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Egypt reopens 900-year-old Al Aqmar Mosque

One of Cairo's oldest Shiite mosques has reopened to visitors following a 10-month renovation funded by leaders of the Shiite Bohra community, who have paid to develop several sites in the city's historic Islamic quarter.

The project to renovate Al Aqmar Mosque cost about 14 million Egyptian pounds ($450,750) to complete, Egypt's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said.

It said the work was fully funded by the Bohras.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, reopened the mosque on Sunday night, at a ceremony attended by Mufaddal Muhammad Hassan Ali, the Bohra Sultan's Cairo representative.

The project included work to clean years of dirt and soot from the outside of the mosque.

Inscriptions on the facade were also completed as part of the development, the ministry said. Some were carved into the faded stone and others into the marble on the mosque walls.

Al Aqmar Mosque is famed for its exterior designs, which make the site one of the most important Fatimid sites in Cairo.

The mosque's marble columns were also cleaned during development and its wooden parts treated and strengthened.

Mesh was added to its windows to prevent birds from entering the mosque and to reduce the accumulation of soot inside, the ministry said.

A balustrade was also installed on the roof and the dome was reinforced, it said.

Friday prayers will be held at the mosque. The reopening of Al Aqmar comes less than a week after the reopening of Al Sayyida Nafisa Mosque, one of the Islamic quarter's most prominent places of worship.

The site houses the remains of Nafisa, the Prophet Mohammed's granddaughter.

Funding for the renovation of Al Sayyida Nafisa Mosque also came from the Bohras. The group has also paid to develop Al Hussein Mosque in Cairo.

The Bohras funded the renovation of the 1,000-year-old Hakim bi Amr Allah Mosque, another Shiite site in the city.

But the development of Al Sayyida Nafisa Mosque has been criticised by heritage experts, who said the work, overseen by the Armed Forces engineering authority, removed some of the most characteristically Fatimid aspects of the mosque.

Omniya Abdel Bar, an archaeological researcher at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, questioned some of the changes to the mosque, including the removal of plaques bearing the names of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and the country's last Khedive, Abbas Helmy II.

Mr Abdel Bar said that was "a strange thing that has nothing to do with the style of Islamic architecture that is subject to well-known foundational principles in design".

Cairo's Islamic quarter, where the majority of the city's most important religious sites are found, has been a priority for the government because of its appeal to tourists.

The area is home to several Unesco heritage sites, but it has sustained a lot of wear and tear over the decades because of densely populated informal settlements near by.


Emaar Misr opens new 118-key beach resort in Egypt

Emaar Misr, one of Egypt's leading real estate companies, has announced the opening of its new Address Beach Resort Marassi, on the country's north coast, developed at an investment of $161 million.

This marks Egypt's second hotel and resort under the Address Hotels and Resorts brand which is located in Dubai, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain.

Located on a 86,100 sq m area in Marassi, Sidi Abdelrahman, the resort has been constructed along the breathtaking beach of Marassi, where the guests are offered a private experience through a 160 m - long private beach.

The hotel comprises 118 rooms and suites designed in a cutting-edge style, 169 serviced apartments in addition to 69 cabanas located a few steps away from the sea and Marassi Marina, said the statement from Emaar Misr.

Speaking on the occasion, Mohamed AlAbbar, founder of Emaar Properties, said: "Emaar aims to develop a portfolio of 10 hotels, which represents approximately 3,000 hotel rooms in Egypt's North Coast with an investment of EGP 26.3bn, including both the previously launched hotels and those that are still under construction."

"This reflects the company's vision to enhance the hotels and hospitality sector in this destination, and building on this belief, Emaar Misr launched Address Marassi Golf Resort, in addition to renovating and launching Alamein Hotel, along with five Boutique Hotels. The company is planning to inaugurate Vida Marina Resort very soon," he stated

Emaar Misr is one of Egypt's largest real estate companies and the developer of iconic projects such as Uptown Cairo, Cairo Gate, Mivida and Marassi.

The initial public offering programme, through which it has pledged to sell at least 32 of its companies to foreign investors, has not yet been completed.


Egypt issues decision on collecting residency fees

Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly on Thursday issued a decision regarding the collection of residency fees in the US dollar or its equivalent, while granting foreigners residing illegally a grace period to legalize their residency within Egypt.

All foreigners applying to the General Administration of Passports, Immigration and Nationality to obtain the right of residence for tourism or non-tourism must submit a receipt indicating that they have transferred the equivalent of (residence fees - late fines - costs of issuing a residence card) in US dollar or its equivalent currencies, the decision stipulates.

Foreigners residing in the country illegally must also legalize their status and residence provided that there is a host of Egyptian nationality, within three months from the effective date of this decision.

This comes in exchange for payment of administrative expenses equivalent to US$1,000, deposited in the account designated for this purpose in accordance with the rules and procedures laid out by the Interior Ministry.


New tourist walkway links the Giza pyramids to the Grand Egyptian Museum

Egypt has put into place a plan to beautify the roads leading to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), which includes the creation of a new tourist walkway to the Giza Pyramids.

Development in the area continues and extends from the Shooting Club area, passing through the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road to Sphinx Airport as well as the Fayoum Road.

These include the creation of green landscapes and a tourist walkway covering two kilometers with a width of about 500 meters.

State agencies began constructing the walkway from the Shooting Club area to connect to the pyramids and GEM.

Giza is also continuing its "Nazlet al-Semman Stables" project as an alternative to the random stables located around the pyramids region.

The governorate announced the launch of a project to pave, develop and raise the efficiency of the road in the area starting from King Faisal Street in the Mariouteya area, at a length of 2.5 km.

