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Cairo Metro Line 3 work assigned to ETF-ORC-TSO

Egypt’s National Authority for Tunnels (NAT) has assigned the rail work for Cairo’s Metro Line 3 to the ETF-ORC-TSO association, a report said.

This came after NAT accepted the financial bid of EGP762 million ($85.6 million) made by the association over that of the French company Colas Rail, added the Daily News Egypt, which quoted an official from Egypt Post.

The ETF-ORC-TSO offer includes the development of the Rod El Farag station and supply of coupling rods for that phase, the report said.

NAT is aiming to implement six new subway lines by 2032 to link Greater Cairo and all its suburbs, 10 years ahead of schedule, according to the report.

Maalem to deliver Egyptian housing projects in 2017

Egypt-based Maalem Group for real estate development is set to hand over a range of residential projects by the beginning of next year, said a report.

The projects include 12 residential towers in New Cairo, three of which would be delivered in 2017, reported Amwal Alghad, citing the company's marketing manager Islam Amer.

"The total number of residential units in the new buildings is estimated at 128,000 units with various spaces starting from EŁ4,200 ($472) per metre," stated Amer.

Maalem aims to boost its volume of business in New Cairo through the establishment of an integrated residential compound after getting a plot of land during the upcoming phase, he added.

zdan cuts water usage by 60pc at homes complex

Qatar’s Ezdan Real Estate Company has installed about 262,000 water saving devices in more than 15,000 its Al Wukair residential units, resulting in a capacity of up to 60 per cent reduction in the overall water consumption.

Group COO Dr Mousa Al-Awwad said that “Our strategy in supporting the rationalization program stems from the vision of the State of Qatar that pays an exponential interest in matters of environment, health and education. This vision inspired us to devote our efforts to preserve natural resources, in order to make our experience a successful example in this field.”

“Ezdan Holding Group has been a pioneer in partnering with Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa) through a memorandum of understanding, which thank to Allah Almighty, we were able to implement a large portion of its provisions, he added.

He noted that the group plans to convert its compounds in Doha, its hotels and malls into fully water saving facilities in the short term.

“We are proud to abide by the national vision of development and the preservation of the state's resources for a more prosperous future for our children,” he said, praising the efforts of Ezdan Real Estate’s technical staff, who strived to implement the agreed program in all villages in a record time.

Ezdan Real Estate acting general manager Omar Al-Yafey said: “The specialized team has spared no efforts to implement this project during the previous period, and was able to accomplish the task with great success. Now, we have already started to witness positive results, showing that between 40 per cent and 60 per cent of water has been conserved, and in some cases, even higher.”

Al-Yafey confirmed that all new projects are equipped with the latest water rationalization technologies, mainly Ezdan Oasis. The project will include more than 9,000 units, he said, noting that its first phase will be operational by the beginning of next year’s Q1.

Ezdan Holding Group was honoured during the 4th Annual Tarsheed Ceremony for its great support to this program that aims at rationalizing and optimizing water consumption, as well as spreading awareness about the importance of preserving it.

In March 2014, Ezdan Holding Group chairman Sheikh Dr Khalid bin Thani bin Abdullah al-Thani and Kahramaa chairman Essa bin Hilal al-Kuwari signed a memorandum of understanding to consolidate their efforts and support he National Programme for Conservation and Energy Efficiency (Tarsheed) and its mechanisms and initiatives to limit the daily water consumption per capita. – TradeArabia News Service

Saudi Arabian residential market softens in Q1

The residential market in Riyadh and Jeddah softened over the first quarter with the sales and rental rates predominantly reporting marginal decreases both through quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year indicators across the villa and apartment segments, said a report.

The lease rates in the apartment sector in Jeddah achieved a y-o-y growth of 8.3 per cent, while in Riyadh this indicator reached three per cent, stated PKF Consulting, an international firm of management consultants and industry specialists.

Although this is the highest growth rate achieved in the residential market in these cities in Q1, this was the slowest rate of growth recorded in Jeddah since mid-2015, stated the report citing a third party report.

The villa segment in Jeddah witnessed a marginal annual growth in rental rates (1.2 per cent), while this segment experienced no annual change in Riyadh. Furthermore, q-o-q rental rates in Riyadh demonstrated a marginal decline of 1 per cent (across both villa and apartment products).

The apartment segment in Jeddah reported a relatively stable performance q-o-q, while the villa segment declined by -2.5 per cent.

