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FAB agrees to buy Bank Audi's Egypt subsidiary

First Abu Dhabi Bank, the UAE's largest lender by assets, will buy the Egyptian subsidiary of Lebanon's Bank Audi for an undisclosed sum.

The deal, which already has a preliminary approval from the Central Bank of Egypt, will make FAB one of the largest foreign lenders by assets in the Arab world's most populous country and North Africa's largest economy, FAB said in a statement on Wednesday.

The deal in Egypt accelerates the UAE lender's "expansion in a high potential market ... offering the scale, expertise and financial strength to support our growth journey and sustainable returns," FAB group chief executive Andr Sayegh said.

The agreement is subject to further regulatory approvals in the UAE and Egypt, the statement added.

Bank Audi said the proceeds from the sale will help improve its capitalisation and contribute to its financial resilience. It is also in line with directives from the Central Bank of Lebanon to Lebanese lenders to raise their capital by 20 per cent to ride out any liquidity issues amid a worsening economic crisis in the country. Lebanon's banks could risk being shut out of the market if they do not comply by the end of next month.

Bank Audi Egypt has 53 branches with total assets of $5.3 billion at the end of September. FAB already has 17 branches in Egypt.

FAB had started talks last year to acquire the Egyptian unit of Bank Audi but later suspended discussions due to the pandemic.

In December, Bank Audi struck a deal to sell its businesses in Jordan and Iraq to Capital Bank Group.

Earlier this month, Lebanon's Blom Bank sold its Egyptian assets to Bahrain's Bank ABC.


Egypt to establish new city for gold industry

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has given directions for the creation of a city for gold industry and trade that reflects Egypt's ancient civilization history in this fine craftsmanship, a presidential spokesman said.

Al-Sisi directed the provision of latest technologies to reflect Egypt's ancient history of urbanization in this fine craft industry, and in an integrated manner in terms of providing industry and production supplies, high-end exhibits and employment training.

The directives include logistical aspects in terms of choosing the city's location to utilize the new road network and axis for easy access to and to receive visitors. - TradeArabia News Service


Siemens to build Egypt's first high-speed rail network

Siemens Mobility has signed an agreement with Egypt to design, install and commission the country's first ever high-speed rail transportation system with a network of around 1000km, with the first being a 460km project valued around $3 billion.

The National Authority for Tunnels, a governmental authority under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transport of Egypt, and Siemens Mobility signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) - together with the local companies Orascom Construction and The Arab Contractors (Osman Ahmed Osman & Co.)

The scope of the project includes turnkey engineering, procurement and construction as well as 15 years of maintenance services.

The MoU was signed by Essam Waly, Chairman of Egypt's National Authority for Tunnels, and Michael Peter, CEO Siemens Mobility, in a meeting on January 14 in Cairo. This was witnessed by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, Minister of Transport Egypt Kamel Al Wazir, as well as Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser and Siemens Deputy CEO Roland Busch.

"We are honoured and proud to expand our trustful partnership with Egypt. By building a high efficiency rail system for the country, we will support the Egyptian people with affordable, clean and reliable transportation," said Joe Kaeser, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Siemens AG.

"After the highly successful energy Mega project, we are now keen to repeat this visionary spirit in the mobility sector together with our partners."

Michael Peter, CEO Siemens Mobility, said: "We are delighted that the Ministry of Transport is seeking to put their trust in us to deliver this important project. Our digital leadership and comprehensive turnkey services will bring an integrated and state of the art high-speed rail system, that will provide a technology boost for the country and create local jobs. The system will significantly enhance passenger experience and reduce travel time for millions of Egyptian people."

The first 460 km long high-speed line will connect the vastly developing cities of El-Alamein on the Mediterranean Sea to Ain Sokhna on the Red Sea, while also passing through the New Administrative Capital. The line will also be operable for freight transport purposes which will further foster economic growth in the region.

Siemens Mobility is the global leader in high-speed rail operations and is one of the leading companies in the Egyptian mobility market since the 1960s. The company has also extensive experience in delivering high-speed rail projects in the Middle East and Africa region.

As a leading global rail turnkey project provider with a proven track record of delivering projects on time, Siemens Mobility integrates its portfolio elements and delivers complete rail systems reliably and from one single source.

So far, the company has successfully completed around 50 turnkey projects all over the world - delivering many ahead of schedule. Latest projects include the extension of the Blue Line metro in Bangkok finished last year and the Copenhagen Light Rail project. - TradeArabia News Service


Egypt housing market witnesses solid activity in 2020

The Egyptian market has emerged as one of the region's biggest transformation stories, driven by a strong government commitment to develop infrastructure, promote private sector partnerships and enhance business environment, according to property expert JLL.

