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Egypt to inaugurate Middle East's biggest metro station

Egypt will inaugurate the Middle East's biggest metro station in Cairo on Sunday, as it has set its eyes on revamping the capital's fastest means of transportation.

Transportation minister Kamel Al-Wazir is scheduled to attend the official launch of operations at Heliopolis Station, built on 10,000 square metres, making it the biggest in the region, according to the transportation ministry.

Construction began at the new metro station, which falls under the metro's Phase 4 of Line 3, since 2015. It is set to connect to Cairo International Airport, and Al-Salam city on the outskirts of the capital.

Designed in a European style, the new station, all air-conditioned, comprises a number of facilities, including escalators, elevators, and automated machines for the direct purchase of tickets.

The inauguration comes a few months after Egypt inaugurated a number of vital stations in Heliopolis in the same phase, including Haroun El-Rashid, El-Shams Club, and Alf Maskan underground stations, ahead of hosting the Africa Cup of Nations last June.

It also comes as the country increased last summer the line's ticket prices to EGP 10.

The underground system, once deemed the cheapest with a basic fare of EGP 1, has seen multiple price hikes in recent years to offset annual losses and develop ailing old lines in the network.

Rides up to nine stops at the third metro line, which is currently the newest, cost EGP 5; rides from 16 stops are priced at EGP 7; and rides exceeding 16 stops cost EGP 10.

Phase 4 of Line 3 extends through 10 stations from Haroun El-Rashid to Cairo International Airport with a total length of 15.8 km passing through the areas of Heliopolis Square, Alf Maskan, Gesr El-Suez, Haykstep Bridge, Ring Road, and Ismailia Desert Road.

Work on this phase began in July 2015 and the final cost of construction was 257 million euros plus an approximate EGP 1.842 billion.

The completed third line is scheduled to open in 2022 and will serve three million commuters daily.

The Cairo underground metro system currently carries more than four million passengers daily throughout the capital and surrounding areas.


UK lifts flight ban to Egypt's Sharm El-Sheikh

. Sharm El-Sheikh had been a major package-holiday destination for British tourists before the November 2015 attack

. Since the attack, Egyptian authorities have spent millions of dollars to upgrade security at airports across the country

LONDON: UK airlines can resume flights to the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, suspended after a Daesh bombing brought down a Russian passenger plane over Sinai four years ago, killing all 224 people on board, the British government said Tuesday.

The Department for Transport said "improvements in security procedures at the airport, and close co-operation between the UK and Egypt on aviation security, mean commercial airlines can now be allowed to operate routes to and from the airport."

"We look forward to services to Sharm El-Sheikh resuming, and lifting the restriction is the first step in that process," said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, stressing that the "safety and security of British nationals remains our top priority."

Sharm El-Sheikh, a top resort on the Sinai Peninsula, had been a major package-holiday destination for British tourists before the November 2015 attack, which and was claimed by the Daesh group.

Since the attack, Egyptian authorities have spent millions of dollars to upgrade security at airports across the country.

Travel company Tui welcomed Britain's decision and said it planned to re-introduce trips to Sharm El-Sheikh, "taking into account customer demand."

Egypt also welcomed the decision. The country's civil aviation ministry said in a statement that it was a "step forward in a new stage of more flights for UK holidaymakers to all Egyptian airports."

Tourism Minister Rania El-Mashat hailed the decision as a "message to the world that Egypt is safe" and that it would have a "positive impact" on British tourists heading to Egypt.

Egypt's vital tourism industry has been showing signs of recovery lately, after years in the doldrums because of the political turmoil and violence that followed a 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Hosni Mubarak. The downing of the Russian passenger jet was the final blow.

Airline easyJet said in a statement: "We are aware of the lifting of the restriction on UK airlines flying into Sharm El-Sheikh Airport and will look at any opportunities for easyJet and easyJet Holidays as a result."


Egypt reveals details of ancient coffins - biggest such find in over a century

Egypt's antiquities authorities on Saturday revealed the details of 30 ancient wooden coffins that were recently discovered in the southern city of Luxor.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told reporters the coffins, with inscriptions and paintings, were found in the Asasif Necropolis on the Nile River's west bank near Luxor.

The coffins were for men, women and children from the 22nd dynasty (945-715 B.C.) and had been collected and hidden by a priest for fear of being looted, Waziri said.

Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anany said the mummies found in the coffins included 23 adult males, five adult females and two children. He said the coffins were "exceptionally painted and preserved." His ministry has described them as one of the "biggest and most important" discoveries in recent years.

"It is the first large human coffin cache ever discovered since the end of the 19th century," Anany said, according to Reuters.

Archaeologists opened the coffins of a man and a woman, both wrapped in cloth. Their gender can be distinguished by the shape of their hands, said Waziri, who explained that ancient women were buried with their hands open while men's hands were closed.

The two mummies seemed well preserved with the outer wrappings still intact, completely covering their faces and bodies.

El-Anany said further excavations are underway in the necropolis, which includes tombs dating back to the Middle, New Kingdom and Late Periods (1994 B.C. to 332 B.C.).

He said the coffins will be moved in November to the Grand Egyptian Museum that Egypt is building near the famed Giza Pyramids in Cairo. The museum has been under construction for well over a decade and is intended to showcase Egypt's ancient treasures while drawing tourists to help fund its future development. Authorities have said the museum will open next year.

The coffins' discovery is the latest in a series of new finds that Egypt has sought publicity for in the hopes of reviving its key tourism sector, which was badly hit by the turmoil following a 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.


Siemens Gamesa to develop 250MW Egypt wind project

Siemens Gamesa, a leader in the renewable energy industry, has been awarded a turnkey EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contract by renewable power generation company Lekela for a 250MW wind project in West Bakr region of Egypt.

This comes as part of the company's commitment to the growth of clean energy in Egypt.

As per the deal, Siemens Gamesa will install 96 SG 2.6-114 turbines and will also provide long-term maintenance through a 15-year service agreement.

The West Bakr Wind project, situated 30 km north-west of Ras el Ghareb, in the Gulf of Suez, will produce over 1,000 GWh per year, powering over 350,000 homes and saving around 550,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

The first wind turbines will be delivered in mid-2020 and the project is set to be fully operational in 2021.

The Power Purchase Agreement and Network Connection Contract was signed by Lekela with the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company and the New and Renewable Energy Company Authority earlier this year.

SGRE Onshore CEO Alfonso Faubel said: "We are proud to have been selected to contribute to the ambitious goals in renewable energy the Government has set for the coming years. Our aim is to support the government to deliver long term and lasting impact for our communities, environmentally, economically and socially."

All civil and most electrical and logistical work will be handled by local subcontractors and the majority of the wind turbine towers will be produced in Egypt. In total, 70% of the project construction scope will be delivered by local subcontractors, which will also help bolster the local economy.

The project will increase the country's installed wind energy capacity by 18%, up to 1,650 MW, and is part of the Egyptian government's Build, Own, Operate (BOO) framework. This important project will result in Egypt taking one step closer to diversifying its energy mix with the target of reaching 20% of the electricity coming from renewable sources by 2022.

It will also invest in long-term strategies through Lekela's Community Investment Plan which focuses on enterprise, education and environmental initiatives to redress the socio-economic development challenges faced by the local communities in the country. This includes a programme to ensure all wildlife is protected through the implementation of various mitigation options, including a shutdown on demand programme.

