Saudi Arabia launches e-visa service in seven countries

UAE, Jordan and Egypt are among nations selected for first phase

A tourist takes a picture during the popular Jeddah Season arts festival. AP
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Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday launched a switch to electronic visas.

Starting with seven countries, e-visas will replace visa stickers on passports and make it possible to retrieve visitors' data using a QR Code.

The initiative is part of a process of automating and improving the quality of consular services.

Saudi Arabia first issued e-visas in late 2019 to accommodate growing tourism.

Saudi missions in the UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and the Philippines will now be able to issue electronic visas.

The ministry aims to develop a visa-issuing mechanism — including work permits, residence and visit visas — using the latest technology.

Last year, it announced that visitors could apply for a “personal visit” visa to visit friends who are Saudi citizens by using the e-visa services form on its website.

The visa is valid for 90 days, allowing visitors to travel throughout the kingdom including offering prayers in the two holy cities and making Umrah.

Saudi Arabia plans to add 315,000 new hotel rooms with an estimated development cost of $37.8 billion by 2030, as it continues to expand its hospitality, tourism and travel industries to diversify its economy away from oil.

The planned additions would take the total to about 450,000 hotel rooms, with projects such as the futuristic city of Neom leading the way.

Updated: May 05, 2023, 8:33 AM