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UAE-based TIME Hotels to open 2 new facilities in Egypt in 2021

The UAE-based TIME Hotels company will open its first two hotels in Egypt later in 2021, located in notable tourism hotspots in the country.

The hotels have been named as: the five-star TIME Coral Resort Nuweiba in the Red Sea resort of Nuweiba; and the four-star TIME Marina Hotel and Conference Centre near Al Alamein on the Mediterranean coast, which is being hailed as Egypt's second capital.

Mohamed Awadalla, CEO at TIME hotels, said, "Work is proceeding well at our TIME Marina Hotel, and that property should be ready to open in August."

He added, "As for the TIME Coral Resort, that hotel is already open and operating, so it is only a case of re-branding the hotel and opening under our management this summer."

The hotels are the company's first in Egypt, Awadalla said, and will broaden its footprint from the Gulf to the Mediterranean. This will bring the company's properties to 16, situated in the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and now Egypt, with a further five in the pipeline.

The 130-room TIME Marina Hotel & Conference Centre is situated just 10 minutes from New Al Alamein City on Egypt's Mediterranean coast. It will accommodate more than 350 delegates theatre style, and also features a rooftop lounge, a restaurant, coffee shop, gym, and pool.

"Egypt is ready to bounce back as soon as international borders open again and international flights resume, especially after the opening of the largest museum in the world in Cairo [the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM)], which will definitely be one of the country's biggest tourist attractions," Awadalla said, "In addition, the vaccine rollouts in some of Egypt's key source markets will undoubtedly bring optimism and confidence back to its tourism sector."


Dubai Expo 2020: Public tours of Sustainability Pavilion to restart this week

The Sustainability Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai will reopen for public viewing on Tuesday.

The attraction closed temporarily to observe the mourning period for the late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, who died last week.

Bookings for Terra can be made at www.expo2020dubai.com up until April 10, with each visit costing Dh25.

The experience is open five days a week with limited operating hours and capacity restrictions because of enhanced health and safety measures.

Visitors who were unable to use tickets during the mourning period will be able to redeem them on any day or can request a refund by contacting 800-Expo or info@expo2020.ae.

The official opening of Expo 2020 Dubai is not until October 1, but members of the public can be part of the 'Pavilions Premiere' event ahead of time.

Sustainability is one of the expo's three sub-themes and aims to raise awareness of the human impact on the environment.

The Sustainability Pavilion covers 6,300 square metres and is entirely operated from solar energy and recycled water.

A 130-metre canopy acts as a roof for the building and is covered with 1,055 photovoltaic panels that supply energy to the pavilion.

Massive "energy trees" in the shape of sunflowers are spread across the area and also distribute power. These rotate throughout the day to track and store sunlight.

The building's technology will produce annually four gigawatt hours of electricity.

For water, condensation is collected from the air-handling system, which is then filtered, disinfected and blended with near-surface brackish water. It is then desalinated on-site and supplied.

The pavilion uses a greywater recycling system and local plants to reduce water by 75 per cent.


Majid Al Futtaim opens Dhs2.6bn City Centre Al Zahia mall in Sharjah

UAE conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim opened its 28th mall in the region, the Dhs2.6bn City Centre Al Zahia in Sharjah, to visitors on Tuesday.

City Centre Al Zahia includes 136,200 square metres of gross leasable space, and is the largest mall in the Northern Emirates. It will provide a mix of more than 360 brands, and was initially intended to open in March 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic

"The only new super-regional mall to be launched in the Middle East and North Africa in the wake of Covid-19, City Centre Al Zahia is a testament to the resolve, commitment and optimistic spirit of Sharjah and the wider Northern Emirates," said Shireen El Khatib, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim - Shopping Malls.

The mall has partnered with the University of Sharjah and the American University of Sharjah, with students from both institutions and faculty members offering lectures and workshops on architecture, photography, filmmaking and art.

These classes and seminars will be held in mall's art centre, The Studio, where award-winning projects and workshops will be held all year round.

