Some 275 passengers left Saudi Arabia aboard a flight heading to the Philippine capital Manila under an online initiative launched to facilitate air travel for foreigners wishing to return home from the kingdom, the Saudi news agency SPA reported Wednesday. The agency showed pictures of passengers standing at counters at King Fahd International Airport in the eastern city of Dammam finalizing travel procedures before boarding the flight late Tuesday.
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Saudi authorities this month allowed all nationalities to register in the Awdah (return) initiative targeting foreign residents holding visas of exit and return, final exit, different types of visit and the tourist visas by applying via the electronic platform “Absher” to fly home following approval from their respective countries.
Access to the service is gained by logging onto the icon “Awdah” on the “Absher” platform and filling the following fields: the Iqama number; the birth date; the mobile number; the departure city; and the arrival airport. Applicants should not necessarily have an “Absher” account, an exception aimed at facilitating foreign residents’ benefit from the service.
The initiative is jointly conducted among several Saudi government bodies including the Foreign Ministry, the Haj and Umrah Ministry, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, the National Information Centre, the General Authority of Civil Aviation and the national carrier Saudia as well as security agencies including the General Directorate of Expatriates’ Affairs at the Saudi Interior Ministry.
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