Saudi Arabia Launches New Campaign With Football Hero Lionel Messi

Emma Hodgson   |   29-01-2024

International football icon Lionel Messi is fronting a new campaign for Saudi Arabia. 

Called “Go Beyond What You Think” the campaign aims to tackle common misconceptions about Saudi Arabia, and to foster broadening of perspectives as well as bridging cultures through tourism. 

The team behind the campaign is called ‘Saudi Welcome To Arabia’ and it will launch across Europe, India and China. 

Those who know Saudi are encouraged to share positive experiences and memories on TikTok and social channels using the bi-lingual hashtags #ShareYourSaudi.

The campaign brings to life the UN Tourism, ‘Tourism Opens Minds’ Initiative that launched on World Tourism Day in Riyadh in September 2023, which extends a compelling invitation for travellers to broaden their horizons and explore uncharted corners of the world. Governments and industry were presented with a special pledge, calling on them to promote new and under-appreciated destinations while consumers pledged to ‘be open-minded to new cultures and destinations, holding an open heart while travelling’.

Lionel Messi is one of many leading international figures who took that pledge. Messi has a fond connection with Saudi being a frequent visitor to the country, including most recently with his wife, Antonella and their two children last Spring. Both Messi and his family have expressed delight in their Saudi experiences and a desire to continue visiting the country.

The hero video for the campaign features Messi breaking down metaphorical ‘walls’ of various misconceptions about the country.

The video showcases Saudi’s diverse locations, weather and terrain – from the pristine waters of the Red Sea to the lush green mountains in Aseer, snow-covered Tabuk, the coastal city of Jeddah and Riyadh, the bustling capital. In celebration of Saudi’s activities and attractions, the Messi campaign highlights the Diriyah E-Prix, Riyadh Season’s theme park rides, AlUla’s hot air balloon flights and MDL Beast music events.

The campaign also places a spotlight on Saudi’s open and welcoming culture and the importance of inspiring young Saudi women to reach their full potential. 

Messi celebrates the Saudi women who have been trailblazers in their fields and are currently leading Saudi’s cultural transformation. Recent events include Saudi Women’s National football team, motorsport athlete Dania Akeel, DJ Cosmicat, and Rayyanah Barnawi, the first Saudi woman in space.

Saudi especially comes alive during its sunny Winter Season – this year the country is hosting 17,000 events, making it ‘the world’s most happening winter’. Ongoing events include Riyadh Season, Jeddah Season and Diriyah Season, with notable events coming up including the Saudi Cup (February 23-24), Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (March 7-9), AlUla Arts Festival (Feb 9-March 2), AlUla skies festival (April 10-27) and much more.

Of note, the campaign is launching ahead of Messi’s imminent and much-anticipated Saudi return playing two matches with his current Club, Inter Miami, against Al Nassr on the 1st of February and against Al Hilal on the 29th of January.