Saudi Eases Travel Rule to Allow Emiratis to Return

AL GHARBIA (Western Region) — A rule issued by Saudi Arabia, banning Emiratis from travelling to the country on identity cards, has been relaxed and authorities have allowed the many stranded to exit on an undertaking not to re-enter without passports.

By Staff Reporter

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Published: Thu 27 Aug 2009, 1:20 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 9:24 AM

Many returning home through Al Ghuwaifat checkpoint told Khaleej Times they had been unable to cross until Tuesday when authorities began easing restrictions.

Saudi Arabia announced on Friday it had stopped recognising UAE identity cards, protesting that a map on the ID card did not correspond with theborder agreed by the two in 1974.

The UAE Foreign Ministry has told those wishing to travel to Saudi Arabia, or cross the country’s borders to the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council to use passports instead, said ambassador Sultan Al Qurtasi Al Nuaimi, Director of the Consular Department at the Ministry of Foreign affairs.

“The ministry has issued instructions to the UAE embassy in the Saudi capital Riyadh and its consulate general in Jeddah to issue return travel documents to the UAE citizens who arrived in the Kingdom by land,” Al Nuaimi said.

The sudden restriction caught unawares many citizens and travel agencies arranging Haj and Umrah trips. “The entry procedures to Saudi Arabia have now become much stricter than before,” said Abdullah Hamad, a UAE citizen, who has been living in Saudi Arabia for years.

Hamad who owns a large number of camels in Saudi pastures, and used to travel with his ID, was taken by surprise when he was prevented from entering the kingdom by Saudi passport officials at the Al Bathaa check point.

“This had prompted me to travel to as far as Al Ain to bring my passport to make it to Saudi Arabia to look after my camels,” he said.

Other citizens also waited for hours before they were able to obtain documentation to cross the border.

“I waited for more than two hours at Al Bathaa Borders check point until my passport was brought, and later I crossed the borders to perform Umrah,” Saleh Mohammed, a UAE citizen said.

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