Saudi Arabia suspends government work

Shopping malls will be closed but supermarkets and pharmacies will stay open. (Reuters/FIle)
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Updated 16 March 2020

Saudi Arabia suspends government work

  • Malls and restaurants in the Kingdom also ordered closed
  • Companies asked to quarantine expatriate workers for 14 days after their arrival

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has temporarily suspended government work and ordered public-sector workers to stay home for 16 days in the Kingdom’s latest measures against the spread of coronavirus.

Only those working in health, security and the military are exempted from the decision to stop people attending the work place.

Earlier, the Kingdom closed malls and restaurants as well as shops, coffee shops,  parks and gardens. Only pharmacies and food supply activities such as supermarkets and hypermarkets would remain open, provided that they sterilize shopping carts after each use by their clients.

Among other steps taken, Saudi Arabia has requested companies to quarantine expatriate workers for 14 days following their arrival. The Kingdom also suspended the gathering people in parks and at beaches.

On Sunday the health ministry posted a video of minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah asking for the public's cooperation in four key areas to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.



The measures come as the Kingdom announced 15 new cases, taking the overall number to 118.

They include a Filipino and an Indonesian who were in contact with a previously reported case and quarantined in Riyadh, the health ministry said. 

Five other cases had been in contact with another known case and have been quarantined in Qatif.

Another case was a Spanish resident who had arrived from Spain. And two women citizens who had arrived back in the Kingdom from the UK and Spain.

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Other cases had arrived from Iraq, Iran, Egypt, the UK and Switzerland.

Three patients have made a full recovery and are in good health, with the third discharged on Sunday from Dammam Medical Complex.

The new measures follow a number of steps taken by Saudi Arabia, which are among some of the most comprehensive among the Gulf states. They include halting international passenger flights, canceling Umrah pilgrimages and locking down the eastern Qatif region.



Saudi rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

Updated 11 July 2020

Saudi rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

  • Saudis turn to domestic traveling and flock to their nation’s cooler cities and rural areas

TAIF: As Saudi citizens turn to domestic tourism in the country’s summer resorts, adapting to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, rural areas have become targeted by local tourists wishing to get away from the soaring temperatures in most of the Kingdom’s cities.

Visitors are now choosing cold Saudi cities instead of Europe, which they are accustomed to visiting, such as Taif, Al-Baha, and Abha.

COVID-19 has postponed all plans to travel abroad, and attention has now focused on domestic tourism amid strict health protocols in parks, gardens and recreational areas.

Walid Al-Hamidi, vice president of the Tourism Development Council, confirmed to Arab News that Asir, with its facilities and attractions, was ready to receive summer visitors from across the country.

He said that under the directives of Asir's governor, who supervises all activities and events directly and constantly, many committees had been formed to prepare a successful summer tourism season, to optimize the opportunity and allow people to enjoy the exceptional ambiance of Asir.

“A comprehensive tourism plan was set up two years ago, which resulted in a successful Al-Soudah Season with the support of Asir’s Investment Authority,” Al-Hamidi added.

He noted that Asir’s directives aimed this year to build an exceptional tourism model that meets optimal health standards in dealing with COVID-19.

The model is supported by the “Nashama Asir” team — consisting of 4,000 volunteers — who have been trained for months and have all the necessary skills to make the season successful. Their work will continue until the end of the pandemic and throughout the summer.

“Everyone is ready at public facilities, gardens and parks, to serve tourists,” he said, adding “tourists coming from all the over the Kingdom will be welcomed with smiles, enhanced services, and warm welcomes.”

Dr. Sami Al-Obaidi, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Taif, told Arab News that the tourism sector was the economic backbone of any country or city.

He said that Taif was considered one of the most important tourist cities, given its many attractions  that made it top of any list of places to visit in the Kingdom.

“Suspending travel abroad, and limiting tourism … due to the coronavirus pandemic, makes us, as officials and citizens in Taif, well placed for a beautiful and safe tourism season for Taif’s citizens and visitors,” said Al-Obaidi.

“Meetings are held around the clock, headed by Saad Al-Maimouni, the governor of Taif, with the participation of the relevant authorities.”

He expected all sectors, especially tourism, hospitality and a few other businesses in Taif, to recover to some extent during this season, especially now tourists have already started flocking to the region, with numbers set to increase over the coming weeks.