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Egypt awards oil and gas exploration concessions to Chevron, Shell and Mubadala

Egypt awarded US oil major Chevron, Anglo-Dutch Shell and Abu Dhabi's Mubadala rights to explore for oil and gas in the Red Sea, as it expands its search for new hydrocarbon reserves.

The North African state, which launched its first licensing round in the Red Sea earlier this year, awarded one block each to Chevron and Shell and the third jointly to the Anglo-Dutch firm and Mubadala. The concessions cover a total acreage of 10,000 square kilometres, with a minimum investment of $326 million (Dh1.12 billion), according to the country's petroleum ministry.

Egypt, the Arab world's most populous state, has been offering exploration rights following the discovery of the massive Zohr field by Italian energy major Eni in 2016. The find sparked a search for more hydrocarbon resources along the Nile Delta and western desert as the country looks to to become a net exporter of gas, particularly to markets in Europe.

Following the award of exploration licences to concessions in the western and eastern desert regions, the Nile Delta and the Gulf of Suez, Egypt announced its intention to launch another round that included blocks in the Red Sea.

The country in February tendered 10 blocks offshore the Red Sea, aiming to replicate the gas bonanza, which helped Egypt drastically reduce its fuel imports.

Earlier this year, Egypt also successfully closed one of its largest bid rounds, awarding 12 licences to companies including US energy major Exxon Mobil.

per day by the end of this year. The country is also ramping up output from the North Alexandria West Nile Delta concessions operated by BP. Production is expected to reach 700 million cubic feet per day as 400 million cubic feet per day of gas comes on stream.

Saudi Arabia also announced the discovery of large quantities of gas in the Red Sea. The kingdom will conduct an investment feasibility study on the scheme and intensify exploration over the next two years.


Marriott to open new W hotel in Egypt

Marriott International has entered into an agreement with Landmark Sabbour to bring the W Brand to Cairo, underscoring the growing demand for luxury in Egypt.

Expected to open in 2024, W Cairo will be situated in 1-Ninety - a 300,000-sq-m mixed-use development in the emerging New Cairo district featuring retail space, commercial and residential components.

To be located just 25 kilometres from Cairo International Airport, the new hotel will add its own vibrant W experience to the ultra-modern urban landscape of New Cairo. Known for seeking out new/next destinations in buzzworthy markets around the globe, W is poised to welcome guests and locals to the new-build locale as the city's reputation for ground-breaking design grows as fast as its skyline.

When W Cairo opens in 2024, the hotel will embody W Hotels' work hard, play hard philosophy with a signature Wet Deck (pool deck), Away Spa and Fit Fitness Centre alongside 350 rooms and suites. The hotel is also expected to offer multiple food and beverage venues, plenty of spaces to mix and mingle, plus meetings and events space which will include a 500-sq-m Great Room.

"New Cairo is a burgeoning, dynamic lifestyle destination in Cairo, and we are excited to collaborate with Landmark Sabbour to redefine modern luxury in one of the most awe-inspiring travel destinations in the world," said Alex Kyriakidis, president and managing director, Middle East & Africa, Marriott International. "This signing not only illustrates our commitment to Egypt but also reinforces the increasing demand for the W Hotels brand in this region and around the globe."

Engineer Amr Sultan, managing director of Landmark Sabbour, added: "We choose to work with those who share our development standards, innovative perception of luxury community building, and whose objectives align with our own. Our collaboration with Marriot International represents another milestone in our growth; it further demonstrates our commitment to collaborate with industry leaders and stands as a chance to integrate the unique customer-centric services of W Hotels into our line of upscale products in 1-Ninety."

Landmark Sabbour recently launched 1-Ninety, with a total investment of EGP28 billion ($1.73 billion). 1-Ninety covers 300,000-sq-m and has a built-up area of 450,000-sq-m including administrative, retail, commercial, and residential components. - TradeArabia News Service


Saudi Arabia says businesses and shops to open 24 hours

Saudi Arabia said on Monday that shops and businesses will be allowed to stay open for 24 hours from January 1.

The move is part of the reform plans to prepare the biggest Arab economy for a post oil-era.

"Allowing commercial activities to function 24/7 will contribute to providing commodities and services to residents around the clock and will enhance the quality of life in cities," Majed Al Qasabi, the acting Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs, said on Monday.

Business owners will be required to apply to the relevant municipalities for a licence to stay open.

According to the guidelines, cameras must also be installed for the licence to be issued, the ministry said.

Companies wishing to take advantage of the new rules must pay about Dh98,000 in fees. Pharmacies, petrol stations, hotels and resorts are exempt.

The decision was passed by the Saudi Cabinet last July but needed the approval of the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs.

