Secrets of Saudi Arabia: what it’s like to visit the country ahead of new tourist visas; James Gabriel Martin; Lonely Planet

Saudi Arabia – Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih)

Travel-lovers are most often curious, adventurous and open-minded, and ever on the lookout for new experiences. And while the world offers so much choice, there are still some countries that remain elusive to the casual traveller, which only adds to their mystique. One such example is Saudi Arabia, which made headlines late last year when it was announced that the country may soon be issuing tourist visas. Reported by Arabic newspaper Al Watan, the announcement stated that tour groups travelling with government-licenced operators would be able to gain access, with country aiming to welcome 1.5 million tourists by 2020.

But for a very limited period of time in 2010, before the government introduced the stricter requirements, it was possible for tourists to get visas to visit Saudi Arabia. One person that took advantage of this was Eric Lafforgue, a photojournalist who seized the opportunity to document the intriguing nation while he had the chance.

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