Lekela CEO Chris Antonopoulos said: "We have enjoyed working closely with Siemens Gamesa on Lekela's first project in Egypt. We are proud to play a part in diversifying Egypt's generation capacity by delivering best-in-class clean energy projects."

"As a long-term operator, we are focused on delivering lasting impact, which is why we focus on creating generation spanning benefits for local communities." he added.

Siemens Gamesa is market leader in Africa, with over 20 years of experience and more than 3.1 GW installed base in countries including Egypt, South Africa, Morocco or Tunisia.-TradeArabia News Service TradeArabia News Service


Berlin's e-scooter firm Circ expands to Saudi Arabia after UAE launch

The Middle East's first regulator-approved e-scooter operator, Circ, has announced its expansion to Saudi Arabia, with further plans to drive the micro-mobility revolution across the GCC in the coming months.

Circ's entry to the kingdom will be via the provision of its purpose-built, fully electric scooters across the Digital City in Riyadh, through a partnership with Raza, the real estate management arm of the Saudi Public Pension Agency (PPA) and a subsidiary of Al Ra'idah Investment Company (RIC).

Circ will also implement the e-scooter programme within other Raza managed communities, such as the Diplomatic Quarter, Jeddah Obhur Project and residential compounds.

Circ debuted in the Middle East with the launch of its e-scooters in Abu Dhabi. In its first four months of UAE operations, Circ has entered partnerships with three Abu Dhabi community and real estate management companies, and is currently available in 12 locations across the capital city.

Jaideep Dhanoa, co-founder and CEO of Circ MENA said: "We are in the midst of a very exciting period of growth in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has made tremendous strides over the past few years to become a dynamic and thriving country.

The kingdom has the largest population in the GCC, with a high percentage made up of youth who continue to adopt new innovative consumer trends. We anticipate great demand for Circ's e-scooters, which can meet their daily needs as well as positively impact the environment and economy."

Waleed Alesia, CEO of Raza, added: "We are delighted to be partnering with Circ to bring e-scooters to our properties and communities in Saudi Arabia. This collaboration exemplifies our pledge to sustainability and mobility, as well as our commitment to being early adopters of technology."

The first district in the rollout with Raza is Digital City which is home to information technology companies around the world.

A Circ app includes safety instructions, navigational tips, guidelines, online and safe payment options and tutorials. All Circ rides include comprehensive insurance for personal accident, third-party liability and product liability coverage.


Saudi Arabia issues new rules on listing of foreign companies

In the latest move to attract foreign investment, Saudi Arabia has introduced new rules on how securities are offered in a bid to facilitate foreign issuers' listings of shares on the kingdom's main stock exchange Tadawul, the Saudi Capital Market Authority (CMA) announced on Sunday.

The changes are also aimed at encouraging foreign investment in Nomu, the Tadawul's parallel equity market with more relaxed listing rules for smaller companies.

CMA chairman Mohammed bin Abdullah Elkuwaiz said the new rules will "create greater opportunities for diversification of investment for investors".

Tadawul, which opened to foreign investors in 2015, signed an agreement with the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) earlier this year in a bid to encourage dual listings in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Its CEO Khalid al-Hussan said in February that Tadawul and the CMA are working with investors in the GCC to allow cross-border listings on the Saudi stock exchange.

Moreover, the new measures include changes to the disclosure of bankruptcy proceedings as the CMA looks to boost corporate governance and transparency.


Saudi Arabia to stage first international tennis event

Saudi Arabia is to stage its first ever international tennis tournament, a men's exhibition event, in a "watershed moment for the kingdom", the country's top sports official said on Tuesday.

Swiss three-time Grand Slam winner Stanislas Wawrinka and rising star Daniil Medvedev are two big names already signed up to appear in the eight-player December 12-14 hardcourt event.

"Hosting world class international tennis in Saudi Arabia for the very first time is another watershed moment for the kingdom," said Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, chairman of the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia.

The $3 million tournament is being staged in Diriyah on the outskirts of Riyadh, the venue for the world heavyweight title rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr on December 7.

Saudi rulers are using sport to try and soften their international image and to provide a showcase, they say, for reforms inside the oil-rich state.

In February they hosted a first European Tour golf event and they are staging next year's Dakar Rally.

All this comes after the Saudis faced intense diplomatic fallout over the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the conservative kingdom's consulate in Istanbul in October last year.


Free taxi ride in Saudi Arabia if fare meter not used, says regulator

Passengers in Saudi Arabia will have the right to a free taxi ride if drivers fail to use the fare meter while transporting customers, according to the Public Transport Authority (PTA), reported the Saudi Gazette.

The new rule, which applies to public, family and airport taxis, is aimed at regulating the taxi and ride-sharing services sector.

To inform passengers of the latest update, taxi drivers are also obliged to place a car sign that says: "If the taxi meter is not operated, then the ride is considered free of charge."

Minimum numbers

Operators in Saudi Arabia who wish to obtain a licence for family taxis must own a minimum of five cars, according to the PTA, on the conditions that they are brand new and have not been previously registered in the kingdom or abroad.

Family taxis will be driven by Saudi women, the authority said.

It has also set a minimum number of public taxis in Riyadh, Makkah and Jeddah at 250, and 100 in Madinah and Dammam, while the number for other regions will be announced in the future.

In addition, the PTA has prohibited airport taxi licence holders from transporting passengers within cities, as they are only allowed to drive passenger to the airport or via special taxi parks for loading passengers.

Individuals can also use their own vehicles as airport taxis if they obtain a license from authorities and approval from the airport administration.


Unmarried foreigners can now share hotel rooms in Saudi Arabia

Foreign single men and women can now share hotel rooms in Saudi Arabia as the kingdom seeks to attract more tourists to the country, particularly following its first ever introduction of e-visas and visas on arrival to citizens of 49 countries in September, reported Arabic-language newspaper Okaz,

Visitors to Saudi Arabia have largely been restricted to Muslim pilgrims who are granted special visas to the holy cities of Makkah and Medinah, as well as business travellers and resident workers and their dependents.

Single men and women were previously allowed to share hotel rooms in Saudi Arabia only if they provided proof of relationship, as sex outside of marriage is banned in the kingdom. Saudi couples are still required to share a family ID or proof of relationship upon checking into the same hotel room, according to the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.

However, foreign and Saudi women are now allowed to rent hotel rooms by themselves in a bid to ease movement and travel regulations for female visitors to the Gulf state.

"All Saudi nationals are asked to show family ID or proof of relationship on checking into hotels. This is not required of foreign tourists. All women, including Saudis, can book and stay in hotels alone, providing ID on check-in," the tourism authority said.

Saudi Arabia also told its female visitors they are not required to wear the kingdom's traditional black abaya (robe), but must dress conservatively.

While alcohol remains banned in the kingdom, Saudi Arabia continues to witness an easing of social codes under the leadership of its de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is aiming to attract 100 million annual visitors to the country by 2030.

Some of the kingdom's most dramatic changes include the lifting of the women's driving ban and male guardianship system.


Zain Saudi Arabia further expands 5G network

RIYADH - Zain KSA held a press conference to unveil its 5G network services in Saudi Arabia, which was launched by the company last Oct. 5.

The press conference provided media representatives and social media influencers a unique opportunity to experience the 5G network with all its features and enjoy the live applications of the service.

