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Masdar in deal to develop major wind power project in Egypt

Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) has signed a collaboration agreement to deliver a wind power portfolio of more than 800 megawatts (MW) in Egypt alongside Elsewedy Electric and Marubeni Corporation.

The signing took place in the presence of Wael Gad, ambassador of Egypt to the UAE, during the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, chief executive officer at Masdar, said: “As Egypt’s economy expands, so do the opportunities to provide energy from renewable sources. We are ready to tap into our existing experience with renewable energy projects, while collaborating with industry experts like Elsewedy Electric and Marubeni in Egypt, to deliver on the country’s visionary plans for the future.”

The three entities are partnering for the first time to build on their existing renewable energy capacity in Egypt. Masdar has already developed a number of solar power plants in partnership with Egypt’s New and Renewable Energy Authority. These include the 10 MW Siwa Solar photovoltaic (PV) plant; four PV plants in the Red Sea governorate with a combined capacity of 14 MW; and three PV installations in Al Wadi Al Jadeed with a combined capacity of 6 MW. That is in addition to providing 7,000 standalone solar home systems to homes and community buildings.

Egypt’s Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy recently announced that the country plans to generate 42 per cent of its electricity from renewables by 2025. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), headquartered in Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, the country aims to install 7.2 gigawatts (GW) of wind power by 2020 and 3.5 GW of solar by 2027.

“This new addition to Egypt’s energy portfolio is amongst several projects implemented in recent years, and shows once again the country’s attractiveness as a location for renewable energy investors,” said Ahmed Elsewedy, president and chief executive officer of Elsewedy Electric. “We are confident that Egypt will realise the ambitious targets set for renewable energy, and Elsewedy is glad to be part of the continuous success of Egypt’s IPP programme alongside two great international organisations.”

Elsewedy Electric is a leading provider of integrated energy solutions primarily focused on energy infrastructure projects in the Middle East and Africa. In addition to delivering large and complex engineering and construction projects, Elsewedy Electric also manufactures and distributes electrical products worldwide, with production facilities in more than 16 countries.

Marubeni is one of the leading Japanese trading and investment houses and one of the biggest independent power producers (IPP) in the Middle East and Africa.

Marubeni owns and operates 15 independent water and power producing (IWPP) projects with a total gross capacity of 13,811 MW in the region. Marubeni is currently developing the world’s largest solar power plant in the UAE and rapidly expanding its renewable energy business. This collaboration is Marubeni’s first foray into wind energy in the Middle East.

Masdar is a partner in the world’s largest offshore wind farm currently in operation, London Array, and recently launched another large-scale offshore wind project in the UK, Dudgeon. Masdar’s wind energy portfolio also includes the Middle East’s first utility-scale wind farm (Tafila in Jordan), the largest wind project in the Western Balkans (?ibuk 1), and Hywind Scotland, the world’s first commercial-scale floating wind park.

Masdar’s Clean Energy division is a leading developer and operator of utility-scale, grid-tied renewable energy projects, applications providing energy access to communities away from the electricity grid, and carbon abatement projects.

Since 2006, Masdar has invested in projects with a combined value of $8.5 billion; the company’s share of this investment is $2.7 billion. The electricity generating capacity of these projects, which are either fully operational or under development, is nearly 3GW gross. - TradeArabia News Service


From February 4: Certificate of good conduct must for UAE work visa applicants

Abu Dhabi: Expatriates applying for a job in the UAE must first obtain a certificate of good conduct in order to be issued a work permit, a UAE government body has announced.

The new rule will take effect from February 4, 2018.

The official news agency WAM reported on Monday that the UAE Coordination Committee approved a Cabinet Resolution issued in 2017 stipulating that expatriates who apply for work visa in the UAE must first obtain a certificate of good conduct — issued by either by his home country or the country where he lived for five years.

The certificate must then be attested by UAE diplomatic missions, or oversees Customer Happiness Centres at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

The committee, which consists of members representing relevant UAE government bodies, said the move comes as part of efforts to create a safer society.

The rule also stems from the UAE’s belief in the importance of protecting community members and ensuring that they enjoy a safe life, making the UAE as one of the most secure countries in the world.

The committee clarified that the certificate is not required from those who come to the country on a visit or tourist visa


Over 260,000 firms register for VAT

At the Future of Borders International Conference taking place in Dubai, CEO, Dubai Airports, Paul Griffiths highlighted that due to demand and growth, the company, which operates Dubai International and Al Maktoum International in Dubai World Central, has expansion plans in the pipeline.

