AKIPRESS.COM - Saudi Arabia will open its doors to international tourists for the first time as part of a broader push to cut its economic dependence on oil, BBC reports.
On Friday, the kingdom will launch a visa regime for 49 countries and relax strict dress codes for female visitors.
Tourism Minister Ahmad al-Khateeb described it as a "historic moment" for the country.
Visas have until now largely been restricted to pilgrims, business people and expatriate workers.
Saudi Arabia is also hoping to secure foreign investment in the tourism industry. It wants tourism to rise from 3% to 10% of gross domestic product by 2030.
"Visitors will be surprised... by the treasures we have to share - five Unesco World Heritage Sites, a vibrant local culture and breathtaking natural beauty," Mr al-Khateeb said.
Foreign women visitors will not be required to wear the body-covering abaya robe required to be worn in public by Saudi women, but must still maintain modest dress. There will also be no restrictions on unaccompanied women visiting the country.