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New Administrative Capital's Iconic Tower to be highest in Africa at 400 meters

The Central Business District of Cairo's New Administrative Capital will be home to the US$3 billion Iconic Tower, Africa's tallest building with a height of about 400 meters, Housing Minister Assem al-Gazzar said.

In a statement on Thursday, Gazzar confirmed that construction of the tower has reached its 49th floorConstruction rate in the Iconic Tower, has reached the 49th floor, bringing its current height to 240 meters.

The New Urban Communities Authority and the Chinese contracting giant CSCECO are overseeing the tower's construction, he added.

Construction of the tower began in 2018.

Upon completion, the tower will be 80 stories tall, overtaking Johannesburg's Carlton Center, which has been Africa's tallest building since 1973.

The construction of the third residential district, Capital Residence, is also underway, with 90 percent of the district finished.

Capital Residence is built on an area of 1,016 acres and includes eight neighborhoods, with a total of 24,130 housing units.

Another district named "New Garden City", is 82 percent complete. The district includes 295 residential buildings, 105 villas, 175 townhouses, 11 towers, and 96 mixed housing buildings.

Gazzar confirmed that the Cairo Capital Central Park project will cover an area of one thousand acres, making it one of the largest parks in the world.

The park will be divided into three sectors, each of which will include recreation areas, gardens, and commercial facilities.

An integrated network of pedestrian and bicycle paths will allow Egyptians of all abilities to enjoy the parks.

Several buildings in the New Administrative Capital were inaugurated in 2019 including the Middle East's largest cathedral and a massive mosque.


ADQ enters deal with Lulu for Egypt expansion

ADQ, one of the region's largest holding companies with a broad portfolio of major enterprises spanning key sectors of Abu Dhabi's diversified economy, has entered into a non-binding agreement with Lulu International Holdings (LIHL), a leading hypermarket and supermarket chain in the Middle East, paving the way for an investment supporting LIHL's expansion of operations in Egypt of up to $1 billion.

Under the terms of the agreement, ADQ and LIHL will work to collectively develop up to 30 hypermarkets and 100 express minimarket stores as well as state-of-the-art logistics hubs, distribution and fulfilment centres to strengthen the retailer's ecommerce business across Egypt.

It is estimated that this expansion will create up to 12,000 jobs, fostering economic and social growth throughout the country, said a statement.

The agreement was signed by Mohamed Hassan Al Suwaidi, Chief Executive Officer of ADQ, and Yusuff Ali M A, Chairman of Lulu Group.

Al Suwaidi said: "Our agreement with Lulu International Holdings reflects our wider commitment to investing in Egypt, following the announcement of our joint investment platform with the Sovereign Fund of Egypt late last year. The phased roll-out of multiple retail stores would provide significant socio-economic benefits to local communities across the country, as well as bolster the quality and range of products available to Egyptian consumers. We are pleased to be able to give further support to the co-operation that already exists between the UAE and Egypt."

Yusuff Ali said: "Egypt is a very important growth market for us, and we see great potential for our future business there. Our agreement with ADQ will better position us to continue our rapid expansion of our operations across Egypt. I take this opportunity to thank the leadership of Abu Dhabi and ADQ for their support to expand Lulu's operations in Egypt which will immensely benefit the country and its citizens."

In November 2019, the launch of a joint strategic investment platform worth $20 billion, to be funded equally by ADQ and the Sovereign Fund of Egypt, was announced. The platform aims to establish joint strategic investment projects, as well as specialised funds and investment tools in several key sectors such as food and agriculture, mobility and logistics, healthcare and utilities. - TradeArabia News Service


Siemens starts Egypt service centre and training academy

Siemens Energy has inaugurated a service centre and a training academy in Egypt. The service centre is the first of its kind in the region, combining a repair centre, a tooling centre and a spare-parts warehouse under one roof.

The premises of the service centre also encompasses the Egyptian German Technical Academy (EGT Academy) as state-of-the-art training hub for the vocational training in the region. Specifically, the Academy represents a strategic alliance between Siemens and the Deutsche Gesellschaft fr Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)-on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

The Academy offers an innovative public private partnership model which supports occupational training to engineers and technicians in all industries and offers them the opportunity to develop their skills in a variety of topics, including workplace safety and automation.

In addition to the support to the vocational training and education in Egypt, the Academy positions itself as a unique service provider offering demand-driven training needs to local industry.

The facilities, which are located in the Ain Sokhna at the Suez Canal Economic Development Zone, were inaugurated by Joe Kaeser, President and CEO of Siemens AG and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Siemens Energy AG, and Karim Amin, Executive Vice President of Generation at Siemens Energy.

Both were joined by the German Ambassador in Egypt, Cyrill Nunn; Egypt's Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Dr Mohamed Shaker; Chairman of Suez Canal Development Zone, Yehia Zaki, and other senior executives from Siemens Energy.

"This Service centre is marking a significant step in our commitment towards Egypt and the region, with this facility we aim to provide advanced maintenance and repair technologies for the power generation industry in Egypt and its neighboring countries. The strategic location in Ain Sokhna, including the excellent facilities in the Suez Canal Development Zone, and the bright Egyptian youth trained in the inhouse academy will turn this Centre into a real Hub for the entire region," said Karim Amin.

"It is a fantastic opportunity to combine real-life applications in the power generation industry with state-of-the-art technical training to inspire the next generation of Egyptian professionals and drive further expansion from this hub into the Middle East and Africa."

At the inauguration, Siemens Energy signed an Agreement of Intent with the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company and the Egyptian Maintenance Company establishing a joint venture at the service centre that will enable remote support for power plant outages. The joint venture repair centre is digitally connected and will, in the future, house Digital Expert and Power Diagnostics centres to provide support and maintenance for distributed control systems, gas and steam turbines, and generators.

The service centre will increase localisation in Egypt's energy supply chain and support the local economy. Siemens Energy will provide services for energy rotating equipment, including gas turbines, steam turbines, generators, and compressors.

Equipped with the latest technology, the centre can repair and overhaul equipment that would have otherwise been sent overseas, reducing service time and eliminating shipping costs. The facility's Generation Optimisation Centre will offer 24/7 local and global emergency response, with a dedicated technical support line. -- TradeArabia News Service


Saudia resuming flights to 13 more cities in November

RIYADH/MAKKAH: Saudia announced on Friday that new international destinations for travelers would be available starting in November.

The announcement, which was made on the airline's official Twitter account, stated that the total number of international destinations for permitted travelers would be raised to 33.

The decision marks the second partial lifting of the suspension of international flights, following the Sept. 15 step which allowed travel to 20 destinations in the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

Destinations now include more cities in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Africa and extend to Beirut, Kuwait, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Milan, Delhi, Dhaka, Guangzhou, Kochi, Lahore, Multan, Mumbai and Peshawar.