Abu Dhabi: Over 260,000 companies and over 10,000 groups (one or two companies in a group) have registered for value added tax since it came into effect earlier this month, director general of federal tax authority Khalid al Bustani said in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

“We are satisfied with the implementation of VAT registration so far. Applications of some companies are under processing and some applications have been returned because of wrong information. We are expecting to conclude the remaining registration process soon,” said Al Bustani while urging firms wih an annual turnover of more than Dh375,000 to quickly register.

“If the companies do not register they will be breaking the law,” he said without elaborating further.

He also said revenue from the value added tax will support the UAE’s GDP growth and help in the diversification process.

“The impact on individual cost of living is minimal as value added tax is just five per cent and it is about 1.4 per cent but VAT will support the economic growth and will help the economy in diversification of the revenue.”


FTA makes exceptional amendments to VAT tax period

The Federal Tax Authority, FTA, has made some exceptional amendments to the first tax period for those subject to value-added tax, VAT, to be more flexible with the business sectors included in the tax.

This decision is a response to the calls of many authorities and institutions subject to VAT, which came into force on 1st January, 2018.

Khalid Ali Al Bustani, Director-General of the FTA, stated that this action is part of the authority’s desire to promote its partnership with the business sector, assist companies to achieve full tax compliance, and provide them with the appropriate assistance, under the Decree of Federal Law No. 8 for 2017 on VAT and its executive regulations.

He added that the exceptional amendments, to be applied to several businesses, include extending the accounting tax period by one to three months for some businesses and amending the quarterly tax period, scheduled to end during the first tax period at the end of January or February, to end on the second tax period. The tax period for some businesses will, therefore, be four months, and five months for other businesses while businesses with a three-month tax period ending in March will not be affected by the amendments, he further added.

Al Bustani stressed that the authority is communicating with all business sectors to learn about their opinions and discuss ways of overcoming their obstacles, to guarantee the smooth adoption of the new Emirati tax system, achieve their desired goals, and provide the business sector with appropriate assistance.

He also noted that companies can view the amendments to the first tax period by logging into their accounts on the e-services portal on the FTA’s website.

According to the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers No. 52 for 2017 on the executive regulations of the Decree of Federal Law No.8 for 2017 regarding VAT, the basic tax period is three months from the date set by the FTA, and the authority has the right to set a shorter or longer period for individuals or a group of individuals if it decides that the non-essential tax period is necessary.

As per the regulations, the tax declaration must be submitted to the authority no later than on the 28th day after the end of the relevant tax period.


Emergency meeting on fire alarm installation in UAE homes

Abu Dhabi: The Directorates of Civil Defence across the UAE on Tuesday held an emergency meeting to discuss the best method for carrying out the orders of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Shaikh Mohammad had ordered the installation of fire alarms in the homes of Emiratis following a fire that broke out in a house in Fujairah, which led to the death of seven children.

The meeting, chaired by Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, touched on ways to quickly link fire early warning systems in residences and villas with the Civil Defence’s operation rooms.

Shaikh Saif approved a solution proposed by the Higher Committee of Civil Defence and specialists that pertains to smoke detectors that are quick to install. Indoor sirens will also be installed so that residents are able to evacuate their homes.

The Ministry of Interior will receive applications through its website or smart apps.

Village still coming to terms with shock

A day after the tragic deaths of seven siblings in a house fire in Rul Dhadna, the little village on the east coast is still coming to terms with the shock.

Meanwhile, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, visited the family to offer condolences after the tragic death of seven children in a home fire.


World’s first floating kitchen coming to Dubai

Dubai: The world’s first floating kitchen will be coming in the seas of Dubai later this month, taking the concept of food trucks out to the sea and catering to customers on jet skis, boats and yachts.

“We started this project back in May of last year, with the Aqua Pod taking three months to construct. The goal here is to redefine the idea of a food truck — which is always found on land — and to develop what you can call a floating kitchen that serves people who are in marine craft rather than cars,” said Ahmad Yousuf, founder of Aquatic Architects Design Studio, the main consultant and builder for the Aqua Pod.

Yousuf said that the Aqua Pod would initially start its operations in Jumeirah, covering areas such as Al Sufouh and Kite Beach.

“The Aqua Pod is able to move around and relocate depending on consumer demand. The main areas we are going to be serving at the start will be in Jumeirah, so places like Al Sufouh Beach, Kite Beach, and the Palm Lagoon one and two.”

Explaining how customers would order their food, Yousuf said that two ordering systems have been created.

“The first method we have created is called the flags system, which sees a delivery jet ski leaving out of the Aqua Pod and going to all of the boats around us giving them the flags. The people on those boats who want to make an order can raise their flag, and the jet ski will go back out to take their order, and then deliver the food as well when the entire order is complete,” he said.

