Saudi Arabia to start issuing tourist visas in late September

 Saudi Arabia to start issuing tourist visas in late September

Saudi Arabia plans to open visa applications at the end of September, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Tourists from 51 countries will be able to obtain a 90-day visa for a fee of 440 riyals ($117) and will reportedly be able to apply for the visas online or upon arrival, Al Arabiya reported.

The plans were first reported by Saudi newspaper Okaz, citing people it didn’t identify. However, the Okaz report was later deleted and the government said its plans hadn’t been finalized.

A spokesperson for the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Heritage said the report wasn’t accurate, adding that while discussions were "underway," no final decision had been made.

The conservative Islamic kingdom has long been one of the hardest countries in the world to visit, largely limiting visas to business trips, religious pilgrimages or family reunions. But in 2016, the government said it wanted to develop tourism as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s economic diversification plan.

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