Saudi Arabia has introduced a multiple-entry visit visa for Pakistanis and all other applicants who have a valid United Kingdom, United States or Schengen visa, reported Gulf News on Sunday.
Visitors will also be able to use the visa, which is valid for one year, to perform Umrah. However, they will not be able to use the visa to perform Haj, the publication added.
In order to obtain the visa-on-arrival, travellers must have a valid credit card to pay a fee amounting to Rs18,000; cash will not be accepted. Further, citizens will be allowed to stay in the country for up to 90 days at a time and can enter the kingdom multiple times, the report said.
Quoting a reservation agent at Saudi Airlines in Dubai, the report maintained that the new service commenced last month.
“Anyone who has a valid UK, US or Schengen visa can obtain visit visa to Saudi Arabia on arrival. However, the visa is issued to only those applicants who have used their US, UK or Schengen visa at least once. You will not be given visa on arrival if you have US, UK or Schengen visa stamped on your passport but have never used it,” she explained.
Moreover, first-time visitors will have to travel on Saudi-based airlines including Saudi Airlines, Flynas or Flydeal. Meanwhile, repeat travellers who already hold a visit visa can use any other airline, the publication said.
In addition, the tourist visa for non-Muslims forbids travellers from visiting the holy cities of Makkah and Madina while Muslims may use the tourist visa to perform Umrah outside of Haj season, Gulf News reported.
In September 2019, Saudi Arabia had announced it was offering tourist visas for the first time, opening up the kingdom to holidaymakers as part of a push to diversify its economy away from oil.
The kingdom had also eased its strict dress code for foreign women, allowing them to go without the body-shrouding abaya robe that is still mandatory public wear for Saudi women, as authorities open up one of the last frontiers of global tourism.