Saudi Arabia reinstates visa on arrival for holders of US, UK, Schengen visas

Saudi Arabia reinstates visa on arrival for holders of US, UK, Schengen visas
Saudi Arabia announced on Friday that it had reinstated the visa on arrival program that allows holders of valid visas from the US, UK and Schengen area to enter the country. (AFP/File)
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Updated 25 March 2022

Saudi Arabia reinstates visa on arrival for holders of US, UK, Schengen visas

Saudi Arabia reinstates visa on arrival for holders of US, UK, Schengen visas
  • The move comes two weeks after the Kingdom lifted all COVID-19 restrictions

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia announced on Friday that it had reinstated the visa on arrival program that allows holders of valid visas from the US, UK and Schengen area to enter the country.

This step comes two weeks after the Kingdom lifted all restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Countries that allow their citizens to enter Saudi Arabia on a tourist visa include the US, Canada, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Ukraine, the UK, Switzerland, San Marino, Spain, Brunei, China (including Hong Kong and Macao), Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Nationals of the aforementioned countries holding one of the three visas, traveling through Saudia, Flynas and Flyadeal airlines can obtain a 12-month tourist visa upon arrival in the Kingdom, without the need to submit an application in advance.

Holders of a valid visa to the US, UK or Schengen area must use it at least once to enter the area where the visa was issued, before entering Saudi Arabia.

The visa upon arrival is available for residents of states qualified for the e-visa program which was launched in 2019, and all visitors must have medical insurance for COVID risks, which can be obtained from all airports across the Kingdom upon arrival.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb said: “Today, the Kingdom is among the most accessible destinations in the world for tourism, work and Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage, which will promote accelerated growth in the tourism sector and provide job and investment opportunities.”

He renewed the invitation for all visitors and tourists from across the world, to enjoy the treasures of Saudi tourism, from destinations, landmarks, culture, heritage, generosity and hospitality the Saudi community is known for.


KSrelief, UNESCO launch educational program to boost peace building in Arab states

KSrelief, UNESCO launch educational program to boost peace building in Arab states
Updated 13 sec ago

KSrelief, UNESCO launch educational program to boost peace building in Arab states

KSrelief, UNESCO launch educational program to boost peace building in Arab states
  • Scheme provides resource packs for teachers with aim to ‘drive social cohesion’
  • ‘Access to learning opportunities during crises is lifesaving,’ KSrelief says

 

 

Rashid Hassan

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center has teamed up with UNESCO to launch an educational resources program for teachers in a bid to promote peace building in the Arab states.

UNESCO’s regional bureau for education in Beirut on Thursday announced the publishing of resource packs in Arabic for teachers.

“The packs aim to build and develop their capacities, in order to foster peace building and drive social cohesion in the Arab states within the context of SDG4,” according to a joint statement.

“These resources, grouped under the project titled ‘Education is Peace,’ will benefit Arab children and youth, particularly out-of-school, at-risk children in crisis-affected countries, as well as marginalized communities, by meeting their diverse educational and development needs.”

SDG4 is one of 17 sustainable development goals established by the UN in 2015. Its aim is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

The reference guides for the “Education is Peace” project were developed in collaboration with experts from the Arab region, with support and funding from KSrelief.

The resources include guides on general policy and strategy in the education sector in disaster and conflict areas, inclusive education, catch-up education and teaching in multi-grade classes, distance learning and education, as well as education on citizenship and common human values.

To maximize the benefits of the resources, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization organized training sessions for 30,000 teachers and education practitioners.

More than 15 million children in the Arab region need assistance to ensure continuous learning.

Fadi Yarak, UNESCO’s senior regional adviser for education in the Arab states, said: “Children and youth living in difficult circumstances have diverse socioeconomic conditions. Their educational needs are diverse and their challenges require innovative and personalized solutions.

“However, the current educational systems should make use of these resources to meet their psychological, social or academic needs.”

Dr. Hana Omar, director of community support at KSrelief, said: “Access to learning opportunities during crises is lifesaving and life-sustaining.

“KSrelief, in partnership with UNESCO, works to ensure that inclusive and equitable quality education remains a priority in humanitarian response and recovery assistance for the students with disabilities, the elderly, migrants, refugees, internally displaced people, returnees and host communities.

“Part of that work is in preparing a pack of resources produced for teachers that will meet their diverse education and development needs that compete with the requirements of crises in the Arab regions to build peace and to face hazards, mitigate their impacts and build the educational system’s resilience.”


