Saudi Arabia’s flag carrier Saudia made its first direct flight to Thailand in 32 years, arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport with 71 passengers on board. The flight marks the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries. 

According to Flightradar24.com data, on February 28, 2022, the 298-seater Saudia Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner jet, registered HZ-AR13, took off from King Khalid International Airport (RUH), also known as Riyadh Airport, in Saudi Arabia for flight SV846 to Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) in Bangkok, Thailand.  

The inaugural flight received a warm welcome from a group of representatives from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports, Pipat Ratchakitprakan.  

“We expect the direct flights will open new opportunities for tourism businesses in Thailand from Middle Eastern visitors,” a TAT spokesperson told local media on the day the aircraft arrived at BKK. 

The flight comes more than three decades after the Blue Diamond Affair, a diplomatic dispute between Saudi Arabia and Thailand, which began in 1989 when a Thai servant allegedly stole 91 kilograms (around 200 pounds) of jewelry and gems. This included a valuable 50-carat blue diamond from the palace of Saudi Arabian Prince Faisal bin Fahd Al Saud.  

The alleged theft also led to a series of unsolved crimes, including the murder of several Saudi diplomats in Thailand.  

However, diplomatic relations were restored in January 2022, after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman invited Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha for an official visit to Saudi Arabia. 

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