"Sharjah is home to over 18-plus museums and hosts an inspiring range of illustrious events and gatherings - including the Sharjah Biennial, the Sharjah International Book Fair and the Sharjah Architecture Triennial. With the arts being so vital to life and culture in the Emirate, it is only fitting that City Centre Al Zahia reflects this vision, becoming a focal point and pillar of the community, while offering people a platform to entertain and educate themselves in equal measure," said Fuad Sharaf, managing director, UAE Shopping Malls, Majid Al Futtaim Properties.

The one-million-square-metre residential community Al Zahia is within walking distance of the mall. The wider Al Zahia development is a strategic partnership between Majid Al Futtaim Properties and Sharjah Asset Management. Upon completion by 2023, it will host a total of 3,700 homes, a clubhouse with multiple amenities, and six themed parks.

The new mall includes professional and educational workspaces, as well as a grand plaza offering access to kids' play areas, and an art zone.

VOX Cinemas will also operate a state-of-the-art 16-screen multiplex in the mall, which will be the largest cinema in Sharjah. The opening marks the second VOX Cinemas in Sharjah, following the launch of VOX Cinemas City Centre Sharjah in 2018.

For children, there will be a Magic Planet play area spanning two floors with an integrated F&B zone.

Apart from a Carrefour Hypermarket to meet the grocery needs of nearby communities, the mall will house brands including Steve Madden, Centrepoint and Damas.

The mall will bring brands that weren't previously retailing within Sharjah including Crate and Barrel, Lululemon and Lego.

As an introductory offer, the brand has rolled out a offer that permits customers who spend a minimum of Dhs200 in the mall to enter the draw and compete for a prize of 5,000 SHARE points daily.


Dubai: RTA to hand out paperless parking violations from March 28

Dubai: Parking violators will no longer get a ticket posted on their vehicle windshield beginning on Sunday, March 28, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced on Tuesday.

The RTA tweeted: "Starting Sunday, March 28, all paper parking violations will stop, and you will receive paperless violations via SMS & email instead, in a new, more environmentally friendly way."

"Please make sure to update your mobile number and email in your traffic file by calling 8009090," the RTA added.

Parking fines

According to RTA website, non-payment of parking tariff carries a fine of Dh150 while exceeding maximum parking hours and Exceeding parking time has a penalty of Dh100. Illegal parking and obstruction or misuse of parking facility will get a Dh200 fine while unauthorised use of special need parking has a Dh1,000 penalty. The complete list of parking violations and fines can be found on the RTA website.


Watch out, new traffic signals for pedestrians on Corniche Road in Khor Fakkan

Sharjah: The Eastern Region Police Department, represented by the Traffic and Patrol Department, in coordination with the Roads and Transport Authority, has installed a number of new traffic signals at intersections dedicated to pedestrians on the Corniche Road in Khor Fakkan.

The inauguration of these signals was attended by Lt Col Abdulaziz Al Hamoudi, Head of Traffic and Patrols, and Major Mohammad Khalfan al Kindi, Director of Traffic and Traffic Affairs.

This new initiative is in line with the strategy of the Ministry of Interior and Sharjah Police to make the roads safer. Lt Colonel Al Hamoudi confirmed that the operation of the new traffic lights comes within the framework of the Sharjah Police's plan to improve the efficiency of the traffic lights on Corniche Road in Khor Fakkan, in order to achieve optimum traffic flow and improve the level of security and safety for all road users.

Sharjah Police have urged all motorists and pedestrians to abide by traffic rules and regulations, to obey road signs, stop at red lights and places designated for pedestrian crossings, in order to give priority to those crossing the roads.

Sharjah Police confirmed to Gulf News that last week, police reduced the speed limit on Khor Fakkan's Corniche Road from 80km/hr to 60km/hr


Dubai bans flying drones over public parks

Dubai: Dubai Municipality has banned flying drones over the emirate's public parks. The civic body has announced on social media that the use of drones in public parks is not allowed anymore. The move is to protect the safety and privacy of visitors, it added.

In July 2020, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, had issued Law No (4) of 2020, outlining the regulations governing drone activity in Dubai. According to the law, all drone-related operations require a licence from the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority. The law outlines the conditions for the use of drones and various permitted drone activities, including those that are related to government operations, commercial activities, scientific and research activities, leisure or activities specified by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority's managing director. Anyone who possesses a drone is required to register it with Dubai Civil Aviation Authority.

