Applying For A Saudi Arabia E-Visa: My Experience

Applying For A Saudi Arabia E-Visa: My Experience

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In 2019, Saudi Arabia began issuing tourist visas electronically. This was a big development at the time, since previously the country only issued visas for religious and business reasons.

Since then, Saudi Arabia has started investing an unprecedented amount in tourism, and the country hopes to welcome 100 million visitors annually by 2030. This includes launching a new airline, building all kinds of tourism regions full of resorts, and much more.

In this post I wanted to go through the process of applying for a Saudi Arabia e-visa, including all the basics you need to know. While most people report getting near-instant approvals, my situation has been a bit more complicated. Fortunately I’ve managed to resolve it, so I wanted to report back with my experience.

Why I applied for a Saudi Arabia e-visa

I just went through the process of applying for a Saudi Arabia e-visa, and not even because I really intend to visit the country. For my upcoming review trip, I’m planning on connecting in Jeddah, arriving on Garuda Indonesia and departing on Etihad, as that was the best flight option I could find.

When I wrote about this, readers pointed out that this itinerary requires switching terminals at the airport, and that’s no small task, as they’re many miles apart, with no airside connection. While it’s possible that I might be able to get a visa on arrival, I didn’t want to chance it, and I figured I was best off just applying for an e-visa, to avoid any potential issues.

How to apply for a Saudi Arabia e-visa

First let me cover some of the very basics of applying for an e-visa for Saudi Arabia:

  • You can apply for a e-visa through the official Saudi Arabia e-visa portal
  • Saudi Arabia e-visas are available to nationals of 63 countries, all listed on this page; this includes the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, most countries in Europe, select countries in Asia, and three countries in Africa
  • E-visas are valid for multiple entries over the course of one year, and you can stay for up to 90 days
  • The entire e-visa, including mandatory medical insurance, will cost you 488.51 SAR, which is 130.25 USD
  • Officially, it can take 24-48 hours for an e-visa to be approved, but many people report being approved within minutes
  • Completing the e-visa process should take a total of around 10 minutes, give or take

So let’s talk about the steps of applying for a Saudi Arabia e-visa…

Create a Saudi Arabia e-visa account

The first step is to visit the official website for Saudi Arabia e-visas. Let me emphasize that there are all kinds of websites out there that will pop-up when you search for Saudi Arabia e-visas, but they’re mostly trying to charge a fee for helping you with the process.

Saudi Arabia e-visa website

Before you start the application process, you’ll need to create an e-visa account. Not only is this required to submit an application, but it can also be useful if you want to start your application and then later return to it, or if you want to later check on the status of your application.

To create an account, you need to enter your passport type and the country your passport is from.

Create Saudi Arabia e-visa account

On the next page you’ll have to enter your name, phone number, email address, and create your log-in info, including your username and password.

Create Saudi Arabia e-visa account

You’ll then be emailed an account activation link, which you have to click within 24 hours.

Create Saudi Arabia e-visa account

At that point your account will be official, so you could return later to complete your application. When you log-in with your email address and password the next time, you’ll have to enter a verification code, which will be emailed to you.

Complete the Saudi Arabia e-visa application

Once you’ve verified your account, it’s time to actually start the process of applying for an e-visa. This application is spread across several pages, and you have just 10 minutes to complete the details on each page, or you’ll be kicked out.

Saudi Arabia e-visa application

On the first page of the application, you’ll have to enter some personal information. This will start with uploading an image of yourself, which has specific requirements:

  • The dimensions need to be 200×200 pixels
  • It needs to be somewhere between 5kb and 100kb in size
  • Acceptable formats include .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .gif, and .bmp

You’ll then have to provide information like your full name, gender, marital status, your country of birth, your profession, and your residential info.

Saudi Arabia e-visa application

On the next page you’ll have to enter your passport info, as well as your expected arrival and departure date in Saudi Arabia (though you can arrive anytime when your e-visa is valid, so these details don’t have to be 100% accurate).

Saudi Arabia e-visa application

You’ll also have to provide the purpose of your visit, as well as your contact info while in Saudi Arabia, and where you’ll be staying.

Saudi Arabia e-visa application

On the next page, you’ll have to agree to purchase mandatory medical insurance. You’re agreeing to purchase it for 180 SAR (48 USD).

