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Maxim to establish new residential city in Egypt

Egypt-based Maxim Investment Group is keen to establish a comprehensive city within the state new administrative capital city, said a report.

The upcoming city will come up over a 1.26 million sq ft to 2.1 million sq ft area, reported Amwal Alghad, citing its chairman Mohamed Karrar.

The new, yet-to be-named administrative capital will be located 45 km east of Cairo and just outside the Second Greater Cairo Ring Road in a largely undeveloped area halfway to the seaport city of Suez.

Maxim has already pumped E£600 million ($67 million) into its projects in the north coast within the first five months of this year,. stated the report.

In addition, one of the companies which is affiliated to Maxim group has supplied 70 per cent of volume of concrete used in the new capital city project.

The company had started supplying concrete six months ago, said the report.

Maxim said the total investments by the group in Egypt has increased by E£13 billion ($1.45 billion), it added.

Egypt plans to build new airport terminal

State-run Egyptian Holding Company for Airports and Air Navigation (Ehcaan) plans to establish a new terminal for Borg El Arab Airport, with a capacity of up to four million passengers a year, said a report.

The $150-million project is being funded by Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), reported Amwal Alghad.

The company plans to start work on the new terminal by July next year, it added.

Bee’ah rolls out wi-fi bins in Sharjah

Bee’ah, a leading integrated environmental and waste management company, has installed wi-fi supported, solar-powered bins in the Heart of Sharjah, UAE, in partnerships with telecom provider Du and investment firm Shurooq.

Designed and built by BigBelly, a leading provider of bin solutions in the US, the 10 new units represent the first phase of a months-long installation plan, to roll out several hundreds of wi-fi bins across Sharjah and the UAE.

With an open wi-fi connection available to the public, these smart bins will soon be deployed across the UAE – in prominent and high footfall locations. Double-streamed for increased solar capacity, the smart bins also come equipped with sensors to detect when the bin is full.

This allows them to communicate with the Bee’ah control room, alerting its cleaning and collections service division, “Tandeef”, when to empty them. The bins’ solar panels also provide energy to an internal compactor, which allows the bins to collect five times more refuse, before needing to be emptied.

Khaled Al Huraimel, Group CEO of Bee’ah, said: “In cooperation with our strategic partners, Du and Shurooq, the roll-out of BigBelly smart bins across Sharjah is another step forward in cementing Bee’ah’s commitment to environmental innovations, while increasing efficiency and utility of waste collection in the emirate.”

“Bee’ah is proud to be leading the way in this area and to be the first in the world to deploy this type of technology; this is also in line with Sharjah’s vision and aim to become the environmental capital of the Middle East,” Al Huraimel added.

“Bee’ah’s ongoing mandate and efforts to deliver ground-breaking products and services, like these smart bins, runs parallel to the environmental vision of HH Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the UAE Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, to protect the environment and ensure a sustainable future,” he concluded.

Marwan Bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Shurooq, said: “In 2010, Shurooq and Bee’ah signed an MoU (memorandum of understanding) to work on transforming upcoming and existing tourism projects into eco-friendly destinations. Since then, Shurooq has begun considering multiple details when developing its projects, such as eco-friendly building materials, recycled materials, eco-friendly lights and various initiatives that reduce carbon footprints, truly positioning these projects physically unique.”

“For the first time in the world, we will enable public visitors and tourists to experience this unique hybrid concept, as well as contribute to keeping our destinations clean and ‘green’. We are proud and pleased behind Bee’ah’s latest wi-fi bin deployment in the Heart of Sharjah, which reflects our commitment to positioning Sharjah as a true tourism and investment destination in the region, as well as a leading destination for ‘green’ initiatives.”

Jihad Tayara, vice president Business Development and Partnerships, du, said: “This kind of environmental innovation is a groundbreaking first in the Middle East. As a responsible Emirati business, we always look for various ways to contribute to sustainability initiatives throughout the UAE, we are proud to partner with Bee’ah for the wi-fi bin roll out in Sharjah.”

“This innovative project will help build an efficient and eco-friendly environment for the citizens of the UAE and in creating a sustainable smart solution which creates a valuable experience for customers, this is in line with our vision of a Smart future in the UAE,” Tayara added. – TradeArabia News Service

Free replacement of unused work permits announced

Abu Dhabi: Companies and businesses can now replace unused work permits within six months of their issue free of charge up to four times as long as it is for the same profession and gender, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiritisation announced on Tuesday.

The ministry said firms can cancel unused work permits and apply for new one without the need to apply for quota in order to obtain a permit.

Previously, if the employer and employee decided to not go ahead with the employment after the job offer was signed and the work permit was issued, the employer had to pay charges for a new work permit to replace the employee. The new decision by the ministry would mean that in case the parties involved decide to not go ahead with the employment, the employer has six months to find a replacement for the employee and obtain a work permit free of charge. A maximum replacement of four times is permitted as long as the replacement is for the same profession and of the same gender.

