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A good Muslim is always friendly for guests: Saudi Arabia to extend visas for stranded expats for free

Finally, the extension will be made automatically and without need to visit its departments.

In Saudi Arabia, the kingdom’s General Directorate of Passports interviewed to media that the decision has been made successfully to give visa travel relaxation for expatriates free of cost who were facing Covid-19 travel restrictions.

It also confirmed that the delay will be done automatically and without the need to visit its departments. Last month, the kingdom imposed a travel ban on various countries including Pakistan and India amid a surge in number of Covid-19 cases.

The kingdom also implemented the ban on the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Indonesia whereas the Saudi Civil Aviation Authority General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) issued a notification imposing a temporary travel ban on European Union (EU) countries and Switzerland.

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia launched an online portal for airlines operating in the kingdom to register immunization data for all foreigners travelling to the Gulf state, the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) said.

The portal will facilitate procedures upon arrival in the kingdom and link visitors’ data with the Saudi mobile app that tracks coronavirus cases, it said.

As of May 20, non-citizens arriving from eligible countries who are fully vaccinated against or recently recovered from Covid-19 will no longer be required to quarantine in designated government hotels.

This applies to residents, government and business travellers or those visiting friends and family, but not to foreign tourists, according to the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA).

STA Chief Executive Fahd Hamidaddin told Reuters that the kingdom would soon reopen to foreign tourists without specifying when exactly this year.

Saudi Arabia liberalised its tourism industry in 2019, making it easier for foreigners to apply for tourist visas to the kingdom, which had been relatively closed off for decades.

The Gulf state is targeting 100 million annual visits by 2030, up from about 40 million a year before the pandemic, for tourism to account for 10% of gross domestic product, up from 3% in 2019, by 2030.

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