Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia and Oman co-operate with US over repatriations

Oman will also move to repatriate citizens from the US, while US citizens in Saudi Arabia will be taken home

FILE PHOTO: General view shows the empty garden of the King Fahd Library, following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia March 19, 2020. Picture taken March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri/File Photo
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The US embassy in Riyadh said on Saturday it was working with the authorities in Saudi Arabia to arrange repatriation flights to the US.

“No flights or departure/arrival locations have been confirmed at this time,” the it said in a statement. “It is likely that flights will be scheduled with little advance notice.”

Flights to repatriate Omanis from the US will also be provided, with the embassy in Washington saying that registrants would be notified in the coming hours that they will be able to travel home. Omanis are to be taken domestically on Saturday and Sunday to four US cities so they can board flights to Oman on Monday.

The four cities were not named and no more details were available from Oman or Saudi Arabia.

Flights have been grounded across the world due to the coronavirus pandemic, trapping many travellers and expats abroad.

Saudi Arabia has reported 1,104 cases of the novel coronavirus, and three deaths, while Oman 152 and no deaths.

Prince Khalid bin Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the United Kingdom, has urged stranded citizens in the UK to think first of the safety and comfort of other citizens at home.
Prince Khalid said the spread of coronavirus is an exceptional incident and an unprecedented emergency circumstance.
He said that he knows the urgent desire of Saudis to return to their families and homeland, but everyone must act responsibly to safeguard their health and the Saudi society's health.
There are around 30,000 Saudi citizens in Britain. Prince Khaled said it is not safe for them or for their country to return now, but that the UK has promised to prepare a plan of return as soon as possible.

Bahrainis stranded overseas will also be given the opportunity to return home. On Saturday, the kingdom announced that the International Covid-19 Repatriation Programme (ICRP) will provide flights back to Bahrain, particularly for citizens in Iran.