You've finally made it here, and now you can't wait to get out, so you've got two tickets to Istanbul and a big smile on your face. Not so fast buster. In order to exit the Magic Kingdom and to re-enter post vacay, you will need to shell out either 200SAR for a single exit re-entry visa where you are allowed to exit once and re-enter once, or 500SAR for the "multiple six month exit re-entry visa" where you may exit and re-enter freely within a six month period starting from the date of your first departure. If it sounds like it's straightforward, rest assured that there are many things that can go wrong.
Typically the office 'runner' will be the man in charge of handling the visa for you, and he will collect your passports, money, your sponsor's scribbly wibbly (i.e. written permission), and sometimes when the mood strikes him, passport pictures. In theory, the paperwork should only take a day or so to complete, but getting anything done quickly in the Kingdom is like putting a stick in the Red Sea and expecting it to part. If your name isn't Moses, then you better plan ahead.
The most important thing to remember after you get your exit re-entry visa is to bring it with you to the airport. That sounds simple enough, but the fact that the visa is typically a loose sheet of dot matrix A4 paper makes it easy to confuse the document, with say, a receipt, or to leave it behind with your airline ticket at the check-in counter, or for your well meaning maid to throw out for you.
Let's explore a hypothetical. Let's say you are now on your way back to Riyadh from a nice trip to Germany. As you are lining up to get onto the plane bound for Riyadh, you notice the flight staff checking visas. Has it been six months since you first used it?? Gee you've had so many Worsteiners you can't remember. You examine your visa, but can't read the dates on any of the stamps because they are in arabic(!), and not only are they in arabic, but they utilize the arabic calendar (!!!). The staff denies your entry on the flight to Riyadh (!!!!!).
Now what? Well remember all those documents you had to collect before you came to Riyadh in the first place? Yup. Resubmission time. Not to worry, your exile should only last a few weeks since the paperwork is already in place and all that needs to be done is for your runner to submit everything again along with the ever important letter from the sponsor. But as we have covered, you are not Moses, so expect there to be mistakes and delays.
happy travelling all!
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