121 stranded Malaysians in Saudi Arabia in good condition: Ambassador

by BERNAMA

All 121 Malaysians stranded in Saudi Arabia due to the coronavirus-related measures are in good health and well taken care of as the Malaysian Embassy is working on ways to bring them back home safely.

Malaysian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Datuk Abd Razak Abdul Wahab said the embassy in Riyadh and the Consulate General in Jeddah are in constant contact with the group to keep them up-to-date with the ever-changing situations due to the pandemic.

“In some circumstances, they were provided with food by our officials. In this challenging time, our advice for Malaysians is to remain calm and patient, stay at home, abide, follow and update with any incoming instructions and regulations issued by the Saudi authorities from time to time,” he said in an email reply to Bernama.

Abd Razak said those stranded comprise 34 Malaysians who are on short-term visa such as business, tourist and Umrah visas, while 87 others are those who are currently living and visiting their families in Saudi Arabia, some of whom wished to return to Malaysia for various reasons.

In an earlier statement, the embassy said it is working with Saudia Airlines to bring back stranded Malaysians as Saudi Arabia had suspended all international flights.

Saudi Arabia on Sunday extended its decision to suspend all international flights indefinitely in its efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The ambassador said considering the good diplomatic relations between Kuala Lumpur and Riyadh, the embassy strongly believed that the Saudi Government and its authorities will render any forms of cooperation towards Malaysia’s efforts in bringing back its citizens.

Abd Razak said the Embassy and the Consulate General are also in contact with some 8,000 Malaysians residing in the country, who are mostly working as professionals in various industries including telecommunications, health care services and oil and gas.

The embassy also checked with student’s representatives to ensure that Malaysian students are in good conditions and to remind them to follow rules and regulations enforced by local authorities.

The ambassador said the Malaysian community in Saudi Arabia, in general, is continuing their daily life as usual, and daily necessities are still widely and easily available to the general public despite the recent announcement and implementation of a curfew in the country.

The daily curfew period, in place since March 23,  is from 3pm to 6am. Only essential businesses such as hypermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants (take-out and delivery services only) are allowed to operate.

All public transport services including flights, trains, taxis and buses have been suspended until further notice, he said.

Abd Razak said the embassy, which has the support of 13 home-based and nine locally-recruited staff members, took into account the lockdown and curfew imposed by Saudi Arabia and put in place some precautionary measures due to the unprecedented situation.

“(The) time of working need to be rescheduled, whether working by shift, from home or answering any consular application which is by appointment only,” he said.

“The Embassy and the Consulate General are always here to assist those in difficult situations. We are also working to ensure that those currently stranded in this country could return to their loved one in Malaysia soon,” he said.

According to Johns Hopkins University, Saudi Arabia has over 1,700 COVID-19 cases with 16 deaths.