According to the law, anyone who uses a drone must take all necessary measures to avoid violating the privacy of individuals, as well as the privacy of private property and commercial assets and maintain the confidentiality of legally-protected data.


UAE: One-year remote work visa, 5-year multiple-entry tourist visas for all nationalities

The UAE cabinet has approved a new self-sponsored Remote Work Visa that will enable employees from all over the world to live and work remotely from the UAE, even if their companies are based in another country.

The one-year visa allows foreigners to enter the UAE and work in line with terms and conditions issued with the visa. The new scheme aims to support the public and private sector, and also enables employees to expand their digital skills and adapt to the emerging gig economy.

The decision was reached on Sunday during a cabinet meeting chaired by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Multiple-entry tourist visa

During Sunday's meeting in Qasr Al Watan, the Cabinet also approved a self-sponsored multiple entry tourist visa for all nationalities.

The five-year visa enables tourists to enter multiple times on self-sponsorship and remain in the country for 90 days on each visit, which can be extended for another 90 days.

Among the other directives issued by the Cabinet on Sunday, it approved a national system for hydrogen fuel-powered vehicles and a national water and energy demand management programme to increase the efficiency of the three most energy-consuming sectors (transport, industry and construction) by 40 per cent.

Also, the Cabinet confirmed that the UAE has joined the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the New Development Bank, established by the BRICS states.


Countries will accept validity of all vaccines 'eventually', says Dubai Airports chief

Passengers with unapproved vaccines could find it harder to enter some countries in the short term, but a global acceptance of vaccines will eventually be agreed upon, said Dubai Airports chief executive Paul Griffiths.

Health passports will probably become "ubiquitous" and "mandated by individual countries", while passenger volumes are not expected to return to 2019 levels until we have the data to show how much the vaccine will slow the transmission of Covid-19, he said.

Around a quarter of a million passengers are expected to travel through airports owned and operated by Dubai Airports - Dubai International Airport and Dubai World Central, also known as Al Maktoum International Airport - this weekend.

Figures are similar to normal levels, with most travellers choosing to go to the Maldives and Seychelles for the school spring break.

In February, 1.67 million people travelled through the airports, which was significantly lower than the 8 million normally expected. Travel was down 70 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019.

Nevertheless, the Dubai Airports chief predicts a buoyant second half of 2021, as passenger confidence rebounds and global vaccination programmes expand.

"As soon as countries get more confident that they've got closer to herd immunity, I think there'll be a flood of demand, and the travel industry will rebound extremely quickly," said Mr Griffiths in an interview with Dubai Eye's Business Breakfast programme.

"There's been about 4 billion people on lockdown over the world - which is about half the world's population.

"The thing we miss the most is the ability to get mobile and see our loved ones, so when that ability comes back, I think everyone will rush to book," he said.

Several travel organisations and airline chief executives have spoken recently about the possible introduction of vaccine passports to accelerate the opening of borders. Mr Griffiths said he expected passengers to start to carry a digital health record.

He praised the Travel Pass scheme being introduced by industry body the International Air Transport Association (Iata).

"Vaccine passports are a very good thing.

"What needs to happen is the health authorities around the world need to agree on common standards so that we've got proper interchangeability.

"The Iata system is a token-based system which will allow that interoperability between all of the different health systems. So I think it's a great step in the right direction," he said.

But even with a vaccine passport, Mr Griffiths predicted passengers could still face problems if they have taken a vaccine the destination country has not recognised.

"Clearly if you're vaccinated with an approved vaccine, that's going to be easier than if you try and enter a country that has a vaccination requirement - and the vaccine that you've taken isn't on the list.

"I think that may be a problem. But I think the world's heading towards a fairly universal acceptance of vaccines, if we could get over the politics of supply between individual countries," Mr Griffiths said.

"Eventually we will end up with a ubiquitous solution, but sadly with anything that requires as a global standard to be agreed, it's never an easy task."


UAE driving licence: Flexible testing service launched in Sharjah

Sharjah residents: You don't need to go to your driving school to take your licence test. For a fee, an examiner will come wherever you prefer so that you can take the test.

Taking to social media, the Sharjah Police said the service will see a driving examiner travel to wherever licence applicants are, pick them up and test them. The applicant will then be dropped back to where they were picked from.

