Saudi Arabia to allow limited number of citizens, residents to perform Hajj this year

News Network
June 23, 2020

Riyadh, Jun 23: Authorities in Saudi Arabia have decided to allow a limited number of citizens and residents who are already in the Kingdom to do this year’s Haj.

In a statement on Monday, the Ministry of Haj and Umrah said that in light of the continuation of the coronavirus pandemic and the risks of infections spreading in crowded spaces and large gatherings, it has been decided that Haj for this year (1441 H/ 2020 AD) will be held whereby a very limited number of pilgrims from various nationalities who already reside in Saudi Arabia, would be able to perform it.

“The decision was taken to ensure Haj is performed in a safe manner from a public health perspective while observing all preventative measures and the necessary social distancing protocols to protect human beings from the risks associated with this pandemic and in accordance with the teachings of Islam in preserving the lives of human beings, the statement added.

“The government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques is honored to serve millions of Haj and Umrah pilgrims annually and it confirms that this decision stems from the top priority it accords maintaining the safety of pilgrims on its land until they depart to their home countries.”

“We ask Allah the Almighty to protect all countries from this pandemic and keep all humans protected and safe, the statement said.

Saudi Arabia’s top priority is to always enable Muslim pilgrims to perform Haj and Umrah rites safely and securely and the Kingdom has been keen since the beginning of the pandemic to take all necessary precautionary measures to protect pilgrims, including by suspending the entry of Umrah pilgrims while ensuring the safety of the pilgrims already present at the holy sites, the statement further added.

Commenting on the Haj decision, the Saudi Human Rights Commission said that Saudi Arabia believes in the universal right to health. Limiting Haj not only protects the Kingdom but also many pilgrims and the communities they call home around the world.

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News Network
June 14,2021

Dubai, June 14: The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GCAA) issued a fresh list of safety protocols for passenger and private business charter fights arriving from countries that are currently facing incoming travellers’ suspension.

Measures include mandatory tracking devices for passengers, including golden and silver visa holders said a new safety decision circular issued by the authority. The stringent regulations apply to all aircraft operators conducting flights from and to the UAE and the following countries – Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Zambia.

The circular, a copy of which Khaleej Times has seen, said, “The current development on the Covid-19 pandemic leads the UAE to impose new flight and passengers’ restrictions. The UAE government is closely monitoring the situation and will provide further updates and instructions as necessary.” An official with GCAA also confirmed to Khaleej Times that the circular has been issued by the civil aviation authority. It is said that passengers need to wear the device for at least ten days.

Wristband tracking devices were made mandatory for all international incoming passengers while they complete a mandatory 14-day home quarantine in Abu Dhabi in September last year. However, charter flight operators and travel agencies operating in this sector said the devices were given to incoming passengers arriving in Ras Al Khaimah, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah.

Raheesh Babu, the group COO of Musafir.com, an internet travel agency said passengers landing in Dubai had to adhere to ten-day mandatory quarantine and undergo PCR tests on the first, fourth, and eighth day of their arrival. “As far as we know, none of our passengers who arrived in Dubai were given tracking devices. However, passengers who arrived in RAK and Sharjah were asked to wear the wristband,” said Babu.

He added, “A majority of our customers are from the sub-continent. Since the suspension was announced on April 24, we’ve had approximately 800 businesspersons and families travel to UAE with us.”

The circular said passengers are subject to the required public health protocol upon arrival and any Naturalization and Residency department conditions, they must wear a monitoring and tracking device, comply with a ten-day quarantine period; and complete a PCR test upon arrival followed by two other PCR tests on the fourth and eighth day of their quarantine period.

The rules are also applicable to crew members operating from countries mentioned in the safety decision. Additionally, passengers are to immediately quarantine in a hotel during the whole transit period, and their movement is limited to the required movement between the hotel and the airport without contacting persons of the UAE community, said the circular.

Babu also stated that the approvals process from GCAA have been made extremely stringent to ensure Covid-19 safety. The circular also stated all arrivals are subject to the Immigration conditions in the UAE and the approval of the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCMEA) must be obtained for unscheduled and charter flights. 

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News Network
June 2,2021

iranship.jpg

Tehran, June 2: The largest ship in the Iranian navy caught fire and later sank Wednesday in the Gulf of Oman under unclear circumstances, semiofficial news agencies reported.

The Fars and Tasnim news agencies said efforts failed to save the support ship Kharg, named after the island that serves as the main oil terminal for Iran.

The blaze began around 2:25 a.m. and firefighters tried to contain it, state TV said. The vessel sank near the Iranian port of Jask, some 1,270 kilometers southeast of Tehran on the Gulf of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz — the narrow mouth of the Arabian Gulf.

Photos circulated on Iranian social media of sailors wearing life jackets evacuating the vessel as a fire burned behind them. State TV and semiofficial news agencies referred to the Kharg as a “training ship.”

The Kharg serves as one of a few vessels in the Iranian navy capable of providing replenishment at sea for its other ships. It also can lift heavy cargo and serve as a launch point for helicopters. The ship, built in Britain and launched in 1977, entered the Iranian navy in 1984 after lengthy negotiations that followed Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The sinking of the Kharg marks the latest naval disaster for Iran. In 2020 during an Iranian military training exercise, a missile mistakenly struck a naval vessel near the port of Jask, killing 19 sailors and wounding 15. Also in 2018, an Iranian navy destroyer sank in the Caspian Sea.

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News Network
June 12,2021

Riyadh, June 12: Saudi Arabia said it will limit registration for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage to citizens and residents of the Kingdom in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The ministries of health and Hajj announced Saturday that a total of 60,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage this year.

It stressed that those wishing to perform Hajj must be free of any chronic diseases, and to be within the ages from 18 to 65 years for those vaccinated against the virus according to the kingdom’s vaccination measures.  

Hajj pilgrims should be fully vaccinated, or those who took one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before, or those who are vaccinated after recovering from coronavirus infection.

The decision is “based on the Kingdom’s constant keenness to enable the guests and visitors at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque to perform the rituals of Hajj and Umrah,” the ministry said. “The Kingdom puts human health and safety first.”

The hajj begins mid-July. 

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