Expat relocation Egypt Saudi Middle East ..
Mobility Management Middle East

Egypt's first Crowne Plaza opens in West Cairo

IHG Hotels & Resorts, one of the world's leading hotel companies, has announced the opening of Crowne Plaza West Cairo- Arkan - its first hotel in Egypt.

Located in the west of the Egyptian capital, Crowne Plaza West Cairo-Arkan is the first premium hotel in the heart of Sheikh Zayed city and is in a prime position for locals and those travelling to Cairo for business, leisure or a combination of the two.

Designed to meet the needs of the modern business traveller, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts deeply understands work/life blend and this is brought to life at the brand's hotels worldwide through a modern, distinct and purposeful design featuring multi-functional zones, great food and drinks, and a warm and engaging approach to guest service, said a statement.

Engineer Amr Badreldine, Chairman of El Badr Commercial Developments, commented: "Arkan Plaza is pleased to welcome its newest addition an IHG hotel, the first Crowne Plaza hotel in Egypt, one of the fastest growing hotel brands globally. Perfectly located within Arkan, Crowne Plaza - West Cairo will provide an exemplary experience. Arkan's strategic location and wide range of facility services & offerings will meet every guest's needs creating an exceptional experience at Crowne Plaza - West Cairo Arkan."

Haitham Mattar, Managing Director IMEA at IHG Hotels & Resorts, said: "We are excited to open our first Crowne Plaza hotel - Crowne Plaza West Cairo-Arkan, in Egypt, and expand our brand portfolio to offer world-class hospitality options to travellers with diverse needs. Crowne Plaza is known to be an international premium hotel brand which is loved by business travellers across the globe. We are confident that this new addition to our portfolio in the region will be a popular choice with both domestic and international guests visiting the country. "

Lying in close proximity to the Giza Pyramids Plateau and the Grand Egyptian Museum, the hotel's prime location offers ample entertainment opportunities, a large auditorium and high-end retail options, catering to every guest's need. Part of the iconic landmark, Arkan Plaza, all 178 rooms and suites at Crowne Plaza West Cairo Arkan have a distinctive modern design and layout to help encourage productivity, restoration and to inspire guests.

Guests can also take full advantage of the hotel's Plaza Workspace, its flexible and hybrid new lobby space offering daily visitors and hotel guests the opportunity to switch effortlessly between work and downtime be it to work solo or meet colleagues of friends.

Crowne Plaza West Cairo-Arkan is home to an array of exquisite dining options. Amphora the all-day dining, take guests on a journey along the Mediterranean coast with inspiring interiors and a spacious terrace and serves an impressive selection of delicious dishes, infused with tantalizing flavors and powerful aromas. Mayrig, the long-awaited hearty, Armenian restaurant has finally landed in West Cairo, hailing all the way from Lebanon and Armenia, offering vibrant recipes blended with silk road spices and laced with signature aromas. Inspired by the vibrant streets of Asia, Miss Li Lee's blends contemporary design with traditional, cultural elements coupled with a statement ceiling, edgy dcor and colorful murals offering exquisite Pan-Asian favorites and signature cocktails as guests take in the spectacular views of the city from the Miss Li Lee's outdoor terrace.


Egypt's Suez Canal announces hike in passage tolls

CAIRO - Egypt's Suez Canal Authority (SCA) announced on Tuesday additional tolls for transiting vessels including fuel tankers, as oil prices soar in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Petroleum gas tankers will see a 10 per cent hike on passage fees while liquefied natural gas carriers and general cargo ships will incur a seven per cent increase, an SCA statement said.

Ships carrying petroleum products will be hit with a 5 per cent rise under the new tolls, which are effective immediately.

A 6 per cent fee hike had already come into effect earlier this year, though cruise ships and liquefied natural gas carriers were exempt.

SCA chief Osama Rabie said the new fees would be evaluated and could be readjusted.

The vital waterway connecting the Mediterranean and the Red Sea provides passage for around 10 per cent of all global maritime trade and is one of Egypt's main sources of foreign currency revenues.

In 2021, some 1.27 billion tons of cargo were shipped through the canal, earning $6.3 billion dollars in transit fees, 13 per cent more than the previous year and the highest figures ever recorded, Rabie said in January.

The conflict in Ukraine has caused a surge in oil prices amid concerns that Russian energy supplies could be curtailed.


The First Group's mega hotel project on track for 2024 launch

Integrated global property developer The First Group has announced that the construction of its largest and most ambitious project to date, Ciel, has now reached its halfway point, with work on the megastructure continuing beyond its 52nd floor.

Ciel, which will be the world's tallest hotel upon completion, is well on track to meet its scheduled completion date in the fourth quarter of 2023, with the grand opening scheduled for the first half of 2024, said the developer.

Despite the broader challenges presented by Covid-19 to the construction sector over the past two years, work on Ciel has continued unabated throughout the pandemic, a feat that is testament to the commitment and dedication of the project's design and construction teams.

When completed, Ciel will house more than 1,000 guestrooms and suites, as well as premium guest amenities and facilities, such as the Ciel Observatory & Lounge on the 81st floor and a signature rooftop Sky Terrace featuring a stunning infinity pool and bar affording sweeping panoramic views of Dubai's world-famous skyline, the Palm Jumeirah and Arabian Gulf.

Designed by award-winning architectural firm NORR, the 365-m tall skyscraper is being built by The First Group's chief development partner, China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC).

Recognised as the world's second largest construction and engineering company by revenue, CRCC is bringing its globally renowned expertise in mega developments to building Ciel, which is set to become Dubai's newest architectural icon.

"Ciel will set a new benchmark for innovative design in super-tall buildings, not just in Dubai, but globally," said Danny Lubert, the Co-Founder of The First Group.

"Standout design features include a 300-metre-tall atrium with vertically stacked landscaped and naturally ventilated terraces spanning the building's 82 floors, which will provide occupants with shared communal and interactive space," stated Lubert.

Ciel's interior design is inspired by the concept of Wabi-Sabi, a Japanese tradition with a key focus on understated elegance and rustic, warm aesthetics.

Befitting its iconic status, Ciel will feature an impressive and eclectic range of specialty F&B outlets, including a soon-to-be-announced signature restaurant, a Sunset Lounge on the 74th floor and Horizon Bar on the 76th floor.

A luxury spa and health club will be located on the building's 61st floor, offering a remarkable location for guests to unwind, relax or workout while soaking in the incredible ocean-front views.

Rob Burns, CEO of The First Group, said: "As an organisation, we are extremely proud to witness our vision for Ciel being brought to life in the heart of the world famous Dubai Marina in a truly idealic location that will feature stunning views of the Arabian Gulf and Dubai skyline."

"Ciel is a landmark development for Dubai that will not only enhance its status as one of the world's great tourism and business travel destinations, but will set a new benchmark for upscale accommodation in what is recognised as one of the most dynamic and competitive hotel markets on the planet," he added.

Ciel has already earned a number of prestigious industry accolades including 2019 International Property Awards (IPAs) for Best International Hotel Architecture, Best Hotel Architecture Arabia and Best High-rise Architecture Arabia.

Plus, it has also received the top prize in four major categories at the 2019-20 Dubai, Africa & Arabia Property Awards: Hotel Architecture; New Hotel Construction and Design; Commercial High-rise Development; and High-rise Architecture.

Ciel is the flagship development of The First Group's fast-growing portfolio of hotels situated in prime locations across Dubai, which includes award-winning Wyndham Dubai Marina, Millennium Place Marina, TRYP by Wyndham Dubai and The First Collection JVC, said the developer


DLD releases first Dubai residential rental performance index

Dubai Land Department (DLD), in cooperation with Property Finder, has launched the inaugural edition of the emirate's first ever official Residential Rental Performance Index (RRPI). The base year for RPPI will be 2013 and base month for the monthly index is January 2013.

Dubai Land Department (DLD), in cooperation with Property Finder, has launched the inaugural edition of the emirate's first ever official Residential Rental Performance Index (RRPI).

