In a historic move, Saudi Arabia is officially opening its doors to tourists. For the first time ever, international visitors will be able to explore the Kingdom’s heritage sites and have an authentic cultural experience.
On the evening of September 27, a new visa regime will be announced at a gala event at Ad-Diriyah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Riyadh. Visitors will be able to obtain one-year, multiple-entry visas allowing them to spend up to 90 days in the country. The new visa regime will mark a historic milestone in the implementation of Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the country’s economy and reduce its dependence on oil by fueling investment and creating jobs.
His Excellency Ahmad Al-Khateeb, Chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, commented: “Opening Saudi Arabia to international tourists is a historic moment for our country. Generous hospitality is at the heart of Arabian culture and we look forward to showing our guests a very warm welcome. Visitors will be surprised and delighted by the treasures we have to share. Five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, vibrant local culture and breathtaking natural beauty.
To visitors, we say: be among the first to discover and explore the treasures of Arabia.
To investors we say: become part of the fastest-growing tourism sector on earth.”
The landmark change invites travelers from all over the world to take in the Kingdom’s diverse range of landscapes, including the green mountains of Asir, the crystal waters of the Red Sea, the snow-covered winter plains of Tabuk and the shifting sands of the Empty Quarter.
Other Saudi sites of interest include five UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
Madain Saleh in Al-Ula, the largest conserved site of the civilization of the Nabataeans south of Petra in Jordan.
At-Turaif District in Ad-Diriyah, the first capital of the Saudi state.
Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Mecca, characterized by a distinctive architectural tradition.
Rock Art in the Hail Region, showing 10,000-year old inscriptions of human and animal figures.
Al-Ahsa Oasis, with 2.5 million date palms the largest oasis in the world.
For the past decade, the Kingdom has only been issuing visas to Muslims visiting for the annual pilgrimage and others for the purpose of business trips.