to restore diplomatic ties with Thailand following a 30-year-long spat.
2 min read
10 March, 2022
Both Saudi and Thai citizens will now be able to travel to both countries [Getty]

Saudi Arabia has lifted a three-decade long ban on its citizens travelling to Thailand on Wednesday, reported the official Saudi Press Agency.

Relations between the two countries have been on the mend since the beginning of the year, when Riyadh and Bangkok decided to officially restore ties and exchange ambassadors after a 32-year-long rift.

The move was agreed upon during Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha’s visit to Riyadh where he met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in January.

The Saudi General Directorate of Passports said that both Saudi and Thai nationals are now permitted to enter both countries, according to Gulf News.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said that the Saudi national carrier Saudia, formerly known as Saudi Arabian Airlines, will operate three direct flights from Riyadh to Bangkok.

Diplomatic relations soured dramatically between Saudi Arabia and Thailand in 1989 when a Thai worker, employed as a housekeeper at Prince Faisal bin Fahd’s place, allegedly stole 91 kilograms worth of jewelry and other valuables, including a valuable blue diamond, amounting to $20 million.

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The incident, which was followed by a series of diplomatic rifts and unresolved murders of Saudi diplomats, was dubbed the Blue Diamond Affair.

Thailand, which has been deprived of billions of dollars lost through needed tourism revenues and migrant workers' remittances, has been eager to rebuild its relations with the oil-rich Gulf country in recent years.

The southeast Asian country also plans to facilitate the deployment of labour, as part of its restoration ties with the Saudi kingdom.