For the first time, Saudi Arabia is opening its doors to foreign tourists[/rtl]
[rtl]Release date:: 9/29/2019 9:56 • 66 times read[/rtl]
Saudi Arabia has opened its doors to foreign tourists for the first time as part of government efforts to reduce the Kingdom's dependence on oil.
The authorities announced the introduction of a tourist visa system for citizens of 49 countries, while easing restrictions on the clothes of women who want to visit the country.
Ahmed Khatib, chairman of the Qatar Tourism and National Heritage Authority, described the move as a "historic moment."
Saudi Arabia wants to attract foreign investment in the tourism sector, as it wants to see revenues rise to 10 percent of GDP by 2030, compared with 3 percent at present.
"We have a culture and we believe that our friends and guests will respect our culture," Khatib said.
Khatib expressed his belief that the recent attack on important oil facilities will not discourage tourists from visiting the Kingdom.
"Our cities are among the safest cities in the world, so we don't think it will affect our plans. There are expats living in Saudi Arabia and enjoying them, we all live in safety," he said.
Non-Muslims will not be allowed to visit Mecca and Medina, and the ban on alcohol will remain in place.
The interest in the tourism sector is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's program aimed at reducing the kingdom's dependence on oil revenues.
The government expects investment in tourism to create 1 million jobs.
The kingdom's international reputation has recently been affected by criticism of its human rights record, particularly after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at his country's consulate in Istanbul.