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Online payment gateway noon payments launches in Egypt

noon.com, the Middle East's leading digital marketplace, has launched noon payments, a complete online payments platform that will help SMEs in Egypt grow.

noon payments is a full-service payments platform that aims to make transactions easier. The online payments gateway offers quick onboarding, simple API integration, and a smooth checkout process to businesses of all sizes, ensuring a seamless customer experience.

SMEs that use noon payments can take advantage of a variety of features such as secure payment gateway, payment links, easy monthly installments, subscriptions, and a detailed dashboard for more streamlined transactions.

"Our team has been working hard to provide businesses and merchants in Egypt with the ease of accepting multiple payment methods under one integrated solution. In line with the Central Bank of Egypt's financial inclusion initiative, our goal is to help people become less dependent on cash transactions," says Moustafa Maher, noon payments. "noon payments is all about making the final leg of a transaction easier for businesses and customers alike, and our innovative payments solutions are designed to help businesses of all sizes grow."

The payments solution accepts a variety of payment methods including Visa, MasterCard, Meeza, and others, and allows returning customers to save cards for future purchases, resulting in increased transactions and conversions.

Noon.com was created to serve the region, empowering and championing local businesses with innovation, technology, and support. Local businesses can use noon to help them grow, tapping into noon's massive customer database, and utilizing the secure payment platform.-- TradeArabia News Serv


Egypt establishes the express electric train to Upper Egypt, minister

The Egyptian Transport Minister, Kamel al-Wazir, accompanied by the Governor of Qena Ashraf al-Daoudi, inspected the course of the second line of the express electric train (October/ Luxor/ Aswan), which is 925 km long, from Luxor until Dishna for the first time.

The crossing point of the track was inspected above the Nile River next to the Qena-Abu Tartur railway line. The minister also inspected the location of the massive overhaul workshop and the interchange station of the second (6th of October/ Aswan) and the third (Safaga/ Hurghada/ Qena/ Luxor) lines in Qena Governorate.

The Transport Minister said that the coming period will witness the signing of the contract for this line, in addition to the Safaga/ Hurghada/ Qena/ Luxor line with Siemens International, within the Ministry of Transport's plan to establish a rapid electric train network consisting of 3 main lines with a total length of 1825 km, including 1165 km for the Upper Egypt lines.

With regard to the fast electric train line, the 6th of October/ Aswan, Wazir stressed during his tour that stations will be establishment in the densely populated areas and intersections with the traffic axes over Nile, to better serve the residents of Upper Egypt.

He pointed out that the design speed of the network is 250 km/ h, the operational speed of fast electric trains is 230 km/ h, regional electric trains are 160 km/ h, and freight trains are 120 km/ h.

Wazir added that the number of fast electric trains on this line is scheduled to reach 19, and the regional electric trains will include 37 trains at a speed of 160 km/ h, in addition to 27 freight trains to ensure the greatest financial return that covers operating and maintenance expenses later.

He added that the goal of diversifying the mobile units (fast and regional) is to provide a civilized means of transportation that suits all income levels, while providing an outstanding service.

He pointed out that the high-speed rail lines run on electricity come to reduce time, greatly shorten journey times, and preserve the environment, and will represent a huge qualitative leap in the means of transportation in Egypt.


Egypt announces project to replace tuk-tuks with cars powered by natural gas

The spokesperson for the Ministry of State for Military Production, Mohamed Bakr, announced a project to be implemented between the National Authority for Military Production and a private sector company to produce an alternative vehicle to replace tuk-tuks.

The car will be launched at the end of this year.

During a telephone interview on Friday with the Channel One program, Bakr said that the new vehicle will be powered by a dual-fuel engine with petrol and natural gas, as part of an ambitious plan to expand the use of natural gas as a fuel for cars.

This alternate vehicle is characterized by being suitable for narrow places and non-standard roads, he said, and can can travel a distance of up to 550km without refilling.

Bakr added that there is a possibility to work on producing the vehicle to be powered by an electric motor in the middle of next year.

The Minister of Military Production, Mohamed Ahmed Morsi, and the Minister of Trade and Industry, Nevin Gamea, previously inspected a prototype of the vehicle at the headquarters of the Ministry of Military Production.

Al-Masry Al-Youm gathered some important details on the project:

1. It comes within a proposed project to be implemented between the National Authority for Military Production and the "GB Auto Ghabbour" company.

2. It is characterized by a low cost of transportation and operation, which makes it environmentally friendly.

3. The vehicle works with a dual system engine (petrol/ natural gas).

4. Its design shall shall be light with four tires.

5. It travels up to 550 km without refilling (250 km of petrol and 300 km of natural gas)

6. The vehicle will be produced to be powered by an electric motor in the middle of next year.

7. The vehicle has obtained the European E-Mark certificate.

8. The new vehicle also obtained the approval of the Egyptian General Authority for Standards and Quality.


Standard Chartered to open its first branch in Egypt later this year

British lender Standard Chartered is poised to open its first fully fledged branch in Egypt later this year after securing an in-principle approval from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) on September 27, 2021.

