Saudi residents welcome decision to waive COVID-19 tests at Bahrain border

The King Fahd Causeway connecting Bahrain with Saudi Arabia. (SPA file photo)
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Updated 15 January 2021

Saudi residents welcome decision to waive COVID-19 tests at Bahrain border

Saudi residents welcome decision to  waive COVID-19 tests at Bahrain border
  • Travelers are required instead to provide evidence of a negative result from a PCR test carried out at an approved laboratory in Bahrain or the Kingdom within 72 hours of arrival

RIYADH: Residents of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province have welcomed an announcement by Bahrain that people arriving in the country from Saudi Arabia via the King Fahd Causeway will no longer face a mandatory PCR test for COVID-19.

However, all who wish to enter the country will need to provide evidence of a negative result from a PCR test carried out at an approved laboratory in Bahrain or the Kingdom within 72 hours of arrival. An original PCR certificate or a test result displayed through a mobile app will be accepted. Bahraini authorities also stressed the importance of all visitors adhering to precautionary health measures while in the country.

The decision will take effect on Jan. 17 and is designed to make travel from Saudi Arabia easier, according to a report published by Bahrain’s official news agency.

Residents of the Kingdom’s Eastern Province described the decision as a positive development.

“The announcement came as a huge relief, as I have many relatives in Bahrain and I am doing a lot of business from Bahrain,” said Sameh Samir from Egypt, who works in Dammam. “Now I can visit the country with ease to meet my relatives and friends, and for my business as well.”

Fakhruddin Ahmad, an Indian expatriate in Dammam, said: “The waiver will add billions of dollars to the Bahraini and Saudi economies. Following lifting of travel restrictions, thousands of visitors are expected to travel, leading to an anticipated rebound for the Kingdom’s tourism and hospitality sector.

“Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have long-standing tourism and trade ties, with trade between two countries growing by 43 percent up to the third quarter of 2020, so opening the border will help boost the economy.”

Businessman Hamad Al-Hammad, a member of the board of the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce, said the move shows Bahrain’s trust in the efforts made by Saudi authorities to prevent the spread of the virus.

“The procedures have been described as the best around the world and emphasize precautions and the provision of high-quality healthcare services,” he said. “The testing adopts the highest technical standards as well.”

He noted that the Kingdom is one of the first countries to provide vaccines to nationals and residents alike, without exception, and added: “This fact reflects the humanitarian principles King Salman and the crown prince have adopted, and the great efforts they make to protect public health.”

He predicted that the decision will have a positive effect on the economy because it will allow businesses to operate more easily and bilateral trade will increase further. “During the pandemic, the volume (of bilateral trade) increased by 12 percent and exceeded $2 billion in the first three quarters of 2020, which constituted a significant increase in the volume of trade between Bahrain and the Kingdom on an annual basis,” Al-Hammad said.

Amir Khusroo, who lives in Alkhobar, said: “It is a good step. As an expatriate and a procurement (professional), it matters a lot to us. Our movements were confined due to all these regulations — now we can move and manage our shipments hassle-free.”

Serajuddin Khan, a sales consultant in Dammam, said: “I appreciate the decision to open the causeway to travel to both countries, with Bahrain waiving the mandatory PCR test.

It will enhance business, boost trade and will help give the economies of the two countries a further boost after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. With visitor levels returning to prepandemic levels, the causeway will add more income to Bahrain’s economy.

“We should appreciate both the countries as they have dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic very well to bring it under control. This happened because Saudi Arabia and Bahrain complied with the World Health Organization’s guidelines and took appropriate measures to control the spread of the virus.”

Salem Balhamar, chairman of the Salem Balhamar Holding Group, said the decision by Bahrain will boost tourism and business activity between the two countries.

“Many executive managers who live in Bahrain have been impacted by the pandemic,” he said. “Some of my projects were put on hold and some faltered as a result of it. I’ll travel to Bahrain immediately after the entry ports are open.”


Saudi Arabia announces 5 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 5 more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 27 February 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 5 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 5 more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 368,011
  • A total of 6,488 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

LONDON: Saudi Arabia announced five deaths from COVID-19 and 338 new infections on Saturday.
Of the new cases, 179 were recorded in Riyadh, 70 in the Eastern Province, 42 in Makkah, 10 in Asir, seven in Madinah, three in Hail, three in Jazan and two in Najran.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 368,011 after 320 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 6,488 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.


Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia
Updated 15 min 37 sec ago

Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: The Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepted and destroyed a Houthi drone targeting civilian areas in Khamis Mushait city, southwest of Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
The spokesman of the Saudi-led Arab coalition, Col. Turki Al-Maliki, said that the Houthi militia’s attempts to attack civilians and civilian areas constituted as a war crime.
He stressing that the coalition took necessary operational measures to protect civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law.

The attempted drone attack came a day after the Arab coalition intercepted and destroyed two Houthi drones targeting Saudi Arabia’s southern region on Friday and a ballistic missile fired by the militia toward the Kingdom later on in the day.