Cairo's commercial market saw its first office completion of 2020, with the handover of 27,000 sq m of gross leasable area (GLA) in the fourth quarter, stated JLL in its 2020 Year End Real Estate Market report.

While the slowdown in activity during the year pushed landlords in Central and West Cairo to become more flexible with lease rates and terms, prime rents in New Cairo remained relatively stable.

Almost 2,500 units were completed in Cairo's residential market in 2020, bringing the total stock to around 162,000 units.

An additional 26,000 units are expected to be delivered in 2021. In terms of performance, the rental market demand remained resilient, specifically towards the second half of the year, resulting in rental increases of 8% and 5% in 6th of October and New Cairo, respectively.

In October 2020, the IMF revised upwards its 2020 economic growth forecast for Egypt to 3.5%, up from its initial projection of a 2% expansion.

"The various structural reforms launched over the past couple of years, coupled with the flexible approach to handling the pandemic by allocating 2% of the country's GDP to support the more vulnerable economic sectors and industries, mitigated the economic shock to a certain extent in a year as challenging as 2020," remarked Ayman Sami, JLL's Country Head - Egypt office.

"Amid a global pandemic and strict safety measures, the government's commitment to enhancing transparency, promoting competitiveness and improving governance have acted as catalysts to further support the real estate sector," he added.

With the brick-and-mortar stores impacted at the start of 2020 due to lockdown measures, Cairo's retail market saw groceries, pharmaceuticals and other entities quickly developed online platforms to support their businesses and continue engaging with consumers.

This reflected positively on the logistics and warehousing sectors in Cairo and facilitated their rapid growth, outlines JLL's report. Average asking rental rates continued to increase annually between 5% and 10% across secondary and primary malls, respectively.

Cairo's hotel market saw the delivery of around 400 hotel keys across the capital in 2020, bringing the stock to around 23,000 keys, said JLL in its report.

Occupancy levels were registered at 28% in the year to (YT) November 2020, while average daily rates (ADR's) and revenue per available room (RevPar's) decreased by 17% and 69%, respectively, to record $79 and $22 over the same period, it added.


Apply online for self-sponsored residence permits in Bahrain

Two-, five- and 10-year permits will be issued.

Bahraini residents can now apply for self-sponsored residence permits via www.evisa.gov.bh, state news agency BNA reported.

The Nationality, Passport and Residence Affairs (NPRA) said the service covers foreign retirees, investors and property owners in Bahrain.

Two-, five- and 10-year permits will be issued.

The online service is in response to Bahrain Interior Minister's directives to expand e-services. Services will gradually be moved to the website.

"The service is also part of the NPRA's dedication to promoting the investment environment as part of the Bahrain Economic Vision 2030," BNA said in its report.


GFH boosts retail presence in Bahrain with key mall acquisition

GFH Financial Group (GFH), the leading investment group in the Middle East, has expanded its presence in Bahrain's retail sector by acquiring 80 per cent of Hidd Mall alongside a strategic investor.

The 46,000 sq m mall, located in the fast-growing area of Hidd in Muharraq, is fully leased to Lulu Hypermarkets, a major retail chain in the Middle East. The mall currently boasts 100% occupancy, with Lulu Hypermarkets sub-leasing the space to a diverse range of multinational, regional and local tenants.

GFH currently has $12 billion asset and fund under management across a range of industries and sectors globally. In addition to Hidd Mall, the group's retail investment include Events Mall in Jeddah and the Entertainer, the leader in loyalty and rewards solutions, it stated.

On the deal, Chief Investment Management head Hammad Younas said: "GFH is excited to announce this latest landmark acquisition, one that is underscored by having Lulu Hypermarkets, the strongest retail chain in the GCC, as the primary tenant."

"This a resilient investment in a key sector which we believe will witness significant growth as the pandemic winds down. Malls anchored by grocery stores have already proved highly resilient, with families choosing to stay at home more during the pandemic," he added.

The new retail destination enjoys a high footfall from Hidd residents. In addition to the Lulu Hypermarket, Hidd Mall offers a range of banking, retail and F&B outlets such as the National Bank of Bahrain, Khaleeji Commercial Bank, Standard Chartered, Malabar Gold and Diamonds, Yum Yum Tree Food Court, KFC, Baskin Robbins, Jasmi's and Gloria Jean's Coffees.

Other government and service providers located in the property include branches for the Bahrain Traffic Police Station and Ministry of Interior, alongside telecommunications providers Batelco and STC, said the statement from GFH.

Additionally, Hidd Mall serves as a key location for Lulu Hypermarket's online distribution channel for its store items, it added.- TradeArabia News Service


Dubai limits number of people allowed to sit together in restaurants and cafes as cases surge

The number of people allowed to sit together at the same table in Dubai restaurants has been reduced from 10 to seven and only four people will be allowed to sit together in cafes, under new directives issued to help stop the spread of Covid-19 in Dubai.

