Pakistan announces six day holidays for Eid Al-Fitr

People shop from stalls in a market, after Pakistan started easing the lockdown as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Karachi, Pakistan May 11, 2020. (REUTERS)
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Updated 17 May 2020

Pakistan announces six day holidays for Eid Al-Fitr

  • Pakistan’s official moon-sighting website says Eid will fall on Sunday, May 24
  • Due to coronavirus, all but essential businesses and shops to remain closed during holiday period

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has announced a six-day holiday period between May 22 to May 27 on account of Eid Al-Fitr, according to a statement released by the country’s interior ministry on Saturday.
During the holiday period, which will extend from Friday to Wednesday, all businesses, public spaces, community markets and shops have been directed to remain closed amid the coronavirus outbreak-- with some outlets selling essential items and medicines permitted to open, according to the statement.
In May last year, Pakistan’s minister for science and technology, Fawad Chaudhry, launched what he termed was Pakistan’s first official moon-sighting website and calendar which displays prominent Islamic events in the country over five years based on scientific evidence.
The ministry’s website marks Eid Al-Fitr in the country falling on Sunday, May 24 this year.
However, the national Ruet-e-Hilal committee is scheduled to meet on May 23 in Karachi for the Shawwal moon sighting as is tradition, according to the ministry of religious affairs.
Pakistan, which has been facing a surge in rates of coronavirus, began easing pandemic-related lockdowns last week with over 41,000 confirmed cases and 895 fatalities reported on Sunday. Public transportation has been opened up in some provinces amid the arrival of Eid, when traditionally, people return to their hometowns and visit relatives and friends.

Over 40,000 Pakistani expats to benefit from extension of Saudi visas, residency permits

Updated 05 July 2020

Over 40,000 Pakistani expats to benefit from extension of Saudi visas, residency permits

  • King Salman on Sunday approved a free three-month extension of expired residency permits, and exit and reentry visas of expatriates
  • Pakistan envoy to Saudi Arabia hails ‘positive and welcoming step’ by Saudi Arabia

ISLAMABAD: More than 40,000 Pakistani expats in Saudi Arabia will benefit from the royal order to extend by three months and without charge, the validity of expired residency permits and exit and reentry visas, Pakistan’s ambassador to the Kingdom, Raja Ali Ejaz, told Arab News on Sunday.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman on Sunday approved the extension in order to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on expats working in Saudi Arabia.

Under the order, the residency permits and visas of expats inside the Kingdom of which the validity expired during the period of suspension of entry and exit from Saudi Arabia, will be extended for a period of three months free of cost. The validity of final exit visas, unused exit and return visas for expats will also be extended.

“More than 40,000 Pakistani expatriates will benefit from this facility,” Ambassador Ejaz said.

“It is a positive and welcoming step by Saudi Arabia that they have given three months’ extension in almost every relevant visa related issue for expatriates.”

He added around 15,000 Pakistani expats inside the Kingdom and over 25,000 who had traveled back to Pakistan, would be facilitated by the extension.

“There were many Pakistanis who went back on leave and could not come back after the suspension of flights due to coronavirus,” he continued. 

“When they come back here [Saudi Arabia] to rejoin their work, their visas will be valid so they will not face any trouble.”

Furthermore, Ejaz said Pakistanis whose visas had expired but they had been unable to leave due to the limited availability of flights would also be beneficiaries, as the Saudi government had extended their final exit visas as well.

The extension facility will come into place free of cost-- a source of financial relief, Ejaz said, for the majority of Pakistani workers in unskilled labor positions.

Pakistan currently has more than 2.5 million expats living in Saudi Arabia, and makes up the country’s biggest overseas community. 

According to Pakistan’s central bank data, Saudi Arabia has consistently remained for years Pakistan’s largest source of remittances.