The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 aims to enforce an abundant amount of efforts and investments into the tourism sector. This section highlights the future aspirations and opportunities of tourism by taking you through the Kingdom’s tourism strategy, the newly implemented steps to issue a tourist visa, which also highlights the list of eligible countries, insight into the Tourism Development Fund, the reasons behind the Kingdom’s focus on tourism investment and the National Tourism Monitoring Platform. This section will also provide informative content on obtaining a tourism license, the main tourist attractions in each of the Kingdom’s regions, the recent strategy launched by the Human Capital Development Agency at the Ministry of Tourism for graduates, job seekers, workers in the tourism sector, entrepreneurs and business owners and its numerous qualifying programs.
The Kingdom is an important center in the Arab and Islamic world due to the existence of the Two Holy Mosques and the existence of history, ancient civilizations, ancient museums and cultural heritage that presents the image of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from its ancient times to nowadays to all countries of the world.
The Kingdom also abounds of a diversity of landforms, delightful views, and extended beaches, which consider to be an ideal destination for tourists, so the Kingdom, represented by the Ministry of Tourism, has worked to develop tourism and raise the rate of investment in it, in addition to developing the manpower working in it and attracting visitors and tourists from outside the Kingdom in accordance with the objectives of the National Tourism Strategy and the 2030 vision of Saudi Arabia.
Tourism Strategy in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has outlined its tourism aspirations to align with the 2030 vision:
- Raise the contribution of the tourism sector to the domestic product to more than 10%
- Provide one million additional job opportunities.
- Attract 100 million annual visits by 2030.
The transit visa allows individuals to pass through the Kingdom and is applicable for short stays of over 12 hours. It is available to applicants of any nationality, and it can be obtained by using the Enjaz e-service visa platform.
Personal Visit Visa
The personal visit visa allows individuals who have no business connections or family relationship with the originator to visit the Kingdom.
Medical Treatment Visa
The medical treatment visa enables applicants to apply for a visit to the Kingdom for the purpose of treatment.
The Umrah visa enables beneficiaries from outside the Kingdom to request an Umrah visa and review the application as well as it allows Saudi diplomatic missions abroad to issue online Umrah visas.
Business Visit Visa
The business visit visa enables companies or institutions within the Kingdom to request a visit to one or more persons according to specific professional qualifications bound by business relations with the company extended the invitation.
The residence visa enables beneficiaries the ability to enter their companions into the Kingdom.
Work Visit Visa
The work visit visa enables applicants the approval of two categories of visit visas, the "Individual" visits or the "Sectors and Organizations" visits.
Issuing a Tourist Visa
In the last quarter of 2019, Saudi Arabia began receiving visitors and tourists from outside the Kingdom with a valid entry visa for a full year, allowing them to stay inside the Kingdom for a maximum of 90 continuous days. In turn, this will work to communicate the Kingdom's history, heritage and authentic Arab customs to different cultures and countries.
Countries Eligible for Visa
Tourists from 49 countries can obtain a tourist visa, which are:
- European countries
- Asian countries
- American countries
- Countries of Oceania
Launched the Tourist Visas:
Issued more than 440,000 visas by March 2020.
Issuing a Tourist Visa
Tourists from eligible countries:
- Applying from the website before travelling: Request a visa.
- When arriving to Saudi Arabia, through the visa offices in the Immigration Department.
Tourists from non-eligible countries:
- Going to the Saudi representations abroad to obtain a visa.
- For those holding a visa for the United States, United Kingdom or Schengen countries, they can apply for a visa upon arrival.
Tourism Investment in Saudi Arabia
Tourism Development Fund
The Tourism Development Fund was launched to encourage tourism investments in Saudi Arabia and open doors for cooperation with investors directly by providing support in all matters related to tourism projects leading to the development of the sector in the Kingdom, such as restaurants, hotels, and other tourist destinations.
Financial Solutions Provided by the Fund
- Supporting the private sector by granting investment loans and investing in projects by owning shares of the project, and providing guarantees on some other projects
- Supporting distinguished and promising projects by providing appropriate solutions for their implementation, and coordinating with the concerned government agencies to provide the project needs such as lands.
Why is Saudi Arabia Focusing on Tourism Investment?
- A bridge for cultural communication between Saudi Arabia and the world.