Giza Governor Ahmed Rashid confirmed the start of implementing the state's vision to develop the area surrounding the GEM, as well as repainting properties overlooking both sides of the roads and axis leading to tourist areas.

Egypt's grandest museum

The Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Ahmed Eissa, announced that he anticipates the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) to be between October and February.

Eissa said, in press statements, that work is underway to finish the GEM, as well as the area surrounding the museum.

He added that once work is completed, the project will be presented to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to set the date for the official opening.

Constructed on approximately 500,000 square meters, the new GEM is located nearby the Giza Pyramids and will house the world's largest antiquities collection belonging to a single culture's heritage.

The GEM is set to showcase 5,000 relics from Tutankhamun's collection as well - including 2,000 artifacts displayed for the first time.

The museum includes huge exhibition halls, and is distinguished by its proximity to the Giza pyramids area and the New Administrative Capital, which makes it a gateway to Egypt's past, present and future.

It is expected to attract about five million tourists.


New Dubai luxury resort for small dogs to open in December

Dubai-based dog care centre, My Second Home, will open a new daycare and boarding centre specially designed for small dogs, as part of their $10 million expansion project.

The new centre, which will be located at Dubai Investments Park 2 (DIP 2), will feature indoor aquatic features, relaxation zones, and large play areas.

The expansion is part of the company's efforts to meet customer preferences, especially a specialised venue for small dogs.

Just like their existing locations, the centre will provide convenient pet drop-off and pick-up services.

Set to open in December, the 46,000 square feet pet destination will be the third resort-style facility for My Second Home.

The company's first high-end dog care venture debuted in Dubai Investments Park in 2015, followed by a sister establishment in Al Quoz in 2021.

"The upsurge in pet ownership during the pandemic - particularly of smaller dog breeds and cats - has created huge demand - which we met by building more boarding suites," said Sean Parker, General Manager at My Second Home.

"Across the DIP and Al Quoz facilities, boarding capacity has now reached 250 dogs and 40 cats," Parker added.

My Second Home currently manages the well-being and social interactions of around 300 dogs daily, offering boarding, daycare, grooming, and training facilities.

The original centre spans 63,000 square feet and features the world's largest indoor free play dog park, three pools, and outdoor off-leash play areas.

The second location offers the same services and quality across 30,000 sq ft.

The new third venue spans a total of 46,000 square feet, including 35,000 square feet of indoor space.

"Bolstered by demand and feedback from our valued members, we're ramping things up again in Dubai and exploring potential partnerships outside the UAE," Paul Sowerby, Co-Founder of My Second Home added saying that "the model works - and is very portable."


Dubai offers new entry permit for GCC residents

The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) of Dubai has announced a new entry permit for residents of GCC countries travelling to Dubai.

The service is available for travellers who have a valid residency of any of the GCC states for at least a year, have no travel restrictions from entering the country, and their work and residency cards need to include the profession.

"This service has been activated to issue a prior online entry permit for travellers residing in the GCC countries in order to ensure a smooth entry process into the UAE and streamline procedures," said a GDRFA notification.

The process to apply on GDRFA website are:

* Log in to the smart services through (UAE Pass or username),
* Select the service.
* Fill in the application.
* Attach documents
* Pay the fees (AED250 plus Vat of 5%)

The documents required are:
* The original passport,
* Upon arrival, presenting the original residence permit issued by a GCC country.
* A civil or labour card.

The entry permits are likely to be issued within 48 hours, said the GDRFA website.


Dubai-Sharjah ferry service launched

Now there is a new option for travelling to Sharjah from Dubai. A ferry service has been launched between the two emirates, reducing the travel time between them.

The marine transportation service provides some captivating views of Dubai and Sharjah.

The service departs from Al Ghubaiaba Station in Dubai, sails past stunning Dubai Islands and Deira Corniche, and arrives at Sharjah Aquarium Marine Station, providing travallers a safe and comfortable journey.

From Dubai's Al Ghubaiba Marine Station, the ferry passes Dubai Islands and Deira Corniche to reach the serene waterside views of the cultural emirate, docking at Sharjah Aquarium Marine Station.

Commuters can reach Al Ghubaiba station using public transportation buses and the Dubai Metro green line.

The ferry timings are:

Weekday (Monday - Thursday): From Sharjah Aquarium station: 7:00 am, 8:30 am, 4:45 pm, 6:15 pm.

From Al Ghubaiba station: 7:45 am, 4:00 pm, 5:30 pm, 7:00 pm.

Weekend (Friday - Sunday): From Sharjah Aquarium station: 2:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 6:00 pm.

From Al Ghubaiba station: 3:00 pm, 5:00 pm, 8:00 pm


Gardenia Bay: Aldar launches new Yas Island residential community

The development will feature monitoring meters to reduce energy, water, and waste consumption with an aim to achieve a Pearl 3 Estidama rating

Aldar Properties (Aldar) announced the launch of Gardenia Bay, a residential community located on the waterfront on Abu Dhabi's Yas Island.

Construction of the first phase of Gardenia Bay is due to begin in Q1 2024 with handovers expected in Q2 2027.

The master developer announced the sale of the first phase of the development consisting of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments. The phase one sale will see 210 units made available to buyers with prices starting at Dhs805,000 for studios, while three-bedroom apartments start from Dhs3.1m.

Aldar's focus on sustainable construction

Gardenia Bay's design and the integration of nature within the development is centred around Aldar's commitment towards environmental sustainability and the overall well-being of its communities.

Aldar's latest development brings sustainable living to Yas Island. The project integrates nature within the infrastructure and a master plan that has been carefully designed to maximise walkability. Gardenia Bay aims to improve overall well-being and promote a healthy lifestyle along almost a kilometre of canal frontage.

