Emirates to temporarily suspend flights to South Africa

Emirates to temporarily suspend flights to South Africa
Emirates planes are seen on the tarmac in a general view of Dubai International Airport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, January 13, 2021. (Reuters)
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Updated 14 January 2021

Emirates to temporarily suspend flights to South Africa

Emirates to temporarily suspend flights to South Africa
  • Emirates statement: Flights to/from South Africa will temporarily be suspended from Saturday 16 to 28 Jan. 2021 due to operational reasons
  • Inbound travel to South Africa has dropped since mid December when the country identified a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus

JOHANNESBURG: Dubai-based airline Emirates said on Thursday it would temporarily suspend all flights to and from South Africa from Saturday due to operational reasons, without elaborating.
“Emirates flights to/from South Africa will temporarily be suspended from Saturday 16 January to 28 January 2021 due to operational reasons,” the largest carrier in the United Arab Emirates said in a statement.
Inbound travel to South Africa for leisure and business has dropped since mid December when the country identified a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus, forcing countries such as England, Germany, Switzerland and several in Asia to cancel flights to and from the country.
The new variant is said to be behind a major spike in daily infections and rising deaths for the last month, with total cases currently standing at close to 1.3 million and over 35,000 deaths.
“Customers holding tickets with final destinations in South Africa from 16 January to 28 January will not be accepted for travel at their point of origin,” Emirates said.
Its local partner in South Africa — Airlink, which sells airline seats provided by Emirates for local destinations, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.


Indonesia campaign helps SMEs enter Saudi market

Indonesia campaign helps SMEs enter Saudi market
Updated 32 min 12 sec ago

Indonesia campaign helps SMEs enter Saudi market

Indonesia campaign helps SMEs enter Saudi market
  • They will be the main target of the export initiative, which is estimated by the Indonesian Ministry of Trade to be able to generate $60 million

JAKARTA: Indonesia has launched a campaign to help small firms in the country compete for millions of dollars-worth of food trade in Saudi Arabia.

The government aims to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) improve the quality and competitiveness of their products to meet the Kingdom’s required standards, Indonesian trade and commerce officials have said.

Under normal circumstances, before the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, around 1.5 million Indonesians a year make the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj and Umrah and hundreds of thousands work in the Kingdom.

They will be the main target of the export initiative, which is estimated by the Indonesian Ministry of Trade to be able to generate $60 million.

To meet the Saudi food regulator’s standards, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (Kadin), the Ministry of Trade, and the Ministry of Cooperatives and Small-Medium Enterprises have teamed up to assist SMEs in improving products such as bottled chili sauce, soya sauce, coffee, tea, and sugar that are in highest demand among Indonesians in Saudi Arabia.

Kadin chairman, Rosan Roeslani, told Arab News: “We have facilitated five small-medium enterprises that produce soya sauce to obtain Saudi Food and Drug Authority approval for distribution, while nine tea and coffee producers are in the pipeline to also obtain a license. We have also submitted the application for four bottled chili sauce producers.”

While travel and pilgrimage restrictions remain in place due to the COVID-19 outbreak, he said that the time before things get back to normal will be used to prepare the SMEs — which contribute 60 percent to the country’s gross domestic product and employ up to 90 percent of its workforce — for expansion into the Saudi market as soon as the pilgrimage sector resumes.

“We still have time to groom them as there are many aspects such as hygiene, and consistency in their product quality and quantity that they need to improve,” Roeslani added.

In 2014, the Ministry of Religious Affairs issued a regulation obliging catering companies that provided food and drink to Indonesian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia to source their products from Indonesian producers whenever possible.

Indonesia’s vice religious affairs minister, Zainut Tauhid Sa’adi, said that as each Indonesian pilgrim received food from caterers an average 75 times during his or her pilgrimage, demand was high but supply in Saudi Arabia remained limited and similar products from India and Thailand had been used instead.

Kasan Muhri, director general for export development at the Ministry of Trade, told Arab News that the program to prepare the SMEs had been in the making since 2017 and officials eventually decided to launch it this year despite the COVID-19 restrictions.

“Just because there are few Umrah pilgrims now and this year’s Hajj remains uncertain, it does not mean that the market is gone.

“People from around the world would still go to Saudi Arabia to perform the pilgrimage, not just Indonesians, so we are doing this to anticipate the market when the economy revives, and things are recovered. We don’t want to be left behind,” Muhri said.

Besides food and beverage products, officials say they are also looking into the possibility of exporting items such as goodie bags, prayer beads, and other pilgrimage accessories made by Indonesian SMEs.