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Riyadh (AFP) – Saudi Arabia will offer multiple-entry visas to Qatar World Cup fans, officials said on Thursday, as neighboring Gulf countries seek to take advantage of the competition.
People with a Hayya card, reserved for ticket holders and used to access Qatar during the tournament, will be able to apply for the electronic visas, the foreign ministry said.
The move comes as Qatar, which has a population of 2.8 million, tries to welcome 1.2 million visitors expected to attend the World Cup from November 20 to December 18, and Saudi Arabia steps up its efforts to attract tourists.
“Visa holders will be able to enter and exit the Kingdom multiple times during the validity of their visa,” the ministry said on Twitter.
Deeply conservative Saudi Arabia largely cut itself off from visitors for decades until it began issuing tourist visas in 2019, as part of attempts to diversify its oil-dependent economy.
The Gulf powerhouse shares a land border with gas-rich Qatar, which hosts the first World Cup in the Middle East and the first held during the winter months.
Saudi visas will be effective 10 days before the start of the World Cup and will be valid for 60 days.
Given the pressure on accommodation in Qatar, Saudia, Kuwait Airways, flydubai and Oman Air will operate more than 160 daily shuttle flights to bring fans on day trips for the matches.
Qatari officials say more than 20,000 fans could arrive daily on shuttle flights from Gulf countries, some of which offer special hotel packages.
A large number of Saudis will also cross the border. The clash between Saudi Arabia in Group C and Lionel Messi’s Argentina is one of the most in-demand games, World Cup CEO Nasser al-Khater has told the official news agency. Qatar in a Twitter interview on Wednesday evening.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut ties with Doha in June 2017, accusing it of being close to Iran and supporting extremist groups, accusations Qatar has denied . The diplomatic, commercial and transport blockade was lifted only in January 2021.
© 2022 AFP