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FAB to complete integration of Bank Audi Egypt by 2022

First Abu Dhabi Bank, the UAE's largest lender by assets, has completed the transfer of Bank Audi Egypt's shares and will begin integrating its operations.

The lender, which announced in April that it had received approval from regulators to transfer the shares, expects to complete the process by 2022, it said in a statement on Wednesday to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, where its shares trade.

FAB agreed to buy the Egyptian arm of Bank Audi, based in Lebanon, in January this year for an undisclosed sum. The deal is expected to significantly increase the FAB's footprint in Egypt.

The integration of Bank Audi Egypt into FAB's Egyptian operations will make FAB one of the biggest foreign banks in the Arab world's most populous nation, with assets of 130 billion Egyptian pounds ($8.5bn) as of the end of last year. The combined operation will be led by FAB Egypt's chief executive Mohamed Fayed, who joined the lender in 2019 after previously heading Bank Audi.

FAB was advised on the deal by UBS, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Matouk Bassiouny & Hennawy. Bank Audi was advised by EFG Hermes, JP Morgan and Broadgate Advisors.

Bank Audi Egypt has 53 branches with total assets of $5.3bn as of the end of September. FAB already has 17 branches in Egypt.

FAB had initially started talks in 2020 to acquire the Egyptian unit of Bank Audi but later suspended discussions owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

The lender is pressing ahead with its expansion plans after it posted a 3 per cent rise in first-quarter net profit this year thanks to lower impairment charges and a broader economic recovery.


Egypt to invest $7.5bln building the region's largest petrochemical complex

Egypt has signed a contract to construct the largest petrochemical complex in Africa and the Middle East, at an investment cost of $7.5 billion.

A statement by the Egyptian Cabinet said that the complex, which will be built by the government-owned Red Sea National Refining and Petrochemical Company, will be located in the Ain Sokhna Industrial Zone of the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

The aim is to establish an industrial complex for refining and producing a range of petroleum and chemical products with added value such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polyester, bunker fuel.

The project is built over an area of 3.56 million square meters.

"The project contributes to Egypt occupying a distinguished position in the field of producing many petrochemical and petroleum products," Tariq Al-Mulla, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, said.


Tourism and hospitality establishments in Egypt to operate normally

Beaches, coffee shops, and restaurants in hotels across Egypt will be exempted from complying with the closing hours (9pm) as stipulated by the Prime Minister's Decree regulating certain commercial and entertainment activities in Egypt during the end of Ramadan and the Eid holidays (May 6-21)

Dr. Khaled El-Enany, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, added that the exemption aims to ensure that tourists in Egypt, whose numbers have seen a significant rise the beginning of 2021, especially in the Red Sea and South Sinai Governorates, can enjoy their holidays, and benefit from all activities offered by hotels and resorts around the clock.

Dr. El-Enany noted that tourism hospitality establishments will operate as normal in accordance with the mandatory hygiene and safety measures that have been in place since the resumption of inbound tourism in July 2020, and must continue to comply with the 50 per cent capacity limit. - TradeArabia News Service


Majid Al Futtaim opens 15-screen Vox Cinemas at Wafi City in Dubai

Dubai-based Majid Al Futtaim has opened a 15-screen Vox Cinemas multiplex in Dubai's Wafi City, it announced on Sunday.

Vox Cinemas Wafi City features the UAE's first Samsung Onyx screen and includes signature concepts such as KIDS - a dedicated auditorium for young movie lovers; MAX - an auditorium with a mega screen and Dolby Atmos surround sound technology; as well as a reimagined VIP experience with luxury seating and in-seat dining.

Majid Al Futtaim has positioned the space as the first hybrid cinema and family entertainment centre (FEC) in the UAE, which is spread across two floors, and consist of the Magic Planet playzone as well, besides the cinemas.

The entertainment destination also features several F&B outlets including new concepts Candy Corner and The Spotlight at Wafi City which serves gourmet cuisine directly to guests' seats.

"We're proud to collaborate with Wafi Group, which shares our vision for creating remarkable destinations and passion for excellence, to open our first hybrid cinema and family entertainment centre in the United Arab Emirates. Vox Cinemas and Magic Planet at Wafi City have been designed as a holistic concept seamlessly integrating two recreational functions into one enriched experience and we're very excited to welcome new guests and create great moments together," said Ignace Lahoud, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Cinemas and Majid Al Futtaim Leisure & Entertainment.

Vox Cinemas now has 22 cinemas and 237 screens across the UAE. In March, Majid Al Futtaim opened a Vox Cinemas and Magic Planet at the newly opened City Centre Al Zahia in Sharjah. The launch marked the fifth cinema opening across the region in the wake of Covid-19.


UAE announces Eid Al Fitr 2021 holidays

The UAE has announced holidays for public and private sector workers to mark Eid Al Fitr.

According to a circular issued to all federal government departments, the Eid holidays for public sector workers will be from the 29th of Ramadan until the 3rd of Shawwal.

Meanwhile, the UAE's Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation also confirmed that private sector workers will a paid holiday break from Ramadan 29 until the 3rd of Shawwal.

If Ramadan lasts 29 days, the holidays will stretch across four days, from Tuesday, May 11, until Friday, May 14.

But if it lasts 30 days, workers in the country will get a five-day break from Tuesday, May 11, until Saturday, May 15.


