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Saudi Arabia's Covid-19 Response Makes Global Headlines

Saudi Arabia was among the first countries to respond to COVID-19 before it was declared a pandemic. From curbing the spreading to assisting the economy, here’s how global news outlets, international organizations, and academic journals reported on the Kingdom’s readiness to fight the pandemic:

Euronews on April 3:
Saudi Arabia’s clear response to the coronavirus outbreak is in stark contrast to the West

Euronews writes: “Unlike some of its western allies, Saudi Arabia has taken the deadly coronavirus outbreak seriously from the very outset. The refusal to do the same in some governments in the West may have grave consequences for the public’s trust in their leaders, and even the protection of human rights.”

BBC News on 27 February
Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia suspends entry for pilgrims visiting holy sites

BBC writes: “It is not clear when the visa restrictions will be lifted or how Ramadan and the major Hajj pilgrimage - which begins in July - will be affected.”

New York Times on June 4
Saudi Banks Face Tough Few Quarters but Are Well Capitalised, Say CEOs

NYT writes: “The central bank has provided 50 billion riyals to support banking sector liquidity, and both executives said the proactive measure would help them support private sector companies, especially those facing disruption from the pandemic.”

World Bank Group on June 1st
In Saudi Arabia, investments in digital infrastructure are paying off

WBG writes: “With 91% of the population covered by mobile broadband 4G networks and 3 million homes connected to fixed broadband, social distancing was made easier. Ritual prayers became virtual, and online schooling quickly became the new normal.”

The New Yorker on May 8
Can the Middle East Recover from the Coronavirus and Collapsing Oil Prices?

The New Yorker writes: “In Saudi Arabia, the guardian of Islam’s two holiest sites, the massive Grand Mosque, in Mecca, is eerily empty. In March, the kingdom banned all pilgrimages, including the annual hajj to Mecca—one of the five pillars of the faith—which hasn’t been interrupted since Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt, in 1798.”

Fox News on April 8
Saudi Arabia announces Yemen cease-fire after calls to stop fighting during coronavirus pandemic

Fox News writes: “Saudi officials announced Wednesday a two-week cease-fire against the Houthi rebels in Yemen starting Thursday after the United Nations called for an end to the violence amid the coronavirus pandemic.”

Foreign Policy on May 9
How Are Countries Reopening? Firsthand Reports From Around the World

FP writes: “Saudi Arabia continues to face questions about pilgrimages to holy cities. The kingdom partially lifted the daily curfew on April 26, but 24-hour restrictions remain for Mecca. The annual hajj is due in late July, but the government has warned against purchasing plane tickets. According to a longtime Saudi Arabia watcher, it is torn between responsible medical practice and the loss of revenue and prestige.”

El Sevier’s Journal of Infection and Public Health on May 11:
Preparedness and response to COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia: Building on MERS experience

The academic journal’s abstract includes: “We also discuss the country readiness, improvement in research and development, and the unprecedented rapid precautionary measures that have been taken by the Saudi government thus far.”

Fox News on April 17
Saudi Arabia pledges $500M to fight coronavirus pandemic

Fox News writes: “The Saudi government said in a statement it would allocate $150 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation, $150 million to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, and $200 million to other health organizations and programs. The funds are expected to pay for emergency and preparedness response, as well as developing and deploying new diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.”

CNBC on March 15
UAE, Saudi central banks roll out $40 billion stimulus for virus-hit economies

CNBC writes: “In a separate statement, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority said it had prepared a 50 billion riyal ($13.32 billion) package to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) cope with the economic impacts of coronavirus.”

World Health Organization on March 25
WHO, Saudi Arabia join forces to fight COVID-19 nationally, regionally and globally

WHO writes: “Saudi Arabia helped airlift WHO medical equipment and supplies from WHO’s logistics hub in Dubai to Aden, Yemen. The shipment, which included personal protective items for health workers, laboratory screening tests, trauma medication and other medical supplies, will be distributed to Sana’a and Aden to support readiness for COVID-19, as well as the humanitarian response to the ongoing conflict.”

Bloomberg on June 1:
Saudi Arabia to Pump $13 Billion Into Banks to Offset Twin Shock

Bloomberg writes: “Saudi Arabia unveiled a $13.3 billion stimulus package to protect banks against an expected drop in profits and rise in bad loans as they confront the double whammy of the coronavirus shock and lower oil prices.”

World Economic Forum on May 6
How is the world dealing with lockdown? This poll has captured the public’s mood

WEF writes: “The study, produced by U.S. communications company Edelman, was based on fieldwork carried out in Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States”

Bloomberg on May 5
Saudi Arabia Will Enforce Covid-19 Lockdown With Tough Penalties

Bloomberg writes: “The government will fine and jail those who violate the rules and deport foreign residents who do so, the service reported, citing a statement from the kingdom’s interior ministry. It said people who break the quarantine will be fined 200,000 riyals ($53,255) and/or imprisoned for two years.”

CNBC on March 20
Saudi Arabia announces $32 billion in emergency funds to mitigate oil, coronavirus impact

CNBC writes: The sum includes Riyadh’s 50 billion riyals package announced last week to support small and medium-sized businesses. Friday’s announcement introduces a further 70 billion riyals to aid businesses, including the postponement of tax payments and exemptions of various government levies and fees.”

Bloomberg on May 2
Saudi Arabia Grants $2.4 Billion Aid to Small Businesses

Bloomberg writes: “The bank allocated 9 billion riyals ($2.4 billion), according to Saudi Arabia’s state news agency. The funds will be used to help 6,000 businesses with financing and a newly created portfolio will focus on companies in the health-care sector. Saudi Arabia’s Social Development Bank introduced new initiatives to support small businesses and self-employed entrepreneurs hit by the coronavirus pandemic.”

France 24 on April 26
S. Arabia partially relaxes lockdown for Ramadan but keeps 24-hour curfew in Mecca

France 24 writes: “In comments marking the start of Ramadan, King Salman, who is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, lamented the need for social distancing during the holy month. "It pains me to welcome the glorious month of Ramadan under circumstances that forbid us from prayers in mosques," he said, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.”

The Guardian on May 23
Global report: Muslims face curfews ahead of Eid amid Covid-19 crisis

The Guardian writes: “In Saudi Arabia, home to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, people will be allowed to leave their homes only to buy food and medicine.”

CBS News on May 13
Saudi Arabia to re-impose coronavirus curfew as cases surge

CBS writes: “During a recent briefing with reporters, Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabia said the uptick in infections over the past two weeks was also the result of an extensive increase in testing by the ministry, aimed at better tracking the coronavirus to curb its spread.”

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