In January 2022 the overall monthly Index recorded 0.938 and an index price of AED 51,101. apartments monthly Index recorded 0.943 and an index price of AED 46,994, while Villas/Townhouses monthly Index recorded 0.868 and an index price of AED 131,882.

The base year for RPPI is 2013 and the base month for the monthly index is January 2013, with the base quarter for the quarterly index being Q1 2013.

According to the index, 51,452 leases were recorded in January 2022, 52% of which were new contracts, and 48% were renewed contracts, while 81% of them were annual contracts, and 19% were for non-annual.

For the first time ever, the Dubai RPPI has been released in partnership between DLD and Property Finder. Within this insightful data, there is a plethora of information that is quite notable. In 2021, 564,036 leases throughout the year which broke a 12-year record in terms of volume for real estate rental contracts.

Annual leases increased by 50.3% and non-annual leases increased by 75.5% in 2021 compared to 2020. When comparing the data over the last few years, it is interesting to note that, on average, the annual number of leases have increased by approximately 7% over the past 5 years but in 2021 it increased by 56% compared to 2020.

However, in 2020, annual leases grow by 2% compared to 2019 and non-annual leases increased by 115.2%. Data beats opinion and there are a lot of facts to uncover and release into the market for full transparency.

In January 2022, we saw over 51,452 rental contracts in the Dubai market with an even split between new and renewal contracts.

As per Property Finder data the most popular apartments rental contracts were for 2-bedroom apartments with 1 bedroom trailing right behind and the most popular villa/townhouse rental contracts were for 3 bedrooms with 4 bedrooms coming in second place.

Top areas that saw the most rental contracts registration in January 2022 according to Ejari Registrations were Jebel Ali with 1,811 registrations followed by Naif with 1,760. Al Karama (1,754), Al Warsan First (1,601) and Al Suq Al Kabeer (1,457).

In total the top 10 areas accounted for 28% of all rental transactions in January 2022.

According to proprietary Property Finder residential search data for rental searches on the platform in 2021, Dubai Marina was the highest searched area, accounting for more than 11% of all searches.


Dar Al Arkan launches 384-unit Dubai Downtown residential project

Dar Al Arkan, a leading real estate company in Saudi Arabia, has unveiled the W Residences Dubai - Downtown, a key development featuring 384 exclusive units that offer hotel-inspired living in the bustling heart of Dubai.

The AED1-billion ($272 million) project marks the first standalone residences in the world under the iconic lifestyle W Hotels brand, said a statement from Dar Al Arkan.

W Residences Dubai - Downtown, which will be managed by Marriott International is situated in the prestigious Downtown Dubai with uninterrupted, spectacular views of Burj Khalifa, the tallest man-made structure in the world, The Dubai Fountain, Dubai Opera and Old Town Dubai.

The tower is in close proximity to the many premium and world-famous lifestyle destinations that the city has to offer.

Stepping away from the action-packed city, residents enter their own oasis of exclusivity and private space with beautifully crafted interiors, exquisite finishes, the finest services and exceptional amenities. Each residence has a unique design and purposeful layout that ensures each home is spacious, elegant and appeals to the needs of discerning clientele.

Construction of The W Residences Dubai - Downtown is currently underway and is estimated to be completed by December 2025.

Ziad El Chaar, Vice Chairman of Dar Al Arkan Properties, said: "Our experience in delivering high-end co-branded homes with global brands like Elie Saab, Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Pagani and Missoni puts us in a unique position to always bring the best, most desirable residential spaces to our customers."

"The W Residences Dubai - Downtown sets a new standard for extraordinary hotel living in the heart of a bustling city like Dubai catering to clientele who like to be close to the action but have their own luxurious private space close by. The Residences' architecture, interiors and amenities is a truly what makes it a distinct, stand out tower in the midst of many other high-rises. This our third project in the Downtown Dubai area and I believe it's a unique and fulfilling location to own your dream home," he noted.

Jaidev Menezes, Marriott International VP (Mixed-Use Development) for Europe, Middle East & Africa, said: "We are delighted to work with Dar Al Arkan to launch this residential development under the W brand. With its vibrant design and impeccable service, W Residences Dubai - Downtown will be a great fit in Dubai's iconic Downtown district."

The architecturally-stunning tower consists of a limited number of 384 exclusive, high-end residences with state-of-the-art appliances and fittings to compliment the exquisite interiors and give residents modern, functional, and elegantly appointed homes. Additionally, short terms rentals are prohibited to preserve the tower's standards, ensure greater comfort and exclusivity, and maintain a higher property valuation, he stated.

According to him, residents at the W lifestyle at W Residences Dubai - Downtown will receive its key luxury amenities that will turn every moment of their stay into a truly memorable experience.

Fuel - the W brand's high-energy, social take on wellness - will allow residents to focus on mind and body, will be complemented by an infinity outdoor swimming pool with views of the iconic Burj Khalifa with an outdoor terrace that features a lounge and dining area, as well as the FIT Fitness Centre and a spa.

The Residences will also feature the Living Room lounge - a modern take on the standard lobby.

Dar Al Arkan said the residents will also have access to the W brand's signature Whatever/Whenever service which will provide residents with ultimate levels of convenience, round-the-clock in-Residence dining and catering services, laundry and dry cleaning, housekeeping, babysitting and fitness training.


Dubai's Museum of the Future opens doors to the world

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, today (February 22) inaugurated the Museum of the Future, as Dubai's new iconic landmark officially opened its doors to the world with a new message of hope for all humankind.

The 77-m-tall architectural marvel will provide the largest platform in the region to study, envision and design the future. It is a novel scientific and intellectual centre where the brightest talents in the fields of science, technology, research and innovation will converge to discover solutions to tomorrow's world, reported Wam.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Sheikh Mohammed said: "The Museum of the Future is a message of hope ... a global scientific platform ... and an integrated institutional framework to shape a better future for all of us."

"It embodies the active human imagination and the Emirati will that continues to excel the world. The Museum will be a forum for great minds, scientists, thinkers and experts from around the world," he stated.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Dubai Future Foundation, said it will be an intellectual laboratory for cities of the future and governments of the future.. it will play a key role in strengthening Dubai's future position. The Museum will provide a clear roadmap for Dubai's vital sectors."

Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, said through this museum, Sheikh Mohammed aims to instutionalise future foresight and explore its opportunities to enhance the nation's competitiveness.

"We seek to accelerate the transition towards a knowledge-based economy in the region and explore practical scientific solutions to the greatest challenges of our times, both today and tomorrow," he added.

The opening ceremony featured several videos highlighting the concept of the Museum of the Future and the vision of Sheikh Mohammed to transform Dubai into the most developed city in the world.

Considered one of the most complex architectural projects in the world, it was built using the "parametric design" model, a three-dimensional technology based on advanced technical design that works by entering data and parameters for the building to be designed.

The stainless-steel facade of the museum consists of 1,024 panels over an area of 17,600 sq m. The facade panels were produced using automated robotic arms in a first in the region, with each panel consisting of 4 layers, and requiring a 16-step process to produce.

Each panel was installed individually, with the installation period for the external facade lasting more than 18 months.

The museum is accessed via two bridges, the first of which extends to the buildings of Jumeirah Emirates Towers with a length of 69 m, and the second connects it to the Emirates Towers metro station with a length of 212 m, according to Wam.

The museum is fed with 4,000 MW of electricity that is produced through solar energy using solar panels connected to the museum.

Unfolding futuristic exhibitions, the Museum of the Future is a remarkable addition to the world's most important landmarks and icons. It is considered an unparalleled architectural masterpiece thanks to its pioneering engineering design that stands ahead of its time.

It will also be an incubator for global talents, scientists, thinkers and researchers, to bring their bold ideas and visions of the future to life. The Museum will launch new initiatives in the fields of science and technology to strengthen the UAE's knowledge-base to further accelerate scientific development, it stated.

The facade of the Museum of the Future is illuminated by 14,000 m of light lines and is decorated with inspirational quotes from Sheikh Mohammed's poetry in Arabic calligraphy, making it the only building in the world whose entire faade is adorned using the art of calligraphy.

