With the objective of preparing Saudi Arabia for a post crude oil era, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman aims to make tourism a pillar of the kingdom’s economy. For this, the kingdom has decided to offer tourist visas, beyond those already available for religious pilgrimage and business purposes, for the first time on September 27, 2019.
According to figures released by the Saudi Foreign Ministry, nearly 24,000 tourists visited the kingdom within 10 days of the introduction of the new visa, says an article by Gulf News. Of these tourists, 6,159 visitors were citizens of the UK, making them the second largest group to visit Saudi Arabia in those 10 days.
The new electronic visa allow citizens of 49 countries, including the United Kingdom, to visit the 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in Saudi Arabia, the diverse landscapes, the rich pre-Islamic rock art and much more. Saudi Arabia has also planned multi-billion-dollar projects to create luxury resorts, futuristic cities, theme parks and more to attract tourists. Some of the Kingdom's laws have also been relaxed, such as allowing female tourists the freedom of not wearing the abaya or hijab.
Yes, UK citizens require a visa to travel to Saudi Arabia. Fortunately, the UK is one of the 49 countries whose citizens can apply for an e-visa. The e-visa allows UK citizens to travel to the kingdom for up to 90 days within a one-year period. You can enter the kingdom multiple times during this period. With an e-visa, the entire process of obtaining a tourist visa has become simple. You no longer have to present your original documents or take an appointment at the embassy or consulate to get a visa.
UK citizens traveling with minors need to apply on behalf of their children for the e-visa.
The documents that UK citizens need for a Saudi visa are:
You must have a UK passport that is valid for at least six months after your departure from Saudi Arabia. The passport must have a minimum of two adjacent blank pages as well, for the entry stamp.
You need a digital copy of a passport sized photograph. The photograph must be coloured and taken against a white background. Also, make sure that you are directly looking into the camera and that your face is clearly visible in the photograph. Side shots would not be accepted.
Your e-visa will be sent to you via email. So, it is important to have a working email account that is easily accessible.
The visa fee for the e-visa needs to be paid online. For this, you will need a debit or credit card.
The process to apply for a Saudi visa for UK citizens can be completed in a few simple steps online.
To start the process, you first need to visit the official Saudi Arabia e-visa website. Make sure to visit the correct site, since there are several other sites that look just like the real thing.
The next step is to create your e-visa account on the website. You will need to fill certain personal details for this, such as your first name, last name, phone number and email address. You also need to select your passport type and country of issuance, while creating your username and password to access the account. Once you have done all this, a confirmation link will be sent to the email address you have provided. Click on this link within 24 hours of it being sent to activate your account.
When your account becomes active, you can start filling the visa application form. The form has several pages, so make sure you have the time to carefully provide all the required information. Errors or inaccuracies could delay the visa or even lead to the rejection of your application.
You will need to fill in your personal details, such as name, gender, marital status, residential address, and so on. Along with this, you will need to upload a passport-sized photograph of the applicant. The size of the photograph must be between 3KB and 100KB, with dimensions of 200x200 pixels. The accepted formats are .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .gif and .bmp.
The process is completed once you have paid the visa fee. The payment can be made by using credit or debit card.
The Saudi Arabia e-visa costs SAR 463.44. This amount includes the medical insurance fee, transaction fee and 5% VAT. The insurance provides cover of up to SAR 100,000, in case you encounter any medical emergency during your stay in Saudi Arabia.
Although the country’s has conservative laws, things are slowly changing. Women are now allowed to drive, the first-ever cinema hall has also been recently opened. However, there are certain things you should know about before visiting the kingdom. Alcohol, pork and pornographic material are strictly prohibited. Both men and women are expected to dress in a respectful manner. Women should either wear an abaya and hijab or keep their shoulders and knees covered while in public. LGBTQ tourist should be cautious when visiting Saudi Arabia. LGBTQ rights are not recognized, and same sex relationships and marriage are completely illegal in Saudi Arabia
In case you are unsure of anything or traveling to Saudi Arabia for the first time, it is a good idea to get all your visa and travel needs taken care of by a trusted agency, like Rapid Visa. We will take care of the entire process on your behalf, ensuring a completely hassle-free experience for you.