Date confirmed for Health Tourism Future Forum in Riyadh

Date confirmed for Health Tourism Future Forum in Riyadh
Date confirmed for Health Tourism Future Forum in Riyadh

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Travel to Europe will become simpler and easier for Saudi, Omani, and Bahraini nationals following a European Commission decision to relax visa rules.

EU Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Christophe Farnaud told reporters in Riyadh on Thursday that the new Schengen visa rules are “an important step in promoting people-to-people contacts, and facilitating exchanges between the EU and the GCC citizens.”

Under the new rules, a multiple-entry visa will normally be issued for five years to successful applicants, including those applying for the first time.

“The process is the same, but the length of the visa is longer, which allows them to travel to 29 European countries using the same visa valid for five years and multiple entry,” Farnaud said.

He said that it was important to view the visa change against “the backdrop of the strategic relationship between this region and Europe.”

The Schengen area consists of 29 European countries, of which 25 are EU states: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden, along with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Member states will implement the decision once they have received notifications, Farnaud said.

“As we know, the notification was made on Wednesday, so from now on, the member states can issue these visas, unless there is some technical reason for a country to take a few days,” he said.

“I am very happy to have been able to work on that, and I must say that I received a lot of very positive responses from citizens, from Saudi Arabia, especially. I think it’s really good news,” Farnaud said.

The envoy said that Europe is also working on e-visas, “but it will take some time. I cannot tell you how long exactly because it implies decisions by member states on technical aspects. So, it will happen, but It will take some time.”

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