Educational roadmap

Malaysia is known for developing its’ educational policies through developing its’ human resources, as the Malaysian higher education system focuses on training students to be ready for jobs that mainly depend on practice more than academic knowledge, while the student can gain the needed experience later.

 

On the other hand, Malaysian institutes offer different educational systems such as academic and professional education, leading the higher education focus toward developing the skillset and knowledge of each student to be able to improve their technology skills by themselves.

 

Higher education makes a very big chance for students to work on their professional side through the many MOUs and agreements between ministries to provide training opportunities for local and international university students, with more than 208 certified training institutes.

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Educational roadmap ...

 

 

Dr. Abdulrahim Abdulwahed

 

Malaysia is known for developing its’ educational policies through developing its’ human resources, as the Malaysian higher education system focuses on training students to be ready for jobs that mainly depend on practice more than academic knowledge, while the student can gain the needed experience later.

 

On the other hand, Malaysian institutes offer different educational systems such as academic and professional education, leading the higher education focus toward developing the skillset and knowledge of each student to be able to improve their technology skills by themselves.

 

Higher education makes a very big chance for students to work on their professional side through the many MOUs and agreements between ministries to provide training opportunities for local and international university students, with more than 208 certified training institutes.

 

The National Education and Development Plan for the Government and the Ministry of Education for 2015-2025 has several key points aimed at enhancing vocational training and skills as a parallel path to success in line with higher education, and to achieve the excellence and success that the student will get after graduating from these institutes loaded with various experiences and experiences.

 

Among the official efforts made by the Ministry in developing the education sector concerned is to allow industrial institutes and schools to design and approve curricula and work on the training section within them, simulate the practical reality and accompanying training programs, and coordination between training instructors Professional and technical.

 

However, with getting closer to completion of the major educational achievement by reaching the number of 200,000 foreign students in Malaysia by 2020, the difficult circumstances experienced by the country during the past years, especially before the return of Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to power, has significantly affected the higher education process planned before.

 

We believe that achieving this goal considering the reconstruction phase of state institutions and programs needs to reconsider the implementation of this specific educational strategy. All of this, despite the continued success of this sector in its public image, but it is difficult to achieve the goal set by the number of students within the plans of the government.

 

Statistics show that more than 127,583 international students were enrolled in Malaysia in March 2019. More than 70% of them are studying in private universities and higher education institutions in the private sector. Public universities have seen more than 30,000 foreign students in 2019, According to official statistics.

 

Malaysia will need more than 70,000 international students to join its universities in the year 2020 to achieve its strategic goal, which led the Secretary of the Malaysian Ministry of Education Mohammed Ghazali Abbas to invite public and private universities in the country to work together closely to achieve that goal.

 

The Secretary of the Ministry of Education said that next year will see a growth in the number of foreign students in the country, growth may reach the highest rates of between 20-30%, but those rates on the importance of it will not enable Malaysia to reach its goal of reaching 200 thousand foreign students Next year.

 

Reaching 200,000 foreign students mark, will generate significant revenues for the Malaysian treasury, while in the past years it has earned 7.2 billion ringgits annually from the cost of university study, living costs, and various services spent by foreign students during their study in Malaysia.

 

 

 

 

Abu Dhabi launches world’s first university of Artificial Intelligence

Abu Dhabi has announced the establishment of the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence, MBZUAI, the first graduate level, research-based AI university in the world.

 

The university is named after HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who has long advocated for the UAE’s development of human capital through knowledge and scientific thinking to take the nation into the future.

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Abu Dhabi launches world’s first university of Artificial Intelligence

 

 

DUBAI – “ASWAQ”

 

Abu Dhabi has announced the establishment of the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence, MBZUAI, the first graduate level, research-based AI university in the world.

 

The university is named after HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who has long advocated for the UAE’s development of human capital through knowledge and scientific thinking to take the nation into the future.

 

MBZUAI was officially launched in October and the announcement was made at a press conference at the University campus in Masdar City. Its establishment is to enable graduate students, businesses, and governments to advance in the artificial intelligence field.

 

MBZUAI will offer Master of Science, MSc, and PhD level programmes in key areas of AI – Machine Learning, Computer Vision, and Natural Language Processing. It will provide all admitted students with a full scholarship, plus benefits such as a monthly allowance, health insurance, and accommodation. Upon graduation, the University will work with leading local and global companies to secure internships, and also assist students in finding employment opportunities.

 

Graduate students can now apply to MBZUAI via the University’s website with its first masters and PhD programmes registration set to open in August 2020. The first class of graduate students will commence coursework at MBZUAI’s Masdar City campus in September 2020.

 

 

As the first university to have a sole focus on AI, the institution aims to attract students from around the world to advance the technology and help drive the UAE’s economic diversification efforts. MBZUAI is also being established in a bid to stay ahead of the disruptive technologies and diversify its economy from heavy reliance on oil.

 

The UAE plans to develop a workforce well-versed in artificial intelligence, as the rapidly-advancing technology is increasingly transforming economies worldwide. As such, talent and academic institutions are becoming more essential thus necessitating the formation of MBZUAI as an open invitation from Abu Dhabi to the world to pursue AI’s full potential, said Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State, who has been appointed Chair of the MBZUAI Board of Trustees and is spearheading the establishment of the University.

 

Dr.Al Jaber noted  the university aligns with the vision of the UAE leadership that is based on sustainable development, progress and the overall well-being of humanity and underpinned by capacity-building and active participation in finding practical solutions based on innovation and state-of-the-art technology.

 

"AI is already changing the world, but we can achieve so much more if we allow the limitless imagination of the human mind to fully explore it," stated Dr Al Jaber.