According to the Ministry, around 20,000 firms have replaced about 60,000 unused work permit over the past year and 27,000 firms cancelled 68,000 unused permits during the same period.

Humaid Bin Deemas Al Suwaidi, Assistant Undersecretary for Labour Affairs, said, “Following the directions of Saqr Ghobash, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, the ministry decided to grant owners the ability to avoid charges on replacing unused permits and keep the quota when applying for new ones helps us provide better customer services more efficiently, lessen money expenditures, keep business interests running and simplifying procedures.”

“Previously, firms used to follow a two-month deadline to approach the ministry and replace unused work permits after reapplying for a new quota; extra charges were included. However, in response to several inquiries of reaching a deadline extension, the ministry decided to extend the deadline to six months and drop the fees yet new employees must apply for the profession and be of the same gender of the previous permit owner,” Bin Deemas said.

The ministry said that it believes that six months is considered long enough for employers to fill the available profession. However, if the deadline is crossed, the permit will be cancelled and the employers will have to restart the process all over again.

To obtain a new two-year work permit the applicant has to undergo three stages. Firstly, the employer shall apply for new quota then following the second stage send the job offer to the worker electronically for viewing and approval (with signature). The third phase urges the employer to attach the signed job offer along with the required documents for the initial permit approval. The ministry then audits the application, approves it, and issues a labour contract which in turn shall be signed by the worker upon entry to the UAE.

Ministry services are provided to customers electronically and via smartphone applications and through Tas’heel customer service centres. Additionally, firms registered with Tas’heel systems and employ 50 plus workers can self-issue work permits online.

Bin Deemas said the ministry is keen on connecting with customers to note down opinions, views and suggestions which in turn can be studied, provide law provisions to simplify procedures and provide better and high quality services.

The public can contact the ministry via a number of channels including the toll-free number 800665, the customer service email callcenter@moher.gov.ae in addition to the ministry’s social media platforms, along with the newly updated website www.moher.gov.ae

Dubai housing fee: Overcharged? Here’s how to get a refund

Every expatriate renting and/or owning a property in Dubai has to pay housing fee.

"The housing fee is collected by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) on behalf of Dubai Municipality and the fee is applicable for all expatriates resident accounts in Dubai," a Dewa call centre executive told Emirates 24|7.

As per directive of the government of Dubai, the housing fee is charged to an account on the basis of 5 per cent of the annual rent amount (for tenants), or 0.5 per cent of the property purchase price (for expatriate owners residing in their properties).

The value is then divided by the 12 months to charge the customer on a monthly basis.

UAE nationals are exempted from paying this fee.

Asked how a resident can file a complaint if s/he is being overcharged, the executive said that if the person believes the calculation to be wrong then s/he needs to provide a letter to Dewa, which will be updated in the Municipality system and checked.

Copies of rent contract and the title deed must also be provided.

“Whatever extras is paid will be credited to his/her account if one is overcharged. In case the calculation is right, the person will continue to pay the same amount on a monthly basis,” he added.

So is the housing fee charged for vacant home?

Yes, Emirates 24|7 did report earlier that even if an apartment remains empty, but has a Dewa connection, then the owner has to pay housing fee.

The former Head of Housing and Marketing Fees at the Dubai Municipality Abdulla Hashim Abdulghafoor had told this website that Dewa connection is the only requirement for the municipality to charge housing fee.

"Whether an apartment is rented out or remains vacant, one still has to pay the housing fee as long as he has a Dewa connection. There is no exemption,” he said.

New plots allocated for foreigners to buy in DWC

The UAE emirate of Dubai has made available new plots of land in Dubai World Central for foreigners to purchase under a decision by HH Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.

The Resolution No (8) of 2016, adds new land plots to the freehold area in Dubai World Central available for non-UAE nationals in Dubai, said a Wam report.

The decision grants non-UAE nationals the rights to absolute ownership, without a specific time frame, of lands and properties located in land plot numberd 205, 206 and 207 in the Dubai World Central area (521).

The borders and area mentioned in the decision are clearly marked in the maps annexed to the decision. It also gives owners the right to benefit from and lease lands and properties in these plots for a period not exceeding 99 years, the report said.

The decision aims to support Dubai Aviation City’s objectives to cater to the continuous growth of the aviation sector in Dubai, and to further cement its position as an international hub for aviation and logistics services. Furthermore, it seeks to promote Dubai as a destination of choice for event organisers in aviation-related sectors. The decision also aims to attract further investments to the City, and provide an investment-friendly environment, it said.

All the actions taken by Dubai Aviation City in these land plots prior to the issuance of this decision are valid. The decision is effective from the date of issuance and shall be published in the official gazette, the notification added.

