King imposes curfew across Saudi Arabia to contain COVID-19

Agencies
March 23, 2020

Riyadh, Mar 23: King Salman on Sunday issued an order imposing a curfew across Saudi Arabia from Monday evening to control the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

A royal court statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said the curfew will start at 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. every day for 21 days from the evening of 28 Rajab 1441 in the Hijri calendar, equivalent to March 23, 2020 in the Gregorian calendar.

King Salman's order followed an announcement by the Health Ministry of 119 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, raising the total number in the Kingdom to 511.

The order enjoins citizens and residents alike to stay in their homes during the curfew hours for their own safety.

The statement said the Ministry of Interior will undertake the necessary measures to implement the curfew, and all civil and military authorities are ordered to cooperate fully.

Exclusions

A subsequent statement issued by the Ministry of Interior and carried by SPA said those excluded from the curfew are workers from the following vital industries and government services:

• Food sector (points of sale) such as catering and supermarkets And poultry and vegetable shops, meat, bakeries, food factories and laboratories;

• Health sector, such as pharmacies and the like, medical clinics (dispensaries), hospitals, laboratories, factories, factories and materials and medical devices;

• Media sector in its various means;

• Transportation sector, such as those transporting goods, parcels, customs clearance, warehouses, warehouses, logistics services, supply chains for the health sector, the food sector, and port operations;

• E-commerce activities such as those working in the electronic procurement applications for the excluded activities and those working in the delivery applications of the excluded activities;

• Accommodation services activities such as hotels and furnished apartments;

• Energy sector such as gas stations and emergency services for the electric company;

• Financial services and insurance sector, such as direct accidents (Najm), urgent health insurance services (approvals), and other insurance services;

• Telecom sector as Internet and communication network operators;

• Water sector, such as the water company emergency services and home drinking water delivery service (graying).

Additional exclusions

The Interior Ministry statement also said movement during the curfew time will be allowed for security, military and health cars, government regulatory services vehicles, and activity vehicles excluded in the vital industries and services mentioned above. 

Delivery services through smart device applications (express delivery services) during the curfew will be allowed for food and drug needs and other essential goods and services that are excluded and delivered to homes. Excluded activities can be known by calling the toll-free number in all regions of the Kingdom 999, except for the Makkah Al-Mukarramah region, which is called at 911.

Muezzins will be allowed to access mosques to lift the call to prayer at the time of the curfew.

Workers in diplomatic missions and international organizations and the like residing in the Diplomatic Quarter will be allowed to move during the curfew period to and from their business headquarters in the neighborhood.

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News Network
September 13,2020

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Dubai, Sept 13: An Indian in the UAE was honoured by the police for returning a bag containing USD 14,000 and gold, a media report said on Saturday.

Retesh James Gupta, who lives in Dubai, was praised by the Dubai Police for his honesty and gave him a certificate of appreciation for being a responsible resident, Gulf News reported.

The bag he returned to the police contained USD 14,000 cash and gold worth 200,000 dirhams (USD 54,452), it said.

Brigadier Yousef Abdullah Salim Al Adidi, Director of Al Qusais Police Station, awarded Gupta at the police station and emphasised the importance of collaboration between the community and police.

It was not immediately known who was the owner of the bag.

Mr Gupta thanked the Dubai Police for awarding him, saying the gesture gave him pride and joy.

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News Network
September 23,2020

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Sharjah, Sep 23: An Indian expatriate cannot believe that he can finally go home after 20 years, with Dh750,000 of fine waived off by Sharjah authorities.

What's in a name? Even a letter matters, says Thanavel Mathiazhaagan, an Indian worker in the UAE who is set to return home after being granted a waiver of nearly Dh750,000 in overstay fines, reports Gulf News.

The man from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu claims that he could not avail amnesty opportunities in the UAE in the last 20 years as his identity verification was not cleared from India due to a mismatch in his father's name in documents back home and that shown in his passport. As it turns out, there was a spelling error in his father's name in the documents in India.

