Saudi Arabia launches unified platform for visa applications

Kingdom streamlines entry approvals for Hajj, Umrah, education, business and tourism as it seeks more visitors

A Saudi guide shows American tourists round Al Shaf'i Mosque in the Old City of Jeddah. AP
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Saudi Arabia has launched a unified platform for visa applications as it continues to expand its hospitality, tourism and travel industries to diversify its economy from oil.

The new portal,, involves more than 30 ministries, authorities and private sector organisations handling and processing visa applications for Hajj, Umrah, education, tourism, employment and business, among other categories.

Its launch was announced at the Digital Government Forum in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The new platform provides information on each type of visa and uses a smart search engine to help users submit their applications.

Users can create a personal profile to save time when applying for visas again.

Previously, the Nusuk app was the only digital platform for issuing visas to Saudi Arabia but only to people seeking to perform the Umrah and Hajj pilgrimages.

People seeking tourist visas had to apply through local agencies, which obtained the entry permits through relevant government agencies.

The new portal also caters to foreign residents, who make up about 13 million of the kingdom's 32 million population, by accepting applications for re-entry in case they have stayed out of the country beyond the permitted time period, or for their family members to come and live them.

Other categories available include e-visas, which Saudi Arabia introduced in May for citizens of seven countries – the UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Transit visas are offered in three categories: land, for people travelling through the kingdom to neighbouring country by road; sea, for travellers on board a ship seeking to disembark for a short time; and air, for flight passengers who want to make a brief visit during layovers.

According to the platform, 18.6 million visas have been issued throughout the year so far.

Saudi Arabia achieved significant growth in the tourist arrivals this year. The number of tourists increased by 58 per cent during the first seven months compared to 2019, the year before the Covid pandemic halted global travel, according to data released by the UN World Travel Organisation in September.

Saudi Arabia plans to add 315,000 new hotel rooms at an estimated development cost of $37.8 billion by 2030.

Updated: December 22, 2023, 5:52 AM