Saudi Arabia to offer e-visa for special events

Saudi Arabia to offer e-visa for special events

Saudi Arabia will offer an electronic visa for foreign visitors to attend sporting events and concerts from December.

The visa process will be introduced in time for a motor race on December 15, according to a statement by the General Sports Authority (GSA).

Applicants will be able to obtain the visa online and print it out, according to the video, which suggested a fee of 50 riyals ($13.33) would apply, Reuters reported.

At present, foreigners traveling to the kingdom are largely restricted to resident workers and their dependents, business travelers, and Muslim pilgrims who are given special visas to travel to holy sites.

Plans to admit significant numbers of tourists from abroad have been discussed for years, only to be blocked by conservative opinion and bureaucracy.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is seeking to develop new industries to wean Saudi Arabia off dependency on oil exports. Economic reforms aim to lift total tourism spending in the country - by local citizens as well as foreigners - to $46.6 billion in 2020 from $27.9 billion in 2015.