Saudi Arabia raises visa fees, traffic fines for 'thrill-seekers' to boost revenues

Saudi Arabia’s cabinet, seeking to boost state revenues in an era of low oil prices, approved proposals to raise a range of government fees including visa charges and fines for some traffic violations, the official SPA news agency said on Monday.

Cheap oil has slashed the government’s revenues from oil exports, saddling it with a budget deficit that totalled nearly $100 billion last year and forcing it to find new ways to raise money.

New visa fees approved by the cabinet include a charge of 8,000 riyals ($2,133) for a two-year multiple entry permit. A three-month multiple exit and re-entry visa will cost 500 riyals; previously, such a visa cost 500 riyals for six months.

The cabinet also approved changes to civil aviation fees, SPA said without giving details, and set heavy fines for “drifting”, in which thrill-seeking Saudi motorists spin and skid their cars at high speed.

SPA did not say how much money the government expected to raise with the new fees, which could affect business travel to Saudi Arabia and visits by family members of the nearly 10 million foreigners estimated to live and work in the kingdom.

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