The engraved writing on the steel facade is designed using advanced glass manufactured with new technologies specifically to improve the quality of interior lighting and exterior thermal insulation, said the Wam report.

Spanning an area of 30,000 sq m, the seven-storey pillarless structure also represents a novel global intellectual centre.

It is a "living" laboratory designed to foster a spirit of collaborative innovation among leading scientists to inspire new out-of-the-box solutions to tomorrow's greatest challenges and spur a new era of scientific discovery in the region and beyond.

The Museum of the Future seeks to lead the knowledge movement as a centre for the latest advanced scientific and technological innovations.

In addition, the Museum of the Future will connect futurists, scientists, technologists and industry leaders by holding regular forums, dialogues, seminars and research sessions throughout the year. The museum will also disseminate knowledge and research that sheds light on the most important scientific discoveries, developments and trends.

It consists of three main elements: the hill or plateau from which the building rises, the external design of the building, and the exhibitions of the Museum.

The Museum employs the latest technologies in virtual and augmented reality, big data analysis, artificial intelligence and human machine interaction to answer many questions related to the future of humanity, cities, societies and life on Earth, all the way to outer space.

The Museum of the Future features a multi-use hall that accommodates more than 1,000 people, and its sections include a special hall for interactive lectures and workshops that can accommodate more than 345 people.

It also includes innovation laboratories for health, education, smart cities, energy and transportation, a permanent museum of future innovations, and laboratories to generate and test new ideas, especially in developmental areas related to critical social challenges.

The Museum of the Future takes its visitors on an experiential journey that transports them to the year 2071, which coincides with the centenary of the founding of the UAE.

The journey takes visitors from a universal to a personal realm, based on an approach that emphasises the importance of one's connection to the universe within the framework of a relationship of mutual influence, and promotes the principle of each individual's role in shaping the future.


Vaccinated travellers to UAE don't need PCR tests now

UAE's National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA), in coordination with its main partners, has announced that vaccinated travellers coming to the UAE do not need a PCR test before travelling to the country.

Travellers have to make sure to present an approved Covid-19 vaccination certificate containing a QR code. Unvaccinated travellers have to present an approved negative PCR test result received within 48 hours, or a QR code-accompanied certificate of recovery from a Covid-19 infection obtained within one month from the date of travel, a Wam report said.

Travellers from the UAE have to follow the requirements of medical examinations and vaccinations in place in their countries of destination.

The new measures come into force from February 26.

According to the announcement, mask-wearing is mandatory in public indoor spaces and optional outdoors. It's also been decided to cancel the quarantine requirements for Covid-19 contacts. Covid contacts working in all state sectors have to conduct a PCR test daily for five days' time.

NCEMA added that the isolation protocol for infected will continue as previously announced, without any change. The infected, however, will no longer wear wristbands.

At the local level, each emirate has the flexibility to determine the duration of the quarantine period and PCR tests for Covid contacts in their respective sectors and professions, according to the vital sectors in the country, while necessarily maintaining the need to follow precautionary and preventive measures, which include adherence to physical distancing, and mask-wearing at all times.

NCEMA stressed the continuity of following the Green Pass requirement, or presenting a negative PCR test result of no more than 96 hours to attend all local events, exhibitions, and cultural and social activities.

For economic and tourist sectors, physical distancing has been cancelled while mask-wearing in closed places is still mandatory.

The authority announced the return of all sports activities for all age groups, while obligating the public to follow the Green Pass protocol or present a negative PCR of not more than 96 hrs, in addition to maintaining the mandatory wearing of masks in all outdoor and indoor spaces given the turnout found in such activities.

The authority calls on all community members to cooperate and adhere to preventive measures to confront the Covid-19, in order to preserve the gains being witnessed today in terms of recovery, crisis management, and comprehensive community health and safety.

NCEMA stressed that the role of society in the next stage is not less important than the roles and responsibilities of the competent authorities to handle the pandemic, noting that the full return to normalcy requires commitment to preventive measures over the coming period, said the Wam report.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management in Dubai headed by HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, announced that Covid-19 preventive measures will be eased starting from Saturday.

As per protocols that will be followed in Dubai, wearing of masks continues to be mandatory in all public indoor venues in the emirate, while it is optional in outdoor areas.

Close contacts of Covid-19 positive cases who are not experiencing any symptoms are no longer required to quarantine.

Among updated travel protocols, Dubai-bound travellers will need to present an approved Covid-19 vaccination certificate that contains a QR code. Unvaccinated inbound travellers will need to present a negative result for a PCR test done within the last 48 hours or a certificate of recovery from Covid-19 containing a QR code, obtained within one month before the date of travel.


Majid Al Futtaim launches premium neighbourhood in Dubai

Majid Al Futtaim Communities, a part of Majid Al Futtaim Properties, today (February 22) announced the launch of Alaya Beach, an ultra-exclusive neighbourhood at Tilal Al Ghaf, the lifestyle destination creator's flagship community in Dubai.

Offering a limited collection of premium homes, Alaya Beach sets a new benchmark in luxury waterfront living for the region, said Majid Al Futtaim Communities in its statement.

Situated on the Lagoon Al Ghaf waterfront, a recreational 110,000-sq-m lagoon that sits at the heart of Tilal Al Ghaf, Alaya Beach is designed to deliver an exceptional experience.

Offering outstanding homes crafted to satisfy even the most discerning individual, this select neighbourhood of 14 mansions and 30 reserve grand villas, each set in expansive landscaped grounds, benefits from direct access to the Lagoon, its private neighbourhood beach, and a range of premium amenities for water-based activities, beach sports, and tennis.

Bespoke living is a way of life at Alaya Beach, with buyers able to tailor their homes in line with their lifestyle and aesthetic preferences.

Advanced customisation options include an additional basement area, a choice of Modernist or Mediterranean faades and interior finishes, flexible layouts, and fully landscaped Mediterranean or Tropical gardens.

Lifestyle suites also come as standard. The Reserve Grand Villas feature the Zen Suite, a self-contained garden room that can be fitted out in line with one of four themes; Heal, Entertain, Exercise or Work.

For the mansions, which are located on the water's edge and enjoy unimpeded views across the Lagoon's crystal waters, a unique penthouse suite can be configured for rooftop entertaining or as a gym, while a generous basement area can be used for additional entertaining or as a space dedicated to wellness.

The Alaya Beach design aesthetic takes inspiration from nature, with each home is designed to exist in harmony with the local environment.

An abundance of natural materials and organic textures promote an effortless flow between interior and exterior spaces, with open layouts, double-height spaces and floor-to-ceiling windows letting in ample natural light and offering unparalleled vistas. Expansive balconies and shaded patio areas invite residents to dine and lounge al fresco, blurring the boundaries between indoors and out.

Whilst offering exclusivity and privacy, Alaya Beach remains connected to the wider community and its superb facilities. Designed in line with Majid Al Futtaim Communities' commitment to sustainable design and living, Tilal Al Ghaf's walkable neighbourhoods are interconnected by a network of pathways, cycling tracks and jogging trails, with wide open spaces, treescapes and lush landscaping.

Spanning over 3 million sq m, the community also features signature Majid Al Futtaim retail experiences and a world-renowned international school.


Arada launches 384-unit upscale apartments complex in Sharjah

UAE-based developer Arada has announced the launch of Nasaq District, a cluster of three upscale apartment buildings ideally located within the masterplan of Sharjah's largest mixed-use community, Aljada.

Scheduled to be completed in the second quarter of 2024, Nasaq District marks the next phase of development at one of the UAE's most active jobsites, where more than 6,000 units are currently under construction.

The Nasaq District buildings, which together contain 384 units, are characterised by stylish and contemporary architecture. Each block offers residents direct access both to a tree-lined boulevard filled with shopping and dining experiences and to an urban linear park with extensive sporting facilities, said the statement from Arada.

The first building in Nasaq, which contains 112 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, has gone on sale today (February 21).