As far as sales rates are concerned, a third-party industry report indicated that prices were declining;

apartment prices during Q1 decreased by two per cent y-o-y in Jeddah and by four per cent y-o-y in Riyadh.

Sale rates in the villa segment in Jeddah remained similar (+1 per cent y-o-y) to last year's indicators, while in Riyadh, average villa sale prices declined by 4 per cent compared to Q1 2015

With regards to q-o-q performance, sales rates in Riyadh marginally decreased in Q1 2016 (-1 per cent in both segments), while sales rates in the Jeddah apartment and villa segment decreased by -0.3 per cent and -5.4 per cent respectively.

According to a set of new regulations, issued by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (Sama), the maximum loan-to-value ratio for mortgages for real estate companies has increased from 70 per cent to 85 per cent.

“This adjustment can potentially make housing investments more affordable, which would thus support demand.

Based on the data, issued by Eskan Committee of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the residential supply in Jeddah in Q1 was standing at 793,000 units. In Riyadh, the supply reached approximately 995,000 units.

These figures include the 4,000 and 6,000 units that entered Jeddah and Riyadh markets respectively in Q1 2016.

In order to address the current shortage of housing in Riyadh, the Ministry of Housing has launched a 100,000-unit project in the North of Riyadh near the Riyadh International Airport.

The housing project will be developed by Hanwha Engineering & Construction, Daewoo Engineering & Construction and Saudi Pan Kingdom for Trading, Indian & Contracting (Sapac) over the next 10 years.

On the retail sector, PKF said the first quarter witnessed a nine per cent y-o-y decrease in the value of sale transactions in Saudi Arabia, predominantly driven by sustained low oil prices, reduced government spending and additional cuts in energy subsidies, resulting in reduced consumer purchasing power.

While the total retail space supply in Riyadh remained unchanged at 1.41 million sq m of GLA from the last quarter of 2015, Jeddah witnessed the opening of Yasmin Mall taking the total GLA in Jeddah to 1.13 million sq m, it stated.

The new regional mall developed by Arabian Centres, features a total GLA of 60,000 sq m and will house 210 units along with a wide range of entertainment and leisure options.

In Riyadh, q-o-q rental rates remained stable while vacancy rates decreased by seven per cent according to third party reports.

However, with the expected supply of approximately 221,000 sq m of GLA for the rest of the year, vacancy rates are expected to increase, stated the report by PKF.

The new malls expected to open this year include Arabian Centres-owned Al Khalej Mall (55,340 sq m GLA) and Al Hamra Mall (52,940 sq m GLA), Al Malaz Square (50,556 sq m GLA) besides the community centres like Robeen Plaza (22,521 sq m GLA) developed by Hamat Property Company.

In Jeddah, rents increased on a y-o-y basis, for both super regional and regional centers by 18 per cent and 5 per cent respectively. Compared to q-o-q, rents remained stable with a marginal decrease recorded across regional centers, said the report by PKF.

Whilst y-o-y vacancy rates increased to 10 per cent from 7 per cent, driven by the amount of space available in old traditional malls, q-o-q vacancies only decreased marginally.

The only mall set to enter the Jeddah market in 2016 is the Le Prestige Mall, a premium luxury boutique mall with a GLA of 24,000 sq m, it stated.

According to PKF, Majid Al Futtaim is set to invest $3.73 billion in the construction of two malls in Riyadh. The Mall of Saudi, which boasts a 300,000 sq m GLA, is set to be the kingdom's largest featuring shops, restaurants, entertainment, offices, hotels and residential units. It will also include Saudi Arabia's first indoor ski slope.

The work is likely to start in mid-2017, with the first phase expected to be completed by 2022. Whilst, the second mall, City Centre Ishbiliyah in the eastern part of the capital is expected to feature 250 units, it added.

On the office sector, PKF said the Jeddah market remained stable throughout Q1, registering a marginal decline in lease rates q-o-q and a y-o-y growth of 2 per cent. Average lease rates stood at approximately SR1,120 per sq m.

The first quarter of the year witnessed the delivery of approximately 33,000 sq m of GLA, which included the Al Andalus Crown Tower development (12,000 sq m of GLA).

In terms of key projects set for delivery for the rest of the year, Al Khair Tower is expected to enter the market featuring approximately 43,000 square meters of GLA, permitting it remains on schedule, according to the report by PKF.

