Saudi Arabia Finally Starting To Issue Tourist E-Visas

Filed Under: Saudia

At the beginning of the month I wrote about how Saudi Arabia was planning on formally opening the country up to tourists, and the full details of that have now been revealed.

Saudi Arabia E-Visa Applications

Starting tomorrow (Saturday, September 28, 2019), Saudi Arabia will start accepting e-visa applications online for visitors from select countries. We don’t yet know exactly what the application will look like, though it’s said that it will take just a few minutes to complete.

This is part of Saudi Arabia hoping to greatly increase tourism over the coming years, as they’re hoping that by 2030 they’ll have 30 million international visitors annually, and that tourism will contribute 10% towards their GDP. While the country has a fair number of religious visitors currently, they’re hoping to open the country to other types of visitors as well.

How Much Does Saudi Arabia Charge For E-Visas?

A Saudi tourist e-visa will cost 440 Saudi Riyal, or about $117.

What Countries Are Eligible For Saudi Arabia E-Visas?

Passport holders from a total of 49 countries are eligible for Saudi tourist visas.

In the Americas, the following countries are eligible:

  • Canada
  • United States

In Asia, the following countries are eligible:

  • Brunei
  • China (including Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan)
  • Japan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • South Korea

In Oceania, the following countries are eligible:

  • Australia
  • New Zealand

In Europe, the following countries are eligible:

  • Andorra
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lichtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Monaco
  • Montenegro
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • San Marino
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom

How Long Is A Saudi Arabia E-Visa Valid For?

Saudi Arabia tourist visas will be valid for 12 months and for multiple entries. Visitors can stay for up to 90 days per visit, and no longer than 180 days total in one year.

Saudi Arabia Relaxing Dress Code For Women

For the first time ever, women visiting Saudi Arabia won’t have to wear the traditional abaya, though the country is still asking women to dress modestly.

Baby steps?

Saudi Arabia Fascinates Me

Saudi Arabia has been talking for years about issuing tourist visas, but the program kept getting pushed back. So it’s interesting to see this finally happen.

Obviously I take huge issue with many of Saudi Arabia’s policies. Furthermore, between the jailing at the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh and Khashoggi’s death, Saudi Arabia has an uphill battle ahead of them in terms of convincing people to visit.

Even many of us who were previously intrigued by the prospect of visiting Saudi Arabia are thinking twice at this point.

It used to be that I was interested in visiting Saudi Arabia because I think just about everywhere is worth seeing, even if they have laws I strongly disagree with. I also largely refused to draw lines with visiting destinations, since it’s a slippery slope.

Nowadays I’m a bit different, and I do try to draw more lines in these regards.

Saudi Arabia is no doubt a country with a unique culture and with some great natural beauty, and is even home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites,

But I’m not sure I’m quite ready to visit…

Anyone planning to visit Saudi Arabia now that they’re going to issue tourist visas?

Comments
  1. Ben – the ads are getting extremely distracting and bothersome.

    Don’t know if it’s something you all changed or on my phone, but there are now large, square photo ads throughout your posts.

    This makes trip reports especially hard because your beautiful photos are interspersed with random photos of other places.

    Please consider this. Thanks.

  2. As an openly bi male, I would still visit Saudi Arabia before it becomes overran by tourists in years to come, which is always the case.

    I can see how scary it is from the news, but that’s the news.

  3. I don’t think I’ll be spending my tourist money in a country that invites US residents to visit its embassy in Turkey, only to have the US resident show up and be murdered and then chopped up with a bone saw, with his body parts simply disappearing.

  4. I’m so glad for this. My wife spent her teenage years with her family in Jeddah and now her sister lives in Dammam, we can finally go visit! Already planning our flights! and Mada’in Saleh is definitely on the list.

