Travel Update: All You Need To Know About The UAE And Saudi Arabia’s New Visas

This month is going to bring with it some significant changes when it comes to travel to the Gulf countries. Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia updated their entry rules and their visas, making it much easier for visitors to enter their countries.

UAE’s Visa Re-Vamp

Today, the UAE will be making the biggest overhaul of their entry system as a way to attract expatriates to their country as well as make it a more ideal place for them to live and work. With that, they have released several new types of visas:

Tourist Visa

Instead of its original 30 day duration, visitors to the UAE can use this visa and stay up to 60 days in the country. They also made a five year multiple entry version of the visa wherein visitors can enter the country multiple times and stay for up to 90 days per year. They also have the option to extend beyond the 90 days to a maximum of 180 days per year. To be eligible for the multi entry visa, visitors need to have at least 4000 dollars (14,700 dirhams) in their bank account six months before they apply.

Job Exploration Visa

As a way to attract talent to the UAE, the country set up the job exploration visa. As the country has a 9-level classification system for a person’s skill level, visitors who fall under the first three levels are the ones eligible for the visa. This ranges from individuals with a higher education degree to ones with a high school diploma. The jobs that fall under those three skill levels include managerial roles, mechanical and technical jobs as well as clerical roles.

Fresh graduates are also eligible for this visa but they have to be from the world’s top 500 universities with a Bachelor’s degree.

Business Entry Visa

This visa, which does not require a sponsor or host, is specifically for investors and entrepreneurs who are seeking to invest and discover business opportunities in the country.

Entry Permit To Visit Family And Friends

If you have friends or family residing in the UAE as either citizens or residents, you can actually apply for an entry permit to visit them with no need for a host or sponsor.

Entry Permit For Study and Training

To study in the UAE, whether it means doing an internship, attending a university or taking part in a training program, students can apply for a specific entry permit yet they do need a letter from the institution to be eligible for entry.

Entry Permit For Temporary Work

Employees or workers who have a specific assignment or short-term mission in the UAE can apply for this permit. They will have to be sponsored by their employer and will need a letter from the employer stating the purpose of their visit.

Saudi Arabia’s New Tourist Visa Scheme

Via Eiu

Last Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al Khateeb decreed new entry rules for the the country. Unlike the UAE, Saudi Arabia wants to attract tourists rather than expatriates as a way to continue its efforts at making the country a prime tourist destination. It all falls under Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

“Tourism bridges cultures and connects communities, it provides opportunities and uplifts neighborhoods, and I am proud to lead the ministry as we build this future together,” 

Ahmed Al Khateeb Via The National

The new rules apply to GCC residents which include residents of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It also applies to residents of the UK, US and the EU.

GCC Residents

For the first time, visitors who have a residency visa valid for at least 3 months from any GCC country can apply for an e-visa to enter Saudi Arabia. Other than entry into the country, using this visa, visitors can also perform umrah outside of the Hajj season. They just have to access an online platform through this link: and login to begin the application process. The application costs 300 Saudi riyals plus the cost of the required insurance.

GCC residents have the option to apply for either a single entry visa that is valid for 3 months or a multiple entry visa that can last for a year with a maximum stay of 90 days.

UK, US and EU Residents

Residents of the UK, US and EU can now apply for a visa on arrival when visiting Saudi Arabia. They have to have a permanent residence permit from either of those three countries to be eligible. As with GCC residents, there is a 300 Saudi riyal application fee required as well as the cost of the insurance. With this visa on arrival, as with the GCC residents, they also get to perform Umrah when Hajj is not in season. To perform Hajj, both e-visa as well as visa on arrival holders have to apply for a special visa through any Saudi embassy or consulate.

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