The European Union’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Patrick Simonnet, said a new visa system would be revealed soon, allowing Saudi citizens to obtain multiple entries to the EU.
In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Simonnet also revealed that work was underway to exempt all Gulf citizens from the visa requirement.
His statements came around three weeks after the United Kingdom announced that it would facilitate the procedures for Saudis to obtain a visa electronically, 24 hours before travel.
The European Union “aims to exempt citizens of all GCC countries from visa requirements,” Simonnet said, noting that this commitment was clearly mentioned in the joint statement on the European Union’s strategic partnership with the Gulf States.
He added: “We are aware that visa exemption would help raise the level of exchange between the European Union and Saudi Arabia in all fields, whether in communication between peoples, tourism, education or business.”
The European official highlighted Saudi Arabia’s decision to allow European tourists to enter the Kingdom through simplified procedures, saying: “We appreciate and support the openness efforts made by the Kingdom.”
He revealed that a new system for granting visas to Saudi citizens was underway, which would allow them to obtain multiple entry visas.
“We are working in parallel on the visa exemption system for all citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including Saudi Arabia. This process requires the cooperation of both parties at the technical and political levels, and I am optimistic that we will soon have a specific process to address this issue. We hope that the Saudis will be able in the near future to visit Europe without a visa,” Simonnet remarked.
He also noted that the European Union was Saudi Arabia’s second largest trading partner.
It is “more than just an energy provider, but a strategic partner in trade and investment, and a vital country in the region,” the EU ambassador underlined.