The move is a part of the London-based bank's growth strategy in Africa.

Standard Chartered is currently complying with the Egypt banking regulator's requirements, which will allow it to secure the final approval required to open the branch, it said on Thursday.

"The move comes in light of the resilience and strength of the Egyptian economy," the lender said. "The banking sector has experienced great stability during the past few years, which enabled it to seamlessly manage various challenges."

The first branch is expected to opened in Cairo in September, the Middle East News Agency reported on January 24, quoting CBE deputy governor Gamal Negm.

Standard Chartered currently has a representative office in the North Africa's largest and the Arab world's third-biggest economy.

Egypt's economy grew at a faster rate than expected during the 2020-2021 fiscal year that ended in June 2021, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

This was as a result of strong consumption demand, higher remittances and relatively contained inflation, according to the World Bank's global economic outlook that was released this month.

Growth is expected to rebound to 5.5 per cent in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the Washington-based multilateral lender said.

"CBE's strategy established a successful framework focused on strengthening the sector's financial solvency, ensuring effective governance, implementing precautionary measures that led to maintaining financial support and high capital requirements that [are] exceeding the established minimum, as well as high liquidity ratios," Standard Chartered said. "This reflected positively on the overall Egyptian economy."

The Middle East, where Standard Chartered currently has a presence in nine countries, is a core part of the bank's footprint, along with Africa and Asia.

The lender's 2021 first-half operating income for the Middle East and Africa grew by more than 400 per cent, a five-year high, amid a "significant" drop in provisions for loan losses.

Its operating profit for the first six months to the end of June rose to $476 million, from the $91m reported at the end of the same period in 2020, it said in August.


Egypt seeks to build affordable electric vehicles priced at around $20,000

Egypt is joining the Middle East's push to adopt electric cars, tasking a state-owned company to build affordable vehicles with a Chinese firm while taking advantage of its renewable energy boom to power them.

Authorities are in contact with three potential companies as they seek a partner for El Nasr Automotive Manufacturing on the project that'll see 2bn pounds ($127m) invested, Public Enterprise Minister Hisham Tawfik said in an interview, without giving names. Production is set to begin in 2023, with output increasing to an annual 20,000 units over three years.

Tawfik said Egypt's electric model, to be named either E70 or A70, will sell for around $20,000, with half of buyers probably taxi or Uber drivers. That's roughly the same price as Europe's cheapest EV, Renault's made-in-China Dacia Spring.

The private sector will also be offered a 40 per cent role in a new company established to operate pay-to-use charging stations, with 10 per cent being taken by El Nasr and the remaining half by a "state entity," Tawfik said, without elaborating. The first wave of 3,000 charging points will be around the cities of Cairo and Alexandria before they're introduced elsewhere.

"Egypt now produces all kinds of clean energy," the minister said, citing the country's sizeable wind and solar power projects. "This means we have the infrastructure to leap into the future with the automotive industry."

It's an ambitious undertaking for the Arab world's most populous nation of more than 100 million people, where Tawfik estimates only about 350 electric cars are plying the busy streets. That's a tiny fraction of the roughly five million private cars registered, although financial incentives offered to owners of standard cars to convert them to natural gas will also be extended to EVs to encourage purchases.

Changing region

The picture is similar in the broader Mideast region, much of which relies on oil wealth, where the adoption of EVs has been dwarfed by their growth in China, the US and Europe. It's beginning to change, though, with Saudi Arabia planning to manufacture its own.

Brightskies, an Egyptian company, has also signed a deal with state-owned Engineering Automotive Manufacturing to develop and manufacture electric buses and minibuses from 2022, according to Tawfik. Egypt will also look at making hydrogen-powered EVs in the longer term, he said.

The initiatives come as Egypt prepares to host the COP27 climate summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh next year and ramps up its production of green energy. About 8.6 per cent of the North African nation's electricity comes from renewables, with a target of 20 per cent by 2022 and more than doubling that by 2035.

El Nasr dates back to Egypt's socialist 1960s and once assembled local versions of Fiats among other models. It halted production in 2009, only to be reopened a few years later.

Egypt signed a memorandum of understanding with China's Dongfeng Motor in early 2021 to build EVs, but it expired and wasn't renewed, Tawfik said, without giving more details.


London's King's College starts work on 150-bed Jeddah hospital

Work has begun on a major multi-speciality hospital in Jeddah, which is being developed by King's College Hospital London in partnership with Ashmore Group, a specialist emerging markets investment manager, and Saudi Bugshan Group.

Scheduled to open in 2023, the state-of-the-art King's College Hospital Jeddah (KCHJ), located on King Abdulaziz Road, will cover an area of over 32,000 sq m, with a capacity of 150 beds in the first phase.

The world-class healthcare facility will be fully integrated with King's College Hospital's facilities in London, said a statement from Ashmore Group.

Building on the success of King's College Hospital Dubai, which in a short period of time has become one of the best hospitals in UAE, Ashmore said the Jeddah facility will be the country's first truly integrated hospital bringing the full benefits of King's College Hospital London to Saudi Arabia, and playing its role in achieving the Kingdom's 2030 vision in the healthcare sector.

