Riyadh: Conservative Kingdom Saudi Arabia is planning to boost its economy beyond its reliance on Oil. As part of the measures, the Kingdom has planned to issue tourist visas from 2018.
Previously, visas were restricted to only those who work in the country and to Muslim pilgrims visiting the Holy sites Mecca and Medina.
To improve and expand tourism, the saudi government is planning to build resorts along 100 mile Red sea sandy Coastline and wants to open a Six flags theme park by 2022. And several other ambitious projects have been launched by the government to boost tourism.
The Red Sea initiative caught the eye of billionaireRichard Branson while on a recent tour of the kingdom that included a visit to ancient tombs at Madain Saleh, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is driving the economic overhaul and has unveiled plans for a $500 billion metropolis that will extend across Saudi Arabia’s borders into Egypt and Jordan.
Nikola Kosutic, senior research manager at Euromonitor said that “Saudi Arabia holds tremendous tourist potential due its favorable temperature, historical and cultural heritage, natural beauty and rich marine life,”. “But it is surrounded by politically unstable countries where security has always been an issue.”
However, the US Government has cautioned its citizens regarding the security situation in Saudi Arabia. It warned Americans “to carefully consider the risks of travel to Saudi Arabia,” citing threats from terrorist groups such as ISIS and missile attacks from Yemeni rebels on civilian targets.
“Terrorist threats persist throughout Saudi Arabia, including in major cities such as Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dhahran, and attacks can occur without warning anywhere in the country,” the State Department said.
The Crown prince has vowed to destroy the extremist ideology in the country and return to a more moderate Islam.
As part of these reforms, Women are now allowed to drive, enter the country’s biggest sporting venues, men and women have been converging at major conferences and Concert has been allowed to held in the country, though it is for men only.