Saudi Arabia is opening its doors to tourists for the first time

Saudi Arabia is opening its doors to tourists, marking the first time it will welcome international visitors.

Until now the country has only been open to business travellers or Muslims on the annual Haji pilgrimage to Mecca.

However Saudi Arabia officials have revealed a new tourist visa scheme is being put in place.

The move comes as the country looks to diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on oil, as part of a wider Vision 2030 scheme.

The scheme is expected to increase visitors to 100 million by 2030, while Saudi’s airport capacity is expected to increase by 150 million passengers per annum.

The tourism boost is also expected to create a million jobs.

Al Ula


There’s plenty for intrepid explorers to visit if they do head to Saudi Arabia, from the picturesque Red Sea Coast to its five UNESCO World Heritage Sites including Madain Saleh in Al-Ula, the largest conserved site of the civilization of the Nabataeans south of Petra in Jordan,  historic Jeddah – the Gate to Mecca – and Al-Ahsa Oasis, which is the largest oasis in the world with 2.5 million date palms.

Other highlights include the green Mountains of Asir, the snow-covered plains of Tabuk and the shifting sands to be found in the Empty Quarter.

As part of the new venture, the country is currently building a series of new tourist destinations.

If you are considering travelling to Saudi Arabia, make sure you read the latest FCO travel advice and familiarise yourself with the country’s strict laws.

For example, alcohol will be completely off-limit; the sale, purchase and consumption of alcohol is illegal in Saudi Arabia.

It’s also illegal to bring alcohol or drugs into the country.

As for what to pack? Men and women are expected to dress modestly in public – that includes avoiding tight clothing, or clothes with “profane language or images”. Women’s shoulders and knees should be covered in public.

Meanwhile, public displays of affection, profane language and profane gestures are also prohibited.


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