Yemenis demand reopening of Saudi consulates
Abdullah Al-Safani, head of the Umra and Pilgrimage departments of the Yemen Tourism Union, said the Saudi consul’s abduction shut down the consulates in Sana’a and Aden for more than 75 days.
Al-Safani said 80,000 Umra-seekers have been denied Mecca visits because the consulate department closed the Saudi embassy in Yemen, indicating that this incident limited the issuing of visas in 25 tourism agencies that signed contracts with Saudi Arabia to provide them with Umra annual visas.
In Tuesday’s press conference by the Yemen Tourism Union, Al-Safani said the Saudi consul abduction resulted in the stalling of 1,000 Umra applications over the past few months, in addition to endangering 1,640 jobs.
Mohammed Shamakh, the Hotels and Tourism Committee head of the Commercial Chamber Union, said the closing of the Saudi consul financially impacted the employees, merchants, agricultural and industrial workers, as well as the patients and Umra seekers.
Shamakh said Mecca pilgrimages have been in limbo for more than two months.
The Yemeni government has taken no action, though the consulates have been closed for 75 days, according to Shamakh, who said the Egyptian government worked to reopen Saudi consulates in their country just seven days after they closed.
Saleh Al-Kabili, head of a Committee Services of the tourism union, said the union is not responsible for what is taking place; the responsibility lies with the government.
Al-Kabili warned against the consequences of security threats targeting Saudis in Yemen, which include lay-offs in the tourism industry and loss of job opportunities for Yemenis in Saudi Arabia.
The Yemen Tourism Union issued a statement condemning the terrorist acts, demanding the defense and interior ministries exert further efforts to free Al-Khalidi from the kidnappers’ grip.
The Umra and Pilgrimage Department in Yemen said in a statement that the department has been paralyzed because of the consulate closings and the kidnapping.
He called on the defense and interior ministries to help release Al-Khalidi.
Minster of Foreign Affairs Dr. Abu Bakr Al-Karbi sent a written letter to his Saudi counterpart on May 5. The letter expressed Yemenis’ urgent demands for the opening of the consulates in Aden and Sana’a. Al-Karbi said he hoped the King of Saudi Arabia would respond soon.