Applicants are required to book an appointment for the test. They will be charged Dh100 for the service.


Covid-19: UK bans flights from 3 more countries

All those who are permitted to enter England from these countries, will have to quarantine for 10 days in a managed quarantine hotel.

MORE COUNTRIES ADDED TO THE 'RED LIST'. From 4am Friday 19 March, travel bans will be in place for visitors from: Ethiopia Oman Qatar Somalia All those who are permitted to enter England from these countries, will have to quarantine for 10 days in a managed quarantine hotel.

According to a tweet on Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, official Twitter account, flights from Ethiopia, Oman, Qatar and Somalia will not be allowed to enter UK from 4:00am on March 19.

All those who are permitted to enter England from these countries, will have to quarantine for 10 days in a managed quarantine hotel.

Visitors who have been in or transited through Qatar in the previous 10 days cannot enter England.


Lebanon announces total lockdown for Eid Al Fitr and Easter

Lebanon has announced a total lockdown between April 3 and April 6 for Easter to prevent gatherings and avoid super spreader events. The same strategy will be implemented for Eid Al Fitr, as the country struggles to curb coronavirus spread.

This comes as part of the country's updated national lockdown measures amid worrying Covid-19 numbers.

President Michel Aoun met caretaker prime minister Hassan Diab and the country's Higher Defence Council on Friday to discuss an updated Covid-19 strategy.

They agreed on extending the country's general mobilisation period, in which Covid measures like lockdowns may apply, for an additional six months. It was set to end on March 31.

Mr Diab warned that while Covid-19 numbers are rising, a large percentage of citizens are not adhering to measures.

"We're on the verge of a third wave, not just in Lebanon, but in the world, and it may be more dangerous than before," he said.

"I support the extension of the general mobilisation period till the end of September," he added.

Another approved measure is the extension of opening hours for restaurants, cafes and shops from 7pm to 9pm.

Health experts warned against relaxing Covid-19 measures at a time when Lebanon "is not yet out of the woods".

The head of Lebanon's parliamentary health committee, Dr Assem Araji, explained that indications point to a Covid-19 surge in coming weeks. "This will exhaust an already exhausted health sector", he warned.

"Commitment and adherence to measures is the way to protecting our loved ones. Don't turn our holidays into sorrow," he said in a tweet.

Reeling from the devastating effects of the Beirut port explosion, economic crisis, and pandemic, Lebanon's health sector is overwhelmed and under-resourced.

Health experts are raising the alarm on the fragility of the sector as Lebanon faces another Covid-19 upsurge.

On March 22 the country witnessed the highest number of admissions to intensive care units since the beginning of the pandemic. Over 11,000 new cases and 205 new deaths have been recorded since Monday.

Head of Rafic Hariri University Hospital, Dr Firas Abiad, warned "the situation will get worse" as Covid and non-Covid emergency departments become severely congested at the public hospital.

"Can an overstretched healthcare system respond to ever increasing demands? Could hospitals break down? Let us hope we will never find out," he tweeted.

Dr Joelle Abi-Rached, associate researcher at Sciences Po, warned that an overloaded healthcare system is correlated with higher mortality rates, especially as Covid-19 variants become more widespread.

"Given the slow pace of vaccination, easing restrictions can only lead to a disastrous outcome," she told The National.

As of Friday, Lebanon had administered 177,342 vaccines.

This accounts for less than 3 per cent of Lebanon's 6 million population, including refugees.

The Ministry of Health had vowed to vaccinate up to 80 per cent of the people by year end, but Dr Jade Khalife, a physician specialising in health systems and epidemiology, believes the country will be "nowhere near that number" due to a short vaccine supply, slow vaccine rollout, and high vaccine hesitancy.

"The current proportion of the population being vaccinated is a drop in the ocean, it's not nearly enough to stop the ongoing surge," he told The National.

To boost the vaccine distribution, the Lebanese government has facilitated vaccine imports by the private sector.

Pharmaceutical company Pharmaline was able to secure 1 million doses of the Sputnik-V vaccine and 50,000 doses are due to arrive as a first shipment.

Caretaker health minister Hamad Hassan said a second private company had also secured a batch of the Sputnik-V vaccine to help the resume vaccinations.

