Saudi Arabia ends travel ban on 11 countries

JEDDAH – (WARSOOR) – Saudi Arabia has lifted travel restrictions on 11 key countries, originally imposed to curb the spread of a variant strain of coronavirus.

From 1 a.m. on Sunday, passengers from the UAE, Germany, the US, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, the UK, Sweden, Switzerland, France and Japan may enter the Kingdom with the implementation of quarantine regulations.

According to the Saudi Public Health Authority (PHA), these countries have shown stability in containing COVID-19. However, 13 countries remain on the Interior Ministry’s no-go flight “red list.”

They are Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, Turkey, Armenia, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Belarus, and India. Citizens wishing to travel to these countries need prior permission.

The General Authority of Civil Aviation has issued instructions to all airlines operating in the Kingdom’s airports regarding the update of travel restrictions for travelers arriving in the Kingdom.

Non-Saudi travelers arriving in the Kingdom, the exempted travelers, immunized and unvaccinated groups must provide health certificates approved in the Kingdom (Coronavirus examination certificates PCR) not exceeding 72 hours from the flight time.

This applies to everyone aged 8 years and older, and travelers who meet the conditions of institutional quarantine for a period of seven days at one of the accommodation facilities approved by the Ministry of Tourism, provided that a swab carried out on the sixth day produces a negative result.

For months, travelers planning to return to Saudi Arabia found it difficult to do so because of the restrictions involved.

Many passengers in particular found themselves stranded in the UAE, a major flight hub, and the easing of restrictions brought a sigh of relief for many with families, even with the institutional quarantine requirements.

Nagham Hassan, 38, a Syrian expatriate resident in the Kingdom, has been in France since January last year and has not been able to return to Jeddah because of flight restrictions and lockdowns imposed in both countries.

“My parents moved to Saudi Arabia over 40 years ago and it’s always been home,” she told Arab News. “I got married just a few months before the pandemic started, and they were planning on a large family get-together for my French husband and me.

“The news came as a surprise and it’ll be great to get back home and see everyone again. The pandemic ruined a lot of things, but strengthened ties and it’s finally good to be heading back home soon.”