ISLAMABAD – The Saudi Arabia government has announced to soften its visa policy for India, slashing the visa fee by a considerable amount, continuing the same old plan for Pakistan.
Providing relaxation in the visa for the citizens of India, the Saudi government has reduced 90-day visit visa fee from 2,000 Riyal to 305 Riyal. Likewise, the fee has also been reduced for 180 and 360 days visa.
However, Pakistanis tourists who pay Rs0.1 million to Rs0.4 million for Saudi visa would not be able to avail this opportunity as the policy remains the same.
The reduction in the fee was initially denied by Saudi Gazette (leading English-language daily newspaper published in Jeddah), however, it has now been confirmed that Saudi Arabia actually lessened the fee for Indian travellers by over 84 percent.
Etimad, Visa Service Centre in Pakistan has also confirmed that Saudi Arabia reduced the fee for Indian commuters on May 1st, while no such liberty was granted to Pakistani travellers.
What gives credence to the reduction in visa fee is the fact that Saudi Gazette – which denied rumours about the move – has now taken down the link, for the said story, from its digital version, however, the hard copy is still available on its Facebook page.
Last year, the Saudi government had decided to promote Hajj, Umrah, business and culture activities. The Arab country’s government also plans to build more visiting places across the kingdom.
According to the estimated figure, the Saudi government would spend 35 billion pounds on tourism till 2020. By 2030, around 30 million tourists are expected to visit Saudi Arabia annually.
The Saudi embassy in Pakistan and Pakistan’s foreign office has yet to respond.