  5. I too find the new ads obnoxious and have really brought down the quality and enjoyment of this otherwise fantastic blog. Please consider changing the ads

  6. As a Saudi Arabian living in the US for the past 6 years, I would like to welcome everyone to Arabia :). The country changed radically in the past 3 years, mostly to the better. I believe KSA offers a unique intersection between tradition, culture, religion, wealth and natural untouched beauty. As the biggest gulf country, we have plenty of amazing places to visit. I hope everyone enjoys our authentic and traditional Arabian hospitality 🙂

  7. I usually read OMAAT on my laptop, so I just took a look at a couple of posts on my mobile to see what people meant by the ads. Holy cow! That is pretty annoying.

  8. Only a matter of time before the first tourist is beheaded or thrown into prison for decades. It is naive to think that Saudi Arabia is somehow all of a sudden going to become tolerant. Not really worth the risk just to say that you have been there. Heck last year they arrested a foreign man and woman who were co-workers because there was a video of them having breakfast together. Some prosecutors have called for people who come out as gay (merely come out) to be put to death. Women basically have no rights at all. Not to mention the external terrorists who would love to kill tourists to get back at saudi arabia. Not only do people put their own personal safety at risk by visiting saudi arabia, but seriously people need to ask themselves if their need to be able to say they visited saudi arabia and got some pictures justifies paying money to a corrupt government that brutalizes and suppresses its own citizens. By going to saudi arabia and paying them money that is exactly what you are doing. You are supporting this government and enabling them to keep up the repression. Is it really worth it for a holiday photo?

  9. @Bill — All countries have their bad sides (the book Just Mercy changed my view of America). I live and work in Saudi, and my students are some of the nicest people I’ve ever countered. Yeah, there are regrettable aspects, but it’s changing, and as I say, the people are largely lovely. I don’t think people will be hankering to visit Saudi, but I don’t think there’ll be many problems for those who do.

  10. Those of you having problems with the ads on the mobile site should download AdBlock. It works very well in blocking most ads.

  11. Thanks,

    It’s great they now have an E-Visa. I will apply to go to Saudi Arabia once they have the Mecca Gay Pride Parade.

  12. I have always read OMAAT on my desktop and checked it out on my phone for the first time. Yes the mobile ads are intrusive, unlike the desktop ones. However someone has to pay the bills for Ben to have a full-time job flying first and business class around the world.

  13. No, I will not go to SA. They have a very long way to go before I even consider it.

    I don’t know what everyone is talking about re: ads. I haven’t noticed anything different

  14. Hello everyone in Saudi Arabia 🙂
    I will be happy to welcome you all in my country.

    yes, WE are changing a lot and we trying to make you see the REAL Saudi Arabia..

    welcome in advance 🙂

  15. Yeah, I dont think you and Ford should be rushing to vist KSA…

    As for me, I love foreign culture as much as anyone, but KSA is a bit too far for even me. Women treated like garbage, foreigners imported as quasi-slave labor because the native Saudis are too good (and rich) to work, draconian laws, roving morality police, etc. I dont see myself ever being comfortable in KSA for fear of violating some arcane cultural norm I am not familiar with.

  16. Yeah I am all up for exploring new countries but I draw the line at a country with the absolute worst human rights record when it comes to the LGBTQ community. I am sure there are many sights to see but I suspect the public beatings, chemical castrations, etc. are not on the tourist schedule.

  17. How convenient that you now don’t have to visit their consulate – where you can be butchered into pieces and your body never to be found.

  18. can’t imagine worse destination, really..who cares about UNESCO sites in country like that? also it is worth to remember: if you visit Saudi Arabia – you won’t be able to visit States – good luck in embassy..

  19. I’ve always said I’ll go anywhere since my husband and i have wanderlust but as gay men i won’t be visiting Saudi Arabia anytime soon. Islamic Sharia Law? No thanks.

  20. “I’m not gay but I’ll let you s… my c…” Who in their right mind would contribute to these thugs economy.

  21. So glad it’s not just me who noticed the new ad placements! Really distracting from what is otherwise an excellent blog!