However, a weakening demand from the public sector due to sustained low oil prices is likely to influence project completion dates.

In Riyadh, lease rates and vacancy rates remained relatively unchanged. According to a third party report, average lease rates in the city during Q1 2016 stood at approximately SR1,260 per sq m, recording a marginal y-o-y increase of 2 per cent, while market wide vacancy rates remained unchanged at 16 per cent, said the PKF report.

With the delivery of parts of the ITCC development expected before the end of the year and a weakening demand from the public sector due to sustained low oil prices, performance indicators are likely to come under pressure, however the impact of this is likely to be subdued in the short-term as Grade A office space remains limited and upcoming projects (especially within KAFD) are pushed back, it added.- TradeArabia News Service

Hill seals Kuwait hospital project management deal

Hill International, a global leader in managing construction risk, said it has won a contract from Health Assurance Hospitals Company (Dhaman) to manage the construction of two new hospitals in Kuwait.

Dhaman was established as a public-private partnership as part of Kuwait's National Healthcare Expansion Plan.

In response to a projected population growth of two million people by 2026, Dhaman plans to build secondary care hospitals and primary health clinics in various locations across the country.

The three-year project and construction management services contract has an estimated value of KD3.9 million ($13.1 million), said a statement from the US-based company.

These projects entail the construction of 300-bed secondary care hospitals in Al Ahmadi and Al Jahra areas of Kuwait besides staff accommodation buildings and parking facilities.

On the contract win, Mohammed Al Rais, the regional president (Middle East) for Hill's project management group, said: "We look forward to helping Dhaman deliver these important hospital projects."

"We understand the importance of timely delivery for these types of healthcare facilities and we are confident that our team will meet or exceed all expectations," he added.- TradeArabia News Service

Kuwait starts applying new electronic media law

Kuwaiti ministry of Information started the implementation of law No. 8/2016 to regulate electronic media, which was approved and published in the Official Gazette Sunday.

The new law is to regulate all web-based publications including electronic news services, bulletins, websites of newspapers and televisions and the likes. Under the legislation, all these services must obtain a license from the government before they can operate.

The first article in the Electronic Media tackled the activity that includes publishing or broadcasting items and forms of a media service of electronic content that is produced, developed, upgraded, dealt with, broadcast, published or reached through the Internet or any other communications network, KUNA reported on Monday.

The electronic media is considered one of the components of the information system in the country, and the freedom of its use is guaranteed for all according to the rules of this law, and there is no prior censorship on what is circulated of content via electronic sites and facilities.

The executive regulations of this law shall control polls carried out by licensed websites and electronic media facilities.

Kuwaiti Minister of Information and Minister of State for Youth Affairs Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem Al-Homoud Al-Sabah asserted that Kuwait was among the first countries that have legislated a comprehensive electronic media law.

In a press statement during a tour to the electronic publishing department at the ministry, he said that the law will regulate electronic publishing, websites, blogs and social media in Kuwait He called on all electronic media outlets to abide by law 8/2016 as to contribute to the growth of the media sector.

Moreover, the ministry called on all electronic media outlets to abide by law 8/2016, as contributors to the growth of the media sector. The ministry also underscored how helpful these media outlets can be to staving off extreme ideologies, while espousing various virtues for the betterment of the nation.

The law works to promote freedom of expression while ensuring unhindered access to information.

It also aims to eliminate all impediments to the spread of information on electronic media outlets in a way that would conserve national values and interests.

Emaar unveils new luxury homes in Dubai Hills Estate

Leading Dubai developer Emaar Properties has launched an exclusive collection of residences with park and boulevard views at its ambitious Dubai Hills Estate.

A joint venture with Meraas Holding, Dubai Hills Estate is accessible from Sheikh Zayed Road, and located at the crossroads of Al Qudra and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road.

A green city within the city, the 11-million-sq-m Dubai Hills Estate is set to welcome its first residents later this year, ensuring that customers into the new mid-rise tower become part of a fully-established neighbourhood, said a statement from Emaar.

The first key launch this summer, the newly launched homes offer customers the opportunity to be part of a distinctive community highlighted by a central park, a championship golf course, a world-class mall, two lifestyle hotels, a bustling boulevard with modern cafes and restaurants, and over 45 km of trekking trails, it stated.

