Saudi Arabia yesterday announced its plan to take fingerprints and other biometrics of foreigners visiting the country on entry, Haj and Umrah visas, through specialized agents in their respective countries.
The measure will not be applied on people holding diplomatic and special passports, said Culture and Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja while explaining the Cabinet decisions.
The Cabinet approved amendment of Article 4 of the Cabinet's decision No. 202 on 22/6/1430H as follows: “Fourth: 1- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the competent offices accredited by the Kingdom's missions abroad, is to take the necessary measures to obtain biometrics (fingerprint, picture or others) for visa applicants to enter the Kingdom including Haj and Umrah pilgrims.”
The ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior will coordinate to implement the decision, the Cabinet said.
“The measure does not apply on holders of diplomatic and special passports according to the measures concerning it, unless that was an implementation of the reciprocal treatment principle or necessitated by the Kingdom's national interest,” the Cabinet said.
The Council of Ministers urged the Foreign Ministry to give a report on implementing the decision during the second year. “The Ministry of Haj is to coordinate with the Interior Ministry to benefit from the biometrics to verify identities of pilgrims,” it added.
Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, chaired the meeting. At the outset of the meeting, Prince Salman and other ministers praised God for the success of the surgery, which Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has undergone at King Abdulaziz Medical City, praying to God to preserve the king and bestow upon him good health and quick recovery.
The Cabinet commended the decisions of the extraordinary meeting of the Arab League Council to discuss the repercussions of the Israeli aggression on Gaza, stressing the Kingdom's condemnation of these attacks and its call for the UN Security Council to be more stringent and assume its responsibilities to compel Israel to stop the attacks on the besieged innocent people of Gaza.
The Cabinet reviewed the efforts exerted to discuss the latest developments in Syria, including the 2nd Joint Ministerial Meeting for Strategic Dialogue between the Gulf Cooperation Council states and the Russian Federation; the Arab Ministerial Committee on the situation in Syria; and the 2nd Arab-European Meeting at level of foreign ministers.
The Cabinet expressed the Kingdom's appreciation for all those efforts, looking forward to more efforts in the unification of the international will to tackle the Syrian crisis and provide the necessary support at political, security and humanitarian areas for the Syrian people and to achieve their legitimate aspirations.
Khoja said the Cabinet expressed the Kingdom's appreciation of the Djibouti Declaration issued by the 39th session of OIC foreign ministers, which stressed the principles contained in the interfaith and intercultural dialogue initiative of King Abdullah and welcomed the king’s initiative to establish a center for dialogue among Islamic sects.
The Cabinet lauded the signing of GCC security agreement by interior ministers of the six-member group, stressing that this step is important for enhancing security cooperation and coordination in the interest of the GCC states and peoples.
The Cabinet authorized the crown prince or his deputy to discuss and sign with the Korean side a draft agreement for defense cooperation. It authorized the president of General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) to discuss and sign with the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL) a draft agreement between the GACA and the EUROCONTROL regarding air navigation service fees.
The Cabinet endorsed a GCC Financial and Economic Cooperation Committee's decision exempting the goods belonging to people with special needs from custom duties.