Each home in Nasaq benefits from modern and spacious interiors, and comes with smart home features and white goods added as standard. Other facilities at Nasaq include an exclusive, residents-only gym and swimming pool, it stated.

According to Arada, the homes at Nasaq also enjoy an unrivalled location within Aljada and are just a few minutes' walk from the Madar at Aljada family entertainment complex, the Naseej District Museum, the Sabis International School - Aljada (SIS-Aljada) and the business park.

Group CEO Ahmed Alkhoshaibi said: "Homes in the Nasaq district boast an impressive location, excellent access to incredible facilities and bold, attractive design. We continue to see exceptional demand for homes in Aljada and expect that sales for units at Nasaq will also resonate with both investors and end-users."

The news adds to a busy start to the year at Aljada, where a AED322 million contract to build eight new apartment blocks totalling almost 1,000 new homes was awarded in January.

Spread over a 24-million-sq-ft area, Aljada is Sharjah's largest ever project and a transformational destination for the emirate. It boasts numerous residential districts, as well as extensive retail, hospitality, entertainment, sporting, educational, healthcare components and a business park, all set within a green urban master plan.

Home deliveries at the Sharjah megaproject are also gathering pace, with 1,200 units completed in 2021, and at least 30 apartment blocks, a villa community and the final phase of SIS-Aljada scheduled for completion in 2022.


Dubai boat show opens next month; to welcome 400 top brands

This year's Dubai International Boat Show is back and the 2022 edition promises to be better than ever, said the event organisers.

The Middle East's largest and most-popular leisure marine event, DIBS will take place at Dubai Harbour, from March 9 to 13.

It is set to welcome over 400 boat, yacht and watercraft brands including the world premiere of Sunreef's 80 Eco Line, a glimpse at the all-new Princess Y85, and a regional debut for San Lorenzo's innovative SX88.

A jaw-dropping line up of more than 50 floating mansions from some of the world's leading marques, such as Feadship, Majesty, Nomad, Cranchi, and Lurssen, will also be on show.

The emirate's nautical showpiece is celebrating its 28th edition and will mark the regional yachting industry's first large-scale, in-person event since the Covid-19 pandemic, said the organisers, Dubai World Trade Centre.

The five-day show will be the first to take place at Dubai's ground-breaking new marina, reuniting the region's maritime community.

With DIBS 2022 providing an iconic backdrop and meeting ground to reinvigorate the global industry, Trixie LohMirmand, Executive VP (Events Management), DWTC, believes the eyes of both the regional and international yachting communities will be fixed on the emirates once more.

"As Dubai International Boat Show moves into its new home, Dubai Harbour, we look forward to enhancing Dubai's status as an internationally renowned superyachting destination," she stated.

She pointed out that the challenges of the last two years have sparked a desire for a more outdoor, spatial lifestyle, which in turn promise new growth opportunities for the industry.

"The leisure marine sector has continued to thrive in this period, while building on its ability to attract a wider and more diverse buyer base. Dubai International Boat Show offers that pivotal platform and opportunity for buyers and enthusiasts to finally appreciate the offerings of yachts, boats and accessories in their search for a creative and empowering passion," remarked LohMirmand.

Next month's show will feature an eclectic range of marine attractions, from the world's biggest, most advanced superyachts to small fishing craft and recreational water-sports equipment.

With a host of networking activities designed to boost knowledge and foster business across the industry, the event is a unique platform for the global yachting and nautical lifestyle communities.

Dubai International Boat Show 2022 is set to enhance the maritime prospects of an already vibrant region for the global industry.

The Mena region boasts the world's second-highest fleet-to-billionaire ratio, while Dubai ranks among the top-10 nautical capitals internationally with 15 marinas providing more than 3,000 berths.

Dubai Harbour is the emirate's undisputed nucleus, boasting 700 berths and the city's first dedicated superyacht marina, which can house craft up to 160m in length. The emirate's maritime sector accounts for approximately 7% of its GDP, the equivalent of AED 26.9 billion, he stated.

Now, with Middle Eastern owners accounting for 12.6% of the world's superyacht fleet, the show's Superyacht Avenue has attracted a stellar flotilla of the world's biggest, brashest, and most luxurious and technologically advanced vessels.

Numerous elite superyacht builders are set to unveil their latest craft and products - including SuperYacht Builders Association members Lurssen and Oceanco, who lead a cast that also features mainstream superyacht brands such as Azimut, Cranchi, Feretti, Gulf Craft, and Princess Yachts.

"Dubai has established itself as a globally renowned city, bringing the world's attention to the United Arab Emirates and the entire Middle East region," remarked Mohammed Hussein AlShaali, the Chairman of Gulf Craft.

"As one of the world's emerging yachting hubs, it is no surprise that the DIBS is one of the most sought-after industry events that has gained prominence on the international stage. We are witnessing significant growth and demand from the leisure maritime industry here in the region and around the world, and our 'home show' - the Dubai International Boat Show - is a fantastic platform to showcase our Majesty Yachts, Nomad Yachts, Oryx Sport Cruisers and Silvercraft Fishing Boats," noted Al Shaali.

Dubai International Boat Show 2022 will be held under stringent safety and hygiene protocols, he added.


Sheikh Mohammed inaugurates The Digital School at Expo 2020 Dubai

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, inaugurated the first operational phase of The Digital School in five countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Mauritania and Colombia. The announcement was made during a special event held at Expo 2020 Dubai, official news agency WAM reported.

The Digital School adopts the latest technology applications, artificial intelligence and educational tools to fulfil the educational needs of the students benefiting from the initiative. Over 20,000 students will be registered in the first year, with the goal of increasing the number of students to one million in the next five years.

Sheikh Mohammed said: "Our goal is to bring digital learning to new horizons as it is the education of the future and the future of education."

"In line with international standards in its educational and knowledge content, The Digital School articulates our belief that education is a right for all and that equal educational opportunities are the basis of comprehensive and sustainable development," he added.

Sheikh Mohammed also noted that "The Digital School seeks to enhance the future of education, ensure continuous innovation, and promote digital learning as a strategic investment for the future."

The inaugural event was attended by Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance; Lieutenant General Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior; Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

The event highlighted the school's objectives in its first year to reach students in five countries, train 500 teachers, set up 120 learning centres, and provide educational content in three languages: Arabic, French and Spanish. The school also provides distance education in an innovative and flexible format, so students can join wherever they are, focusing on the less fortunate, the disadvantaged and refugees in Arab nations and across the globe. Students can benefit from the 'digital tutor' to support them in their study plan and follow up on their educational progress, with the provision of a comprehensive assessment mechanism within the learning stages. It provides digital study and supporting materials that are compatible with the Arab and international curricula and offers an opportunity to interact with several licenced teachers and their colleagues through virtual classrooms.

The school's system consists of six key components: interactive digital content, learning technology appropriate to the application environment, professional development for teachers and education facilitators, local and international partnerships to achieve the sustainability of digital education, an education model that promotes independent learning skills, and continuous data assessment and evaluation.

Meanwhile, the Digital School has signed agreements of support and strategic cooperation. The school has concluded agreements with charity, humanitarian and knowledge institutions, such as the Awqaf & Minors Affairs Foundation in Dubai, which allocated a sustainable endowment whose proceeds will help disseminate education; the Emirates Red Crescent Authority to establish 1,000 learning centres affiliated to Digital School within the next five years; a strategic cooperation agreement with Arizona State University as a strategic partner in the training and capacity building of teachers; and Microsoft to collaborate in providing and developing modern digital education solutions for the school.

Furthermore, it has signed strategic memoranda of understanding with many institutions and entities concerned with the future of digital education and innovation, including the Mobile Learning Alliance, the World Food Program, Dubai Cares, and Amazon.

The Digital School has an international advisory board that comprises international experts from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the international 'Generation Unlimited' initiative, a global partnership that aims to ensure that young men and women around the world are enrolled in education, training or employment by 2030; Harvard University; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the University of New South Wales Sydney; Arizona State University; and the Brookings Institution.