  22. Hahahahahhaha all of you who says it’s ok and we are welcome to visit SA must be at least partially autistic. Ummm women can’t even drive plus they chop heads off? Everyone of you are against dictators but would pay to visit SA? The whole country’s job is to provide us oil while we look the other way as they abuse women and others who don’t agree with the government. That’s that idiots

  23. Who would want to visit a country who chops its journalists into little pieces and indiscriminately bombs innocent civilians?

  24. Mohammad-We’ve seen the real Saudi Arabia and his name is Mohammad Ben Salman. When you oust him, maybe I’ll visit. As for today, you could buy me a first class RT ticket and I wouldn’t go to Saudi Arabia.

  25. @Phillip Women can drive now, and some do.

    I would still recommend Oman or the UAE, if you plan on visiting this part of the world. For anyone who does visit, download a prayer time application so you can plan accordingly when you are here, as everything – restaurants, cafes, stores, etc – shuts down here during prayer time.

  26. The visa are way too expensive. Over US$100. I’m not paying that much when there are plenty of other places I want to go.

  27. A lot Of misinformed and unfortunately incorrect statements here. SA is no angel however I am not sure why people have no problem visiting China, Turkey, Qatar and UAE would say SA is a different level.

    What happened to Jamal was bad however the country changed a lot .

    Gays are not being killed or publicity beaten. There are a lot of gay people in Saudi and I challenge you to find any reliable recent news about them being killed or beaten just for being gay.

    Woman rights have advanced in a shocking way over the past few years. They drive, they work, the guardianship laws were officially terminated this year.

  28. Do you have to bring your own bone saw or do they provide one? I advise all visitors to be very very impressed with everything under penalty of death.

  29. I worked as an engineer on merchant ships for many years. Late 1995 we spent almost a week in port of Jeddah and we got permission to visit downtown for 3h, one time during the ship’s stay in port. We had to use organized transportation and I still remember driver being very loud and clear about exact time of pick-up. Three hours went by really fast, we wandered around, we bought some souvenirs and tried to feel the place as much as possible .Foreigners working in port were full of shocking stories they witnessed or heard. We were alerted all the time, very careful not to do something “wrong” because we heard about different laws and culture. We were back on time for pick-up and came back to the ship with no issues. In coming years I came back few times in port of Jeddah and never went out again. I wanted to relax after weeks of sailing and I could not do it there. And I am not talking about the stereotypes which people use to think about sailors like alcohol or women, just to get off the ship in my free time, take a cab or walk to the city, not to think what can I do that locals can find inappropriate. For that reason I visit countries where I can be 100% same person as I am at home. Or read. Or experienced by themselves. We could discuss a lot about different cultures but at the moment I am enjoying to visit countries close or closer to my culture as at these ages any necessary stress is out of question and especially when traveling for pleasure.

  30. hard pass, no thanks. SA is such a backwards country, they have a LONG ways to go if they truly wanna open for tourism. If I want my middle eastern fix I have UAE and Israel, two incredible countries, thanks.

  31. > China (including Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan)

    Seriously, Ben? You have that many readers in the PRC? Even the official site lists Taiwan separately.

  32. Thank you for posting the information about how to use the new website to apply for a Saudi tourist visa. Worked pretty well and we received our visas without having to mail in our passports, which was required until now.

  33. @H @Alexis @BlueMountain, this is really strange. When this article went up, China, Hong Kong, and Macau weren’t even listed on Saudi’s website. After this article went up and people started complaining, Taiwan is removed from the country list. What appears instead is “China (including Hong Kong and Macau)”, the same phrasing used as Lucky! This article definitely seems like an undisclosed paid advertisement. Super sketchy! I can no longer trust OMAAT and Lucky.

  34. I worked in SA for 12 years and happy to see tourism getting opened in the Kingdom. There are definitely places to visit and enjoy. All those who are talking about beheading, just understand that those are the punishments of crimes committed while at KSA and no one is above the law.

    So when you are in KSA, don’t smuggle and use alcohol and drugs, don’t solicit or look for prostitution, and of course don’t steal. You don’t have to worry about losing your hand, thrown in jail for getting beheaded.

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