Saudi Arabia suspends all international passenger flights for a week

Saudi Arabia suspends all international passenger flights for a week
Passengers arriving at Jeddah's King Abdulaziz International Airport earlier this year. (AFP/File)
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Updated 22 December 2020

Saudi Arabia suspends all international passenger flights for a week

Saudi Arabia suspends all international passenger flights for a week
  • Entry to the Kingdom through land and sea ports has also been suspended
  • Some flights will be allowed in exceptional circumstances

LONDON: Saudi Arabia on Sunday suspended all international passenger flights for one week in response to a new strain of the coronavirus.
Entry to the Kingdom through land and sea ports has also been suspended and this period may be extended by another week. 
The decisions were made in response to the emergence of a potent new strain of the virus in the UK and other European countries.
Some flights will be allowed in exceptional circumstances, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. 
Anyone who has returned to the Kingdom from European countries or high risk countries after Dec. 8 is required to quarantine for two weeks from the date of their arrival.
They must also undergo a COVID-19 test during their self-isolation period and repeat the test every five days. 
Anyone who has returned from or transited through a European or high risk country within the last three months must also undergo the test. 
The movement of goods, commodities and supply chains from countries where the mutated virus has not appeared will continue as usual. 
These travel restrictions will be reviewed in accordance with coronavirus related developments.


Saudi expats’ Ramadan agony as loved ones pray for end to flight curbs

Saudi expats’ Ramadan agony as loved ones pray for end to flight curbs
International flights suspended due to coronavirus travel restrictions will resume on May 17, Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority GACA said in a circular. (AFP/File)
Updated 3 min 6 sec ago

Saudi expats’ Ramadan agony as loved ones pray for end to flight curbs

Saudi expats’ Ramadan agony as loved ones pray for end to flight curbs
  • International flights suspended due to coronavirus travel restrictions will resume on May 17, Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority GACA said in a circular

RIYADH: While most families look forward to gatherings around the iftar table during the holy month of Ramadan, many expatriates in the Kingdom face an agonizing wait on relatives stranded in their homelands by flight suspensions.
Every Ramadan, with sunset nearing, families sit together during iftar to break their dawn-to-dusk fast, giving everyone a chance to catch up during the month-long festivity culminating in Eid Al-Fitr.
However, many expats are anxiously watching airline schedules as countries ease travel curbs, opening the way for family reunions.
International flights suspended due to coronavirus travel restrictions will resume on May 17, Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority GACA said in a circular.
Anwar Pasha Ansari, an Indian expatriate working in Jeddah, told Arab News that his daughter Heba Anwar is stranded in India.
“No father and mother should go through this agony,” he said.
Ansari said that his daughter left Jeddah to appear for her bachelor’s final exam in New Delhi, hoping to rejoin her family to celebrate Eid last year.
“But perhaps destiny was preparing another fate,” he said.
Ansari said that travel bans “brought the curtain down for all parents like us whose children were held up in India.”
He added: “To add insult to injury, all students were asked to vacate their hostel and make their own living arrangements, which was a nightmare for parents working overseas.”

HIGHLIGHT

Every Ramadan, with sunset nearing, families sit together during iftar to break their dawn-to-dusk fast, giving everyone a chance to catch up during the month-long festivity culminating in Eid Al-Fitr.

With no end to travel restrictions in sight, Ansari’s daughter planned to travel to Saudi Arabia via the UAE after spending 14 days in Dubai.
Ansari said that when his daughter arrived in Dubai in January, they were elated at the prospect of reuniting with her.
But with only three days left of her quarantine, a temporary traveling restriction from Dubai to Saudi Arabia came into force and all hope was gone.
“Heba spent a substantial time hoping against hope that flights would be resumed and checking any news pertaining to flight resumption to Saudi Arabia,” said Anwar.
“She was only a couple of hours away from us.”
Finally, after all options were exhausted, Heba was forced to return to India, bravely telling her parents: “Papa and mummy, stay well, this phase will pass, too.”
Ansari’s story will be familiar to thousands separated from their children as the coronavirus pandemic challenges everyone’s patience, endurance and capacity to endure the hardships of separation.
Technology and video apps help, but are not enough to bridge the gap as families face even more time apart.
Raafat Aoun, a Lebanese expat working in the Kingdom, told Arab News: “The closure of flights has affected many expat families. My brother-in-law had to travel to Beirut to attend to an emergency. Now he finds himself in a very difficult situation as he is stuck there, and his wife and four young children are all alone in Jeddah.”
Aoun said that his brother-in-law had been stranded for more than three months.
“I am supporting them and extending them all the help I can. But this festive season is becoming very difficult for me, too. I hope and pray flights resume soon so that my brother-in-law can return to his family.”
Pakistani expatriate Syed Faiz Ahmad said that two of his relatives were stranded after traveling to Pakistan.
“One went to help his ailing father, leaving his family behind in Riyadh. But he got stuck. His wife and two children are all alone here and are desperately waiting for him to return, especially during this month of Ramadan.”