Blinken stresses US will continue to defend, do business with Saudi Arabia

Blinken stresses US will continue to defend, do business with Saudi Arabia
Updated 15 min 29 sec ago

Blinken stresses US will continue to defend, do business with Saudi Arabia

Blinken stresses US will continue to defend, do business with Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: The US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, said Washington’s relationship with Saudi Arabia was important and that the relationship reflected shared interests and values between the two countries.
“The relationship with Saudi Arabia is an important one. We have significant ongoing interests. We remain committed to the defense of the Kingdom,” Blinken said during a press conference at the US State Department, as reported by CNN on Saturday.
The secretary of state also reiterated the United States’ interests to continue doing business with the Kingdom, stating that the relationship was “bigger than any one individual.”
Blinken also affirmed that US officials, including himself and President Joe Biden, had spoken with their Saudi counterparts.
Meanwhile, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Friday that Saudi Arabia remained “a strategic partner in the region.”
“From a military perspective, as I've said many times, we take seriously our security commitments to Saudi Arabia with respect to their ability to defend themselves, and they do need to defend themselves, particularly along that southern border.”


Saudi Arabian Military Industries signs deals at IDEX

Saudi Arabian Military Industries signs deals at IDEX
Updated 27 February 2021

Saudi Arabian Military Industries signs deals at IDEX

Saudi Arabian Military Industries signs deals at IDEX
  • SAMI also agreed to be a strategic partner of Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI in next year’s IDEX

Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) signed several cooperation agreements with international companies and government authorities during the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) this week.

SAMI, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), aims to enhance the Kingdom’s defense capabilities and localize its military industry as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

“We are pleased to achieve outstanding success through our participation in IDEX 2021,” Walid bin Abdulmajeed Abu Khaled, CEO of SAMI, said.

“This will lead us to new achievements and make Saudi Arabia one of the leading manufacturers of military systems in the world.”

SAMI signed a joint venture agreement with the US firm Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest military defense company. The venture will develop capabilities in manufacturing software technologies, along with the production, maintenance, and repair of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

SAMI also signed a cooperation agreement with Nimr, which is part of the Abu Dhabi-based EDGE Technology Group. The deal will allow both companies to work together on armored military and security vehicles. It also marks the first collaboration in the field of military industries between Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) also signed an agreement with SAMI to be a strategic partner in next year’s IDEX.

During the five-day exhibition, GAMI Gov. Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz Al-Ohali visited the Saudi pavilion along with Saudi Ambassador to the UAE Turki bin Abdullah Al-Dakhil.

The pavilion also welcomed Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and Lt. Gen. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the UAE’s deputy prime minister.

 

 

 

 


US not aiming ‘to rupture relationship’ with Kingdom: Politico

King Salman and US President Joe Biden recently discussed strengthening partnership during phone call. (Reuters/File Photo)
King Salman and US President Joe Biden recently discussed strengthening partnership during phone call. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 27 February 2021

US not aiming ‘to rupture relationship’ with Kingdom: Politico

King Salman and US President Joe Biden recently discussed strengthening partnership during phone call. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Saudis show wide support at home for MBS, describe CIA report as speculative

RIYADH: US President Joe Biden and his administration may be seeking a recalibration of its relationship with Saudi Arabia, but is adamant not to rupture the relationship with the Kingdom, a senior US official said.

Speaking to Politico, the official said that there are “important interests” the US shares with Saudi Arabia. The administration views the Kingdom as an important partner in the Middle East, and it has promised to keep supporting the country as it defends itself against attacks blamed on Iran.

The official’s comments came after a classified CIA report was released on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, who was killed by a group of rogue Saudi agents in Istanbul in 2018.

Despite a lot of hype that preceded the release of the report, many observers have described it as too analytical and lacking evidence.

“No smoking gun,” CNN’s International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson said.

Israeli journalist and commentator Barak Ravid wrote on Twitter: “US intelligence report on Khashoggi, which is 100% analysis and 0% information, raises real concerns about the quality of access US intelligence agencies have in Saudi Arabia.”

Meanwhile, in the Kingdom, Saudis took to social media to show support for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who underwent a successful surgical procedure on Wednesday morning to treat appendicitis.

Saudi journalist Abdulrahman Al-Rashed tweeted there was nothing new in the declassified CIA report. He described those who were betting on Biden to damage the relationship with Saudi Arabia as “ignorant of how the world operates.”

Saudi columnist Salman Al-Dossari tweeted that the Biden administration should be praised for publishing the CIA report, saying that the findings support Saudi court rulings.

Last September, Saudi Arabia’s Public Prosecution announced the final sentences for the eight people convicted of the Khashoggi murder.

Five of them received 20-year jail sentences for their involvement in the killing. Another was sentenced to 10 years while two others received seven years. Commenting on the verdict, the Khashoggi family called the judgment “fair and dissuasive.”