Photo used for illustrative purpose.
Gulf Today Report
Saudi Arabia has extended its suspension of commercial passenger flights by at least one week and possibly two amid concerns over a new variant of the coronavirus.
Saudi Arabia will however allow flights in "exceptional cases", an interior ministry official said according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on Sunday.
Foreigners will be allowed to depart the kingdom and cargo movement will be permitted, it added.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman suspended passenger flights and banned entry and exit via their land and sea borders last week after a new strain of the novel coronavirus appeared in Britain.
Oman and Kuwait said they plan to lift the ban on December 29 and January 1, respectively.
"Saudi Arabia decided to extend the aforementioned measures for another week to continue assessing the situation and to ensure safety of citizens and expatriates," said the SPA report.
Earlier this month, the kingdom kicked off a Covid-19 vaccination campaign, using the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.
Saudi Arabia has so far recorded more than 362,000 cases, including more than 6,000 deaths -- the highest among the Gulf Arab states -- but has also reported a high recovery rate.
Some activities will remain banned, including weddings and corporate meetings. Social gatherings will continue to be limited to a maximum of 20 people, SPA said, citing an interior ministry source.
The Hajj, which begins on Wednesday, normally draws around 2.5 million people for five intense days of worship in one of the world's largest gatherings of people from around the world.
"Holding the ritual in the shadow of this pandemic... required reducing the numbers of pilgrims, but it obliged various official agencies to put in double efforts," 84-year-old King Salman said in a speech.
The first phase focused on providing aid to areas most ravaged by floods, such as the districts of Lasbela and Jhal Magsi.
The Ministry of Railways published a video clip captured by the surveillance cameras installed on platforms, showing the woman trying to get on and catch the train with her son.
The Ministry stressed in a statement on Wednesday that its aim to continue expanding the scope of testing nationwide to facilitate the early detection of coronavirus cases and carry out the necessary treatment.
Rayan donated one of his kidneys to his father in a surgery performed in King Faisal Specialist Hospital, in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, after which the father returned to his hometown Najran, in good health, according to Saudi local media.