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Saudi Arabia is Planning to become "Global Tourism Destination"

Saudi Arabia is swiftly transforming itself into a destination that is more open to mainstream tourism.

“Tourist visas will be introduced soon,” Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage president Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz told a press conference on Monday.

He added that a system has been established for the issuance of such visas but no timeline was announced.

The development of a more tourist-friendly environment is part of a long-term strategy known as Vision 2030, which puts in place a plan for a post-oil economy. A key driver will be tourism, and the plan calls for major investments in related infrastructure.

Currently, there are plans to open a Six Flags and “entertainment city” in Riyadh that could rival Las Vegas in size, according to one report in the Independent.

The Red Sea Project, a coastal lagoon covering some 50 untouched islands stretching along more than 150km unpopulated coastline, is another development designed to boost tourism, in line with the Vision 2030 plan.

A number of other announcements from the kingdom have given women increased freedom, including the ability to obtain drivers licenses and to travel without a man’s permission.

Women are also now able to attend some sports stadiums. The venues, previously open only to men, will now be updated to accommodate “families,” .

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