 

"The University will bring the discipline of AI into the forefront, molding and empowering creative pioneers who can lead us to a new AI empowered era.The launch of the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence is a clear demonstration of the UAE's commitment to encouraging innovation and empowering younger generations in the UAE and around the world," he added.

 

The university will introduce a new model of academia and research to the field of AI, providing students and faculty access to some of the world’s most advanced AI systems to unleash its potential for economic and societal development.

 

MBZUAI has partnered with the Abu Dhabi-based Inception Institute of Artificial Intelligence, IIAI, a global force in excellence and leadership of AI research, for the supervision of PhD students and curriculum development. IIAI will also serve as a principal partner for collaborative research.

 

Experts from around the world have been selected for the University’s Board of Trustees. They include MBZUAI Interim President, Professor Sir Michael Brady, professor of Oncological Imaging at the University of Oxford, UK; Professor Anil K. Jain, a University Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University, USA; Professor Andrew Chi-Chih Yao, Dean of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Information Sciences at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China; Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, a technology executive and venture capitalist based in Beijing, China; Professor Daniela Rus, Director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, USA, and Peng Xiao, CEO of Group 42.

 

The Board of Trustees will be supported by an Advisory Board, chaired by Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, and will include Sarah bint Yousif Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences; Dr. Ahmad bin Abdullah Humaid Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills; Jassim Al Zaabi, Chairman of the Department of Finance, and Dr. Wan Li Min, Chief Machine Intelligence Scientist at Alibaba.

 

 

Dubai Expo 2020 targets 25 Million Visitors

Expo 2020 Dubai expects to welcome 25 million visitors in 6 months between October 20, 2020 and April 10, 2021, of which 70 percent (about 11 million) will come from outside Dubai.

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Dubai Expo 2020 targets 25 Million Visitors

 

 

DUBAI – “ASWAQ”

 

Expo 2020 Dubai expects to welcome 25 million visitors in 6 months between October 20, 2020 and April 10, 2021, of which 70 percent (about 11 million) will come from outside Dubai.

 

The target consists of around 15 million unique visitors, with about 11 million coming from overseas, and the remaining consisting of 4 million local residents coming multiple times.

 

Khosla estimates that international guests will visit an average of about 1.2 times, while local UAE residents are predicted to visit an average of 3 times throughout the 6-month period. The numbers work out at around 145,000 visits for every one of the 173 days the site is open.

 

How are they going to achieve this target?

 

Of course, it will have to be a big awareness campaign and aggressive marketing to attract the number of visitors.

 

The first big awareness drive was the ‘Welcome to the Future’ video campaign starring Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi. A big awareness drive, including a free concert starring American singer Mariah Carey, started recently which focuses on the ‘One Year to Go’ campaign to the opening of the event.

 

Another strategy Khosla is using to attract the millions of visits is encouraging events taking place in Dubai to be held within the Expo 2020 Dubai site or in the Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC), which is just a 10 minute walk from the expo gates.

 

Khosla is also responsible for monetising the event from three main revenue generators at its disposal: ticket sales, sponsorship from partners, such as MasterCard, Nissan, Pepsi, SAP, Emirates, Siemens, Emirates NBD, Etisalat and UPS; and licensing.

 

Expo 2020 Dubai will host around 60 events everyday ranging from small attractions to international celebrity appearances with each one of them  brimming with new experiences. It will be a time to create, collaborate and innovate. And it is going to be fun, eye-catching, mind-bending, taste bud-tickling, grin-inducing, good-weird, did-that-really-just-happen experience.

 

There will be hundreds of pavilions featuring interactive exhibits, live entertainment, memorable meeting spaces, quirky hangouts and plenty more.
Guests can visit their favourite countries and discover new places they have never considered before. It could change the way people see the world, with 192 country pavilions featuring narratives from every corner of the globe.

 

Guests will have the opportunity to experience the excitement not to be missed out, and here are just a handful:

 

  • Glimpse the future of travel with Hyperloop;
  • Discover the life-changing possibilities of 3D printing;
  • Meet Gnasher, the sharp-toothed machine of endless consumption;
  • See Expo 2020 from the top of the rotating observation tower;
  • Enjoy super-fast connectivity with 5G network;
  • Savour cuisines of tomorrow at the ‘Future of Food Festival’;
  • Learn how forest trees use their roots to help one another;
  • Become part of a mission to Mars (can you spot the Martian?);
  • Explore the cultures of more than 190 countries.

 

Expo 2020 is full of excitement for people of all ages and backgrounds, with a variety of attractions like: a world of flavours; world-class architecture; innovative landscapes; arts and culture; three thematic districts; and outdoor performances.

 

The start of the awareness campaign is not too bad after all. With one year to go a good indicator of demand and interest, at least locally, came recently when the bus tours of the under-construction Expo 2020 Dubai site sold out within hours.

 

Dubai has also stepped up efforts to cater to the millions of additional people who are expected to visit Dubai in the years leading up to Dubai Expo 2020 and during the event, by accelerating its development of Al Maktoum International Airport (AMIA). Once completed, AMIA will be the world’s largest airport with a capacity to handle 160 million passengers per year. The development of AMIA includes the creation of an integrated sea and air freight facility that is expected to play an important part in Dubai’s general transportation infrastructure and in servicing Dubai Expo 2020. It is believed that these developments will help Dubai Expo 2020 achieve its target of 25 million visitors.

 

 

 

Expo_2020_Dubai_Master_Plan-1

Dubai set to host nine medical conferences during Expo 2020

Dubai Expo 2020 has announced that it will be holding a series of 9 medical conferences and specialist events at the new Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC), spread throughout the peak six-month period of the Expo.  

The conferences, organized by a Dubai-based medical conference and consumer events specialist, MCO, will focus on high-tech innovations in healthcare with the help of cutting-edge technology. 

