Saudi FM says Israeli passport holders cannot visit kingdom

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Faisal talking in an interview with CNN in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia January 27, 2020. ( Courtesy : screen grab from CNN )
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Updated 28 January 2020

Saudi FM says Israeli passport holders cannot visit kingdom

  • Said Israel policy unchanged
  • Israel on Sunday said that its citizens could now travel to Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia confirmed on Monday that Israeli passport holders were not permitted to enter the Kingdom.

Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the policy was unchanged despite Israel saying on Sunday that its citizens could now travel to Saudi Arabia.

“Our policy is fixed,” Prince Faisal told CNN. “We do not have relations with the state of Israel, and Israeli passport holders cannot visit the Kingdom at the current time.

“When a peace agreement is reached between the Palestinians and the Israelis, I believe the issue of Israel’s involvement in the region will be on the table.”

Analysts said the statements by both countries were significant as US President Donald Trump prepared to unveil his Middle East peace plan in Washington.

“Israel wanted to fool the Arabs, and to put Saudi Arabia in a difficult position, saying they had resolved the issue with the Kingdom and were ready for peace,” the Saudi political analyst Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News.

“But the Kingdom is saying, ‘No, you cannot visit until there is a solution,’ and we will find out tomorrow if the Trump peace plan is that solution.”

The 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, calling for normal Arab relations with Israel in return for its withdrawal from occupied land, was the benchmark, Al-Shehri said.

“If they are going to override the Arab Peace Initiative without a workable alternative, then of course the Kingdom will not establish diplomatic relations.”


Major Saudi research center prepares to take part in advanced COVID-19 vaccine trials

Updated 22 September 2020

Major Saudi research center prepares to take part in advanced COVID-19 vaccine trials

  • Ministry of Health and King Abdullah International Medical Research Center have been working with two Chinese drug companies

JEDDAH: King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC) in Saudi Arabia is preparing to take part in advanced trials of one or two COVID-19 vaccines.

About 40 potential vaccines are being tested on humans, nine of which are at the advanced stage of clinical trials to evaluate their safety and effectiveness in protecting people against a virus that has infected more than 31 million people around the world.

The center confirmed its readiness to cooperate with the Kingdom’s Ministry of Health and the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) and participate in tests of one or two of the nine vaccines that are in the third phase of clinical trials, during which large-scale testing on humans takes place.

Dr. Naif Al-Harbi, the head of KAIMRC’s drug-development unit, told Al-Ekhbariya TV news channel that it is unprecedented to have nine vaccines in stage three of clinical trials so soon, less than a year, after the emergence of a new virus.

“Approval or disapproval of any drug normally follows the third stage of its clinical trials, which is the last stage,” he added. “Since the pandemic, KAIMRC has been in continuous contact with a number of drug companies in four countries (that are developing vaccines).”

KAIMRC has been working with one Chinese pharmaceutical company in particular to help evaluate and accelerate the development of its vaccine, he said.

“Over the past two months, we have been in contact with Sinovac to scientifically evaluate its product, in term of the tests on animals and a study of the results of stages one and two on humans,” Al-Harbi said.