Saudi Arabia has introduced a new national platform, KSA Visa, to streamline the visa application process for various purposes, including Hajj, Umrah, tourism, business visits, and employment. The system connects over 30 ministries, authorities, and private organizations, aiming to make the application process more efficient.

The move is seen as part of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious goal to attract more tourists, with a target of 150 million visits annually by 2030. The platform utilizes advanced technology, particularly artificial intelligence (AI), to assist users in identifying available visas. A smart search engine in the centralized system offers detailed guidance on visa requirements and application procedures.

The KSA Visa platform was launched at the digital government forum in Riyadh, marking a significant step in improving the overall visa application experience. The initiative is expected to particularly benefit Indian Hajj pilgrims, with an estimated 2 million pilgrims from India anticipated to visit Saudi Arabia for Hajj this year.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia is developing a specific system for Indian pilgrims, providing enhanced flexibility for their journeys, especially for women traveling solo for Umrah. The changes include an extension of the Umrah visa duration to 90 days and the introduction of a four-day transit visa to accommodate the growing number of Indian pilgrims.

The country has issued more than 18.6 million visas in 2023, with a focus on reducing the duration for issuing digital visas to just 60 seconds. Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Tawfig bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah, anticipates a rise in the number of Indian Umrah pilgrims, thanks to these initiatives aimed at improving the overall pilgrimage experience.

By promoting gender equality and creating a safer environment, the changes aim to ensure a more fulfilling and secure pilgrimage experience for all travelers. Al-Rabiah also revealed that Saudi Arabia has set an estimated quota of 175,025 for Indian pilgrims for the Hajj season in 2024.

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