Islamic Lifestyle 

Saudi Arabia issued 23,715 tourist visas in ten days – media

| 09 October, 2019
 Staff Writer

23,715 tourist visas were issued by Saudi Arabia from September 28, the first day the country started issuing them, until Monday, local media reported on Tuesday.

49 eligible countries can apply for electronic visas while citizens from other nations must apply separately. The 49 eligible countries are mainly in Europe, North America, Asia and Oceania, including three Muslim-majority countries Brunei, Malaysia, and Kazakhstan.

The highest number of visas were issued to Chinese tourists, with more than 7,391, reported local media citing figures from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

6,159 visas were issued to tourists from the United Kingdom, 2,132 to United States citizens and 1,612 to Canadians.

These were followed by 1,107 to Malaysians, 744 to French nationals, 557 to tourists from Germany, 484 to Russians, 476 to Australians and 421 to visitors from Kazakhstan.

Tourist visaholders are allowed multiple entries into Saudi Arabia but can only stay a maximum of 90 days.

Crucially for Muslim tourists of the 49 eligible e-visa countries, the e-visas also cover umrah.

These visas also allow women to travel without a male relative.

Online travel agencies (OTAs) have jumped on this opportunity, with UK-based Rihaala.com on Tuesday announcing its DIY Umrah packages following the new visa rules.

The move to open up the Kingdom to tourists is part of efforts to boost tourism revenue as the country seeks to shed its dependence on oil exports.

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