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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)
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.

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