Oman to develop first world class family water park

Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran) has announced that it will facilitate the development of Oman’s first world class family water park in Muscat, a key project under the National CEO Programme (NCP).

The ground-breaking project, which is set to be a premiere visitor destination, has been developed by six graduates of the NCP - an initiative by the Public Private Partnership taskforce (Sharaka), under the patronage of the Diwan of Royal Court.

The all-Omani team consist of six C-suite executives including Aisha Al Kharusi, Eng Adnan Al Alawi, Dr Ali Mustafa Al Lawati, Badar Al Hashmi, Ali Al Lawati and Eng Ali Al Rasbi. The team comes from a range of Oman’s leading corporate including the financial sector, oil and gas, aviation, telecom and tourism.

The team worked on the concept for a year - spending over 5,000 hours on the development of a detailed business plan that included extensive financial modelling and stakeholder research. The findings supported the team’s outcome that the project can generate significant private investment and, on completion, will generate extremely profitable returns for shareholders.

Dr Ali Qassim Jawad Al Lawati, advisor for studies and research to the Diwan of Royal Court, chairman of the Advisory Committee to the National CEO Programme said: “I would like to congratulate the graduates from The National CEO Programme Cohort One team for their exceptional deliverable and commitment to the programme. Clearly, the outcome demonstrates their outstanding contribution to the tourism industry strategy by delivering a world class proposal."

The NCP, which operates in partnership with the world leading IMD Business School in Switzerland, is the first of its kind to be run in the sultanate and has mandate to address Oman’s private sector’s needs for talented business leaders and executives.

Through the CEO programme, which is founded on global best practice and the latest leadership thinking and learning methodologies, attendees are empowered to meet the challenges of Oman’s business landscape and embrace the significant opportunities that the Sultanate’s economy offers.

James Wilson, CEO of Omran, said: “Omran’s mission is to seek and support projects of national significance that can help position Oman as a leading global visitor destination. We actively look to support develop and grow national capacities to develop and manage these projects, which is why we are fully committed to collaborating with the NCP. In addition, it is one of our key performance objectives to train and develop the future executive leaders in Omran.

“Based on extensive market research carried out by the NCP team it is clear that there is significant interest from the younger generation in Oman and as is the case at other successful Waterparks in our neighbouring countries it is a significant driver of family based hotel occupancy.

People across Oman have been waiting for a family entertainment development such as this and we are delighted that Omran has worked closely with the NCP team; we are also proud that Omran’s former chief operating officer was a key member of the team that developed the project.

“The project will be developed and financed in partnership with the private sector. There has been a significant interest by local investors to take part in the project and we are now in discussions with a number of local investors for the Water Park and we look forward to providing more detailed information over the coming weeks. We are confident that this world-class development will further enhance Oman’s position as a leading global visitor destination,” he concluded. - TradeArabia News Service

Oman launches worker complaint website

Oman’s Ministry of Manpower (MoM) has launched a website on which workers can submit complaints against their employers.

The website, currently in its trail phase, is available only in Arabic and to workers registered with companies operating in Muscat, reported Times of Oman.

However, it will be available in English and to workers registered with companies operating in Sohar and Salalah soon.

“We are working on this as part of enhancing our e-Service operations. Complaints registered online will be addressed without any delay,” said Sulaiman Khalili, assistant director at the Information Department at MoM.

The website prevents employers from taking action against employees for posting a complaint.

Besides the online platform, employees can register a complaint at the Labour Dispute Department by filling in a form which sights details of the complaint.

New Muscat Int'l Airport terminal 'to open by end-2016'

Oman’s transport minister has reportedly confirmed earlier reports that the opening of the new terminal at Muscat International Airport will be delayed until the end of 2016.

Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, said this week that construction of the new airport terminal will be completed in 2016, according to Times of Oman.

The new airport was 86 percent in 2015, Al Futaisi reportedly said, but admitted under the original schedule it would have been 90 percent complete by then.

“This is because of many things, including delays by the contractor,” he was quoted as saying.

Salem Al Yafaey, general manager of Salalah Airport, which is part of Oman Airports Management Company, was reported last year as saying that the planned new passenger terminal at Oman’s main airport had been delayed from early 2014 to end of 2016.

Technical difficulties were cited as reasons for the delays in construction of the new terminal, which will aim to accommodate around 12 million passengers.

Times of Oman reported that the revised official opening date cannot yet be announced, as it takes between four and six months to start operating flights once construction is complete.

The newspaper also quoted the CEO of Oman’s Public Authority for Civil Aviation as saying 1,400 planes flew over the Sultanate’s skies every day in 2015 – “an increase of 19 percent compared to 2014,” said Mohammed bin Nasser bin Ali Al Zaabi.

