Saudi Arabia and Bahrain get UK electronic visa waiver status

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain get UK electronic visa waiver status
The status will be effective from June 1 (Shutterstock)
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Updated 11 May 2022

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain get UK electronic visa waiver status

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain get UK electronic visa waiver status
  • Status will be effective from June 1 and under this new amendment
  • Visa waiver to strengthen the UK’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain

LONDON: Saudi Arabia and Bahrain nationals have been given electronic visa waiver status by the UK, the Home Office has said in a statement. 

The status will be effective from June 1 and under this new amendment, all Saudi Arabian and Bahrain nationals can apply to travel to the UK for up to six months with an electronic visa waiver. 

Citizens of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain can now travel to the UK without obtaining a visa provided they complete an online waiver for each visit. 

With the visa waiver, Saudis will no longer have to make an appointment with a visa application centre, hand in their passport in advance of travel, or provide biometric information such as photos and fingerprints. Additionally, the waiver will cost a nominal fee in comparison to the previous visa cost of $125.

Eligible individuals can provide notification of travel with an electronic visa waiver up to three months before travel and as late as 48 hours before travel.

The British ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Neil Crompton, told Arab News in March that his government was in the process of easing entry to the UK for the local Saudi population that would eventually lead to a free visa policy, after a visit of the British prime minister to see the crown prince proved fruitful for both kingdoms. 

“There was a good exchange of views between two two leaders,” Crompton told Arab News. “The British government and Saudi Arabia have been good partners for a long time.” 

Johnson’s visit to the Kingdom in March reflected the UK's long-standing commitment to Saudi Arabia, as both kingdoms move toward closer bilateral cooperation across all fields and within the framework of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

During their meeting, both leaders focused on enhancing bilateral relations in the fields of green energy, renewables, investment as well as begin work on a free trade agreement between the UK and GCC countries, with a deal expected to be reached within 12 months. 

The leaders also signed a memorandum of understanding on the formation of the Saudi-British Strategic Partnership Council — established in 2018.

The UK and Saudi Arabia's connection goes some way back.

King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud led the Kingdom’s first diplomatic mission to Britain as a 13-year-old prince in 1919, which saw the consolidation of Saudi-British relations. In 1945, Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud met British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and meetings between both kingdoms continue to this day.

Saudi's make up a notable group of the tourists who visit the UK capital, London annually  — consistently amongst the most visited cities in the world.

Over 100,000 Saudis flock to the UK annually, a 2020 survey by Statisa reported. 

Another 2018 report published by Statista showed that 54 percent of Saudis visitors are in the UK annually on holiday, while 25 percent are visiting family and relatives, 10 percent are there on business and 11 percent comprise those studying and other miscellaneous activities.

Scholarships to the UK have been provided by Saudi Arabia for many years, and Saudi’s Ministry of Education has increased this with more types of scholarships that will allow its population additional entry points to study abroad, including to the UK. 

Previously, the British government required Saudis to meet the following criteria for a standard visitor visa: a visa application form, two passport sized photos, bank statements for the last six months, confirmed reservation ticket, place of residence address and a valid passport for at least six months from the issuing date of the visa.

The Standard Visitor visa cost $125 for up to 6 months, with the earliest point of application 3 months before the intended date of travel.

 

 

 


Saudi deputy defense minister to discuss Yemen truce on Washington visit

Saudi deputy defense minister to discuss Yemen truce on Washington visit
Updated 9 sec ago

Saudi deputy defense minister to discuss Yemen truce on Washington visit

Saudi deputy defense minister to discuss Yemen truce on Washington visit

WASHINGTON: Saudi Arabia's Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman will discuss a truce in Yemen and the Ukraine crisis with White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan during a visit to Washington on Tuesday, the National Security Council said.
He will also meet with senior defense and State Department officials.


Cabinet affirms Saudi support for international efforts against Daesh

Cabinet affirms Saudi support for international efforts against Daesh
Updated 51 min 1 sec ago

Cabinet affirms Saudi support for international efforts against Daesh

Cabinet affirms Saudi support for international efforts against Daesh
  • The Cabinet congratulated Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on his election as president of the UAE
  • It also also reviewed recent events held in the Kingdom including the Future Aviation Forum

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet affirmed the Kingdom’s support for international efforts against Daesh on Tuesday.

It also affirmed its keenness on the stability of Iraq and the extension of the country’s influence and sovereignty over all of its territory, reiterating the Kingdom’s statement delivered by Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan at a Global Coalition against Daesh meeting in Marrakech last week.

The Kingdom also stressed its support for efforts to stabilize the security and economic situation in liberated areas in Syria, welcoming the establishment of the Africa Focus Group to counter the growing threat of the spread of Daesh in the continent.

Acting Minister of Media Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi said that the Cabinet also voiced its sorrow and grief over the death of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

The Cabinet also congratulated Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on his election as president of the UAE, and expressed hope for further action to consolidate bilateral relations and enhance ties among Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

King Salman thanked God for granting the Kingdom the great honor of serving the two holy mosques and for the large number of Umrah pilgrims and worshippers who were able to comfortably and safely visit the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque during Ramadan.