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Dubai set to host nine medical conferences during Expo 2020

 

 

DUBAI – “ASWAQ”

 

Dubai Expo 2020 has announced that it will be holding a series of 9 medical conferences and specialist events at the new Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC), spread throughout the peak six-month period of the Expo.  

 

The conferences, organized by a Dubai-based medical conference and consumer events specialist, MCO, will focus on high-tech innovations in healthcare with the help of cutting-edge technology. Some of the events include a Virtual Reality (VR) and Robotics Expo, pediatric, orthopaedic and surgery conferences, as well as those focusing on latest technological advances such artificial intelligence (AI), 3D Printing and wearable technology.

 

The conferences are expected to attract hundreds of leading medical professionals and HealthTech companies from around the world. These specialised events during Expo 2020 and their focus on healthcare innovation is in line with UAE's vision of boosting the country's position as the world's leading medical tourism destination, as well as a global hub for innovation.

 

Najeeb Mohammed Al-Ali, the executive director of the Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau, said: “The 9 cutting-edge medical conferences and specialist events that will be hosted at DEC during Expo 2020, under this significant agreement with MCO, will serve as an invaluable addition to the UAE’s medical landscape, offering an opportunity for Expo 2020’s international visitors and participants to engage in ground-breaking discussions regarding the global healthcare sector.”

 

Dr Mohammed Abuelkhair, CEO of MCO added: “Expo 2020 Dubai is a great opportunity for conference organisers such as MCO to take on new initiatives and build something unique for the future. We would like to thank the UAE Government, and Expo 2020 Dubai, for giving MCO the opportunity to show the world what the UAE has to offer in healthcare."

 

DEC, which is located within the Expo 2020 Dubai site, will offer 45,000 sq.m. of flexible space dedicated to business events and it will remain after the Expo ends in 2021 as part of its legacy. Other events already confirmed to take place in DEC include the World Government Summit which will be held from November 22-25, 2020 and BlockExpo and World Blockchain Summit 2020 which will run from November 2-6, 2020.

 

The co-location of Expo 2020 and the DEC provides a unique opportunity for business delegates to network with more than 200 participants of the Expo 2020, including nations, global multilateral organisations, businesses, educational institutions and millions of visitors.

 

Steen Jakobsen, Assistant Vice President, Dubai Business Events said: “Dubai Exhibition Centre is an exciting new addition to the business events eco-system in the city and is already becoming a popular and viable option for organisers and planners, both for events during Expo 2020 Dubai, and over the coming years after the Expo ends. Easily accessible and with significant infrastructure being build alongside it, the venue is highly flexible and a unique proposition for events of all types and sizes.”

 

The UAE already hosts a number of high-level healthcare and medical-related conferences, including the yearly Arab Health event.

 

Besides, delegates can also experience all that Expo 2020 has to offer from entertainment, cuisine, cultural events, architecture, to innovation, customised journeys and immersive exhibitions.

 

Expo 2020 will bring together 192 nations, coinciding with the UAE’s 50th anniversary in 2021, and will act as a ‘global six-month celebration of creativity, innovation, humanity and world cultures’. It will provide visitors access to the latest innovations and breakthroughs and it will be a never-experienced-before event that will inspire collaboration, spur the exchange of knowledge and ideas and create tangible opportunities for innovation. It will also be an opportunity not to be missed by businesses.

 

For six months during Expo 2020, there will be no place on the planet providing better opportunities to network with governments, businesses, educational institutions, thought leaders, business titans and industry associations , than Dubai Exhibition Centre,”, says Shaun Vorster, vice-president of programming at Expo 2020.

 

Dubai. Expo 2020 is scheduled to run from October 20, 2020 to April 10, 2021.

 

 

 

VISA regional HQ set to open in Dubai in 2021

VISA, the global digital payments firm, says it has appointed international property developer Sweid & Sweid to build its new Dubai headquarters at a prime location situated in the heart of the vibrant business cities of Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City.

 

The new VISA headquarters building which is on track for completion in June 2021 will cater for operations in the company’s Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) region, a statement said.

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VISA regional HQ set to open in Dubai in 2021

 

 

DUBAI – “ASWAQ”

 

VISA, the global digital payments firm, says it has appointed international property developer Sweid & Sweid to build its new Dubai headquarters at a prime location situated in the heart of the vibrant business cities of Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City.

 

The new VISA headquarters building which is on track for completion in June 2021 will cater for operations in the company's Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) region, a statement said.

 

The move is said will enable VISA to increase its capacity to over 500 employees and continue to evolve and expand its capabilities across the 96 countries currently under CEMEA’s Dubai-based command.

 

Covering over 100,000 square feet, it will feature a state-of-the-art Innovation Hub, collaborative office spaces, outdoor terraces and integrated lobby areas that will transform the way people work and interact with the fintech company, the statement said.

 

Visa’s regional president for the CEMEA region, Andrew Torre said: “This is not only an investment in Dubai but in the Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) region, which is a rapidly-growing market for Visa. Tech-savvy and innovative, Dubai embodies the spirit of Visa and the future of our CEMEA region as a whole, making it the ideal centre of operations for us to continue to introduce innovative digital payment technology and solutions to help individuals, businesses and economies thrive.”

 

The purpose-built project adds to Sweid & Sweid growing portfolio of iconic developments. Maher Sweid, managing partner of Sweid & Sweid, said: “Since our inception in 2006 we have delivered the highest quality projects for our multinational tenants, and look forward to contributing to the development of Dubai’s economy by facilitating the growth of leading technology companies such as Visa and creating jobs for the next generation.”

