Saudi Arabia one of the first countries to accept IATA Travel Pass

Visitors to Saudi Arabia who intend to use the IATA Travel Pass will have to confirm eligibility with their airline. (SPA)
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Updated 19 August 2021

Saudi Arabia one of the first countries to accept IATA Travel Pass

  • Meanwhile the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation and the developer of the Kingdom’s Tawakkalna health app sign cooperation agreement

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will accept the International Air Transport Association’s Travel Pass for verification of COVID-19 test results for departing and arriving passengers from Sept. 30. Eventually it will also be accepted as confirmation of vaccination status.

Travelers to and from Saudi Arabia will have the choice of using the IATA app or Tawakkalna, the Kingdom’s own national health app developed by the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority.

The IATA announcement comes as the SDAIA and Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation signed an agreement to cooperate on measures to verify the health status of travelers and improve travel procedures in line with the best international practices.

To this end, GACA will support the health ministry-approved Tawakkalna app, and enhance its collaboration with IATA, as part of efforts to develop integrated digital solutions in line with the Kingdom’s work in the field of digital transformation. The agreement also aims to boost air travel to and from the country, and promote the rapid recovery of the industry from the effects of the pandemic.

SDAIA President Abdullah Al-Ghamdi said that the Kingdom is a world leader in terms of harnessing technology to address the effects of the pandemic.


The IATA Travel Pass helps passengers manage and verify their health certifications and understand COVID-19 entry requirements when they travel. Visitors to Saudi Arabia who intend to use the IATA Travel Pass should confirm eligibility with their airline.

He added that the cooperation agreement will contribute to this by making it easier to verify the health status of travelers and automating some of the procedures for travel to and from the Kingdom.

Abdul Aziz Al-Duailej, the president of GACA, said that the authority “is committed to supporting all stakeholders to ease and facilitate air travel in an efficient and effective way, by adopting best international practices while taking full consideration of” International Civil Aviation Organization guidance.

“We are committed to driving the adoption of digital health certificates and restoring international air travel,” he said, adding that GACA and the developers of Tawakkalna are working with IATA to build a robust framework “to help facilitate the journey of citizens, visitors and guests of Saudi Arabia.”

He said that the agreement with SDAIA is part of an effort to organize work, responsibilities and services, develop a framework for areas of cooperation, utilize database and digital technologies, and improve the quality of life for users of the organizations’ platforms and initiatives.

IATA welcomed the decision by the GACA that Saudi Arabia will be one of the first countries to accept the Travel Pass. The association said it has been working with Saudi authorities to ensure international travel resumes conveniently and safely, and national airline Saudia is a trial partner in the development of the pass.

The Travel Pass will simplify and enhance efforts to ensure compliance with health requirements among travelers arriving in the Kingdom, IATA said, and contribute to the safe recovery of the travel and tourism industry, which is an important contributor to the Saudi economy.

“Our collaboration with Saudi Arabia, the GACA, Tawakkalna and Saudia airline demonstrates a shared commitment to restore international air travel safely,” said said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general.

“Saudi Arabia’s acceptance of IATA Travel Pass will demonstrate how digital solutions can effectively manage both COVID-19 vaccine and test certificates. The trust that the (Kingdom) has placed in IATA Travel Pass is an example for other governments to follow.”

The IATA Travel Pass helps passengers manage and verify their health certifications and understand COVID-19 entry requirements when they travel. More than 80 airlines are participating in trials of the app, which is currently accepted by a number of governments including Singapore and Panama.

Visitors to Saudi Arabia who intend to use the IATA Travel Pass should confirm eligibility with their airline.

Jeddah receives 179mm of rainfall, higher figure than 2009 peak

Updated 25 November 2022

Jeddah receives 179mm of rainfall, higher figure than 2009 peak

  • Maximum alert issued in face of weather conditions

JEDDAH: The National Center of Meteorology recorded 179 mm of rainfall on Thursday, the highest amount ever received in the city.

Rain fell from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the south of the province in a heavier downpour than the previous biggest, in 2009.

The Jeddah Municipality announced a maximum alert in the wake of the weather conditions, while the meteorology center warned of moderate to heavy rain in the governorates of Jeddah and Rabigh in the Makkah region, including Thuwal and coastal areas, accompanied by surface winds, hail and flooding, until 7 p.m. on Thursday.

King Abdulaziz Airport announced that some flights had been delayed due to the weather. The airport was hoping to communicate with air carriers to confirm dates and times for rearranged flights.

Makkah Municipality employs 11,800 field workers to prepare for the rainy season. It has machinery and equipment to deal with the expected conditions. Its operation and maintenance department assesses the performance of rainwater drainage network channels in main and side roads, intersections and squares.

It removes sediment which can impede water flow in drainage systems, in accordance with contingency plans.

Task forces and equipment have been deployed throughout Makkah, with some 52 water tanks, each with a capacity of 194,000 gallons, removing floodwaters. Some 146 excavating machines and 89 multipurpose trucks have been dealing with the impact of the rain and removing water from the roads and streets.

The municipality has also organized field teams to remove waste that may have built up in the wake of the downpours.

It has also increased the number of cleaning teams to work on clearing sewers to prevent any dangers that may pose a threat to residents and visitors.

The teams have been deployed along with 520 machines, including lorries, pump tanks, Bobcats, tankers and automated sweepers, as well as a large number of pumps and excavating machines. Work is being carried out around the clock to implement contingency plans.

Makkah contains huge rainwater drainage systems that reach around 540 km and cover all of the region’s neighborhoods and holy sites. The systems include closed trunk water mains and deep tunnel networks, as well as shallow and open drainage channels.

The municipality also carries out maintenance and cleaning operations throughout the year to help reduce the effects of flooding on the region.


