Travel agencies can now issue Saudi tourist visas

Visitors take shelter from the sun at a tourism destination in Al Ahsa. Saudi Arabia is developing plenty of tourism attractions as it gradually opens up the industry to foreign visitors. (SPA file photo)
Updated 05 December 2017
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Travel agencies can now issue Saudi tourist visas

JEDDAH/RIYADH: Travel agencies in category D can now issue visas for tourists and for educational or medical treatment purposes inside and outside the Kingdom.
The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) in Jeddah has issued the first license allowing a travel agency in category D to issue such visas, according to Sabq online newspaper.
Now all four categories of licensed travel agencies in Jeddah (A, B, C and D) can provide a variety of services including the sale, purchase and issuance of travel tickets inside and outside the Kingdom through various means of transport, and to market tourist trips provided by the tour organizers in addition to handling tourist and educational visas.
The director general of SCTH in Makkah region, Mohammed Abdullah Al-Amri, said the travel and tourism sector was suffering from power overlapping before being affiliated to the SCTH and constituted an obstacle for initiatives.
Then came the clear-cut directives from SCTH President Prince Sultan bin Salman to restructure the tourism sector along scientific lines, he said.

Restoration of historic mosques
A program for restoring and reviving 34 historic mosques in the area of Al-Diriya has been recently launched, according to the SCTH president.
The program is being implemented by SCTH, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance, the High Commission for the Development of Arriyadh and Al-Turath Foundation.
The SCTH chief pointed out that the restoration program seeks to revive historic mosques and their role in society and to shed light on their history. He stressed that the revival of these historic mosques not only includes restoring urban heritage, but also reviving the buildings, which were built and cared for by Saudi Arabia’s kings, reported Al-Hayat newspaper on Monday.
Prince Sultan bin Salman has also launched projects for restoring 10 historic mosques in Al-Qassim as part of the program for reviving the buildings with the participation of the local community.
Moreover, three architectural offices volunteered to prepare plans for restoring and rehabilitating 13 historic mosques in the region, bringing the total number of historic mosques restored since the launch of the program to 79, including the 100-year-old Al-Maarik Mosque in Buraidah, in which King Saud had prayed.


Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

Updated 23 April 2019
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Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

  • Mohamed Jafar and Hany Osman, cabin crew with Saudi Arabian Airlines, were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels targeted
  • Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi says officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests

COLOMBO: Two Saudis were among 31 foreigners killed in a string of Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said on Monday, a day after the devastating attacks on hotels and churches killed at least 290 people and wounded nearly 500.

The extent of the carnage began to emerge as information from government officials, relatives and media reports offered the first details of those who had died. Citizens from at least eight countries, including the United States, were killed, officials said.

Among them were Saudis Mohammed Jafar and Hany Osman. They worked as cabin crew on Saudi Arabian Airlines, and were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels that were hit.

Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi said that officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests on the two Saudi victims, and only after these are received will their names be confirmed.

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the Sri Lankan government believes the vast scale of the attacks, which clearly targeted the minority Christian community and outsiders, suggested the involvement of an international terrorism network.

“We don’t think a small organization can do all that,” he said. “We are now investigating international support for them and their other links — how they produced the suicide bombers and bombs like this.”

The attacks mostly took place during church services or when hotel guests were sitting down to breakfast. In addition to the two Saudis, officials said the foreign victims included one person from Bangladesh, two from China, eight from India, one from France, one from Japan, one from The Netherlands, one from Portugal, one from Spain, two from Turkey, six from the UK, two people with US and UK dual nationalities, and two with Australian and Sri Lankan dual nationalities.

Three of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen’s four children were among the foreigners who were killed, a spokesman for the family confirmed. Povlsen is the wealthiest man in Denmark, the largest landowner in Scotland and owns the largest share of British online fashion and cosmetics retailer Asos.

Two Turkish engineers working on a project in Sri Lanka also died in the attacks, the English-language Daily Sabah newspaper reported. Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu gave their names as Serhan Selcuk Narici and Yigit Ali Cavus.

Fourteen foreign nationals remain unaccounted for, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry said, adding that they might be among unidentified victims at the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer’s morgue.

Seventeen foreigners injured in the attacks were still being treated at the Colombo National Hospital and a private hospital in the city, while others had been discharged after treatment.