RIYADH/MAKKAH: Saudia announced on Friday that new international destinations for travelers would be available starting in November.
The announcement, which was made on the airline’s official Twitter account, stated that the total number of international destinations for permitted travelers would be raised to 33.
The decision marks the second partial lifting of the suspension of international flights, following the Sept. 15 step which allowed travel to 20 destinations in the Middle East, Asia and Europe.
تعلن #الخطوط_السعودية للمسافرين المصرّح لهم عن جدول التشغيل التدريجي للرحلات الدولية لـ33 وجهة حتى الآن
— السعودية | SAUDIA (@Saudi_Airlines) October 23, 2020
Destinations now include more cities in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Africa and extend to Beirut, Kuwait, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Milan, Delhi, Dhaka, Guangzhou, Kochi, Lahore, Multan, Mumbai and Peshawar.
Saudi Arabia will end all restrictions on air, land and sea transport early next year, on a date to be announced in December.
The new destinations, in particular the Indian cities included on the list, have caused a stir of excitement among expats who have awaited the decision with bated breath since the pandemic began.
Mohammed Rizwan, an Indian citizen who has been quarantining in Saudi Arabia due to the nature of his job, has been waiting for an opportunity to visit home since February with the assurance that he would be able to come back to Saudi Arabia safely.
“My wife and I chose to stay in Saudi Arabia when the pandemic first started, but I am very eager to see my extended family and make sure they are OK, particularly my mother,” he told Arab News.
“My job prevented me from leaving the Kingdom for a long time, but knowing that I will be able to come back without issue is reassuring.”
The announcement also raises interest among Umrah companies, meaning that more travelers will be allowed to enter the Kingdom to perform the pilgrimage, likely increasing the number of visitors to the holy city of Makkah.
Ahmed Bajaifer, an investor in Umrah companies, said that they will start to move forward with their plans following the announcement, as most of the currently available destinations are “green countries” that are subject to precautionary measures.