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Thu 11 Jan 2018 11:39 AM

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Women over 25 can enter Saudi Arabia unaccompanied, official says

Women will be able to use a 30-day single-entry tourist visa without being accompanied by a family member

Women over 25 can enter Saudi Arabia unaccompanied, official says
Saudi officials believe the tourist visa initiative will help encourage foreign visitors to the kingdom, develop the local tourism industry and create jobs for Saudis. Photo: FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images

Women older than 25 will be able use a tourist visa to enter Saudi Arabia without being accompanied by a family member, according to local media reports.

A report in Arab News quoted Omar Al-Mubarak, the director general of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage’s (SCTH) licensing department as saying that the “the tourist visa will be a single-entry visa, and valid for 30 days maximum.”

“This visa is added to those currently available in the kingdom” he added. “It is independent of work, visit, Hajj and Umrah visas.”

In December, SCTH officials said that the issuance of tourist visas would likely begin in the first quarter of 2018.

Al-Mubarak also noted that the executive regulations for tourist visas have been finalised, and that the commission is currently working on an electronic system with which to issue the visas.

During a two-year tourist visa trial period held between 2008 and 2010, over 32,000 tourists visited Saudi Arabia through licensed tour operators.

Saudi officials believe the tourist visa initiative will help encourage foreign visitors to the kingdom, develop the local tourism industry and create jobs for Saudis.

In August, the Saudi government announced plans to convert 34,000 square kilometres of islands between the cities of Umluj and Al Wajh into a luxury tourism destination, with Virgin Airlines founder Richard Branson as among first investors. The project is expected to generate as many as 35,000 jobs.

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