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Saudi Arabia Set To Welcome International Tourists For The First Time

Saudi Arabia will open its doors to international travelers for the first time in a bid to lessen its dependence on the oil industry, per the BBC.

Until now, visas to travel to the country were only given to pilgrims, businesspersons and expatriate workers. But the kingdom launched a regime for 49 countries on Friday and it's also made the dress code for female visitors less strict.

Tourism minister Ahmad al-Khateeb has described said regime as a "historic moment" and has promised that tourists will be surprised by the treasures the nation has to share with the outside world.

"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 said.

The kingdom is keen on securing foreign investment in the tourism industry and wants to see a rise from 3 percent to 10 percent by 2030 as it relates to tourism as a gross domestic product.

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Foreign women will not be forced to wear the concealing abaya robe worn in public by Saudi women but they will still be required to dress modestly. Also, restrictions won't be imposed on lone female visitors, however, non-Muslims will not be allowed to visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Alcohol won't be allowed either.

"We have a culture. We believe our friends and our guests will respect the culture, but definitely it is modest and it will be very clear," Khateeb added.

The minister also claimed that the recent attack on Saudi soil won't be a factor in persons deciding whether or not they should grab the opportunity to visit the place which has been basically hidden from non-religious outsiders from time immemorial.

via ndtv.com

"Our cities are among the most safest cities globally. Therefore, we don't believe at all it will impact our plans. We have all the expats living in Saudi Arabia, enjoying Saudi Arabia. We're very secure," he explained.

Of course, persons will be skeptical over visiting Saudi Arabia as the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and a recent crackdown on women's rights activists still loom over the nation.

Saudi attempted to open its doors to foreigners way back in 2000 but all of their plans changed after the 9/11 terror attack on US soil the following year.

Let's see how things work out this time around.

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