Passenger satisfaction remains consistently high at Saudi airports

Passenger satisfaction remains consistently high at Saudi airports
A view of the interior of the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh. (SPA file photo)
Updated 08 May 2019

Passenger satisfaction remains consistently high at Saudi airports

Passenger satisfaction remains consistently high at Saudi airports

JEDDAH: Passenger satisfaction at the Kingdom’s airports has maintained a consistently high level, according to the monthly report for April issued by the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA). 

The survey included King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, King Fahd International Airport in Dammam and Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah.

More than 500,000 passengers participated in the GACA survey, according to which the overall satisfaction rate stood at 74 percent, the same level as in the previous month.

Madinah airport recorded a 79 percent satisfaction rate, up from the previous month’s 78 percent. Riyadh and Jeddah recorded 75 percent and 58 percent respectively, while the satisfaction level at Dammam’s airport dropped one percentage point to 77 percent compared to the previous month.

The GACA, represented by the General Directorate for Quality, Customer Protection, conducts regular airport field surveys and issues monthly reports on the level of customer satisfaction. The information received has proved a reliable tool for improving the services provided at airports around the Kingdom, in line with the Saudi Vision 2030.

Recently, GACA launched a series of initiatives aimed at improving the quality of services at the Kingdom’s airports. 

The authority is focusing on eight sectors of civil aviation and logistics within the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program.

The NIDLP is one of the Kingdom’s key Vision 2030 projects aimed at transforming the country into a leading industrial power and logistics platform.

The GACA initiatives will include the expansion of airports and air cargo services, improvements in aviation safety, development of navigation systems, flight scheduling, a review of domestic air-ticket pricing, support for Saudi airlines, technology and innovation projects, and the overall improvement of customer experience at airports.


Umrah companies gear up to receive foreign pilgrims

Following the temporary closure of Umrah due to the emergence of the pandemic, worshippers were allowed to perform the Umrah rituals in early October. (AFP/File)
Following the temporary closure of Umrah due to the emergence of the pandemic, worshippers were allowed to perform the Umrah rituals in early October. (AFP/File)
Updated 22 min 26 sec ago

Umrah companies gear up to receive foreign pilgrims

Following the temporary closure of Umrah due to the emergence of the pandemic, worshippers were allowed to perform the Umrah rituals in early October. (AFP/File)
  • Industry workers could be trained to operate under pandemic conditions, says official

MAKKAH: Hundreds of companies are gearing up to receive fully immunized foreign pilgrims wishing to perform Umrah from Aug. 9.

Via an online platform, pilgrims will be given access to 500 businesses providing access to flights, transport, hotels and Umrah companies.
Hani Al-Omairi, a member of the National Committee for Hajj and Umrah and the Hotels Committee in Makkah, told Alarabiya that nearly 30 websites and platforms will be available for international reservations.
“Health courses and crowd management courses were given to all employees as several companies have commenced operations. Procedures for the rest of the companies and institutions are being finalized by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and other relevant authorities,” said Al-Omairi.
Commenting on the news, Mohsin Tutla, chairman of the World Hajj and Umrah Care Foundation, told Arab News the return of pilgrims could be ensured through training the industry to provide services under pandemic conditions. He added that the introduction of vigilance technology throughout the pilgrimage and further measures would help smoothen the process.
Tutla told Arab News that the demand from pilgrims to conduct rituals during the pandemic is not as high as people may think.

SPEEDREAD

• Via an online platform, pilgrims will be given access to 500 businesses providing access to flights, transport, hotels and Umrah companies. 

• Hani Al-Omairi, a member of the National Committee for Hajj and Umrah and the Hotels Committee in Makkah, says nearly 30 websites and platforms will be available for international reservations.

“Even though we can assume that people have been queuing to perform Hajj and Umrah, the reality is that people’s financial capability has been depleted.
“Where Hajj and Umrah were available and easy for the mass population and the middle income population, it is now only possible for the rich and thrifty savers.”
Tutla added: “The road to recovery and rejuvenation is not dependent on only demand, it is dependent on the development of global safety mechanisms such as the Hajj and Umrah Safe Corridor, which is currently being developed by the World Hajj and Umrah Care Foundation, and is being installed in 25 countries worldwide.