The king also expressed thanks and appreciation to the leaders of Arab, Muslim and friendly countries who checked up on his health after he underwent a colonoscopy, the results of which were fine.

The Cabinet also reviewed recent activities held in the Kingdom including the launch of the Saudi Census 2022, the International Conference and Exhibition for Education 2022, and the Future Aviation Forum, during which more than 50 agreements worth SR10 billion ($2.7 billion) were signed.

It also expressed satisfaction with the growth of the Kingdom’s GDP by 9.6 percent in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the same period in 2021, recording the highest growth rate in the past ten years, driven by the increase in oil and non-oil activities.


Pakistan religious affairs minister visits Kaaba Kiswa complex

Pakistan religious affairs minister visits Kaaba Kiswa complex
Updated 17 May 2022

Pakistan religious affairs minister visits Kaaba Kiswa complex

Pakistan religious affairs minister visits Kaaba Kiswa complex
  • Mufti Abdul Shakur and his delegation praised the mastery and dedication that goes into making the Kiswa
  • They learned about how the gilded pieces that adorn the Kiswa are embroidered and the craftsmanship behind it

RIYADH: Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Mufti Abdul Shakur, has visited the King Abdulaziz Complex for Holy Kaaba Kiswa.

He was received by the head of public relations and media at the complex, Ahmed bin Musaed Al-Suwaihri.

The minister and his accompanying delegation watched a visual presentation on the Kiswa including the stages of its manufacture in the Kingdom and how it is replaced.

Mufti Abdul Shakur and his delegation praised the mastery and dedication that goes into making the covering of the Kaaba and the attention with which the materials used to make it are prepared.

They also learned about how the gilded pieces that adorn the Kiswa are embroidered and the craftsmanship behind it.

The delegation thanked the president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, and the under-secretary-general of the complex, Abdul Hamid bin Said Al-Maliki, for giving them the opportunity to learn about the great efforts made by the Kingdom’s government to serve the two holy mosques, pilgrims, and the Kaaba’s Kiswa.


Intense sandstorm envelops parts of Kingdom in gray haze

Intense sandstorm envelops parts of Kingdom in gray haze
Updated 17 May 2022

Intense sandstorm envelops parts of Kingdom in gray haze

Intense sandstorm envelops parts of Kingdom in gray haze
  • The thick blanket of sand made iconic buildings in Riyadh, such as Faisaliyah Tower, Kingdom Center, and other skyscrapers in the King Abdullah Financial District almost impossible to see
  • Cautioning motorists because of the the heavy sandstorm, the traffic department advised drivers to drive slow and exercise restraint, as well as keep their headlights on

RIYADH: An intense sandstorm engulfed several areas in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, hampering visibility due to the widespread dust, slowing road traffic and forcing authorities to issue a weather warning.

The sandstorm battered Riyadh, enveloping the Saudi capital’s skyline with gray haze. The thick blanket of sand made iconic buildings in Riyadh, such as Faisaliyah Tower, Kingdom Center, and other skyscrapers in the King Abdullah Financial District almost impossible to see from a distance of a few hundred meters.

Electronic signs along Riyadh’s highways warned drivers to reduce their speed because of the lower visibility.

Cautioning motorists because of the the heavy sandstorm, the traffic department advised drivers to drive slow and exercise restraint, as well as keep their headlights on.

The General Directorate of Civil Defense also advised Riyadh residents to avoid going to various outskirt spots in sands to avoid accidents during the blinding sandstorm.

There have been no flight delays or cancellations in Riyadh because of the sandstorm.

Issuing the daily weather forecast for the Kingdom, the National Center of Meteorology on Tuesday said: “The surface dusty winds will be active in the Eastern Region and some parts of Riyadh Region, reducing horizontal visibility, while the dusty wind will continue to occur in some parts of Qassim, Hail, Madinah, Makkah and Najran regions, extending to eastern parts of Baha and Asir regions, reducing horizontal sight.”

The report added that partly cloudy skies will be seen in some parts of Tabuk, the Northern Borders and Jawf regions.

The NCM added that surface wind movement in the Red Sea will be northerly to north-westerly at a speed of 25-45 kilometers per hour on northern and central parts, and westerly to north-westerly on southern parts at a speed of 15-35 kilometers per hour. Surface wind movement in the Arabian Gulf will be westerly to north-westerly at a speed of 25-45 kilometers per hour.

In Riyadh, the dusty weather has made it tough for outdoor workers, and residents have struggled to keep sand out of their homes.

Abdul Qadeer, a Bangladeshi construction worker, told Arab News: “The heavy sandstorm that started late last night and engulfed the city and its outskirts in gray haze this morning has made it really tough for us to continue working outdoors due to widespread dust.”

Though not infrequent for May — the sandstorm is the third to hit the Kingdom this month — Tuesday’s storm created unfavorable conditions, with the maximum temperature in Riyadh recorded at 38 degrees Celsius and the minimum at 24 degrees Celsius. The relative humidity was recorded at 11 percent.

