As part of the post-Umrah program, Prince Sultan Bin Salman, President of Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), is now allowing Umrah visas to be converted into tourist visas.
Prince Sultan said the program had been developed with the aim of providing the Umrah pilgrims with an opportunity of seeing other landmarks in Saudi Arabia. Pilgrims can enjoy post-Umrah tours to Islamic historical sites, tourist destinations, and shopping hubs.
There is also the option of having cultural, medical, educational and marketing tours, while others may prefer to visit exhibitions or attend conferences.
Prince Sultan said the SCTH began looking into the program several years back which has taken quite some time to study. He hopes that by allowing pilgrims to stay in the country as tourists, this will create an industry to support and in doing so, reflect that Saudi Arabia is "moving forward."
Furthermore, not only pilgrims will be able to take advantage of joining the post-Umrah program. Foreigners who are in possession of a business visa, as well as other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) citizens, are eligible for the program.
Additionally, Saudi Arabia has made the decision to issue 'green cards' within five years or so to enable resident expatriates to have their rights on a par with the other citizens of the Kingdom. Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman made the announcement during a television interview.
Prince Mohammad said that "sweeping reforms" are to be implemented in future, the green card being just one of them. He hopes to eventually put an end to Riyadh's dependence on crude revenue by the year 2020.