“[In] The second way people can order directly at the Aqua Pod; they can stop their boat or jet ski along the pod and place their order with the cashier. This is more designed for smaller marine craft rather than the bigger ones,” he added.

On the cuisine being offered, Yousuf said the Aqua Pod would be serving burgers as it was the most convenient food to sell.

“Our client decided to go with the burger concept, most people out on the beach like to eat a burger, and it’s the easiest meal to consume. In the future, the menu options can be expanded to pizzas and desserts depending on the success.”

Yousuf also highlighted the Aqua Pod was built with sustainability in mind, and would be electrically run and it would have a system that would collect any trash found in the sea.

“The Aqua Pod was designed with sustainable mechanisms, the whole pod will be electronically run, this includes an electrical propulsion. The pod also has a built- in system that allows it to collect any trash in the sea.

“So even if someone makes an order from us and then throws that trash into the sea — which is out of our control — the Aqua Pod can take in all that waste into one of its tanks, which is then discharged afterwards,” he added.


Abu Dhabi Global Market enhances data protection regulations

The Abu Dhabi Global Market, ADGM, has announced the enhancements of the ADGM Data Protection Regulations and the launch of the Annual Data Protection Forum, following the establishment of the ADGM Office of Data Protection in December 2017.

The market has amended its Data Protection Regulations 2015 to enhance the clarity and effectiveness of the regime. The new enhancements include updates on matters such as defined terms, data breach notification timeframes and deadlines for notifications to the Registrar, alongside expanded enforcement provisions.

The enhancements expand the list of jurisdictions designated in the Regulations as providing an adequate level of protection of personal data. Designation facilitates the free flow of personal data from ADGM to those jurisdictions and improves ease of doing business for ADGM firms. The additional jurisdictions include: Andorra, Dubai International Financial Centre, DIFC, and the Faroe Islands.

The amendments take effect on 1st February 2018.

As part of its commitment to privacy and data protection, ADGM is pleased to announce the launch of the Annual Data Protection Forum. The inaugural event, taking place on 28th January, marks the occasion of International Data Protection Day and will feature several speakers including key note speaker, Lahoussine Aniss, Secretary-General of the National Commission for the Control of the Protection of Personal Data, Morocco.


New recreation club takes shape at Nakheel's Warsan Village

Construction is under way on a new Dh10-million ($2.7 million) dining, sports and leisure hub at Nakheel’s Warsan Village villa community in Dubai, the master developer said today.

Due to open in 2019, Warsan Village Club will feature a restaurant, swimming pool, children’s pool, gym, fitness studios and tennis court, as well as a car park.

One of seven in Nakheel’s growing collection of community recreation clubs, and part of the developer’s Dh5-billion ($1.3 billion) hospitality expansion programme, Warsan Village Club will provide on-the-doorstep food, fitness and fun for residents, and a new destination for people living in other areas. It complements those already in operation at Nakheel’s Jebel Ali Village, Jumeirah Islands, Al Furjan and Masakin Al Furjan communities.

The recreation club is the latest addition to the 147-hectare, gated Warsan Village master community, where the Dh1.2-billion ($326.6 million) Warsan Souk, a vibrant retail and dining destination with 1,170 shops, restaurants and cafes, is also under construction and due to open next year. The suq is fully leased.

Nakheel delivered the 934 villas that make up Warsan Village in 2016. Each home has three bedrooms, a maid’s room, three bathrooms, powder room, balconies, private garden and parking for two cars. More than 800 villas have already been handed over to investors, with the rest ready for occupation by new buyers.

Warsan Village is located just minutes away from Dragon City, Nakheel’s sprawling retail, trading and leisure destination, containing the world-famous Dragon Mart and its sister mall, Dragon Mart 2.

Prices for Warsan Village’s ready-to-move-into homes start from Dh1.7 million ($462,782). - TradeArabia News Service


Dubai set to open $18m 32-km cycle tracks

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is gearing up for the opening of cycle tracks stretching 32 km in Mushrif, Mirdif and Al Khawaneej with the project cost amounting to Dh67 million ($18.2million) early February.

The project includes the construction of two bridges for the combined use of cyclists and pedestrians over Al Khawaneej and Academic City Streets.

Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the RTA, said: “We aim to provide residential districts with an infrastructure that encourages residents to practice sports as it has immense health benefits to people.”

“The project is part of a master plan developed by RTA for providing dedicated cycling & running tracks covering the entire Emirate that can be used as environment-friendly mobility means for cycling enthusiasts. Advanced countries focus on raising the proportion of trips made by walking and cycling.

“The selection of these areas was based on several criteria highlighted by the population density, appeal to cyclists & pedestrians, suitability of locations and the traffic safety level. Moreover, tracks are designed in such a way that ensures the safety and security of cyclists,” explained Al Tayer.

