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Egypt's spectacular Avenue of Sphinxes ready for grand reopening

Conservation workers restoring Luxor's Avenue of Sphinxes are preparing for a spectacular grand reopening ceremony this month.

The avenue, known as El Kebbash Road and famed for the sphinx heads that flank both sides, has been carefully restored in a bid to reinvigorate Egypt's tourism sector, which was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

A procession of hundreds of performers in period costume will set out from the Luxor Temple and head down the avenue to Karnak Temple - Egypt's second most-visited heritage site after the Giza Pyramids.

"This procession will be nothing short of spectacular," said Dr Mostafa El Soghayar, who supervised the restoration project.

"We expect it to surpass the grandeur of the Royal Mummies Parade," he told The National, referring to the procession through Cairo in April of 22 ancient Egyptian mummies that were transported from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation.

"The avenue, along with the two temples it connects, are set to open as an open-air museum after years of excavations and restorations.

"Karnak is one of the oldest and most beautiful sites in the world. We are happy that it is finally getting the care it deserves," said Dr El Soghayar.

"Hundreds of the locals have been working day and night to bring the procession up to a level that will impress everyone watching it. We want to pay our respect to ancient Egyptian culture, and there's no better place to do that than Luxor," he said.

Details on the ceremony have been shrouded in secrecy, with tourism and antiquities officials told not to reveal anything.

Nevine El Aref, a media adviser for Egypt's tourism ministry, said the ceremony was "intended to be a complete surprise for everyone watching".

The Avenue of Sphinxes

The date for the reopening was originally planned to coincide with the anniversary of the discovery, on November 4, 1922, of King Tutankhamun's tomb in Luxor's Valley of the Kings.

The date is celebrated each year as an official holiday in the province of Luxor.

The ceremony will also acknowledge the ancient Egyptian Opet Festival, which was predominantly celebrated in Thebes - as Luxor was known in the ancient world - and especially during the New Kingdom of 1550 to 1069 BCE.

The festival involved priests, civilians and noblemen making a processional walk from Luxor Temple to Karnak down the avenue during the second month of the Nile flooding season. The ritual was a tribute to the ancient Egyptian god Amun-Ra, who was the principal deity of the ancient city of Thebes.

The famed 2.7-kilometre avenue that connects the temples is about 3,000 years old. Karnak is believed to have been built as a tribute to Amun-Ra.

Unlike the sphinx at the Giza plateau, which has a human head, many of Karnak's sphinxes have ram heads and lion bodies and are intended as guardians to the ancient temple.

But at the other end of the avenue, closer to Luxor Temple, there are also several human-headed sphinxes lining the road.

Most of the surviving sphinxes date to the time of King Nectanebo, who reigned between 380 and 362BC.

Over the centuries, many of the ancient Egyptian relics were damaged or buried. Local people even built homes on sections of the avenue.

Structures that had to be taken down to make way for the excavations included a 115-year-old church and a 350-year-old mosque.

During its heyday, the avenue is believed to have been lined with 1,350 sphinxes. Of these, 650 have been unearthed, with many of the others believed to have been taken and repurposed during the Roman period and Middle Ages.


Egypt resumes flights between Sharm El Sheikh and Luxor after five-year hiatus

Internal flights between the Egypt's Red Sea city of Sharm El Sheikh and its pharaonic city of Luxor resumed on Wednesday after being halted for the past six years.

According to a joint statement from the ministries of tourism and civil aviation, flights between the two cities had been halted since 2015 owing to reduced demand. However, in a bid to connect the country's beach tourism with its cultural tourism, the first flight between the cities landed in Luxor on Wednesday morning.

To start with, there will be only one weekly flight between the two cities, which are two of Egypt's most popular tourist destinations.

The price for the flight has been fixed at 1,800 Egyptian pounds ($114), according to the joint statement.

The resumption of the flight is a good indicator that the country's tourism sector, which was hit hard by the pandemic's stay-at-home orders, is back on the rise.

Last August, flights carrying Russian tourists returned to the Red Sea cities of Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada, after being halted for six years after the bombing of a Russian aircraft over the Sinai Peninsula in 2015 that killed all 224 people on board.

Then in September, Egypt was removed from the UK's red travel list, resulting in the return of British tourists to its soil, another indicator that the country's tourism sector is on the mend.

In an attempt to continue easing the financial burdens the pandemic placed on its tourism workers, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities also decided to continue its reduction of the rates paid by renters of bazaars, booths and cafes at some of the country's most prominent archaeological sites.

The reduction will continue throughout November and December 2021, the council said on Tuesday night.

The reduction will continue throughout November and December 2021, the council said on Tuesday night.

The council had previously reduced rent prices at the outset of the pandemic, and in March 2020 it decided to cut them by 50 per cent, a rate that was then reduced to a full exemption from June 2020 until October 2021.

In light of the marked improvements witnessed by the country's tourism sector during the past year, the council has decided to slowly increase rent rates again, it said.

The decision was announced following the council's monthly meeting, which took place on Tuesday.

The council also approved during the meeting the registration of seven new artefacts from the Church of St Mina on the country's Islamic, Coptic and Jewish artefacts registry.


Alstom completes key Egypt rail line upgradation

Alstom, a global leader in rail transport and sustainable mobility, has successfully put into commercial service the signalling upgrade on the El Fashn section of the Beni Suef Assuyt (BSA) railway line for better fluidity, connectivity and passenger experience.

El Fashn is the 10th commissioned sector of the BSA line and is connected to the Maghagha, Beni Mazar and Matai and Samalut stations, which are already in service.

The El Fashn phase of the project covers 20 km, but the overall length commissioned by Alstom is 145 km including 10 stations, 47 level crossings and 198-point machines.

The upgrade includes SIL 4 signalling electronic interlocking system (IXL solution-SmartLock 400 GP), a support system and Scada which helps operators deliver high performance and availability rates.

Also included is Alstom Iconis, TLC system and 11 kv power supply sub-station which allows railway infrastructure managers to have complete control over their network operations in an adaptable and user-friendly package.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by Engineer Emad Assad Upper Egypt Zone Manager at ENR, Engineer Mohamed Magdy, BSA Executive Project Manager at ENR, Engineer Mohamed Fawzy, Operations Manager at ENR, and Ramzi Agoudjil, Alstom Egypt BSA Project Director.

