Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry warned citizens on Wednesday against travel to a number of countries without obtaining permission.
People wishing to travel from March 31 onwards should obtain permission prior to traveling to Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, Turkey, Armenia, Somalia, DR Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Belarus and any other country where the coronavirus pandemic is not under control or that has a variant of the virus spreading through it.
The statement said the decision had been taken in light of the lack of stability in specific countries, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the detection of a new variant of the virus.
According to an official source at the Interior Ministry, among the countries are Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Armenia, Somalia, Congo, Venezuela, and Belarus. These countries are now on the list of the worst-coronavirus hit countries, the source said.
The ministry called on citizens residing in these countries to register their information with the respective Saudi embassies.
The list of 12 countries include Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Libya, Venezuela, Belarus, Armenia, Somalia and Congo.
The warning has been issued for the citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia due to the emergence of the new variant of the virus.
However, prior permission is to be obtained by citizens and residents who wish to travel to the above-mentioned countries.
The citizens residing in the countries where the pandemic is not under control are also required to register their information at the respective Saudi embassies in the countries.
Entry into Saudi Arabia has been temporarily suspended for expatriates travelling from 20 countries (see ‘Travel’). The ban also applies to expatriates transiting any of the 20 countries in the 14 days prior to their planned arrival into Saudi Arabia. Tourist visas remain suspended. In some regions, the “Tawakkalna” mobile phone application must be downloaded as a COVID-19 tracing measure and some businesses, including supermarkets and shopping malls, require customers to show the app before entry. Restrictions are in place for public and social gatherings. Events, entertainment and dining at restaurants has been suspended. Check with local authorities for latest advice.
Some safety advices:
Terrorism is a significant threat in Saudi Arabia. An attack could happen anywhere, at any time.
Several terror incidents have happened in Saudi Arabia in recent years, including those targeted at Saudi security forces.
On occasion, attacks have targeted the minority Shia community in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern province.
Expats have died or been injured in attacks that targeted others.
Further attacks are likely. There are posts on jihadist websites and social media encouraging attacks against western interests and Saudi Arabia’s infrastructure.
Other possible terror targets include:
- shopping malls
- recreational facilities
- other symbols of Western culture
Attacks may be planned or random, large or small. Tactics could include bombings, drive-by shootings or kidnapping.
Saudi authorities have increased security at various locations across the country.
If you go to Saudi Arabia despite the risks:
- be alert to possible threats and avoid possible targets for a terror attack
- always have a clear exit plan in case there’s a security incident
- monitor the media for new or emerging threats
- report any suspicious activity or items to police
- take official warnings seriously
- follow the instructions of local authorities
If there’s an attack, leave the area as soon as it’s safe. Avoid the affected area in case of secondary attacks.
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.