Businesses in the kingdom are required to close five times a day during prayer times. It remains unclear if the new rules will change this.

Since 2016, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pushed through social and economic reforms as part of plans to modernise the kingdom and attract foreign investment.

Hussein Ibish, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, says the reforms have been broadly popular, particularly among the country's younger citizens.

"Mohammed bin Salman is a very young man himself, and in many ways embodies a necessary generational change in Saudi politics, norms and expectations," he said.

The region will continue to look to Saudi Arabia "as a leading country because it's still true that the traditional centres of Arab international influence such as Cairo, Baghdad and Damascus are in no condition to play the kind of Arab leadership role they traditionally did," Mr Ibish said.

"This role is mainly being played by a number of Gulf Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, but also the UAE," he said.

As the G20 summit is coming up next year the kingdom will likely make additional economic and social reforms, Samuel Ramani, a doctoral researcher in international relations at the University of Oxford, told The National.

"Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sees this gathering as an excellent opportunity to showcase Saudi Arabia's more modern image," he said, adding "economic reform needs to be combined with greater international confidence in the kingdom's economic path."


Biggest bus transport project to begin operation in Riyadh in Q2 2020

RIYADH - The Royal Commission for Riyadh City has specified Q2 2020 as the period for beginning operation of the King Abdulaziz Bus Public Transport Network in Riyadh City, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted the Saudi Public Transport Company (SAPTCO) as saying Tuesday.

Commenting on the development, SAPTCO said that it has received a notification from the Public Transport Company, in which SAPTCO has an 80 percent stake, that a statement has been issued on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) website, to this effect.

The company said that it is difficult at this stage to determine the costs of the project, as it is coordinating with other related authorities on studying the necessary work plans following which the project costs will be specified and they will be announced at the appropriate time.

According to a decision taken by the Saudi Council of Ministers, a supreme committee will supervise the Riyadh Metro project and the construction of a parallel network for bus transport, in line with the Comprehensive Public Transport Plan laid down by the Royal Commission for Riyadh City.

The plan aims to provide public transport service to all categories of the population, diversifying the modes and means of transport in the city in an effective and suitable manner, keeping in mind the social, economic, environmental and traffic conditions.

The committee has started specifying the steps for carrying out the project, laying down the schedule for carrying it out, in the light of the studies, specifications, standards, designs, and tenders and execution documents, prepared beforehand by the Royal Commission for Riyadh City for the various elements of the project.

The project is expected to give the city a big boost, going beyond providing public transport service to all segments of the population. http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/586092/SAUDI-ARABIA/Biggest-bus-transport-project-to-begin-operation-in-Riyadh-in-Q2-2020

Saudi Arabia ends gender segregation in restaurants

Saudi Arabia has abolished rules requiring restaurants to provide separate entrances and areas for women and families and for male patrons dining alone.

The decision was announced on Sunday by the Municipal and Rural Affairs Ministry on the state-run Saudi Press Agency, in the latest step towards overturning gender restrictions.

The ministry said it was "removing a requirement by restaurants to have an entrance for single men and another for families", and that restaurants no longer need to "specify private spaces".

Some restaurants and cafes in Jeddah and Riyadh's upscale hotels had already been allowing unrelated men and women to sit together but the norm was that they were not permitted to mix in public.

Restaurants and cafes in Saudi Arabia, including major western chains such as Starbucks, are segregated into "family" sections for women on their own or accompanied by male relatives, and "singles" sections for just men.

Many also have separate entrances for women and partitioned areas or rooms for families where they are not visible to single men.

In smaller restaurants or cafes with no space for segregation, women were not allowed in.

The ministry also listed newly approved technical requirements for buildings, schools, shops and sports centres, among others, and said the decisions were to attract investment and create greater business opportunities.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pushed for sweeping social reforms in recent years to open up the kingdom to foreign investors and diversify the economy away from a reliance on oil.

The kingdom now regularly hosts international sporting events and musical performances that women and men can attend.

Two years ago, women for the first time were allowed to attend sports events in stadiums in the "family" sections.

Young girls in recent years have also been allowed access to physical education and sports in school.

In August, the kingdom lifted a controversial ban on travel by allowing all citizens to apply for a passport and for women to travel freely without a male guardian.


Riyadh to become Arab World's first digital capital in 2020

Saudi capital Riyadh is all set to be named the Arab world's first-ever digital capital city for 2020.

This announcement was made at the 23rd session of the Council of Arab Ministers of Communications and Information Technology, which took place yesterday (December 18) at The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Saudi Arabia's capital.

The decision to name Riyadh the Arab Digital Capital follows the city's prominent role in adopting and promoting the use of digital technologies to enhance socio-economic development, advance healthcare, improve education, and to ultimately increase community welfare, which helped to elevate the ICT sector's contribution to GDP to 4%.