Kleindienst set to open giant beach at $5bn Dubai leisure hub

Leading developer Kleindienst Group said finishing touches are being given to a giant beach project within its master-planned second home and tourism island destination, The Heart of Europe, being developed just 4 km off the coast of Dubai at an investment of $5 billion.

Rainbow Beach is all set to welcome guests as it adds 800 m of prime shoreline to 3,580 m of white sandy beaches and the emirate's celebrated coast whilst it introduces playful and relaxing lifestyle concepts to the spectacular mega-project amid The World, Dubai, said the statement from Kleindienst.

It is a golden gateway to the resort's new hotel concepts with uninterrupted sands hosting distinct food and entertainment offerings for a new waterside destination.

According to Kleindienst, destination beachfront will embrace three distinct themes and connect The Heart of Europe's showpiece hotels, including Cte d'Azur's rainbow-coloured architecture, Marbella resort and the region's largest, most sustainable swimming pool.

One of the planet's longest beaches, Rainbow Beach will spread alongside legendary ocean-hugging playgrounds such as Rio's Copacabana and Miami's South Beach.

Rainbow Beach also forms an idyllic buffer between the Arabian Gulf and Grand Azur, the record-breaking lifestyle pool that weaves between the Cte d'Azur hotels - Monaco, Nice, Cannes and St Tropez - themselves taking their distinctive colour inspiration from a rainbow.

It is designed to be more than simply a place for sun loungers and sunset strolls. However, like everything within The Heart of Europe, the sandy haven has been conceived with a sustainable lifestyle experience at its core.

With access to seven crafted F&B outlets, seven bars and seven swimming pools, Rainbow Beach is set to be a destination in its own right, incorporating the unmistakable European inspiration that curates all six Heart of Europe islands, said the developer.

"There are some stunning and famous beaches around the world, and then there is the next generation of superior waterfront.Rainbow Beach," remarked its Chairman Josef Kleindienst.

"Taking its name from the quartet of brightly coloured hotels at the Cte d'Azur, this beautiful stretch of beach is a golden gateway linking the French Riviera-inspired resort with other major hotels that will help put The Heart of Europe on the global tourism map," he noted.

"This sumptuous sandy strip will be the longest stretch of uninterrupted, private beach in Dubai and is key to linking our prime hospitality resorts and some of the fantastic F&B they will offer," he added.

Kleindienst said: "Like everything on our beautifully developed islands, this epic beach is the result of an innovative approach which has enabled us to evolve the way a beach is designed and deliver another world first off the Dubai mainland."

Monaco will become the first of the boutique properties to welcome visitors seeking French Riviera chic, sounds and flavours when it stages a likely 'soft' opening in June.

All four uniquely-located, upscale Cte d'Azur hotels are scheduled for an official public launch during Expo this autumn, adding 893 unique keys to the Dubai hospitality portfolio, said the top official.

Various elements elevate Rainbow Beach as a fresh template in seafront design, shifting the focus from standardised areas in favour of an adaptive concept that takes its cue from the smart hotel themes it embraces - and then delivers that lifestyle on the beach, he noted.

According to him, clean energy, sustainable water transportation, and zero discharge and zero micro-plastics policies operate throughout, ensuring protection of Arabian Gulf marine life species - and that Rainbow Beach remains beautiful for all.

"Rainbow Beach goes way beyond just sun and sand," remarked Kleindienst. "This epic frontage is both a curated sanctuary and a sophisticated playground and exemplifies The Heart of Europe's trend-setting mandate for placing innovation and sustainability front and centre of modern tourism aspirations," he noted.

"We are fast becoming renowned for normalising the unexpected and bringing the future mega-trends in our industry to the present.Rainbow Beach demonstrates that by delivering amazing here and now through beachlife experiences like never before," he added.


flydubai grows its network to more than 80 destinations

flydubai has announced the launch of additional routes, bringing its network to more than 80 destinations.

The carrier will grow its network in Russia to 11 points with of the introduction of new services to Moscow Zhukovski International Airport (ZIA) from May 12, Novosibirsk Tolmachevo International Airport (OVB) from May 28 and Perm International Airport (PEE) from June 2, while resuming operations to four more points in the market in May.

The carrier also announced the resumption of flights to Bandar Abbas International Airport (BND) from May 12 and Mashhad International Airport (MHD) from May 13, growing its operations in Iran to five points including Larr (LRR), Shiraz (SYZ) and Tehran (IKA).

flydubai recently announced that it will be operating seasonal flights to Bodrum (BJV) and Trabzon(TZX) in Turkey as well as Batumi (BUS) in Georgia. The carrier is set to restart its seasonal operations to Tivat International Airport (TIV) in Montenegro from June 25, offering passengers more choice to travel to popular destinations this summer.

Commenting on the announcement, Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer at flydubai, said: "It is now 11 years since flydubai's first flight to Russia. During this period, we have grown our network in Russia providing direct air links from these key cities in Russia to the UAE; many of which are less than four hours flying time. We've made Dubai much more accessible and at the same time improved connectivity to more than 155 destinations from Dubai's international aviation hub. Today, we are pleased to see our operations take off once again as we continue to support trade and travel between the countries."

Jeyhun Efendi, Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations and E-commerce at flydubai, added: "flydubai offers convenient, comfortable and reliable services to its passengers whether they choose to travel in Business Class or Economy Class. We recognise that since the pandemic it has not been possible for our customers to travel as much as they would have liked. The launch of these new points in Russia along with the resumption of flights to a number of destinations on our network will hopefully enable more passengers to travel this summer, with the expectation of countries easing up travel restrictions in line with the growing vaccination efforts around the network."

flydubai's passenger experience has been redesigned to enable travel in a safe environment that minimises crew and passenger contact and offers passengers confidence to travel at every step of their journey. The airline has recently introduced an extended multi-risk travel insurance that includes Covid-19 cover to offer passengers greater peace of mind when travelling.

