Expat relocation Egypt Saudi Middle East ..
Mobility Management Middle East

Abu Dhabi's Agthia seeks food deals in Egypt and Saudi Arabia

Abu Dhabi-based Agthia Group is pursuing a strategy to grow through acquisitions and investment in its food and beverage business as its chief executive sees continued economic growth.

"We expect to see our growth coming from the consumer business," Agthia chief executive officer Alan Smith said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. "We're going to continue to look for the right opportunities" for acquisitions with a focus on Saudi Arabia and Egypt, he said.

Global food suppliers seeking a post-pandemic recovery are facing higher commodity and shipping costs, forcing them to raise prices or narrow margins. Commodities surged in the first half of the year on booming demand, fuelled by trillions of dollars in government stimulus. That's feeding concern that rising inflation may crimp consumer spending.

Agthia's Smith said he's cautiously optimistic on the global economy.

While freight rates are set to remain high for the next 18 months, Smith said doesn't expect them to rise further.


PROJECTS: Egypt's TAQA Arabia, Germany's MAN Energy to study green hydrogen project

TAQA Power, a subsidiary of Egypt's largest private sector energy-distribution group TAQA Arabia, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Germany-based MAN Energy Solutions for a pilot project for local production of green gydrogen to fuel domestic tourist buses, it was announced on Sunday.

Green hydrogen is produced using renewable energy and electrolysis.

Over the next six months, TAQA Power and MAN Energy solutions will jointly conduct a feasibility study on using electrolysis for a green hydrogen production plant, the Egyptian company said in a press statement

Samy AbdelKader - TAQA Power's Managing Director said the company is determined to lead the private sector's participation in actualising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi for Egypt Vision 2030.

"We plan to achieve that by complying with the state's strategies for energy sustainability, while supporting the Ministry of Environment's endeavors towards reducing emissions. We aspire to contribute to a Net-zero carbon future," he said.

Ghassan Saab, Head of MAN Energy Solutions energy business in the region, said: "We look forward to working closely with TAQA Power in finding the optimal solution that will position them strongly in what will be one of the most important markets of the future."

TAQA Power's subsidiary TAQA Solar owns and operates a 65-megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant, located in Benban area, Aswan with a total investment of $72 million.

In June, Saudi English language daily Arab News had reported Egypt is planning to invest up to $4 billion in a project to generate green hydrogen gas through water electrolysis.

(Writing by Eman Hamed; Editing by Anoop Menon)


This article is provided for informational purposes only. The content does not provide tax, legal or investment advice or opinion regarding the suitability, value or profitability of any particular security, portfolio or investment strategy.


Germany to allocate 151.5 million euros to support 15 projects in Egypt

Germany has agreed to allocate funds worth 151.5 million euros to finance 15 development projects within Egypt's technical education, vocational training, immigration, labor market, administrative reform, urban development, energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors, alongside providing innovation support in the private sector.

This agreement falls within the framework of joint economic relations between the two countries which aims to support Egypt's development vision and its quest to achieve sustainable development goals.

The announcement was made during the annual round of negotiations between Egypt and Germany headed by Sherihan Bakhit, the assistant minister of international cooperation to oversee cooperation with Latin America and Europe and the supervisor of the European cooperation sector on the Egyptian side, and Mario Sander, head of the development cooperation department with the Middle East, at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development on the German side.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the heads of the delegation of experts from the Egyptian and German sides signed the agreement in initials in preparation for its final signing within the coming period.

The ongoing development cooperation portfolio with Germany amounts to 1.7 billion euros, of which 30 projects have been financed in the form of loans, technical support grants and financial contributions, in addition to a debt swap program of 240 million euros.

Several sectors have benefited from Germany's ongoing development cooperation portfolio, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, sanitation, irrigation, solid waste management, migration, labor market, innovation in the private sector, technical education, vocational training, urban development and administrative reform, women's issues and youth and social development.

During the first half of this year, 12 development financing agreements were signed within the joint cooperation strategy with Germany, worth 197 million euros to support the country's development vision and finance projects that include women's empowerment and energy.


SCZone: Russian Industrial Zone will be first of its kind for Moscow

Head of the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) Yahya Zaki said on Tuesday that the Russian Industrial Zone (RIZ), which is currently being built in the SCZone will be Russia's first industrial zone abroad.

He added that RIZ's implementation is taking time, with some changes being made to its operational contract and a delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Zaki, talks between Cairo and Moscow concluded at the end of June, with important points being agreed upon and a timetable set for the zone's opening.

The US$7 billion zone is managed by the Russian Export Center and is predicted to see a mass of Russian companies signing agreements upon its full completion.

Egypt and Russia agreed in July to expand RIZ to East Port Said and Ain Sokhna.


UAE real estate firm Sky to invest around $1 bn in Egypt by 2023

CAIRO, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Real estate firm Sky Abu Dhabi Developments is looking to invest 15 billion Egyptian pounds ($959 million) in Egypt in the next two years, including more than four billion pounds in two projects by the end of this year, its chief executive told Reuters.

"We are now in the final stages of negotiations. One of them will be in the North Coast and the other in New Cairo," Abdulrahman Agami said in an interview at his company's headquarters east of Cairo.

Sky is looking to benefit from long-standing momentum in the real estate sector in Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country, which is trying to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI) into property and other parts of the economy.

Sky, a subsidiary of United Arab Emirates-based Diamond Group, set up in Egypt in February 2021 and launched its first project in March in the country's New Administrative Capital, a grandiose new seat of government in the desert east of Cairo.

The as-yet unnamed new capital is an ambitious plan announced in March 2015 during an economic summit held in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to attract foreign investment.

Having bought 23 feddans (96,600 square metres) of real estate in the New Administrative Capital in March 2020 at 5,500 pounds per square metre, Sky expects to invest a total of four billion pounds in the project, from which it projects sales of about 4.4 billion pounds and delivery beginning in 2024.

Sky's project in the new capital comprises 1,000 housing units and 15,000 square meters of commercial and office space. It has already sold more than 1 billion pounds of housing units and will announce the start of sales in the office and commercial part in September, Agami said.

Prices of Sky's housing units in the new capital start at 1.4 million pounds.


Non-Saudis can now own one property in kingdom

RIYADH - Non-Saudis, who are legal residents of the Kingdom, can now own a single property.

The Absher platform has set out three requirements that must be fulfilled by expatriates in order to buy a property in the Kingdom.

The platform explained with the support of infographics that the service enables residents to apply for a permit to own a property within the Kingdom, enumerating the following three coditions.

The foreigner should have a valid and unexpired residency ID (Muqeem).

The resident must provide all information about the property along with a copy of the title deed.

He or she should not have another property in the Kingdom.

Absher stated that the service can be availed by accessing "My Services" (Khidmaty) on the Absher platform, then entering "Services" (Khidmat), then "General Services" (Al-Khidmatul Aamma), and from there to "Application for owning real estate for non-Saudis".


