Home before lockdown: Saudis who beat the virus rush

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Passengers and bookings have plummeted in recent weeks as countries closed their borders. (SPA)
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Hatoon Abdullatif
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Updated 18 March 2020

Home before lockdown: Saudis who beat the virus rush

  • Many Saudis were traveling abroad before the announcement, but were urged to catch the next flight home

JEDDAH: On Saturday, the Interior Ministry announced that as of Sunday international flights would be suspended for two weeks to slow down the spread of coronavirus.
Many Saudis were traveling abroad before the announcement, but were urged to catch the next flight home.
Saudi corporate communications manager Hatoon Abdullatif was in Athens from March 1 and was due to return on the 16th.
“With all the news updates, it didn’t feel right to stay any longer so I have decided to book for March 13 instead,” she told Arab News.
“Thankfully I did, as they banned all international flights in Saudi Arabia on March 14.”
Abdullatif had been following official announcements and receiving messages from the government on her phone for updates on the situation in the Kingdom.
“This was extremely helpful. I thought since a lot of countries were going on lockdowns, it was only a matter of time that they would announce a lockdown in Saudi Arabia.
“I was afraid that Greece would be added to that official banned list and I’d be stuck there by myself,” she said.
She received a precautionary notification from the Greek government.
“It said something like ‘all people are required to stay home for safety precautions.’ Getting that alert on my phone was scary and I knew then that I had to go home.
“As a solo traveler this was a scary experience.”

BACKGROUND

Many Saudis were traveling abroad before the announcement, but were urged to catch the next flight home.

Saudi retired pilot Khalid Nadher was in Munich, Germany on March 2 and was supposed to return at the end of the month, but he also flew back on March 13.
He said that people in Germany were calm about the situation.
“People were normal, no one was panicking, and trains were still crowded. The reaction here is stronger than in Germany. I think people here follow the news more than in Germany. Nothing was affecting business or transportation, everything was normal,” he told Arab News.
Pointing to the temporary suspension of Umrah, Nadher applauded the Kingdom for its actions to slow the spread of the virus.
“I think it’s a good decision to prevent any contact with other people who are contaminated with the disease.”
Nadher said the suspension of flights will affect airlines.
“There will be worldwide losses for all airlines, not only Saudi Airlines. Many carriers are suffering. Nobody is going to compete with anyone else, no one will take advantage of the situation.”

 


KSA highlights support for Bosnia massacre victims

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal Bin Farhan al Saud delivers a speech during the opening of the UN Human Rights Council's main annual session on February 24, 2020 in Geneva. (AFP)
Updated 13 July 2020

KSA highlights support for Bosnia massacre victims

  • The minister added that King Salman continued to support and stand by Bosnia and Herzegovina, further confirming the unique and friendly relations between the two countries

GENEVA: Saudi Arabia participated in the 25th anniversary memorial of the Srebrenica genocide that took place in July 1995.
Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah delivered the Kingdom’s speech via video conference.
He conveyed the greetings of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sefik Dzaferovic, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and dignitaries who were participating in the event.
The minister affirmed that Saudi Arabia stood side by side with its brothers, the families of the victims of the massacre.
He said: “Our participation on behalf of Saudi Arabia, its leaders, government, and people, is a humanitarian and moral obligation that the Saudi leadership stands by every year.”
The minister added that King Salman continued to support and stand by Bosnia and Herzegovina, further confirming the unique and friendly relations between the two countries.