The Kingdom also climbed 16 places in World Economic Forum's Global Competitive Index 2019 in terms of ICT adoption, and topped in the ease of doing business ranking according to the World Bank's 2020 report.

Saudi Arabia is the region's largest ICT market and ranks 13th globally, with a value of $28.7 billion in 2019 and strong growth in both the consumer and enterprise segments.

Supported by a young and tech-savvy population, Saudi Arabia is a market of early technology adopters, with one of the highest social media penetrations in the world. Mobile subscribers stood at 43.8 million in 2019, representing a 129% penetration of the total population.

Following the launch of Vision 2030, the last few years have seen a significant acceleration in the proliferation of digital transformation initiatives.

In 2019, Saudi Arabia was second among G20 countries for radio spectrum liberalization, with a subsequent positive impact on the quality of digital services provided by local operators experienced.

The 'Arab Digital Capital' initiative seeks to encourage the creation of a stimulating ecosystem for investment in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), activate initiatives that develop knowledge within the ICT industry across Arab countries, and to adopt new initiatives that facilitate and enhance tech entrepreneurship in the Arab region.

Once the announcement was made, Minister of Communications and Information Technology Engineer Abdullah Al Swaha extended congratulations to Saudi King Salman and to HRH Prince Muhammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.

He also emphasized the acknowledgment as an addition added to the record of the Saudi ICT sector's march, which has advanced the country's digital infrastructure making it eligible for obtaining this title and precedence.

The "Arab Digital Capital" award is a recognition of Saudi Arabia's achievements in the ICT sector and is set to provide an even greater impetus to the country's already busy regional and international agenda in the coming year.

This came in a keynote speech at the announcement ceremony attended by the Secretary-General of International Telecommunication Union, relevant Ministers, Arab Ambassadors to Riyadh and a number of interested ICT professionals and specialists.

Supported by a 93% internet user penetration versus the global average of 53%, Saudi Arabia also became the first adopter of commercial 5G technology in the Middle East and North Africa, and the third largest globally - an achievement that is set to boost the adoption of other digitalization trends characterizing the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In parallel, Saudi Arabia is the 5th G20 country in internet speed, and jumped 91 places from 105th to 14th in the relevant global rankings, with a 51.8Mbps average speed.

Earlier this year, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) launched a five-year strategy aimed at accelerating the sector's growth by 50% and elevating its contribution to GDP by $13.3 billion.

Despite the global trend towards job disruption as a consequence of digitalization, the MCIT's technology localization initiatives have significantly increased the ICT sector's employment capacity in 2019.- TradeArabia News Service


Bahrain slashes visa fees in bid to attract more foreign visitors

Bahrain is to cut the fee for pre-entry visas to the kingdom by more than half from January 2020, in a bid to encourage more foreign visitors to visit the Gulf state.

According to a report by the Gulf Daily News (GDN) website, the fee will be 40 Bahraini dinars ($106.38) for a one-year visa, down from the current fee of BD85.

The fee on five-year visas have also been reduced from BD170 to BD60. The move is part of Bahrain's push to increase the number of foreign visitors to the country.

In early December the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) held a roadshow in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, in a bid to promote Bahrain as a tourist destination to Russian travellers.

This week, BTEA also announced that it will be launching the new identity and logo. The launch coincides with the selection of Manama as the 'Capital of Arab Tourism for 2020' during the recent 22nd Session of the Arab Ministerial Council for Tourism.

"In the first nine months of 2019, total nights spent by tourists reached 10.7 million nights, an increase of 8.8 percent compared to the same period the previous year, while the average length of stay reached 3.4 nights per tourist, an increase of 20.5 percent," the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism and chairman of BTEA, Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani, was quoted as saying.

According to the recent passport Index, Bahrain allows 71 nationalities enter the kingdom visa-free, placing it 64th on the global list. By comparison, Bahrainis can enter 91 countries without a visa, placing it as the 53rd most powerful passport in the world. The UAE passport topped the list for the second year in a row with Emiratis able to enter 179 countries around the world without a visa.


Bahrain's Shaikh Zayed Highway road work on track

Work on the Shaikh Zayed Highway Development Project, which began last August, is progressing according to schedule, said a statement from Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning.

The expansion of the Shaikh Zayed Highway is one of the most important strategic projects on Bahrain's main road network, it stated.

Assistant Undersecretary for Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Huda Abdulla Fakhro said the first phase of the project features the expansion of the highway to three lanes in both directions from December 16 Highway to Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Highway and from the western roundabout of A'ali to Shaikh Isa bin Salman Highway.

