Thought Dubai and Abu Dhabi were all you could see in the Emirates? Well, think again because Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), Saudi Arabia is set to start issuing tourist visas. The kingdom hopes to attract 1.5 million tourists by the year 2020.
Read more: Abu Dhabi’s floating Louvre makes a debut!
At present, you can enter Saudi Arabia only on business, pilgrimage or invitation from family members who are residents of the country. With the new visa issued by SCTA, you will be able to visit the country to just travel and discover it. The move is a part of Saudia Arabia’s Vision 2030 to diversify its source of revenue, moving away from complete dependence on oil and gas. The kingdom even announced plans for a slew of tourism projects along the coast of Red Sea.
One such commitment comes from Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson who revealed plans to invest in the Red Sea project that plans to convert 50 Saudi Arabian islands into luxury bases that can house tourists.
What is in store for you when the visa is up for grabs, you ask?
- The Obhir Creek where you can test the waters of Red Sea. You can go jet skiing, fishing, snorkelling, and sailing here.
- Visit a Saudi camel market decked with local produce and dates all around – you can even score a free sample!
- Explore Masmak Fort, Deera Square and more in the Old Town part of the bustling Riyadh city.
- Get here and be part of the national Cultural and Heritage Festival held at Jandariyah featuring 2,000 strong camel races.
- Awe at the 5,000-year-old saltmines of Abqaiq.
- You have been to Petra, now head on to explore the ancient ruins of Medain Saleh featuring ancient sandstone mountains, temples and burial sites.
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