Cairo: Expats stranded in India and Pakistan can now heave a sigh of relief as Saudi Arabia on Thursday announced that it will allow direct entry to visitors from six countries, including India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Egypt.
The visitors will no longer have to spend a 14-day quarantine in a third country to enter the kingdom which was found to be both exhausting and expensive for many.
As per an official source at the Ministry of Interior, the new directive will come into force from December 1 this year.
Brazil and Vietnam are the other countries that are included in the new list of countries allowed direct entry into the Kingdom.
As per the directive, Travellers, regardless of their vaccination status, will no longer need to quarantine for 14 days in a third country. However, they will still need to quarantine for five days in government-approved accommodation after arriving at the kingdom.
The ministry said that the decision was an update to a previous announcement regarding the temporary suspension of direct entry from some countries to the Kingdom, in an effort to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to the ministry's statement, the decision was also made after "continuous evaluation by the Kingdom's competent health authorities, according to the developments in the epidemiological situation globally."
Last February, Saudi Arabia had imposed a direct entry ban amid fears that the vaccines which were rolled out worldwide could be less effective against the variants which were detected in Britain, South Africa, and Brazil.
The ban covered the UAE, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, the US, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Japan.
Exceptions to the ban included diplomats, medical staff, and their families.
The ban also applied to travellers who transited through any of the 20 countries in the 14 days before a planned visit to the Kingdom.
Flights to and from the Kingdom were first suspended on March 14, 2020, two weeks after the World Health Organization declared that the coronavirus outbreak was a pandemic.
Entry to Saudi Arabia by air, land, and sea resumed on Jan. 3, 2021.