Entertainment activities resume in Saudi Arabia with strict COVID-19 measures

A woman shops at a cosmetics store at one of Riyadh’s malls after the Saudi government eased a curfew and allowed stores to open in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (File/Reuters)
A woman shops at a cosmetics store at one of Riyadh’s malls after the Saudi government eased a curfew and allowed stores to open in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 07 March 2021

Entertainment activities resume in Saudi Arabia with strict COVID-19 measures

Entertainment activities resume in Saudi Arabia with strict COVID-19 measures
  • Control teams will intensify their inspection visits
  • GEA calls on businesses to adhere to COVID-19 precautionary measures

RIYADH: Entertainment activities reopened on Sunday in Saudi Arabia after a one month hiatus, the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) said.
It called on businesses in the entertainment sector to adhere to COVID-19 protocols and precautionary measures. 
The most important of these were checking people’s health status through the Tawakkalna app, ensuring that face masks were worn, that people’s temperatures were measured before they entered the premises, and that people’s hands were sterilized.
During a press conference, the interior ministry’s security spokesperson said cinemas, restaurants and cafes, malls, and gyms and sports centers would be reopened.
Lt. Col. Talal Al-Shalhoub said all events and parties, including weddings and corporate meetings are still banned until further notice, while funeral prayers at cemeteries are to be distributed throughout the day. He said the maximum number of people permitted in any social gathering should not exceed 20.
The GEA said that anyone wishing to set up any entertainment activity must apply for the appropriate license by visiting its website.
“Control teams will intensify their inspection visits to all entertainment facilities to ensure their compliance with preventive measures and instructions,” the GEA added.
It carried out 295 inspection visits across various regions during the past two weeks to ensure that commercial establishments licensed by the GEA were adhering to precautionary measures. It found 19 violations.

Meanwhile, GEA also announced that the Riyadh Oasis’ entertainment events resumed on Sunday, urging people with chronic diseases and the elderly not to attend if possible, and for children under 15 to be accompanied by an adult. 
Riyadh Oasis is the latest luxury entertainment project in the heart of the inner desert of the Kingdom, and includes a variety of leisure activities and high-end restaurants.
GEA said all workers at the event are subjected to daily coronavirus checks, in addition to sterilizing all sites periodically and around the clock to maintain public health and safety.


King Salman heads Saudi delegation to US-hosted leaders’ virtual summit on climate

King Salman heads Saudi delegation to US-hosted leaders’ virtual summit on climate
Updated 22 April 2021

King Salman heads Saudi delegation to US-hosted leaders’ virtual summit on climate

King Salman heads Saudi delegation to US-hosted leaders’ virtual summit on climate
  • The King’s participation reaffirms Saudi’s commitment to face climate change
  • The virtual summit will be live streamed for public viewing

DUBAI: King Salman will head Saudi Arabia’s delegation to the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate being hosted by the US, state news agency SPA reported on Thursday.
American President Joe Biden invitation to 40 world leaders for climate talks, which happens on April 22 and 23, follows on his announcement shortly after his January inauguration that he would convene a leaders summit to galvanize efforts by the major economies to tackle the climate crisis.
The virtual summit will be live streamed for public viewing, the White House website has announced.
The King’s participation reaffirms Saudi’s commitment to face climate change and is an extension of the earlier announced Green Saudi Arabia and Green Middle East initiatives, SPA reported.


New envoy to Sweden Einas Al-Shahwan becomes Saudi Arabia’s 3rd female ambassador

New envoy to Sweden Einas Al-Shahwan becomes Saudi Arabia’s 3rd female ambassador
Updated 22 April 2021

New envoy to Sweden Einas Al-Shahwan becomes Saudi Arabia’s 3rd female ambassador

New envoy to Sweden Einas Al-Shahwan becomes Saudi Arabia’s 3rd female ambassador

RIYADH: Einas Al-Shahwan, the Kingdom’s ambassador-designate to Sweden, has become Saudi Arabia’s 3rd female ambassador.
During a virtual meeting with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Al-Shahwan was among a number of newly appointed ambassadors taking their oath.

The oaths were taken in front of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)

The ceremony was also attended by Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister.

Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan became the first female ambassador when she was named the Saudi envoy to the US in 2019. 
In Oct. 2020, Amal Al-Mouallami was appointed as Saudi ambassador to Norway.

Below is a complete list of the new appointments:

The ambassador-designate to the Republic of Portugal, Prince Saud bin Abdul Mohsen bin Abdulaziz;
the ambassador-designate to Sweden Einas bint Ahmed Al-Shahwan;
the ambassador-designate to the Sultanate of Oman, Abdullah bin Saud Al-Anzi;
the ambassador-designate to the Czech Republic, Abdullah bin Mutaab Al-Rasheed;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Korea, Sami bin Muhammad Al-Sadhan;
the ambassador-designate to Turkmenistan, Saeed bin Othman Suwaied;
the ambassador-designate to the United Republic of the Comoros, Atallah bin Zayed bin Zayed;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Tajikistan Walid bin Abdulrahman al-Rashidan;
the ambassador-designate to the Kyrgyz Republic Ibrahim bin Radi Al-Radi;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Albania, Faisal bin Ghazi Hafzi;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Kenya Khalid bin Abdullah Al Salman;
the ambassador-designate to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Faisal bin Talq Al-Baqami;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Cuba Faisal bin Falah Al-Harbi;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Chad Amer Bin Ali Al-Shahri;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Burkina Faso Fahd bin Abdulrahman Al-Dossary.