Passengers are required to make sure that they are up to date with the regulations from the IATA Travel Centre and the IATA destination tracker for their whole journey, and follow the guidance issued by the authorities and the airline. Passengers can also visit the Covid-19 information hub on flydubai.com for more information. - TradeArabia News Service


UAE extends suspension of entry for travellers from Indias

The UAE's General Authority of Civil Aviation and the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority has announced the extension of the suspension of entry for travellers from India, as well as for transit passengers coming from India, with the exception of transit flights travelling to the UAE and bound for India, said a report.

This decision also includes extending the suspension of entry for travellers who were in India in the 14-day period prior to arrival in the UAE, news agency WAM reported.

Flights between the two countries will continue to allow the transport of passengers from the UAE to India and the transfer of exempted groups from India to the UAE who have applied for exemption.

Exempted travellers, including UAE citizens, those on diplomatic missions accredited by the two countries, official delegations, those traveling on business planes, and golden residence holders, will be subject to precautionary measures that include a 10-day quarantine and PCR testing at the airport and on the fourth and eighth days after entering the country, the report said.

Moreover, the required PCR testing period prior to travel has been reduced from 72 to 48 hours, and all tests must be administered by accredited laboratories that issue results carrying a QR code.

The General Authority of Civil Aviation confirmed that travellers coming from India through other countries are required to provide proof of a period of stay in those countries of no less than 14 days in order to be allowed to enter the UAE. Cargo flights will continue to operate between the two countries.

The UAE reiterated its support for the Republic of India and its tireless efforts to address the Covid-19 pandemic, underscoring its full solidarity with India in these challenging circumstances, the report said.


Emirates Driving Company to set up new branch in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Driving Company is planning to develop a new branch in Al Dhafra region at an investment of Dh22 million ($6 million).

It is the only licensed motor driving training institute in the emirate, authorised to provide professional motor driving training to customers and prepare them for driving tests.

The facility, which is coming up over a 115,223 sq m area in Madinat Zayed City, is the branch office for Al Dhafra region and can accommodate a large number of customers.

It will provide several key facilities for motorists seeking driving classes such as customer service hall, theory training and examination halls, practical training areas, waiting areas, light and heavy machinery training areas and gas station.

The project is set to be executed over a period of 16 months, and is likely to completed by the end of 2022.- TradeArabia News Service


Waldorf Astoria RAK introduces the 'Kids Concierge' service

Set amongst the serene Arabian Sea, the red desert, and rugged peaks of Jebel Jais Mountains, Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah resumes the Kids Concierge, a personalised set of services for all children between the ages of four and 12, to fulfill their stay with fun and excitement.

Aimed at keeping children engaged from the moment the family is checked in until checkout time, the Kids Concierge provides children with a customised itinerary featuring fun-filled activities tailored to different age groups. Little guests will be able to choose activities based on their interests and design their own entertainment program.

Based on weather conditions, children can join energy-boosting outdoor activities such as Footgolf, Football, Obstacle Races and Pool games or stay indoors and take part in a Pizza Making Masterclass, strengthen their singing skills at Karaoke Fun Time, or improve their creative expression during Coloring and Crafting classes. All activities will be limited to a certain capacity, ensuring social distancing at all times. All tools and equipment will also be sanitised frequently for children's safety.

Junior guests will also receive a dedicated Kids Passport upon arrival, containing games and puzzles, and a section for stamps that children can collect by visiting different check points within the resort. Inside the guest rooms, children will be welcomed with special in-room amenities that will turn the hotel room into a fun space to create a lasting memory.

Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah has received the Bureau Veritas 'Safeguard Label', in cooperation with the RAK Tourism Development Authority, and has implemented Hilton CleanStay, Hilton's industry-leading programme of cleanliness and disinfection which allows guests to enjoy an even cleaner and safer stay, providing peace-of-mind from check-in to check-out.


Dubai further expands free vaccination drive

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has announced that 17 private healthcare service providers will now provide vaccination services to the community in addition to all DHA vaccination centres.

Dr Farida Al Khaja, CEO of Clinical Support Services and Nursing Sector at the DHA and Chairperson of the Covid-19 Vaccination Steering Committee, said: "The vaccines will continue to be provided free-of-cost. Extending the vaccination drive in partnership with private healthcare providers aims to expand capacity and enhance access and convenience for the public. The private health sector is a key partner in our drive to ensure excellence in patient-centred care."

Apart from citizens and Dubai residence holders, GCC nationals who have an Emirates ID and elderly residents above 60 years who live in Dubai but have a residency of another emirate can also receive the vaccine, a WAM report said.

To book an appointment at any DHA vaccine facility, customers should download the DHA app. Those above 60 years can call 800 342 to book an appointment.

For private health sector facilities, customers must directly contact the facility of their choice to book the vaccine.

The two vaccines presently available are: Pfizer BioNTech and Sinopharm.

All those who are scheduled to receive the second dose of their Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will continue to receive it. Their appointment will be either in Al Garhoud Medical Fitness Centre or Al Twar Dialysis Centre.