At the outset of the conference, Zain KSA's Chief Technology Officer Eng. Abdulrahman AlMufadda reviewed the company's journey and achievements in terms of the 5G network until its recent commercial launch. He stated that Zain has been a pioneer in providing the 5G services at several major events, including PUBG Championship 2019 organized during the Jeddah season, where contestants enjoyed an unprecedented experience in terms of speed and low latency. The second was the launching of the 5G network services at Neom Bay Airport, in a move that reflects the company's keenness to keep pace with Saudi giga projects' developments in line with Saudi Vision 2030. And more recently, the launch of the Saudi E-Tourist Visa ceremony 'Welcome to Saudi Arabia.'

AlMufadda also highlighted the importance of the 5G network and the radical transformation in the provision of digital services that will change the face of the world through its high-end features such as its unprecedented speed as it is 10 times faster than 4GLTE, low latency, and its capacity which is 100 times higher than 4GLTE.

"We are proud at Zain KSA to having reached a new milestone by launching the first phase of our 5G network coverage in 20 cities across the Kingdom through 2,000 towers, which is considered the largest coverage in the Middle East. Today, we announce the expansion of our network to cover 3 additional cities Jizan, Sabya and Khamis Mushayt, in addition to enhancing the service in the previously covered cities. By the end of the year, we are set to expand to a total 26 cities through 2,600 stations."

AlMufadda also confirmed the company's commitment to providing the latest wireless telecommunications services to more than 8 million subscribers around the Kingdom at competitive prices, which confirms Zain KSA's leadership as a key player in the telecommunications sector and all related services across the region.

AlMufadda noted that this generation of digital networks will change the game in the ICT sector, "with 5G networks, there will be a greater ease of doing business due to the ultra-high speed the network delivers for downloading and responding to massive data, which will enhance the experience of several automated services such as: the IoT and artificial intelligence technologies, including self-driving cars and robots that will enhance the emergence of large-scale smart cities like Neom, which now enjoys 5G services at its airport thanks to Zain KSA," he added.

Moreover, AlMufadda said the 5G network will induce a radical change in digital services as compared to its predecessor the 4G network, which will be clearly evident through several services including digital entertainment, business, e-shopping, healthcare, education, as well as the development of automation services for e-commerce platforms, and faster response in IoT, to name but a few.

Zain KSA's CTO reiterated the company's commitment to consolidating Saudi Arabia's leading position among the countries with the highest ICT investment, which will raise the quality of life, open new opportunities for investment, and create employment opportunities for the youth interested in the technology sector.


Saudi Arabia launches largest integrated logistics zone

Saudi Ports Authority has launched the AlKhomra Logistics Zone in Jeddah, the largest of its kind in the kingdom, for investment to the private sector.

The logistics zone, which will be built in phases, comes as part of the government's plans to make the kingdom a hub in the trade exchange movement, especially between the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa.

The AlKhomra zone - which will support activities around shipping, freight distribution and transport of goods - extends over 2.3 million sq m in Jeddah, home to one of the kingdom's largest ports. Phase One of the project will come up over a 2-million-sq-m area.

Announcing the launch, Minister of Transport Dr Nabeel bin Mohamed Al Amudi, said: "AlKhomra is an umbrella for a number of logistics zones and platforms to be launched in the coming period through a prepared comprehensive strategy and plan."

It will have a significant impact on supply chains and logistics sector in the kingdom, stated the minister while delivering his speech on the opening day (October 13) of the Third Saudi Logistics Conference at the Four Seasons Hotel, Riyadh.

As the biggest logistics zone in the country, it hopes to turn Saudi Arabia into a global logistics hub and create 10,000 direct jobs, said Al Amudi.

It is part of the broader National Industrial Development and Logistics Programme, which aims to create 1.6 million jobs and attract investments worth SR1.6 trillion ($427 billion) over the next decade.

Al Amudi pointed out that the Saudi government under the leadership of King Salman and HRH Crown Prince, was keen on improving the various sectors of business and production in the kingdom to enhance the national economy.

Under its ambitious reform strategy, the kingdom plans to have the private sector operate much of its transport infrastructure, including airports and sea ports, with the government keeping a role as regulator, he added.- TradeArabia News Service


Oman Air adds five new European destinations

Oman Air, the national carrier of the Sultanate, has added five European cities to its codeshare destinations with Lufthansa.

Under the expanded agreement, passengers can travel on Oman Air flights from Muscat to Munich and Frankfurt, and connect to Amsterdam, Dublin, Helsinki, Oslo and Warsaw.

The first flights are set to depart on October 27.

Abdulaziz Al Raisi, CEO, Oman Air, said: "Our relationship with Lufthansa is very important for Oman Air, and we are delighted to offer our valued guests even better connectivity in Europe."

The new deal increases the number of codeshare destinations with Lufthansa, Europe's largest airline, to 12.

Additional codeshare flights between the two airlines, first established in 2017, serve Brussels, Vienna, Prague, Madrid and Barcelona.

Oman Air now serves 24 European destinations, with non-stop flights to 10 cities and partnerships connecting guests with 14 additional destinations on the continent.


Oman announces plans to build $1.4bn medical city

Oman's health ministry has announced plans to build the sultanate's first medical city over a sprawling 5-million-sq-m area in the Barka region.

The project, being developed at a cost of RO479 million ($1.24 billion), is yet another initiative under the country's Tanfeedh programme for economic expansion, which aims to wean the country away from primarily oil-and-gas-based sources of income, reported Times of Oman.

The country's ambitious healthcare project, the Medical City is being built in four phases, stated the report.

The first two phases will focus on commercial operations, private medical facilities, and residential projects, while the other phases will be allocated for government use, it added.


Oman's all-women residential complex to be ready by 2021

Oman-based Myriad and Strategic Housing Group (SHG) said the work is in full swing on its all-women off-campus residential and retail complex located along Muscat Expressway and the project is expected to be ready by 2021.

The property, Myriad, Muscat is in close proximity to Sultan Qaboos University and other institutions and has been carefully designed under the guidelines of the local authorities. Even the project's design and material specifications are such that it would ensure safety and comfort for the 2,500 residents and visitors alike, reported The Oman Observer.

The Myriad, Muscat, which has secured a RO20 million ($52 million) facility from National Bank of Oman (NBO), is nearly 35 per cent completed.

The rooms will be fully furnished with en-suite facilities and residents will have the choice between single and multi-occupancy room types, said the report.

According to SHG, the project is globally one of the largest student housing properties in one plot.

Common areas have been optimised to cater to resident needs, including trendy shared lounges and well-equipped, modern kitchens on each floor. These spaces are envisaged for group study and socialising, it added.


Bahrain to open $1.1bn terminal in March, says Crown Prince

Bahrain International airport will open its new $1.1bn terminal in March next year, according to the kingdom's Crown Prince.

The airport's new terminal, billed as one of the biggest developments ever undertaken in Bahrain, was thought to be ready to open in December this year - to coincide with the country's national day - but the opening has been pushed back to the end of Q1 next year, according to Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince.

"There is no chance for mistakes with an airport and we will be operational in the first quarter of next year, after all checks are complete," he told Bahrain newspaper Gulf Daily News.

"Electronic baggage handling, luggage security and data entry procedures are being looked into carefully, among other technical aspects."

In the meantime, the Crown Prince said the Bahrain Airport Company will need "10,000 to 14,000 volunteers to test the airport in every aspect, from A to Z", to ensure all aspects are working as planned.

The new mega development, 207,000sq m in size, includes 104 check-in counters, 36 passport control booths and 24 security screening points. It will quadruple the size of the airport's current terminal operations, and will have capacity to handle 14 million passengers a year.


