Tourist visas to be introduced

Updated 14 January 2014
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Tourist visas to be introduced

Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry is set to receive a shot in the arm following the government’s decision to issue tourist visas for the first time to woo foreigners intending to visit its historical sites.
The Council of Ministers has entrusted the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) with the task of issuing tourist visas on the basis of certain regulations approved by the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs.
The new tourism law aims at bringing about a qualitative improvement in the industry, which is expected to play a significant role in strengthening the economy besides creating thousands of jobs for Saudis.
“This is a very good move,” said Abdelelah Saaty, dean of the College of Business in Rabigh, while praising the efforts of the SCTA chief Prince Sultan bin Salman to boost domestic tourism. Saaty, however, pointed out that a lot more needs to be done to further strengthen the industry in terms of improving services, building facilities such as hotels and motels and training Saudis on how to handle foreign tourists.
“We should make Saudi Arabia a tourist-friendly country and people should feel it right from their arrival at the airport,” Saaty told Arab News. “We should also establish excellent service stations along our highways.”
He said most foreigners are interested in visiting historical sites and antiquities in the Kingdom. “I am happy to see that the SCTA is working to develop the historical region of Jeddah, which is one of the best tourist attractions in the city. Recently, I had taken a group of American academics to the region and they were highly impressed by it,” he said.
The new law stipulates that tourist areas are protected as public property and cannot be owned privately. It bans operators from participating in the sector without license. The SCTA has the power to penalize those who break the law, imposing fines up to SR 100,000 and cancelation of licenses.


Thousands of participants register in the upcoming Quran and Athan competitions

Updated 57 min 34 sec ago
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Thousands of participants register in the upcoming Quran and Athan competitions

  • Total prizes for the competition are worth $3.2m
  • The final stage of the competition will end on October 25

DUBAI: More than 13,000 participants from 162 countries registered in the Quran Recitation and Adhan competitions, the Saudi General Entertainment Authority (GEA) said in a statement.
The GEA allocated $3.2 million in prizes for the largest Quran competition and the first Adhan competition, which aims to highlight the diversity of the Islamic world cultures through the different styles of recitation and Adhan, and improve the image of Islam and Muslims globally.
The competition hopes to encourage the Muslim youth to recite the Quran and experience performing the Adhan.
The registration opened on May 22 and will continue accepting applications until July 22. The applicants will be then shortlisted from July 22 until August 23 as the competition progresses in its second stage.
The on-stage live performances will begin on August 24 and last until September 24 and winners will be announced and awarded throughout the final stage, which will run from September 25 and conclude on October 25.