Over the past years, the RTA had constructed cycle tracks extending 218 km covering Seih Assalam/Bab Al Shams/Al Qudra Street, Dubai Water Canal, Jumeirah Street, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud Street and Al Mankhool Street. Additionally, RTA is currently undertaking the construction of cycling tracks extending 32 km at Mushrif, Midrif and Al Khawaneej.

“RTA is planning to construct more cycle tracks extending as long as 234 km during 2018-2021. These tracks will pass through several areas including Al Warqaa, Jumeirah Beach, Nad Al Sheba, Expo 2020 site, Downtown, Jebel Ali, Al Quoz, Al Karama, Oud Metha, Hor Al Anz, Al Qusais and Al Barsha. As such, the total length of cycle tracks in Dubai to about 500 km by 2021,” added Al Tayer. – TradeArabia News Service


UAE online shopping purchases subject to VAT

The UAE Federal Tax Authority (FTA) has confirmed that all purchases made through online shopping portals are subject to the same 5 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) as any other purchase made through traditional outlets if the products purchased online are received within the emirates, reported state news agency Wam.

The Authority stated in an awareness flyer issued today that as per Decree-Law No. (8) of 2017 on Value Added Tax and its Executive Regulations, all online sales are subject to VAT where a seller’s supplies exceed the mandatory registration threshold of Dh375,000 ($102,088) over the previous 12 months or the coming 30 days, it added.


Lagoons firm targets Oman to lead Middle East growth

Crystal Lagoons, the multinational water innovation company, has announced that it is targeting Oman as a key area for expansion in the Middle East.

The company said it has identified Oman’s tourism market which, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, is expected to see investment of upwards of $1.7 billion by 2026.

The technology has already proven to be a major success in the GCC, particularly in Oman, where Alargan Towell Investment Company has started work on a 50-hectare multi-million-dollar, mixed-use development.

Crystal Lagoons will build a 40-hectare lagoon as part of the project, the centrepiece to three hotels, serviced apartments, a mixed-use souk and a host of other amenities.

Crystal Lagoons has also signed a deal with Palm’s Beach Company to build a five-hectare lagoon as the centrepiece for the Al Nakheel Integrated Tourism Complex (ITC) in the Wilayat of Barka. Construction of the lagoon is due to start by the end of March.

Carlos Salas, regional director, Middle East, Crystal Lagoons, said: “Developing Oman’s tourism industry is a top priority for the government, investment is likely to see a number of recognised hospitality brands coming into the market. At Crystal Lagoons our technology allows us to develop mass bodies of water that are not only highly sustainable but also offer incredible turquoise water ideal for a range of water sports in a safe environment, perfect for large resorts and residential developments.

“As investment in the country grows, as does competition. We can provide a viable, long term differentiator that offers something unique to other developments, we ultimately deliver the wow factor!”

Oman is renowned for having some of the cleanest waters in the world, as stated by a recent United Nations report.

In addition to expansion in the Middle East, Crystal Lagoons has also recently revealed plans to create a new business model which will see the company introduce Public Access Lagoons (PALs) around the world.

In the US, Miami will soon have the first privately owned crystal-clear lagoon open to the public through tickets sales while in Europe, Spain has recently signed a deal to open the first PAL just 30km from the capital, Madrid. Initial discussions have also taken place with developers in the UAE, with talks currently ongoing. Crystal Lagoons will generate revenue through a percentage of tickets sold.

Crystal Lagoons currently boasts over 600 projects in different development and negotiation stages in 60 countries worldwide.


Oman launches M-98 grade fuel

Oman Oil, which is wholly owned by the Omani government, launched its new M-98 grade fuel on Wednesday.

M-98 is a higher grade fuel particularly used in performance cars and is more expensive than the M-95 grade fuel.

The M-98 grade fuel is priced at 266 baisa (Dh2.53) per litre, authorities announced.

The M-98 grade fuel will be available at Oman Oil fuel stations in Muscat, according to the company.

In January 2016, the Omani government started a review of fuel prices, following in the footsteps of other Gulf states that increased fuel prices.

Oman introduced M91 fuel in November 2016, which is a new type of petrol that has octane levels between M90 and M95.

M91 is currently priced at 199 baisa per litre, while M95 is priced at 213 baisa per litre.

Before the fuel prices in January 2016, the price of diesel was 146 baisa a litre, while M95 cost 120 baisa.

More than 125,000 Omani nationals have benefited from the fuel subsidy scheme, available at petrol stations nationwide.

In December, Oman’s government announced plans to introduce a new fuel subsidy scheme for low-income Omanis, starting from January.

