Cairo: Argentine football legend Lionel Messi and his family have landed in Saudi Arabia and are exploring its tourist spots, marking his second such trip to the kingdom.
Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al Khatib welcomed the Messis’ visit and posted pictures of them enjoying the tour.
“I am happy to welcome Messi and his family to Saudi [Arabia] to enjoy the magical tourist destinations and authentic experiences,” Al Khatib said on Twitter.
“We welcome visitors from all around the world to experience a unique trip to Saudi Arabia and its hospitality,” he added.
In 2022, Saudi named an ambassador of the kingdom’s tourism as the country is seeking to draw more foreign holidaymakers and diversify its oil-reliant economy.
Earlier this year, media reports speculated about a possible signing of the 35-year-old player of the Paris Saint-Germain to join the Saudi club Al Hilal. But so far, there has been no confirmation of this move.
Messi visited Saudi Arabia in May last year for a holiday and returned in January to participate in an exhibition match with his French club against a team of Saudi premier league stars including his rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese superstar is now playing for Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr club under a historic deal that made him the highest paid footballer in the world.
On several occasions, fans of rival teams taunted Ronaldo by shouting Messi’s name during fixture matches in Saudi Arabia.
Last December, Messi led Argentina’s national team to win the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. His popular soared in the Arab world after he was watched on television screens across the globe lifting the much-coveted trophy while wearing the bisht, a traditional Arab cloak.