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Egypt prepares to transport royal mummies to Fustat Museum

CAIRO: Egypt is preparing for a royal procession of mummies from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Fustat.

The procession features 22 mummies, 18 of which are mummies of kings and four are of queens.

Head of the Museums' Sector at Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, Moamen Othman, said the transfer was being carried out in line with specific procedures and international safety measures.

The artifacts were placed in sterilization units equipped with the latest scientific equipment and loaded onto carts that were specially designed and equipped for the purpose, he explained. The aim was to preserve the integrity of the mummies and ensure that the celebration was carried out in line with the greatness of ancient Egyptian civilization.

The Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled Al-Anani and top museum officials have been discussing the final preparations for receiving the royal mummies.

The royal mummies being transferred are: King Ramses II, Ramses III, Ramses IV, Ramses V, Ramses VI, Ramses IX, Thutmose II, Thutmose I, Thutmose III, Thutmose IV, Seqnen Ra, Hatshepsut Amenhotep the First, Amenhotep II, Amenhotep the Third, Ahmose Nefertari, Merit Amon, Siptah, Merenptah, Queen T, Seti I, Seti II.

They are accompanied by 17 royal coffins and the procession will move from Tahrir Square to the Nile Corniche.

The Cairo governorate declared a state of emergency to determine the path of royal mummies and the area being developed in the vicinity of the Museum of Civilizations in Ain Sira, which will receive the royal mummies.

The area directly in front of the museum was converted into a tourist attraction project linked to the museum, and there are several roads serving the area and linking it to main roads.

The event is scheduled to start with the opening of the Egyptian Museum's door for the mummies' exit, in the presence of international ambassadors and the media.

The mummies will move from the Egyptian Museum on 22 old Egyptian-style cars, with musical instruments playing and horses.

Sources said the event had been rehearsed for more than two weeks to finalize it and that tests were being carried out on lighting, decorations and equipment.

The sources added that work in the Egyptian Museum was taking place around the clock, with an exchange between archaeologists and inspectors.

It is expected that the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization will be one of the most important tourist attractions in the country.

It is located near the Babylon Fortress and overlooks Ain Al Sira in the heart of the historic city of Fustat.

The foundation stone for the museum was laid in 2002.

It will be one of the most important and largest archeology museums in the world and also the first to be dedicated to the entirety of Egyptian civilization, with more than 50,000 artifacts from the earliest times until the modern era.


Bridgestone Middle East committed to reviving Egypt's tourism with new campaign

Bridgestone Middle East has partnered with Nile Projects & Trading Company (NPTCO) to launch a new promotional campaign that aims to stimulate tourism in Egypt and encourage travellers to embark on exciting road trips.

Entitled 'Rediscover Egypt, Keep Exploring with Bridgestone', the campaign forms part of the company's continuing efforts to innovate its customer engagement activities worldwide and keep pace with the market changes brought forth by the pandemic.

The promotion, available until December 31, 2020, is open to anyone purchasing Bridgestone tires from the Jeep service stations of NPTCO. For every purchase of four Bridgestone tires, customers will be given a scratch card containing a range of major prizes - from Jeep mats and tire cover to Bluetooth headsets - to make their vacation getaways not only more thrilling but safer as well.

Regional managing director, Bridgestone MEA, Stefano Sanchini commented on the unique initiative: "Global tourism remains restricted amid the still raging pandemic. While this is so, domestic travels offer us an alternative. This is the time to explore Egypt's treasures anew while still following the basic precautionary measures. As you go on your road trips, let our tires take you around Egypt. Rediscover the country's timeless, natural beauty, vibrant culture and rich traditions with Bridgestone tires while enjoying your prizes."

Egypt grants visitors and locals the opportunity to embark on many adventures and activities, such as cruising the Nile River, exploring ancient heritage, camping and site seeing.


Egypt steps up e-waste program

The Egyptian government has increased investment in an e-waste project to boost its recycling efforts.

In a meeting between Yasmine Fouad, the Egyptian minister of environment, and Amr Talaat, minister of communications and information technology, Fouad confirmed that the ministry had taken steps in the field of waste management in cooperation with the ministry of communications.

She explained that it was necessary to organize a plan in the area of waste management to facilitate collecting waste in preparation for it entering recycling factories.

Tarek Al-Araby, director of the ministry of environment's medical and electronic waste project, said that garbage and waste collectors usually sold electronic waste to used-product merchants in major malls.

He said that the ministries of environment and communications were working on a project to launch an electronic application to collect e-waste, in exchange for money through discount vouchers on new products.

Al-Araby added that the number of electronic waste recycling factories operating officially in Egypt had now increased to seven, and another five were being licensed.

The minister of environment thanked the minister of communications for his assistance in setting up an electronic system to track who throws out garbage and locate the places where the garbage is thrown out.

The minister of communications acknowledged the efforts of the ministry of environment in organizing waste management as the ministry of environment completes the system for collecting, automating and governing waste by technological means.

Talaat added that there was great cooperation between the two ministries in electronic waste due to the importance of the issue, which was evident when the state issued a law to regulate work in this field.

El-Sayed Hegazy, a member of the energy and environment committee in Parliament, praised the efforts of the ministry of environment in finding ways to increase investments related to e-waste within the framework of the state's comprehensive plan for sustainable development by exploiting industrial waste to serve citizens, most notably in the health and economic areas.

Hegazy called for the allocation of a high proportion of the state's general budget to support the ministry of environment.

Seven electronic waste recycling factories have been opened, and work is underway on five others that help raise the efficiency of the waste management system and provide a safe, healthy environment free from disease and environmental pollution.

