Saudi Arabia said Friday it provides tourist visas to the very first time, opening the ultra-conservative kingdom to holidaymakers as part of a drive to diversify its economy away from oil.
The announcement comes only two weeks after crushing attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure — caused by Washington on Iran — that roiled international energy markets.
“Opening Saudi Arabia to international tourists is a historical moment for our nation,” tourism main Ahmed al-Khateeb stated in a statement.
“Visitors will be amazed… from the treasures we must discuss — five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a lively community culture and breathtaking all-natural beauty.”
Saudi Arabia will start programs for internet tourist visas to citizens of 49 nations on Saturday, Bloomberg News quoted Khateeb as stating.
Khateeb said the kingdom will even facilitate its strict dress code for overseas girls, letting them go with no body-shrouding abaya robe that’s still compulsory public wear for Muslim girls.
Foreign women, though, will be asked to wear”little clothes”, he added.
The austere kingdom, that prohibits alcohol and contains a strict social code, is viewed by most as a tough sell for vacationers.
Prince Mohammed is trying to change that via a sweeping liberalization drive which has attracted new cinemas, mixed-gender concerts and sporting extravaganzas into Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia a year ago started issuing visas to people to attend cultural and sporting events to kickstart tourism.
The authorities ranged from reduced oil prices, says it expects tourism will contribute around 10 percent of their gross domestic product by 2030, compared to 3 percent now.
It states by 2030 it intends to bring around 100 million yearly visits by both national and overseas tourists.
The business is expected to produce up to a million tourism tasks, the government states, since the realm struggles high youth unemployment.
Saudi Arabia has splurged billions to construct a tourism business from scratch.
In 2017, the kingdom declared a multi-billion dollar job to flip 50 islands and other pristine websites on the Red Sea into luxury hotels.
The nation is also growing historical websites like the centuries-old Mada’in Saleh, residence to sandstone tombs of the identical civilization that constructed the Jordanian city of Petra.