Saudi businesses to remain open during prayer times

People follow social distancing markings as they line up at a shopping mall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (REUTERS file photo)
People follow social distancing markings as they line up at a shopping mall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (REUTERS file photo)
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Updated 17 July 2021

Saudi businesses to remain open during prayer times

People follow social distancing markings as they line up at a shopping mall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (REUTERS file photo)
  • The debate to keep shops and businesses open during prayer times has been a topic of discussion in many settings amongst members of Saudi society for a long time

JEDDAH: For decades, commercial businesses in Saudi Arabia have shut their doors as soon as the first call of prayer is heard. Cars would queue up waiting for petrol stations to open, while patrons and customers at pharmacies, restaurants, and supermarkets would have to wait outside.
Those days of inconvenience are now over.
The Kingdom will allow shops to remain open during prayer times, according to a circular issued by the head of the Saudi Chambers on Friday.
“This is in an effort to improve the shopping experience and the level of services for shoppers and clients,” Ajlan bin Abdul Aziz Al-Ajlan, head of the Saudi Chambers, said in his circular to all members of the Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Commenting on the decision, Ali Sameer Shihabi, an author and commentator on Middle East politics and economics, with a focus on Saudi Arabia, tweeted that keeping shops open during prayer time is another “hugely symbolic and practical step to end the dominance of the religious class in daily life.”
Shihabi also said closing for prayers was an excuse for people to take long breaks or make customers wait for goods and services.
“Even at government departments, it added a huge margin of inefficiency to output in the Kingdom,” he said.
Habibullah Al-Torkistani, an economist, told Arab News the decision would have no effect on the national economy.
“What supports my opinion is that workers in shops take a midday break,” he said. “Even when allowing shops to operate during prayer time, shops will stop working to give workers a break. This is a part of the workers’ rights.”
Al-Torkistani added that outlets that sell necessary items, such as stores on highways, can possibly benefit from the decision.
“Employees decide when to stop working to perform their religious duties and no one can prevent them,” he said.
The debate to keep shops and businesses open during prayer times has been a topic of discussion in many settings amongst members of Saudi society for a long time.
Prior to the recent reforms, violations were regulated by the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV), also known as Haia, or the religious police. Officers of the commission had the power to arrest and punish shopkeepers for even delaying the closure of their stores for a few minutes. Punishments ranged from detention to deportation for expatriate shop attendants.


All the registrations and certificates you need to visit Saudi Arabia

Saudi nationals scan their documents at a digital-Immigration gate at the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 16, 2021. (REUTERS)
Saudi nationals scan their documents at a digital-Immigration gate at the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 16, 2021. (REUTERS)
Updated 26 January 2022

All the registrations and certificates you need to visit Saudi Arabia

Saudi nationals scan their documents at a digital-Immigration gate at the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 16, 2021. (REUTERS)
  • Visitors face queues and quarantine for failing to match Saudi requirements

RIYADH: There are certain travel requirements that Saudis, expats and tourists need for entering Saudi Arabia.

The main requirement is a Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) negative test certificate, issued from a verified laboratory no more than 72 hours before departure to the Kingdom.

Travelers will also need vaccination certificates from Tawakkalna, and registration on the Muqeem and Quddum platforms.

Upon arrival, all travelers will have their temperature checked and they should be registered as immune from COVID-19.

FASTFACT

Quddum allows visitors to register and update their COVID-19-related health data at least 72 hours before arrival.

Immunity for non-Saudi citizens and non-residents as a fully vaccinated person over 12 with a booster dose from vaccines certified by the Kingdom and the World Health Organization, such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna, or one dose of Johnson and Johnson’s inoculation.

An airport official checking temperature of a passenger at the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.

All guests have to submit proof of their vaccination via the Quddum platform, which has been launched to facilitate entry procedures.

Quddum allows visitors to register and update their COVID-19-related health data at least 72 hours before arrival.

