For the first time, Saudi Arabia is offering visas to foreign tourists

first_imgThe government of the kingdom, due to falling oil prices, hopes that tourism will contribute up to 2030 percent of gross domestic product by 10, compared to the current 3 percent. By 2030, they expect to attract up to 100 million tourist visits a year, both domestic and foreign. As part of the visa regime’s offer, which promises to issue visas within seven minutes, it has been announced that tourists will be exempt from wearing a traditional abaya robe, but will still have to dress decently. As of today, Saudi Arabia is offering foreigners tourist visas to visit the kingdom, and the decision was made a few days after the country was criticized by the United Nations for violating human rights, reports The Guardian. Many believe the kingdom will have major problems attracting tourists mostly due to harsh rules like a strict social code and a ban on alcohol. Saudi Arabia’s tourism officials announced a new visa program for citizens of 49 countries, including Croatia, followed by a Twitter campaign called “VisitSaudiNow”. Visas for the desert kingdom, rich in Bedouin heritage and archeological sites, are currently restricted to workers and Muslim pilgrims traveling to Mecca and Medina. Last year, Saudi Arabia began issuing temporary visas to visitors to sporting and cultural events to boost tourism growth. “Receiving international tourists into the country is a historic moment for Saudi ArabiaSaid Saudi Tourism Chief Ahmed al-Khateeb. “Visitors will be amazed by the benefits we offer, such as UNESCO World Heritage sites, vibrant local culture and breathtaking natural beauty.” The kingdom, known for torturing women’s rights activists and public executions, said it was opening its doors to tourists to reduce the economy’s dependence on oil. We passed last year писали how the Croatian travel agency Obzor putovanja became an authorized visa processing agency when visiting Saudi Arabia. So far, these visas have only included business, family or state visits, but it remains to be seen whether Obzor Travel Agency will take over tourist visas in the future. Encouraging tourism is one of the central parts of Prince Mohammed’s reform program to prepare the Arab economy for the future after oil. Some of the famous attractions in Saudi Arabia are the Nabataean ruins at Madâin Sâlih, better known as the “Spice Route”, the palace complex in Diraj, the capital of the first Saudi dynasty, and the shores of the Red Sea. In 2017, Saudi Arabia announced a multibillion-dollar project that would turn 50 Red Sea islands into luxury resorts. Although Saudi Arabia has a relatively well-established network of hotels and air traffic, serving millions of Muslim pilgrims traveling to the country for the hajj and dying, their new tourism strategy marks major changes. Source / photo: The Guardian; Pixabaylast_img read more

Adoption reform is not a big issue, says Key

first_img3 News 22 July 2012Prime Minister John Key isn’t ruling out reforms that would allow some same-sex couples to adopt, but he says it’s not the biggest issue facing the Government. During a closed-door session yesterday, delegates at the National Party’s annual conference in Auckland passed a remit, backed by the party’s youth wing, for the 1955 Adoption Act to be extended to include civil union partners. Mr Key told reporters today the remit could be adopted as a Government bill, but it would need to be considered against the rest of the Government’s work programme. “You have to think through the amount of parliamentary time that would be chewed up on that issue.” Mr Key said the remit showed the National Party is modernising. “But realistically it’s just not the biggest issue that we face. I know it’s important to those people, but they’re a very small group,” he said. read more