Saudi tourist visa rules to be announced in 2 months

In this file photo, a foreign tourist listens to a Saudi guide near a Nabatean tombs complex in the desert archaeological site of Madain Saleh in Al Ula city, northwest of Riyadh. (AP)
Updated 24 January 2018

Saudi tourist visa rules to be announced in 2 months

JEDDAH: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) will announce details about tourist visas by the end of Q1 of the current fiscal, after the approval by the commission’s board of directors, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
The SCTH pointed out that the news about details, requirements, and nationality specifications mentioned in the media are inaccurate and sometimes based on deliberations that have not yet been approved.
Preparations for launching the tourist visa, according to the SCTH, continue to be carried out in full coordination with the ministries of interior and foreign affairs.
The two ministries are working together with the SCTH to lay down the standards that form the foundation on which the issuance of the tourist visa regulations will be based, according to the Tourism Law issued by a royal decree on 9/1/1438 H.
A statement by the SCTH confirmed that the requirements, regulations, and relevant details for tourist visas will be published in the official gazette at the end of Q1 of 2018 for implementation. All details will also be available on the SCTH’s official website.
Earlier in January, the director of the Tourism and Heritage Authority in the Makkah region, Mohammed Al-Omari, told Arab News: “Citizens from all the countries who have access to the Kingdom can obtain tourist visas.”
Al-Omari added: “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.”
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, boost the tourism sector, and develop tourism and heritage services and facilities in the Kingdom.
These updates come after previous reports that indicated that women over the age of 25 do not require a chaperone to issue a tourist visa when visiting the kingdom.


Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Not Rami, the Saudi who has seven as pets

Updated 23 January 2020

Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Not Rami, the Saudi who has seven as pets

  • At home with the Saudi man who has four young children … and a pack of ferocious carnivores as the family pets

AL-JOUF: Guests visiting Rami Al-Sarhan’s home in Al-Jouf are understandably concerned when he asks if they would like to stroke the family pets.

These “pets” are not Tiddles the cat and Fido the dog — they are seven fully grown adult wolves.

The normally ferocious creatures make ideal domestic companions, Rami, 30, assured Arab News. And he has no fears for the safety of his young children, aged 8, 6, 4 and 3.

“The wolves literally live with us in the same home,” he said. “They eat with us and follow us when we go to the farm, and even sit with us in the same room when we have guests over.

“They have grown accustomed to our life and do not attack anyone who sits with us, even if they are a stranger.”

His friendship with wolves started about 11 years ago when an uncle started taking them into his home. Rami began studying them and their behavior, which he can now predict with considerable accuracy. The wolves are friendly and pose no danger to humans if handled properly with the correct precautions, he said.

Although they are wild animals, wolves can adapt to a domestic environment and one of the best ways to gain their trust was to share food and eat with them, Rami said.

FASTFACT

Food should be given to wolves without getting too close or interacting directly with them.

However, he is careful not to feed them raw meat, and he keeps his distance from the wolves during the winter mating season, which can last for two weeks.

Food should be given to wolves without getting too close or interacting directly with them, Rami said. “They are naturally ferocious but can be hostile and defensive if someone gets close to them. A wolf eats its prey but gets defensive if it gets attacked.”

Rami is also dismissive of the many superstitions that surround the animals, such as the one about wolves eating jinn. “What is funny is that many people come to me and ask me to give them strands of wolf hair so they can put it on the body of a ‘jinn-haunted’ person for healing” he said. “These are superstitions and do not make any sense.”

However tame a wolf might appear, Rami said, people should always remain cautious around them, study their every move, and avoid doing anything to scare them.

“Most importantly, show your respect to wolves and let them know that you recognize and respect them in order to be friends with you.”

Despite his assurances, if Rami ever invites you to his home “for dinner,” it might be as well to seek confirmation: “Am I eating … or am I the first course?”