The new measures, by the emirate's Supreme Committee for Crisis and Disaster Management, were included in a number of changes issued late on Friday.

The minimum distance between tables has also increased from two to three metres.

New rules have also been introduced for gyms and fitness centres where distancing between sports equipment and between trainees has been increased from two metres to three metres.

Attendance at social events, including weddings and private parties, is also being limited.

Only first-degree relatives - a person's parents, siblings and children - will be allowed, and no more than 10 people can attend.

The ruling, which starts from January 27, applies to events in hotels as well as gatherings in homes and comes after a high number of incidents of non-compliance with current precautionary and preventive measures.

The number of people allowed to sit together at the same table in Dubai restaurants has been reduced from 10 to seven and only four people will be allowed to sit together in cafes, under new directives issued to help stop the spread of Covid-19 in Dubai.

The new measures, by the emirate's Supreme Committee for Crisis and Disaster Management, were included in a number of changes issued late on Friday.

The minimum distance between tables has also increased from two to three metres.

New rules have also been introduced for gyms and fitness centres where distancing between sports equipment and between trainees has been increased from two metres to three metres.

Attendance at social events, including weddings and private parties, is also being limited.

Only first-degree relatives - a person's parents, siblings and children - will be allowed, and no more than 10 people can attend.

The ruling, which starts from January 27, applies to events in hotels as well as gatherings in homes and comes after a high number of incidents of non-compliance with current precautionary and preventive measures.

The new rules were announced as the country reported a record number of new Covid-19 cases on Friday at 3,552, the highest number of daily infections for the 11th consecutive day.

They were detected after another 170,694 tests were carried out across the country and brought the total number of cases to 270,810.

Another 3,945 patients recovered from the virus, taking the total number of people to have overcome Covid-19 in the UAE to 243,267.

In Dubai, non-essential surgery is suspended until February 19. The same decision was made in March to protect at-risk patients and release equipment, such as ventilators.

Hotels and restaurants in Dubai were told to halt all live entertainment in their venues because of the surge in cases.

The directive from Dubai Tourism, which affects performances by DJs, dancers and bands, came after a rise in the number of breaches found during inspections.

Dubai Media Office said the decision was made to ensure "public health and safety" and that "all permits issued will be on hold effective immediately".

Licenced premises are not required to close bars and restaurants - which were all shut during the first wave in April last year - but have sought further clarity from authorities.


5-minute vehicle inspection, licence renewal service amid Covid lauded by customers

Harat quick services for vehicle inspection, issuance and renewal of licences have achieved 90 per cent of customers' satisfaction.

Data showed that the initiative launched by Sharjah Police has been a success, as over 13,000 vehicles were inspected in the past six months, despite the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) challenge.

Lieutenant-Colonel Muhammad Ahmad Al Mahrezi, who heads the Technical Inspection Department at Sharjah Police, said the move was part of their endeavour to develop and provide an integrated service to customers.

The initiative is in sync with the Sharjah Police's bid to upgrade their services and help achieve the Ministry of Interior's (MoI) goal of making the UAE's roads as one of the safest in the world.

Al Mehrezi said the inspection drive catered to vehicles that were less than five years' old.

Buoyed by the success of the programme, plans are afoot to expand the services to other parts of the emirate as well.

Vehicle owners can complete the renewal process after they obtain the results of the inspection drive from the MoI.

He urged the public to approach the Harat centres in a bid to expedite the vehicle inspection, issuance and renewal of licences.


Abu Dhabi unveils new sports, recreation hub at Al Maryah Island

Abu Dhabi's business and lifestyle destination Al Maryah Island has announced the launch of its new sports and recreation destination, Active.

Located on the north side of Al Maryah Island, Active is a world-class sports destination powered by Zayed Sports City (ZSC).

It boasts three outdoor football fields, four tennis courts covering a total area of 3,200 sq m and four multipurpose sports courts, which cover a total area of 4,224 sq m.

The outdoor Fifa-standard natural grass football field covers an area of 8,970 sq m, while both Fifa two-star artificial turf fields cover a total area of 17,940 sq m.

The new facility caters to individuals of all fitness levels by providing the most advanced sports equipment, and by employing expert coaches and trainers - ultimately, empowering athletes and sports enthusiasts to realise their health goals, said the statement from Al Maryah Island.

The new lifestyle hub, Active will host Manchester City's Abu Dhabi programme, City Football Schools, as well as the La Liga Academy on its fields.

