Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism said this week that all residents of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries can now apply online for tourism visit visas.
The five other GCC countries, apart from Saudi Arabia, are UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman. Therefore all expats with valid residency documents for any of these GCC countries can now apply for Saudi’s visit visas online.
The visa will be applicable for tourist purposes as well as to perform Umrah in the kingdom.
Further amendments have also been made to the conditions under which these visas are granted. The eligibility restrictions on the basis of the individual’s profession that were previously in place have now been dropped.
The Saudi Tourism Authority said that it welcomed the Ministry of Tourism’s decision. Applications for the visa can be made on visa.visitsaudi.com.
Saudi Arabia first launched its tourist visa programme in 2019. Last year, the Saudi Tourism Authority launched the Nusuk platform, Saudi’s first-ever official integrated digital platform to offers all pilgrims and visitors a planning tool for their journeys to Makkah and Madinah, and beyond.
The number of visits to the kingdom reached more than 93 million in 2022. The tourism sector aims to reach 100 million visits annually by 2030.
In 2022, tourism spend in Saudi was SAR185 billion which represents an increase of 93 per cent compared to 2021. Saudi has committed US$550 billion to new destinations by 2030.
The kingdom aims to increase international air connectivity from approximately 140 cities to over 250 cities by 2030.