This is expected to be the first of many similar projects providing Ashmore and King's the platform for further growth in Saudi Arabia, it added.

The London-based tertiary hospital is part of the world leading UK National Health Service, with a 180 year history of successfully caring for patients with complex conditions. King's is also one of the largest teaching hospitals in the UK. The hospital's 13,000+ staff in London treat over one million patients every year.

The hospital will be staffed with over 1,000 leading healthcare professionals, sourced from London, Saudi Arabia and wider region, delivering care in line with the tested clinical pathways of King's College Hospital London.

Clinical innovation and smart technologies will be a prominent feature at the hospital, with 40 medical and surgical specialties and four Centres of Excellence in the following Institutes: Women's Health, Metabolic Diseases & Bariatric Surgery, Orthopaedics and Heart & Vascular.

The patient-centred care model, staffing and services will all be fully integrated with King's College Hospital London, designed to address a range of complex and critical care requirements unique to the residents and communities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Ahsan Ali, Head of Healthcare Private Equity at Ashmore, said: "We stand true to our ambition and commitment to bringing the best of British healthcare to the region in partnership with King's College Hospital London."

"Following the success of King's hospital and clinics in Dubai, entering Saudi Arabia marks a new chapter for King's and Ashmore, with the first project being a landmark hospital in Jeddah. We expect to follow this with the establishment of similar King's branded facilities, including specialized centres, in other parts of the Kingdom," he added.

Chairman Hugh Taylor said: "We are delighted that King's, in partnership with Ashmore, is expanding its footprint to Saudi Arabia, following on from the success of our hospital and clinics in the UAE. King's College Hospital has a long history of providing outstanding patient care in London and as part of our "Strong roots, Global reach" strategy we remain committed to delivering outstanding care for patients in Saudi Arabia."

Ashmore CEO Mark Coombs said the group remained committed to supporting KSA's continued development across multiple areas.

"We have been active in the kingdom for over the last two decades and were the first international fund manager to establish local operations with a dedicated team in Riyadh, and we are now excited about playing our role in the development of KSA's healthcare sector by bringing King's to the country," he added.-


Saudi Arabia to commemorate February 22 as Founding Day

Issuing the Royal Order, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman also said February 22 shall be an official holiday in the country.

"Taking into account that the middle of the year 1139H, corresponding to the month of February of the year 1727, signals the commencement of the reign of Imam Muhammad bin Saud, marking his founding of the first Saudi state, we, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, have decreed the following:

"First: The 22nd day of the month of February of every year shall be designated to mark the commemoration of the founding of the Saudi state under the name 'Founding Day', and shall be an official holiday.

"Second: This Decree shall be communicated to the relevant entities for adoption and implementation," the order read.

The King said he took "great pride in the deep roots of this blessed state and its citizens' firm bonds with its leaders which began three centuries ago with the reign of Imam Muhammad bin Saud when he founded the First Saudi State in the middle of 1139H (early 1727), lasting until 1233H (1818), with Diriyah as its capital and the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as its constitution, and which provided unity and security in the Arabian Peninsula following centuries of fragmentation, dissension and instability, and survived attempts of elimination."

Seven years following the end of the First Saudi State, Imam Turki bin Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Saud succeeded in 1240H (1824) in restoring it, establishing the Second Saudi State, which lasted until 1309H (1891.

Ten years later, King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Faisal Al Saud succeeded in 1319H (1902) in establishing the Third Saudi State and uniting it under the name of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; and his sons, the kings, followed in his footsteps in reinforcing the building and unity of this country," the King said in his order. - SPA


Validity of iqama, reentry and visit visas extended to 10 days after Jan. 31

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia has issued orders for the automatic extension of the validity of residency permit (iqama) and exit and reentry visa of expatriates, as well as that of visit visas to 10 days after Jan. 31. This will be applicable to those expatriates and visitors who are from countries facing temporary suspension of travel following the outbreak of coronavirus.

However, those expatriates who have received two doses of coronavirus vaccine from Saudi Arabia before their departure are exempted from this extension, the General Directorate of Passports (Jawazat) has said.

Replying to queries from those who wish to take advantage of the deadline, the Jawazat stressed that work on the extension of the validity of iqama and exit and reentry visa is being done automatically in cooperation with the National Information Center. It said that there is no need to contact the departments of Jawazat for the extension.

The Jawazat stated that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will extend automatically the validity of visit visas of those people from countries facing travel ban provided that they are at present outside the Kingdom to 10 days after Jan. 31.

It is noteworthy that the duration of exit and reentry visas is valid for three months for travel from the date of issuance, if it is specified in months such as 60, 90, and 120 days, and the duration of the visa will be calculated from the date of travel. However, if the duration is specified in days or "return before..." it is calculated from the date of issuance of the visa.


Home furnishing group JYSK opens fourth outlet in Kuwait

JYSK, the Scandinavian home furnishing brand for sleeping and living franchised by Ali Abdulwahab Al Mutawa Commercial Company (AAW), has announced the opening of its fourth store at the newly launched Assima Mall, a major retail destination in Kuwait City, developed by Al Salhia Real Estate Company.

