Saudi Arabia Honors Schengen Visa, Considers Holders Eligible for Tourist e-Visa

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Schengen visa holders can now be eligible for Saudi Arabia’s Tourist e-Visa.

In a landmark move, Saudi Arabia last month launched its Tourist e-Visa. The Kingdom until now did not allow foreigners to get into the country simply for tourism purposes. With the new Tourist e-Visa policy, nationals from Schengen Area, the USA, Australia, Japan, South Africa, Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei are eligible to apply for the visa.  

The list of those who can apply for the Tourist e-Visa, however, was extended according to the new regulations that were recently announced. It was extended to include holders of visa of the the original eligible countries. If you are a Schengen visa holder, for example, and you plan on visiting Saudi Arabia, you can do away with the more difficult and longer process of application at Saudi Arabian embassies or consulates and simply get the new Tourist e-Visa.

The new Tourist e-Visa permits holders multiple entries into the country. The visa has one-year validity. A maximum duration of 90 consecutive days stay and overall total not to exceed 180 days are allowed.

Only your passport and current visa are needed to apply for the new e-Visa, which can be done online. A fee of $120, including health insurance is required.

Up to this point, no visa exclusively for tourism is available in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom was restricting entry to Muslim pilgrims who wish to visit Mecca and Medina, which are considered holy cities, travelling businessmen and resident workers with their dependents. The new visa was launched as part of the new reforms initiated by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in an effort to boost Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector and job creation for its citizens.

Present results show that the program is working. Within the first ten days of its launch, the e-Visa has produced 24,000 travelers to the Kingdom according to the Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry.  Most of these visitors were from China, US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Russia, Malaysia, Australia and Kazakhstan. “Opening Saudi Arabia to international tourists is a historic moment for our country. Generous hospitality is at the heart of Arabian culture and we look forward to showing our guests a very warm welcome. To visitors, we say: be among the first to discover and explore the treasures of Arabia. To investors, we say: become part of the fastest-growing tourism sector on earth,” Ahmad Al-Khateeb, Chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, declared in a statement.

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