"I am truly thankful for the dedication that the team has shown for this technically challenging project. This milestone is part of Egyptian National Rail's ongoing transformation plan as it significantly improves the passenger's journey and opens up the potential for freight operations," remarked Mohamed Khalil, Managing Director of Alstom Egypt.

Alstom has been a partner to Egypt's railways since 1971, supporting the railway infrastructure development in the country.

Alstom Egypt has established a strong local team and a Center of Excellence (COE) for signalling systems, power supply and maintenance workshops to support projects across its Africa-Middle East-Central Asia (AMECA) region.

Egypt's vision and strong talent pool has enabled Alstom to make significant contributions to Egypt's rail industry development. Today, Alstom employs approximately 500 people in Egypt with several ongoing projects including the modernisation of signalling system on the Beni Sueif - Assyut line.- TradeArabia News Service


The 10 massive artworks on display at the Pyramids of Giza

The 10 large-scale contemporary art installations of the Forever Is Now exhibition have been unveiled at the Pyramids of Giza.

Organised by consultancy Art d'Egypte, the show is running until Sunday, November 7, and is open to the public.

"This is the first art exhibition at the Pyramids in 4,500 years, so it's a historic day," Art d'Egypte founder Nadine Abdel Ghaffar said at a press conference on Thursday. "I want to welcome all the artists who believed in our story. It wasn't an easy project. Each artist actively participated in this project, full-heartedly and genuinely."

The exhibition is being held under the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the patronage of Unesco.

Art d'Egypte has previously organised three exhibitions showcasing Egyptian contemporary art at heritage sites, at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, Manial Palace Museum and on Al Muizz Street in Old Cairo.


Don't text and drive: New cameras clampdown on phone usage

Traffic authorities officially activated advanced CCTV cameras to detect drivers using mobile phones while driving, according to an official source.

The CCTV cameras are installed on roads and traffic signals in different locations across Qatar to control traffic-related problems that could lead to fatal accidents.

He said the system has been activated for monitoring motorists as using phone devices while driving has become the most common problem distracting people from driving safely.

"Mobile phone is no more a means of just taking or making calls. Instead, it has become a means of multiple communications, making users semi-addictive even while they are at home," said Al Hajri on a Qatar Radio programme.

Thus, he urged people to avoid such behaviour while driving for everyone's safety.

Addressing concerns over traffic congestion, the official said, "traffic platforms were also established and activated, which send awareness messages to alert motorists about traffic jams enabling them to use alternative routes."

He added that transport companies have also been reminded of the time slots for trucks to enter and exit.

Al Hajri assured people that hectic hours-long traffic congestion has ended, while traffic congestion at peak working hours is a normal phenomenon in any active city.

For those interested in camping, the official said, "Caravans are allowed to be transported from 8 am to 5 pm in the public interest."

The aim is to transport caravans during daylight to avoid traffic accidents that are most likely to occur at night when the vision is not clear enough.

If these vehicles get into an accident, heavy objects can tumble, resulting in further car accidents; these tools may not be visible at night. In addition, he said, "some accidents had taken place because of flying iron pieces, which pose a threat to road users."

An earlier report by the Directorate indicated that traffic violations have decreased due to joint efforts by Qatari authorities to ensure road safety.

The national traffic plan focuses on three aspects, intensifying training of traffic patrol officers, driving schools' curriculum outputs, and plans related to traffic awareness.

According to the Directorate, the decline in traffic violations has been achievable due to road safety education and awareness efforts.


Employers to provide non-Qatari employees with health insurance, ministry rules

A mandatory health insurance system will be implemented for all expats and visitors to Qatar, according to a new law concerning healthcare, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) confirmed on Tuesday.

The insurance coverage policy stipulates the provision of basic health care services to workers through care providers in government and private health facilities.

This puts an obligation on employers to provide non-Qatari employees with health insurance through companies registered with MoPH.

The law, will come into effect six months after its issuance and publishing in the Official Gazette by April 2022.

During this time, services will continue to be provided to all residents, and details related to the application of the law and the health insurance system will be available to the public in the next coming days.

The new insurance system is expected to develop the health sector as well as services provided to the public through tackling and alleviating challenges imposed on the health care sector due to Qatar's steady population growth.

It is also expected to reduce waiting times in government-run health facilities in Qatar and provide appointments for medical consultations easily and quickly in order to meet the health and safety needs of patients while also maintaining the highest level of quality.


Visa or residency issues? Here's what Qatar's new 'grace period' means for expats

Qatar's Ministry of Interior has announced a new grace period for expats found to be violating entry and exit permits from 12 October to 31 December 2021.

The new ministerial decision means that those who breached residency rules, work visa rules, or family visit visa rules can now file a reconciliation to correct their legal status and avoid legal procedures.

Due to the ever-changing regulations worldwide due to the pandemic, many have found themselves unable to leave the country for safety reasons or are unable to renew their residency abroad without an entry permit.

This means residents have found themselves stuck in the middle of legal, and very costly, procedures, as per Qatari laws.

However, the new time limit to correct the legal status, which can be filed from 1pm to 6pm, will allow those deemed to be in violation of the rules a second chance to avoid such legal measures.

Residents can nows ubmit a request for reconciliation by approaching the Search and Follow-up Department or any of the following service centres: Umm Salal, Umm Sunaim (formerly Industrial Area), Mesaimeer, Al Wakra, and Al Rayyan.

The department will then examine the file and consider an exemption from the reconciliation amount or a reduction based on the provisions of the law.


Having trouble with your employer? Here's what you can do

Those who require assistance regarding employment, inspection and labour relations can now visit the Ministry of Labour's headquarters on Sunday, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays every week, authorities have announced.

The specialised departments will welcome the public from 8am to 12pm to ensure the community's requests are met in an efficient and timely manner.

Meanwhile, all other departments within the ministry are available for the public throughout the week, excluding weekends, from 8am to 12pm at the public service centre.

The centre is located on the first floor at the main headquarters and the service centres in Al Wakra, Al Khor, Al Shahaniya and the Industrial Area.

The departments will help facilitate any inquiries regarding obligatory procedures related to labour, and submit transactions through various electronic platforms, including one dedicated to complaints and reports.

This means that those who require assistance in filing a violation report can now visit the ministry during the dedicated hours for help.

Labour violations can also be reported through the ministry's hotline number, 16008, or by accessing the unified complaint platform.

The newly announced hours aims to facilitate the reception of the public, enhance services provided by the ministry and offer any required assistance in a timely manner.