Saudi Arabia e-visa application

On the next page, you’ll be asked to agree to the terms and conditions of visiting Saudi Arabia. Here are some of the highlights of the terms:

  • You promise to abide by the laws and rules of Saudi Arabia and respect the customs and Islamic traditions
  • You are aware that all intoxicating substances, narcotic drugs, indecent materials, and publications, as well as publications related to any religious beliefs or political tendencies that contradict with Islam are prohibited in Saudi Arabia
  • You agree you’ve never been deported from Saudi Arabia or any other GCC country, nor have you violated any of their rules
  • You acknowledge that drug dealing or smuggling drugs into Saudi Arabia is a crime punishable by death
  • You agree that you’re not permitted to use the tourist visa for any purpose other than tourism, and should not practice any paid or non-paid work related activity, nor perform Hajj during your stay in Saudi Arabia
  • You acknowledge that there are no medical treatment purposes behind your visit
Saudi Arabia e-visa application

You’ll then be asked to review your application, before paying and then submitting it.

Saudi Arabia e-visa application

Pay for your Saudi Arabia e-visa

Once you’ve confirmed that all the information you provided is accurate, you’ll have to pay the fee for the visa. This comes out to a total of 488.51 SAR. You can pay this amount by credit card, and most major credit cards are accepted, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and more.

Saudi Arabia e-visa payment page

Wait for your Saudi Arabia e-visa approval or rejection

Once you’ve submitted your application, you’ll want to keep an eye on both your e-visa account and your email, to wait for approval. Officially it can take 48 hours for an e-visa to be approved, though in practice most people report it being approved within minutes.

What happens if your Saudi Arabia e-visa is rejected?

The above is how things are supposed to work, but I guess it couldn’t be that easy, eh? 😉 About five minutes after I submitted my application, I noticed that the Saudi Arabia e-visa portal showed my application as having been rejected.

Saudi Arabia e-visa rejection message

Interestingly I didn’t receive an email about the rejection, but rather it just showed this way in the portal. Furthermore, there was no explanation for why I was rejected — I wondered if I just wasn’t welcome in Saudi Arabia for some reason, or if there were other issues with my application?

I was careful to fill out the application accurately, though it’s possible that I made a mistake, and that’s why I got rejected. I didn’t just want to submit another application and pay the visa fee again, in the off chance that maybe I would get approved the second time around due to some mistake I made.

Fortunately I ended up getting a positive resolution. I went to the help & support page of Saudi Arabia’s visa website, and I submitted a message there, explaining that my visa was rejected, and I was wondering if there was something I needed to do to get it approved.

I wasn’t sure if there would be a response, so I also called the phone number listed on that website. To my surprise, a delightful Saudi woman answered on the first ring, and was very helpful and apologetic. I was shocked, since I don’t think there are many countries that have that level of support for e-visas. She took down all the details of my case and said that I would hear from them soon.

Sure enough, about six hours later I received an email, informing me that my e-visa had been approved, and the e-visa was attached to the email. I can’t say with certainty how I got that resolution, or what exactly went wrong. Regardless, I’m happy that reaching out was at least successful.

Bottom line

Saudi Arabia is hoping to greatly grow its tourism industry, and as part of that, the country now issues e-visas for nationals of dozens of countries. The application process is fairly straightforward, and only takes around 10 minutes. You can expect that you’ll have to upload a photo, and that a one year visa visa will cost ~130 USD, and that includes medial insurance.

My e-visa experience wasn’t so straightforward, as I ended up being rejected without a stated reason. Fortunately the recovery was at least quite good, and I ended up getting approved after reaching out via the website.

If you’ve applied for a Saudi Arabia e-visa, what was your experience like?

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  1. iamhere Guest

    It seems that you applied for reviewing the application process. I think most people would have chosen another route or researched/contacted the immigration office to ask if a visa is really necessary. Paying over $100 to transit just adds to the time and fees. The process is similar to online applications for other countries.

  2. Isambard Blaufensterschanz Guest

    Uploading the photo was a challenge, but other than that it was easy.

  3. Eon Guest

    Hi, do they give you a multiple entry visa by default? i was planning to do sidetrips while im in saudi, since the other gulf countries are quite accessible but dont want to pay the visa fee twice (my return flight to Europe leaves from Saudi)

  4. Kasemsuk Guest

    I had a chance to apply for e-visa after my country was eligible for e-visa for a week. Yhe overall process was quite good. The only down side.
    1. Finding the right picture with the right file size took me some time.
    2. The payment took a bit of time, as my payment was rejected even after using multiple different cards. I repeat the payment the next day and it was success in...

    I had a chance to apply for e-visa after my country was eligible for e-visa for a week. Yhe overall process was quite good. The only down side.
    1. Finding the right picture with the right file size took me some time.
    2. The payment took a bit of time, as my payment was rejected even after using multiple different cards. I repeat the payment the next day and it was success in the first attempt.

    After the payment was complete. I got an email with my visa 5 minutes later. Very efficient.

