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Our Correspondent

International travel, suspended to prevent the spread of the COVID-19, resumed after more than a year in Saudi Arabia on May 17. The terminals at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah were once again bustling with passengers as a result.

Arrivals and departures resumed at the Kingdom’s air, land and sea ports at 1 a.m. The first international flight to depart from Riyadh was to Hyderabad in India, while the first flight of the day from Jeddah was bound for Dhaka in Bangladesh. The first international flight to land in Riyadh was from Cairo, and the first arrival in Jeddah was from the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

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About 385 international flights took off from nine Saudi airports, including 225 departures from Riyadh, 75 from Jeddah, 66 from Dammam, and 19 from the other airports. In addition, about 300 vehicles crossed land borders into Qatar in the morning.

The Kingdom’s national carrier, Saudia, resumed flights to 43 destinations in 30 countries. It said it will operate 178 scheduled flights each week from Jeddah and 153 from Riyadh.

Saudi citizens who have been vaccinated, or have recovered from the virus within the past six months, are free to travel. As part of the latest rules, Saudis younger than 18 must also provide proof that they have a health insurance policy, approved by the Saudi Central Bank, which will cover the cost of treatment for COVID-19 in other countries.

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The General Authority for Civil Aviation issued updated travel guidelines, including use of the country’s Tawakkalna COVID-19 tracking app. The conditions apply to all travellers, regardless of whether their trip is for leisure, study, work or to receive medical treatment.

However, the Saudi Interior Ministry said that a ban remains on direct or indirect travel to 13 countries without prior permission. These are: Libya, Yemen, Armenia, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Somalia, Belarus, India, Lebanon, Turkey, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Venezuela.

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The ministry said travellers to Bahrain must have received two doses of a vaccine, and children under the age of 18 are not eligible to travel there. Diplomats and individuals accompanying them, air navigation and ship crews, workers in companies that are part of the health supply chain, and truck drivers are exempt from these rules.

Travellers returning to the Kingdom after visiting a foreign country should quarantine at home for seven days. However foreign visitors, including members of diplomatic missions arriving by air from most countries, will no longer need to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.