8 die as heavy rains lash Kingdom

8 die as heavy rains lash Kingdom
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Updated 19 November 2015

8 die as heavy rains lash Kingdom

8 die as heavy rains lash Kingdom

JEDDAH: Heavy rains and wind lashed Jeddah and other parts of the country on Tuesday, causing the death of eight people, flooding of streets and underpasses, uprooting of trees, and widespread power cuts.
Two people died in the Faisaliyah district when they were electrocuted while clinging to an electric lamppost in a flooded street, while two others were injured, according to reports.
In Hail, the body of a child was pulled out of Wadi Bida bin Khalaf, said Maj. Nafi Al-Harbi, spokesman of the Civil Defense in the region. He said a team of divers found the body, while a search is underway for another child. The two children are brothers, aged 9 and 12. A Sudanese child was also rescued in the same valley.
In Yanbu, the Civil Defense divers recovered the bodies of five people, including two children, from flooded areas in Al-Bathna village. A search for another person is underway in Wadi Al-Jafr, 40 km away from Madinah, according to a report quoting Col. Khaled Mubarak Al-Johani, spokesman of Civil Defense in Madinah.
King Abdul Aziz International Airport issued a statement saying that eight domestic flights were delayed because of the inclement weather. One international flight was diverted to Madinah.
With the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment predicting further bad weather until the end of the week, Education Minister Azzam Al-Dakhil announced that schools in Jeddah would remain closed on Wednesday.
International Indian School-Jeddah Principal Syed Masood Ahmad confirmed that Wednesday would be a holiday and had informed students via text messages. Pakistani International School in Jeddah’s Aziziah district has announced it would be closed on Wednesday and Thursday.
Many underpasses were flooded prompting the authorities to shut them. A number of Saudis and expatriates were seen in the streets and alleyways pushing their vehicles out of knee-deep water. Some broken down vehicles whose engines had taken water had been left on the roadsides.
According to a Civil Defense statement, nearly 3,000 calls were made to the rescue teams from distressed people. There were 11 reported cases of trees being uprooted and billboards crashing down on main streets.
The timely forecast of bad weather on Monday, that resulted in the Education Ministry announcing schools’ suspension on Tuesday, was praised by parents.
“The saying, being forewarned is forearmed, turned out to be a big blessing on Tuesday,” said Muneer Al-Abyad, a graduate student at King Abdul Aziz University.
“I remember the horrible tragedy of 2009 when I was caught in a street with my family. We had no rain forecast then and we weren’t prepared for the deluge that caused such havoc.”
As the rains pounded the city, emergency response crews advised residents to stay indoors and to avoid underpasses. There were repeated announcements from mosques during Dhuhr prayers urging the faithful to pray at home.
In some districts, the situation was compounded by power cuts. The Jeddah municipality, through its social media account, said there were waterlogged roads and tunnels because of the machines that pump out water were not functioning because of lack of power. It said there was no electricity at pumps installed at seven tunnels in various localities of Jeddah. The Saudi Electricity Co. (SEC) stated on Tuesday that there were widespread power cuts in the Western and Eastern Regions because of the heavy rain and flooding. Technicians were working to restore the power, but would wait for assistance from the Civil Defense and other government agencies because some areas were inaccessible because of the heavy flooding.
According to the information issued for motorists, there was heavy flooding in Palestine Street, Prince Majed Street underpass, Sari Street at the junction of King Fahd Road, Tahliya Street, Naseem district, Kilo 14 and Kilo 11.
Roads that were closed included Naseem Street, Arabaeen Street, King Fahd Road in front of Souk Bawadi, Palestine Street at the junction of Madinah Road, Jeddah-Makkah highway, Sheikh Mohammed bin Jabir Street and Sabaeen Street at the intersection of Gharnata and Quraish streets.
While many were struggling on the flooded roads and streets, others, mostly children, were excited and making merry in the showers, like Munawwar Ansari, a student at Pakistani International School in Aziziah.
“The schools are closed and it is a day of fun for us,” exclaimed an excited Ansari, as he splashed his feet in the street water along with a group of friends in Jeddah’s Mushrefah district.
The streets in Aziziah, especially where most of the popular Pakistani restaurants are located, were flooded and at one point the rising water nearly lifted the vehicles. They bobbed on the water like boats in the sea.
In Rawdah district, the scene was no different. But because of construction activity and digging, the rain water had an outlet. “The area of the roads that were dug for laying pipelines were turned into water canals,” said R.T., a Filipino national.
“That turned out to be a blessing otherwise the standing and rising water would have created more havoc,” he said. The Filipino national said he woke up to find his carpet in his ground floor flat covered with water.
Jeddah received 22 mm on Tuesday morning. That is far less than the 90 mm rainfall on that fatal day in November 2009. Heavier rains fell in the northwestern city of Tabuk, near Jordan, where 46 mm were recorded since Monday, said Hussein Al-Qahtani, spokesman of the PME.

