Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Can Israelis now visit Saudi Arabia?

Exciting news from the Kingdom!
Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday it would start issuing non-religious tourist visas to foreigners.
Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Secretary-General of the Supreme Commission for Tourism, said tour guides would be allowed to operate from June and revealed the new visa system was developed in conjunction with the ministries of interior and foreign affairs and the Hajj ministry.

“There are no exceptions, we want to open up to people who are not coming for Umrah or investment”,
he said.

source Asharq Alawsat

Now I have a small query to make to the Saudi Commissioners for Tourism.

In February 2004, the Saudi Kingdom issued Visa requirements for business, transit, residency, family, Hajj, conference attendance and also tourism.

This is what it said verbatim:
Everyone who enters the Kingdom should have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity and the appropriate visa.

Unless you are a visitor from a GCC country or in transit, all other nationalities require a visa to enter the Kingdom. Visas can be for business, tourist, transit, residency, family, Hajj, or conference attendance.

Visas can be obtained from the visa department in the Saudi Embassy of the visitor's home country or from Saudi Consulates available in all main cities around the world.

The cost of a visa is generally 200 Saudi Riyals however visitors should ensure that they check with the Saudi Embassy or Consulate.

Normal regulations you may think, but wait a second because I haven't finished yet.

Visas will not be issued for the following groups of people:

An Israeli passport holder or a passport that has an Israeli arrival/departure stamp.

If a woman is arriving in the Kingdom alone, the sponsor or her husband must receive her at the airport.
Every woman must have confirmed accommodation for the duration of her stay in the Kingdom.
A woman is not allowed to drive a car and can therefore only travel by car if she is accompanied by her husband, a male relative, or a driver.
All visitors to the Kingdom must have a return ticket.
Pilgrims must also have all valid documentation and a passport that is valid for 6 months.

I was just wondering if the same requirements are still in place...


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