The Saudi General Directorate of Passports has said the extension of residency permits, exit, re-entry and visitor visa for those facing a travel ban due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic would last until July 31 and would be applied automatically in cooperation with the National Information Center.

The cost-free extension, granted on the directives of King Salman, was part of ongoing government efforts to ensure the safety of both Saudis and expats while also easing the economic and financial impacts on them, Arab News reported on 9 June.

Egyptian expat Ayman Hassan welcomed the decision and described it as a "good humanitarian gesture."

He told Arab News: "A close relative of mine went to Egypt in February and is stranded there due to flight suspensions, and now, this decision came as a relief to him and others stranded abroad."

Hassan said the Saudi government had taken timely measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak and provide free treatment and vaccine jabs to everyone.

Sarfaraz Ahmad, who is stuck in India, said: "I came on holiday to India to spend time with my family but got stranded here due to the second wave of COVID-19."

And Pakistani expat Ambreen Faiz said: "By renewing residency permits and extending exit and re-entry visas, and visit visas, the Saudi government has demonstrated that it is indeed a Kingdom of humanity."

Meanwhile, Raafat Aoun, a Lebanese construction worker in Jeddah, said that a colleague had been stranded in Beirut for the past three months and was unable to travel due to a ban on flights between the two countries.