The oil-abundant kingdom is planning to issue tourist visas “soon,” authorities said Tuesday.

It seems like the country wants to give competition to its rival Dubai, as the kingdom plans to attract international tourists.

Tourism seems to be a significant factor of growth as the country tries to move onto something else than its dependence on petrol gains amid a longer than usual oil drop.

 

“Tourist visas will be introduced soon,” Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, head of the Saudi tourism authority, was quoted as saying in a statement. However, he didn’t specify any particular time frame.

Besides the fact that Muslims travel to the kingdom to perform the annual hajj, most of them currently face a tiresome visa procedure and excessive fees to enter the country.

Prince Sultan’s comment comes ahead of Saudi Arabia’s first archaeology convention in Riyadh next week as the government attempts to exhibit some of its historic sites.

Furthermore, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in August announced a huge tourism project to convert 50 islands and a series of places on the Red Sea into luxury resorts.

Though packed with pure beauty, the country is hardly seen as a tourism spot.

Alcohol, cinemas and theatres are still banned in the country, however, authorities, lately, have attempted to display a moderate image with a series of changes, including the decision allowing women to drive from next June.

The kingdom is also expected to lift a public ban on cinemas and has encouraged mixed-gender celebrations — something probably never witnessed previously.

The changes are, however, created to project the country in a favourable light as it seeks to attract foreign investment.

 

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