  5. Steve Guest

    While my eVisa was promptly approved, it only included a partial facial pic. I am local to the Saudi embassy in Washington. I took the eVisa to the embassy as well as a passport pic. Document was fixed in a business day. Very good experience. And I'll note that the personnel working the visa desk were not Saudis.

  6. Henry Young Guest

    So here's an interesting question. When reporting your marital status on one of these forms, should you report your status in country of origin, or report your status in respect of the types of marriage that are permitted in the destination country ? Personally I would be weary of rocking up in Saudi/Iran/Yemen/etc with my gay partner, looking gay and both with forms reporting civil status as married. I know left leaning types like taking...

    So here's an interesting question. When reporting your marital status on one of these forms, should you report your status in country of origin, or report your status in respect of the types of marriage that are permitted in the destination country ? Personally I would be weary of rocking up in Saudi/Iran/Yemen/etc with my gay partner, looking gay and both with forms reporting civil status as married. I know left leaning types like taking a stand, but surely there comes a point when respect for the traditions and sensibilities of the destination country dominate considerations ?

    1. AD Diamond

      You report YOUR legal status where you live. You don't request a family visa because they don't recognize your family and you go through immigration separately, just like if you were traveling with a work colleague. It's not taking a stand. It's being truthful.

  7. Fiarshopi Guest

    You've chosen to critique him for expressing an opinion? How pleasant. Let's dispense with the formalities; just admit you're being unpleasant and spare us the trouble.

  8. Yehuda Kovesh MD Guest

    I transited through JED on the way to CMN. Transit visa was free and they threw in a 5 star hotel and incredibly luxurious breakfast, free of charge! The people were super friendlyand were not fake! Most Saudi men work and in the hotel i stayed, almost all of the workers were Saudi. uber drivers were saudi and i was amazed at the helpfulness of the people. Food on Saudia was very good. Perhaps USA based airlines and sundry should take note

    1. Malc Diamond

      Yes, Saudis are an incredibly friendly people. It's almost like there's something in the water. It's really noticeable

  9. Milos Guest

    If they want to boost tourism they must cancel visa at all. 130 $ does not make sense to pay for it. EU citizens does not need visa to most of the countries much more interesting than S.Arabia, where everything is new, artificial. There are no really historic sites except Holy places visited for religious reasons.

  10. Icarus Guest

    If your visa is declined I assume you’re not charged as that’s effectively charging you for goods that they can’t supply and especially the insurance ? Otherwise I would do a charge back.

    1. Ken Guest

      Lol let me guess. You have a passport from a 1st world country and have never dealt with visa applications. Visa fees are non refundable generally speaking, even if not approved

    2. digital_notmad Diamond

      As someone who has dealt with this scenario with weak passports/travel documents, I agree that visa fees are generally not straightforward and nonrefundable.

      If they don't come through, I dispute the charge for goods and services not delivered. I have yet to lose. Because the goods and services were not delivered.

    3. Ken Guest

      Interesting, I would like to know how many times you have been rejected a visa and successfully disputed the charges, especially when most visa application forms clearly state that the fees are non-refundable... Asking cos I'm currently in the situation... again. How do you prove that service wasn't delivered

    4. icarus Guest

      proof that the visa was declined is simple enough

    5. icarus Guest

      does not stop you from doing a chargeback

  11. Icarus Guest

    What if you already have comprehensive travel insurance ? Why do you have to take it out again ?

    If you’re in transit you should be on a single ticket, hence in this case it was better you apples for the visa, especially if the onward flight were to be delayed or cancelled. However what do you add with regards to your accommodation details in KSA if you’re not staying ?

  12. Ivan Guest

    I am an Australian passport holder and visited KSA back in July. Did the e-visa over visa on arrival (VOA) as I was entering via the causeway from Bahrain, as I was uncertain if VOA was available via a land border crossing. Received the visa in 10 minutes after applying. Enjoyed my few days in KSA, and it is nice to go somewhere not overrun with mass tourism and I found most people very friendly....

    I am an Australian passport holder and visited KSA back in July. Did the e-visa over visa on arrival (VOA) as I was entering via the causeway from Bahrain, as I was uncertain if VOA was available via a land border crossing. Received the visa in 10 minutes after applying. Enjoyed my few days in KSA, and it is nice to go somewhere not overrun with mass tourism and I found most people very friendly. I think the biggest obstacle to getting more visitors is the high visa fee and the lack of alcohol. I am certainly not someone that needs to drink all the time, but it is nice to have the option of having a drink if you want to with a meal etc. Maybe they will need to bring in the 'Qatar model' of alcohol available discreetly in bars at 5 star hotels, but not readily available in stores etc.

