Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior has issued directives to allow direct entry of fully vaccinated expatriates from countries facing travel ban, an official source at the ministry announced on Tuesday 24 Aug.
The diplomatic missions of the concerned countries have confirmed to Saudi Gazette News Paper the receipt of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) directive in this regard. The diplomatic missions as well as the expatriate community leaders and businessmen hailed the much-awaited decision.
The new decision will be applicable only to those foreigners who have a valid residency permit (Iqama) and left the Kingdom on exit and reentry visa after taking two doses of vaccine against Covid-19 from Saudi Arabia.
Currently, the countries facing the travel ban are India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Lebanon.
The Ministry of Interior source said that the authorities had allowed earlier direct entry to Saudi citizens, as well as to foreign diplomats, health practitioners and their families from the countries facing travel ban.
All other segments required to spend 14-day quarantine in a third country before their entry into the Kingdom.
Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Al-Bukhari confirmed receiv ing the directive from MOFA toward lifting the suspension of direct travel to Saudi Arabia from Lebanon for those Lebanese nationals who received two doses of coronavirus vaccine in the Kingdom.
He said that all the precautionary measures adopted by the Kingdom will be applicable to those returning to the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia had temporarily suspended all international flights from March 15, 2020, following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Though the suspension of international flight service lifted after one year on May 17, 2021, it was not applicable to 20 countries due to the coronavirus situation in those countries.
It is noteworthy that the Ministry of Interior announced the suspension of entry of expatriates from 20 countries into the Kingdom as part of measures to combat coronavirus, effective from Feb. 3. The move exempted Saudi citizens, as well as foreign diplomats, health practitioners, and their families.
The countries that faced the ban were Argentina, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Portugal, Turkey, South Africa, Lebanon, and Egypt, Germany, the United States, Japan, Ireland, Italy, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Swiss Confederation and France.
It was also instructed that those coming from other countries if they had passed through any of these 20 countries during the 14 days preceding their application to enter the Kingdom.
Later, the travel ban on the United States, Japan, Ireland, Italy, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Swiss Confederation, France, and Germany was lifted while a new countries Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Vietnam were added to the list of banned countries.