International, regional support for Saudi effort to end conflict in Yemen

International, regional support for Saudi effort to end conflict in Yemen
The Saudi initiative includes a comprehensive cease-fire, the reopening of Sanaa airport, and resuming the political process. (File/AFP)
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Updated 24 March 2021

International, regional support for Saudi effort to end conflict in Yemen

International, regional support for Saudi effort to end conflict in Yemen
  • UN says Saudi peace initiative ‘aligns’ with its own efforts to end Yemen conflict
  • Gulf and Arab countries say they welcome and support the Saudi initiative

NEW YORK/LONDON: The UN welcomed on Monday Saudi Arabia’s new peace initiative to end the war in Yemen.
The proposals align with the world body’s own efforts, Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said.
The Saudi initiative, which includes a comprehensive cease-fire and the reopening of Sanaa airport, was announced by Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan. The plan would also ease restrictions on Hodeidah port and resume the political process.
Haq said the UN’s special envoy Martin Griffiths had been working to secure a nationwide cease-fire, reopen the airport for civilian aircraft and restart talks.
“There’s no doubt that every effort must be made to end the conflict in Yemen and address the suffering of the Yemeni people and the UN looks forward to continue working with all the parties to achieve this goal,” he said.
Guterres himself welcomed the initiative, during a phone call with the Kingdom’s ambassador to the UN Abdallah Al-Mouallimi.
Guterres affirmed his support for the initiative and toward reaching a comprehensive political solution, adding that this initiative is in line with the UN’s initiatives and efforts in solving the crisis.

The new initiative to end the six year war also drew support from the international community.
During a phone call on Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Prince Faisal that Washington supported efforts to end the conflict in Yemen, “starting with the need for all parties to commit to a cease-fire and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.”
Blinken said Washington is committed to supporting Saudi Arabia’s defense and “strongly condemned recent attacks against the Kingdom’s territory from Iranian-aligned groups in the region.”

US envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking welcomed Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni government’s commitment to a cease-fire and political process.
“We hope the parties negotiate the remaining details of a cease-fire to ease the suffering of the Yemeni people and transition to a Yemeni-led political process,” he added.
The European Union called the initiative a “positive step” in the peace process.
Peter Stano, spokesman for the European External Action Service in Brussels, said the EU encourages all parties to participate without delay with the UN special envoy, adding that the bloc asserts that reaching a comprehensive political agreement remains the only solution to end the crisis.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab welcomed the announcement and called for a nationwide cease-fire and action to ease humanitarian access restriction.
“The Houthis must now match the steps toward peace and an end to the suffering of the Yemeni people,” said Raab.

France said it commended the initiative and the Yemeni government’s decision to join it.
“The Houthis must now agree to this proposal, to allow the initiation of a process leading to the settlement of the current crisis and an end to the suffering of the Yemeni people,” the French foreign ministry said.
Spain and Russia also welcomed the proposal with Madrid urging “the parties to negotiate a political solution without delay under the auspices of the UN,” and Moscow calling on the parties “to study it carefully” and said it “advocates for the speedy end of the prolonged armed confrontation in Yemen.”
Japan also welcomed the announcement and Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said his government will continue to support efforts of the UN envoy Griffiths to end the conflict in Yemen.
GCC chief Nayef Al-Hajraf said the initiative reflects great concern and a sincere desire to end the Yemeni crisis.
He praised Saudi Arabia’s efforts to support Yemen’s security and stability, and Oman’s positive role to end the Yemeni crisis.
He said GCC countries were keen to provide all aspects of support to the Yemeni people and see Yemen return as a strong and active member of the Gulf and Arab community in a way that “preserves the country’s security, unity, independence and territorial integrity.”
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit called the initiative a “positive step” toward a political settlement in Yemen, and the main points represent a starting point for a comprehensive dialogue and a balanced treatment of the concerns of all the parties.
Aboul Gheit called on the Houthis to put aside any private interests or foreign agendas, and to seize the opportunity and initiate a comprehensive political dialogue that ends the crisis.

