Saudi Arabian Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman, aims to increase the contribution of the tourism sector to the kingdom’s economy to 10% by 2030, says an article on CNBC. Saudi Arabia took the first big step towards developing the country as one of the major tourist destinations in the world with the introduction of the Sharek visa.
The Sharek visa was first introduced to help tourists attend the 2018 Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix, held in Saudi Arabia (SA). It was the first event of the FIA Formula E Championship. The championship saw around 1,000 tourists from 80 countries come to Riyadh. After long planning and discussions, this was the first e-visa released by SA. The official name of this visa is the Sharek international events visa, and can be used to attend various entertainment, cultural and sports events that take place in the kingdom.
Although the visa grants great mobility to international tourists, the holy cities of Mecca and Medina are off limits on this visa. The visa is valid for 14 days.
The documents required for Sharek e-visa for SA are:
You need a passport that is valid for a minimum of six months after the completion of your intended travel to the kingdom. The passport must have at least two blank pages for the entry stamps.
You need to upload a digital copy of your passport-sized photograph as part of the visa application process. The photograph must be coloured and taken against a white background. Your full face must be visible in the photograph. Make sure that you are directly looking at the camera and avoid wearing any headgear or glasses that might hide parts of your face.
The visa will be sent to you via email. So, it is important to have access to a functional email account. If you don’t have an email account, create one before starting the application process.
You must also have an entry ticket for the event that you wish to attend in Saudi Arabia, since the Sharek visa is meant specifically for attendees and participants of various types of events held in the kingdom.
The visa fee needs to be paid online. For this, you will need an active debit or credit card.
The application process for the Sharek visa can be completed in a few simple steps online, in less than 10 minutes. The steps are:
The first step is to visit the official website of the Sharek visa. Make sure to go to the official website, since there are many lookalikes.
Next, you can fill the application form. For this, you need to enter your personal details, such as first name, last name, residential address, phone number, gender, marital status, occupation, and so on. You would also need to enter your passport type as well as the country in which it was issued.
Lastly, you need to upload the passport-sized photograph. The size of the photograph should be between 3KB and 100KB, with dimensions of 200x200 pixels. The accepted formats are .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .gif and .bmp.
After your account becomes active, you can start filling up your application form. There are several pages to be filled. It is important to ensure that you provide accurate information. You also need to provide your personal details, such as name, marital status, gender, residential address and so on. Along with this, you will need to upload a photograph of yourself. The dimensions of the photograph should be 200X200 pixels and size between 3KB and 100KB. The accepted formats are .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .gif and .bmp.
Once you have filled the application form, all that remains is to pay the visa fee. The Sharek evisa for SA costs 640 riyals. The payment can be made online through the official website’s secure payment gateway.
Although the laws in Saudi Arabia have relaxed a bit in recent times, it still is a fairly conservative nation, with strict imposition of Islamic laws. Some of the laws you need to be aware of are:
Criticism of the king, the royal family, or the Saudi government in public is a criminal offense. This also holds true for any criticism on social media. Foreign nationals who are found to be in breach of this law will be treated in the same manner as the locals. Since, there is an Islamic declaration of faith on the flag of Saudi Arabia, its criticism is also considered a crime.
The consumption and smuggling of alcohol are banned in Saudi Arabia. Those found breaking the law can face deportation, imprisonment, fine or even 100 lashes. Materials such as pork, drugs and pornography are also illegal. The use, trafficking or smuggling of drugs can attract severe punishment, including the death sentence.
Taking pictures is also a sensitive topic in Saudi Arabia. Avoid taking pictures of government facilities such as airports, ministry buildings, and military facilities.
It is also important that foreign nationals, both men and women, dress modestly in public. It is advisable for women to keep their shoulders and knees covered at all times, while men should wear full-length trousers and full-sleeved shirts. LGBTQ relationships and marriage are illegal in Saudi Arabia, as is any form of public display of affection.
In case you are a first time traveller or are looking for a completely hassle-free way of applying for the SA evisa, simply use the services of an experienced agency like Rapid Visa. We will take care of the entire process to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays or hurdles.