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Egypt Red Sea province to ban single-use plastic

HURGHADA, Egypt: Egypt’s Red Sea Governorate is to introduce a ban on single-use plastics that are destroying marine life, the province’s top official said yesterday. The ban, set to take effect in June, covers items including disposable plastic bags, cutlery and cups, and aims to protect the area’s unique sea life, governor Ahmed Abdallah said. “We want to limit this phenomenon to preserve our maritime environment,” he told AFP.

The world currently produces more than 300 million tons of plastic annually, and scientists estimate there are at least five trillion pieces of the stuff floating in our oceans. Egypt’s Red Sea province depends heavily on income from tourists, many of whom come to snorkel and scuba dive among its spectacular reefs. The vulnerable shallow-water ecosystems are under threat by both global warming and plastic pollution. Abdallah said businesses and families in the province will be required to replace plastic with paper and reusable bags.

Heba Shawky, head of the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association which campaigned for the ban, said it was “a huge step forward, because plastic bags cause a lot of damage”. The Egyptian decision comes after countries agreed at a UN conference in March to “significantly reduce” use of single-use plastics, but failed to agree on a full ban, disappointing environmental campaigners. Sources close to the talks said rich nations, led by the US, were influential in watering down the pledge.

Egypt’s Red Sea province had mulled a ban of single-use plastics prior to the 2011 revolt that toppled longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak, but the ensuing political turmoil put those plans on hold. The country’s crucial tourism industry, hit hard by the uprising, has bounced back in recent years with tourist arrivals reaching 8.3 million in 2017, according to government figures. That falls far short of the figure in 2010, when Egypt welcomed 14.7 million tourists. – AFP


UAE launches six-month multiple-entry visa

The authority has activated three new services on its portal for visa-seekers.

The UAE has introduced a six-month multiple-entry interim visa for non-UAE residents seeking long-term investment visa in the country.

Those eligible for the long-term visa and currently residing in the UAE can transfer their existing residency permits to investor visa if they fulfil conditions, the government announced on Wednesday.

Investors, experts and talented students who are eligible for the long term visa -- ranging from five to ten years -- under the Cabinet Decree No. (56) of 2018 can avail of the interim visa to "identify opportunities in their field and make appropriate decisions for them and families", the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship said in a press statement.

The authority said it has activated three new services on its portal: a six-month visa with multiple entry to complete the procedures for residency of an investor, a six-month visa with multiple entry to complete long-term residency procedures for both entrepreneurs and outstanding students, and a six-month visa with a single entry to complete the residency procedures for the talented individuals. Residents can submit their applications on the ICA portal.

The authority revealed that it received about 6,000 applications from investors and entrepreneurs for the long-term visa during the first week of its announcement itself.

Major General Saeed Rakan Al Rashidi, Director General of Foreigners Affairs and Ports, said that there is a great demand for the new facilities as it enhances UAE's attractiveness as a distinct investment destination. He said the facilities will increase UAE's economic and social competitiveness, and also promote it as a global destination that offers the right and best environment for investors and capital owners who are looking for the ease of procedures. It will also offer flexibility, freedom of movement and also stability for families and enable them to achieve their aspirations and ambitions.

Al Rashidi said the six-month visa aims at providing those wishing to obtain long-term residency to visit the UAE and to review the facilities provided in various fields and to identify the opportunities available in their field of interest and then study their options and make the most appropriate decision for them and their family members.

The official said the ICA will issue emirates ID to those who obtain interim visa in order so that they can complete their procedures with ease and flexibility. It will also enable them to make use of direct licensing procedures and open bank accounts and property registration and other transactions.

UAE residents who meet the conditions for obtaining long-term residency in various categories can apply for it through e-channels and through their accounts on the system without the need to obtain a 6-month visa. And at the time of the residency renewal, the transfer to the long-term residency system can be requested as per the category to which the conditions apply.

The conditions to be eligible for long-term visa
Category 1

Investor residency visa for a period of 10 years, under which the applicant obtains a residency permit for 10 years without a sponsor in the UAE. The visa is offered to all family members including wife and children. Up to three domestic workers can be sponsored. There is also a possibility of obtaining residency for one of the senior employees (advisor or executive director) for 10 years with their family members and the possibility of obtaining a multiple-entry visa for a period of six months renewable for a similar period for the purpose of incorporation.


Category 2

The residency of an investor in real estate under which the applicant obtains a residency permit for five years without sponsor within the UAE, as well as his family members, wife and children, and the possibility of sponsoring domestic workers up to a maximum of 3 workers.


Category 3
Entrepreneurs residency: The owner is entitled to a 5-year residency visa and with the ability to be qualified for having 10-year investors visa, a five-year residency for three executive managers, a five-year residency visa for his family member (husband, wife and children), five-year residency visa for three executive directors, and they have the opportunity to obtain a six-month visa for with multiple trips and with a possibility of renewal for another six months.


How the SPS Express aims to improve security in Dubai

Dubai Police is testing a new technology called the SPS-Express as part of its efforts to ensure highest levels of safety and security

The emergency phone towers feature HD CMOS camera, night vision, video and audio talk, remote monitor and broadcast, alarm integration and is vandal proof.

