Saudi Arabia to Begin Issuing Tourist Visas Later This Month
September 3, 2019
By Emily McNutt
Saudi Arabia is reportedly set to begin issuing tourist visas later this month. Citing unnamed sources, Saudi Arabian newspaper Okaz said that the state will begin issuing tourist eVisas on 27 September.
The visas will be available to citizens from 51 countries, will cost 440 riyals (~£97) and will be valid for 90 days. Eligible tourists will be able to either apply for the eVisa in advance or upon landing in the state.
The move marks a big step forward for the state, which was previously closed off to tourists, with visas only being administered to business travellers, those visiting family as well as those making a pilgrimage to Mecca. Opening up to tourists was a move originally announced last year under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a mission to decrease its economic dependence on oil.
“[Saudi Arabia] is open for people that are doing business, for people working in Saudi Arabia, investing in Saudi Arabia, and people who are visiting for special purposes”, Prince Sultan bin Salman told the Associated Press in 2018. “And now it will be open for tourism again on a selected basis”.
The state hopes to bring 30 million visitors to its land by 2030. This year, it plans to start a large construction project in which it’ll develop holiday resorts on islands in the Red Sea. The first phase is set to be completed by the end of 2022.
Saudi Arabian Airlines, or Saudia, the national carrier of Saudi Arabia flies nonstop between London (LHR) and Riyadh (RUH) and Jeddah (JED) with a Boeing 777, as well as from Manchester (MAN) to JED with a Boeing 787. The carrier is a member of the SkyTeam alliance. You can read a full review of the 777 business-class experience here.
The state’s eVisa page still looks to be in its original stage and not yet eligible for applications.