Mandatory use of Tawakkalna app to access public places gets mixed reaction in Saudi Arabia

Technical issues with the app earlier this week left many people unable to access it. (SPA)
Technical issues with the app earlier this week left many people unable to access it. (SPA)
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Updated 06 February 2021

Mandatory use of Tawakkalna app to access public places gets mixed reaction in Saudi Arabia

Mandatory use of Tawakkalna app to access public places gets mixed reaction in Saudi Arabia
  • Expert called app a ‘safety medal’ for citizens, residents for facing down virus

RIYADH: There have been mixed reactions to the mandatory use of Saudi Arabia’s COVID-19 app to access places such as hotels, malls and restaurants.
Tawakkalna was launched last year to help track coronavirus infections. It has since developed and been updated to include vaccination information, including an individual’s status such as vaccinated or infected, and now functions as a COVID-19 “passport.”
Technical issues with the app earlier this week left many people unable to access it — meaning they were unable to gain entry to public spaces.
Dr. Osama Ghanem Alobaidy, a law professor at the Institute of Public Administration in Riyadh, said everybody had raced to download the app. “I personally could not log on to the app throughout Thursday and part of Friday,” he told Arab News.
Tawakkalna management should have anticipated the large volume of app users and the pressure that this demand would put on its operation, he added.
“Any malfunction to this app after it became mandatory will have an adverse effect on the local economy since no individual will be allowed into any government or private establishment if the app on his or her mobile phone is not working. In addition, I did not receive any message from Tawakkalna as claimed to allow temporary access. So I called the Tawakkalna toll free number and was informed that a message would be sent shortly providing me a temporary permit but that did not materialize.”
However Dr. Majed Al-Hedayan, a financial and legal expert, called Tawakkalna a “safety medal” for citizens and residents for facing down coronavirus.
“It is a very distinct service that is unique to Saudi Arabia,” he told Arab News. “This is the fruit of investment in the knowledge economy, which contributes to the improvement of public services, especially health.”

HIGHLIGHT

Launched by the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority last year, the application saw over 200 million operations being made within a 24 hour period. A majority of registered users were locked out of the app. Those unregistered breathed a slight sigh of relief Friday as the app gradually showed signs of working again.

The technical issues had improved on Friday, with the app functioning for many, but some people were still experiencing glitches.
Belal Akhtar, an IT consultant at King Saud University, went to the supermarket on Thursday for her weekly shop. “I was trying to log into the app since the morning and only succeeded in the evening,” she told Arab News. “Though I successfully logged in, the connection was not stable and when I reached the destination, I saw a very long queue at the entrance. Most of the people were telling the same story, facing difficulties in accessing the app.”
PR consultant Ayman Hassan was not having problems with the app, which he had been using since the early days of its launch. “Those who have been using the app from the beginning are not facing any issues,” he told Arab News. “It’s working well with me. I heard so many stories about (the app) crashing and people advising the best time to try, but for me, thankfully, no issues yet.”
Pakistani expat Faiz Al-Najdi, who works in Yanbu, said he and his wife were denied entry to a pharmacy and then a mall in the port city because his app was down.
“However Friday morning I was surprised to receive an SMS, from Tawakkalna, providing me with a permit to show security to allow me to enter any public place,” he told Arab News.

Decoder

Tawakkalna

The Tawakkalna is an app developed by the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) to support government efforts in countering Covid-19. It facilitates the issuance of movement permits electronically during the curfew period for those who are exempted from the curfew, thus helping to reduce the spread of the pandemic in the Kingdom.


Saudi Arabia donates $3 million to support the Global Partnership Strategy for Education 2025

Education Minister Dr. Hamad Al Sheikh, speaking on behalf of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Screenshot/Global Education Summit)
Education Minister Dr. Hamad Al Sheikh, speaking on behalf of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Screenshot/Global Education Summit)
Updated 25 sec ago

Saudi Arabia donates $3 million to support the Global Partnership Strategy for Education 2025

Education Minister Dr. Hamad Al Sheikh, speaking on behalf of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Screenshot/Global Education Summit)
  • The announcement was made during a global eductaion summit in London on Thursday

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pledged on Thursday $3 million to support the strategic plan of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) for the next five years.

The announcement was made during a global eductaion summit in London on Thursday.

“Saudi Arabia will always be a leader in providing support to everything that would achieve development, prosperity and peace for the people of the world,” said Education Minister Dr. Hamad Al Sheikh, speaking on behalf of the crown prince.

“The Kingdom has always attached great importance to education at local, regional and international levels. This is evidenced by the inclusion of education as a main issue on the agenda of the Kingdom’s G20 2020 presidency and the fact that education is a major component of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. 

He said the Kingdom has always ascribed great attention to education locally, regionally and internationally, which was evident by the inclusion of education as a core topic on the main agenda of Saudi G20 presidency last year, adding that it is also a core component of the Saudi Vision 2030.

“Moreover, Saudi Arabia is the biggest donor to regional financial organizations, such as the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the OPEC Fund for International Development and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa,” which provide support to several countries around the world through financing projects and initiatives in different fields.

