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Pact on track to complete White Bay Phase One

Egypt’s Pact Real Estate is currently working on completing the first phase in the development of its first project White Bay in the North Coast, estimated to be worth EGP1.7 billion ($191 million), a report said.

The project is divided into four phases and provides a total of 600 units surrounded by green spaces and open areas, representing about 85 per cent of the total size of White Bay, added the Daily News Egypt report.

The first phase is set to be delivered by summer 2018, it said. Pact has entered into key partnerships with leading companies Cisco, Crystal Lagoons, and Multiples Group for the White Bay project.

Multiples Group will be contracting and financing Phase One and part of Phase Two in White Bay with an estimated EGP325 million through its contracting arm Asass Real Estate Development, the report said.

Crystal Lagoons will develop man-made lagoons with crystal clear waters. The lagoon, which will cover 14,000 sq m, will feature sandy beaches and crystal clear blue water by using the latest technology under an investment valued at EGP50 million, according to the report.

Turkish Airlines resuming flights to Sharm al-Sheikh

Turkish Airlines will resume flights next month to Sharm al-Sheikh, nearly a year after they were suspended following the bombing of a Russian jet which took off from the Egyptian resort, the Turkish embassy in Cairo said on Wednesday.

"Turkish Airlines will be the first of the companies that halted flights after October 31, 2015 to resume activities," the embassy said in a statement. It said the airline would operate four flights a week.

British and Russian governments banned their airlines from flying to Sharm al-Sheikh, a popular winter sun destination, because of concerns about security at the airport after the October 2015 bombing which killed all 224 people on board.

Tourism is a key source of income for Egypt but the number of tourists fell 40 percent in the first quarter of 2016.

It is also one of the main sources of foreign currency reserves - which have more than halved since 2011, to reach $15.536 billion in July - in a country that heavily depends on imports.

Egypt's efforts to revive its tourism industry suffered a fresh blow in May when an EgyptAir plane crashed into the Mediterranean, killing all 66 people on board. The cause of the crash is still unknown. - Reuters

STurkey's Tekfen wins $2.1bn Qatar expressway project

Tekfen Construction, a unit of Turkey's Tekfen Holding, has signed a pre-agreement with Qatar's Ministry of Municipality and Environment for the construction of the Al Khor Expressway project, a report said.

The $2.1-billion project aims to build a 34-km-long highway with 10 lanes along with viaducts, road junctions, overpasses and underpasses, the company was quoted as saying by Anadolu Agency.

The project is expected to be completed in 36 months.

Speaking at the signing ceremony of the agreement in Ankara, Turkish Transport, Maritime and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan said that the number of projects undertaken by Turkish contractors in Qatar reached 119, amounting to a $15 billion in value.

Tekfen, a Turkish conglomerate based in Istanbul, is engaged in a diverse range of construction activities including power generation, airports, petroleum, roadways, infrastructure projects, and building complexes.

Qatar’s Hamad Airport to charge new exit tax on passengers

Passengers flying out of Qatar will soon be required to pay an additional QR35 “departure charge,” airport operator Qatar Airways has told travel agents.

In a circular distributed last week, agencies were advised that Hamad International Airport will introduce a new Passenger Facility Charge for tickets issued on or after Aug. 30, and for any travel starting Dec. 1 onwards.

The fee will automatically be added to an individual’s plane ticket price and also applies to transit passengers who fly into and out of HIA within 24 hours.

Qatar Airways did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the subject.

However, on Sunday evening HIA issued a statement confirming the new fee. It added that infants under the age of two years old without a seat would not be charged.

Transit passengers who do not require an aircraft change and those who are involuntary rerouted are also exempt.

The airport added:

“The charge is in line with ICAO principles to support the development of world leading airports such as HIA to further increase the airport’s capacity and invest in new infrastructure and state-of-the-art technology to deliver world-class facilities for passengers.”

Revenue raiser

The new charge comes as the government curbs spending and seeks out new revenue streams amid falling oil prices.

It also follows Dubai’s decision to roll out a similar exit tax earlier this year.