Lebanon also received 33,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the UN's Covax scheme on March 24. A total of 4.23 million AstraZeneca vaccines are due to arrive gradually.

The government was also able to secure an additional 750,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses, aside from the 2.1 million shots already agreed upon.

The state is also in the talks with Russia and China over possibly securing a deal to import their designated vaccines.


Technology reduces Bahrain's King Fahd Causeway waiting times by 90 per cent

Waiting times for delivery lorries on the King Fahd Causeway are set to be cut by 90 per cent, dramatically reducing the transit time for goods between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

The latest logistics technology passed a pilot scheme that has been running since January, which cut waiting times for delivery drivers from four hours to just 20 minutes.

It promises to deliver a huge boost to trade and is the latest stimulus offered by the Bahrain government to prepare for growth in a post-pandemic world, when the 25-kilometre causeway reopens in May.

Testing found vehicles were processed faster using technology from Saudi Arabian platform provider Tabadul, allowing businesses to book appointments with customs authorities on both sides of the border to speed up crossings.

"Trade between Saudi and Bahrain reached 10.9 billion SAR (US$ 2.9 billion) in 2020 - despite the movement of goods being restricted to essentials for a few months at the height of the pandemic," Ali Al Moulani, president of the Bahrain Economists Society said.

"This latest move by the Causeway Authority will improve efficiency for exporters and boost trade between both countries.

"Manufacturers and exporters will directly benefit from this investment in improved connectivity and advanced digital infrastructure," Mr Al Moulani said.

In the past year, the Bahrain Customs Authority automated data collection and installed AI scanners, allowing shipment inspections to take place before cargo reached the border.

Expansion of the Authorised Economic Operator programme - a joint Bahrain and Saudi partnership that facilitates faster processing of large multinationals using Bahrain as a regional hub - also promises to boost trade.

The development follows the opening of a new terminal at Bahrain International Airport, as well as big investments in technology at Bahrain Logistics Zone, the Bahrain International Investment Park and the Khalifa bin Salman Port.

Plans are under way for a second bridge connecting Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, offering enhanced capacity for cargo lorries and the latest technologies to enhance export activity and improved customs processes.

The King Fahd Causeway was due to reopen on March 31, but that date was pushed back to May 17.

The causeway has been closed since March 8 last year, under coronavirus restrictions.


Coronavirus: Oman announces two-week overnight lockdown

Oman will impose a 12-day lockdown from 8pm to 5am starting on Sunday, the country's Supreme Committee for Coronavirus announced on Thursday.

All commercial activities will be forced to close during the period as Covid-19 case numbers rise sharply in the sultanate.

The change is an extension of measures brought in a month ago, including an evening retail curfew, which ends on April 3. Beaches were allowed to open last week and should stay open throughout the new night-time movement ban.

Since daily cases dropped to the low hundreds in August last year, Covid-19 has made a steady comeback. Earlier this week, Oman's undersecretary of health said the country was experiencing a third wave of the virus as he urged Omanis to come forward for vaccination.

"We need more people to come forward to take vaccines," Dr Mohammed Al Hosni said.

"They should not be worried about side effects. The vaccination is very safe."

On Thursday, Oman registered 733 new cases of the virus and six deaths. Since the pandemic reached Oman in early 2020, 1,650 people have died from the virus, while 153,838 have contracted it.

Of those, 140,766 recovered, 92 per cent of the total.

Eighty-nine patients were admitted to hospital with the disease over 24 hours, taking the total number of inpatients in hospitals to 419, including 128 in intensive care units.

The supreme committee said the increasing number of infections in Oman will make the next month difficult. Ramadan begins in April, the second time the fasting period will occur during the pandemic.

"The period between April 1 and May 31, 2021, will be very difficult and critical for the sultanate, and we will take a series of comprehensive measures that may include complete closure or ban on movement," the supreme committee said.

Omanis reacted furiously to the announcement of the night-time movement ban.

"What is the point of another lockdown? This is the third one in six months and the numbers have never really gone down," said Ali Al Balushi, 37, a primary school teacher in Muscat.

"The infection cases will not go down even if they order a lockdown for a month. It is not because people are going out it is because people gather in homes and farms in large numbers. They need more police patrolling the residential areas to clamp down on it."