Demand from pilgrims to conduct rituals during the pandemic is not as high as people may think. 

Mohsin Tutla, Chairman of the World Hajj and Umrah Care Foundation

“Globally you will realize that demand would have dropped by approximately 40 percent for international Umrah and 15 percent for international Hajj pilgrimages.” Following the temporary closure of Umrah due to the emergence of the pandemic, worshippers were allowed to perform the Umrah rituals in early October. As many as 250,000 domestic pilgrims were able to register, book appointments and granted permits in the first phase.
Some 10,000 foreign pilgrims were gradually allowed back into the Kingdom in the third phase on Nov. 1 after a seven-month hiatus of strict regulations.


Makkah’s hospitality sector eyeing recovery

The hotel sector in Makkah is the strongest in the Middle East, says expert. (SPA)
The hotel sector in Makkah is the strongest in the Middle East, says expert. (SPA)
Updated 35 min 14 sec ago

Makkah’s hospitality sector eyeing recovery

The hotel sector in Makkah is the strongest in the Middle East, says expert. (SPA)
  • Several services can also be built upon within the hospitality industry to create diverse “backup sectors” that the industry can fall back in exceptional circumstances

MAKKAH: The hospitality sector in Makkah is beginning to look forward to a strong recovery from the devastating economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and experts predict hotels could begin to see results within two years.
The city, the third-most densely populated in the Kingdom, is particularly well served in terms of hotels — almost two-thirds of all those in Saudi Arabia can be found there. Before the pandemic it was a thriving sector, its growth fueled by the ever-increasing numbers of visitors from around the world who flock to Makkah for the annual Hajj pilgrimage or to complete their Umrah rituals.
COVID-19 changed everything. However, experts predict that after the dramatic decline in business caused by the pandemic, “hotel recuperation” plans could begin to yield results by 2023 as the world slowly starts to emerge from lockdown.
Fadhel Manqal, manager of a hotel in the city and a member of the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and industry hotels committee, told Arab News that the sector has faced immense challenges for almost two years.
“The sector has experienced an economic downturn,” he said. “This has crippled its economic power, which is an important contributor to the local economy. It has borne the burden of the effects of the pandemic, which has had a negative effect on all areas of the global economy, including significant implications for the hotel sector.

FASTFACT

The city, the third-most densely populated in the Kingdom, is particularly well served in terms of hotels — almost two-thirds of all those in Saudi Arabia can be found there.

“Makkah’s hotels were not spared; they have suffered substantial losses, leading some to close down and others to suspend their activities or recover partially. Many have suffered losses worth billions.”
Manqal said that the hotel sector in Makkah is the strongest in the Middle East, with more than 1,300 hotels that are expected to receive 30 million pilgrims by 2030, as visitor numbers increase as a result of the National Transformation Program and the wider Saudi Vision 2030. But it is still suffering real hardship, he added, despite the early signs of recovery.
The hospitality industry has been irreversibly changed by the health crisis, he said, adding that despite the efforts of some governments to minimize the effects and reduce losses, it has been an economic catastrophe for the sector and the fates of many businesses hang in the balance.
“Not everyone is capable of recovery, adapting or even reorganizing,” said Manqal. “The large five-star hotel chains near the Grand Mosque in Makkah will certainly recover quickly, especially the ones in the central area or the commercial districts near the holy sites in Al-Aziziyah.
“There is no doubt that the unfolding effects on the industry pose a challenge even for more-experienced hotel owners.” For this reason it is vital that businesses plan for the future and confront obstacles, he added.
Saudi authorities began to look for ways to help people and plan for recovery early in the pandemic, said Manqal. For example, they provided assistance through the SANED unemployment insurance program for the families of Saudi hotel workers.
With continued support from the authorities, and the gradual return of Umrah pilgrims from within the Kingdom and, in initially limited numbers, other countries as vaccination rates increase around the world, Manqal said that he expects the sector to begin to recover by 2023.
This gives hospitality providers time to consider their options and develop a better understanding of their perfect hotel guest, he added, but some service providers will face greater challenges than others, particularly those that were heavily dependent on the annual Hajj and Umrah seasons.
Economic analyst Fadl Abu Al-Ainain told Arab News that he expects the sector will continue to experience hardship until the end of this year and that greater public and private sector support, in the form of exceptional incentive programs, as well as the Kingdom’s rapidly expanding vaccination program, will alleviate the continuing effects of the pandemic on Makkah’s hospitality industry.
“Recovery is linked to the return of pilgrims at levels similar to those in the past, and this cannot be achieved due to the coronavirus,” he said. “Consequently, change in the sector is closely linked to a full recovery from the pandemic. Thus, there should be greater focus on reducing the effects of the pandemic on the sector through the provision of government support, as well as measures to reduce the financial burdens on the sector.
“There should be a mechanism for coping with exceptional circumstances, which would also require an enhancement of crisis management that would cover financial and operational damage,” Al-Ainain added.
“The sector has not achieved efficiency in combating crises, and its ability to withstand shocks is nonexistent, but the pandemic situation might open the door for the development of strategies to urgently manage crises in the future.
“I think that reconsidering the value of lease agreements and fixed costs, in partnership with the government, are tools that could be used to address this crisis, and that more sharing of risk among all parties to a contract might reduce the magnitude of losses and the burden of them falling mostly on just one side.”
Several services can also be built upon within the hospitality industry to create diverse “backup sectors” that the industry can fall back in exceptional circumstances, Al-Ainain said, lamenting the fact that “no one searched for them in the past due to the steady and easy income during the high season.”


