Saudi Arabia on Friday will announce a new visa scheme for 49 countries across the globe as part of its efforts to boost the Kingdom’s tourism sector.

The Kingdom has also appealed to foreign companies to invest in a sector it hopes will contribute 10 per cent of gross domestic product by 2030, Gulf News reported.

The announcement comes just two weeks after devastating attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure — blamed by Washington on Iran — which roiled global energy markets and raised fears of a wider regional conflict.

“Opening Saudi Arabia to international tourists is a historic moment for our country,” tourism chief Ahmed al-Khateeb said in a statement.

“Visitors will be surprised… by the treasures, we have to share — five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, vibrant local culture and breathtaking natural beauty.”

The details of the new visa schemes will be announced later today during an unveiling ceremony scheduled to take place at Ad Diriyah, a Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site in Riyadh.

Currently, only citizens of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and the UAE can travel freely to the country.

Al-Khateeb, in a statement, said, “Opening Saudi Arabia to international tourists is a historic moment for our country. Generous hospitality is at the heart of Arabian culture and we look forward to showing our guests a very warm welcome.”

Saudi Arabia expects to increase international and domestic visits to 100 million a year by 2030, attracting significant foreign and domestic investment and creating a million jobs.

(With agencies inputs)