- Produce investment opportunities for local and foreign investors.
- The tourism sector is one of the fastest growing in the world.
National Tourism Monitoring Platform
This platform was launched to monitor the performance of accommodation facilities and tourism movement in Saudi Arabia, and to be a center for collecting statistics and data related to the tourism sector. To join as a service provider or see the National Tourism Monitoring Platform.
In an effort to achieve an integrated digital transformation of e-government procedures, and to facilitate service providers and applicants, the Ministry of Tourism provides a number of electronic services related to tourism licenses.
- Tourist travel agencies.
- Tour operators.
- Tourist guides.
- Tourist accommodation.
- Reservation offices for accommodation units.
The Ministry has also published an integrated guide for those wishing to obtain a license for any of the previous activities and benefit from them (The User's Guide).
Tourist Attractions in Saudi Arabia
Tourism in Riyadh
- Masmak Palace: It is one of the most famous historical monuments in Riyadh and is considered the basis point for the unification of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The word Al-Masmak means "a thick, high, hippocampus building".
Among the most important features of Al-Masmak are the Palace Gate, the Diwaniyah, the Mosque, the Well, the Towers.
- The National Museum: The National Museum is located next to the King Abdul Aziz Palace (Al-Murabba). This museum displays artifacts, models, films, sound effects, and other historical legacies of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
- Diriyah Gate: the largest historical cultural project in the world and one of the Kingdom's latest projects to attract tourists from various countries of the world in the future.
- Kingdom Tower: It has shopping center, and the Four Seasons Hotel as a suitable place to stay at the top of the Kingdom Tower.
- Al Faisaliah Tower: One of the most famous buildings and a convenient place to shop and stay at the luxurious Al Faisaliah Hotel.
- Riyadh Front: a destination worth trying out, including a list of the best restaurants, some shops, a movie theater, and more.
Tourism in Jeddah
- Jeddah Waterfront: It is going through a different development phase equipped with services and elements that suit all groups and ages.
- Mersal Village: It is one of the most important places of entertainment and is considered one of the well-known tourist destinations in the world. It includes restaurants, cafes, and games for children and adults.
- King Fahd's Fountain: The highest fountain in the world is located in front of the beaches of Jeddah, and is considered a landmark of ancient historical value.
- The Floating Mosque: a local landmark famous for its white pillars that hang over the surface of the sea, and a shiny turquoise dome under the sunlight, where visitors, especially pilgrims and Umrah performers, wander around to enjoy the elegance and design of its marble.
Tourism in Makkah
- The Grand Mosque: the most important religious and tourist destination in the world, in which the greatest rituals of religion are performed and there are Islamic sanctities, the most prominent of which is the Holy Kaaba.
- Okaz City: "The Ministry of Tourism developed “Souk Okaz”, the most famous markets in pre-Islamic history into the first integrated tourism and cultural destination in Taif. This established the certification of 790 men and 731 women and developed training workshops in 9 tracks. "
Tourism in Abha
- Abu Khayal Park: It has a wonderful view of the city of Abha, and extends to the slopes of Dalae from the western side, and contains green terraces, playground for children and other entertainment.
- Al-Soudah Mountain: It is considered the highest mountain in the Kingdom with a panoramic view, covered with juniper trees and many plant trees, its weather is cooler even in the summer compared to other regions in the Kingdom.
Tourism in Al-Ula
- It is located between two large mountains in the far northwest of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and extends across a valley amidst charming nature and remarkable monuments, and there are tourist places worth visiting where you can book your trip through the Al-Ula website.
Tourism in Umluj
- A small coastal area called the Saudi Maldives, the main attraction is the opportunity to sail a boat to very beautiful islands such as Jabal Hassan, or relax in palm-filled beaches such as the beaches of Ras Shaban and Duqm. In the city, you can visit mango farms, or travel to the wilderness areas within an hour's drive, to explore Harrat Lunier, a field of craters and volcanic cones that will appear to you as a world completely different from the coast's sand dunes and blue waters.
Tourism in the Eastern Region
- King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran: With an impressive architectural design, the King Abdulaziz Center extends alongside the discovered sources of oil, and includes a wide range of books and games, a room for visual illusions, perspective drawing, a coloring corner, and a cave of stories.
