It took Drew Binsky nearly 10 years to visit every country in the world. On October 29, 2021, at 1:31 AM, Binsky crossed the border into Saudi Arabia, his 197th country.
Binsky started traveling the world in January 2012 when he moved to Prague as an international student. To make a visit to every country happen, he flew on nearly 1,500 flights and took over 1000 buses and trains during his 10 years of non-stop travel. But the best part is that he created 1,241 videos of his journey along the way.
His latest video takes us to Saudi Arabia, a country that until a couple of years ago was only open to approved foreign workers and Muslim pilgrims. Since 2019, the rules have significantly relaxed and tourist visas to Saudi Arabia are now quick and easy to obtain, allowing curious travelers to finally peek behind the curtain.
While in Saudi Arabia, Binsky busts some myths. “It’s clean, it’s safe, and it’s welcoming, especially for tourists,” he explains. Binsky also meets with local women who express their frustration at the distorted portraits of Saudi women in Western media. Recent legal changes mean that, now, Saudi women are allowed to leave their hair uncovered, drive, and they have the freedom to travel without the permission of a male guardian.
And as Binsky does in his other videos, he took on a $10 challenge to see what he could get with this small amount of money while walking the streets of Jeddah and Riyadh. Local experts Sara Omar and Abdullah take him to try local delicacies like balila — a salad of chickpeas, pickled beets, onions, cucumber, spices, and vinegar — for just $1.50, and subia (also known as bread juice) for $2. They also show him the local shops and markets where Binsky buys a very special and traditional toothbrush for $1.
If you’re on the fence about visiting Saudi Arabia, Binsky’s video may persuade you to get yourself an e-visa and go check out the beauty that’s on offer in this rapidly-changing nation.