Georgia announces visa-free travel for Saudis and expats

Tourists cross a foot bridge in the historical part of Tbilisi, in this December 12, 2014 file photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 01 November 2016

Georgia announces visa-free travel for Saudis and expats

JEDDAH: Saudis can now travel to Georgia without a visa, according to Georgian Ambassador George Janjgava who visited Jeddah recently.
Janjgava made the announcement during a meeting at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), where he met with Ziad bin Bassam Al-Bassam, JCCI vice chairman, Fahad bin Saiban Al-Sulami, JCCI board member, Khalaf bin Hosan Al-Otaibi, and a number of executive leaders.
He said the measure has been taken to strengthen bilateral ties and increase trade between Saudi Arabia and Georgia.
He told Arab News that aside from visa-free travel, Saudis can stay in Georgia for a whole year with multiple entries. Even residents of the Kingdom can visit Georgia without a visa and stay up to three months, but they need to show their residence permit as well as hotel and airline bookings.
Georgians, however, need a Saudi visa to visit the country, but unfortunately, there is no Saudi Arabian Embassy in Georgia, although many businessmen would like to visit the Kingdom to enhance and avail themselves of the trade opportunities in the Kingdom, he said. 
“We are expecting Saudi Arabia to open an embassy soon in Georgia to help in strengthening the relationship and trade between the two countries,” said the ambassador. He called on Saudi tourists to visit Georgia more often, as they can enjoy historical monuments, landscapes, healthy products and the mild climate of the place.
He said the Saudi economy is very strong and has the potential for tourism and investments in Georgia. Georgia has new opportunities, tourist capacities and investment prospects, and it has become the new destination for a lot of businessmen and investors in recent years.
Janjgava said that from January to September this year, almost 20,000 Saudi citizens and 6,500 Saudi residents visited the country, which means a doubling of the number of tourists in one year, where in 2015 the number was 10,000 Saudis and 3,000 residents who visited the country. He said this year they are expecting 30,000 Saudi visitors to Georgia.
Saudi investments in Georgia exceeded $100 million (SR375 million) after a rise in trade between the two countries, a 200 percent increase this year. This year almost 90,000 head of livestock came from Georgia.
Janjgava said Georgia is seeking more investments in agriculture and livestock, especially after the introduction this summer of direct flights by Georgian airline between Dammam and Tbilisi.
Al-Bassam said that the Kingdom’s stimulating investment environment provides financial and economic stability under Vision 2030, which offers great opportunities for investments in the development of infrastructure, education, transportation and health sectors.
JCCI is seeking to intensify the exchange of trade delegations in order to find a common mechanism to promote trade and investment between the two countries. Georgia has promising investment options for Saudi businessmen, he said.


Cyberattacks hit 95% of Saudi businesses last year, says study

Updated 5 min 5 sec ago

Cyberattacks hit 95% of Saudi businesses last year, says study

  • Data, money and reputation at risk

RIYADH: Cyberattacks hit 95 percent of businesses in the Kingdom last year, according to a new survey, as a cybersecurity expert warned that there was a lack of awareness in Saudi Arabia about the seriousness of such attacks and what people could do to protect themselves.

More than 800 global business and cybersecurity leaders took part in the survey, including 49 from the Kingdom. It was commissioned by a cybersecurity firm, Tenable Inc., and carried out by Forrester Consulting.

According to the study, 85 percent of Saudi survey participants had witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of business-impacting attacks in the past two years. The effects of the attacks were serious, with organizations reporting loss of customer or employee data, ransomware payments and financial loss or theft. Around 61 percent of security leaders in Saudi Arabia said the cyberattacks also involved operational technology.

Cybersecurity expert Abdullah Al-Jaber said the primary reason that most of these cyberattacks were successful in the region was due to a lack of awareness about the gravity of these incidents and the ways that people could protect themselves against them.

“A lot of cybersecurity attacks happen because of a lack of cybersecurity awareness in a company’s employees,” he told Arab News. “Many attacks start from phishing campaigns and lead to major incidents, similar to the attack that happened recently on Twitter,” he said, referring to a Bitcoin hacking scheme that happened on the social media platform last month.

Al Jaber recommended educating employees about proper internet security, keeping work and personal internet browsing and email access on separate devices if possible, and avoiding unsafe behavior such as pirating music, movies, and TV shows.

“Improving cybersecurity awareness to employees is key for companies to make sure they don't open any malicious links or files that might lead to an incident. Also, understanding the environment and which systems are exposed to the Internet and making sure those systems are hardened and protected. The National Cybersecurity Authority (NCA) has published frameworks for organizations to follow, which help many organizations in improving their cybersecurity maturity,” he added.

He also recommended choosing complex passwords for email access and enabling two-factor authentication protocols whenever possible for added security.

The Tenable poll showed that fewer than 50 percent of the security leaders who took part said they are framing cybersecurity threats within the context of a specific business risk. For example, although 96 percent of respondents had developed response strategies to the COVID-19 pandemic, 75 percent of business and security leaders said their response strategies were only “somewhat” aligned.

Al-Jaber warned that these attacks could be dangerous for many reasons and not only because of the financial impact they could have on companies, as many factors came into play in terms of phishing scams.

“Some of the impact caused by cybersecurity attacks are the loss of sensitive information such as customer or employee personal identifiable information, financial loss, and even to the company’s reputation. A company that is known for being more vulnerable to cyberattacks might have less of a value on the stock market or to potential investors,” he said.

A royal decree requires all organizations to improve cybersecurity standards and procedures to protect their networks, systems and electronic data, and commit to the adoption of policies, frameworks, standards, controls and guidelines issued by the NCA.