— With input from Fouzia Khan


What Saudi citizens need to know to travel safely

What Saudi citizens need to know to travel safely
Travelers will not be allowed into airports or planes without showing their health statuses through the government-approved health app, Tawakkalna. (Supplied)
Updated 10 May 2021

What Saudi citizens need to know to travel safely

What Saudi citizens need to know to travel safely
  • COVID-19 insurance mandatory for those under the age of 18 wishing to travel

JEDDAH: With one week to go before international travel resumes, Saudis are being encouraged to cover all the necessary basics before leaving the country.

During a joint press conference on Sunday, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) and the Council of Cooperative Health Insurance (CCHI) shared new instructions and updated travel insurance policies for all Saudis wishing to travel abroad following a previous announcement stating the four categories allowed.
Ibrahim Alrwosa, GACA official spokesman, outlined the new travel procedures for citizens, health protocols followed at airports, and the shipment, transport and reception of vaccines at the Kingdom’s airports.
“After a week, our airports will witness the resuming of flights for citizens starting 1 a.m. We call on everyone to thoroughly follow the set health precautions to achieve a completely safe trip,” said Alrwosa, adding that the authority will update its safety instructions to add COVID-19 health measures in a new leaflet.
Travelers will not be allowed into airports or planes without showing their health statuses through the government-approved health app, Tawakkalna. Travelers who have received two vaccine doses, those who have completed two weeks since receiving the first jab, those who are immune by recovery no more than six months since infection and children under the age of 18 who have travel insurance obtained in cooperation with the Saudi Central Bank will be the only groups allowed to cross international borders.
Alrwosa stressed that travelers follow their country of destination’s health precautions to avoid any problems.

HIGHLIGHT

Travelers will not be allowed into airports or planes without showing their health statuses through the government-approved health app, Tawakkalna. Travelers who have received two vaccine doses, those who have completed two weeks since receiving the first jab, those who are immune by recovery no more than six months since infection and children under the age of 18 who have travel insurance obtained in cooperation with the Saudi Central Bank will be the only groups allowed to cross international borders. 

Meanwhile, CCHI spokesman, Othman Al-Qasabi, revealed that the new insurance policy will include benefits that cover the risks of COVID-19 infection, and that it is mandatory for those under the age of 18 wishing to travel.
“This is in cooperation with the Saudi Central Bank. Persons vaccinated with two doses, first dose, and immune by recovery with the required timeline, will have the travel insurance available for them, but it has been made mandatory for those under the age of 18 to reduce the risks accompanied by the virus.”
The travel insurance, which is only valid for 30 days, will cover emergency medical expenses related to COVID-19 such as emergency rooms, urgent care and transportation. It also covers quarantine-related accommodation costs, medical evacuation and issues related to canceling flights due to COVID-19 conditions.
“These new benefits have been added to the already existing travel insurance benefits.”
The council revealed that a consortium of 12 companies has been approved for people to receive travel insurance from, with Tawuniya Insurance Company chosen to lead the alliance.


