The main objective of the Vision 2030 initiative is to reduce the Saudi Arabian economy’s dependence on oil, improve the public sectors and diversify the economy. In an attempt to achieve this goal, the country has opened its doors to international tourists. According to the Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage, the country expects to welcome 100 million national and international overnight visits per year by 2030, says an article on PR Newswire. While some countries can opt for an e visa, the rest of the countries, including South Africa (SA), will have to visit the embassies in person for the visa.
Saudi Arabia intends to extend the e visa to other countries, including SA, in the future. For now, South African citizens can get a tourist visa for the kingdom through the Saudi embassy. The visa is valid for up to 2 years, although the period of stay cannot exceed 30 days at a time.
Here's a look at the key documents that are mandatory for the visa.
A South African passport, with a minimum validity of six months beyond your return date from Saudi. The passport must be signed by the passport holder. Make sure there are no Israeli stamps. This will lead to visa refusal.
The Saudi Arabia visa application form can be downloaded and filled by hand before being submitted to the consulate. Make sure the entire form is filled in capital letters. All visa offices registered with Enjaz will require the Enjaz application form too. Make sure you fill the visa application form carefully, with your details exactly as they are on your passport. Date and place of passport issuance and passport expiry date must be included in the form.
Two passport-sized coloured photographs are required for each applicant. The photos must not be more than 6 months old. The size should be 5x5 cm and must show the full face against a white background. The applicant’s face should be directly facing the camera. Make sure nothing is written on the either side of the photograph.
The original air tickets, a copy of these tickets and the rest of the travel documents are mandatory.
To prove your financial ability, you will need to provide bank statements of three months.
You must be able to show proofs of prepaid and pre-booked accommodation. This should be a letter in Arabic, addressed to the embassy, with a stamp from the Saudi Chamber of Commerce.
You will require a letter from your friends or family inviting you to visit them, in case you intend to stay with relatives or friends. The letter must state how long you are staying, the purpose of your visit, if the friend or relative is funding your trip and so on. You will also need to provide details of your relationship with the concerned person.
Carry the appointment booking confirmation from the Saudi embassy along with the appointment letter when you visit the embassy. The Saudi embassy in Hillcrest, Pretoria, is the only Saudi representation in South Africa.
You will be required to show an international certificate of vaccination for Hepatitis B, Meningitis and Yellow Fever. In case the vaccination proofs are not available for a particular disease, blood tests can be presented.
Everyone travelling to Saudi Arabia is required to get a medical insurance certificate, approved by the Council of Cooperative Health Insurance (CCHI), as declared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In case of minors travelling with one parent, a certificate of consent is required from the other parent. If the minor is travelling alone, consent certificates from both parents are mandatory. The original birth certificate must be presented, along with all the other documents.
In 2018, only 3,500 South Africans were granted the Hajj Visa. Therefore, it is advisable to get in touch with an experienced travel agent, like Rapid Visa. We will take on the responsibility of completing the entire process on your behalf, while guiding you regarding the dos and don’ts to ensure that they are no delays or visa denials.
The Hajj application form is available at the Saudi consulates. They are mainly issued from Mid Shawwal till the 25th of Dhual-Qa’dah every year. The documents required for the Hajj visa include your passport with validity of six months, passport sized photographs, completed application form, travel itinerary, vaccination proofs and health insurance.
Although the Hajj visa is free of cost, you will need to pay for the guide, accommodation at Mina, Zamzam water agents and transportation charges.
Despite the e visa still awaited for SA citizens, Saudi Arabia has at least opened its doors for tourists. However, this is a conservative country, where public behaviour is strictly monitored. Here are few tips for a safe and peaceful stay.
Make sure you follow the rules laid down by the government for a memorable and enjoyable trip to Saudi Arabia.