Hegazy encouraged the establishment of a unified body based on development work by the ministry of environment, saying that the country suffered from poor planning in this area.

He added that to increase citizens' awareness of the negative impacts and dangers resulting from environmental waste, the government must launch awareness campaigns aimed at changing social behavior.

Hegazy said that the electronic application launched by the ministry of environment would encourage individuals to follow the correct procedures to dispose of waste.

Mohamed Bakry, 57, one of the workers in garbage classification and sorting, said that his main job was to separate solid materials, such as plastic and glass, and to send them to factories in preparation for recycling.

He explained that the idea of exchanging waste for money would be harmful to him and to a large number of workers in this field.

Bakry said that in an experiment three years ago, garbage kiosks started appearing in Cairo, with three people working in each of them, providing 300 job opportunities. But if these kiosks were the norm they would eliminate thousands of jobs, harming many families in the process, he said.


Egypt sets new shop hours amid second coronavirus wave fears

CAIRO: Egypt's government has set limited working hours for shops amid growing coronavirus cases and fears over a second virus wave.

The decision means that, starting from Dec. 1, commercial shops, public restaurants, cafes, workshops, handicrafts and malls will be forced to follow the government's new opening and closing times.

On Tuesday evening, Egyptian newspapers and channels shared pictures of closed shops following the new decision.

Under the new regulations, shops and malls will start operating at 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. in the summer and from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. in the winter.

As for bazaars and restaurants, they will begin operating at 5 a.m. until 1 a.m. in the summer and from 5 a.m. until 12 a.m. in the winter.

Workshops are to operate from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. in the summer and from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. in the winter.

On Thursdays and Fridays, shops and malls will operate from 7 a.m. until 12 p.m. in the summer and from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. in the winter.

Restaurants, cafes and bazaars will open from 5 a.m. until 1 a.m. in the summer and winter on Thursdays and Fridays.

Supermarkets, grocery stores, bakeries and pharmacies are excluded from the regulations, and takeaway and home delivery services will continue to operate 24 hours a day throughout the year.

Khaled Abdel Aal, the governor of Cairo, conducted a tour on Tuesday in a number of areas and neighborhoods, including the downtown area and Nasr City, to ensure that shops abide by the closing times set by the Egyptian Cabinet.

During the tour, Abdel Aal warned that neighborhood chiefs should intensify measures to monitor the implementation of measures and take necessary legal measures against potential violations.

Minister of Local Development Mahmoud Shaarawy directed governors to apply the new closing times and called on all stores, restaurants and malls to adhere to the instructions.

Shaarawy warned Egyptian governorates of the necessity of coordination with security directorates and executive bodies to ensure compliance with the new regulations.


Emirates re-opens worldwide lounges beginning with Cairo

Emirates is re-opening its lounges around the world beginning with the Emirates lounge in Cairo International Airport.

In the coming weeks, Emirates' customers can look forward to once again enjoying Emirates lounge services in other destinations including New York's JFK International and Manchester Airport, the airline said.

The airline has redesigned its lounge offering and introduced additional health and safety measures. The new protocols will be rolled out in each lounge.

The buffet offering will be changed to an a la carte service with contactless menus activated by QR code. Throughout the day, lounge staff will sanitise each seat and table after customers leave. In addition, the lounge will be sanitised and fumigated regularly.

All employees working in the lounge will be wearing masks and social distancing protocols are in place throughout the lounge. Seating capacity will be halved as every other sofa seat is left unoccupied. To ensure food safety, catering staff will be wearing masks, gloves and personal protective equipment (PPE). Newspaper, magazines and other reading materials will not be available to minimise the risk of infection by touch.

The Emirates lounge in concourse B in Dubai International airport is also open with a redesigned service and designated First Class area. In the recent months, Emirates has been introducing services aimed at providing customers with a safe and seamless airport experience. The integrated biometric path at Dubai International airport is the latest in a host of initiatives by Emirates, allowing customers to go from check-in to boarding purely by facial recognition.

Emirates continues to gradually reinstate its signature services after rigorous review and careful redesign to ensure the health and safety of customers and employees.

On board, the celebrated A380 Onboard Lounge and Shower Spa have resumed operations, while Emirates' onboard dining experience has returned to its signature service while observing strict hygiene protocols.

Emirates customers can travel with peace of mind with the airline's flexible booking options and multi-risk travel insurance including COVID-19 cover with every flight. Emirates has also implemented a comprehensive set of measures at every step of the customer journey to ensure the safety of its customers and employees, it said. - TradeArabia News Service


Alstom inks training pact with Egypt Railways Authority

Alstom, a global leader in rail transport and sustainable mobility, said its Egyptian unit has signed a protocol with the Egyptian National Railways Authority (ENR) to create a modern simulation of signalling systems inside the Wardan Training Center (Technical Institute for Railways Technology) and support it with resources to provide the required autonomous training in this field.

The training initiative by Alstom is based on a "Train the Trainer" model that targets a better educated generation of trainers who will be able to transfer the knowledge of signalling systems to ENR trainees.

This will develop and qualify the capabilities of human resources in the railway sector and help to achieve better efficiency in operations as well as promoting sustainable employment/income for individuals.

As a transport support leader, Alstom is committed to establishing strong long-term collaborations with the Ministry of Transportation and ENR.

On the deal, Mohamed Khalil, Managing Director Alstom Egypt, said: "We are very proud that Alstom Egypt is sharing with our client the development and qualification of human resources in the railway sector and achieving better efficiency in operations as well as promoting sustainable employment for individuals."

