Saudi Arabia launches unified visa application platform
To simplify travel for Haj pilgrims, Saudi Arabia has launched KSA Visa, a national platform that integrates more than 30 government and private entities for visa applications.
The system aims to simplify the visa application process for various purposes such as Hajj, Umrah, tourism, business visits, and employment. The initiative was taken after the recent visit of Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Tawfig bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah to India. The system is expected to be especially beneficial for the approximately 2 million Indian Hajj pilgrims this year
KSA Visa is an innovative platform that utilizes the latest technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), to help users find available visas. Its smart search engine provides comprehensive guidance on visa requirements and application procedures. The platform was officially launched at the Digital Government Forum in Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia has set a target of welcoming 150 million tourists by 2030. As part of this goal, the country has taken steps to make it easier for visitors to obtain visas. In 2023, over 18.6 million visas were issued, and the processing time for digital visas has been reduced to just 60 seconds.
Saudi Arabia is developing a system aimed at improving flexibility for Indian pilgrims, particularly women who are traveling alone for Umrah. The new measures include extending the validity of Umrah visa to 90 days and introducing a four-day transit visa to cater to the increasing number of Indian pilgrims.
The focus is on promoting gender equality and creating a safer and more inclusive environment, which is expected to enhance the pilgrimage experience for all travellers. Minister Al-Rabiah emphasised that these initiatives are designed to enrich the pilgrim experience, and he anticipates a surge in the number of Indian Umrah pilgrims. Looking ahead to the Hajj season in 2024, Saudi Arabia has set an estimated quota of 175,025 slots for Indian pilgrims, highlighting the country’s commitment to facilitating and enhancing the pilgrimage experience for individuals from diverse backgrounds. Hajj is a sacred pilgrimage in Islam that draws millions of Muslims annually to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is mandatory for all capable Muslims to undertake at least once in their lifetime.