Saudi Arabia Expands Tourist Visa System

Saudi Arabia has moved to expand a recently-launched tourist visa system aimed at drawing holidaymakers to the kingdom.

Following an announcement last month, citizens from 49 countries were initially eligible for online e-visas or visas on arrival, including the United States, Australia, several European nations, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, China and Kazakhstan.

This has now been extended to nationals of other countries holding a valid commercial or a tourist visa issued by the US, the UK or the European Union’s Schengen visa, reported leading Arabic daily Okaz.

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Others looking to visit Saudi Arabia can approach Saudi missions for a tourist visa provided they attach to their applications a return ticket, a residence booking in the kingdom, financial status and address in the home country, according to the report.

Saudi Arabia announced on September 27 it would start offering tourist visas, opening up the kingdom to holidaymakers as part of a push to diversify its economy away from oil.

The government, reeling from low oil prices, says it hopes tourism will contribute up to 10 percent of the gross domestic product by 2030, compared to three percent currently.

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