Only 147 residences, comprising one, two and three-bedroom apartments, are now offered for sale at the new tower in the Acacia at Dubai Hills Estate community. The homes offer panoramic views of the central park or the boulevard, said the statement from the Dubai developer.

The lush-green neighbourhood adds to the harmony of living in a development that celebrates an outdoor lifestyle. All homes have high-quality finishes and residents will have access to world-class amenities including a championship golf course and tennis academy, it stated.

Ahmad Al Matrooshi, the managing director of Emaar Properties, said: "We are launching the new mid-rise tower in Dubai Hills Estate, one of the highly sought-after communities just in time to meet the growing interest from international investors who travel to Dubai this summer, and for customers who wish to be part of a vibrant lifestyle neighbourhood."

One of the largest master-planned communities in the city, Dubai Hills Estate will have a total green area of over 2.2 million sq m that includes the golf course, and a central park spreading over an area of about 180,000 sq m.

The golf course alone occupies 1.29 million sq m, and overlooks Burj Khalifa and the Downtown Dubai skyline. Surrounding the golf course will be over 4,400 villas and townhouses and some 22,000 apartments.

“Dubai Hills Estate brings a unique value proposition to Dubai serving as a green oasis in the heart of the city, only minutes away from Downtown Dubai and other business centres. Families will be assured of a ‘wellness lifestyle’ at the new residences that also open to spectacular vistas of a central park,” explained Al Matrooshi.

Marking the first phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid City, Dubai Hills Estate is highlighted by the harmonious blend of modern lifestyle luxuries with an abundance of choices for active outdoor pursuits, he added.

The mega-development will also have a centrally located mall and community retail areas including a boutique mall for high-end brands, two world-class hotels, schools, tennis and sports centres, and a bustling boulevard of about 7 km with innovative leisure, retail and F&B choices.

Apart from the cycling tracks and walkways, Dubai Hills Estate aims to promote an eco-friendly lifestyle with effortless connectivity to public modes of transport including a Dubai Metro link, said the statement.

A dedicated Dubai Hills Rail line will connect residents and visitors to the two international airports in the city, it added.- TradeArabia News Service

Dubai property rents down in Q2 over Brexit

Rent values across the office and residential sectors in Dubai, UAE continued to face a downward slope in the second quarter (Q2) of the year as Brexit brought slight uncertainty into the market, a report said.

Dubai caters to the most open real estate market within the region and as a result is more susceptible to external factors, explained the Q2 2016 Dubai Real Estate Q2 Overview released by JLL, a global real estate investment and advisory firm.

The report evaluates the impact of Britain’s exit from the European Union on the Dubai real estate market across office, residential, retail and hotel sectors.

With diverse nationalities residing in Dubai currently, data from Dubai Land Department suggests that British Nationals are the third largest investors in real estate.

Craig Plumb, head of Research, JLL Mena, said: “Even though it is too early to predict the long-term implications, overall there is a slight probability of British investors being negatively impacted by the devaluation of the British Pound following Britain’s decision to exit the European Union.”

“However, we believe the effect of the decision will have temporary repercussions as a substantial number of British investors who work and reside in the UAE avoid sourcing their income in sterling. If we dissect the market further, particularly for residential, we notice that expatriates in Dubai are most likely to continue renting their homes instead of switching to ownership, resulting in sales being more negatively affected than the rental sector. If external factors stabilize over the rest of the year, we expect the Dubai residential market to easily recover in early 2017,” he added.

“In Q2 2016, it has been interesting to see the office vacancy rates throughout Dubai showing a general downward trend. However, although this could be attributed to lack of quality office space, Dubai still remains the largest and most active office market in Mena as many businesses still prefer Dubai as the regional hub,” Plumb said.

“Meanwhile, the Brexit decision has seen an adverse effect on the retail and hotel sector. Due to the devaluation of the pound, Dubai and the Mena region as a whole has become an increasingly expensive destination for European visitors,” he added.

Sector summary highlights

Office: The second quarter of 2016 saw the handover of only one office tower; Westbury Square in Business Bay, which added 30,000 sq m of office Gross Leasable Area (GLA), taking the total stock to 8.5 million sq m, broadly in line with the figure recorded during the first quarter of 2016.

The forecasts of future supply levels for 2017 / 2018 have been revised downwards over the quarter owing to a number of factors: (1) A number of projects which were scheduled for completion in 2017 have been delayed to 2018; (2) Al Duja Tower which was previously included as a mix-use building has now been confirmed as largely residential (with only one floor of office space) reducing potential 2017 office supply by 167K sq m (3) The handover of ICD Brookfield has been confirmed for Q1 2019.

