Coeur d’Alene, ID – Living Passages, a Christian tour operator in the United States of America began offering tours to reach Exodus sites soon after Saudi Arabia opened Biblical sites. These sites had previously been closed for decades.
These tours arrived on the coattails of the second delegation of U.S. Evangelical leaders hosted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. After these meetings, the Prince agreed to open Saudi Arabia sites to tourists.
Living Passages took its first groups to Saudi Arabia in October of 2019 just two weeks after the official opening of the sites.
Two privately chartered, luxury yacht cruise itineraries opened for registration on February 23rd, 2020, and more tours are in the books. The groups will be among the few who have been able to see places the Israelites traveled firsthand since the sites were recently opened. The cruises will take place in early 2021.
How is Saudi Arabia Preparing For Western Tourism?
Saudi Arabia has signed memorandums of understanding totaling 100 billion riyals ($26.6 billion) with regional and international investors to begin construction of infrastructure for tourism.
“The atmosphere in Saudi Arabia is changing. They are hard at work developing the country for Western tourism,” says Rhonda Sand, founder of Living Passages. “Upon our initial visit, we observed construction of critical infrastructure to sustain tourists. Not only are the accommodations beautiful, the untouched landscape is breathtaking!”
Beyond the historic sites, there are new museums, first-class hotels and an international airport that are being prepared for a flow of international tourists. The government is developing the northwest corner of Saudi into a smart-city called Neom. The mega-city in Tabuk will border both Egypt and Jordan and is on track to open by 2025.
Author Joel Richardson, who traveled as a leader with Living Passages on one of its early ground tours to Saudi Arabia, said it was exciting to be there on the ground floor.
“What we have experienced here has been truly, truly nothing short of stunning,” says Richardson.
Which Newly Opened Biblical Sites Will Be Highlighted?
The groups will visit the Jebel al-Lawz mountain in the ancient land of Midian. Bedouin and Jewish traditions have long attested this site to be the real Mount Sinai. The controversial theory contests against the traditional location on the Sinai Peninsula. Near the mountain is the Split Rock of Horeb – a massive stone split in two with water erosion around the base.
“That experience alone is completely life altering, to see some of the archaeological sites around the mountain” says Richardson. “All I’ll say is that the mountain sells itself … If you were creating a movie set for the story of Mt Sinai, you couldn’t create a better set. It’s stunning.”
Traveling via cruise will allow the group to get close the Israelites’ crossing areas, see the land of Avaris (Goshen), where the Israelites originated, and see Cairo. This is in addition to many of the desert sites outlined in Numbers Chapter 33.
Other sites on the itinerary include the Caves of Jethro in the town of Al-Bad’, believed to be the capital of ancient Midian. The town has an ancient well, held to be where Moses met his wife (a daughter of Jethro) after fleeing Egypt. The groups will explore the ruins of Dedan, Wadi Tayyib along the Red Sea coast, and Tayma (where Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar may have lived).
Booking is now open for Living Passages’ upcoming cruises to Saudi Arabia in early 2021.
About Living Passages
Living Passages is a Christian tour and cruise company located in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Living Passages specializes in travel that explores non-traditional authentic Biblical locations around the world. Each tour is led by world-renowned scholars and acclaimed authors. Owner Rhonda Sand has been offering unique travel experiences for over 25 years. Saudi Arabia is the latest location addition to Living Passages’ international destinations.