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Adel bin Abdulrahman Al-Asoumi, speaker of the Arab Parliament, said the initiative includes a clear road map that applies a practical and specific vocabulary, and represents a valuable opportunity for a final and comprehensive solution to the Yemeni crisis.
The UAE said the initiative represents a valuable opportunity for a comprehensive cease-fire in Yemen, and will pave the way toward a lasting political solution.
UAE Foreign Minster Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed urged the international community to join efforts to adhere to this initiative and the cease-fire by all parties.
He also praised Saudi Arabia’s pivotal role in implementing the Riyadh Agreement, forming the new Yemeni government, reaching a political solution and speeding up efforts to end the Yemeni crisis.

Kuwait said it welcomed and supported the initiative and called on the Yemeni parties to “fully adhere to it in order to launch consultations between the parties to reach the desired political solution.”
Bahrain’s foreign ministry commended the Kingdom’s “honorable positions in support of Yemen, its constant endeavor to restore security and stability, and the aid and humanitarian assistance it has provided.”
Oman, which has been leading mediation efforts with Riyadh and Washington, said that it would continue to work with the Kingdom, the UN and the concerned Yemeni parties to achieve the desired political settlement that would restore security and stability to Yemen while also preserving the security and interests of regional countries.
Egypt said the initiative works to prioritize the interests of the Yemeni people and to create an atmosphere to resume the political process.
The foreign ministry called on all Yemeni parties to respond to the initiative in order to stop the bloodshed and support efforts to bring peace to Yemen.
Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the plan was an integrated proposal in line with international resolutions that reflected Saudi Arabia’s concern for the security and stability of Yemen and the region.
Safadi met the UN’s Griffiths on Monday to discuss efforts to reach a political agreement to end the war.
China’s embassy in Yemen said it appreciates the Kingdom’s tireless efforts to resolve the conflict.
“We hope that all parties will make joint efforts and move in the same direction in order to reach a comprehensive political solution under the auspices of the UN,” the embassy said in a tweet.

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Saudi family infected with Covid-19 evacuated from India 

Saudi family infected with Covid-19 evacuated from India 
Updated 9 min 6 sec ago

Saudi family infected with Covid-19 evacuated from India 

Saudi family infected with Covid-19 evacuated from India 

RIYADH: A Saudi family infected with coronavirus has returned to the Kingdom from India, the Saudi Press Agency reported late Monday.
The family was airlifted by the Air Medical Evacuation Department of Health Services at the Saudi Ministry of Defense in an implementation of directives issued by Saudi King Salman.  
The plane arrived at King Salman Air Base in Riyadh, with all precautionary measures taken by crew members to combat the spread COVID-19.
Previously, Saudi Arabia transported more than 74 cases infected with COVID-19 through its medical air evacuation planes without infecting the medical and aircrews with the virus.


Saudi Arabia’s King Salman receives phone call from Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman receives phone call from Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa
Updated 18 May 2021

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman receives phone call from Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman receives phone call from Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa
  • King Hamad congratulated King Salman on the re-opening of the King Fahd Causeway
  • King Salman thanked Bahrain’s ruler for his efforts to further strengthen the relations between both Kingdoms

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman discussed in a phone call with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa issues of common interest and relations between both Kingdoms, state news agency SPA reported.
King Hamad further congratulated King Salman on the re-opening of the King Fahd Causeway, following the coronavirus lockdown, Bahrain’s news agency BNA reported.
Only those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or those who have recovered from the disease are allowed to leave the Kingdom.
Meanwhile King Salman thanked Bahrain’s ruler for his efforts to further strengthen the relations between both Kingdoms.