Parts of Saudi Arabia typically experience sandstorms at the end of winter and advent of summer between March and May, with varying intensity.

Besides the Kingdom, Tuesday’s sandstorm has affected other countries in the region, including neighboring Iraq, which recorded its eighth sandstorm since mid-April, a phenomenon fueled by soil degradation, intense droughts and low rainfall linked to climate change.


Saudi women at front and center in Kingdom’s transformation

Saudi women at front and center in Kingdom’s transformation
Updated 17 May 2022

Saudi women at front and center in Kingdom’s transformation

Saudi women at front and center in Kingdom’s transformation
  • Glass ceilings being broken as women become an integral part of the changes underway
  • Gender stereotypes and gender bias are fast disappearing as more women enter the labor force

DUBAI: As Saudi Arabia continues to undergo significant economic and social reforms, its women and youth find themselves at the heart of this profound change.

With several initiatives transforming the Saudi economy, workplace and society among other things, the role of Saudi women has become an integral part of this.

The above observations were made by Sarah Al-Tamimi, vice chair of Saudi Arabia’s National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, and Noor Nugali, assistant editor-in-chief at Arab News, ahead of their participation in a panel discussion entitled “Saudi Women Pioneers: Change from Within” at the Arab Women’s Forum in Dubai on May 17.

In Nugali’s opinion, Saudi women have always been strong, resilient and extremely hardworking, regardless of their occupations. The difference today, in her view, is that they have the opportunities that were not available before the launch of Vision 2030.

“We had trailblazers, we had women who fought to make their way in this world and pave that road for their successors,” she said.

Arab News’ assistant editor-in-chief Noor Nugali, left, moderates the Storytellers From The War Front session at the Arab Women Forum in Dubai.

“Now we see more Saudi women reaching high positions, more Saudi women shining in different fields. It was not because of a lack of talent in the past but a lack of opportunity, which now has come to light. So now we can see many more women joining the workforce in senior positions.”

The foundation for future female leaders in Saudi Arabia rests on a number of pillars. In addition to ambition and hope, having a very strong support system – from family, friends and role models they can learn from — is crucial. “Saudi society is very tight-knit,” Nugali said.

“It’s a large community and both women and men need that support system — we’re also talking about equality, which means giving the opportunity to the best person, regardless of gender.

“The Saudi leadership’s brilliant Vision 2030 has created a strategy to level the playing field for the work force and have the most qualified candidates chosen.”

Nugali underscored the importance of equality and opportunity for all, saying: “Don’t hire women to fill a quota. Hire the most qualified, whether male or female, and give them all equal chances. That is what our vision is about.”

She believes gender stereotypes and gender bias, both conscious and unconscious, are fast disappearing, a process that was many years in the making. “I’m seeing this happen. It is momentous and marvelous that this is where we are because we had a very sheltered life,” Nugali said.

“Now we’ve shattered the glass ceiling, and this was something we’ve been waiting for a very long time. The only challenge is believing in yourself and working hard in order to attain what you aspire to be. You have to be focused, you have to have a huge support system, you have to believe in yourself and know that it’s okay to make mistakes because that’s part of growing, learning and excelling.”

Sarah Al-Tamimi, vice chair of Saudi Arabia’s National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking. (Supplied)

Al-Tamimi, who is also the deputy president of Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Commission, said women in the Kingdom are currently experiencing a golden age, with opportunities expanding at a more dramatic pace than at any other point in the country’s history. She added that the Saudi government is playing an active role in ensuring that women realize these opportunities.

“Several reforms have been implemented to incentivize women to enter the labor market and also to protect their rights, from freedom of mobility and travel to anti-harassment laws and regulations,” she told Arab News.

“A lot has happened from a regulatory and legislative perspective.”

Many traditionally male-led sectors previously closed to women, such as construction, car repair shops and the police force, have also opened up to them in the past few years, providing them with massive opportunities.

“The work continues to ensure women’s participation across the board,” Al-Tamimi said. “And (the) creation of new opportunities for women in the workplace is definitely a significant component of Vision 2030.”

Saudi women jog in the streets of Jeddah’s historic Al-Balad district on March 8, 2018. (AFP)

Labor equality and education will prove crucial to the advancement of women going forward, and with the Saudi government investing tremendous resources in young girls’ and women’s education, they now outnumber their male counterparts in university degrees.

In the workforce, women’s share of entrepreneurship is also rapidly growing, placing them at the heart of the Kingdom’s transformation, with the latest data from the General Authority for Statistics revealing that Saudi women make up 35 percent of the Saudi workforce.

“Women are reaching more and more leadership positions each day and this serves to spearhead further development,” Al-Tamimi said. “We need women in the labor market, they should be contributing, thriving and leading — we need to tap into the full potential of Saudi women and we’re seeing this every day in Saudi Arabia, women have so much to offer the country in terms of their capabilities and their talents.”