RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign ministry launched on Monday an electronic service that will allow passengers stopping over in the Kingdom to obtain an entry visa.
The transit visa for stopovers allows entry to Saudi Arabia for people in transit who wish to perform Umrah, visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, and tour the Kingdom.
The stopover visa will allow passengers to stay in the country for up to 96 hours, enabling more visitors than ever to explore Saudi’s incomparable historical, cultural, and spiritual sites.
The new service will be effective as of Monday, and passengers can apply for a transit visa through the electronic platforms of Saudia Airlines and Flynas.
The application will be automatically passed on to the unified national visa platform at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to process. A digital visa will be issued instantly and sent back to the beneficiary via e-mail.
The ministry said the e-Transit visa for stopovers will contribute to achieving the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 by bolstering its position and benefiting from its distinguished strategic location as a link between continents as well as reaching 100 million visits annually.
The visa is free of charge, will be immediately issued with the traveler’s ticket, entitles the holder to a four-day stay in the Kingdom, and has three-month validity.
To help visitors make the most of their stopover, custom 24, 48, 72 and 96-hour itineraries have been developed to inspire visitors to stroll through Jeddah’s Al-Balad, or visit the Al-Turaif district in Diriyah, one of Saudi’s six UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
“The new stopover Visa is yet another proof point in Saudi’s commitment to developing and encouraging growth in the tourism sector,” Ahmed Al-Khateeb, tourism minister and chairman of the board at the Saudi Tourism Authority said.
“It is open for travelers passing through Saudi on our national carriers whether for leisure, business or Umrah, we will continue to work together across government and the tourism ecosystem as Saudi transforms into a leading global tourism destination,” he added.
Meanwhile, Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO at Saudi Tourism Authority said: “Today's announcement of Saudi’s inaugural stopover visa is a landmark example of integrated public and private sector cooperation, four of the Top Ten global routes were in or out of Saudi airports in 2022, a testament to the appeal of destination Saudi.”
The chief executive officers of SAUDIA and flynas also said the visa was a milestone toward turning the Kingdom into a key hub between east and west.
“It is a testament to SAUDIA’s commitment to support the Kingdom’s strategic goal of reaching 100 million visits by 2030 and we are confident it will positively impact the growing number of transit passengers while enhancing our position as a hub that connects East and West,” Captain Ibrahim Koshy at SAUDIA said.
“The new service will also encourage passengers to perform Umrah, visit key destinations and attend events and Saudi seasons,” he added.
Bandar Almohanna, who is also managing director at flynas, also said: “Today, flynas is proud to be a part of this ecosystem that has enabled Saudi’s national carriers to facilitate the issuance of the new stopover visa, this is a welcome development that eases and speeds up the process for our passengers who wish to stop in Saudi for up to 96 hours on the way to their final destination.”