Looking at some of the more popular areas for office vacancy, Dubai Design District (d3) is becoming a more desirable destination. Asking rents in d3 have increased by approximately 40 per cent over Q2 2016 primarily due to the achievement of an occupancy milestone.

Having attracted the headquarters of top retail names such as Chalhoub Group, the bargaining power is now with the landlord (TECOM). The design industry in the region is expected to grow at an annual rate of 6 per cent over the next 5 years which will result in more office demand for space in developments like d3

Residential: Around 1,500 villas for the Emirate staff were delivered in District 11 of the MBR City project in Q2 2016. This marks the first project which has been delivered in this major development. A further 1,680 units were added across Dubai including both apartment and villa units, and taking the total stock to 462K units.

Danube Properties launched its 418 unit Glamz residential project in Q2 2016, located in the Al Furjan area of Jebel Ali adjacent to its existing Starz project. Construction should commence in Q3 2016 and is due for completion in September 2018. This takes Danube’s portfolio to 1,700 units with an addition of two projects expected to be launched before the end of the year. Dubai Land Department (DLD) introduces a new building classification system which aims to create a more transparent market (in line with the 2021 vision) by providing a complete database for every single unit in Dubai along with a star rating system.

Retail: Three new shopping malls were added over the quarter, a Community Centre in International City, Ibn Battuta Mall Phase II, and The Ribbon in Motor City. Collectively, they added almost 30,000 sq metres of GLA. The remainder of 2016 is expected to witness the delivery of further 150,000 sq m .Our supply pipeline for 2017 has been increased with construction having resumed on two projects, the Dubai Art Centre in Barsha and Sustainable City Mall, which increases the 2017 supply to 159,000 sq m.

The reality of VAT being introduced in 2018 is setting a worrisome tone across the market. It will lead to higher inflation rates and reduce discretionary spending. Although food and other necessity goods may be exempted, this is likely to impact the ‘luxury’ sector as consumers become more cautious over their spending patterns.

While negative for the retail sector, this new tax will be positive for the overall economy, marking a further diversification of government revenue away from the oil sector. Another positive of the VAT will be greater transparency and the ability for mall owners to have greater visibility of sales patterns.

Hotel: The second quarter of the year saw the opening of the landmark W Al Habtoor on the banks of the Dubai Canal, following its sister property St Regis in November 2015. Paired with other additions to the supply such as Rove Downtown Dubai & Wyndham Marina, this brought the Dubai supply to around 72,500 rooms.

Several properties announced for 2016 can be expected to see their opening postponed to 2017 which is reflected in our adjusted pipeline shown below. Among the causes are delays in construction and funding and the overly ambitious timelines initially set by some developers.

With the 4 per cent fall in the Euro so far in 2016 and more recent falls in the value of the British pound, Dubai has become an increasingly expensive travel destination for many European tourists. More GCC visitors are also opting to travel to Europe for vacations.

This is creating challenging conditions for more luxury brands and increased demand for the midmarket segment. More operators and owners are now investing in midscale properties and several projects have been announced by brands such as Rove Hotels, Ibis, etc.

This more comprehensive midscale offering is likely to enhance Dubai’s attraction to fast growing source markets in China and the Far East. While soften the decrease in occupancy rates, this trend will result in continued falls in city-wide average room rates. – TradeArabia News Service

Dubai hotel to feature in-house tropical rainforest, artificial beach

A new hotel complete with an artificial beach and rainforest within the property is set to find a home in Dubai's growing hospitality sector, said a report.

Located on Dubai's Sheikh Zayed Road, the Rosemont Hotel & Residences is currently under construction and is expected to open in 2018, a report in The National said.

The unique setup will be developed within a five-storey podium that will bridge the two towers, each 53 storey high, of the Rosemont Hotel.

The hotel will use technology to create the illusion of tropical rain, which will also featutre waterfalls, streams and a splash pool along the sand-less beach.

Other attractions include an entertainment complex with a skydive simulator, a bowling alley and luxury cinema, the report said.

The five-star property is being designed developed by ZAS Architects Dubai and will be operated under Hilton’s Curio brand, its first in the UAE.