Eight courts at Active further create a fitness zone to accommodate a vast range of sports. All courts offer an ATP approved surface for tennis matches and lessons with ZSC Academy, with four marked for multipurpose use.-TradeArabia News Service

Basketball, netball, volleyball, handball and five-a-side football are among the disciplines available, it stated.

Adding to the facilities, three paddle courts and a state-of-the-art indoor air-conditioned sports dome will open in May 2021.

The dome will house a full 11-aside Fifa-approved turf pitch with a spectator area that could be used for indoor football matches and also corporate and entertainment events, it added.- TradeArabia News Service


Emirates to trial IATA Travel Pass

Emirates has partnered with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to trial IATA Travel Pass - a mobile app to help passengers easily and securely manage their travel in line with any government requirements for Covid-19 testing or vaccine information.

IATA Travel Pass enables Emirates passengers to create a 'digital passport' to verify their pre-travel test or vaccination meets the requirements of the destination. They will also be able to share the test and vaccination certificates with authorities and airlines to facilitate travel. The new app will also enable travellers to manage all travel documentation digitally and seamlessly throughout the travel experience.

Prior to a full roll out, Emirates will implement phase 1 in Dubai for the validation of Covid-19 PCR tests before departure. In this initial phase, expected to begin in April, Emirates customers travelling from Dubai will be able to share their Covid-19 test status directly with the airline even before reaching the airport through the app, which will then auto-populate the details on the check-in system.

Adel Al Redha Emirates' Chief Operating Officer said: "While international travel remains as safe as ever, there are new protocols and travel requirements with the current global pandemic. We have worked with IATA on this innovative solution to simplify and digitally transmit the information that is required by countries and governments into our airline systems, in a secure and efficient manner. We are proud to be one of the first airlines in the world to pilot this initiative, which will provide an enhanced customer experience and conveniently facilitate our customers' travel needs."

Nick Careen, IATA Senior Vice President for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security, said: "We're proud to work with Emirates to make IATA Travel Pass available in the Middle East region. With its global customer base and network traffic, Emirates as a partner will also bring invaluable input and feedback to improve the Travel Pass programme. This is the first step in making international travel during the pandemic as convenient as possible giving people the confidence that they are meeting all Covid-19 entry requirements by governments. As borders re-open, IATA Travel Pass will be further enhanced with more capabilities to meet all governments testing or vaccination verification requirements and Emirates customers will be among the first to have these services."

Within the IATA Travel Pass app, the integrated registry of travel requirements will also enable passengers to find accurate information on travel and entry requirements for all destinations regardless of where they are travelling from. It will also include a registry of testing and eventually vaccination centres - making it more convenient for passengers to find testing centres and labs at their departure location which meet the standards for testing and vaccination requirements of their destination.

The platform will also enable authorised labs and test centres to securely send test results or vaccination certificates to passengers. The global registry, managed by IATA, will manage and allow the secure flow of necessary information amongst all stakeholders and to provide a seamless passenger experience.

Emirates is committed to providing a seamless customer experience at all touchpoints. In the last few months, it has introduced a smart contactless journey with an integrated biometric path and other services including self-check-in and bag drop kiosks at Dubai International airport for a smoother airport experience. - TradeArabia News Service


Bollywood Parks Dubai to re-launch with a new offering

Bollywood Parks Dubai is set to relaunch on January 21 with nine new and action-packed world-class rides, an authentic Bollywood themed shopping experience at the Bollywood Souq Bazaar, and a spectacular Indian food and beverage offering like never before, including the debut of its Namaste India restaurant.

Promising 'Endless Fun For Everyone', Bollywood Parks Dubai is celebrating the re-opening of the park so adventure seekers can enjoy a full day of park access at the world's only theme park that showcases an authentic experience of Bollywood.

The highly anticipated re-opening of the park will see the introduction of the world's tallest swing ride, the Bollywood Skyflyer, that stands at an exhilarating 460-feet tall. The park will also re-open with additional fun-packed family rides and kids' attractions that have been inspired by the vibrant Indian culture. These attractions include; Wheel of Stars, a 55-meter ferris wheel, Taxi No.1, an exciting 88-meter family rollercoaster inspired by Mumbai's famous yellow-black cabs, and Rodeo Ki Sawari, an exhilarating family ride with triple spinning action that has been inspired by the traditional Indian Rodeo experience.

Hawa Hawai, a colourful family ride that simulates the sense of flying on a hang glider will also be a part of the park's line up of new attractions, as well as Abraa Ka Dabraa, a fun-filled and mystical swinging Abra ride. The Mansoon Masti ride is a splash-tastic family attraction that will take its riders on a twirling and whirling monsoon adventure, and Tanga No. 13 will take riders on a magical trip around the Gateway of India in its ornately decorated horse-drawn carriages. The Rocket simulator is also new for 2021 and offers an adventurous space-shuttle themed tower ride for the kids.