"Four roundabouts along the Shaikh Zayed Highway will also be converted into intersections with traffic lights with the project also including lighting work, roadblocks, traffic signs, revamping the asphalt layers, beautification and landscaping as well as rainwater drainage," she explained.

According to her, the scope of work includes the diversion and protection of ground services, the development of the rainwater drainage network on the road and surrounding areas as well as executing the implementation of a sewage station and sewage transmission light to serve the Ramli Housing Project.

Fakhro said the ministry had already started establishing a rainwater drainage network on the 16 December Highway, in addition to sewage network.

Temporary diversion roads are also being built between the Shaikh Salman Avenue and Avenue 36 in A'ali, she added.

She pointed out that the highway's capacity was being estimated at 53,000 vehicles per day in the two directions. Around 2,800 vehicles will be using the highway during the morning peak hour, while the number will peak to 3,500 in the afternoon and 3,200 during the evening peak hours.

Fakhro said by 2030, the highway's capacity will increase to 100,000 vehicles per day, with an average of 5,400 vehicles during the morning peak hour, 6,700 during the afternoon peak hour and 6,100 during the evening peak hour.

The key project will contribute to reducing traffic congestion in both Salmabad and A'ali as well as facilitate access to them, while also easing access to the Educational Area in Isa Town and addressing traffic jams in front of the driving school in A'ali and Bahrain National Stadium.- TradeArabia News Service


UAE's new large indoor entertainment venue officially named

Abu Dhabi just announced its newest large-scale indoor entertainment venue's name.

The indoor arena will officially be named Etihad Arena as part of a partnership between Miral and Etihad Airways.

Etihad Arena is part of Yas Bay, an iconic mixed-use development located at the southern end of Abu Dhabi's Yas Island, a statement issued on Twitter said.

Etihad Arena has been designed to accommodate a variety of events including sporting competitions, corporate events, cultural performances, concerts, and many other activities throughout the year - offering unique flexibility with a capacity ranging from 200 to 18,000 people.


E-scooter app Lime introduces 'group ride' feature in UAE

Urban mobility provider Lime has announced a new 'group ride' feature in the UAE, allowing users to unlock 5 scooters on one account.

Lime users in Abu Dhabi will be able to access the group ride directly through the Lime app on their iOS and Android devices.

Each user, however, will have to abide by the company's rules and regulations, which include wearing a helmet, not carrying passengers and respecting pedestrians.

"Now with our new Group Ride feature, many of our Lime riders can easily and safely share the joys and benefits of sustainable, accessible micro-mobility with their friends and family members. "We believe this feature will simplify the experience for prospective riders looking to try our scooters," said Mohamad Nsouli, General Manager of Lime in the UAE.

To access the feature, riders can simply tap the Group Ride button directly on the Lime map screen and then follow the step-by-step prompts. Guest rides can be started and/or ended at any time from the host account.

Lime - which is active in 50 cities across 20 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia - began operating in Abu Dhabi at the end of November 2019.

The firm began operations in the UAE capital with a fleet of 300 scooters along the 8 km-long Corniche.

Lime joined Berlin-based Circ which was the first to deploy e-scooters in the UAE capital in September.


UAE law change: expats related to Emiratis exempt from deportation

Residents married to Emiratis can no longer be deported if convicted of a crime, following an amendment to the UAE's federal laws.

Previously, a deportation order was mandatory in cases where an expatriate was convicted of a crime and sentenced by a court. Details of the change, approved by President Sheikh Khalifa late last year, have just been revealed.

The change stipulated that a resident may not be sentenced to deportation if they are married to or are an immediately family member of an Emirati citizen, unless the judgment is issued in a crime endangering the national security of the country.

Legal experts said the change would stop mixed families from being permanently broken up by even minor crimes, such as physical assault.

Legal consultant Dr Hassan Elhais, who writes a column for The National, said deportation should be upheld when the criminal poses a grave danger to society but it may be too harsh a response in cases of minor offences.

"Deportation can have a negative impact not only on individuals who are deported, but also their families, who they are forced to leave behind," said Dr Elhais, of Al Rowaad Advocates.

"Some of the people who have been expelled have lived in the country for over a decade. They are parents or caregivers but with the change in the law, we will see less of them leaving the UAE."

Emirati lawyer, Awatif Khouri said the amendment and the recently issued family protection law, shows the intent of the government when it comes to protecting families.

"According to this law, an Emirati woman married to an expatriate can protect him and their children from being deported, if they are convicted of any crime except the ones related to national security," said Ms Awatif.

Judge Ahmed Saif, head of the Dubai Civil Court and former head of the criminal courts, welcomed the changes, saying that judges had no option but to handout deportation sentences in several cases, even if they perceived it to be too harsh.

