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Egypt to provide 20 million doses of coronavirus vaccine

CAIRO: Egypt is providing 20 million coronavirus vaccine doses after signing an official agreement with a worldwide health foundation, according to a presidential adviser.

Mohamed Awad Taj El-Din said that contact had been made with Gavi for supplies of the jab.

"The Egyptian state, with all its bodies, has been following up on COVID-19 vaccines continuously since the announcement of the first vaccine," said the adviser. "There is an agreement signed by Egypt with Gavi, which is entrusted with distributing vaccines worldwide and approving vaccines with the World Health Organization."

The provision of vaccines required many approvals and clinical trials of the vaccines had taken place in Egypt, he added. There were Chinese, UK and US vaccines and the country already had an existing quantity of vaccines and prioritized their distribution.

El-Din said that, until the coronavirus vaccines were provided and the inoculation process began, people must be careful and follow preventive measures to avoid the spread of the virus.

The adviser pointed out the increase in the number of coronavirus cases and that the number announced by the Ministry of Health every night was also increasing. Some patients could be treated at home as a result of the experiences gained from the first wave in dealing with simple, stable cases among people who did not suffer from chronic diseases.

"The number of cases in Egypt is less than those in many countries, although we are currently experiencing the second wave of the virus."

The Ministry of Health said that clinical tests of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine may soon begin in Egypt.


St Regis Cairo officially opens doors

St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, part of Marriott International, has announced the opening of The St. Regis Cairo.

Located at the North end of the Corniche, in the heart of Egypt's bustling metropolis, the 39-story hotel offers easy access to the magnificent monuments of a city steeped in history.

To celebrate the opening, The St. Regis Cairo hosted a special ceremony which was attended by Ali Shareef Al Emadi, Minister of Finance for Qatar, Sheikh Khalid Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairman of Qatari Diar - which wholly owns the hotel , Engineer Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah, CEO of Qatari Diar, Steven Mnuchin, United States Secretary of the Treasury, Dr. Mohamed Maait, Minister of Finance, Satya Anand, President for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International, and other VIP's.

"Egypt has historically been one of our key markets and strategically significant to our growth in the region," said Satya Anand, President for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International. "Cairo is a storied destination that has long mesmerized the global traveler with its incredible energy offering a vibrant mix of history, culture, tradition and glamour. The St. Regis Cairo is an exciting addition to our fast-growing brand portfolio and is set to elevate Cairo's luxury hospitality landscape with its remarkable design, uncompromising service, and exceptional culinary venues."

Engineer Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah, CEO of Qatari Diar, commented: "We are delighted to strengthen our global portfolio of hospitality developments with the opening of The St. Regis Cairo. This luxury landmark will introduce higher standards of hospitality to this beautiful destination with its unparalleled levels of luxury and exceptional service - both of which the iconic St. Regis brand is renowned for."

Modern Egyptian Grandeur

With its striking architecture, created by renowned architect Michael Graves, The St. Regis Cairo firmly establishes itself as a pivotal landmark in the city and beyond, carefully balancing opulence with refinement and elegance to evoke a profound sense of grandeur. Uncompromising in its decadence, the hotel is an exquisite reflection of a passionate vision that conscientiously draws on the city's influential and storied past while confidently introducing its vibrant future.

Graceful geometric lines flow throughout the interiors, creating a repeated structural motif that quietly references the heritage of the region. Dark wood and rich textures combine with intricate embroidery, bejeweled paneling, bronze and wood carvings embellished with flashes of shimmering gold, mother of pearl inlays and imposing crystal chandeliers creating a dramatic Egyptian aesthetic with modern execution. A striking mural entitled "The Pink Sun" graces The St. Regis Bar. Staunchly modern in its execution, the mural references ancient Egypt and the birth of a modern civilization.

The hotel's approach to design pays particular homage to the hundreds of craftspeople who dedicated their time and handiwork to perfecting each and every detail offering a distinctly modern vision that immerses guests in moments that are simply awe-inspiring.

Opulent Accommodation

The St. Regis Cairo boasts of 286 lavishly appointed rooms and suites and 80 luxurious apartments, that offer unmatched indulgence. Three expansive Royal Suites define opulence, with plush interiors featuring a private fitness room, sauna and floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic Nile views. All guestrooms and suites enjoy the signature St. Regis Butler service, one of the most visible representations of the brand's famed level of anticipatory service and personal attention.

Exquisite Culinary Experiences

The hotel is an engaging lifestyle destination with refined taste making offered at a diversified selection of restaurants, bars and lounges La Zisa is a modern and relaxed dining space that offers authentic Southern Italian cuisine where guests can enjoy their dining experience overlooking bright views of the Nile. Tianma takes you on a journey to Singapore and is a melting pot of exquisite flavors from China, India and Southeast Asia. The renowned J&G Steakhouse offers a sophisticated collection of steakhouse favorites, premium meat cuts and fish sourced from around the world; expertly prepared and grilled to perfection. The poolside restaurant and bar, Sirocco, is the ideal place to enjoy a cocktail with a selection of Mediterranean and Egyptian dishes. For urban and chic lounge lovers, Envy is an enchanting and glamorous venue with bejeweled dcor for a special night out.

