RIYADH: Saudi authorities have launched a major awareness campaign among the Kingdom’s expat community using a range of languages to spell out the dangers and legal consequences of ignoring the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) precautionary measures.
Thousands of messages in Urdu, Hindi, Tagalog, Bahasa Indonesia, and English, have been sent to mobile phones and posted on social media platforms highlighting the importance of adhering to new regulations aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.
As the Kingdom moved into the second phase of a gradual return to normalcy, the Saudi Ministry of Interior (MoI) issued video messages calling on expatriates to abide by health and safety rules and warned that violations would result in fines.
Mohammad Nasim Akhtar, an Indian business development manager who has worked in Riyadh for 30 years, said: “I am always impressed by the way Saudi Arabia adopts plans to foster awareness with valuable information for all the people, citizens and residents.
“It is really amazing to see information coming from the MoI in my mother tongue Urdu and national language Hindi. They are doing the best job to protect us, irrespective of nationality, from the pandemic. It is our responsibility and in the interests of all to adhere and abide by the rules and guidelines issued from time to time.”
Dr. Waquar Ahmad Khan, an assistant professor at Taibah University’s department of languages and translation, in Madinah, said: “During this coronavirus outbreak, there are huge numbers of expatriates who lack basic information about how to keep themselves safe during the pandemic and what the latest regulations are.
“It is a good initiative by the MoI and the Ministry of Health, because mother tongue has a powerful impact in keeping individuals informed.
“For those expatriates who don’t speak and understand the Arabic language, getting messages in their mother tongue will help them to understand safety measures, medical advice and instructions issued by the ministries,” he added.
Indian accountant, Zakir Azmi, told Arab News: “The only way to contain the spread of COVID-19 is to abide by the medical guidelines issued by the concerned authorities.
“The Saudi government has shown great concern about the wellbeing of its citizens and residents. These video messages in different languages will help control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Rais Ahmed Ali Motlekar, a client partner with American multinational Cognizant, and also from India, praised the MoI initiative. “This will enhance awareness and better understanding and compliance within the expat community. Communication in their mother tongue is an excellent idea. Good work,” he said.
Corporate account manager with global IT firm Citrix Inc., Abrar Hussain, said: “We are very much thankful to the Saudi government for its praiseworthy efforts in tackling COVID-19. It is indeed a great feeling to receive information in our mother languages to help fight COVID-19, especially as it will help undereducated people.”