Saudi Arabia has been signaling for several years that they would like to become a tourism destination in the Middle East and have been planning to launch an electronic tourist visa service.
Nationals of 49 countries will be eligible for the e-visa starting this Saturday. The visa is multiple entry and you can stay in the Kingdom for up to 90 days per visit and 180 days within any 12 months.
Here’s the circular issued by GACA:
Women traveling alone are also eligible for the tourist e-visa and don’t have to comply with the same dress code as locals. Tourists are not allowed to enter two holy cities of Medina and Mecca.
This certainly makes flying on Saudia, a dry airline as is the country, easier and I would assume that their fares soon will allow free stopovers in the Kingdom.
I don’t believe that there will be a rush of travelers going to Saudi Arabia, however, due to recent events such as the Saudi government killing and dismembering of a journalist living in the US and who was visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul for getting a certificate.
I have been to 110 or so countries but getting a visa to visit Saudi Arabia has been cumbersome outside of a couple of events in the past year when they have issued e-visas to participants.