The Digital School also seeks to empower teaching communities, educators and to assist in the professional development of teachers, educational leaders and education facilitators through a broad training programme in partnership with Arizona State University to qualify 1,500 digital teachers over the next three years. The training programme includes a dedicated module for teachers, education facilitators, school principals and education officials. It offers a mixed learning course that combines self-learning and coaching for up to six months, after which the trainees who meet the requirements will receive a certificate issued by the school and approved by the Arizona State University. It is available in Arabic, English, French, and Spanish.

Maysa Jalbout, the special adviser to the president of Arizona State University, stressed that the university is keen on a strategic partnership with the Digital School initiative, with its humanitarian goals of bringing digital learning to students in remote and developing regions. She added that she hopes the partnership will help to engage students in camps and underprivileged communities towards exemplary and continuous digital learning paths.

Sayed Hashish, general manager of Microsoft UAE: "There is no greater impact than providing vital learning experiences for a generation of future leaders and pioneers of the next transformation in the fields of technology. That is why we seek to improve teachers' access to solutions and courses in underserved areas at the regional level."

Sheikh Mohammed launched The Digital School in November 2020, under the umbrella of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, as a strategic educational initiative aimed at providing digital learning options for students, especially in remote and developing areas.

"We aim to provide students, especially those living in refugee camps, war zones and disadvantaged communities, with the highest quality of education in the best way possible. Digital education is the future. We need to adapt to the rapidly-changing educational sphere. Our contribution to developing educational platforms is our real investment in the future of young people," Sheikh Mohammed had said then.


Carrefour launches its first Bio store in Dubai

Carrefour, owned and operated by Majid Al Futtaim in the UAE, has opened its first Bio store in City Centre Me'aisem in Dubai.

It features the retailer's first-ever caf and an in-store hydroponic farm, with an underlying focus on sustainability.

The store's concept has been drawn up based on qualitative data studies around organic shopping in the UAE and on locally-sourced products, with over 3,000 items spanning from food and beverages to beauty, personal, and home care items.

The store includes a selection of fruit and vegetables sourced from 100 per cent organic certified farms, poultry and meat with no added hormones, and organic-fed fish from approved piscaries,. It caters to diverse dietary requirements including a range of vegan, keto, free-from and dairy-free products.

The brand's first sit-down dining caf offers all-day breakfast, salads, juices, organic teas and coffees, as well as options from manakeesh to burgers with a plant-based twist.

Carrefour Bio offers recyclable paper bags and uses biodegradable packaging across its fresh products in line with its aim to eliminate single-use plastic from its operations by 2025.

Customers will also find refilling stations for water and detergents to prevent excessive plastic consumption. The store's hydroponic farm will also offset Carrefour's carbon footprint and bolster food security in the UAE.

The advanced store concept implements eco-friendly equipment to reduce energy consumption by as much as 15 per cent, plus digital price tags connected through WiFi offer a sustainable substitute to printed paper labels.

All the tables and shelves have been made using recycled pallets, and a pick by weight sections seeks to reduce waste by allowing customers to bring home their desired quantities of nuts, spices, and dried fruits in recyclable paper bags.

Carrefour has also dedicated a special area of the store towards small- and medium-enterprises in the UAE. Unique displays showcase home-made products in support of local businesses, the economy, and the retail industry, whilst over 20 per cent of all the items in-store are exclusive to the private label brand "Carrefour Bio".

The store was inaugurated on Friday, February 25, Mariam Bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment and Hani Weiss, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Retail.

"We are honoured to have gained the support of the UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment as we seek to champion healthy living and forge a greener future together with our government. Our research tells us that whilst healthy eating is now a huge priority, many consumers limit organic shopping as they perceive it as a more expensive option. This is exactly what Carrefour BIO seeks to solve, offering healthier alternatives at affordable prices to ensure the wellbeing of the entire community. Customers can now find healthy products, make conscious decisions whilst dining out and help save the planet one recyclable bag at a time - all under one roof in Carrefour's Bio store," said Weiss.

Majid Al Futtaim has pioneered several initiatives within the UAE's retails space. Last year, it launched its first automated fulfilment centre in Dubai to ensure faster and more efficient deliveries for online orders. The company collaborated with e-grocery innovator Takeoff Technologies to launch the centre at its Carrefour store in Ibn Battuta Mall.


Abu Dhabi updates travel green list, adds Turkey

Abu Dhabi has updated its 'green list' of destinations to include Turkey.

The new list, which has taken effect from February 15, now includes 72 destinations in total.

Passengers arriving from the 'green list' destinations are exempt from mandatory quarantine measures after landing in Abu Dhabi and will be required to undergo PCR testing upon arrival at Abu Dhabi airport.

Vaccinated travellers however, need to take another PCR test on day six of their stay, and unvaccinated travellers must take additional PCR tests on day six and day nine of their stay, according to the Visit Abu Dhabi website.

The list only applies to countries passengers are arriving from rather than citizenship.

The updated green list as of February 15 is as follows:

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Czech Republic
Hong Kong (SAR)
Papua New Guinea
Saudi Arabia
South Korea
Taiwan, Province of China
United States of America


You can now check in for your Emirates flight in Ajman

A 24-hour facility and aligned bus service from the northern emirate will make travel smoother for passengers flying with the Dubai airline

Travellers flying Emirates can check-in for flights at the new remote facility in Ajman.

As travel restrictions and Covid-19 measures ease in many destinations around the world, Emirates is hoping to make travel easier for passengers from the northern emirate of Ajman.

The Dubai airline has opened a new city check-in facility at Ajman Central Bus Terminal, Emirates's first remote facility outside of Dubai.

Travellers can check in at the facility, which is operating in partnership with the Ajman Transport Authority, which will schedule new bus timings to coincide with Emirates's peak travel times.

Travellers on Emirates will soon be able to drop bags at the new Ajman city check-in.

Any passengers in Ajman preparing to travel with Emirates can now check in for flights and verify Covid-19 related medical records for the journey while in the northern emirate.

After receiving their boarding passes, travellers can hop aboard a bus direct to Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport, a journey that takes about 45 minutes depending on traffic. There, passengers can drop their bags then proceed directly to immigration and security.

Ajman bag-drop services coming soon

Passengers at Emirates Terminal 3, Dubai International Airport.

In a few weeks, Emirates will upgrade the service to allow travellers to drop their bags directly at the Ajman facility, leaving them baggage-free for the remainder of their onwards journey.

Open 24 hours a day, the facility has four manned counters and two self-service kiosks. These can be used for a contactless journey and allow travellers to check in, collect boarding passes, choose or change seats and update passport information.

Buses from the facility will coincide with Emirates's peak times for flights, including early morning services and late night departures.

"Our latest initiative in Ajman, in partnership with the Ajman Transport Authority, will deliver a travel experience that our customers from Ajman and the Northern Emirates can truly look forward to, giving them more control over their journey to enjoy the rest of the retail, leisure and Emirates lounge facilities at the airport before they board their flight" said Mohammed Mattar, Divisional Senior Vice President Emirates Airport Services.


Dubai housing rents, prices rising at fastest rate since 2015

Residential sales and property prices in Dubai are growing at their fastest rate since 2015, but future price growth will be modest, according to a new report.

The February Dubai Residential Snapshot by CBRE showed that transaction volumes reached 5,517 in January 2022, up 80.2 percent from a year earlier, while off-plan and secondary market sales jumped by 187.5 percent and 32.5 percent, respectively.

Average residential sales prices in the emirate were up 10.2 percent in January 2022 compared to January 2021, while rentals increased by 10.1 percent.

However, sales rates per square foot are still 27.1 percent and 13.5 percent below the late 2014 peak for apartments and villas, respectively.

The trend towards villas over apartment was still clearly marked, with average villa prices up by 21.8 percent and apartment prices up by 8.5 percent in January 2022.

Downtown Dubai recorded the highest average sales rate for apartments at 1,958 dirhams ($533) per square foot, while the Palm Jumeirah saw the highest average sales rate for villas at 2,699 dirhams per square foot.