The development will have buildings strategically oriented to maximise shade and reduce heat, with additional cooling from water features, and significant emphasis on landscaping and planting selection.

Direct access to Yas Island's 10 km canal front promenade with minimised vehicle access have been incorporated in the design to contribute to an enhanced living environment, stressed Aldar in its statement.

Additionally, by adopting a modular construction approach the development will be built efficiently, focusing on high quality with minimum impact on the environment. Sustainable practices will be integrated including the utilisation of recycled materials, optimising the use of resources.

Aldar said the development aims to achieve a Pearl 3 Estidama rating and incorporate monitoring meters to reduce energy, water, and waste consumption. The design of the open spaces, complemented by smart irrigation and composting systems as well as gardens with edible produce, encourage the growth of native and adaptive plant species, promoting pollination and sustainable biodiversity.

Rashed Al Omaira, chief commercial officer at Aldar Development, said: "In response to the growing demand for sustainable and wellness focused communities, we are delighted to unveil Gardenia Bay, our latest product offering, building on wellness, nature and the best of waterside living on Yas Island."

"Residents at the development will enjoy varied urban amenities and facilities, and most importantly, a sense of community that we believe will pique the interest of existing and new customers."

Ease of access

The community is located opposite Yas Park, a first of its kind family and recreational activity park in Abu Dhabi, and within cycling distance of some of Yas Island's most exciting sights and attractions, such as SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, and Yas Mall.

The development also benefits from easy access to Abu Dhabi International Airport, and main highways to Saadiyat Island, downtown Abu Dhabi, and Dubai.


Dubai Taxi launches four smart app-based services

Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) subsidiary Dubai Taxi Corporation (DTC) has announced the launch of four smart and innovative services to its digital application (DTC App).

This step aligns with DTC's digital transformation strategy and its pioneering efforts in providing safe and sustainable digital transportation services, which contribute to Dubai's global leadership in transportation services.

"The launch of these services reflects the Dubai Taxi Corporation's commitment to developing smart services in accordance with the leadership's directives to enhance the digital transformation journey for the benefit of the community. DTC is a pioneer in the implementation of innovative and smart services that adhere to the highest global standards. It is constantly striving to improve performance to achieve its strategic goals of providing innovative digital and sustainable transportation services that make people happy," Abdullah Ibrahim Al Meer, Director of Digital Transformation and Commercial Development at Dubai Taxi Corporation, said.

One of the premium services recently provided by DTC is the "Hourly Rental" service, which is meant to suit the demands of residents, tourists, and entrepreneurs, as well as tourist facilities such as hotels, tour operators, airlines, and other public and private entities. Users can use the service to make many nonstop trips without designating a specific destination. Passengers can guide the driver to specific locations. The service caters to business executives by allowing them to book a single limousine for several meetings, with the option of making multiple stops as part of their business trips. The service is available 24/7, allowing users to complete all journeys with a single vehicle rather of switching between different vehicles, saving them time, effort, and cost.

DTC also launched the "Lost and Found Service", enabling passengers who lost any of their belongings during their trip to retrieve them by communicating with the driver or selecting the Lost Item Request feature in the available trip report on the DTC App to arrange for their return.

Additionally, DTC added the "Meet Me Here" service to its list of services on the smart app, allowing users to share their precise location with friends, making it easy for them to meet at the intended destination. Furthermore, the Share My Trip Status service enables users to share their trip status accurately with their family or friends, giving them details about their trip, route, and estimated time of arrival.

"DTC is committed to achieving sustainable development and providing an innovative model of digital services. It aims to expand the use of artificial intelligence, smart systems, and automation by capitalising on advanced technologies to deliver transportation services in an innovative and exceptional digital manner. The drive cements DTC's leading role in the smart transportation industry and promotes sustainability in Dubai's transportation landscape," Al Meer added,

DTC offers a wide range of digital services through DTC App, enabling users to easily book limousines using advanced technologies that render the booking of diverse transportation services faster and more specific.


New luxury mall opened in Dubai

DAMAC Mall officially opened in Dubai

Dubai's luxury shopping offering has been expanded with the opening of a new mall in the city.

DAMAC Group has announced the opening of DAMAC Mall, adding a new retail and leisure destination to Dubai's luxury landscape.

The mall was officially inaugurated on September 1 by Amira Sajwani, Managing Director, Sales and Development, DAMAC Properties.

DAMAC Mall presents an expansive 110,000-square-foot space that integrates retail, hospitality, leisure, and entertainment offerings.

The Mall is envisioned as a hub for unique shopping experiences. The mall located within DAMAC Hills features major international and local brands across various categories, including 30 retail stores and 10 F&B outlets.

Amira Sajwani, Managing Director, Sales and Development, DAMAC Properties, said: "DAMAC Mall is part of DAMAC's growing presence in the retail sector.

It underlines our keenness to provide residents seamless connectivity and easy accessibility to community and retail amenities.

"We are confident that the mall's carefully curated tenant mix perfectly aligns with the preferences of our local community.

"DAMAC is committed to consistently improving the quality of life for our residents and transforming our communities into dynamic spaces that offer unmatched convenience and satisfaction."

The mall features contemporary architecture and luxury finishes, and the individual retail outlets conform to the latest global standards of fit-out design and fittings.

The inaugural ribbon-cutting ceremony was followed by the opening of a 28,000-square-foot Spinneys supermarket in addition to the grand opening of:


Papa John's

Vietnamese Foodies

American Wax

Al Jaber Opticals

Al Ain Pharmacy

Lingo Play Area

A 9,000 square feet Fitness First gym and a dedicated 8,000 square feet MEDCARE medical facility are slated to open soon.

With its retail mix across diverse categories that meet the requirements of a community mall, DAMAC Mall expects an annual footfall of around 1.3 million visitors.