The government’s decision aims to ensure the welfare of citizens. As per this mechanism, Omani citizens who meet eligibility requirements will get 200 litres per month of M91 petrol at a cost of not more than 180 baisa per litre

Meanwhile, oil prices hit their highest levels since 2014 on Tuesday, as a result of ongoing production cuts led by OPEC, as well as healthy demand.


Oman to delay VAT implementation until 2019, says local media

Oman’s Ministry of Finance has reportedly postponed the implementation of value-added tax (VAT) until 2019, according to Omani media reports.

Citing ministry sources, the Times of Oman is reporting that certain products – such as tobacco and energy and soft drinks – will be taxed from mid-2018.

According to the newspaper, the delay until 2019 is expected to provide businesses in Oman with more time to adequately prepare.

While the states of the GCC all originally agreed to implement VAT in January 2018, only Saudi Arabia and the UAE say they are prepared to do so, with the rest of the GCC’s member states expected to follow later.

In October, Jihad Azour, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) director for the Middle East and Central Asia, noted that “all” the countries of the GCC remain committed to the implementation of VAT, which he called “an important tax reform that requires preparation” and communication with the private sector “to be ready to help them.”

Additionally, Azour said that the varying timeframes for VAT’s implementation are unlikely to have much effect on trade in the region.

“Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the two largest economies, and both of them have re-iterated their commitment to introduce [VAT]. Other countries can follow suit,” he noted. “It’s a domestic type of tax. The impact of this tax on other countries will be fairly limited.”


Saudi Arabia to announce tourist visa rules by Q1-end

Details about tourist visas to Saudi Arabia will be announced at the end of the first quarter, a report said.

According to The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), regulations will be issued once they have been approved by its board of directors, said a report in Arab News.

SCTH has also refuted media reports about the nationalities that can apply for tourist visas, stating that these were mere speculation or based on deliberations that have not yet been finalised by the commission, the report said.

The commission added that preparations for launching tourist visas are underway, in coordination with the Ministry of Interior as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The tourist visa initiative is meant to revive the previous tourist visa system, which existed between 2008 and 2010, to enable visitors to discover new destinations in the kingdom, boost the tourism sector, and develop tourism and heritage services and facilities in the country.


Radisson Blu opens fifth hotel in Jeddah

Radisson Blu, a leading player in the hospitality sector and an iconic hotel brand driven by innovation and design, has announced the opening of its fifth hotel at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

It is an upscale international chain of full service hotels and resorts brand for Radisson Hotels mostly outside the US, including those in Europe, Africa, and Asia. These are operated by Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group.

The 150-room Radisson Blu Hotel, Jeddah Corniche has a prime location close to the popular North Corniche, which overlooks the Red Sea and is within the city’s newest waterfront development, said a statement from The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group.

The Jeddah hotel has a range of stylish rooms and suites, all with a modern design and many with views of the vibrant corniche.

Guests have a choice of room types, from standard and business-class rooms to one and two-bedroom suites, said the statement.

All rooms include free high-speed wireless Internet. Guests will also have complimentary access to two separate health clubs for men and women, which include a fitness gym, sauna and massage rooms – in addition to a refreshing outdoor swimming pool, it stated.

Tim Cordon, the area senior vice president for Middle East, Turkey and Africa at Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, said: "The kingdom’s drive towards economic diversification has seen some recent high-profile announcements with its ambitious vision to create a world-class tourism destination. As one of the fastest growing hotel companies in Saudi Arabia, and with a diversified portfolio, we are committed to support this growth across all market segments."

The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group has 38 hotels and over 10,000 rooms in operation and under development in Saudi Arabia.

"We are further pleased to strengthen the presence of our upper upscale Radisson Blu brand in Jeddah, one the region’s most prominent cultural and commercial centers," he noted.

The hotel has an excellent location, and is within walking distance to the corniche promenade, the Red Sea Mall and major theme park Atallah Happy Land Park. King Abdulaziz International Airport is just 6.2 km away, said the top hospitality group.

The Larder restaurant provides a modern, international dining experience where guests can enjoy a selection of ‘à la carte’ dishes served daily or start the day with the Radisson Blu Super Breakfast. 24/7 room service is also available. The hotel’s terrace café offers a chance to relax and take in the stunning view of the Red Sea, it stated.

The meeting and events space includes a 280-sq-m ballroom with a built-in stage and the ability to host up to 120 people crescent-style. The four meeting rooms span 160 sq m, all with natural light, climate control, free high-speed wireless Internet, and a separate break-out area, it added.

Bassam Abu Laban, the general manager for Radisson Blu Hotel, Jeddah Corniche said: "We are delighted to open the newest Radisson Blu hotel in Jeddah with a stunning location on the popular North Corniche."