Rental sector

In the rental segment, apartments registered an increase of 8.3 percent, while villas posted a 22.8 percent rise. The overall average rental price was 76,347 dirhams and for a villa, it was 230,275 dirhams.

Downtown also saw the highest average rental apartment rates at 50,723 dirhams, while Al Barari had the highest average villa rent at 798,374 dirhams.

Green Community West saw the biggest jump in sales prices month-on-month, at 4.8 percent for apartments and 6.6 percent for villas.

In the rental sector, apartment prices rose the fastest month-on-month in International City and The Greens, where rents rose by three percent, while Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC), Jumeirah Park and Emirates Hills were the biggest gainers for villas, all also increasing by three percent month-on-month.

"Growth momentum for both transactions volumes and prices increased in January, as Dubai's residential market continues to register record levels of activity," said Taimur Khan, head of research for MENA at CBRE.

"Looking ahead, we expect that market activity will continue to be robust. However, we do expect the rate of price growth to moderate."


Work to start soon on Qatar-Saudi rail link, says minister

The construction of the GCC railway network connecting Qatar to the neighbouring Saudi Arabia will kick off soon, reported Doha News, citing the country's transport minister.

The 2,177-km Gulf Railway is a proposed railway system connecting all six GCC countries in Eastern Arabia. The project, expected to cost $250 billion, will be shared by these countries in accordance with the length of the rail network in their territories.

Each of the six nations will be responsible for implementing the portion of the project that lies within their territory, whilst also constructing their own railway lines, branch stations and freight terminals, stated the report.

Given their size, the UAE and Saudi Arabia will spend the most on the project, followed by Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.

Qatar Rail will develop the network in the country, while it will be done by Etihad Rail in the UAE and Oman Rail in the sultanate, it added.

"All necessary groundwork to implement the grand project has been completed, including the detailed engineering designs and work plan," Jassim Seif Ahmed Al Sulaiti told Doha News.

Sponsorship offers and bids for the much-awaited railway are expected to go out within this year, he added.

As per the network's distribution, the railway will connect Qatar to Saudi Arabia and will be used to transport goods and passengers from and to both countries within hours, providing an easier and more efficient way of travelling for the community.


Qatar's labour reforms safeguard rights of migrant workers

Doha: Qatar International Center for Conciliation and Arbitration (QICCA) at Qatar Chamber recently participated in a regional webinar titled"Responsible governance in labour law" which was organised by Innovation Dome Consulting & Training in Jordan.

QICCA Board Member for International Relations Sheikh Dr. Thani bin Ali Al Thani participated in the webinar which is part of the 11th Zad Knowledge Council an honour guest.

Addressing the webinar, Sheikh Thani said that Qatar's labour laws have witnessed numerous reforms since Labor Law No. 3 of 1962, and the subsequent laws such as Law No. 11 of 1962 for the Establishment of the Commercial Registry System and laws amending it, Law No. 3 of 1963 concerning the Regulation of Foreigners' Entry and Residence in Qatar and laws amending it, Law No. 3 of 1984 Regulating the Sponsoring of the Residence and Exit of Foreigners, which is amended by Law No. 21 of 2002 and Law No. 14 of the year 1992 on the Regulation of the. Recruitment of Workers from Abroad for Others.

Other laws include Law Law No. 23 of 1994 with respect to the Compounding Regulation of the Crimes stipulated in Law No. 14 of 1992 on the Regulation of Recruitment of Workers from Abroad for Other Parties, Law No. 7 of 1999 regulating the Ministry of Civil Service and Housing Affairs and specifying its Functions and Law No. 5 of 2002, promulgating the Law of Commercial Companies.

Sheikh Thani also said that since Qatar won 2022 FIFA World Cup bid, some foreign newspapers and human rights organizations started to attack Qatar on the pretext of violating workers' rights, but these attacks ignored the reforms witnessed by the labour market in the state.

Elaborating on such reforms, Sheikh Thani noted that the Qatari labour market witnessed significant reforms especially in 2013 and 2014, when the state established a wage protection system for workers so that the labourers' wages are transferred to banks within a maximum period of the fourth day of the month, noting that if the company does not transfer wages during that period, the services belonging to that company will be blocked and it will be referred to the Public Prosecution for non-payment of wages.

He stressed that these reforms support and safeguard the rights of labourers in Qatar.

Reforms also included cancelling the country's exit permit system and allowing workers to change employers freely, he added.


The 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum will open its doors on March 31

On Sunday, Qatar Museums announced that the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum would open to the public on March 31, 2022, under the patronage of HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

The 3-2-1 museum will be one of the world's most cutting-edge and innovative museums dedicated to sports and a member of the Olympic Museums Network (OMN).

Through the museum, you can take an unforgettable and rewarding interactive journey through the history and legacy of sports from around the world as well as the Olympic Games. Three-two-one aims to inspire, engage, and motivate its community to participate in sports and physical activity through participatory spaces and programming.

HE Chairperson of Qatar Museums Sheikha Al Mayasa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, said: "The opening of the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum alongside the FIFA congress is a symbol of the importance of sports in Qatar National Vision 2030. The museum belongs to the Olympic Museums Network, and is a legacy project of the Doha Asian Games 2006."

"The 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum come after Qatar's outstanding performance at the Tokyo Olympics, and just before we host the World Cup in November 2022. Culture and sports are two sides of the same coin, and there is no better time to celebrate our nation's investments in both Culture and Sports," she added.

"Two pillars that also support Qatar's investments in Education and Health. The opening promises to celebrate the Qatari athletes with the world; a testament of the leadership of HH the Amir in focusing on developing people in all fields," she concluded.


MoPH announces new updates in Qatar's travel and return policy, effective February 28

Qatar's travel and return policy has now received a whole set of updates as prescribed by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH)-all of which are effective from 7 pm, February 28, 2022.

These changes are taken by MoPH and Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) after close monitoring of the ongoing pandemic situation. The new updates, as announced by MoPH on their official website and social media channels, constitute the below changes.

Removal of Covid-19 countries' list

The Ministry has done away with the green and exceptional red lists from the Covid-19 list of countries. The countries will now be subject to either standard health measures or red health measures.

Nine countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Georgia, Philippines, Nepal, Jordan and Sri Lanka will be subject to red health measures.

All other countries will be subject to standard health measures.

No PCR test mandate

The earlier requirement that mandated all travelers to the State of Qatar to present a PCR test within 72 hours from the time of travel has also been removed. This update is only for fully vaccinated and Covid-19-recovered residents and citizens only, whether they are arriving from countries subject to red or standard health measures.

However, all visitors traveling to Qatar are still mandated to present a PCR test from their country of origin, which is 48 hours before the time of departure.

Hotel quarantine requirements

Since the Covid-19 countries' list has been removed, the hotel quarantine mandate is now exempt for recovered and vaccinated residents and citizens on Qatar. They only require a rapid antigen test within 24 hours of their arrival in Qatar.

Unvaccinated and non-immune residents and citizens are subject to five days of hotel quarantine with a PCR test within 24 hours of arrival and a rapid antigen test to be done on Day 5 of quarantine.

Fully vaccinated and recovered visitors coming from a country subject to standard health measures are fully exempt from quarantine. Unvaccinated and non-immune visitors from these countries are allowed to undergo five days of hotel quarantine or home quarantine if they are first-degree relatives (submit proof of relationship and residence).

Fully vaccinated and recovered visitors coming from a country subject to red health measures are supposed to undergo one day of hotel quarantine, and take a rapid antigen test on day one after arrival. Unvaccinated and non-immune visitors from red health measures countries are not granted entry into the State of Qatar.

Immunity status

For the purpose of clarity, MoPH has explained what each immunity status entails for individuals with respect to the travel and return policy to Qatar.

Fully vaccinated: Anyone who has received any of the following Covid-19 approved vaccines by MoPH:

Pfizer, Moderna, Astrazeneca vaccines: valid for 9 months from 14 days after the second dose or booster dose.