Also, a major part of Bollywood Parks Dubai's expansion is the new Mela Junction, the home to the parks exciting new rides and one of its most unique and Instagrammable locations. The park's food and beverage offering has also been updated to include an authentic Indian cuisine restaurant, Namaste India, as well as mouth-watering food and beverage experiences across the park, that will give guests the opportunity to discover and enjoy the delicious flavours of Indian street food.

Visitors will also be able to experience the buzz of Mumbai's fantastical streets with the introduction of a new shopping destination, Bollywood Souq Bazaar, offering a wide selection of shops and stalls selling fashion and accessories, custom souvenirs, ethnic and handcrafted gifts, urban home decor and lifestyle merchandise sourced from India for a true and authentic Indian shopping experience.

Commenting on the re-opening and the launch of the new rides and attractions at Bollywood Parks Dubai, Ahmad Hussain Bin Essa, Chief Operating Officer at DXB Entertainments said: "After extensive enhancements, the park has a whole new offering for 2021 that includes new food and beverage outlets, shopping experiences and world-record holding rides. The addition of the nine new and exciting rides will make the Bollywood Parks Dubai experience a day out like no other. The Bollywood Skyflyer ride will be the new favourite of adrenaline-seekers, while the additional eight new family rides and kids' attractions will bring to life the vibrant culture of India. Each new ride has been designed to give our guests an authentic and immersive experience which will transport them to the very heart of India, without having to leave Dubai. And the fun really doesn't stop here as still to come for the park this year is the launch of the region's first Wooden Coaster, the Bombay Express, which will earn the park another world-record title."

Bollywood Parks Dubai is the complete family destination and promises guests a whole day full of exhilarating fun, and an immersive cultural extravaganza that will take them on an array of fantastical journeys through popular Indian culture.

Tickets for Bollywood Parks Dubai are now available to purchase online at www.dubaiparksandresorts.com. All visitors are required to purchase their tickets online ahead of their visit through the Dubai Parks and Resorts website in advance due to Covid-19 safety restrictions and limited capacity. - TradeArabia News Service


Abu Dhabi announces new rules for visitors

Following the opening of its borders foreign visitors, Abu Dhabi has announced new regulations - including cutting the quarantine time on arrival.

Those arriving from 'green' countries will be required to take a PCR test on arrival and on day 6, without the need to quarantine, said a report in WAM.

Those arriving from other countries, must take a PCR test on arrival, quarantine for 10 days & take PCR test on day eight. it said.

Quarantine for those who have been in contact with a positive case has been reduced to 10 days, provided a PCR test is taken on day eight with a negative result.

The 'green' list countries will be updated every two weeks and currently includes:

Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee and Department of Health has also approved screening protocols in the UAE capital for those vaccinated as part of the national vaccination programmes and volunteers in clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccines, effective January 17.

The active icons on Alhosn app for the volunteers (gold star) and those vaccinated (E) appear after a PCR test is taken after all doses required by the trial or after 28 days from the second dose respectively.

The active icons appear on Alhosn app after a PCR test is taken and remain valid for seven days, the report said.


Saudi Arabia to introduce two more vaccines to boost campaign

Saudi Arabia's health ministry approved the AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines to speed up Covid-19 inoculations in the country.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is already being used in the kingdom.

The government aims to inoculate 70 per cent of the population this year, Ibrahim Al Oraifi, health director for the Eastern Province, said on Tuesday.

So far, 400,000 people in the Eastern Province alone have registered through the national Sehhaty health services app and an estimated 60,000 people have been vaccinated.

Mr Al Oraifi said they are preparing to receive the two new vaccines approved this week, and the government was opening new vaccination centres.

"We will start within a week or two. Meanwhile work is under way to equip the Hafar Al Batin centre, which is expected to start operating next month," he said.

He said a new centre in Dhahran in the Eastern Province was vaccinating up to 1,500 people a day with 48 health practitioners working nine-hour shifts.

With more healthcare workers joining vaccine centres, Mr Al Oraifi said the "workflow became faster and larger with the expansion of the reception halls for the vaccine recipients".

The kingdom is receiving 100,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine every week. That number is expected to increase as global production is bolstered.

The drug maker will supply Saudi Arabia with one million doses by the end of February and then three million by the end of May.

New coronavirus cases crossed the 200-mark for the first time in more than a month on Tuesday with 226 infections reported.

This brings the total number of confirmed infections in the kingdom to 365,325 and virus-related deaths to 6,335.


Expat engineers now need to clear a test before entering Saudi Arabia

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia has decided to hold a professional test for non-Saudi engineers who seek to come to the Kingdom on new job visas.