In March, UAE officials announced that money collected from the new fee would improve Dubai’s airport infrastructure and capacity.

Several other countries also charge exit taxes, including Australia, Germany, China and the UK.

Two hotels to be built at Kuwait's Avenues Mall

Two new hotels are being built as part of the $900-million fourth phase expansion of The Avenues Mall, a top retail destination in Kuwait City.

The hotels will be operated by international hotel chain Hilton. Kuwait's Al-Rai Real Estate Company, owned by Mabanee, and Hilton have signed an agreement in this regard.

Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton’s smart luxury hotel brand, and midscale Hilton Garden Inn open their doors to guests in early 2019 at the mall.

Rudi Jagersbacher, president, Middle East, Africa and Turkey for Hilton Worldwide, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Al-Rai as part of the fourth phase expansion of The Avenues. With its number of shopping outlets set to increase by nearly 50 per cent, demand for accommodation at a site which already attracts millions of visitors every year is set to increase substantially.

"Our Conrad and Hilton Garden Inn brands will enable us to cater for guests seeking either smart luxury or affordable accommodations during their stay,” Jagersbacher said.

Both hotels will be managed by Hilton Worldwide and will be located on opposite sides of the mall.

The complex itself is located off Kuwait’s Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Road (Fifth Ring Road), allowing ease of access to junctions connecting to both Kuwait International Airport and Kuwait City.

Mohammad Alshaya, chairman of Mabanee, said: “In planning the fourth phase of the expansion of this immense project, one of the most exciting additions, we are providing the ability for visitors to stay inside Avenues itself.

He added: “Having hotels as part of The Avenues development will enhance the quality of the experience and the service we provide to our visitors. This will in turn support internal tourism and also place Kuwait on the regional tourism map. We have seen increasing numbers of visitors from abroad, in particular from the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and this is a strong indication of the revival of tourism in the country.”

Waleed Alsharian, chief executive officer, Mabanee, said: “We believe Hilton is the ideal partner to provide accommodation to match the expectations of our luxury shoppers while also providing more affordable alternative as we continue to diversify our retail and entertainment offering.”

Conrad Kuwait: This 158-guestroom luxury property will form part of the extension of the mall’s popular Prestige district, which opened in 2012. The district forms Kuwait’s largest luxury shopping destination, home to 47 luxury retail units under a 23-m dome. The hotel will feature a ballroom, multiple dining options, and an outdoor pool and spa. The hotel’s design concept will complement the Prestige district’s use of copper and rare Portoro stone, imported from the mountains of Italy.

Hilton Garden Inn Kuwait: Adjoining two of the new districts being created under the fourth phase expansion, this hotel will become Hilton's largest hotel in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region. Boasting 430 guestrooms in an imposing tower structure at the northern end of the mall, the main entrance of the property will be located in ‘The Forum’ which will provide a central meeting point within the mall.

The property will also border the new Electra district set to create a vibrant international atmosphere inspired by the bright lights and high technology of cities such as Tokyo and Hong Kong. – TradeArabia News Service

New law in Kuwait bans expats from returning within two years of exit

Kuwait's Interior Ministry has reinstated a law that bans expats who leave the country from returning within two years.

The law applies to expats who worked as company representatives or drivers, reported Kuwait Times.

The ministry's move came after it discovered that several foreign workers had tricked employers into hiring them as firm representative or drivers in order to obtain a driving licence.

Officials discovered that the expats would then leave Kuwait only to come back shortly after to apply for a job with another country, all the while maintaining their licence.

Kuwait to lay off 400 expat teachers to replace them with nationals

Kuwait’s Ministry of Education has revealed it will release 400 expat teachers to replace them with nationals by next year.

The ministry had prepared lists containing the names of the teachers and said they ‘can be released’ by the end of the upcoming school year, sources from the ministry told local media.

The move is part of the ministry’s plan to replace expat teachers with Kuwaitis by 25 percent in subjects such as computer, science, and social studies.

The teachers have not yet been notified of the decision and will likely only find out in October this year.

