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Saudi Arabia's eServices Mobile App: Absher, a government-backed mobile app in Saudi Arabia
Absher is a free mobile app launched by the Saudi government in 2015. Available on the Google Play Store and Apple's App Store.
The Saudi Interior Ministry provided the app, which can be downloaded from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Absher has around 20 million subscribers, according to the Ministry of the Interior. Absher has been downloaded 5.2 million times on the App Store as of February 2021.
The Arabic name for the platform, Absher (أبشر), means "your request will be granted."
When the Absher app was introduced, how did the situation change?
Before the Absher app, Saudi women had to produce a travel permission card or document from the Interior Ministry at passport control while leaving the country. The card, which was issued in person at a General Directorate of Passport office by a male guardian, specified the number of journeys and the number of days their guardian had approved their travel. Guardians could also decide to give female dependents unlimited travel until their passports expire.
The Absher portal also maintains Saudi nationals' control over their foreign spouses or children who live in the country due to visa sponsorship. Saudis may cancel a foreign spouse's residency visa and issue a departure visa, putting the spouse at risk of prosecution unless they leave the country, according to Arab News.
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