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Egypt introduces new entry visa facilities to boost tourism

Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmed Issa unveiled a new package of facilities related to issuing tourist visas, according to a statement by the ministry on March 27th.

In a press conference, Issa revealed that these facilities included allowing Chinese tourists to obtain an emergency entry visa (visa upon arrival) from Egyptian airports, as well as allowing Indian tourists who hold resident visa from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to obtain an emergency entry visa.

This is in addition to facilities granted to holders of a valid entry visa that was previously used in the US, the UK, Schengen Area, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and Australia, he added.

The minister also pointed out that Turkish tourists are now allowed to obtain an emergency entry visa from Egyptian airports without being restricted to a specific age.

Furthermore, Algerian and Moroccan tourists arriving in tourist groups can also get visa upon arrival.

Iranian tourists arriving directly to South Sinai through a tourism agency are allowed to obtain their visas upon arrival.

The new tourist visas facilities also enable Iraqi tourists to obtain an emergency entry visa at Egyptian airports provided they hold a valid entry visa that was used before in the US, the UK, Schengen Area, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and Australia.

Tourists aged between 16 and 60+ can obtain an electronic visa through the E-Visa platform.

Additionally, Issa said that a new multi-entry visa, valid for 5 years, at a value of $700, will be introduced soon.

In January and February, tourist arrivals to Egypt grew significantly by 30% year on year (YoY), he remarked.

During the press conference, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Mostafa Waziri announced that Egypt will inaugurate the Graeco Roman Museum in Alexandria within the next few weeks, after a 17-year hiatus.


Egypt issues $700 multiple-entry visa

The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Egypt will issue a new multiple-entry visa worth US$700, which will be valid for a period of five years, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmed Issa announced on Monday.

According to the al-Borsa newspaper, Issa said that several new facilities for the tourism visa in Egypt will be announced in the coming days.

In a Monday press conference, the minister added that China is currently amongst the most promising markets exporting tourists to Egypt.

Chinese tourists can obtain an emergency entry visa at Egyptian ports, even if they come individually, he said.

Issa explained that the new facilities will also accommodate tourists coming from Turkey, Iraq, and India who hold residency in Arab Gulf countries and Schengen visas, as well as tourists from US, Japan, UK, New Zealand, and Canada.

Facilities will be provided for several other nationalities such as Moroccans, Algerians and Iranians provided that they come in tourist groups.

Up until April 2022 multiple-entry visas were only valid for one year, he explained, when a decision was issued to facilitate obtaining an emergency entry visa upon arrival at Egyptian ports.

Issa stated that the rates of tourist flow to Egypt from the Russian market decreased by 40 percent, as well as the influx of tourists from the Ukrainian market which declined by about 80 percent during January-February compared to the same period in 2022.

Italy recorded the highest growth rate in tourist flow to Egypt during the past two months at 250 percent.

Tourist flow from US, the Netherlands and Kazakh markets have also seen a recent rise.

The past two months saw a 400 percent increase in the number of foreign passengers coming to Egypt at Luxor Airport, Issa said.

He added that, starting September, EgyptAir will operate direct flights between Cairo and Sao Paulo, Brazil.


Dubai to launch new gold and silver coins

DMCC, the Government of Dubai Authority on commodities trade and enterprise and a flagship free zone, has revealed prototypes of a fresh series of gold and silver bullion coins honouring the UAE's accomplishments over the past 50 years.

The coins will be made available for purchase after Ramadan.

Announced at the 2022 edition of the Dubai Precious Metals Conference, the coins are the result of a partnership with Czech Mint, the official supplier of currency coins to the Czech Republic's central bank.

The new prototype bullion coins feature a range of designs including the image of Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and the Louvre Abu Dhabi to reflect the UAE's standing as a major global cultural destination.

The unveiling marks DMCC's role to support the gold and precious metals trade landscape globally, which will build up throughout the year and culminate in DMCC's annual Dubai Precious Metals Conference later this year.

DMCC will be looking to mint previous editions of its popular gold coins with Czech Mint.

Throughout 2022, DMCC bolstered it signed an MoU with FinMet to expand DGCX's gold product offering and market participation by providing facilities for bullion traders to raise short-term funds with new gold contracts.

It signed agreements with Comtech Gold and SafeGold to offer physical gold-backed digital assets to positively disrupt the $20bn gold industry in the Middle East and, alongside supporting the second edition of the Jewellery Gem and Technology Dubai B2B trade show.


Select private schools in Dubai can increase fees by 3% for new academic year

The rate by which schools can increase fee is tied to their most recent evaluation by the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau

Certain private schools in Dubai would be eligible for a 3 per cent increase in tuition fees for the 2023-24 academic year.

