Saudi Arabia to open up to foreign tourists with new visas

Saudi Arabia will open its doorways to worldwide tourists for the primary time as a part of a broader push to reduce its financial dependence on oil.

On Friday, the dominion will launch a visa regime for 49 nations and loosen up strict costume codes for feminine guests.

Tourism Minister Ahmad al-Khateeb described it as a “historic moment” for the nation.

Visas have till now largely been restricted to pilgrims, enterprise individuals and expatriate employees.

Saudi Arabia can be hoping to safe foreign funding within the tourism business. It desires tourism to rise from 3% to 10% of gross home product by 2030.

“Visitors might be shocked… by the treasures we’ve got to share – 5 Unesco World Heritage Sites, a vibrant native tradition and breathtaking pure magnificence,” Mr al-Khateeb stated.

Foreign ladies guests is not going to be required to put on the body-covering abaya gown required to be worn in public by Saudi ladies, however should nonetheless keep modest costume. There may even be no restrictions on unaccompanied ladies visiting the nation.

“We have a tradition. We imagine our mates and our friends will respect the tradition, however undoubtedly it’s modest and it is going to be very clear,” Mr al-Khateeb stated.

Non-Muslims will nonetheless not be allowed to go to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina and the ban on alcohol might be maintained.

More particulars on the scheme, together with which nations are eligible, are due to be supplied in a while Friday.

But Mr al-Khateeb stated he didn’t imagine the latest assault on Saudi Arabia’s oil business would put individuals off visiting.

“Our cities are among the most safest cities globally. Therefore, we don’t believe at all it will impact our plans. We have all the expats living in Saudi Arabia, enjoying Saudi Arabia. We’re very secure,” he stated.

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