Emirates ID makes exit quicker for UAE residents from Dubai Airport Terminal 3

Dubai: Dubai International Airport passengers no longer need to wait in long queues for passport control procedures as they may use their Emirates Identity cards to pass through the electronic gates (e-Gates) at the arrival wing of Terminal Three.

The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) has completed the activation of e-Gate service through the use of the Emirates ID, a service which requires no prior registration, reported Gulf News.

The new service will benefit all residents and citizens who already carry an Emirates ID card. In the first phase it has been activated in Terminal Three arrivals, which currently has 28 e-Gates, Major General Obaid Muhair Bin Surour, deputy director-general of the GDRFA, was quoted as saying.

“The new project has been implemented in cooperation with the Emirates Identity Authority to further improve our services and ensure a pleasant and smooth experience for all passengers,” he reportedly said.

Major General Bin Surour added that the e-Gate service using the ID card has a lot of benefits, one of them being the fact that it only requires a single card to travel.

“The service will soon be activated in all other terminals as well. As part of the first phase, we have implemented it at the arrival wing of Terminal three, but in the following phases of the project, the service will be activated in Terminals one, two, and three at both the arrivals and departures wings,” he reportedly said.

He explained that there aren’t any charges or prior registration for using this service, it only requires a valid Emirates ID.

Lt Colonel Talal Al Shanqeeti, assistant of the director-general for airport affairs at the GDRFA, had also said the activation of this project is vital as it facilitates smooth and swift entry and exit of passengers holding an Emirates ID and achieves high efficiency in handling passenger procedures.

Dubai International Airport was the first in the region to implement the e-Gate system in 2002, and the third airport in the world to do so. The e-Gate system reads passport information and captures biometric data, including facial recognition, in 12 to 14 seconds. All these procedures are completed while maintaining a high-level accuracy and security standards, officials were quoted as saying by Gulf News.

Businesses warned against charging extra fees from credit card users

Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development Consumers has advised businesses across the emirate not to charge extra fees from their customers who use their credit cards for purchases.

The department, in a circular issued to all businesses across the emirate, has warning them against collecting any extra fees when consumers opt to pay through credit cards, reported Gulf News.

The circular is a reinforcement of the recent resolution by the Supreme Committee for Consumer Protection banning any collection of extra fees from consumers when they pay via credit card for goods or services in both the business and government sectors, the report said.

Businesses that violate the law and collect extra fees on credit card payments will be subject to legal actions against them, a department spokesman reportedly said, adding that the department will be strict in dealing with such violations.

The Ministry of Economy was also quoted as saying that it will impose a fine of up to Dh100,000 on service providers that impose extra fees on credit card payments.

The department pointed out that Law No 2 of 2009 on its establishment has set out violation number (87) of the Violations Table, imposing fines on whoever collects extra fees on credit card payments.

It also said it is ready to respond to consumer complaints on this issue through the toll free number (800555).

The Ministry of Economy and the department will both reach out to all service providers and points of sale to instruct them to put up special signs indicating that no fees are to be collected for credit card payments. An inspection team will follow up to ensure compliance with the new resolution, said the news portal.

The resolution taken by the Supreme Committee for Consumer Protection cancelled all credit card fees collected in sectors like services, transactions, goods, health, education, and airlines. Consumers used to pay between Dh2-Dh5 whenever they chose to pay through their credit card, reported Gulf News.

Filipinos in AUH give away first aid kits to Philippine schools

Abu Dhabi: An Abu Dhabi-based Filipino community group is helping to raise money to provide first aid kits to schools in the Philippines. Hoops Basketball has so far helped 10 schools so through its initiative.

“Many schools in the Philippines unfortunately lack first aid kits, what they have is insufficient and so we decided to partner with the Red Cross Philippines to raise funds to provide schools with the necessary first aid kits they need,”Gulf News quoted Angelo Salarza, one of the founders behind Hoops Basketball, as saying.

“So far with the funds we have raised, we have managed to provide 10 schools with first aid kits, but we are aiming to do more and hope to reach more schools. So, we will be running our project throughout the year to make sure we can make a big impact and provide first aid kits to as many schools possible. The schools we are targeting are those that are in areas affected by typhoons, and so we are hoping that with our help that when a natural disaster does strike, these schools will be better prepared to handle such a situation and deal with any injuries,” he added.