The Library, embellished with artefacts, rich furnishings and books, offers a quiet corner for guests to seek a moment's respite. The Water Garden, with its authentic Egyptian interiors, is poised to become a gathering place for both global luminaries and the local social vanguards be it for the signature Afternoon Tea or the Evening Ritual. The iconic St. Regis Bar is inspired by the King Cole Bar at the brand's flagship in New York, where the world-renowned Bloody Mary cocktail was born in 1934. It features an exclusive selection of the world's finest champagnes, rare vintage wines, hand-crafted cocktails, and the hotel's own rendition of the signature St. Regis Bloody Mary, infused with exotic taste and fragrance of the Hibiscus flower.

Rejuvenation for the Body and Soul

Spanning more than 1,000-sq-m, the St. Regis brand's signature Iridium Spa enables guests to indulge in a range of transformative treatments and bespoke signature experiences in a tranquil and inviting environment. Thermal therapy areas have been carefully designed for stimulating sensory experiences with a special range of unique facilities including sauna, steam, ice room, shock shower, adventure shower and a vitality pool. The St. Regis Cairo also features a well-equipped Athletic Club and indoor and outdoor swimming pools.

The address for bespoke events

The Astor Ballroom, with its curved, grand staircases that surround a strikingly imposing Swarovski chandelier provides a dramatic backdrop for weddings and celebrations. With a vaulted three-story high ceiling, the 990 square meter Grand Ballroom can accommodate up to 1,000 guests. The hotel also houses 10 flexible and elegant meeting venues with state-of-the-art technology.

With magnificent corridors, elegant venues and refined taste making, the hotel is set to play host to an array of important social moments and signature rituals. Bespoke and personalized services are delivered with a traditional finesse that embodies the spirit of both the location and the St. Regis brand. By paying particular attention to how it blends together these spaces, St. Regis Cairo is able to achieve a natural balance of both grand and intimate, yet bespoke moments for guests.


Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport receives Health Accreditation Seal for Safe Travel

The Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport received the Health Accreditation Seal for Safe Travel from the Airports Council International (ACI) as part of its Airports Health Accreditation Program.

Minister of Civil Aviation Mohamed Manar said that this achievement is one that reflects the dedication, loyalty and efforts of the civil aviation sector's workers in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

This certificate also exemplifies great confidence towards how seriously Egypt's airports are committed to resolutely applying international standards and health safety guidelines, he added, which thereby furthers the growth rate of flights and tourist traffic to Egypt.

Manar added that the Sharm el-Sheikh Airport obtained the accreditation certificate after the ACI evaluated preventive measures applied inside the airport done to maintain the safety of both travelers and airport workers.

All Egyptian airports are applying every preventive measures and international standards recommended by international organizations, Manar assured.

The Airports Council International for Africa Region has announced its list of 21 health-approved airports within Africa, and Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport was among the first of those airports in the AHA airport health accreditation program launched by the Council for Safe Travel in light of the coronavirus pandemic.


Qatar Airways flight lands in Saudi Arabia for 1st time in years

A passenger plane flew from Qatar to Saudi Arabia on Monday, making it the first direct flight between the two Gulf states in over three years.

The Qatar Airways jetliner took off from Doha Airport around 1100 GMT, touching down in Riyadh just over an hour later.

The company added that flights will resume this week to the Saudi cities of Jeddah and Dammam.

Saudi Airlines is also set to resume flights to Doha later on Monday.

The resumption of direct flights comes after Saudi Arabia reopened its airspace and border with Qatar last week.

Ending the blockade

The two states are seeking to normalize ties after striking a deal to end Saudi Arabia's 2017 blockade of Qatar.

The countries involved in the boycott - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt agreed to lift restrictions against Qatar at a summit last week.

Bahrain and the UAE announced that they would reopen their airspace to Qatar, although travelers are still not yet able to book direct flights on Emirati and Bahrani state-owned airlines.

Egypt has not yet released details on restoring its ties with Qatar.

The decision to end the years-long boycott comes as Saudi Arabia moves to position itself as a peacemaker in the region and came with the backing of regional mediator Kuwait and outgoing US President Donald Trump's administration.

What was the rift about?

In June 2017, Saudi Arabia and its three regional allies severed diplomatic and commercial ties with Qatar.

The Gulf state allies accused Qatar of backing Islamist groups that were close to Iran and financing extremist groups in the region.

Qatar, a tiny and energy-rich state, denied the charges. Officials in Doha also criticized the boycott as a bid to undermine its sovereignty.

The closure of local airspace forced Qatar Airways to fly its aircraft over Iran, while paying significant fees to Tehran in the process.