Senior officials of the Education and Training Evaluation Commission and the Saudi Council of Engineers (SCE) have discussed modalities to hold the professional test for non-Saudi engineers.

The move is in line with the directive of Acting Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs Majed Al-Hoqail to SCE to hold professional tests for non-Saudi workers to ensure the quality of engineering works so as to safeguard the society.

The minister also stressed the need to evaluate the academic qualifications and practical experiences of expatriate engineers working in the Kingdom.

The commission stated that new engineers will need to clear a test before entering Saudi Arabia. The test will be conducted in cooperation with the commission's strategic global partner, Pearson VUE.

Pearson VUE offers innovative computer-based testing solutions through secure and electronic test delivery and provides licensure and certification.

It is noteworthy that the commission and SCE signed a memorandum of cooperation last year aimed at building national professional standards for engineering professions formulated by the SCE.


Riyadh mayoralty to launch drive-in cinemas

RIYADH - Riyadh Mayoralty will soon make available of a new cinematic experience to movie lovers of the capital city with the launching of drive-in cinemas titled "Flash of Riyadh." The drive-in cinema will be screening three Arabic and international cinemas on a daily basis.

For each show, the mayoralty is arranging the space for more than 150 cars wherein the occupants can enjoy the magic of movies on a big screen from the comfort and safety of their car.

All the arrangements will be in place in line with the coronavirus precautionary measures and preventive protocols, including wearing masks and keeping social distance and the area will be sterilized at the end of every show.

The mayoralty said that the show is being arranged in a way taking into account the privacy of the viewers, by enabling them to listen to the sound effects by simply tuning into a designated radio frequency for the movie audio to be streamed straight into their cars.

In addition to this, there will be dedicated area for food trucks to provide services to movie fans through electronic applications without the need to get off their vehicles.

The mayoralty said in a statement on its Twitter account that there will be multiple mechanisms for booking tickets for various segments of the society.

The mayoralty is making arrangements in cooperation with the private sector as part of its efforts to provide multiple entertainment options for the people by empowering and supporting national companies and institutions specialized in organizing quality events.

This is in line with the mayoralty's initiatives to improve the quality of life of people in the city in a way keeping pace with the objectives of mayoralty in the light of the Kingdom's Vision 2030.


First Grand Hyatt hotel opens in Saudi Arabia

Hyatt Hotels Corporation has announced the opening of Grand Hyatt Al Khobar Hotel and Residences in Saudi Arabia-the first Grand Hyatt hotel in the kingdom.

The 368-room luxury hotel including 54 residential units is situated in the commercial and retail heart of Al Khobar with a connecting bridge to Al Rashid Mall. Grand Hyatt Al Khobar Hotel and Residences is the sixth Hyatt-branded hotel in Saudi Arabia, and the fifth hotel under the Grand Hyatt brand in the Middle East, making it an important milestone in Hyatt's growth strategy in the region. Reflecting a bold and vibrant design, the hotel offers an ideal destination for both business and leisure guests to celebrate moments that matter, both big and small.

As Saudi Arabia is one of the fastest-growing tourism destinations in the world, Grand Hyatt Al Khobar Hotel and Residences realises the government's Vision 2030, which strives to attract international travelers into the region. Located in the city's business and leisure hub the property brings grand gestures and elevated, luxury accommodations.

"We are thrilled to open the first Grand Hyatt hotel in Saudi Arabia and we look forward to welcoming guests seeking magnificent moments from this iconic destination," said Nizar Weshah, general manager at Grand Hyatt Al Khobar Hotel and Residences. "Grand Hyatt Al Khobar Hotel and Residences celebrates these moments and exceeds guest expectations by delivering iconic cuisine, breathtaking design and unparalleled service."

The hotel will open in phases, beginning today with 120 guestrooms and 20 residences. Highlights of this first phase include the opening of the all-day dining facilities, the lobby lounge, banquet halls, fitness center and Spa. The remaining guestrooms as well as the restaurants Rosalie and Sakana House are expected to open in a second phase in February. The third and final phase will see the opening of the remaining residences, slated for March 2021.


Grand Hyatt Al Khobar Hotel and Residences features 368 contemporary guest rooms, including 45 spacious suites and 54 residences, with ample daylight, bespoke premier interiors and mesmerizing views across the city. Guests can enjoy the comforts of home, including a flat-screen TV, complimentary high-speed internet access, a work desk, a Hyatt Grand Bed and elegant bathrooms. All suites include exclusive access to the Grand Club Lounge, which provides a refined and relaxing ambiance with personal services and culinary highlights throughout the day. Further, guests looking for more space are invited to do so in the 1,485-sq-ft Diplomat Suite, featuring a separate living room, dining area and kitchenette.


