Saudi Arabia To Reopen

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After a 17-month closure, Saudi Arabia will reopen to vaccinated tourists.

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Friday, 30th July 2021

According to the state news agency, Saudi Arabia announced Friday that it would reopen its borders to fully vaccinated foreign tourists after a 17-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Riyadh did not announce any relaxation of restrictions on the umrah, a year-round pilgrimage that draws millions of Muslims from around the world each year.

According to the Saudi Press Agency, "the Ministry of Tourism announced that the Kingdom will open its doors to foreign tourists and lift... the suspension of entry for tourist visa holders beginning August 1."

It stated that visitors who have been fully vaccinated with Saudi-approved vaccines from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson will be able to enter the kingdom "without the need for an institutional quarantine period," provided they also have proof of a negative PCR Covid-19 test taken within the last 72 hours and register their details with health authorities.

Riyadh has spent billions of dollars trying to build a tourism industry from the ground up as part of its efforts to diversify its oil-dependent economy.

In 2019, the once-restrictive kingdom began issuing tourist visas for the first time, as part of an ambitious effort to improve its global image and attract visitors.

It issued 400,000 between September 2019 and March 2020, only for the pandemic to stifle that momentum as borders were closed.

Covid-19 also severely disrupted the hajj and umrah pilgrimages, which are usually a major source of revenue for the kingdom; in normal times, they bring in around $12 billion (10.3 billion euros) per year.

Only immunised pilgrims who live in Saudi Arabia are currently eligible for umrah permits.

The government has accelerated a nationwide vaccination campaign as it seeks to revitalise tourism and host sports and entertainment extravaganzas, all of which are pandemic-affected industries.

So far, 26 million vaccinations have been given to the 35 million-person population, and the kingdom has stated that beginning August 1, vaccinations will be required to enter government and private establishments, including educational institutions and entertainment venues, as well as to use public transportation.

More than 523,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia, with 8,213 deaths.


The News Talkie Bureau



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