Saudi ministry allocates $4.5 billion to cushion impact of COVID-19 crisis on workers

Municipal workers in the Eastern Province spray disinfectant on a street to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). (SPA)
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Updated 02 April 2020

Saudi ministry allocates $4.5 billion to cushion impact of COVID-19 crisis on workers

  • Total number of coronavirus cases reaches 1,720 in Kingdom

JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has allocated SR17 billion ($4.5 billion) to deal with the economic and jobs fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

Nasser bin Abdulrahman Al-Hazani, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, said that the outlay was in line with the Kingdom’s efforts to contain the outbreak while supporting the private sector, economic growth and employment.

Under new ministry rules, expat workers whose residency permits (iqama) expire before June 30 will be exempt from financial fees and their permits extended for three months, he said.

Al-Hazani said that under the Saudi labor system employees cannot be forced to take unpaid leave without their consent.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health said that 157 new coronavirus cases have been recorded in the Kingdom. It also said that 99 people have recovered from the virus — the highest number since the beginning of the outbreak — bringing the total number to have recovered to 264.

FASTFACT

264

The total number of COVID-19 patients in Saudi Arabia who have recovered so far

The total number of confirmed cases in Saudi Arabia reached 1,720, with most new cases divided between Madinah with 78 and Makkah with 55. 

The ministry said that another six people have died from the virus, bringing the total to 16, five of whom were non-Saudis.

“We notice a significant decline in travel-related cases due to the precautionary measures taken by the ministry and other governmental entities,” Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said. “We announced one case only today and soon we won’t have any more cases related to travel.”

Al-Aly said that Saudi Arabia’s efforts to control the crisis mean it is one of only a few countries in the world able to control the virus outbreak.

The Saudi Interior Ministry has urged people to stay home even outside curfew hours.

“Many people are rushing to shopping centers and malls as soon as the curfew period is over,” Sami Al-Shuwairikh, spokesman for the Saudi General Directorate of Public Security, said. “We emphasize that leaving the house during open hours should only be for necessary needs.”

The directorate received 37,000 special requests regarding transportation and humanitarian cases in the past two days.


The Hajjana: heritage of Saudi Arabia’s camel riding border patrol honored

Updated 30 October 2020

The Hajjana: heritage of Saudi Arabia’s camel riding border patrol honored

The Hajjana — fearless camel riders who patrolled the Kingdom’s borders — helped pave the way for the establishment of the modern Saudi state.
Their story goes back almost 90 years when a Hajjana border patrol was established during the reign of King Abdul Aziz in 1933.
After the Kingdom’s founder reclaimed Al-Ahsa, he ordered sea and land patrols to be carried out to tighten security in the region’s border areas.
Patrols were led by camel riders, so a military sector was formed at that time known as Hajjana. Its name was derived from their means of transport — camels.
Now, nine decades later, the Camel Club has established the Royal Hajjana to commemorate the group’s distinguished cultural heritage.
Since its creation in April, the Royal Hajjana has been preparing to take part in official reception ceremonies for King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s guests as well as national festivals sponsored by the king and crown prince.
It will also perform in Saudi heritage shows and represent the Kingdom in local and international camel festivals.
Hajjana officers became famous throughout the country after acquiring their name from the “hejin,” or camel. They protected the Kingdom’s residents from the south of the Empty Quarter to north of the Nafud Desert.
One of the founding king’s priorities was to provide security and protect the nation’s borders, so the Border Guard was among the first military sectors created.
The Coast Guard’s budget also included allocations for Hajjana officers, known as the Hajjana patrol commanders, whose role was part of the Frontier Corps.
Patrols continued to operate in southern regions until recently. However, the memory of the Hajjana remains fresh in the minds of the Kingdom’s border guards.