In addition to the spacious interiors, the mall has a large parking area capable of accommodating 360 vehicles.

The mall's future expansion plans are currently in the design stage. The expansion is in line with the demand from retailers and the tenant mix curated and created by DAMAC.


Rove launches 328-unit residential development in Dubai

The UAE-based lifestyle brand Rove Hotels is set to introduce its dynamic residential concept, Rove Home, in Dubai, that will boast 348 fully-furnished studios as well as one- and two-bedroom apartments featuring contemporary finishes and smart home features.

Its first project in the city, Rove Home Downtown is located within the Burj Khalifa District and merges the brand's vibrant spirit with an enviable location and a playlist of amenities to create a unique living proposition at the heart of Dubai, said a statement from Rove Hotels.

Rove Home Downtown represents a significant milestone for the Rove brand, solidifying its stance in the residential property market and showcasing its commitment to offering practical, convenient, and comfortable living experiences, it said.

Key consultants including architect Archcorp, landscape architect SCLA, interior design specialist Zebra, are working on the project along with Studio Feel which is doing the art work to infuse this new development with the brand's unique look and feel and create captivating living spaces that blend aesthetics with functionality, it stated.

"We are thrilled to announce our first Rove Home residences project in Dubai. This new flagship location at the heart of Downtown Dubai represents an important step for the Rove brand and our commitment to create lifestyle living experiences that are as unique as our hotels," remarked its COO Paul Bridger.

According to him, the building will feature one of the highest ratios of amenities to living space in the Downtown Dubai area, designed to keep residents engaged from dusk to dawn.

"Facilities will include an outdoor infinity pool and a lap pool, co-working spaces, basketball and padel courts, a jogging track, a Rove caf, a rooftop deck with stunning views of the Burj Khalifa and more," he stated.

Partnering with IRTH, a distinguished real estate investment and development company, has been integral in shaping the success of this project, and their collaborative approach and dedication to excellence have established them as a trusted partner in the industry.

IRTH Managing Director Osman Celiker said: "We are thrilled to embark on this exciting journey with Rove and have the opportunity to bring the unique Rove Home concept to Dubai for the first time."

"Together, we are dedicated to redefining contemporary living by offering spaces that not only reflect the latest trends in design and technology but also prioritize comfort and convenience," he noted.

Bridger said Rove Home Downtown will be strategically located at the heart of Downtown Dubai, steps away from major attractions such as Dubai Mall, the Burj Khalifa, and Dubai Opera, surrounded by boutique shops, fine-dining restaurants, entertainment venues, and other essential amenities.


Bahrain in deal to set up biggest solar power project

Bahrain is set to develop a 72 MW solar power project, the largest of its kind in the kingdom, at Sakhir. The project comprises rooftop, ground-mounted, car park solar systems and electric vehicle charging stations, reported BNA.

An agreement in this connection will be signed today (August 15) under the patronage of Yasser bin Ibrahim Humaidain, Minister of Electricity and Water Affairs, the kingdom.

Humaidain said the move comes as part of the Bahrain's National Renewable Energy Action Plan and added that it will contribute to saving the total cost of energy and reducing carbon emissions.

It is in line with the kingdom's goal of reaching zero neutrality by 2060, and achieving sustainable economic development for the citizens, he added.

The minister said the solar power project constitutes 28% of the kingdom's goal of achieving 250MW from renewable energy sources by 2025.

He stressed upon the significance of optimal use of the large areas in the kingdom to generate solar energy, adding that the project will achieve a sustainable economy and contribute to the expansion of investment in all sources of renewable energy projects, in partnership with the private sector.


Bahrain residency permit: Expats can enable renewal when overseas

The residency and work permit can be renewed through Bahrain's Expatriate Management System or official Labour Market Regularly Authority channels

According to a recent report by the Bahrain News Agency, Interior Ministry's Undersecretary for Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs (NPRA), Shaikh Hisham bin Abdulrahman Al Khalifa, launched the service for renewing residency and work permits for expatriates when they are outside Bahrain.

The development applies to expats working in the commercial and government sectors, registered labourers and domestic workers. The service is delivered in coordination with the Labour Market Regularly Authority (LMRA).

The service can be obtained via the National Portal of Bahrain if the residency permit is renewed. The work permit could be renewed through the Expatriate Management System or official LMRA channels.

The NPRA Undersecretary stated that the development and modernisation proceed in cooperation with the government and private organisations, hailing cooperation with the LMRA to provide many facilities.

Service to help renew work and residency permits before expiry if outside Bahrain

Meanwhile, the LMRA CEO, Nibras Mohammed Talib said that the service would allow employers to renew their employees' work permits outside the kingdom online, while the renewing process should be before the expiry date.

He pointed out that this step is within the framework of accelerating the pace of work and meeting the needs of business owners and investors for expatriate workers.

The employer will also be able to renew the work permit through the Expatriate Management System by choosing the duration of the work permit and completing the payment process, in addition to the employer's ability to complete the renewal process and pay the fees determined by visiting one of the banks licensed by the LMRA.

Kingdom issue golden licences in June

In other news, the kingdom granted its first 'golden licences', offering incentives and streamlined services to foreign and local companies that have made large-scale investment projects into the country worth more than $1.4bn.

The licences were awarded to Citi, Eagle Hills Diyar, Infracorp, Saudi Telecommunication Company (stc) and Whampoa Group. Economic Development Board (EDB), the country's investment body, said companies eligible to obtain golden licences created more than 500 local jobs or pledged investments of more than $50m in their first years in Bahrain while contributing to strengthening the country's overall development.


Time Out Market to open in City Centre Bahrain

Time Out Market, a food and cultural market bringing the best of the city together under one roof, is set to open towards the end of 2024 in Manama.

