Monday, July 15, 2024

Saudi makes visa rule change; opens doors to GCC residents

Saudi Arabia has announced a major change to the visa application process with regard to the residents of Gulf countries. As per the new amendment, GCC residents and even their first-degree relatives are eligible to apply for a tourist visa to the kingdom, regardless of their profession.

Previously, the kingdom was giving eVisas to only those GCC residents with occupations listed on its approved list.

As per the new rule, GCC residents would be able to enter the kingdom with an electronic tourist visa obtained by applying through the ‘Visit Saudi’ platform, provided that their residency permit is valid for at least three months and passport for at least six months.

This also applies to accompanying first-degree relatives of the residency holder and domestic workers arriving with their sponsors.

The move to allow those wishing to enter the kingdom, without limiting this to specific professions, comes as part of Saudi Tourism Ministry’s efforts to provide an opportunity for all GCC residents to visit the various tourist destinations in the kingdom as well as attend entertainment events, and get closely acquainted with its heritage.

“Saudi Arabia’s visa application is now simpler, more convenient and straightforward for residents of GCC states, regardless of their profession,” tweeted Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al Khateeb, soon after the ministry announcement.

The ministry said the key amendments included expanding the eligible categories and providing more options for those wishing to visit the KSA for tourism.

This is the latest in a series of announcements across the Saudi tourism eco-system that aim to attract regional tourists and provide more activities for visitors coming from GCC countries.

In January, the kingdom introduced a new free transit visa allowing stopover passengers to stay in the country for up to four days.

Last year, the Saudi Tourism Authority had launched the Nusuk platform in collaboration with the Pilgrim Experience Program.

The kingdom’s first-ever official integrated digital platform, Nusuk, offers all pilgrims and visitors an easy-to-use planning gateway for their journeys to Makkah and Madinah, and beyond.

With Nusuk, travellers from all over the world can easily organise their entire visit, from applying for an eVisa to booking hotels and flights.

Saudi has seen a remarkable increase in the number of visitors every year, reaching more than 93 million visits in 2022. The tourism sector aims to reach 100 million visits annually by 2030.

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