Despite Saudi Arabia’s openness to tourism, it is still not safe to travel to the country with a Bible.
The Kingdom, last month, said it would launch a new visa programme to encourage tourism, partly to move it away from its dependence on oil.
But Barnabus Fund, a Christian watchdog group, in a statement, warned travellers that having a Bible or displaying it could trigger their arrest.
Christian Examiner reports the group as warning Christians planning trips to the kingdom not to display their Bible or travel with more than once copy of the text.
“Christian visitors should be aware that displaying a Bible in public, or taking more than one Bible into the country, could place them at risk of arrest,” the group cautioned,” the group reportedly said.
“The new regulations for tourists state that a Bible may be brought into the country provided it is for personal use only. Bibles must not be displayed in public and anyone found bringing a large number of Bibles will face ‘severe penalties.'”
Barnabus Funds said the country’s authorities are strict in interpreting Islam and therefore the practice of Christianity is forbidden.
It said, “There are hundreds of thousands of Christians from other nations, such as the Philippines, other parts of Asia, or African countries, who are living and working in Saudi Arabia.
“But they must meet in private homes to worship, and risk harassment, arrest and deportation if they are caught doing so. Saudi citizens who convert to Christianity face risk of execution by the state for apostasy if their conversion becomes known.”