JYSK commemorated the milestone with a four-day in-store campaign which ended today (January 23), which included exclusive promotions and on-air competitions and giveaways hosted by both Al-Diwaniyah radio show and Al-Qabas' social media accounts.

JYSK also surprised several of its customers, including a roster of interior designers and social media influencers, with customised gift packages as a token of appreciation for their long-standing relationship.

AAW Senior Deputy CEO Khalid Al Mutawa said: "Today, we are unveiling the brand's fourth store at Assima Mall, the retail component of one of Kuwait's largest mixed-use developments in the heart of Kuwait City."

The group launched its first store in Kuwait and the Middle East in Al Dajeej area, followed by a second one in Shuwaikh area and a third in The Avenues.

"During a short time, JYSK demonstrated its commitment to delivering a superior customer service and experience. We are thrilled to open our new JYSK store at Assima Mall and look forward to welcoming both new and returning customers," he stated.

JYSK Country Manager Georges Abi Haidar said: "Four years ago, we launched in Kuwait JYSK's first store in the Middle East. Today we are excited to announce the opening of our fourth Kuwait store at the new Assima Mall."

"The new store is located on the first floor and spans over an area of 700 sq m, featuring a large selection of simple, modern and affordable Scandinavian furniture and home accessories for bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, outdoor areas and more. We look forward to welcoming our customers at the new store," he added.- TradeArabia News Service


Abu Dhabi opens dedicated children's Covid-19 vaccination centre

The Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), the largest healthcare network in the country, has launched a specialised children's Covid-19 vaccination centre in the emirate.

The Ettihad Heroes Healthcare Centre in Abu Dhabi, located at the Al Ettihad Centre, will specialise in providing Covid-19 vaccinations for children aged 3 to 16 years.

The centre has been established in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP), the Department of Health in Abu Dhabi and the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority.

Staffed by an integrated medical team of highly skilled doctors and nurses, the Etihad Heroes Healthcare Centre in Abu Dhabi will be open from Monday-Friday from 11am-8pm.

"As part of SEHA's mission to ensure the highest standards of quality healthcare for all, we are pleased to announce the launch of the Ettihad Heroes Healthcare Centre. Through increasing the number of Covid-19 vaccines administered to children, we believe this will strengthen and further enhance the current efforts made by the UAE in protecting our community and paving the road to recovery," said Dr. Noura Khamis Al Ghaithi, chief operations officer of Ambulatory Health Services, SEHA.

On Thursday, MoHAP announced that 39,956 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine were administered over the previous 24 hours.

The total number of doses provided to date stands at 23,445,868 with vaccine distribution rate of 237.06 doses per 100 people.

In August last year, MoHAP approved the use of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccines for children and adolescents between the ages of 3-17. The approval for the use of the Sinopharm vaccine came after an immune bridge study for children aged 3 to 17 was conducted by the UAE health ministry on a sample size of 900 children of different nationalities.

In May 2021, officials from the health ministry had approved the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children between the ages of 12 to 15.

Dubai unveils the world's fastest, most expensive ambulance in the world

The Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services (DCAS) unveiled the world's fastest and most expensive ambulance at Expo 2020 Dubai on Friday, state news agency WAM reported.

The "HyperSport Reponder" was manufactured in the UAE and is the creation of Dubai-based W Motors. The car is worth AED13 million.

The car is one of only seven Lykan HyperSport cars in the world, can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.8 seconds, and has a top speed of 400 km/h.

It is also equipped with 440 diamonds which line the front LED headlights. The interior is upholstered with gold stitched leather and features a gold-plated interior roof.

"Dubai has become synonymous with everything that is unique and the first in the world. The launch of 'HyperSport Responder' reflects Dubai's unique position as one of the leading cities in the world in the field of innovation. The car's speed and capabilities can significantly reduce response time during emergencies and ensure timely intervention," Khalifa bin Darrai, the CEO of DCAS said in a statement.

The car is manufactured firm a carbon-fibre body and equipped with the world's first 3D hologram holographic mid-air display with interactive motion control.


UAE: On-demand bus service to be launched in Abu Dhabi today

An on-demand bus service, "Abu Dhabi Link", will be rolled out on Saadiyat Island on Friday, January 28, the Integrated Transport Centre (ITC) of the Department of Municipalities and Transport in Abu Dhabi has announced.

Abu Dhabi Link on Saadiyat Island will be a free service in the first phase, and it will be available daily from 6am to 11pm.

The service will serve the following areas: Hidd Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Beach Villas, Saadiyat Beach Residences, Jumeirah Resort - Saadiyat Island, Saadiyat Beach Club, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, Saadiyat hotel areas, Saadiyat Cultural District, Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum and Mamsha Al Saadiyat.

The concept of "On-demand Bus Service" is to provide a bus-only upon request from community members to travel within the community or transfer to other modes of public transport at the transport hub within the community. The service will reduce unnecessary roaming of public buses, reduce walking distance and wait time of bus for users significantly.