Authorities in Saudi Arabia sterilize holy sites after Hajj pilgrims depart

The work was carried out under the supervision of the Services Agency represented by the General Administration of Environmental Sanitation. (SPA)
The work was carried out under the supervision of the Services Agency represented by the General Administration of Environmental Sanitation. (SPA)
Updated 25 July 2021

Authorities in Saudi Arabia sterilize holy sites after Hajj pilgrims depart

The work was carried out under the supervision of the Services Agency represented by the General Administration of Environmental Sanitation. (SPA)
  • Spraying and sterilization work was carried out in Arafat and Muzdalifah

JEDDAH: The Municipality of Makkah carried out several field tours to sterilize the holy sites area following the completion of the Hajj pilgrimage, as part an integrated municipal services system.
The Municipality said that sanitation work covered the holy sites to combat public health threats, filling and suctioning water from swamps or water pools, while using environmentally friendly means to preserve public health.
The work was carried out under the supervision and follow-up of the Services Agency represented by the General Administration of Environmental Sanitation.
The agency indicated that spraying and sterilization work was carried out for 103 open water fountains, 48 ​​watershed sites, 217 toilet facilities, and 55 rainwater drainage ducts, in addition to cleaning and sterilizing three government offices in Arafat.
62 open water fountains, 13 watershed sites, 103 toilet facilities, 24 rainwater drainage ducts and a government office in Muzdalifah were also sprayed and sterilized.


Aden receives Saudi oil derivatives grant

The third batch of Saudi oil derivatives, worth a total of $4.2 billion, will reach the intended beneficiaries and improve the living standards of Yemenis. (SPA)
The third batch of Saudi oil derivatives, worth a total of $4.2 billion, will reach the intended beneficiaries and improve the living standards of Yemenis. (SPA)
Updated 25 July 2021

Aden receives Saudi oil derivatives grant

The third batch of Saudi oil derivatives, worth a total of $4.2 billion, will reach the intended beneficiaries and improve the living standards of Yemenis. (SPA)
  • The Saudi grants have reduced the burdens on the Yemeni government’s budget, reduced the depletion of hard currency in purchasing oil derivatives from global markets

