Riyadh: In a huge relief for Indian travellers who plan to return to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced that the Saudi Arabian government has relaxed travel guidelines for Indians who have received both the doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the Kingdom.
“Indian nationals who have travelled to India after receiving both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in Saudi Arabia will be able to return to the Kingdom directly without the need for quarantine in a third country,” the embassy wrote in a tweet.
It also mentioned that more details are awaited from India’s foreign ministry.
Besides India, the countries facing travel ban are allowed direct entry to the fully vaccinated expatriates are Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Lebanon.
The new decision will be applicable only to those foreigners who have a valid residency permit (iqama) and left the Kingdom on exit and reentry visa after taking two doses of vaccine against COVID-19 from Saudi Arabia.
On March 15, 2020, Saudi Arabia suspended all international flights, excluding diplomats, Saudi nationals, medical staff, and their families, to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
On May 17, 2021, the suspension of international flight service lifted after one year, it was not applicable to 20 countries due to the COVID-19 situation in those countries.
The list of 20 banned countries included India, the US, Egypt, Pakistan, Argentina, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, France, Italy, Portugal, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa, United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Lebanon, UAE, and Turkey
On June 6, Saudi Arabia lifted the travel ban from eleven countries (United Arab Emirates, Germany, United States, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, France, and Japan).
Earlier on July 19, 2021, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia banned the direct entry of expatriates from nine countries facing travel bans unless they spend two weeks in a third country after leaving these countries.
Last month, the Saudi authorities said it will impose a three-year travel ban on citizens travelling to countries on the kingdom’s ‘red list’, including India, in efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus and its new variants, state news agency SPA had reported.
As of August 23, Saudi Arabia has administered more than 34 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, including 21.3 million first does and 13 million second doses, according to the health ministry.