Saudi Arabia launches visa application platform - KSA Visa
Saudi Arabia has introduced a new national visa application platform called KSA Visa. According to Arab News, This scheme brings together more than 30 ministries, agencies and private sector organisations to simplify the process of obtaining visas for Hajj, Umrah, tourism, business visits and employment. This comes shortly after Saudi minister Hajj and Umrah tawfig bin Fawzan Al Rabia visited India. The initiative is expected to benefit Indian Hajj pilgrims. A local publication reported that 20,000 Indian pilgrims are expected to arrive in Saudi Arabia this year.
KSA Visa uses advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), to help users identify the types of visas available. A centralized intelligent search engine provides detailed instructions on visa requirements and application procedures.
The Saudi move is part of the emirate's ambitious strategy to attract more tourists and reach a target of 150 million visits a year by 2030. According to the Saudi Gazette, the country issued more than 18.6 million visas in 2023 and reduced the processing time for electronic visas to 60 seconds. Saudi Arabia is also working on a special system designed to provide flexibility for pilgrims from India throughout the journey, especially women travelling alone on pilgrimages such as umrah. Under the new measures, the umrah visa has been extended to 90 days, and the country has also introduced a four-day transit visa to cater for the growing influx of Indian pilgrims.
By promoting gender equality and creating a safer and more favorable environment, these changes together aim to ensure a more fulfilling and safer pilgrimage for all travelers, Mr Al Rabia said. With effective initiatives aimed at improving the pilgrim experience, he expects the number of Indian Umrah pilgrims to increase in the near future.