Saudi King Salman chairs cabinet meeting from hospital via video call

Agencies
July 22, 2020

Riyadh, Jul 22: Saudi King Salman held a cabinet meeting via video call from hospital in the capital Riyadh on Tuesday, a day after the 84-year-old monarch was admitted with inflammation of the gall bladder.

Three Saudi sources said the king was in stable condition.

A video of the king chairing the meeting was broadcast on Saudi state TV on Tuesday evening. In the video, which has no sound, King Salman can be seen behind a desk, wordlessly reading and leafing through documents.

The king, who has ruled the world’s largest oil exporter and close US ally since 2015, was undergoing medical checks, state media on Monday cited a Royal Court statement as saying.

Three well-connnected Saudi sources who declined to be identified, two of whom were speaking late on Monday and one on Tuesday, said the king was “fine”.

An official in the region, who requested anonymity, said he spoke to one of King Salman’s sons on Monday who seemed “calm” and that there was no sense of panic about the monarch’s health.

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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 13,2020

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Riyadh, Sept 13: Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday that it would lift totally the restrictions on citizens for leaving and returning to the Kingdom, with opening all land, sea and airports starting from Jan. 1, 2021 in line with the coronavirus-related precautionary measures and protocols.

Citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council states as well as expatriates and their dependents on valid visa will be allowed to enter the Kingdom effective from Sept. 15.

They include expatriates who have valid exit and reentry visa, work visa, residency permit (iqama) and visit visas provided that they fulfill all the coronavirus related precautionary measures and protocols and a coronavirus negative test result carried out 48 hours before the entry of the Kingdom.

The decision was taken on the basis of the reports presented by the competent authorities regarding the latest developments in combating the pandemic in the Kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency reported quoting an official source at the Ministry of Interior.

The report highlighted the continuing high rates of the epidemic spread in a number of countries, some of which are currently facing a second wave of the pandemic.

The decision is also out of the government’s keenness on the safety and health of citizens in light of the possibility of not having a safe and effective vaccine to prevent this disease before the end of 2020, the spokesman said.

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News Network
September 23,2020

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Sharjah, Sep 23: An Indian expatriate cannot believe that he can finally go home after 20 years, with Dh750,000 of fine waived off by Sharjah authorities.

What's in a name? Even a letter matters, says Thanavel Mathiazhaagan, an Indian worker in the UAE who is set to return home after being granted a waiver of nearly Dh750,000 in overstay fines, reports Gulf News.

The man from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu claims that he could not avail amnesty opportunities in the UAE in the last 20 years as his identity verification was not cleared from India due to a mismatch in his father's name in documents back home and that shown in his passport. As it turns out, there was a spelling error in his father's name in the documents in India.

Mathiazhaagan, 56, said he himself realised this (the reason for not getting the clearance) only after his latest request for repatriation was taken up by two social workers in the UAE after he sought their help to return home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He told media that he had landed in the UAE in 2000 after paying Rs 120,000 (Dh6,048) to a recruitment agent for a job in Abu Dhabi. This could be verified from the stamp on his employment visa entry permit -- the only document that Mathiazhaagan has preserved, apart from a copy of the last page of his passport.

He said the agent had taken his original passport, claiming that his residence visa would be stamped in the passport once he gets the medical fitness certificate issued.

"I took the medical test and waited for my employment visa. But, the agent kept delaying it and later I got to know that the company, which was supposed to hire me, had shut down." Eventually, he said, the agent stopped answering his calls and could not be traced at all later.

"I stayed in a room with some people from my native place. I lived there for eight months with no job. After that I came to Sharjah and started doing odd jobs."

Mathiazhaagan said he illegally stayed in the UAE to feed his family by doing part-time jobs for various households and companies.

He claimed that he did try for returning home during the previous visa amnesty offers in the UAE and lost more than Dh10,000 to people who promised to help him with clearance of his documents that never came through.

Prior to the fine waiver announced till November 17 this year for people with expired visas or who had their visas cancelled before March 1 during the Covid-19 pandemic, the UAE government had granted visa amnesties in 2003, 2007, 2012 and 2018.

Gulf News could not independently verify if Mathiazhaagan had indeed applied for an emergency certificate (EC), a one-way travel document issued to Indians without a valid passport, in order to facilitate their return home, during the earlier instances of amnesty.

However, A. K. Mahadevan and Chandra Prakash. P, who helped Mathiazhaagan get an EC through the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, said he had failed to get identity clearance from India during the pandemic. They said they found out the reason behind the rejection only after Mathiazhaagan met Mahadevan, seeking help to return home.

"His name is Thanavel Mathiazhaagan as per the copy of the last page of his lost passport and the UAE entry permit," said Prakash, the Vice-President of Indian People's Forum, a community organisation that also pitched to get a travel clearance for Mathiazhaagan.

"Unfortunately, the documents sent by Trichy Regional Passport Office to the Senthurai Police Station for his identity verification showed his father's name as Thangavel whereas his father's actual name is Thanavel -- according to all other records. The additional letter 'g' in the name created the problem," said Prakash.

The duo said they approached the Indian Embassy and the local departments in Mathiazhaagan's village to rectify the mistake and process his documents. "Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor took special interest in solving this case after the issue was taken up with him," said Prakash.

Mahadevan said he was happy that Mathiazhaagan would be flying home soon and meeting his youngest daughter, who had not even been born when he left India for the UAE.

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