  13. Spaghetti coder Guest

    Most likely reason, website had a bug. Very simple. The ones that don't follow up? Free revenue for the country. The ones that follow up get approval, and still giving free revenue to the country :D

  14. UA Guest

    Visiting a country that puts non-heterosexuals and atheists to death?

    Really?

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      ^ took a while, but we got one folks! lol

    2. robbo Guest

      Love your comment mate,I was waiting for one to ope up as well, I was in Saudia for 2 weeks back in Feb last year, Amazing! People were amazing, food was excellent, easiness of getting around and the countryside and landscape are incredible. And safe. I have not felt so safe as I did here anywhere else for years. Least of all Australia or the USA! But as you say, there is always one in...

      Love your comment mate,I was waiting for one to ope up as well, I was in Saudia for 2 weeks back in Feb last year, Amazing! People were amazing, food was excellent, easiness of getting around and the countryside and landscape are incredible. And safe. I have not felt so safe as I did here anywhere else for years. Least of all Australia or the USA! But as you say, there is always one in the crowd, narrow-minded, probably a narcissist, if you haven't been, go, it's worth it.

    3. Icarus Guest

      What’s wrong with a comment ? KSA is trying to make itself more friendly when it’s all fake and in the background they carry on executing and imprisoning anyone that doesn’t agree.

      They are spend billions on architectural projects but do nothing to help their “ brothers and sisters “ who are refugees in other countries.

    4. AD Diamond

      The Saudis are lovely people as @robbo said, incredibly friendly and welcoming. The country is changing by leaps and bounds. It's not perfect, but its heading in the right direction, unlike where many of us live.

  15. XPL Diamond

    I guess I need new glasses. I'm looking and looking for the retractions and apologies from the early and loud conspiracy crackpot commenters, but I don't see them.

    1. DenB Diamond

      I'm happy my plausible theory didn't prove true in this case. When you find it in your heart to forgive, I promise to try, really hard, to figure out what you're forgiving me for.

    2. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      I'm happy my plausible theory didn't prove true in this case.

      ...or likely. At all.

      But I guess "plausible" could technically be used to describe it.

  16. SMR Guest

    As soon as they start arresting Westerners for dump stuff and give 20 year sentences for god knows what ...the tourism era will be short lived. Do not support a country or airline that has ZERO human rights.

  17. KingBob Guest

    Had to get the Saudi e-visa earlier this year for a cruise departing out of Jeddah Islamic Port. It was approved within minutes. The most confusing aspect was the cruse line information sheet describing the various types of visas available depending on whether you were embarking in Jeddah or embarking at one of the other ports on the route and just visiting Saudi Arabia for the day.

  18. D3kingg Guest

    Ben you did the right thing and handles this well. I’ve seen Vloggers with over 1M subscribers that run into headaches at borders. You’re the aviation BOSS. Michelin should give you a star IRL.

  19. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Glad it got resolved.
    None of us would be disappointed if you manage to reject access of those that spewed their hateful comments.

  20. Sisyphus Guest

    So you’re telling me they didn’t face-recognize you, run an AI algorithm to find out every step you took in life since birth, assign a cross-continent intelligence network to figure out your hidden homosexual agenda, come up with an elaborate plan to kidnap you while connecting at an airport, and all it took was a phone call?

    Some of your readers will be so let down

  21. Bob Guest

    Be careful not to blog or take pictures for this website since you will be working on your tourism visa

    1. Shaun Guest

      Don't be an ass. Every country bans working on tourist visas. No country applies it to conducting incidental work that isn't being paid for from within the country you're visiting.

  22. Tim Guest

    Why the heck would anyone want to visit that country as a tourist?!? Ugh, they are about on the bottom of my list. You never know if you're going to come home in pieces!

    1. jcil Guest

      Since he didn't even plan to leave the terminal initially, I assume he wants to go the to be pampered and waited on like a king in the airport lounges. Ok I guess, if that's what you want out of international travel

    2. Shaun Guest

      Some of us like to learn about other cultures, even if we don't like everything about said cultures or agree with their politics. Hard to understand, I know, but maybe it would be good for you to be a little more open-minded.

    3. Matt Guest

      I had an amazing experience in Saudi early this year. Dammam was fine but Jeddah was fantastic. We rented a car there, driving was great. The Park Hyatt was great. I'd go back in a minute

  23. Ed Guest

    I had a similar issue and was rejected first time. I used a new photo with new proportions and larger face size compared to previous one and it was approved. For some reason the photo was the issue. I never got my initial application fee back!

