RIYADH - The government of Saudi Arabia has approved the much-debated unified electronic tourist visa for residents of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
The development came on Wednesday after which Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the approval, a step which will facilitate the globetrotters of the Gulf region.
As per the details, the eVisa will be valid for one year and will permit multiple entries. The visa holders would be able to spend up to 90 days in the Kingdom through this visa.
Earlier last month, Interior ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) collectively endorsed the implementation of a unified Gulf tourist visa at the 40th meeting in Muscat, Oman. Jasem Albudaiwi, GCC Secretary-General, had confirmed that this move towards a unified visa system, to be enacted within a specific timeline, reflects heightened cooperation among the Gulf states.
It bears mentioning that though no official timeline has been announced, United Arab Emirates' Minister of Economy, Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri had earlier stated that the unified visa is set to be introduced early next year.
Under the visa, tourists can explore the six-member Gulf bloc – the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait with a single visa.
Travel experts opine that the Schengen-style tourist visa will be a game-changer, not only for the sector but also for the overall economies of the GCC countries, fostering a wealth of job opportunities for both citizens and residents.
The original Schengen zone - on whose pattern the GCC countries are promulgating visa regime - was created in 1985 and allows people and goods to travel freely, usually without showing travel or customs documents. This creates opportunities for tourism-related revenue for the countries and offers virtually no hurdle for travelers.
The news regarding the Schengen-style visa circulated in May this year when Fatima Al Sairafi, Minister of Tourism in Bahrain, said discussions have been taking place at the ministerial level among GCC nations on how to achieve a unified single visa.
The Gulf countries are now looking to implement a visa that would allow visitors to travel between countries that make up the Gulf bloc with ease and comfort as currently, tourists have to get visas for the six Gulf countries separately.
Pakistani currency remains largely stable against US dollar in the open market on February 27, 2024 (Tuesday).
In the open market, the US dollar was being quoted at 279.4 for buying and 282.3 for selling.
Euro currently stands at 303 for buying and 306 for selling while British Pound rate stands at 351.5 for buying, and 355 for selling.
UAE Dirham AED hovers at 76 whereas the Saudi Riyal saw slight increase, with new rates at 76.7.
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