Business Treaveler logo

Travel news, reviews and intel for high-flyers

Saudia Launches Stopover Visa Program to visit Saudi Arabia

The stopover visa allows travelers to visit Saudi Arabia for up to 96 hours

by Fergus Cole

April 2, 2024

Photo: Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner. Courtesy of Saudia

Saudia, the national carrier of Saudi Arabia, is now offering a fantastic opportunity for international travelers who have a layover in Saudi Arabia. Passengers can now obtain a limited-time stopover visa while booking their flights, allowing them to enter the country for tourism, business, or religious purposes. The stopover visas are valid for up to 96 hours and are being offered in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Visitors can use this opportunity to experience the rich cultural heritage of Saudi Arabia. They can perform Umrah, which is the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, visit the holy sites such as the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, or explore the UNESCO World Heritage sites like the enchanting desert landscape of AlUla or the vibrant historic center of Jeddah.

Photo: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Courtesy of mohammed alorabi / Unsplash

This initiative by Saudia is a great chance for travelers to make the most of their transit time and immerse themselves in the rich culture, history, and natural beauty of Saudi Arabia.

The streamlined process allows passengers to purchase their stopover visa in one payment along with their flight tickets. The visa applies to any visitors without other valid documents to enter Saudi Arabia, such as citizens and residents. It is valid up to 90 days after the date it is issued.

During the booking process, travelers will be asked to fill out a form and upload their personal photos via email before being sent the visa, which must be printed before arrival.

The stopover visa program is part of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing plan to boost tourism to the country—named Vision 2030—which ultimately aims to transform the once hard-to-reach nation into a world-leading travel destination within the next decade. Under the initiative, the Saudi government hopes to welcome 150 million visitors per year by 2030.

Photo: Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner. Courtesy of Saudia

Upcoming events that travelers can take advantage of with the stopover visa include the Eid-al-Fitr festivities, which will see days of celebrations across the country from April 9, and the world heavyweight boxing championship clash between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk in Riyadh on May 18, as well as a wealth of other sporting events from soccer and golf to Formula 1 and cycling.

“We are very proud to be bringing the world to Saudi Arabia with our stopover visa initiative,” said Arved Muhlen, chief commercial officer at Saudia. “The seamless digital journey for our guests embodies the hospitality that defines flying with Saudia.”

Travelers can also take advantage of Saudia’s widespread domestic network, which includes dozens of destinations that can be reached from its primary hub of King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) in Jeddah. Saudia’s international network is also extensive, with the airline offering nonstop flights to more than 90 destinations across the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America.

Saudia currently serves three U.S. destinations with nonstop flights from Saudi Arabia. From Jeddah, it offers four flights per week to Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and three weekly flights to both New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). It also operates four weekly flights between King Khalid International Airport (RUH) in Riyadh to JFK and three per week from Riyadh to Washington Dulles.

These flights are operated with a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which has a total capacity of 290 passengers. This includes 12 first class suites, 36 business class seats, and the remaining 242 seats in economy.

In addition to these nonstop flights, Saudia offers connections to nine U.S. destinations through its partner airlines Delta, American, and JetBlue: Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Detroit (DTW), Houston (IAH), Miami (MIA), Orlando (MCO), and San Francisco (SFO).