Grand Hyatt Al Khobar Hotel and Residences invites guests to discover impressive restaurants featuring a choice of captivating Arabian, European and Asian infused dining concepts. From authentically depicted settings, striking decor with eye-catching art pieces, to theatrical experiences delivered through open kitchen displays, Grand Hyatt Al Khobar Hotel and Residences boasts a variety of different dining outlets.

Asmahan, the hotel's signature restaurant offering traditional Levantine cuisine with added flair and locally sourced ingredients, showcases the best regional flavors and is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Rosalie, a luxuriously stylish French patisserie delighting diners with intricate selections of freshly baked bread, croissants and cakes, along with a glorious choice of sandwiches, coffees and teas, is available for dine-in and takeaway. Located next to the mall entrance, the venue is the perfect post-shopping-spree destination.

Sakana House, an artisanal steak and seafood restaurant influenced by Pan Asian culinary tradition, features tantalizing flavors from across the region.

Grandeur, surrounded by stately architecture and art pieces, is the lobby lounge and serves as a 24-hour hub for movers and shakers to enjoy a business meeting or casual gathering, offering a selection of light meals and beverages including freshly brewed rich Arabic coffee, teas and the taste of local dates.


The striking architecture and design of Grand Hyatt Al Khobar Hotel and Residences sets the perfect scene for extraordinary meetings, events, conferences and weddings illuminated by natural daylight on 25,000-sq-ft of event space. The Grand Ballroom, with more than 11,000-sq-ft of space, is one of the largest and most remarkable in the city with a capacity for up to 1,400 guests. A team of talented event planners and catering services are available to assist with every bespoke occasion.


Grand Hyatt Al Khobar Hotel and Residences features Nirvana Spa, a premier fitness and wellness destination for personalised facials, massage and body treatments, offering a luxurious and relaxed setting with six treatment rooms for women and four for men. Nirvana Spa is also a fully equipped fitness center complete with the latest weights and cardio equipment, as well as complimentary infused water, fruits and cold towels. The space offers an exhilarating dip in two separate lap pools featuring mood lights, relaxation beds and a snack bar. Additionally, guests can unwind in the whirlpool bath, sauna, steam room and Moroccan bath. A squash court is also available.

Grand Hyatt Al Khobar Hotel and Residences will join an existing portfolio of five hotels in Saudi Arabia including Park Hyatt Jeddah - Marina, Club and Spa, Jabal Omar Hyatt Regency Makkah, Hyatt Regency Riyadh Olaya, Hyatt Place Riyadh Al Sulaimania, and Hyatt House Jeddah Sari Street.

Guided by its purpose of care, Hyatt's multi-layered Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment further enhances its operational guidance and resources around colleague and guest safety and peace of mind.

To provide World of Hyatt members even more ways to be rewarded, World of Hyatt is offering members the opportunity to earn 500 Bonus Points for qualifying nights at Grand Hyatt Al Khobar Hotel and Residences through April 30, 2021, as part of World of Hyatt's new hotel member offer. - TradeArabia News Service


Riyadh Oasis opens its doors for winter leisure festival

RIYADH: The highly anticipated Riyadh Oasis will begin serving customers from Sunday until April 12.

The event, sponsored by the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) and the International Company for Organizing Events and Activities, in cooperation with Seven Experience and Rotana audio and video company, is a luxury entertainment project in the Kingdom's desert interior.

Saudi Royal Court Adviser and Chairman of the General Entertainment Authority Turki Alalshikh took to Twitter to announce the date of inauguration, telling followers that "our rendezvous will be on Sunday, God willing, out of your wildest imagination!"

Described as "a tailor-made 5-star winter sanctuary at the heart of Riyadh's beautiful golden desert landscapes," Riyadh Oasis will offer an entertainment experience where visitors will be able to explore, eat, play, celebrate and camp out with friends and family.

Located between Al-Ammariyah and Diriyah, the stunning desert area just outside of Riyadh city will combine modern luxury with oasis scenery.

The oasis will provide Saudis with the chance to experience the country's rich culture, live entertainment and fine dining, along with multinational cultural music and live performances.

Also featured is a shopping area with brands such as perfumery Tolat Etr, luxury jewelers Cardial, and local home and retail store Papillon.

The oasis also offers accommodation in the form of "glamps" - "glamorous camps." Able to hold up to eight people, these strikingly decorated, tastefully modern areas include living rooms, dining areas and luxury bathrooms. While overnight stays are not possible at the glamps, the oasis is open between 3 p.m. and 3 a.m. on weekdays, and 1 p.m. and 3 a.m. on weekends.

A selection of award-winning international cuisines will be on offer, with pop-ups of famous international outifts such as Japanese restaurant Zuma, Latin American fusion restaurant Amazonico, Emirati Arabic restaurant Ninive, and Greek seafood restaurant Nammos.