The rate by which fees can be hiked is tied to each school's most recent inspection rating from the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau, the emirate's education regulator has said.

The announcement was made by Dubai's Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) on Friday.

Private schools in the emirate that will maintain the same inspection rating will be allowed to increase their fees by 3 per cent, as per the School Fees Framework.

Schools whose inspection rating has dipped will not be eligible for any fee hike. However, those schools that improve their rating in the most recent inspections will be eligible to increase their fees according to the methodology in the fee framework.

KHDA said that "the approved fee increase takes into account the economic situation of the emirate, as well as the operational cost of running a private school while maintaining the quality of education".

"The School Fees Framework emphasises the quality of education offered by schools as the foundation for any adjustments allowed in school fees. The framework also provides transparency for families and offers them a choice of schools that match their financial and academic requirements," said Mohammed Darwish, CEO of permits and compliance sector at KHDA.

"The framework was developed to allow schools to develop long-term growth plans while sustaining their current operations to provide a high quality of education to students."

Tuition fees in private schools across Dubai have been locked for the past three academic years.

Read: Private schools in Dubai will not increase tuition fee for 2022-23 academic year

Enrolment at Dubai private schools has increased by 4.5 per cent since the last academic year, KHDA said. A total of 22 new private schools have opened across the emirate in the last three years, bringing the total number to 216.

Last year, KHDA introduced a fact sheet for parents offering comprehensive fee information. It was initially introduced across 35 institutions in Dubai and later last year, was made available for all private schools across the emirate, listing all approved fees and costs, such as transportation, extra-curricular activities, school trips and books, among others.


Dubai residents can pay home rent automatically through bank accounts

Dubai residents can pay their home rents through direct debit, a Dubai Land Department circular revealed.

According to the Dubai Land Department, the new Ejari system allows tenants to pay rent automatically, through direct debit.

The Central Bank of the UAE's (CBUAE) Direct Debit System (UAEDDS) allows residents of Dubai with an automatic payment in an effort to facilitate recurrent bills from their bank accounts.

The state of the art system will permit tenants to control the rent agenda for the duration of the contract creation or renewal process and facilitate recurrent payments from their bank accounts.

Property experts and real estate agents said that cheques have dominated the market for quite some time. Direct debits will have a positive impact.

Globally, most markets accept direct debits methods.

Experts predict this option will have a positive impact on tenants and landlords.

The direct debit system is secure as it is connected to the central bank.

According to Arabian Business, the Allsopp & Allsopp group chief executive officer Lewis Allsopp said prior to the monthly payment that comes in mind, but that shouldn't be a worry as the direct debit payment to the payment terms agreed in the contract, that can either be any of the options 2,4, and 6 payments.

Experts said that the move is part of Dubai's efforts to make payments digitised and smooth.


Saudi Arabia relaxes tourist visa rule for all GCC residents

The announcement is the latest in a series of initiatives that seek to attract visitors coming from GCC countries

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Tourism has relaxed tourist visa applications for all GCC residents, a move that will allow travellers to explore the diverse destinations in the kingdom and perform Umrah rituals throughout the year.

The decision is part of the ministry of tourism's broader strategy to provide an opportunity for residents in the GCC states to visit tourist destinations and explore the heritage and historical sites across Saudi Arabia. It also allows travellers to participate in tourism and entertainment events.

Saudi Arabia said the announcement by the ministry is the latest in a series of initiatives by the government that aim to attract regional tourists and provide more activities for visitors coming from GCC countries.

The Saudi Tourism Authority also said that more information and visa applications can be made on Visit Saudi - a mobile app that provides a gateway for travellers to discover all events, international festivals and inspiring tourism experiences.

The mobile app also provides tourists with a gateway to enjoy the country's climate, natural and cultural diversity and the hospitality of the Saudi people.

Last year, the authority launched the Nusuk platform, the first official integrated digital platform in Saudi Araba that helps pilgrims and tourists plan their journeys easily.

Saudi Arabia's tourism ambitions

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia introduced the tourist visa in 2019 to help with the development and growth of its tourism industry.

The Gulf state launched a transit visa service in January, allowing travellers who are stopping over in the country to enter the country to perform Umrah and visit the Prophet's Mosque, in addition to visiting tourist sites in the kingdom.


Saudi: Foreigners Will Be Allowed to Own Property in Kingdom

Abdullah Alhammad, CEO of the Real Estate General Authority (REGA), acknowledged that real estate prices are high owing to a gap between demand and supply in Saudi Arabia. Attending Al-Liwan program on Rotana Khalejia Television channel, the authority chief stated that foreigners will be allowed to own real estate soon.

The authority is not satisfied with the high real estate prices, and this rise is negative for the real estate sector as a whole Alhammad said while noting that the real estate market is an open market and it is subject to supply and demand.

