Saudi Arabia has tightened visa rules for transit passengers for security reasons, and citizens from Syria and Jordan are the main victims of the curbs.

Expatriates heading for their home countries of Syria and Jordan from the UAE would earlier obtain transit visas within three days after applying at the Saudi embassy.

"Obtaining such a visa now takes two, three or even four weeks. I have been waiting for nearly two weeks and have yet to get a visa," said a Syrian expatriate in Abu Dhabi.

Saudi embassy sources confirmed the delay but attributed it to administrative and security reasons.

Thousands of citizens from Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine travel for their annual holidays by land through Saudi Arabia because of cheaper fares.

Applicants for visas to Saudi Arabia have to wait longer in the rush travel season during summer.