Saudis 'excited' to travel as quarantine is scrapped for vaccinated visitors
Non-vaccinated travellers must isolate for only seven days
Saudis joining the thousands who have travelled abroad since restrictions were lifted last month say they cannot wait to take to the skies as more countries are added to the list of approved destinations.
At least 78,000 people left the kingdom within 10 days of the 14-month travel ban being lifted on May 17.
Lubna Faqih, a Saudi national, is set to join that number and told The National of her excitement before a flight to the US on Friday to see her daughter, Reem Al Jamaan.
“I can’t believe it’s just a few more days before I am able to take off," Ms Faqih said.
"It has been almost two years since I saw my dear daughter, who is a dental surgeon in the US.
She said it was the first time she would be seeing her daughter since she moved to Milwaukee.
"We are very close as she’s my only daughter, so I am absolutely thrilled and grateful that I am finally able to make it to the US.
“It’s been a period of trial, ups and downs, and I am so grateful that I am one of the lucky ones who will be able to travel this summer.”
Ms Faqih, an experienced traveller, said that the long wait meant, “I feel like I am travelling for the first time".
On May 17, Saudi Arabia lifted the travel ban, with the Interior Ministry on Saturday lifting restrictions on arrivals from 11 more countries – the UAE, Germany, the US, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, the UK, Sweden, Switzerland, France and Japan.
Travellers who have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine approved by the kingdom are exempt from quarantine on their arrival, the General Authority of Civil Aviation said on Sunday.
Saudi Arabia has approved vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson.
Non-vaccinated travellers must now isolate for only seven days.
Basmah Nazer, a Saudi living in Jeddah, said she cannot wait to be reunited with her mother in the UK and is relieved she will not have to enter quarantine on her return.
“I haven’t seen my mother in almost a year and a half," Ms Nazer said. "It’s been a hard time since she is old and couldn’t travel to see us.
“With the lockdown and restrictions on travel, we decided to wait to get vaccinated to ensure safety for all our family members.
"My sister travelled last week and I will be joining them in June. I cannot wait to hug her and just be with her again.”
Before departure, Saudi citizens must obtain travel insurance valid for at least 30 days to help cover costs related to Covid-19 health care in case of infection.
They must also have a negative PCR test result before travelling, with approved laboratories licensed to issue the necessary certificates listed on the Weqaya Public Health Authority website.
All of those travelling to Saudi Arabia, including GCC citizens and new visa holders, must register proof of their vaccination electronically before their arrival on the Muqeem vaccine registration page.
Passengers who test positive for Covid-19 will undergo isolation in institutional quarantine for between 10 and 14 days, and must have medical insurance that covers the cost of treatment.
Saudi Arabia reopened its land, sea, and air borders, allowing citizens to travel outside the kingdom after a 14-month lockdown.
Updated: June 10, 2021 02:19 PM