DHA Vaccination Centres Vaccine type One Central Covid-19 Vaccination Centre Pfizer-BioNTech Al Barsha Health Centre Pfizer-BioNTech Za'abeel Health Centre Pfizer-BioNTech Al Mankhool Health Centre Sinopharm Al Safa Health Centre Sinopharm Dubai Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation Pfizer-BioNTech Al Barsha Hall Vaccination Centre Pfizer-BioNTech Nadd Al Hamar Health Centre Sinopharm Al Twar Health Centre Sinopharm Al Mizhar Health Centre Pfizer-BioNTech Uptown Occupational Health Screening Centre Pfizer-BioNTech Al Garhoud Medical Fitness Centre - After May 10 Pfizer-BioNTech Al Twar Dialysis Centre - After May 10 Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine type Private Health Centres for Covid-19 Vaccination: Sinopharm Al Futtaim Health Hub Sinopharm AL GARHOUD PRIVATE HOSPITAL LLC Sinopharm AL ZAHRA HOSPITAL Sinopharm American Hospital Sinopharm Aster Hospital Sinopharm Burjeel Hospital Sinopharm CANADIAN SPECIALIST HOSPITAL Sinopharm Emirates Hospital, Jumeirah Sinopharm INTERNATIONAL MODERN HOSPITAL Sinopharm Kings College Hospital Sinopharm MEDCARE ORTHOPAEDICS & SPINE HOSPITAL Sinopharm MEDICLINIC Sinopharm NMC Royal Hospital Sinopharm PRIME HOSPITAL L.L.C Sinopharm Saudi German Hospital Sinopharm Valiant Healthcare L.L.C.

Sinopharm VIP Doctor 247 DMCC Al Khaja added that in addition to all these centres, DHA and Mohammed bin Rashid University for Health Sciences ( MBRU) are continuing their Wellness on Wheels initiative which features two mobile clinics that provide vaccination to the elderly, labourers and underprivileged members of society. DHA also has a mobile vaccination drive in place for government agencies.

Additionally, DHA is providing home vaccination services in cooperation with Dubai Ambulance Corporation and Community Development Authority.

She added that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is also available at the Dubai Parks Health Centre and the Al Jalila Children's Specialty Hospital.


Updated travel procedures for Abu Dhabi citizens, residents

Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee has approved updated travel procedures for vaccinated citizens and residents of the emirate, effective May 3.

As per the new procedures, vaccinated citizens and residents of Abu Dhabi arriving from 'green' countries must take a PCR test on arrival and on day six, without the need to quarantine. Vaccinated travellers arriving from other countries must take a PCR test on arrival, quarantine for five days, and take another PCR test on day four from arrival to the country.

The protocol applies to all vaccinated UAE citizens and residents in the emirate of Abu Dhabi who received their second vaccine dose at least 28 days earlier, which is documented in the vaccine report on Alhosn app.

Meanwhile, non-vaccinated citizens and residents of Abu Dhabi arriving from 'green' countries must take a PCR test on arrival without the need to quarantine, as well as two other PCR tests on days six and 12. Those arriving from other countries must take a PCR test on arrival, quarantine for 10 days and take another PCR test on day eight. - TradeArabia News Service


Dubai's JA Lake View Hotel reopens for summer stays

After a one-year hiatus, the newest hotel at Dubai's JA The Resort - JA Lake View Hotel, will re-open on May 9.

The multi award-winning hotel, home to Vikas Khanna's 'Kinara' restaurant and new bistro-bar, Republik, will be offering attractive summer rates from May 9 to September 30, to entice international travellers and GCC staycationers alike.

JA Lake View Hotel is the third unique property in the experience-packed JA The Resort in Jebel Ali, Dubai. The unique structure with panoramic views over the golf course, saltwater lake, and Arabian sea is described as a 'design-driven property dedicated to sustainability' and features 348 luxurious rooms and suites ideal for families and groups of friends. There are multiple restaurants and bars including 'Kinara by Vikas Khanna' - a stylish yet casual signature restaurant presenting authentic dishes from the diverse regions of India and South Asia. There is also the spacious and bright '81' - a buffet restaurant with outdoor seating, named after the inaugural year of JA Resorts & Hotels first property, and 'Republik' - a modern gastropub serving fully licensed drinks and casual gastropub fare. The hotel also offers three temperature-controlled outdoor swimming pools- one for adults only and two for families.

JA Lake View Hotel is also well known in the city for its sustainability efforts - flanked by a symbolic 800-year-old Olive Tree, the sleek, contemporary property works with sustainable partners to provide amenities, solar panels to power parts of the hotel, cutting edge technologies to minimize food waste and facilitates paperless check-in, having already removed plastic bottles. For the first time in the Middle East, voice-activated Volera-Alexa provides instant virtual assistance to guests in their rooms.

As the closest resort to EXPO 2020, JA Lake View Hotel is also 10 minutes from Dubai Parks & Resorts, 20 minutes from Dubai's buzzing JBR and 30 minutes from the iconic Dubai Mall. It joins the award-winning JA Beach Hotel and the Mediterranean style villa-suites of JA Palm Tree Court to become the only true all- inclusive resort in Dubai. Set along 800-metres of private beach, JA The Resort claims over 1 million square metres of leisure facilities including seven landscaped pools with four swim up bars, a choice of 25 restaurants and bars, a 9-hole, par 35 championship standard golf course with driving range, putting and pitching greens and Leadbetter Golf Academy Dubai, four tennis courts and tennis academy, squash and badminton courts, beach volleyball, horse riding stables, mini-golf course, a Watercooled Watersports Centre with water-skiing, windsurfing, banana-boats, catamarans, sailboats and a private 104-berth full service marina offering boat trips. It also boasts six shooting ranges, Calm Spa, a bio-garden, a crche, Pirates and Mermaids Kids' Club and Babysitting service.

