Saudi Arabia steps up tourism push with new visas

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Saudi embassies and consulates will be able to issue the visas within 24 hours of receiving a request
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The Kingdom is hoping to increase the number of foreign visitors, as well as encourage domestic tourism and create jobs for young Saudis. (SPA)
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The Kingdom is hoping to increase the number of foreign visitors, as well as encourage domestic tourism and create jobs for young Saudis. (SPA)
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Visitors walk outside the tombs at the Madain Saleh antiquities site, al-Ula, Saudi Arabia February 10, 2019. (REUTERS)
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The Kingdom is hoping to increase the number of foreign visitors, as well as encourage domestic tourism and create jobs for young Saudis. (SPA)
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The Kingdom is hoping to increase the number of foreign visitors, as well as encourage domestic tourism and create jobs for young Saudis. (SPA)
Updated 03 March 2019
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Saudi Arabia steps up tourism push with new visas

  • The Kingdom is hoping to increase the number of foreign visitors, as well as encourage domestic tourism and create jobs for young Saudis

RIYADH: Tourists will be offered special “event” visas to visit Saudi Arabia as part of plans by the Kingdom to become a major global entertainment destination.
The new one-off visas will allow foreign visitors to choose from the growing number of sporting, entertainment and business attractions available in the country.
Announcing the new visa category on Thursday, the Saudi Cabinet said embassies and consulates will be able to issue the visas within 24 hours of receiving a request.
Under the visa upgrade, the Kingdom’s General Investment Authority, General Sports Authority and General Entertainment Authority will provide the Foreign Affairs Ministry and state security with details of events at least two months beforehand. The details will then be included in the visa system.
Saudi Arabia is investing billions of dollars in sports and entertainment as it seeks to reform and diversify its economy, part of a wide-ranging Vision 2030 program introduced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Kingdom is hoping to increase the number of foreign visitors, as well as encourage domestic tourism and create jobs for young Saudis.
Formula E motor racing, WWE wrestling and world title boxing events have also been added to the country’s sporting calendar in the past 12 months.
Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, said earlier this year that infrastructure investments in the next decade would reach SR240 billion ($64 billion) and would contribute SR18 billion to the country’s economy and generate 224,000 new jobs by 2030.


Arab coalition working to protect region’s security, says spokesman

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki at a press briefing. (SPA file photo)
Updated 19 March 2019
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Arab coalition working to protect region’s security, says spokesman

  • Houthis want to disturb peace, says coalition spokesman
  • Stockholm peace agreement under strain

RIYADH: The Arab coalition supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni government is committed to protecting regional and global security, a spokesman said Monday.

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki was asked at a press briefing about Houthi militias threatening to target the capitals of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“This is their way to disturb peace,” Al-Maliki replied. “Previously the Houthis targeted Riyadh with a ballistic missile, violating all international laws by attacking a city that has more than 8 million civilians. We take all precautions to protect civilians and vital areas. The coalition works to protect regional and international security.”

Al-Maliki said Houthis had targeted Saudi border towns several times, the most recent incident taking place in Abha last Friday.

But the Saudi Royal Air Defense Force had shot down a drone that was targeting civilians, he added.

He said four Saudi nationals and an Indian expatriate were injured in the attack because of falling debris.

The drone wreckage showed the characteristics and specifications of Iranian manufacturing, he said, which proved Iran was continuing to smuggle arms to the militias.

He warned the Houthis to refrain from targeting civilians because the coalition, in line with international humanitarian law, had every right to counter such threats.

He said the coalition was making efforts to neutralize ballistic missiles and dismantle their capabilities, as the coalition’s joint command would not allow the militia to possess weapons that threatened civilian lives and peace.

Al-Maliki reiterated that the Houthis were targeting Yemeni civilians and continued to violate international laws. 

He also urged Yemenis to try their best to prevent children from being captured by Houthis, who were using them as human shields and child soldiers.

His comments came as the UN tried to salvage a peace deal that was seen as crucial for ending the country’s four-year war.

The Stockholm Agreement was signed by the Yemeni government and Houthi representatives last December.

The main points of the agreement were a prisoner exchange, steps toward a cease-fire in the city of Taiz, and a cease-fire agreement in the city of Hodeidah and its port, as well as ports in Salif and Ras Issa.

Militants triggered the conflict when they seized the capital Sanaa in 2014 and attempted to occupy large parts of the country. An Arab coalition intervened in support of the internationally recognized government in March 2015.

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since 2015.

Earlier this month US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that President Donald Trump’s administration opposed curbs on American assistance to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

“The way to alleviate the Yemeni people’s suffering isn’t to prolong the conflict by handicapping our partners in the fight, but by giving the Saudi-led coalition the support needed to defeat the Iranian-backed rebels and ensure a just peace,” Pompeo said at a news conference in Washington.