 

In October, Brewer Smith Brewer Group (BSBG) had officially announced its role as the concept design architect for the exclusive new VISA headquarters building . BSBG’s Group Design Director Michael Lewis led-studio (the BSBG design hub) through the concept phase in collaboration with long-term client, developer, Sweid & Sweid.

 

In addition to the complete design packages, BSBG is also providing lead consultancy and structural engineering for the VISA HQ building. It said: “The concept is founded on the strength of the internalised structure, featuring a strong rythmical quality to the facade , with aspirations of becoming something of a reference point in terms of commercial design.”

 

While recently revealing design details of the new VISA HQ building, BSBG said: “We had to create a solution appropriate for the VISA brand.  It is a prominent global organisation, where financial security and authority is of the utmost importance. We had to display its position as a tech savvy, connected and trustworthy organisation. I think we have achieved a standalone landmark building in that respect. It represents VISA as a brand , while also sitting comfortably in the context of Dubai Internet City.”

 

“We’re presenting an international corporate headquarters , but with commercial elements , cafes and retail, a public front face , a graded element and a public plaza. There are a number of leasable units at the prow of the building, and it links with the walkable network of the district to create the feeling of connectivity and promote the concept of a connected city.”

 

It is a world class, certainly in keeping with the Sweid and Sweid demands for each of their projects and moreover its a monument fitting for the world’s largest financial services organisation to call home. In view of site constraints, there are six levels of basement parking to ensure the efficiency of the building met international standards.

 

Abdulla Belhoul, chief commercial officer at TECOM Group, added: “We continuously strive to enable thriving sectors and industries that contribute to the growth and diversification of Dubai’s economy. In line with this priority, Visa CEMEA’s new headquarters is a welcome addition to our dynamic communities that promote innovation and are currently home to more than 5,600 business partners from around the globe.”

 

 

uae

Mubadala and RDIF consider joint investment in US$2.8bn project in Russia

Mubadala, Abu Dhabi’s strategic investment firm, and state-owned Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) are considering the potential investment with Russia’s top woodworking firm Sveze to build a new US$2.8 billion (Dh10bn) pulp mill plant in northwest Russia, Mubadala said in a recent statement.

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Mubadala and RDIF consider joint investment in US$2.8bn project in Russia

 

 

DUBAI – “ASWAQ”

 

Mubadala, Abu Dhabi's strategic investment firm, and state-owned Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) are considering the potential investment with Russia's top woodworking firm Sveze to build a new US$2.8 billion (Dh10bn) pulp mill plant in northwest Russia, Mubadala said in a recent statement.

 

The agreement to explore the potential investment in the Russian wood pulp plant is one of the six deals signed between the two companies aimed at boosting cooperation in various sectors which include advanced technologies, healthcare, transport and logistics. The two entities will also cooperate in artificial intelligence and invest in key areas of Russia’s 5-year strategic development plans.

 

The new project, based in Vologda, with a design capacity output of more than 1.3 million tonnes of wood pulp annually, will focus on Russian and key European and Asian markets, the company said without revealing the size of the proposed investment.

 

The Mubadala-RDIF collaboration is part of their successful long-term investment partnership that began in 2013 when the two companies formed a US$7bn co-investment platform, and have so far made more than 45 joint investments with an aggregate value in excess of US$2bn (Dhs 7bn).

 

 “The six collaboration agreements announced today demonstrate the strength of the multi-dimensional relationship that continues to flourish between RDIF and Mubadala as a symbol of the much deeper bond between our two nations,” Mubadala's group chief executive and managing director, Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, said when commenting on the announcement.

 

The agreements were announced following the official visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to the United Arab Emirates.

 

The two entities are also considering a joint investment of US$300 million into NefteTransService, one of Russia’s largest operators of railway rolling stock, through a consortium led by RDIF to expand its current facilities.

 

In the advanced technologies sector, RDIF and Mubadala have agreed to partner with the leading Russian face recognition technologies developer, NtechLab, to support the expansion of its business in the Middle East.

 

Mubadala and RDIF have also agreed to expand their investment in the Professional Logistics Technologies platform to build a multi-temperature distribution centre and related infrastructure in Moscow with a gross leasable area of over 100,000 sq.m.that will be leased to a leading food retailer, according to the statement.

 

The new deals, coinciding with the recent visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Abu Dhabi, also include boosting healthcare infrastructure in Russia as well as providing an opportunity for Russian patients to seek treatment and medical care by advanced clinics in the UAE.

 


RDIF’s chief executive, Kirill Dmitriev said: “We remain committed to supporting these new initiatives and to maintaining our productive partnership with Mubadala in the long term. We are grateful to our partners at Mubadala for the strong interest they have shown in our country for many years. We are confident that together we will continue to make successful investments both for implementing Russia’s national projects and reaching technology development targets, particularly in AI. The investments we make are aimed at advancing all the key areas of the economy, as well as enhancing living standards in Russia.”

 

RDIF is dedicated to bringing these six cooperation agreements to fruition, by raising capital and through engaging the expertise of international partners such as Mubadala,” added Dmitriev.

 

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) also recently awarded Lukoil a 5 per cent stake in the ultra-sour gas Ghasha concession, marking the first time a Russian energy company has participated in the emirate's upstream activities.

 

The Russian energy firm will pay Dh697.3m as a signing fee for the stake in a concession expected to produce up to 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of gas and 120,000 barrels per day of crude and high-value condensate by 2025.

 

Adnoc and Russia’s Gazprom Neft also agreed to explore opportunities for a partnership in production and exploration of sour gas, which commonly refers to gas with large volumes of sulphur, in Abu Dhabi.

 

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) also signed an agreement with Russia's state-owned nuclear energy firm Rosatom to look at collaborations, which could include the setting up of a nuclear science centre in the UAE, plant development and investment and training for Emiraties, Enec said in a statement recently.

