Manama: Saudi Arabia is to allow women who are at least 25 years old to visit the kingdom without the need to be accompanied by a family member, a Saudi daily has said.
“The tourist visa will be a single-entry visa, and valid for 30 days maximum. This visa is added to those currently available in the Kingdom. It is independent of work, visit, Hajj and Umrah visas,” Omar Al Mubarak, director general of licensing at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) was quoted as saying by Arab News on Thursday.
Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, the president of the Commission, last month confirmed that all government approvals were in place for the launch of electronic visas in 2018 to applicants whose countries allow them to visit Saudi Arabia.
Al Mubarak said that “the Commission’s IT department is currently building an electronic system for the issuance of tourist visas, coordinating with representatives of the National Information Centre and the Foreign Ministry.”
Saudi Arabia is launching massive projects to open up the tourism sector and boost the number of people visiting the kingdom under a highly ambitious drive led by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to diversify the economy and to shed its ultra-conservative image.
Opening up the tourism sector and highlighting new destinations, other than the religious sites in Makkah and Medina, in the vast kingdom will create numerous employment opportunities for Saudi nationals.
On August 1, Prince Mohammad announced the launch of an international tourism project, The Red Sea, a resort built across a lagoon of 50 untouched islands to be developed in partnership with some of the world’s leading hospitality firms.
The Red Sea is largely expected to spearhead the diversification of the Saudi leisure industry.
Laws on par with international standards will govern the newly mapped semi-autonomous area and the first phase, which will include development of hotels, luxury residential units and all logistical infrastructure such as air, land and sea transport hubs, is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.