UAE prepares to ease return of citizens from Saudi

UAE missions across the GCC are working to prepare travel documents for citizens returning from or via Saudi Arabia after it refused to recognise UAE national identity cards.


Silvia Radan

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Published: Mon 24 Aug 2009, 12:35 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 9:23 AM

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

But travel agencies, many of whom organise Umrah packages for the thousands of visitors during this period, said they had received no directives.

The Foreign Ministry on Saturday instructed citizens travelling to, or transiting through, Saudi Arabia to use their passports instead of national ID cards.

The ministry did not provide figures on how many people would be affected by Friday’s decision by Saudi Arabia.

In a statement to government news agency Wam, the Director of Consular Affairs in the Foreign Ministry, Sultan Al Qurtasi, said UAE nationals must now use their passports to travel to Saudi Arabia following that country’s decision to suspend acceptance of the ID cards as a valid travel documentbetween the two countries. “Out of its keenness to facilitate easy movement of UAE citizens, the ministry urges those who would like to travel to Saudi Arabia or pass through its lands to use their passports,” he said.

Under a Gulf Cooperation Council agreement, citizens of those states could use their national identity cards rather than a passport when travelling within the council countries.

Travellers have been caught out and some stopped at airports ortravel points.

Nasser Al Nuaimi, owner of Nasser Haj and Umrah, told Khaleej Times, the move would create problems for Umrah pilgrims, especially those travelling by road.

“The first time I heard about this problem was on Friday, when a client called me from the airport and wanted to cancel his Umrah package because of this issue,” Al Nuaimi said.

“I immediately called the Abu Dhabi Airport and the news was confirmed. Still, we did not receive anything from the Saudi embassy or officials.”

Al Qurtasi said instructions were given to the UAE embassy in Riyadh and the consulate in Jeddah to issue return documents to UAE citizens who were in Saudi Arabia but didn’t carrytheir passports.

Similar instructions were also given to UAE missions in other GCC countries to issue return permits to UAE citizens who arrived in these countries by land via Saudi borders and didn’t have their passports.

Travel agencies on Saturday asked for clear directives and advice on how to help clients.

“This is the first time I am hearing about this news,” said a representative of Al Tawheed Haj and Umrah.

A representative of Al Farouq Haj and Umrah said he had heard the news, but had not received any official notification from the Saudi embassy or government officials.

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