To access the service, passengers need to download the "Abu Dhabi Link" application, available in Apple Store and Google Play. The user will then indicate his/her pick-up and drop-off locations and select a pick-up time.

The application will provide the user with details about the bus, including its type and plate number, and the user will be able to track the location of the bus in real-time using the application.

The ITC highlighted that the Abu Dhabi Link service had enhanced the diversity of the public bus network and supported ITC's efforts to expand the outreach of the public bus service to members of the community.


Dubai's Emirates suspends flights to nine US destinations

Dubai-based carrier Emirates has indefinitely suspended flights to nine US destinations starting Wednesday, January 19.

The nine destinations are: Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Dallas Fort Worth (DFW), Houston (IAH), Miami (MIA), Newark (EWR), Orlando (MCO), San Francisco (SFO) and Seattle (SEA).

It said that customers holding tickets with the final destination to any of the above will not be accepted at the point of origin.

However, Emirates flights to New York JFK, Los Angeles (LAX) and Washington DC (IAD) will continue to operate as scheduled.

In a statement posted on its website, the carrier said that suspension was "due to operational concerns associated with the planned deployment of 5G mobile network services in the US at certain airports."

"We are working closely with aircraft manufacturers and the relevant authorities to alleviate operational concerns, and we hope to resume our US services as soon as possible," it added.

Emirates flights to New York JFK, Los Angeles (LAX) and Washington DC (IAD) continue to operate as scheduled.

The airline said that affected customers do not need to contact the airline immediately for rebooking. They can hold on to their Emirates ticket and when flights resume, can connect with the airline to make new travel plans.


Abu Dhabi updates protocols for Covid-19 patients, close contacts

Abu Dhabi has updated protocols for those who test positive for Covid-19 or are a close contact.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Health with the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee updated the protocols.

High-risk categories who test positive for the virus must visit one of the designated Covid-19 Prime Assessment Centres for assessment and isolation measures. To end isolation, the patient must test negative twice 24 hours apart or else conduct a PCR test on day 8 and 10 and complete 10 days in isolation with no symptoms in the last three days of isolation, after medical evaluation.

High risk categories include those who are either 50 years old and above, have symptoms, have a chronic disease as well as pregnant women.

Those with mild to medium symptoms and having no chronic diseases and who test positive for Covid-19 must retest in any health facility in Abu Dhabi and continue to isolate. A specialist will contact those for isolation procedures who retest positive, Abu Dhabi Government Media Office has reported.

Those who retest negative must undergo another PCR test and resume activities while continuing to follow precautionary measures.

Close contacts will receive an SMS to conduct a PCR test and self-register in home quarantine. Those who test positive must follow the same protocols mentioned above. As for the close contacts who test negative must conduct an additional PCR test in any health facility in the emirate on day 6 for the vaccinated and day 9 for the unvaccinated.

Those who retest negative can resume activities and continue to follow precautionary measures.


RTA to operates e-scooters in 10 Dubai districts from Q1 2022

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has confirmed the start of civil site works for the infrastructure to support operations of the e-scooter in preparation for the launch of Phase I of the project which would cover 10 Dubai districts and start operation in the first quarter of 2022.

It culminates the success of the trial run phase which started in October 2020 in five key areas of Dubai. Until the end of September, e-scooters made up about half a million trips.

The RTA plans to expand the use and tracks of e-scooters to include specific residential areas, and 23 new districts subsequently.

"The initial phase covers Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai Internet City, Al Rigga, 2nd of December Street (specified track and zone), The Palm Jumeirah, and City Walk. It also covered safe roads in Al Qusais, Al Mankhool, and Al Karama communities as well as cycling tracks except for the cycling tracks of Seih Al Salam, Al Qudra, and Meydan," said Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, director-general, chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the RTA.

"The selection of these districts was guided by specific criteria, such as high population density, special development areas, areas served by metro stations and mass transportation, the availability of integrated infrastructure, and areas with a high level of traffic safety."

He added that the trial operation of the e-scooter proved successful as a suitable means for individual commuting over short distances and first and last-mile trips. Customer satisfaction rating during the trial phase reportedly reached 82 per cent.

The RTA coordinated with Dubai Police to examine several international models of major cities in operating these e-scooters"RTA also conducted many benchmarking studies of e-scooter operations with a variety of international cities such as London, Paris, New York, Berlin, and Singapore. We have identified the key elements of streamlining the operation of shared and personalised e-Scooters. Such studies were based on four main aspects: the user, the electric scooter, the road and the business model with the operating companies," noted Al Tayer.

RTA called on the public to avoid using electric scooters on tracks that are still under construction to avoid mishaps.

Over the past months, RTA conducted technical studies and user surveys to screen the views of service users and their observations for the project improvement. Field visits were carried out to verify the work in the new area to ensure their readiness before opening them for e-scooter users.

RTA also rolled out several initiatives to encourage road users to use e-scooters to facilitate access to and from mass transit stations.