Saudi Arabia will end all restrictions on air, land and sea transport early next year, on a date to be announced in December.


The Big 5 Saudi to make Riyadh debut next year

The organiser of The Big 5 Saudi has announced that the leading construction event will move to Riyadh in 2021.

Now in the capital, the expo can effectively drive vital business connections and Vision 2030 objectives, while supporting recovery efforts following the Covid-19 pandemic, said dmg Events.

Ben Greenish, Senior Vice President at dmg events, commented: "We are delighted to confirm new dates for The Big 5 Saudi, and to announce that the event will be held in Riyadh for the first time in 2021. At a time when construction developments and the business landscape are rapidly changing, we look forward to providing a safe environment where the industry can connect, kick-start business, and drive growth.

"It is our hope that both the discussions and the partnerships made at the event are going to have a long-term impact on the future outlook of Saudi Arabia's $1.4-trillion projects market."

The Big 5 Saudi returns next year with new co-located events and added features designed to represent and celebrate the construction sector in its entirety, according to dmg Events. Alongside seven general construction product sectors, the event introduces FM Expo Saudi, Saudi Clean Expo, HVAC R Expo Saudi, and Stone and Surface Saudi Arabia.

Furthermore, 'The Big 5 Saudi Impact Awards' will be launched at the 2021 edition to honour the people, organisations, and projects driving transformation in the kingdom's construction industry. Free and certified education sessions continue at the event, set to help professionals keep up with the latest industry trends and standards, the organiser added.

To ensure the construction community can meet, network, and do business in a safe environment at the event, the 'dmg events All Secure' set of safety protocols for exhibitors and visitors will be implemented, following guidelines from UFI, the global association for the exhibition industry's international standards and in collaboration with the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Centre, and the Kingdom's Authorities.

The Big 5 Saudi is supported by Katerra (Platinum Sponsor), Al Bawani Contracting (Contracting Sponsor), Al Latifa Trading & Contracting Company (Gold Sponsor), and Oscar Paints (Official Paint Sponsor). - TradeArabia News Service


Mall of Dilmunia opens Bahrain's first indoor soccer facility

Mall of Dilmunia, a unique family-centric mall concept, has joined hands with Tekkers Academy and Malaeb app to launch Funscape Sports Zone, the first indoor soccer facility of its kind in Bahrain, within its entertainment destination Funscape World.

A captivating establishment that redefines the shopping experience, Mall of Dilmunia is located at Dilmunia Island in Muharraq. The mall has a total built-up area of 125,000 sq m and a gross leasable area of 47,300 sq m including a spacious underground car-park.

The new Funscape Sports Zone was mainly launched to enable families to easily reserve playground and training sessions online.

It is being set up with the help of the Malaeb application, a Bahraini company which is designed to enable users to create and join football matches more seamless, as well as book available nearby sport venues online.

The app was built with the local community in mind, to encourage the local community and athletes to come together while enjoying a game of football.

Located on the third floor at the Mall of Dilmunia, it comprises two five-a-side football spaces with FIFA-approved grass-turf, along with other sporting facilities, sports simulators, changing rooms, private locker services, complete with a robot-goalkeeper challenges.

The entertainment facility has a spacious area of 1,848 sq m and is designed to accommodate a wide range of sports, giving guests a freedom of choice when visiting the facility, said Mall of Dilmunia in its statement.

The co-operation with Tekkers enables students enrolled in the academy to attend football coaching lessons and training courses at the Funscape Sports Zone.

Participants in these courses will have the opportunity to develop their skills and gain comprehensive knowledge of the methods and techniques of the game in an indoor airconditioned pitch, it stated.

Added safety and health precautions have been put in place to safeguard the health of visitors during the current situation, in order to provide families with an integrated entertainment center that is safe, it added.

In addition, Funscape Sports Zone also gives sport fans the opportunity to rent out up to two football pitches to compete in their own personal matches.

CEO Shaikh Mohammed Bin Duaij Al Khalifa said: "It is with great pleasure that we announce the launch of Funscape Sports Zone, a state-of-the-art indoor sport center in Bahrain, which brings friends and family together."

"As a result of this collaborative effort between Mall of Dilmunia, Tekkers Academy and the application of Malaeb, we are able to provide the ultimate sports and entertainment services to our valued guests," stated Shaikh Mohammed.

"We are proud of the cumulative efforts which has led to inaugurating this center while taking all necessary preventive measures to ensure the comfort and safety of our visitors," he noted.

"Participation is made simple with the digital applications thanks to the Malaeb application, whereas Tekkers Academy will provide exceptional football lessons for student, all while taking the necessary health measures to assure the safety of all," he added.


Kuwait Airways to resume Saudi flights from October 25

Kuwait Airways has announced the resumption of flights to Saudi Arabia from this month, according to a statement issued on Wednesday.

Taking to Twitter, the airline said that flights would be resumed to three Saudi cities, including Riyadh, Jeddah and Damman, from October 25.

The Kingdom reopened its skies for international and domestic flights in September after suspending air travel to curb the spread of coronavirus Covid-19.


Thyssenkrupp completes key installation at NBK tower

Thyssenkrupp Elevator, one of the world's leading elevator companies, said it has installed its unique Twin elevator systems at the iconic new head office of National Bank of Kuwait (NBK).

Located in the heart of Kuwait City, the new pearl and shell-shape-inspired NBK head office standing at a height of 300 m featuring 63 floors, thus making it the country's second tallest building and a remarkable new landmark in the city's skyline.

The 10 Twin elevator systems installed at this office tower are the first to be supplied by thyssenkrupp Elevator in Kuwait, said the company in a statement.

Twin is the only elevator system with two cabins that move independently in one single shaft, making the most efficient use of available space, using less energy, and quickening the pace of building tenants, it stated.

The five-year contract includes maintenance support with access to a stand-by technician, it added.

"Kuwait City is a beacon of architectural modernity - as are the new NBK headquarters. To match this overall ambition in terms of indoor mobility, we deliver some of the world's most advanced systems. I'm glad to announce thyssenkrupp Elevator's first TWIN installation in Kuwait, which also includes our digital solution AGILE, a smart mobility system," remarked Peter Walker, the CEO at thyssenkrupp Elevator.

Each elevator has its own traction drive, controller, ropes, counterweight, and governor, while also sharing the same guide rails and landing doors, he stated.

"The key to this system's safety is that the cabins always operate at a minimum safety distance. It is fully certified by the German TV inspectorate - the most stringent and rigorous safety standard an elevator can attain," he added.

The project was built in line with Leed Gold requirements, one of the first with such high certification in Kuwait. Apart from the 10 TWIN elevator systems, thyssenkrupp Elevator has also installed 12 conventional elevators, some of which can travel up to 6 meters per second, as well as 1 panoramic elevator and 2 escalators.

