Saudi Arabia has snubbed Nigerian citizens and other Africans in terms of eligibility for its new tourist visas.
The conservative Islamic Kingdom that is trying to boost tourism income said citizens from up to 49 countries can apply through Saudi embassies and consulates across the world. There is no single African country on the list, not even Egypt that is its ally in the blockade of Qatar.
The countries eligible are USA, Canada, Kazakhstan, Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Spain, Belgium, Malaysia, Austria, Cyprus, UK, Croatia, Estonia, Andorra, Denmark, Germany, Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Czech Republic, Holland, Italy, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Greece and Liechtenstein.
Others are Monaco, Iceland, Malta, Poland, Latvia, Norway, Russia, Luxembourg, Romania, Slovenia,
Montenegro, Slovakia, Switzerland, Portugal, Sweden, Australia, San Marino, Ukraine, China, including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
Citizens from the 49 countries will be eligible to apply for e-visas and visas on arrival.
Yet in obviously pandering to Europe and North America visitors, the Kingdom, Ahmed Al Khateeb, Chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Heritage (SCTH) claimed the country is opening itself to the world.
“For the first time, we are opening our country to tourists from all over the world. To those thinking of visiting Saudi Arabia, you won’t find a warmer welcome anywhere in the world. And you won’t find a people prouder to share the riches of their land with you”, he said at the launch of the visa scheme in Ad-Diriyah, a Unesco World Heritage Site in Riyadh on Friday.
“Make no mistake, this is Vision 2030 in action. Under the leadership of his Majesty the King and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, we are delivering; supercharging a non-oil sector that will drive growth and diversify our economy for decades to come,” said Al Khateeb.
“Saudi Arabia is opening. We are opening our economy. We are opening our society. Now we open our home and open our hearts to guests from around the world. Come, visit Saudi. And let us welcome you to Arabia.”
Here’s a guide to getting the tourist visas, what to expect, and important points to keep in mind as shared by Gulf News.
How can you apply for the visa?
Go to visitsaudi.com to apply for an e-visa; alternatively, contact your nearest Saudi embassy or consulate.
What documents do you need?
For E-Visa and Visa on Arrival
Passport, with a validity for more than 6 months at the time of entering Saudi Arabia
Address of accommodation, Hard copy of the visa, although a soft copy is advised
For Consulate-approved visa
Passport, with a validity for more than 6 months at the time of entering Saudi Arabia, Proof of accommodation, Return ticket, Proof of employment, Bank statement, Supporting information includes: ID, home address, travel itinerary
E-visa: Time taken to issue an e-visa is 5-30 minutes in most cases.
At a Consulate: 1-2 business days in most cases.
How long is the visa valid for?
The visa is valid for one year with multiple entries, during which you can stay for up to three months per entry.
A single entry visa allows you to stay for one month in Saudi Arabia.
What happens if you overstay?
Overstay fees is SAR 100 for each day of overstay.
How much do you need to pay?
The cost of applying for an e-visa or a visa on arrival is 440 riyals (around $117) plus VAT.
There are 13 international airports and 15 domestic airports in the Kingdom. The international airports are:
King Khalid International Airport (RUH) – Riyadh, King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) – Jeddah, King Fahd International Airport (DMM) – Dammam, Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport (MED) – Madinah, Taif International Airport (TIF) – Taif, Abha International Airport (AHB) – Abha, Hail International Airport (HAS) – Ha’il, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz InternationalAirport (GIZ) – Gazan, Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz International Airport (ELQ) – Qassim, Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Airport (TUU) – Tabuk, Prince Abdulmohsin Bin Abdulaziz International Airport (YNB) –Yanbu, Al-Jouf International Airport (AJF) – Jouf, Al-Ahsa International Airport (HOF) – Al Ahsa