Alstom has been present in Egypt for over 40 years and has continually engaged and supported railway infrastructure development in the country, he stated.

Over the years, Alstom has supported Egypt's ambition to enhance and develop its railway infrastructure in both urban and mainline projects in order to address the increasing need for sustainable mobility solutions, he added.- TradeArabia News Service


No more 2 year residency visas for expatriates

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) will issue residency visas to expatriates for a duration of only one year, and halted the two years or more period that was previously allowed. This decision affects citizen's wives, children of female citizens, expatriate mothers, wives and children of expatriates, Al Rai reported, quoting informed sources.

The sources said that the reason for granting residency visas for more than a year was because of the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic that has impacted many businesses. Now while the coronavirus pandemic is nearing its end, granting residency visas to expatriates within these categories for more than a year requires medical examinations, review of security restrictions and other technical matters.

The end of granting residency visas for more than one year applies to everyone, except for workers in the private sector who are residing in Kuwait and have official work permits for two years or more.

On the other hand, out of about 130,000 residency violators estimated to be in Kuwait, only 400 expatriates applied to the residency affairs departments to amend their status, from the first until 7 December, the largest number of them from the governorates of Farwaniya, the capital and Hawalli.

MoI has presented an opportunity for residency law violators to amend their status or leave the count after granting a grace period during December, but the response of the residency visa violators or their sponsors is very weak so far.

As part of the measures to streamline the process, MoI launched an appointment system to receive visitors through prior reservation. About 2,300 applicants booked appointments through the platform, but those who came in the past few days were very few, either because they failed to turn up at the residency affairs departments or because they changed appointments to other days.

The daily reported that the reasons attributed to the residency visa violators reluctance to visit in large numbers is their inability to pay the fines and the high prices of air tickets. The sources advised all residency violators to take advantage of this grace period, which is the last time granted by the Ministry of Interior to them as after the end of the month, there will be security campaigns in all governorates around the clock to arrest all residency violators and deport them from the country, which will cause them to be barred from entering Kuwait and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries for 5 years.


As Kuwait prepares to return stranded domestic helpers, challenges remain

Kuwait has a plan to allow the return of domestic helpers stranded abroad as of December 7. The government has set up 58 buildings in Kuwait where 80,000 workers who are expected to arrive within a four-month period on direct flights will stay for their mandatory 14-day quarantine period. The plan will begin with India and the Philippines, two out of 34 countries from which flights to Kuwait remain suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Citizens of these countries with valid visas can return to Kuwait only if they spend a 14-day quarantine period at a country not included in the ban list and have a negative PCR test result. Among the thousands waiting to return, however, there are also those who face challenges that may result in never coming back to Kuwait.

Kyra, not her real name, had received an elated voice message via WhatsApp from her female employer in Kuwait, informing her the government will soon allow the return of stranded domestic helpers from all countries. But Kyra was unimpressed; in fact she did not even bother answering her message. According to her, this was because her boss did not keep her promise to send her money while she was stuck in Manila.

"She said she will send me at least 3,000 pesos (around KD 20) a month while I waited for the ban to be lifted by the Kuwaiti government. I have three kids and they are all studying. We need to send them to school, eat and pay our bills - so when my employer promised to send a minimum amount so we could survive, I trusted her. But all I got from her when I messaged her twice was 'inshallah'. So I stopped messaging her and now that her government wants us to return, she is happy to send me a message that I can come back? Not anymore!" Kyra exclaimed.

"She did not send me even one fils! And now she has the guts to message me that I can come back by December? I am not going at all - in fact I am now applying for Hong Kong and will leave by next week to work there," she said. Her Kuwait visa will expire in April 2021. She said after working four years straight without vacation, she took her annual leave on Feb 8, 2020. "At that time, we didn't know about the coronavirus. My employer told me to stay in the Philippines for 45 days, for which I was very grateful. She did not give me one month's salary as mentioned in the domestic labor law, but I didn't demand it either," said Kyra.

In order to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country, Kuwait banned passengers from 34 countries from arriving directly to Kuwait, including the Philippines, which has recorded over 434,000 infections in a population of more than 100 million, against around 143,000 cases in Kuwait with a population of 4.2 million.

Quarantining in Dubai

Cathy, another domestic helper, is quarantining in Dubai in order to rejoin her employer in Kuwait. "I went on holiday on Feb 6, 2020 and was expected by my employer to return on March 6, 2020. But the pandemic prevented me from coming on time. I was stuck for 10 months in the Philippines, but I am happy that I received my monthly salary from my employer - KD 120 - every month. I was really embarrassed that I was getting the full salary even when I was staying at home in Bicol," she said.

"So I told my employer to arrange for my immediate return. Now I am quarantining in Dubai. I arrived here on Nov 16 and my quarantine period will end on Dec 4. I am happy that I was not abandoned by my boss during the entire pandemic. I am happy to be coming back to my employer of nine years," Cathy told Kuwait Times.

"During my entire time in the Philippines, it was a huge challenge for my family, especially after my husband's company closed down. But it was a great opportunity for us to enjoy life together. We created a vegetable garden in the yard, then sold the produce to our neighbors. It helped us, and we survived because of the KD 120 I was receiving monthly from my employer. As much as I wanted to stay in the Philippines, the kindness of the Kuwaiti family cannot be set aside and I owe much gratitude to them," she noted.

