Saudi envoy to Austria launches tourist visa

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Prince Abdullah encouraged the attendees to discover the Kingdom, its cultural heritage, diverse and breathtaking nature and generous people. (Supplied)
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Saudi envoy to Austria launches tourist visa. (Supplied)
Updated 13 October 2019

Saudi envoy to Austria launches tourist visa

  • The e-tourism visa service is a new initiative from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage which allows citizens of 49 states to obtain visas through the platform visa.visitsaudi.com, or at the visa desk upon arrival in the Kingdom

VIENNA: Prince Abdullah bin Khalid bin Sultan, the Kingdom’s ambassador to Austria, held the inauguration ceremony for tourist visas to Saudi Arabia in Vienna, the Austrian capital.

The event was attended by representatives of the Austrian Foreign Ministry, the Slovenian Tourist Board, members of the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce, travel agencies representatives and Austrian journalists.

“I am honored to share this historic moment with you. The Kingdom has recently opened its doors to tourists from 49 countries including Austria for a chance to witness its tourism, cultural and heritage richness,” he said.

Prince Abdullah encouraged the attendees to discover the Kingdom, its cultural heritage, diverse and breathtaking nature and generous people. He did so by showcasing the Saudi sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List such as Mada’in Saleh, At-Turaif District in Ad-Diriyah, Historic Jeddah and Hail’s Rock Art, in addition to the unique characteristics that make Saudi Arabia a global tourist destination.

He also spoke of the tourism activities and events, and of the Kingdom’s keenness to diversify its economy, exchange business, investment and trade opportunities and to support the tourism and heritage sector in line with the ambitious 2030 Vision.

Attendees received a detailed briefing on how to get a tourist visa in 10 minutes.

The e-tourism visa service is a new initiative from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage which allows citizens of 49 states to obtain visas through the platform visa.visitsaudi.com, or at the visa desk upon arrival in the Kingdom.

The commission said that any tourist can obtain a visa through self-service devices, smartphones, or visa offices at entry inlets. The tourist can stay in Saudi Arabia for a maximum 90 days during a given year.

Almost 24,000 foreign visitors entered Saudi Arabia in the 10 days after instant tourist visas were introduced at airports in the Kingdom, according to the Foreign Ministry.

China topped the visitor numbers with 7,391 arrivals, followed by the UK and US. Canada, Malaysia and Russia also had a significant number of visitors to the Kingdom.

Significantly, the new visa system also allows ease of access for Muslims to perform Umrah outside the Hajj season without the need for a sponsor, as is the case with work permit visas.

The newly launched visa system was introduced in a bid to create 1 million jobs in the Kingdom, as well as targeting 100 million tourists by 2030 as part of Saudi Vision 2030.


Concerns rise over fake gold in Saudi Arabia

Local gold markets have seen stagnation in recent times, because of the increasing price of gold on international stock markets. (Photo/Shutterstock)
Updated 22 February 2020

Concerns rise over fake gold in Saudi Arabia

  • Accusations fly as pilgrims targeted by sellers of counterfeit precious metal

JEDDAH: A video posted on Twitter by a member of the Precious Metals Committee explaining the ways some gold manufacturers manipulate weight of gold and diamonds has attracted significant attention in Saudi Arabia, raising the question of the authenticity of gold in the Kingdom.

In the video, Mohammed Azooz said cover-ups have made many Saudi gold sellers lose power over the market, and that industry was being controlled by non-Saudis.
In the video, he explained how some people circumvented customs and sneak gold into the country, especially during the Hajj season to target pilgrims.
The Arabic translation of #cheating_in_jewelry has been trending in Twitter for a few days, and several people posted about the issue, blaming those who were selling fake gold to pilgrims as pure gold.
This is not the first time the fake gold issue has been raised. The World Gold Council previously suspended its activities in the Kingdom following claims that some jewelry manufacturers mixed glass with gold. Former Minister of Commerce and Industry Abdullah Zainal rejected the accusations at the time, described them as “grave and dangerous.”
Local gold markets have seen stagnation in recent times, because of the increasing price of gold on international stock markets.

FASTFACTS

• Types of gold depend on the percentage of gold per kilogram. For example, 24k gold, which is considered the best in quality, is 99 percent gold mixed with 1 percent of precious metal such as silver or copper. This type of gold is considered pure, and not used for adornment.

• For a kilogram of 22k gold, 125 grams of precious metals are added to 875 grams of pure gold; 150 grams of precious metals are added to 850 grams to make a kilogram of 21k gold, and 18k gold has 250 grams of precious metals per kilogram.

The price of one kilogram of 24 karat (k) gold in the Kingdom can reach SR185,000 ($46,700).
Gold and economic experts say that the movement in gold prices depends on numerous factors such as political and economic events around the world, the price of the US dollar in banks, black markets, as well as the supply and demand trends in global stock markets.

Types of gold depend on the percentage of gold per kilogram. For example, 24k gold, which is considered the best in quality, is 99 percent gold mixed with 1 percent of precious metal such as silver or copper. This type of gold is considered pure, and not used for adornment.
For a kilogram of 22k gold, 125 grams of precious metals are added to 875 grams of pure gold; 150 grams of precious metals are added to 850 grams to make a kilogram of 21k gold, and 18k gold has 250 grams of precious metals per kilogram.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

The Kingdom has launched an initiative, the first of its kind, authorizing authorities to launch a Shariah-based gold investment fund to enrich investment products through the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul).
Moath Alkhasawneh, CEO and board member of FALCOM Financial Services, said the FALCOM Gold Fund was officially licensed by the Capital Market Authority. The fund aims to add value to Tadawul through a Shariah-based investment fund, as gold trading transactions are considered a good investment and a high-quality commodity with low risks in investment portfolios.
“Gold retains its value compared to banknotes — their value decreases because of inflation. The high demand on gold in light of the shortage of supply can drive the prices of gold higher in the long run,” said Alkhasawneh.
“The gold investment fund focuses on investment in pure and precious gold, and the investment transactions will take place at the Switzerland Gold Market under the supervision of the higher authorities in Switzerland. This will make it safer and more flexible.”