  24. Deedee Watts Guest

    Had a similar experience with the Egypt eVisa. I was "rejected" twice (with no refund of the fee). Took a chance with the Visa on Arrival and *Poof* no problem. You give them the cash they put the Visa in your passport with no questions asked. So I'm not sure if the online portal is just glitchy or if it's a money grab. (I ended up paying for a visa 3 times). <>

    1. JB Guest

      For Egypt, it's generally better to get a visa on arrival at the airport (if they allow it for your nationality). It's cheaper and takes less time. And you don't have to rely on the website. Just make sure to bring cash because that's all they accept.

  25. Rick Guest

    US citizens can now do a visa on arrival. Just go that route.

  26. DonnyBrasco Guest

    let’s all just try to avoid that part of the world

    1. Sisyphus Guest

      Please do, that part of the world is glad you’re avoiding it.

    2. robbo Guest

      If yu're avoiding it, great, all the more reason for us tolerant, accepting people to go. Less recalcitrants from the West, like you, there

  27. Pam Guest

    We did the evisa for our trip in November and it worked fine but took longer 72 hours to process We were definitely doing tourist things and staying 10 days. My guess is it's the short stay timing in you request that caused rejection.

  28. Amiga Guest

    Probably because you didn’t supply a contact nor a commercial residence address. It’s for tourist visa, people staying at least 1 night, not people in transit.

  29. Kuloko Guest

    (1) It could be a glitch but whether they will be willing and able to fix it is another story. Other countries will never tell you why your e-visa application is rejected.
    (2) Another possible reason is that the tourist visa prohibits any commercial activity. Ben could be identified as a blogger and denied for the reason that he will be writing about his experience for commercial purposes.

  30. Never In Doubt Guest

    Have applied and been accepted twice online.

    Most likely guess is the transit vs tourist visa difference that others have mentioned.

    As always, am amused by the OMAAT commenter crank theories.

  31. Shawn Y Guest

    Ben - It looks like the visa website has been having issues lately as multiple people are reporting rejections for the past few days (as per reddit). I would advise to reach out to someone to look into it to determine if its actually a rejection or a tech issue

  32. Julia Guest

    Adjust your plans for an overnight stay, and see if you have found any changes in Jeddah/Saudi Arabia since your last visit (unless you never left the airport on your previous visit(s)?). Women driving, many places no longer closing for prayer time, women not needing to wear the abaya anymore, etc. Could be interesting.

    1. JB Guest

      I've visited Saudi Arabia last year and about a decade ago. The difference is that there is more development, and it is possible to see females driving on the road. However, my family there told me that it still isn't super common and that a lot of females don't drive.

      While the Abaya is no longer mandatory, in reality you will see almost every Saudi female still wearing one. It comes down to personal...

      I've visited Saudi Arabia last year and about a decade ago. The difference is that there is more development, and it is possible to see females driving on the road. However, my family there told me that it still isn't super common and that a lot of females don't drive.

      While the Abaya is no longer mandatory, in reality you will see almost every Saudi female still wearing one. It comes down to personal preference, and most females prefer to have it on. However, when you are in Mecca or Medina at the holy sites, you will see some females not wearing an Abaya (which all seem to be those from India/Pakistan and Indonesia, where there isn't a widespread Abaya culture, but rather their local clothes do the trick - and are more colorful).

    2. AD Diamond

      @JB, I had a very different experience, but was not in a major city. I saw a fair number of abayas in the airport and while driving to the airport. But at our destination, exactly one woman was wearing an abaya. Almost all the women - Saudi or not - were dressed as you'd typically see in the US or Europe.

      Getting off our flight in Riyad, there was one young woman who covered her...

      @JB, I had a very different experience, but was not in a major city. I saw a fair number of abayas in the airport and while driving to the airport. But at our destination, exactly one woman was wearing an abaya. Almost all the women - Saudi or not - were dressed as you'd typically see in the US or Europe.

      Getting off our flight in Riyad, there was one young woman who covered her hair with a scarf, but by the time we'd hit baggage claim she had the scarf around her neck, as it was clear that many women had their hair uncovered. I was also amused that the solution for many women who chose to cover their hair, the solution was a hoodie. Brilliant.

    3. Julia Guest

      "and that a lot of females don't drive."

      Not true. In many cities you will see many women driving. And not just in the Big 3 (Riyadh, Jeddah, and Khobar/Dammam), but even in smaller cities as well. And you're seeing many non-Saudi women driving as well too.

      As for the abaya, in the Big 3 you are more likely to see expat women not wearing the abaya but you do see many Saudi women who don't cover their faces anymore.