Spanish passions of food and football combine at Riyadh festival

Updated 26 November 2022

Spanish passions of food and football combine at Riyadh festival

  • LaLiga and Spanish gastronomes host feast of Iberian culture at Ritz Carlton

RIYADH: Food and football were flavors of the week in Riyadh as Spanish cuisine experts and LaLiga officials came together to host a feast of Iberian culture.

The Spanish Pantry festival, organized by LaLiga and food experts Provacuno, was held over three days this week in the capital’s Ritz Carlton. 

Mohamad Essa, LaLiga’s delegate in Saudi Arabia, told Arab News that the festival combined two of Spain’s biggest passions, with football activities and displays from a Michelin star chef Rafael Centeno.

Essa said that Saudi Arabia had a passionate fan base for LaLiga football. “It’s my honor to be close to the local fans and to listen to their observations and understand their needs. We would like to achieve many things together. 

“We are here to promote strong relations with local institutions, clubs and media,” he said, adding that his presence helps LaLiga giants such as Real Madrid and Barcelona connect with Saudi fans, clubs and sponsors.

He added that his organization planned many activities for the Kingdom, including parties for Saudi fans to travel and watch LaLiga matches.

The league already helps develop skills in the sports industry with its LaLiga business school, and it has football academies aimed at developing youth talent.

“We want to export these capabilities to the country to create the new generation of footballers,” Essa said.

“As part of this international expansion, we are engaging in the market by hosting events, activities, different sports projects and academic opportunities.”

Ohoud M. Aljabr, of the Ritz-Carlton group, said: “Our main goal of this successful partnership is to introduce the beautiful and rich culture of Spain and present a memorable experience. Hosting the Spanish Festival for the first time in the Kingdom was a pleasure.” 

Provacuno is a promotion organization for Spanish beef and veal, and represents 140,000 farms and processing plants.

Spain produces more than 800,000 tonnes per year of meat to EU standards. Saudi Arabia meanwhile is a growing market for beef, with consumption rates increasing and outstripping local supply. “Spanish beef has been a supplier since 2016. Export figures have been rising in recent years, reaching 350 tonnes a year,” Provacuno said. “Most of our exports to Saudi Arabia are high-quality cuts that meet Saudi demands.”

Al-Harthi receives Rawabi Holding Award in London

Updated 24 November 2022

Al-Harthi receives Rawabi Holding Award in London

JEDDAH: Ghadah W. Al-Harthi has received the Rawabi Holding Award for her contribution to promoting Saudi-British cultural relations.

She was awarded by Abdulaziz Al-Turki, chairman of Rawabi Holding. The award ceremony was held in the presence of Prince Khalid bin Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the UK.

Al-Harthi works in London as a senior cultural consultant delivering research, strategy and content curation to consultancies in the UK with projects in the Gulf countries.

She is also a senior lecturer and associate director of the MA Innovation Management at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.

Alongside her work as a consultant and academic, she is a young adviser at Chatham House and a member of the Next Generation Committee.

For the past 10 years, Al-Harthi has been collaborating with key arts and culture institutions in the UK and the Gulf.

She aims to build bridges between communities, increase cultural exchange and enhance the multilayered communication between Saudi Arabia and the UK through her work, research and participation in international events.

In her acceptance speech, Al-Harthi said she was privileged “to have been able to strengthen cultural relations and to lead on major projects and research, with talented teams and academics here in London.”

She said: “I’m starting a London-based cultural initiative, which will aim to further continue my contributions to promoting cultural dialogue between the East and the West.”

Two dead, schools and universities close as heavy rains hit western Saudi Arabia

Updated 24 November 2022

Two dead, schools and universities close as heavy rains hit western Saudi Arabia

  • Social media showed standing water snarling traffic and partially submerging vehicles
  • Jeddah's King Abdulaziz International Airport said some flights has been delayed

RIYADH: At least two people died on Thursday as heavy rains hit western Saudi Arabia, including Jeddah, delaying flights and forcing schools to close, officials said.

“Two deaths have been recorded so far, and we call on everyone not to go out unless necessary,” Makkah regional government said on its Twitter page.

The road connecting Jeddah and Makkah was closed on Thursday once the rains began, Saudi Press Agency said, although it was later reopened.

Al-Ekhbariya channel showed footage of worshippers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah circling the Kaaba under a heavy downpour.

In Jeddah, images posted to social media showed standing water snarling traffic and partially submerging some vehicles.

The city's King Abdulaziz International Airport said that “due to weather conditions, the departure of some flights has been delayed” and urged passengers to contact carriers for up-to-date schedules.

SPA reported before dawn that schools in the city would temporarily be closed as rains were forecast to continue throughout the day.

Schools were also closed in the nearby towns of Rabigh and Khulais “to preserve the safety of male and female students", SPA added.

Saudi peak stands tall as global landmark

Updated 24 November 2022

Saudi peak stands tall as global landmark

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is home to one of the most beautiful landmarks in the world, based on a selection of leading geological sites by the International Union of Geological Sciences and UNESCO.

Mount Al-Qadar, the 2,000-meter-high extinct volcano in the Madinah region, took its place among the top 100 geological heritage sites selected from among 181 nominations submitted by 56 countries, including 34 landmarks from North and South America, 28 from Europe, 15 from Africa, and 23 from Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East.

The Saudi Geological Survey said on Thursday that Mount Al-Qadar in Harrat Khaybar “forms an aesthetically pleasing shape with a 400-meter volcanic cone.”

Mount Al-Qadar, which last erupted 1,000 years ago, was chosen along with landmarks such as the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park in the US, the Archean Barberton Greenstone belt in South Africa, and Mount Everest.