With its new visa policy, Saudi Arabia’s Welcoming Score speeds ahead of Canada and Australia.
According to The Passport Index, Saudi Arabia was one of the most unwelcoming nations in the world, giving access to merely 4 nations to cross their borders without needing a visa. These included Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. With its new visa policy in effect this Friday September 27th, Saudi Arabia increases its Welcoming Score to 56, ranking above countries like Canada, USA, and Australia.
As visa policies go, more and more nations are discovering, and reaping the benefits of opening their borders to the rest of the world to reflect progress and reputation. And not only is Saudi Arabia opening its doors to the world through its new tourist visa, but they have also implemented a fast and easy-to-use online portal for international visitors from eligible countries to seamlessly apply for an eVisa online.
The eVisa will be a one-year, multiple entry visa, allowing citizens of 52 countries (full list below) to spend up to 90 days in the country. The entire process takes 10-30 minutes, and costs SAR 440 ($117 USD) plus VAT and payment processing fees.
Ahmed al-Khateeb, Saudi Arabia’s tourism chief, said in a statement that opening the kingdom to international tourists was “a historic moment for our country.”
The statement also noted that country hoped tourism to form up to 10% of Saudi Arabia’s annual gross domestic product, compared with the current 3%, and that “billions of dollars are being spent to improve infrastructure and develop heritage, cultural and entertainment sites.”
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the leader of Saudi Arabia has been eager to boost its international standing and attract foreign investment to the nation, but it is unclear how attractive it will be to tourists. Despite Saudi Arabia’s low tolerance towards strict social conduct, as well as many allegations towards human rights abuses, the Saudi authorities believe that the country’s attractions will outweigh those concerns.
“Visitors will be surprised and delighted by the treasures we have to share,” Mr. Al-Khateeb said in the statement, citing the country’s five world heritage sites and “a vibrant local culture and breathtaking natural beauty.”
Although Saudi Arabia made a huge advancement in Passport Index’ Welcoming rank, its passport power remains well below the world average. With a Mobility Score of just 87, Saudi Arabia’s passport ranks in 53rd place.
What do you think? Are you ready to discover the rich heritage, vibrant culture, and diverse landscapes of Saudi Arabia; now that you can visit visa-free?
List of eligible nations:
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and United States of America.
For more information, or apply for an eVisa, visitSaudi.com.