He called for international cooperation and joint action to help low income countries and combine efforts in supporting international initiatives and programs that would enhance the economics of education and support educational systems in the beneficiary countries, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Al-Sheikh said GPE aims to improve access to equitable, inclusive education, bridge educational and digital gaps and address all forms of educational inequality, especially in low income countries, all of which are in line with the fourth UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 agenda.

As for other Gulf countries at the summit, the UAE pledged $100 million, Kuwait pledged $30 million and Dubai Cares donated $2.5 million, while IsDb $200 million in concessional loans.

 

 


Saudi Arabia announces 12 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 12 more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 29 July 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 12 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 12 more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 503,827
  • A total of 8,212 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced 12 deaths from COVID-19 and 1,289 new infections on Thursday.
Of the new cases, 260 were recorded in Makkah, 253 in Riyadh, 220 in the Eastern Province, 100 in Jazan, 76 in Asir, 73 in Hail, 63 in Madinah, 42 in Tabuk, 41 in Najran, 30 in the Northern Borders region, 23 in Al-Baha, and 11 in Al-Jouf.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 503,827 after 1,299 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 8,212 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.
Over 26 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


Saudi Arabia sends medical aid to Malaysia amid rising coronavirus infections

Saudi Arabia sends medical aid to Malaysia amid rising coronavirus infections
Updated 29 July 2021

Saudi Arabia sends medical aid to Malaysia amid rising coronavirus infections

Saudi Arabia sends medical aid to Malaysia amid rising coronavirus infections
  • The equipment included essential medical and preventive supplies and equipment
  • The one million doses of the coronavirus vaccine will be provided in coordination with the Malaysian foreign minister's office

DUBAI: Medical aid from Saudi Arabia arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday to help tackle the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, state news agency SPA reported.

The equipment, sent by the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid, included essential medical and preventive supplies and equipment.

This move comes in implementation of the directives of King Salman, following the request of Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein during his call with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Meanwhile, the one million doses of the coronavirus vaccine will be provided in coordination with the Malaysian foreign minister's office. One of the approved international companies will supply the required quantities of vaccines directly from their factories to Malaysia.

Earlier on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia had sent medical aid to Uruguay to help the country in its fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

The equipment included 53 respirators and over 2.3 million surgical masks, in addition to protective clothing, medical gloves and other preventive supplies.


Saudi Food and Drug Authority seizes 412 tons of shrimp, fake food labels in Jazan

Saudi Food and Drug Authority seizes 412 tons of shrimp, fake food labels in Jazan
Updated 29 July 2021

Saudi Food and Drug Authority seizes 412 tons of shrimp, fake food labels in Jazan

Saudi Food and Drug Authority seizes 412 tons of shrimp, fake food labels in Jazan
  • Inspectors found modifications of data and expiry dates of the shrimps repackaged in new containers

JAZAN: Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) inspectors seized 412 tons of shrimp stocks after detecting fake food labels and product packages inside an illegal warehouse in Jazan region.

SFDA said that during the inspection and investigation operations, inspectors detected modifications of the data and the expiry dates of the product, which was repackaged in new containers.

The shrimp products, and packages and data labels were seized, in addition to another 500,000 labels bearing food data and cartons ready for packing.

As a result of the inspection, the authority closed the unlicensed warehouse and summoned those responsible for the facility to hear statements and complete the application of penalties and regulations against them.

According to food law and its executive regulations, the penalty for such violations can reach up to SR10 million ($2.6 million), in addition to a ban on the violator from practicing any food business for up to 180 days, as well as license suspensions and/or cancellations.

Violations of establishments under the supervision of the SFDA can be reported by calling the unified number (19999), or through its “Tameni” application available on the iOS and Android operating systems.

 

 


35,000 Saudi families benefit from Sakani housing scheme

35,000 Saudi families benefit from Sakani housing scheme
Updated 29 July 2021

35,000 Saudi families benefit from Sakani housing scheme

35,000 Saudi families benefit from Sakani housing scheme
  • Kingdom's Vision 2030 reform plan aims to raise the proportion of residential ownership to 70 percent

RIYADH: A total of 34,891 families benefited from subsidized mortgage loans through the Sakani self-construction program during the first half of this year.

Run by the Ministry of Municipal, Rural Affairs, and Housing and the Real Estate Development Fund (REDF), Sakani offers Saudis access to land and residential housing via financing solutions to help first-time homebuyers.

The Vision 2030 reform plan aims to raise the proportion of residential ownership in the Kingdom to 70 percent.

Sakani provided various residential products and financial solutions for 111,568 families in the first six months of the year, including 87,896 families that have already moved into new homes and its website and app are designed to simplify and speed up the purchasing process for readymade, off-plan, self-construction, and land products.

To qualify for a subsidized loan for self-construction, applicants must be entitled to residential support, own a residential land plot and have a valid building permit, have a fixed income, and must not have previously claimed housing support. Details are available at https://sakani.housing.sa/product/SC.

The scheme also provides an engineering design service with a range of high-quality, competitively priced options in partnership with experienced engineering offices. More than 36 distinctive and modern self-construction designs are available along with an approved contractor service.

The REDF offers more than 43 e-services for citizens as well as a real-estate adviser app and its online team provides around-the-clock support for those seeking subsidized funding.

Beneficiaries can call 199088 or contact the REDF on social media for information on housing and financial solutions, programs, and initiatives.