Two key players and economic leaders in the region, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have joined forces to launch a new joint visa that will allow entry into the Kingdom and the UAE.
This is a historic move forward for both countries that will grant movement between them to millions of visitors. The visa is expected to see the light before the end of 2020.
Tourists and international observers already witnessed the launch of the electronic visa for Saudi Arabia that finally allows foreign travelers to enter the Kingdom for purposes other than religious pilgrimage and business. The tourist eVisa, which went live on the 27th of September 2019, and is the latest step by the Saudi leadership to modernize the country and open it up to foreign citizens.
A Joint Effort for a Bright Future: the New Saudi-UAE Visa
During the Future Investment Initiative (FII) held at the Ritz Carlton and the King Abdul Aziz Conference Center in Riyadh at the end of October 2019, UAE Minister of Economy Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori made an announcement regarding the new joint visa.
Quoted by the Saudi newspaper Al Eqtisadiah, he said: “This initiative aims at taking advantage of the enormous potential and great measures taken by Saudi Arabia to facilitate the entry of tourists to the Kingdom.”
Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori also commented on the success of the Future Investment Initiative which saw over 6,000 attendees from all over the world. The UAE delegation was headed by Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
Expanded Partnership, Expanded Saudi and UAE Transport Connections
Amongst the many positive developments in cooperation between the two Arabian nations, are an increased number of flights and travel options connecting both. These increasingly allow tourists to take advantage of the joint visa and enter Saudi Arabia from the Emirates with ease.
Since the joint agreement between the 2 countries, there have been major moves to improve the Mafraq-Ghuweifat highway connecting both the UAE and Saudi Arabia. This has included increased capacity, improved lighting, and better drainage. Key sections of the road can now handle as many as 2,500 cars per hour.
There is also a major infrastructure building project currently underway to create better rail links between each of the countries across the regions. The Gulf Railway (also known as GCC Railway) is currently undergoing construction and is scheduled for completion by 2023 when it will allow passengers to travel between Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Riyadh.
Furthermore, Etihad Airways, the UAE’s 2nd largest airline, announced late in 2019 that it was to commence additional flights connecting Riyadh with Abu Dhabi. As of the change, there will now be 4 flights daily flights connecting the 2 cities.
How Can I Enter Saudi Arabia Now?
Eligible foreigners can now apply for an electronic visa for Saudi Arabia online in minutes. The Kingdom is now encouraging international tourism, despite having been a traditionally complicated country to get a travel permit for.
All you need to do in order to obtain a 90-day visa for Saudi Arabia is:
- Complete the online application form
- Submit copies of relevant supporting documents
- Pay the Saudi visa application fee.
If you have everything you need at hand, you will be able to submit the application in one go from anywhere in the world, as long as you have access to a reliable internet connection. Once sent, your request will be reviewed by the Saudi authorities who will issue you the eVisa. You’ll receive your granted visa via email within a few business days.
Apply for an eVisa if you are from:
The New Saudi eVisa is Boosting Tourism
As highlighted by Saudi media, within less than 2 months since the launch of the electronic visa for Saudi Arabia, 24,000 international travelers already entered the Kingdom. In a recent breakdown of the visitor statistics as by the Saudi Foreign Ministry it showed:
- Chinese citizens are on top of the list with 7,391 visits
- British nationals come second with a total of 6,159 travelers
- 2,132 visitors came from the United States.
In 2017, 17 million foreigners reached the Kingdom. The number has already improved and the government’s vision is to make it reach 100 million visitors by 2030.
Can Women Travel to Saudi Arabia Solo?
Saudi Arabia is a very safe country. However, female international tourists may be wary because of its conservatively Muslim society. It’s true that Saudi Arabia is a proudly traditional community that encourages modest clothing for both men and women and is very respectful of religious norms.
However, the country is turning increasingly more modern. Recent news from Saudi Arabia reports that the Kingdom now allows single women to book hotel accommodation without needing the help of a male guardian and that unmarried couples can share a hotel room.
This goes to show the great effort that the government is making so that foreigners can feel welcome in the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia is slowly but surely growing as a tourist destination and as work continues to improve its connections with its neighbors, that’s sure to continue.