Saudi Arabia opens doors to tourists with new 'relaxed' rules

28 September 2019, 14:19

Saudi Arabia has announced measures aimed at attracting more foreign tourists
Saudi Arabia has announced measures aimed at attracting more foreign tourists. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Saudi Arabia has announced measures aimed at attracting more foreign tourists, including an easing of rules that all women must wear a full-body covering in public.

The new tourist visa scheme, is part of efforts in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom to diversify its economy and reduce dependence on oil.

The one-year, multiple-entry visa scheme unveiled late on Friday applies to visitors from 49 countries including the United Kingdom.

The visa information website indicated an easing of strict dress codes for visiting women, requiring shoulders and knees to be covered but not demanding they wear the full-body abaya.

Saudi Arabia saw profound change last year as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's reforms, including the opening of the first movie theatre and allowing women to drive.

But there is a hard limit to the reforms, as revealed by last year's killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents and the reported torture of several detained women's rights activists.

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