  33. Chris G Guest

    Don't forget, you are very openly gay (good) and homosexuality remains illegal - punishable BY DEATH - in Saudi Arabia. If anyone spent a bit of time googling you as part of the e-visa verification process...

    1. Luke Guest

      I’m pretty sure this is an automated system and I highly doubt they are googling people to check their sexuality. I’m openly gay (in the sense that you’d find evidence of it if you looked up my social media accounts) have been accepted for the Saudi e-visa several times.

    2. AD Diamond

      Me too. If they cared I wouldn't have gotten in. And most visas come back in minutes. They aren't checking.

    3. Shaun Guest

      *sigh*

      Saudi Arabia doesn't execute foreign visitors for being gay or expressing support for gay rights outside of Saudi Arabia.

      The regime is absolutely repressive, and they have executed people for breaking Sharia law within Saudi Arabia's borders, including for same-sex sexual activity, but there's no need to make things up about them Googling people.

  34. Tee Summers Guest

    I'm curious if you are doing a short layover and if that has caused the issue to obtain the visa? Either way, i suggest you contact their board of tourism for support.

    This destination is on my short list and I look forward to hearing more about your experience, and if the Israeli-Palestine crisis is impacting tourism and life in general over there.

  35. Lutfiyya Guest

    I used the evisa site yesterday. I was also rejected. I am from SA? Is it a glitch and we wont be refunded?

  36. Ismael Guest

    Hi Ben. When I applied earlier in the year, I was initially denied due with a comment being about picture size and quality. I was able to re-upload and got approved pretty much instantly. Any chance that's the case for you?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Ismael -- Out of curiosity, how were you informed that the issue was with the picture, and how did you re-upload it? It sure would be nice if that were the issue for me too...

    2. Ismael Guest

      Hi Ben... so I backtracked my application... it actually went into "pending" with a comment about ineligible picture. So I was able to upload a better picture.... Seems to be a different case than you. Sorry.

  37. PDS Guest

    As a (openly) gay man why would you even want to set foot in that country given their stance. I think the system did you a favor and confirmed you are not welcome.

  38. Sisyphus Guest

    As others have mentioned, it’s quite possible that you applied for the wrong type of visa (tourist vs transit) which explains why it was instantly rejected.

    All the other conspiratorial theories are entertaining to read if nothing else.

    It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out as I’m sure a lot of readers will benefit from knowing what happened and how that problem could be solved in the future.

  39. David Ourisman Guest

    Try contacting Saudi Arabia Tourism — https://www.sta.gov.sa/en/contact-us

    They are spending big to grow their tourism industry. With your being an influencer and Ford being a travel advisor, I’d think they’d move mountains to get you there… and might even comp several days for the two of you.

    1. Erica T Guest

      This. I've visited KSA and contacted their tourism board with questions. They always replied at the beginning of the next work day. Remember their weekend is Fri-Sat.

  40. Lukas Diamond

    We need TPG to apply so we can see if there is a pattern. Hmm...

  41. Malc Diamond

    It'll definitely be a glitch. Many people here say it's surprising when something works, not when it doesn't. Try somehow to reach a customer support agent. Alternatively, if you can find some kind of govt visa Twitter account, Saudis are often very social media–savvy, and you may well get a response that way.

    1. AD Diamond

      So true. Ever try to use the Saudia app? Nightmare!

  42. Mike Guest

    Ben,

    It's fine. Just adjust your award flights and take QR to DOH and then continue on either QR or EY to AUH.

    Sometimes the juice isn't worth the squeeze.

    Mike

  43. AOH Guest

    @ Ben This is more of a problem with the lousy online system. I visited Saudi last January and had a hard time getting the e-visa online. I couldn't even make it to the end of the online application. I decided to give up and get the visa upon arrival with (American passport). Took some minutes, but no issue getting it on arrival.

  44. Paul Brody Guest

    I have used the Saudi eVisa process successfully twice. Can you find a customer support number? It's possible there was an error. I don't remember finding anything on the form that asks you to disclose something very controversial or that might lead to rejection (no asks for sexual orientation info or social media data.)

  45. Andrew Guest

    I am sorry but I have applied many times for the Saudi e-visa and in 2 minutes I had many applicants approved.

    To be honest, I am not surprised that you are rejected after constantly bashing the kingdom in some shape or form in your platform.

    Why should they give you a reason? Do the US embassy ever give reasons of visa refusal for the USA? They never do and they certainly do not refund...

    I am sorry but I have applied many times for the Saudi e-visa and in 2 minutes I had many applicants approved.

    To be honest, I am not surprised that you are rejected after constantly bashing the kingdom in some shape or form in your platform.

