JEDDAH: The director of the Tourism and Heritage Authority in the Makkah region, Mohammed Al-Omari, told Arab News on Saturday that, “citizens from all the countries who have access to the Kingdom can obtain tourist visas.”
Al-Omari continued: “All Muslims from countries around the world can obtain a post-Umrah tourist visa, so when Umrah is finished they can become a tourist.” This is called the extended Umrah visa for post-Umrah tourism.
“Everyone will benefit from these visas as long as the conditions apply to them,” he added.
Umrah is a shorter version of Hajj and can be performed all year round.
The maximum period of visa validity is 30 days.
Asked when these tourism visas would be issued, Al-Omari answered: “Prince Sultan bin Salman, the chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) said that the start of tourism visa issuance will be announced during the first quarter of 2018.”
Sixty-five countries will be allowed tourism visas in the first phase of the project, and the number will increase in the second phase.
Saudi Arabia is aiming to solidify its place as a tourist destination with mega projects such as the Red Sea island resorts and the Neom project on the Gulf of Aqaba.
What is MERS?
• MERS-CoV is a zoonotic virus, which means it is a virus that is transmitted between animals and people.
• MERS was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Since then, it’s been reported in other countries in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia and the US.
• Typical MERS symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, have also been reported.
• Some laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS infection are reported as asymptomatic, meaning that they do not have any clinical symptoms, yet they are
positive for MERS following a laboratory test.
• Approximately 35% of reported patients with MERS have died.