Recently, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced that it would be easing up the rules and regulations surrounding tourist visas for Indians. The country has decided on liberalizing the visas for Indian tourists, who hold a valid UK, US, or Schengen visa and traveling by Saudi national carrier for tourism. The only criteria for such visa holders are to visit the visa issuing nation before landing at any of the Saudi’s international airports via a Saudi air Carrier.
The welcome move by the Saudi came in September where it was announced that tourist visas would be offered for the first time, thereby opening up the conservative culture and demographics of the nation to the travelers. The intent behind such a policy change was to promote cultural diversity and tourism in the country as part of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030. Along with India, Saudi has also opened this opportunity for 49 other countries.
Which Visas Were Previously Available for Indians?
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia did not have the provisions of tourism visas till now. The only way non-immigrants could travel to Saudi was on a work visa or Haj visa. Both the visas were limited to people who wanted to travel to Saudi Arabia for specific reasons. Now, the issuance of travel visas by the Crown Prince is expected to bring in people from different cultures, accelerating its attempt to move away from over-depending on oil for economic growth.
Through this new announcement, Saudi expects to generate approximately 1 million jobs in the tourism sector and welcome around 100 million tourists by 2030.
Procedure to Get a Tourist Visa to Saudi Arabia
Since the rule is new, there are a few hurdles to cross before anyone can receive a tourist visa for Saudi Arabia, although the procedure is quite transparent and easy to follow.
- Get an Application to Apply for Tourist Visa: Indians can get these applications from the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Delhi and the Consulate of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Mumbai.
- Eligibility Criteria: The traveler must have a valid passport with six months’ validity on the date of entering Saudi Arabia; he/she must be 18 years of age or accompanied by a guardian; and must furnish proof of either hotel booking or accommodation while in Saudi Arabia.
- Required Documents: An Indian will require a few documents to submit along with the tourist application form – the original passport, return ticket, proof of employment, hotel or accommodation stay booking, bank statement, and ID proof for address and photo verification.
- Submit the Application form: After duly filling out the forms and arranging all the necessary documents, the application form for Saudi Arabia tourism can be submitted along with a fee of SAR 460.
Additional Information Regarding the Saudi Tourist Visa for Indians
- The fee paid for application submission is non-refundable irrespective of the visa being approved or denied.
- The visa will be issued for multiple entries with a validity of one year. However, one cannot stay for more than 90 days at a stretch.
- SAR 100 per day will be levied for the person who overstays their visa.
Benefits of Tourist Visa to Indians and Saudi Arabia
There are myriad benefits for both the nations and their citizens with the arrival of tourism visas in Saudi Arabia.
- Economic growth for Saudi Arabia away from oil.
- Cultural recognition and appreciation for Saudi’s stunning landscape and heritage sites.
- Diversification of the nation’s demographics as people from different countries visit the Kingdom.
- International travelers will create job opportunities for the locals.
- Strengthening international ties with the nations that come under this new visa policy.
Related Case Study: Indians in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia