Saudi Arabia is making moves towards tourism in a bid to be less dependent on oil in the future. On Tuesday, the Middle Eastern nation announced that the country will begin to offer entertainment visas from December.
"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," the kingdom's General Sports Authority said.
Saudi Arabia will issue electronic visas to visitors to attend sporting and cultural events, starting with the upcoming Formula E motor racing competition near Riyadh, the authority declared.
“We hope the Saudia Diriyah E Prix will see fans from around the globe come to Saudi Arabia to watch this epic sporting spectacle as now your ticket is your visa,” Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal, vice chair of the General Sports Authority, said.
According to a Reuters report, the new visa would grant holders “free mobility within specific Saudi territories” during, before and after an event, without detailing time limits or other restrictions.
Saudi Arabian visas are currently restricted to expat workers and their dependents, business travelers and Muslim pilgrims traveling to holy sites in Mecca and Medina.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman included tourism as one of the features of Vision 2030, a blueprint to grow the most successful Arab economy and diversify the kingdom away from oil dependency.
Additionally, the kingdom previously announced in 2017, a multi-billion dollar project to turn 50 islands and other sites on the Red Sea into luxury resorts.
The economic measure aims to increase total tourism spending to US$46.6 billion in 2020 from US$27.9 billion in 2015.