RIYADH: As travel suspension for Saudis and the opening of land, sea and air ports is lifted starting May 17, some travelers are gearing up to visit the King Fahd Causeway linking Saudi Arabia and Bahrain for a vacation, while others remain cautious due to the Indian variant of the coronavirus disease.
Ten additional lanes have been installed in the departure area, bringing the total number of lanes to 27, as well as 36 lanes in the arrival area, said Duwaihi Al-Sahli, director of King Fahd Causeway Passports, in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.
However, only those who have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 will be allowed to leave the Kingdom, according to the Saudi authorities. Proof shall be presented via the Tawakkalna app.
A coronavirus insurance certificate is required for travelers under the age of 18.
Travelers will be required to carry any of the health applications approved in the GCC countries, which confirm whether they are vaccinated or have recovered from the virus, Bahrain’s News Agency BNA reported.
A negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before travel should also be presented at the borders, the report added.
Barak Al-Barrak, owner of a Saudi commercial establishment who was a former partner in an advertising company, said that he used to head to Amwaj Island soon after entering Bahrain for shopping in the Chinese market, and the Laguna Resort located on the island of Muharraq (northeast of Bahrain).
He told Arab News that he will not travel to Bahrain during the current period for two main reasons: “To avoid crowding and for fear of the Indian mutated coronavirus.”
Sharing the same sentiment, Meshaal Hamdan, a private-sector employee, said that he wants to see new entertainment projects in Bahrain soon, but he ruled out traveling in light of the spread of the Indian COVID-19 variant.
Bahraini journalist Najat Showaiter said that the welcoming campaigns from her country’s citizens to Saudis is an indication of the mutual love and friendship between the two peoples.
“We as Bahrainis welcome our brothers and the Saudi people love us, and we invite them to visit Bahrain,” she said.
She expected the Bahraini markets, especially the commercial malls, to revive. Films and entertainment games for children are likely to attract more arrivals to the country for the purpose of tourism, suggesting the revival of Bahraini restaurants that offer a variety of eastern and western foods.
Popular markets, including the markets of Muharraq and Manama, are usual attractions to Saudi tourists, especially for the food and Bahraini sweets they offer.
Gold markets and the real-estate market in Bahrain are also expected to see a higher turnout from tourists, she said, along with an increase in sales and the movement of real estate trading, along with the high rates of rents, especially in chalets and tourist resorts. She expected hotel rooms to be occupied by no less that 80 percent.
Meanwhile, young Bahrainis launched a tourism app titled “b4bhcom” or Gate of Bahrian, coinciding with the country’s preparations to receive Saudis after the lifting of the travel suspension.
The app allows users to learn about events taking place in the country and current and future projects in Bahrain. It also contributes to highlighting tourist sites, shopping destinations and points of interest. It offers the option for users to create and plan their trips by adding places and events included in their personal itinerary.