It will be located on the top floor of the City Centre Bahrain, making it a key food and cultural destination in the region and fulfilling the mall's motto of offering its communities hyper localised, joyful experiences.

With more than 35,000 sq ft, Time Out Market Bahrain will offer plenty of space to showcase a curated mix of the best local and home-grown talents from award-winning chefs to up-and-coming restaurateurs and artists. There will be 11 kitchens offering a variety of cuisines, a dessert counter, a coffee shop, two bars, one exhibition space, one stage, and an al fresco rooftop, said a statement.

With more than 900 seats on two levels, guests will come together at communal tables in a uniquely designed space and get a true taste of Bahrain. To curate the culinary lineup, the Time Out Market team will test and taste food across the city to uncover the best talents - and then only the very best will be invited to join the market, said a statement.

City Centre Bahrain - the leading shopping, leisure, and entertainment destination in Bahrain - is home to more than 340 brands and is attracting over 14.6 million visitors each year. Owned and managed by Majid Al Futtaim - a diversified lifestyle conglomerate spanning 16 countries across the Middle East, Africa and Asia - City Centre Bahrain spreads across more than 1,7 million sq ft of retail space and offers a selection of upscale shops as well as hotels and leisure facilities.

With its exciting and authentic culinary line-up, Time Out Market Bahrain will add further momentum to City Centre Bahrain's focus in forging lasting relationships with customers by collaborating with partners to deliver enjoyable and memorable moments - thereby earning a special place in the community and in the hearts and minds of its loyal customers, said the statement.

Time Out Market currently has sites in six cities: the first opened in Lisbon in 2014 as the world's first editorially curated food and cultural market and its success led to openings in New York, Boston, Montreal, Chicago and Dubai. More Time Out Market locations are in the pipeline in nine cities including Porto, Cape Town, Barcelona and Vancouver.

Sandy Hayek, Time Out Market CEO, said: "We are delighted to partner with Majid Al Futtaim Properties Bahrain to open Time Out Market Bahrain in City Centre Bahrain - a very popular location in the region. This is where we will bring the best of Bahrain's vibrant culinary scene together under one roof - the food here is incredibly diverse and culturally rich and we are looking forward to showcasing the best local talent at Time Out Market Bahrain."


Fine reaches SR500 if making noise near schools

RIYADH - The General Directorate of Traffic (Muroor) stated that creating noise by using devices inside the vehicle or committing any behavior that is contrary to public morals while driving is considered a traffic violation.

Through X app, the Muroor said that making noise and raising voices near educational buildings will cause students to lose the ability to focus and learn during classes.

It has confirmed that anyone who commits this act will be punished with a fine of between SR300 and SR500.

In the same context, the Muroor has warned against passing by school buses that stop to pick up and drop off children.

It is considered a violation and anyone found passing by school buses will be slapped with a fine of between SR3,000 and SR6,000.


SR5,000 fine for hiring expat without a work permit or notifying Ajeer

RIYADH - There will be a fine amounting to SR5,000 for employing a foreign worker without a work permit or notifying Ajeer Program, according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD).

This penalty is part of a ministerial decision based on the revised schedule of violations and penalties in the Labor Law. The final draft of the schedule was released by the ministry, a copy of which was seen by Okaz/Saudi Gazette. The final draft was framed after amending the schedule of violations and penalties issued by a ministerial resolution No. 92768 dated Jamad Al-Awwal 5, 1443 in accordance with royal orders and new amendments to the Labor Law and ministerial decisions regulating the labor market, and in implementation of Chapter 15 of the Labor Law, especially related to penalties.

According to the amended schedule, the employer's non-compliance with the rules of occupational protection, safety and health approved by the ministry as well as his failure to take the necessary precautions to protect workers in all activities is a serious violation. There will be fines ranging between SR1500 and SR5000 for this violation. The business owner or his agent is responsible for the accidents that others may suffer at the firm's premises.

The ministerial decision also stipulated that the absence of a designated place for childcare or a nursery for the establishment that employs 50 workers or more is a non-serious violation, and the violator will be faced with a fine of SR5000. It is specified that there will be at least 10 or more children of workers, and their age will be less than six years.

As per the revised schedule, hiring children under 15 years of age is a serious violation, and fines for the violation range from SR1,000 to about SR2,000, and the employment of working women during the six weeks following childbirth is also a serious violation that warrants fine amounting to SR1,000.

According to the ministerial decision, the employer hiring a non-Saudi worker without obtaining a work permit or notifying Ajeer Program is a serious violation for which fine amounting to SR10000 will be imposed. There are also strict provisions to prevent any sort of discrimination at workplace. In the event of detection of any kind of discrimination, whether against workers or job applicants in terms of work conditions and regulations or while hiring or publishing advertisement or in wages between men and women workers in a job of equal value, or in any work that results in the nullification and multiplication of equal opportunities, a fine of SR3,000 will be slapped. There will be a fine of SR1000 for employer for keeping passport or residency permit (iqama) of the worker or his family members.

There will be a fine of SR300 in the event of failure to pay workers' wages and their dues in the official currency of the country on their due dates specified in their approved bank accounts, or withholding the worker's wages or part of it unless there is a judicial verdict.

There will be fine of SR5000 for the following violations. Failure of the establishment to form a committee to investigate cases of behavioral abuse at workplace or to investigate and recommend the imposition of a disciplinary penalty on those found guilty within five working days of receiving the complaint, or impose a disciplinary penalty on the offending worker in case of behavioral violations in the work environment after the committee's recommendation against those found guilty within 30 days from the date of conviction.