Kuwait's e-passport system, DNA law to launch in November

Kuwait will put into practice its new e-passport system and DNA law starting November 2016 following the arrival of the second batch of 65,000 e-readers and the first batch of 50,000 DNA testing equipment, revealed the Assistant Undersecretary for Passport and Residency Affairs at Ministry of Interior Major General Sheikh Mazen Al-Jarrah.

Al-Jarrah said e-readers have been set up at border checkpoints and a security team assigned at airports to test the new readers using e-passports, reported Kuwait Times.

He added the DNA law is aimed at maintaining security and stability and insisted it would not be used to reveal private personal information.

Any information acquired through the law will be "top secret," the official said. Those who reveal them will be punished, he said.

Kuwaiti MP calls for introduction of exit fees at airport

Expats leaving Kuwait International Airport must pay fees, according to MP Abdurrahman Al-Jeeran.

Furthermore, the official suggested balancing the number of different expat populations in Kuwait and reducing the ones with "high crime and law-breaking rates," reported Kuwait Times.

Al-Jeeran also said the government has the right to review expats' bank accounts if it "serves the state's highest interests." He said this could be possible through the introduction of the 'free access law' which allows the government to inspect expats' bank accounts.

He claimed the law is being followed in European countries.

Moreover, Al-Jeeran suggested the increase of fees for visa renewal, health insurance, and driver's licenses in line with Kuwait's large expat population.

Last week, the MP proposed "sorting" Kuwait's demographic imbalance by reviewing expats' income levels and professional positions. Expats would then undergo training courses following which "Whoever passes stays and is required to pay fees, and whoever fails for two times is deported," according to Al-Jeeran.

Sakr Real Estate launches Smart Valley

Lebanon’s Sakr Real Estate has unveiled its unique project named The Smart Valley at a two-day event in Beirut.

The event hosted a large number of celebrities, public figures and clients and took place at Admir, the company's major residential project that will be delivered starting end-2017 and will be part of the Smart Valley.

The Smart Valley is expected to revolutionise the real estate sector through its trailblazing concept that is based on three pillars: Smart Environment, Smart Infrastructure, and Smart Living, the company said.

The development excels in the areas of: mobility, environment, living, and connectivity. This project will incorporate Admir, Mont Mema, the Wellness Center Vivaly, in addition to a smart commercial hub that will service its residents, it said.

Sakr Sakr, president of Sakr Holding, said: “We are redefining the concept of living in Lebanon where human happiness prevails in a place that is fully integrated to serve its residents’ daily needs. Our ultimate goal and objective revolves around human ambitions and aspirations, around their happiness by living the smart life.”

As part of the event, invitees had the chance to tour the Admir project and discover its advantages as well as its high quality finishing. – TradeArabia News Service

Majid Al Futtaim to expand City Centre Ajman

Majid Al Futtaim, a leading shopping mall, retail and leisure developer, today announced a comprehensive redevelopment of City Centre Ajman that will see the mall almost double in size, from 29,000 sq m to 52,000 sq m.

With an estimated cost of Dh600 million ($163 million), the expanded City Centre Ajman will feature 150 retail and dining outlets, as well as an expanded VOX Cinemas with innovative 4DX screens and specially-designed children’s theatres, a statement said.

The mall’s expansion is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2017, followed by an additional refurbishment and redemising of the existing mall.

“Creating several hundred new jobs, City Centre Ajman’s redevelopment is a significant component of Majid Al Futtaim’s recent commitment to invest a further Dh30 billion ($8.16 billion) in the UAE by the end of 2026, bringing the company’s total UAE investment to Dh48 billion ($13 billion).

Complementing the mall’s expansion is the creation of 500 new jobs, the Al Zahia master-planned community and super-regional mall in nearby Sharjah, as well as the redevelopment of City Centre Sharjah – highlighting the depth of Majid Al Futtaim’s commitment to the UAE’s Northern Emirates, the statement said.

Since its opening in 1998, City Centre Ajman has matured into the emirate’s primary shopping and entertainment destination, and to address customers’ increased interest in family dining, the mall’s expansion will include 10 diverse new food and beverage outlets with both al fresco and indoor seating.

