Tourists can, for the first time, obtain a visa to visit Saudi Arabia without facing the strict requirements that previously made it nigh impossible. Anyone planning to attend a grand prix being held there in December can now buy an ordinary 14-day tourist visa, Saudi Arabia has announced, giving them access to the race but also to the rest of the country.
It’s the latest in a series of new government initiatives that hopes to encourage 30 million holidaymakers a year by 2030. Saudi Arabia clamped down on tourism in 2010 but in April of this year reversed their approach and started issuing tourist visas again. In reality, however, they were still tough to obtain unless the traveller was on a muslim pilgrimage for Hajj or Umrah.
The new option, priced at 640 SAR (£131), makes the process far more straightforward. Using an online platform dubbed Sharek, visitors can buy tickets for the Saudi arabia Ad Diriyah Formula E grand prix near Riyadh, to be held on December 15, and apply for their 14-visa at the same time.
HRH Prince Abdulaziz BinTurki, vice-chairman of the General Sports Authority, said: “The best way for people to see the real Saudi Arabia is to come, and this their chance.”
The inaugural grand prix, which kicked off in Beijing in September 2014, pits electric-powered racing cars against eachother in a race that wind through the streets of ancient city Ad Diriyah, a Unesco-listed site on the outskirts of the Saudi arabia capital on a 2.8km route featuring 21 corners.
Why the sudden tourism drive in Saudi Arabia?
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