Medical aid kits are crucial necessity in the Philippines, which is often hit by typhoons every year, the report said.

Salarza reportedly explained that the funds are raised by organising basketball tournaments — teams who want to participate in the tournament pay an entrance fee, with all the fees collected and donated for the project.

“We have managed to raise Dh3,000 from one tournament alone, and right now we are in the middle of holding our second tournament,” he said. “Overall we are planning to have at least five tournaments in the year, and our target is to raise Dh15,000 or more through these tournaments,” he added.

Salarza said combining a popular sports activity with a good cause made it easy to attract supporters.

“There is a lot of enthusiasm for our tournaments because basketball is a popular sport among the Filipino community, and at the same time we are doing it for a good cause back home in the Philippines, so getting people to join our tournaments is really not that hard. We get a lot of people and teams who want to take part. A lot of our members have also had personal experiences of witnessing a typhoon, so that makes them want to help even more, because they know what it is like,” he was quoted as saying by Gulf News.

Photo is for illustration purposes only.

New RTA app integrates all transport payment solutions

Dubai: The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is planning to launch a common booking and payment app for all modes of transports, including Monorail, Dubai Trolley as well as e-hail or mobile app-based taxi services.

The Integrated Mobility Platform (IMP) will give customers easy access to all mass transit systems through a single window or smart app, Gulf News quoted Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA, as saying.

The RTA’s multi-modal transit systems, including metro, tram, buses and marine transit means, already have a common fare payment system called Nol, which has also been introduced on taxis as a payment option, the report said.

However, the Monorail in Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Trolley in Downtown Dubai as well as private limousine services and the e-hail services like Uber and Careem have independent fare collection systems, it added.

These private modes of transports also have their own booking systems, said the Dubai-based news portal. This is the first time the RTA has announced integration of private transport modes with the Nol platform, which will come into effect in phases by the end of next year.

The RTA reportedly announced the system integration will be done in phases, with the first phase covering Monorail and Dubai Trolley, while in the second phase taxis services such as Uber and Careem will be integrated through an app, enabling the user to book the service and pay the fare.

“The Integrated Mobility Platform project comprises a system for organisational monitoring, full integration with all RTA’s mass transit means, integrating with services provided by other entities in Dubai, organizing electronic taxi booking services and running limo services,” said Al Tayer. “The project will offer the user the available mobility options, and enable the user to plan the journey and arrange the booking and payment in a smooth and integrated manner.”

The project will be undertaken in several phases and is expected to be concluded in 2017.

Phase I includes developing the technological infrastructure of the platform, integrating RTA transit means and integrating limo services of the Dubai Taxi Corporation. It will also include providing information about bikes, cycling tracks and racks, starting the issuance of operation permits for the electronic taxi booking services such as Uber, Careem and others, and developing a system for organisational monitoring of limousine services.

Phase II covers integrating electronic taxi booking services, and establishing agreements with transport partners and integrating them in a partial manner with the platform.

Phase III is reportedly concerned with holding agreements with most stakeholders to integrate them in the platform, and establishing the payment process offered by the platform using the Nol card, reported the news portal.

Bahrain OKs foreign investors 100% business ownership

Dubai: Allowing foreigners to acquire 100 percent ownership of businesses will spur growth in Bahrain’s property market, analysts believed.

The government of Bahrain recently approved a new law giving foreign investors the opportunity to have full ownership of various business assets in the market, reported Gulf News.

The landmark ruling was approved at a cabinet session led by Prime Minister Prince Al Khalifa, according to media reports.

The new ownership law will apply to different sectors, including residency, real estate, entertainment and leisure, food and administrative services, It follows a similar decree announced in June by the Saudi government, allowing non-locals to fully own retail and wholesale enterprises in the kingdom.

Real estate consultants headquartered in Dubai said the latest decision will likely encourage more investors to set up businesses in Bahrain and positively impact the local property market.

Faisal Durrani, head of research at Cluttons, reportedly noted that Bahrain’s property market already offers “competitive advantage to many other regional locations as its residential and commercial rents and values are among the most attractive” in the Gulf.

“The decision is likely to attract companies to set up a Middle East foothold in the Kingdom and for the first time puts Bahrain on a competitive footing with some of the region’s mega free zones and business hubs,” he was quoted as saying by the Dubai-based news portal.

