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Ramadan (Muslim's Holy month): Saturday, 28th of June 2014  - Sunday 27th of July, 2014 (tentative-subject to moon sighting)
Ramadan is a very important month for the Muslim believers, it is a month where all the Muslims fast ( not eating anything) until the sun sets. Ramadan will last for 30 days based on the Arabic calendar, and will be followed by the Eid which will last about 10 days, when everything will be closed in Muslim countries for celebration.
All companies, government offices work for shorter hours (10 am – 2 pm), please expect delays in getting updated information, due to the very short working days housing appointments and work schedules will need more time to be completed.  

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be affected most of all Arab countries; from start of Ramadan until end of Eid Al Fitr is the Holy Visit time when about 3 million pilgrims are arriving to Jeddah, making this city very congested and very difficult for people to come and go out of Jeddah. Ramadan is coming again during the summer this year with an expected temperature of 60 degrees above zero, which will also make the program days shorter (half day). 

Please advise your clients and emphasize that Ramadan is a very slow month businesswise.

Saudi Arabia is to build first Marine Park in Dhahban

Saudi Arabia’s first marine park is set to be built at Dhahban, on the shores of the Red Sea, 40 km from Jeddah.

The project, which was under study for the last four years, was unveiled by the Jeddah Municipality recently. Dhahban is a popular picnic spot frequented by citizens especially fish lovers who visit the area to have a taste of fresh fish.

The new marine park at the water front will have landscaping and lots of greenery. It will be equipped with a wide range of multi-recreational facilities including a football playground and children's entertainment areas in addition to restaurants and other facilities.

Spread over a total area of 110,000 sq m, the landscaping and greenery will cover 45,000 sq m and will also feature two large water fountains, it added.

Revealed: Where Dubai residents are moving to and where from. 67% of all moving activity in Dubai takes place in only 15 areas

A Dubai-based comparison site for moving and storage companies recently released a report around moving activity in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The analysis identifies 15 areas in Dubai which account for 67 per cent of all moving activity within the emirate, with Dubai Marina at No. 1. Of those 15, the top 4 areas are Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Downtown, and Jumeirah Village, which accounted for more than 25 per cent of all the moving activity in the past six months.

The UAE Real Estate Trends report by MoveSouq.com is based on more than 2,000 moving requests made by UAE residents between October 2013 and March 2014. The report also found that Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Discovery Gardens and Gardens, and Business Bay saw more people moving out than people moving into these areas. This trend could be due to saturation of these areas and rising rent prices, the report speculates.

Further analysis showed newly developed areas of Jumeirah Village and Dubailand experiencing the opposite, whereby more people moved into these developments than moved out. The results also show that the more exclusive areas of Downtown and Emirates Hills had an equal “move in” and “move out” rate, signifying that once people move into these areas, they tend to stay.

15 areas in Abu Dhabi accounted for 66 per cent of all moving activity, with only Khalifa City, Reem Island, and Khalidiyah making up more than 25 per cent of all the activity in Abu Dhabi.

Dubai to host major smart city event in September

Leading international experts on smart cities will discuss issues related to the sector at a major event in Dubai in September.

The Smart Living City (Dubai 2014), being held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, will also host an exhibition that will share ‘smart government’ initiatives, legislation & cooperative operations with the world.

The event, taking place from September 15 to 16 at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers, will showcase ‘best in class’ local and international ‘smart’ firms and host multiple workshops on the ‘smart living’ paradigm.

Among its primary objectives are to create talented entrepreneurial activities and boost the creativity of technology supporters; source the most effective ingredients for startups, mentors, and public and private sector partners; and consolidate best-in-class incubators on a smart platform.

The event will showcase the best smart products and services, and major opportunities for sectors such as tourism, transportation, environment, education, and telecommunication. It will also reveal effective strategies for the cooperative development and deployment of a smart integrated system between the private and public sectors.

“One of the main objectives of the event is to address the demands of society by facilitating, simplifying and accelerating communications, services, and execution of governmental transactions. SLC Dubai 2014 is an essential platform for initiating major steps towards strengthening cooperation between the private and public sectors, and making the UAE in general a smart integrated ecosystem,” added Al Awar, CEO, Tasweek Real Estate Development and Marketing.

Qatar’s government has proposed making it easier for expats to leave the country and change jobs, but has stopped short of abolishing a system of exit visas and no-objection certificates for its foreign workforce.