Labour law reforms

Last month, Qatar's Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani announced the reshuffling of various ministerial positions

Among the changes was the appointment of Dr. Ali bin Saeed bin Smaikh Al Marri the new minister of labour.

Doha has introduced major reform over the past years, including the region's first ever non-discriminatory minimum wage and the dismantling of the controversial "kafala" or sponsorship system.

Qatar also drastically enhanced monitoring across the board to detect violations, enacting swifter penalties and further strengthening the capacity of labour inspectors.

So far, dozens of companies have faced action from authorities for violating the new laws.

In May, Qatar's Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs [MADLSA] launched its new platform for workers' complaints, enabling employees to submit public violations of the labour law.

In a tweet posted online, one worker confirmed elections were held at his workplace to elect a worker representative in a move facilitated by MADLSA and the International Labour Organization in Qatar.

"Another step on a long road with @uniglobalunion and @ituc," the tweet added, tagging global union organisations.

Last month, an official from the European Parliament's intergroup on sports praised Qatar's "positive reform" following a visit to the Gulf state, as an independent report that surveyed migrant workers in Qatar noted major improvements to address concerns.

"The process of reform which we have witnessed is positive, not only for Qatar but for the entire region to follow," Vice Chair of the Delegation for the Relations with the Arab Peninsula and Chair of the Sport Intergroup Marc Tarabella told reporters in late September.

"Qatar is strongly listening" to the suggestions concerning workers' rights, he added.

Meanwhile, the independent sports think tank Fifa Ethics and Regulation Watch [FERW] found "significant" improvement in workers' conditions in Qatar since winning the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The survey conducted by FERW pointed towards Qatari authorities as the main force behind changes made to address workers' rights in terms of pay and their general treatment, with no evidence of FIFA being responsible for the reforms.

Despite the changes, rights organisations have urged authorities to continue to crackdown on those who violate the laws.

"Despite some welcome reforms, migrant workers are still being left unpaid, and the authorities have failed to investigate thousands of deaths in the past decade despite evidence of links between premature deaths and unsafe, searingly-hot working conditions," said Deshmukh.

In August, Amnesty released a new 56-page report accusing Qatari authorities of failing to investigate the preventable deaths of "thousands of migrant workers" over the past decade, which it said were linked to unsafe and hot working conditions.

Responding to Amnesty at the time, a spokesperson from the Qatari Government Communications Office [GCO] rejected the report, saying that the injury and mortality statistics published by the Gulf state "are in line with international best practice".


Saudi real estate firm marks first entry into Qatar with a QAR 700 million deal

The project is one of the first partnerships between Qatar and Saudi Arabia after a year-long Gulf crisis.

Leading Saudi real estate developer Dar Al Arkan is set to mark its first entry into Qatar with a QAR 700 million "premium project" to develop Qetaifan Island North.

Qetaifan Projects, a leading Qatari real estate development company owned by Katara Hospitality, signed an agreement with the Saudi property developer.

The work project consists of five South Marina Promenade plots overlooking the Island South and the South Marina Promenade.

The agreement marks Dar Al Arkan's first entry into Doha and one of the first partnerships between companies both countries since the GCC crisis came to an end earlier this year.

The deal was inked by Managing Director of Qetaifan Projects Sheikh Nasser bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and Vice Chairman of Dar Al Arkan Properties Ziad El Chaar at the Cityscape Qatar 2021 event in Doha.

The three-day event, the only property exhibition of its kind in Qatar, enables and promotes investors and businessmen to network and trade.

"We are delighted to work with Dar Al Arkan on this unique premium project. Qetaifan Island North is being developed to become an attractive and sought-after destination with its many residential, entertainment, retail and recreational offerings that will put Qatar on the regional and global tourism map," Sheikh Nasser said.

"We are happy to conclude this agreement, which shows Qetaifan Projects' efforts to provide an attractive investment environment for foreign investments and provide the local market with international standards and options that work on developing and revitalising sectors such as tourism, hospitality, entertainment and of course real estate development, working hand in hand to achieve Qatar Vision 2030," he continued.

'Premium project'

Under the new partnership, Dar Al Arkan will work on a luxury project on Qetaifan Island North including premium residential units with sea view and modern facilities.

This project will also provide access to specialised retail stores on the ground floor, as well as a waterpark, a variety of luxurious hotels, accommodation, retail options, and several other amenities.

The development scheme will kick-start in the second quarter of 2022 and total sales are anticipated to exceed QAR 1 billion ($274.7m).

The project could reach completion by 2026 as the development phase is anticipated to take three to four years, Sheikh Nasser said.

Speaking about the recent partnership with the Saudi-based developer, Sheik Nasser noted Dar Al Arkan's reputation in the Saudi market will help in attracting more investors into Qatar.

"We are today talking as developers, and tomorrow we'll have individual units and plots that are going to be sold whether to the Saudi Arabia or the UAE, or to any of the other GCC countries, and the whole world.

"We are welcoming and inviting all investors to come. And we are privileged to have the rights for permanent residencies and freehold ownership for international investors into the project," he emphasised.

Meanwhile, Dar Al Arkan's El Chaar praised Qatar's "thriving" real estate market, which he said is supported by good pricing strategies for rental return or residency, in addition to connectivity, safety and security.

"As the nation gets ready to host the World Cup next year, we believe this global event will have positive implications for the market and position Qatar as a desirable market that is equally attractive to both local residents and international investors," he said.

"Our project on Qetaifan Island North is unique and builds on the Dar Al Arkan's strategic aspirations of elevating the offerings as well as quality of the real estate sector in the region," El Chaar noted.

He stressed on the importance of global connectivity in investment, "today by having one of the busiest airports and one of the best airlines in the world, this presents a very big opportunity for international investors to invest in Qatar."


Qatar teams up with Rolls-Royce to launch billion dollar green projects

The Gulf state plans to establish engineering hubs in the UK and Qatar to test and develop green technologies.

Qatar is partnering with Rolls-Royce to inaugurate new green engineering projects as the Gulf state pushes toward a greener environment.

Qatar is investing in building science and engineering hubs in the north of England "for start-ups to test and develop green technologies," English media The Sunday Times reported.

It added that "a sister campus would be built in Qatar." The aero-engines giant will take shares in some of the projects.

The billion dollars project is targeted towards inventions in carbon capture and storage, with the aim to curb carbon dioxide from factories and power stations before it reaches the atmosphere.

