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March 2, 2019

Saudi Arabia steps up tourism push with new visas

Arab News

Riyadh, Mar 2: Tourists will be offered special “event” visas to visit Saudi Arabia as part of plans by the Kingdom to become a major global entertainment destination.

The new one-off visas will allow foreign visitors to choose from the growing number of sporting, entertainment and business attractions available in the country.

Announcing the new visa category on Thursday, the Saudi Cabinet said embassies and consulates will be able to issue the visas within 24 hours of receiving a request.

Under the visa upgrade, the Kingdom’s General Investment Authority, General Sports Authority and General Entertainment Authority will provide the Foreign Affairs Ministry and state security with details of events at least two months beforehand. The details will then be included in the visa system.

Saudi Arabia is investing billions of dollars in sports and entertainment as it seeks to reform and diversify its economy, part of a wide-ranging Vision 2030 program introduced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Kingdom is hoping to increase the number of foreign visitors, as well as encourage domestic tourism and create jobs for young Saudis.

Formula E motor racing, WWE wrestling and world title boxing events have also been added to the country’s sporting calendar in the past 12 months.

Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, said earlier this year that infrastructure investments in the next decade would reach SR240 billion ($64 billion) and would contribute SR18 billion to the country’s economy and generate 224,000 new jobs by 2030.

Saudi Arabia steps up tourism push with new visas

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