“The UAE’s Northern Emirates are a key growth area for Majid Al Futtaim, enabling us to deliver an entirely new set of retail, dining, leisure, and entertainment experiences to both residents and overseas visitors,” said Kim McInnes, chief executive officer - shopping malls at Majid Al Futtaim - Properties.

“As Ajman’s population increases and a growing number of tourists visit this part of the country, the redevelopment of City Centre Ajman will deliver the highest standard of design and diversity of choice while contributing significantly to the emirate’s economic and employment landscapes.”

City Centre Ajman’s expanded design will be contemporary, spacious, and able to accommodate the growth in residents and tourists anticipated by the government’s 2021 vision, which focuses on infrastructure development.

In line with Majid Al Futtaim’s sustainability strategy, the mall’s public facilities will be significantly enhanced, with additional prayer rooms and restrooms incorporating water-saving fittings, and LED (light emitting diode) lights installed throughout the mall, the statement added. - TradeArabia News Service

Abu Dhabi Airports installs new luggage screening system

Abu Dhabi Airports has installed a new Automated Tray Return System (ATRS) to speed up the process of hand luggage screening at Terminal 3 in Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH).

The new system allows for the processing of more than four times the number of baggage that conventional screening lanes do, reducing screening wait times and congestion, and providing a smoother travel experience for passengers.

Unlike the conventional system that allows only one passenger at a time to load their belongings into the tray, the ATRS provides four stations at which travelers can simultaneously prepare their bags for screening.

The ATRS also has two buffer stations, seven redress stations for cleared trays, four reject stations for suspicious trays, and two search stations. The system operates with a Hi-Scan 7555 aTix machine and is equipped with two operator workstations allocated remotely in an imaging room, through which the live images can be analyzed separately. Any trays containing suspect belongings can be diverted to the search area for further investigation, away from the cleared lane.

Mohammed Al Katheeri, acting chief operations officer at Abu Dhabi Airports, said: "We are constantly looking at ways that we can innovate and provide our passengers with a smooth, world class travel experience. The Automated Tray Return System with a remote screening feature in Terminal 3 at AUH, is the latest best-in-class addition to an array of technologies that we have put in place. We can now process more passengers per hour in a secure and controlled environment, improving overall operational efficiency and enhancing public safety and security." - TradeArabia News Service

$1bn Abu Dhabi medical city set for 2017 handover

More than 85 per cent of the work at the Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City in Abu Dhabi, UAE, has been completed and was track for handover to the emirate's health services company Seha in the fourth quarter of 2017, said a report.

The Dh4 billion ($1.08 billion) medical city will accommodate 732 hospital beds, including two royal and 36 VIP suites, in addition to 424 hospital beds for post-operative inpatients, 120 for the maternity and infant ward, according to state news agency Wam.

The construction is part of Abu Dhabi General Services Company's (Musanada) efforts to provide high quality healthcare services as part of the objectives of the Abu Dhabi Plan and in line with best international health standards in order to satisfy the needs of individuals and the community, it stated.

The facilities at the new medical city also includes 32 ICU beds in the medical department, 30 cardiac ICU beds in the cardiovascular department, 24 cardiac ICU beds in the surgery department, 20 beds in the burn treatment department, 26 neonatal ICU beds and 18 beds in the labour and delivery department.

"This leading landmark is a translation of Abu Dhabi government's attention to human health, as man is considered the cornerstone in the development process," remarked Ali Al Haj Al Mehairbi, the acting executive director of the Building Construction Management Division at Musanada.

The medical city includes a number of specialised surgeries, such as vascular, burn, trauma, chest, orthopaedic, reconstructive and infant.

Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City, which is strategically located in the Al Mafraq area in Abu Dhabi, will come up on a 300,000 sq m area and will include parking facilities that can accommodate 1,660 vehicles, mostly in covered parking, said the report.

It will house several buildings, including the main hospital building comprising four towers, external clinic, utility buildings, and electricity and air conditioning plants.

The medical city will also boast of two helipads and large external landscapes carefully designed following a specialized study to ensure comfort and tranquility, and provide an appropriate healing environment, it added.