"The hotel is next to many of the city’s most famous leisure attractions, making it the ideal destination for families visiting Jeddah. We are confident that guests will enjoy a memorable experience at the hotel with our unique Yes I Can!SM service delivered by our talented team," he added.- TradeArabia News Service


Janadriyah Festival to begin on Feb. 7 with India as guest of honor

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia›s 32nd National Heritage and Cultural Festival will begin at Janadriyah, about 42 km northeast of Riyadh, on Feb. 7. India is the guest of honor at the 18-day long cultural jamboree this year.

Formerly known as the Janadriyah Festival, it has been the most prestigious Saudi event since 1985, organized by the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG). Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques himself patronizes the festival with the participation of the rulers of GCC member states or their representatives as special guests.

Royal family members, senior officials and ministers from friendly countries, as well as millions of Saudis and expatriates visit the festival.

The festival will showcase traditional activities, including folk dances, camel races, arts and crafts as well as poetry rendering for its entire duration.

There will be pavilions of all Saudi provinces displaying indigenous cultural heritage and traditions, providing an excellent opportunity to the visitors to have a glimpse of the glorious Saudi past and its contemporary richness.

With the aim of expanding its global outreach and find cultural synergies with the countries having rich cultural and civilizational heritage and contemporary technical advancement, the Saudi government started inviting a foreign country as the “guest of honor” every year and it is India this year.

“The Kingdom has always taken cognizance of India’s historical socio-economic-cultural bonding with the people of the Arabian Peninsula. The momentum of warmth and proximity in the bilateral engagement generated by the historic visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Riyadh in April 2016 and his interactions with the entire Saudi leadership, during which he emphasized on upgrading the present Indo-Saudi buyer-seller relationship into a more comprehensive strategic partnership, seems to be the main factor to accord India the privilege of being the guest of honor for Janadriyah 2018,” said a press statement issued by the Indian Embassy in Riyadh.

“Our leadership in India and the Embassy of India in Riyadh are delighted to be part of this prestigious festival and extend our sincere thanks to the Saudi leadership for according this unprecedented privilege to our country,” the statement added.

A high-level ministerial delegation will be visiting Riyadh for the inaugural ceremony.

“The festival provides us an effective platform to showcase India’s growing economic might, industrial prowess and the magic of our cultural performances. Our participation in the festival covers three broad areas: Stalls inside a big covered hall called India Pavilion; cultural performances reflecting classical and contemporary dances; and a series of seminars and B2B interactions,” the statement said.

India pavilion

India Pavilion will facilitate the participation of various ministries and corporates to represent India’s economic and technological strength in a befitting manner.

Apart from the specific segments reflecting various phases of Indo-Saudi bilateral engagements and glimpses of both traditional and contemporary India, the commercial segment will be represented by the Ministries of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH); Tourism; Shipping; Textile (Handicraft); Food Processing; Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP); Ordnance Factory Board; and Department of Space.

From the corporate side, L&T, Tata Motors and ITL World will have principal stalls, while the TPCI will facilitate participation of companies in Food Food Processing Sectors. Lulu will handle Flavors of India stall. INOX, Shapoorji Pallonji, Abeer Medical Group, KRBL Rice, Virat Exports, and TCIL will also have their presence in the India Pavilion.

Few other groups such as Ajmal Perfumes, Aster Medical Group, Apollo Medical Group, Jet Airways may also join.


Apart from the India Pavilion, various activities are planned on the sidelines of the festival.

A seminar will be organized on Feb. 12 at Hotel Intercontinental, Riyadh, with the participation of speakers from India and Saudi Arabia. There will be two sessions. The morning session will be on Indo-Saudi Arabia Bilateral Ties: Present Realities and Future Prospects. The post- lunch session will discuss bilateral economic cooperation and investment opportunities. Details of the speakers and their papers will be announced soon.

The event will be attended by a large yet select group of Saudi officials and businessmen. The Indian exhibitors at the India Pavilion including representatives of the Indian ministries participating in Janadriyah are also expected to attend.

In addition, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) will be organizing a seminar on Feb. 11 in association with the Saudi Council of Chambers with special focus on Food Processing and Make in India. The timing and venue will be communicated later.

B2B meetings for any interested exhibitor, Indian company and representatives of the Indian ministries attending the Janadriyah, is also under active consideration.

Cultural programs

The Saudi authorities have provided an open-air stage, adjacent to the hall meant for India Pavilion for staging cultural performances.

A variety of performances, yoga demonstration, Bollywood film screening as well as display of Arabic Calligraphic specimen from Rampur Raza Library will be part of the cultural activities planned by the Indian mission.