The e-scooter is permitted to operate under strict guidelines and designated tracks. The rider and the renter must comply with the rules and regulations set by RTA, which are aligned with the traffic rules. They govern the use of e-scooters and the associated traffic safety stipulations such as the wearing of helmets. The e-scooter must be parked at designated places and not be left in places that trigger traffic bottlenecks. Riders must also ride cautiously and comply with all instructions and regulations relating to the areas where e-scooter riding is permitted, as mentioned in the apps designed for operators.


Public parking in Dubai to remain free on Fridays 'until further notice'

Public parking in Dubai will remain free only on Fridays and public holidays for now, with charges applicable on Saturdays and Sundays, the Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has confirmed.

In a statement, the RTA said the existing system shall remain in place "until further notice".

The RTA also announced that it will be shifting to new the working week from January 3, 2022, in line with the UAE government directive.

Working hours at RTA's main offices shall be from Monday to Friday, with a weekend holiday on Saturday and Sunday. The working hours shall be from 7.30am to 3.30pm, except for Friday, where the duty time shall be from 7.30am to 12pm (midday).

Service providing centres - including technical testing centres - shall observe a full working week from Sunday to Thursday as currently applies, and Saturday shall be a public holiday. However, on Friday, these centres will operate from 4pm to 9pm.

RTA's customer happiness centres shall work from Monday to Thursday, from 8am to 7.30pm and on Fridays from 8am until 12pm. Saturday and Sunday will be weekly public holidays.

The authority also confirmed that starting from February 2, the new closure times of the Floating Bridge shall be from 10pm on Saturday up to 6am on Monday to "enable sufficient time for maritime activities, tourist boats and maintenance works of the bridge".

Metro, Tram and Bus

The Dubai Metro red and green lines shall be in operation from Monday to Thursday from 5am to 1.15am (of the following day). On Friday and Saturday, the metro lines shall operate from 5am to 2.15am (of the following day) and on Sunday, from 8am to 1.15 am (of the following day).

Dubai Tram's service hours from Monday to Saturday shall be from 6am to 1am (of the following day). On Sunday, the tram shall be in service from 9am to 1am (of the following day).

Dubai Bus will run from Monday to Thursday as well as on Friday, Saturday and Sunday "according to the applicable bus scheduling system, which shall be geared to the demand for service", the RTA said.


Safe Developers launches new residential building in Dubai

Safe Developers, a boutique real estate developer and a subsidiary of UAE business conglomerate Silgo Group, has launched the AED150-million ($41 million) Gardenia Livings, a seven-storey residential building located within Arjan community project in Dubai.

Spread over a 55,810-sq-ft area, Gardenia Livings features 156 apartments - 90 one- and 66 two-bedroom units along with other key amenities, said the statement from the developer.

The luxurious landmark is situated in a lush green environment at the entrance to Dubai's Arjan, offering a lavish residential setting, said the statement from the developer. It gives views to a lush green public park when viewed from two of its three sides.

The rooftop caters to an event space for 200 people, and boasts key facilities such as a designated fitness area, a barbecue space, infinity pool, kids play area, multifunctional rooftop, gym, outdoor theatre, dog park and covered carpark in addition to 24/7 security, it stated

Apartments at Gardenia Livings features a six-floor elevation, situated in a perfect locality, a world-class architecture, incorporated with a sophisticated interiors for every need, consisting of 15 types of one- and 11 types of two-bedroom apartments, each designed for maximum space, comfort, and luxury, it added.

Announcing the launch, Silgo Group Chairman and Safe Developers Co-founder and CEO

Shahzad Saxena, said: "Today marks an historic day for Silgo Group as our property development arm Safe Developers is launching its first project, Gardenia Livings. We are excited to play our part in Dubai's success story backed with our knowledge and experience in the construction industry of Dubai over the past 40 years."

"We clearly foresee a very high success rate for Safe Developers by delivering to our buyers the most value per square feet than anyone else," he stated.

Safe Developers Partner Rahul Kumar Gupta said: "With the 25 years of vast experience of developing residential and commercial projects in Mumbai's prime areas, I decided to partner with Saxena as we both have the perfect synergy of experiences in similar industry."

"I believe with the combination of Mumbai and Dubai's success; Gardenia Livings is a reflection of our expertise. Although Gardenia Livings is our first project, but we are here to stay for long and we intend to launch two more projects in Dubai in 2022," he noted.

The project is scheduled to be delivered in Q2 2023, he added.


UAE resumes entry from 12 African countries

UAE authorities have announced the resumption of all inbound flights for national and international carriers and transit passengers from 12 African countries from January 29, effective 14.30hrs, while adhering to precautionary measures.

The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA) announced resumption of travel from Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe in addition to updating the entry measures for travellers coming in from Uganda, Ghana and Rwanda, reported state news agency WAM.

Those coming from the above mentioned countries to the UAE have to have a negative Covid-19 test obtained within 48 hours from the approved labs in their respective countries of departure and a Rapid-PCR test at the airports of departure in addition to undertaking PCR test upon arrival while adhering to all relevant precautionary and preventative measures.

Those suffering Covid-19 symptoms are advised not to travel.


Kitopi launches its first kitchens in Bahrain and Qatar

Kitopi is celebrating a double milestone this month with two new market launches in Bahrain and Qatar, as it completes four years in the region. With the newly-launched kitchens, Kitopi now serves five markets across the GCC.