Visit-to-work visa transfers allowed, fees unchanged

KUWAIT: Interior Minister Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah yesterday issued new residency by-laws allowing visit visas to be transferred to residency visas in many cases. There were only minor changes to other residency rules and regulations, especially with regards to fees. The new regulations, which explain how the residency law should be implemented, became effective as of Monday after their publication in the official gazette Kuwait Al-Youm.

Visit visas may be transferred to residency visas for the following categories: Subject to the residency affairs' director's decision, visitors of ministries and public authorities (with government visit visas) holding university degrees; domestic helpers; dependents arriving on family or tourist visit visas; holders of valid residencies who do not exceed six months out of Kuwait and have to enter with a visit visa; those who enter for work and start procedures to get residency, but have to leave for a maximum of one month; cases subject to the residency affairs directorate's judgment.

Contrary to reports published repeatedly in the local press about plans to sharply raise almost all residency charges, the new rules included no major changes to residency fees, while dependent residency rules and others remain unchanged. The only change was introducing a KD 3 fee for obtaining a visa on arrival, which used to be offered free of charge for some nationalities. Residence and renewal fees remain at KD 10 per person per year.

Dependent residency fees for spouses and children remain at KD 10 per person annually, while the regulations allow the residency department to grant relatives other than the wife and children a dependent visa against a KD 200 charge yearly. This includes parents. The regulations set a minimum of KD 500 in monthly salary for those who can bring their families from abroad on dependent visas, while they give the director of the department to exempt couples already living here from the salary condition. The regulations also exempt a large number of professions from the salary conditions. These include judges, doctors, engineers, teachers, journalists and many others.

The new by-laws introduce a tourist visa allowing tourists to stay in Kuwait for up to three months, and a multiple entry visa valid for one year for just KD 1 for each month. Foreigners whose residence is cancelled and those who resign are given up to three months of temporary residency to leave.

In another development, former Islamist opposition MP Fahd Al-Khanna, who had been living abroad to avoid a three-year jail term, returned to the country yesterday after spending around one and a half years in Turkey. It was also reported that several other former opposition MPs and activists were returning to Kuwait after fleeing for the same reason.

The new development comes following reports that a general amnesty is expected to be issued to pardon the activists and dozens of other opposition members who are serving jail terms for either taking part in protests or writing tweets deemed offensive to HH the Amir.

Former opposition MP Ahmad Al-Shuraian said yesterday that a large number of nationalist figures have signed a memorandum addressed to HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, appealing to him to issue a general pardon for jailed opposition figures and others. He said that he has repeatedly approached officials of the Amiri Diwan to arrange to deliver the petition but his attempts have been unsuccessful. Accordingly, Shuraian said the petition will be published in order to reach the HH the Amir, adding that he is confident it will be in safe hands.

The former opposition figures were handed jail terms in the summer of last year, but they left the country before the verdicts were issued to avoid being jailed. Under Kuwaiti law, they will have to give themselves up to jail authorities as soon as they return. Their only solution is a pardon by HH the Amir or a general amnesty law by the National Assembly, which should be approved by the government.


Kuwait approves new Entertainment City project

Kuwait Municipal Council has given approval to a major leisure and amusement project which will come up over a 2,650 sq m area in the capital city, reported state news agency Kuna.

On completion, the Entertainment City will be a major touristic landmark in the country, it stated.

During its weekly session, The Kuwait Municipal Council also agreed to increase the space allocated for basements in the plots located at Abu Futaira Vocational Area from 80 to 100 per cent of the total space, said the Kuna report.

In another big move, the council has recommended toughening the penalties for renting out basements in model housing and investment areas, as these basements are intended to be used as space for parking cars, it added.


No dependent visa for parents

KUWAIT: Expatriates working in Kuwait will no longer have the option to sponsor their parents, according to a new Interior Ministry decision. Informed sources said the Residency Affairs Department stopped the transfer of workers' article 18 residency visas to dependent visas (article 22) on their children's sponsorship. This new decision also affects the employee's mother whose article 22 visa is on the sponsorship of her husband, which means that both parents would have to leave Kuwait in case the father loses his job, instead of being sponsored by their working child, which was applicable as early as last week. The sources did not provide a clear reason behind the new decision, but explained that it aims at rearranging labor registered on article 22, as it would limit issuance of dependent visas to spouse and children of the working spouse. "The decision came after Residency Affairs Department statistics showed that many parents transfer their residencies to their children," the sources said. - Al-Qabas


MoI to terminate expats working in 'sensitive' sectors

KUWAIT: As part of the interior ministry's plans to replace expatriate employees with Kuwaitis, it issued internal instructions to make lists of all expat employees pending terminating their contracts, said informed sources. The sources explained that many expat administrative employees at the traffic, citizenship and passport departments will be laid off in view of the availability of citizens qualified to replace them, in addition to the need to transfer extra Kuwaiti employees from other interior ministry departments to the abovementioned ones.

"The interior ministry believes that the traffic, citizenship and passport departments are closely linked to Kuwait's security, and thus their staff members should all be citizens," the sources explained, reminding of the previous involvement of expat employees in driving license forgeries. The sources added that all expat administrative employees in other interior ministry departments, with the exception of legal advisors, will be laid off within a maximum of two years.

Meanwhile, Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas quoted well-informed sources as saying that in a bid to resolve the unemployment problem, the Cabinet will discuss a comprehensive government study on nationalizing thousands of jobs in the private sector and replacing expats working as administrative, legal and secretarial staff with Kuwaitis.

The sources added that such a step will increase the amounts paid by the state in national labor support allowances to around KD 1 billion after laying off 130,000 to 150,000 expats - 8 to 10 percent of the total of 1.6 million expat employees in the private sector. In addition, the sources explained said Minister of State for Economic Affairs Mariam Al-Aqeel is coordinating with various bodies to formulate a new strategy to develop and increase Kuwaiti manpower in the private sector.


Spicejet plans to launch UAE-based carrier with new hub in Ras Al Khaimah

India's Spicejet is to launch its first international hub in Ras Al Khaimah.

Ajay Singh, chairman and managing director of the budget carrier, told a press conference on Wednesday the company is also looking to set up a new airline in the northern emirate.

Operations from the UAE will start in December with a Boeing 737 Next-Generation aircraft flying between New Delhi and Ras Al Khaimah.

Spicejet will operate five flights a week and aims to gradually increase the frequency.

Singh said: "We are looking to see Ras Al Khaimah become a stepping stone into European destinations. There is already good traffic between RAK and Europe and we are connecting Europe to India via Ras Al Khaimah. This is our first international hub."

Singh revealed they have applied for a licence for the new airline, which will operate from Ras Al Khaimah and is scheduled to take off next year.

It will be the sixth airline to operate from the UAE after Emirates airline, Etihad Airways, Air Arabia, Flydubai and the recently-announced Air Arabia Abu Dhabi.

"We are looking to establish an airline locally based in Ras Al Khaimah," said Singh. "We are applying for certification shortly and the approval will take around three to six months. The new airline will help connect India with Eastern and Western European destination using RAK as hub."


UAE visit visa: How to bring your parents to the UAE without paying a security deposit

Dubai: You can now bring your parents on visit visa without paying the additional security deposit (refundable) charged by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs - Dubai (GDRFA).

For someone living on a budget this can be a big money saver. There are travel agencies in the UAE who can help you bring your parents for a visit at a lower cost.