Harry Goodson-Wickes, head of Cluttons Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, said the move will also boost investor confidence and make Bahrain an attractive place to work and live in.

“The government’s decision to allow 100 per cent foreign ownership is an important development for Bahrain. Economic growth in the country had been subdued ever since oil prices fell from record highs two years ago and the announcement will likely have positive implications for business,” Goodson-Wickes reportedly told Gulf News.

Daesh present in Sulu, Basilan, says Duterte

BULUAN, Maguindanao: Daesh is a product of desperation, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said during his visit here late Friday, virtually confirming the presence of the group in the country.

“They exist in Sulu and even contaminated the nearby province of Basilan,” Duterte was quoted as saying by Manila Times while addressing a gathering.

Daesh is another acronym for the radical group of Islamic State in the Middle East, staging atrocities in other regions. Basilan and Sulu are among the provinces in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) located near the border of the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, where government forces were fighting with members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) since January as violence renewed in the region including skirmishes, kidnappings and beheading of hostages.

The ASG, which pledged allegiance to the IS, recently beheaded Canadian Robert Hall and John Ridsdel, the news portal highlighted, adding that the extremists are still holding Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and several other nationals.

One of the hostages, Filipina Maritess Flor, who was kidnapped in Samal Island, Davao del Norte on September 21, 2015 along with Hall, Ridsdel and Sekkingstad was reportedly released.

Private negotiation for Sekkingstad’s safe release was underway, officials reportedly said.

The notorious IS recently named ASG’s chief Isnilon Hapilon, who also heads the group’s faction al-Harakat al-Islamiyah in Basilan, as commander covering its supporter jihadists networks in Southeast Asian countries. Hapilon has a $5 million bounty on his head under the United States (US) Rewards for Justice Program.

A senior member of Khilafah Islamiyah Movement (KIM), Abdul Rahman, appeared in a recent IS video saying that Hapilon was chosen by the self-proclaimed caliph IS leader Abu Baker al-Baghdadi as the commander in Southeast Asia.

The IS, which controls large-swathes areas in Syria and Iraq, had established a caliphate form of government three years after civil war started in Syria. The group had claimed responsibility for several attacks this year in Basilan, Sulu and Lanao del Sur.

In his meeting with top military and police officials at the Armed Forces’ Western Mindanao headquarters in Zamboanga City on Thursday, Duterte reportedly said more government troops are needed to put an end to the “embarrassing” terrorism in the country.

“It started many, many years ago. It’s like we’re being slapped on the face, every time there is a foreigner executed or a local … it embarrasses the country,” he was quoted as saying.

The president said 10,000 to 20,000 additional troops would be needed to combat terror groups in various areas in Mindanao.

The president also met with other top security officials at the Army’s 6th Infantry Division based in Maguindanao, which has jurisdiction over Central Mindanao, hours before he visited here where he also met with other military officials from the Army’s Eastern Mindanao command.

He urged Muslims not to be swayed by the IS ideology, saying that the rebels in Syria and Iraq were “driven by hatred”.

He said the Daesh members were “desperate” after the fall of leaderships in Iraq and Libya and the continued oppression against the Syrian people, specially the plight of the children. That could be the reason why “Daesh is everywhere,” he was quoted as saying by Manila Times.

Real estate to drive PH growth

DUBAI: The services sector, particularly real estate, is expected to drive the economic growth of the Philippines in the succeeding years, said Roselou T. Jomah, Megaworld International’s (MI) assistant vice president for sales in the Middle East and Africa.

“Demand will be driven by a number of factors, resulting in a well-distributed growth across the sector. The continuing growth in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector and the growth in consumer spending will certainly help boost the company’s revenues,” Jomah told The Filipino Times in an email interview from Manila.

In this light, she said, Megaworld is now expanding its rental portfolio to capitalize on these developments.

Jomah meantime said remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFW) will continue to power the low-end to mid-market residential housing segment, while foreign investors and expatriates will keep up the demand for luxury housing. Apparently capitalizing on this, Megaworld is reaching out to more Filipinos based abroad through the real estate company’s global network.

“This makes property acquisition easy and convenient for overseas buyers,” Jomah said, explaining that satellite offices serve as a one-stop shop for prospective buyers and clients, who would like to learn more about Megaworld’s projects.

