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Saudi Arabia Lifts Travel Ban For U.S. Passengers

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Saudi Arabia has decided to remove the travel ban for travelers from 11 countries, including the United States of America. Other countries removed from the travel ban include the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Japan, France, UAE, Switzerland, Sweden, and Ireland. During the pandemic, Saudi Arabia has opened and closed numerous times to prevent new COVID-19 strains from entering the country.

Furthermore, the Kingdom had banned all international flights, before reopening for international travel on May 17th. Still, they maintained a ban on 20 countries with high transmission rates and mutant strains. 

The Riyadh Skyline

These countries included the US, Ireland, UK, Argentina, Brazil, Turkey, Sweden, South Africa, Germany, Indonesia, Egypt, India, Pakistan, UAE, South Africa, Lebanon, Switzerland, France, and Japan. However, according to the Saudi Public Health Authority, these countries have shown stability in handling the pandemic.  

saudi arabia desert sand dunes

Thirteen countries remain on Saudi Arabia’s red list, and these include Syria, Yemen, Belarus, India, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iran, Turkey, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lebanon, Armenia, Venezuela, and Libya. 

The Current Entry Requirements 

Although Saudi Arabia has removed the travel ban, many travelers will still face restrictions upon entry. All foreign travelers – including those with vaccines – must show evidence of a Coronavirus Exemption Certificate (PCR.) Travelers must take this PCR test at least 72 hours before their flight. If you conduct the PCR test within 72 hours of your flight – the test will not qualify for entry. 

Jeddah's New Airport terminal

However, up until today, all travelers entering Saudi Arabia had to complete a mandatory 7-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel. Local media reported that fully vaccinated travelers would no longer have to quarantine if they provide vaccination certificates. However, if you haven’t received a vaccine yet – you’ll still have to complete a mandatory 7-day quarantine. The approved vaccines include Moderna, Phizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson. 

The Riyadh Skyline

The Current COVID-19 Situation In Saudi Arabia 

Saudi Arabia has battled COVID-19 since the pandemic began. However, the Kingdom had the virus at bay for most of the last eight months. But the nation has seen a gradual rise in cases in the previous two months. Recent reports suggest Saudi Arabia has around 1000 cases per day, but the nation is striving hard to vaccinate its population.  

COVID-19 test in Saudi Arabia
Coronavirus COVID-19 swab test in Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom has given 14,208,292 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to around 20.7% of the population if you assume everyone needs two vaccine doses. Saudi Arabia continues to push for mass vaccination and is currently averaging 162,957 vaccine doses per day. At that rate, the country will vaccinate 10% of its population every 43 days. 

Social Distancing at the Al Haram Mosque Mekkah

Saudi Arabia’s Push For Tourism 

Before the pandemic began, Saudi Arabia was pushing to grow its tourism industry globally. The nation relaxed its strict visa policies and started opening up to the world. In the process, making it far easier to obtain visas if you’re a resident of a western country. Saudi Arabia is keen to broaden its economy and push towards a tourism-based economy, taking a step away from its oil-dominated economy. Saudia Arabia is home to various UNESCO World Heritage Sites, futuristic resort cities, and rising major cities. 

The view from the Kingdom Tower, Riyadh

The country plans to modernize the nation by 2030. Therefore attracting millions of visitors from every world corner with massive tourism projects. These projects include the Neom city, the Qiddiya entertainment park, and the transformation of many islands into tourist-friendly destinations. In addition, the nation has begun to host major sporting events and entertainment events.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has meant the Kingdom has had to close its borders and hold back on its plans to build the tourism hub of the middle east and a rival to Dubai. With that said, the country is eager to open up and grow its tourism industry as the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

Currently only entry/exit, work, residence or visit visas are permitted for entry.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Thursday 10th of June 2021

Whatever travel restriction that has been lifted, Saudi Arabia is not on my bucket list. Furthermore, citizens of some Western developed nations are now allowed in. But tourists visas are still pending. Go figure! Recently Saudi Arabia has extended visas for essential expats working and living in the country.

Non-Arab Muslim nations are still banned from entering and performing their Haj rituals because some may have been vaccinated with Sinovac Chinese vaccine. Nonetheless WHO has approved recently the second Chinese vaccine “Sinovac” for emergency use. However it is still not an accepted vaccine list by Saudi Arabia as of yet.

Lars Ortloff

Wednesday 2nd of June 2021

Guys, I honestly think you did not get this quite right. While it is of course true that Saudia is now allowing US citizens again, they do not allow tourists. Tourist visa issuance is still suspended and ones that might still be valid cannot be used for entry as of now.

Kashlee Kucheran

Wednesday 2nd of June 2021

Yes, there was an error in editing. We've corrected and updated

Alejandro Sosa

Tuesday 1st of June 2021

I had been following news on Saudi Arabia all throughout the pandemic. I'm really glad you decided to write an article on it, as it's not a very well-known country that tourists have on their mind.

If you wrote about Saudi Arabia's reopening, could you try looking into Algeria's reopening as well? They just restarted international flights on June 1 and all articles seem to indicate that tourists will be allowed in along with everyone else. I hope you can clear this up.

Kashlee Kucheran

Wednesday 2nd of June 2021

Thank you! From what we know about Algeria, tourism is still closed, which is why we have not covered it. Entry is only possible for returning citizens and those with an exceptional entry permit.