JA The Resort also offers onsite testing for Covid-19 for international guests who require negative PCR's to travel. For a nominal fee, the test can be arranged privately within a guest room, and results provided in 36 hours. JA The Resort, has also officially received the #DubaiAssured Stamp, following a health and safety verification process implemented in collaboration with the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing #DubaiTourism, the Department of Economic Development and Dubai Municipality. The stamp indicates that all currently open properties have adopted, and constantly maintain, all necessary precautionary measures and the highest safety standards and protocols. JA The Resort has also implemented the protocols of the World Travel & Tourism Council's #SafeTravels programme. Safe Travels allows travelers to recognise governments and businesses around the world which have adopted health and hygiene global standardised protocols and has received the backing of the influential United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). - TradeArabia News Service


Oman issues new restrictions, bans Eid gatherings

The new guidelines issued by the Covid-19 Supreme Committee include the following:

Ban to continue on all commercial activities, with the movement of people and vehicles also prohibited ?from 9pm to 4am? ?from Saturday, May 8, 2021?, in all governorates of the sultanate as per the earlier decision.

All commercial activities to be banned throughout the day with effect ?from Saturday, May 8 until the end of ?Saturday, May 15, with the exception of foodstuff sale outlets, fuel filling stations, health establishments and pharmacies. Home delivery service to be allowed for all types of goods during the ban period.????

The movement of people and vehicles to be banned ?from 7pm until 4am? from May 8 until May 15, with the exception of segments announced earlier.??

Visitors who have been in or transited through Qatar in the previous 10 days cannot enter England.

Attendance of all employees at the workplace to be suspended and substituted with online work for all units of the state's Administrative Apparatus and other public legal entities with effect ?from Sunday, May 9 until Tuesday, May 11. The Supreme Committee also urged private sector establishments and companies to implement or continue to implement online work and downsize the number of employees needed to attend at the workplace.??

No Eid prayers or pre-Eid souqs (Habta) permitted. Gatherings or assembling of any kind are also not allowed throughout the country, including at beaches and parks during Eid Al Fitr holidays. This also includes a ban on family gatherings or Eid gatherings or mass celebrations of Eid.

Oman has been seeing an increase in the number of coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

On Monday, the country announced 1,093 new Covid-19 cases, taking the total tally of infections to 196,900.

The country also reported 10 fatalities, taking the death toll to 2,053. Total number of recoveries reached 178,052, after the country announced 1,219 new recoveries on Monday.


Oman extends list of travel-ban countries

Oman has extended, till further notice, the ban on entry to the Sultanate on incoming travellers from Sudan, Lebanon, South Africa, Brazil, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, the UK, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The list also includes travellers from any other country if they visited the above-mentioned countries within 14 days from applying to enter the Sultanate, reported Oman News Agency (ONA), citing a statement issued by the Oman's Supreme Committee.

Oman will add incoming travellers from Egypt and the Philippines to the above-mentioned list of travel-ban countries, as well as travellers from any other country if they visited these two countries within 14 days from applying to enter the Sultanate. The ban takes effect from 9 am on May 7, 2021, till further notice.

The decision exempts incoming travellers who are Omani citizens, diplomats, health workers and their families. These exempted segments will undergo the prescribed procedures upon arriving in the Sultanate.


Oman bans commercial activities from May 8

Oman will continue ban on all commercial activities and to prohibit the movement of people and vehicles with effect ?from 9 pm to 4 am? ?from May 8 2021?, in all governorates as per the earlier decision, said the Sultanate's Supreme Committee.

The movement of people and vehicles to be banned ?from 7 pm till 4 am? with effect ?from May 8 to 15, the exception of segments announced earlier, Oman News Agency (ONA) reported, citing the Supreme Committee statement.

All commercial activities will be banned throughout the day with effect ?from May 8 to 15?, with the exception of foodstuff sale outlets, fuel filling stations, health establishments and pharmacies. Home delivery service to be allowed for all types of goods during the ban period.

Attendance of all employees at the workplace will be suspended and substituted with online work for all units of the State's Administrative Apparatus and other public legal entities with effect ?from May 9 to 11?. The Supreme Committee has urges private sector establishments and companies to implement or continue to implement online work and downsize the number of employees needed to attend at the workplace.

Eid prayers; pre-Eid souqs (Habta); gatherings or assembling of any kind is not allowed in all places, including beaches and parks during Eid Al Fitr holidays. This also includes a ban on family gatherings or Eid gatherings or mass celebrations of the Eid.??????????????????


Kuwait curfew extended until end of Ramadan, cinemas prepare to open for Eid

Kuwait will continue to enforce a partial curfew until the end of Ramadan, the Cabinet announced earlier this week.

The curfew hours will remain unchanged, running from 7pm until 5am, as per the decision.

However, the decision may be reassessed as the pandemic situation is regularly reviewed, the official Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) cited Foreign Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Dr Anwar Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah as saying.

Kuwait imposed a 12-hour nightly curfew from 5pm to 5am on March 7 for one month to curb the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

Later in March it was eased slightly, with restaurants and cafes permitted to continue deliveries until 10pm and people allowed to go walking within their areas from 6pm to 8pm daily, provided they adhere to wearing masks and maintain social distancing.