PTA: Passenger need not pay the price if taxi driver fails to operate fare meter

RIYADH - Saleh Al-Zuwaid, spokesman of the Saudi Public Transport Authority (PTA), emphasized that if the taxi driver fails to comply with his duty of operating the fare meter, the passenger need not pay the charges as the trip will be deemed free.

Addressing a program in Al-Ekhbariya Television channel, he emphasized that fare meter is one of the technical requirements for public taxis set by PTA, the regulator of public transport in the Kingdom.

"There is a fixed price system for taxi vehicles and the fare meter is linked to PTA's electronic systems. Through these systems, we guarantee the quality of services provided to beneficiaries, and a higher level of comfort and safety when they use these means of transport," he said.

He added, "In the event that the driver does not commit to operating the fare meter, the beneficiary is entitled to get the trip for free of charge."

Al-Zuwaid said that in its capacity as the regulator of land, sea and rail transport activities in the Kingdom, PTA carries out periodic and continuous inspection tours to ensure the compliance by the licensed facilities with the application of regulations and legislation regulating transport services in the Kingdom.

"A total of 11,690 violations were detected during more than 84,000 field inspections, carried out by the supervisory teams at the authority, during the month of July."

Al-Zuwaid said the most prominent among these violations was practicing the activity without obtaining an operating card from PTA.

"The authority is issuing this card after ensuring the legal status of the vehicle, the safety of its technical inspections and the validity of its insurance.

"Another major violation was related to practicing activity after exceeding the approved operational life of vehicles as there is an approved age for vehicles engaged in the provision of various types of services," he said.

He said that among the violations that were detected in July include failure to comply with the technical equipment stipulated in the regulations, such as not installing front and rear guardrails on trucks, and not placing vehicle indicator plates.

The operational age of public taxi vehicles and educational transport vehicles has been set at 5 years. The operational age of educational transport buses is 10 years while that of trucks should not exceed more than 20 years.

The spokesman said that 3,600 violations were found with regard to the operation of taxis during the month of July. Some of the violations related to operating cards while some others pertaining to the illegal acts of certain vehicles.

The violations also included exceeding operational life of taxis than the allowed five-year period.

"The five-year operational life has been approved to ensure the quality of the vehicles used, whether in public taxis or taxis based on applications, and one of the violations is the lack of technical equipment and commitment to it, including the fare meter," he pointed out.

The spokesman said that the activity of public taxis in green color is one of the activities regulated by the authority, as it is a vital sector that meets the needs of a large segment of the society as well as serving tourists.

The authority has set a number of technical requirements and equipment that are required in taxi vehicles, such as electronic payment, electronic screens, fare meter, apart from free Internet service in taxis inside airports, he added.


Validity of visit visas of people from countries facing travel ban extended till Sept. 30

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the validity of visit visas of those people from countries facing travel ban will be extended until Sept. 30.

The extension of visa will be made automatically without charging any fees, the ministry said in a statement on its Twitter account. The extension of the visa can be done through the following link: https://enjazit.com.sa/enjaz/extendexpiredvisa

The ministry clarified that the beneficiaries of this will be holders of visit visas of which the validity had been expired during the period of suspension of direct entry to Saudi Arabia from these countries following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the statement, this move is part of the continuous efforts undertaken by the Saudi government in tackling the effects and consequences of COVID-19, as well as in mitigating its economic and financial effects.

Last month, the General Directorate of Passports (Jawazat) had started extending the validity of iqama (residency permit) and exit and re-entry visas of expatriates, who are outside the Kingdom, as well as the validity of visit visas automatically without fees until Aug. 31. This extension, which is in implementation of the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, was applicable only to expatriates and foreigners from countries facing travel ban at present. At that time, Jawazat had clarified that the extension is not applicable to holders of multiple entry visit visas.

People of these countries, who are holding labor and visit visas, will not be allowed to enter the Kingdom unless they spend two weeks in a third country after their departure from these countries.

Currently, the countries facing the travel ban are India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Lebanon.


Saudi students back to school with a difference

JEDDAH: Saudi students kept away from the classroom for more than 18 months due to the global pandemic are looking forward to heading back to school in a new post-COVID-19 setting.

On March 8, 2020, the Kingdom's Ministry of Education suspended school attendance to help combat the spread of the coronavirus. Students immediately switched to online classes - a new experience that had a profound impact on the way many approached their studies, with some struggling to adapt to the dramatic change.

Only university students were able to benefit from face-to-face teaching and allowed to take their final exams amid strict health measures to curb the spread of the virus.

But with the pandemic easing, high school and middle school students are heading back to school on Aug. 29, book bags and lunch boxes in tow - and with masks and packets of sanitizers as new additions to their school requirements.

For many, excited to see their classmates and teachers in person again, the resumption of normal school life will be a relief.

But the return to the classroom comes with a price: Only students who have received both vaccine doses or recovered from a COVID-19 infection and received one jab can go back to school.

Students in elementary and preschool will not be allowed to return until herd immunity of 70 percent has been acquired through completion of doses or full immunization.

The health ministry has taken steps to ensure protection of students' health is a top priority, while also safeguarding educational advancement.

With "No child left behind" as the ministry's unofficial motto, authorities have worked together to make it easier for parents to register their children for the COVID-19 vaccine, and for school administrators to track and view data, including health, vaccination and infection status for students and staff, through the Tawakkalna app.

The app's "we are learning with caution" section shows details such as the number of students and staff who have come into contact with infected individuals, the number of infected people and the number of those immunized.

Arab News spoke to several students who shared their excitement at going back to school and their struggles with distance learning.

Nad Saud Al-Quwaidi, 17, said that during the three semesters away from the classroom "information was not delivered sometimes and it was difficult to understand certain things from a distance. The Internet or sound would cut off sometimes, too."

She added: "I miss school and my friends, and I'm excited to be going back to see my teachers. I even miss the school routine. I like to get up early, put on my school uniform, and prepare my bag and breakfast. But with distance education, I used to get lazy and was late sometimes."

Dana Nadeem, a 14-year-old middle schooler, said that it will be "a strange experience" to go back to school life after 18 months away.

"I missed it a bit, but not as much as I expected. It's a weird feeling going back. I'm trying to remember how life was before the pandemic, and I am looking forward to seeing my teachers and classmates again," she said

"I did miss preparing my bag the night before and reviewing my schedule, but I can't say the same about wearing the uniform."

Mohsin Ghazi, 13, said that homework, group tasks and communication were a struggle while away from school.

"At first it was hard sending the homework and communicating with my teacher from a distance. Teamwork was also challenging, especially communicating with my class team-mates," he said.

Ghazi said that he missed his social life at school the most. "I missed hanging out with my friends during break time."

His older sister Maha said that it is important to have an environment for learning as it reduces distractions.