The goal is to build five "unicorn" companies - start-ups worth $1 billion - by 2030 with the aim to expand to up to 20 by 2040. This deal is considered one of the biggest inward investments by a foreign country to the UK, ST said on Saturday.

Some 10,000 new job vacancies are expected to open in the UK in the coming years following the launch.

The paper said an announcement could be made at the COP26 United Nations climate summit on Sunday.

"It is believed talks on the project have been underway for the best part of a year, and venture capitalists and private equity firms are involved," according to news reports.

Meanwhile, Qatar and RR are reportedly seeking partnerships with universities in the UK with an expected opening date in 2023 and 1000 job opportunities.

The paper said feasibility studies are set to be completed by mid-2022.

Qatar pushing towards a greener environment

Qatar has been leading global efforts in fighting climate change and implementing major reforms towards a more sustainable environment.

Recently, the Gulf state announced its 'Climate Change Action Plan' aiming to cut 25 per cent in its greenhouse gas emissions and carbon intensity of its liquified natural gas facilities in the next eight years.

In addition, in September, the Gulf Arab country announced the start of implementing plans to establish an integrated network of electric car chargers across different locations to transform the electric transport system gradually.

The strategy includes gradually transporting the public bus services, government school buses, and Doha Metro's buses to full-electric, which is considered a huge move towards eco-friendly transportation.

This is hoped to reduce the adverse impact of human-caused climate change.

This month, Qatar took yet another significant step in appointing Minister of Environment and Climate Change Sheikh Dr Faleh bin Nasser bin Ahmed bin Ali Al Thani to lead national environmental projects as part of the newly-established ministry.

Meanwhile, Qatar's biggest state-owned liquefied natural gas [LNG] supplier recently announced a new brand identity, changing its name to QatarEnergy to reflect its vision and aspirations to deliver cleaner energy to the world.

Authorities have also vowed to stage the world's first ever 'green' World Cup next year.

The ongoing developments align with Qatar's National Vision of 2030 pillars, which include providing an integrated, world-class, multimodal transit system with reliable, trustworthy, and environmentally conscious services.

A year from now, almost 25% of the public transit bus fleet in Qatar will have become electric.

By 2030, most busses and public transportation will gradually become electric, reducing harmful carbon emissions and maintaining environmental sustainability measures.


UAE's golden visa: Masdar City office now processing long-term residency

A new centre at Abu Dhabi's Masdar City Free Zone is now accepting and processing golden visas of all eligible candidates and their families.

The Masdar team has already processed several golden visas and candidates can visit the 'one-stop-shop' for advice and services.

This can also be done remotely via online, phone or email, authorities said.

Masdar City Free Zone has teamed up with Abu Dhabi Residents Office and is working to promote the golden visas to eligible candidates.

The golden card is a long-term residency programme announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, in May 2019.

Not long after its launch, more than 400 investors and businessmen, including some of their families, had already been granted the visa, with dozens more receiving it each day.

In November 2020, Sheikh Mohammed set out a major expansion of the scheme. It allowed all doctors and PhD holders to secure a 10-year golden visa.

Some scientists, big data and artificial intelligence experts are also eligible, as are top-scoring school pupils and their families, and university graduates with a grade point average of 3.8.

The golden visa enables foreigners to live, work and study in the UAE without the need of an Emirati sponsor and will be issued for five or 10 years and renewed automatically.

"We currently have more than 900 companies that benefit from the city's unique ecosystem of education, R&D, technology start-ups, incubators and corporates.

"Masdar City is therefore serving as a hub for the kinds of researchers, investors, entrepreneurs, and students, all within specialised fields, who would qualify for a golden visa in Abu Dhabi."

Offering long-term residency will further encourage business development and draw in new talent to the country.

Long-term residents who have contributed to the country's development are also being rewarded for their loyalty and encouraged to continue investing in the UAE.

"Our goal is to empower each and every person that calls Abu Dhabi home, enabling them to fulfil their potential and contribute to the emirate's advancement," said Sameh Al Qubaisi, executive director of the executive affairs office, Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.

"So many people and families are eager to relocate to Abu Dhabi and experience what it offers. We hope to help more people enjoy the high standards, security and lifestyle Abu Dhabi is recognised for."

On Sunday, Abu Dhabi's Department of Health also announced medical insurance guidelines for people who are awarded the golden visa.

The first category is of people working in the capital. Employers must continue to bear the costs of the health insurance for their employees just as for those who have the normal two or three-year residency visas.

The second category includes all other applicants. They should have valid health insurance for themselves and their family members during their stay in the Emirates.

If they do not have a health insurance cover, the applicant must sign an undertaking to get one or to bear all medical costs, if needed.


Dubai Shopping Festival to kick off on December 15

The iconic Dubai Shopping Festival is all set to return for its 27th edition from December 15, 2021 to January 29, 2022, offering a diverse line-up of innovative events, world-class entertainment, mega raffles and array of promotions.

Coinciding with Expo 2020 and the UAE's Golden Jubilee celebrations, the event further reinforces the city's position as a multi-faceted must-visit destination and adds to the growing momentum of activity across its leisure, retail and entertainment sectors, reported Emirates News Agency WAM.

Organised by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), the latest edition of Dubai's flagship festival will highlight to the world the vibrancy that has returned to the city, Featuring an array of innovative events, lively concerts, incredible drone shows, fireworks displays, global brand collaborations, life-changing mega raffles, promotions and offers across a range of homegrown and global brands, the Festival will give residents and visitors the opportunity to enjoy exceptional experiences throughout the 46-day extravaganza.

Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), said: "Inspired by the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai, the city has always exceeded expectations when organising festivals and events."

"With Dubai open to all travellers and visitors from across the globe, we will roll out an extraordinary Dubai Shopping Festival during this landmark year in which the city is hosting EXPO 2020 and celebrating the nation's Golden Jubilee.

"As the longest running and most successful shopping festival of its kind, we extend our deepest gratitude to our retailers and partners for their continued support to DSF, as we work even more closely with them this year to ensure that the festival will once again provide one of the best shopping experiences and create many memorable Dubai moments for residents belonging to over 200 nationalities, and global travellers," he added.

DSF visitors can expect a packed programme of events, including theatrical performances, community markets and exclusive exhibitions, folklore and heritage shows, fun fairs, and many other activities for families and children, in addition to exciting events at the EXPO 2020 site and gastronomy delights awaiting foodies in every corner of the city.

