Saudi prince wel­comes for­eign tourists

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

DUBAI —Saudi Ara­bia will be­gin is­su­ing se­lect tourist visas soon to wel­come tens of thou­sands of for­eign­ers a year, part of a sweep­ing na­tional re­form plan.

The re­li­giously con­ser­va­tive coun­try cur­rently does not is­sue tourist visas, though it ran a pi­lot pro­gram be­tween 2006 and 2010 wel­com­ing around 25,000 visi­tors an­nu­ally to see Saudi Ara­bia’s an­cient ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sites and vast land­scapes of moun­tains, coast­line, val­leys, vol­ca­noes and deserts.

In an in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press on Tues­day, the head of Saudi Ara­bia’s tourism author­ity, Prince Sul­tan bin Sal­man, says eas­ing visa re­stric­tions on pil­grims and other for­eign­ers would show­case Saudi Ara­bia’s rich, even pre-Is­lamic his­tory.

He says that pro­mot­ing tourism among Saudis would en­cour­age them to ex­plore the coun­try’s her­itage and help forge a stronger na­tional iden­tity. — AP

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