Saudi Arabia eases travel restrictions

The government of Saudi Arabia will ease entry restrictions on foreign visitors, which have been in place since last year as part of measures against the coronavirus.

The government on Monday said it would relax quarantine measures for certain foreign arrivals.

Starting Thursday, visitors arriving from certain countries traveling for business purposes, or to visit their families, will be exempt from quarantine upon arrival, on the condition that they get vaccinated.

The annual hajj pilgrimage, due to begin in July, appears to be behind the kingdom's decision to ease the restrictions.

The pilgrimage gives Saudi Arabia the chance to earn foreign currency, as it draws more than two million Muslims from across the globe.

Last year, the kingdom didn't accept pilgrims from abroad in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.

The latest easing of entry restrictions, however, does not cover pilgrims and tourists from abroad. But the scope is expected to expand in the run-up to this year's hajj.

Until now, Saudi citizens had mostly been barred from traveling abroad. But starting Monday, vaccinated Saudis are allowed to leave.

The government aims to bring the economy back on track by promoting travel.