The violator shall pay the fine imposed on him within 60 days from the date of issuing notification of the administrative decision. In the event of non-implementation during this period, the services provided by the ministry will be suspended for him until the fine is paid in accordance with the provisions of the executive regulations of the Labor Law


Saudi Arabia expands visitor e-visa to eight additional countries

Saudi Arabia has announced that it will grant visitor e-visa to travellers from eight newly-eligible countries: Albania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, South Africa, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, for leisure, business and religious (Umrah only) travel.

Nationals of these countries can apply for a visitor visa ahead of their journey via the official e-visa portal.

The visitor e-visa is valid for an entire year, grants multiple entries, and permits a stay of up to 90 days, reported Saudi Press Agency.

Since launching the e-visa programme in 2019, the kingdom has welcomed 93.5 million visits in 2022, a 93 per cent increase compared to 2021, resulting in a tourism spend of SAR185bn ($49bn). This tourism growth is due to expanding visa initiatives, which now include 57 nations and two special administrative regions, compared to the initial 49 countries at the programme's launch.

Meanwhile in 2022, the country extended regulations to provide a visitor e-visa to holders of valid Schengen, United Kingdom (UK) and United States of America (US) visas that have been used to enter those countries before arriving in Saudi Arabia and to permanent residents of EU and GCC countries, and the UK and the US.

And earlier this year, the nation announced the launch of the free 96-hour Stopover Visa, allowing passengers to stay in the country for up to 96 hours.

Stopover Visa holders will be eligible for a complimentary one-night hotel stay during the stopover when booking through Saudia. Travellers can use the Stopover Visa to explore the country and perform Umrah.

Religious travellers can book flights through Saudia and Flynas and register for Umrah through the Nusuk platform.


Fairmont opens its first Saudi serviced residences property

Fairmont has opened its first Saudi serviced residences property in the kingdom's capital. The 35-floor Fairmont Ramla Serviced Residences Riyadh was unveiled by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts in partnership with Naif Al Rajhi Investment.

Located on King Fahd Road, the hotel is a 20-minute drive from King Khalid International airport.

The 249 residences range in size from one-bedroom suites to four-bedroom penthouses.

There are several dinging options at Fairmont Ramla Serviced Residences Riyadh. These include gourmet specialty venue Jones the Grocer, lifestyle-oriented restaurant Ramla Terraza, and Brute which is a dedicated steakhouse. CLAP offers traditional Japanese cuisine while The View Lounge and The Thirty-Five Lounge serve specialty dishes against the backdrop of city views. The property also features Iris Cafe as well as a 24-hour in-residence dining service.

Leisure offerings at the hotel include two rooftop infinity pools, two gyms, saunas and steam rooms. Fairmont's Falcon Kids Club is designed for guests aged 4-12.

Business facilities include four meeting rooms equipped with multimedia technology. There is also a private cinema room which offers private screenings with VIP seating.

Muhieddine Zok, general manager of Fairmont Ramla Serviced Residences Riyadh, said, "We take great pride in introducing Fairmont Ramla Serviced Residences Riyadh, a new beacon of luxury in the city that sets a precedent with the kingdom's first luxury branded serviced residences. This unveiling perfectly aligns with Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, fostering tourism and business opportunities."

Fairmont, a part of Accor, has more than 90 hotels around the world. Earlier this year, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts relocated its global headquarters from Paris to Dubai. At the time of relocating its headquarters, Fairmont said that it has a pipeline of more than 30 hotels around the world, with nearly 40 per cent of its current development projects located in IMEAT (India, Middle East, Africa and Trkiye) region.


Saudi Arabia enhances passenger rights protection rules

The General Authority of Civil Aviation has announced new passenger rights protection regulations that will safeguard passengers affected by airline or airport disruptions.

The regulations are designed to create a better passenger experience, supporting the kingdom's broader growth objectives for the aviation sector, GACA said.

The new regulations that will come into effect from November 20, 2023, will encompass every stage of the air travel journey, covering ticketing, boarding, in-flight services, baggage handling.

It will also cater to passengers with special needs, including those with reduced mobility.

Compensation provisions have been strengthened and extended through the regulations, addressing situations like flight delays, cancellations, overbooking, and unexpected stopovers. Compensation in some cases will rise to 150-200% of the original ticket value, whilst lost or damaged baggage could result in a compensation of approximately 6,568 riyals.

The regulations also cater to unique travels like the Hajj and Umrah charter flights. The regulations allow passengers to request termination of the contract with the air carrier in case the flight is delayed for a period exceeding 2 hours.

Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Dahmash, Vice President of GACA for Quality and Passenger Experience, emphasised the importance of these regulations, stating, "These changes reflect GACA's focus on putting the passenger first, by strengthening regulations that secure better service quality for passengers. The regulations cover new ground in supporting passengers affected by travel disruptions and support the Kingdom's broader Saudi Aviation Strategy growth agenda."

The regulations were finalised following extensive consultation with stakeholders, including the public, air service providers and international aviation sector organisations. GACA is leading efforts with airlines, airports and service providers to prepare for the implementation of the regulations.

The regulations are a key component in enabling the aviation sector's Saudi Aviation Strategy growth objectives, including tripling passenger numbers to 330 million per annum and connecting the kingdom with more than 250 global destinations by 2030.

The kingdom is witnessing unprecedented growth across the aviation sector in line with its broader Vision 2030 tourism, travel and economic diversification objectives. - TradeArabia News Service


Hilton to open its first airport hotel in KSA in Dammam

Hilton is continuing its expansion across Saudi Arabia with the signing of Hilton Dammam Airport, its first airport hotel in the country.

The 273-key property will be completed in partnership with Al Musbah Group and Damman Airports Company (DACO).

