Iqama stolen? Report within 24 hours and avoid penalty

Updated 03 May 2014
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Iqama stolen? Report within 24 hours and avoid penalty

The Kingdom is witnessing the emergence of a thriving market of stolen iqamas being sold after forgery or the gangs resorting to extortion from the original iqama holder, but the authorities have stepped in with combative measures to nip this illegal activity in the bud.
As part of the measures to curb this menace, the government has waived the fine imposed on expats for stolen residency permits and facilitating their getting a new one from the Passport Office. There is, of course, a rider that the residency permit is not lost because of the holder’s negligence and that the theft is reported within 24 hours.
If neither condition is met, a fine of SR1,000 will have to be paid for first time loss or theft, SR2,000 and SR3,000 for second and third instances respectively.
The residency permits trade is believed to be run by African expats living in Jeddah. They ask the victims to pay for the iqama based on the holder’s nationality, while some iqamas are forged and sold to others or used for other purposes.
The focal point for the residency permits business is “Somali Souq” in downtown Jeddah, where most stolen or lost iqamas can be traced. Most expats who have lost or had their residency permits stolen land up in this market to get their papers back. Obviously, they don’t inform the police for fear of trouble.
A police official denied the presence of such organized gangs, but he advised all expats who have had their iqamas stolen to inform the police instead of going directly to deal with the thieves.
Jeddah Police’s spokesman, Atti Al-Qurashi, told Arab News that the cooperation of expatriates would help in nabbing these gangs. “There are no permanent locations for these gangs, but if the expats cooperate with us, we will surely catch them,” he said, adding that police carry out regular patrols looking for Iqama thieves.

An Egyptian expat, Abdullah Ahmed, told Arab News: “Two Africans contacted me and demanded SR1,000 to get my iqama back. But I discovered that my iqama had been found by another African expat,” he said.
Idris said he did not bother to inform the police because he did not care if the thieves were caught or not. “The important thing is that I got my iqama back and my presence in the country is legal again,” he said.
However, the police’s raids in “Somali Souq” played a big role in curbing their activities with the arrest of hundreds of African gangs that steal iqamas or official papers in the last few years, local newspapers said.
Salem Al-Sharaabi, a Yemeni expat, said: “I am sure that Jeddah police know exactly where these thieves are operating from. The thieves not only run their business from their homes, but they also have offices where they receive people who had lost their iqamas,” he said.
Al-Sharaabi said when he lost his wallet containing his iqama and driving license, he immediately reported the case to the police, but was surprised when police told him to go to the downtown area of Bab Sharif to look for his lost papers there. “I took the advice of the police and I did find my iqama where I was told it could be found,” he said.
The iqama is a very important document for expatriates living in the Kingdom, and they are ready to pay any amount to get it back if it is lost or stolen, without going to the police since they believe they will have to pay fine for stolen Iqama.
The Ministry of Interior announced that if iqama is stolen or lost, it should be reported within 24 hours at a police station with a letter from the sponsor stating the circumstances under which it was lost and the place of loss to avoid fine.
A passport office representative told Arab News that according to the ministry and government law, if anyone is robbed of his iqama, especially in Makkah and Madinah, or on a bus, he can get replacement without fine, but he has to prove the theft.
Mohammed Suliman, a building security man, said his iqama was stolen while he was drinking water from a cooler and he reported the matter to the police the same day. He got his replacement iqama immediately without paying any fine.


Saudi Airlines and Etihad sign codeshare agreement

Updated 5 min 53 sec ago
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Saudi Airlines and Etihad sign codeshare agreement

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s national flag carrier, Saudia, and Etihad Airways, the national is the flag carrier and the second-largest airline of the United Arab Emirates, have announced a new codeshare partnership, providing customers with access to more than 40 leisure and business destinations in home markets and across the world.
In addition to the codeshare agreement, the two carriers also announced plans for greater commercial cooperation in other fields, including frequent flyer program benefits, cargo, engineering and maintenance.
The codeshare agreement was signed at Saudia headquarters in Jeddah by Saleh Al-Jasser, Director General Saudi Arabian Airlines, and Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Aviation Group.
It covers at least 41 destinations on both of the airlines’ networks and see Etihad place its “EY” code on a number of Saudia’s flights, including Abha, Al-Baha, Alula, Arar, Bisha, Dammam, Dawadmi, Gassim, Gizan, Gurayat, Hail, Hofuf, Jeddah, Jouf, Madinah, Qaisumah, Rafha, Riyadh, Sharurah, Tabuk, Taif, Turaif, Wadi-Ad-Dawasir, Wedjh, Yanbo, and Abu Dhabi. Port Sudan, Tunis, Alexandria, Sharm el-Sheikh, Multan and Peshawar, subject to government approval.
At the same time, Saudia will place its ‘SV’ code on Etihad flights to Baku, Chengdu, Ahmedabad, Nagoya, Tokyo-Narita, Dammam, Jeddah, Madinah, Riyadh, Belgrade, Seychelles, Chicago-O›Hare, and Abu Dhabi.
Al Jasser said: “The new partnership broadens aviation and transport links with the United Arab Emirates, building on the extensive aviation investment and strong foundation in the sector.
“With the agreement, the added network coverage enables our guests to benefit from added flexibility and convenience, as well as increase the benefits for members of both airlines’ frequent flyer plans,” reported the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA)
Douglas said: “The ties shared between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the deepest that the two nations have, and therefore we are extremely proud to play our role and bring the two flag carriers together in this unique partnership.
“The partnership will allow for enhanced seamless travel across the Etihad Airways and Saudia networks which we anticipate will be highly popular with business and leisure travelers, especially those looking to fly to secondary city destinations.”
At the same time, Saudia will place its ‘SV’ code on Etihad flights to Baku, Chengdu, Ahmedabad, Nagoya, Tokyo-Narita, Dammam, Jeddah, Madinah, Riyadh, Belgrade, Seychelles, Chicago-O›Hare, and Abu Dhabi.
In addition to the codeshare, the teams at the Etihad Guest and Alfursan frequent flyer programs are finalizing discussions which would see members of each program being offered reciprocal earn and burn opportunities, according to SPA.
In the cargo world, the teams in both airlines’ divisions are in talks over greater cooperation, recognizing the increased volumes of freight traffic flowing in and out of the UAE and the Saudi Arabia.
Etihad Airways Engineering will also provide provide select maintenance services for SAUDIA aircraft at its MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Operations) facility in Abu Dhabi.
In 2017 Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) carried more than 32 million passengers, registered over 200,000 flights and traveled more than 320 million kilometers, while SAUDIA Cargo carried more than 637,000 tons of freight.
Carriers in the region continue to post positive growth, and in 2017 alone, they flew more than 216.1 million passengers, up by 4.6 percent over 2016 and representing 5.3 percent of the market share, according to the data provided by the International Air Transport Association.
Between November 2017 and March 2017, more than 400,000 passengers had been served by the shared flights, while 250,000 more had booked their trips in advance.