As the blockade continued, the economic impact of the crisis was felt across the region - coupled with the coronavirus pandemic and low oil prices.


New stretch of Oman dual carriageway opens for traffic

Oman's Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology has announced the opening of a new 18-km-long stretch of the Adam-Haima-Thumrait dual carriageway for traffic, reported Oman News Agency.

It is the longest dual carriageway in the sultanate, starting from the Wilayat of Adam in the Governorate of A'Dhakiliyah to the Wilayat of Haima in the Governorate of Al Wusta.

It represents an important asset to the economic activities, serving Duqm Economic Zone and the oil fields in the desert areas.

The ministry had recently awarded the contract for the remaining 400 km strech from Haima to Thumrait, stated the ONA report.

With the opening of the 18-km stretch, now 280 km of the total 317.5-km Adam-Haima-Thumrait dual carriageway is open for traffic.

This road will also contribute to the economic, tourism and social activities in the areas along the road path and in the Governorate of Dhofar, especially during Khareef season, it added.


Oman bans single-use plastic bags from Friday

Oman's Environment Authority (EA) said that the ministerial decision 23/2021 stipulating the ban on single-use plastic shopping bags will be implemented from Friday (January 1, 2021), according to a media report.

"The authority will implement the decision to ban as part of the plan set by the authority to preserve the Omani environment from pollution and waste that is harmful to the rich environment and wildlife," Ahmed bin Zahir al Hinai, Director General of Environmental Affairs, was quoted as saying in the Oman Observer report.

The report said that an administrative fine of not less than RO100 ($259) and no more than RO2,000 is imposed on whoever violates the provisions of this decision, and it will be doubled if the violation is repeated.


Key UAE government services at your doorsteps in 15 minutes

Did you know that key UAE government services are offered in special vehicles that drive down to you on request? The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation's 450-vehicle fleet of 'Tawseel Delivery Services' can drive down to you in a matter of 15 minutes. What's more, the service is free of charge.

Tawseel currently offers services to establishments and their workers; and domestic services. These are the same as those provided by Tasheel, Tadbeer and Tawjeeh centres around the country. It also offers the services of the Ministry of Justice in Sharjah.

Residents can request for the service via the Tawseel smart application or by calling the number 8008585.

Abdulrahman Al Mu'alla, Director of the Service Centres Department at the ministry, said the Tawseel vehicles are equipped with the "latest smart technologies". "These enable them to respond quickly to customers' requests within 15 minutes, including in areas away from cities.

"There are no additional charges for Tawseel's services ... Customers only pay for the services they request."


Free bus services announced in Abu Dhabi

A new "Park & Ride" service will allow individuals to park their vehicles in dedicated parking spaces in the suburbs of Abu Dhabi island and use public buses to travel to different areas inside Abu Dhabi City for free.

The Integrated Transport Centre (ITC) of the Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT) in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday announced that the public would be able to take advantage of its latest offering starting January 2, 2021.

The service coincides with the launch of "Darb" - the Abu Dhabi Toll Gate System. The initiative aims to vary the travelling options available, offer alternative means of transport, enhance the smoothness of traffic flow, and reduce the number of vehicles used - which will consequently reduce the parking demand. This is in addition to encouraging the use of public buses as an alternative transport option.

With the launch of this service, ITC will implement a number of free facilities for vehicle parking and bus departure points in areas surrounding Abu Dhabi Island. Specifically, 500 parking spaces will be offered in Mohammed bin Zayed City and 500 parking spaces will be offered in Al Shahama.

ITC will offer two services as part of Park & Ride: Service no. 104 and 411. The first will depart from Al Huwaim Street in Mohammed bin Zayed City to Abu Dhabi Main Bus Station in Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan Street, Al Wahda Mall in Hazza bin Zayed Street, Etisalat building in Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Street and Qaser Al Hosn in the intersection between Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Street and Khalifa Street. The trip is 50 minutes.

Service no. 411 will depart from Shahama F1 Assembly point to Abu Dhabi Main Bus station in Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan Street, Maryam bint Saeed Mosque parking in Sultan bin Zayed Street in Al Dana, Abu Dhabi Central Post Office parking spaces in the same area and in the intersection between Sheikh Khalifa and Sultan bin Zayed Street in Al Dana. The trip is 50 minutes.

The services will operate from Saturday to Thursday from 6am to 9pm. The frequency of the service is 20 minutes during peak hours (6-9am and 4-9pm) and every 60 minutes during off-peak hours in each direction.

Every day, 58 trips will be conducted within Park & Ride service, ITC said, noting that physical distancing will be followed and only 24 seats will be available in each bus.

Drivers can easily obtain the service card for a maximum of three, for the driver and two passengers in the same vehicle, from the parking spaces area. The card is valid for one day only and can be used unlimitedly within the same day of issuance in Abu Dhabi. The cards will not be sold on the buses, and the fine for travelling without the card is Dh200.