Marissa, also a housemaid, has another story to share. Her employer pleaded with her to come back via Dubai immediately, but her expired passport is preventing her from returning. "Before I left for vacation to the Philippines, I renewed my passport. Based on my receipt, I should've received my new passport by March. I thought I would be back in Kuwait by then to collect it. But we were overwhelmed by the pandemic and my supposed return in March did not happen," she said.

"My passport expired in September, and I am not allowed to leave the country. I also cannot apply for a new passport in Manila because I have a new one ready in Kuwait. My boss coordinated with the Philippine Embassy, but they said only the applicant can collect it. So I was advised to send a request letter to my town of Legazpi in Albay province to allow the Philippine Embassy to send my passport to Legazpi, but I am waiting for it until now," she said.


Oman resumes issuance of work visas, tourist visas still on hold

Individuals who have been cleared by Oman's Ministry of Labor can now apply for work visas online, daily Times of Oman reported.

"Non-Omani workers and housemaid visas can be applied for electronically. Applications can be submitted either through the Royal Oman Police website, or through Sanad offices. At the moment, however, applications for tourism visas are still suspended," the daily quoted an unnamed senior Royal Oman Police official.

Visa permits are valid for 15 months from the date of issuance, hence, those who received them but were unable to process their visa applications due to the COVID-19 pandemic can now do so, Times of Oman added.

As for those without a permit yet, "the ministry is working on providing permission to apply for work visas," the daily quoted an official from the Ministry of Labor.

Meanwhile, revenues of three to five-star hotels in the Sultanate fell 60.2 percent as of end-October to $18.38 million from $46.2 million of the same period last year.

Hotel occupancy rate dropped by 53.9 percent in the first 10 months of 2020 to 646,841 guests, down from 1.4 million during the same time last year, Oman Times reported.


Oman to scrap No Objection Certificate system early next year

Dubai: Oman's plans to scrap the No Objection Certificate (NOC) system early next year will be a significant development in the country's labour policy, according to Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr Al Busaidi.

Speaking at the 16th IISS Manama Dialogue in Bahrain, Sayyid Badr said removing the age-old NOC policy is part of Oman's 2040 vision that will open-up the Sultanate's economy. "A significant development in labour policy which in the next few weeks will include the abolishment of the No Objection Certificates system," he said.

Sayyid Badr also informed the country's plans to offer visa-free for citizens of more than 100 countries. "We have plans to extend visa-free arrival for 30 days for citizens of more than 100 countries which will boost our travel and tourism sector," he added.

Earlier this year, Oman said it will remove the NOC on January 1, 2021, clearing the way for expat employees in the country to switch jobs. The new rule applies to expat workers who have finished their contracts, whether they are based in Oman or outside the country.


Lebanon to ease virus curbs

BEIRUT: Lebanon is from Monday to gradually ease restrictions imposed two weeks ago after a surge in coronavirus infections, in a bid to relieve its struggling economy in time for the festive season, officials said.

Acting health minister Hamad Hassan told reporters the country "will gradually reopen from Monday" to give citizens and businesses a respite ahead of Christmas and end of year holidays.

He said restaurants will reopen at 50 percent capacity, but bars and nightclubs will remain closed and weddings prohibited, while an overnight curfew will start from 11 p.m. instead of 5pm.

Schools would also reopen but with some classes still held online, Hassan said after a meeting of Lebanon's coronavirus task force.

He warned that the "danger" of a rise in infections still exists and that the hoped-for results to stem the virus thanks to the curbs would not be known for several days.

Before the two-week restrictions went into force in mid-November, bed occupancy in hospital intensive care units was between 80 and 90 percent while "now it stands at 65-70 percent," Hassan said.

Since February, the country has recorded more than 125,000 Covid-19 cases, including around 1,000 deaths.

Lebanon, with a population of around six million, had been recording some 11,000 coronavirus infections on average each week before mid-November, according to the health ministry.

A first country-wide lockdown imposed in March was effective in stemming the spread of the virus, before restrictions were gradually lifted as summer beckoned people outdoors.

But the number of cases surged following a monstrous blast at Beirut's port on August 4 that killed more than 200 people, wounded at least 6,500 and overwhelmed hospitals.

The blast and the pandemic have exacerbated tensions in the Mediterranean country which has been grappling with its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.


Abu Dhabi to roll out road tolls from January 2, 2021

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi is set to roll out road tolls from January 2, 2021 onwards.

The emirate's public transport provider, the Department of Municipalities and Transport's integrated transport centre (ITC), has urged residents to activate their online accounts through the dedicated website darb.itc.gov.ae, or through the Darb mobile app.

At first, the Darb Toll Gate system will be activated in four locations: Sheikh Zayed Bridge, the Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Bridge, Al Maqtaa Bridge and Musaffah Bridge. It will aim to smoothen traffic flow, encourage the use of public transport and enhance the efficiency of the capital's road network.

Collection times

The Dh4 toll will be collected only during peak hours from Saturday to Thursday, from 7am to 9am, and again from 5pm to 7pm. There will be no toll on Fridays and on public holidays.

Toll caps

In order to minimise the impact on road users, the maximum daily toll for each vehicle will be capped at Dh16. In addition, a monthly cap of Dh200 will apply for the first vehicle on a user's account, along with a cap of Dh150 on the second vehicle, and Dh100 on all additional vehicles. As for corporate-owned vehicles, there will, however, be no daily or monthly toll cap.

Online payment system

Once users top up their online accounts, the toll will be deducted directly after the user passes a toll gate, with the toll gate system capturing vehicle plate numbers. The Darb Toll Gate system has an initial vehicle registration fee of Dh100 per vehicle, of which, Dh50 will be credited back to the registered account.