A brochure containing details of the daily cultural activities will be released before the festival›s inauguration.

The cultural troupes coming from various parts of India include Kathakali, Manipuri, Rajasthani, Kathak, Purlia Chhau, Bhangra, Bollywood and Kalaripaitu groups. Some cultural performances will also be staged by the students of the International Indian Schools in Riyadh, Jubail and Dammam.

A yoga demonstration will take place every day between 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Cultural performances will take place every day from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Film screening will take place every day from 9 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

The embassy has planned Indian community participation on state basis. All the states that have shown interest to participate have been accommodated. Display of traditional attire, classical dances, perfumes, tourism sites and cuisine specialties will be part of the state stalls. In the community stall, people from various states dressed in their traditional attire are likely to serve their traditional cuisine for free sampling.


No new tax on expats: Ministry

RIYADH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) has categorically denied social media rumors that expat workers will have to pay 10% tax on a monthly salary of more than SR3,000.

“There is no truth in these reports. There is no intention at all to impose new tax on expatriates,” ministry’s spokesman Khaled Aba Al-Khail said.

The social media rumor about the tax also claimed that the authorities consisting of the ministries of labor, finance and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) were coordinating to impose the tax.

“Whatever social media is circulating about the new tax on expatriates is totally untrue,” the spokesman reiterated.

The social media rumor also claimed that recruitment and issuance of work permits for 60 jobs will be stopped as these jobs will be limited to Saudis only.

It said the companies and establishments will be asked to replace expatriates on these jobs with Saudis.

Aba Al-Khail denied the report as sheer rumors and said there are only 19 jobs which are limited to Saudis.

“There is no change in the jobs being restricted to Saudis only. There will not be any recruitment or issuance of work permits for expatriates to work in only 19 jobs restricted to Saudis,” he said


Bahrain increases price of petrol following subsidies removal

Bahrain has lifted some subsidies on petrol, Bahraini authorities have announced.

According to new petrol prices released by Bahrain’s National Oil and Gas Authority, prices have now gone up between 12 and 25 percent, depending on the grade of petrol.

The moves comes as part of a larger Bahraini effort to reduce government expenditures following 2014’s collapse in oil prices.

This year, the government has also sought to increase revenue by introducing an excise tax on tobacco products, energy drinks and soft drinks, following similar moves by the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this week, Bahraini Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa ordered that a study be conducted on government subsidies to low and medium income citizens to ensure that they continue to receive government aid and see how they can be restructured, according to local media reports.

In April, Bahrain’s energy minister said he expects the kingdom to save $1.6 billion (BD620m) by 2019 through its various cuts and redirecting of subsidies.


Kuwait's $407m retail, leisure destination set for Q1 launch

Kuwait’s leading property developer Tamdeen Group has announced that its Al Kout Project, the largest waterfront retail and entertainment destination in the country, has entered the final stages of construction.

Occupying a plot of 300,000 sq m, Al Kout Project offers six diverse experiences reflecting the unique architectural heritage of Kuwait. The most modern of these experiences is Al Kout Mall, which is expected to open for visitors during the first quarter of 2018, said the developer.

The mall will increase the overall leasing area of Al Kout Project to 100,000 sq m, it stated.

The KD123 million ($407 million) Al Kout Project compromises 360 stores and a 12-screen cinema, which is equipped with the latest Imax and 4DX systems and will be managed by Kuwait National Cinema Company (Cinescape).

Dining features prominently at Al Kout Mall, with an array of local and international restaurants and cafes, including 11 Kuwaiti trademarks which affirms Tamdeen’s constant support for ambitious initiatives from Kuwaiti entrepreneurs.

Al Kout Mall is also home to Infunity Sea Family Entertainment Centre, the largest indoor facility-of-its-kind in Kuwait. The Centre is themed around marine life and is an ideal edutainment for visitors of all ages eager to learn more about the marine environment, said the statement from Tamdeen.

In addition, Al Kout Mall will house the first ever Q8 Karting, the biggest indoor track of its kind in the Middle East, offering an exhilarating experience that simulates pro racing. The Q8 Karting track is designed to suit all types of races, and age groups, it added.

Al Kout Project has a seafront stretching 1.6 km in Fahaheel area, with captivating views of the Arabian Gulf, particularly at Al Kout Marina, which can accommodate more than 150 boats.

Meanwhile, Al Kout NaG’at, a favourite pier for fishermen, is one of the rare spots that has preserved its heritage, with traditional sailboats, fishing methods, and commercial activities.

Tamdeen pointed out that another highlight of the project was Al Kout Souq which reflects the area’s heritage. It features a traditional-style marketplace where traders sell fruits, vegetables, fish and meat.