Jansen and Jansen vaccine: valid for 9 months from 14 days after the first dose or valid for 9 months from 14 days of the second dose.

Conditionally approved vaccines such as Sinopharm, Sputnik (V), Sinovac, and Cofaxine: valid for 6 months from 14 days after the second dose. Traveler must produce a Serology on Antibody Test lab result within 30 days of testing and if they fail to produce the Serology report from country of origin, they must undergo mandatory five days of hotel quarantine. If these conditionally vaccinated passengers take a MoPH-approved booster dose vaccine, then their immune status is valid for further 9 months from 7 days of booster shot. In such cases, a Serology Antibody test is not required.

Recovered: Anyone who recovered from a Covid-19 infection in Qatar or abroad are considered immune up to 9 months from date of infection. An official laboratory test confirming past infection is necessary.

Unvaccinated/non-immune: Anyone who doesn't fall into any of the above categories is non-immune.

All of these new updates are to come into force starting February 28 at 7 pm onwards.

The Ministry attributes the implementation of strict precautionary measures for travel and return policy to the control of pandemic within Qatar. So far, the death toll in Qatar has been the lowest as compared to other nations.


Bahrain posts solid real estate growth; 2021 deals hit $2.6bn

Bahrain's real estate sector witnessed solid growth in 2021 with the transactions value surging to BD1 billion ($2.62 billion), up 46 per cent over the previous year, underpinned by landmark government initiatives and an improving outlook, according to global real estate advisor Savills.

Various government initiatives introduced throughout the course of 2021 have helped drive an increase in property transaction values in Bahrain and generated optimism in local market sentiment across the residential sector, stated Savills in its Q4 2021 update on the Bahrain market.

To maintain this strong growth momentum, the government revealed a four-year National Real Estate Plan 2021-2024 in March 2021 to promote investments into the sector, develop innovative real estate enterprises, and preserve all the stakeholders' rights, thereby creating a secure and transparent real estate sector.

In October, the government had announced a new national economic growth and fiscal balance plan. The multi-year, five-pillar plan is one of the largest economic reform programmes for the Kingdom and aims to improve Bahrain's long-term competitiveness, it stated.

Swapnil Pillai, Associate Director Research, Middle East, said: "Offshoots of a gradual recovery in the market were already visible as the Q4 2021 Savills residential capital value index remained stable. This is the second consecutive quarter where prices across the residential sector remained unchanged across apartments and villas."

"However, on an annual comparison, prices remain on average, 1.6% and 4.2% lower across apartments and villas, respectively, compared to Q4 2020, creating room for increased investments," stated Pillai.

According to him, the residential rental index for Q4 2021 remained relatively stable on a quarterly basis; however, similar to capital values, on an annual comparison, rental values across apartments were 5% more affordable.

The decline in prices was more prominent across the mid-end (3.5% y-o-y) and high-end (1.4% y-o-y) segment, whilst they remained stable across the low-end segment, he added.

On the future outlook, Hashim Kadhem, Head of Professional Services, Bahrain, said: "Looking ahead, we anticipate the high-end sale market will continue to witness delays in absorption with developers unwilling to revise their pricing strategies."

"However, they are still offering extensive incentives with many developers also partnering with banks to offer attractive mortgage products," he stated.

In the commercial segment, Savills said the uncertainty in the office sector in Bahrain was reflected by an average y-o-y drop in office sales prices of nearly 2.9%.

In the rental market, mid-end offices experienced an average y-o-y decrease of 13.3% due to the dual effects of tenants who either sought cheaper, low-end alternatives, or relocated to higher-end office developments that offered competitive rates, stated the property expert.

Kadhem said: "Going forward, a deeper analysis of office space that's required will occur. International tenants are likely to adopt hybrid working practices, leading to downsizing of existing spaces and take-up of smaller spaces."


Bahrain launches new initiatives to ease visa process

Bahrain has launched 24 key initiatives to develop the services of the Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs (NPRA), including expansion of instant and electronic visas and issuance of electronic passports.

This was revealed at a Cabinet meeting yesterday, chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister.

The initiatives also include the King Fahd Causeway visa, the introduction of the trusted traveller system and a training visa, the introduction of a residence permit for foreign wives of Gulf nationals, the cancellation of arrival cards, the delivery of passports inside and outside Bahrain, and the reduction in price of the multi-entry visa, said a Bahrain News Agency report.

The decision follows the review of a memorandum submitted by the Minister of Interior. These initiatives are part of Bahrain's Economic Recovery Plan and will contribute to enhancing the competitiveness of the Kingdom and supporting development across economic, investment and service sectors, it said.

Meanwhile, Interior Ministry Undersecretary for NPRA, Shaikh Hisham bin Abdulrahman Al Khalifa, hailed today the directives of Interior Minister, General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, to grant entry visas and family residency permits to promote family stability of Bahrainis.

The decision allows the NPRA to issue entry visas and family residency permits to close relatives of the wives of Bahraini men or husbands of Bahraini women. According to the decision, the applicant should be Bahraini, the foreigners should be of good conduct and have valid health insurance in Bahrain throughout the stay period.

The Interior Ministry Undersecretary said that the decision includes the mechanisms to apply for the permit through the Visas and Residency Directorate by filling out a form and attaching it with documents to prove the relationship.


Bahrain scraps PCR testing, quarantine requirements on arrival

Starting Sunday, February 20, 2022, all passengers arriving through Bahrain International Airport do not need to conduct a PCR test on arrival, the country's Civil Aviation Affairs (CAA) has announced.

Precautionary quarantine requirements for all passengers arriving in the kingdom have also been cancelled.

The announcement was based on the recommendations made by the National Medical Taskforce for Combatting the Coronavirus (Covid-19), Bahrain News Agency reported.

The taskforce also announced updated protocols for contacts of active Covid-19 cases, which will go into effect on February 20. According to the revised measures, contacts of active cases will no longer have to undergo a precautionary period of isolation. This includes individuals who do not hold a green shield on the BeAware application.

Furthermore, tests will be only be conducted for individuals experiencing Covid-19 related symptoms, through the following options:

1- Conducting a rapid test. If the result is positive, individuals must head directly to one of the drive through testing centres to conduct a PCR test.

2- Or conduct a PCR test at a private hospital.

3- Or book a PCR test via the BeAware application.

4- Or call 444 to book an appointment for a PCR test


Bahrain introduces permanent residency golden visas

On Monday, Bahrain launched a new Golden Residency Visa programme for residents and non-residents, as well as their families.

Golden Residency Visa holders can have their visas renewed indefinitely, provided they continue to meet the eligibility criteria.

The visa grants them the right to work in Bahrain, allows them multiple entry and exit from the kingdom, and even allows residency rights for close family members.

To qualify for the Golden Residency Visa, existing residents must have resided in Bahrain continuously for at least five years and earned an average basic salary of no less than BHD2,000 per month throughout the five-year period. The long-term residence permit shall be renewed indefinitely provided the candidate continues to meet the eligibility criteria. According to Bahrain News Agency.

Golden Residency Visa in the Kingdob of Bahrain

- Ministry of Interior (@moi_bahrain) February 7, 2022

Besides, residents and non-residents are eligible for the Golden Residency Visa if they meet the following criteria:

- Own one or more properties in Bahrain, valued no less than BHD200,000, or retirees with an income of at least BHD4,000 per month.

- Are 'highly- talented' individuals who meet the relevant requirements.

- Must reside in the Kingdom of Bahrain for 90 days a year, to ensure their visa continues to be valid.

Those who meet the eligibility criteria are allowed to submit their applications to be considered for the visa online with immediate effect.

The new visa was announced during the Cabinet session chaired by Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Bahrain, as part of the country's economic recovery plan

"The introduction of the Golden Residency Visa is designed to attract investors, benefit our businesses, and contribute to the provision of quality opportunities for Bahrainis. This programme will also provide deserved reward to those existing residents who have contributed significantly to Bahrain's economy and society over many years," said Shaikh Hisham bin Abdulrahman bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Undersecretary for Nationality, Passports and Residency Affairs at the Interior Ministry.


