Saudi Arabia: A New Recipe – The Religious Police and Tourism

450 employees from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPC) or otherwise known as the Muttawa (religious police) have been chosen to be trained by the Ministry of Tourism.  The objective of this initiative is to present a gentle and understanding Muttawa who can be helpful to foreign tourists in the Kingdom.

They are to help tourists without prejudice but within the parameters of Sharia law.  Now that is going to be interesting to see exactly how this works out.  For example, female tourists who now visit Maidan Saleh may tour the historic tombs and town of Al Ula without the need to wear an abaya or cover their head.  How will the Muttawa react to these actions which to them may be a circumvention of tradition?  Will they be accepting or try to instill their rule claiming it is under Sharia law?  Additionally, groups of mixed gender are known to travel to Maidan Saleh and with no objections.  Would this also change?

It’s interesting that the Al Bawaba article cites that the 450 employees have been in five months of training but does not expand on what their training has entailed.

This new relationship between the CPVCP and Ministry of Tourism plans to have Muttawa cooperating with the Ministry in all provinces of the Kingdom.

What do YOU think?  In fairness, how do you see the Muttawa’s role to the Ministry of Tourism as a benefit?   Do you think the Muttawa’s exposure to foreign tourists will soften them and make them more understanding of different cultures and customs?


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