Certain categories of vehicles will be exempt from road tolls. These include single vehicles owned by senior Emiratis aged 60 years and older, retired Emiratis, people with special needs and Emiratis with limited income. These motorists can visit the Darb website and register for exemptions by submitting the required documents. And for those with special needs, the vehicle can be registered in the name of a first or second-degree relative, but the cards issued to people of determination by the Ministry of Community Development or the Zayed Higher Organisation need to be supplied.

Other categories of vehicles will also be exempt from the tolls, including ambulances, armed forces and civil defence vehicles bearing their number plates and emblems, public buses, public taxi vehicles licensed in Abu Dhabi, school buses authorised by ITC, passenger buses with a capacity of 26 passengers and above, vehicles bearing the plate number of Abu Dhabi Police, Ministry of Interior or local police of other emirates, towed vehicles and motorcycles.

However, registration in Darb is mandatory for all users, including those eligible for exemptions. The ITC has also stressed that every vehicle passing a toll gate must be registered on the Darb toll gate system. In case a vehicle is not registered when passing a toll gate, the user will be given a grace period of ten business days to register the vehicle. Otherwise, a fine will be applied.

Insufficient balance

Users should also ensure sufficient balance in their accounts when crossing the toll gates. For vehicles registered in Abu Dhabi, motorists can pay off any unpaid toll when completing annual vehicle licensing procedures. For vehicles registered outside Abu Dhabi, motorists will be given a grace period of five business days to recharge the account before a fine is applied.


Dubai updates travel rules related to COVID-19 PCR test

Dubai: In the latest update to travel rules during the pandemic, Dubai has exempted all passengers arriving from GCC countries from the mandatory requirement of doing the pre-flight COVID-19 test, Gulf News can reveal.

Dubai Airports on Sunday evening issued the travel update it received from the COVID-19 Command and Control Centre to its partners announcing that "effective from December 6, all passengers arriving (originating) from GCC countries are not required to conduct PCR test before arriving at DXB/DWC [Dubai International Airport/Al Maktoum International Airport]."

The travel update added that these passengers have to undergo "PCR test on arrival only."

Subsequently, both Emirates and Fly Dubai posted the travel updates on their websites on Monday.

According to the travel update posted on the website of Emirates Airlines, all passengers arriving in Dubai from the GCC countries (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman) are not required to take?a?COVID-19?PCR test prior to departure.

Not applicable on land border

However, Emirates has clarified that "this is not applicable to passengers arriving by road through the Hatta border, who must?take?the PCR test 96 hours from the date of the test before departure."

All passengers still have the option of taking the test 96 hours before departure in their country of origin, it added.

Similar updates were posted by Fly Dubai also.

If you are a UAE resident, a tourist or a visitor arriving in Dubai, and your journey originated in a GCC country, you only need to take a COVID-19 PCR test on arrival in Dubai, stated Fly Dubai's site.

The site also mentioned that passengers who are required to take a COVID-19 PCR test on arrival in Dubai need to quarantine until you receive your results.

"You will also need to download the COVID-19 - DXB Smart App (from Apple App Store or from Google Play Store) and register with the Dubai Health Authority prior to arrival in Dubai.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you must quarantine for 14 days," it added.

What are the existing rules?

Till Sunday, UAE nationals travelling from the GCC (and all foreign stations) were exempt from doing the COVID-19 PCR test prior to departing from the origin station to Dubai. They were being tested on arrival in Dubai.

Passengers transiting in Dubai from the GCC countries also were not required to present a COVID-19 PCR test certificate unless it is mandated by their country of origin or final destination.

UAE residents travelling from GCC countries already had the option to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate that is valid for 96 hours from the date of the test before departure or take the COVID-19 PCR test on arrival in Dubai.

However, tourists had to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate that was valid for 96 hours from the date of the test before departure.

Children under the age of 12 and passengers who have a moderate or severe disability are exempt from the COVID-19 PCR test.


Huge surge in demand for Dubai villas as residents upgrade amid pandemic

Property Finder chief says he has seen a 500% growth in demand for larger properties since May

Demand for ready to move in villas and townhouses in Dubai has witnessed a growth of over 500 percent since May this year as residents choose to upgrade their living situations, according to Ari Kesisoglu, president of Property Finder.

Despite the economic uncertainty caused by the continuing coronavirus crisis, Kesisoglu told Arabian Business that the recovery in the emirate's real estate market began in July.

That month, the market witnessed the highest sale of secondary villas and townhouses recorded in the history of the UAE since the property market opened up to non-GCC nationals.

October recorded a 57.1 percent increase in property sale transactions and 70.4 percent increase in value of transactions on the previous month.

Kesisoglu said: "Each month has witnessed record-breaking numbers, and that speaks for itself - people are investing in the market, and the majority of sales are for ready-to-move-in-units, which implies that a lot of residents are upgrading their living situations, despite the current environment."

He added that 665 secondary or ready-to-move-in villas and townhouses were transferred in October, a 7.2 percent increase on the second highest month, September, at 605 transactions and 34 percent higher than the third highest month ever, July, which recorded 496 transactions.

"We believe that this surge in numbers is a result of the movement restrictions imposed due to the pandemic," he said. "Our homes now act as our workplace, our children's' educational facilities, our toddler's play school, our new favourite diner - people are spending more time at home now than ever before, and this is what is leading to the investment in bigger, more spacious and multi-functional homes."