What are the benefits of this?

No security deposit

Since the travel agency is the 'sponsor' of your parents for visit visa, you as an individual, do not have to shell out the security deposit which the Amer services at GDRFA will ask for when applying through them.

The deposit required if you are procuring the visit visa through GDRFA is Dh1,020 for first degree relatives (a person's parent - father or mother, sibling - brother, sister or child). For second-degree relatives (blood relative which includes the individual's grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces or half-siblings,) the security deposit is Dh2,020 as per the GDRFA norms.

When you go through the travel agency for sponsoring your parents, there is no need to pay this security deposit.

Less paperwork involved

When bringing your parents in for a visit through a valid travel agency, they will do all the paperwork necessary. Since you are not the 'sponsor' of your parents, there is also less documentation required from you. For example you don't have to arrange an attested labour contract, or an Arabic salary certificate or provide the latest DEWA bill, tenancy contract etc.

Documents for an agency-sponsored visit visa

  1. A copy of guarantor's passport's first, last and visa pages
  2. A copy of your Emirates ID
  3. A copy of each visitor's passport's first and last pages
  4. Each visitor's passport-size photograph, taken against a white background
  5. Each visitor's passport should have a minimum validity of 6 months
  6. If the visitor is your spouse, the same must be mentioned on your passport
  7. Additional cash deposit of up to Dh5,500 may be required for certain visitors (not applicable for family visas*).

What is the cost involved
14 day tourist visa : Dh295 per person
30 day single-entry visit visa : Dh305 per person
90 day single-entry visit visa : Dh749 per person
30 day multiple-entry tourist visa : Dh950
90 day multiple-entry tourist visa : Dh2,150
30 day express tourist visa : Dh450
90 day express tourist visa : Dh950
(Prices may differ at the time of applying)

How many days to process the visa

Once accepted, visa applications require a minimum of 3 - 5 working days to process and may take longer.

Is the visa fee refundable if the visa is rejected

No, the visa application fee is non-refundable in all cases, including if the visa application is rejected

Validity of passport

For tourist visa to UAE, the passport should be valid for at least six months from the date of travel.

How to sponsor a visit visa for your family on your own

You can apply for a visit visa online or nake an application through the Amer services at GDRFA

Documents required

  1. One photo of the sponsor in white background
  2. Valid coloured passport copy of the sponsor
  3. Sponsor's original passport and Emirates ID
  4. Sponsor's IBAN number
  5. Attested relationship proof of the person applying for the visa with the sponsor
  6. Attestated tenancy contract with a minimum validity of two months
  7. Latest Dubai Electricity and Water Authority bill Arabic salary certificate for government, semi-government and free zone employees.
  8. Attested labour contracts for private sector employees.

Cost involved

This cost is in addition to the refundable security deposit as in this case the indvidual is the sponsor for the visa.


Residents can now apply, renew residency visa on Dubai's official app

Dubai: The immigration authority in Dubai is the latest government entity to offer its services at the touch of a button.

The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai has recently launched services on the DubaiNow app to provide residents with the facility of applying, managing and cancelling residency visas for their spouse and / or children.

The DubaiNow app is an initiative carried out by Smart Dubai - a government entity charged with facilitating Dubai's citywide smart transformation, to empower, deliver and promote an efficient, seamless, safe and impactful city experience for residents and visitors.

On its website, Smart Dubai described DubaiNow as "the first unified Dubai government services smart app offering more than 70 city services".

"Our aim is to combine most of your daily government needs in Dubai, and therefore we are continuously striving to add more government services to ensure your happiness."

Available services on DubaiNow

Pay your DEWA, Etisalat, du, Dubai Municipality bills. Pay your Dubai Police traffic fines. Top up your Salik, NOL, Dubai Customs Accounts Donate to Dubai Cares and Al Jalila Foundation.


Renew your vehicle registration. Top up your parking time. Explore street speed limits. View road accident notifications to plan your travel efficiently. Find your nearest petrol station and Tasjeel centres.

Public Transport

Track Dubai Airport flight departures and arrivals. Call a Taxi. View the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) metro map. Plan your journey to and from any point, and view the best routes.


Find schools registered with Dubai's Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) and universities' information and filter by name, rating, annual fees, curriculum and location.


View Dubai Calendar and Dubai's daily weather conditions. Find your nearest ATM, and use the fastest route to reach Track Emirates Post (Empost) shipments and view shipping rates. Send your feedback or report complaints regarding any government department service in Dubai. Access Makani to locate specific buildings and addresses in Dubai, a service provided by Dubai Municipality


View daily prayer timings, find your nearest mosque and select the fastest route to get there.


Report a violation to Dubai Police. Find the nearest Dubai Police Station and select the fastest route to get there. Inquire about the status of Dubai Court's cases. Call emergency numbers like Dubai Police, Ambulance, Fire Department, and DEWA.


Search for trade activity with the Department of Economic Development (DED). Track and renew trade licenses registered with the DED. Reserve a trade name.

A total of 88 Dubai Government services are now being provided through a single digital application - DubaiNow, thanks to the Dubai Paperless Strategy.

Hailing the progress of the strategy, His Highness Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Dubai, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council, said: "I have overseen the progress of the Dubai Paperless Strategy over the past two years and have now directed all government entities to work with Smart Dubai and ensure all digital government consumer services are delivered via DubaiNow, gradually eliminating all individual entity applications.

Dubai citizens and residents have been able to transact over Dh4 billion worth of transactions on the DubaiNow app so far.

"I am proud of the accomplishments of my team who have successfully delivered on their challenge of transforming Dubai Government to become paperless. The inter-government cooperation between Smart Dubai and 15 partnering entities to provide government services digitally is testament to Dubai's firm belief in what a city can achieve in less than two years with to strong collaborations.

"I would like to applaud the 15 entities who have supported the Dubai Paperless Strategy so far. To achieve our goals of becoming 100 per cent paperless by December 12, 2021, I urge all remaining Dubai Government entities to collaborate with Smart Dubai and support the Dubai Paperless Strategy by going paperless and digitising all transactions.

"Smart Dubai and its government partners have succeeded in their efforts towards leading the Dubai Paperless Strategy. Dubai citizens and residents have transacted Dh4 billion on DubaiNow."

Reliable platform

Dr Aisha bint Butti bin Bishr, director general of Smart Dubai, expressed her gratitude to Shaikh Hamdan for his support and follow up on the progress of the implementation of the Dubai Paperless Strategy.

"Under the guidance of HH Shaikh Hamdan, we will continue to work with all Dubai Government entities to accelerate our transition to fully paperless transactions. Being challenged by our leadership is a daily experience in Dubai. Where leaders across the globe are still unsure on how to make their cities fully paperless, we in Dubai have achieved great results thanks to the vision of our leadership and support of our government partners. We hope our achievements will act as a benchmark for all other cities wishing to implement their respective paperless strategies," she said.

"Through its seamless user experience and resilient infrastructure, DubaiNow has proven itself to be a reliable single platform to digitally access all Dubai Government services.

"We estimate that with the 88 government services now being offered digitally via Dubai Now, we will save 28 hours per user, in addition to also eliminating the need for 14 visits to government services centres," she added.

In line with the Dubai Paperless Strategy, after 2021, government entities will no longer issue or request paper documents from customers for any transaction, while government employees will also stop issuing or processing paper in key or supporting internal operations.