During the first phase of launching the service, ITC will study the demand and assess the service in order to find the best solutions to improve it in the future.


Taxis in Dubai can now take 2 adults, 1 child from same family

Taxis in Dubai can now take up to two adults and a child aged below 14 years of the same family, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has tweeted.

"If you commute in taxis, you can now accompany your child (up to 14 years old) as a third passenger in the vehicle without using the seat next to the driver," the RTA tweeted on Saturday.

All taxi travel had previously been restricted to two passengers per vehicle.

In September, the RTA issued new guidelines to allow up to four passengers to travel in Hala (Dubai Taxi) vans.

On Saturday, the RTA reiterated this limit. "The number of authorised passengers in the three-row family vehicle (van) remains four until further notice," the RTA added.


Residents outside the UAE for more than six months can return by March 31

UAE residents who have been outside the country for more than six months will be allowed to return before March 31.

Under normal circumstances, residency visas automatically expire if the holder has been abroad for more than 180 days.

But an exception was made last year due to the pandemic, when tens of thousands of people were stuck outside the Emirates as countries across the world closed their borders to limit the spread of the virus.

A deadline requiring all those with lapsed visas to return had previously been set for December 31.

"If you hold a UAE resident visa and have stayed outside of the country for more than 180 days, you will be allowed to enter the UAE until March 31, 2021," flydubai said on its website. "Without approval to return to Dubai, you will not be accepted for travel."

Residents returning to Dubai require approval from the emirate's General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs before they book their flights.

Air India Express, a budget carrier, also shared the update on social media.

"Passengers who have stayed outside Dubai for more than 180 days can return until March 31, 2021," it said on Twitter.

Anyone who holds a residency visa issued by other emirates must confirm their return by completing a form on the ICA website before booking their flight.

"If you do not confirm your entry/re-entry to the UAE, you will not be accepted for travel," Flydubai said.


Al Ain Zoo launches new Mountain Bicycles experience

A new fun experience for the whole family to enjoy is now available at Al Ain Zoo, said a report.

Created for adventure lovers, the mountain bicycle experience guides explorers through an exciting and challenging journey amidst the rugged terrain of Hafeet Mountain, news agency WAM reported.

Guests can choose from two distinct tiers, the first is dedicated to mountain bicycles with three unique tracks of varying length (3,7, and 9km) located by the main gate, allowing them to explore the wondrous slopes and amazing rugged terrain beneath Hafeet mountain alongside Al Ain African Safari.

The second is dedicated to tricycles and set within the premise near the Education center allowing visitors to enjoy the nature and biodiversity of Al Ain Zoo.

Omar Mohammed Al Ameri, Director Operations in Al Ain Zoo, said: "This new experience is an exciting addition to our efforts in encouraging the community to adopt an active lifestyle and enjoy the natural environment in al Ain Zoo. As well as highlighting the amazing Hafeet mountain, home to wide range of flora and fauna, explores can immerse themselves in its abundant history. Many of our guests and Al Ain visitors love to explore this area, enjoy their favorite sport activity or simply relax within its incredible natural beauty."

All experiences at Al Ain Zoo are in line with the set precautionary measures allowing our guests to have a fun day with the family in a fun and safe environment, while also following all safety procedures to practice this exciting activity as safely as possible.


Dubai RTA, Huawei launch digital nol cards, pay app

Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and Huawei Consumer Business Group have announced the exclusive launch of the GCC's first digital nol cards and nol Pay mobile app on Huawei AppGallery.

This was announced during a ceremony attended by Pablo Ning, President of Huawei Consumer Business Group in the Middle East and Africa, and Jerry Liu, CEO of Huawei in the UAE.

Mohammed Al Mudharreb, CEO, Corporate Technology Support Services Sector of RTA, Dubai said: "The new RTA nol Pay app works with Huawei Wallet to enable residents in the emirate to quickly pay for their public transport journeys - and any facility that uses nol cards - from their Huawei smartphones.

"Users can download the app directly from Huawei AppGallery on their smartphones, create their Huawei ID using Huawei Wallet app and begin using this service immediately to top up their digital nol cards and pay on-the-go through their phones. Huawei Wallet provides the underlying NFC technology support to nol Pay app, which enables a seamless and secure payment experience for Huawei and RTA customers."

"This innovative solution is the first of its kind by RTA and we aim to bring added convenience to Huawei smartphone users. The nol Pay app provides users with the flexibility to purchase tickets on all RTA's transportation services, from Dubai Metro up to waterbus, Tram and more. This new app also aligns with our overall digital transformation strategy to adopt fourth industrial revolution technologies into Dubai's transport sector," he added.

Pablo Ning, President of Huawei Consumer Business Group, Middle East & Africa said: "The exclusive launch of the RTA Digital nol cards on Huawei smartphones represents a milestone achievement and is the first of its kind in the region. The success of this partnership highlights Huawei AppGallery's ongoing commitment to work with local partners in developing the most innovative and compelling experience for our users."

