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Visit visas now go online for expats in Saudi Arabia

Riyadh, Aug 5 (IANS): Expatriates in Saudi Arabia will now be able to renew visit visas for their relatives online under a new service announced in the Gulf nation, a media report said Tuesday.

The Saudi Arabian passport department is slated to launch the new service under the interior ministry’s Abshir system Aug 11, Arab News reported citing Mohammed Al-Saad, director of public relations.

The new service has been put in place after prior testing, Al-Saad said.

The launch of the new service coincides with the department’s campaign to increase awareness on its electronic services.

Al-Saad urged expatriates to make use of its electronic services to save their time and energy and reduce congestion at the passport offices across the country.

Saudi Arabia is home to around 2.8 million expatriate Indians, many of whom are blue-collar workers.

Indians form the largest expatriate community in this Gulf nation.

People can register with Abshir by visiting one of the department's offices (Jawazat) or using interactive machines available at banks, as well as at malls and international airports, the director said.

Meanwhile, expatriates in the Gulf state have appreciated the new electronic services which could cut down on the tedious process of standing in long queues at Jawazat offices.

"The registration of expats with the (Saudi Arabian) interior ministry's electronic system simplified their residency procedures, including issuance of exit and re-entry visas," the report quoted Omar Abubacker, a business consultant, as saying.