The implementation of the strategy will eliminate the use of over one billion pieces of paper per year, saving 130,000 trees. This is all in addition to saving Dubai's residents and visitors 40 hours per year, and also saving the city Dh900 million that would have been spent executing paper transactions.

15 entities on board

The 15 entities that have made significant progress on their digital transformation as part of the Dubai Paperless Strategy are:

  1. Dubai Land Department (DLD)
  2. Roads and Transport Authority (RTA)
  3. Knowledge and Human Resources Authority (KHDA)
  4. Dubai Airports
  5. Dubai Police
  6. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA)
  7. Department of Economic Development (DED)
  8. Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM)
  9. Dubai Courts
  10. Dubai Municipality (DM)
  11. Dubai Public Prosecution
  12. Dubai Health Authority (DHA)
  13. Community Development Authority (CDA)
  14. Federal Authority for Identity & Citizenship (FAIC) - Dubai
  15. Dubai Customs


Dubai buses, marine transport to get free WiFi on board

Dubai: Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is teaming up with UAE telecom firm du to provide 'Free WiFi UAE' on board public buses, marine transit modes and air-conditioned bus shelters.

The announcement was made on the sidelines of GITEX Technology Week 2019 at Dubai World Trade Centre on Wednesday. The agreement was signed in the presence of Ahmad Hashim Bahrozyan, CEO of Public Transport Agency, RTA; and Fahad Al Hassawi, Deputy CEO Telecoms, du.

"The signing of this [agreement] is driven by RTA's commitment to raise customers' satisfaction and achieve two strategic goals of RTA, namely People Happiness and Advance RTA. As part of the agreement, du is to provide WiFi UAE services free of charge for riders of Dubai Bus, inter-city bus and Expo buses. The service will also be available at 23 bus stations, 40 water transit means, 18 marine transport stations, and several air-conditioned bus shelters," said Bahrozyan.

"WiFi is becoming a public necessity and lifestyle. RTA is giving this aspect serious consideration in view of its customer-centric service strategies aligned with the government's directives. We are providing this service freely to meet users' expectations. Buses, marine transit modes and bus shelters are increasingly popular and we are therefore keen to offer best-in-class services. The service is set to be operational before the onset of Expo 2020."

Al Hassawi said: "du takes pride in signing this agreement with RTA and is grateful for RTA confidence in du's services. We look forward to boosting our cooperation and improving our services to RTA and all other public entities with the aim of contributing to the satisfaction and happiness of Dubai and UAE residents. This agreement is instrumental in broadening the scope of du services and cementing its standing as a preferred service provider to the government and corporate sector."


Moving house in the UAE: This is the best way to claim your security deposit cheque

Dubai: Residents in the UAE often complain about massive deductions on their security deposits by landlords or real estate agents when they vacate houses. These complaints are rampant these days as a lot of tenants are opting to move so as to get better rent bargains in other areas.

A landlord takes a security deposit cheque from every new tenant to cover the cost of any wear and tear in the house. The landlord normally charges a tenant at his will to cover any wear and tear in a house when a tenant chooses to vacate the house.

Unfortunately, there are no set rules and regulations to determine the cost of wear and tear. It is solely up to the landlord to charge a tenant on any damages to his property.

However, a tenant can protect his rights buy following certain guidelines to claim the full amount of his security cheque at the time of vacating a house.

Expert advice: Take photos

Lewis Allsopp, Chief Executive Officer of Allsopp & Allsopp, a British-owned estate agent in Dubai, said that the security deposits can often be a tricky subject for both a landlord and a tenant which is why a check-in and check-out report should be carried out by the landlord, ideally with the tenant present.

A check-in report consists of a thorough look over all fittings and fixtures of the property including photographic evidence at the time of renting a house.

The report should then be signed by the landlord and tenant. Once the tenancy contract comes to an end, the check-out report will be conducted by the landlord with the check-in report as reference.

"So long as there is only minor wear and tear to the property the full deposit will be given back to the tenant. The reports give both the landlord and tenant peace of mind and evidence to any discrepancies that may arise," he added.

Carefully read tenancy contract

The full deposit should be returned to the tenant at the end of the tenancy contract if the premises has been left in satisfactory condition and in coherence with the tenancy contract.

A leading real estate agent advised tenants to read the contract property to avoid any confusion as most of the things related to security despite claims are mentioned in the contract.

There is no law on commissions and deposits, it is a market norm. Most contracts mention that the flat should be vacated in 'same' condition. Some contracts mention that the vacating tenants should repair any damage that is beyond normal wear and tear, while some other contracts just require the tenants to repaint the unit.

This is why, it is important for tenants to read the contracts thoroughly.

However, if a dispute arises between a tenant and landlord on security deposit cheque, the tenants can take up the matter with the Rental Dispute Centre at Rera and register a case.

What a tenant should do

- Read your contract carefully before signing

- Make sure the clauses regarding security deposits and maintenance are clear

- Ask the landlords to clearly define 'wear and tear'

- Upon taking possession, take note of the apartment's condition and notify the landlord if something is damaged

- During renewal of the contract, ensure the clauses have not been changed

What are landlord's responsibilities

Safe Environment

The landlord's property should be a safe environment for a tenant. This means that all doors and windows should lock securely, and fire alarms should be installed and fully equipped in essential areas of the home.

Clean Property

It is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that the property is clean and tidy before the arrival of a tenant. Usually in a tenancy contract it states that full painting and cleaning is down to the previous tenant but before the new tenant is ready to move-in, it is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure the property is in perfect condition.


As far as maintenance goes, as a rule of thumb, the landlord is responsible for maintenance above Dh500. Small wear and tear maintenance should be repaired and paid for by the tenant as well as any damages caused by misuse by the tenant. Landlords are responsible for major maintenance including electrical, mechanical, plumbing and air-conditioning when required.

Keep a record

It also pays to keep good records of everything from the moment you moved in, to repairs carried out during your tenancy, any personal costs incurred and finally what has been done upon moving out.

Repaint the walls

Reasonable wear and tear are permissible. However, it may be advisable to repaint the walls before vacating the property. It is less expensive to repaint them yourself than to have the landlord do so and deduct the fees from your security deposit.

Remove furniture

If the tenant is leaving an unfurnished property, all furniture needs to be removed, otherwise, the landlord will deduct the removal costs from the security deposit.

Clear your bills

It's important to disconnect all utility lines and clear the bills including electricity and telephone connections. Failure to do so could land you with larger bills.

What the law says:

Article 20 of the Law No. 26 of 2007 regulating the relationship between landlords and tenants in the Emirate of Dubai (the 'Rental Law') states: "When entering into a lease contract, the landlord may obtain from the tenant a security deposit to ensure maintenance of the real property upon the expiry of the lease contract, provided that the landlord undertakes to refund such deposit or remainder thereof to the tenant upon the expiry of the lease contract."

But the law does not specify any details about deduction of amount by a landlord on any specific wear and tear or damage to a property caused by the tenant.


Hyatt Place Dubai Jumeirah now open

Hyatt Place Dubai Jumeirah has officially opened its doors for business, making it the fourth Hyatt-branded select service property in Dubai, joining Hyatt Place Dubai Al Rigga, Hyatt Place Dubai Baniyas Square and Hyatt Place Dubai Wasl District.

Guests to the newly opened Hyatt Place Dubai Jumeirah can look forward to an intuitive design, a casual atmosphere and practical amenities, including complementary WiFi and shared computers with high-speed Internet.