Bahrain to grant residency for foreigners married or related to citizens

Bahrain on Monday approved a series of new laws that includes granting entry and residence permits to the relatives and spouses of citizens.

The approval includes a "draft law regulating the granting of entry visas and residence permits to the relatives of Bahrainis, the wives of Bahrainis, and the husbands of foreign Bahraini women," read a statement published by Bahrain's News Agency.

Previous rules meant that residents had renewable visas valid for just a few years. These were linked to their employment, limiting their stay.

To attract talent, Bahrain recently introduced a new system by which foreigners could apply for a golden visa that offers permanent residency.

The golden visa allows them to extend their visa for an indefinite period and provides a residency permit for close family members.


Carrefour expands with ninth store opening in Kuwait

Carrefour, owned and operated by Majid Al Futtaim in Kuwait, has officially launched a new supermarket in the Khairan area, within the Ahmadi Governorate.

The opening sees Carrefour introduce its ninth store in the country and reaffirms the brand's ongoing expansion strategy which aims to support, grow, and help the communities it serves prosper.

It also highlights Majid Al Futtaim's commitment to helping drive economic growth across the Mena region through job creation and economic diversification.

The new store has an area of 2,000 sq m and offers 15,000 high-quality local and imported products. Thanks to its convenient location, the store will provide greater accessibility to customers from neighboring areas.

Ahmed Mohamed, Country Manager of Carrefour Kuwait at Majid Al Futtaim Retail said: "Today we celebrate another chapter of our story, one that showcases Carrefour's dedication to connecting with its customers to deliver a stellar service. Our new store will provide accessibility, and efficiency in terms of reach and product availability. We are proud to be serving our customers and establishing the infrastructure to meet growing demand.

Carrefour continues to provide exceptional value to its loyal customers through "MyCLUB", the loyalty programme from Carrefour. The programme provides customers with targeted promotions based on their shopping behavior, in addition to exclusive discounts and "Cash Back" offers that allow users to redeem up to 11% of the value of their purchases


Kuwait: Airport revises vaccination guidelines for travelers

Kuwait's airport opens today for people who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 for the first time in two years - albeit with restrictions, while fully vaccinated travellers can travel with almost no constraints.

For fully vaccinated passengers, no PCR test is required prior to or on arrival, and they are no longer required to quarantine after arrival. Partially vaccinated passengers are not required to take a PCR prior to arrival but must quarantine for seven days, which can be ended with a negative PCR test done upon arrival.

Unvaccinated passengers must carry out a PCR test not more than 72 hours prior to arrival, quarantine for seven days and also carry out a PCR test on the seventh day. These procedures do not apply to children aged under 16.


Shell Oman launches its first mobility hub with EV charging

Shell Oman Marketing Company has launched its first electric vehicle (EV) charging hub in Oman, located at Al Bandar Service Station in Seeb.

It has supplemented the existing fuel station with a fast electric charging point, catering to the EV owners in the capital.

The new Shell Recharge service will enable customers to charge their EVs speedily and to enjoy seamless drives within and around the city. Already featuring an environmentally sustainable design with built-in solar panels on the Shell Select store, the service station is now also equipped with a 50kW electric charging point.

Along with a comfortable waiting area and the Shell Select convenience store, the site also includes the newest Shell Caf, Shell's own in-house coffee brand, which is being launched in a growing number of countries around the world.

At the inaugural ceremony, Istvn Kapitny, Global Executive Vice President of Shell Mobility said: "Shell has a proud tradition of supporting Oman's drivers and making their journeys better with products like our premium Shell V-Power fuels and great convenience offers. I'm pleased to be opening the next chapter of Shell's history in Oman with the introduction of Shell Recharge to our forecourts.

"We've designed the Al Bandar hub to offer an EV charging experience that is as convenient and comfortable as possible. By integrating a Shell Caf, we're also offering drivers the opportunity to recharge themselves as well as their EVs. Ultimately, the goal of Shell Mobility is to provide everything our customers need while they're on the road, and this new location is a first step in doing exactly that."

Dr Mohammed Al Balushi, CEO, Shell Oman, said: "The Shell Recharge at Al Banadar service station marks a first in our EV roadmap and it will redefine EV charging in Oman. As a leading player in our sector, Shell Oman will contribute expertise in energy transition to support Oman's Carbon Control Target Plan which is rooted in the Oman Vision 2040. It remains our endeavour to collaborate with the relevant authorities and stakeholders to realise the goals of the National Energy Strategy and accelerate the gradual transition to a lower carbon economy and an energy matrix with lower carbon emissions.

"At the same time, the introduction of Shell Caf proves our commitment to the development of our network and improvement of our offer. We want to provide our customers with the best possible experience, so our Shell Caf hospitable environment will provide them with a comfortable rest and refresh before their onward journey."

Year 2021 proved to be a game-changer in EV sales globally, Oman, with a growing choice of new electric car brands, is expected to witness a corresponding growth in the future. This would augur well for companies investing in charging points that are compatible with all EVs, like Shell's electric charging point at Al Bandar.

Shell is committed to not only provide cleaner energy solutions that are environmentally sustainable, but also generate better awareness to greener alternatives in the community.


Passengers travelling to Oman must have second dose of Covid vaccine, CAA says

Passengers travelling to Oman must have received the second dose of the Covid vaccine at least 14 days prior to their flight, the country's Civil Aviation Authority said.

The move comes in response to the decisions of the Supreme Committee and is effective from March 1, Times of Oman reported.

"Passengers who received two doses of any approved vaccine are accepted to travel to the Sultanate of Oman without presenting Covid-19 PCR test result taking into consideration that the second dose has been received at least before 14 days," the CAA said in a statement.


Saudi ministry enables business owners to cancel commercial records electronically

RIYADH - The Saudi Ministry of Commerce announced on Tuesday that business owners will now be able to cancel commercial records for business establishments and their subsidiaries electronically without requiring a review by other authorities after clearing any overdue registration fees. The service came into effect on March 1.

However, companies must complete the requirements for the liquidation of the business before writing off the records.

The ministry explained that this procedure is designed to save time and effort for owners of commercial records who wish to cancel their records. The move is in line with the ministry's objective of creating a stimulative and fair environment for investors.

In the past, canceling commercial records required a number of procedures involving various government agencies, such as payment of taxes and fees, canceling licenses related to the register, and transfer of labor services before writing off the register, all of which took much time and effort on the part of investors.

The new service allowed business owners to formally close their business while the record was being canceled, and if other parties' reviews were required, these would be done after the record was written off.


Riyadh Season records more than 12 million visits

RIYADH: The Saudi capital has made a significant contribution to the Kingdom's tourism sector through Riyadh Season activities, experiences and events, which have been enjoyed by millions of visitors since October last year.

Riyadh Season recorded more than 12 million visits in four months, as multiple free-of-charge zones continue receiving people daily

The program includes more than 7,500 diversified entertainment events, including 70 Arab concerts, six global concerts, 10 global exhibitions, 350 theatrical shows, 18 Arab theatrical plays and six global theatrical plays.

It also includes a freestyle wrestling tournament, two international matches, 100 interactive experiments, as well as 200 restaurants and 70 coffee shops that suit individuals, families and children.

Riyadh Season events kicked off on Oct. 20 last year through more than 14 entertainment zones across Riyadh. It has hosted several festivals as well as local and global artists.

Several Arab and non-Arab countries have also taken part at Riyadh Boulevard, one of the biggest regional entertainment incubators.


Saudi Arabia launches first virtual hospital in the Middle East

The Seha Virtual Hospital is distinguished by being the largest in the world, the first of its kind in the Middle East, as well as the latest in virtual healthcare. The virtual hospital is specialized facility as it uses the latest innovative technologies to provide specialized services to support health facilities in the Kingdom.

Mobility Management Middle East

Middle East:
Saudi Arabia

Ivory Coast

Other Countries: