US diplomat highlights benefits of Jeddah Consulate relocation

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Ryan Gliha, US Consul General. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Ryan Gliha, US Consul General. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Ryan Gliha, US Consul General. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 13 November 2019

US diplomat highlights benefits of Jeddah Consulate relocation

  • Move aims to increase cultural, educational outreach

JEDDAH: The relocation of the US Consulate in Jeddah is aimed at making its services more accessible to the people of the city and the region, and to increase educational and cultural outreach, US Consul General Ryan Gliha told Arab News.
“It was such a difficult thing for our guests to come to our old place (in Al-Hamra district), and part of the reason for that was we had to add several layers of security to the compound,” he said.
“Since it (the former consulate building) was built in the 1950s, it had different standards.”
The consulate’s new location is Al-Muhammadiyah district. “Part of the move is to make us more accessible to the people of Jeddah and the region,” Gliha said.
“Because of the accessibility, we’re going to have more opportunity to do more cultural outreach, educational outreach.”
A number of programs available at the new facility include the monthly English Conversation Hour, where people are invited to partake in discussions covering varied topics.
There is also the monthly movie series, where people can watch and discuss films.
In an effort to expand its outreach, Gliha spoke of the facility’s information resource library and student advice center, which provides services to students looking to head to the US for university and graduate school.

HIGHLIGHTS

• A number of programs are available at the new facility include the monthly English Conversation Hour.

• There is also the monthly movie series, where people can watch and discuss films.

• The facility’s information resource library and student advice center provide services to students looking to head to the US for university and graduate school.

• There are currently over 100,000 Saudis studying in the US across all 50 states.

There are currently over 100,000 Saudis studying in the US across all 50 states.
“Our hope is that we’re going to increase those numbers by quite a bit. We have a fulltime advisor who works with students to try to find the right university or college in the US,” Gliha said.
“We have almost 5,000 colleges and universities in the US, and it’s hard to make the right choice. We could help people zero in on the right choices if they want to go and travel there.”
The consulate has partnerships with several schools in Jeddah that benefit from this program.


196 Saudis stranded in Bahrain over virus pandemic return home

Updated 6 min 36 sec ago

196 Saudis stranded in Bahrain over virus pandemic return home

  • The returning Saudis received medical checks before entering the Kingdom and were placed in specified hotels for quarantine upon arrival
  • The returnees formed the first of four parties of a total 790 Saudi nationals due to be bussed back to the Kingdom

RIYADH: A group of 196 Saudis left stranded in Bahrain due to travel restrictions introduced over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have been transported home via the King Fahd Causeway connecting the two countries.

The returnees formed the first of four parties of a total 790 Saudi nationals due to be bussed back to the Kingdom after becoming trapped in Bahrain by the spread of the virus, according to the Saudi Press Agency. 

In a tweet, the Saudi Ambassador to Bahrain Prince Sultan bin Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz, said: “In compliance with the directives of King Salman and the crown prince (Mohammed bin Salman) to facilitate the procedures for the return of stranded citizens, the embassy, in cooperation with the concerned authorities of the two brotherly kingdoms, begins today — for a period of four days — sending buses scheduled to transport citizens to the Eastern Province via King Fahd Causeway.”

The returning Saudis received medical checks before entering the Kingdom and were placed in specified hotels for quarantine upon arrival.

Similar COVID-19 tests and procedures will apply for other groups of Saudi citizens being repatriated from countries around the globe, including those returning on flights.

Electronic Saudi news outlet, Ajel, reported that 29,000 Saudis had registered on the e-government Yusr platform within 24 hours of its launch.

In a video posted on the embassy’s official Twitter account on March 27, Saudi envoy to the UK, Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan, said: “We all need to stand together as a barrier to halt the virus from spreading. For that, the return of 20,000 or 30,000 citizens all at once is not logical and not safe for you and your country.”

The Saudi Ministry of Education was also coordinating with its 31 cultural bureaus on the health and safety of 124,228 Saudis currently abroad as part of government scholarship programs — 79,113 of them students with 45,115 accompanying family members.

Saudi Minister of Transport Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, who is also chairman of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), said airport terminals were being readied for the arrival of Saudi nationals from abroad.

“GACA has harnessed all its efforts and capabilities to receive the citizens wishing to return to the Kingdom. It has prepared terminals in the Kingdom’s international airports — King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah and King Fahd International Airport in Dammam,” he added.

An announcement is expected soon on which country the next group of Saudi nationals will be returned from.

Saudis given priority to return on the first flights back include those coming from countries worst affected by the virus, elderly citizens, those with expired passports or where flights have been cancelled, pregnant women, people with special needs, and humanitarian cases.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Arab News that it was not yet clear how many Saudis had registered to come home but those wishing to could apply at http://www.mofa.gov.sa/es.