New Saudi Arabia Holiday Visa is a Game-Changer for Local Tourism
The birthplace of Islam, Saudi Arabia is well known for its vibrant culture, rich traditions, striking red sea beaches, and breathtaking mountains.
Some of the most attractive destinations include Jeddah, the Sarawat Mountains, Masjid Al Haram, the Nabataean ruins in Madâin Sâlih, the 5 UNESCO World Heritage sites and more.
Arabic is the official language of Saudi Arabia, but English is the informal second language and is spoken by the vast majority of people. All road signs display information in both Arabic and English.
New Visa for Saudi Arabia and opening to tourism
Saudi Arabia has an international reputation as land with conservative laws and restrictions of women’s rights. However, with so much to offer tourists, it is understandable that Saudi Arabia is keen to update its image.
Saudi Arabia recently announced a new tourist visa which citizens from 49 countries are eligible to apply for. This was a landmark announcement for tourists as, up until recently, visas to Saudi Arabia were restricted to business travellers, ex-pat workers, and pilgrims.
This visa may prove to be a game-changer for Saudi Arabia. It is part of a well-planned move to steer the country’s economy and is expected to bring millions of dollars from tourism. The middle-eastern nation is hopeful it can expand its tourist numbers to 30 million annually.
Considering a trip to Saudi Arabia in 2020?
Check out this useful guide to what you can expect to find when you arrive in the Middle East.
Here is everything you need to know if you are planning a trip to Saudi Arabia.
Is it safe?
Yes, Saudi Arabia is safe for tourists. However, like every country in the world, there are local rules that must be followed and customs that should be respected.
For example, though the country is moving towards a more relaxed dress code, men should not wear shorts and are advised to dress conservatively.
Meanwhile, female travellers should wear an abaya or loose modest clothing.
Is it true that Saudi Arabia is adopting a Western lifestyle?
Yes, western culture is reshaping parts of the country. 500,000 new hotel rooms, resort towns, airports and highways are being built. What is more, you can be picked up at the airport by an English speaking taxi driver.
Top sights to see in Saudi Arabia
Did you know that there are five UNESCO World Heritage Sites to visit here in Saudi Arabia?
Two of them, Al-Hijr and At-Turaif District of ad-Dir’iyah, should be included on any Saudi Arabia vacation itinerary.
Mada’in Saleh (also known as Al-Hijr)
This is one of the first-ever archaeological sites to join UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The site was mentioned in the Torah (the old testament) of the Holy Bible, and the Holy Quran.
The site was chosen by UNESCO for its well-preserved remains – such as the 131 spectacular rock-cut monumental tombs.
At-Turaif District of ad-Dir’iyah
Believe it or not, this was the first capital of Saudi Arabia. In the 18th and the early 19th century, its political and religious role increased and the citadel of at-Turaif became the centre of the power of the House of Saud and is an outstanding example of human settlement in a desert environment.
What to avoid in Saudi Arabia?
Taking pictures without permission
It’s important to point out that Saudi people are very private and tourists are not encouraged to take pictures without explicit permission from the subject or the owner of what is being taken. This includes taking pictures of buildings as well.
Bringing pork into the country
Islam prohibits the consumption of pork, and Saudi Arabia strictly follows this rule.
It’s forbidden to bring alcohol into the country. Drinking on the plane is also not allowed as it is illegal to arrive tipsy to Saudi Arabia.
Eating, drinking, and smoking in public
It’s forbidden to drink, eat and smoke in public in daylight hours during the Islamic holiday Ramadan.
Public discussions on certain topics
Tourists are advised not to discuss subjects like Islam, Prophet Mohammad, and the ruling family, as these are punishable under the law.
How to get a Visa?
People who are over 18 from the 49 countries included in the program can apply for a visa through Visa First. Our team will prepare all of your documents and manage your entire application. If you are below 18 must apply with an adult guardian. People with a single entry visa are allowed to stay for a month and those with multiple entry visas can stay up to three months.