"Not being in school was slightly distracting. I could understand online lessons, but it was easier when we had face-to-face meetings with peers and teachers," she said.

Face-to-face interactions help with learning and the social aspect plays an important role in education, she added.

"Human interaction is a part of the education process," she said. "Returning to school with new rules due to COVID-19 restrictions won't be easy; I don't think school will go back to normal due to social distancing."

She added: "One thing I'm sure of is that I did not miss waking at 6 a.m. every morning."

Maha understands that social distancing and masks will be mandatory. "However, during break time, I assume a handful of students will be sitting in groups if they have the chance. Surely for every five people, sanitizers will be our sixth groupie."


Riyadh property rental start-up Mabaat raises $2.4m to fuel expansion

Mabaat, a Riyadh-based marketplace for short-term rentals, has raised 9 million Saudi riyals ($2.4m) to expand operations, hire new talent and broaden its reach across the region.

The funding round was led by Riyadh-based venture capital fund Derayah Ventures. Early-stage investment specialist Seedra Ventures was also part of the financing deal.

The latest financing will help the company achieve its vision of "disrupting the alternative accommodation market" across the kingdom, Talal Al Sorayai, founder and chief executive of Mabaat, said.

"Mabaat's innovative platform is unique as it offers property partners higher occupancy levels at attractive rates," Mr Al Sorayai said.

Start-ups in the Middle East and North Africa secured $659m in funding in the first half of the year, an annual increase of 35 per cent, according to data platform Magnitt. In Saudi Arabia, the Arab world's biggest economy, start-ups raised $168m in venture capital funding from 54 transactions in the first half of 2021, about 94 per cent of the amount extended to them in 2020, according to Magnitt.

Mabaat said it will use part of the new funds on marketing and boosting its brand awareness to property owners and guests. The campaign will target regional travellers seeking short-term rental solutions as it looks to build its platform to better connect guests with the suitable properties.

Founded in October 2019, Mabaat on boards properties and manages them on behalf of owners. Its offerings include mid-to-high-end private homes and compounds spread throughout the key regions in the kingdom.

The company is hiring new talent as its expands its operations over the coming months, the company said.

The tourism sector in Saudi Arabia is growing rapidly as the government and the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund spend billions of dollars on entertainment and hospitality. The sector is among the key planks of the Saudi Vision 2030 initiative that seeks to diversify the kingdom's economy and reduce its reliance on oil. The kingdom wants to grow tourism revenue to about 11.5 per cent of its gross domestic product by 2029.

"In order to realise this [goal], one of the new models considered is short-term rentals that capitalise on existing and hardly-utilised capacities," Faris Al Rashed, head of Derayah Ventures, said.

Mabaat said its platform provides an increased level of transparency and efficiency to both property owners and guests through real-time information on booking, payment, sterilisation and property maintenance updates.


Abu Dhabi updates protocol for home quarantine and those arriving from abroad

Abu Dhabi has issued a series of new Covid-19 guidelines effective from Sunday, August 15, the Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee announced.

In terms of home quarantine for those who have come in contact with a Covid-19 positive case, vaccinated individuals will need to quarantine for seven days and take a PCR test on day 6. If the PCR test result is negative, they can remove the wristband and end quarantine on day 7.

Those who are not vaccinated must quarantine for 10 days and take a PCR test on day 9. If the PCR test result is negative, they can remove the wristband and end quarantine on day 10.

Those registered in the home quarantine programme can conduct a free walk-in PCR test and remove the wristband at SEHA Prime Assessment centres located in Zayed Port (Abu Dhabi City), Al Ain Convention Center, and Madinat Zayed in Al Dhafra, as well as all SEHA hospitals in Al Dhafra.

Arrivals from abroad

The Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee also updated travel procedures for UAE citizens and residents as well as visitors entering Abu Dhabi from abroad.

Vaccinated travellers arriving into Abu Dhabi from green list destinations must take a PCR test on arrival without the need to quarantine, and take a PCR test on day 6.

When arriving from other destinations, they must take a PCR test on arrival, quarantine for seven days and take a PCR test on day 6.

The protocol applies to fully vaccinated UAE citizens and residents as well as visitors who have documented their inoculation on the Alhosn app.

Unvaccinated citizens, residents and visitors arriving into Abu Dhabi from green list destinations must take a PCR test on arrival without the need to quarantine, and take PCR tests on days 6 and 9.

When arriving from other destinations, they must take a PCR test on arrival, quarantine for 10 days and take another PCR test on day 9.

Abu Dhabi last updated its green list of destinations on July 31 to include 31 countries.

A total of seven countries were added to the list since the previous update, including: Bahrain, Brunei, Bulgaria, Maldives, Poland, Serbia and Ukraine.


The world's first Warner Bros. hotel to open in Abu Dhabi this year

Abu Dhabi real estate development company Miral along with Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment announced this week that the construction on the WB Abu Dhabi hotel is now 90 per cent complete.

Being developed with a total investment of $112m and located on Yas Island, the hotel is on track to open in 2021 itself.

It is the first Warner Bros. themed hotel and will be operated and managed by Hilton under its Curio Collection by Hilton brand.

"We are proud of our long-term partnership with Warner Bros. that has resulted in two world-firsts here on Yas Island. The WB Abu Dhabi represents a great addition to Yas Island's hospitality offerings and attractions, strengthening our commitment to position the Island as a top global destination for leisure, entertainment, and business," said Mohamed Abdalla Al Zaabi, CEO of Miral.

Located adjacent to the Warner Bros. World theme park, the WB Abu Dhabi hotel will feature 257 rooms over eight levels, with its dcor celebrating Warner Bros.' film and television library.

The property's will include signature WB themed restaurants, a premier spa and fitness club, and a shaded rooftop pool.

It will provide families with a range of leisure amenities, including a child-friendly pool as well as indoor and outdoor Kid's Club options.

The WB Abu Dhabi will incorporate a broad range of facilities for business and leisure guests alike, including a large ballroom, a range of high quality and adaptable meeting rooms, and a fully equipped eforea spa and health club.

"We are excited to be working together to bring this unique, 'world first' offering to this already exciting multi-purpose entertainment destination, Yas Island, perfect for leisure and entertainment travellers," said Matthew Mullan, cluster general manager, Hilton Yas Island.

The hotel is within walking distance from the Yas Waterworld and in close proximity to other Yas Island's other attractions including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and CLYMB Abu Dhabi.

"The WB Abu Dhabi will be an amazing complement to the adjacent Warner Bros. World theme park. The hotel will be a first-rate family destination inspired by the iconic WB library of film and television shows. Guests will be able to participate in all the thrills and excitement of the theme park then step inside the hotel for an experience fit for a Hollywood star," said Peter van Roden, SVP Warner Bros Themed Entertainment.

