Paris Saint Germain and Argentina footballer Lionel Messi visited Jeddah this week after the Saudi Tourism Authority named the high-profile star as its official brand ambassador.
The appointment of one of the world’s best-known sports celebrities to promote tourism underlines the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s highly ambitious plans to grow the value of the sector in the country.
Messi – who flew into Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport on Monday for his official unveiling in the ambassadorial role – has become an icon in the football world after more than 20 years on the books of Barcelona and scoring more than 750 senior career goals for club and country.
In a message posted on Twitter, Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb said: “I am pleased to welcome Lionel Messi to Saudi Arabia. We are excited for you to explore the treasure of the Red Sea, the Jeddah Season and our ancient history. This is not his first visit to the Kingdom and it will not be the last.”