Hilton Dammam Airport will offer guests spacious and contemporary accommodation with direct skywalk access to the terminal building at King Fahd International Airport, one of the busiest airports in Saudi Arabia which welcomes approximately 10 million passengers per year. The property is also ideally located for Dammam City Centre, as well as Dharan, Khobar, and nearby Bahrain.

King Fahd International Airport serves as a hub for Saudia airline, Aramco Aviation, and FlyNas, with flights to over 70 international destinations by over 50 airlines. It also operates a dedicated Saudi Aramco terminal and Oxford-authorised training centre, an aviation academy, and a large-scale cargo village.

Mohammed Al Hassani, CEO, Dammam Airports Company (DACO) expressed his pride in this agreement, and its positive impact for the future of passenger services at the airport, adding: "We are delighted to work with our partners Al Musbah Group and Hilton to develop this new Hilton hotel at the busy King Fahd International Airport in Dammam. We are confident the Al Musbah Group and Hilton partnership will be a great, long-term success."

Hilton Dammam Airport will feature a combination of 273 guest rooms, junior suites, as well as larger one and two-bedroom suites. Featuring an all-day dining restaurant, complete with an outdoor terrace, a caf, an outdoor pool with adjacent caf, and fitness centres, the hotel will have a range of leisure facilities for guests to enjoy. Hilton Dammam Airport will also offer state-of-the-art meeting facilities for business travellers, including several meeting rooms and an executive lounge that caters for up to 90 people.

Mohammed Almusbahi, Director, Al Musbah Group, said: "We are delighted to partner with Hilton to open Hilton Dammam Airport. The modern, upscale property will serve passengers and crew passing through the busy King Fahd International Airport, as well as business and leisure travellers visiting the surrounding areas. The opening of the hotel also broadens our partnership of over 25 years at King Fahd International Airport, where we have lead concessions for travel retail, parking operations and technology, and food and beverage."

Carlos Khneisser, Vice President, Development, Middle East & Africa, said: "Saudi Arabia's rapid evolution continues to provide exciting growth opportunities for Hilton, and we're working with our owners to introduce more award-winning hospitality brands in locations throughout the country. This signing is another example of Hilton's commitment to supporting the tourism industry in Saudi Arabia and to enabling growth in key destinations as well as up-and-coming, large-scale developments and secondary cities. Hilton has pioneered the airport hotel concept and we are thrilled to announce that this will be Hilton's first airport hotel in the country."

Hilton currently operates 16 hotels in the kingdom with plans to open over 50 new hotels across 10 of its brands, making Saudi Arabia the company's largest pipeline market in the EMEA region. Projects include the introduction of new brands such as LXR Hotels & Resorts, Canopy by Hilton, Embassy Suites by Hilton, and Hampton by Hilton. The company plans to grow its portfolio to more than 75 properties in the kingdom over the coming years. - TradeArabia News Service


Public bus transport service begins in Taif

JEDDAH - Taif Governor Prince Saud bin Nahar inaugurated the public bus transport services project in the Taif Governorate. The inaugural ceremony was held in the presence of Acting President of the Transport General Authority Dr. Rumaih Al-Rumaih, Mayor of Taif Nasser Al-Rehaili, and CEO of Public Transport at SAPTCO Turki Al-Subaihi.

This vital project is the first project to be launched within the first phase of the public bus transport projects in the Kingdom. It is expected to serve more than two million beneficiaries annually, through nine main tracks linking the most important centers and landmarks in the governorate.

There will be 182 bus stop points, and the project will include 58 buses operating 18 hours a day, in a way that contributes to serving and improving travel experience of the beneficiaries of the residents in the governorate as well as visitors. This is in addition to enhancing the level of traffic safety, reducing traffic congestion on the roads, and reducing carbon emissions and environmental pollution.

SAPTCO, the operating company, has made available an electronic application that allows customers to book the service easily and conveniently, through the Taif Buses application (TAIF BUSES). The public bus transport project includes waiting stations and bus stops, and the main components of each station are seating for waiting passengers, sign boards, passenger waiting area, bus stopping points, as well as pedestrian crossing paths.


Saudi Arabia announces major tax fine exemptions

Saudi Arabia has announced the cancellation of fines and further exemptions for taxpayers in the country.

The fine cancellations include for late payment, VAT irregularities and organisations filing late returns.

However, authorities in Saudi Arabia said the deadline for availing the fine exemptions is approaching.

Saudi tax fine exemptions

Saudi Arabia's Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority urged all taxpayers to benefit from the initiative, "Cancellation of Fines and Exemption of Financial Penalties", which ends next December 31, 2023.

The authority has also clarified that the fines covered by the exemption decision include fines for:

Late registration in all tax systems

Late payment

Late filing of returns fines in all tax systems

Fines to correct VAT returns

It also covers fines for violations of VAT field control related to applying the e-invoicing regulations and other VAT general regulations.

The initiative stipulated that in order to take advantage of it, a taxpayer had to be registered with the tax system and submit all previously unsubmitted returns to the authority in Saudi Arabia.

As well as paying all the principal tax debt associated with the returns that will be submitted or modified to accurately disclose the outstanding tax liabilities, taxpayers have the option of requesting an instalment payment plan from the authority.

Instalment payment plans can be paid, as long as the application is submitted while the initiative is still in effect and all due instalments are paid by the due dates specified in the authority-approved instalment plan

The initiative excludes penalties related to tax evasion violations and fines paid before the initiative's effective date.

The authority has invited taxpayers to view the details of the initiative through the simplified guideline available on its website, which includes a detailed explanation of the most important aspects of the decision.

It explains the types of penalties that are included in the decision, clarifying the conditions for benefiting from the exempt fines and the steps for instalment financial dues, as well as introducing the field control violations.

