Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

Indians can get e-visas to Saudi

Saudi Arabia will be extending its e-visa facilities for Indian tourists soon, revealed Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO, Saudi Tourism Authority (STA). Hamidaddin said that Saudi is home for nearly 5 million Indians, and the proposed e-visa facility will help in unlocking the huge potential that exists for Visit Friends & Relatives (VFR) from India to Saudi Arabia. “You can expect the good news soon,” he said. The STA CEO has said that the eVisa has proved to be quite successful for Saudi Arabia and around 5 lakh travellers have used the facility since its introduction to visit the country.

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Saudi Arabia grants visa on arrival to tourists with any one valid UK, US or Schengen visa

Holders of US, UK or Schengen visas can now obtain a visa on arrival in Saudi Arabia, it has been announced recently. The move comes in line with the kingdom’s recent implementation of tourist visas. While holders of American, UK and Schengen visas will now be able to obtain a tourist visa on arrival, they are not eligible for the electronic visa system. However, the visitor must have already used his US, UK or Schengen visa to visit the respective countries before arriving in Saudi Arabia.

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Thailand offers free visa-on-arrival from today

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has announced granting a visa-on-arrival fee waiver for tourists from 20 countries, including India. From November 15, 2018 to January 13, 2019, citizens of Andora, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China (including Taiwan), Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan will be exempted from the 2,000 Baht visa-on-arrival fee for the purpose of touring in Thailand for not more than 15 days. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor, TAT, said, “This is good news for Thailand’s tourism industry as we’re preparing a range of year-end activities and promotions, including the launch of Amazing Thailand Grand Sale ‘Passport Privilege’ during the same period.” Tourism promotions and events in the pipeline between now and January next year also include the New Year Electronic Music Festival in Pattaya from December 30-31, and TAT will hold the countdown celebration in five destinations in the five regions of Thailand: Chiang Rai in the north, Nakhon Phanom in the northeast, Ratchaburi in the central region, Satun with its world-renowned geopark in the south and Sa Kaeo in the east.

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IHCL announces its first Taj in Saudi Arabia

In a major milestone, The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) has announced its foray into the Holy City of Makkah, Saudi Arabia, with a partnership with Umm Al Qura Development and Construction Company in the prestigious King Abdul Aziz Road (KAAR) project, one of the largest urban rejuvenation projects in the city of Makkah. Commenting on the signing of this agreement, Puneet Chhatwal, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, IHCL, said, “We are honoured to partner with Umm Al Qura Development and Construction Company in bringing the first Taj hotel to Saudi Arabia. This signing is aligned to our strategy of a strong focus on global growth markets and to be present where our guests travel to.” This hotel will be IHCL’s fourth venture in the MENA region. The company manages Taj Dubai located in the Burj Khalifa downtown area. It will also open another two hotels in Dubai in the next 12 to 18 months. The hotel, scheduled to open in January 2023, will have approximately 340 keys, banqueting facilities and several restaurants to serve all tastes. Commenting on the partnership, Eng. Mohammad Al Ganawi, Chief Executive Officer, Umm Al Qura Development and Construction Company said, “We look forward to working with them to bring the iconic Taj brand to the unique development project in Makkah.” As the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the site of his first revelation of the Quran, Makkah is the holiest city in the religion of Islam.

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Qatar Airways suspends flights to Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain

In response to Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain breaking diplomatic ties with Qatar over alleged terror links, Qatar Airlines has suspended all flights to these nations until further notice. All customers booked on affected flights will be provided with alternative options, including the option of a full refund on any unused tickets and free rebooking to the nearest alternative Qatar Airways network destination. An official document from Qatar Airways addressed most of the concerns that travellers might be having currently. The document mentioned that in case passengers have booked tickets from Qatar on any other airline, the respective airline would rebook the tickets for these passengers. On the other hand, passengers holding confirmed and ticketed Qatar Airways tickets will be re-accommodated according to availability on other carriers at the time of re-issuance as per the IATA Regulations. However, there is not disruption in flights to Europe and US, and passengers on transit from Qatar also remain unaffected.

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Four countries sever diplomatic ties with Qatar

Tourism and air traffic in Qatar is likely to witness a significant dip following four Arab nations—Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—severing diplomatic ties with the country over allegedly backing terror groups, including Islamic State. The four countries have not only declared to withdraw their diplomatic staff from Qatar, they have also said they plan to cut air and sea traffic to the peninsular country. While it is not clear how that would affect Qatar Airways, one of the region’s major long-haul carriers, but it could be a big jolt to the airline as well as tourism in and out of the country.

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Now visa free travel for Indian tourists to Far East Russia

Tourists and businessmen from India and 17 other countries can now travel to Russia’s Far East without a visa, informed Dmitry Medvedev, the Prime Minister of Russia. In order to boost tourism and investment in the region, the nationals of these 18 countries will have simplified entry procedures into Russia through the free port of Vladivostok. According to Pavel Volkov, Deputy Minister, Development of the Far East, tourists and entrepreneurs will only be required to fill a form on the website of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Applications will be approved within four days. Electronic single entry visas will be issued directly at the Russian border and will be valid for 30 days. The 17 countries apart from India include Algeria, Bahrain, Brunei, Iran, Qatar, China, North Korea, Kuwait, Morocco, Mexico, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tunisia, Turkey, and Japan. “I have recently approved the list of countries, whose nationals can take advantage of the preferential regime. We are proactively forming the modern infrastructure and creating special regimes in the far East; the law on visits to the Vladivostok free port was approved in March. This is not because these states are situated at a closer or longer distance – we are appropriately introducing bilateral agreements on visa-free travel for those ready to use such an approach for us,” said Medvedev. Volkov further said, “We’d like to see an increase in tourism to the region by at least 30 percent. Given the fact that every wealthy tourist spends at least $1,000 in the territory, we assume this will significantly increase the opportunities for the development of the region, trade turnover, and currency flows.” Source: Live Mint  

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US, UK restrict electronic items in cabin for selected airlines

US government has announced restrictions on the type of electronic items that could be carried onboard flights to the US from certain airports, reveals a statement from IATA. Even the UK government has announced changes in its aviation security measures on selected inbound flights to the UK that restrict the size of electronic items that may be carried by passengers in the cabin. In a statement, the UK government has said that flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia would be affected by these restrictions. A Q&A and factsheet available on the US Department of Homeland Security website reveals that passengers flying to the US directly from the named airports—Queen Alia International Airport (AMM), Cairo International Airport (CAI), Ataturk International Airport (IST), King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED), King Khalid International Airport (RUH), Kuwait International Airport (KWI), Mohammed V Airport (CMN), Hamad International Airport (DOH), Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) – should allow extra time at the airport. IATA calculations show that this ban will impact about 393 scheduled passenger flights per week, equivalent to about 2.7 % of the total international scheduled passenger flights to the UK. In the US, it would affect 350 scheduled flights a week, equivalent to about 2% of total international flights.

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