Huawei smartphone users in Dubai can now access the region's first digital nol card through Huawei AppGallery. The new app allows users to buy tickets for Dubai Metro, water buses, trams and more through nol Pay app and Huawei Wallet.

They can also recharge their digital nol cards through the app directly. Customer payments are safe with Huawei AppGallery's stringent full-cycle security and protection system that meets the highest international standards to ensure the privacy of consumers.

Users can download the app directly from Huawei AppGallery then log-in with their Huawei ID using the Huawei Wallet to top up their digital nol cards and pay on-the-go through their phones. - TradeArabia News Service


Dubai RTA taps into AI to improve metro service

Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has embarked on a trial phase of using artificial intelligence (AI) and simulators to streamline the demand for the metro service.

The technology should assist in crowd management during peak hours at some metro stations or public events witnessing increased demand proportions.

"The project aims to develop a smart and interactive system responsive to the needs of the metro riders. The project seeks to propose convenient transit timing for metro riders through understanding the demand pattern of the service and adjusting it to control overcrowding," said Ahmed Mahboub, Executive Director of Smart Services, Corporate Technology Support Services Sector, RTA.

"We had experimented the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to propose specific transit timings for riders in a bid to streamline the demand for the metro service and spread it over longer durations. The process requires the development of a model to simulate train journeys throughout the day. It uses nol cards data, metro demand algorithms, and a screen to display and understand detailed passenger journeys," explained Mahboub.

"Results of the pilot project indicate that trains serve about 40-80% of those at certain stations during peak times and public events, which is reflected in crowds and more frequent journeys. The simulative model showed that passengers flow during peak hours will result in spells of congestions and longer waiting time for riders before boarding the metro. The experimental use of artificial intelligence reduced the congestion from 40% to 60%, and the waiting time to 30 minutes.

"The artificial intelligence technology contributed to proposing specific periods and redistributing the demand to improve the customers' experience by offering them definite timings for boarding that enable them timely reaching to their destinations. These deliverables are currently under review to verify their feasibility and consider undertaking the project in the near future," concluded Mahboub. - TradeArabia News Service


Work in full swing on Phase Two of Bahrain airport project

Work is progressing as per schedule on the second phase of Bahrain International Airport's (BIA) new 207,000-sq-m passenger terminal project, being implemented under the $1.1-billion Airport Modernisation Programme, reported BNA, citing a senior minister.

"The AMP is the largest investment in Bahrain's aviation sector for more than 20 years and will usher in a new era for air transport in the Kingdom. 2021 will be a major turning point for the airport," stated Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications and Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) Chairman, Kamal bin Ahmed Mohamed.

Four times larger than the existing facility, the new passenger terminal is equipped with the latest technologies and supported by high quality infrastructure. It will increase the airport's capacity to 14 million passengers per year, delivering a comfortable and hassle-free airport experience, he added.

Kamal bin Mohamed was speaking to the media after paying an inspection visit to BIA to follow up on the progress of construction at the new passenger terminal.

He was accompanied by BAC officials, and representatives of the project's main contractor, Arabtec TAV.

The second phase work, which is progressing as per schedule, is taking place in the eastern part of the existing airport. The site has been cordoned off to maintain the highest levels of safety and security.

Lauding the ongoing efforts of Team Bahrain, which started work on this important national development project four years ago, the minister emphasised the importance of maintaining the current pace of work, completing the second phase on time, and ensuring that the construction does not impact airport operations.

He was later briefed on the latest developments on the project, including demolition works and the removal of all internal equipment and installations, floors, ceilings, non-bearing partition walls, mechanical and electrical systems, and air conditioning systems.

The transference of operations to the new terminal will signal a major shift in the Kingdom's aviation sector, reported BNA.

This will be complemented with fuel farm complex operations, including three aviation fuel tanks, it added.

Kamal bin Mohamed said the coming months will also see the inauguration of the new private aviation terminal, which will cater to businessmen and private aircraft owners.

The private aviation terminal will be a major contributor to trade and will support the growth of the tourism and travel sector for decades to come, he noted.

In addition to the new passenger terminal and related projects such as the central utilities complex, the multi-storey car park, staff parking area, Super Gate and fire station, the AMP includes several infrastructure development projects that will contribute to the realisation of Bahrain's Economic Vision 2030, laying the foundation for a more sustainable and diversified economy, he added.


Conrad Hotels & Resorts to open serviced residences in Bahrain

Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton's contemporary luxury hotel brand, has announced plans to bring the global brand to Manama, Bahrain following the signing of an agreement to open Conrad Residences Bahrain Financial Harbour in 2022 at the upcoming mixed-use development, First Energy Bank Tower.