Dubai Police is testing a new technology called the SPS-Express as part of its efforts to ensure highest levels of safety and security to all residents.

The emergency phone towers feature HD CMOS camera, night vision, video and audio talk, remote monitor and broadcast, alarm integration and is vandal proof.

It also features various connection modes including 4G LTE and Wi-Fi.

Brigadier Ali Ghanim, director of Al Muraqqabat Police Station, said the new technology features an emergency phone tower developed by Dahua Technology and reflects Dubai Police’s keenness to seek all technological innovations to improve police work.

Ghanim said that once approved, the SPS-Express will be installed across the emirate at airports, parks, souqs, and key locations to help the public connect with Dubai Police officers in case of emergencies.


Dubai Investments releases new phase of Mirdif Hills project

Dubai Investments has announced it is ready to go to market with Al Multaqa Avenue, a residential cluster and the newest phase of Mirdif Hills, its mixed-use project developed by its subsidiary Dubai Investments Real Estate Company.

Comprising seven distinct blocks, Al Multaqa Avenue is a development that sits at the heart of the Mirdif Hills master plan and contains 279 residential units within three buildings, in a mixture of studio, one and two-bed apartments.

Al Multaqa Avenue also features a 116-key Millennium Hotel with 134 serviced apartments, restaurants, cafes and retail space.

Obaid Mohammed Al Salami, general manager at Dubai Investments Real Estate Company, said: “We are proud to launch sales at Al Multaqa Avenue and the mix of predominantly studio and one-bed offerings, in the only freehold community in Mirdif now, offers something unique to buyers.

“Al Multaqa Avenue is an affordable and attractive proposition for individuals and small families as well as investors.”

Mirdif Hills is a mixed-use residential, commercial, and retail development spread across one million square feet.

The development offers a total of 1,500 apartments overall in a mix of studio, one, two and three bedroom apartments and duplex units.

The first phase of Mirdif Hills is 93.5 percent complete with Janayen Avenue 95 percent and Nasayem Avenue 92 percent complete.

The Mirdif Hills project was inspired by French architect, Le Corbusier, based on his vision of many villas in a single vertical building.


How Dubai is making it easier to find a parking spot

Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has rolled out a smart parking system initiative at Al Rigga and Dubai World Centre parking slots along the extension of Sheikh Zayed Road.

About 2,030 ground sensors and 70 overhead digital cameras have been installed together with a central control system covering 3035 parking slots to provide instant information about vacant parking spaces in covered zones.

The installation of the system is part of RTA’s endeavours to provide smart services in the city.

The new service enables motorists to quickly identify vacant parking slots either through the Find Parking service on the RTA App, or 13 electronic message boards.

Maitha bin Adai, CEO of RTA’s Traffic and Roads Agency, said: “The system involves sophisticated technologies like ground sensors and digital cameras to monitor the usage of parking through detecting vacant slots and instantly transmitting information to the central system for display onto the information signs and the smart app.

“The new service... makes it easy for users and saves them the hassles of finding parking slots, as it saves 20-30 percent of the time spent in searching for a parking in conventional parking areas. The smart parking system reduces traffic accidents and congestions and saves about 8 minutes in the search for parking.

"It also improves the quality of air by curbing the carbon emissions of vehicles searching for parking space to the tune of 239 tons of carbon dioxide per annum."


Dubai said to mull plan to freeze rents for 3 years

Dubai Land Department is reportedly mulling a proposal to block rent increases for three years after the signing of a lease agreement between landlord and tenant.

If made official, Dubai would follow Sharjah which currently has a three-year cut-off on new contracts when it comes to rental increases.

According to a recent report by ValuStrat, rents in Dubai in the first quarter of 2019 have declined by 23.5 percent since 2014, and softened by 1.9 percent quarterly and 9 percent annually.

The Dispute Resolution Committee is studying such a proposal, but no decision has been taken on the ‘if and when’ to roll it out,” a DLD spokesperson was quoted as saying by local media.

“Right now, all rental decisions are based on the Dubai Rent Index, and it will continue to be so until the three-year no-hike proposal is cleared,” the spokesperson added.

Gulf News also reported that it isn't clear whether the proposal will cover residential properties only or could include other real estate categories such as retail.

As per the Dubai Rent Index, a landlord can only seek increases within carefully set parameters.

If the current rent is up to 25 percent below the average for a similar property in the same neighbourhood, the landlord cannot increase the rent.

But if the rent is 25-35 per cent lower than the average, he can see a 5 percent increase, and 10 percent if the gap is as wide as 36-45 per cent.


Manpower authority to restrict hiring of expats older than 65

KUWAIT: The Public Authority for Manpower plans to impose new conditions on transactions for expats older than 65 who hold no university degrees, said informed sources.

The sources added that some labor departments had already started banning visa transfers from one company to another for this particular category.

The sources added that according to Public Authority of Civil Information (PACI) statistics, the total number of expats older than 65 is 23,500 in the private sector, 2,250 as domestic helpers, 9,516 housewives, 488 retirees with special income and 1,094 unemployed.

