Qatar’s neighbouring country Saudi Arabia now grants free instant visas to visitors to boost tourism.
Saudi Arabia’s top low-cost airline “flynas” is looking to expand its operations between the kingdom and Qatar, in a move that is likely to bring a “great deal of potential” for tourism, Gulf Times reported.
The carrier’s Vice-President (International Sales) Abdullah Suliman Aleadi told Gulf Times that the airline currently flies the cutting-edge Airbus A320neo daily to Riyadh and Jeddah, and is the only low-cost carrier in the country that does so.
The official stated that because Saudi Arabia has so many alluring tourist destinations in the kingdom, Flynas hopes to serve a lot more Qataris and expatriates to have an easy and cost-efficient means of transportation between the two nations.
Flights between Saudi Arabia and Qatar recently resumed after a years-long hiatus brought on by the GCC region’s worst diplomatic crisis. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar and imposed an illegal air, land and sea blockade on the country in 2017.
However, ties resumed in 2021 when the former blockading quartet and Doha brought the crisis to a halt with the signing of the Al Ula Declaration.
Visa free entry
Aleadi’s remarks came shortly after Saudi Arabia, which is looking to attract 100 million visitors by 2030, announced its instant visa option for flyers travelling to the kingdom.
According to the Saudi Press Agency, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched an electronic service that enables travellers who are stopping over in the kingdom to obtain an entry visa.
Travellers must be flying on either Saudi Airlines or flynas, but the visa is issued “almost instantly” after the ticket is paid, or within a maximum of four hours, according to flynas.
The passenger will receive an email containing the digital visa once it has been issued and processed by the Unified National Visa Platform at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The entry is then valid for up to 96 hours or four days.
The ministry reaffirmed that the “e-transit visa for stopover service” will help the kingdom reach its Vision 2030 goals by enhancing its reputation as a top travel destination worldwide.
The new service went into effect on Monday, the ministry confirmed.
This visa reform in Saudi Arabia is the most recent in a series that began with the introduction of visas-on-arrival for some passport holders and GCC residents in September 2022.