Injecting new life into the heart of Manama

If the cars that queue up at the entrance of the brand-new Downtown Rotana in Manama are any indication, Downtown Rotana is already creating a buzz in Bahrain’s capital.

It’s almost three months since the five-star property opened in the heart of Manama, just a few metres from the traditional Manama souk on one side and key business and financial hubs on the other.

The 26-storey property is the third in Bahrain for the Rotana Group and offers 249 luxurious rooms and suites with floor-to-ceiling windows, panoramic city views and stylish interiors.

The upscale full service hotel is designed to cater to the needs of modern business and leisure travellers looking to be at the centre of commerce, culture and entertainment, says Lilian Roger, general manager, in an interview.

'We are bringing the strength of the brand Rotana to Bahrain’s heart. The brand is well known in the GCC and has properties across the region. About 95 per cent of our guests are from the GCC and a big chunk of them are from Saudi Arabia. The brand value proposition, our product and service and the trust we enjoy are our great strengths,' he says.

Downtown Rotana is a perfect blend of contemporary minimalism, urban vivacity and understated luxury, designed to complement the quality and sophistication of Bahrain’s hospitality scene, he continues.

Natural light flows deep into the hotel and together with the bright and vivid colour schemes, the hotel provides a warm atmosphere.

'The initial response has been really positive. We are in the process of creating more awareness about the hotel in the market and we have been able to meet expectations in terms up ramping up of business,' he adds.

Roger expresses satisfaction that the feedback from guests has been great overall. 'We have received great reviews from our guests on booking.com, which is a big contributor for our business, as well as on Tripadvisor,' he says.

According to him, the three Rotana properties in the kingdom provide three distinctive offerings. 'We are not competing in the same market and as a global company with the three properties, we are covering almost all segments,' says Roger.

While Downtown Rotana has a business focus, the hotel is also drawing good guest numbers from the leisure segment, especially from Saudi Arabia. 'We have a very good demand over the weekends, which tells us that maybe the perception of the area is changing or people are looking for something different and the efforts of the government to promote the souk are bearing fruit,' he says.

'With Bahrain’s tourism authority promoting the souk as a destination, we are hoping that the drive will trigger more interest in the area, especially from the GCC markets,' says Roger.

Since most of the guests drive into Bahrain, they are always just a few minutes away from all major shopping and other attractions. 'I don’t see the location as an obstacle at all,' he says, adding that the hotel offers free valet parking facility for guests.

Speaking on the advantages offered by the hotel, Roger says even the standard rooms are much bigger than those offered by other hotels in the area at a minimum of 36 sq m. The hotel also provides free high-speed internet, Bodylines Fitness & Wellness Club with professional instructors; rooftop swimming pool; sauna and steam rooms; jacuzzi with private relaxation area; seven fully-equipped state-of-the-art meeting rooms; and a 300-capacity ballroom.

There are four dining options, including the award-winning Teatro Downtown, the hotel’s signature restaurant offering Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Asian, Indian and Italian fusion cuisine; the all-day dining venue – Flavours on 2 which serves daily breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets with international flavours; the ‘City Lobby Lounge’ that serves a selection of light snacks and home-made pastries and desserts throughout the day; and the Sundeck Pool Bar, located by the rooftop pool, which has a variety of snacks and beverages on the menu to keep guests cool and revitalised.

'Definitely our food and beverage (F&B) offering are a big advantage. Rotana, as a company, has always been extremely focused on value-for-money F&B and I think so far here we have managed to achieve and deliver on this promise. We want to position the hotel as a destination for great value food and beverages,' he says.

Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries are the number one market for the hotel. Roger also sees the US, France, the UK, Russia and Germany as some of the other key countries. Having worked in China, he sees much scope to develop that market as well. 'We have made the hotel Chinese friendly with menus in Chinese, more Chinese TV channels and some breakfast items for them,' he reveals.

Downtown Rotana aims to take its fair share of the market by the end of the year in all KPIs (key performance indicators) – whether it is occupancy or rates. 'After one year, we will continue our efforts to grow the occupancy and rates,' says Roger. - TradeArabia News Service

Bahrain to extend summer work ban

A two-month summer work ban, set to start in Bahrain in less than two weeks, will be extended this year to cover more sites, a top official was quoted as saying in the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.

Kuwait Airways to New York to include security stopover in Ireland

Kuwait Airways announced on Friday that its weekly flight to the US John F Kennedy airport in New York will include a stopover at Ireland's Shannon Airport as part of extraordinary security precautions.

The flight programme has been changed as part of coordination between Kuwaiti and American authorities, aimed at providing maximum security and safety for passengers, reported the Kuwait News Agency (Kuna).

According to Kuwait Airways, the stopover at the Irish airport will not exceed two-and-a-half hours, added Kuna.

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