Saudi Arabia launches online tourist visa for sports, musical events

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced it will issue special visas allowing foreign tourists to attend its sporting or musical events, a strategy aimed at diversifying the kingdom’s economy, according to an official statement.

The new Saudi visa programme, called “Sharek,” will be launched to coincide with the Formula-E Ad Diriyah Grand Prix inaugural race due to take place on Dec. 15, near the capital Riyadh, Efe reported.

“Saudi Arabia will open up its borders to fans of live sport, music and culture for the first time with the launch of a new online visa process dedicated to welcoming international tourists,” according to a Saudi General Sports Authority statement.

Saudi Arabia’s current visa policy is strict and limited to resident foreign workers, traveling businessmen and Muslim pilgrims, who are given a special visa that only enables them to visit the holy sites.

“Sharek” is part of Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Vision, a strategic development plan that seeks to diversify its economy, making it less dependent on its oil and, among other initiatives, double the kingdom’s number of tourists and religious pilgrims.