 

 

Mall of Oman

Muscat

Mall of Oman Project on track for 2021 opening

Mall of Oman is one of a major commercial development project currently under construction in the heart of Muscat down town, and is being developed by Majid Al Futtaim, a prominent UAE-based real estate developer.

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Mall of Oman Project on track for 2021 opening

 

 

 

DUBAI – “ASWAQ”

 

Mall of Oman is one of a major commercial development project currently under construction in the heart of Muscat down town, and is being developed by Majid Al Futtaim, a prominent UAE-based real estate developer.

 

The Mall, the fifth and biggest lifestyle destination in the sultanate, is set to open in March 2021, after having completed two major infrastructure milestones – new roads and flyovers, connecting the mall to the Muscat Expressway, and the completion of the Muscat Electricity Distribution Company (MEDC) Primary Substation.

 

An extensive roads upgrade to interchange number 6 on the Muscat Expressway has been completed, along with four new bridges and an underpass to ease access to the mall. In addition, extensive retaining walls and utility divisions have been completed to facilitate the works. The new access will add to the convenience of visiting the mall as it will directly lead to the 5,200 dedicated parking bays with a total built-up area of 161,313 sq.m. More than a kilometre of the 12-metre-high retaining walls are now in place, as well as the initial road directional signage for Mall of Oman.

 

The recently completed and energised MEDC Primary Substation will allow the 9 distribution substations in the mall to be progressively energised, which will allow the completion of the Central Cooling Plant and introduction of wild air into the mall.

 

This will be the third mall in Oman for Majid Al Futtami in addition to Muscat and Qurrum City Centres.

 

Considered to be the biggest project of its kind in the sultanate, Mall of Oman will have 350 outlets in a 137,000 sq.m. retail space, as well as an 8,000 sq.m. play area and restaurants in addition to several other brands, making it Oman’s flagship destination for retail, leisure, and entertainment.

 

The mall will also include the sultanate’s first Abercrombie & Fitch and largest VOX Cinemas (9,610 sq.m.), a Magic Planet family entertainment centre, a 12,200 sq.m. Carrefour Hypermarket and the largest indoor snow park (14,513 sq.m.) in the sultanate. The project will also include energy centre, substations, plant rooms, landscaping and infrastructure and a hotel offering 292 rooms. A gross leasable area of 144,708 sq.m.will also be made available.

 

Ghaith Shocair, Chief Executive Officer Majid Al Futtaim Shopping Malls, said: “The tourism and retail sectors are integral to Oman’s economy and are poised to drive economic growth and contribute to diversification in the country. These objectives are aligned with Vision 2040 and we are privileged to be able to contribute to this vision as long-term partners and investors. By developing Mall of Oman, we continue to contribute to the growth of the local tourism industry and enable job creation for residents both during and post-construction. A development project of this size and scope is beneficial to Oman’s citizens and residents and will positively contribute to economic and social development in the Sultanate.”

 

AECOM is providing lead consultancy services for the monumental Mall of Oman project in the Sultanate of Oman. In addition to lead consultancy services, AECOM provided full building engineering and architecture design. They are currently providing construction supervision services during construction. The mall is due to open in Q3 of 2019.

 

Located at Madinat Al Ifran, Mall of Oman has a LEED Gold target. If successfully achieved it will be the first major retail project in Oman to obtain this prestigious accreditation. The project has also invested in a central cooling plant, photovoltaic technology and engaged with the local authorities to ensure that the surrounding infrastructure benefits from the project.

 

The project was fully developed in BIM, ensuring design coordination and assisting with the procurement process.

 

The Mall of Oman is the inaugural mega-mall for the Sultanate and will play a leading role in putting Oman on the retail map and supporting the national vision of a tourism industry. This project will not only enhance the client’s already significant retail investment but will also secure a proportion of the Omani spend, currently being lost primarily to the UAE.

 

Construction Week magazine awarded Mall of Oman Commercial Project of the Year 2017.

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saudi-visa

Saudi Arabia Launches Tourist Visa for 49 countries

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has recently launched a new tourist visa program that will allow holidaymakers who already hold a visa from the United States, Britain or the European Union (EU) Schengen Zone, expanding eligibility beyond an initial list of 49 countries.

 

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Saudi Arabia Launches Tourist Visa for 49 countries 

 

 

DUBAI – “ASWAQ”

 

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has recently launched a new tourist visa program that will allow holidaymakers who already hold a visa from the United States, Britain or the European Union (EU) Schengen Zone, expanding eligibility beyond an initial list of 49 countries.

 

The conservative Muslim kingdom, relatively closed off for decades, recently launched a new visa regime for foreign nationals from countries in Europe, North America and much of Asia to boost foreign tourism and diversify the economy away from oil, as well as create new jobs for Saudi Arabian citizens.

 

 

Prior to this, foreigners traveling to Saudi Arabia had been largely restricted to resident workers and their dependents, business travelers and Muslim pilgrims who are given special visas to visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

 

 

The move is part of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s initiative which began last year, to shift international perspective towards the country and give it a more modern image, according to a report in the Associated Press.

 

 

Saudi Arabia has moved to expand a recently-launched tourist visa system aimed at drawing holidaymakers to the kingdom. The new system forms part of the Vision 2030, an ambitious Saudi plan aimed at diversifying the country’s economy.

 

 

Now, foreigners holding a valid commercial or a tourist visa issued by the US, the UK or the European Union’s Schengen visa are also eligible for a tourist visa online or upon arrival at Saudi airports, the report says. Indians, Pakistanis and citizens from the South Asian continent can also obtain a Saudi tourist visa but through the Kingdom’s embassies and consulates.

