Saudi Arabia extends umrah visa to 3 months for all pilgrims

News Network
October 3, 2022

Makkah, Oct 3: The Umrah visa has been extended from one to three months for all Umrah performers of all nationalities, Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said.

He made this announcement during his two-day official visit to Tashkent where the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev received the Saudi minister at the conclusion of the Dr. Al-Rabiah's visit.

The minister conveyed the greetings of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Salman to President Mirziyoyev and the Uzbek government and people and their wishes of further growth for Uzbekistan.

They wished prosperity to Uzbekistan in light of the ongoing reforms that the republic is witnessing, stressing that the visit is an extension of distinguished historical relations between the two countries and resulted in several cooperation agreements in various fields.

The accords were primarily in the Hajj and Umrah, which reflects the great efforts of the leadership in serving Islam and Muslims and facilitating procedures for pilgrims and Umrah performers.

The minister added that the recent Hajj season saw the participation of some 12,000 Uzbek pilgrims after authorities increased the numbers of pilgrims following the easing of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He noted that more than 36,000 people from Uzbekistan have performed Umrah during the last two months, the majority of whom managed to visit Madinah and pray at Al-Rawdah Al-Sharifah and visited religious and historical sites in Madinah.

Al-Rabiah’s visit witnessed holding of several meetings with various officials to discuss means of enhancing cooperation in various fields and developing distinguished ties between the two countries.

The discussions mainly revolved around the automating of all services and programs that are now offered electronically through Nusuk platform and issuing visit and Umrah visas quickly.

The minister met with several Uzbek officials as part of boosting cooperation between the two countries in various fields and stressing the deep-rooted bilateral relations.

Talks during the visit also reviewed means to enhance strategic bilateral cooperation between the two sides to enhance the quality of services provided to Uzbek Umrah performers.

This is in addition to going over the possibility of increasing the activities of joint committees in several aspects, including increasing the number of flights between the two countries. 

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
April 11,2024

vietnamfraud.jpg

Real estate tycoon Truong My Lan was sentenced Thursday to death by a court in Ho Chi Minh city in southern Vietnam in the country's largest financial fraud case ever, state media Thanh Nien said.

It's a rare verdict - she is one of very few women in Vietnam to be sentenced to death for a white collar crime, i.e. looting one of the country's largest banks over a period of 11 years.

The decision is a reflection of the dizzying scale of the fraud. Truong My Lan was convicted of taking out $44bn (£35bn) in loans from the Saigon Commercial Bank. The verdict requires her to return $27bn, a sum prosecutors said may never be recovered. Some believe the death penalty is the court's way of trying to encourage her to return some of the missing billions.

The habitually secretive communist authorities were uncharacteristically forthright about this case, going into minute detail for the media. They said 2,700 people were summoned to testify, while 10 state prosecutors and around 200 lawyers were involved.

The evidence was in 104 boxes weighing a total of six tonnes. Eighty-five defendants were tried with Truong My Lan, who denied the charges.

"There has never been a show trial like this, I think, in the communist era," says David Brown, a retired US state department official with long experience in Vietnam. "There has certainly been nothing on this scale."

The trial was the most dramatic chapter so far in the "Blazing Furnaces" anti-corruption campaign led by the Communist Party Secretary-General, Nguyen Phu Trong.

A conservative ideologue steeped in Marxist theory, Nguyen Phu Trong believes that popular anger over untamed corruption poses an existential threat to the Communist Party's monopoly on power. He began the campaign in earnest in 2016 after out-manoeuvring the then pro-business prime minister to retain the top job in the party.

 The campaign has seen two presidents and two deputy prime ministers forced to resign, and hundreds of officials disciplined or jailed. Now one of the country's richest women has joined their ranks.

Truong My Lan comes from a Sino-Vietnamese family in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. It has long been the commercial engine of the Vietnamese economy, dating well back to its days as the anti-communist capital of South Vietnam, with a large, ethnic Chinese community.

She started as a market stall vendor, selling cosmetics with her mother, but began buying land and property after the Communist Party ushered in a period of economic reform, known as Doi Moi, in 1986. By the 1990s, she owned a large portfolio of hotels and restaurants.

Although Vietnam is best known outside the country for its fast-growing manufacturing sector, as an alternative supply chain to China, most wealthy Vietnamese made their money developing and speculating in property.

All land is officially state-owned. Getting access to it often relies on personal relationships with state officials. Corruption escalated as the economy grew, and became endemic.

By 2011, Truong My Lan was a well-known business figure in Ho Chi Minh City, and she was allowed to arrange the merger of three smaller, cash-strapped banks into a larger entity: Saigon Commercial Bank.

Vietnamese law prohibits any individual from holding more than 5% of the shares in any bank. But prosecutors say that through hundreds of shell companies and people acting as her proxies, Truong My Lan actually owned more than 90% of Saigon Commercial.

They accused her of using that power to appoint her own people as managers, and then ordering them to approve hundreds of loans to the network of shell companies she controlled.

The amounts taken out are staggering. Her loans made up 93% of all the bank's lending.

According to prosecutors, over a period of three years from February 2019, she ordered her driver to withdraw 108 trillion Vietnamese dong, more than $4bn (£2.3bn) in cash from the bank, and store it in her basement.

That much cash, even if all of it was in Vietnam's largest denomination banknotes, would weigh two tonnes.

She was also accused of bribing generously to ensure her loans were never scrutinised. One of those who was tried used to be a chief inspector at the central bank, who was accused of accepting a $5m bribe.

The mass of officially sanctioned publicity about the case channelled public anger over corruption against Truong My Lan, whose fatigued, unmade-up appearance in court was in stark contrast to the glamorous publicity photos people had seen of her in the past.

But questions are also being asked about why she was able to keep on with the alleged fraud for so long.

"I am puzzled," says Le Hong Hiep who runs the Vietnam Studies Programme at the ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.

"Because it wasn't a secret. It was well known in the market that Truong My Lan and her Van Thinh Phat group were using SCB as their own piggy bank to fund the mass acquisition of real estate in the most prime locations.

"It was obvious that she had to get the money from somewhere. But then it is such a common practice. SCB is not the only bank that is used like this. So perhaps the government lost sight because there are so many similar cases in the market."

David Brown believes she was protected by powerful figures who have dominated business and politics in Ho Chi Minh City for decades. And he sees a bigger factor in play in the way this trial is being run: a bid to reassert the authority of the Communist Party over the free-wheeling business culture of the south.

"What Nguyen Phu Trong and his allies in the party are trying to do is to regain control of Saigon, or at least stop it from slipping away.

"Up until 2016 the party in Hanoi pretty much let this Sino-Vietnamese mafia run the place. They would make all the right noises that local communist leaders are supposed to make, but at the same time they were milking the city for a substantial cut of the money that was being made down there."

At 79 years old, party chief Nguyen Phu Trong is in shaky health, and will almost certainly have to retire at the next Communist Party Congress in 2026, when new leaders will be chosen.

He has been one of the longest-serving and most consequential secretary-generals, restoring the authority of the party's conservative wing to a level not seen since the reforms of the 1980s. He clearly does not want to risk permitting enough openness to undermine the party's hold on political power.

But he is trapped in a contradiction. Under his leadership the party has set an ambitious goal of reaching rich country status by 2045, with a technology and knowledge-based economy. This is what is driving the ever-closer partnership with the United States.

Yet faster growth in Vietnam almost inevitably means more corruption. Fight corruption too much, and you risk extinguishing a lot of economic activity. Already there are complaints that bureaucracy has slowed down, as officials shy away from decisions which might implicate them in a corruption case.

"That's the paradox," says Le Hong Hiep. "Their growth model has been reliant on corrupt practices for so long. Corruption has been the grease that that kept the machinery working. If they stop the grease, things may not work any more."

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
April 11,2024

rahul.jpg

Bengaluru, Apr 11: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and the party's unit in Karnataka have highlighted the statement of Class 12 Board exam topper from the state, Vedant Navi, and claimed that "it was a matter of pride as their schemes were bringing effective social and economic changes".

The Congress on Thursday launched a social media campaign by releasing posters and short videos.

Rahul Gandhi in his social media post said, “Such 'Success Stories' make me believe and ensure that our 'Mahalakshmi' guarantee of putting Rs 1 lac every year in women's accounts will prove to be a revolutionary step to shaping the country's fate.”

“Congress's Gruha Lakshmi scheme going on in Karnataka under which more than 1 crore women get Rs 2,000 every month, using the same money a mother taught her son Vedant and he got second rank in the whole state in PUC exam,” Rahul Gandhi stated.

“Vedant's story is a living example of Indian women's penance and willpower to strengthen the house with pai-pai. Imagine, when women of poor families across the country will get Rs 1 lakh every year through the 'Mahalakshmi Yojana', how many Vedantas will change the future of the family with their talent? This historic plan of Congress will give the dreams of poor families a flight into reality,” Rahul Gandhi said.

The Congress in Karnataka said the schemes of the government were giving succour to the people. “It is a matter of pride that in a span of 10 months, our government’s schemes are bringing effective social and economic changes,” the party claimed.

“It is a testimony to the success of the Gruha Lakshmi scheme that the family of Vedant, who secured first rank in the Arts stream, was supported by the money provided by the Gruha Lakshmi scheme. Our schemes have brought changes in many people’s lives. The Congress party has built the lives of the people and thereby built the nation,” the Congress stated.

Vedant Navi had secured first rank in Arts Stream in Karnataka. He is the overall second-topper.

“My father is no more. My mother faced difficulties as the family was debt-ridden. In this crunch time, the money received through the Gruha Lakshmi scheme (Rs 2,000 every month given for women heads of family) helped my studies and hostel stay and other expenditures,” Vedant had stated.

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
April 11,2024

vivekhebbar.jpg

BJP MLA Arabail Shivaram Hebbar’s son Vivek Hebbar on Thursday, 11 April, joined the Congress party along with his supporters at Banavasi in Uttara Kannada district.

After quitting the BJP, Vivek Hebbar joined the party in the presence of state Congress vice president and former MLC Ivan D’Souza and other local party leaders.

Speculations have been rife about his father Shivaram Hebbar, an MLA from the Yellapur Assembly segment, also planning to join the Congress, ever since he did not turn up for voting during the polls to four seats of the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka held on 27 February.

The senior Hebbar’s absence from voting, despite a party whip, had caused embarrassment to the BJP. He had, however, later attributed his absence to poor health.

The BJP had also issued notice to him, which he responded to.

Shivaram Hebbar had recently met Deputy Chief Minister and state Congress chief DK Shivakumar but claimed that the meeting was about water issues in his Assembly segment.

The senior BJP leader was earlier with the Congress. He was among 17 Congress-JD(S) legislators, who had quit from their parties, which ultimately led to the collapse of the then HD Kumaraswamy-led coalition government in July 2019.

Shivaram Hebbar had subsequently won the by-poll on a BJP ticket and served as a minister in the then government of the saffron party.

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.