The return of the popular alternative retail concept, Market OTB at Burj Park and the DSF Market at Al Seef will also add to the DSF excitement and further enrich the festival experience. With more events giving visitors a broad spectrum of choices, the upcoming edition of DSF will transform the city into a place abuzz with excitement, full of enthusiasm and adventure, making DSF the best time to shop and enjoy the best of everything in Dubai.

Dubai Shopping Festival is supported by key sponsors RAKBANK MasterCard and Jumbo Electronics and strategic partners which include: Al Futtaim Group (Dubai Festival City Mall & Festival Plaza), Al Zarooni Group (Mercato Shopping Mall), AW Rostamani Group, Dubai International Financial Centre, Emaar, Emirates Airline, Enoc, Etisalat, Majid Al Futtaim (Mall of the Emirates, City Centre Mirdif, City Centre Deira), Nakheel Malls (Ibn Battuta Mall, The Pointe, Nakheel Mall, Dragon Mart 2), Al Seef, Bluewaters, Boxpark, The Outlet Village, La Mer, Citywalk and The Beach.


150-million-flower Dubai Miracle Garden opens today with new attractions

Dubai: Dubai Miracle Garden, the largest natural flower garden in the world, has returned for its 10th season today.

To mark the opening of the new season, the garden has been decked up with a range of never-before-seen floral installations.

Dubai Miracle Garden features over 150 million natural flowers and plants from more than 120 varieties, some of which are rare and not cultivated anywhere else in the Gulf region.

Abdel Naser Rahhal, Creator and Co-Founder of Dubai Miracle Garden and Vice Chairman of Cityland Group, the developer of the ambitious botanical project, said: "We're delighted to open the 10th consecutive season of the Dubai Miracle Garden. This moment is made more special because the garden offers families a unique opportunity to walk in floral spaces in an enchanting outdoor environment. The entire team has worked hard to ensure the new installations at Dubai Miracle Garden delight the visitors and gives them an opportunity to feel at one with nature in a safe and fun environment."

He added: "The new season of Dubai Miracle Garden is running parallel to the Expo 2020, an event that is capturing the imagination of a global audience. Dubai Miracle Garden, which takes inspiration from the Expo's cutting-edge design, creativity and hospitality, is a unique addition to the itinerary of visitors to the mega global event."

New attraction

The highlight of Dubai Miracle Garden's newest additions is a list of floral installations inspired by 'The Smurfs', a children's comic and animation franchise cantered on a fictional community of small blue creatures who live in mushroom-shaped houses in the forest.

A special 'Smurf Village Attraction Area' will host tens of life-sized mushroom houses and will be decked with furniture inspired from the animated film series. Families will have the opportunity to enter these innovative mushroom houses.

Fresh features

Dubai Miracle Garden's tenth season also features a newly designed three-dimensional clock, a 'floating rock' with a fountain, floral peacocks, as well as two floral exhibits inspired by children's favourite characters: a 'Genie' that stands almost 15m tall and a 'flying magic carpet'.


Public Transport Day: How to get millions of Nol Plus points from Dubai's RTA

Dubai: Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) on Monday announced the launch of the '12th Public Transport Day' on November 1 under the theme 'Together to Expo 2020 Dubai'

The initiative aims to encourage Dubai residents and visitors to use public transport means in their daily travels, especially when visiting Expo 2020 Dubai. In line with the RTA's efforts to encourage the public to use mass transit means, nol Plus points will be increased to three folds during the duration of the campaign from November 1 to 8.

The Public Transport Day initiative, which coincides with the 16th RTA anniversary, aims to promote Dubai's efforts in improving the environment, achieving sustainable development, and encouraging riders to use public transport means through introducing them to the benefits of riding public transport means.

'Art in Public Transport'

"In concurrence with the Public Transport Day, RTA is launching 'Art in Public Transport' initiative in partnership with Dubai Culture," said Rowdah Al Mehrizi, director of Marketing and Corporate Communication, Corporate Administrative Support Services Sector, RTA.

Virtual contests

In early October, RTA launched the photography contest in cooperation with Canon Middle East, and in conjunction with the Expo 2020, via social media platforms. The contest aimed to encourage the public to use public transport to and from Expo site. Winners will be honoured in three stages. The first will be during the Public Transport Day. Stages 2 and 3 will continue until the end of the Expo next year, said Al Mehrizi.

RTA will launch, a challenge to be run via social media sites such as TikTok and Instagram Reel. It involves swiping the nol Plus card virtually in a challenge aimed to encourage the public to use public transport and go to several parts of Dubai to share their journeys with others," she added.

Treasure hunt

Events of the Public Transport Day include a treasure hunt competition through RTA's website to encourage the public to use public transport. The competition prompts the public to discover a hidden treasure in public transport stations. The search is focused on the Dubai Metro Red Line and stations near the Expo 2020 site. Eight winners will be selected and each of them will be rewarded with up to two million nol Plus points to be added to their nol cards to be used later.


Ahmed bin Mohammed inaugurates Ain Dubai, world's largest and tallest observation wheel

in Dubai, the world's largest and tallest observation wheel has now officially opened to public.

The landmark project is the latest addition to Dubai Holding's entertainment portfolio.

Speaking on the occasion, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed emphasised Dubai's continued commitment to developing the emirate's offerings as a tourism and lifestyle destination and enriching the quality of life of people who live in Dubai. The unique experiences offered to visitors by the attraction, located in the heart of the lifestyle island destination Bluewaters, reflect the emirate's aspiration to achieve the highest excellence in all sectors and spheres of life, he added, as per a report released by UAE's state-run news agency Wam.

The construction of the observation wheel took nine million man-hours.

The observation cabins of Ain Dubai provide visitors a vantage point for 360-degree views of Dubai, over the waters of the Arabian Gulf. The 48 passenger cabins that circle the enormous circumference of the wheel have the capacity to carry more than 1,750 visitors at once. One complete rotation of the wheel takes 38 minutes.

Ain Dubai's key components were assembled using two of the world's largest cranes, and the structure used 11,200 tonnes of steel in its construction, 33% more than the amount used to build the Eiffel Tower.

Over 10 key countries came together in the making of Ain Dubai.

The attraction joins Dubai Holding's extensive entertainment portfolio, which includes Dubai Parks and Resorts, Global Village, Coca-Cola Arena, Roxy Cinemas, leading waterparks and much more.