The hotel will also feature 450-guestrooms and 280-serviced apartments as well as a number of stylish food and beverage outlets which will include three restaurants, a lobby café and two bars. Guests will also have access to a fully equipped gym, an outdoor pool and a spa.

UAE worker housing set to be the next investor hotspot

UAE-based companies with more than 50 staff are now required to provide free housing for workers earning less than $544 per month.

Worker housing projects in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are expected to draw increased interest from investors after the government issued a decree last week requiring companies with more than 50 employees to provide free accommodation for those earning less than 2,000 dirhams ($544) per month, industry experts told Zawya.

The decree, announced by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation on July 18, will come into force on December 2016. The ministry had issued a directive two years ago stating that companies with more than 500 employees were required to supply free housing for low-wage staff, and the new decree reduces the minimum threshold to 50 employees.

"We have numerous mega infrastructure projects under construction linked to the government program ahead of Expo 2020 and demand for beds in key worker accommodation facilities will continue to rise," Faisal Durrani, head of research at real estate firm Cluttons, told Zawya in a phone interview.

"I think it is important it is being addressed that there will be sufficient, appropriate and acceptable levels of accommodation for these workers, who are a key part of the economy," he added.

The value of construction in the pipeline in Dubai is forecast to reach $390.7 billion this year, according to consultancy firm Deloitte. Another report released in June by Emirates NBD bank showed that $6.6 billion worth of new construction contracts were awarded in Dubai in the first quarter of this year, the second highest figure since the peak of 2008.

Attractive yields

As a result, Durrani said, labour accommodation camps are proving to be popular among local investors, providing yields of up to 10 percent in some cases. The new law is likely to spur interest among overseas investment funds as well.

"On the investment front... we have seen these worker accommodation camps traded on the market and the yields have been attractive... With Brexit and the global economy, global funds will be looking to diversify their portfolios and probably trying to seek out interesting new asset classes and this is likely to emerge as one of those," he added.

Even before last week's announcement, Durrani said data showed that demand was already high for worker accommodation and the lack of supply had seen rents increase from around 250 dirhams per month per worker five years ago to around 500 dirhams per month per worker at present.

David Godchaux, chief executive officer of Core, the UAE associate of global real estate firm Savills, said the new regulation could also have a downward impact on prices as large employers will seek bulk discount deals for their employees.

"We may see new players enter the staff accommodation market due to this regulation and perception of increased supply. This could put negative pressure on pricing if people think there is more supply. However, increased supply is only a perception," he said.

A search on Dubai-based classified website Dubizzle showed there are currently 16 listings advertising plots of land licensed for the construction of labour camps, with some asking prices as high as 55 million dirhams.

There are also a further 110 listings offering existing and newly completed labour camps for sale to investors, with some adverts claiming a return on investment of up to 18 percent a year.

One advert listed by Driven Properties is offering a new labour camp with an asking price of 125 million dirhams. Located near Dubai Investment Park, which is not far from the Expo 2020 site, it consists of 552 rooms, which can accommodate four workers per room. A Driven Properties spokesperson told Zawya the firm has seen increased interest in this and other labour camps it has for sale since the new decree was announced.

"The amount of construction projects is going to drive up demand for these worker accommodation facilities," Durrani said, adding that the northern emirates, such as Ajman and Sharjah, were likely to see increased interest as costs are lower compared to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Dubai airport activates e-gate service for Emirates ID holders

Passengers holding an Emirates ID can now move through the airport much quicker by using their card at the electronic gates (e-Gates) at the arrival wing of Dubai International Airport's Terminal 3, said a report.

The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) has completed the activation of e-Gate service through the use of the Emirates ID, a service which requires no prior registration, said a report in Gulf News.

The service will soon be activated at Terminals one and two shortly, meaning smooth entry for all travellers.

Dubai International Airport was the first in the region to implement the e-Gate system in 2002, and the third airport in the world to do so. The e-Gate system reads passport information and captures biometric data, including facial recognition, in 12 to 14 seconds. All these procedures are completed while maintaining a high-level accuracy and security standards, the report said.

Revealed: The most expensive place to rent an apartment in Dubai

The Palm Jumeirah is the most expensive place in Dubai to rent an apartment, while International City is the least, new research reveals.