Bahrain to sign $395m housing projects

Bahrain will today (August 23) sign contracts to carry out housing projects worth more than $395 million funded by the Gulf Development Programme.

The signing will take place under the patronage of Deputy Prime Minister and head of the ministerial committee for construction and infrastructure Shaikh Khalid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, a BNA report said.

Seven contracts will be concluded by the Housing Ministry, represented by Housing Minister Bassim bin Yaqoob Al Hamar, and Bahraini, Kuwaiti, Emirati and international contracting companies.

The signing ceremony, at the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay, will be attended by representatives from Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development ((KFAED), ministers, senior officials and invitees.

Al Hamar said the $293 million Kuwait-funded projects will include 1,247 housing units in East Hidd and the construction of another 1,645 housing units and implementing infrastructure work in Hidd.

Meanwhile, three contracts will be signed to carry out housing and infrastructure projects worth more than $102 million funded by the UAE.

The Housing Minister praised the Gulf Development Programme and its role in fast-tracking projects and reducing the waiting period for housing, in line with the Royal order to provide 40,000 homes for citizens by implementing housing projects nationwide.

Road accidents in Bahrain drop 20% following 'smart' cameras launch

Road accidents in Bahrain dropped 20 percent starting on July 1 compared with the same month in 2015 following the instalment of traffic cameras as part of the directorate’s plan to enhance road safety, revealed the Traffic Directorate.

It said the move came in line with its plan to privatise the processing of minor traffic accidents and technical inspection of vehicles in order to ease workload on the departments, reported Gulf Daily News.

“A new office will be opened at the security complex in Muharraq to provide all traffic services that are provided at the department’s headquarters. Work is also in progress to open two similar new offices in Sitra Mall and Saar.To ease the workload on the technical inspection section, the department will open a new office in the Southern Governorate, near Alba, at the start of 2017,” said acting general director Colonel Abdulrahman Al Khalifa.

Al Khalifa added that the number applications processed last month reached 200,000 – of which the daily average amounted to 8,000.

He said the directorate will increase the deployment of traffic patrols on roads, especially those with high accident rates

The official also warned against illegal car racing and said those who practice it will face maximum penalties of six months in jail and a BD500 fine according to a new traffic law introduced last year.

“Reckless driving and car stunt activities on public roads are punished with five penalty points for each driver, according to the rules of the point system. The points are doubled for new drivers who had licences issued for less than one year. The law allows the withdrawal of licence of a driver between 30 to 60 days for holding illegal car races and being involved in car stunt activities,” he said.

He explained that if offences are repeated within six months, the driver’s licence will be withdrawn for 90 days and for a year the third time.

New residential tower launched in Bahrain

International real estate consultancy Cluttons has announced the launch of Tilal Towers, a new affordable eco-friendly residential development in Bahrain.

The two properties are located in the Amwaj Islands community near to the Lagoon, which make the 21-storey towers perfect for recreational activities, schooling, travel and life's daily necessities.

The location of the towers also allows for panoramic sea views, said a statement from Cluttons.

The Tilal Towers launch was held during the Bahrain Real Estate Drinks (Bred) event organised by Cluttons in partnership with Faisal Al Matrook Company at the Domain Hotel and Spa on Wednesday.

The event was attended by Bahrain's leading architecture firms, construction companies and investment houses who interacted with professional experts and key market players within the real estate industry.

The event has been hosted by Cluttons since 2012 and is aimed to specifically target real estate industry professionals in Bahrain.- TradeArabia News Service

“Reckless driving and car stunt activities on public roads are punished with five penalty points for each driver, according to the rules of the point system. The points are doubled for new drivers who had licences issued for less than one year. The law allows the withdrawal of licence of a driver between 30 to 60 days for holding illegal car races and being involved in car stunt activities,” he said.

He explained that if offences are repeated within six months, the driver’s licence will be withdrawn for 90 days and for a year the third time.

KLM to resume service to Tehran from Oct 30

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will resume service to the Iranian capital of Tehran from October 30, the airline said.