The curfew, which was initially scheduled to end earlier this month, had been extended for two weeks until April 22.

Kuwait has also banned the entry of all expats in the country.

Meanwhile, cinemas across the country are being prepared to reopen during the Eid Al-Fitr holiday in coordination with the health ministry, local media reported on Tuesday.

Kuwait has seen a huge spike in the number of Covid-19 cases, with ICU admissions and deaths also on the rise.

The country has recorded 259,868 coronavirus infections in total, including 243,056 recoveries and 1,468 deaths.

Currently, 15,344 Covid patients are undergoing treatment, including 248 who are critical.


Kuwait allocates sites to build expat workers' cities

Kuwait Municipality has allocated eight sites for the construction of workers' cities in Jahra and Al Ahmadi regions are these are now under the custody of the two specialized committees of the Municipal Council, reported Arab Times.

Each of these labour cities will be coming up on a 150,000 sq m area, stated the report, citing the Director-General of the Municipality Engineer Ahmed Al Manfouhi.

The technical committee has approved the allocation of 5 sites for the establishment of residential complexes for expatriate workers within the Ahmadi Governorate in the Shuaiba Port region in implementation of the Cabinet's decision.

Al Manfouhi also confirmed the approval of allocating three sites for the establishment of housing complexes for expatriate workers in the Al Jahra Governorate.

The go-head has been given on the condition that these sites should be handed over to the State Property Management of the Ministry of Finance for putting up for sale in public auction to the private sector, it added.


Saudi Arabia: Covid-19 vaccinations are mandatory for work attendance

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development said on Friday that all employees working in the public, private and non-profit sectors must be vaccinated before they can return to the workplace.

The ministry urged employees to register on the Sehhaty app for vaccines, to curb the spread of the virus and to ensure a safer work environment for all.

"As soon as I heard the news, I registered for my vaccination on Sehhaty. My manager sent us all a reminder to do so or else we won't be allowed to go back to work," said Zaynab Abdullah, a teacher living in the kingdom.

More than 10 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the country, according to the Saudi Health Ministry.

Saudi Arabia has continued to deliver vaccines despite an unexpected disruption to global supply chains, which has led to delays across 587 vaccine centres in the country.

"Receiving a coronavirus vaccine will be a mandatory condition for male and female workers to attend workplaces in all sectors (public, private, non-profit)," the ministry said.

The date on which it will come into effect will be announced soon, the ministry said.

It stressed the importance of observing safety measures.

Thirteen deaths and 1,039 new infections were reported on Friday, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 424,445 cases and 7,045 fatalities, with 407,650 recoveries to date.


Uber to launch new services in Saudi Arabia later this year

Uber users in Saudi Arabia will soon be able to book rides up to 30 days in advance and reserve cars for an hour or more at a time, the company announced on Wednesday.

As part of a wide range of new product launches, the Californian ride-hailing app has launched the Uber Reserve function, allowing customers to give up to 30 days' notice of ride reservations.

This is aimed primarily at those arriving at airports, and as part of the booking users can insert their flight details so drivers know if the flight has been delayed or what time the passenger is scheduled to arrive at their destination.

While a specific timeframe for the roll out of the service was not given, Uber said in a press statement that Saudi Arabia would be among the first international markets to receive the service later this year.

"We're making the reservations experience even more affordable by expanding Reserve to UberX in hundreds of US cities and towns, and in more places nationwide this summer.

"And as travel returns, we're launching Reserve in cities like Paris and London, as well as 20-plus of the country's busiest airports later this year . including Saudi Arabia," the company said on its website.

Flights were grounded in the Kingdom in March 2020. Domestic traffic resumed at the end of May and international flights are due to restart on May 17.

Uber on Wednesday also launched its Hourly function, where users can book a car by the hour if they have multiple stops or trips throughout the day and want to keep the same car and driver on standby.

The service is currently available in the US and while it will soon be available in international markets, including Saudi Arabia, no exact timeframe was given.

"Today Hourly on Uber Black (and Premier) is available in more than 1,000 US cities and towns. And we're bringing Hourly to UberX and to thousands of new cities across the US, Europe, Latin America, Australia, India, and Saudi Arabia late this summer," a statement on the Uber website said.

The San Francisco-based company also announced it was adding valet delivery of rental cars to its new product range.

As part of the partnership with Avis Budget Group Inc., Hertz, and other vehicle rental agencies, Uber app users will be able to book a rental car and the vehicle will delivered to them and then returned once they are finished using it.

The company is also expanding its Uber Easts food delivery service to include a wider variety of items and allowing users to order and pick up items at retail outlets during their ride.

Uber has also partnered in the US with Walgreens to allow users to book a vaccine appointment and take an Uber to the pharmacy to get their jab.

It is not clear if, or when, any of the Uber delivery or vaccine services will be launched in Saudi Arabia or the wider Middle East. An Uber spokesperson did not rule out the possibility of rolling out the list of new services through Careem, the Dubai-based app Uber bought for around $3 billion in 2019.

"Our goal is to bring as many of these products to as many people as possible globally, whether that's through integration with Careem or we figure out another platform integration to do so more broadly," Steve Imm, Uber's communications spokesperson, told Arab News.