The Saudi tax authority urged all taxpayers to benefit from the initiative during the allotted time, which ends at the end of December, and has also urged them to contact it if they have any inquiries via the unified call centre number (19993), on email (info@zatca.gov.sa), or via the ZATCA website.


Hamad International Airport rolls out digital wayfinding solution

Hamad International Airport (DOH) has introduced a digital wayfinding solution.

QR Codes are leveraged to provide easy to use wayfinding solution through different digital touchpoints conveniently located across the airport's expansive terminal.

Whether trying to navigate from Orchard to LampBear, wanting to try one of the many dining or retail experiences at the airport or finding a departure gate, passengers will experience seamless wayfinding.

The QR Codes are available across the airport through flight information display screens, passenger digital assistance kiosks and other key touchpoints, to further assist passengers with their wayfinding requirements.

The solution is compatible with all mobile devices and passengers can connect to Hamad International Airport's wi-fi to use this service.

Suhail Kadri, senior vice president of Technology and Innovation at Hamad International Airport said: "We are constantly reviewing and evaluating our multiple digital touchpoints for passengers to ensure we meet their requirements. By investing and utilising the latest innovative technological solutions and listening to global passenger requirements at our airport, we will continue to set and exceed industry standards."

Digital Concierges located at Orchard include information about retail and F&B offering, flight information, relaxation and rejuvenation options and attractions at the airport. Travellers can scan the QR code to navigate to their chosen point of interest on their mobile.

The airport has also introduced the passenger digital assistance kiosks which are located at the North Plaza of the airport, and around the iconic LampBear to further enhance passenger experience.

Meanwhile, as part of the airport's digital transformation strategy, Hamad International Airport is constantly investing in the latest technology and innovative solutions that will optimise operations and provide an enhanced airport journey for passengers.


Kuwait announces new expat travel restrictions: Report

Kuwait expats will now face new travel restrictions, if they do not pay their electricity and water bills ahead of their travel, according to a report by Kuwait Times.

The new decision, which is in collaboration with the country's Ministry of Electricity and Water and Ministry of Interior, will come into effect on September 1.

The decision also follows country's recent direction which requires expats to settle traffic fines before leaving the country from any of its exits

According to an "unnamed top security source," Interior Minister Sheikh Talal Al-Khaled Al-Sabah has instructed the interior ministry to coordinate with various government entities to implement similar measures, ensuring that expats cannot exit Kuwait without clearing their outstanding government debts, the report said.

A meeting between top officials from the interior ministry and representatives of the electricity and water ministry on Monday led to an agreement to interconnect their systems, obligating expats to clear their electricity and water bills before they leave.

The goal of this measure is to recover amounts of unpaid bills, primarily from the nearly 70 percent expat population in the country.

Kuwait also faces challenges in revenue collection due to outdated government systems, allowing both citizens and expats to delay payments for extended periods, the report said.


Kuwait expatriates may face higher health service fees amid medicine shortage concerns

Despite all challenges, Ministry assures the presence of a robust strategic drug reserve

Dubai: Amid concerns of medicine shortages, expatriates in Kuwait may soon face increased health service fees. As discussions continue, the Health Affairs Committee has postponed its decision, seeking further insights before presenting recommendations to the National Assembly.

According to reports, the Ministry of Health's statements on the matter have been noted for their inconsistency. While some acknowledgements point to global disruptions like supply chain breakdowns and raw material shortages, others shy away from using the term 'shortage'. Instead, they suggest an inability to meet the medication requirements of patients, be it with primary drugs or their alternatives.

Despite these challenges, the Ministry assures the presence of a robust strategic drug reserve. To further drug security, initiatives such as sourcing diversification are being considered, aiming to mitigate the effects of international disruptions. Additionally, strategies like automated linking and revised expatriate medicine distribution fees are being explored to curtail medicine wastage.


Residents will not be allowed to renew visa until debts are paid under new Kuwait law starting from today

The law is to be enacted from Sunday, September 10, and will ensure that residents have paid off all their debts to the state before renewing their visa

From today, Kuwait authorities have introduced a new law that will bar residents from renewing their residence visa until they have paid off their debts.

In a post shared on X (formerly Twitter), Kuwait's Ministry of Interior has informed residents of the latest change.

The law is to be enacted from Sunday, September 10, and will ensure that residents have paid off all their debts to the state before renewing their visa.

The decision has come based on the directives of the Acting Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Sheikh Talal Khalid Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah with the necessity of activating the linking processes between the concerned sectors of the Ministry of Interior to collect debts owed by foreigners to the state before renewing residency.

Those who wish to renew their residency must pay the debts owed through websites of state agencies or the "Sahl" application.

The authority has called on everyone to adhere to the established legal provisions and not to violate these provisions, as it will not hesitate to take action and carry out its duty to maintain security and public order in the country.


Kuwaiti Ministry Announces New Residency Visa Rule for Expats

The Ministry of Interior issued a statement on social media explaining that expats must settle debts owed to the Government before they can renew residency permits.

The new rules are effective immediately, from Sunday, September 10.

The new residency rules are based on the directives of the Acting Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Sheikh Talal Khalid Al-Ahmad Al Sabah.

The country has been cracking down on expat debt by introducing a series of new guidelines as it looks to regain money owed to the state.

Recent travel restrictions have been imposed on expats in Kuwait, meaning they must now settle outstanding telephone, electricity, water and traffic bills before they can leave the country for any reason.

Updating residency permits has been added to the list. Expats in the country will not be able to update or renew residency documentation until after they have paid outstanding money owed.

The Ministry of Interior said expats wishing to renew residency must first pay off debts using official state agency websites or the Sahl mobile application.

It also called on all individuals to adhere to the new laws, saying it will not hesitate to take further action to maintain security and public order in the country.

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