The cloud kitchen platform has also announced it will establish its presence in Singapore and Malaysia in the second half of the year.

In July last year, Kitopi announced its $415m Series C funding round, led by technology-focused investment fund, Softbank Group Corp's Vision Fund 2. The investment - the fund's first in a UAE-headquartered company - propelled Kitopi to the hallowed 'unicorn' status.

The company, which initially focused on on-demand food delivery, has now expanded its offerings to include meal plans and dine-in concepts. Kitopi's growth strategy has also seen it invest in several leading food companies. It plans to invest up to $1bn in the next two years to develop and expand a network of the best local, regional and international brands that have synergy with its operating platform.

The company will continue to support licenced brands alongside its portfolio of invested brands.

Mohamad Ballout, co-founder and CEO of Kitopi, said, "Our commitment involves not only expanding our reach across countries and regions, but diversifying our offerings for customers. This means not only giving our customers access to the best brands and cuisines, but reaching them in ways that cater to different needs, preferences and lifestyle choices."

He added: "As we expand our global reach, we are setting our sights on creating possibilities in the F&B and food technology space beyond what we know as possible today, and we are not looking back."


Minor Hotels announces new property in Qatar

Minor Hotels, a hotel owner, operator and investor, currently with a portfolio of 528 hotels and resorts in 55 countries, has announced the signing of an upcoming addition to its portfolio in Qatar.

NH Collection Doha Oasis Hotel & Beach Club is slated to open in mid-2022 and will be the first NH Collection property globally with a beach club.

The hotel is currently in the later stages of development and is located in the Ras Abu Abboud area along Doha's eastern coast, midway between the city centre and Hamad International Airport. The previous Oasis Hotel, from where the new property takes its name, was in the same location and was Doha's first ever hotel when it opened in the 1950's.

The fully redeveloped hotel will have a total of 300 guest rooms, across a mix of Superior and Deluxe Rooms and over 50 suites, all with a design blending modern and classical elegance. The suites will include six 156-sq-m Emiri Suites, a 193-sq-m Presidential Suite and an impressive Royal Duplex Suite, offering 332 square metres of luxurious space. The F&B offering will be very strong, with six restaurants and bars, including two specialty restaurants and a rooftop bar.

Additional facilities will include both male and female spas and gyms, a large ballroom totalling 1,200 square metres and divisible by two, and a mezzanine level with additional meeting rooms, a business centre and supporting conference space. The new hotel will also have a beach club with a swimming pool set amidst gardens and padel tennis courts, plus substantial parking.

This will be the first NH Collection to launch outside of the brand's traditional areas of operation in Europe and America.

The new property is owned by members of the Darwish Family, a notable household in Qatar, who operate in various trading sectors.

Dillip Rajakarier, Group CEO of Minor International and CEO of Minor Hotels commented: "Minor Hotels already has a strong presence in the country across multiple brands and we are excited to be partnering with the Darwish Family to add this NH Collection hotel and beach club into the mix, bringing an alternative offering to our customers. 2022 will be one of the most important years in Qatar's history, with all eyes on the country for the FIFA World Cup, and we are delighted to be launching another great property in Doha at such an exciting time."

Darwish expressed his delight to be cooperating with Minor International to operate the new NH Collection Doha Oasis Hotel & Beach Club, after selecting the group for their vast expertise in managing five star hotels around the world, combined with the hospitality requirements of the Middle East, the Far East and Europe, and the family are looking forward to what the hotel will bring to hospitality and tourism in Qatar.

Minor Hotels currently has five properties in operation in Qatar across its Anantara, Tivoli and Oaks brands, in addition to an Anantara and an NH Collection in the pipeline to launch in 2022. - TradeArabia News Service


Schools return in-person, unvaccinated to enter malls: Qatar eases Covid restrictions

As Covid-19 cases continue to gradually dip in recent days, Qatar's cabinet has decided to ease some of the restrictions imposed earlier this month during the start of the third wave.

The new regulations will be effective starting Saturday, 29 January, and until further notice, the cabinet stated.


Starting Sunday 30 January, students at all schools and kindergartens will go back to in-person learning, with schools operating at 100% capacity, the ministry has stated.

All students of all levels are required to take a weekly rapid antigen test at home, 48 hours prior to classes starting.

Provided that the test is negative, parents will have to sign an acknowledgement form that the test was negative and the student will have to show it before entering the school premises. The form can be obtained through the ministry's website.

If the test is positive, the student is required to visit the nearest health centre to confirm the result. In the event that the result remains positive, the student has to self-isolate according to the ministry's regulations and attend classes through distance learning, if their health allows it.

Free Rapid antigen tests will be provided to public school students through their institutions. Parents can receive the tests starting Thursday during working hours or on an appointment basis, on Friday and Saturday.

The appointment can be set up through a link that will be sent to parents through a text message.

To further ensure the safety of the educational process, the Ministry of Public Health will conduct random test checks on schools throughout the week.

Workforce, gatherings and outings

As per the new regulations, unvaccinated individuals and children under the age of 12 can now enter all malls and mosques.

