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Dubai reopens to tourism and expects ‘aggressive’ bounce back

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(Last Updated On: July 8, 2020)

Dubai expects an “aggressive bounce back in tourism by the end of the year after the Middle East hub reopened to holiday-makers on Tuesday.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV on Wednesday, Helal Al Marri, director-general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said: “We’re looking forward to seeing aggressive growth coming once things normalize towards the year-end.”

Dubai has spent years transforming itself into a business and tourism hub and attracts millions of visitors a year.

Dubai closed its borders in March and enforced a strict lockdown policy in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19. Flights in and out of Kabul were also suspended and for three months no visas were issued for Afghans traveling to Dubai.

However, flights have slowly resumed to a handful of countries over the past month, including Afghanistan.

Discussing the latest move to reopen to tourism, Al Marri said: “We’re definitely in a much better place today, people are much more optimistic, and we’re seeing it as definitely something very positive.”

He said that as other countries get things under control, as things normalize, “we definitely see the other side as being a very quick rebound to tourism.”

“We envisage as we move towards the year-end and as the markets do open up, people are going to start recruiting again, people are going to start to really try to drive that growth because that’s what they’re there for with their businesses,” Al Marri said.

This comes after Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum toured Dubai International Airport on Tuesday and said that the Emirate was ready to welcome the world once again through its international airport.

“I have reviewed the procedures and protocols in place to welcome tourists back to Dubai. What we have seen clearly demonstrates Dubai’s comprehensive preparedness to welcome the world once again and resume international tourism.

“We have implemented the highest international safety standards to ensure the wellbeing of travelers and tourists,” Sheikh Hamdan said in a statement.

However, on Wednesday, Emirates airlines updated its travel advisory and informed passengers from selected countries, who intend to fly into Dubai, that they will be required to carry out a COVID-19 test before departure.

Certificates must be issued no more than 96 hours before departure, the Dubai-based airline said.

“All passengers traveling with Emirates from the countries or airports specified below have to carry a COVID-19 negative certificate issued by a local government approved laboratory to be accepted on the flight.

“Where specified, a certificate from a UAE government-designated laboratory in the country of origin is also acceptable,” Emirates stated.

The countries affected are:

Afghanistan

Bangladesh

Egypt

India

Iran

Pakistan

Philippines

Russian Federation

Tanzania

USA – Dallas Fort Worth (DFW), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Orlando (MCO), including passengers originating from California, Florida and Texas connecting to an Emirates flight to Dubai.

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Arghandiwal claims he was sacked after opposing AOP contracts

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(Last Updated On: January 25, 2021)

Former finance minister, Abdulhadi Arghandiwal, who was fired last week by President Ashraf Ghani, said on Monday that circles within the Presidential Palace (ARG) worked to have him ousted after he refused to approve contracts.

“Some circles in ARG worked in their personal interests to stop me from working. I asked the President to tell me directly everything, not by other circles,” said Arghandiwal.

This comes two days after Ghani fired Arghandiwal and approved a new acting minister.

According to ARG, the reason for Arghandiwal’s dismissal was the delay in collection of taxes; failure to cooperate with an assessment team investigating illegal appoints at the ministry; poor management’ a lack of commitment to good governance; not abiding by Article 77 of the constitution; and for violating decrees and directions issued by ARG.

Arghandiwal meanwhile said on Monday at a press conference that he had been dismissed because he opposed the procurement of different types of meat at inflated prices for the Administrative Office of the President (AOP) and he had disagreed with officials over an oil contract.

“Ten days ago a session of national procurement was held and I told the session that we can’t approve a contract that has 18 types of meat as our soldiers don’t even have water on the battlefield; President Ghani also rejected it. The second was an oil contract; oil in bazaars is 34 AFNs but on the contract it was 41 AFN. I opposed this,” said Arghandiwal.

This comes after a member of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) claimed that the AOP had gone ahead and procured 18 types of meat and vegetables worth 30 million AFN, in a move that sparked criticsm.

ARG has not yet commented.

Arghadiwal had been a close ally of Ghani during his previous election campaigns and was recently approved by the Wolesi Jirga as finance minister.

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US to consult with govt after reviewing deal with Taliban

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(Last Updated On: January 25, 2021)

President Ashraf Ghani said at a cabinet meeting on Monday that Washington will hold consultations with the Afghan government once the new Biden administration has reviewed the US-Taliban agreement signed in Doha in February last year.

Ghani’s announcement comes a few days after the new US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib over the phone.

After their phone conversation late Friday, Sullivan stated Washington would review the deal.

Ghani meanwhile said on Monday that the discussion between the two NSAs shows the Biden administration recognizes the Afghan government and the Afghan security and defense forces as a strategic counterpart.

“The US will review the Taliban pact quickly and after that will hold consultations with the Afghan government to reach a roadmap,” said Ghani.

Political analysts, meanwhile, said that the increase in violence by Taliban and warnings issued by government are not convincing in terms of securing peace.

“They sit for peace in Qatar but discuss war and violence… they should stop the killing of Afghans,” said Wahid Faqiryar, a political analyst.

“I think the US will tell both sides (Taliban and government) to start peace talks again,” said Tariq Farhadi, another analyst.

On the other hand, close sources to the Taliban say the US will decide on whether to also engage in peace talks.

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Italian Embassy vehicle targeted in IED explosion in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: January 25, 2021)

An armored Land Cruiser belonging to the Italian Embassy was targeted in an early morning IED explosion in Kabul’s PD4 area in yet another targeted attack.

This time there were no casualties reported, police confirmed.

Security sources confirmed the Land Cruiser belonged to the embassy. Police stated a second vehicle, a Toyota Corolla, was also damaged in the explosion. 

This vehicle belonged to the Ministry of Economy. 

According to sources, no casualties were reported.

The incident happened at around 7.35am in Parwan-e-Do area of Kabul. 

This comes just a day after a senior official of De Afghanistan Bank, (the Central Bank) was targeted in an IED explosion in Kabul.

The bank said in a statement that Abdullah Dawrani, the head of the Financial Dispute Resolution Commission, was the target in an IED explosion at around 8.15 am on Sunday morning.

According to the statement, Dawrani was wounded and his bodyguard was killed in the blast.

The bank stated that another person was also injured in the explosion, which occurred in the Shah Shaheed area of PD8 of the city but did not reveal the person’s identity.

No group has claimed responsibility for either of the attacks.

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