Customs foils smuggling of banned religious items

Updated 07 January 2016

Customs foils smuggling of banned religious items

JEDDAH: Customs officials foiled 1,076 attempts to bring in religious materials into the Kingdom over the past two years, including 101,296 books and religious tapes banned from entry for containing violating content.
Sources reveal customs officials also seized animals and birds, including rare snakes, coming from African countries for the purpose of selling to animal shops in the Kingdom; 1,235 cases involving 110,700 rare animals and birds were seized.
Individuals bringing materials such as prohibited religious tapes and books are not held by authorities unless the materials contain content that is illegal in the Kingdom, in which case the individual is handed over to authorities for further measures.
According to lawyer and legal adviser Dr. Omar Al-Khouly, most of of the seized material at ports does not require the arrest of the person bringing them in, but there are regulations in place that prevent the entry of some material and thus they must be confiscated by customs officials.
If such books and tapes contain extremist and violent content, the content is seized and the person traveling to the Kingdom is referred to a specialized committee at the port consisting of representatives of the Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Media to decide if the person should be handed over to authorities or not.
Regarding rare animals and birds, he said they are seized and the person who brought them is let go without taking a pledge, but the matter differs when It comes to drugs and alcohol, in which case the individual is handed over to the committee to write an arrest report and then is transferred over to security authorities.


Technical glitches on Absher prevent exempt Saudis from traveling abroad

Updated 27 September 2020

Technical glitches on Absher prevent exempt Saudis from traveling abroad

  • On Sept. 13, the Saudi government issued a list of categories of people permitted to travel outside of the Kingdom
  • However, only a few days after the announcement, many students, patients and other exempted residents were unable to apply due to a technical fault on Absher

JEDDAH: Absher, the “one-stop shop” web-portal for Saudi government services, has been experiencing technical glitches that have left many citizens and expats unable to travel, despite them meeting the “exceptional case” categories outlined by the Interior Ministry more than two weeks ago.
Earlier this year and as part of its response to COVID-19, the Saudi government suspended all international flights to and from the Kingdom in a move that has successfully reduced infections across the country.
On Sept. 13, the Saudi government issued a list of categories of people permitted to travel outside of the Kingdom. These include diplomats, humanitarian cases, Saudis who live outside the Kingdom for work or study, among others. To be able to leave the country an eligible individual must apply — with supporting documents — for a permit to the passport authority.
However, only a few days after the announcement, many students, patients and other exempted residents were unable to apply due to a technical fault on Absher.
“The option to request the permit suddenly vanished from the relevant page, so while you could access Absher you just couldn’t submit your request. I tried every day for nearly two weeks,” said a Saudi woman who holds residency in a neighboring country. She added that while there was no announcement, the only information that she read in the local press was that the service was facing technical glitches.
“Yesterday, they announced that Absher was back but said that new requirements were set,” she said. “These include providing a copy of the residency card abroad and proof that an applicant has lived out of the Kingdom for six months every year for the past three years. In addition they requested a copy of my tenancy contract.”
“I spent all day collecting the documents. When I tried to upload the PDF the first time it told me that the file was too big, so I went to find software to reduce the size and when I finally managed to do so, I couldn’t log in as the whole website was down with a message saying that it was either temporarily unavailable or that they were serving someone else,” she said.
Other people, including one Saudi cancer patient who is due to return for treatment in Germany, spoke of the same technical glitches. When Arab News tried to log on to verify earlier today, it was unable to with an automated message that said “currently we are serving others, please try again later.”  The problem seems to have been resolved for some users by 10 pm.