Saudi crown prince congratulates Djibouti president on re-election

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has sent a cable of congratulations to President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti. (SPA/AFP/File Photos)
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has sent a cable of congratulations to President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti. (SPA/AFP/File Photos)
Updated 17 April 2021

Saudi crown prince congratulates Djibouti president on re-election

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has sent a cable of congratulations to President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti. (SPA/AFP/File Photos)
  • Ismail Omar Guelleh obtained 98.58 percent of the vote

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has sent a cable of congratulations to President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti after he won a fifth term in the country’s recent presidential elections 

In his cable, the crown prince wished the president success, stressing keenness on enhancing bilateral relations between the Kingdom and Djibouti. 

He also wished the president good health and happiness as well as the people of Djibouti steady progress and prosperity, Saudi Press Agency reported.

“President Ismail Omar Guelleh obtained 167,535 votes, which is 98.58 percent,” Interior Minister Moumin Ahmed Cheick announced last Friday.

He added that the confirmed results would be released by the Constitutional Council.

 


UN Security Council welcomes Saudi initiative to end Yemeni crisis

The UN Security Council has welcomed Saudi Arabia’s peace initiative to end the Yemeni conflict and reach a political solution to the crisis. (AFP/File Photo)
The UN Security Council has welcomed Saudi Arabia’s peace initiative to end the Yemeni conflict and reach a political solution to the crisis. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 17 April 2021

UN Security Council welcomes Saudi initiative to end Yemeni crisis

The UN Security Council has welcomed Saudi Arabia’s peace initiative to end the Yemeni conflict and reach a political solution to the crisis. (AFP/File Photo)
  • The Council also called on Yemeni parties to continue implementing the provisions of the Riyadh Agreement
  • Members denounced recent cross-border attacks by Iran-backed Houthi militia on Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The UN Security Council has welcomed Saudi Arabia’s peace initiative to end the Yemeni conflict and reach a political solution to the crisis.

In a press statement issued on Friday, the UNSC said the Saudi initiative is in line with the UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths’ peace proposal, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Saudi proposal entails a nationwide cease-fire, the reopening of Sanaa International Airport and allowing fuel and food imports through the port of Hodeidah.

The statement indicated that the UNSC called on all Yemeni parties to engage constructively with the UN Special Envoy and negotiate without preconditions, for an immediate ceasefire throughout the country and a comprehensive political settlement, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the UN Security Council resolutions.

The UNSC also urged the participation of Yemeni women and the country’s youth in talks in accordance with relevant resolutions, underlying its members' commitment to the sovereignty and territorial unity of Yemen. 

The Council also called on Yemeni parties to continue implementing the provisions of the Riyadh Agreement.

The Security Council members denounced the recent cross-border attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi militia on Saudi Arabia, calling for an immediate end to the Houthis’ escalation against Yemeni city of Marib.

The council also held the Houthi militia accountable for the danger posed by the Safer oil tanker, calling on Houthis to ensure an immediate and unconditional access of the UN experts to inspect and repair the long-abandoned fuel tanker off the coast of Yemen.


Saudi Arabia announces 9 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 9 more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 17 April 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 9 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 9 more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 387,795
  • A total of 6,810 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced nine deaths from COVID-19 and 948 new infections on Saturday.
Of the new cases, 419 were recorded in Riyadh, 210 in Makkah, 133 in the the Eastern Province, 34 in Asir, 32 in Madinah, 23 in Jazan, 20 in Hail, 15 in Tabuk, 12 in the Northern Borders region, nine in Najran and seven in Al-Jouf.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 387,795 after 775 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 6,810 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.


Saudi King, Crown Prince donate $8.1 million to local charity platform Ehsan

Saudi King, Crown Prince donate $8.1 million to local charity platform Ehsan
Updated 17 April 2021

Saudi King, Crown Prince donate $8.1 million to local charity platform Ehsan

Saudi King, Crown Prince donate $8.1 million to local charity platform Ehsan
  • The platform has been recently launched as an integrated technology portal

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have donated $8.1 million for charitable and not-for-profit activities via the Ehsan Platform, state news agency SPA reported.

The platform has been recently launched as an integrated technology portal that contributes to the governance, management and sustainability of donations. King Salman donated $5.4 million (SR20 million) while Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman contributed $2.7 million (SR10 million).

Dr. Abdullah bin Sharaf bin Jamaan Al-Ghamdi, Chairman of Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority, thanked the Saudi leaders for their generous donations which according to him was an affirmation of “attention being paid by the state’s leadership through being in touch with citizens’ needs and expending for goodness ways.”

Al-Ghamdi expressed the Crown Prince’s keenness to support charitable work and develop the non-profit sector.