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Tea Leaves

Saudis bask in Bangkok's mojo

Middle Eastern visitors flock to Thai capital and balmy beach resorts after diplomatic deal

An illuminated sign uses Arabic script to advertise an indoor night market in Bangkok's Nana district, a popular area for Middle Eastern visitors, on April 20. (Photo by Adryel Talamantes)

During a recent visit to MBK, a Bangkok shopping center popular with tourists, I discovered how a Thai family that runs a small printing shop is getting lessons in Saudi Arabian culture. The shop is my favorite source of business cards, but a friendship has also blossomed with one of the Thai owners, who often chats about the shifting tastes of her customers.

Lately, our exchanges have focused on Saudi tourists, who favor palm-size cards with a range of floral prints and a few words in Arabic highlighted against a cream background. Some of these "thank you" and greeting cards are displayed on a wall near the front desk, but there have been many more, the shop owner said, opening an album filled with copies of orders featuring Middle Eastern motifs.

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