Kuwait allows international travel from Aug 1; residents from these countries excluded

Agencies
July 30, 2020

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Kuwait will allow citizens and residents to travel to and from the country, starting August 1, the government communication center tweeted on early Thursday, citing a cabinet decision.

The decision excludes residents coming from Bangladesh, Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran, Nepal.

Last month, Kuwait announced it would partially resume commercial flights from August, but does not expect to reach full capacity until a year later, as its aviation sector gradually recovers from a suspension sparked by the Covid-19 crisis.

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Agencies
September 27,2020

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Dubai, Sept 27: The Dubai-Sharjah intercity bus service, a major lifeline for commuters who travel between the emirates daily for work, has resumed.

Two of the routes started today, while the third will begin two weeks later.

"The first of the three routes, E303, starts from the Union Metro Station in Dubai and heads to Al Jubail Bus Station in Sharjah. The second route, E307A, starts from Abu Hail Metro Station in Dubai and heads to Al Jubail Bus Station in Sharjah as well. These two routes start operation on Sunday, September 27. The third route, E315, will start from Etisalat Metro Station in Dubai and head to Muwaileh Bus Station and will start after two weeks, Sharjah," said Adel Sharkri, Director of Planning and Business Development, Public Transport Agency, RTA.

"The three routes are vital for the integration of public transport networks between Dubai and Sharjah. These routes are transitional to riders returning to Sharjah starting their journey off three metro stations in Dubai (Union, Abu Hail and Etisalat). They will ease the mobility of commuters between the two Emirates, especially those living in Sharjah and working in Dubai," he added.

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News Network
September 15,2020

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Dubai, Sept 15: A 47-year-old Indian man, who stayed in the UAE without any documents for over 13 years, has been repatriated home after getting a waiver of half a million Dirhams (Rs 1,00,21,000) in visa dues, according to a media report on Tuesday.

Pothugonda Medi, a migrant labourer from Telangana, approached the Indian Consulate in Dubai after he lost his job following the coronavirus outbreak, the Gulf News reported.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic, he came to us as he could not find any odd jobs that he used to do earlier for his survival," Jithendra Negi, Consul, Labour and Consular, at the Indian Consulate, was quoted as saying by the paper.

Mr Pothugonda told the Indian mission that he had come to the Gulf on a visit visa in 2007, however his agent abandoned him soon after.

The agent had not returned Mr Medi's passport, the paper reported.

The mission found it difficult to assist Mr Medi as there were no documents to prove his citizenship.

The consulate sought the help of a charity group in Hyderabad to track down his family.

"With the support of social worker Sriniwas we managed to get the copies of his old ration card and election ID card from his native place. Some of the details that he gave were not matching, but still we could establish that he is an Indian," Mr Negi said.

After the consulate provided a free flight ticket to Mr Medi, the officials applied under the UAE government's visa expiration exemption scheme.

According to the scheme, expatriates whose visas have expired before March 1, 2020 can leave the country before November 17 without paying visa dues.

The General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs in Dubai has so far waived millions of dirhams in visa penalties.

The coronavirus has claimed the lives of 399 people with over 80,000 confirmed cases in the UAE so far.

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Agencies
September 23,2020

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Saudi Arabia celebrates its National Day on Wednesday this year, with concerts and other events, while adhering to COVID-19 precautionary measures, to commemorate the Kingdom’s unification under its founder, King Abdulaziz Al Saud, 90 years ago.

Celebrations amid the coronavirus pandemic

This year, the country’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA) organized a string of concerts that will take place from September 22-26 to celebrate the national holiday, in accordance with GEA guidelines that were put in place to ensure everyone’s safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The guidelines emphasize the importance of wearing masks, social distancing, reducing the duration of social contact, in addition to other preventative measures.

However, authorities in the Kingdom have reduced the number of attendees expected to attend the concerts as a precautionary measure against the spread of the coronavirus, according to Rotana Music, a record label company involved in organizing the concerts.

Also happening this year, Saudi designer Omaima Kindassa is staging a fashion show in Jeddah to showcase traditional clothing from regions around the Kingdom, inspired by the traditions of the diverse tribal communities in the country.

On Wednesday, more than 60 military and civilian aircrafts will participate in a live show that will air on Saudi TV 1, GEA said in a tweet, adding that it will be the largest air show in the history of Saudi Arabia’s National Day celebrations.

Additionally, GEA has set up an online platform for free National Day-themed printables that includes logos, images, and illustrations that users could download and print at home to use for decorative purposes.

Sense of unity

Saudis feel “a sense of unity” every year on National Day, 30-year-old Sultan al-Osaimi from Riyadh told Al Arabiya English.

“I feel like people are united on National Day, you can feel it in the air. Everyone feels a sense of belonging, this is especially heightened on national holidays,” al-Osaimi said.

“Everybody gets excited, people dress up in green [the color of the Saudi flag].”

“I am proud to be from this country. May our country always stay safe,” al-Osaimi added.

Al Anoud bin Juma, a 23-year-old, echoed al-Osaimi’s remarks.

“Although many people will stay home due to COVID-19, I really feel like Saudis have a genuine feeling of belonging and unity, this year more than ever.”

Bin Juma, who lives in Riyadh but is a Qassim native, explained that this feeling of unity comes from the safety and security the Kingdom provides, even during a global pandemic. “I feel safe here [in Saudi] and I appreciate the efforts of the country during the coronavirus crisis.”

“Saudi Arabia always puts its citizens and residents first, and I am very thankful to be from this country,” Bin Juma said, adding that she loves to celebrate its National Day.

Previous National Day celebrations

In 2005, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz made September 23 a national holiday in the Kingdom.

Since then, the country celebrated its national day in various ways. Last year, Saudi Arabia’s 89th National Day featured over 70 entertainment events across the Kingdom, including light shows, fireworks, and music performances, organized by the country’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA) for a five-day National Day Season.

In 2018, more than 900,000 fireworks lit up the sky simultaneously from over 58 sites across the Kingdom in celebration of its 88th National Day.

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