The latest market report from MPM Properties, the real estate subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, shows that rental prices on The Palm ranged from AED88 per square foot ($23.9/sq ft) for a studio to AED200 ($54.4/sq ft for a three-bedroom apartment in the second quarter of 2016.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, rental costs in International City ranged from AED37 ($10/sq ft to AED70 ($19/sq ft for a two-bedroom apartment during the same period (there are no three-beds in International City, according to the research).

Average rents fell in all 11 locations analysed by MPM, and the steepest decline was recorded in Business Bay, where year-on-year rents dropped by 5.93 percent.

The second biggest decline was seen in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT), which registered a 5.69 percent decline year-on-year.

The third largest annual decline was seen in Greens, registering a 4.76 percent drop.

Discovery Gardens saw the least marked year-on-year decline, at 0.67 percent, according to the research.

The decline in apartment rents was higher in non-freehold areas (5 percent) than it was in freehold areas (3 percent) despite increases in new supply.

Average residential rents for both apartments and villas dropped by one percent quarter-on-quarter, and by four percent year-on-year, MPM said.

Renew Dubai vehicle registration card online next month

Motorists in Dubai will be able to renew vehicle registration card, issuing vehicle registration card for a lost one, and renewing the retention of a licensing plate through Roads and Transport Authority’s (RTA) online services from next month.

RTA will embark on Phase II of the Electronic Transition of Services Project by offering the above-mentioned three vehicle related service online from August 15, 2016.

These services, which apply to vehicles of less than three years in use, are accessible through RTA website, Drivers & Vehicles app, and self-service kiosks (Nafethati).

The launch of this phase follows the successful completion of the initial phase of the project launched last year targeting the corporate sector, which resulted in pushing the electronic transition to as much as 90 per cent.

Ahmed Bahrozyan, CEO of RTA’s Licensing Agency, said: “We would gradually cease the offering of some services through customers’ service centers starting from August 15. The services would be re-routed to RTA portal, the smart app (Drivers & Vehicles) and the self-service kiosks (Nafethati). The services are renewing vehicle registration for individuals whose vehicles do not require testing, issuing vehicle registration card in replacement of a lost one, and renewing number retention service. These services are applicable to vehicles with less than three years of age.”

The UAE government clears up VPN use questions

The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has said that the updated laws regarding VPN use in the UAE will not affect “legitimate” users of a virtual private network.

A new series of UAE laws regarding IT crimes were released earlier this month, with one stating that now anyone using a VPN or proxy server in the UAE ‘to commit or prevent the discovery of a crime’ can be imprisoned and/or fined between Dhs500,000 and Dhs2 million.

The fine for such an offence was previously between Dhs150,000 and Dhs500,000.


But the TRA has said on its Twitter account that the laws only “target those who misuse virtual network services and will not affect any legitimate activity consistent with UAE laws”

They go on to explain that the law does not affect banks, companies and institutions that use VPNs to gain access to internal networks for legitimate reasons.

“Using it for the purpose of manipulating internet protocols with the intent to commit any fraud or crime is punishable by law,” the authority explained.


The new law regarding VPNs states that “whoever uses a fraudulent computer network protocol address (IP address) by using a false address or a third-party address by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery, shall be punished by temporary imprisonment and a fine of no less than Dhs500,000 and not exceeding Dhs2 million, or either of these two penalties.”

This news comes after the country has started clamping down on online piracy: last month, a man in Abu Dhabi was jailed for stealing and illegally uploading a raft of television series and films from TV platform OSN.

The updated law was issued by President of the UAE Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and have been reported by the official government news service WAM.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with VPNs, they allow internet users to connect to a private network online, providing them with privacy and hiding their location.


A VPN can be used to bypass region restrictions – such as gaining access to British TV channels or services such as Netflix US all the way from the UAE.

VPNs are used in China to access blocked social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook

Exactly what the crimes are that are covered in the law are not yet clear, however, the reality is that most personal use of VPNs is underhanded and for tricking geo-blocking or downloading content illegally.

The use of VPNs is thought to be widespread in the UAE, with many residents using them to access internet calling or other content that isn’t available in the country by tricking region restrictions.

Previously, the law regarding the use of VPNs in the UAE was restricted to prosecuting people who used them to commit internet crimes. However, UK-based VPN and privacy advocate Private Internet Access told the IB Times that the language of the new law enables UAE police to pursue anybody who uses a VPN to access blocked services.

Mobility Management Middle East

Middle East:
Saudi Arabia

Ivory Coast

Other Countries: