Residents of the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain now qualify for free visas to Saudi Arabia on the condition that they attend a festival.
Abu Dhabi newspaper The National reports that this new rule is part of the Saudi Arabian reform programme to “prepare the largest Arab economy for a post-oil era.”
“An official decision was issued by authorities to allow residents of three Persian Gulf countries – UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain – a three-day free visa to attend an event and to make all the necessary facilities available to serve the tourists,” an official told the newspaper.
The free visa will be valid for three days throughout Saudi-Arabia’s festival season, or Riyadh Season.
The Tantora and MDL Beast festivals are some of the festivals operating around the country.
The free “festival” visa comes months after Saudi Arabia introduced tourist visas to citizens from 49 countries, making the country more accessible for tourists.
Visas can be obtained online or upon arrival, and tourists can visit the country several times within a one-year period, with a 90 limit per visit.
Saudi Arabia hopes that the new visa rules will boost the nation’s Gross Domestic Product up to 10% by 2030. By then, the country wants to attract up to 100 million visitors per year.
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