Saudi Arabia has launched a Tourist Visa for the first time in its history. More than 49 countries across the world are now eligible to apply for an e-Visa for Saudi Arabia.
You can apply for the Saudi Tourist Visa if you are over 18. The Tourist Visa is multiple-entry and has a validity of 1 year. The maximum stay allowed on this Tourist Visa is 90 days. The visa fee is approximately $120.
As per Arab News, 24,000 international tourists entered the kingdom within the first 10 days of the launch of the Tourist Visa.
If you too are planning to visit Saudi Arabia, here are some things that you need to know:
Many tourists wonder if Saudi Arabia is a safe country. The answer is Yes. However, like for any other country, it is important to be respectful of the local customs and rules. It is also wise to consult travel advisories before you plan your trip.
Public spaces are separated and it is not surprising to find separate entrances and seating areas for men and women. Public display of affection is a strict no-no.
Request for permission before you start photographing locals. It is a punishable offence under the public code of conduct.
Other public offences are vandalism, playing music during prayer times and dress code violation.
As per the new rules, female tourists do not need to wear the body-shrouding Abaya. However, it is highly recommended to dress modestly in public. You should avoid wearing revealing or tight-fitting clothes in public.
You should plan your itinerary as per the prayer times which is 5 times a day. Restaurants and stores close during prayer times and hence, planning ahead helps.
Alcohol is prohibited in Saudi Arabia and the sale, purchase or consumption of it is a punishable offence.
Saudi locals are generous and hospitable. It is very common for them to invite visitors to share a meal or Arabic coffee. They may even extend their hospitality by offering you food or a small gift. Refusing such an offer is considered rude.
Never accept or consume food and beverages with your left hand.
When invited to a Saudi home, always remember to remove your shoes. You may keep them on only if your host permits.
Also, if you familiarize yourself with Saudi rituals, it will help you cast a good impression on your hosts. The common Saudi way of greeting is to say “Marhaban” (Welcome). You may respond by saying “Marhabtain” (I give you two welcomes).
Unless a woman extends a handshake first, men should never offer a handshake to women in Saudi Arabia. Instead, just place a hand on your heart and say “hello”.
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