RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has suspended flights to three countries, including the neighbouring United Arab Emirates, to protect against a coronavirus variant, the interior ministry said Saturday. The move comes seven weeks after the oil-rich kingdom permitted fully immunised citizens to travel abroad, after a ban on foreign trips that lasted more than a year. The UAE, and especially Dubai, is a key leisure destination for Saudis. Flights to and from the UAE, alongside those to Ethiopia and Vietnam, will be suspended from Sunday, an interior ministry official said, quoted by the state media. Saudi citizens and residents returning from these countries will be required to quarantine for 14 days, it added. Citizens would be banned “from travelling directly or indirectly, without obtaining prior permission from. . . authorities”. The decision was taken due to “the spread of a new mutated strain of the (Covid-19) virus”, it added, without explicitly mentioning the increasingly globally emergent Delta variant.