Mobility throughout the entire building is promoted via thyssenkrupp Elevator's destination selection control (DSC) software, Agile.

Unlike conventional operation, a floor is chosen at the Agile terminals in front of an elevator group and the intelligent dispatching software analyzes the request - gauging traffic demand and grouping passengers based on similarity of destination. This leads to less crowding, fewer stops, and a more efficient use of available elevator capacity.

Thyssenkrupp Elevator is firmly established and integrated in the Middle East region since many years, having supplied and installed its unique and innovative Twin elevator systems at several buildings across the region, such as Latifa Tower in Dubai, Public Investment Fund (PIF) Tower in Riyadh, 10th Kings Road Tower in Jeddah, State Audit Bureau Towers and Al Sultan Tower in Doha.- TradeArabia News Service


Proposal to restart flights includes streamlining entry procedures

The proposals submitted jointly by Kuwait Airways and Jazeera Airways to the Ministry of Health (MoH) regarding strengthening the health procedures are currently under study, and it includes features to decide to allow full activities in the airport to resume normally, reducing home quarantine to a week and the restarting flights with countries on a 34 banned list due to the coronavirus conditions, Al Qabas reported.

The economic sectors, especially the tourism and travel sector in the country, are awaiting an answer to resolve the issues caused by the partial closure of the airport, a responsible source revealed to Al-Qabas daily.

The daily said, quoting sources that the health authorities recommended that if the proposals are implemented, the travelers' procedures should be automated and not manual, and added that the medical laboratories, which will conduct the travelers' swabs, should be able to accept the numbers of arrivals to the country.

The source stated that the accredited medical laboratories should have the facilities to conduct 20,000 swabs per day. Representatives of the Ministry of Health have been provided with all the necessary details that will enable them to automate the entry procedures for travelers according to automated systems.

Regarding the opinion of representatives of the health authorities about the proposals after their discussion, the source stated that there are positive data, but the proposals are still under scrutiny.

The source noted that the proposals aim to contribute to the gradual and safe resumption of flights to and from Kuwait International Airport, including from prohibited countries after classifying countries into two categories, low risk, and high risk.

The proposal will contribute to revitalizing the local economy and support the aviation sector and other sectors in accordance with health and precautionary controls.

There are 10 updates under the plan

1- The health authorities recommended that if the airport opens fully, travelers' procedures must be completed in an automatic and not manual manner.

2- The medical laboratories conducting the swabs for travelers should have the ability to accept the large number of arrivals to the country.

3- Providing representatives of the Ministry of Health with all the facilities to automate the entry procedures for travelers.

4- Directed to develop some apps to be compatible with the arrivals and the swab procedures.

5- Developing apps that will enable the Ministry of Health to know travelers' details and health status automatically.

6- Updates to find out the number of PCR tests that are performed, whether before coming to the country or at arrival at the airport and after the completion of the quarantine period.

7- All procedures will be subject to the supervision of the Ministry of Health.

8- The traveler will be responsible for the tests and following the quarantine procedures.

9- There is positive data, but all proposals are still being studied.

10- Officials stressed that the start of flights will contribute to revitalizing the local economy.


Kuwait faces domestic worker shortage, salaries skyrocket

A slave trade is rising in Kuwait with fake offices circumventing the law and providing domestic workers at monthly amounts of up to KD 400 dinars, Al Rai reported. These illegal offices are taking advantage of the lack of availability of new domestic workers and the families' need for household help by imposing a recruitment fees in addition to the salary of the worker.

According to statistics, 30,000 residency visa transfers were registered for domestic workers during the coronavirus crisis, with fake offices exploiting around 60,000 domestic workers in violation of the law, most of whom are females.

The domestic worker crisis is worsening day after day, due to the closure of the Kuwait airport, which prevents further recruitment, against the background of the coronavirus pandemic and the suspension of activity of licensed domestic workers offices. The daily said, quoting informed sources revealed that some fake offices are exploiting the current situation to operate with impunity to the law and there are increasing suspicions of human trafficking in these offices.

These offices demands any citizen who wants a domestic worker to accept her according to a monthly wage system, so that the worker receives her salary (ranging between KD 100 and KD 120 dinars), while the office receives an amount between KD 150 and KD 200 dinars, according to the agreement between the two parties.

This costs the head of the family an amount in some cases, up to KD 320 dinars per month for the worker and the office. The daily reported that some of these offices exploit the illegal workers for employment and maximum benefit, in light of the suspension of recruitment and the Kuwaiti families 'need for domestic workers.

In a related context, some owners of domestic workers' offices revealed to Al-Rai daily that "some contracting companies circumvent the law, taking advantage of the building-cleaning license permit they obtained by providing domestic workers with a salary of KD 450 dinars per month.

While some domestic workers 'offices advertisements are announcing daily and monthly domestic workers, the head of the Union of Owners of Domestic Workers' Recruitment Agencies, Khaled Al-Dakhnan, warned that all the offices currently advertising temporary domestic workers are fake offices operating illegally, stressing that their business is not authorized and not permitted under the law.

Highlighting that it is unfortunate that citizens are forced to seek illegal domestic workers due to the current stifling conditions, Al-Dakhnan urged people not to deal with these offices that violate the law because they facilitate the employment of domestic workers who may be sick or carry diseases, and may commit crimes and flee," noting that his office will continue to raise awareness and advise against dealing with illegal domestic workers.

He added, "Whoever participates in sheltering runaway domestic workers is at risk for punishment and is a partner in this illegal behavior, and we, in turn, report first-hand about these fake offices, because the allowing domestic workers to Kuwaiti homes may cause problems, in particular the spreading of infectious diseases, and is considered participation in an illegal act."

In the meantime, Bassam Al-Shammari, the owner of one of the domestic workers' offices, revealed to Al-Rai that "some contracting companies that have a building cleaning license are manipulating and circumventing the law and providing their workers as domestic workers and charging amounts of up to KD 450 dinars per month for each worker for working only eight hours a day, "noting that" this illegal behavior generates hundreds of thousands of dinars per month for the illegal company. "

He noted that the domestic worker does not have a health certificate, unlike those employed in legal domestic workers' offices whose work is currently suspended, which raises the question about what guarantees that the domestic workers of contracting companies are free of diseases and not carrying the coronavirus? Especially since they enter homes and are entrusted to care for the elderly and children."

Noting that many female secretarial workers in contracting companies expressed their desire to work as domestic workers, he said that it is due to high salary in light of the current coronavirus crisis that affected even the government jobs of Kuwaiti male and female employees because they had home duties to perform, including online education that requires the guardian to sit beside children for hours while they study."