    Why should they give you a reason? Do the US embassy ever give reasons of visa refusal for the USA? They never do and they certainly do not refund you neither.
    Jeddah airport is a lovely airport and sadly you might have to wait a bit longer before visiting

    1. atcsundevil Guest

      You really came here to criticize him for voicing an opinion? Nice. Just skip the formality, say you're a douche, and save us the effort.

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Ben opened a discussion about why he was rejected. Anyone's opinion is as valid as the other until facts prove otherwise.

    3. RC Guest

      Agree with Andrew. Have had Saudi visa approved within minutes. And the govt has no need to give a reason.

    4. AD Diamond

      They may not need to give a reason, but if it's a technical issue, such as the picture, it's helpful to have the system throw an error message so the user can fix the problem. It's good design and that app is not well designed, so I would not be surprised if it is a technical issue.

  46. Euroflyer Guest

    Ben, not sure but maybe you should have applied for a transit visa instead of a tourist visa given the specifics of your trip. This may explain why you got such a quick automatic rejection. I received a transit visa in minutes for an upcoming itinerary where I will have an afternoon in Jeddah and will leave the airport. Enjoy the trip!

    1. Erica T Member

      If you did apply for the tourist visa then this is absolutely the issue. Contact the tourism board to see if there is a way to change it or get a refund so you can start over.

  47. Vinay Guest

    It’s pretty obvious why Ben was rejected. He uploaded his picture which allowed the saudis to do a social media/google reverse image search, revealing his identity as a famous (gay) travel blogger.

    Despite what the Saudis claim on their website about LGBT acceptance, they clearly do not want a gay travel blogger coming to their country and potentially influencing more homosexuals to travel there.

    Ben, if I were you I wouldn’t risk setting foot in...

    It’s pretty obvious why Ben was rejected. He uploaded his picture which allowed the saudis to do a social media/google reverse image search, revealing his identity as a famous (gay) travel blogger.

    Despite what the Saudis claim on their website about LGBT acceptance, they clearly do not want a gay travel blogger coming to their country and potentially influencing more homosexuals to travel there.

    Ben, if I were you I wouldn’t risk setting foot in Saudi at this point to try a visa on arrival. Your face is in their system and they can arrest you for whatever crazy reason they want.

    1. Sisyphus Guest

      The way some people’s brains work (or don’t), you really think that’s the most logical explanation to what happened?

    2. DenB Diamond

      @Sisyphus do you find this theory too Science-fictiony? I find it entirely plausible. Facial recog is very advanced now and is the darling of governments. It seems plausible to me. Although, I think it's slightly more likely that the "reason for rejection" is simply bad IT, and that Ben will never learn this.

    3. Alex Guest

      ...Why would they need to do a reverse image search when he provides his name and passport info?

    4. Sisyphus Guest

      @Alex because that’s a boring theory, they feel smarter coming up with farfetched explanations involving AI and a dystopian future when in reality it was probably just a glitch.

    5. Antonio Guest

      Sisyphus, there are many many countries requesting in the visa process social media accounts, and believe me, its not to congratulate you on your birthday :))

    6. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      there are many many countries requesting in the visa process social media accounts

      Who's doing that?

    7. Ken Guest

      US visa asks for social media handle although not mandatory

    8. Icarus Guest

      During the USA ESTA application process they ask for social media details and they do perform adhoc checks.

      I can also tell you that in my line of work we verify client’s socials - Facebook instagram Twitter LinkedIn etc. There are many reasons for that which includes fraud.

    9. Jay Guest

      I will admit, this is the very first thought I had about Ben being rejected. How should he answer the "married" question? Saying single is a lie, but saying yes means follow-up questions that could determine that he has a husband.

    10. Thomas Guest

      I don't think that's an issue unless he shows up with Ford in tow

    11. AD Diamond

      They are not googling everyone who applies for a visa. Further, they are clearly operating on a 'don't ask, don't tell' basis. Many LGBTQ+ people travel there together. No one bats an eyelash and local hosts generally know and don't care. They want tourists, persecuting them is counterproductive.

  48. Kate Guest

    I sympathize…and it’s terribly unfair. But I don’t think your application was answered in a 100 percent accurate manner. It’s a big beautiful world… just go someplace else. And be safer from certain risks and discriminations.

  49. Moiz Niaz Guest

    It is uncommon but I have known a few people who had their visas rejected online (apparently it's something to do with their online system) but it was straight forward at the airport on arrival. I have been to Saudia twice, the visa on arrival is cheaper and takes less than 10 minutes when done at the arrival airport.

  50. Mike Guest

    Have you been/supported/flown Israel/Qatar?

