Saudi Arabia to Open Up to More Foreign Visitors

Saudi Arabia to Open Up to More Foreign Visitors

Saudi Arabia, the largest country in the Arabian Peninsula, has long been a popular destination for Muslim pilgrims visiting the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. However, over the past few years, the Saudi government has been making efforts to increase tourism in the country and open up to more foreign visitors. In this article, we will explore the recent changes in Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry, answer some frequently asked questions, and share the top 10 tourist attractions in the country.

Recent Changes in Saudi Arabia’s Tourism Industry

In September 2019, Saudi Arabia launched the “Sharek” visa program, which allowed tourists from 49 countries to apply for a visa online or upon arrival at any of the country’s airports. This was a significant change as previously, the country only allowed entry to those who were on pilgrimage to Mecca or had business connections in the country.

In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi Arabia suspended international tourism, but the country is now gearing up to restart its tourism industry with several new projects in the works. The government has committed to investing $64 billion in developing entertainment and tourism projects over the next decade, including a mega-resort on the Red Sea coast, an entertainment city near Riyadh, and a futuristic city called “NEOM” in the northwest of the country.

The Saudis have also been making efforts to improve the image of the country and its tourism sector. In 2019, they launched a new visa system that would allow women to apply for tourism visas without needing a male guardian. The government has also loosened some of the strict social codes that governed public life in the country, making it easier and more welcoming for foreigners to visit.

FAQs About Traveling to Saudi Arabia

1. Do I need a visa to travel to Saudi Arabia?

Yes, tourists need a visa to travel to Saudi Arabia. The process is relatively straightforward, and you can apply online through the country’s eVisa portal or upon arrival at any of the airports in the country.

2. Is it safe to travel to Saudi Arabia?

Yes, Saudi Arabia is a relatively safe country to visit, with low levels of crime and terrorism. However, visitors should be aware that the country has different customs and laws than those in Western countries and should respect these cultural differences.

3. What is the best time to visit Saudi Arabia?

The best time to visit Saudi Arabia is between October and March when the weather is cooler and more pleasant. However, the high season for tourism in Saudi Arabia is during the Hajj pilgrimage, which usually takes place in late July and early August.

4. Is alcohol allowed in Saudi Arabia?

No, alcohol is strictly prohibited in Saudi Arabia, and the penalties for breaking this law are severe.

5. Can women travel alone in Saudi Arabia?

Yes, women can travel alone in Saudi Arabia, but they must follow the country’s dress code and cultural norms. Women are also required to have a male guardian if they are traveling to the country for work or relocating, but this does not apply to tourists.

Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Saudi Arabia

1. Al Masjid al-Haram

The Al Masjid al-Haram is the most important Islamic site in Saudi Arabia, located in the holy city of Mecca. The mosque surrounds the Kaaba, the black cube-shaped structure that Muslims around the world face during their daily prayers. Only Muslims are allowed to enter the mosque, but visitors can still marvel at the impressive architecture from outside.

2. Al Madinah al-Munawarah

Al Madinah al-Munawarah, also known as Medina, is another important Islamic site in Saudi Arabia that houses the Prophet’s Mosque. The city is considered the second holiest city in Islam after Mecca and is home to several other historical and religious sites.

3. Mada’in Saleh

Mada’in Saleh, located in the Al-Ula region in northwestern Saudi Arabia, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is considered one of the country’s most important archaeological sites. The site contains more than 100 tombs carved in the rock faces and dates back to the Nabatean civilization that existed in the area more than 2,000 years ago.

4. Edge of the World

The Edge of the World is a natural wonder on the outskirts of Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia. The site is a towering cliff that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and is a popular spot for hiking and outdoor activities.

5. Al Wahbah Crater

The Al Wahbah Crater, located in the western part of Saudi Arabia, is a large volcanic crater that offers stunning views and unique geological formations. Visitors can hike down to the bottom of the crater and explore the surrounding area.

6. Jeddah Corniche

The Jeddah Corniche is a waterfront promenade in the coastal city of Jeddah that offers beautiful views of the Red Sea. The corniche has several parks, sculptures, restaurants, and cafes, making it a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.

7. Ad Diriyah

Ad Diriyah, located on the outskirts of Riyadh, is a historical site that dates back to the 15th century and is one of the country’s most important cultural and historical centers. The area has been restored and turned into a tourist attraction, featuring museums, restaurants, and traditional houses.

8. King Fahd’s Fountain

King Fahd’s Fountain, located in the city of Jeddah, is the world’s largest water fountain and shoots water up to 1,024 feet into the air. The fountain is a popular tourist attraction and is located on the Jeddah Corniche.

9. Al Tayebat International City

Al Tayebat International City, located in Jeddah, is a cultural and historical museum that showcases the cultural and historical heritage of Saudi Arabia. The museum has several exhibitions, including ancient artifacts, traditional clothing, and Islamic art.

10. Al Baha

Al Baha is a mountainous region located in southern Saudi Arabia known for its picturesque scenery and traditional culture. The area has several hiking trails, including the popular Al Balad Trail, which takes visitors through the historic town of Al Baha. The region also has several traditional souks and markets where visitors can purchase handmade crafts and goods.


Saudi Arabia is a country with a rich history and culture, and its recent efforts to promote tourism are opening up new opportunities for travelers to explore the country. From its important Islamic sites to its stunning natural landscapes, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Saudi Arabia. With more developments in the works, we can only anticipate the growth of tourism in the country and its corresponding opportunity to the economy.

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