"Our goal is to do that, as far as global expansion goes ... but I think, in terms of those markets mentioned (Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the wider Middle East), they're absolutely something that we're thinking about and continue to focus on for future goal expansion and will have more to share in the future," he added.

A Careem spokesperson told Arab News: "There are no plans at this stage for Careem to introduce any of the products mentioned in Uber's announcement. Uber and Careem will continue working closely together, sharing relevant product development plans with each other. Any future product updates will be announced by Careem in due course."


Saudi property market shows first signs of a post-Covid recovery

Saudi Arabia's property market has started showing the first signs of a post-Covid recovery buoyed by an overall improvement in the country's business activity, according to property expert Knight Frank.

This is in turn driving an improving outlook for the kingdom's real estate market with the apartment values in the kingdom's top markets Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam posting steady growth and residential mortgage loans surging by 38 per cent in February over last year, stated Knight Frank in its Q1 2021 Saudi real estate market review.

"Like other global economies, the pandemic has driven a widespread economic slowdown across the kingdom, however improved business confidence during the closing months of 2020, underpinned by economic reforms linked to Vision 2030 and the rapid response to Covid-19 has helped to drive a turnaround in performance in all main segments of the real estate market," remarked Faisal Durrani, the Head of Middle East Research.

On the residential sector, Knight Frank said the apartment values in the kingdom's top markets - Riyadh (4.4%), Jeddah (6.5%) and Dammam Metropolitan Area (3.2%) all increased to end Q1 at SR3,450 ($919) per sq m, SR3,950 ($1,052) per sq m and SR2,050 ($546) per sq m, respectively.

Villas on the other hand experienced price falls across the board, it pointed out.

In Riyadh, the average prices fell by 1.6% to SR3,750 per sq m, while in Jeddah, the villa sales prices were down 6.3% to a little over SR5,000 per sq m, while in the Dammam Metropolitan Area (DMA), villa values declined by almost 8% during Q1, leaving them at around SR3,250 per sq m, it added.

According to Durrani, the recent decision to exempt real estate transactions from a 15% VAT charge has helped to boost activity in the residential market.

"The overall improvement in business confidence and market sentiment has led to a surge in residential mortgage loans, which rose by 38% in the 12-months to the end of February, which has in turn materialised in the form of a marked increase in residential transactions across the country, with Riyadh and Jeddah experiencing a 25% and 34% increase in deal numbers over the last 12 months," he noted.

"Despite this, the kingdom's three main centres have experienced diverging performance in values for apartments and villas," he added.

On the office market scenario, the property expert said in the Grade A sector, rents experienced fragmented performance in the kingdom's three main centres, with rental rates in Riyadh increasing marginally by 0.5% to SR1,465 per sq m during Q1, while for Jeddah, Grade A office rents have continued to decline, falling by 2.8% to SR1,008 per sq m.

Similarly, in the Dammam Metropolitan Area Grade A office rents edged down by 4.3% to just over SR900 per sqm in the first three months of 2021.

On the retail market, Knight Frank said in an effort to help increase SMEs' share of GDP to 35%, Kafalah, the Saudi SME guarantee programme, has to date achieved substantial growth, with close to 10,000 establishments now benefiting from the Kafalah fund in Saudi Arabia.

The fund's guarantees have reached SR30 billion in 2020, double its 2019 total, with the wholesale and retail sectors the biggest beneficiaries.

In Riyadh's retail market, market performance softened in all segments in the year to Q1 2021, with average regional and super-regional mall rents falling by 2.5% to reach approximately SR2,700 per sq m, whilst average community mall rents fell by 3.0% during Q1, leaving them just shy of SR2,000 per sq m, stated the report.

The market-wide vacancy rate in Riyadh increased by 1% in the year to Q1 2021 to 16%. Despite Covid-19, the average vacancy rate in malls where landlords have adopted digital transformation strategies to redefine consumer experiences and introduced more innovative omnichannel retail experiences, have managed to retain their existing and attract additional demand.- TradeArabia News Service


Saudi airports ready to reopen to outbound passengers

Airports in Saudi Arabia are ready to receive outbound passengers, said a report citing a statement from the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA).

The announcement comes a day after the Ministry of Interior announced that the Kingdom's land, sea and air borders will reopen on May 17, allowing citizens who have received a Covid-19 vaccine to travel abroad, Saudi Press Agency reported.

GACA has issued a circular to all aviation companies operating at the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's airports, including general and private aviation, regarding the procedures for Saudi nationals travelling abroad.

The circular states that airlines are permitted to transport fully vaccinated Saudi citizens and those who received their first dose of a vaccine at least 14 days prior to the date of travel. The circular also allows for citizens who have been infected by Covid-19 to travel, provided they have recovered at least six months prior to the date of travel, the report said.

Citizens under the age of 18 are also permitted to travel and are exempt from the vaccination rule, but must present an insurance policy approved by the Saudi Central Bank that will cover the costs of any Covid-19 treatment outside the Kingdom.

GACA confirmed that these measures will take effect from 1:00 am on May 17, it said.

Abdulaziz Al-Duailej, the president of GACA, thanked the Saudi government for allowing citizens to travel abroad, subject to health requirements, and highlighted the efforts the authority has made to combat the spread of the virus.


flynas to resume global flights this month

Saudi-based flynas has announced its readiness to resume global flights in parallel with the decision to lift the ban on international air travel for Saudi citizens as of May 17.

