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. 

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News Network
November 16,2022

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Former President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he will mount a third White House campaign, launching an early start to the 2024 contest. The announcement comes just a week after an underwhelming midterm showing for Republicans, and it will force the party to decide whether to embrace a candidate whose refusal to accept defeat in 2020 pushed American democracy to the brink.

“I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” Trump said to an audience of several hundred supporters, club members and gathered press in a chandeliered ballroom at his Mar-a-Lago club, where he stood flanked by more than 30 American flags and banners that read, “Make America Great Again!”

Trump enters the race in a moment of political vulnerability. He hoped to launch his campaign in the wake of resounding GOP midterm victories, fuelled by candidates he elevated during this year’s primaries. Instead, many of those candidates lost, allowing Democrats to keep the Senate and leaving the GOP with a path to only a bare majority in the House.

Far from the undisputed leader of the party, Trump is now facing criticism from some of his own allies, who say it’s time for Republicans to look to the future, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis emerging as an early favorite White House contender.

The former president is still popular with the GOP base. But other Republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence, are taking increasingly public steps toward campaigns of their own, raising the prospect that Trump will have to navigate a competitive GOP primary.

He is launching his candidacy amid a series of escalating criminal investigations, including several that could lead to indictments. They include the probe into dozens of documents with classified markings that were seized by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago and ongoing state and federal inquiries into his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Another campaign is a remarkable turn for any former president, much less one who made history as the first to be impeached twice and whose term ended with his supporters violently storming the Capitol in a deadly bid to halt the peaceful transition of power on Jan 6, 2021.

But Trump, according to people close to him, has been eager to return to politics and try to halt the rise of other potential challengers. Aides have spent the last months readying paperwork, identifying potential staff and sketching out the contours of a campaign that is being modelled on his 2016 operation.

Even after GOP losses, Trump remains the most powerful force in his party. For years he has consistently topped his fellow Republican contenders by wide margins in hypothetical head-to-head matchups. And even out of office, he consistently attracts thousands to his rallies and remains his party’s most prolific fundraiser, raising hundreds of millions of dollars.

But Trump is also a deeply polarising figure. Fifty-four per cent of voters in last week’s midterm elections viewed him very or somewhat unfavourably, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 94,000 voters nationwide. And an October AP-NORC poll found even Republicans have their reservations about him remaining the party’s standard-bearer, with 43% saying they don’t want to see him run for president in 2024.

Trump’s candidacy poses profound questions about America’s democratic future. The final days of his presidency were consumed by a desperate effort to stay in power, undermining the centuries-old tradition of a peaceful transfer. And in the two years since he lost, Trump’s persistent — and baseless — lies about widespread election fraud have eroded confidence in the nation’s political process. By late January 2021, about two-thirds of Republicans said they did not believe President Joe Biden was legitimately elected in 2020, an AP-NORC poll found.

VoteCast showed roughly as many Republican voters in the midterm elections continued to hold that belief.

Federal and state election officials and Trump’s own attorney general have said there is no credible evidence the 2020 election was tainted. The former president’s allegations of fraud were also roundly rejected by numerous courts, including by judges Trump appointed.

But that didn’t stop hundreds of midterm candidates from parroting his lies as they sought to win over his loyal base and score his coveted endorsement. In the end, many of those candidates went on to lose their races in a sign that voters rejected such extreme rhetoric.

While some Republicans with presidential ambitions, like former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, have long ruled out running against Trump, others have said he would not figure into their decisions, even before his midterm losses.

They include Pence, who released a book Tuesday, and Trump’s former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, as well as former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who ran against Trump in 2016. Other potential candidates include Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Trump is also likely to face challenges from members of the anti-Trump wing of the party like Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair of the House committee that has been investigating Jan. 6.

But the person who has most occupied Trump and his allies in recent months is DeSantis, whose commanding re-election as governor last week was a bright spot for Republicans this cycle. The former congressman, who became a popular national figure among conservatives during the pandemic as he pushed back on Covid-19 restrictions, shares Trump’s pugilistic instincts and has embraced fights over social issues with similar zeal.

Even some enthusiastic Trump supporters say they are eager for DeSantis to run, seeing him as a natural successor to Trump but without the former president’s considerable baggage.

Trump has already begun to lash out at DeSantis publicly. On Tuesday, the Florida governor shot back.

“At the end of the day, I would just tell people to go check out the scoreboard from last Tuesday night,” DeSantis told reporters.

A crowded field of GOP rivals could ultimately play to Trump’s advantage, as it did in 2016, when he prevailed over more than a dozen other candidates who splintered the anti-Trump vote.

Rematch with Biden

Trump’s decision paves the way for a potential rematch with Biden, who has said he intends to run for re-election despite concerns from some in his party over his age and low approval ratings. The two men were already the oldest presidential nominees ever when they ran in 2020. Trump, who is 76, would be 82 at the end of a second term in 2029. Biden, who is about to turn 80, would be 86.

If he is ultimately successful, Trump would be just the second US president in history to serve two nonconsecutive terms, following Grover Cleveland’s wins in 1884 and 1892.

But Trump enters the race facing enormous challenges beyond his party’s growing trepidations. The former president is the subject of numerous investigations, including the months-long probe into the hundreds of documents with classified markings found in boxes at Mar-a-Lago.

Meanwhile, Trump is facing Justice Department scrutiny over efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. In Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is investigating what she alleges was “a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign” to influence the 2020 results.

