Expat visitors to major Saudi events offered free three day visas

Published:  1 Jan at 6 PM
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In an attempt to boost its flagging tourism industry, Saudi Arabia is now offering free visas to expats in the Arab States interested in visiting major events.

Residents living in the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain will be allowed visa-free entry for a three day stay, enabling those interested to visit several of the major events due to take place over the Kingdom’s festival season. Events include the Riyadh Season and Al Ula’s Tantora Festival, with the latter taking place in Saudi’s northwestern quadrant.

The idea of giving free visas to event visitors was raised after the success of last week’s Riyadh Season and its Music Festival, and is also aimed at boosting tourist numbers during this New Year’s festivities. In addition, the Kingdom’s newly introduced visa-free entry system is also increasing the numbers of visitors from many of the 49 countries to which it’s applied. It’s a visa-on-arrival system costing $117 inclusive of health insurance and is valid for 360 days, with duration of stays limited to 90 days per visit and not exceeding 180 days yearly.

Meanwhile, the emirates are anticipating soaring visitor numbers of New Year’s Day onwards, with Dubai’s Shopping Festival expected to draw the largest crowds. The remainder of this week is expected to be the busiest time, with Dubai’s international airport advising departing passengers to arrive early as well as allowing for increased traffic on the access roads surrounding the facility. Checking in online is recommended, as it saves the buildup of long queues in the departures area, and eligible arrivals are being advised to take advantage of the visa on arrival system, with travellers holding Emirates ID cards able to use the facility’s ‘smart gates’.
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