Toilets and ablution facilities at mosques will reopen to the public.

Social gatherings and visits in open places in homes and majlis are still allowed, with a maximum of 15 vaccinated people outdoors and 10 in closed spaces, not including family members living in the same house.

Gatherings in public parks, beaches, and the Corniche are still allowed with a maximum of 15 people or family members residing in the same house.

Additionally, individual sports such as walking, running, and cycling remain permissible, and toilet facilities at parks will also be open again for the public.

Private beaches can operate at 75% capacity.

Regulations for weddings remain the same: indoors with a 30% capacity and a maximum of 40 people; outdoor weddings at 50% capacity and no more than 80 people in attendance.

Beauty salons and barbershops will remain open with a 50% capacity, provided that all employees and clients are fully vaccinated. Children under the age of 12 will now be allowed in, but only two at a time.

Restaurants and cafes will remain open at 75% capacity indoors and 100% capacity outdoors for those with a "Qatar Clean" programme certificate.

Those without it will operate with 40% capacity in closed spaces and 50% in open ones. Children under the age of 12 will only be allowed entry when accompanied by their parents.

Nurseries can now operate at 75% capacity, provided that all workers are fully vaccinated.

The workforce remains the same, with mandatory weekly rapid antigen testing for all those who are not fully vaccinated, the cabinet stressed.

Face-to-face meetings are allowed with the attendance of no more than 30 fully-vaccinated people.

Only four people are allowed inside vehicles, including the driver.

As per the regulations, all people are still required to wear masks indoors and outdoors except those exercising in the open air or with specific medical conditions.


Qatar introduces new passengers tax at its airports

The new mandatory passenger fees will be implemented starting 1st April and will include tax on security and air freight infrastructure.

Passengers arriving, leaving, or transiting through Hamad International Airport will now have to pay extra service tax starting from 1st April, 2022, Qatar Civil Aviation Authority has announced.

An official notice, Circular No.(2), was sent to all airline managers and travel agents on Monday, which included the amendment of the current fees and the introduction of new security and air freight infrastructure fees at Qatari airports.


The new tax will be applied to all tickets issued on or after February 1, 2022, the circular stated, and will be officially implemented as of 1st April, 2022, from 12am Doha time.

The fees include the following four additions:

60 QAR per passenger: Airport development fees for all departing passengers, including those transiting for up to 24 hours.

60 QAR per passenger: Passenger facilities fee for all departing passengers, including those transiting for up to 24 hours.

10 QAR per passenger: Passenger safety and security fees for all departing passengers, including those transiting for up to 24 hours.

Babies under the age of two, transiting passengers on the same plane, flight crew on duty, and forced flight redirection due to 'valid reasons', are exempted.

10 QAR per metric ton: All incoming and in-transit cargo shipments, including postage.

Shipments remaining on the same aircraft are absolved from the additional fee, the authority stated.


Covid-19 booster shots home delivery for elderly people in Qatar

The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced that more than 125,000 Covid-19 booster shots have been administered in the past week alone, due to the increase in demand for the vaccine dose.

The Ministry's keenness on delivering large amounts of booster shots has intensified in response to the surge in infections the country has seen in the past month. In a bid to control the third wave hitting Qatar, MoPH have announced that Covid vaccine boosters can now be taken at home for certain demographics of the population, specifying those with an illness and the elderly.

Dr. Soha Al-Bayat, Head of Vaccinations at MoPH, highlighted the necessity for people to take the booster dose six months after their second vaccine shot.

She said, "There is clear evidence from multiple local and international studies showing that the protective immunity obtained from the first two doses declines six months after the second dose. The booster dose significantly increases the individual's protection against COVID-19 and provides around 75% protection against mild to moderate infection, and more than 90% protection against severe infection or death."

Qatar has been experiencing a startling spike in Covid-19 cases over the past few weeks after the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. On Wednesday 12 January, MoPH recorded 4,206 new infections, the highest number of Covid cases registered in Qatar since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

The health ministry has been urging citizens and residents to get their booster shots as soon as possible, assuring that the side effects of the third dose do not exceed those of the first or second.

Previously, Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal, a senior health official, underlined that the booster dose greatly increase antibodies.

"The side effects, following the second dose, include pain in the place where the needle was injected, mild fever, headache, and fatigue. Some would have side effects for two-to-three days which immediately responded to Panadol. No severe side effects have been reported to the MoPH," explained Dr. Al Khal.

Qatar Vaccination Centre, a facility specifically set up last week to cater for employees of large companies, has been administrating huge numbers of the booster shot. It has given out more than 100,000 doses since opening on 9th January.


Working hours at public institutions, banks to start at 10am Sunday

AMMAN - Acting Prime Minister and Local Administration Minister Tawfiq Kreishan on Saturday decided to delay the start of work in ministries and public departments until 10am due to the prevailing weather conditions on Sunday, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Also on Saturday Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) Governor Adel Sharkas decided to delay the beginning of working hours for banks operating in the Kingdom on Sunday until 10am due to prevailing weather conditions, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

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