Immunity for Saudi citizens is defined by their status on the Tawakkalna App, whereas for expats it requires full vaccination, provided that any doses received outside the Kingdom are registered via the Ministry of Health Platform through https://eservices.moh.gov.sa/CoronaVaccineRegistration

Speaking to Arab News about his travel experience, Jennesse John, who works at the King Saud University, said: “I have returned from Kerala, India to Saudi Arabia along with my family recently. It went very smoothly since we had two doses of the vaccine in Saudi Arabia before we traveled on vacation.”

He added: “All we did was follow Saudi Arabia’s travel regulations closely.”

Hanouf Albalawi, in Riyadh, told Arab News: “My colleague made a mistake, and it was that she did not register in Muqeem before visiting the Kingdom. She said she didn’t know she had to.

“When she arrived in Saudi Arabia, she had to create a new Tawakkalna, and she only had one week to stay, so the issue she faced was that her status in the Tawakkalna app did not change for her entire stay, which was five days.

“She couldn’t visit any of the places she had in mind. We contacted Tawakkalna customer service to ask if there is anything we can do to make this process faster, but unfortunately, there was no other way.”

Faiz Al-Najdi, an engineer in Riyadh, told Arab News: “I recently returned from vacation with my wife from my home city Karachi, Pakistan. At Riyadh, airport departure processes went smoothly. I had to show them copies of PCR, vaccination details, copies of Tawakkalna and Sehaty. However, upon arrival in Karachi it was a mess.

“They demanded to see the vaccination details online on Tawakkalna, but it was not working; we failed to open it. Many people like us suffered because of this issue. I had a long argument with them as to why they were demanding to see it online when I was showing them the photocopies of the vaccination details from Tawakkalna. I told them we had traveled from Riyadh, where authorities had checked and allowed us to travel, then they were satisfied. This left them with no answer but let us proceed,” he said.

“Upon arrival at Riyadh airport, things were ok. The official at the immigration desk was polite. She checked the PCR and Tawakkalna papers. I had those ready with me, and she stamped our passports and let us go,” he added.

Ayman Hassan, an Egyptian expat working in Riyadh, told Arab News: “Many of my friends and colleagues recently returned from Egypt. The procedures at the airport, they said, went very smoothly. They didn’t take too much time since they had already taken the two vaccine doses in Saudi Arabia before traveling on their vacations. All they had to do was to carefully follow travel guidelines: Negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report, vaccination certificates from Tawakkalna, and Muqeem registration.”

 


Qatar emir to meet with Biden in Washington Jan 31: White House

Qatar emir to meet with Biden in Washington Jan 31: White House
Updated 36 min 10 sec ago

Qatar emir to meet with Biden in Washington Jan 31: White House

Qatar emir to meet with Biden in Washington Jan 31: White House
  • The two sides will discuss ‘ensuring the stability of global energy supplies’

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden will receive Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad at the White House on Jan. 31, his spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Biden and the Gulf state leader will discuss security in the Middle East and “ensuring the stability of global energy supplies,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
The meeting comes as Washington and its European allies are seeking to shore up energy contingency plans should Russia squeeze supplies due to tensions with the West over Ukraine.
The US and its EU allies accuse Russia of seeking to upend European stability by threatening invasion of neighboring Ukraine, a former Soviet republic striving to join NATO and other Western institutions.
The European Union sources about 40 percent of its supply from Russia, and Washington and its European allies have been scouring global markets for alternative energy sources.
Qatar, a close US ally, has huge gas reserves and is the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas.
Psaki said Biden will also thank the emir for Qatar’s support to the United States in safely transporting US citizens, permanent residents and Afghan partners out of Afghanistan in the wake of the US withdrawal last year.
Qatar has played a significant role both in diplomacy and evacuations at the end of nearly 20 years of war in Afghanistan.


India emerges as Saudi Arabia’s second-largest trading partner

India emerges as Saudi Arabia’s second-largest trading partner
Updated 26 January 2022

India emerges as Saudi Arabia’s second-largest trading partner

India emerges as Saudi Arabia’s second-largest trading partner
  • The partnership is contributing significantly to the two nations’ economic progress

The 75th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations between India and Saudi Arabia has seen commercial ties between the two strategic partners rise to new heights. According to the General Authority of Statistics, for the first three quarters of 2021, India was Saudi Arabia’s second-largest trading partner.

India’s Department of Commerce found that for the current financial year (April-November), trade between the two countries was $24.9 billion, an increase of 94 percent over the same period last year. It is especially heartening to note that current trends suggest that bilateral trade will surpass pre-pandemic levels. Another achievement worth mentioning is that India is well on its way to achieving its global export target of $400 billion set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Specifically, Indian exports to Saudi Arabia will comfortably exceed the set target.

Despite the pandemic's causing a halt in the physical movement of high-level business and trade delegations between the two countries which was expected after the establishment of the Strategic Partnership Council during Modi’s visit to Saudi Arabia in October 2019, the momentum of engagement has been sustained via virtual platforms.

The Economic and Investment Pillar of the Council, co-chaired by the Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman and the Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, has already seen meetings at the senior official level and also under each of the four Joint Working Groups: Industry and Infrastructure; Agriculture and Food Security; IT and Technology; and Energy.

There have also been several positive developments on the investment side. Some 745 Indian companies are registered as joint ventures or 100 percent owned entities in the Kingdom as of October 2021. These figures stretch across sectors and amount to cumulative invested capital of around $2 billion. Saudi investments in India have seen a big jump over the last two years, especially after the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to India in February 2019 which raised Saudi investments in India to $100 billion. Significant investments include the investments of the Public Investment Fund into Reliance Retail Ventures and Reliance Jio.

India remains a top-tier investment destination, and is on its way to becoming a top-three global economy with a nominal GDP of $8-9 trillion by 2030.

To further promote foreign investments in India, various programs, such as Production Linked Incentive Schemes and the National Single Window System have been launched. The India Investment Grid, an online portal showcasing investment opportunities across India, can be accessed at https://indiainvestmentgrid.gov.in.

Both the Embassy of India in Riyadh and the Consulate General in Jeddah have continued to organize several B2B events through a virtual format which bolsters trade and investment in various sectors. Events so far have included cooperation in IT, pharmaceuticals, fruits and vegetables, spices, gems and jewelry, home decor and handicrafts; all have attracted a positive response from the Saudi business community.

A delegation from Saudi Arabia also visited the Indusfood Exhibition organized by the Trade Promotion Council of India in the National Capital Region earlier this month. The delegation explored opportunities in the food sector, which is a priority sector of trade between the two countries. The Saudi India Business Network, a forum of Saudi and Indian entrepreneurs and professionals with chapters in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, has also been actively engaging in various initiatives under the aegis of the Embassy. We appreciate the support extended by the Saudi Authorities and Chambers of Commerce towards making these initiatives successful.

As we mark the 73rd Republic Day of India on Jan. 26 this year, there is little doubt that socio-economic partnership between our two countries will continue to strengthen, contributing significantly to the two nations' economic progress.

  • Asim Anwar is Second Secretary (Economic and Commercial) at the Embassy of India in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia launches ‘Sports Career Day’ to connect job seekers with sports sector

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Sport launches the ‘Sports Career Day’ initiative in Riyadh. (Ministry of Sport)
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Sport launches the ‘Sports Career Day’ initiative in Riyadh. (Ministry of Sport)
Updated 26 January 2022

Saudi Arabia launches ‘Sports Career Day’ to connect job seekers with sports sector