The highly anticipated property will be the first fully residential luxury development for the Conrad brand in the Middle East. Part of Bahrain Financial Harbour, a commercial waterfront development located on the northern shore of Manama, Conrad Residences Bahrain Financial Harbour will provide an exceptional location for people to enjoy spectacular coastal views of the Arabian Gulf while being conveniently located in the heart of the capital city's up-and-coming business and residential district.

"We're extremely delighted with this partnership with Hilton which will mark the debut of Conrad Hotels & Resorts' first fully residential property in the Middle East. We believe that this will be a high value addition, not only for the upcoming FEB Tower at Bahrain Financial Harbour, but for the Kingdom of Bahrain," said Mohamed Ghanem, CEO of First Energy Bank. "The introduction of the Conrad brand to Bahrain will provide further visibility of the hospitality sector in the kingdom, enabling the property to offer a unique and premium product appealing to regional and international travellers, and will attract a new class of travellers to the Kingdom of Bahrain."

"We are delighted to debut Conrad Hotels & Resorts in Bahrain with this outstanding new property," said Carlos Khneisser, vice president of development, Middle East and Africa, Hilton. "We see significant opportunity in branded luxury residences for our world class hospitality brands. Whether planning a long or short-term stay, guests can look forward to enjoying unparalleled service standards and state-of-the-art amenities at this exclusive Conrad property."

Featuring 98 purposefully designed and elegantly serviced apartments, Conrad Residences Bahrain Financial Harbour will be located just minutes away from some of the most sought-after waterfront leisure and business venues, including the Harbour Towers, Financial Centre, The Avenues Mall, Bahrain Bay, and Reef Island. The property will offer unobstructed views of the Arabian Gulf from its elevated waterfront location, as well as a number of exquisite culinary options, including mouthwatering delicacies at the property's all-day restaurant, succulent dishes at the pool lounge grill, and refreshing beverages at the lobby caf. The hotel will also offer a fully equipped gym, an outdoor pool, and a conveniently located boardroom.

"I am thrilled that we will be establishing a presence in Manama with Conrad's first all-residential property in the Middle East. Providing a host of both leisure and business opportunities amidst the beautiful backdrop of the Arabian Gulf, Bahrain Financial Harbour is the ideal setting in which to debut Conrad's modern yet stylish residential offering," says Nils-Arne Schroeder, global brand head, Conrad Hotels & Resorts. "Conrad properties around the world are known for their seamless connection between contemporary design, inspiring destinations and leading innovation - and this property will be no exception." - TradeArabia News Service


Gulf Air extends its 'No Fees, Unlimited Changes' campaign

Gulf Air, the national carrier of Bahrain, has announced the extension of its 'No Fees, Unlimited Changes' campaign allowing passengers to change bookings, exchange and refund tickets until March 31, 2021.

Originally launched in March 2020, the campaign was one of the first global airline responses to provide peace of mind to Gulf Air passengers in relation to the Covid-19 situation and its global impact on air transport.

Passengers are eligible to unlimited changes to their travel dates without paying any change fees by visiting 'Manage My Booking' on Gulf Air's website or mobile app or by contacting the airline's Contact Centre. Passengers who have made their bookings through a travel agent are advised to get in touch with the issuing agents to make changes.

Gulf Air would like to reassure its loyal passengers that it continues to apply heightened disinfection protocols inside the aircraft cabin and it urges passengers to comply with health and safety regulations throughout their journey. The airline continuously coordinates with the relevant authorities in the Kingdom of Bahrain and with airports throughout its network to take all precautionary and preventive measures in order to ensure the safety of all passengers and crew.

Being one of the few airlines that continued scheduled commercial operations, Gulf Air continues to work closely with the government authorities throughout the destinations on its network to resume operations as soon as airports open. Gulf Air boasts a flexible and agile network by immediately adapting to government orders and civil aviation directives around its network and has been responsive to continuous changes and updates regarding operations to and from its network destinations. - TradeArabia News Service


Bahrain Launches Online Application For Residency Permits For Self-sponsored Foreigners

Bahraini authorities have launched an online service allowing the application for issuing and renewing self-sponsored residency permits for foreigners.

The Bahraini Nationality, Passport and Residence Affairs (NPRA) Authority has said that the service is available via the website www.evisa.gov.bh. The service targets foreign retirees, investors and property owners in Bahrain, with permit validity ranging from two, five to 10 years, the Bahraini news agency BNA reported.

Read| Bahrain to open new airport terminal this month

The move is part of efforts to expand e-services to facilitate presenting applications without the need for in-person attendance. The service is also part of the NPRA role in "encouraging and supporting the investment environment" in the country, according to BNA.

Potential applicants are requested to visit the aforementioned website, call phone No 17399764 or send an email to Evisa@npra.gov.bh.

Bahrain had previously provided the online service of extending visit visas, ensuring smooth processing of applications in a few minutes instead of in-person attendance.


Saudi Health Ministry: Vaccine not required to travel when flights resume

JEDDAH: Saudis leaving the Kingdom after March 31 will not require a COVID-19 vaccine to travel, a Saudi Health Ministry spokesman said on Saturday.

