Saudi Arabia tends to be a trendsetter and have major influence over countries that it is politically and geographically close to, such as the Gulf.
https://www.jpost.com – By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
Riyadh’s decision appears like it will affect the entire Middle East quickly. Saudi Arabia tends to be a trendsetter and have major influence over countries that it is politically and geographically close to, such as the Gulf. It is also a global economic and religious power.
Recently some 50,000 Israelis flew to the UAE in flights that go over the Kingdom. There have been calls in Israel to end the corridor of travel that did not require quarantine between airports in Tel Aviv and Dubai. It’s not clear when Riyadh’s decision could lead to wider Middle East closures but in the past when one country does something, others are affected.
The Middle East has been battered by COVID-19, initially through a terrible outbreak that was covered up in Iran in February and then a pandemic spread that affected places like Egypt where health care systems were strained. Many countries tried to deny the extent of the outbreak. Wealthier and smaller Gulf states tried their best to contain it and have been world leaders in testing and attempts to push forward with a vaccine.
Italy has joined the Netherlands and Austria with attempts to try to stop the new variant. Riyadh says it is suspending “all international flights for travelers – except in exceptional cases – temporarily for a week, which can be extended for another week, with the exception of foreign flights currently inside the Kingdom’s territory, which are allowed to leave.”
Furthermore. It has sought to “temporarily suspend entry to the Kingdom through land and sea ports for one week, which may be extended another week. Any individual who has returned from EU countries or any country where the new mutation has been detected, starting from December 8, must self isolate for two weeks from the date of entering the Kingdom, and must undergo a coronavirus test during isolation and repeat the test every five days.”
Saudi Arabia may be a forerunner on this and it is worth watching to see if more countries follow suit in the coming days.