Women above 25 to be allowed Saudi tourist visas; no ‘chaperon’ required

The aim of the move is to boost the tourism sector. (AN photo)
Updated 12 January 2018
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Women above 25 to be allowed Saudi tourist visas; no ‘chaperon’ required

JEDDAH: Women aged 25 and over can be granted a tourist visa to go to Saudi Arabia alone, a spokesman for the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) has said. However, women under 25 must be accompanied by a family member.
Omar Al-Mubarak, director general of the commission’s licensing department, said: “The tourist visa will be a single-entry visa, and valid for 30 days maximum. This visa is added to those currently available in the Kingdom. It is independent of work, visit, Hajj and Umrah visas.”
The SCTH recently said that the start of tourism visa issuance would be announced during the first quarter of 2018.
“The executive regulations for tourist visas have been finalized. The commission’s IT department is currently building an electronic system for the issuance of tourist visas, coordinating with representatives of the National Information Center and the Foreign Ministry,” Al-Mubarak told Arab News.
During Saudi Arabia’s trial period of implementing the tourist visa system between 2008 and 2010, more than 32,000 tourists visited the Kingdom. Their visa procedures were facilitated by a number of tour operators licensed by the SCTH.
The Tourism Visa Initiative is meant to revive the previous tourist visa system to enable visitors to discover new destinations in the Kingdom, to boost the tourism sector and to develop tourism and heritage services and facilities in the Kingdom.
The aim is also to create more jobs for citizens and reduce the seasonal nature of international tourism with a religious basis during the Umrah and Hajj seasons.
The initiative is part of the National Transformation Program 2020, and falls within the framework of the commission’s efforts to achieve Vision 2030, which gives much attention to the tourism industry.


Makkah Route: Health services presented to Hajjis in their home countries

Updated 21 July 2019
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Makkah Route: Health services presented to Hajjis in their home countries

  • 257,981 pilgrims benefited from the "preventive services" since the new initiative’s launch

RIYADH: One of the services provided by the Makkah Route initiative, which aims to smooth the Hajj journey of pilgrims and provide top-quality service, is to ensure that all health requirements are met.

The Communication, Relations and Health Awareness General Department of the Ministry of Health is implementing the initiative in two ways. 

The first is to ensure that the proper application of the health requirements for Hajj and Umrah is followed in targeted countries before issuing the Kingdom’s entry visa (Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Tunisia). 

The second is to check that preventive measures are taken according to the world’s epidemiological situation, for instance in Pakistan.

“Preventive measures” mean, for example, providing polio vaccines for pilgrims. The vaccine, approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), is provided through the Pakistani health authorities at the departure area of the airport.

“The ministry is also deploying a team of five people qualified to supervise the application of health requirements and assess the vaccination procedure and the application of preventive measures,” the department added.   


HIGHLIGHTS

The Makkah Route initiative aims to ensure that the proper application of the health requirements for Hajj and Umrah is followed in targeted countries before issuing the Kingdom’s entry visa.

The initiative also ensures that preventive measures are taken according to the world’s epidemiological situation, for instance in Pakistan.

The workforce at the different land, air, and sea entry/exit points during this year’s Hajj season numbers more than 1,700 individuals.

The teams include 131 experienced doctors, general health specialists, epidemiological monitors, and other staff to provide the necessary treatment and preventive services to pilgrims.


The ministry’s procedures in the departure hall include prepping emergency clinics at the points where Makkah Route pilgrims are received. 

These clinics deal with urgent cases, prepare awareness information for pilgrims and coordinate with the General Authority of Civil Aviation regarding their distribution on the targeted airlines.

The workforce at the different land, air, and sea entry/exit points during this year’s Hajj season numbers more than 1,700 individuals, including 131 experienced doctors, general health specialists, epidemiological monitors, and other staff to provide the necessary treatment and preventive services to pilgrims.

The ministry stated that the number of health practitioners assigned to the service of pilgrims during Hajj “is more than 30,000.”

The ministry encourages volunteering during the Hajj season; it believes that it is a very important and noble service toward fellow citizens, nations and the religion, where Islam highly encourages volunteering and serving others.

The ministry is coordinating the major institutions and commissions via its Hajj volunteering link to register volunteers so that they can participate through the societal partnership program.

The missions affiliated with the pilgrim’s affairs offices provide basic treatment services and refer patients to the ministry’s health facilities, keeping an eye on the overall health situation and reporting any suspicious infectious diseases. 

The ministry monitors all the health institutions and medical missions affiliated with the pilgrim’s affairs offices to make sure the health requirements are being properly applied, to ensure pilgrims’ safety and guarantee an environment free of infectious diseases.

The Health Ministry has confirmed that so far that there has been no incidence of any epidemic diseases or quarantine cases recorded among pilgrims, who arrived and the health situation is reassuring.

Since the first of Dul Qaada, the ministry has provided preventive services, via access points, to 257,981 pilgrims, with a total rate of commitment to vaccination reached  87.4 percent for meningitis, 67.3 percent for yellow fever and 95.3 percent for polio.