SAUDI ARABIA - Muslim Country Seeks Tourists

Arno Froese

When it comes to holidaying in the Middle East, there’s a new kid on the block. From April 1, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will start issuing tourist visas for the first time since it clamped down on visitors in 2010.

As it stands, all visitors, including pilgrims, to the Kingdom must acquire a visa to enter the country but the new electronic permits are likely to make the process simpler for travelers. 

Talking to the Associated Press, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said: “[Saudi Arabia] is open for people that are doing business, for people working in Saudi Arabia, investing in Saudi Arabia, and people who are visiting for special purposes. And now it will be open for tourism again on a selected basis.”

So what does “selected basis” mean? Well, there are limitations on the availability of the visa to women. Female solo travelers over the age of 25 will be able to obtain a 30-day tourist visa, but those under 25 will have to be accompanied by a family member.

Witnessing the continued success of the tourism industry of neighbors Dubai and Bahrain, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has put an ambitious plan in place that aims to attract 30 million visitors by 2030. In 2016 18 million people visited. Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 Plan includes the Red Sea development, scheduled to start in late 2019, with the first phase due to be completed by the end of 2022.

Strict laws remain in place across Saudi Arabia, so be sure to research how to dress and behave in public before visiting. The Foreign Office advises against travel to the south-west of the country, where Saudi Arabia borders Yemen. 

All visitors need a visa to enter Saudi Arabia, while those travelling to the Hajj require a special document. Non-Muslims are not allowed near the Hajj destinations.

You may be refused entry to the county if your passport contains evidence of previous travel to Israel or indicates Israel as your birthplace., 2 March 2018

Arno's commentary

Saudi Arabia’s oil dominance has suffered some setbacks, particularly as the United States has opened the fracking floodgates, even exporting oil.

While some restrictions apply in virtually all countries, Saudi Arabia’s are somewhat more severe, particularly when it comes to dress code, alcohol, pork, photography, and—not surprisingly—you cannot have an Israeli entry stamp in your passport. With this we see Israel being clearly and publically discriminated against, just as we read in Holy Scripture: “…the people shall dwell alone.” The heathen prophet Balaam had this to say: “How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the Lord hath not defied? For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23:8-9).

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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