Ukraine to open borders visa-free for Saudis

Ukraine Ambassador Vadym Vakhrushev. (Supplied)
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Updated 02 August 2020

Ukraine to open borders visa-free for Saudis

  • In 2019, nearly 5,000 Saudis visited Ukraine, with talks ongoing to launch direct flights between the two states

RIYADH: Saudi nationals will no longer need a visa to enter Ukraine, providing a strong impetus to further intensify business and people-to-people ties, the Ukrainian envoy to the Kingdom has said.

According to a presidential decree, Saudis will now be allowed to enter Ukraine as of Aug. 1, 2020 and stay up to 90 days.

President Volodymyr Zelensky received the credentials from the newly appointed Saudi ambassador to Ukraine, Mohammed bin Sulaiman Al-Mashar, and expressed his readiness to develop political contacts with the Kingdom, as well as in trade, agriculture and military spheres, and in aircraft construction. The president also extended an invitation to King Salman to pay an official visit to Ukraine.

Speaking to Arab News, Ukrainian Ambassador Vadym Vakhrushev expressed hope that his country would be a favored tourist destination for Saudis. In 2019, nearly 5,000 Saudis visited Ukraine, with talks ongoing to launch direct flights between the two states.

“Our countries only recently began to discover each other after long being influenced by a lack of information and narrow stereotypes regarding the hot climate, sand and oil in Saudi Arabia, or cold winters, iron ore and wheat in Ukraine,” Vakhrushev told Arab News.

According to the envoy, these stereotypes are changing, with a popular Ukrainian YouTuber recently visiting the Kingdom and publishing a video on “oil, tourism and the big changes,” which received more than 6.7 million views.

Throughout its history, Ukraine has always been a crossroads of different civilizations and empires, complemented by its own identity and traditions, with picturesque nature. The most popular tourism destinations in Ukraine are connected with its capital, Kyiv, the city of Lviv near the Carpathian Mountains, and Odessa on the shore of the Black Sea.  

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According to a presidential decree, Saudis will now be allowed to enter Ukraine as of Aug. 1 and stay up to 90 days. 

“I am glad to note that our states have recently achieved considerable (visa) facilitation for Ukrainian and Saudi nationals,” the envoy said.

Kyiv and Riyadh have succeeded in initiating a dialogue at the highest political level, provided a platform for inter-parliamentary contacts, introduced a practice for active intergovernmental and inter-ministerial negotiations, and laid favorable grounds for further business and interpersonal ties, noted Vakhrushev.

“The relations between our states are successfully time-tested. And in this respect, I cannot but mention a significant voice of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in support of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine (as proved, in particular, by voting in favor of the relevant UN General Assembly resolution on Crimea in March 2014),” the envoy underlined.  

“I am also pleased to note that the state policy of Ukraine concerning the Muslim community has been always carried out in a spirit of tolerance and understanding. In particular, it was our country's independence in 1991 that opened the possibility for return of hundreds of thousands of exiled Muslim Crimean Tatars — the people, destined to suffer systematic organized mass deportation from their historical homeland 76 years ago, in May 1944,” he added.

President Zelensky has also announced an initiative to make Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha official holidays in Ukraine after his meeting with representatives of the Crimean Tatar people, he said.

The number of Muslims in Ukraine is estimated at nearly 2 million. There are many places of worship for Muslims all over the country, including Ar-Rahma Mosque in Kyiv.   

Islam has become an integral part of the broad Ukrainian identity. Today, Ukrainian Muslims are members of Parliament, hold senior positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, manage leading media resources and are recognized figures in spheres of business, cinema and music.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has decided to obtain observer status at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and to forge closer ties with tit.

“We believe that the existing tools of this influential international organization will enable an entirely new level of protection of the educational, religious, linguistic and other basic human rights of the inalienable Muslim part of the Ukrainian people,” the ambassador said.

 


Third Saudi aid plane arrives in Beirut

KSRelief aircraft contains medical supplies, ventilators and other relief goods for blast victims. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 09 August 2020

Third Saudi aid plane arrives in Beirut

  • KSRelief teams are also active in treating blast victims

RIYADH: A third King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) plane loaded with aid arrived in Beirut on Saturday as part of a relief air bridge that was set up to help the people in wake of the Beirut blasts.

The air bridge was established on the directives of King Salman to provide urgent humanitarian aid to Lebanon.
KSRelief Adviser Dr. Ali bin Hamed Al-Ghamdi said the third plane is loaded with ventilators, hospital and medical equipment, as well as various medicines and disinfectants. It also contains food, tents, mattresses, blankets and cooking supplies.
So far, 200 tons of aid from the Kingdom have been flown to Lebanon with specialized teams to follow up and supervise the distribution operations.
KSRelief teams are also active in Lebanon in treating victims of the blast.
Earlier, two Saudi aircraft carrying more than 120 tons of medicines, equipment, and emergency supplies were dispatched to Beirut.
KSRelief Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah said in a statement that the assistance highlights the pivotal role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in providing humanitarian assistance to all people in need around the world with complete impartiality.

The Saudi aid will help alleviate the sufferings of Lebanese people.

Maj. Gen. Mohammad Khair, Chief of the High Relief, Commission in Lebanon

The twin blasts devastated large areas of the Lebanese capital and destroyed vital infrastructure, including grain storage silos and port facilities.
Lebanon, already reeling from an economic and currency collapse, now faces the threat of food shortages and a major hit to exports and imports.
Countries around the world have rushed to help Lebanon in the wake of the port explosion on Aug. 4.
The secretary-general of the High Relief Commission in Lebanon, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Khair, thanked the Kingdom for the urgent humanitarian aid provided through KSRelief.
In a press statement, he praised the historical relations between the two countries, noting the Saudi aid will help alleviate the suffering of Lebanese people.
Residents in the Kingdom can also help Lebanon by making donations through KSRelief’s website.