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UAE
UAE denies report of Houthi drone attack on Dubai airport

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) denied reports on Monday that the Iranian-aligned Houthis in Yemen had attacked Dubai airport with a drone, and said operations were unaffected. The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority: Air traffic movement in the UAE is normal with no disruptions; Houthi media claims regarding Dubai International Airport are untrue. — Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) August 27, 2018 The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority “has denied Houthi media claims on the Dubai International Airport, affirming that the UAE air traffic operates business as usual,” the authority said in a statement by state news agency WAM. Houthi-run media said earlier that a Sammad-3 drone had targeted the facility, but did not provide any evidence and there were no reports of damage or casualties. Published on 28 August 2018

Bahrain
Bahrain stops issuing visas for Qatari nationals

Bahrain’s interior ministry said on Tuesday that it would stop issuing new visas to Qatari nationals, escalating measures against Qatar more than a year into a diplomatic row. The statement, carried on state news agency BNA, said Qatari students studying in the kingdom and other Qatari citizens with existing visas would not be affected. It also said the move came in response “hostile acts” by Qatari authorities. It did not elaborate. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut diplomatic, transport and trade ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of financing terrorism. Doha denies that and says the boycott is an attempt to rein in its support for reform. In October, Bahrain said it would impose entry visas on Qatari nationals as a security measure. Citizens from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council countries are otherwise supposed to be able to travel within the GCC carrying only…

Around The Region
White house postpones Trump’s summit with GCC leaders

The Trump administration is postponing until September a summit with Gulf Arab leaders that had been planned for this spring amid an ongoing dispute between Qatar and other US allies in the region, according to five US officials. The decision to delay the May summit with the six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) reflects a crowded diplomatic calendar, and the fact that President Donald Trump is without a secretary of state until the Senate confirms current CIA Director Mike Pompeo, two of the officials said. Other sources, however, told Reuters the delay is also a nod to the fact that Washington has made little progress so far in ending the standoff between Qatar and other Gulf nations, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The dispute pits key US allies against each other. It has not affected the US air base in Qatar that supports attacks on Islamic extremists. “This…

Around The Region
UAE-Saudi train to launch by end of 2021

The United Arab Emirates will have a rail link with Saudi Arabia by the end of December 2021, a senior transport official said on Monday. “By the end of December 2021, we will have a connection between us and the Saudis,” Abdullah Salem Al Kathiri, director general of the Federal Authority for Land and Marine Transport, spoke at a conference in Dubai. The planned 2,100km (1,300 mile) passenger and cargo network connecting the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states was pushed back at least three years to 2021. The UAE suspended construction of its portion of the network in 2016, while Oman said it would shift its focus to building its domestic network. Several projects across the region had been put on hold as Gulf oil producers struggle with low crude prices and rising budget deficits. Published on 12 March 2018 Image for illustrative purpose only

UAE
Sridevi’s death in Dubai highlights delays in repatriating deceased migrant workers

The death of Indian actress Sridevi in Dubai has highlighted a rarely-discussed issue affecting the families of deceased migrant workers in Gulf countries – long delays in repatriating their bodies. The 54-year-old, who was widely regarded as India’s first female superstar, died by accidental drowning in her hotel bathtub on Feb. 24. Sridevi’s body was flown from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to India on Feb. 27, and her funeral was held the following day. In contrast, it has been nearly a month since migrant worker Bhojanna Arepally died of an unspecified illness in Muscat, the capital of Oman, according to migrant rights campaigner Bhim Reddy. Arepally’s body is expected to be flown to the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, said Reddy, who has been coordinating with authorities on repatriation. He said that it often takes months to return the bodies of deceased migrant workers. The wait for Sridevi’s body…

India
Aadhaar database on sale for Rs 500: UIDAI begins probe

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which runs Aadhaar biometric identity card scheme has begun investigating a report that access to its database of the identity details of more than 1 billion citizens was being sold for just Rs 500 on social media, in what could be one of the giant programme’s biggest security breaches. The Tribune newspaper said it had been able to buy login credentials to the Aadhaar database, allowing it to acquire information such as the names, telephone numbers and home addresses of millions of people. The paper said it bought access for as little as Rs 500 from someone on a WhatsApp social media group. The agency said it had initiated a police complaint against the people responsible for selling the access, but did not identify them. Crucial data, “including biometric information, is fully safe and secure,” the agency said in a statement. The database incorporates fingerprints…

India
30 Indians flying to Kuwait arrested at airport with fake tickets

Mumbai police have arrested 30 men trying to fly to Kuwait on fake tickets and visas and are looking for the unlicensed recruitment agents who charged them 100,000 rupees to arrange their travel to jobs in the Gulf state. The men from Uttar Pradesh were arrested on Tuesday when they tried checking in at the airport with fake tickets, police said. The men have been charged with cheating and forgery and are being held in custody. Lata Sirsat, senior inspector with the Mumbai police, said a police team was going to Uttar Pradesh to find the unauthorized recruitment agents who duped these men with fake documents. “All the men are in their 30s and poor,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Indian officials are trying to crack down on unauthorized agents who promise to organize well paid jobs as cleaners and laborers in the Gulf states but cheat people along…

UAE
Dubai tests world’s first self-flying taxi

Dubai staged a test flight on Monday for what it said would soon be the world’s first drone taxi service under an ambitious plan by the United Arab Emirates city to lead the Arab world in innovation. The flying taxi developed by German drone firm Volocopter resembles a small, two-seater helicopter cabin topped by a wide hoop studded with 18 propellers. It was unmanned for its maiden test run in a ceremony arranged for Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed. Meant to fly without remote control guidance and with a maximum flight duration of 30 minutes, it comes with plenty of fail-safes in case of trouble: back-up batteries, rotors and, for a worst case scenario, a couple of parachutes. Volocopter is in a race with more than a dozen well-funded European and U.S. firms, each with its own science fiction-inspired vision for creating a new form of urban transport…

Qatar
Gulf crisis will be resolved quickly, says Trump

US President Donald Trump said yesterday he thought the dispute between Qatar and some of its Arab neighbours would be resolved quickly. “We are right now in a situation where we’re trying to solve a problem in the Middle East. And I think we’ll get it solved, I have a very strong feeling that it will be solved pretty quickly,” Trump said in New York as he met Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. The Emir met Trump on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly. The Emir said relationship with the US is very strong. Welcoming Sheikh Tamim, the US leader said it was his great honour to be with the Emir of Qatar. “And we’ve been friends a long time; people don’t realise that. We know each other for a long time.” Besides the Gulf crisis, “we’re talking, also, trade and many other…

UAE
Atlas Jewellery debt resolution plan hits stumbling block

Three banks are blocking a deal aimed at resolving the close to 500 million dirhams ($136.1 million) debt troubles of Dubai-based Atlas Jewellery, banking sources said. Atlas, which once had more than 50 retail branches across the Gulf and India, defaulted on loans in 2015 and its owner, M. M. Ramachandran, was sentenced to a three-year jail term for writing cheques without sufficient funds for them to clear. Since then banks have struggled to secure repayment, leading to the United Arab Emirates central bank trying to broker a deal that would put on hold legal action against Ramachandran so he could be released from jail to facilitate asset sales to repay banks while restructuring the company’s remaining debt, the sources said. The majority of the 22 or so creditor banks have signed up to the agreement, but Union National Bank, Mashreq and Qatar’s Doha Bank have declined, the sources said.…

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