Know the law when hiring domestic staff, Dubai chief prosecutor urges families

Families hiring domestic staff have been warned by a chief prosecutor in Dubai to make sure the advice given by agencies is correct.

Some agencies claim they provide a warranty for a domestic worker for only six months, which is not the case, Dr Ali Humaid bin Khatem said on Monday in an online seminar about the rights and duties of domestic employees and agencies.

"A guarantee warranty when hiring domestic workers is two years, not six months like what some agencies claim," said Dr bin Khatem, Dubai's Advocate General and head of naturalisation and residency prosecution.

"People should read the law and the ministerial decision number 22 of 2019 in order to make sure the rights of all are preserved."

The guarantee warranty allows employers to reclaim costs of recruitment from agencies for the remainder of a contract for an early termination, where the employer is not at fault.

However, recruitment agencies are exempt from refunding the costs if the employer selected the worker by name and the agency was carrying out the employer's request.

It is one of many rules and regulations regarding the recruitment and employment of domestic workers that residents and agencies should be aware of, Dr bin Khatem said.

The chief prosecutor urged families to read the UAE law on domestic workers to ensure they are aware of their rights and the rights of their employees.

The UAE Domestic Labour Law includes the following entitlements:

  • Workers must be paid no later than ten days after the end of the month

  • Workers are entitled to one day of paid rest per week

  • They must have 12 hours rest per day, including 8 hours consecutive

  • Workers are entitled to 30 days paid holiday a year

  • Medical insurance must be provided by the employer

  • They are entitled to a round-trip ticket home every 2 years

"Families need to fulfil their obligations and treat workers with respect and compassion," Dr bin Khatem told the seminar.

He referred to a case of a maid who absconded because she wasn't paid for six months.

"Domestic staff are also entitled to end of service gratuity calculated at 14 days salary per year," he said.

Dr bin Khatem said all disputes related to domestic workers occur because of people's lack of knowledge of the law.

In several cases, he said workers claimed they weren't given wages, adding that if families read the law carefully they would have known they needed to keep records.

"Make sure you keep records of contracts and receipts for the agreement with the agency and for salary payments made to the worker," Dr bin Khatem said.

The chief prosecutor reminded employers to notify authorities about domestic workers who have absconded, in order to be reimbursed and avoid facing fines.

Employers will receive a Dh10,000 refund if their domestic worker is found to be working illegally elsewhere.

"The place caught hiring the worker illegally will be fined Dh50,000, from which Dh10,000 will be given to the sponsor," he said.

If the worker has absconded, or didn't meet the requirements mentioned in the agreement, sponsors can also redeem some of the costs of hiring domestic workers from agencies within the first two years.

"In this case, the agency must return all the amounts the sponsor has paid, and if sending the worker back to their country, the agency must cover airplane ticket costs," he said.

To avoid disputes and hassles of issuing resident visas for workers, some Emirati families have started using part-time employment.

"Families hire workers from the agency directly. The service is slightly more expensive but it spares them any troubles," he said.

The session on Monday is part of a series of online seminars organised by Dubai Prosecution and the emirate's Community Development Authority to help raise awareness about laws and combat illegal practices.


Dubai: RTA launches safer online smart car rental system

Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has launched an online Transportation Activities Rental System (TARS) to serve the car rental system in the emirate. The system aims to bring more happiness to corporate and individual clients by improving the level of services provided to them.

The CEO of RTA Licensing Agency Abdullah Yousef Al Ali, said, "This new system charts out a comprehensive and flexible regulatory framework to streamline the business of the car rental sector, and covers all types of rentable vehicles. It contains revised legislation and improved regulations that cover all car rental activities overseen by RTA."

"The system, in particular, applies to light vehicles, heavy vehicles, light buses, heavy buses, and motorbikes. It also streamlines the relationship between car rental companies and their clients."

"In line with the government's digital transformation strategy and the use of cutting-edge technology in planning and monitoring, such as blockchain and artificial intelligence, the system is considered the first of its kind in issuing smart car rental contracts across the emirate. RTA applied the corporate agility approach in developing the system out of its commitment to keep pace with the latest global practices of the industry. The project contributes to the growth of the car rental sector and caters to the accompanying market variables," added Al Ali.

RTA has completed the development of the key features of the system and activated it for use by all companies. It has also completed the registration of all companies and entered up all valid contracts into the system.

It has also trained 989 car rental companies in Dubai on the use of the system and familiarised them with its features. RTA will soon start training new companies that do not have systems of their own.

"RTA always seeks to bring more happiness to customers, be it individuals or entities, through advancing its systems, using new technologies, rolling out creative initiatives, and applying top global standards. Such a drive is bound to support the sustainability of Dubai's transportation sector and contribute effectively to realising RTA's vision to become 'The world leader in seamless & sustainable mobility," concluded the CEO of RTA Licensing Agency.


Damac launches new Mediterranean-style lagoons project

Damac Properties has unveiled its latest community 'Damac Lagoons', a new luxury development that promises to give community living a refreshing new feel with its very own 'Eight Wonders of the Mediterranean' concept.

Located adjacent to the Damac Hills community, the new project aims to transport residents into an enchanting paradise comprising 8 majestic cities inspired by countries based on the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The clusters include: Venice, Morocco, Santorini, Costa Brava, Nice, Malta, Andalucia and Portofino.

The community's villas and townhouses will be built around an extravagantly large pristine water lagoons with white sanded beaches and each town will have a unique theme with a diverse range of amenities for everyone to enjoy.

Announcing the launch, Amira Sajwani, General Manager (Sales and Development) said: "With a consistent vision and strong momentum, we are building the next generation of Middle Eastern luxury living with Damac Lagoons, an exciting addition to our portfolio of award-winning residential, commercial and leisure developments that will provide residents an experience like no other."

"Living here will be akin to escaping to a much-needed holiday, without ever having to leave the comforts of one's home," she stated.

At the Santorini cluster, which will be the "Central Hub" of the community, residents will be spoilt for choice on this "Island Odyssey" with its very own "Fitness & Wellness Zone" equipped with a climbing wall, she explained.

They then can relax by the nature pond or enjoy a movie under the stars at the floating cinema on the water. Here townhouses and villas are strung together by quaint pathways, bicycle tracks and ornamental foliage - all just a walk away from the black sand beach, she added.

