Winds of change bring new visitors and understanding.
The changes sweeping Saudi Arabia are truly game-changing. Ask most Saudis whether they would have believed someone who said that in 2019 tourist visas would be widely available, concerts would be held regularly or cinemas would be springing up across the country, the answer will be likely be No. Many of these changes are either aimed at or will ultimately benefit leisure travelers.
Global events such as the Formula E and World Heavyweight Boxing "Clash on the Dunes" in Al Darriyah, as well as the Saudi International Golf in KAEC and The Saudi Cup Horse Race will all attract an ever growing international audience. The introduction of online or on-arrival tourist visas is a huge step in supporting the goals of driving tourism and spending in the Kingdom. So far the new tourist online tourist visa at www.visitsaudi.com seems to working well with visas being issued almost instantly.
Festivals such as "Winter in Tantora" in AlUla and "Riyadh Season" in the capital are staged over several months and have a range of events that appeal to both domestic and international visitors. Lionel Richie in Tantora and boy-band BTS in Riyadh are just two examples of global names performing this year.
All of this is ground breaking for a country that 12 months ago was not even issuing non-religious tourist visas. It is a hugely exciting opportunity for Saudis and the world to build a new understanding.