The $1bn 1.65 million square feet Warner Bros theme park, the world's first-ever Warner Bros. branded indoor theme park, opened on Yas Island in July 2018


Abu Dhabi: Green pass must for tourists and residents to enter public places; operating capacities at commercial establishments revised

Reiterating a decision announced in June, officials in Abu Dhabi confirmed that the green pass on the Alhosn app will become mandatory for all tourists and residents in Abu Dhabi to enter most public places starting Friday, August 20.

The Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee said on Saturday that it had approved the use of the pass, that will allow entry to these public places only for those vaccinated individuals with a green status on Alhosn app.

The public places where entry will be restricted include shopping centres, restaurants, cafes, and all other retail outlets, including those not within a shopping centre, as well as gyms, recreational facilities and sporting activities, health clubs, resorts, museums, cultural centres and theme parks. The list also includes universities, institutes, public and private schools and children's nurseries in the emirate.

For those who have been vaccinated, the green status appears after a negative PCR test result and remains green for 30 days.

For those exempted from vaccinations, a green status will appear on the Alhosn app after a negative PCR test result and will remains green for seven days.

Children under 16 years will have a green pass on the Alhosn app without having to undergo PCR tests. Unvaccinated individuals and those with grey status on Alhosn app, which reflects an expired PCR test, are prohibited from entering these public places.

The committee also announced those with a new residency permit have a grace period of 60 days to get vaccinated and secure the green pass.

To maintain the vaccinated status on the Alhosn app, a booster dose must be taken six months after receiving the second Covid-19 vaccination dose. A grace period of 30 days is given to all those who have taken their second dose more than six months ago, before their status will turn grey on September 20. Participants in vaccine trials are exempt from needing a booster dose.

Process for tourists to verify international Covid-19 certificates

Since the green pass is also mandatory for international tourists in the emirate to enter public places, the committee has announced the process for verifying their international vaccination certificates.

Before departure, the foreign tourists must register in the 'Register Arrivals' section of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) app, complete the form and upload an international vaccination certificate. Visitors will then receive an SMS including a link to download the Alhosn app.

On arrival in Abu Dhabi, they will receive a Unified Identification Number (UID) either at the airport or via the ICA app or website. They will need to download and register on the Alhosn app, using the UID and phone number used for ICA registration or when taking a PCR test in the UAE.


Dubai increases capacity at hotels, restaurants and cinemas, eases timings for events

Authorities in Dubai have increased the operational capacity at hotels, restaurants and cafes, cinemas as well as business and entertainment events.

Hotels and business events can operate at full capacity effective from Thursday, August 12, local media reports cited a circular issued by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) as saying.

Restaurants, cafes, clubs and bars are also now permitted to operate at 80 per cent capacity, with physical distancing between tables reduced from two to 1.5 metres. Restaurants are also allowed to seat tables of up to 10 people - although bigger tables (5 to 10 diners) should not be placed next to each other.

They can also return to pre-Covid business hours, and can stay open until 3am - while complying with permits and guidelines issued by the department.

Meanwhile the operational capacity at cinemas, recreational facilities, exhibitions and museums has also been increased to 80 per cent.


Event capacity for sports and entertainment has been increased to 60 per cent, with no cap on the maximum number of participants. Covid-19 vaccination is not mandatory.

Concerts held outdoors are now permitted to allow free movement, but will be limited to vaccinated participants with a maximum capacity of 5,000 guests.

While performers from the UAE will need to be vaccinated, those from outside who are not vaccinated must have a negative PCR test result taken within 24 hours of the event.

Meanwhile indoor community events can permit up to 2,500 attendees guests, while outdoor ones can host 5,000 people.

Meanwhile award ceremonies can have up to 1,000 guests, with vaccination not mandatory for guests.

DTCM urged all event organisers and the public to adhere to all the Covid-19 guidelines in place.


SeaWorld Abu Dhabi to feature world's largest aquarium

Miral, Abu Dhabi's leading curator of magnetic experiences, in partnership with SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, has announced significant progress on the construction of the next generation of marine life theme parks and Yas Island's latest mega-development.

SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, which is set to feature the world's largest aquarium and the new Yas SeaWorld Research and Rescue Center, is currently 64 per cent complete.

On track for completion in 2022, recent constructions include the completion of the primary steel erection and near finalisation of the envelope enclosure of the marine life park.

Additionally, the structure's faade is currently in progress, as well as over 70% of the acrylic panels installed across the park.

Miral CEO Mohamed Abdalla Al Zaabi said: "We are delighted to be partnering SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment in developing this next generation marine life park, that is set to feature the world's largest aquarium and the UAE's first dedicated research center to study and care for animals."

SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, once complete, is set to be home to the world's largest aquarium, containing 25 million litres of water and housing more than 68,000 marine animals, including sharks, schools of fish, manta rays and sea turtles.

A focal view of the aquarium will present visitors with the 'Endless Vista', a 20-m-tall vertical window across multiple levels revealing aquatic scenes.

SeaWorld CEO Marc Swanson said: "SeaWorld Abu Dhabi joins our North American parks in our mission and commitment to conservation efforts worldwide.

"We have hundreds of professionals focused on animal care, rescue and rehabilitation, conservation education, habitat protection, and species research and we are excited to see the Yas SeaWorld Research and Rescue Center expand SeaWorld's global impact with the marine life conservation efforts in the region."

Building off SeaWorld's research and rescue expertise, the Yas SeaWorld Research and Rescue Center will act as an advanced knowledge hub focusing on indigenous Gulf and marine life ecosystems.

The facility will be located adjacent to the aquarium and theme park, and will be the first dedicated marine research, rescue, rehabilitation and return centre in the UAE. It will integrate with SeaWorld's efforts related to research, rescue, conservation, and education.

Accessible to visitors by reservation, the Research and Rescue Center will also demonstrate the work from resident scientists and researchers, enriching guests' knowledge of aquatic animals, and offering tailored educational learning programmes for local and international schools and touring groups.

Spanning a floor area of 183,000 sq m across five indoor levels, SeaWorld Abu Dhabi's design leverages SeaWorld's more than 55 years of experience in marine research, conservation, and animal welfare.- TradeArabia News Service


Entry to public places in Abu Dhabi only for vaccinated

Citizens, residents and tourists with Covid-19 vaccinated status and green status on the Alhosn app, which appears after a negative PCR test result and remains for 30 days, will be allowed entry to public places in Abu Dhabi from August 20.

This was announced by the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee, which also stated that entry is also allowed for those exempted from vaccination with green status on Alhosn app, which appears after a negative PCR test result and remains for seven days.

Children under 16 years, whose status will appear as green on Alhosn app without the requirement of a test, will also be allowed entry, WAM reported.

Unvaccinated individuals and those with grey status on Alhosn app, which reflects an expired PCR test, are prohibited from entering public places.

The committee also announced that those with a new residency permit have a grace period of 60 days to be vaccinated.

