Saudi Arabia opens to tourists with US, UK and Schengen visas

The step is part of an easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions that began three weeks ago

A pilgrim poses for a picture in front of a giant aquarium at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. AP Photo
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Saudi Arabia has reinstated visas on arrival for passengers with valid American, British and Schengen visas, the state news agency reported.

“Reinstating the visa-on-arrival programme marks the final step in returning Saudi to a pre-pandemic level of openness and makes it one of the most accessible destinations in the world for leisure, business and religious travel. This decision by the government will further support the many thousands of people who depend on tourism for their livelihoods while welcoming the world back to the destination with the warm hospitality for which the Saudi people are renowned,” Tourism Minister Ahmed Al Khateeb was quoted as saying by the Saudi Press Agency.

The step is part of an easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions by the Health Ministry that began three weeks ago. Passengers arriving in Saudi Arabia no longer have to quarantine, show proof of vaccination against Covid-19 nor produce a negative PCR test before travel.

Earlier this month, the kingdom also lifted the suspension of direct flights to and from 17 countries, namely: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, eSwatini, Mozambique, Malawi, Mauritius, Zambia, Madagascar, Angola, Seychelles, Comoros, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Afghanistan.

Saudi Arabia issues tourist visas on arrival to citizens of the US, Japan, New Zealand, UK, Canada, Andorra, Austria, Australia, Malaysia, China, Singapore, South Korea, Belgium, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Ukraine, San Marino, Spain, Brunei, and Kazakhstan, for a period of 12 months.

Citizens of other countries can get a visa on arrival if they have a US, UK or Schengen visa, provided they travel through those places before arriving in the kingdom. They must travel to Saudi Arabia on one of the national airlines — Saudia, Flynas or Flyadeal.

All travellers must have health insurance that covers Covid-19 expenses, or purchase a policy at any airport upon their arrival.

The kingdom allowed fully vaccinated citizens to travel abroad from May 17 last year, when it reopened its land, sea and air borders more than 12 months after the pandemic began.

Updated: March 27, 2022, 2:49 PM