Last month, Saudi Arabia launched a Tourist e-Visa, a first for the Kingdom which so far did not allow foreigners to enter simply for tourism purposes. Those eligible for Saudi Arabia’s new Tourist e-Visa included all Schengen Area nationals as well as the USA, Australia, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei.
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This means, if you have a Schengen visa and want to visit Saudi Arabia, you can simply get the new e-Visa, rather than apply through the longer and more complicated route at Saudi Arabian diplomatic missions.
The new Tourist e-Visa allows the holder multiple entries into the kingdom and is valid for one year. The maximum duration that one can stay in Saudi Arabia consecutively is 90 days, but no more than 180 days overall.
You can apply for the visa online and pay a fee of about $120, including health insurance. You only need your passport and visa.
So far, Saudi Arabia did not have a visa specifically for tourism. Entry was restricted to Muslim pilgrims wishing to visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, business travelers, and resident workers and their dependents. The visa was launched in an effort to boost the tourism sector and create new jobs for Saudi Arabian citizens as part of the new reforms taken by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
And it seems to have worked since 24,000 people flew to Saudi Arabia within the first 10 days of the e-Visa launch, the Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry announced.
Visitors were mostly from China, with the UK, US France, Germany, Canada, Malaysia, Russia, Australia and Kazakhstan following close behind.
“Opening Saudi Arabia to international tourists is a historic moment for our country,” said Ahmad Al-Khateeb, chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, in a statement. “Generous hospitality is at the heart of Arabian culture and we look forward to showing our guests a very warm welcome. To visitors, we say: be among the first to discover and explore the treasures of Arabia. To investors we say: become part of the fastest-growing tourism sector on earth.”
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