The process also applies to visitors and tourists, who should also adhere to the international travel protocol.

The committee explained that to maintain the vaccinated status, a booster dose must be taken six months after receiving the second dose as per the medical protocol for each vaccine.

A grace period of 30 days is given to all those who have taken their second dose more than six months ago, before their status will turn grey on September 20. Participants in vaccine trials are exempt from needing a booster dose.

The public places are shopping centres, restaurants, cafes, and all other retail outlets, including those not within a shopping centre, as well as gyms, recreational facilities and sporting activities, health clubs, resorts, museums, cultural centres and theme parks.

The list also includes universities, institutes, public and private schools and children's nurseries in the emirate.

The committee stressed the importance of committing to precautionary measures as well as choosing to vaccinate as it is the most effective method for sustainable recovery.


UAE: Schools told to train alternative teaching staff for Covid emergencies

The Ministry of Education (MoE) has advised schools to train in advance alternative teaching staff who will stand in for teachers who might be quarantined after testing positive for Covid-19 or had contact with patients.

The move is to ensure continuity of in-class lessons when schools open in September.

The ministry also asked the institutions to develop a concept for all subjects and how to teach students especially in schools that opt for the hybrid learning model (in-class learning for two days and three for e-learning).

It said students will be required to physically attend exams at schools.

The MoE urged firms providing transportation services to adhere to the approved capacity in school buses and to register students' names on daily lists, ensuring bus drivers and supervisors follow health and safety measures including wearing masks and maintaining physical distance in buses.

It also highlighted the need to educate their staff about the importance of adhering to safety measures including maintaining social distance and sterilising the buses before and after every trip to control the spread of Covid-19.

Reporting Covid cases

It also specified regulations to track contact cases and report health problems associated with the Coronavirus. If a student or a staff has been infected with Covid-19, the school should check the attendance data to find out those who were in close contact with the infected person during the previous two days starting from the date of collecting the swab sample.

Students who were in close contact with the infected person will be sent home and told to follow the quarantine rules. They should be advised on the possible Covid symptoms and the importance of adhering to the necessary health procedures.

The school must inform the concerned health authorities about cases of Covid infection and the number of people who are likely to be exposed to the virus. The infected student or school staff will have to show proof of treatment and the completion of the imposed quarantine requirements to be allowed back to the campus.


UAE flights: Some travellers who took Covid vaccines abroad get ICA, GDRFA approval

Etihad Airways has also said that Indian nationals with a visa or residence permit issued by the US, UK or an EU member state can visit Abu Dhabi.

Some travellers with Covid-19 vaccination certificates from restricted countries are receiving pre-travel approvals from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) and General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) to fly to the UAE, Khaleej Times has learnt.

Last week, leading UAE and foreign carriers confirmed residence visa holders from restricted countries, including India and Pakistan, can travel into the country as long as they have approval from the ICA and GDRFA, in addition to negative Covid-19 test results.

Since then, scores of travellers, including those from India and Pakistan, who did not receive their vaccination doses in the UAE, have also been able to fly into the Emirates upon receiving pre-travel nods.

Dubai resident Muzaffar Ahmed (name changed on request) had gone to India on his annual leave on April 2. "I was supposed to return after a month-and-a-half-long holiday. I lost three months' pay during the time I was stuck in Lucknow."

Ahmed took the Covishield vaccine during his time in India, due to which, he was able to return as soon as travel restrictions were lifted.

He finally returned to his home in Dubai on Tuesday, August 17. "I applied for the GDRFA approval and got it within 45 to 50 minutes. I flew into Dubai from Lucknow International Airport and I was on the first flight from the city to Dubai after the airport launched an on-site rapid PCR testing facility," he explained.

'PCR test valid from time of sample collection'

Ahmed reached the Lucknow airport at 11.30am, even though his Indigo Airlines flight was set to depart to Dubai only at 5pm. He offered a word of caution to passengers wishing to travel.

"A few travellers were not allowed to board the flight as their pre-travel PCR test was considered invalid. The 48-hour RT-PCR test result is calculated from the time of sample collection and not from the time of receiving the test result. In one instance, a passenger couldn't board the flight because his test report overshot the stipulated time by three hours," he pointed out.

Ahmed also said the entire trip was an expensive affair. "The ticket cost me Rs21,500 (approx. Dh1,035). I booked it through a travel agent. The 48-hour RT-PCR test cost me Rs 1,200 (approx Dh60) and the on-site rapid test Rs 3,500 (approx. Dh170)," he said.

Praveen Nair, a traveller from Mumbai to Dubai, said: "I got the GRDFA approval in 48 hours. After arriving in Dubai, I had to undergo a second PCR test at the airport. Authorities placed a sticker on my passport and I got my test result in 24 hours."

Stephy Joseph, another Indian expatriate who took the Covishield jab, said: "I got the approval in 36 hours. I also spoke to the check-in counter officials and explained that mine was a humanitarian case as I'd been separated from my kids and husband since March this year."

'Travel processes for Abu Dhabi residents vaccinated abroad'

Travel agents have said the process for travellers arriving in Dubai is pretty straightforward.

Raheesh Babu, the group COO of Musafir.com, said: "In Dubai, passengers who have taken their vaccinations abroad have been able to return; the process is seamless. Passengers need GDRFA approval and should have their residency visas stamped on their passports. In rare cases, entry permit holders are being allowed to travel in case they fall into the humanitarian exemptions category."

On Saturday, the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee announced the process for verifying international vaccination certificates for visitors to Abu Dhabi emirate, starting August 20. However, it is not yet immediately clear if stranded Abu Dhabi residents wishing to return have been able to avail the services yet.

However, on Wednesday, Etihad Airways said that Indian nationals with a visa or residence permit issued by the US, UK or an EU member state can visit Abu Dhabi. "ICA approval is not required. Vaccination is not a condition of entry but you will need to show your testing status to enter public places," the airline stated.


Kuwait: Fully vaccinated expats can return from Aug 1, need to undergo home quarantine

Kuwait has confirmed that fully-vaccinated expats holding valid residency documents (iqamas) will be allowed to return to country from August 1.

However, they need to have received one of the four approved vaccines in Kuwait including Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said.

Also, travellers will only be allowed to board the plane if at least 14 days have lapsed since they have taken the second dose.

The DGCA also said all those planning to travel to Kuwait must also have a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours of travel time.

Expats and Kuwaitis who have been vaccinated in Kuwait should complete registration on the Shlonik application and Kuwait Mosafer platform.

Kuwaiti residents who have been inoculated outside Kuwait are required to authorise their vaccination certificate by uploading it to the health ministry website. The vaccination must be verified electronically before boarding the plane - no paper documents will be accepted, officials said.

They will also be required to register on the Shlonik app and Kuwait Mosafer platform.

Meanwhile, all those landing in Kuwait - including residents and citizens - will have to quarantine at home for seven days from the day of arrival.