He stated that the largest percentage of those who seek real estate today do not have purchasing power, and the price of the property today is higher than the purchasing power, and therefore it is not easy to obtain a suitable property. "The investors were also affected by the high prices of the real estate, due to the high prices of the land, and the landowners became unable to make easier transactions, and when the landowner wanted to sell, he reduces prices in order to be able to sell it," he pointed out.

Alhammad stressed that the new law for ownership of a real estate by foreigners is in its final stages, and will be made public in a short period. The new law will be broader and more comprehensive than the current law for real estate ownership, he pointed out.

The authority chief stated that foreigners will be allowed to own real estate of all kinds including commercial, residential, and agricultural in accordance with the regulations.


Expats can register birth online through Absher

RIYADH - The Agency for Civil Status at the Ministry of Interior announced that electronic birth registration will be available for expatriates through the ministry's Absher platform.

The agency revealed that after completing the process of registration of births electronically, expatriates can make a request for the dispatch of birth certificates to their addresses.


Riyadh public transport buses begin operation, with ticket charges set at SR4

RIYADH - The Royal Commission for Riyadh City announced on Sunday the launch of the operation of the first phase of the Riyadh Buses service within the King Abdulaziz Public Transport Project.

The commission has set the ticket fare for the trip on board the Riyadh buses at SR4. The ticket is valid for two hours, starting from the first login to board the bus or by activating through the application. It is possible to use the same ticket to board another bus during the two-hour period, and the ticket purchase mechanism has also been facilitated to benefit from the service.

The operation of the bus service is part of the first phase of the King Abdulaziz Public Transport Project. This project, which consists of trains and buses and costs $22.5 billion, is considered the largest public transport project in the world.

The commission stated that the Riyadh Buses network, with a total number of over 800 buses, will have a total length of 1,900 km when its five phases become fully operational. This will be operated through 86 lanes serving passengers through more than 2,900 stations and stopping points.

The bus service will contribute to providing ease of movement for all segments of society through the use of buses as a means to reach places of work, educational institutions, and recreational centers, and bring down dependence on the use of private cars and thus easing traffic congestion in the capital city.

The Riyadh Metro or electric trains network represents the backbone of the public transport network in the city, consisting of six tracks, with a total length of 176 km. The Riyadh Metro is one of the giant projects in the world. It includes 85 railway stations, apart from six major metro lines that have been established to cover the capital city of Riyadh from all directions. The public transport project will be operational at full capacity during the fourth quarter of 2024.

The commission confirmed that the launch of the first phase of the Riyadh Buses project, which was developed as one of the strategic projects aimed at serving the city's mobility needs, making a quantum leap in the public transport sector, strengthening the interconnection of parts of the capital, and raising the quality of life for its residents and visitors.


Bahrain to roll out e-Passports on March 20 with advanced security features

The passport contains an electronic chip that helps obtain various visas around the world more easily

Bahrain will begin the process for the issuance of the new e-Passports on March 20, as part of the Kingdom's digital transformation.

This was announced by Interior Ministry's Undersecretary for Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs (NPRA), Sheikh Hisham bin Abdulrahman Al Khalifa at a press conference.

"The Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs will first issue the e-Passport to those whose passports have expired and those that are nearing the expiry date," he said.

Sheikh Hisham said that the issuance of the e-Passport reflects the Kingdom's interest in digital transformation, explaining that the new design contains modern security technologies that are used for the first time.

He said that the passport contains an electronic chip that raises Bahrain's global ranking and helps to obtain various visas around the world more easily.

Colin Howell, representative of HID, said that the data page contains seven protected layers that constitute the highest security standards ever.

"There are important symbols in Bahrain's heritage represented by horses and falcons, and from the sea the beautiful fisker fish, in addition to the stars, the most important of which is the star of Suhail. All these details have been embodied in the design of the passport," he said.

"The new design combines the past with the present, as the pages of the passport contain paintings of distinctive urban buildings. The rich history of Bahrain has been merged with the modern, with consideration of many historical and cultural stations. A tale of beauty, civilisation and originality."


Travelling to Oman? Tourists from these 100 countries can enter visa-free

Oman is offering tourists from over 100 countries to enter visa-free for up to 14 days. The move, aimed to boost the country's tourism industry, is designed to encourage more travellers to visit Oman.

The country had announced visa-free entry for residents in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in October last year, provided a resident's visa in the GCC is valid for a period of no less than three months. The circular released by Oman Airports also noted that the granting of visas to restricted nationalities will only be applied after following the required policies.

The Royal Oman Police (ROP) has published a list of countries whose nationals are eligible for this new policy.

Here is the full list:

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