"This is a great change to the law, which is completely consistent with the country's call for tolerance," he said.

"Deporting a person away from his Emirati spouse or a son away from his Emirati mother, affects the entire family in what would sometimes be a simple issue. If we preserve the unity of a family, we naturally preserve the community."

He said he had presided over many cases where an immediate family member of an Emirati was deported.

"With this change to the law, we can clearly see how the country is keen on [taking all] necessary [steps] to protect the entity of the family," he said.

The UAE passed several laws in 2019 to protect families and victims of domestic violence. These legal changes strengthen the country's Family Protection Policy. New jail terms and restraining orders were introduced to tackle domestic violence and protect families from intimidation and threats.

A sexual harassment charge was also added to federal law last month, building on an existing charge of "breaching the modesty of a woman".

The new charge expands the legal definition of sexual harassment to include repetitive harassment through action, words or even signs that aim to coax the recipient into responding to the offender's sexual desires. The charge also recognises men as victims of sexual harassment.

Similarly, the country downgraded 28 crimes - including insults, animal abuse and traffic offences - meaning they can be punished with fines rather than having to be heard in court, reducing the workload of courtrooms.


Abu Dhabi toll system: three-month grace period for unregistered vehicles

Motorists who failed to register their vehicles for the Abu Dhabi toll system will not be fined for the first three months when passing through the four gates located in the capital.

On Thursday, the same day the tolls went live for the first time, the Integrated Transport Centre (ITC) announced a three-month grace period for unregistered vehicles.

The news came as a relief for residents as many claimed they had issues trying to register their vehicles online, prior to the January 2 launch.

As per the extension, unregistered vehicles will not incur any fines when passing through the tolls, however motorists will still be automatically charged as per the previously announced day rates.

"Have you registered your vehicle in the #AbuDhabi_Toll_Gate_System yet? Don't worry! No penalty fares will apply today," a tweet on the official ITC account said.

"The System gives you a three-month grace period. All you need to do is register your vehicle on time and make sure there's enough balance in your account."

From Saturday to Thursday, road users will pay a Dh4 charge when driving through the gates between 7-9am and 5-7pm. A maximum fee of Dh16 will be levied against commuters in any one day.

Following the tweet, the authority urged motorists to take advantage of the registration extension to avoid fines once the grace period concludes.

However, several residents replied to the thread citing ongoing problems with the online process.

"I tried [many] times and it was not working. Is there another option [aside from] online registration?" one user wrote.

"I can't login to my account and it seems the website is down," another said.

When The National attempted to access the website on Friday, it was working as normal.

The tolls, located on the main bridges leading to Abu Dhabi city including Sheikh Zayed Bridge, the Sheikh Khalifa Bridge, Al Maqta Bridge, and Musaffah Bridge, were first set up in October.

Initially, they were due to come into effect on October 15, however the transport authority delayed switching on the tolls as commuters from outside the emirate reported issues setting up an online account.

While motorists in Abu Dhabi were automatically signed up for the tolls, those residing outside of the emirate have to sign up through the ITC website by entering their Emirates ID details, car licence plate, mobile number and email.


UAE Cabinet approves 5-year multi-entry tourist visa

The UAE Cabinet has approved the issuance of a five-year multi-entry tourist visa for all nationalities visiting the country.

The decision was made during the Cabinet's first meeting during 2020 the Year of Preparation, chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. The move comes in a bid to support the UAE's tourism economy, and affirm the country's position as a global tourist destination.

Another key decision made during the meeting includes the introduction of a visa waiver for Mexican citizens travelling to the UAE. The two decisions will be implemented during the first quarter of 2020.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid emphasised that 2019 was a year full of achievements across multiple areas, adding, "We are leaving this year behind and we are proud of our government working teams, and we are full of excitement and positive energy for the year of preparation for the next fifty years to come."

His Highness also affirmed that 365 days of 2019 were marked by the UAE scoring achievements and achieving excellence in all fields, including the quality of life, education, health, Emiratisation, infrastructure, economy, competitiveness, space and futuristic sectors.

Sheikh Mohammed expressed his pride in the nation's accomplishments over the past 50 years, adding, "We challenge our government and Federal teams for the next 50 years. The year 2020 leaves behind 50 years of achievements, and welcomes 50 years of perseverance and hard work in the service of the nation and its citizens."

During the meeting, held at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, Cabinet members reviewed the achievements of the UAE government in 2019. The meeting was held in the presence H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, and H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

Sheikh Mohammed went on to say, "We want 2020 to be a year of development, growth and competition with leading countries in economy, competitiveness and wellbeing."