Al-Shammari concluded that "the cost of temporary domestic workers have hiked up to the point they are charging KD 50 dinars for two-hour work, while the official licensed offices are standing idly by and unable to conduct their business."

In a related context, informed security sources revealed to the local daily that the total number of domestic workers in the country is about 670,000, both females and males, however, because of the coronavirus pandemic, and many domestic workers who traveled outside the country, some of them were unable to return to Kuwait as their residency visa expired, and was not renewed or they do not want to return to Kuwait to take up their jobs again leading to the worsening of the domestic workers crisis.

The sources said that the total number of domestic workers in violation of the law, was nearly 60,000, the majority were females, and after the entry visa and visa renewals were suspended due to the coronavirus crisis, many owners of fake offices resorted to employing a number of domestic workers with large salaries of up to KD 250 dinars per month, and perhaps more.

Earlier, the salaries of domestic workers did not exceed KD 180 dinars, and the majority of these domestic workers returned to their country or violated the residency visa law or escaped from their sponsors, which started a furor in the domestic labor market among citizens looking for a domestic worker through online advertising sites or offices selling domestic workers an exorbitant amount of KD 3000 dinars. Hence, nearly 30,000 housemaids had their visas transferred during the pandemic period, either through being reassigned to another sponsor and paying fees for visas or taking advantage of the sale of visas in exchange for huge sums.


Dubai to introduce facial recognition on public transport

Dubai is introducing a facial recognition system on public transport to beef up security, officials said on Sunday, as the emirate prepares to host the global Expo exhibition.

"This technology has proven its effectiveness to identify suspicious and wanted people," said Obaid al-Hathboor, director of Dubai's Transport Security Department.

The emirate already operates a biometric system using facial recognition at its international airport.

Dubai, which sees itself as a leading 'smart city' in the Middle East, has ambitions to become a hub for technology and artificial intelligence.

Both sectors will be on show when it opens the multi-billion-dollar Expo fair.

"We aspire to raise our performance by building on our current capabilities, to ensure a high level of security in metro stations and other transport sectors," said Hathboor.

Earlier this week, under the watch of Dubai's Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the city's police used facial recognition in a simulated scenario to identify gunmen launching an attack on a metro station.

A special police unit, trained in the United States, helped "evacuate" commuters from the station in the mock attack, before working in tandem with a control centre to apprehend the suspects.

Members of the special unit will be sent to major metro stations during Expo 2020.

The six-month event was delayed by one year due to coronavirus, and is now set to open in October 2021.

It was expected to attract 15 million visitors before the global economy and transport systems were disrupted by the pandemic.


Emirates announces new Covid-19 PCR test requirements for Dubai

Dubai's flagship airline Emirates on Monday announced revised Covid-19 PCR test requirements for passengers travelling to or transiting through the emirate.

The following entry rules apply to passengers travelling from these countries:

Algeria, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Maldives Islands, Mauritius, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States (New York, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, Seattle)

UAE residents have the option to present a negative Covid19 PCR test certificate that is valid for 96 hours from the date of the test before departure or take the Covid19 PCR test on arrival in Dubai.

Tourists must present a negative Covid19 PCR test certificate that is valid for 96 hours from the date of the test before departure except for passengers coming from the UK and Germany who have the option to take a COVID19 PCR test on arrival in Dubai.

Transiting passengers from these countries are not required to present a Covid19 PCR test certificate unless it is mandated by your final destination.

The following entry rules apply to passengers travelling from these countries:

Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chile, Cote d'lvoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Slovakia, Somaliland, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United States (California, Florida, Texas), Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe

UAE residents must take two Covid19 PCR tests: one before departure with a validity of 96 hours from the date of the test, and a second test upon arrival in Dubai.

Tourists must take two Covid19 PCR tests: one before departure with a validity of 96 hours from the date of the test, and a second test upon arrival in Dubai.

Transiting passengers from these countries must have a negative Covid19 PCR test certificate that is valid for 96 hours from the date of test, as well as any requirements for their final destination.

The test certificates must be for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Other test certificates including antibody tests and home testing kits are not accepted in Dubai.

If you are taking a test before you depart, you must bring an official, printed certificate in English or Arabic to checkin - SMS and digital certificates are not accepted.


Show Emirates ID, Covid-19 certificates to enter Abu Dhabi

The police have urged those who are travelling to Abu Dhabi from other emirates to follow the procedures and instructions stipulated by the police and other authorities.

In its attempt to make the flow of traffic smoother at the security points, the Abu Dhabi Police said travellers are required to show their Emirates ID and Covid clearance certificates while entering the emirate. They should also ensure that they adhere to all Covid safety rules, including wearing masks. The number of passengers allowed in one vehicle is three including the driver.

Drivers should follow appropriate lanes at the check points. Signboards with different colours have been placed for different vehicles - red for emergency vehicles, blue for heavy vehicles and green for vehicles that have been permitted to enter the emirate.

The authorities have urged the public to abide by the precautionary measures and safety instructions, emphasising that community members are a key pillar in helping battle Covid-19.


Free flu vaccination for all Abu Dhabi residents

The Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) will provide free influenza vaccination to all residents, it was announced on Monday. The UAE's largest healthcare network will be offering the seasonal influenza vaccine at all its healthcare facilities. A drive-through option is available at select centres. The Seha will also offer the jab at residents' homes in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, if needed.

This is part of a public health campaign called 'Protect yourself, protect your community', launched by the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention, Department of Health - Abu Dhabi, and Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre. The joint campaign aims to raise awareness about the vaccine's integral role in prevention of the seasonal influenza. Furthermore, it also reiterates the importance of immunisation for employees in the healthcare sector.

To receive the vaccine, individuals may call the Seha's call centre on 80050 to book an appointment. Patients visiting any of the Seha's facilities for a Covid-19 test, "and are vulnerable", will be given the option to take a flu jab.

At-home service

Additionally, vaccines can be taken at home by residents. The service costs Dh500 per household, regardless of the number of people being immunised. Appointments can be booked by calling 027117117. The Seha will provide the jab to companies in Abu Dhabi (0564103180) and Al Ain (0562187886).

Dr Noura Al Ghaithi, chief operations officer, ambulatory healthcare services, Seha, said: "In close collaboration with our partners, we have rolled out a comprehensive plan to ensure that all members of our community have easy and safe access to the vaccine during these challenging times.

"Both Covid-19 and influenza viruses exhibit similar symptoms, underlining the importance of getting immunised this year to stay protected and alleviate the pressure on the healthcare sector. When more people get vaccinated, healthcare professionals will be able to dedicate their efforts to manage the (challenges posed) ... by Covid-19 and other critical medical conditions."

The Seha is also immunising all its employees as part of the annual campaign.


Dubai opens new-generation public bus stations

Dubai has announced the opening of a set of new-generation public bus stations in Al Ghubaiba area of the emirate.

