Saudis Need NOC For Traveling To Pakistan

RIYADH, 4 March 2008 — The Kingdom has tightened rules for Saudi nationals. Saudi nationals will now require approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before Pakistani visas are endorsed on their passports, said Pakistani Ambassador Shahid Karimullah, who was speaking during a high-profile meeting of Saudi and Pakistani businessmen here Sunday night.

“This new requirement has hampered business plans of several Saudi and Gulf businessmen, who also complain that they face a lot of difficulties and queries, especially from Western embassies, when they approach them for visas on their return from Pakistan,” said Ambassador Karimullah, who urged Saudi businessmen to help boost trade and investment relation further. The business meeting was attended by a large number of top Saudi and Pakistani entrepreneurs, traders and investors.

Referring to the measures that are discouraging Saudis to visit Pakistan despite the fact that the two countries enjoy deep brotherly ties, which are growing rapidly with every passing day, Karimullah said that: “Saudi government has tightened rules on Saudis intending to visit Pakistan, calling them to produce a no objection certificate (NOC) from the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for obtaining a visa.”

“Even if we waive this condition and issue visa to a Saudi national without Ministry of Interior’s NOC, then that Saudi visitor faces problems on return from Pakistan,” said the Pakistani ambassador.

“I have written to the Pakistani government to find out a solution to this problem. We might be able to issue an official travel paper other than passport that would facilitate entry into Pakistan if the two governments agree,” he added.

The applicant also should have an invitation signed and stamped by the concerned Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Pakistan in case of a business visa.

Pakistan imports goods, especially oil worth $2 billion annually from Saudi Arabia, while it exports various items worth $500 million every year.

The businessmen of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have evinced keen interest for promoting collaboration in several sectors, expressing the sanguinity of doubling the existing trade volume between the two brotherly Muslim countries in next two to three years.

The ambassador, who met Riyadh Governor Prince Salman here yesterday, said that they exchanged cordial talks and reviewed issues pertaining to bilateral relations. He said that many Saudi business houses have made substantial investments in Pakistan like Tuwairqi Group in steel mill and Xenel Group in power sector. “But there has been a lull recently in terms of investment,” said the ambassador, while attributing the cause to the “political uncertainty.” Pakistan has planned to organize two major investment forums in Saudi Arabia later this year.

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