Canadian visa procedure for Saudis eased

Updated 19 October 2014

Canadian visa procedure for Saudis eased

Saudi Arabia and Canada have taken bilateral relations to new heights, with a common resolve to cooperate on key issues confronting the Middle East and to hold a joint economic commission meeting next year.
Canada has also introduced new measures to ease visa procedures for Saudi nationals.
The renewed move comes following wide-ranging talks held by Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird with senior Saudi leaders, which focused on a host of bilateral, regional and security issues, particularly efforts to combat the so-called Islamic State (IS),” said Canadian Ambassador Tom MacDonald here Saturday.
During his stay in Jeddah on Wednesday and Thursday, Baird held constructive and wide-ranging discussions with Crown Prince Salman and Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal.
Baird also met with Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Naif, and Iyad Madani, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
During the visit, Baird toured the Prince Mohammed Bin Naif Counseling and Care Center, a center aimed at reforming extremists.
Referring to key regional issues, MacDonald said that the Assad regime has long been a state sponsor of terrorism and has financed and supported extremists throughout the region.
On the Middle East peace process, he said Canada is committed to the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region, including the creation of a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel.
Asked about the new measures to ease and simplify visa process for Saudis, Ambassador MacDonald said that “Canada is issuing the vast majority of visas for Saudis now within 10 working days or less and three weeks for students."
“We have also introduced a number of changes to facilitate visitors’ travel to Canada,” he noted.
He said the Canadian mission has also introduced online applications.
In addition, Canada has opened three Visa Application Centers (VACs) in Riyadh, Jeddah and Alkhobar.
MacDonald further explained that visitors to Canada benefit from the multiple entry visa, which allows Saudis to come and go from Canada for six months at a time for up to five years.

Saudi rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

Updated 11 July 2020

Saudi rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

  • Saudis turn to domestic traveling and flock to their nation’s cooler cities and rural areas

TAIF: As Saudi citizens turn to domestic tourism in the country’s summer resorts, adapting to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, rural areas have become targeted by local tourists wishing to get away from the soaring temperatures in most of the Kingdom’s cities.

Visitors are now choosing cold Saudi cities instead of Europe, which they are accustomed to visiting, such as Taif, Al-Baha, and Abha.

COVID-19 has postponed all plans to travel abroad, and attention has now focused on domestic tourism amid strict health protocols in parks, gardens and recreational areas.

Walid Al-Hamidi, vice president of the Tourism Development Council, confirmed to Arab News that Asir, with its facilities and attractions, was ready to receive summer visitors from across the country.

He said that under the directives of Asir's governor, who supervises all activities and events directly and constantly, many committees had been formed to prepare a successful summer tourism season, to optimize the opportunity and allow people to enjoy the exceptional ambiance of Asir.

“A comprehensive tourism plan was set up two years ago, which resulted in a successful Al-Soudah Season with the support of Asir’s Investment Authority,” Al-Hamidi added.

He noted that Asir’s directives aimed this year to build an exceptional tourism model that meets optimal health standards in dealing with COVID-19.

The model is supported by the “Nashama Asir” team — consisting of 4,000 volunteers — who have been trained for months and have all the necessary skills to make the season successful. Their work will continue until the end of the pandemic and throughout the summer.

“Everyone is ready at public facilities, gardens and parks, to serve tourists,” he said, adding “tourists coming from all the over the Kingdom will be welcomed with smiles, enhanced services, and warm welcomes.”

Dr. Sami Al-Obaidi, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Taif, told Arab News that the tourism sector was the economic backbone of any country or city.

He said that Taif was considered one of the most important tourist cities, given its many attractions  that made it top of any list of places to visit in the Kingdom.

“Suspending travel abroad, and limiting tourism … due to the coronavirus pandemic, makes us, as officials and citizens in Taif, well placed for a beautiful and safe tourism season for Taif’s citizens and visitors,” said Al-Obaidi.

“Meetings are held around the clock, headed by Saad Al-Maimouni, the governor of Taif, with the participation of the relevant authorities.”

He expected all sectors, especially tourism, hospitality and a few other businesses in Taif, to recover to some extent during this season, especially now tourists have already started flocking to the region, with numbers set to increase over the coming weeks.