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Passport holders from 49 countries can now acquire Saudi Arabia tourist visas

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Saudi Arabia is on a mission to increase tourism in the country. In the wake of much controversy, The Kingdom is seeking to change its image, and for the first time in history, allow tourists to take a look around inside its borders. First step…tourist visas. Through this website you can now apply electronically, and I have to admit…my interest is piqued.  Without going into politics and rights and everything else that causes heated debate, I think this is a step in the right direction, and I’d love to visit, see some of the country, and meet its people.

What does the visa permit?

  • Validity for 1 year
  • Multiple entry
  • Can visit up to 90 days

The Cost:

440 Riyals..roughly $117 at today’s exchange rate and includes a health insurance fee

Who is eligible

  • Must be over 18, or done with a guardian
  • Have 6 months validity on passport
  • Passport from one of the 49 eligible countries

List of 49 countries eligible for a tourist visa

I’d highly recommend visiting this page which goes into further detail regarding Laws and Etiquette in The Kingdom. A few things you should know

Dress Code:

Both men and women are encouraged to dress modestly. Women specifically need to cover knees and shoulders in public.

Behavior

Public displays of affection are inconsistent with local culture and should also avoid profane language and gestures

No Alcohol/Drugs

It’s not available, nor should it be brought into the country as it’s illegal in any form. In fact, Saudia is a dry airline FYI. Also…if you use any medicine that could be illegal, make sure you don’t bring it. This isn’t exclusive to Saudi Arabia, but an issue around the world ( especially with Opioids used for pain, or even muscle relaxers ).

Religion

At prayer time, five times a day, music is turned off in public places and many shops close briefly.  For one month a year, during Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and so it is respectful to avoid eating or drinking in public during the day at this time.

Visiting Mecca or “Makkah”

Unless you’re Muslim, tourism is prohibited. Here’s what they have to say:

The city of Makkah itself is only accessible to Muslims. Each year, it bears witness to the Hajj pilgrimage, a religious duty that must be performed by every able Muslim at least once in their lifetime, and which draws millions each year. Holy sites in the city include the sacred Ka’aba, located in the heart of the Masjid al-Haram, or Grand Mosque, while the circling mountains house the historic Cave of Thawr, where the Prophet sought refuge from the Quraysh tribe, and the revered Jabal Rahmah, where he delivered his last sermon.

What do you think?

*Al Murabba Palace feature image courtesy of visitsaudi.com

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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