Other Omanis say lockdowns are deepening mental health issues.

"I have been going through a depression for the last two months and this new lockdown is making it worse, said Fatma Al Hamadani, 23, a student at the Modern College of Business and Science in Muscat.

"I am not the only one, some of my relatives and friends are depressed as well. As it is, I am taking anti-depressant pills, which are not helping at all.

"What will stop it is the easing down of rules and regulations of coronavirus, which at the moment do not help anyone."


Saudi Arabia's Covid app now open to workers with expired visas

Saudi Arabia's coronavirus tracking app will now be available to those who overstayed their visas and breached residency rules.

The Tawakkalna app was updated on Saturday to intensify the battle against the coronavirus, which has killed more than 6,600 people in the kingdom.

The app will "include all citizens and residents, even those who violate residency and work regulations", the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Users will now be able to register by providing their mobile number, without giving ID details.

More than 17 million people have used the app, designed to track contacts with coronavirus cases and give movement permits, since it was introduced in May last year, Spa reported.

Users can declare symptoms and call an ambulance through the app, which now also shows their vaccination status.

Some hotels, malls and restaurants have made use of the app mandatory for entry.

A surge in downloads in February led to technical problems, making it inaccessible in some public places.

The updates come as the kingdom prepares for Ramadan.

Coronavirus cases are on the rise again after dipping to a low of fewer than 100 a day in January.

On Saturday the country registered 382 new infections.


Saudi's labour reforms take effect with expats now having greater rights

Reforms to Saudi Arabia's 'kafala' sponsorship system have taken effect from Sunday, March 14, offering expatriate workers in the country greater flexibility in the workplace.

The 'Labour Relation Initiative', first announced by the kingdom's Ministry of Human Resource and Social Development in November, allows expatriate workers labour mobility, as well as amends existing exit procedures.

Expatriate workers in the kingdom can now transfer their sponsorship from one employer to another upon the expiry of their work contract without the need for their former employer's approval.

The move is aimed at driving greater competition in the local market by permitting workers to change their employers.

Expat workers in the kingdom can also request exit/re-entry visas and secure a final exit visa online, without requiring prior consent from their employers.

The three services will be made available to the public through the Absher smartphone application and the electronic web portal of the Ministry of Human Resource and Social Development.

The initiative is expected to alleviate disputes between local employers and expatriate workers relating to employee mobility and exit visa requests.

The reforms will complement several similar initiatives to improve the efficiency of the local job market, including the wage protection system (WPS), the electronic documentation of all labour contracts, and the launch of the 'Widy' mechanism for out of court settlement of labour disputes in the kingdom.


Privatization Law allows foreign investors to rent properties in Makkah, Madinah

JEDDAH - The Privatization Law, recently approved by the Council of Ministers, allows foreign investors to rent real estates within the borders of the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.

The leasehold property is for a period equivalent to the period of the contract concluded between the investor and one of the executive authorities and this will be for the purpose of implementing a privatization project.

The key condition is that investors must use the property for the sole purpose of implementing a privatization project while abiding with all the instructions spelled out in the contract.

The law affirmed that if the investor violates any of the agreed upon conditions, he will first be notified about this violation by the executive authority to rectify them, and if the specified period elapses without the violation being corrected, then the lease contract concluded with him will be terminated.

The law prohibits private establishments, which have signed a privatization contract, from completely or partially assigning the partnership contract to other parties except after obtaining written approval from the executive authority.

It is also possible to subcontract with others to implement any of the works related to the public private participation (PPP) project, provided that there are no breaches of the obligations of the main contract holder, and is directly responsible to the executive authority.

The practices of the private sector establishments that signed the contract will not be classified as monopolistic if their activities are considered as a commitment under the contract, even if these actions have impacted or restricted competition.

The law stipulates that the period of the partnership contract between the public and private sectors does not exceed 30 years from the date of signature, whether for the original contract period or after the renewal.

It is also allowed to exceed this period based on the recommendation of the executive authority.

In the event that the period of the partnership between the two parties' ends, and the project is re-offered and awarded to the same party, then the expired contract is not considered as an extension or renewal of the previous one.

It is noteworthy that in the past non-Saudis were not permitted to own real estates in Makkah and Madinah, and they were allowed only to rent for a maximum period of six years - a two-year lease, renewable no more than twice.

