Saudi Arabia lifts pandemic ban on citizens' travel to Turkey, days before upcoming MbS visit: state media

Saudi Arabia lifts pandemic ban on citizens' travel to Turkey, days before upcoming MbS visit: state media
The lifting of the ban on travel for Saudi citizens to Turkey comes two days before de facto leader Mohammed bin Salam is scheduled to visit Ankara as ties between the two countries slowly improve.
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Turkey is a popular holiday destination for Saudi families [Getty]

Saudi Arabia on Monday lifted a ban on citizens travelling to Turkey and three other countries, state media reported, as the kingdom continues to relax coronavirus prevention measures.

The move comes two days before Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is expected to visit Turkey in a further sign the regional rivals are moving on from the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside Saudi Arabia's Istanbul consulate.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Saudi Arabia imposed a rule against all foreign travel, and as of last month 16 countries including Turkey were still off-limits to Saudi citizens.

"A decision has been made to lift the suspension of direct or indirect travel by citizens to Ethiopia, Turkey, Vietnam and India," the official Saudi Press Agency quoted an interior ministry official as saying on Monday.

It was made "based on the follow-up to the epidemiological situation of the coronavirus pandemic," the official said.

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Saudi authorities are also easing coronavirus restrictions at home, announcing last week that masks would no longer be required in most enclosed spaces.

Ties between Riyadh and Ankara were dealt a heavy blow by the killing of Khashoggi, a Saudi insider-turned-critic.

But Saudi de facto ruler Prince Mohammed and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have worked to patch up the bilateral relationship in recent months, publicly embracing during a visit by Erdogan to Saudi Arabia in April.

In May national flag carrier Saudia resumed flights to Turkey, although citizens were still unable to travel there.

Turkey is a favourite holiday destination for many Saudi families.

Prince Mohammed is expected to arrive in Turkey on Wednesday after stops in Egypt and Jordan.