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Saudi Arabia welcomes 24,000 tourists in 10 days

Saudi Arabia welcomed 24,000 tourists in the 10 days after it issued tourist visas for the first time, state television reported on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia announced on September 27 it would start offering tourist visas, opening up the kingdom to holidaymakers as part of a push to diversify its economy away from oil.

“In 10 days, some 24,000 foreigners entered Saudi Arabia on a tourist visa,” the television reported, citing the Saudi foreign ministry.

Until September 27, the ultra-conservative state only issued visas to Muslim pilgrims, foreign workers and recently to spectators at sporting or cultural events.

To encourage arrivals, authorities announced on Sunday they would allow unmarried foreign couples to rent hotel rooms together.

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