Flights between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) officially restarted on Wednesday to mark the Kingdom’s 90th National Day – although flights actually restarted several days ago. The resumption of international flights from Saudi Arabia was only permitted last week after a six-month shut down as part of strict COVID-19 prevention measures.
Saudia is now linking Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam with Dubai, while Emirates is currently flying between Dubai and Jeddah and Damman. The first post-lockdown flight between the two countries was on Sunday and the Dubai Media Office reported on Wednesday that more routes between Saudi Arabia and the UAE would be added in the coming weeks and months.
In 2019, Saudi Arabia was the second most popular destination for travellers from Dubai International Airport (DXB) with 6.3 million passengers passing through the airport en route to the Kingdom.
But despite the resumption of international flights, many ordinary Saudi’s won’t actually be allowed to travel abroad. For now, tourists will be barred from leaving the country with that ban not set to be lifted until at least January 1, 2021.
Limited exemptions exist for government employees on official business, business people, students and those who need to travel due to a death in the family.
And while the UAE is celebrating the return of international flights to Saudi Arabia, some countries have already had a flight ban reimposed due to surging COVID-19 cases. Along with Argentina and Brazil, flights will also be suspended to India which recently overtook Brazil to become the second-worst affected country for Coronavirus infections with over 5.6 million cases reported by John Hopkins University.
The open-ended ban has the potential to cause further hardship for the sizeable Indian community who live in Saudi Arabia.
The Kingdom originally suspended all international flights on March 15 and at the time said the ban would last just two weeks.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.