JEDDAH: A new private-sector operator of Jeddah airport will be appointed by the second half of next year, an aviation official confirmed to Arab News.
Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) in February said it had terminated an agreement to allow a consortium consisting of Singapore’s Changi Airports International and Saudi Naval Support Company to manage King Abdul Aziz International Airport.
Abdul Hakim Al-Bader, assistant to the GACA president for safety, security and transport, said that a new operator would be appointed next year following the official inauguration of the new airport terminal.
The terminal opened earlier this year, but as a “soft launch” with a limited number of flights.
“We wish to appoint the managing private company by the first half of 2019, but it is most likely to happen in the second half of the year,” Al-Bader said.
Saudi Arabia earlier announced plans for a massive $300 billion privatization of state assets, including a potential sale of a stake in Saudi Aramco worth as much as $100 billion.
The deal with Jeddah’s airport would not involve an outright sale of the facility, but allow a private-sector firm or consortium to invest in the airport as a partnership.
“The process of privatization has already started, but I do not think that the airport will be privatized during the first half. However, the inauguration of the airport will be complete during the first half and an operator (from the private sector) will be selected in the second half of 2019,” Al-Bader said.
“The privatization of the airport does not mean selling it to the private sector, but only opening the door for the private sector to invest in the airport and operate it.”
Passenger traffic at King Abdul Aziz International Airport reached a record 34 million in 2017, a 9.4 percent increase on 2016.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman receives phone call from Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa
King Hamad congratulated King Salman on the re-opening of the King Fahd Causeway
King Salman thanked Bahrain’s ruler for his efforts to further strengthen the relations between both Kingdoms
Updated 18 May 2021
DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman discussed in a phone call with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa issues of common interest and relations between both Kingdoms, state news agency SPA reported.
King Hamad further congratulated King Salman on the re-opening of the King Fahd Causeway, following the coronavirus lockdown, Bahrain’s news agency BNA reported.
Only those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or those who have recovered from the disease are allowed to leave the Kingdom.
Meanwhile King Salman thanked Bahrain’s ruler for his efforts to further strengthen the relations between both Kingdoms.
About 385 international flights took off from nine Saudi airports on Monday, including 225 departures from Riyadh, 75 from Jeddah, 66 from Dammam, and 19 from the other airports. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Saudi passengers flock to airports as foreign travel resumes
About 385 flights to international destinations took off from nine airports in the Kingdom on Monday
Updated 18 May 2021
JEDDAH: The terminals at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah were once again bustling with passengers on Monday, as international travel resumed more than a year after it was suspended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Arrivals and departures resumed at the Kingdom’s air, land and sea ports at 1 a.m., with Saudi citizens who have been vaccinated, or have recovered from the virus within the past six months, free to travel.
As passengers flocked to the airport from early Monday morning, the flow of traffic was well-organized and smooth. Entry to terminals was restricted to people with valid tickets and helpers accompanying disabled travelers.
As part of the latest rules implemented by authorities, Saudis younger than 18 must also provide proof that they have a health insurance policy, approved by the Saudi Central Bank, that will cover the cost of treatment for COVID-19 in other countries.
Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Civil Aviation also issued updated travel guidelines, including requirements for the use of the country’s Tawakkalna COVID-19 tracking app. The conditions apply to all travelers, regardless of whether their trip is for leisure, study, work or to receive medical treatment.
About 385 international flights took off from nine Saudi airports on Monday, including 225 departures from Riyadh, 75 from Jeddah, 66 from Dammam, and 19 from the other airports. In addition, about 300 vehicles crossed land borders into Qatar during the morning.
The Kingdom’s national carrier, Saudia, resumed flights to 43 destinations in 30 countries. It said it will operate 178 scheduled flights each week from Jeddah and 153 from Riyadh.
Ibrahim Al-Omar, the airline’s director general, said that Saudia has implemented more than 50 precautionary measures throughout all stages of the flight process, and has been ranked among the Top-10 safest airlines in the world by the Airline Passenger Experience Association. He added that since the pandemic began, the airline has operated more than 100,000 flights, transporting more than 10 million passengers.
The destination of the first international flight to depart from Riyadh on Monday was Hyderabad in India, while the first flight of the day from Jeddah was bound for Dhaka in Bangladesh. The first international flight to land in Riyadh on Monday was from Cairo, and the first arrival in Jeddah was from the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.
More than 18,000 people traveled from King Abdulaziz Airport on Monday.
More than 47 flights operated from the Kingdom within 6.
Despite the resumption of international flights, the Saudi Interior Ministry said that a ban remains on direct or indirect travel to 13 countries without prior permission to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The countries this applies to are: Libya, Yemen, Armenia, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Somalia, Belarus, India, Lebanon, Turkey, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Venezuela.
In addition, the ministry said travelers heading to Bahrain must have received two doses of a vaccine, and children under the age of 18 are not eligible to travel there. Diplomats and individuals accompanying them, air navigation and ship crews, workers in companies that are part of the health supply chain, and truck drivers are exempt from these rules. People who arrived at the King Fahd Causeway, on the border with Bahrain, but did not meet the requirements were turned away on Monday.