ADEN: A total of 75,000 metric tons of Saudi oil derivatives reached the Port of Aden to help the Yemeni authorities meet the growing energy demands.
Sent with the help of the Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDPRY), the shipment was received by the Deputy Gov. of Aden Badr Mouaen, the first undersecretary of Aden Mohammed Nasr Al-Shathili, SDPRY representative Mohammed Al-Yehya, and other officials.
Al-Yehya hoped that the third batch, worth a total of $4.2 billion, will reach the intended beneficiaries and improve the living standards of Yemenis.
Earlier batches in May and June helped increase energy output by more than 25 percent in Yemeni governorates and more than 40 percent in Aden and stabilized fuel supplies.
The Saudi grants have reduced the burdens on the Yemeni government’s budget, reduced the depletion of hard currency in purchasing oil derivatives from global markets, stabilized Yemen’s riyal exchange rate and fuel prices against the US dollar, provided job opportunities, raised the productivity of Yemeni citizens, raised the performance of vital sectors’ services, and improved the livelihoods of Yemenis.


Arab states condemn ‘blatant’ Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia

Arab states condemn ‘blatant’ Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia
Updated 25 July 2021

Arab states condemn ‘blatant’ Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia

Arab states condemn ‘blatant’ Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia
  • Houthis fired a ballistic missile and explosive-laden three drones at the Kingdom’s southern region
  • The Council of Arab Interior Ministers call on international community to hold the perpetrators accountable

JEDDAH: Arab countries have denounced Houthi attempts to attack Saudi Arabia’s southern region using a ballistic missile and three explosive-laden drones.
The Arab coalition said that the Iran-backed militia fired a ballistic missile late Saturday toward Jazan that was intercepted and destroyed.
The missile attack comes just hours after the coalition forces destroyed three armed drones targeting the southern region of Saudi Arabia, including one drone that was headed to Khamis Mushait.
The coalition said that the Houthis are continuing to target civilians and civilian objects.
The Council of Arab Interior Ministers strongly condemned the repeated terrorist operations carried out by the Houthi militia.
In a statement, the council’s General Secretariat said the Iran-backed group aims to destabilize security and stability in the Arab region, through financial and weaponry support from external parties, by deliberately pursuing aggressive practices that violate the rules of international humanitarian law and ignoring all efforts to end the conflict in Yemen.
The council called on the international community to hold the perpetrators of these terrorist acts accountable, reiterating its absolute support for all measures taken by the Kingdom to protect its security, stability and sovereignty of its lands, and efforts of coalition forces in confronting the Houthis’ threats and hostilities.
The Arab Parliament reaffirmed its full solidarity with the Kingdom against anything that targets its security and stability.
The legislative body of the Arab League described the Houthi militia as a “terrorist organization operated from Tehran to implement a policy of spreading chaos and terror in the region and the world.”
The Arab Parliament urged the international community to assume its responsibilities in confronting such Houthi criminal attacks that threaten regional and international peace and security, and to take measures that would deter these terrorist groups and those who finance and support them, led by Iran.
It stressed the need for serious action in this regard, and praised the efficiency and vigilance of the air defense forces of the Arab coalition, which succeeded in intercepting and destroying the drones.
Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), expressed his strong condemnation of the attempt to target innocent civilians in Saudi Arabia.
He reiterated the organization’s condemnation of the Houthi terrorist militia’s attempts by launching of booby-trapped drones toward innocent civilians in the Kingdom, terming them “war crimes.”
He praised the Saudi Air Defense Forces, which intercepted and destroyed the drones.
Al-Othaimeen also stressed the OIC’s firm solidarity with the Kingdom in all the measures it takes to protect its security and stability as well as the safety of its citizens and residents in its territories.
Kuwait has expressed its strong condemnation and denunciation of the continuing terrorist Houthi militia threat to the security of Saudi Arabia and the targeting of civilians and civilian areas and the stability of the region.
The Foreign Ministry also stressed Kuwait’s full solidarity and support for the Kingdom in all measures it takes to preserve its security, stability and sovereignty.
Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry has strongly condemned the failed Houthi attack, saying that “this terrorist act constitutes a blatant attack on the sovereignty of Saudi Arabia, and a serious threat to the security and safety of its citizens and residents.”
It also stressed the need for the international community to assume its responsibilities in condemning these heinous Houthi attacks, threatening regional security and stability.
The Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed its firm position in condemning these repeated and cowardly terrorist acts targeting civilians and vital facilities in the Kingdom with the aim of undermining security, stability and peace.