The design of the Souq area reflects the simplicity of shopping in old Kuwait, it stated.

The project not only offers variety in entertainment and shopping, but also caters to the tourists via its five-star Al Kout Rotana Hotel. Strategically placed, it is 25 minutes’ drive from Kuwait International Airport and a 45-minute drive from the Saudi borders.

The project promotes easy accessibility, with Al Kout Mall connected via a footbridge to Al Kout Souq, offering stunning views of fountains, and the marina, said the statement from Tamdeen.

The mall also incorporates a multi-story car park and external parking, with 3,600 parking slots, it added.

Muath B. Al Roumi, the general maanager at Tamdeen Group Marketing, said: "The first quarter of 2018 will witness the birth of an exceptional tourism and retail destination in Kuwait. "

"With many exciting tourist attractions for all, Tamdeen Group is proud of Al Kout Project, and Al Kout Mall in particular, as a multiuse destination that goes beyond mainstream concepts of shopping centres. This will be one of the leading urban landmarks in Kuwait offering an enthralling mix of modernity and Kuwaiti heritage," he added.-TradeArabia News Service


MoI announces amnesty for residency violators

Illegals can leave Kuwait without paying fines, won’t be blacklisted Illegals can leave Kuwait without paying fines, won’t be blacklisted

KUWAIT: The interior ministry issued a decree yesterday granting a general amnesty to expatriates living in Kuwait without valid visas. The amnesty runs between Jan 29 and Feb 22, 2018 and is expected to benefit nearly 130,000 expatriates in violation of residency laws. The amnesty decree (no. 64/2018) gives illegal residents two options – they can either leave the country during the abovementioned period through any port without getting permission from any authority and without paying any penalties; or they can legalize their status and continue residing in Kuwait after paying all fines and obtaining a valid visa without being referred to the investigation department.

Residency violators who are banned from travelling or have a court case should visit the residency affairs department to discuss the possibility of getting a valid visa during the amnesty period. Those who leave the country during this amnesty period are allowed to enter Kuwait again if they meet the regular conditions of entry and if they were not banned for another reason.

This decree does not apply to expats who will lose their legal residency status after the amnesty period. If an illegal resident is caught during the amnesty period, they will be deported immediately. Residency violators who don’t leave the country during the amnesty period will face legal penalties, won’t be give a valid visa, will be deported, and won’t be allowed to enter Kuwait again.

Head of the interior ministry’s media security department Lt Col Nasser Buslaib stressed on the importance of this decree. “This is a great opportunity for illegal residents to resolve their legal status, especially since those who want to leave don’t have to pay fines. Also, they will have the chance to come back in the future, rather than being blacklisted if caught and deported,” he told Kuwait Times.

Those who want to legalize their status and stay in the country will pay a penalty of KD 2 for each day up to total of KD 600, even if they were in violation for a longer period. The last time an “amnesty” was granted was in January 2016, but it was partial, as violators who wanted to leave the country still had to pay fines. The last full amnesty (leaving without paying fines) was granted in 2011.

The amnesty comes as a relief for thousands of Indian workers forced to illegally extend their stay in Kuwait due to non-payment of salaries. “This comes as a great relief for the Indian workers,” said social worker Shaheen Sayyed, who had taken up their cause, according to a report in the Times of India. The paper said many of the workers, mostly from the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, went to the Indian Embassy yesterday and submitted their details so that they could return home. The amnesty also comes after India’s Union Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh’s recent visit to Kuwait. Singh had taken up the issue of the workers who had not been paid. By Nawara Fattahova


Doha Metro Rail Project Success is Largely Subject to Affordability

The progressive Doha Metro Rail Project is a planned rapid transit system in Doha to facilitate smooth commutation to people in Doha. The project was necessitated with the urge to modernize the commutation and at the same time deal with traffic related issues such as jams, accidents, pollution and undue delays.

As per the recent inspection conducted by Prime Minister and Minister of Interior H. E. Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al Thani, on Tuesday at Economic Zone Station, the project has reached 73 percent of completion stage and is expected to approach the end by 2018 and will be complete in 2019, much before being fully operational in 2020.

As planned, Doha Metro is expected to have four lines. These four lines will intersect the country to provide maximum travel coverage.

The Red line will cover the costal part of the country while connecting the towns of Al Khor in the north and Mesaieed in the south via Lusail, West Bay, Msheireb and the New Doha International Airport (NDIA).

The green line would serve as an education line, follow Al Rayyan Road connecting Education City with the Heart of Doha. Furthermore, it would link to Umm Slal and the Industrial Area South.

The Gold line will serve as a historic line from East-West direction and connects the Airport City North via central Msheireb with Al Waab Street, Al Rayyan South and Salwa Road.

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