Travelers returning to the Kingdom after visiting a foreign country will be required to quarantine at home for seven days. However foreign visitors, including members of diplomatic missions arriving by air from most countries, will no longer need to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Those who are not vaccinated must provide proof of a negative PCR test, issued by an approved laboratory within 72 hours of flying to the Kingdom, otherwise they will not be allowed to board the plane.
With the exception of Saudi citizens, resident expats and GCC citizens, all people arriving in Saudi Arabia must have medical insurance that will cover the costs of COVID-19 treatment in outpatient clinics, emergency rooms and hospitals.
On Jan. 29, Saudi authorities postponed the reopening of air, sea and land ports and extended the travel ban from Mar. 31 to May 17. Further information about international travel, including the rules and requirements, is available at www.saudia.com.
Covid rule violators warned as cases decline in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has administered more than 11.7 million COVID-19 vaccines so far at a rate of 33.5 doses per hundred
Updated 18 May 2021
JEDDAH: More than 250 people have been fined for breaking social distancing rules in 24 hours, including 72 women attending a wedding where both guests and the host were fined.
For the fourth day in a row, the number of people infected with the coronavirus in Saudi Arabia remained below 1,000 with a significant rise in recoveries.
There were 886 new cases recorded in the Kingdom on Monday – a total of 433,980 people have been infected with the disease in Saudi Arabia since the start of the pandemic.
Meanwhile a further 1,127 people have recovered, taking the total number of recoveries to 418,914, meaning the Kingdom’s recovery rate has increased to 96.5 percent, marking a significant decline in the epidemiological curve.
There were 7,892 active cases, 1,377 of them critical, an increase of just one patient in the past 24 hours.
• A total of 886 new cases were recorded in the Kingdom on Monday.
• The highest number of cases was recorded in the Riyadh region.
• More than 250 individuals fined for violating health protocols.
The regions with the highest number of infections were Riyadh with 281 cases and Makkah with 250. Twelve new COVID-19 related deaths were reported, raising the death toll to 7,174.
Saudi Arabia has administered more than 11.7 million COVID-19 vaccines so far at a rate of 33.5 doses per hundred. Of the Kingdom’s 34.8 million people, 33.6 percent have now been vaccinated with at least one jab.
On Monday, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs closed nine mosques temporarily in six regions, after cases of COVID-19 were detected among worshipers.
The ministry stated that the total number of mosques that had been closed now amounted to 1,210, with 1,188 subsequently reopened after the completion of disinfection.
King Fahd Causeway Passports raises operational capacity
Updated 18 May 2021
RIYADH: Using a national ID as a document for traveling to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries remains suspended, a spokesman for the Eastern Province Passports said.
Citizens wishing to travel must verify the conditions of the destination country and ensure they are met, Mualla Al-Otaibi added.
In February last year, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to suspend GCC citizens’ use of national identity cards for travel to and from the Kingdom, coinciding with the onset of precautionary measures to combat COVID-19.
Al-Otaibi said the border points of the Eastern Region Passports had resumed work after the lifting of travel suspensions through all air, land and sea ports on May 17.
“Preventive maintenance work was carried out for all border backup devices and systems,” said Al-Otaibi.
A further 10 lanes have been installed in the departure area, bringing the total number of lanes to 27, with 36 lanes in the arrival area.
King Fahd Causeway Passports increased its operational capacity by 30 percent to facilitate passenger travel.
The spokesman said that meetings and workshops were held with port authorities to ensure speedy and smooth travel, while applying all precautions.
The movement of passengers leaving for Bahrain had decreased sharply since Monday morning, he said. The director general of Saudi Customs at the King Fahd Causeway, Dhaifallah Al-Otaibi, told Arab News they were ready to receive arrivals and departures through the causeway, and to provide customs services to travelers of all categories.
Customs at the causeway linking Saudi Arabia and Bahrain strived to enhance customs procedures, he added.
We are ready to receive arrivals and departures through the causeway.
Dhaifallah Al-Otaibi, DG Saudi Customs
He confirmed the continued cooperation and coordination between all parties operating at the border crossing, and that port authorities were all working as one business system to provide the best services.
“Customs (the land link between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain) continues to take precautionary measures, (which are) more intense with the start of travel between the two countries to ensure the maximum levels of safety recommended to protect travelers and arrivals, in addition to protecting the employees of the port,” he added.
Customs at the King Fahd Causeway continued working on freight traffic since the suspension of personal travel between the two countries last year, he said.
Causeway customs statistics said that procedures for about 272,000 trucks entering and leaving the Kingdom had been completed between March 2020 until the end of April 2021, while about 325,000 vehicles had crossed the causeway in both directions since the beginning of this year.
Saudi Arabia ranks 5th in use of ‘digital government’
According to the report, high-performing digital governments are focusing on their digital strategy, which is deeply embedded in the government agenda
Updated 18 May 2021
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia ranked fifth in the use of “digital government” according to a new study by Accenture.
Countries that scored high in the study have made a sustained investment in digital government.
According to the report, high-performing digital governments are focusing on their digital strategy, which is deeply embedded in the government agenda. Accenture surveyed 5,000 people across the countries in the study. It found that the majority of respondents would like their governments to provide more online services and would like to use social media to engage with government.