And in New York, Attorney General Letitia James has sued Trump, alleging his namesake company engaged in decades’ worth of fraudulent bookkeeping by misleading banks about the value of his assets. The Trump Organisation is also now on trial, facing criminal tax fraud charges.

Some in Trump’s orbit believe that running will help shield him against potential indictment, but there is no legal statute that would prevent the Justice Department from moving forward — or prevent Trump from continuing to run if he is charged.

It wasn’t any secret what he had been planning.

At a White House Christmas party in December 2020, Trump told guests it had “been an amazing four years.”

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News Network
November 15,2022

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Dubai, Nov 15: Emirates is now offering international travellers the opportunity to speed up their airport experience by consenting to the use of biometric data.

Biometric recognition technology will help travellers breeze through Dubai International Airport Terminal 3 check-in, lounges, boarding and immigration at high-speed as the AI systems recognise their unique facial features and will link to their passport for instant identity verification.

A privilege previously only enjoyed by UAE residents and GCC nationals, international passengers will be able to avail of the service in 2023 by providing official consent in a couple of clicks through the Emirates app, at its self check-in kiosks, or in person at the check-in desks.

The first agreement of its kind globally, the strategic partnership between GDRFA and Emirates is a cooperative effort to further improve the innovative and digitally focused travel experience of Dubai visitors.

The agreement was signed by Lieutenant General Mohamed Ahmed Al Marri, Director General of GDRFA in Dubai, and Adel Al Redha, Emirates’ Chief Operating Officer, in the presence of several senior officials from both sides.

It improves passenger traffic procedures inside Dubai International Airport Terminal 3 and ensures a faster and more efficient airport experience for travellers transferring to connecting flights, as well as those who arrive in Dubai as their final destination.

Commenting on how the agreement will develop best-in-class services for travellers, Lieutenant General Mohammed Al Marri said: "Dubai is one of the world’s most aspirational destinations, and 2022 has already seen more than 8 million tourists arrive to the city. We continue to support our key partners with best-in-class services as we strive for excellence, and innovation in positioning Dubai as the world’s leading business hub and tourism destination."

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News Network
November 20,2022

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Mangaluru/ Mysuru, Nov 20: The Karnataka police today conducted searches at the house of a youth who suffered severe injuries in a blast in a moving auto rickshaw in Mangaluru last night. The injured, who is also the prime suspect in the blast case, was reportedly staying in Mysuru. 

According to the police, the accused took the one-room accommodation on rent last month. He had told the house owner that he was in the city for "mobile repair training".

Preliminary investigation indicates Mohammed Shariq, 24, hailing from Teerthahalli he has terror links. He had previously been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for graffiti on walls in Mangaluru. He was out on bail in the case. He was also absconding in a terror case and was wanted by the police.

Police have verified his photos in their records and his family has also identified the injured person in the hospital as Mohammed Shariq, via a phone, and are on their way to the hospital, a senior police official said.

Shivamogga stabbing case

Probing a stabbing incident in Shivamogga around Independence Day over putting up a photo of V. D. Savarkar, Shivamogga Rural Police had busted an alleged terror module with alleged links to Islamic State. Police had arrested Maaz Muneer Ahmed, 22 and Syed Yasin, 21 and recovered explosive materials from the duo.

Investigations had uncovered that they were radicalised by Mohammed Shariq and they had learnt making bombs through PDF files, videos and several materials sent to them by Shariq. The duo had prepared an IED and tested it successfully on the banks of Tungabhadra, police had alleged. However, Shariq had fled from his residence and had been absconding till date. 

Mohammed Shariq and Maaz Ahmed were earlier arrested by Mangaluru City Police in 2020 over graffiti they wrote on the walls of two buildings in the coastal city, in support of Lashakr-e-Taiba and Taliban, and were later released on bail. Maaz Ahmed was again busted in the terror module case in Sepetmber 2022, even as Shariq the prime accused in the case was at large. 

Links to Al Hind IS module

Mohammed Shariq is said to be associated with Matheen Ahmed Taha, also hailing from Shivamogga and a member of Al Hind IS module, active in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The Bengaluru-based Al Hind IS module was allegedly put together by Mehboob Pasha, a resident of Gurappana Palya, Bengaluru and Khaja Moideen, a resident of Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, accused in several murder cases of Hindutva leaders in the neighbouring state.

The module was busted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in 2020 and chargesheets filed in 2021, alleging the group wanted to establish an IS province inside the jungles of South India. However, Matheen Ahmed Taha, a prominent member of this group, is still at large and Mohammed Shariq is suspected to be his associate.

The blast occurred on Saturday evening inside an autorickshaw, near a police station, leaving the passenger and the driver injured. Both have been admitted to the hospital. The police said inside the vehicle, they found a burnt pressure cooker fitted with batteries, which Shareeq was apparently carrying. The pressure cooker, the police said, was a low-intensity Improvised Explosive device or IED.

‘Not well enough to give a statement’

This morning, the police confirmed that it was "an act of terror with intention to cause serious damage". The Karnataka police are investigating it along with central agencies.

The police said Shareeq is not well enough to give a statement. The auto driver, who was also injured, is in the hospital.

Shareeq was also carrying an Aadhaar card which did not belong to him, the police said. The owner of the card has been located. Premraj Hutagi, a resident of Karnataka's Hubballi district, has said he had lost the card and had acquired a duplicate.

Citing the "stolen" Aadhaar card, the police said it gives them a "fair idea that he was planning to target something, but we don't know what". "We are not ruling out his having a connection with the recent Coimbatore blast," said state police chief Praveen Sood. 

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