On this occasion, the CEO at flynas Bander AlMohanna reiterated the airline's preparedness to resume its international flights as per the directives of the General Authority of Civil Aviation and relevant entities. He commended the unlimited support provided by the Kingdom's government to the Saudi airline industry throughout the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.

AlMohanna also emphasised the airline's commitment to the highest safety and precautionary measures that ensure safe and secure flights for guests traveling to all destinations, with 91 per cent of flynas cabin crew fully vaccinated to date. He added: "flynas is launching exciting routes this summer to around 12 global destinations in a step that will add value to our offerings and enhance our year-round network of flights. Our seasonal destinations include Salzburg, Kiev, Tashkent, Tirana, Hurghada, Salalah, Vienna, Sarajevo, Baku, Tbilisi, Batumi, and Sharm El Sheikh."

Moreover, AlMohanna stated: "Following the remarkable success of flynas' summer destinations during past seasons in 2018 and 2019, we have decided to continue growing our flight network by adding new direct flights that support our expansion strategy and open new connections to destinations that do not have a current air route with Saudi Arabia."

He also highlighted flynas' keenness to offer numerous destinations during the summer to encourage travellers to explore new countries and cultures.

Guests interested in booking their summer 2021 flights with flynas may do so via the website www.flynas.com, the mobile app, through contacting the call center, or via travel agents. - TradeArabia News Service


Lifting association's flagship Bahrain event postponed to March

The Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA) has announced the postponement of its flagship event, LiftEx Bahrain, to March next year amid global uncertainities due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The event was to be held from September 27 to 28 this year at the Gulf Hotel and Convention Centre, Manama.

Announcing the decision, CEO Ross Moloney said: "As the situation is still somewhat unclear due to the pandemic, with international travel restrictions currently in place, and some organisations putting a hold on employees travel until the end of the year, LEEA is concerned that running LiftEx this year will affect the results for our exhibitors and compromise the success of the event."

"Furthermore, the Minister of Labour in Bahrain has suggested that early next year is a far more suitable time to hold the show, he added.

Moving forward, Moloney said "the current exhibitors have to simply transfer their booking to the new March dates, or if this is not practical, participation can be cancelled without penalty."

The LEEA is the leading representative body for all those involved in the lifting industry worldwide. It is the authoritative representative body for its members who work in every aspect of the industry - from design, manufacture, refurbishment and repair, through to the hire, maintenance and use of lifting equipment.

The association has played a key role in this specialised field for over 75 years, from training and standards setting through to health and safety, the provision of technical and legal advice, and the development of examination and licensing systems, said Moloney.

"We are bitterly disappointed that we cannot hold an in-person show this year, but are confident that with more time for the vaccination rollout and pilot testing for exhibitions and live events, we will all enjoy a successful show in March," he added.


Zain Bahrain announces fiber speed upgradation

Zain Bahrain, a leading telecom services operator in the kingdom, has announced that it has successfully upgraded its fiber speed to further accelerate and strengthen high-speed connectivity across the country.

It has also enhanced its fiber packages which will provide existing and new customers with the opportunity to experience up to six times faster speeds along with unlimited data.

The move is part of Zain Bahrain's continuous commitment to enhance people's digital lives in the Kingdom and provide its customers with more choices than before.

From endless hours of streaming to faster upload and download speeds for remote working, learning and gaming, Zain Bahrain's speed upgrade and fiber packages cater to the needs and increased connectivity demands of customers due to the current pandemic.

It also showcases the company's efforts to bring Bahrain's vision 2030 to life by empowering its customers and keeping them connected wherever they are in the Kingdom.

Zain Bahrain's new fiber packages provide its customers with affordable options that suit their needs, starting from BD15.75 monthly with a download speed of up to 1Gbps and upload speed of 100Mbps.

While Zain Bahrain's new customers can avail the attractive packages with unlimited data and up to six times even faster speed option, the existing fiber customers will benefit from this as well. Existing customers will be notified by the customer service team regarding the upgrade and the planned speed date change.

Commenting on the speed upgrade, Ammar Al Ketbi, Director, Consumer Marketing & Sales at Zain Bahrain said: "We are dedicated to delivering ultra-fast and reliable connectivity to our customers and are determined to provide them connectivity with increasingly faster speeds by constantly upgrading our infrastructure and enhancing our offerings."

"The demand for faster speeds increased during the pandemic and there was a surge in the internet data traffic. We are pleased to have quickly addressed our customers' demands and are excited to continue delivering high-quality network connections to homes and businesses across the kingdom," noted Al Ketbi.

"With our speed upgrade and lucrative packages, we can't wait for more customers to experience the benefits Zain Bahrain's fiber packages has to offer in order to enhance their digital lives," he added.

According to him, Zain Bahrain's monthly fiber packages are pocket-friendly and suit customers' connectivity needs to include gaming, virtual studying, working remotely, and video calling or searching for entertainment options.

The company continues to be a leader in providing innovative and unique products & services in a fast-paced digitally transforming world and ensures that the citizens of Bahrain enjoy seamless connectivity and communication throughout the year, he added.- TradeArabia News Service


Qatar to gradually lift coronavirus measures starting May 28

Doha: Qatar on Sunday decided on gradually lifting coronavirus-related measures in four phases starting the first phase on May 28 and the fourth on July 30, the state news agency said, citing a health ministry statement.

The duration of each phase will be at least three weeks with a continuous assessment of national indicators to determine moving from one phase to another.

The first phase will allow a maximum of five vaccinated people to meet indoors with reopening mosques for daily and mass prayers with some restrictions.

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