Saudi passengers flock to airports as foreign travel resumes

Saudi passengers flock to airports as foreign travel resumes
About 385 international flights took off from nine Saudi airports on Monday, including 225 departures from Riyadh, 75 from Jeddah, 66 from Dammam, and 19 from the other airports. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 18 May 2021

Saudi passengers flock to airports as foreign travel resumes

Saudi passengers flock to airports as foreign travel resumes
  • About 385 flights to international destinations took off from nine airports in the Kingdom on Monday

JEDDAH: The terminals at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah were once again bustling with passengers on Monday, as international travel resumed more than a year after it was suspended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Arrivals and departures resumed at the Kingdom’s air, land and sea ports at 1 a.m., with Saudi citizens who have been vaccinated, or have recovered from the virus within the past six months, free to travel.
As passengers flocked to the airport from early Monday morning, the flow of traffic was well-organized and smooth. Entry to terminals was restricted to people with valid tickets and helpers accompanying disabled travelers.
As part of the latest rules implemented by authorities, Saudis younger than 18 must also provide proof that they have a health insurance policy, approved by the Saudi Central Bank, that will cover the cost of treatment for COVID-19 in other countries.
Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Civil Aviation also issued updated travel guidelines, including requirements for the use of the country’s Tawakkalna COVID-19 tracking app. The conditions apply to all travelers, regardless of whether their trip is for leisure, study, work or to receive medical treatment.
About 385 international flights took off from nine Saudi airports on Monday, including 225 departures from Riyadh, 75 from Jeddah, 66 from Dammam, and 19 from the other airports. In addition, about 300 vehicles crossed land borders into Qatar during the morning.
The Kingdom’s national carrier, Saudia, resumed flights to 43 destinations in 30 countries. It said it will operate 178 scheduled flights each week from Jeddah and 153 from Riyadh.

As part of the latest rules implemented by authorities, Saudis younger than 18 must also provide proof that they have a health insurance policy.

Ibrahim Al-Omar, the airline’s director general, said that Saudia has implemented more than 50 precautionary measures throughout all stages of the flight process, and has been ranked among the Top-10 safest airlines in the world by the Airline Passenger Experience Association. He added that since the pandemic began, the airline has operated more than 100,000 flights, transporting more than 10 million passengers.
The destination of the first international flight to depart from Riyadh on Monday was Hyderabad in India, while the first flight of the day from Jeddah was bound for Dhaka in Bangladesh. The first international flight to land in Riyadh on Monday was from Cairo, and the first arrival in Jeddah was from the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

INNUMBERS

More than 18,000 people traveled from King Abdulaziz Airport on Monday.

More than 47 flights operated from the Kingdom within 6.

Despite the resumption of international flights, the Saudi Interior Ministry said that a ban remains on direct or indirect travel to 13 countries without prior permission to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The countries this applies to are: Libya, Yemen, Armenia, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Somalia, Belarus, India, Lebanon, Turkey, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Venezuela.
In addition, the ministry said travelers heading to Bahrain must have received two doses of a vaccine, and children under the age of 18 are not eligible to travel there. Diplomats and individuals accompanying them, air navigation and ship crews, workers in companies that are part of the health supply chain, and truck drivers are exempt from these rules. People who arrived at the King Fahd Causeway, on the border with Bahrain, but did not meet the requirements were turned away on Monday.
Travelers returning to the Kingdom after visiting a foreign country will be required to quarantine at home for seven days. However foreign visitors, including members of diplomatic missions arriving by air from most countries, will no longer need to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Those who are not vaccinated must provide proof of a negative PCR test, issued by an approved laboratory within 72 hours of flying to the Kingdom, otherwise they will not be allowed to board the plane.
With the exception of Saudi citizens, resident expats and GCC citizens, all people arriving in Saudi Arabia must have medical insurance that will cover the costs of COVID-19 treatment in outpatient clinics, emergency rooms and hospitals.
On Jan. 29, Saudi authorities postponed the reopening of air, sea and land ports and extended the travel ban from Mar. 31 to May 17. Further information about international travel, including the rules and requirements, is available at www.saudia.com.


