The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will start issuing the long-awaited electronic visas in the following weeks. These visas are, however, only for tourists of the specific countries. The Schengen countries are on this list as well as citizens of the Americas, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Brunei, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, South Africa.
Saudi Arabia is a conservative and religious country. Therefore, special rules apply to female passengers who wish to visit Saudi Arabia. Women under 25 years of age need to be accompanied by a family member during their travels. Also, women over 25 years of age need to be a part of a tourist group organised by a certified tourism agency.
The tourists holding the electronic visa (e-Visa) will not be allowed to visit Mecca or Medina. These holy places can only be visited on Umrah or Hajj visas during the annual pilgrimage. Visiting Mecca and Medina is also not allowed on a transit visa.
Omar Al Mubarak, director general of licensing at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, said that “the Commission’s IT department is currently building an electronic system for the issuance of tourist visas, coordinating with representatives of the National Information Centre and the Foreign Ministry”, according to Gulfnews.com.
These tourist visas will be currently only for single-entry and their validity is going to be 30 days.
According to the new visa regulations, all tourist visas will be issued once the dates, duration and accommodation of the planned tours are settled.
The income from the tourism will help the Saudi economy since the low oil prices took a toll on this country’s budget.