 

 

Other people wishing to enter Saudi Arabia can approach Saudi missions for a tourist visa provided they attach to their applications a return ticket, a residence booking in the kingdom, financial status and address in the home country.

 

 

Previously, the only visas available to those wishing to visit the ultraconservative Muslim country were for work, study, visiting family and religious pilgrimages.

 

 

The new visas are valid for up to one year, cost about US$120 including a health insurance fee, and allow multiple entries and stays of up to 3 months.

 

 

To apply for a tourist visa from the Saudi Embassy or Consulate, applicants should be at least 18 years old while underage applicants require a guardian.

 

 

According to the Saudi Tourism website, there is no need to mention your religion as it is not relevant and a letter from your sponsor is also not required for the visa application. Before applying, make sure the passport is valid for at least six months at the time of entering Saudi Arabia. Refunds in the event of a rejection is not possible, and visa fees are also non-refundable.

 

 

It is also important to note that applicants will be charged 100 riyals (Dh98) for each day of overstaying the tourist visa.

 

 

Documents required include:

  • Proof of accommodation
  • Return ticket
  • Proof of employment
  • Bank statement

 

 

Supporting information include:

  • Details of Identification Documents
  • Home address
  • Travel itinerary

 

 

Citizens from 49 countries, including US, Canada and UK, are now eligible to apply for a Saudi tourist e-visa by registering on the government website visa.visitsaudi.com.

 

 

The e-visa will be a one-year, multiple entry visa, allowing tourists to spend up to 90 days in the country. The e-visa process can be carried out in two steps, and all that eligible applicants are required to do is fill out the application form, and then pay the 440 riyals (Dh430) visa fee.

 

 

Alternatively, applicants can also apply for an e-visa by downloading the Saudi Tourism app from Google Play or the Apple Store.

 

 

Saudi Arabia, which shares borders with Iraq to the north and Yemen to the south, boasts vast tracts of desert but also verdant mountains, pristine beaches and historical sites. It is home to five UNESCO World Heritage sites, and the desert nation is sure to hold special appeal for traveling fans of archaeology and ancient history. The first site in the country to make the list, Al-Hijr, is an archaeological site reminiscent of Petra in Jordan, with 111 "monumental tombs" carved into stone cliffs. At Arabia's eastern edge, Al-Ahsa, the world's largest oasis, has seen continuous human settlement since the Neolithic period, according to the U.N. agency's website.

 

 

According to Business Insider, the country’s vast wealth has attracted and drawn cultural elites from a broad range of disciplines and backgrounds. Designers and Michelin-starred restaurateurs from Europe have opened boutiques and eateries in Riyadh and Jeddah, while museums like the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture display impressive art collections.

 

 

Following the visa announcement, the authorities implemented a public decency code barring immodest dress and public displays of affection, but in a break with precedent said they would allow foreign men and women to rent hotel rooms together without proving they are related.

 

 

Women will no longer have to be accompanied by a man when traveling in the country and will be able to book hotels on their own. Unmarried couples will be allowed to stay in hotel rooms alone and no longer need to provide proof of marriage. 

 

 

But there will still be restrictions on what women wear, as they will still be expected to dress conservatively. Women visiting the Kingdom under the new tourist visa program may wear their own clothes, but must cover themselves from their shoulders to their knees.

 

 

Nevertheless, alcohol is still banned.

 

 

Salman recently allowed Saudi Arabian women to start driving, and they no longer need to ask permission for things such as getting a job, going to a university and getting a surgery. 

 

 

Travel to Mecca (known as the Hajj pilgrimage, which according to CNN attracts more than 2 million people) and Medina, Saudi Arabia’s most popular holy cities, will no longer be tightly regulated for international women. Previously, women on the Hajj pilgrimage were expected to be accompanied by a husband or mahram — a male relative — if the woman was under the age of 45.

 

 

So far, that drive has included lifting a ban on women drivers and building the country's first movie theater, which is referred by Saudi Arabia’s minister Ahmad al-Khateeb as “a historic moment”.

 

 

Other restrictions include a ban on dogs (except for those assisting the blind, or used for hunting or guarding), public displays of affection, the use of “profane” language, and alcohol, drugs or pork.

 

 

Salman implemented these new rules to try to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy from heavy reliance on oil. He believes his country’s history and technological ingenuity will attract new tourists who were previously discouraged by the old visa restrictions

 

 

According to The Wall Street Journal, tourism will produce up to 10 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030. As of now, it is only 3 per cent. 

 

 

Saudi Arabia will be adding more resorts and theme parks, as well. Aman, a luxury hotel group, will be one of the companies taking part in this plan. They plan to open three eco-friendly resorts covering approximately 22,561 sq.km of the Al Ula region.

 

 

Saudi Arabia also has plans to create a new smart city called Neom.

 

 

Intrepid travelers with a taste for luxury and conservatism can learn more about visiting the kingdom at the Visit Saudi tourism website.

 

 

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Riyadh Season 2019 witnessed a colourful start in Saudi Arabia

Riyadh is turning into a big entertainment city with more than 100 events for 3 months that takes place from October 15 to December 15 all around Riyadh.

READ MORE

 

Riyadh Season 2019 witnessed a colourful start in Saudi Arabia

 

 

DUBAI – “ASWAQ”

 

Riyadh is turning into a big entertainment city with more than 100 events for 3 months that takes place from October 15 to December 15 all around Riyadh.

 

The Riyadh Season 2019 began with a historic night on October 17, having witnessed the most magnificent fireworks show launched from several locations, so that they could be seen all over the capital.

 

Chairman of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) Turki Al-Sheikh inaugurated the Riyadh Season events at the Boulevard zone in the northern part of the capital, with more than 600,000 people witnessing the colorful start to the Riyadh spectacle.

