Saudi expats’ Ramadan agony as loved ones pray for end to flight curbs

Saudi expats’ Ramadan agony as loved ones pray for end to flight curbs
International flights suspended due to coronavirus travel restrictions will resume on May 17, Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority GACA said in a circular. (AFP/File)
Short Url
Updated 18 April 2021

Saudi expats’ Ramadan agony as loved ones pray for end to flight curbs

Saudi expats’ Ramadan agony as loved ones pray for end to flight curbs
  • International flights suspended due to coronavirus travel restrictions will resume on May 17, Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority GACA said in a circular

RIYADH: While most families look forward to gatherings around the iftar table during the holy month of Ramadan, many expatriates in the Kingdom face an agonizing wait on relatives stranded in their homelands by flight suspensions.
Every Ramadan, with sunset nearing, families sit together during iftar to break their dawn-to-dusk fast, giving everyone a chance to catch up during the month-long festivity culminating in Eid Al-Fitr.
However, many expats are anxiously watching airline schedules as countries ease travel curbs, opening the way for family reunions.
International flights suspended due to coronavirus travel restrictions will resume on May 17, Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority GACA said in a circular.
Anwar Pasha Ansari, an Indian expatriate working in Jeddah, told Arab News that his daughter Heba Anwar is stranded in India.
“No father and mother should go through this agony,” he said.
Ansari said that his daughter left Jeddah to appear for her bachelor’s final exam in New Delhi, hoping to rejoin her family to celebrate Eid last year.
“But perhaps destiny was preparing another fate,” he said.
Ansari said that travel bans “brought the curtain down for all parents like us whose children were held up in India.”
He added: “To add insult to injury, all students were asked to vacate their hostel and make their own living arrangements, which was a nightmare for parents working overseas.”

HIGHLIGHT

Every Ramadan, with sunset nearing, families sit together during iftar to break their dawn-to-dusk fast, giving everyone a chance to catch up during the month-long festivity culminating in Eid Al-Fitr.

With no end to travel restrictions in sight, Ansari’s daughter planned to travel to Saudi Arabia via the UAE after spending 14 days in Dubai.
Ansari said that when his daughter arrived in Dubai in January, they were elated at the prospect of reuniting with her.
But with only three days left of her quarantine, a temporary traveling restriction from Dubai to Saudi Arabia came into force and all hope was gone.
“Heba spent a substantial time hoping against hope that flights would be resumed and checking any news pertaining to flight resumption to Saudi Arabia,” said Anwar.
“She was only a couple of hours away from us.”
Finally, after all options were exhausted, Heba was forced to return to India, bravely telling her parents: “Papa and mummy, stay well, this phase will pass, too.”
Ansari’s story will be familiar to thousands separated from their children as the coronavirus pandemic challenges everyone’s patience, endurance and capacity to endure the hardships of separation.
Technology and video apps help, but are not enough to bridge the gap as families face even more time apart.
Raafat Aoun, a Lebanese expat working in the Kingdom, told Arab News: “The closure of flights has affected many expat families. My brother-in-law had to travel to Beirut to attend to an emergency. Now he finds himself in a very difficult situation as he is stuck there, and his wife and four young children are all alone in Jeddah.”
Aoun said that his brother-in-law had been stranded for more than three months.
“I am supporting them and extending them all the help I can. But this festive season is becoming very difficult for me, too. I hope and pray flights resume soon so that my brother-in-law can return to his family.”
Pakistani expatriate Syed Faiz Ahmad said that two of his relatives were stranded after traveling to Pakistan.
“One went to help his ailing father, leaving his family behind in Riyadh. But he got stuck. His wife and two children are all alone here and are desperately waiting for him to return, especially during this month of Ramadan.”