The sources said 10,217 expats older than 65 hold university degrees or higher, while 8,914 are illiterate, 8,599 can only read and write, 6,082 have completed high school, 5,618 intermediate school and 4,302 only have a primary school education. In a related development, well-informed sources told local Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas that security authorities deported 4,500 expats since the beginning of this year until the end of April.

The sources added they were deported for various reasons including violating residency laws or involvement in criminal cases. “The process of deportation has grown faster than ever,” the sources underlined. However, concerned sources stressed that Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah and his Undersecretary Lt Gen Essam Al-Nahham have given strict instructions not to be abusive in deportation or deport any expats without due legal cause.

Meanwhile, the residency investigation department has issued arrest warrants against 800 expats, mainly Arabs, who had been recruited and brought to Kuwait by fake companies, said informed sources, noting that two Kuwaiti officials of those companies have been arrested and a travel ban had been imposed to prevent other suspects from leaving the country.


Qatar to abolish exit visa system by year end: UN

DOHA: Qatar is set to abolish its controversial exit visa system for all foreign workers by the end of the year, the UN’s International Labor Organization said Friday. Qatar has introduced a series of labor reforms since its selection to host the 2022 World Cup, which set in motion a huge construction program employing foreign workers. “Last year, the exit visa was eliminated for the majority of workers,” ILO’s Houtan Homayounpour, head of the labor agency’s project office in Doha, told AFP. “This year, that will be extended to all remaining categories of workers.”

In Sept 2018, Qatar approved legislation to scrap the “kafala” or sponsorship system which required foreign workers to obtain permission from their employers to leave the country. In October, it went into force for all but five percent of a company’s workforce – reportedly those in the most senior positions. Homayounpour said “this year is a big year” for migrant workers and the exit visa system “will officially be eliminated” by the end of 2019.

Homayounpour spoke to AFP on the sidelines of a 5 km fun run organized for migrant workers by the ILO, Qatar’s Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs and the embassy of the Netherlands. Organizers said more than 1,000 workers took part. Speaking to AFP after completing the run, US Charge d’Affairs William Grant voiced support for Qatar’s reforms. “The United States and the international community have noticed and we want to help Qatar keep making progress because it’s a constant effort,” he said.

Some two million foreign workers work in Qatar, many employed directly or indirectly on vast World Cup infrastructure projects. In February, the gas-rich Gulf state said it was committed to labor reforms, following an Amnesty International report that the 2022 World Cup host was failing to stop widespread abuse of workers.

Doha said it was on course to deliver “lasting” change after the human rights group said it was “running out of time” to implement the reforms before the World Cup. Qatar has also introduced a monthly minimum wage of 750 riyals ($206) and agreed to work closely with the ILO, which now has an office in the capital. – AFP


IHG to open Staybridge Suites hotel in Bahrain

Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) has penned a deal with Bahrain’s Bin Faqeeh Real Estate Investment Company to introduce the Staybridge Suites hotel brand into the country, the company announced on Sunday.

In a statement, IHG said that it expects the 128-room Staybridge Suites Manama Al Seef to open in January 2020.

The hotel will be located close to the popular Seef District shopping and commercial destination.

“The development of Staybridge Suites comes in line with [the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority’s] strategy which focuses on four pillars: awareness, attraction, access and accommodation in order to attract regional and international visitors,” said BTEA CEO Sheikh Khaled bin Humood Al Khalifa.

“Bahrain is currently witnessing the launch of several hotels and serviced apartments due to the influx of inbound tourists,” he added.

Pascal Gauvin, IHG’s managing director for India, the Middle East and Africa, said that the hotel is a reflection of the fact that Bahrain’s tourism industry “is gaining momentum with an increase in leisure and business travellers, especially from the GCC countries.”

“Seef District is the commercial hub of Bahrain and boasts some of the best shopping destinations in the city, which is why it makes perfect sense to develop the kingdom of Bahrain’s first Staybridge Suites here,” he added.

Staybridge Suites Manama Al Seef is IHG’s third hotel in the country. There are currently five Staybridge Suites across the region, with an additional eight due to open over the course of the next three to five years.


Flynas to launch flights between Riyadh and New Delhi

Starting from July 1, Flynas will operate 5 direct flights weekly between King Khalid International Airport and New Delhi India Gandhi International Airport

Saudi low-cost carrier Flynas is set to resume its direct flights from Riyadh to New Dehli.

Starting from July 1, Flynas will operate 5 direct flights weekly between King Khalid International Airport and New Delhi India Gandhi International Airport. The move follows the carrier's addition of of flights to Hyderabad last June 2018.

Flynas signed a codeshare agreement with Jet Airways for the now-ground airline's flights from Jeddah to Mumbai, Riyadh to Mumbai and Delhi.

Flynas recently added destinations include Lahore, Islamabad, Algeria, Trabzon, Erbil, Baghdad, Sarajevo, Vienna, Batumi, Tbilisi and Baku.

The airline has also announced its expansion strategy for the next phase which seeks to add more destinations and contribute towards doubling its number of passengers, which reached 6.6 million passengers on 60,000 domestic and international flights last year.

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