Saudi Arabia. To many in the west, this country has an air of mystique. To those in the Middle East and the diaspora, it’s the place of the Hajj and home to the holy city of Makkah. Until 2019, the vast country in the Arabian Peninsula was primarily not open to tourism visas, but in 2019 things changed with the launch of the Kingdom’s first-ever e-visa, and a the relaxing of its strict dress code. Travellers from 49 countries can now easily travel to Saudi Arabia, simply by applying online and receiving a visa typically granted in a matter of minutes. With an e-visa, travellers can explore the Kingdom and its rich culture, UNESCO World Heritage sites, luxurious hotels and up-and-coming dining scene.
Countries who can apply for the Saudi Arabia e-visa
Travellers from 49 countries can apply for Saudi Arabia’s e-visa, spanning North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania; these countries are:
- Czech Republic
- the Netherlands
- San Marino
- New Zealand
Other countries not listed should contact their nearest Saudi Arabian embassy to apply for a tourism visa.
Why travel to Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is in the midst of a tourism revolution, with vision 2030 on the agenda and dozens of exciting redevelopment, restoration and tourism projects in the works. But the Kingdom’s appeal is much deeper than its shiny new giga-projects. Saudi Arabia itself has thousands of years of history, from its days as the centre of the Nebatean civilization (now AlUla) to its key position on the pilgrimage and spice route. Saudi Arabia’s historical sites are the final frontier of historical and cultural tourism. Diriyah Gate, the birthplace of Saudi Arabia, a short drive from the capital of Riyadh, has been redeveloped to include hotels, restaurants, and revamped traditional architecture.
The ancient desert landscape of AlUla is witnessing a new dawn with the opening of two world-class luxury hotels, Habitas AlUla and Banyan Tree AlUla, and home to Saudi’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site (the ancient tombs of Hegra), Maraya – the world’s largest mirrored building which has hosted everyone from Andrea Bocelli and Alicia Keys to John Lennon and Mariah Carey. The Red Sea Project is set to open in 2023, bringing a paradise island vibe to the storied coastline with elite hotels, islands and diving spots. Work has officially begun on enigmatic Neom – home to The Line, ski resort Trojena and sailing paradise Sindalah.
Is it strict in Saudi Arabia
2019 was a pivotal year in the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Not only did I open its borders to international tourism, but It dropped laws making it compulsory for women to wear the headscarf and abaya, along with allowing women to drive. As a result, the country has undergone a dramatic cultural shift, becoming more accepting, and curious of, other cultures. Both men and women can happily wear western clothing like jeans, long dresses, jumpsuits and leggings – as long as shoulders and knees are covered.