In case they want to end the quarantine early, they can undergo a PCR test on the third day. If the result is negative, they can end the quarantine.

Unvaccinated Kuwaitis (and those who have received vaccines not approved in the country) and those who have the red or yellow color mark on their Immune/Kuwait Mobile ID apps must first complete registration with the Shlonik app and Kuwait Mosafer platform. They will have to pay the cost for two PCR tests and take the first upon arrival in Kuwait and the second on the sixth day of institutional quarantine. They must also pay the cost of the seven-day quarantine at a local authorised hotel.

If the result of the second PCR test is negative, they will complete the seventh day of quarantine at the hotel followed by seven days at home.

Members of the foreign diplomatic corps in Kuwait, their first-degree relatives (spouses and children) and their domestic helpers are exempt from institutional quarantine, provided they produce their official IDs.

Medical staff, their spouses and children and their domestic helpers are also exempt from institutional quarantine provided their produce documents proving their profession.

Authorities also confirmed that only Kuwaiti citizens who have been fully vaccinated will be allowed to travel out of the country from August 1.


Kuwait considers reducing visa fee for residents aged over 60

Kuwaiti officials are mulling the possibility of reducing the visa renewal fees for residents aged over 60 who do not hold university degrees, local media reported.

In January, the country banned the issuance of work permit renewals for expatriates aged 60 who do not hold university degrees.

Last month, it was reported that the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) approved plans to allow the renewal of work permits for such expatriates for a fee of KD2,000.

However, several officials have since said that the amount should be reduced to make it more affordable for those who fit in the category.

The cabinet is currently supporting a decision to cut the annual fee by 50 per cent to reach KD1,000 per individual, local daily Kuwait Times cited government sources as saying.

The amount will include the state's fee - expected to be roughly KD500, with roughly the same amount for health insurance- which will cover treatment at private hospitals, the report added.

The new policy was implemented after Kuwait's government proposed a new plan to 'rebalance' its population last year.

The plan could see as many as 360,000 expatriates deported in the "short-term" including 120,000 illegal workers, 150,000 expats aged over 60 as well as 90,000 'poorly-educated labourers', according to media reports.

Longer-term, the plan proposes replacing tens of thousands of expat workers with locals, by adopting technology and tightening the recruitment regulations, officials said.


Kuwait schools to reopen for on-campus learning in late September

Public, Private and international schools in Kuwait will reopen for on-campus learning in late September and early October, amidst strict health precautions by the authorities, announced Ali Al-Mudhaf, Education Minister in Kuwait.

All foreign-language schools will reopen on September 26th for on-campus classes, while public and private Arabic schools will reopen on 3rd October, the minister said.

The maximum capacity per classroom has been fixed for 20 students per class, and the students will be seated two metres apart. A strict mask mandate would be enforced for students.

Meanwhile, foreign schools can conduct online classes until 26th September, and thereafter the students will attend on-campus classes.

For public and private Arabic schools, the classes would be divided into two groups. The first group will go to school on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, while the second group will visit on Monday and Wednesday.

In the following week, groups will swap attendance, with second group going on Tuesday, Sunday and Thursday, and the first on Monday and Tuesday. The groups will continue alternate on-campus attendance, the minister said.

The duration of each period has been extended to an hour from 45 minutes to allow teachers to compensate for loss in education due to closure of schools last year owing to the pandemic.

Mudhaf also said that majority of teachers and students have been vaccinated, and those who decided not to get vaccinated will have to go through PCR test every week on Sunday.

Further, students are prohibited from gathering in any form, and all group activities are banned, he emphasized.


Bahrain adds Georgia, Ukraine and Malawi to travel red list

Bahrain will add three countries - Georgia, Ukraine and Malawi - to its travel red list starting Thursday, August 12.

Passengers from red list countries, including those who have transited through these countries in the preceding 14 days, are prohibited from entering the kingdom, with the exception of citizens or residents of Bahrain.

Those who are eligible for entry from these countries must present a negative PCR test result, with a QR code, administered within 48 hours of their departure for the kingdom.

Further testing is required upon arrival and on the 10th day of their mandatory quarantine. The payment for the testing may be made on arrival or through the 'BeAware Bahrain' app.

Quarantine centres licensed by the National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) have been made available for passengers who do not have a permanent address in Bahrain.

Those with a permanent address in Bahrain registered in their name or the name of an immediate family member may complete their 10-day mandatory quarantine at that address. Passengers aged six and below are exempt from these requirements.

Bahrain's Civil Aviation Affairs said that the decision to add the three countries was made in line with directives issued by the Government Executive Committee in response to recommendations made by the National Medical Taskforce for Combatting the Coronavirus (Covid-19), reported Bahrain News Agency.

The full list of Bahrain's red list countries include:

  • People's Republic of Bangladesh

  • Republic of India

  • Islamic Republic of Pakistan

  • Islamic Republic of Iran

  • Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

  • The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal

  • Republic of Indonesia

  • Socialist Republic of Vietnam

  • Republic of the Philippines

  • Federation of Malaysia

  • Republic of Iraq

  • Republic of Tunisia

  • Georgia

  • Mongolia

  • United Mexican States

  • Dominican Republic

  • Republic of the Union of Myanmar

  • Republic of Panama

  • Republic of South Africa

  • Republic of Malawi

  • Republic of Namibia

  • Republic of Uganda

  • Republic of Zimbabwe

  • Republic of Mozambique

  • Ukraine


Bahrain's iconic Water Garden work nearing completion

More than 95 per cent of the renovation work has been completed on the Water Garden development project spread over a six hectare area in the capital Manama. The work has been fully completed on the service buildings and parking lots.

On completion of the development works, Manama's iconic Water Garden will feature a botanical garden, two lakes, family spaces, children's play areas, a wooden bridge, a sports area, and a number of green spaces.

Works, Municipal Affairs and Urban Planning Minister Issam bin Abdullah Khalaf said 98% of the landscaping work has been completed.

"The development project aims to preserve its historical heritage, renovate the park and preserving the ponds," he stated.

Work has already been completed on 239-unit parking lots. Of this, an entire section will be dedicated to only people of determination, said the minister.

Construction of the service buildings in the park too have been completed, he added.

The Water Garden is being redesigned to preserve a number of elements, including keeping and replanting 559 trees in total, of which 383 are palm trees and 176 are of other types.- TradeArabia News Service


Oman to lift evening lockdown on August 21 as Covid cases decline

Oman will end its coronavirus lockdown on Saturday as cases of the deadly virus have started to decline.

Lockdown hours were reduced at the start of August to 10pm to 4am, having been set at 5pm to 4am originally.

From Saturday, all night-time lockdown measures will be lifted and people will be allowed to move around the country, Oman's Supreme Committee on Covid-19 said on Thursday.