UK expedition tracing steps of Philby hopes to inspire next generation to explore Saudi Arabia’s beauty

UK expedition tracing steps of Philby hopes to inspire next generation to explore Saudi Arabia’s beauty
Updated 30 September 2022

UK expedition tracing steps of Philby hopes to inspire next generation to explore Saudi Arabia’s beauty

UK expedition tracing steps of Philby hopes to inspire next generation to explore Saudi Arabia’s beauty
  • Granddaughter Reem Philby part of homage to Ibn Saud and explorer
  • Pact with KAUST to collect data on culture, desert life, biodiversity

LONDON: A small team of UK explorers have launched an expedition to retrace the 1,300-kilometer 1917 journey of British explorer and scholar, Harry St. John Philby, across Saudi Arabia, in the hope of impacting future generations.

The Heart of Arabia expedition, named after Philby’s book about his journey, was launched on Tuesday at the Royal Geographical Society in London, which was held under the patronage of Britain’s Princess Anne, and with the attendance of Saudi ambassador to the UK Prince Khalid bin Bandar.

Speaking at her first public engagement since the death of her mother Queen Elizabeth II, she said: “The scope for finding more in this expedition is just enormous to add to that level of knowledge, and I think we all have something we can really look forward to, and possibly something that we will envy about those taking part in this expedition, which allows them to be part of that learning exercise.”

The planned 1,300-km Heart of Arabia coast-to-coast trek across the peninsula was launched by Anne, Princess Royal of the UK, in her first public engagement since the death of her mother, Queen Elizabeth II. (AN Photo)

Omani-based British explorer Mark Evans MBE, leader of the expedition, said the team, who will be making the journey on foot, and with camels and four-wheel drives, consists of four people. The other members are Swiss photographer Ana-Maria Pavalache, regional expert Alan Morrissey, and Philby’s granddaughter, explorer Reem Philby.

“When Philby reached Riyadh in 1917, he met Abdulaziz ibn Saud and the two of them became almost lifetime companions (and) he and Ibn Saud spent hour on hour, day after day talking, and then he continued to Jeddah, so we will follow the same structure,” Evans told Arab News.

The first leg begins on Nov. 15 in Al-Uqair in the Eastern Province and will pass through Al-Ahsa Oasis, Al-Hadida/Rub Al-Khali, Hofuf, Ramlat Dahna, Abu Jifan and stop in the capital, Riyadh, on Nov. 30, where they will take a short break. The second leg will begin on Jan. 15 with a visit by Princess Anne to the Kingdom, where she will see the team off as they continue to Dhurma, Halban, Qahqa, Taif, Darb Zubaydah, and conclude in the western city of Jeddah on Jan. 30.

The Heart of Arabia journey will set off in November, a century after Philby’s crossing, and is led by veteran British explorer Mark Evans (C). (AN Photo)

“The journeys are incomparable really, because in Philby’s day, no one knew where he was, he had no way of communicating other than by sending back messages via camels, whereas we will have satellite technology, social media, we’ll be doing live Instagram posts from the middle of the biggest desert on Earth, so life is so much easier today,” he said.

Evans added that some of the challenges of the past would not be an issue this time, with regards to finding water and food, but he said the biggest potential weak link may be the camels. They have to choose the right ones and “toughen them up” before the start.

“Camels have gone soft today like human beings, we have Deliveroo, camels have their Bedouin handlers who bring the food to them rather than having to wander to find the grass or water ... so camels are not working animals anymore,” he explained, whereas when Philby did his journey, camels would walk over 50 kilometers a day carrying heavy loads.

 

 

The aim of the expedition also differs from Philby’s due to its nature. He was sent for political reasons by British writer, traveler, political officer, administrator, and archaeologist Gertrude Bell from Baghdad to meet the future king in 1917 to stop the Ottomans smuggling guns across the central deserts of Arabia. However, their mission now is to “celebrate an extraordinary man and an extraordinary country,” while also collecting cultural, geographical, and scientific data.

“There’ll be young people joining us in all stages of the journey, so we want to inspire the next generation of Philbys to go out there and look and record and just add to our understanding of Arabia,” said Evans, who also heads the NGO Outward Bound Oman.

Reem, who has trekked across the Kingdom, as well as in Peru and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, said the expedition was “completely down her alley” and it was “truly overwhelming” to trace the steps he walked over 100 years ago.

The expedition will honor the undertaking and achievement of adventurer, Arabist and intelligence officer Harry St. John Philby, who traveled from Al-Uqair to Jeddah, on a mission in support of Ibn Saud. (Heart of Arabia)

“Having that impact on the young generation is truly important, in my opinion. I am a strong believer of the importance of taking kids to the outdoors and having them experience being uncomfortable, step out of their comfort zones and their homes and their usual environments,” said the 42-year-old mother of two. “I know that it will shape truly humbled (and) strong adults in the future.”

Pavalache, who has been a mountain leader in the Swiss Alps, said it is important to tell the story of an incredible man, who brought enormous information to mapping the region. She thinks “it might be a challenge to get immersed in what he was doing, because today, Saudi Arabia is very modernized and to find that balance” between the past and present.

“We would have a couple of places where we will try to get the same images, but I think it is important for us to see how the environment changed today, and also the people who live in the desert and the community, and after we have three parts of research that we will follow within this context,” she said.

The team, which will travel by foot and on camels, includes Swiss photographer Ana-Maria Pavalache (C), regional expert Alan Morrissey and Philby’s Saudi granddaughter, Reem. (AN Photo)

The data and observations generated by the team, in collaboration with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, will support scientific specialists to advance human performance in extreme environments, understanding of pre-Islamic history, and insights into local biodiversity, specifically bats. There are around 30 species in the Kingdom with very little known on the populations, distribution and ecology.

UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia Neil Crompton said Philby was an important figure in the history of relations between Great Britain and the Kingdom, which was known as Arabia when he set out on his expedition, and where he lived most of his life and was an important adviser to Ibn Saud on many matters.

“It’s a chance to learn about his life and the role that he played in the development of relations between the two countries and in Saudi Arabia,” he said, lauding the “immensely strong” ties that exist between the two kingdoms.

 

 

“Saudi Arabia is opening up its tourism sector (and) Britons from many different walks of life are coming in, and it’s great to see the explorers came 100 years ago, but now they’re coming back, and so hopefully, we’ll see more of these sorts of things,” Crompton said. “I think that people-to-people links are ultimately the foundation of the relationship.”

He added: “I think the chance to see an expedition crossing the desert in this way will be very interesting to many people in Britain, and I hope encourage more people to visit the Kingdom in the way that so many Saudis come to the UK.”


Saudi citizens displaced by Hurricane Ian safely evacuated 

Saudi citizens displaced by Hurricane Ian safely evacuated 
Updated 30 September 2022

Saudi citizens displaced by Hurricane Ian safely evacuated 

Saudi citizens displaced by Hurricane Ian safely evacuated 

Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States, spoke on Friday with Shafi bin Bijad Al-Otaibi, the Consul General in Houston, to check on the progress of the evacuation of Saudi citizens displaced by Hurricane Ian. 
Princess Reema was briefed on the service and care provided to the Saudi citizens, state agency SPA reported. 
The ambassador thanked the embassy and consulate staff for their efforts, and urged them to provide comfort to citizens until the crisis was over.
Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the US, swamped southwest Florida on Wednesday, flooding streets and buildings and leaving nearly 2 million homes and businesses without power.
US President Joe Biden said the hurricane may be responsible for “substantial loss of life” and could end up being the deadliest storm in Florida history.
The death toll had climbed to 12 by Thursday night, according to local reports.
Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday morning and is expected to approach the coast of South Carolina on Friday.


IAEA elects Saudi Arabia as member of board of governors until 2024

IAEA elects Saudi Arabia as member of board of governors until 2024
Updated 30 September 2022

IAEA elects Saudi Arabia as member of board of governors until 2024

IAEA elects Saudi Arabia as member of board of governors until 2024

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia has been elected by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Thursday to become a member of the agency’s Board of Governors until 2024.
Saudi Arabia received the majority of votes from its geographical group, which includes countries of the Middle East and South Asia, state agency SPA reported.
The announcement was made during the IAEA’s 66th General Conference held from Sept. 26 - 30 in Vienna.
The 35-member Board of Governors is viewed as one of the most important decision-making groups in the energy agency, especially when addressing critical issues.
This includes the safeguards file, which is the IAEA’s responsibility to verify the peaceful activities of state parties in relation to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.


Riyadh forum to focus on science, philosophy

Riyadh forum to focus on science, philosophy
Updated 30 September 2022

Riyadh forum to focus on science, philosophy

Riyadh forum to focus on science, philosophy

RIYADH: Space diplomacy, climate change and environmental issues will be among far-reaching topics to be discussed at a major philosophy and science conference in the Saudi capital.

The event is being organized by the Kingdom’s Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission and will take place from Dec. 1-3 at King Fahd National Library in Riyadh.

Philosophers, scientists and artists will take part in the forum, which is being held under the theme “Knowledge and Exploration: Space, Time and Humanity.”

The three-day conference will include lectures, panel discussions, seminars and workshops on a range of issues affecting the future of the planet.

Mohamed Hassan Alwan, CEO of the Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission, said: “Last year’s ground-breaking conference succeeded in putting Saudi Arabia on the global philosophical map, and established the Kingdom as a regional center for philosophical dialogue.”

The second conference “will bring together leading philosophers, educational institutions and others to debate the important issues of our time, and help stimulate intercultural, international and interdisciplinary dialogue,” he said.

Speakers for the event will be announced nearer the date of the conference.