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JEDDAH: GALAL FAKAR Friday 1 February 2013 Passenger ferry services between Saudi Arabia and Sudan are back to normal following months in hiatus. People familiar with the maritime transportation industry in Jeddah confirmed late yesterday that after delays due to ship maintenance requirements operations between the two nations have resumed. “One of the first ferry boats left Jeddah port on Thursday for Sudan’s Sawakein port with 300 passengers on board,” said Nama seaport transportation official Salah Oraibi. Oraibi said the ferry service between Sawakein and Jeddah will eventually become steady, and reach 24 trips per month with three weekly trips averaging 20,000 passengers. “The resumption of maritime services between the two countries comes at a time when the Umrah season is in full swing as more and more pilgrims travel by sea to Jeddah. In addition, the ships transport Sudanese laborers to the Kingdom,” said Oraibi. Capt. Mohammed Aboud Babidan, member of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Committee for Navy Transportation, said that passenger sea movements between the Kingdom’s Red Sea ports and neighboring countries like Egypt and Sudan witnessed a sharp decline of more than 80 percent over a 10-year period. The decline was due to a number of ships sinking in the Red Sea