The property is in an ideal location on Al Mina Road, in close proximity to the Jumeirah neighbourhood, and offers seamless access to the city's points of interest, including the Dubai Mall, the Gold and Spice Souk, Burj Khalifa and popular beach destinations. Ideal for business travellers, it is also a short distance from the Dubai World Trade Center, Dubai International Financial Center and Dubai International Airport.

Vice president of operations - Middle East, Africa and South West Asia, Hyatt, Kurt Straub enthused on the launch: "The opening of Hyatt Place Dubai Jumeirah complements the UAE government's endeavor to diversify the tourism sector. The government's goal is to be able to offer a memorable stay experience to every single traveler, regardless of budget.

"The three existing Hyatt Place hotels in Dubai have established a reputation for catering to a diverse pool of travellers looking for comfortable and seamless experiences with value for money. We are optimistic that the opening of this new Hyatt Place hotel in Jumeirah will add a wonderful new option for business and leisure travellers visiting Dubai," Straub added.

Hyatt Place Dubai Jumeirah is home to 204 spacious rooms, including 12 suites, with a large workspace area, room amenities, a 49-inch swiveling flat-screen HDTV and a Cozy Corner oversized sleep-in sofa.

Those wishing to tantalise their taste-buds at the hotel can make the most of Focus and Focus Bar, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner items and tea and coffee respectively; Wox, a Pan-Asian restaurant; Breakfast Bar, serving hot breakfast items; and The Market, featuring a range of convenient and delicious 'grab 'n go' options.

Other facilities include event space for small-scale business meetings, conferences or special occasions; the Fitness Center, featuring Technogym equipment; a rooftop temperature-controlled pool; and much more.


Abu Dhabi freehold zones see 'big expat demand'

The demand for key properties in the investment zones across Abu Dhabi has grown considerably during the last three months, especially after it was opened for freehold expat property ownership, according to a report by UAE real estate portal Bayut.

Investment zones such as Al Raha Beach, Masdar City, Saadiyat Island and Al Reef have garnered most interest with buyers looking at apartments for sale, said Bayut in its latest Q3 2019 market report.

Abu Dhabi real estate market offers healthy conditions for home buyers/investors with the sales prices in the capital having taken a positive turn with the prices either holding steady or slightly increasing, it added.

Properties in Al Ghadeer, one of the new affordably priced neighbourhoods in the capital, also experienced an increase in average price per square foot by 5.5%, indicating that demand for neighbourhoods close to Dubai is continuing to increase, especially among professionals who need to commute between the two cities.

In Q3 of 2019, neighbourhoods like Al Reem Island, Al Raha Beach, Al Reef and Saadiyat Island dominate the investment sector while established suburbs such as Mohammed Bin Zayed City (MBZ City), Khalifa City A, and Al Muroor remain a popular choice for rentals in Abu Dhabi.

In terms of popularity, Bayut's report shows that Al Reem Island takes the crown as the most preferred area to buy and rent apartments in Abu Dhabi. For villas in Abu Dhabi, Al Reef continues to be the most popular with buyers/investors and MBZ City is the favoured choice for tenants.

These areas have been consistently in demand from the beginning of 2019, and continue to attract tenants and potential homeowners thanks to their favourable prices, appealing location and family-friendly attractions, stated the report.

Bayut said when comparing prices of properties for sale from Q2 to Q3 of 2019, the overall trend shows promising signs of stability; tenants and buyers are showing consistent interest in the same neighbourhoods and prices are staying steady in most popular communities.

A similar trend can be seen for villa sales in Abu Dhabi, as Al Reef and Saadiyat Island still hold the interest of potential investors. The average price per square foot in these areas remain steady with decreases not exceeding 2%, it added.

The rental trend for apartments in the popular areas of Abu Dhabi shows a moderate decline in cost between 2 to 5%. The list of popular areas to rent in the capital continue to include family-friendly areas such as Al Reem Island, Khalifa City A, Shakhbout City and more.

The two-bedroom units in Corniche Road showed decreases of 8.3% with rents dropping from Dh120,000 in Q2 of 2019 to Dh110,000 in Q3.

Rents for two-bedroom apartments in Airport Street and Al Muroor also experienced a similar 7.7% decline from Dh65,000 to Dh60,000 in both areas. This shows that tenants are negotiating good rents in these popular areas and upgrading to larger units, a trend we have seen continuing on from the beginning of the year.

When it comes to renting villas, units across the board in MBZ City saw marginal increases between 1% - 4%, which is a testament to the area's continued popularity with families, giving landlords an opportunity to negotiate good rents with tenants, said the report.

When it comes to off-plan properties in Abu Dhabi, developments on Yas Island and Saadiyat Island continue to attract investor attention. Within Yas Island, Yas Acres is the most popular.

As for Saadiyat Island, the off-plan apartments in Park View are the most searched for by users on Bayut.

CEO Haider Ali Khan pointed out that Abu Dhabi had always been an attractive market for both local home buyers and those from the expat community.

"While Emirati and GCC investors dominated the market earlier, expat buyers and investors are also taking advantage of the attractive options in the capital, with the recent announcements of the new laws," he added.- TradeArabia News Service


Etihad, Air Arabia set up Abu Dhabi's first low-cost carrier

Etihad Aviation Group, owner of the national airline of the UAE, and Air Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa's first and largest low-cost carrier, today announced the signing of an agreement to launch Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, the capital's first low-cost carrier.

Etihad and Air Arabia will establish an independent joint venture company that will operate as a low-cost passenger airline with its hub in Abu Dhabi International Airport.

The new carrier will complement Etihad Airways' services from Abu Dhabi and will cater to the growing low-cost travel market segment in the region.

Tony Douglas, group chief executive officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: "Abu Dhabi is a thriving cultural hub with a clear economic vision built on sustainability and diversification. With the emirate's diverse attractions and hospitality offerings, travel and tourism play a vital role in the economic growth of the capital and the UAE. By partnering with Air Arabia and launching Abu Dhabi's first low-cost carrier, we are serving this long-term vision."

He added: "This exciting partnership supports our transformation programme and will offer our guests a new option for low-cost travel to and from Abu Dhabi, supplementing our own services. We look forward to the launch of the new airline in due course."

Adel Al Ali, group chief executive officer, Air Arabia, said: "Home to the first low-cost carrier in the Mena region, the UAE has developed over the years to become a world-leading travel and tourism hub. We are thrilled to partner with Etihad to establish Air Arabia Abu Dhabi that will further serve the growing low-cost travel segment locally and regionally while capitalising on the expertise that Air Arabia and Etihad will be providing."

He added: "This step demonstrates the strength of the UAE aviation sector and serves the vision driving its growth. We look forward to a successful partnership and the launch of the new carrier."

Based in Abu Dhabi, the new company will adopt the low-cost business model. Its board of directors, consisting of members nominated by Etihad and Air Arabia, will steer the company's independent strategy and business mandate.

The UAE's travel and tourism sector contributes to over 13.3% of the nation's GDP and enjoys a prominent standing as a global aviation hub, thanks to the UAE's ultra-modern infrastructure, advanced services sector and high-quality air transport.

The Mena low-cost air travel model was first introduced in the UAE in 2003 and has been rapidly growing since then. Today, the Middle East market enjoys the third highest gains in intra-regional low-cost carrier penetration rate. Low-cost carriers accounted for 17% share of seat capacity to and from the Middle East in 2018, compared to only 8% in 2009. - TradeArabia News Service


Dubai Airports launches new feature on DubaiNow app

Smart Dubai and Dubai Airports announced the launch of a new 'Travel' feature on the DubaiNow application at GITEX Technology Week 2019, taking place from October 6-10 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

The DubaiNow application provides a single, centralised source for service with fast, seamless, and paperless services that allow Dubai residents to execute government service transactions via smartphone. The new service adds an entirely new sector to the app, in an effort to facilitate the travel experience for the emirate's citizens, residents, and visitors, and utilise smart technologies to improve people's wellbeing and ensure their happiness.

"Smart Dubai has a mission to enhance government services and support the transition towards smart systems, in line with the Dubai Paperless Strategy, which seeks to render all government transactions digital by 2021, and transform the emirate into the happiest and smartest city in the world," said Smart Dubai's director general Dr Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr. "With that in mind, we are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to collaborate with other government, semi-government, or private entities to launch new services on the DubaiNow application, and make people's lives easier and happier."

"Travel is an important industry for Dubai, which has established itself as a world-leading travel and logistics hub," Dr Bishr added. "Our collaboration with Dubai Airports today brings an entirely new sector onto the app. Once again, we are embracing advanced technologies and channelling them towards helping people conduct their transactions faster."

Lloyd Gozzett, vice president of Customer Success at Dubai Airports, said: "Dubai Airports is a customer-centric organisation that is focused on making passenger journeys through our airports smooth and easy while enhancing overall customer experience. So, we are really excited with our collaboration with Smart Dubai. As the single platform for more than 70 of Dubai's most popular city services, which benefit hundreds of thousands of users every day, we believe it is the perfect avenue for Dubai Airports' smart services. The collaboration is the result of our commitment and support to the vision of Dubai Government for a smart city and a paperless future."

The 'Travel' feature comprises three services: Flight Information, Lost and Found, and Al Majlis Lounge, the first of which allows users to find information about all flights departing from or landing in Dubai airports. It lists the various flights with information such as the corresponding gate, terminal, and departure/arrival time including any delays, as well as the flight status from the moment the gate opens to boarding and until the final call and gate closure. Users can browse a list of all the flights, search for a particular one using the flight number, or find all flights to a specific city or from a specific airline.

Meanwhile, the 'Lost and Found' feature allows users to report any items they might have lost or found at the airport to help authorities locate them and return them faster. The third and final service is 'Al Majlis Lounge', a VIP airport service for passengers flying in and out of Dubai International Airport. Al Majlis handles every step of the airport process, including check-in, immigration, and baggage clearance. In addition, it offers users access to Al Majlis Lounge at the airport, where they can enjoy catering and other services in a comfortable setting.

DubaiNow offers 88 government services from over 30 entities, offering end-to-end experiences for users. The services can be classified into 12 city sectors, namely: security and justice, public transportation, payments and bills, visas and residency, travel, health, business and employment, education, housing, and Islam, amongst others. It allows customers to pay traffic fines; pay DEWA, Etisalat or du fees; top up Salik or Nol cards; locate the nearest vehicle registration centre; and many other tasks and services. It also allows them to pay for fuel and services at any ENOC station using the app. - TradeArabia News Service


Commercial activities to be allowed in several Doha areas

In a move aimed at boosting investment in the country, Qatar's Prime Minister and Minister of Interior His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani has issued a decision allowing the practice of vital commercial activities across several areas in Doha.

The decision aims to encourage the diversity needed to develop investment and support investors.

This comes as part of the government's keenness to strengthen the partnership between the public and private sectors and encourage the participation of the private sector in the economic development projects in the country.

According to the decision, commercial activities will be permitted in the administrative towers area (West Bay Area), along with 14 other administrative streets in the state.

These include Al Muntazah Street, Halul Street, Ali Bin Ali Taleb Street, Corniche Road, Al Jazeera Al Arabiya Street, C-Ring Road, D-Ring Road, Prince Street, Al Rawabi Street, Jaw'aan Street, Ibn Sina Street, Al Markhiya Street, Al Rayyan Street, Rawdat Al Khail Street.

The decision was announced during a panel discussion attended by Turki Fahad Al Turki, assistant director of the Urban Planning Department at the MME; Juma Sabah Juma, head of Urban Design Department at the Department of Urban Planning, and Eng Khalid bin Joma Al Marzouqi, the MME's head of Building Permits Complex, at Cityscape Qatar 2019.

According to the announcement, the commercial activities allowed within the administrative streets cover cafes and restaurants, and some educational activities such as colleges, institutes, and nurseries.

The decision also includes certain medical activities such as diagnostic and treatment centers, clinics and healthcare centers.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the panel discussion, Juma said the move aims to transform West Bay into a retail hub by increasing footfall in the area, reported Gulf Times.

He said developers are also encouraged to submit their designs for approval from authorities.

"This will also add value to the properties in the West Bay area, which is most active from 7 am to 2 pm; and it will also encourage more people to go there, especially after office hours," Juma said.


New passenger terminal at Doha Port opens

Expect to see more tourists around town as the 2019-2020 cruise tourism season has officially started in Qatar.

Welcoming cruise passengers from around the world to witness all that Qatar has to offer, the country has opened a temporary passenger terminal at Doha Port.

The terminal was inaugurated yesterday, just as thousands of passengers disembarked from the mega-ship Mein Schiff 5.

The passenger-ship is the first of 74 ships expected in Qatar's fourth and largest cruise tourism season.

The country expects a 66 percent increase in the number of ships arriving in Qatar in comparison to the last season.

Spread over 6000 square meters, the new facility at Doha Port will act as a temporary terminal for the next two seasons until the completion of Doha Port's expansion plan, expected to be completed in 2022.

Cruise passengers transiting through the terminal will experience the same level of services and facilities as passengers do at the Hamad International Airport

These include seamless immigration and customs, foreign exchange, taxi and bus stands, Duty-Free Shops, cafe, waiting areas for cruise passengers and staff as well as city tours and other tourist information services.

According to His Excellency the Minister of Transport and Communications Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti, the opening of the new temporary terminal will support the country's strategy to develop cruise tourism.

'Doha Port is playing a key role in reinforcing Qatar's position as an attractive tourist destination through securing and receiving international cruise ships, as well as providing all the facilities necessary for the growth of a sector that is considered a key contributor to the economic diversity pursued by Qatar National Vision 2030," HE the Minister said.

HE Akbar Al Baker, Secretary-General of Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC) and Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, explained that this will be the first season in which Doha acts as a turnaround port for cruise ships, with passengers beginning and ending their journey in Qatar.

"The port will host 16 turnaround calls, giving passengers ample time to explore the destination. In addition, nine ships will dock overnight during the season," he said.

As a result of various initiatives by QNTC and its partners, Qatars cruise industry has seen remarkable growth during the last few years.

The 2018/19 cruise tourism season achieved 121 percent growth in the number of cruise passengers and 100 percent growth in the number of cruise ships.

The previous season also recorded significant increases in the numbers of German (144%), Italian (93%) and British (22.5%) tourists arriving aboard cruise ships compared to the 2017/18 season.

Added to the list were Russian tourists, whose numbers grew significantly by 257 percent in Qatar as a cruise destination compared to the previous season, making them the fourth largest nationality.

The top ten nationalities aboard cruise ships also included Americans and Mexicans.

The 2019/20 season is expected to be even bigger, with over 186,000 passengers and over 61,000 crew expected to arrive in the country.

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