"We do not want our achievements to be limited to one segment of society," he noted, adding, "We want them to be diversified to touch the lives of seniors, children and people of determination, both for UAE nationals and residents, students and employees, entrepreneurs and investors, alike."

His Highness affirmed, "The preparation for the next 50 years is a challenge we accept along with our federal teams. We are confident that these teams are up for the challenge and able to create a positive change in the lives of our citizens and to achieve the objectives of the agenda 2021."

The UAE Vice President highlighted that the Year of Tolerance promoted the values of tolerance in a perfect manner, and helped tolerance move from concepts and values to initiatives and plans in practice. "This allowed us to continue together in the journey of tolerance which was initiated by the founding fathers of the UAE. The achievements of the Year of Tolerance made us feel optimistic about what the year of preparation for the next 50 years has in store for us. We will make it a quantum leap for the UAE on the world map in various fields," His Highness added.

"The year 2019 witnessed many important milestones in our journey to explore the future and to draw a clear road map for our success and for the happiness of our citizens. It also witnessed our achievements when we flew through space, in addition to catching up and leapfrogging in various global competitive indicators," Sheikh Mohammed continued.

His Highness said, "Our sons and daughters, our sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, our senior citizens, people residing in our country, our partners in building the nation and development, the distinguished scholars and geniuses everywhere, we have placed enthusiastic government work teams to work in the service of each of them. These teams are made of the best and most sincere capabilities who are working assiduously and tirelessly 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year".

He added, "We have launched dozens of new initiatives and projects, including the first National Strategy for Wellbeing, the Emirates Schools Establishment, and we have adopted the allocation of a fund to support and qualify Emirati jobseekers, and set out new objectives and decisions to support Emiratisation."

"Furthermore," His Highness continued, "We have created a new position for the UAE Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Ambassador, and have issued a strategic economic resolution allowing 100 percent foreign ownership in UAE economic activities.

"We have also granted more than 2,500 golden residence permits to people with outstanding qualifications and investors, allowing them to be part of our success story and excellence."

His Highness said, "In 2019 we adopted the UAE National Space Strategy. We celebrated the realisation of Zayed's dream with the journey of the UAE's first astronaut Hazaa Al Mansoori into space. We received the flame of hope to kick off the Special Olympics , and at the same time, we held the People of Determination Retreat."

During its meeting, the UAE Cabinet approved a resolution exempting Mexican citizens from visa to enter the Country. The decision, which comes as part of efforts to strengthen the UAE position both regionally and internationally, will improve existing bilateral relations with other countries the world through enhancing collaboration in tourism, economic and investment field. The decision will open up new prospects for UAE passport holders in tourism, investment and commerce and will facilitate their movements between the two countries. The decision will facilitate entry, exit and passage for nationals of both countries without the need to apply for visa.

As part of the agenda of the meeting, the UAE Cabinet approved Air Arabia Abu Dhabi as a national carrier airline for the UAE in order to enhance civil aviation in the country and to allow the aviation sector to keep pace with future development plans and directions.

The Resolution reflects the importance the government attaches to the aviation sector. The UAE government invested considerable efforts to improve this sector and support all the businesses working in it. The government gives the aviation sector all forms of support in line with the comprehensive development plans occurring in the country.

As part of the agenda of the UAE Cabinet meeting, the Cabinet approved a set of decisions and legislation to support the healthcare sector, improve its quality and performance and to provide the best programmes and health services for the community. In this regard, the Cabinet approved the establishment of the National Centre for Health Research in the UAE, which will seek to create a unified database on researchers and health research in the country, to collaborate with international institutions and organisations in research fields and to enhance cooperative researches between health and academic institutions through internal and external partnerships. In addition, the Centre will support the implementation of programs and will contribute to convert health research outputs into products, services or policies in order to raise the bar of health care services.

The Cabinet also approved a resolution on the Supreme Medical Liability Committee, establishing a committee for medical liability in every health entity. The Resolution aims to improve the relationship between the provider and recipients of health services in the country to the best possible levels, to guarantee the rights of each party and to determine the appropriate procedures to defend and protect such rights. This is in accordance with precise rules to achieve the required balance in these relationships in such a vital and sensitive field as the field of providing health services.

The Resolution will provide an appropriate working environment that allows medical practitioners to exercise their profession in a way that encourages them to provide the best health services, within an environment that guarantees their rights according to the peculiarities of the profession, while ensuring the rights of patients at the same time.

The Resolution will also avoid the delay resulting from the accumulation of complaints files with the Medical Liability Supreme Committee, since each health entity will have its own medical liability committee. This will contribute to distributing complaints files related to medical errors between more than one committee, hence, the role of the Medical Liability Supreme Committee will be limited to looking into the grievances files submitted by the committees formed within the health authorities. This will obviously help expedite the settlement of cases brought before the courts that deal with complaints related to medical errors.