Masterpieces of modern engineering design, these bus stations are integrated with multi mass-transit means including the metro, marine transport and taxis, said a statement from Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

The Al Ghubaiba Bus Station, which spans a 2,452-sq-m area, hosts office spaces, customer service areas, retail outlets and restaurants in addition to 50 slots for buses and 48 slots for vehicles.

It was inaugurated by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council in the presence of Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, Director General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA and other officials.

Sheikh Hamdan later toured the facilities, which include six buildings that offer innovative state-of-the-art public transport solutions. The design of the buildings is environmentally sustainable and meets the needs of People of Determination.

The station has a stand for 34 taxis and 60 docking stations for bicycles. It can handle up to 15,000 passengers per day with an estimated number of 10,500 passengers per day.

Shaikh Hamdam also reviewed the e-scooter service as well as projects and initiatives of RTA to improve public bus services, bus stations to serve Expo 2020 visitors and initiatives focused on flexible mobility and shared transport.

He was briefed by Al Tayer on the Al Ghubaiba Bus Station's uniquely integrated multi-modal transport services connecting with the metro, public buses, marine transport and taxis.

Shaikh Hamdan then reviewed RTA's plan for upgrading a host of bus stations to better serve Expo 2020 visitors. The plan features construction works at 17 stations/stops in places like Al Ghubaiba, Al Jafiliya and the Union Stations and the bus station serving Etisalat Metro Station.

The RTA plan encompasses the deployment of 614 buses and the opening of 23 bus routes and six temporary stops for serving Expo visitors. Two of the six temporary bus stops are located in Dubai Silicon Oasis and the International City.

The other four are in the Dubai Maritime City, Palm Jumeirah, Business Bay 1, and Al-Meydan. These projects complement RTA's efforts to upgrade the public transport infrastructure to encourage people to use them in their daily commute.- TradeArabia News Service


Emirates launches biometric path at Dubai airport

Emirates has launched an integrated biometric path at Dubai International airport (DXB) as part of its commitment to continuous innovation and increased customer experience.

The contactless airport experience is now open to Emirates passengers travelling from and through Dubai, the airline said.

The integrated biometric path will give passengers a seamless travel journey from specific check-in to boarding gates, improving customer flow through the airport with less document checks and less queuing. Utilising the latest biometric technology - a mix of facial and iris recognition, Emirates passengers can now check in for their flight, complete immigration formalities, enter the Emirates Lounge, and board their flights, simply by strolling through the airport.

The various touchpoints in the biometric path allow for a hygienic contactless travel journey, reducing human interaction and putting emphasis on health and safety.

Adel Al Redha, Emirates' Chief Operating Officer, said: "We have always focused on providing a great customer experience at any touchpoint and now it is more vital than before to make use of technology and implement products, and introduce processes that focuses not only on fast tracking customers, but more importantly on health and safety during their travel journey. The state-of-the-art, contactless biometric path is the latest in a series of initiatives we have introduced to make sure that travelling on Emirates is a seamless journey and gives customers added peace of mind."

The biometric touchpoints are currently installed at select First, Business and Economy Class check-in desks in Terminal 3 at DXB; immigration gates including a "smart tunnel"; Emirates' premium lounge entrance at concourse B as well select boarding gates. Areas where biometric equipment are installed will be clearly marked and additional units will be installed at each touchpoint in the future.

The Smart Tunnel, a project by the General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai (GDRFA) in collaboration with Emirates, is a world-first for passport control, where passengers simply walk through a tunnel and are "cleared" by immigration authorities without human intervention or the need for a physical passport stamp.

Emirates is also the first airline outside America to receive approval for biometric boarding from the US Customs Border Protection (CBP). Customers flying from Dubai to Emirates' destinations in the US will be able to choose facial recognition technology at the departure gates.

The biometric path is the latest in a host of initiatives by Emirates to provide a smart contactless journey. In the last month, the airline has introduced other services including self-check-in and bag drop kiosks at DXB for a smoother airport experience.

Emirates' booking policies offer customers flexibility and confidence to plan their travel. Customers who purchase an Emirates ticket for travel on or before March 31, 2021, can enjoy generous rebooking terms and options, if they have to change their travel plans. Customers have options to change their travel dates, extend their ticket validity for 2 years, or convert their ticket into a travel voucher to use against any future flight-related purchase for themselves or their family and friends. - TradeArabia News Service


Dubai reopens more top family attractions

Several top attractions in Dubai have opened their doors again to provide diverse experiences to UAE residents and tourists as key players in Dubai's travel and hospitality sectors accelerate efforts to revitalise the tourism industry.

Iconic family entertainment destinations and attractions have reopened under stringent health and safety protocols designed to ensure the health and safety of visitors amid the pandemic, as the revival of Dubai's tourism industry gathers momentum and everyday life returns to normal across all sectors and communities.

The successful citywide management of the pandemic has helped instil confidence within the society, generating an increase in demand for domestic tourism, as well as encouraging global travellers to make Dubai their first choice destination.

Here's a snapshot of Dubai's diverse family entertainment destinations and attractions that have reopened or will reopen this month:

Dubai Parks and Resorts - reopened on 23 September

Dubai Parks and Resorts (DPR), the largest integrated theme park destination, comprising a triad of theme parks, has opened its Hollywood-inspired theme park, Motiongate Dubai, along with the Lapita Hotel, a one-of-a-kind Polynesian-inspired resort in the UAE. Featuring 27 thrilling rides and attractions, Motiongate Dubai has reopened with enhanced safety measures to ensure visitors can continue to enjoy fun-filled experiences within a safe environment. To celebrate its reopening DPR has a buy one get one free offer on tickets purchased before 31 October 2020.

Hatta Wadi Hub - reopened on 1 October

Hatta Wadi Hub and Hatta Resorts, which are dedicated to providing UAE residents and visitors the opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities in a spectacular national park in Dubai, reopened on 1 October and will remain open until the end of April 2021. Hatta Wadi Hub offers adventure seekers a wide range of experiences to suit different tastes, ranging from hiking to mountain biking. This year, three new activities were introduced: a 10-metre high climbing wall that includes five lanes; a slingshot that propels those looking for adventure, fun and suspense to a height of up to 50 meters, and paragliding, which provides the opportunity for visitors to view Hatta from an unprecedented vantage point. In addition, there is the Hatta Hiking Trails, an activity that extends for a total length of 32.6 km, giving visitors a unique opportunity to enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of the surrounding mountains up close.

