Be grateful for your good fortune. If you're reading this, you're probably not an expatriate worker who is feeling so desperate that you're willing to storm a vaccination center to get the required shots to go abroad for menial labor.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday discussed how to ease COVID-19 travel restrictions, which have stranded around 400,000 Pakistani workers back home, foreign ministers of the two countries told reporters.
Islamabad took up the issue with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, who is on a one-day visit to Pakistan.
Al Saud is the first high-profile Saudi official to arrive in Pakistan after cracks in their historically friendly relations earlier this year.
His Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi told a joint news conference in Islamabad that around 400,000 of over two million Pakistani workers in Saudi Arabia had been stranded at home due to travel restrictions.
“They are facing challenges, you know the travel restrictions and you know the issues of vaccination,” he said.
Saudi Arabia, which bars direct travel from Pakistan, has only approved the AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines, so anyone arriving without one of those shots is required to quarantine at a cost many Pakistani workers say they cannot afford.
Most Pakistanis have received a Chinese vaccine, although Al Saud said his government had given COVID-19 shots to 1.7 million Pakistani workers.
The Pakistani workforce in Saudi Arabia contributes $7 billion, or a quarter of the country’s total annual remittances.
“We talked about the challenges that COVID-19 has imposed on all of us. It has imposed challenges, travel restrictions, all of these we are working on,” Al Saud said.
Would-be Pakistani expatriate workers, desperate to obtain a Pfizer/BioNTech or AstraZeneca COVID shot so they can travel to work in Saudi Arabia, have been holding violent protests, at times storming vaccination centres.
Pakistan has lately started allowing people under 40 who have to travel for jobs abroad to obtain the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines, of which the country has limited supply obtained through the COVAX system.
(Reporting by Asif Shahzad; Editing by David Holmes)
Copyright (2021) Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions
Subscribe to Skift Pro
Subscribe to Skift Pro to get unlimited access to stories like these ($30/month)Subscribe Now
Photo Credit: Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud arrives to attend the G20 meeting of foreign and development ministers in Matera, Italy, June 29, 2021. Yara Nardi / Reuters
Accor’s Hotel Owners Are Clamoring to Become Lifestyle Brands
CEO Sebastien Bazin has certainly evolved Accor's luxury and lifestyle lineup, but will that be enough to help him finally break into the U.S. market?
Matthew Parsons | 2 hours ago
Hilton CEO: Business Travel Demand Will Eclipse 2019 Levels in 3 Years
Don't discount the return of business travel demand, but Hilton has an advantage in having a bulk of its business transient traffic coming from smaller companies. Those relying on major corporate traffic to fill hotel rooms shouldn't get too excited quite yet.
Cameron Sperance | 18 hours ago