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Saudi suspends UAE flights

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SAUDI Arabia has suspended flights to three countries including the neighbouring United Arab Emirates, to protect against a coronavirus variant, the Interior Ministry said Saturday.

  The move comes seven weeks after the oil-rich kingdom permitted fully immunised citizens to travel abroad, after a ban on foreign trips that lasted more than a year.

  UAE, and especially Dubai, is a key leisure destination for Saudis.

  According to the state news agency (SPA), an Interior Ministry official has said that flights to and from the UAE, alongside those to Ethiopia and Vietnam, would be suspended from Sunday.

  Saudi citizens and residents returning from these countries would be required to quarantine for 14 days, it added.

  Citizens would be banned “from travelling directly or indirectly, without obtaining prior permission from  authorities”.

  The decision was taken due to “the spread of a new mutated strain of COVID-19”, it added, without explicitly mentioning the increasingly globally emergent Delta variant.

  Meanwhile, the variant was first detected in India and present in at least 85 countries, and the most contagious of any COVID-19 variant yet identified.

  The UAE announced last week that it had recorded cases of the Delta variant and has suspended flights to and from India.

  Saudi Arabia, thus, has put major limits on the annual hajj pilgrimage, adding that it has officially recorded more than 490,000 cases of coronavirus, including nearly 7,850 deaths.

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