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Sport launches the ‘Sports Career Day’ initiative in Riyadh. (Ministry of Sport)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia launched the “Sports Career Day” initiative on Tuesday to connect qualified job seekers and sports institutions to achieve the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
The three-day initiative, which is being organized by the Leaders Development Institute, was inaugurated by Deputy Sports Minister Badr Al-Qadi, on behalf of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, the minister of sport, at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Olympic Complex in Riyadh.
The minister was briefed on the activities of the first day, which included several workshops, sports commentary trials, TV presenting, job fairs, and a number of personal interviews conducted by the participating sports organizations and bodies.
48 governmental, semi-governmental and private sports entities and various institutions are participating in the Sports Career Day, including the Ministry of Sports, the Quality of Life Program, the Leaders Development Institute, Sadu Company, and Sawaed, in addition to the Saudi Football Association, the Saudi Professional League, and the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee. A number of sports clubs are also taking part, most notably Al-Nasr, Damak and Al-Wahda, as well as sports federations and several parties participating virtually through the Saudi Athletes Network.
29 workshops will be held by 15 different entities over the three days, and the topics include sports entrepreneurship, professional fields in the sports sector, social responsibility, data science applications in sports, the Quality of Life and Future of Saudi Sports Program, management consultancy, sports marketing, and other subjects aimed at developing the sports sector.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Sports announced that it will exceptionally raise the capacity of attendance in the Saudi match against Oman to 100 percent, in an effort to support the national team’s important journey in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The match, which is the seventh in the final round of the Asian qualifiers, is set to be held on Thursday at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah.
The decision came following approval from the concerned authorities following up on the developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry said.
It added that only fans who have been fully vaccinated will be permitted to attend the match, and urged the public to fully adhere to the precautionary measures and staff to take necessary action if violations are detected, in order to preserve health and safety.


Hakimi fires Morocco into quarter-finals after Malawi scare

Hakimi fires Morocco into quarter-finals after Malawi scare
Updated 26 January 2022

Hakimi fires Morocco into quarter-finals after Malawi scare

Hakimi fires Morocco into quarter-finals after Malawi scare
  • Gabadinho Mhango gave outsiders Malawi, playing their first ever knockout game at the tournament
  • Hakimi drilled in the winner on 70 minutes to set up a meeting with Egypt or Ivory Coast in the last eight

YAOUNDE: Achraf Hakimi scored a brilliant free-kick to send Morocco through to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations after a 2-1 win over Malawi on Tuesday.
Gabadinho Mhango gave outsiders Malawi, playing their first ever knockout game at the tournament, a shock early lead with a stunning goal from 40 meters at Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium.
But Youssef En-Nesyri headed Morocco level in first-half stoppage time before Hakimi drilled in the winner on 70 minutes to set up a meeting with Egypt or Ivory Coast in the last eight.
That quarter-final was due to take place at Olembe Stadium in Yaounde but will be moved after a fatal crush outside the ground on Monday which killed eight people and injured 38.
As with the earlier match between Senegal and Cape Verde in Bafoussam, a minute’s silence was observed before kick-off and players of both teams wore black armbands.
Morocco, bidding for a second Cup of Nations title and first since 1976, fell behind on seven minutes when Mhango caught Yassine Bounou off his line with a superb long-range strike.
The Atlas Lions responded by creating a series of chances as Imran Louza stung the palms of Charles Thomu, who then did well to keep out Hakimi’s powerful free-kick and the follow-up from Louza.
Mhango dragged wide for Malawi after a terrific long ball from Micium Mhone, but the Flames found themselves under sustained pressure as Morocco captain Romain Saiss volleyed against the bar.
En-Nesyri prodded weakly at Thomu from close range before the Malawi goalkeeper tipped Hakimi’s low drive onto the post and then denied Sofiane Boufal with his legs.
Morocco were finally rewarded for their persistence on the stroke of half-time as En-Nesyri rose to power Selim Amallah’s deep cross past Thomu.
Hakimi appealed vociferously for a penalty in the second half when his cross struck the arm of Malawi defender Dennis Chembezi, but the Paris Saint-Germain star took matters into his own hands to secure victory.
His late equalizer against Gabon had secured top spot in the group stage, and Hakimi delivered again with another magnificent free-kick 20 minutes from time to end Malawi’s impressive run.