It is expected that this Resolution will contribute to improving the UAE's indicators in the health field and thus creating a positive health environment. This will to strengthen its position as a global hub for healthcare, especially in the field of medical tourism.

In this regard, the UAE Cabinet also approved a resolution to establish the National Cancer Registry. The Resolution comes as part of reinforcing the efforts aiming at preserving public health in the UAE society. The National Cancer Registry is an essential underpinning to find facts and statistical data that will help find new working processes based on accurate and clear methodologies that that will help decision makers obtain the most accurate and latest indicators related to this disease. The Registry will also help identify appropriate means and methods to combat cancer. The National Cancer Registry will identify its causes, types, and the groups that are most affected by it, and classify the number of cancer patients by gender and age. The Registry will also provide other necessary information in this regard.

Concerning legislative matters, the UAE Cabinet approved a resolution concerning the implementing law amending the Federal Law No. 19 of 2016 on Combating Commercial Fraud. This Resolution aims at finding a federal unified mechanism to deal with cases of commercial fraud across the UAE, speeding up the resolution of legal cases related to commercial fraud in addition to defining a clear mechanism to get rid of illegal products by either re-exporting or destroying them.

The Law contains provisions related to the procedures of the competent authority for inspecting fraudulent and corrupt goods and seizing fraudulent goods in the market, provisions related to the rules for destroying counterfeit goods, and other provisions.

As part of its agenda, the UAE Cabinet approved the UAE System for Monitoring Solar Energy Products which constitutes the cornerstone of enabling various sectors in the UAE (governmental, industrial, commercial and real estate) to generate renewable energy using solar energy technologies and linking them to the public electrical network in the country. This represents one of the most important elements of the national agenda to support the sustainable development system.

The Cabinet also approved a draft federal law on pesticides, in order to preserve public health and environmental safety, and to strengthen control over pesticide circulation in the UAE in accordance with a law tailored to the needs of the agricultural sector and the public health. The Resolution also determines clear penalties for violations in this regard due to the seriousness of the use of pesticides.

As far as regulatory matters are concerned, the Cabinet approved the restructuring of the Board of Directors of the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority and the Education and Human Resources Council.

In line with the vision of the UAE to host leading international events, the Cabinet agreed that the capital of the UAE will play host to Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation's General Assembly meetings to be held in 2020. The UAE won the bid to host this important event in the field of standardization and accreditation activities for the first time in the region since the establishment of the Cooperation.

The Cabinet also reviewed a report on the results of the UAE's participation in the Donors' Conference in support of the United Comoros Republic's development plan. This participation comes as part of the government efforts to consolidate ties with various countries and provide the necessary support to them at various levels.


Dewa launches smart app for customer service

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) has launched its smart app on the Huawei store to give customers a seamless experience by combining several steps and reducing the hassle of searching and browsing.

On logging in, customers can immediately view all Dewa's services, such as activation of electricity/water move-in), deactivation of electricity/water (Move-out), bills payment, getting the Green Charger Card, easy payment, request for a clearance certificate, deposit refund, among other services.

"The strategic partnership with Huawei, which is a global leader in telecommunications and information technology, has resulted in many important achievements supporting Dewa's efforts to achieve promising government strategies to make customers happy. We spare no efforts in adopting the latest technologies to enhance our achievements. We have maintained our top position in the large Dubai Government entities category for the second consecutive year with a score of 95%, according to Smart Dubai's Happiness Index," said Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of Dewa.

"Dewa's efforts are focused on entering the race for the future, in line with promising government strategies that aim to employ the Fourth Industrial Revolution's technologies such as Artificial Intelligence to provide state-of-the-art smart services and solutions," said Marwan bin Haidar, executive vice president of Innovation and the Future at Dewa.

"Dewa collaborates with national and international companies to exchange solutions, experiences, and best practices in innovation and digital transformation. Our smart app on Huawei store will encourage our customers to use their smartphones to facilitate transactions and shorten the time and effort needed. This aligns with Dewa's strategy to achieve customer happiness," added bin Haidar.

Dewa has recently revamped its smart channels after extensive research based on customer usability and their needs. The research focused on advanced smart channel information engineering. The services are grouped according to the category of users: customers, project creators, partners, suppliers, students, government organisations, and job seekers. The new website also follows the best international standards for accessibility to provide a better experience for people of determination. - TradeArabia News Service


Etisalat Metro becomes first 5G station in Mena

UAE's leading telecom services operator Etisalat today (December 14) announced that it has enabled 5G connectivity at the Etisalat Metro Station, thus making it the first 5G-enabled metro in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.

