Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Turkey issued an alert on Monday to its citizens visiting the country regarding the safekeeping of their belongings after a spate of cases involving the theft of Saudi passports in Istanbul.
“In view after some citizens who arrived in the Republic of Turkey on tourism were stopped by authorities for not carrying their original passports, the embassy notes the necessity for citizens to hold on to their original passports with care and prevent its loss, damage or theft. Turkish security authorities request the original passport for the purpose of verifying identity, and does not accept a copy of the passport,” a statement carried by the Saudi embassy and foreign ministry on Twitter read.
Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported last week that 165 Saudi passports were stolen in three Turkish tourist areas during the past four months. According to sources who spoke to the newspaper, Saudi tourists were targeted in the neighborhoods of Taksim, Ortakoy, and Besiktas in Istanbul.
“The thefts and pick-pocketing are not limited to Saudi tourists, but we have heard similar cases among Arab tourists,” Charge d’Affaires at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul Meshary Al-Thyaby was quoted as saying by Asharq al-Awsat.
The Saudi foreign ministry issued the first alert on July 2, saying that some citizens had filed complaints after they were subjected to pickpocketing in some regions of Turkey and added that many of them had lost their passports and money.
“The embassy would like to stress the need for citizens to preserve their passports and valuables – especially in crowded areas – and for citizens to not hesitate in communicating with the embassy in Ankara or the consulate in Istanbul in case of an emergency,” the alert read at the time.
According to a recent report by the Federation of Hotel Owners in Turkey, the number of Saudi tourists visiting Turkey on tourism has decreased by 33.2 percent during the first six months of this year – totaling 122,115 tourists so far – compared to the same period last year.