Dubai Safari Park - reopened on 5 October

Dubai Safari Park, a wildlife reserve, animal sanctuary and education centre opened its doors to visitors on 5 October following a comprehensive revamp of many of its facilities. As a unique tourism and edutainment destination, Dubai Safari Park will allow visitors to observe wildlife in their natural habitats, interact with animals in a safe and healthy environment, and discover fascinating facts about a diversity of species native to the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

It will also help families and children gain a better understanding of the importance of wildlife conservation and environmental protection. A thermal camera has been installed and manual thermometers are used to screen visitors while social distancing of two metres between people will be strictly enforced. Spanning 119 hectares, the Dubai Safari Park is home to 3,000 mammals, birds, amphibians and invertebrates. The Park features a group of new animals including African elephants and giraffes while rare animals at the Park include the Komodo dragon, Spiral-horned antelope, Arabian Oryx, coloured African wild dog, gorilla, gibbon, bongo and lemur.

The Palm Fountain - will open on 22 October

Dubai's newest tourist attraction is The Palm Fountain, the world's largest fountain that will attempt to break a 'Guinness World Record' when it opens on 22 October at The Pointe, Dubai's premier lifestyle and dining destination by Nakheel Malls located in the Palm Jumeirah. The attraction is the only multi-coloured fountain in Dubai and is spread over 14,000 sq ft of sea water. The fountain's super shooter will stand tall at 105 metres and come alive with over 3,000 LED lights. Visitors to The Pointe are invited to the launch to enjoy an entire day of festivities, with all-day events and competitions from The Pointe's restaurants and, starting at 4pm, an array of live entertainment including multiple DJ sets, dance shows, performers and a magical fireworks show.

Global Village - will open on 25 October

Global Village, the biggest outdoor family entertainment destination and cultural park in the Middle East, is all set to welcome visitors for their 25th season, while following enhanced hygiene and wide-ranging precautionary measures to help safeguard their visitors. A brand new website and mobile application are planned for the launch to ensure guests can quickly and easily purchase tickets, pay for parking and top-up the Wonder Pass for contactless entry to rides and other attractions and shows. Global Village promises its guests a unique season full of surprises within a family ambience full of fun and excitement and exceptional shopping experiences, in addition to the opportunity to explore different cultures and cuisines at the many country pavilions. - TradeArabia News Service


First Staybridge Suites opens in Dubai

IHG Hotels & Resorts (IHG), one of the world's leading hotel companies, has further expanded its footprint in the region by opening the first Staybridge Suites in Dubai.

Renowned globally since 1997, Staybridge Suites is IHG's upscale extended stay hotel brand that offers an elevated, residential-style hotel designed for multi-night business travellers and leisure travellers looking to break from the travel norm while on the road, be it for days or even months at a time.

Designed to meet the needs of guests who may be staying for extended periods of time, the hotel comprises 262 spacious, contemporary-designed suites perfect for business and leisure travelers on long stays, providing guests with a home away from home and only 20 minutes away from Expo 2020 Dubai.

The hotel's location provides travelers with ease of access to the airport, key business districts and nearby attractions including Dubai Parks and Resorts and The Outlet Village Mall. More home than hotel, guests have the option between one or two-bedroom suites and studios, that blend contemporary and distinctive design with elevated touches for a comfortable and familiar experience. Each well-appointed unit features its own fully equipped kitchenette complete with a refrigerator, dishwasher and countertop cooking hob as well as a workspace and comfortable living area.

Guests can start the day with a daily complimentary breakfast at the hotel's restaurant, as well as have flexibility of access to the common kitchen, fully equipped with a coffee machine, oven and grill, perfect for quick snacks and wholesome meals throughout the day.

In addition, the hotel hosts The Social, the brand's signature event, three times a week, creating an informal gathering for guests to relax and enjoy complimentary bites and drinks while engaging with other guests staying at the hotel. With comfortable and flexible spaces, an outdoor swimming pool and state-of-the-art health club, guests have endless opportunities to relax, recharge and socialise with family and friends.

Chady Kanaan, General Manager, Staybridge Suites Dubai Al-Maktoum Airport said: "We are delighted to be launching Staybridge Suites for the first time in Dubai, which over the coming months, is set to become an iconic destination for Expo 2020 and beyond. Designed for business and leisure travelers alike, our team look forward to creating comfortable and unique experiences for visitors of all ages and nationalities. At our hotel we strive to make our guests part of our community and encourage our guests to discover this up and coming part of town."

As part of the IHG family, Staybridge Suites Dubai Al Maktoum Airport will comply with IHG's Way of Clean industry-leading standards, including the new IHG Clean Promise. IHG's global Clean Promise was announced in May as part of an overhaul of IHG Way of Clean to introduce heightened cleanliness standards to protect guests in the wake of Covid.

Using new, science-led protocols and service measures, partnering with industry leading experts Cleveland Clinic, Ecolab and Diversey, and launching a global IHG Clean Promise, these strengthened measures will give guests greater confidence and hotel teams the protection needed.

Staybridge Suites is a trusted, reliable brand for business and leisure travellers spending an extended time away from home. Known for its unparalleled hotel and brand culture, the Staybridge Suites brand has grown to more than 311 properties worldwide (33,992 rooms), with Dubai Al Maktoum Airport being the latest addition to IHG, one of the world's largest hotel companies. Guests can earn and redeem points at over 5,000 hotels and major airlines globally through the IHG Rewards Club loyalty programme. -- TradeArabia News Service


Visa Tap to Phone transforms payment

After piloting Visa Tap to Phone over the past year, Visa has announced product availability in more than 15 markets with plans to expand to the US.

Visa plans to accelerate global product growth in the rest of the world via more than 35 new partners, including Visa Ready for Tap to Phone partners.

Tap to Phone transforms current generation Android smartphones or tablets into contactless, or tap to pay, software-based point of sale (softPOS) terminals without additional hardware.

As part of Visa's commitment to digitally-enable 50 million small and micro businesses, this cost-effective tool helps businesses quickly access the digital economy, prevent lost sales and improve cash flow by accepting contactless payments anywhere, anytime.

Already, the number of sellers using Tap to Phone has grown by 200% over the past year and is now live in numerous countries across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America.

Recent launches for Tap to Phone include Belarus, Malaysia, Peru, Russia and South Africa, with upcoming launches planned in Brazil, Italy, UAE, UK and more.


Two billion Android devices globally could transform to payment acceptance machines.

Tap to Phone holds particular promise for the 180 million micro and small merchants (MSM) around the world, where fewer than 10% of MSMs in many emerging markets currently accept digital payments.

In a survey conducted by Visa, 63% of MSMs said they would likely implement Tap to Phone in their own businesses and more than 50% of consumers said they would likely use Tap to Phone if offered to them.

"It was just five years ago when Visa set out to enable virtually any IoT or mobile device to make payments and now today, we are enabling many of those same devices to accept payments in a very simple way with Visa Tap to Phone," said Mary Kay Bowman, global head of buyer and seller solutions, Visa. "With billions of phones around the world at the ready, the opportunity that comes with lighting them up as payment acceptance devices is enormous. Visa Tap to Phone could be one of the most profound ways to reinvent the physical shopping experience."

