Georgia keen to strengthen relationship with Saudi Arabia

Georgian Ambassador George Janjgava. (AN photo)
Updated 26 March 2017

Georgia keen to strengthen relationship with Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: George Janjgava, the Georgian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told Arab News that his government is eager to strengthen the relationship between the two countries.
The diplomatic relations between Georgia and the Kingdom were first established in 1994 and the Georgian Embassy opened two years ago. Since then economic relations have dramatically increased, with bilateral trade increasing by 360 percent.
Janjgava said foreign direct investments from the Kingdom exceeded $100 million, mainly in real estate, hospitality and agriculture.
There has also been an increase in tourism, with 30,000 tourists from Saudi Arabia visiting Georgia in 2016, a 116 percent increase over the previous year. More than 60,000 tourists visited Georgia from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in 2016, a 65 percent increase compared to the previous year.
Citizens of GCC states can travel to Georgia without a visa and stay for a year. Residents of Saudi Arabia from African and Asian countries can also visit Georgia with their Saudi iqama permit and stay in the country for 90 days.
The recent visit of GCC Secretary-General Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al-Zayani to Georgia and the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the mechanisms of consultation, shows the strong economic ties with GCC countries.
The gross domestic product of Georgia has increased over the last five years, with a average annual growth rate of around 5 percent.
As of June 22, Gulf Air will operate three weekly flights from Bahrain to Georgia. More than 30 airlines fly to Georgia from Europe, Asia and Africa. From the Gulf region, tourists mainly come to Georgia with Qatar Airways from Doha, Turkish Airlines from Istanbul, Flydubai from Dubai and Air Arabia from Sharjah.
“It is in our interests to facilitate opening of direct flights from Saudi Arabia to Georgia,” the ambassador said. “Thus, the embassy is working on acquiring flight permission for Georgian Airways to operate direct charter flights from Tbilisi and Batumi to Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah during this touristic summer season. Last year during the summer, Georgian Airways operated direct charter flights from Dammam to Tbilisi.”


Saudi airports welcome back passengers after two-month hiatus

Updated 16 min 32 sec ago

Saudi airports welcome back passengers after two-month hiatus

  • Social distancing and face masks required in aircraft
  • Two local flights to be added daily to restore capacity 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is welcoming the return of aircraft and passengers amid strict precautionary measures to counter the spread of coronavirus.
The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) on Sunday opened 11 of the Kingdom’s 28 airports in a step toward restoring normality to everyday activities.
All flights and means of travel between Saudi cities ground to a halt on March 21.
“The progressive and gradual reopening aims at controlling the crowd inside airports because we want to achieve the highest health efficiency,” GACA spokesman Ibrahim bin Abdullah Alrwosa told Arab News.
He said that two local flights would be added daily until all routes returned to their normal capacity, during which time GACA would increase the capacity of aircrafts as decided by relevant committees. 
GACA has issued a travel guide for passengers, detailing what steps have been taken by authorities to ensure public health and safety and what obligations are on passengers. 
A decision about the return of international flights was up to authorities, he said. 


“I call on all travelers, both Saudis and residents, to read this guide and to look at the information and details in it because the travel decision depends on it,” the spokesman added.
Passengers found to violate any of the terms and conditions will not be allowed to complete the check-in process as per the new travel procedures.
The new terms include the use of e-tickets and passengers will not be allowed to enter airport premises without one. Purchasing tickets inside airport grounds is currently not an option because booking services for airline sales are currently closed.
Wearing a face mask is a prerequisite for airport access and any individual who fails to wear a face mask will be denied entry to the airport.
Passengers under the age of 15 will not be allowed to travel unaccompanied.
The Ministry of Health has set up temperature checkpoints inside the airport and passengers recording a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher will be denied entry in order to ensure their safety and the safety of other passengers.
Social distancing inside the airport has been adopted at entrances, exits, at seating areas and bridges leading to airplanes.
There will be social distancing on the aircraft, with an empty seat between each passenger, according to recommendations from the Ministry of Health, which stipulated that there must be social distancing.
“We want to make airports a safe environment to achieve a safe flight. There is another important issue, which is a well-known social tradition. There are many people at the airport who come to say goodbye to their loved ones or receive them. We will not allow the presence of people who do not have tickets in the airports, in order to ensure the safety of passengers,” said the GACA spokesman.
He said that passenger cooperation and compliance played a key role in the successful restart of flights.
“We rely on citizens and passengers, locals and residents alike, to help us implement preventive measures and to comply with the health rules recommended by the Ministry of Health.”