Saudi Arabia has introduced a new instant e-Visa scheme specifically designed for visa holders from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Schengen countries. This new category of travelers can now obtain an electronic visa for Saudi Arabia if they have previously used their existing visa to enter the issuing country at least once.
The e-Visa for Saudi Arabia is also available to permanent residents of any country within the European Union. Moreover, first-degree relatives of these travelers will have the option to obtain a Saudi visa on arrival at any air, land, or sea port within the country.
However, it is important to note that the new e-Visa system is exclusively intended for tourism purposes. Travelers under this scheme will not be able to utilize it for obtaining a visa to perform the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimage.
Saudi Arabia's recent introduction of the e-Visa for UK, US, and Schengen visa holders is expected to significantly enhance the nation's tourism sector. This announcement represents a significant milestone in the Kingdom's ongoing efforts to stimulate tourism and facilitate international travel.
The Saudi Ministry of Tourism emphasized that this development aligns with their commitment to simplifying entry procedures and providing a comprehensive tourism experience. The new e-Visa will enable visitors to explore Saudi Arabia's tourism destinations, participate in tourism events, and gain insights into the country's rich heritage and history.
The application process for the Saudi e-Visa will be conducted entirely online, eliminating the need for traditional paper-based documentation or physical visits to consulates or embassies. This transition to a digital application system is expected to expedite the process, making it more efficient for travelers.
Additionally, this initiative is anticipated to attract a substantial influx of international tourists, which will contribute significantly to the local economy. Saudi Arabia has already emerged as one of the world's fastest-growing tourism markets, welcoming over 93 million visitors in 2022.
The introduction of the instant e-Visa is part of a series of significant reforms to Saudi Arabia's visa policy. In 2019, the Kingdom launched its first-ever online visa platform, allowing up to 50 nationalities to obtain tourist visas for the country. This marked a groundbreaking step towards realizing the objectives outlined in Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 initiative.
Furthermore, the list of e-Visa eligible travelers was recently expanded to include residents of other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. This includes residence card holders from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
Earlier this year, the Kingdom introduced a Stopover Visa, enabling transit passengers traveling on Saudi and Flynas flights to explore Saudi Arabia for up to 96 hours. This visa is offered free of charge and aims to encourage travelers to make the most of their layovers by experiencing the country's attractions.
These progressive visa policy changes demonstrate Saudi Arabia's commitment to opening up to the world, boosting tourism, and diversifying its economy.
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