The first person died of Covid-19 in Oman on April 1, 2020. Since then more than 4,000 people have died and there have been more than 300,000 cases.

The sultanate has been in and out of lockdown since April 10 last year.

New cases have been declining since the peak of Oman's third wave in June, from 2,529 cases a day to 173 on Wednesday.

The committee said people who were not vaccinated would be banned from entering indoor public places such as restaurants, malls, shops and offices from September 1.

Some have criticised the decision, claiming it is a breach of their civil rights.

"It is outrageous. They are forcing us to vaccinate when we don't want to do it," Omani mother of two Jamila Al Jardani, 36, told The National.

"This is against our civil liberty and it was really shocking to read in the news of the new decision.

"Whether to vaccinate or not must remain our private decision and we should not be denied to go wherever we please just because we don't want a vaccination."

Businesspeople also objected to the decision, saying it would restrict their trade.

"Less than half of the population is vaccinated," said Ahmed Haider, the Indian owner of a restaurant in Seeb, Muscat.

"That means half of all of customers will not be able to do shopping or eat outside and that will reduce our income."

Oman said this week that about 2.1 million of its 4.5 million population have had at least one vaccine dose.

Others welcomed the decision, saying it was about time the government made a firm decision about vaccination.

"I congratulate the government for making this decision," British resident Jane Howard, 42, told The National.

"We are mingling with people in malls and restaurants and half of them probably did not vaccinate and they go on coughing all over the place to infect others.

"This decision will make a lot of people feel secure knowing that it is safer to be out there."

The committee also changed entry requirements for the sultanate. From September 1, all entrants over 18 must have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine approved in Oman, which are those produced by Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Sinovac, and the Russian-made Sputnik V.

Visitors and residents will also have to produce a PCR test result and undertake another at their point of entry.

The sultanate's Ministry of Education also ordered all pupils to go back to school in the new academic year, which is expected to start in September.

This month, Oman started a campaign to vaccinate all schoolchildren from the age of 12.

"The vaccination of schoolchildren will continue in campuses to make sure all students will be vaccinated while they are attending classes, the committee responsible for Covid-19 said on Thursday.

Parents were happy with the decision, saying online classes were not really working.

"My children had difficulty, especially my 7-year-old son, attending classes at home," said Omani civil servant Aisha Al Faraj, 39.

"They could not follow up what the teachers were saying and sometimes there would be disruption with the internet, too. I am happy that they are now going back to physical classes."


Qatar reopens to fully vaccinated international travellers with no quarantine

Qatar has reopened its borders to international travellers who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, without the need for quarantine.

However, the decision will only cover travellers fully inoculated with vaccines approved by Qatar including Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-Astrazeneca (including Covishield), Johnson & Johnson and Sinopharm.

Also, atleast 14 days must have passed since the completion of the vaccination programme, an official statement said.

Travellers vaccinated with Sinopharm will also need to pre-book a quarantine hotel if they are coming from a yellow or red list country, and they will be subject to an antibody test on arrival in the hotel. If the antibody test result is positive with antibodies, they will be discharged on day 1 (if coming from yellow), or once the on-hotel-arrival PCR test result is negative for travellers coming from a red list country.

All international visitors, citizens and residents must also register and upload required documentation such as a vaccination certificate, valid PCR test up to 72 hours prior to travel, and personal details onto the 'Ehteraz' website.

They have to apply for the authorisation through the Ehteraz website at least 12 hours before their planned departure to Qatar.

Airlines will only be permitted to let passengers who have a valid travel authorisation for Qatar board.

While travellers from 80 nationalities can visit Qatar with a free visa on arrival, those requiring a visitor visa must first obtain a visitor visa and then apply for their travel authorisation on the Ehteraz website.

Visitors will require a confirmed hotel booking to visit Qatar.

Upon arrival, all travellers are required to download and activate the Ehteraz mobile app which requires a domestic Qatari SIM card.

A SIM card can be purchased from either Ooredoo or Vodafone on arrival at Hamad International Airport.

"Travellers are advised to check the entry requirements of the country they are travelling from and will return to from Qatar, before booking any flights and should understand that those policies can change with very little notice," the statement added.

Qatar is looking to slowly boost tourism as it prepares to host the FIFA World Cup next year.


Walk and chill: Two air-conditioned parks to open in Qatar

Qatar is set to snatch yet another world-first by opening its first ever parks with fully air-conditioned tracks, Head of Public Projects Department at the Public Works Authority [Ashghal] Abdul Hakim Al Hashemi revealed.

In an interview with Al Rayyan TV, the official said that Ashghal, in in cooperation with the environment ministry, is currently working on three new parks: Al Gharafa, Umm Al Saneem, and Rawdat Al Khail park.

Two of the parks will contain air-conditioned tracks for recreational activities such as walking, exercising and cycling - becoming the first ever parks with such technology.

This will allow the community to stay active and enjoy the beautiful greenery without worrying about the country's harsh summer weather.

"The project was implemented after conducting several studies since 2009. The idea was initially inspired by Qatar's 2022 World Cup air-conditioned stadiums, and then later moved to the Katara street. We took all the studies and created this new system [the air-conditioned parks project]," said the official to Al Rayyan TV.

Umm Al Saneem, which is set to open up for the public first, will stretch over 130,000 square metres and will have a green coverage rate of up to 70%.

But that's not all. The first-of-its-kind park will also have 1,150 metres of air-conditioned tracks for the public to enjoy.

The second conditioned park, Al Gharafa, will cover over 51,000 square metres with the same 70% green coverage rate. Its strategic location will make it a perfect choice for many, including students, to enjoy a fresh walk during the day.

The third and second biggest park in the project will cover around 140,000 square metres, Al Hashemi stated.

Al Muntaza Park, located in Rawdat Al Khail area on C Ring Road, will have a 105,000 square metre green arena, pedestrian and bicycle paths along 1,300 meters, and more than 300 parking slots for visitors.

Playgrounds for children's sports and activities will also be available at all parks, with certain areas designated for kids aged two to four and six to 12 years old.

The project aims to encourage physical activity and sports by placing several sports equipment in two different areas in each park, with the new technology aiming to advocate for healthy lifestyles throughout the year.


Tunisia: Curfew to Start At Midnight As of Thursday

Tunis/Tunisia - The nightly curfew will be shortened as of Thursday, August 19, the Presidency of the Republic said on Wednesday. It will start at midnight rather than 10pm.

"The curfew will run from midnight to 5 am starting August 19 until further notice," said the Presidency. The following measures were also announced:

- Family, private and public events in enclosed spaces are banned.

- Fully vaccinated people are allowed to attend family, public and private gatherings in open spaces while abiding by health guidelines.

- Cafes and restaurants, all categories included, will have to remove chairs and stop serving customers on site as of 10 pm.