But in late 2019, the Premium Residency holders are allowed to own household property in Makkah and Madinah for a maximum lease period of 99 years.


Riyadh's drive-in theaters back in business

RIYADH: Despite the strict measures imposed by the pandemic, Saudi Arabia's movie-goers are taking all the necessary precautions and enjoying the newest drive-in cinema experience with the Flash of Riyadh.

One of Riyadh's growing attractions, the drive-in cinema has allowed visitors to enjoy a safe experience while maintaining social distancing. Officially opened in January of this year, the reopening of MUVI's drive-in theaters last Tuesday resumed with the launch of the Flash of Riyadh initiative in collaboration with the Tarfat Ein Company, organized by the Riyadh Municipality.

MUVI's Events Operation Director Munir Al-Jeberty told Arab News that the cinema chain's drive-in theaters were exercising all necessary precautions by using Tawakkalna app, enforcing temperature checks and the use of face masks, and taking extra care in the handling of food and beverages.

"Young men and women constitute the majority of guests, with women outnumbering men," said Hasan Al-Garni, director at Tarfat Ein Company for Drive-in Theaters and of the media center for the Flash of Riyadh Initiative.

He noted that the initiative, which was launched last week, focuses on neighborhoods that are located away from more crowded areas.

"We offer three shows for international movies during the weekdays, but over the weekend we hold four shows a day. There are mobile food trucks and kiosks offering different snacks to enjoy during the intermission," he said.

In addition to the mobile trucks, MUVI provides the option of procuring snacks and beverages through the MUVI Cinemas application. All food and beverages are to be consumed only in cars, as per regulations from the Ministry of Health. Al-Garni stressed that only two passengers were allowed per vehicle.


Vaccination must for transport, gym workers in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: COVID-19 vaccines will be mandatory for all public transport workers in Saudi Arabia after May 13, the Transport General Authority said on Tuesday.

Workers will be required to be vaccinated in order to protect public health and curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). In the event of noncompliance, the authority added, a negative PCR test result would be required every seven days at the facility's expense.

The Ministry of Sports also issued similar directives to all gyms and sports centers in the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia recorded 410 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, raising the total number of infections to 385,834.

There are 4,051 active cases and the number of critical care patients is rising. There are 617 patients in intensive care units, an increase of 22 in the past 24 hours.

Riyadh reported the highest number of new cases with 159, the Eastern Province had 80 cases and Makkah had 71. Baha reported one case.

There were 366 further recoveries, taking the total number to 375,165, and there were five more deaths. Saudi Arabia's death toll is now 6,618.

The Ministry of Health has reassured people that neither the Pfizer-BioNTech nor the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine contains parts of the inactivated virus.

Saudi Arabia has administered more than 3.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses so far and there have been 53,823 PCR tests conducted in the past 24 hours, raising the total number of tests in the Kingdom to over 14.7 million.

Also on Tuesday, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance temporarily closed 11 mosques in four regions after coronavirus cases were confirmed among worshippers.

It has closed 347 mosques within 44 days, 332 of which reopened after the completion of sanitization procedures and other steps to ensure visitor safety.


Saudi Arabia begins work on Aden airport project

ADEN: The Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY) on Tuesday handed over the site of the second phase of Aden International Airport's rehabilitation project to the company responsible for the execution of the plan.

The project worth SR544 million will be completed in three phases.

The current rehabilitation phase aims to make the airport compatible with the international standards. The second phase will cost SR55 million.

The recently concluded first phase included uninterrupted power supply, transportation facilities for passengers and installation of airport safety equipment.

On Monday, SDRPY launched the first phase of the King Salman Medical and Educational City project in the Mahra governorate of Yemen.

The project will include colleges of medicine, engineering and agriculture. It will have several housing projects, administrative building and a mosque.

SDRPY is also working on Al-Abr road in the city of Marib costing SR36 million.

SDRPY focuses on seven key sectors: Agriculture and fisheries, health, water, education, energy, transportation, and government and public sector infrastructure.

It has so far completed 198 projects in the above-mentioned sectors.

In the field of health, the program has supplied Yemeni hospitals with state-of-the-art medical equipment.