According to her, Megaworld International currently has 16 satellite offices: Los Angeles, USA; California, USA; San Diego, USA; Ontario, Canada; New York, USA; Rome, Italy; Madrid, Spain; London, UK; Dublin, Ireland; Vienna, Austria; Tokyo, Japan; Singapore; Bahrain; Doha, Qatar; Muscat, Oman; and Dubai.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has said the Philippines is expected to grow by six percent this year “on the back of higher consumption and investment.”


Transport authority applies brake on new TNVS registrations

MANILA: The Philippine authorities have suspended accepting and processing applications for Uber, GrabCar, and Uhop in Metro Manila.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has directed its technical division and regional offices not to accept any applications for transportation network vehicle services (TNVS), particularly those of Uber, GrabCar, and Uhop proposing to ply the route within Metro Manila or entering Metro Manila, reported Rappler.

Transportation Spokesperson Cherie Mercado reportedly said the circular was issued due to the rising volume of TNVS applications and the department’s review of the fare scheme.

As of July 15 this year, the transportation department said applications for TNVS units rose to 29,151, the report said.

The department reportedly said there are 5,727 pending applications for GrabCar units, 23,292 for Uber units, and 131 for Uhop units.

In October last year, TNVS applications were only at about 3,500, said the news portal.

LTFRB reportedly said the suspension of TNVS applications will take effect once the circular is published in at least one newspaper.

This is the second time the government has suspended accepting TNVS applications.

In December 2015, a Quezon City court ordered the government to stop accepting Uber and GrabCar applications for 20 days.

This was after the LTFRB faced complaints on the accreditation of TNVS, particularly the issue of oversupply of Uber and GrabCar units, reported Rappler.

Fil-Am youth program seeks more PH-bound delegates

SAN FRANCISCO: The hunt for the fifth batch of delegates for the Filipino American Youth Leadership Program (FYLPro) has been extended.

FYLPro is an immersion program held in Manila, where delegates are given the opportunity to meet and dialogue with high officials and policymakers in the Philippine government, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, artists and cultural experts, as well as innovators in various fields, reported Inquirer.

It seeks to magnify the voice of the Fil-Am youth, increase their appreciation for Philippine culture, customs and values and develop their understanding and empathy towards the Filipino community both in the Philippines and in the United States, the report said.

Launched in 2012, FYLPro is a project conceptualized by former Philippine Ambassador to the United Sates Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., in partnership with the Ayala Foundation, as a way to reach out to the youth, tap their talents and skills, and hone their potential as future leaders, movers and shakers of the Filipino American community.

According to FYLPro Alumni, the program has reportedly enabled them to gain invaluable insights on Philippine and Filipino American issues, maintain a global network of innovative and influential individuals, and realize a life changing perspective.

Previous delegates have set up an organization that is focused on initiatives geared towards promoting the social, educational, economic and political development of the Philippines and the Filipino communities in the US.

Projects such as Teach for the Philippines, Panalo Partnership with the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Next Day Better and dual citizenship promotion are the brainchild of FYLPro Alumni.

This year’s FYLPro will be held on November 24 to December 2, 2016, reported Inquirer.

DOLE Chief flies to Saudi, meets stranded OFWs

MANILA: On his first official trip abroad, Philippine Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III will meet with representatives of stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia.

Bello will assess the needs of the distressed OFWs during his brief visit in Riyadh, reported Manila Bulletin.

“We will look into the status of our stranded OFWs there and determine the possible aid we could extend to them like food,” Bello was quoted as saying.

Bello reportedly left for KSA on Thursday evening and is expected to be back in the country by Sunday.

He was accompanied by ACTS OFW Party-List Representative Aniceto Bertiz, Labor Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director-General Guiling Mamondong and other government officials, the report said.

Bello’s contingent will also be checking if the large Saudi companies, which were forced to retrench migrant employees due to financial woes, were able to meet their obligations to affected OFWs, said the news portal.

Last March, Lagunzad reportedly said they will coordinate with the Philippine embassy in filing the necessary cases against the Saudi firms, which will fail to do so.

Migrante International Chairperson Garry Martinez, who met with Bello last Wednesday, disclosed the labor official has agreed to talk with their regional coordinators from Riyadh and Jeddah.

“They will be the ones, who will convey to him the grievances of our stranded OFWs there,” Martinez was quoted as saying by Manila Bulletin.

“Our only request to him is to hold the talks outside the Philippine embassy so our kababayans could freely express their concerns,” he reportedly said.