- Passengers arriving by air, sea or land must present at check-in a negative PCR test not exceeding three days. They must also go into a 10-day mandatory quarantine. Fully vaccinated people will be exempt from these measures by presenting vaccination certificates.

- Competent authorities are urged to to strengthen the enforcement and control of the health protocol as well as individual and collective preventive measures in all sectors, public and private spaces, supermarkets and public transport.

- Civil and military health authorities are urged to intensify and speed up vaccination campaigns and testing.


Morocco, One of Pillars of Renault's Strategic Plan

Casablanca - Morocco is one of the pillars of Renault Group's strategic plan, which directs the group's activity towards more value creation, said Wednesday, Renault Group director general Luca From Meo.

"The Kingdom, a country with high potential, is today in the top 5 of Renault's industrial countries and in the top 15 of the group's worldwide sales", said De Meo who was speaking at the "Rendez-vous de l'industrie automobile", an event held in hybrid mode under the theme" Debate meeting of public-private players in the automotive industry".

He also noted that "the group is proud to be a key contributor in the development of the Moroccan car industry and to have been able to seize this opportunity", adding that beyond the fact that Renault is the second largest company in the Kingdom in terms of turnover, it relies on its 11,000 employees who have made this industry "a true Success Story".

At the same time, De Meo said that the group has signed ambitious agreements which are able to give new impetus to the Renault-Morocco partnership. "We are targeting, by 2025, 2.5 billion euros of turnover in local sourcing and eventually reaching 3 billion euros and 80% integration," he said.

He said that the group is already aligned with its objectives, since it exceeded at the beginning of 2021 the mark of 60% of the integration rate, adding in this sense that the group is preparing for the industrialization of new vehicles for the brands of Renault and Dacia in the two Moroccan sites of the group and will unveil the first Dacia Sandero manufactured in Somaca.


International Real Estate Group Ascott Limited Expands to Morocco

The group announced it had acquired two new properties in Casablanca, as part of its African portfolio.

Denver - Singapore-based real estate company Ascott Limited announced its entrance into the Moroccan market, further solidifying its presence on the African continent.

The company's announced venture in Morocco is part of its Middle East, Africa, and Turkey (MEAT) portfolio. Both of the company's newly acquired high end apartment properties, the Citadines Racine and Citadines Connect Belvedere, are located in Casablanca. The group reports that the new apartments will add nearly 200 individual apartment units to the group's existing profile.

Currently, Ascott Limited boasts a real estate portfolio that stretches across 190 cities in 30 countries. The Regional General Manager of the MEAT portfolio commented that Ascott was "delighted" to introduce its brand to Morocco, and that the group hopes "to contribute to the country's growth in tourism."

The apartments will focus on serving international travellers and business executives, providing world-renowned residences. As part of its plan to make the best of its Moroccan venture, Ascott announced it would be partnering with Life Square and the Alaoui group.

The Citadines Racine property will include 123 high end units, including "80 chic studio units, 23 spacious one-bedroom units and 20 comfortable two-bedroom units." The property will also include a state of the art gym, lounge, and restaurant. Meanwhile, the Citadines Connect Belvedere property features 60 "boutique style" rooms, alongside a rooftop pool, a lounge, and cafe.

Citadines Racine is scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2022, while the Citadines Connect Belvedere property is slated to open its doors in 2023.

Ascott joins a list of several other international hospitality companies, including hotel giant Radisson, that announced plans this year to expand their hotel and rental properties in Morocco.

International travelers' growing interest in Morocco as a tourist destination has motivated these companies to expand to the North African country to take advantage of its burgeoning tourism industry, with considerable support from the Moroccan government.


Morocco to Build $12.5 Million Eco-Friendly Industrial Park in Fez-Meknes

Denver - Morocco's government has announced plans to build a new environmentally sustainable industrial park in the Fez-Meknes region, as part of a collaboration between the government and a number of business entities.

The initiative is part of an agreement between the Ministry of Industry, Trade, Green, and Digital Economy, and the regional council of Fez-Meknes, the Regional Investment Center (CRI), and the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Morocco (CFCIM).

According to the organizations involved in the project, the new industrial park will be the first in the country to be exclusively dedicated to clean industries.

Developers valued the new site at over $12.5 million, and are planning to include a wide range of features in their design. Dubbed the "Fez-Saiss Industrial Park," the project includes plans for 130 rental lots near the park. It will also include restaurants, hotels, exhibition areas, a wastewater treatment plant, and green spaces, according to the CRI.

Officials are lauding the new park as a source of large scale job creation for the Fez-Meknes region. The project's designs are also in line with government initiatives to encourage ecological sustainability and pollution reduction in Morocco's business sector. The Fez-Saiss park will be almost completely self-sufficient, reducing the overall cost for local authorities.

The park is also projected to include large-scale road systems, firefighting infrastructure, a drinking-water production system, electrical, telephone and internet systems, and even its own separate sewage lines.

Although Morocco produces a relatively small amount of global carbon emissions, the country has been adamant on pivoting towards even more sustainable practices to contribute to the global fight against climate change.

With the implementation of 2008 Morocco's Green Plan, the country has taken steps to ensure both businesses and government infrastructure are built in the most eco-friendly way possible. Additionally, the country announced its commitment to produce 52% of its energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030.


Wafa Life Insurance to Complete First Deal in Egypt

The Moroccan company reported in July it received approval to expand its operations to Egypt.

Denver - Wafa Life Insurance's Egypt division plans on formally starting business in the country by the end of 2021, the group has announced, saying the decision is the culmination of a series of negotiations with Egyptian authorities.

The company, which is a subsidiary of Wafa Assurance and part of the Attijariwafa bank group, announced in July that it had received official permission from the Egyptian government to begin business operations in the country.

During an interview with local media, chief executive of Wafa Life Egypt Abeer Saleh said the company expected to "seek the central bank and regulatory approvals on the agreement within the final quarter of the current year."

This announcement solidifies Wafa's operations across the African continent. In addition to its Egyptian subsidiary, Wafa also operates businesses in Senegal, the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, and Tunisia.

After its initial formation, Wafa Life Insurance Egypt was valued at approximately $9.5 million dollars, but that figure could easily grow depending on the company's success. Experts predict the African insurance market will see immense growth in the near future. Currently, North Africa represents the second most lucrative market on the continent, after South Africa

According to Saleh, after finalizing negotiation terms, the company plans on expanding its services to fifteen branches of a local major Egyptian bank. Wafa plans on providing life insurance services for customers, as well as insurance for the banking institutions and its employees.

In Egypt, Wafa Assurance plans on forming a mutually beneficial relationship with its subsidiary Wafa Life Insurance Egypt. In exchange for access to Wafa Assurance's state-of-the-art digital systems, the central company will use Egypt as a springboard to expand into other countries in the region with a significant amount of English-speaking clientele.

Mobility Management Middle East

Middle East:
Saudi Arabia

Ivory Coast

Other Countries: