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Cairo: Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Egypt has announced launching an e-visa service starting from Thursday (today) as part of a similar switch unveiled for seven countries.

The launch comes in implementation of an initiative announced by the Saudi Foreign Ministry earlier this month for issuing e-visas at some missions of the kingdom abroad.

In its first stage, the procedure is set to apply by the Saudi missions in the UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The initiative replaces the visa sticker on the beneficiary’s passport with an e-visa that can be read via the Quick Response (QR) code.

The shift is part of automation procedures and upgrade of consular services provided by the ministry for granting work, residency and visit visas, the official Saudi news agency SPA said.

Saudi Arabia is home to a large community of expat workers.

The country is seeking to diversify its oil-reliant economy and attract more foreign visitors.

The number of visitors to Saudi Arabia reached 2.4 million in January and surged to 2.5 million in February, Tourism Minister Ahmed Al Khateeb said in March. The kingdom aims to receive 25 million foreign tourists this year.

Saudi Arabia, Islam’s birthplace, has in recent months unveiled a slew of facilities for Muslims wishing to come to the country to perform Umrah or lesser pilgrimage.

Muslims holding different types of entry visas such as the personal, visit and tourism visas are allowed to undertake Umrah.

The kingdom has also said GCC residents are eligible to apply for a tourist visa, regardless of their profession, allowing them to perform Umrah.