King Salman appoints Abanmi as governor of Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority

King Salman appoints Abanmi as governor of Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority
Updated 10 May 2021

King Salman appoints Abanmi as governor of Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority

King Salman appoints Abanmi as governor of Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority

RIYADH: King Salman has issued a royal order appointing Suhail bin Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Abanmi as governor of the Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority, with the rank of minister, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) announced on Saturday.

The new body is a merger of the former General Authority of Zakat and Tax (GAZT), which Abanmi headed since 2017, and the Saudi Customs, of which he was named acting governor since March.

Abanmi has worked as an executive in various private companies and government agencies, including as head of business development and manager of the Tadawulaty program, general supervisor of the Ministry of Commerce’s agency for internal trade, and member of the advisory committee for the Capital Market Authority.


Saudi crown prince allocates 20 million square meters for housing units north of Riyadh

Saudi crown prince allocates 20 million square meters for housing units north of Riyadh
Updated 10 May 2021

Saudi crown prince allocates 20 million square meters for housing units north of Riyadh

Saudi crown prince allocates 20 million square meters for housing units north of Riyadh
  • The additional lands will provide more than 53,000 various housing units
  • Riyadh aims to become one of the 10 largest economic cities in the world

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has directed the allocation of 20 million square meters for new residential land north of Riyadh.
The ownership will be transferred to the Ministry of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing, and is part of a drive to improve the housing sector and hep families, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The allocation aims to increase the residential area of ​​Al-Jawan suburb from 10 million square meters to 30 million square meters, and build up to 53,000 housing units through integrated projects, facilities and services in partnership with the private sector. This is on top of the 20,000 housing units that have already been announced.
Support for the housing sector has led to Saudi home ownership increasing from 47 percent to 60 percent in the last four years.
The Kingdom hope that figure will reach 70 percent under the Vision 2030 reform programs.
“The additional lands allocated to the housing sector north of Riyadh will provide more than 53,000 various housing units that real estate developers will work on, taking into account the quality of services that meet the aspirations of citizens,” the statement said.
The move is also in line with the city’s growth with the aim of becoming one of the 10 largest economic cities in the world and an increase in population from 15 to 20 million by 2030.
Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing Majed Al-Hogail said the housing sector contributes more than SR115 billion ($30.6 million) to GDP and provides about 40,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Riyadh’s housing sector has witnessed rapid growth over the past two years.


UAE condemns Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait    

UAE condemns Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait    
Updated 10 May 2021

UAE condemns Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait    

UAE condemns Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait    

RIYADH: The UAE repeated its “strong condemnation and denunciation” of the Iran-backed Houthi militia launching drone attacks at innocent civilians in Saudi Arabia.

The comments come after the latest attempted attack on the Kingdom’s southern regions. The Arab coalition said on Sunday that an explosives-laden drones was intercepted after it was launched towards Khamis Mushait. 

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the latest drone attack showed Houthi's “blatant defiance of the safety of the international community and its disregard for all international laws.”

The UAE said it stands against any threat to Saudi Arabia’s security and stability.


Weather warnings issued across Saudi Arabia until Friday

Weather warnings issued across Saudi Arabia until Friday
Updated 10 May 2021

Weather warnings issued across Saudi Arabia until Friday

Weather warnings issued across Saudi Arabia until Friday
  • Civil defense warns of thunderstorms and risk of flooding in some areas

RIYADH: Weather warnings have been issued for several regions across Saudi Arabia from Monday until Friday, the Kingdom’s civil defense said on Sunday.
The authority warned of thunderstorms with moderate to heavy rain and brisk winds that may lead to torrential flows in Asir, Al-Baha, Jazan, Najran, and Makkah.
The regions of Madinah, Qassim, Hail, the Northern Borders Province, Al-Jawf, and Tabuk will be affected by moderate rain, while the Eastern Province will be affected by light to moderate rain.
The warnings were based on data from the National Center of Meteorology.
Lt. Col. Mohammed Al-Hammadi, civil defense spokesman, called on everyone to be wary of the potential dangers of severe weather conditions, to stay away from places that could flood, and to abide by the civil defense’s instructions and updates announced through media and social media outlets.