India changes visa policies for Saudi nationals

India’s diplomatic missions in the Kingdom are working on making electronic visas available for Saudi nationals as soon as possible, following a decision to add the Kingdom to the list of countries eligible for an e-visa. (AFP)
Updated 23 February 2019
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India changes visa policies for Saudi nationals

  • India has granted the e-visa facility for more than 150 countries and territories, and the latest addition is Saudi Arabia
  • The country has also decided to scrap the biometric visa system for Saudis

JEDDAH: India’s diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia are working on making electronic visas available for Saudi nationals as soon as possible, following last week’s decision to add the Kingdom to the list of countries eligible for an e-visa.
India has also decided to scrap the biometric visa system for Saudis.
It is hoped that these two steps will increase the number of Saudi visitors, and India’s diplomatic missions are working on making the e-visa available as soon as possible.
“We are waiting on guidelines from the Indian Embassy in Riyadh,” a consulate official in Jeddah told Arab News.
The e-visa will allow Saudi travelers to get the permit online, without intermediaries or agents. India has granted the e-visa facility for more than 150 countries and territories, and the latest addition is Saudi Arabia.
“It is really a decision coming late,” P. Ram Mohan, a senior Bangalore-based journalist, told Arab News. “India has warm relations with Saudi Arabia and about three million Indian expats live there.”
The website for India’s Embassy in Riyadh lists the current requirements for a tourist visa for Saudis: A passport, a copy of the passport, two passport-sized photos, a completed application form, visa fee in cash, a copy of the Saudi ID card, proof of hotel accommodation in India, airline tickets, and a letter from employers or sponsors or a bank statement.
The e-visa slashes this to four steps: Apply online for a visa with valid documents, pay the fee online with a debit or credit card, receive e-visa by email, travel to India with a print out of the e-visa.
K. Surendran, tourism minister in India’s southern state of Kerala, welcomed the move to extend the e-visa to Saudi nationals and simplify travel document procedures for them as it would boost visitor numbers.
He said the state’s tourism department had been demanding the withdrawal of the biometric visa system because of its dramatic impact on tourist numbers.
“However the latest announcement will remove this major irritant,” the minister told Arab News.
The crown prince’s two-day trip yielded five memorandums of understanding in investment, tourism, housing, and information and broadcasting.
He also announced a $100 billion investment in India in areas including energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture and manufacturing.
A joint statement issued during the visit emphasized the importance of bilateral ties.
“India and Saudi Arabia enjoy cordial and friendly relations reflecting the centuries old economic and socio-cultural ties. Close geographical proximity, civilizational links, cultural affinity, natural synergies, and vibrant people to people contacts. Common challenges and opportunities have added momentum to this robust engagement,” it said.


Saudi capital to get world’s biggest park in $23bn project

Updated 8 min 15 sec ago
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Saudi capital to get world’s biggest park in $23bn project

  • The project will see 7.5m trees planted and the creation of the world's biggest park
  • There will be 70,000 jobs created across the four major projects

RIYADH: The world’s biggest park will be created in Saudi Arabia as part of a $22.9bn project that promises to create vast open green areas in Riyadh, creating thousands of new jobs, state news agency SPA reported on Tuesday

The aim of the project is to “significantly improve the lives of its citizens, transform the city into an attractive destination and make it one of the world’s most livable cities,” the report added.

The four projects - King Salman Park, Sports Boulevard, Green Riyadh and Riyadh Art – will complement the Saudi Vision 2030’s “Quality of Life” Program and are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, to create sustainable cities and communities, while driving urgent action against climate change.

Developed with a government investment of $23 bn, the four projects will offer opportunities worth $15bn for the private sector to invest in residential, commercial, recreational and wellness projects.

As well as creating tens of thousands of new jobs, the project will also help boost efforts to improve the city’s health and wellbeing with a commitment to wellness, health, sports, culture and the arts, underpinned by a commitment to environmental sustainability.

Measuring 13.4 square kilometers, King Salman Park will be the world’s biggest park, with residential areas, hotels, and will also feature a Royal Arts Complex, theaters, museums, cinemas, sports venues, water features, restaurants and an 18-hole Royal Golf Course.

The park will also boast several landmark assets, including the Riyadh Fountains and a Vertical Garden. As an environmentally sustainable urban development, it will offer opportunities for the international community in arts, entertainment and culture.

Image: riyadhgreen.sa

One of the world’s largest urban greening projects, Green Riyadh will increase Riyadh’s green cover with 7.5 million trees.

The massive planting project will help increase the city’s green cover from 1.5 percent of Riyadh’s total area to 9.1 percent – that’s approximately 541 square kilometers, by 2030.

Image: riyadhgreen.sa

Green space availability will increase to 28 square meters per capita from the current 1.7 square meters per capita, compared to the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 9 square meters per capita.

Green Riyadh will help reduce average ambient temperature by 2C, and will use more than 1 million cubic meters of treated sewage effluent daily for irrigation, for the sustainability of water resources in the city.

Image: riyadhgreen.sa

Sports Boulevard  - a health and wellness destination in the heart of the city- will feature a 135 kilometer-long professional cycling track covering the city and the surrounding valleys, the first of its kind in the region.

Adding 3.5 million square meters of new open space across the city, this grand project will also feature a sports pavilion, riding stables and athletics tracks.

Riyadh Art will be the world’s largest government investment in public art and will establish the city as “a gallery without walls” through a world-class interactive public arts program.

With 1,000 artworks curated through 10 separate programs and an annual arts festival, this project will feature large-scale art works with the aim of drawing art lovers and creators from around the world.

The projects are part of Saudi Arbia’s strategy to meet their Vision 2030 goals, they are expected to provide 70,000 new job opportunities.

Construction work is due to start in the second half of 2019.