 

More than 1,500 performers wearing special, unique and colorful costumes and 25 floats took part in a parade and carnival on that night that officially launched Riyadh Season’s Boulevard zone. The crowds that gathered for the fun-packed event were also treated to motorcycle displays, fireworks and other surprises.

 

The Boulevard lit up at 9 p.m. for the start of the 90-minute event, which featured some of the international artists who will perform in the Riyadh Season. Soon after, the zone’s food and drink outlets, outdoor cinema and fountain shows officially opened.

 

The audience watched the parade, performances and displays from specially made stands for the event. Food trucks offered a selection of tasty snacks, and organizers also provided prayer rooms, toilets, first-aid stations and other facilities.

 

In addition to the opening-night festivities, the Boulevard zone, which covers 400,000 sq.m. will host a wide range of entertainment options and activities for all ages, including outdoor cinema, restaurants, and sports, music and theatrical events. It has three main venues: The 22,000-seat Mohammed Abdu Theater (named after the Saudi singer), the late Abu Bakr Salem Theater with a capacity of 6,000 audience, and the late AbuBakr Al-Sheddi Theater which can accommodate 2,000 people.

 

The parade is just one of more than 100 events featuring local, regional and international performers taking place during the Riyadh Season festival, which continues until mid-December at 12 zones across the city: the Boulevard; the Front; Riyadh Car Show; Winter Wonderland; Riyadh Stadiums; the Diplomatic Quarter; Al-Muraba’a; Al-Malaz; Wadi Namar; Nabd Al-Riyadh; Riyadh Safari; and Riyadh Sahara.

 

In just three days before the formal opening of the festival, the Riyadh Season achieved more than SR235 million in sales from more than 250,000 visitors, of which 7 percent was from Kuwait, about 80 percent were Saudis while 10 percent from the Gulf, including 11 Qataris, and the rest from other parts of the world.

 

According to Al-Sheikh, the Riyadh Season achieved the largest return in sponsorship as well as from joint stock companies in the Kingdom’s history by more than SR400 million.



He added: “The season generated 24,000 seasonal jobs and more than 22,000 volunteers who work for some amount of money.”

 

Occupancy rate of hotels reached 98 percent, while sales of train booking in the Riyadh - Dammam sector reached 40 percent.

 

Al-Sheikh said there will be no leniency to those who sell tickets in black market, and there will be monitoring of anyone found reselling tickets in black market, so they will be held legally accountable for this.

 

Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning, Dr. Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, said in his speech at the opening session of the Joy Entertainment Industry Forum in Riyadh: “Saudi Arabia has begun its journey towards attracting investors. The newly started seasons and events in Saudi Arabia are only the beginning of attracting the Saudi and foreign private sector.”

 

Al-Tuwaijri added: “Saudi Arabia is in a global competition to attract the global investors, and there are many options for the investor and the consumer, as the tourism sector, including entertainment, represents 10 percent of the global economy and that the development of infrastructure, regulations, legislation and incentives will work to attract investors in the tourism and entertainment sector.”

 

Al-Sheikh said that the entertainment sector in the Kingdom is targeting 250,000 permanent jobs until 2030.

 

The ambitious 2019 Saudi Seasons initiative, the first of its kind in the region, was first launched in February and includes 11 local seasons covering most parts of the Kingdom. Designed to promote the fledgling Saudi entertainment sector and boost tourism, it is attracting some of the biggest names in world entertainment.

 

The Riyadh parade is said to be the biggest parade in the Kingdom to date. It follows a folklore parade at the Mawtni (My Nation) cultural event in Yanbu to mark Saudi National Day this year, and a parade during the Jeddah Season festivities in the city’s Obhur district.

 

The parade had a special surprise with the appearance of DJ Carnage who took to the stage dressed in complete Saudi attire and performed his successful electronic show.

 

The musician also took to Twitter to celebrate the night and tweeting: “A huge thank you to @Turki_alalshikh  ..... what you did for your country last night... was so special... thank you for having me... we made history.”

 

The 66-day Riyadh Season is already underway and will run until 15 December 2019, offering over 100 exciting activities and allowing residents and tourists the opportunity to explore, experience and embrace Saudi Arabia in a different light.

 

 

Here are some of the most exciting events, festivals, and activities to enjoy during Riyadh Season:

 

1. Winter Wonderland

 

Riyadh's Winter Wonderland is now open to all attendees for the next few months. The 200,000 square foot festival will be hosting a range of activities and events for people of all ages. Best of all, it includes the largest ice skating rink in the Middle East.

 

Operating Day(s): Sundays and Thursdays

Time: 4 p.m. - 12 a.m. and 4 p.m. - 2 a.m., respectively

Tickets: Can buy at the gate for 40 Saudi riyals (US$10)

 

2. Wonders of the World

 

Legos, Legos and more Legos. The Wonders of the World event will be displaying some of the "biggest and most intricate" Legos designs and creations this country has seen. Anyone can join in on the fun and use their imagination to create masterpieces of their own. Also available is a take-home DIY Lego kit to ensure the fun never stops.

 

Operating Day(s): Daily (Oct. 20 - Jan. 15) 

Time: 4 p.m. - 12 a.m.

Tickets: Can buy at any Virgin Megastore branch or at the entrance for 45 Saudi riyals (US$12) 

 

3. The Horror Festival

 

All your dreams of being in a horror movie can finally come true at the Horror Festival. This carnival is one of the prominent events occurring at the Winter Wonderland fest. With scary games, a scary maze and a haunted house to back it up, "you'll jump out of your skin!" with no doubt. 

 

Operating Day(s): Daily (Oct. 24 - 31) 

Time: 4 p.m. - 12 a.m.

