By Arab News
By Huda Al-Shair
Saudia airline will increase passenger numbers on incoming flights from the UAE in the next 24 hours as travelers scramble to return home ahead of flight restrictions.
The Saudi Ministry of Interior on Friday announced a travel ban to and from the UAE, Vietnam and Ethiopia due to a rise in COVID-19 cases and the spread of more severe variants, forcing many Saudis with travel plans to cancel their flights or return early.
Anyone entering the Kingdom after the ban comes into effect on Sunday, July 4, at 11 p.m. will need to quarantine.
Among those affected by the decision is 25-year-old Deena Al-Dakheel, of Jeddah, who was hoping to reunite with her fiance, Mohammed, after his trip to Egypt.
“He was visiting family in Egypt, but since he’s only a resident here, he wasn’t allowed entry,” said Al-Dakheel. “So we tried to get him to come through the UAE, but then this decision came out. I’m very disappointed.”
She added: “He has been living here his whole life, so he has work, commitments and other responsibilities. We need to find a way for him to get back, but every other route is inconvenient, difficult and expensive. I just hope we can figure something out soon.”
Renad Sheraif, 25, has been living in Dubai for almost three years and has not seen her grandmother, who lives in Jeddah, for more than nine months.
“We already booked the tickets and everything,” Sheraif said. “She was supposed to come this weekend and then I was supposed to accompany her back to Jeddah. But that obviously won’t happen now.”
Sheraif said that she is disappointed by the restrictions but understands their necessity. “It’s sad that I won’t see my grandmother, but I also wouldn’t want her to risk getting infected here and we also have the new Delta variant. It’s safer for her to stay in Jeddah. So, the decision makes sense.”
Saudia has urged travelers to stay updated on their flight status, new announcements and other changes via the airline’s official channel.
Saudis were given permission to travel to certain countries outside the Kingdom from May 17, provided they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or recovered after catching the virus. Those who have received only the first dose of a vaccine are required to wait 14 days before traveling. Those who have recovered from infection must wait six months after testing negative before flying.