Damac Lagoons brings the floating city of Venice to life. In this cluster nicknamed the "Fun Hub", romantic gondola rides and waterside cafes tastefully capture the Venetian way of life.

The Morocco cluster mimics the "The Serene Old Town" of Tangier acting as the community's "Tranquillity Hub". Here residents can achieve inner peace by enjoying the lagoon-facing infinity pools, yoga meditation lawns, family cabanas and other escapes.

From inner peace to exhilarating adventures, the Costa Brava cluster brings residents to the "Wild Coast" of the Mediterranean Sea. This "Adrenaline Hub" captures the pulsating vibe of Catalonia with its ziplining, rock climbing, kayaking, paddle surfing and wave riding features.

Moving on, awesome thrills await the young and young-at-heart in the Nice cluster. This self-described "Youth Hub" will delight fitness enthusiasts with bicycle trails and a skate park, while those yearning for a quiet escape will find solace in the splash pools and beach area reminiscent of the French Riviera city.

In the Malta cluster's 'Historic Capital', children have plenty of entertainment outlets in the "Play & Learn Hub" including a sensory plaza, a discovery maze, a camping island, an Augmented Reality (AR) nature trail, outdoor art exhibits, interactive water attractions and more.

According to Sajwani, the enchanting appeal of Andalusia is next on the journey map in "The Charming South", a "Ladies Hub" where women can enjoy their very own fully equipped gym, spa, beauty salon and meditation lounge, all within moments of the beach.

The journey reaches its peak at "The Ligurian Gem" of Portofino. This "Work & Play Hub" is a place where business meets pleasure. Here residents can conduct business lunch meetings at the waterside caf or host team building events and more - then go kayaking, sailing or paddle surfing to unwind.

Completing the lifestyle experience at the Damac Lagoons are the waterside boutiques, featuring exciting premium brands and retail concepts guaranteed to meet residents' shopping needs, stated Sajwani.

"The concept of community living is rapidly evolving. With its increased popularity, Damac Properties aims to anticipate and meet our customers' preferences, offering them everything they need, and more, in terms of entertainment, leisure and retail options," she noted.

"We have set the bar high with the amenities offered at our successful Damac Hills and Damac Hills 2 communities, and I am confident that Damac Lagoons will raise community living standards even further," she added.-TradeArabia News Service


Bahrain approves Sinopharm vaccine for children aged 3-11

The vaccines will be available from Wednesday and parents or guardians can register children on the Ministry of Health website of the Covid-19 app BeAware, the National Medical Taskforce for Combatting the Coronavirus announced.

The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine would soon be approved for children between 5 and 11, it also said.

Bahrain has registered 276,608 cases of coronavirus and 1,393 related deaths since the start of the pandemic. Case numbers have dropped significantly since a daily high of 3,273 during Bahrain's second wave, to only 37 on Monday. The nation of 1.7 million people has administered around 2,746,461 doses of Covid-19 vaccines, enough to have fully inoculated 83.7 per cent of the population.

In efforts to get as much of the population protected as quickly as possible, the kingdom launched mobile vaccinations in February.


Saudi Arabia has no plan to cut VAT rate any time soon, says Al-Jadaan

Saudi Arabia has no plans to reduce the rate of value-added tax (VAT) in the near future, Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan has said.

"The decision on VAT will be reviewed after several years and when the public finances improve," he said in an interview with Asharq News television channel on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome.

Al-Jadaan said the goal of the increased rate of VAT was to deal with the economic repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic. "When the public finances improve after several years, most likely within five years, it will be reexamined, but there will be no VAT cut anytime soon," he said.

Saudi Arabia raised VAT from 5 percent to 15 percent in May 2020 as part of austerity measures to support its pandemic-hit economy.

The minister expected the Kingdom's general budget would record a deficit by the end of this year. "We have a move to maintain spending control in the Kingdom despite the increase in revenues.

We want to continue working efficiently, and we may raise public spending, but any increase in spending items in the future, including the salaries of government employees, will be to cover inflation," he said.

In the third quarter of this year, the Saudi budget recorded the first quarterly surplus since early 2019, which is estimated at SR6.7 billion. The surplus revenue was the result of a 60 percent increase in oil income on an annual basis, along with a limited decline in public spending, according to data released by the Ministry of Finance on Sunday.

Al-Jadaan underscored the Kingdom's emphasis on maintaining rationalized spending despite the increase in revenues. He described the G20's approval to impose taxes on multinational companies as excellent. "This will benefit all economies, and slow the race to reduce taxes, which leads to an increase in deficit. It will also contribute to attracting companies to Saudi Arabia, given that all countries will have the same tax advantages, and therefore, there will be greater justice."

Referring to the energy markets, Al-Jadaan said: "Investment in fossil fuels is important and necessary for the world economy, and the real challenge is not in oil but in gas, whose price has shot up by 500 percent in Europe. Any failure in these investments will cause a major energy crisis in the world."

He stressed that investment in fossil fuels is important and essential for the world economy, and the real challenge is not in oil but in gas, whose price has shot up by 500 percent in Europe; and any slackness in investing in the sector will lead to a major energy crisis around the world.

The minister highlighted the remarkable achievements made by the G20 summit meetings. The G20 pledged to provide coronavirus vaccines to developing countries, in addition to support for saving the environment. A team of finance and health ministers was constituted in the G20 to make preparations to confront any future pandemics.

Referring to calls for the G20 to be more pragmaticand transparent in its decisions, Al-Jadaan said this was evident in pinning the responsibility on the major industrialized countries for causing climate change, and their commitment to contribute to securing $100 billion annually, over a period of at least five years, to support the environmental transformation in developing countries.

He pointed out that during Saudi Arabia's presidency of G20, the International Monetary Fund provided $650 billion to developing countries, of which Saudi Arabia's share was $13 billion.

With regard to Saudi Arabia's plan for carbon neutrality, Al-Jadaan stressed that it was the result of the Kingdom's serious interest in tackling climate change. He said from 2015 to 2019, Saudi Arabia reduced carbon emissions by 3 percent, while other G20 countries increased their emissions by 2 percent in the same period.

Saudi Arabia has major plans for renewable energy and the use of the energy mix, with investments worth tens of billions of dollars, he said, adding: "We are serious about reaching carbon neutrality by 2060. We will set targets for every 10 years, and announce them successively."