"There is no condition that states one must be vaccinated to travel. Studies for this are still ongoing. This matter is related to the Kingdom. Other countries might be applying this, but there is no condition in the Kingdom so far," said Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly.

The Health Passport is a unique service issued by the Health Ministry's "Twakkalna" application in cooperation with the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence and other entities. It is important that recipients of the vaccine have their appointments documented.

The ministry recorded 110 new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, raising the total number of infections to 363,692.

The Riyadh region recorded the highest case count with 40 cases, while Makkah reported 31, and the Eastern Province and Madinah region saw 12 cases each. Hail, the Northern Border region and Al-Jouf recorded zero cases

There are now 2,024 active cases, 308 of which are in critical care.

There were 174 new recoveries recorded, raising the total number of recoveries to 355,382. The Kingdom's recovery rate is holding steady at 97.7 percent.

The Kingdom recorded one of its lowest death rates in weeks after only four new coronavirus-related deaths were reported, raising the death toll to 6,286.

More than 11.3 million polymerase chain reaction tests have been conducted in the Kingdom since the beginning of the pandemic, with 37,043 completed in the past 24 hours.


Saudi Airlines to resume flights from Riyadh, Jeddah to Qatar from Jan. 11

RIYADH: Saudi Airlines said on Saturday that it would resume flights from Riyadh and Jeddah to the Qatari capital Doha, starting from Jan. 11.

The national carrier made the announcement in a tweet on its official account, and said bookings were now open.

Saudi Arabia, along with the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, ended a three-year dispute with Qatar following a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in AlUla on Tuesday.

The Kingdom announced it was opening its land, sea and air borders with neighboring Qatar on Monday and earlier on Saturday opened the Salwa border crossing between the two countries and began welcoming travelers.

Later on Saturday, Qatar Airways also tweeted that it would resume flights to Saudi Arabia, starting with Riyadh on Jan. 11, followed by Jeddah on Jan. 14, then Dammam on Jan. 16.


Foreigners to be allowed to run Saudi-owned companies

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia has decided to allow foreigners to run Saudi-owned companies. Okaz/Saudi Gazette has learned that the Ministry of Commerce has taken a decision in this regard.

The Ministry of Justice has revoked the second paragraph of the ministerial decision issued in the Hijri year 1426, which states that it is not permissible for a foreigner to manage a Saudi company or grant him any powers through a judicial order to delegate a Saudi citizen's authorization to a foreigner in this regard.

Minister of Justice Dr. Walid Al-Samaani said in a circular that the ministry had received a telegram from Minister of Commerce Majed Al-Qasabi, who is also chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Competitiveness Center (Tayseer), in this regard.

"A working team, which was constituted by the Ministry of Commerce, to study the issue, came to the conclusion that there is no objection in appointing non-Saudis as managers of Saudi-owned companies, as well as in authorizing foreigners to act in place of Saudis for running the companies," it was stated in the circular.


Saudi QIC starts design of world's fastest roller coaster

Saudi-based Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC), in partnership with Intamin Amusement Rides, has kicked off the design process for the Falcon's Flight, the signature attraction of Six Flags Qiddiya, a one-of-a-kind theme park scheduled for opening in Qiddiya's first phase.

The Falcon's Flight is set to become the world's longest, fastest and tallest coaster. It will travel across 4km, feature a vertical cliff dive maneuver into a 160-m-deep valley using magnetic motor acceleration (LSM technology), and achieve unprecedented speeds of over 250 km/h.

The Falcon's Flight will also be the world's tallest free-standing coaster structure featuring a parabolic airtime hill allowing a weightlessness airtime experience.

On the key achievement, CEO Philippe Gas said: "Rollercoaster fans around the world have been eagerly anticipating this ride since it was announced as there is nothing quite like it anywhere else."

"Now we are in the design stage with the experts at Intamin and the engineering team at Six Flags, the excitement is building! Falcon's flight will dominate the skyline at Qiddiya weave all the way around our destination, right out of the theme park, up the cliffside, and down the cliff face - the greatest drop of any ride in the world; it won't be for the fainthearted," stated Gas.

Covering 32 hectares and featuring 28 rides and attractions across six themed lands, Six Flags Qiddiya is set to become the theme park that breaks all records of entertainment in Saudi Arabia and the region.

On each ride - a three-minute long adventure - up to 20 passengers will experience the exhilaration of three electromagnetic propulsion launch systems as well as panoramic views of Six Flags Qiddiya and the Resort Core, he added.

Intamin Amusement Rides Vice-President (Design & Development) Daniel Schoppen said: "I will never forget the moment when I was standing at the edge of the 200-m-high cliff on the Tuwaiq Mountain in Qiddiya, looking into the valley and imagining the creation of a future record-setting roller coaster."

