Coronavirus: Iraqi officials visit Saudi Arabia in masks, highlighting COVID-19 norms

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Iraqi officials wearing face masks and practicing social distancing visited Saudi Arabia this week, highlighting the new normal for state officials amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Images released by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) via its SPAregions Twitter account showed an Iraqi delegation to the Kingdom meeting with Saudi Arabian officials.

he Iraqi delegation was led by Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Ali Allawi, who is also the Acting Minister of Finance and Oil. Allawi and his delegation were met by Saudi Arabia’s Finance Minister Mohammed bin Abdullah al-Jadaan and Acting Minister of Media Majid bin Abdullah al-Qasabi.


Iraq’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dr. Qahtan Taha Khalaf and a representative of the royal protocol were also present at the talks.

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While Allawi’s visit is not particularly unusual given the longstanding relations between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, the images of the visit show how coronavirus regulations are being applied even at the level of state visits.

Iraqi delegates to Saudi Arabia enter with face masks. (Twitter, SPAregions)
Iraqi delegates to Saudi Arabia enter with face masks. (Twitter, SPAregions)

The delegates can be seen entering the majlis wearing face masks as a mask-wearing soldier salutes them. They then pose for a photograph in chairs arranged with suitable distance between them in line with social distancing rules being recommended by governments across the world.

Iraqi delegates to Saudi Arabia meet at distance. (Twitter, SPAregions)
Iraqi delegates to Saudi Arabia meet at distance. (Twitter, SPAregions)

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Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, governments have adapted to integrate technology into foreign policy meetings to avoid the risk of human-to-human transmission and unnecessary travel.

The G20, chaired by Saudi Arabia, has held a series of virtual meetings. Images of world leaders talking to each other from their office via Zoom have now become increasingly common.
Following the success of the G20 meetings, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz has recently chaired a series of Saudi cabinet meetings.

In the neighboring UAE, government officials have used virtual meetings to coordinate their COVID-19 response. On Friday, Sheikh Mansoor Bin Mohammed charied a meeting of Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management in which he praised the emirate’s proactive response to the pandemic.

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