Saudi visitor numbers to U.S. drop

July 3, 2002 at 4:51 PM
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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, July 3 (UPI) -- The number of Saudis visiting or studying in the United States has dropped by 10 percent since 2001, according to Robert Jordan, U.S. ambassador to the oil-rich country.

The number of those seeking medical treatment dropped by 40 percent since 2001. The number of Saudis studying in the United States was 28,000 this year, a decrease of 2 percent, Jordan said.

About 85,000 Saudis visited the United States during 2001.

Abdel Aziz Daghistani, director general of the Economic Studies Center, has called for the Saudi Arabian government to adopt similar measures against U.S. citizens if the United States implements new immigration laws on Saudi citizens and business. A U.S. immigration law being considered by Congress would call for immigration officers to fingerprint every visitor who enters the country who cannot show proof of permanent residency.

Also this week, a U.S. Embassy official in Riyadh asked Saudis not to boycott U.S. products, saying such a move would be harmful to both parties.

Anti-Muslim sentiment sparked by the Sept. 11 terror attacks in New York and Washington and the Saudi perception that the United States supports Israel in its war against the Palestinians has affected U.S.-Saudi ties.

Jordan made his comments while speaking at a news conference Tuesday to mark the launching of a new U.S. tourist Web site.

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