- Energy Exhibition in Dhahran: The Energy Exhibition is located near to Ithraa, to take its visitors through a scientific journey and a personal experience to explore the world of petroleum and its sciences, energy and technology, either through the interactive kaleidoscope game that accommodates 12 players, simulating production processes energy through interactive touch games, or via recent exhibits and movie screenings on alternative energy sources.
- Al-Falwa and Al-Jawhara Museum for Heritage in Al-Nuzha: The most famous pieces were carefully selected to contain a 500-year-old copy of the Holy Qur’an, in addition to old cars, antique caravans, and some of the founding King Abdulaziz. Visitors can take a tour to see the traditional Saudi bedroom and halls Meetings, to create a strange mixture of excitement and curiosity that will satisfy the passion of its visitors.
- Oriental Art Exhibition (Urban Art) in Al-Khobar: The Al-Bayouni Historical Quarter was renewed in 2018 by a group of young Saudi artists, who transformed its streets into giant art paintings that embodied the most beautiful art of drawing on the walls. Dawi exhibition, and under the patronage of Princess Abeer bint Faisal Al Saud, organized an exhibition to transform six traditional homes in the region into artistic paintings of bright colors, lines and abstract designs. Take the time to tour the area, to realize the impact of art and its ability to create an aura of beauty in the least anticipated places.
- Al-Taybeen Museum in Al-Khobar: On an area of 300 square meters in Al-Khobar, the “Al-Taybeen Museum” project exists, shrouded in a passion for nostalgic for the past, embodied in Majid Al-Ghamdi's desire to preserve his old possessions from his childhood days, a hobby that has grown to include videos, posters, televisions, cameras, food and beverage containers, until 10,000 items were sold. Do not miss a visit to the treasury, which includes the history of the development of Coca-Cola containers from the 1970s to the present, or check out the figures of Sesame street and Barbies, to relive childhood memories.
- The Old Village in Dammam: The “Old Village” is divided into a heritage museum and a popular restaurant that takes you on a journey through history, to live the simple lifestyle in past eras. The five-levels building includes a museum in which many jewelry, manuscripts, fabrics and other artifacts are displayed, and a small market abounds with handicrafts, Arabic perfumes, incense, baskets made from palm, and its most famous feature is the restaurant without a doubt! Visitors will enjoy the experience of sitting on the traditional floor cushions, and taste the most delicious local dishes such as traditional mezze dishes, grilled meat dishes, and rice, which reflect the experience of authentic popular food in the Saudi home.
Heritage Sites the Kingdom’s National
The Kingdom added the Al-Ahsa Oasis to the UNESCO List of World Heritage sites in 2018, which increased the number of sites enrolled in the UNESCO List to 5 heritage sites. This contributed to selecting Al-Ahsa Governorate by the Council of Arab Ministers for Tourism to be the Capital of Arab Tourism for 2019 and introducing the rich heritage of Al-Ahsa governorate.
" The Kingdom increased the number of heritage sites to introduce the Kingdom’s national, Arab and Islamic Heritage by increasing the number of visitable national heritage sites. "
Tourism Human Capital Development
In order to empower the national youth energies and cadres and develop their capabilities, and to develop the tourism sector and enable it to receive tourists and reflect Saudi Arabia’s image in an authentic way, the Kingdom, represented by the Human Capital Development Agency at the Ministry of Tourism, has launched a strategy targeting recent graduates, job seekers, workers in the tourism sector, entrepreneurs and owners of small and medium tourism establishments by offering a number of possible programs, which will contribute to achieve the 2030 vision of Saudi Arabia.
- Tourism Scholarship Program
- Job Oriented Training Program
- Apprenticeship Training Program
- Hafawah Program
- Professional Certification
- Leadership Program
- Executive Education Program
- Digital Learning Platform
- Secondment Program
- Startup Bootcamp program
- Business Accelerator
- SMEs Training Program
- Venture Studio
- Tourism Entrepreneurship Hub
- Tourism Destinations Challenge
- Visit Saudi
- Travel advice related to Covid-19
- Law and etiquette
- To apply for tourism human capital development
- The Ministry of Tourism
- Regulations for tourism sector
- To tourism activities licensing portal
- Accommodation Facilities Protocol
- Tourist organizer investor guide
- Violations list for travel agencies
- Manuals procedures for tour guide
- User guide for tourist guide