Saudi Arabia to issue tourist visas for the first time

Published on : Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia – the ultra-conservative country plans to welcome tourists by issuing electronic tourist visas, which will be made available by the end of the month.

At present, foreigners travelling to Saudi Arabia have to apply for an entry visas at the Kingdom’s consulates abroad in advance.

The plan for issuing tourist visas is part of an ambitious modernization and reform program for preparing the oil-dependent economy for the post-oil era; however, its success might depend on the extent to which travel and social restrictions on visitors are eased.

The Kingdom is notorious for gender discrimination and strict Islamic dress code. Now in a bid to reform and attract visitors, it is becoming flexible on some restrictions as part of the modernization program.

Women will be permitted to drive from June. Falling oil prices are helping to shape Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030. Signs of the country’s reform can be seen everywhere.

Riyadh is building its first public transport network; multiplex cinemas are opening up across the capital and a new entertainment city will feature a safari and theme park when it opens in 2021. New package tours will include some of the world’s least-explored heritage sites. In Aug 2017, the prince announced the launch of an international tourism project. The Kingdom plans to turn 50 islands on the pristine Red Sea coastline into luxury resorts to rival Middle East hotspots such as Dubai and Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.

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