Saudi Arabia is widely seen as the final frontier of tourism. As the birthplace of Islam, and a millennia-old crossroads of pilgrims and traders, the Kingdom’s rich culture and diverse heritage has no equal. In September 2019, Saudi Arabia opened its doors to the world for the first time. The launch of the Kingdom’s tourism visa saw visitors from around the globe flock to explore Saudi’s ancient history, striking landscapes, and warm hospitality. Last year, Saudi Arabia welcomed 67 million visitors, a sure sign that Vision 2030 is shaping the future of the Kingdom’s travel and tourism sector.
Saudi Arabia is rich in heritage and history. The country is home to hundreds of historically important sites, spanning from the ruins of ancient towns to Jeddah’s magical Al Balad, and the spectacular beauty of AlUla, one of the oldest cities in the Arabian Peninsula.
Tourism is poised to become a key driver of the Kingdom’s diversified economy, aiming to contribute to the GDP by more than 10%. Buoyed by sizeable investments in entertainment, tourism infrastructure and leverage of Saudi Arabia’s natural and diverse beauty, tourism will be an engine of job creation and commercial growth, enhancing the Kingdom’s international profile while preserving its national identity. More than 3,500 tourism investment licenses have been issued in Saudi Arabia to date.
Home to one of the Kingdom’s finest UNESCO World Heritage Sites, AlUla is located deep in the desert in the northwest of Saudi Arabia. AlUla has the makings of a bucket list-topping global destination — ancient tombs, the legacy of 7,000 years of human civilization, stunning natural rock formations and canyons, a plethora of adventure sports options and cutting-edge art installations.
With more than 2.5 million date palm trees blanketing a verdant expanse inland from Saudi Arabia’s Gulf coast, Al Ahsa is an archetypal lush desert oasis. One of Saudi Arabia’s UNESCO World Heritage-recognized regions, Al Ahsa was also recently recognized by the Guinness World Records as the largest self-contained oasis in the world. Visitors to Al Ahsa have much to choose from. Hot and cold springs, historic mosques, sweeping panoramic vistas…you’ll find a lot to explore in this 6,000-year-old oasis, which has long been a gateway to the Arabian Peninsula.
King Abdullah Economic City, located on the coast of the Red Sea just 100 kilometers north of Jeddah, is a modern metropolis and booming tourist destination. International tournaments are played at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, one of the most renowned golf clubs in the Middle East, and a motorsports park is being built as part of the recently developed Lagoona leisure area. The expansive waterfront, which thanks to KAEC’s warm climate can be enjoyed all year-round, is another major draw, offering leisurely coastal walks and a range of beach and water activities.
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital city, is a fascinating blend of old and new. A modern metropolis that is also home to the first historic roots of Arabia. A pivotal city in Vision 2030 with a clear roadmap for the future, Riyadh is also home to a fascinating centuries-old history that can be found within atmospheric souqs, compelling museums and ancient architecture. In recent years Riyadh has blossomed into a bustling business and investment hub, home to glittering high-rises and a burgeoning contemporary art scene. The winter months are an ideal time to visit Riyadh, with average temperatures in the low 20s, the city offers travelers a unique experience in one of the region’s most iconic cities.
Even in a country as diverse as Saudi Arabia, Al Baha possesses a unique cultural identity. In a Kingdom often characterized by ochre desert, this high-altitude city is a place of ancient towers, lush forests and winding valleys. Ancient tribes forged several historical monuments that can still be found in Al Baha, including 1,001 stone Qasbah lookout towers and a bustling souq. Visitors can also experience an unforgettable scenic drive around hairpin mountain bends, past apricot and pomegranate orchards, and out into the forests that surround the city. The road to the famous marble village of Dhee Ayn — through astonishing valleys and past ruined towers — is almost as spectacular as the site itself.
Stretching 200 km along the tip of Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast, Jazan has all the prerequisites for a quintessential summer holiday. The province packs in a wealth of nature, culture and adventure, with a landscape that spans from alabaster beaches and azure seas, to green forests and craggy mountain peaks. The port city is perhaps best known as a jumping-off point for the pristine Farasan Islands, a protected archipelago of islands and coral islets. Home to an abundance of wildlife and colorful marine creatures, it is also a haven for those looking to explore the Kingdom’s diverse geography.
Located a few hours west of Medina, the port city of Yanbu is known for its oil refineries, industrial plants, and it’s an ancient spice route where T.E. Lawrence lived in a typical Hijazi building in 1915 and 1916. You’ll find many of the attractions in the historical area around the harbor, which comes alive at night. Join locals eating freshly caught fish at the water side, discover the glowing lanes of Souq Al Lail (night market), and purchase locally produced dates.
Tabuk, the capital city of the Tabuk region in northwestern Saudi Arabia, is home to some of Saudi Arabia’s oldest archaeological sites. The region also features stunning coastal scenery, with charming coastal towns such as Haql and Sharma offering clear seas and pristine beaches. The carved tombs of Maghaer Shuaib in the desert are a popular tourist destination, as are the Moses Springs near Magna, where natural springs flow under date palms.
Medina is one of Islam’s holiest cities and a key destination for millions of pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj or Umrah. The city is centered around Al Masjid an Nabawi, also known as the Prophet’s Mosque, which was constructed by Prophet Mohammed -Peace Be Upon Him-, and is also the location of his burial site. Although the city’s name is usually written as Medina, its full name is Al Medina Al Munawwarah, meaning “the Enlightened City.” Because of the city’s pivotal role in the life of Prophet Muhammad, a trip to Medina is a lifelong dream for Muslims all over the world.
The long winding mountain roads of Taif are the perfect introduction to this mesmerizing region; passing fruit markets, rose farms and deep valleys before reaching the plateau upon which Taif sits. Often referred to as the City of Roses, Taif is known for the famously fragrant flowers that grow in its surrounding wadis and mountains. Taif’s altitude means it is a cool escape from the summer heat. And while the roses bloom in April, the city really blossoms in August, when the Souq Okaz cultural festival and the Crown Prince Camel Festival are in full swing.
Saudi Arabia opened its doors to visitors from all over the world with a new entry visa regime in place as of September 2019.
Tourists will obtain a multiple-entry visa valid for a year that will allow them to stay in the country for up to 90 days.
The visa is relevant to tourism-related activities and Umrah (excluding Hajj season) and excludes other activities such as studying.Learn more