Saudi Arabia Lifts Abaya Restriction For Foreign Women

Saudi Arabia Lifts Abaya Restriction For Foreign Women
RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian government said on Friday that it will offer tourist visas for the first time in a bid to open up the ultra-conservative kingdom to tourists as part of its plans to diversify its economy beyond oil.

Promotion of tourism is one of the central features of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 reforms programme to prepare his country for a post-oil era.

The announcement comes just two weeks after devastating attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure for which the kingdom and the United States (US) blamed Iran.

"Opening Saudi Arabia to international tourists is a historic moment for our country," tourism chief Ahmed al-Khateeb said in a statement.

"Visitors will be surprised... by the treasures we have to share -- five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a vibrant local culture and breathtaking natural beauty," he added.

Saudi Arabia will open applications for online tourist visas to citizens of 49 countries on Saturday (September 28), Bloomberg News quoted Khateeb as saying.

Khateeb said the kingdom will also ease its strict dress code for foreign women, allowing them to go without the abaya robe that is still the mandatory public dress for Saudi women.

He also said that foreign women, however, would be required to wear "modest clothing".

Naya Daur Media (NDM) is a bi-lingual progressive digital media platform aiming to inform and educate Pakistanis at home and abroad. Subscribe to our YouTube channel here Follow us on Facebook   Twitter and Instagram Visit our Urdu website