Contact us

The New Normal

Lifestyle restrictions to counter COVID-19 Coronavirus are now the new normal in Riyadh. We have progressed to a 24-hour lockdown with only key workers and people going for booked or emergency health appointments being allowed out. Also, if needing to go outside for any other reason, including food shopping, we are required to apply on line for a permit. I haven’t tried this yet as we managed to get a food delivery from Lulu last week and stocked the freezer. The permit, which is sent as an app to mobile phones has – apparently – had all sorts of teething problems, and at the time of writing seems to be available only in the Arabic language. There are police and armed forces patrols at the entrances and exits to every neighbourhood, and I have heard stories of people being fined SAR 10,000 each for being out without the correct written authority. Whilst there is no public transport available in the kingdom, (even taxis are off), freight and delivery services continue to operate on road and rail. I sincerely hope the rail services all behave, I am fairly confident that the drop-down list of reasons on the app won’t include “going to investigate a railway accident”.

The virus has curtailed all social gatherings and travel, and curling has been no exception. The Kingdom Curling Association’s 2019/20 league has not been concluded, and there remain 3 or 4 matches to play when we can again get going. Our WCF supported training camp in Prague in March was cancelled, and for me, the biggest disappointment was not being able to compete at the 2020 World Seniors in Canada, for which I had again qualified by winning the England Seniors earlier this season with my team. But international health issues take precedence and that’s the way it is. Disappointing, but I mustn’t complain. people’s health is far more important in the scheme of things.

The new UK Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, H.E. Neil Crompton has been active and high profile within the community here – from a distance of course. The embassy is closed for events (see blogs passim), but the staff there have been very active. Here’s a report from the “Arab News”.

"Britain’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia has thanked the Kingdom for its efforts to repatriate British nationals back to the UK amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have been cooperating with Saudi authorities since the beginning of the crisis to organize six flights to Britain from Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam for more than 1,100 Britons,” Neil Crompton said, in a video posted on Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry Twitter account. He thanked the Saudi authorities for arranging transport for Britons from all parts of the Kingdom to airports in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. He also thanked the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) and Saudia airlines for their cooperation in organizing the flights. He added that he looks forward to working with the Saudi authorities to arrange more of these flights in the coming weeks and wished Saudis good health during this “difficult time.

KSA is a member of the “G.20” group of economically powerful nations, and currently is the chairing country. The chair rotates amongst the 19 countries, and KSA took over in December 2019 and our stint ends at the end of November, when Italy is scheduled to take over. But why only 19 countries and it’s called the G.20? Well, it is made up of the world’s largest economies and 4 of the countries are European (UK, France, Germany, Italy) plus Turkey, which although partially in Europe is not in the EU. The 20th “country” is the EU itself, representing collectively the other 26 EU member states. Switzerland, which would qualify on ground of national economy has chosen to not get involved with the G.20.

The 2020 G.20 Summit will be held in Riyadh in November. There is a big push to get the local infrastructure ready for such an auspicious occasion, and the city’s King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), which has been in a state of partial completeness since 2015, is being finished apace. Likewise there is a rush to get the city’s first metro lines up and running for that time. The most important line will be that which links the airport with the KAFD. Hopefully the effects of the Coronavirus will not delay the completion of these projects! King Salman called an emergency session of the G.20 by video conference in late March to try and coordinate the international strategy for managing the effects of the Coronavirus. That use of IT, apparently, was a first for the G.20. I guess that the level of cybersecurity for that was quite high.

Contacting us is straightforward

* Email:

* Call Alastair Fyfe directly on 07785 370074 (UK) or +966 503095212