The minister said Saudi Arabia agreed with G20 in seeking to achieve the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, but the compliance now is two degrees.

Al-Jadaan pointed out that 80 percent of the world still depended on conventional energy. "In my opinion, working on the carbon circular economy and the energy mix is the best solution for the global economy. The Kingdom is an influential country in energy markets, and our goal is to find a balance between supply and demand, and to ensure energy supplies to the markets," he said.


Saudi Arabia to launch world's first 'flying museum'

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is launching the world's first "flying museum" on Thursday, highlighting archaeological finds on a plane journey between the capital and the ancient city of AlUla.

The museum, which is a collaborative project between the Royal Commission for AlUla and the national flag carrier Saudia, will exhibit a replica collection of artifacts that have been discovered in AlUla through archaeological excavations.

Passengers will also be able to watch a Discovery Channel documentary called "Architects of Ancient Arabia" that was released this year, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Rebecca Foote, director of archaeology and cultural heritage research at the commission, will provide an introduction to the documentary during the trip and give an explanation about the artifacts featured in the museum.

She said: "There is a major load of work ongoing in AlUla by local and international archeologists, and yet we are just beginning to understand the complicated nature of AlUla's past. AlUla is a hidden gem in the Arabian Peninsula, and we are slowly discovering its secrets. I am looking forward to sharing more information about our work with passengers of the Museum in the Sky trip, operated by Saudia."


Popular safari attraction to extend beyond Riyadh Season 2021

Riyadh Safari is back for a second time as part of Riyadh Season's events and activities that began on Oct. 20, with plans to extend it long after the season is over.

"We were told Riyadh Safari would be a sub-zone, they thought there wouldn't be any traffic, but since the second week of season one we were running fully booked every day," said Abdulrouf Ghurab, Wildlife Parks director.

Since becoming a main zone, Ghurab believes Riyadh Safari will be extended for three to four months past the six-month Riyadh Season.

The zone, one of 14 in the season, is a special destination characterized by environmental biodiversity and rare, endangered animals, including giraffes, ostriches, pigmy hippos, bengal and white tigers, ligers, a golden tiger - one of 34 remaining in the world - African lions, Asian elephants and Arabian oryxes.

"There is a big difference between 2019 and 2021 in terms of the experience itself and the attractions," he said. "Since Riyadh Safari's first season, we've been focusing on how to have something unique."

The zone's capacity has been increased by 40 percent to allow 2,500 to 3,000 people in the park, according to the director.

Open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, with the safari tours closing at 5 p.m, tickets for the 11-hour day cost SR55 ($14.60), available on the Riyadh Season mobile application.


Kuwait resumes issuance of all categories of visas

KUWAIT: The interior ministry and the Public Authority for Manpower announced yesterday the resumption of issuance of all types of visas to foreigners, including dependent, business, tourist and work visas. However, no official statement was issued by the interior ministry until the time of going to press on the actual date when visit visas will be issued.

The two authorities insisted that visas will be issued only to people who have been fully vaccinated with vaccines approved by Kuwait - Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. People must produce a vaccination certificate with a QR code to officials before the visas are issued, decrees from the two authorities said. People who have received other types of vaccines should get a third dose of one of the four approved vaccines and produce the certificate to officials to get a visa.

The residency affairs department at the interior ministry said in its circular that dependent visas will only be issued to applicants' spouses. Children under 16 will be issued either dependent or tourist visas based on conditions set by the department. Residents applying for dependent visas must draw a minimum monthly salary of KD 500.

The department will issue either dependent or tourist visas to children of Kuwaiti women married to foreigners. The circular allows the issuance of all types of business visas for all activities based on the assessment of officials. Electronic visas will be issued to citizens of 53 countries and legal residents of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.

Hotels and companies linked to the special automated system in the ministry are also allowed to issue electronic visas. The issuance of all types of visas had been suspended over a year ago due to restrictions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Kuwait, which has not seen a single death from COVID-19 for seven days in a row, has been reopening to pre-pandemic status.

The Public Authority for Manpower also announced yesterday the resumption of issuance of work permits for foreign workers outside the country after the interior ministry resumed issuing visas. Under the law, the manpower authority first issues work permits, and on the basis of such permits, the interior ministry issues entry visas. PAM added work permits will be issued online, either through its website or through the Ashal app.

Latest figures show that over 250,000 expatriates left the country in the 12 months till June 30 this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Kuwait Society for Human Rights said in a report on Sunday. The share of foreign residents among the population dropped to 68.2 percent, down from 70 percent before the pandemic. There are fewer than 3.1 million expats in Kuwait now compared to 3.35 million before the pandemic.


Kuwait launches Estamp app

KUWAIT: The Ministry of Finance announced yesterday the launch of its new 'Estamp' application. The application allows individuals and companies to pay the fees for their transactions at the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training in an easy, fast and safe way.

This app aims to improve the services provided by the Ministry of Finance. The service is provided in cooperation with the Shared Electronic Banking Co (KNET), under the umbrella of the 'Tasdeed' application for electronic government payments.

Aseel Al-Minefi, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Finance, said the launch of the e-stamp service is part of the 2035 New Kuwait vision's goals of digital transformation of various government sectors. The app upgrades the development of the communications and IT infrastructure and improves the services of the public sector.

The Estamp app is currently available for both Android and iOS users. In the next phase, it will also be available on other channels such as web platforms and WhatsApp to meet the needs of all users. The service will also include all public institutions including ministries and public authorities.


Kuwait begins returning to normal life

KUWAIT: Amid a decline in COVID-19 infections, Kuwait cautiously entered the fifth phase of a gradual return to normal life, with various sectors returning to full capacity. Yesterday, the airport resumed operations at full capacity. Worshippers in mosques are now praying without distancing, while the requirement to wear masks in open areas has been lifted. However, wearing of masks and maintain social distancing is still in force in closed places such as shopping malls, restaurants and cafes.

Conferences and wedding parties were also allowed to be held from yesterday, provided only vaccinated people attend and participants wear masks. The Cabinet had also asked the interior ministry and the manpower authority to start issuing all types of visas to people vaccinated with approved vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) from yesterday, but there were reports the relevant authorities are still waiting for further instructions.

The Cabinet had directed the Civil Aviation Department to operate Kuwait airport at its full capacity of around 30,000 passengers per day from yesterday. Airfares are expected to drop sharply as a result. Kuwait's land borders and sea terminals also began operations at full capacity. - Agencies

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