Information for tourists before going to Saudi Arabia.
Last year, I was one of the lucky ones to visit Saudi Arabia on a tourist e-visa. Before the issuance of this type of visa, people entered or travelled to Saudi Arabia on business visas, working visas or Hajj and Umrah visa (for Muslims only). On a pilgrimage visa, Muslims cannot travel to cities other than the two cities (Makkah and Madinah).
This step of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reform program, Vision 2030 changed the whole perception of Western or European tourists about the Kingdom. Because before last year, it was illegal to think about tourism in Saudi Arabia, but now it is officially legal.
Now both men and women can plan to travel to this conservative country without a married relationship. If you are a single woman and have reached the age of puberty, you can apply for a tourist e-visa with no male relatives.
What is included in Saudi Arabia tourist e-visa?
First time in Saudi Arabia’s history, but this time only residents of 49 countries can apply for a tourist visa. The application limit for tourist visas may exceed 49 this year, but the coronavirus has temporarily disrupted the mission.
So anyone can apply for this but if his/her age is 18 or over the age and its cost is around £ 110 to £ 135. This type of visa holder has an option of multiple entries in one year because is valid for one year. But the limit of stay in this country is 90 days and you must leave it after ending the days of limit but you have the right to re-enter the state for the next 90 days.
Nowadays, a Muslim can also perform Umrah on this visa except for Umrah visa. He can visit the other cities or places of Saudia along with the performing of Umrah. I think the choice of tourism maybe a big step for the prince to change the country’s system of dependence on oil in the coming days.
The government has also announced other projects that are slightly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. In which an entertainment megacity in Riyadh, the reconstruction of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and a futuristic beach destination on the shores of the Red Sea.
The Saudi government expects 100 million annual visits, which could increase foreign investment, which could create thousands of jobs and bring the country’s revenue graph higher than in the old days. To attract foreign tourists, to make it as a tourist destination for increasing the yearly revenue and Saudi Arabia has eased some of its conservative sanctions in a bid to defeat neighbouring Gulf states.
The government allows women to drive alone and travel without a guardian. Unmarried tourist couples can now rent hotel rooms. It has lifted the ban on hijab (abaya) for foreign women.
According to a report of Arab News, 24,000 visitors entered the kingdom within the first 10 days of the introduction of e-Visa. Despite the lack of proper tourism infrastructure, those who want to know and experience the country will be greatly encouraged to meet the natural scenery of Saudi Arabia and its welcoming locals.
If you are visiting the land of Saudi Arabia, here are some basic and cultural points for first-time travellers to the kingdom.
Most people ask the question “Is Saudi Arabia safe for tourists?”
Yes, of course, Saudi Arabia is a safe country for tourists. Like any other country in the world, respect local laws and customs. Every country’s culture and customs are different, but as a tourist, if you plan to visit a country whose way of life is different from yours, you will have to temporarily adopt their customs and traditions.
Female tourists are not required to wear the abaya (a chador, which was previously required by the government). However, both men and women can generally dress modestly according to their cultures but they must avoid tight fit and exposure dress code.
Markets and restaurants close during prayer times, 5 times a day. Always keep in mind Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country, therefore opposite religion believers don’t permit to practice their religion openly and preaching in public forms etc.
It is a great crime there, making any propaganda against the government, country, and religion. Doing any business of alcohol and drugs is illegal in the country.
Before heading to Saudi Arabia, finding a reliable travel agency is an important step for you. Sometimes this happens, you read tourist guides, articles, etc. but you face some problems that you didn’t find in the reading material.
Then concern the travel agent that helps you get rid of such a situation. At the time of booking the travel package, I experimented with an agency called Labbaik Hajj Umrah.