Passengers travelling to Saudi Arabia with Saudia can immediately obtain a stopover visa during the airline booking process. Rose Dykins reports
Saudia the national airline of Saudi Arabia, has announced the launch of Your Ticket Your Visa, an expedited visa programme that allows passenger to book their flight and stop for up to 96 hours with a free stay for one day.
The process of digital integration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs means that transit visas can be issued and linked to a passenger’s flight ticket within three minutes (though there are some steps travellers have to take beforehand, including preparing a photo of the correct specifications and paying an admin fee).
The service streamlines the process of travelling to Saudi Arabia through a digital integration system that links transit visas with flight tickets – meaning passengers can leave the airport and explore the nation during their stopover.
During this time, they can travel around the country, visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Diriyah in Riyadh and Al Balad in Jeddah, or perform the Islamic pilgrimage of Umrah, which two million visitors visited to the country for in 2022.
Introduced in collaboration with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the Pilgrims Service Program, and the Saudi Tourism Authority, the new service covers all international airports in Saudi Arabia.
Captain Ibrahim Koshy, CEO of Saudia, says: “The launch of this innovative and seamless stopover visa is the first of its kind in the aviation industry and a significant milestone in our digital transformation programme.
“It is a testament to Saudia’s commitment to supporting the Kingdom’s strategic goal of reaching 100 million visits by 2030 and we are confident it will positively impact the growing number of transit passengers while enhancing our position as a hub that connects East and West. The new service will also encourage passengers to perform Umrah, visit key destinations and attend events and Saudi seasons.”
The launch of Your Ticket Your Visa comes in line with Saudia’s commitment to promoting King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and strengthen the airport’s role in the region.
The service has been created to ease the airport’s processes, and was developed in collaboration between the Jeddah Airports Company and the Saudi Tourism Authority to provide incentive packages for travellers.
Your Ticket Your Visa is also part of the digital system provided by Saudia’s website and apps, which the airline says it is constantly evolving to simplify travel procedures and develop the airline’s post-journey offering.
Since we published this story, a reader who had booked flight with Saudia got in touch to say the concept of “Your Ticket Your Visa” was confusing and misleading. We have since amended the article.
They said: “If tickets are sufficient as visas, why does Saudia still require customers to have stopover visas? I was not provided with any option for the stopover visa during the booking. Calling customer ‘service’ will have you end up with contradicting information. Multiple emails and calls to the so called customer ‘service’ is not helping either. No response to email from technical support.”