Officials from the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs held a highly anticipated press conference this afternoon to release what it billed as “wide-ranging labour market reforms.”

“We want to provide more protection to the expat community and (all) workers in this country, to provide them with more protection and safeguard their rights,” said SalihSaeed Al-Sahwi, MOLSA’s manager of labor relations, according to the official translation.

Actual changes, however, appear to be some time away. Today’s announcement represents the “first step” in changing Qatar’s labor laws, as proposals supported by the executive branch of government must still be circulated to the country’s Chamber of Commerce and approved by the Advisory (Shura) Council.

Proposed changes include:

Some employers in Qatar have previously argued that the exit permit system is needed to prevent foreign workers from fleeing the country after taking out loans that the sponsor is liable to cover. The government appears to have undermined that argument by proposing that employers no longer be financially responsible for their employees. Instead, financial obligations incurred by foreign workers will be governed by the country’s civil and commercial laws.

Changing jobs

Currently, expats require a no-objection certificate from their employers before they can change sponsors and take up a new job in Qatar. Alternatively, they can leave the country for two years before taking up a new position.

Under the government’s new proposals, employees who sign a fixed-term contract would be free to transfer to a new employer at the end of their contract.

However, those who sign an indefinite contract would have to work for their employer for five years before being allowed to change positions.

If foreign workers want to change jobs earlier, they would still need the permission of their employer.

Other key points of the reform package include:

Officials said the changes would cover all foreign employees in Qatar when asked if the proposals included domestic workers, who are not currently covered by the country’s labor laws.

A suggestion that a minimum wage might be included was rejected by Al-Sahwi, who said salaries would be based on the forces of supply and demand.

However, in response to another question, Ali Ahmad Al-Khulaifi – the planning and quality department director at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs – opened the door to ending the prohibition on workers joining trade unions./p>

“We believe in the right of workers to have trade unions and their own associations,” he said in Arabic. However, he hedged his comments by arguing that the labor market in Qatar – which is overwhelmingly made up of foreigners – is different from other countries, meaning any such changes regarding trade unions required further study and consultations.

Killing “kafala”

Officials said that the kafala system would be eliminated, starting by changing the name of the law to one governing the “entry, residence and exit of expatriate workers.”

While the practical implications are unclear, it appears the intent is to give more weight to the contract between employers and employees alongside more state oversight and regulation. A statement handed out to reporters was titled, “Qatar abolishes kafala” – a claim quickly panned by critics.

Nick McGeehan, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, called the statement “utterly misleading"
“The claim that they’ve abolished kafala is an attempt to garner praise for a step that they have manifestly not taken.”

DLA Piper

Not mentioned during the briefing was the 135-page report the government received from international law firm DLA Piper on the living and working conditions of the country’s blue-collar workforce.

The government commissioned the report last fall in response to critical media coverage of the abuse of migrant workers, and confirmed it had received the study earlier this month.

The state-run Qatar News Agency had said the report would only be made public after the government had reviewed its findings and evaluated the feasibility of its recommendations.

McGeehan has reviewed the DLA Piper report and said it is not clear how today’s announcement relates to the more than 60 recommendations it contains. For example, DLA Piper recommended a full phase-out of the exit permit system – not transferring more powers to the government, according to McGeehan.“(Qatar’s) response has been garbled and confusing,” he told Doha News.

McGeehan added that the DLA Piper report calls for measures such as performing more autopsies or post-mortem examinations following unexplained deaths as well as an independent study on migrant deaths attributable to cardiac arrest to determine how and why otherwise healthy laborers are dying.

Other recommendations are more closely tied to the country’s labor laws. McGeehan said these include abolishing court fees when filing labor court cases – often cited as a barrier to justice for low-income workers – as well as having the state cover repatriation costs and end-of-service gratuities and recoup those expenses from problematic employers.

“It’s difficult to square (today’s) press release with the very clear and concise recommendations of the DLA Piper report,” McGeehan said.

“I don’t want to be too critical today … If today is the absolute and final response, it falls so short that it can’t possibly be. There must be more.”

CAIRO FESTIVAL CITY MALL has just opened its' doors to the customers on Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Algeria is slowly becoming a more welcoming destination for expatriates. Both multinational and local businesses are investing in the capital, with large corporations such as PepsiCo, Lays and KPMG opening new branches. To make life of foreigners even more enjoyable, a large shopping center Bab ezzouarh as opened its doors for customers. The Mall has many boutiques, a hairdresser, bank and the first Hypermarket in Algeria.

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