The oaths were taken in front of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)

Saudi Cruise partners with MSC Cruises for winter season

Saudi Cruise partners with MSC Cruises for winter season
Updated 22 April 2021

Saudi Cruise partners with MSC Cruises for winter season

Saudi Cruise partners with MSC Cruises for winter season
  • The two companies are aiming to host 170,000 cruise guests this winter

JEDDAH: Saudi Cruise Co., owned by the Public Investment Fund, signed a joint agreement on Wednesday with MSC Cruises to launch its trips in the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf during the upcoming winter season.
The announcement came during a meeting between Fawaz Farooqui, interim CEO of the Red Sea Cruise Co., and Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises, in Riyadh to sign the framework agreement to mark the start of the new partnership.
The two companies are aiming to host 170,000 cruise guests this winter.
Under the agreement, the MSC Magnifica will sail in the Red Sea from Jeddah on several seven-day trips from Nov. 13 through March 26. These trips will offer passengers access to a selection of ports and destinations on the coasts of the Red Sea. A weekly stopover will be included at Al-Wajh Port, which will connect passengers with AlUla, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The city of Jeddah is preparing for the first Formula 1 race hosted by the Kingdom on Dec. 5. These trips will provide an opportunity for some passengers of the MSC Magnifica to enjoy this global sports event in conjunction with their trips aboard the cruise.
MSC Magnifica will visit Dammam on a weekly basis from Dec. 2 through March 24, as part of its winter program in the Arabian Gulf. This trip will allow passengers to visit the Al-Ahsa Oasis, another UNESCO World Heritage site in the Kingdom, in addition to many exciting destinations and attractions in the region.
Farooqui said his company is keen to establish a long-term partnership, which will increase the number of cruises coming to Saudi Arabia in the future.
“The Kingdom has a lot to offer to its visitors, and the new cooperation will open the doors for travelers from all over the world to be among the first to have the opportunity to explore the rich Saudi heritage and hospitality,” he said.
Farooqui also said these trips will diversify the Saudi economy and increase the country’s GDP. In addition, the cruises will provide employment opportunities in the fields of port business, tourism and entertainment in the selected destinations to nearby communities.
By the year 2035, the company aims to create 50,000 direct and indirect job opportunities through the newly established cruise sector.
Vago said he wants his company to place Saudi Arabia on the global cruise map and make it a major tourist destination.
“We look forward to providing new experiences for tourists from within and outside the Kingdom, enabling them to discover the beauty of untouched islands, the picturesque beaches along the Saudi coasts, in addition to the historical and heritage sites scattered in many tourist destinations,” he said.


Saudi travel ban to remain on 20 countries when flights resume May 17

Saudi travel ban to remain on 20 countries when flights resume May 17
Updated 22 April 2021

Saudi travel ban to remain on 20 countries when flights resume May 17

Saudi travel ban to remain on 20 countries when flights resume May 17
  • The banned countries are Argentina, the UAE, Germany, the US, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, Brazil, Portugal, the UK, Turkey, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Lebanon, Egypt, India and Japan

JEDDAH: The resumption of international flights at 1 a.m. on May 17 will exclude the 20 countries where the ban on flights continues as part of preventive measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), said Saudia airline.
The banned countries, named by the Ministry of Interior, are: Argentina, the UAE, Germany, the US, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, Brazil, Portugal, the UK, Turkey, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Lebanon, Egypt, India and Japan.
The clarification came in response to a citizen’s query about whether the travel suspensions will continue.
Noncitizens, diplomats, health practitioners and their families traveling from the listed countries have been denied entry to the Kingdom since Feb. 3. The ban applies to arriving passengers who have passed through any of the prohibited countries in the 14 days prior to their application to enter the Kingdom.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Education employees who have yet to receive the COVID-19 vaccine are to be identified and put on a list, Saudi online newspaper Ajel reported.
The decision is part of official efforts to ensure a swift return to normal schooling, while safeguarding the health and safety of students and staff.
Education Minister Hamad Al-Asheikh previously called on ministry employees to arrange for vaccination in time for the start of the coming academic year.
Saudi authorities on Wednesday reported 12 additional deaths related to COVID-19. The death toll now stands at 6,858. The Ministry of Health reported 1,028 new cases, meaning that 408,038 people have contracted the disease, of which 9,818 remain active.
It said 431 of the new cases were in Riyadh, 220 in Makkah, 157 in the Eastern Province and 45 in Madinah. Another 824 patients recovered from the disease, bringing the total number of recoveries to 391,362.
Saudi Arabia has conducted 16,352,116 PCR tests, including 58,507 in the previous 24 hours.
Saudi health clinics set up by the ministry as testing hubs or treatment centers have helped hundreds of thousands of people around the Kingdom since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Saudis and expats in the Kingdom continue to receive coronavirus vaccine shots, with 7,537,798 people having been inoculated so far.


Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia
Updated 22 April 2021

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Arab coalition said it had intercepted a Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait, Al Ekhbariya TV reported early Thursday.
The coalition, which is fighting to restore the legitimacy of the internationally recognized government in Yemen, said it will take all measures to protect civilians in accordance with international law.
The Iran-back Houthi militia have consistently launched attacks against the Kingdom. 

The coalition said the attacks by the Houthis, who seized Yemen’s capital Sanaa in a violent coup in 2014, amount to war crimes.