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LONDON: Nationals of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have been granted e-visa waiver status by the UK, the Home Office said in a statement.

This statute will come into force on 1er June. Under this new procedure, all Saudi and Bahraini nationals will be able to apply to travel to the UK for up to six months, with an electronic visa waiver.

Citizens of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain can now travel to the UK visa-free, provided they complete an online application for each visit.

Thanks to the visa waiver, Saudis will no longer have to make an appointment at a visa application center, hand over their passport before travel or provide biometric information such as photos and fingerprints. In addition, the limited application fee will be much lower, compared to the cost of 125 dollars (1 dollar = 0.95 euro) of the previous visa.

Eligible persons can provide travel notification with electronic visa waiver three months in advance, and up to forty-eight hours prior to travel.

British Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Neil Crompton, told Arab News in March that his government was making it easier for Saudi people to enter the UK, which would eventually lead to a policy of free visas, after the British Prime Minister’s visit to the Crown Prince proved successful for both kingdoms.

“There was a positive exchange of views between the two leaders,” Crompton told Arab News. “The UK government and Saudi Arabia have been good partners for a long time.”

Johnson’s visit to the Kingdom in March reflected the UK’s long-standing commitment to Saudi Arabia, knowing that the two kingdoms are moving towards closer bilateral cooperation in all areas and within the framework of the Vision 2030 of the Kingdom.

During their meeting, the two leaders focused on strengthening bilateral relations in the areas of green energy, renewable energy and investments, and began working on a free trade agreement between the United Kingdom United and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, an agreement which is expected to be concluded within the next 12 months.

The two leaders also signed a memorandum of understanding on the formation of the Saudi-British Strategic Partnership Council, established in 2018.

Relations between the UK and Saudi Arabia go back a long way.

King Faisal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud led the Kingdom’s first diplomatic mission to Britain in 1919 when he was a 13-year-old prince, which resulted in the consolidation of Saudi-British relations. In 1945, the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman al-Saud met British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Encounters between the two kingdoms continue to this day.

Saudis make up a significant number of tourists who visit the UK capital, London, which is consistently among the most visited cities in the world each year.

More than 100,000 Saudis flock to the UK every year, according to a 2020 survey by Statista.

Another 2018 report published by Statista shows that 54% of Saudi visitors travel to the UK each year for holidays, while 25% visit family and relatives; 10% are there for business and 11% include students and people engaged in various activities.

Scholarships in the UK have been offered by Saudi Arabia for many years. The Saudi Ministry of Education has increased the number, creating more types of scholarships that provide new opportunities for the Saudi population to study abroad, especially in the UK.

Previously, the British government required Saudis to meet the following criteria for a standard visitor visa: a visa application form, two passport-size photos, a bank statement for the past six months, a confirmed air ticket reservation, the address of the place of residence and a passport valid for at least six months from the date of issue of the visa.

The classic visitor’s visa costs $125 for a maximum of 6 months, with the application having to be made three months before the planned date of travel.

This text is the translation of an article published on rabnews.com

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