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.


DiplomaticQuarter: Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan discuss strengthening ties

DiplomaticQuarter: Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan discuss strengthening ties
Updated 52 min 45 sec ago

DiplomaticQuarter: Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan discuss strengthening ties

DiplomaticQuarter: Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan discuss strengthening ties

RIYADH: Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Shahin Abdullayev recently held a meeting with the joint Saudi-Azerbaijani Parliamentary Friendship Committee of the Shoura Council in Riyadh, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The meeting was held under the co-chairmanship of Dr. Faiz Al-Shehri, member of the Shoura Council and head of the committee, and examined various ways to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in various fields, especially at the level of parliamentary relations between the Shoura Council and the Azerbaijani parliament.
Abdullayev wished the council success in its new session and expressed his appreciation for the Kingdom’s policies to enhance security, peace and stability in the Gulf region and beyond.
Al-Shehri ran through the Shoura Council’s organizational structure, and highlighted the importance of the diplomatic role played by parliamentary friendship committees.
Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan celebrated the 25th anniversary of their diplomatic relations in February 2017.
The then-Azeri Ambassador in Riyadh Rasim Rzayev said at the time: “Azerbaijan and the Kingdom, two brotherly Muslim countries, have unique commonalities of a historical, religious and political nature.”
 


Eastern Province governor receives Netherlands ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Eastern Province governor receives Netherlands ambassador to Saudi Arabia
Updated 25 February 2021

Eastern Province governor receives Netherlands ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Eastern Province governor receives Netherlands ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Eastern Province Gov. Prince Saud bin Naif met Janet Alberda, ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Saudi Arabia, in Dammam on Wednesday.
During the meeting, they discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and issues of common interest, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Alberda highlighted the development that the Eastern Province has been witnessing, and wished further progress and prosperity for the Kingdom.
The meeting was attended by the Saudi Honorary Consul to the Kingdom of the Netherlands Sulaiman Al-Suhaimi.
Also on Wednesday, Prince Saud received the regional director of Al Arabiya channel, Mohammed Al-Hekmi, accompanied by a number of employees.
Prince Saud praised the role of the media in highlighting the societal and development accomplishments of the Kingdom in general and the Eastern Province in particular.
The media played an influential role and was an important means of communication, he said.
Earlier, Prince Saud met the US consul general in Dhahran, Nicholle Manz-Baazaoui. Issues of common interest and ways to promote relationships between the two countries were discussed.
Prince Saud stressed the solid ties between the two countries and their common vision on various topics.
He also highlighted the two countries’ joint work toward achieving security and peace in the region and the world, as well as their economic and cultural cooperation.
 


Who’s Who: Tareq Al-Sadhan, CEO of Riyad Bank

Who’s Who: Tareq Al-Sadhan, CEO of Riyad Bank
Updated 25 February 2021

Who’s Who: Tareq Al-Sadhan, CEO of Riyad Bank

Who’s Who: Tareq Al-Sadhan, CEO of Riyad Bank

Tareq Al-Sadhan has been president and CEO of Riyad Bank since April 2019. Before that, he served as the bank’s senior executive vice president from January 2018 to March 2019.
Al-Sadhan worked with KPMG Saudi Arabia, where he spent 18 years rising through the ranks to become one of the youngest partners in the firm’s history.
He was CEO/managing partner and chairman of the advisory committee during his last five years at the company.
Before his current position, Al-Sadhan worked in the Kingdom’s public sector in roles such as adviser to the chairman in the Saudi Fund for Development, acting director general at the General Authority for Zakat and Tax, and deputy governor for supervision at the Saudi Central Bank.
Al-Sadhan holds a bachelor’s degree in administration science from King Saud University, majoring in accounting (1997), and a master’s degree in business management from Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussees, France (2007).
He gained a diploma in international business from the University of Edinburgh in 2006, and a diploma in leadership development and strategy from INSEAD in 2010.
Al-Sadhan is a member of the 2020 World Economic Forum’s Stewardship Board for the Middle East and North Africa, and a fellow of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Saudi Organization for Certified Public Accountants.
He has been an audit committee member at the Public Investment Fund since March 2019, and an advisory board member at Mastercard since March 2018.


Saudi Prince Khalid bin Salman discusses defense relations with UK

Saudi Prince Khalid bin Salman discusses defense relations with UK
Updated 25 February 2021

Saudi Prince Khalid bin Salman discusses defense relations with UK

Saudi Prince Khalid bin Salman discusses defense relations with UK
  • Prince Khalid bin Salman held a phone call with British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace

RIYADH: Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman held a phone call with British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace to discuss defense relations between both countries. 

“Had a good call with the United Kingdom Defense Secretary Ben Wallace to discuss defense relations between our two friendly countries, and our common interests in achieving regional and international stability,” Prince Khalid tweeted Wednesday.

In an interview last year with Al Arabiya, Wallace said the UK’s relations with Saudi Arabia are not restricted to selling weapons, but a strong defense partnership.


KSrelief launches medical campaign in Djibouti

KSrelief launches medical campaign in Djibouti
Updated 25 February 2021

KSrelief launches medical campaign in Djibouti

KSrelief launches medical campaign in Djibouti

DJIBOUTI: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) has launched a voluntary medical campaign for specialized surgeries in Djibouti.

The center’s medical team has to date performed 41 urinary tract operations on children in the east African country and provided the necessary treatment for 60 other cases.

The health initiative is part of Saudi Arabia’s relief and humanitarian efforts, through the center, to help crisis-hit countries and the suffering of people around the world.