Oman extends visa-free period for visitors to 14 days

Citizens from the 103 countries allowed to enter Oman without first booking a visa can now stay in the country for up to 14 days, the Royal Oman Police said.

"As part of the efforts to support the tourism sector in the Sultanate, it has been decided to extend the exemption period for the nationals of 103 countries exempted from the entry visa to 14 days as part specific regulations and conditions," said a statement from the ROP.


Kuwait restricts number of travellers to 1,000 per day

In a bid to contain the coronavirus and its dangerous new strain, the General Administration of Civil Aviation in Kuwait has announced that it will restrict the number of passengers arriving at Kuwait International Airport. Between January 24 and February 6, only 1,000 travellers will be allowed to enter the country per day.

The country's national carrier Kuwait Airways confirmed the news on its Twitter page on January 22, stating: "Kuwait Airways would like to point out that under the authority of the General Administration of Civil Aviation it has been decided to reduce the number of passengers on flights to Kuwait from January 24 to February 6. Domestic workers and transit passengers are excluded from this decision. Thank you for your co-operation."

A statement to the same effect was also issued by Abdullah Al-Rajhi, director of the Air Transport Department at the General Administration of Civil Aviation, to Al Anba, an Arabic-language daily newspaper in Kuwait earlier this week.

The report goes on to state that the two-week window will also give authorities time to complete and fortify the airport's in-house laboratories and their equipment, which can then conduct the requisite health checks on all arriving passengers.

As mentioned by the Kuwait Airways tweet, Al-Rajhi confirmed that domestic workers and those transiting through Kuwait will not be included in the 1,000-a-day figure. Also excluded from the rule are shipping companies, and freight and cargo flights, so this rule will not impact the continued availability of good and services.

As for passengers with pre-booked tickets, Al-Rajhi said authorities are working with various local and international airlines to schedule (or rather, reschedule) flights so as to be able to abide by the new, temporary rule in a way that "preserves the rights of all passengers". One such way is to reduce the operating capacity per flight to 35 passengers.

A spokesperson from Etihad told The National: "Following updated regulations from Kuwaiti authorities, a further limit on the number of passengers from each flight allowed to disembark at Kuwait International Airport has been applied. As a result, Etihad Airways is temporarily restricting the number of passengers carried between Abu Dhabi and Kuwait until February 6.

"Travellers returning to Kuwait are encouraged to contact Etihad Airways to ensure their travel plans are not disrupted. We will work closely with impacted guests and travel agents to notify them of the changes to their itineraries and reaccommodate them on alternative flights. Etihad continues to adhere to the guidelines set by the relevant authorities in the UAE and Kuwait."


20% increase on Kahramaa water bill goes into effect by end of month

It is has been announced later last year that by the beginning of 2021, Kahramaa will increase the water bill by 20%. The decision goes into effect for February bills.

"Sanitation fees will be due as of January 2021 and will equal 20 per cent of the monthly water consumption bill issued by Kahramaa. The fees will be charged by Kahramaa for sanitation services provided by the Public Works Authority (Ashghal)," Kahramaa tweeted on Sunday.

This service is to set to include connecting facilities to the sewage network, usage of the networks and providing permits for services related to the operation and maintenance of both drainage and roads networks.

This increase will apply to ex-pats and residents, however, Qatari citizens and residents that work for governmental institutions are as usual exempt from paying any water and electricity bills.

Ashghal said in a press release that the new system "aims to improve efficiency and quality of infrastructure services provided by the government, and to rationalise water consumption and preserve water resources of the state, in light of the increasing scarcity of water resources in the world."

In addition to that, they said, "drainage services for residents including the disposal of wastewater from homes and establishments will be connected to a wider drainage network, which will then be transported through substations and major pumping centres to huge treatment plants, where it undergoes complex cleaning and sterilisation procedures." Which will be used to different purposes such as irrigation of green areas, sand-washing, cooling and other uses.


National Laboratory to be completed by end of the year

National Laboratory is going to be ready by the end of this year.

The National Laboratory will be complete by the end of this year. It will be located in Mesaimeer. The project is worth QR240mn and will cover 40,000sq. It will have facilities for testing services, water safety, testing drugs, environmental testing and food safety support, and specified areas for control of epidemics. It is designed according to the best global sustainability standards.

Ashghal is fostering the country's healthcare sector in order to help achieve the Qatar National Vision 2030, they said the laboratory will support public health programmes and monitor infectious diseases. They are also developing ve health centres at Al Khor, Al Sadd, Ain Khaled, Al Wakra and Al Meshaf, which all will be handed to the Ministry of Public Health next year after completion.

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