"I knew that exactly at this spot, The Falcon Flight will dive down along the cliff, ending in a unique exhilarating 250+ km/hour proximity flight close to the ground. The worldwide unique setting and heights such as the natural cliff will enable us to design an architectural masterpiece in steel," he added.


Saudi Arabia to lift travel ban

Saudi Arabia has announced its decision to lift the temporary travel ban and resume all international flights, starting in March, said a report in Saudi Press Agency citing a statement from the Ministry of Interior.

The move, which will come into force on March 31, includes the following measures:

1. Citizens will be allowed to travel outside the Kingdom and come back.

2. The temporary ban on international flights will be lifted.

3. All air, sea, and land borders will reopen.

The implementation of the measures will be done in accordance with the procedures and precautions laid down by the concerned committee amid all necessary precautionary measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the kingdom, the statement added.


Hyatt opens first Regency branded property in Qatar

Hyatt Hotels Corporation has announced the opening of its new property, Hyatt Regency Oryx Doha, thus marking its first Regency branded property in Qatar.

The 400-room hotel further expands Hyatt's brand presence in the Middle East. It becomes the third Hyatt branded hotel in Doha joining Park Hyatt Doha and Grand Hyatt Doha Hotel & Villas.

This addition further enhances Doha's global standing in the world of hospitality and is slated to offer the Qatari citizens an upscale experience.

<"We are thrilled to announce the opening of the first Hyatt Regency hotel in Qatar and to bring the brand's signature intuitive service to the modern city of Doha," said Julien Gonzalvez, General Manager, Hyatt Regency Oryx Doha.

"With an exemplary setting for meetings and high tech room facilities, business travelers can stay connected and energized at Hyatt Regency Oryx Doha. Leisure guests can easily discover the city's cultural attractions and thriving food scene," he stated.

Hyatt Regency Oryx Doha has been designed to connect travellers to who and what matters the most.

The hotel is conveniently located close to Hamad International Airport and is just a few minutes away from Doha's business district, with many of the city's unique attractions in close proximity to the hotel, which include National Museum of Qatar and Doha Golf Club.

Travellers coming to Doha, be it for business or leisure purpose, can indulge in the heritage sights and sounds of the blissful city as the hotel promises much more to its guests, stated Gonzalvez.- TradeArabia News Service


Nearly 40pc work on $4.3bn Kuwait airport project completed

Work is moving at a steady pace on the new terminal building at Kuwait International Airport despite the Covid situation with nearly 40 per cent of the project already completed, reported Arab Times, citing a senior official.

Limak Construction, a part of leading Turkish conglomerate Limak Group, is the main contractor on the terminal project, which was designed by Foster + Partner. Structural engineering of the main structure was carried out by Werner Sobek.

On completion, the T2 project will be one of the most advanced and environmentally conscious airports in the world and an iconic gateway to Kuwait.

"The project has not been affected by the reduction in the state's general budget, since a total amount of KD400 million ($1.3 billion) had been allocated for the project for fiscal 2021/2022," stated Engineer Abdul Mohsen Khaled Al Anzi, the Assistant Undersecretary for the Major Projects Engineering Sector at the Ministry of Public Works.

"Since it is the gateway to realising Kuwait's Vision 35, all sectors of the ministry, including the engineering section, has prepared the five-year term plan until 2025 which includes the estimated cost to cover the expenses of these projects," explained Al Anzi.

"These plans were discussed by the Ministry's Planning Committee, and of course among them is the passenger building project at the Kuwait International Airport as one of the major development projects implemented by the Ministry of Public Works," he added.

Earlier this month, Kuwait's Central Agency for Public Tenders (CAPT) had floated tenders for the construction and maintenance of the parking lots and aircraft runways and service buildings at the new passenger terminal within Phase Three of the Kuwait International Airport project.

Spread over a 1.3-million-sq-m area, the project is located between the eastern and western runways and extends from the new passenger building 2 and consists of aircraft parking and runway linked to the existing runways of Terminal 2, air services and service tunnels associated with the main building in addition to a power plant.


Gulf citizens can enter Kuwait even if their passports contain an Israel stamp

An informed security source in the General Administration of Ports confirmed the right of any Gulf citizen to enter Kuwait, even if his passport had a stamp visiting Israel, Al Anbaa reported.

In a special statement to the daily the source said that according to the Gulf agreement, any Gulf citizen has the right to enter Kuwait with the passport of his home, even if he has to stamp the entry and exit of Israel, pointing out that there are many Americans and Europeans who enter the country with passports who previously entered these passports into Israel.

The source added that Kuwait has nothing to do with any bilateral relations concluded by Gulf countries, stressing that any Emirati or Bahraini citizen who entered Israel, who is a citizen of one of the two Gulf countries that signed two peace agreements with Israel, has the right to enter Kuwait.

It is noteworthy that statements by former officials confirmed that Kuwait prevents anyone who has a passport stamped or a visa for Israel to enter its territory, and of course, if he holds an Israeli passport.

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