Saudi Arabia plans to start issuing tourist visas “soon” as the ultra-conservative kingdom seeks to attract international visitors in a radical overhaul of its oil-dependent economy.
Tourism is seen as a major driver of growth as the kingdom attempts to wean itself off its dependence on petrodollars amid a protracted oil slump.
Alcohol, cinemas and theatres are still banned in the kingdom, an absolute monarchy and one of the world’s most conservative countries.
But authorities in recent months have sought to project a moderate image with a string of reforms, including the decision allowing women to drive from next June.
The kingdom is also expected to lift a public ban on cinemas and has encouraged mixed-gender celebrations — something seldom seen before.