Tehran will be the 14th new destination KLM has added to its network in 2016.

Four weekly services will be operated between Schiphol and Tehran, supplementing the Paris-Tehran service operated by Air France since April 16, 2016, it said.

“KLM has further strengthened its network with a new destination – the 14th to be added this year. This confirms that our strategy is starting to bear fruit. On the one hand we are improving our efficiency and productivity, while on the other we are investing in growth,” said Pieter Elbers, KLM president and CEO.

The flights will be operated with a Boeing 777-200. KLM will meet passenger needs by offering three different travel classes on board: 34 seats in World Business Class, 40 seats in Economy Comfort, and 242 seats in Economy Class.

The Economy Comfort seats offer 10 cm more legroom and have double the recline of standard Economy Class seats. Economy Comfort passengers are also given priority when disembarking.

In the past, KLM operated service to Tehran from July 1991 through April 2013.

Including the new flights to Tehran, KLM now offer 37 flights to nine destinations in the Middle East. - TradeArabia News Service

Saudi Arabia to build new bridges to Bahrain, Qatar

Two bridges connecting Saudi Arabia with Bahrain and Qatar via Al Ahsa are expected to be built in the near future, local media have reported.

A proposed 40 kilometre-long bridge between Al Ahsa and Bahrain would be located around 100km away from the King Fahd Causeway and 380km from Riyadh, according to Arab News.

Meanwhile, another bridge linked Al Ahsa with Qatar would be 25km long and be around 70km away from the proposed Bahrain bridge and 425km away from Riyadh.

Adel bin Mohammad Al-Malham, secretary of Al Ahsa region, was quoted as saying the bridge plans have been set out in a working paper highlighting opportunities for increased transport collaboration between Saudi Arabia and the rest of the GCC.

Last year, Arabian Business reported that plans for a second causeway linking Bahrain with Saudi Arabia, in addition to the existing 25km King Fahd causeway, were under development, with a feasibility study said to have been completed last September.

The second causeway would comprise a new road and rail link between the kingdom and Bahrain – and potentially connect to the proposed GCC rail network scheduled for completion in 2018, revealed Kamal Bin Ahmed, Bahrain’s minister of transportation and telecommunications.

'Mastercard For You' mobile app unveiled

Staying true to its commitment to keeping consumer convenience at the core of the business, Mastercard, a leading technology company in the global payments industry, announced the launch of its mobile application for card products, Mastercard For You.

Available for free on both Apple and Android devices, Mastercard For You is a one-stop shop for all premium products. It is a feature-rich application that enables cardholders in the Middle East and Africa, to explore and enjoy all of the privileges that come with Titanium, Platinum, World and World Elite Mastercard credit and debit cards.

Thanks to the application's intuitive functionality, Mastercard cardholders can discover and stay up-to-date on all of the eligible travel, lifestyle and safety benefits and offers that they can avail. The application also provides cardholders with specific call-to-action prompts to ease and simplify the redemption process.

Key features include the Lounge Locator that allows users to look up the nearest lounge(s) in any given airport along with the location, opening hours, facilities and more; insurance service that includes quick access to digital claim forms during travel emergencies; as well as an overview of all of the offers available with the dedicated Mastercard Buy 1 Get 1 mobile application and the link to download it instantly. Mastercard cardholders can also explore a wide array of offers with top-tier merchants, such as Cleartrip, Careem, Reebonz and Starwood Hotels & Resorts, among others, with only a few quick taps on the mobile itself.

World Elite cardholders additionally have fingertip access to all of the privileges of which they can make use anytime with the premium World Elite Concierge, including making and managing travel plans, assistance with registering for the premium memberships available on the card, and much more.

"A major component of our business proposition is making technology and innovation work for consumers in a way that opens channels to more effective and meaningful interactions. Mastercard For You is designed to achieve that with features that introduce a new level of practicality, ease and convenience when using Mastercard products. The services complement everything that Mastercard stands for - from simplifying the experience of making purchases for consumers to complete peace of mind and security," said Amnah Ajmal, Head of Products, Mastercard Middle East & Africa. - SG

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