Saudi Arabia set to offer tourist visas to 49 countries

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Saudi Arabia is set to announce it will be opening its doors to international visitors from 49 countries by issuing tourist visas.

The announcement will be made at an event held by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) on Friday in Riyadh’s Diriyah.

According to reports, the visas would be issued at a fee $80 (SAR 300).

Nearly two weeks ago, the SCTH began teasing the announcement through a social media campaign and website under the slogan “Where in the World” showing different tourist destinations in Saudi Arabia. Each post was accompanied by messages like “This is not the Maldives” and “This is not Petra”.

“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,” SCTH Chairman Ahmad Al-Khateeb said in a statement.

“Visitors will be surprised and delighted by the treasures we have to share. Five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a vibrant local culture and breathtaking natural beauty,” he added.

No abayas for foreign women

Alongside the new visas, foreign women visiting the Kingdom will not be required to wear an abaya - the body-covering robe the Saudi Arabian women are required to wear in public.

Women will still be asked to wear “modest clothing.”

The changes are the latest in Saudi Arabia's recent reforms in line with the Vision 2030 economic plan.

On June 24, Saudi Arabian women gained the right to drivers’ licenses in a historic change. In August, restrictions on women traveling were loosened by new laws which allow all Saudi Arabian citizens to apply for a passport and travel freely.

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