Tapping to pay, or contactless payments, is growing rapidly in the Covid-19 era. Visa has seen tap to pay payments grow by 40% year-over-year. In a recent Visa survey, nearly half of consumers (48%) said they would not shop at a store that offers only payment methods requiring contact with a cashier or shared machine like a card reader, making it critical for businesses to expand their acceptance methods beyond cash.

According to Visa data, casual dining, travel resources and grocery are currently the most typical category of use for softPOS solutions. However, Tap to Phone can elevate consumer experiences in additional ways including:

*Line busting: With six-foot social distancing mandates in effect, lines can become overwhelming. Tap to Phone helps employees to checkout customers quickly, anywhere around the store;

*Transit: In Japan and Belarus, Visa was first to show how Tap to Phone can help eliminate the need for standalone ticket machines and additional validation hardware for conductors;

*Nomadic and service-based businesses: Make a sale from anywhere and get paid on the spot without having a hardline POS or adding payment accessories; and

*Pay on delivery: Tap to Phone decreases friction when consumers pay for delivery, eliminating the need for cash and limiting touch during the transaction.

"We always look for ways to improve our customer experience, from personalised service to ease of payment. That's where Tap to Phone comes in. Customers are always curious and impressed when we process their payment using nothing but our mobile phone. Not only has Tap to Phone been helpful for our in-store sales, but we also use it for our contactless product deliveries, helping customers stay at home and pay with their cards, which makes them gain confidence in our brand," said Karla Avila, founder of Extenclip in Costa Rica.

Also announced, the Visa Ready for Tap to Phone programme will help to fast track global product availability and could reduce the functional evaluation for solution providers from almost two months to a few hours. Visa Ready for Tap to Phone now enables technology companies to become Visa Ready certified, giving sellers the peace of mind that the technology solution they choose meets Visa's high standards for security.

Initial participants of Visa Ready for Tap to Phone include Cellfie, Centre of Corporate Technologies M4Bank, Digitsecure, GeoPagos, IBA Group, MYPINPAD, PayCore, Phos, Quest, Rubean, SmartPesa, SoftPos, Soft Space and Techno.

Additional Visa approved technology, acquirer and government partners include Alfa Bank Kazakhstan, BPS Sberbank Belarus, CIMB, FirstData, FT Technologies, Halyk Bank, Hong Leong Bank, Kazpost, MagicCube, Maybank, Niubiz, Oschadbank, Paymentsense, PostePay, Priorbank, Promerica, Russian Standard Bank, Sberbank Kazakhstan, Symbiotic and Worldline/SIX Payment Services. -- TradeArabia News Service


Oman to implement 5 per cent VAT

Oman has issued a decree to start levying a 5 per cent value-added tax (VAT) in six months' time, state-run Oman TV said on Monday.

The tax will be on most goods and services, though with some exceptions, according to a video presentation shown on Oman TV.

All six Gulf Arab states agreed to introduce 5 per cent VAT in 2018. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have already introduced the tax, with Riyadh tripling it this year.

Oman, Kuwait and Qatar have not yet introduced the tax.

The introduction of VAT is another important and positive sign to the market that Oman is looking to progress with a much needed fiscal reform programme after announcing spending cuts this year," said Monica Malik, chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.

Facing a 2.8 per cent economic contraction this year and a government deficit of 16.9 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), according to the International Monetary Fund, Oman has cut public spending to contain the financial leakage caused by lower oil prices and the downturn caused by coronavirus lockdowns.


Oman Air updates destination portfolio

Oman Air is now offering twice-weekly scheduled services to Kuwait, Bahrain and Colombo.

The Omani carrier has also announced that it has increased flight frequencies to cities in Oman. The airline will now offer three daily round-trip flights to Salalah and six-times-weekly flights to Khasab and Duqm.

Travellers are advised to visit omanair.com or call the airline's call centre and offices for further information regarding these flights, as well as the current travel requirements.

Oman Air maintains its safety programme during all points of the travel journey to ensure that its passengers fly with confidence. Masks are mandatory on board the aircraft and in Oman's airports.


Oman lets expats buy units in multi-storey buildings

In a major move aimed at boosting the country's real estate sector, Oman's Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning has let non-Omanis purchase units in multi-storey commercial and residential buildings under the usufruct system.

As per the decision, issued by Dr Khalfan bin Said al Shu'aili, Minister of Housing and Urban Planning, the percentage of units sold to the expatriates should not exceed 40 per cent of the total number of units in a multi-storey commercial or residential building and not more than 20 per cent of one particular nationality of the allocated percentage, reported Oman Observer.

The other conditions are the buyer must be a resident of Oman for over two years at the time of application and not less than 23 years of age. The expatriate or his first-degree relative can own only one unit, it stated.

The owner can take benefit from the common or shared facilities in the building.

The owner will be allowed to sell the unit only after four years from the date of the purchase, while the property can be transferred to the legal heir in case of death, said Al Shu'aili.

The potential buyer can seek finance, including the mortgaging of the usufruct right, from any financial institution, he added.

This is part of the ministry's move to stimulate investment in the promising real estate sector to achieve specific growth rates which enhance the performance of related activities and achieve sustainable development, stated the report, citing the under-secretary at the ministry.

In the first phase, the decision is applicable to certain locations in Muscat, namely Bausher, Al Amerat, and Al Seeb, the report said.

The places which are open for non-Omanis to buy properties are Bausher (1-3), Al Khuwair (2), Ghala Heights (1-2), Wattayah (1-2), and Misfah (2), Amerat, Hashiya (1), Mahajj (Area 1), Madinat al Nahdah (2-5), Seeb (South Mawelah 5), Al Khoud (2) and Mabelah South (7), it added.


First Kraft paper manufacturing mill opens in Oman

The largest and the first paper recycling plant of its kind has been opened in Oman in Phase 7, Sohar Industrial Estate by International Sea Dolphin.

International Sea Dolphin is the only manufacturer and supplier of Kraft paper and paperboard in Oman branded as Oman Royal Paper and is headed by Mahdiyar Shahedi, Managing Partner and Director, said a report in the Times of Oman https://www.timesofoman.com/article/omans-first-kraft-paper-manufacturing-mill-opens-in-sohar

The project has a total area of 36,000 sq m with a production capacity of up to 100 tonnes per day and uses the latest technology to mitigate the environmental impact.

International Sea Dolphin was established as the first Kraft paper factory in Oman to enhance waste reduction strategy and support projects that contribute to the reduction of environmental damage through the recycling process.

