‘Historic moment’ as Saudi Arabia to kick starts tourist visas to visit country

The announcement comes just two weeks after devastating attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure blamed by Washington on Iran which roiled global energy markets and raised fears of a wider regional conflict.

Delhi: Saudi Arabia said Friday it will offer tourist visas for the first time, opening up the ultra-conservative kingdom to holidaymakers as part of a push to diversify its economy away from oil. Kick starting tourism is one of the centerpieces of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 reform programme to prepare the biggest Arab economy for a post-oil era. “Opening Saudi Arabia to international tourists is a historic moment for our country,” tourism chief Ahmed al-Khateeb said in a statement. “Visitors will be surprised by the treasures we have to share five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a vibrant local culture and breathtaking natural beauty.” Saudi Arabia will open applications for an online tourist visa to citizens of 49 countries on Saturday says Khateeb.