Saudi Arabia confirms 13 COVID-19 deaths, 942 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 13 COVID-19 deaths, 942 new cases
Updated 09 May 2021

Saudi Arabia confirms 13 COVID-19 deaths, 942 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 13 COVID-19 deaths, 942 new cases
  • The Kingdom said 1,064 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • The highest number of cases were recorded in Riyadh with 334

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 13 new COVID-19 related deaths on Sunday, raising the total number of fatalities to 7,072.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 942 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 426,384 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 9,572 remain active and 1,336 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 334, followed by Makkah with 286, the Eastern Province with 112, Asir recorded 50 and Madinah confirmed 40 cases.
The health ministry also announced that 1,064 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 409,740.
The ministry renewed its call on the public to register to receive the vaccine, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs said on Sunday it has prepared 3,156 mosques and chapels in the Makkah region to hold Eid Al-Fitr prayer this year, which will be held 15 minutes after sunrise.
It also announced it has completed preparing and equipping 1,074 in Madinah and its affiliated governorates for the Eid prayer.
The Ministry of Interior said 25,672 violations were committed against precautionary coronavirus measures in the Kingdom from May 2 — 8, with the capital, Riyadh, recording the highest with 8,909 violations, followed by Makkah with 4,556, and the Eastern Province with 3,805 violations.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 158 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 3.29 million.


Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
Updated 09 May 2021

Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
  • Khan also visited and prayed at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah
  • Khan arrived in the Kingdom on Friday on a two-day official visit

JEDDAH: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performed the Umrah pilgrimage in Makkah on Sunday.
Upon his arrival at the Grand Mosque, Khan was received by a number of officials of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques and the special force for the security of the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
Khan arrived in the Kingdom on Friday on a two-day official visit at the invitation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Earlier on Sunday, Khan left Madinah headed for Jeddah, after he visited the Prophet’s Mosque and performed prayers there.
He was seen off from Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah by a number of senior, civilian and military officials.


Saudi Arabia to hold Hajj pilgrimage under certain COVID-19 health precautions

Saudi Arabia to hold Hajj pilgrimage under certain COVID-19 health precautions
Updated 09 May 2021

Saudi Arabia to hold Hajj pilgrimage under certain COVID-19 health precautions

Saudi Arabia to hold Hajj pilgrimage under certain COVID-19 health precautions
  • Kingdom will ensure the health and safety of pilgrims
  • Health authorities are continuing to assess conditions and take all measures to preserve human health

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said on Sunday it would announce operational plans for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage soon.
The ministry said the details would be determined by COVID-19 health controls and standards.
The Kingdom will ensure the health and safety of pilgrims and enable them to perform their rituals “easily and in a safe environment,” the ministry said.
The decision is “based on the Kingdom’s constant keenness to enable the guests and visitors of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque to perform the rituals of Hajj and Umrah,” the statement said, adding “the Kingdom puts human health and safety first.”
The ministry said that Saudi health authorities are continuing to assess conditions and take all measures to ensure the preservation of human health.


Saudi Arabia calls on Muslims to sight Eid crescent on Tuesday

Saudi Arabia calls on Muslims to sight Eid crescent on Tuesday
Updated 09 May 2021

Saudi Arabia calls on Muslims to sight Eid crescent on Tuesday

Saudi Arabia calls on Muslims to sight Eid crescent on Tuesday
  • Supreme Court calls on all Muslims across the Kingdom to sight the crescent of the month of Shawwal

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court has called on all Muslims across the Kingdom to sight the crescent of the month of Shawwal on Tuesday evening. 

The court said if the moon is seen with the eye on Tuesday May 11, which corresponds to Ramadan 29, 1442 H, the committee will announce the end of fasting month and the start of Eid Al Fitr.

The Supreme Court called on whoever sights the crescent by naked eyes or through binoculars to report to the nearest court and register their testimony, or report to authorities in their area.


Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drone targeting Khamis Mushait

Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drone targeting Khamis Mushait
Updated 09 May 2021

Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drone targeting Khamis Mushait

Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drone targeting Khamis Mushait
  • The coalition said it is taking operational measures to deal with sources of threat to protect civilians and civilian objects
  • The coalition confirmed that the Houthis’ attempt to target civilians was a serious violation of international law

DUBAI: The Arab coalition intercepted and destroyed a Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait, state news agency SPA reported.
The coalition said it is taking operational measures to deal with sources of threat to protect civilians and civilian objects.

The coalition also confirmed that the Houthis’ attempt to target civilians was a serious violation of international law.

The Iran-backed militia has been intensifying attacks against Saudi Arabia, targeting key oil facilities and civilians amid international and Arab condemnation in support of the Kingdom’s security.