Covid rule violators warned as cases decline in Saudi Arabia

Covid rule violators warned as cases decline in Saudi Arabia
Hundreds of individuals were fined for breaking social gathering protocols in different part of Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Updated 18 May 2021

Covid rule violators warned as cases decline in Saudi Arabia

Covid rule violators warned as cases decline in Saudi Arabia
  • Saudi Arabia has administered more than 11.7 million COVID-19 vaccines so far at a rate of 33.5 doses per hundred

JEDDAH: More than 250 people have been fined for breaking social distancing rules in 24 hours, including 72 women attending a wedding where both guests and the host were fined.
For the fourth day in a row, the number of people infected with the coronavirus in Saudi Arabia remained below 1,000 with a significant rise in recoveries.
There were 886 new cases recorded in the Kingdom on Monday – a total of 433,980 people have been infected with the disease in Saudi Arabia since the start of the pandemic.
Meanwhile a further 1,127 people have recovered, taking the total number of recoveries to 418,914, meaning the Kingdom’s recovery rate has increased to 96.5 percent, marking a significant decline in the epidemiological curve.
There were 7,892 active cases, 1,377 of them critical, an increase of just one patient in the past 24 hours.

FASTFACTS

• A total of 886 new cases were recorded in the Kingdom on Monday.

• The highest number of cases was recorded in the Riyadh region.

• More than 250 individuals fined for violating health protocols.

The regions with the highest number of infections were Riyadh with 281 cases and Makkah with 250. Twelve new COVID-19 related deaths were reported, raising the death toll to 7,174.
Saudi Arabia has administered more than 11.7 million COVID-19 vaccines so far at a rate of 33.5 doses per hundred. Of the Kingdom’s 34.8 million people, 33.6 percent have now been vaccinated with at least one jab.
On Monday, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs closed nine mosques temporarily in six regions, after cases of COVID-19 were detected among worshipers.
The ministry stated that the total number of mosques that had been closed now amounted to 1,210, with 1,188 subsequently reopened after the completion of disinfection.


GCC national ID not valid for travel

GCC national ID not valid for travel
Travelers must verify the conditions of the destination country and ensure they are met. (SPA)
Updated 18 May 2021

GCC national ID not valid for travel

GCC national ID not valid for travel
  • King Fahd Causeway Passports raises operational capacity

RIYADH: Using a national ID as a document for traveling to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries remains suspended, a spokesman for the Eastern Province Passports said.

Citizens wishing to travel must verify the conditions of the destination country and ensure they are met, Mualla Al-Otaibi added.
In February last year, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to suspend GCC citizens’ use of national identity cards for travel to and from the Kingdom, coinciding with the onset of precautionary measures to combat COVID-19.
Al-Otaibi said the border points of the Eastern Region Passports had resumed work after the lifting of travel suspensions through all air, land and sea ports on May 17.
“Preventive maintenance work was carried out for all border backup devices and systems,” said Al-Otaibi.
A further 10 lanes have been installed in the departure area, bringing the total number of lanes to 27, with 36 lanes in the arrival area.
King Fahd Causeway Passports increased its operational capacity by 30 percent to facilitate passenger travel.
The spokesman said that meetings and workshops were held with port authorities to ensure speedy and smooth travel, while applying all precautions.

Dhaifallah Al-Otaibi

The movement of passengers leaving for Bahrain had decreased sharply since Monday morning, he said. The director general of Saudi Customs at the King Fahd Causeway, Dhaifallah Al-Otaibi, told Arab News they were ready to receive arrivals and departures through the causeway, and to provide customs services to travelers of all categories.
Customs at the causeway linking Saudi Arabia and Bahrain strived to enhance customs procedures, he added.

We are ready to receive arrivals and departures through the causeway.

Dhaifallah Al-Otaibi, DG Saudi Customs

He confirmed the continued cooperation and coordination between all parties operating at the border crossing, and that port authorities were all working as one business system to provide the best services.
“Customs (the land link between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain) continues to take precautionary measures, (which are) more intense with the start of travel between the two countries to ensure the maximum levels of safety recommended to protect travelers and arrivals, in addition to protecting the employees of the port,” he added.
Customs at the King Fahd Causeway continued working on freight traffic since the suspension of personal travel between the two countries last year, he said.
Causeway customs statistics said that procedures for about 272,000 trucks entering and leaving the Kingdom had been completed between March 2020 until the end of April 2021, while about 325,000 vehicles had crossed the causeway in both directions since the beginning of this year.