Big news out of Saudi! New rules allowing tourist visas from a host of countries, including the US and the UK were launched yesterday. This is a game-changer for travelers who wish to experience Saudi first-hand.
What? There was no tourism before?!!
No, not really. Before, tourist access to Saudi was extremely limited. Family visit visas and pilgrim visas were popular opportunities for outsiders to see this country, but the qualifying criteria was strict. A few event-related visas were issued for the last year or two as well, but now, it seems, visitors will be able to apply for straightforward tourist visas.
“Sand Island” – one of thousands of idyllic sandbars in the Red Sea.
Now, it looks like friends and extended family from our home countries will be able to come visit. So, if we told you before you couldn’t come visit us, that’s all changed! Visitors are welcome!
…but what will I wear?
Me wearing my abaya and hijab near Elephant Rock 8 years ago. Perhaps next time I go, I will dress differently.
As you probably already know, it is considered a cultural must for women to wear a black cloak called an “abaya” over their clothes while in public. When we first arrived in Saudi 8 years ago, abayas were all black and relatively bland. During our short time in Saudi though, many women have begun wearing abayas which are colorful fashion statements, pushing the boundaries of acceptable norms. HOWEVER….
With the tourism news, the authorities have also announced that there will be no requirement of an abaya for foreign tourists. Rather, women will be asked to dress conservatively and follow other decency laws which are still being announced. This secondary change will absolutely serve to help bridge the international understanding of Saudi Arabia for foreign travelers.
If you are interested in experiencing Saudi first-hand, I cannot recommend it highly enough!
SEE YOU SOON!