Etisalat Metro Station is the eastern terminus of Dubai Metro's Green Line, which was opened to the public in September 2011.

The announcement comes following Etisalat's major global milestones achieved in 5G network.

The Emirati group had embarked on its 5G journey in 2014 when it started constructing its network with a team of engineers and specialists dedicated to build advanced infrastructure supporting future technology requirements in the region.

Etisalat said through this move it aims to provide metro users with a unique 5G experience riding on blazing speeds of more than 1Gbps and faster response time with latency less than 1 millisecond.

At 20 times faster than 4G and with ultra-low latency, 5G technology allows users to stream live 4k resolution videos, with virtually no lag, and they will enjoy AR/VR services, cloud gaming from anywhere in UAE, robotics, and instant wearable technologies connectivity, said the UAE telco giant in its statement.

The major milestone for both Etisalat and the telecom industry was the launch of the first ??commercial 5G wireless network in May in the UAE, which made it into the first telecom operator in the Mena region to achieve this technological breakthrough and set an industry benchmark.?

Ookla, the global leader in fixed broadband and mobile network testing applications, data and analysis, recognised Etisalat for being the fastest mobile network in Mena and broadband network in GCC, Africa and Arabian region in 2019 due to its continuous efforts to invest and build one of the world's most advanced networks.

Expo 2020 was also the first major commercial customer in MEASA to partner with Etisalat on 5G in July 2018 delivering a unique and memorable experience for the millions of visitors, said the statement from Etisalat.?

In yet another global breakthrough in the 5G journey, Etisalat announced this month that it had achieved over 3.1Gbps download throughput over its 5G Stand Alone (SA) network, it stated.

In November, Etisalat had partnered with Yas Marina Circuit to enable 5G connectivity at the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2019, making it the first 5G powered international racing track in the Mena region.

Etisalat Digital partnered with DMCC in October to transform Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) into an innovative smart and sustainable district, powered by the 5G network.

Smart solutions will be installed across JLT, home to over 16,000 companies and 100,000 people who live, work and visit the area, said the statement.

In August, Etisalat announced the availability of 5G coverage in the world's tallest and iconic tower 'Burj Khalifa' showcasing readiness of the state-of-the-art 5G network and compatibility with industry leading 5G smartphones.

Also among its key achievements this year was Etisalat being named the first mobile operator in Mena region to provide 5G coverage inside an international airport.

Through its network rollout and the pioneering launch of the first 5G handset in the Mena, Etisalat managed to provide UAE customers with an opportunity to experience the power of 5G technology, it added.- TradeArabia News Service


Oman to implement new law aimed at attracting foreign investment

Oman is set to implement its new Foreign Investment Law from Thursday (January 2).

The law, which applies to expats in Oman and foreign nationals looking to invest in the country, is designed to provide an attractive investment environment in a hugely competitive market place.

Ibrahim bin Said Al-Mamari, chief executive officer of the Investment Services Centre of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said: "The provisions of the new foreign capital investment law were applied on every non-Omani natural or legal person who sets up an investment project in the Sultanate, using his capital and assets for the project which is economically feasible for the country."

According to a report by the Oman News Agency, those who choose to invest in the Sultanate will receive "incentives, privileges and guarantees".

Al-Mamari said: "The Foreign Capital Investment Law allows the investor to establish a company in one of the permitted activities and own the entire capital of the company. There is no limit of the capital for the companies established under this law, provided the foreign investor adheres to the timetable submitted by him to implement his project and approved in accordance with the economic feasibility study.

"It does not allow any fundamental changes in the investment project without the ministry's approval."

He added: "The investment laws play an important role in attracting foreign investments. It helps in the flow of capital for establishment of companies to absorb the giant economic projects wanted by the Sultanate.

"It increases the level of efficiency of operating companies and helps in transfer of economic expertise and modern investment technologies. This leads to the diversification of the economic base and has positive impacts."


Oman to implement new tourism tax for restaurants

Restaurants and cafs in Oman that are managed through franchise contracts and located in designated tourist areas must now pay a fee to the ministry, a report said.

The fee will be calculated on the basis of the amount spent in these establishments by customers who come there. The new ruling will come into effect as of January 1, 2020, said a report in Times of Oman.

"According to the Ministerial Resolution No. 56/2019, some provisions of the executive regulations have been amended. Restaurants and cafes will have to pay tourist fees that amount to four per cent of all its sales starting from January 1, 2020. It has to be paid to the ministry on a quarterly basis in accordance with the controls and procedures stipulated in the decision. In case of delay, fines will be imposed in accordance with article 7 of the same decision," it said citing a statement from Oman's Ministry of Tourism.

Details for the classification criteria for restaurants can be found on the website of the Ministry of Tourism.

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