International flights to Saudi Arabia remain suspended, says Saudia

Saudi Arabia suspended international flights from March 15 as part of various measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. (SPA)
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Updated 03 September 2020

International flights to Saudi Arabia remain suspended, says Saudia

  • Announcement meant to quash rumors about resumption
  • Awdah initiative allows expats wanting to return to their home countries to leave the Kingdom

RIYADH: Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) on Wednesday said international flights remain “suspended until further notice,” except for return flights for residents departing from the Kingdom and registering on the Awdah initiative.
Awdah is aimed at expats wanting to return to their home countries via an application system, enabling those holding exit and re-entry visas, final exit and visit visas of various kinds to return home by air travel.
The initiative can be accessed via the Awdah icon on the Absher platform, and by providing one’s iqama number, date of birth, mobile number, city of departure and arrival airport.
It is not necessary to have an account on Absher for expats of all nationalities to access this service.
Rumors have been circulating about the resumption of international flights since the recent listing by Saudia of certain travel conditions.
They include filling out a health disclaimer and handing it to the health control center upon arrival at the airport, as well as undergoing a seven-day self-quarantine at home.
Passengers should also register on the Tetamman app, which ensures the commitment of all those self-isolating and constant follow-up on their health. Through the app, passengers are required to undergo a daily health assessment.
Another app they are required to register on is Tawakkalna, which helps in the early detection of possible infections once users show symptoms.
The conditions also state that passengers should provide a home location on the apps within eight hours of arrival, and monitor any COVID-19 symptoms.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabian Airlines published travel requirements mandated by the following countries: The UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, Morocco, China, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Turkey, Greece, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Malaysia, South Africa, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Indonesia.
Saudi Arabia suspended international flights from March 15 as part of various measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. Domestic flights resumed on May 31.

The key role of data in the transformation of Saudi Arabia

Updated 27 min 29 sec ago

The key role of data in the transformation of Saudi Arabia

  • Vice president of National Data Management Office talks about the pioneering work being carried out to develop a national data strategy

RIYADH: Data is an increasingly important strategic national asset, according to Majed A. Al-Hussain, the vice president of Saudi Arabia’s National Data Management Office (NDMO).

In recognition of this, the office has developed a road map that includes a number of pioneering initiatives designed to drive a national data strategy, he told Arab News. He also highlighted a number of important issues that such a strategy must address, from data protection to improving the performance of government bodies through digital transformation.

One of the challenges facing Saudi authorities, he said, is whether to store personal data within the Kingdom or in other countries. A number of factors must be considered when making a decision about this, including privacy rights, protection of personal data, the nature and sensitivity of the data, the time required to process information, and storage capacity. There are also legal requirements, he added, and it is necessary to carefully assess the guarantees provided by data-hosting platforms in other countries.

The development of Saudi Arabia is at an important stage, as authorities rapidly implement measures designed to ensure the digital transformation of the nation’s economy and all government functions proceed smoothly.

Al-Hussain said the NDMO was set up to enhance the data-based economy, which will benefit the public and private sectors and improve the quality of services provided to citizens and residents.

“The office is also responsible for regulating data management and personal data protection at the national level and publishing associated policies, standards and mechanisms, setting the compliance framework, and monitoring compliance accordingly,” he said.

In this way it provides support for decision-making processes and helps governmental organizations to perform better, he added.

To improve standards of data management, the NDMO will analyze and assess the readiness of the public sector and develop a framework for the assessment of national data-management practices and the design of training programs for the government, Al-Hussain said.

“The office will also work with government agencies to appoint chief data officers and establish data offices that will support national data-regulation policies and standards adoption, align with national data programs, and drive agency-specific data initiatives,” he added.

The NDMO works with a number of key partners, including the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology; the National Cybersecurity Authority; the Communications and Information Technology Commission; Yesser, which is the Kingdom’s e-government program; and the National Center for Archives and Records.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence (SADAI) will launch a national strategy for data and AI during the Global AI Summit, a virtual event sponsored by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that will be hosted by Riyadh on Oct. 21 and 22.

“Saudi Arabia is seeing a huge growth of data through all sectors, which paves the way for a strategy that can be used as a significant national asset to achieve economic, social and competitive gains,” said Abdullah Sharaf Al-Ghamdi, the president of SADAI.

The summit will feature keynote speakers, panel discussions and a number of interactive events. The program covers four key areas: day one will focus on “Shaping the New Normal” and “AI and Governments,” while the second day is dedicated to “Governing AI” and “The Future of AI.”

The summit aims to encourage meaningful discussion and development of innovative ideas that can have a global impact, in terms of recovering from the pandemic and identifying trends that shape the field of artificial intelligence.

It also hopes to provide inspiring insights into future requirements for regulators, investors and businesses, and offer an opportunity for participants to learn from pioneering innovators who are using artificial intelligence to build a better tomorrow.

A total of 7,375 delegates from 141 countries have registered for the summit, during which they will hear 51 experts share their views, exchange insights and discuss new ways to use AI to benefit humanity.