"If the player traveled abroad in any club in Europe then that is advertisement for his country. I remember Saudi Arabia winning the 1989 FIFA U-20 World Cup against Scotland. I remember some good players then but I do not know where are they now."
Ferguson said he'd love to have Arab players on his books, but as yet he has not come across any capable of competing for a place at United.
"There must be greater importance placed on football in the Arab world so players can play professionally in Europe. We at Manchester United have 20 nationalities from 20 different countries."
United chief executive David Gill, meanwhile, confirmed today's trip to Saudi Arabia was organised with a view to establishing stronger links with Al-Hilal.