The top areas for secondary (ready) villa/townhouses in October were Nadd al Sheba (11.8 percent), Town Square (7.8 percent), International City (6.7 percent), Arabian Ranches (6.4 percent) and Dubai Hills Estate (5.9 percent). Thirty-nine percent of the transactions were for four-bedroom units, 34.7 percent for three-bedroom units and 14.8 percent for five-bedroom units.

According to data from Property Finder, the search trends show reveal the top five locations for consumers searching for villa/townhouses were Dubai Hills Estates, Arabian Ranches, Palm Jumeirah, Damac Hills and Mohammed bin Rashid City.

Keywords such as 'upgraded', 'pool' and 'furnished' were the top three keywords in October.

Overall for October, 1,013 villa/townhouses were transferred in both the off plan and secondary market. A total of 2,031 apartments were transferred with 1,128 in the secondary market and 903 in the off-plan market.


Abu Dhabi introduces new system to automatically detect seat belt violations, mobile phone use while driving

Abu Dhabi: From the start of the new year, an automated system in Abu Dhabi will detect traffic violations, including the use of hand-held devices while driving and failure to fasten the seat belt.

The Abu Dhabi Digital Authority (ADDA), representing the Department of Government Support - Abu Dhabi (DGS), has developed the new 'VAST' (Vehicular Attention and Safety Tracker) system in cooperation with Abu Dhabi Police. Its aim is to reduce traffic incidents and boost safety, while also raising awareness about the importance of save driving practices.

The Abu Dhabi Police has set up a radar monitoring element to capture high-resolution images, via artificial intelligence cameras as part of the new system. This helps analyse images to rapidly detect seat belt and mobile phone violations. Violators will receive an SMS notification directing them to rectify their behaviour immediately.

"This cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Police comes as part of ADDA's efforts to utilise accurate data analysis and benefit from the latest technologies to enable a digital government that is proactive, personalised, collaborative and secure," said Mohamed Abdelhameed Al Askar, director general at the ADDA. "The traffic safety and road accident reduction model will significantly contribute to reducing accident and injury rates, thus enhancing traffic safety levels across the emirate," he added.

Five phases

Major General Maktoum Ali Al Sharifi, director General at the Abu Dhabi Police, explained that the VAST system has been implemented in five phases, namely camera and edge devices, image review module, SMS notification, performance dashboard, and model retraining.

The data and modern technology team from ADDA worked closely with the relevant team from the Abu Dhabi Police to collect, track, analyse and process data to develop the system. "The Abu Dhabi Police is persistent in its efforts to promote safe driving practices and protect human lives by implementing traffic laws. The joint cooperation with the ADDA supports our vision to ensure that Abu Dhabi remains a safe and secure society," Al Sharifi said.


DEWA bill savings: Dubai cuts fuel surcharge for electricity and water

Dubai: In yet another step towards improving the competitiveness of Dubai, the Emirate's Supreme Council of Energy has announced a new reduction in the fuel surcharge for electricity and water.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, issued a decision to reduce the fuel surcharge for electricity and water.

Accordingly, fuel surcharge for electricity will be 5 fils for kilowatt hour instead of 6.5 fils currently. Fuel surcharge for water will be 0.4 fils for Imperial Gallon instead of 0.6 fils currently.

The decision comes in line with the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to increase the share of renewable and clean energy in Dubai's energy mix.

It also reflects the Supreme Council's commitment to enhancing Dubai's prestigious position in providing electricity and water services at globally-competitive prices. The savings achieved in fuel consumption as a result of the increase in solar energy production will be passed to customers. The fuel surcharge reduction will be applied on electricity and water bills from December 1 2020.

Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Vice-Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and MD and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) said: "At Dewa, we work in line with the vision and directives of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid to increase the share of renewable and clean energy and provide 75 per cent of Dubai's energy capacity from clean energy sources by 2050 through the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050.

In light of the increase in the share of clean energy capacity in Dubai's energy mix to around 9 per cent, fuel consumption has decreased. These savings will be reflected in customers' bills. The Dubai Supreme Council of Energy's decision to reduce the fuel surcharge for electricity and water underlines the wise leadership's keenness to ensure a decent life for the residents of Dubai."


Free parking announced in Dubai from Tuesday to Friday, plus revised transport timings

Dubai: All public parking areas in Dubai, except for multi-level parking terminals, will be free of charge from Tuesday to Friday (December 1 to 4), as part of public holidays for 49th National Day celebrations, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced on Sunday.

It also announced revised timings for customer happiness centres, public buses, metro, tram, marine transport, and service provider centres (technical testing of vehicles) during the public holiday period.

Metro timings

The Red Line of Dubai Metro will operate from 5am to 1am (of the following day), the Green Line of Dubai Metro will operate from 5.30am to 1.am (of the following day), and Dubai Tram will operate from 6am to 1am (of the following day). The Metro Link Bus Service at Rashidiya, Mall of the Emirates, Ibn Battuta, Dubai Mall/Burj Khalifa, Abu Hail, and Etisalat will be in service from 5am to 1:10am (of the following day). The timing of all Metro Link services is synchronised with the metro timetables.

Bus timings

Public buses (Dubai Bus) timings will only be for Tuesday to Wednesday. Main Stations (including Gold Souq Station) will operate from 4.25am to 12:29 am (past midnight). Al Ghubaiba Station from 4.14am to 12:58am (past midnight).

The Intercity Bus and Commercial Coaches will be operating from Union Square from 4.25am to 11pm, Etisalat Metro Station from 5am to 11pm, and Abu Hail Metro Station from 6am to 11pm. The timing of External Stations will be as follows: Jubail at Sharjah from 5.30am to 11.30pm, Hatta from 5.30am to 9.30pm, and Ajman from 5.15am to 11pm.

