Saudi Arabia has issued more than 77,000 tourist visas as of Wednesday (October 30th), according to the Communication and Media Center at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Chinese topped the number of visa recipients by about 18,000 tourists, followed by the British with more than 17,000 visas, and these two nationalities constitute about 46% of the total tourists.
The Americans came in third place with 8926 tourists, and the list of individuals who received the most tourist visa in Saudi Arabia included Malaysia, Canada, Kazakhstan, Germany, and Australia.
The statistics came 33 days after Saudi Arabia issued tourist visas for the first time in its history. The visa includes citizens of 49 countries who have been granted opportunity for exploring Saudi Arabia — countries authorized to enter Saudi Arabia include, 38 countries from Europe, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Poland Sweden, Switzerland, Ireland, Monaco, Andorra, Russia, Montero, San Marino, Ukraine, England, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Cyprus, 7 countries from Asia: Brunei, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Kazakhstan and China, two countries from North America: the United States and Canada, and two countries from Australia: the Kingdom of Australia and New Zealand.
Shijion, an assistant researcher at the College of Arab Studies at Beijing International Studies University and a visiting researcher at the Saudi Center for Research & Intercommunication Knowledge, commented on this high percentage saying: “Saudi Arabia has remained a distant and somewhat mysterious country for most Chinese, which led to a strong desire to visit it, especially after hearing a lot about it in the media, as well as the strength of the Sino-Saudi relationship, which has become more vital, especially trade relationship”.
Shijion added: “It has been very difficult to obtain a Saudi visa in China for years, so the large number of Chinese visitors in Saudi Arabia after the activation of tourist visa is normal, and China has become an exporting country on the basis of its great economic growth, and so you find the Chinese travel around the world for tourism”.
“The world realizes now the importance of studying Chinese in order to attract Chinese tourists, and many Chinese are expected to travel to Saudi Arabia to enjoy its beautiful scenery, and I am one of the pioneers who started to learn about Saudi Arabia from different sides and then passed on these pictures and scenes to friends through the communication media in China,” Shijion continued.
Shijion also pointed out that the Chinese love tourism, both at home and abroad, and what attracts Chinese attention in Saudi Arabia is largely due to some of the changes that Saudi Arabia has witnessed in recent years and this will undoubtedly boost deeper understanding between the two countries in long-term. As for non-Muslims, I think they will start from the big cities like Riyadh and Jeddah, and then they will direct to other tourist places like Al-Ahsa in the Eastern Province that I visited a year ago, while Muslims are more focused on Mecca and Medina and areas near them.