Saudi Arabia will provide on-arrival visa to Maldivians travelling to the Gulf kingdom, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid on Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference, Minister Shahid declared that the Saudi government has guaranteed the visa waiver to the island nation, and is currently working on administrative preparations to implement it.
"I don’t doubt that this decision by the King of Saudi Arabia will prove highly beneficial to many Maldivians traveliing to the kingdom,” said the minister, thanking King Salman and Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman for Saudi Arabia's enduring assistance and support to the Maldives.
Saudi Arabia will grant on-arrival visas to Maldivians travelling to the kingdom as tourists or Umrah pilgrims. Maldivians on Hajj pilgrimage, or those travelling to Saudi Arabia for studies, work or medical treatments are not eligible for the visa.
According to Minister Shahid, Maldivians can apply for online e-visa prior to travel, once Saudi's visa waiver is in effect.
He revealed that those travelling on single-entry visas will receive a period of 30 days, while multiple-entry one-year visa holders may stay for 90 days. The waiver also decreases visa application fees, with visit visas costing 400 Saudi Riyal along with additional payments for V.A.T and processing.
Minister Shahid stated that the Saudi government will announce a date to implement on-arrival visas for Maldivians soon.
“With this, Maldives will become the eighth country to be included in the Category A of nations that may travel to Saudi Arabia without visa”, declared the minister.
He added that the archipelago would also be the fourth country outside of the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) member states, and the first country in South Asia, to receive Saudi on-arrival visa.
The foreign minister further disclosed that the Saudi government gave the green light this week for President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to travel to Jeddah, for the inauguration of the Maldivian consulate. He assured that the foreign ministry and relevant Saudi authorities were working closely on preparations, estimating that the consulate will commence services prior to the Hajj month.
Hailing the president’s foreign policy focus on strengthening diplomatic ties with other countries, the minister concluded his remarks by highlighting that presently 84 countries around the world grant on-arrival visa to Maldives. He urged Maldivians to make good use of such privileges, advising against overstaying and to respect the laws and regulations of the other countries.