Marine transport timings

The Water Bus will operate at Marina Stations (Marina Mall, Marina Walk, Marina Terrace, Marina Promenade) from 12pm (noon) up to 12am (midnight). The Traditional Abra and Ferry will also operate during the holiday with revised timings, available on the RTA website.

RTA centres

Service Provider Centres will close from Tuesday to Thursday and resume business on Saturday. Customer Happiness Centres will close from Tuesday to Thursday and resume business on Sunday. The Smart Customer Happiness Centres at Umm Al Ramool, Deira, Al Barsha, and RTA Head Office will continue operation 24/7 hours as usual.


New IKEA store opens in Abu Dhabi shopping, lifestyle hub

Al Wahda Mall, a leading shopping and lifestyle destination in Central Abu Dhabi, has announced the opening of its new IKEA store. This is the Swedish home furnishing retailer's second outlet in the emirate and the fifth in the UAE.

Strategically located in the heart of Abu Dhabi, the new IKEA store is spread over 2,100 sq m area on the first floor of Al Wahda Mall.

The store will be home to approximately 2,000 low and medium sized ready-to-assemble furniture and home essentials with quick access for customers who require their essentials on the go, said a statement from Al Wahda Mall.

Al Wahda Mall's sister shopping mall brands across UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman and India, which are all managed by Line Investments and Property, are expected to encompass more than 12 million sq ft from the new projects lined up until the end of 2020.

The brand's flagship Swedish Caf will be available for dine-in and take away including favorites such as the shawarma, the hot-dog and Swedish pastries, it added.

On the launch, Ashraf Ali, Executive Director, Lulu Group International said: "I am so happy and excited to welcome the world-renowned IKEA to our Al Wahda Mall, in the heart of Abu Dhabi. It has been our constant endeavor to bring world-class shopping experience to the discerning shoppers of Abu Dhabi and the launch of IKEA will further boost the retail sector of this great city."

IKEA Managing Director (UAE, Egypt and Oman) Vinod Jayan said: "One of our key strategic objectives at IKEA is to reach and engage with many more of the many people, and with the opening of our second store in Abu Dhabi we edge closer to achieving our goal."

"We know that time is of the essence for the many people therefore with the mall's strategic and central location, we will be bringing the IKEA experience closer to people's homes, in a more convenient and compact store," stated Jayan.

"Al Wahda Mall remains a top destination for shopping, entertainment and leisure in the heart of Abu Dhabi, so we are thrilled to be able to bring our new IKEA concept store to this location," he noted.

"The full-size IKEA store in Yas Island, which operates on an area of 33,000 sq m since 2011, will continue to be the go-to destination for the complete inspiring experience, so our goal is to create a closer glimpse of that experience at the heart of the Abu Dhabi Island," he added.- TradeArabia News Service


Bahrain announces Covid-19 test cost reduction

The cost of the Covid-19 PCR tests for travellers arriving in Bahrain has been reduced from BD60 ($158) to BD40 ($105.4), effective immediately, said a report.

The National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (Covid-19) announced that the reduced cost will cover the PCR arrival test, as well as the test to be conducted on the 10th day of arrival into Bahrain for citizens, residents, and visitors, BNA reported

The Taskforce highlighted that all precautionary measures announced previously will still be followed, including activating the "BeAware Bahrain" application for all arrivals. For those who test negative upon arrival, leaving ones residency or place of stay is conditional upon signing a disclaimer pledging their commitment to following all precautionary measures issued by the Ministry of Health, in conjunction with self-isolating until the result of the upon arrival PCR test is confirmed.

Those residing in Bahrain for more than 10 days should conduct the second PCR test on the 10th day of their stay. If the second test result is positive, the Ministry of Health will be in direct contact with the individual, using the number provided upon arrival into the kingdom, the report said.

The Taskforce stressed that it will continue to review all relevant decisions periodically in a manner that preserves the health and safety of all.


Bahraini ministry plans to replace expats by 2024

Cairo: Bahrain's Ministry of Works and Municipality Affairs plans to replace its foreign employees with citizens by 2024, a senior official was quoted by local media as disclosing.

Around 446 foreigners are currently working at the ministry, accounting for some 17 per cent of its overall workforce, Minister of Works and Municipality Affairs Essam Khalaf told parliament.

The total cost of their employment, housing and transport allowances as well as air tickets and their families 'accommodation over the past two years has been BD17 million, he added.

"As part of the ministry's efforts to Bahrainise jobs, it has terminated contracts of 49 foreign employees since 2018," the official said.

Foreigners account for more than half of Bahrain's 1.7 million population.

Bahrain has recently stepped up a drive to replace expatriates with citizens in jobs amid calls for prioritising the Bahrainis' employment.

In October, a Bahraini parliamentary committee approved a draft bill obliging employers to give job preferences to citizens as the kingdom is seeking to replace expatriates in work.

The draft commits employers to check records of Bahraini job-seekers and hire the qualified citizens. Failure to comply with the regulations will be punishable by a fine ranging from BD5,000 to 20,000.


Announcement on lifting of travel restrictions to be made later

RIYADH - An official source at the Ministry of Interior said on Tuesday the ministry will later announce a date of lifting travel restrictions on citizens and residents traveling to and from Saudi Arabia.