  51. Ethan Guest

    I am going in Feb for about 16 hours connecting MH/RJ. Australian passport.
    I just applied for a ‘Transit’ visa on the visa.mofa.gov website which cost me $25 including the garbage medical insurance (I got a choice of policies).
    It is currently showing as “sent to embassy” in the application status so interested to see what happens and how quickly it’s processed.

  52. simmonad Guest

    I went through this utterly confusing process in August of this year. I should not get a straight answer to anything, including whether I needed a visa for transit times > 12 hours. The airline (Saudia) and Visit Saudi Arabia were giving me different and at times opposite answers.

    To be safe, I submitted a visa application and never got the courtesy of a reply!! As it turns out, nobody asked anything and I was...

    I went through this utterly confusing process in August of this year. I should not get a straight answer to anything, including whether I needed a visa for transit times > 12 hours. The airline (Saudia) and Visit Saudi Arabia were giving me different and at times opposite answers.

    To be safe, I submitted a visa application and never got the courtesy of a reply!! As it turns out, nobody asked anything and I was safely tucked up in the transit hotel (new terminal) without police banging on my door in the middle of the night.

    According to Saudia, getting a VOA should be no problem for Europeans or Yanks ;) (https://www.saudia.com/pages/before-flying/travel-information/hajj-and-umrah/tourist-visa)

  53. DVid Guest

    Did you write that you are married to a man? That would lead to rejection

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ DVid -- The form just asks if you're married, and doesn't ask about their gender. Also keep in mind that Saudi Arabia claims that it welcomes LGBT visitors (https://onemileatatime.com/news/saudi-arabia-lgbt-visitors/):
      "Are LGBT visitors welcome to visit Saudi Arabia? Everyone is welcome to visit Saudi Arabia and visitors are not asked to disclose such personal details."

    2. Mike Guest

      That‘s like Israel saying it‘s treating Palestinians fairly but won‘t let them take SATs to expand presence at Harvard

    3. Jchang Guest

      "Are LGBT visitors welcome to visit Saudi Arabia? Everyone is welcome to visit Saudi Arabia and visitors are not asked to disclose such personal details."

      Just like how Americans that were Black were welcome during Apartheid South Africa:

      "They also explained the rules: Because he had an American passport, he would not be subject to the restrictions that applied to Black South Africans. They gave him a document that would, he told me, "officially make...

      "Are LGBT visitors welcome to visit Saudi Arabia? Everyone is welcome to visit Saudi Arabia and visitors are not asked to disclose such personal details."

      Just like how Americans that were Black were welcome during Apartheid South Africa:

      "They also explained the rules: Because he had an American passport, he would not be subject to the restrictions that applied to Black South Africans. They gave him a document that would, he told me, "officially make me an honorary white person. I've been called a lot of things in my life, but never that.""- Arnie Weissmann, A most unusual traveler's tale, Travel Weekly

  54. Ray Guest

    Call it divine intervention. Don’t waste your time or your money.

  55. ConcordeBoy Diamond

    T-Minus 0.5seconds until the "OMG, how could a gay guy apply for a Saudi visa?!" crowd chimes in.

    That said, it will be interesting to see why (if Ben chooses to share it) they rejected, and how they further convey that message.

    I wonder what percentage of other tourist visas go through this, and is a kink or a systemic design?

    1. Jeff Chang Guest

      I normally don't care if people engage in actions that are harmful to themselves or others in their community but U do have an issue when such persons try to lecture their readers on morality or ethics.

      Once that first step is taken, that individual has opened themselves up for scrutiny.

  56. EYrevanchist Guest

    Just get a visa on arrival. It's cheaper too.

    1. mike Guest

      and use his German passport instead of the USA one since his USA passport number was already rejected in the system.

    2. Laszlo Kiss Guest

      What if the Saudis are quite observant and not as stupid as you think? Name, place and DOB is the same… Dangerous advice, especially if they ask if you had a previous refusal. Then you advise to lie? Brrrrrrrr

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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atcsundevil Guest

You really came here to criticize him for voicing an opinion? Nice. Just skip the formality, say you're a douche, and save us the effort.

5
Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ DVid -- The form just asks if you're married, and doesn't ask about their gender. Also keep in mind that Saudi Arabia claims that it welcomes LGBT visitors (https://onemileatatime.com/news/saudi-arabia-lgbt-visitors/): "Are LGBT visitors welcome to visit Saudi Arabia? Everyone is welcome to visit Saudi Arabia and visitors are not asked to disclose such personal details."

4
Shaun Guest

Don't be an ass. Every country bans working on tourist visas. No country applies it to conducting incidental work that isn't being paid for from within the country you're visiting.

3
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