Mathiazhaagan, 56, said he himself realised this (the reason for not getting the clearance) only after his latest request for repatriation was taken up by two social workers in the UAE after he sought their help to return home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He told media that he had landed in the UAE in 2000 after paying Rs 120,000 (Dh6,048) to a recruitment agent for a job in Abu Dhabi. This could be verified from the stamp on his employment visa entry permit -- the only document that Mathiazhaagan has preserved, apart from a copy of the last page of his passport.

He said the agent had taken his original passport, claiming that his residence visa would be stamped in the passport once he gets the medical fitness certificate issued.

"I took the medical test and waited for my employment visa. But, the agent kept delaying it and later I got to know that the company, which was supposed to hire me, had shut down." Eventually, he said, the agent stopped answering his calls and could not be traced at all later.

"I stayed in a room with some people from my native place. I lived there for eight months with no job. After that I came to Sharjah and started doing odd jobs."

Mathiazhaagan said he illegally stayed in the UAE to feed his family by doing part-time jobs for various households and companies.

He claimed that he did try for returning home during the previous visa amnesty offers in the UAE and lost more than Dh10,000 to people who promised to help him with clearance of his documents that never came through.

Prior to the fine waiver announced till November 17 this year for people with expired visas or who had their visas cancelled before March 1 during the Covid-19 pandemic, the UAE government had granted visa amnesties in 2003, 2007, 2012 and 2018.

Gulf News could not independently verify if Mathiazhaagan had indeed applied for an emergency certificate (EC), a one-way travel document issued to Indians without a valid passport, in order to facilitate their return home, during the earlier instances of amnesty.

However, A. K. Mahadevan and Chandra Prakash. P, who helped Mathiazhaagan get an EC through the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, said he had failed to get identity clearance from India during the pandemic. They said they found out the reason behind the rejection only after Mathiazhaagan met Mahadevan, seeking help to return home.

"His name is Thanavel Mathiazhaagan as per the copy of the last page of his lost passport and the UAE entry permit," said Prakash, the Vice-President of Indian People's Forum, a community organisation that also pitched to get a travel clearance for Mathiazhaagan.

"Unfortunately, the documents sent by Trichy Regional Passport Office to the Senthurai Police Station for his identity verification showed his father's name as Thangavel whereas his father's actual name is Thanavel -- according to all other records. The additional letter 'g' in the name created the problem," said Prakash.

The duo said they approached the Indian Embassy and the local departments in Mathiazhaagan's village to rectify the mistake and process his documents. "Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor took special interest in solving this case after the issue was taken up with him," said Prakash.

Mahadevan said he was happy that Mathiazhaagan would be flying home soon and meeting his youngest daughter, who had not even been born when he left India for the UAE.

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News Network
September 14,2020

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Jeddah, Sept 14: The resumption of Umrah service will begin in the near future with only a limited number of domestic pilgrims being allowed to perform the ritual in the initial phase, Okaz/Saudi Gazette has learnt from informed sources.

The Ministry of Interior announced on Sunday partial lifting of travel restrictions from Sept. 15 and the total lifting of the restrictions effective from Jan. 1, 2021. The ministry stated that a plan to lift the suspension of Umrah service will be announced gradually in light of the developments related to the pandemic.

According to the sources, domestic pilgrims will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage provided they fulfill certain terms and conditions. It will be mandatory for the pilgrims to carry with them a medical certificate to show that they are tested negative for the coronavirus.

The opening of the door for Umrah will be made in line with the coronavirus precautionary measures and preventive protocols. The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah will announce soon the terms and conditions in this regard, the source pointed out.

The source confirmed that there will be a mobile application that specifies the date and time of performance of the pilgrimage by each pilgrim and that a permit to perform Umrah will be issued by the concerned authorities to those fulfilling the terms and conditions.

Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah for Hajj Affairs Dr. Hussein Al-Sharif confirmed to Okaz/Saudi Gazette earlier that the ministry will work to evaluate the experience of the exceptional success of the last Hajj. He said that the ministry will take advantage of this successful experience in implementing high-quality health and regulatory measures for the coming Umrah season.

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