"In reference to the statement issued on Sept. 13, 2020, stipulating that the lifting of restrictions on citizens traveling to and from Saudi Arabia, and allowing the opening of ports for all means of transport after Jan. 1, 2021, the Ministry of the Interior would like to clarify that the date for lifting restrictions on two-way traveling and allowing the opening of ports will be announced later," the source said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

The ministry was expected to make the final announcement, confirming the exact date for easing the travel restrictions imposed in the wake of the global outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

The ban is tentatively planned to be lifted on Jan. 1, 2021. The ministry had earlier said that the deadline for lifting the suspension would be announced 30 days before Jan. 1 next year.

The ministry had also indicated that the Ministry of Health may raise a request to set coronavirus protocols for travelers and airlines.

Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) resumed partial operation of international flights on Sept. 15, exempting certain categories of Saudis and expatriates from the temporary travel ban.

Saudia has been flying to 33 international destinations since November.


Foreigners must transfer sponsorship within 2 months after separation from Saudi spouses

RIYADH - Foreign husbands of Saudi women and non-Saudi wives of Saudi men must find a job and transfer their sponsorship within two months after their separation from Saudi spouses due to the death or divorce, according to a circular issued by the Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development.

The exercise must be done in coordination and cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, according to Abdul Majeed Al-Rashoudi, deputy minister of Human Resources and Social Development.

In the circular, a copy of which was seen by Okaz/Saudi Gazette, Al-Rashoudi said that the foreign husband and wife must leave the Kingdom if they fail to find a job during the stipulated period.

As for the sons and daughters of Saudi women in their marriage with their foreign spouses, their sponsorship shall be transferred to another employer after the death of their mothers after they reach the age of 18.

The circular, which is addressed to the directors of the ministry's branches in various regions of the Kingdom, stated that it is necessary to prove that their marriages were solemnized with the approval of the competent authorities before completing the transfer of the service and that a certified copy of the marriage contract shall be attached. There should also be a valid passport that enables them to return at any time in their country.

Moreover, the consent of the employer either for the transfer of service or termination of the contractual relationship with him is a must. This is also applicable to sons and daughters of a Saudi woman married to a foreigner.

At present, the ministry allows both sons and daughters of Saudi women married to foreign nationals to work in professions that are restricted to Saudis, provided that their mothers are sponsors. As for the foreign husband of a Saudi woman, he is allowed to work in the private sector without transferring sponsorship but he is not counted in the percentage of Nitaqat Saudization.

The Ministry of Human Resources announced the Saudization of several sales jobs in the sectors of coffee, tea, sugar, honey, spices, fruits and vegetables, dates, cleaning materials, plastics, grains, seeds, flowers, plants and agricultural materials, drinking water and beverages, gifts and luxuries, handicrafts and antiques, toys, meat and fish, eggs, dairy products and vegetable oils, sale of books, stationery items, and student services.


Saudi Arabia: SR1,000 fine for overstaying exit visa

Cairo: Saudi Arabia's General Directorate of Passports has warned that overstaying an exit visa carries a fine of SR1,000.

"In case of the visa expiry without the beneficiary's departure, a fine of SR1,000 must be paid in order to cancel the visa and issue a new one," the directorate said on its Twitter. "The expatriate's identity card must be still valid in order to conduct the procedure," it added.

The directorate's note was in response to a query from an employer who said he got an exit visa for a worker, but the latter did not leave although his residency permit also expired.

Last month, Saudi Arabia unveiled major labour reforms, allowing job mobility and regulating the exit and re-entry visa issuance for expatriate workers without employers' approval.

Millions of migrant workers in the kingdom stand to benefit from the reforms, which will come into effect on March 14, 2021.


Discover Qatar unveils very own expedition cruise series

Qatar Airways' destination management subsidiary, Discover Qatar, has launched its first-ever expedition cruise series.

The cruises, which are designed for seasoned and adventurous travellers, provide a unique opportunity to observe the largest gathering of the world's largest living fish - the whale shark - in the Al Shaheen marine zone.

Discover Qatar has partnered with PONANT, the world's leader in luxury expeditions cruising, to offer this cruise series. Guests will travel on board 'Le Champlain', one of PONANT's new explorer-class cruise ships. Cruise season will begin in April 2021 and will run seven consecutive weekly departures.

Between the summer months of April and September, during their annual migration to the region, whale sharks are found feeding in groups of hundreds in the Al Shaheen marine zone within the Arabian Gulf, which lies 80 kilometres off the northern coast of Qatar.

The Discover Qatar expedition cruise will give passengers the privilege of accessing the Al Shaheen restricted marine zone - a diverse ecosystem of immense natural beauty - to witness the majesty of the whale shark gathering, as well as a unique coastal exploration adventure. From observing whale sharks, snorkelling in coral reefs, exploring mangroves to gliding through the turquoise waters of Khor Al Adaid channel, a team of expert guides, marine biologists, naturalists and ornithologists will lead guests to identify local wildlife, offer a cultural perspective on the sites explored and ensure a memorable expedition experience.

Speaking on the unique new offering was group chief executive, Qatar Airways, HE Akbar Al Baker: "Qatar is a unique setting for expedition cruises and I am hugely excited to launch our first product in this area to show off our country's beauty to the world. Qatar, with its abundance of rugged, untouched nature, surrounded by crystal waters and a unique biodiverse ecosystem, offers exciting adventures that allow visitors to connect with nature and visit areas of Qatar that are only accessible by the sea."

Discover Qatar offers customers a nine-day expedition cruise package on board a luxury expedition ship on full-board basis. Guests will enjoy five-star services, elegant accommodation, sight-seeing discoveries and exploration adventures while the highly trained crew will ensure safe travel in comfort and style. Customers will also have the opportunity to extend their travel to an eleven-day package, including a three-nights-stay in Doha.

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