Tickets: Can buy online for 70 Saudi riyals (US$18)

 

4. The Illusionists

 

The Illusionists are a traveling group of magicians, illusionists, mind readers and more. Seven of them are going to be appearing in shows at the Riyadh Winter Wonderland in an attempt to "blow people's minds." 

 

Operating Day(s): Daily (Oct. 23 - Nov. 17) 

Time: 6 p.m. - 12 a.m.

Tickets: Prices range from 100 Saudi riyals (US$26) to 450 Saudi riyals (US$119)

 

5. Stan Lee's Super Con

 

The Riyadh Front will be hosting a two day Stan Lee Super Con, giving people the chance to dress up as their favorite cinematic character. 

 

Operating Day(s): Nov. 14 - 16

Time: 2 p.m. - 11 p.m. 

Tickets: Between 150 Saudi riyals (US$39) and 900 Saudi riyals (US$239)

 

6. League of Legends

 

For all the gaming fans out there, Riyadh Season will host gaming fanatics from all around the world to challenge each other. League of Legends  is a multiplayer online battle arena to take place from the 5th to 7th December in Zone 1.

 

7. Layali Aden

 

All the way from Aden, a Yemeni night where you can enjoy Yemeni food and music. Layali Aden will take place all through the season daily from 8-10pm in Riyadh Boulevard.

 

8. Real Madrid Interactive Expo

 

An interactive expo targeting all of the fans, where they will find interactive matches, historical moments of the team, trophies and more. Expo will take place from Oct 20 till Jan 15 inside Riyadh Winter Wonderland.

 

9. Ferrari Festival

 

Fans of the Ferrari brand will need to be in Riyadh on November 24 and 25. The festival will display more than 50 cars and other exotic sports cars along with exciting Ferrari events.

 

10. Marvel Experience

 

A virtual experience happening inside Riyadh Winter Wonderland zone for three months of Riyadh Season. Go and fight along your favourite super heroes.

 

 

 

Kuwait’s Zain Launches Subscription Video on Demand Service ‘PlayVOD’

Zain, the Kuwait-based digital service provider, has announced the launch of a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service in its home market.

 

The inaugural launch of PlayVOD in Kuwait follows a company-wide agreement entered between Zain Group and Digital Virgo, a France-based specialist in telecom payments, monetization and digital marketing earlier this year.

Read More

 

Kuwait’s Zain Launches Subscription Video on Demand Service ‘PlayVOD’

 

 

DUBAI – “ASWAQ”

 

Zain, the Kuwait-based digital service provider, has announced the launch of a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service in its home market.

 

The inaugural launch of PlayVOD in Kuwait follows a company-wide agreement entered between Zain Group and Digital Virgo, a France-based specialist in telecom payments, monetization and digital marketing earlier this year.

 

The new service offers Zain’s 49 million customers across 8 markets with access to Digital Virgo’s portfolio or premium mobile content and mobile entertainment partners.The deal followed the system’s integration with Zain Group’s Application Program Interface (API) platform and the deployment of Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) technology by the telco.

 

PlayVOD is currently live in 12 countries and available in 5 languages, and has a library of more than 3,000 movies and TV series, including access to a wide range of movies and TV shows from MBC, one of the largest production houses in the region. Zain customers can now subscribe to the premium VOD service using DCB.

 

PlayVOD is set to be introduced to other Zain markets progressively to other countries in which it operates, in the near future via the Zain Group API Platform.  

 

Zain Kuwait’s chief government affairs and business development officer, Modhey Al Sabah, said: “The launch of PlayVOD in Kuwait is another example of Zain’s pioneering approach to delivering the most compelling user experiences as we transform to become a fully integrated digital lifestyle provider.Our Group-wide API program has made partnering with leading technology and over-the-top (OTT) content providers such as Digital Virgo much easier, with the result being services such as PlayVOD being brought to market much more quickly.”

 

Guillaume Briche, Digital Virgo CEO, commented: “The launch with Zain Kuwait illustrates how we intend to strengthen our international development, particularly in Africa and Middle East, teaming up with major telecom groups to increase our visibility within the digital ecosystem. In these regions, our positioning as an expert in payment, monetization and marketing is unique, and allows us to bring significant value to mobile operators and their end-users.”

 

About Zain Kuwait

 

Zain was founded in 1983 in Kuwait as the first mobile telecommunications company in the Middle East and Africa. The Group’s flagship operation has enjoyed a proud history of achievements since then, including becoming the first telecom operator to launch a commercial GSM service in the region in 1994, as well as becoming the first telecom company in Kuwait to launch nationwide 4G LTE Internet services in 2012. In May 2019, Zain Kuwait announced its network was fully ready for the commercial launch of fifth generation wireless technology (5G) as the first operator to offer 5G technology in the GCC region in the Kuwaiti market with nationwide coverage of all areas during June 2019. For more information: www.kw.zain.com 

 

About Digital Virgo

 

Digital Virgo is an international BtoB Group that operates in the payment and monetization markets through telecom operators’ billing solutions. Positioned at the heart of an ecosystem made up with operators, merchants (content producers, media, ticketing professionals) and digital advertising platforms (Google, Facebook, etc.), its role consists in interconnecting these players to meet their main challenges: optimizing payments, monetizing content, services and audiences and ensuring their performance through mobile marketing campaigns. The Group's success is based on its mobile DNA, its mastery of the telecom environment and its ability to anticipate developments linked to the digital marketing sector. Digital Virgo's expertise is rolled out in more than 40 countries throughout more than 25 offices, driven by local teams, focused on the countries’ issues, uses and culture in which they operate. The Group deals with 120 telecom operators and over 200 merchants. In 2018, it generated revenue of nearly €258 million. For more information: digitalvirgo.com

 

 

 

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