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  • Saudi Arabia Offering Tourist E-Visas

    Saudi Arabia Now Open To Tourism

    For the first time, Saudi Arabia is open to tourists. Up until recently, Saudi Arabia only provided visas to people traveling to the country for religious purposes. Now the country is looking to boost foreign tourism, and expand the economy beyond the oil industry.

    History of Tourism in Saudi Arabia

    Tourism in Saudi Arabia has always revolved largely around religious pilgrimage and still does. Visas were limited to business people working in the country, and to Muslims traveling to the country to visit the holy cities of Medina and Mecca.

    Mecca receives about two million pilgrims during the month of Ramadan to perform Umrah, and more than three million pilgrims a year during the month of Dhu al-Hijjah in Hajj (an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca that must be carried out by Muslims at least once in their lifetime). Throughout the year, Mecca receives close to four million for Umrah (the non-mandatory pilgrimage made by Muslims to Mecca, which can be performed any time of the year).

    Present Day Tourism

    Starting on September 27th, 2019, Saudi Arabia opened up their tourism industry to travelers who want to visit for more than religious reasons. Over 24,000 tourists were welcomed into the country in the first 10 days after the tourist visas were issued for the first time. To promote the new change, authorities reported that they will allow unmarried foreign couples to rent hotel rooms together – something not allowed in the past.

    Working to expand their tourism industry, Saudi Arabia is taking on large projects that are intended to attract more travellers. Numerous hotels, shopping centers and even a metro are set to be fully operational by the end of 2019.

    What to See in Saudi Arabia

    There are many unique places to discover while on your trip to Saudi Arabia. One of the most exquisite locations is Tiran Island. Located at the entrance of the straits of Tiran, Tiran Island is an extraordinary place to visit. Its beautiful beaches and clear blue waters make this destination a paradise for snorkelers, divers, and beach lovers alike.

    There are five UNESCO sites you can travel to in Saudi Arabia. One that’s a must-see is Mada’in Saleh. Mada’in Saleh was once a flourishing city along an ancient spice route, and played a pivotal role in building a trade empire. It was the second largest city of the Nabateans (a group that resided across the Jordan Valley and Arabia) until their empire was overtaken by the Romans in 106 CE.

    Another of Saudi Arabia’s UNESCO sites to check out is Masmak Fortress in Riyadh. This was built in the year 1865 but is more well known for what happened many years later. In 1902, an exiled royal by the name of Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman bin Faisal Al Saud, went to Riyadh and took over the fortress. He then went on to conquer all the kingdoms of the region, before uniting them to form the modern-day Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

    For more Saudi Arabia travel destinations, check out our Travel Spotlight on Saudi Arabia here.

    Laws in Saudi Arabia

    While visiting Saudia Arabia, be aware of certain laws you’ll need to follow. The first and most important is to avoid breaking the Lese Majeste laws. This entails not publicly criticizing the government, royal family, Kind, or flag of Saudi Arabia (this includes on social media).

    Everyone loves capturing memories through photos, but be careful when taking photographs while in Saudi Arabia. Taking pictures of military and government installations is illegal, and could lead to a prison sentence.

    Make sure to carry your personal identification with you at all times. Authorities can ask for identification at all times (especially when at a security checkpoint) so it’s a good idea to have a photocopy of your passport on hand.

    eVisa Requirements

    Before visiting Saudi Arabia, there are a small amount of requirements in order to obtain your eVisa. You must be 18 years of age or older, and must have a valid passport from an eligible country with at least 6 months remaining from the date of entry. Some of the countries include the United States, Australia, Canada, South Korea, the UK and 45 others (see below for a complete list). The tourist visa allows for a stay of up to 3 month per entry, with travelers able to stay in Saudi Arabia for up to 90 days during the year.

    Obtaining Your eVisa with Swift

    No matter what you’re looking to do on your trip, make sure to contact us to obtain your eVisa. From stunning architecture to breathtaking beaches, Saudi Arabia is certain to be a trip of a lifetime.

    Full List of Eligible Countries for the eVisa (as of the date of this publication)

    1. USA
    2. Canada
    3. Kazakhstan
    4. Singapore
    5. Brunei
    6. New Zealand
    7. South Korea
    8. Japan
    9. Spain
    10. Belgium
    11. Malaysia
    12. Austria
    13. Cyprus
    14. UK
    15. Croatia
    16. Estonia
    17. Andorra
    18. Denmark
    19. Germany
    20. Bulgaria
    21. France
    22. Hungary
    23. Czech Republic
    24. Holland
    25. Italy
    26. Finland
    27. Ireland
    28. Lithuania
    29. Greece
    30. Liechtenstein
    31. Monaco
    32. Iceland
    33. Malta
    34. Poland
    35. Latvia
    36. Norway
    37. Russia
    38. Luxembourg
    39. Romania
    40. Slovenia
    41. Montenegro
    42. Slovakia
    43. Switzerland
    44. Portugal
    45. Sweden
    46. Australia
    47. San Marino
    48. Ukraine
    49. China, including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan

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