The project is expected to achieve economic and environmental benefits by utilising waste through recycling and provide self-sufficiency in raw materials for paper, cardboard and wrapping paper products in the Sultanate, and will bring an added value to the local economy.

The company has achieved a production of 3,000 tonnes of Kraft testliner and Kraft fluting paper per month and within two years. In the second phase, the company expects to reach a monthly production of 9,500 tonnes.

The company will continue efforts to provide high quality and cost-effective products which will help the company to serve the corrugated carton and packaging industries in Oman which are using Testliner and Fluting paper as their main raw material, the report said.

The company can recycle all types of waste paper at the capacity of approximately 3,300 tonnes monthly and is working towards creating an eco-friendly environment by providing quality service and solution to the corrugated carton and packaging industries. Collection of waste paper by the Group keeps Oman's environment neat and clean and will also add a value to waste.

Oman Royal Paper is manufactured out of 100 per cent recycled waste paper using advanced technologies which adhere to strict environmental regulations and equipped with the state of the art technology to manufacture recycled containerboard conforming to international standards. The company thereby converts waste into productive use.

The principal raw material required by the plant to produce Kraft paper is the waste paper. Recycling one tonne of paper can save 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 380 gallons of oil, 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space and 4,000 kilowatts of energy - enough to power the average home for six months - and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one metric tonne of carbon equivalent (MTCE). This represents a 64 per cent energy savings, a 58 per cent water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution.

The company is building awareness towards the environment while contributing to the nation's growing economy by giving gainful learning and employment opportunities to the locals.

The company aims is to build an effective and sophisticated establishment that builds and strengthens public awareness, environmental protection, innovation and advanced technology to support the economic, social, human and environmental development of Oman.

The company has announced that as an Omani company that fulfils the requirements of Public Establishment of Industrial Estates (PEI), therefore, the company is entitled to place the 'Origin Oman Logo' on its products locally, regionally and internationally.- TradeArabia News Service


Oman to exempt visas for citizens of 100 countries

Muscat: Oman's Finance Ministry has announced that citizens of 100 countries will be exempted from obtaining a visa to enter the Sultanate.

"In the context of supporting tourism and attracting foreign tourists to visit the Sultanate, citizens of more than 100 countries will be exempted from the visa requirement," a statement from the ministry's report said.

"This would strengthen the tourism sector and raise its contribution to the national economy."


Oman: Ministry of Labour introduces online service for expatriate work force

Muscat: The Oman Ministry of Labour announced yesterday that a new electronic service has been launched to register the work contracts for non-Omani manpower.

The service which started on 3 November, enables the employers to register work contracts for their expatriate employees through the ministry's electronic portal.

The service provision is subject to conditions like the arrival of expatriate employee into Oman with resident card issued or renewal of work permit with resident card issued, or transfer of services having completed the resident card issuance. The service can also be utilised for those whose profession has been amended, as per required procedures as well as by those whose contract has expired.

Expat manpower

The Ministry of Labour confirmed that the contract can be modified through the contract amendment service dealing with expatriate manpower, which will help employers amend the contract details.

The Ministry indicated that to ensure the correctness and accuracy of the contract data, the worker will need to review and approve the contract registered by the employer through the employment contract acceptance service. The service is accessed using the civil card number through the mobile phone which is enhanced with the electronic certification feature.

Oman's efforts to promote e-governance to promote business investments in the country has also resulted in obtaining the labour permits for expatriate workers in Oman in just three days. The same used to take weeks to process earlier.

The Ministry of Finance noted in the Medium Term Fiscal Plan (MTFP) 2020 - 2024 that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic made it important for the public sector to adapt and transition to an e-governance system. The Ministry of Finance noted that the necessary services could be provided even when people are unable to visit public sector offices.

The MTFP report also noted that improving and developing the business environment is one of the most important factors supporting the empowerment of the private sector, which in turn helps stimulate economic growth and increase job opportunities.


Bank of Africa, China's CCC Group Aim to Build Trading Park in Morocco

Rabat - Morocco's Bank of Africa signed on Saturday a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Zhejiang China Commodity City Group (CCC Group) to boost their trading partnership.

The purpose of the agreement is to enable the two institutions to work together to build a trading and logistics park in Morocco.

The agreement is also part of the determination of Morocco and China to advance their relations at all levels, including economic partnerships.

"Through this agreement, Bank of Africa strengthens its power in the financial market in China and becomes the main financial support for Chinese exporting companies located in the city of Yiwu," the Moroccan bank said in a statement.

The statement explained that the agreement seeks to mark Bank of Africa's determination to implement all the necessary means to advance the "realization of projects in line with the strategic vision inspired by the government."

Zhejiang CCC Group is a state-owned development company in China. The group is listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange with a capital of $4 billion.

CCC Group manages an international trading park in Yiwu covering an area of 6.4 square kilometers, with 75,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The UN and the World Bank consider the trading park the largest in the world.

The group also built a large industrial park in Rwanda as well as similar projects in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Morocco.

Zhejiang China Commodity City Group's MoU with Bank of Africa follows the signing of partnership agreements between Moroccan and Chinese corporations relating to the Mohammed VI Tangier Tech City.

The China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) and the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) formalized their ownership of 35% of the capital of the Tangier Tech Management Company (SATT), which is responsible for building and managing the Mohammed VI Tangier Tech City.

Morocco-China ties

The new MoU with Bank of Africa reflects the determination of China and Morocco to boost cooperation in all fields.

The relationship between the two countries saw a strategic change after King Mohammed VI visited the Asian country in 2016.

The two countries cooperate in all fields, including trade, industry, and the health sector.

Trading Economics reported that Morocco's exports to China stood at $283.21 million in 2019.

The North African country's exports to China include ores, slag, ash, copper, animal fodder, salt, sulfur, plaster, cement, coffee, tea, spices, and electronic equipment, among others.

In 2018, the Moroccan Ministry of Industry said China was Morocco's third trade partner. with a total trade volume of MAD 39.5 billion ($4.33 billion) in 2016.

Direct foreign investment in Morocco from China reached MAD 362.5 million ($39.76 million) the same year and amounted to MAD 582.4 million ($63.89 million) in the first six months of 2017.

The two countries are determined to continue to boost their cooperation.

In October, Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita and China's State Council and Foreign Minister Wang Yi discussed over the phone bilateral relations as well as the two countries' mutual interest in the fight against COVID-19.

The phone call came after the signing of an agreement between Morocco and China National Biotec Group Limited (CNBG) to carry out COVID-19 vaccine trials.

Under the agreement, Morocco hopes to be among the first countries to receive doses of a China-made COVID-19 vaccine amid the spread of the pandemic in the country.

As of November 8, Morocco has confirmed a total of 256,781 COVID-19 cases, including 4,272 deaths and 209,801 recoveries.

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