No residency renewal to non-vaccinated expats in Kuwait after September

KUWAIT CITY: The Cabinet is looking into issuing a set of key decisions during a meeting scheduled to be held this week in the context of the precautionary measures implemented to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the country, especially with the continuous increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Meanwhile, a ministerial source revealed that the Cabinet is studying the possibility of reducing the number of hours of the curfew from 12 hours to only 10 or even nine hours, such that the curfew would start at 7:00 pm or 8:00 pm and end at 5:00 am the next day.

Despite affirming that there is no intention to issue any decisions to disrupt the current curfew, which is due to end on April 8, the source alluded to the possibility of extending it for another month beyond the month of Ramadan.

In order to ease the restrictions, the source highlighted a recommendation to allow citizens and residents to exercise inside their residential areas during the curfew hours, by setting an hour or more for that purpose, while adhering to health requirements and ensuring there would be no gatherings. He also indicated the possibility of issuing a decision to allow restaurants and stores to carry out home deliveries during the curfew hours in the last two weeks of the decision, with the requirement for the delivery workers to undergo new PCR tests.

Concerning vaccines and vaccinations, the source revealed that the vaccination of expatriates will start from June and will extend over a period of three months.

He stressed that, after the deadline in September, renewing the residency of any expatriate will not be allowed unless he has obtained the necessary vaccination. This comes at a time when the circle of countries that have decided to stop using the Astra- Zeneca-Oxford vaccine against COVID-19 expands, with Denmark recently joining South Africa, Austria, and Switzerland in this decision.

However, the Ministry of Health affirmed that it will continue to administer this vaccine as part of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. It insisted that no cases of blood clots or other such side effects were detected or deaths were recorded among all who received the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in the country. According to a specialized team from the ministry that has been monitoring the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines, it is constantly following up all local and international developments related to the safety of vaccines.

Regarding the suspension of the use of this vaccine by the health authorities in Denmark and Austria until the verification of the results of some cases of blood clotting that were detected, the team stressed that the procedure is considered routine and precautionary procedure by the health authorities in the event of any unexpected symptoms until their cause is verified. It reassured citizens and residents that some side effects of the two vaccines - Pfizer and AstraZeneca - are expected, and they are not risky.


Restaurants can deliver till 10 pm; curfew eased slightly

KUWAIT: The Cabinet yesterday slightly eased the nightly curfew to 11 hours and exempted vaccinated travelers from institutional quarantine. In a statement following its weekly meeting, the Cabinet said the nightly curfew imposed two weeks ago to curb a spike in coronavirus cases will now extend from 6 pm to 5 am the next day, instead of 12 hours. The new decision is effective from today.

The Cabinet also allowed deliveries by restaurants and cafes to continue until 10 pm and allowed walking from 6 pm to 8 pm daily, provided people remain in their areas and do not use vehicles. The Cabinet also replaced hotel quarantine with home quarantine for travelers who have been vaccinated.

Travelers who have taken two doses of the vaccine at least two weeks ago or those who took just one dose five weeks ago will be asked to spend only seven days in home quarantine. The same applies to people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have taken one vaccine dose two weeks ago. All the three categories must undergo a coronavirus test on the seventh day of the quarantine and produce a negative result.

Students studying abroad only need to produce a certificate from their universities to be exempted from hotel quarantine, the Cabinet said. Expats who have valid residencies in Kuwait continue to be barred from entering the country since a ban was placed on Feb 7. Only foreign diplomats and medical staff and their families are exempted from the ban. MP Khaled Al-Otaibi called on the government to abolish hotel quarantine altogether and accused authorities of introducing it to benefit merchants at the cost of people.

Meanwhile, the government yesterday sent a draft law proposing financial support for small and big businessmen affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The bill stipulates that local banks will provide loans at reduced interest to businessmen harmed by the pandemic, provided the loans are used to support the companies' operations like payment of salaries.

The loans must be repaid in easy installments over seven years for small businesses and four years for big merchants, while the government will bear part of the interest on the loans. The Assembly's legal and legislative committee meanwhile approved a draft law to delay the repayment of loans for six months, while the financial and economic affairs panel approved a series of bills calling to aid small and medium businesses harmed by the coronavirus.

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