Pay your electricity bill before the hike

The ministry urged all consumers to settle their old electricity bills prior to the implementation of the new tariff.

New electricity tariffs is expected to become effective on investment residential buildings, where majority of the expatriates are living, from August 22, 2017

Saudi Arabia says Qatar is not under blockade

Saudi Arabia's Jubeir: Qatar is not under blockade

US: Gulf crisis trending in a positive direction

State Department says 'worst is behind us' after top US and Saudi diplomats discuss Gulf diplomatic rift in Washington.

The US State Department has said efforts to resolve a major diplomatic crisis between a group of countries led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar are "trending in a positive direction". Spokesperson Heather Nauert made the statement at a press conference on Tuesday after a meeting between Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington.

She told reporters that the dialogue between the top diplomats over the situation in the Gulf was "hopeful".

"Together they talked about the need ... to come together, to work together. I would characterise the mood and the approach to that as being one that is hopeful, that believes that the worst is behind us," Nauert said. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain and a number of other countries severed relations with Qatar last week, accusing it of supporting armed groups and Iran. Qatarrejects the accusations. 

Riyadh also closed its border with Qatar, the only land border the emirate has. In addition, closure of Saudi, Bahraini and Emirati airspace to Qatar-owned flights has caused major import and travel disruptions. Before the meeting, Jubeir told reporters that measures taken against Qatar did not correspond to a blockade.

He also said that his government was exercising its "sovereign right" by blocking Qatar from using Saudi airspace, territorial waters and their mutual border.

"There is no blockade of Qatar. Qatar is free to go. The ports are open, the airports are open," Jubeir said alongside a silent Tillerson who had called last week for the embargo on Qatar to be "eased".

"The limitation on the use of Saudi airspace is only limited to Qatar Airways or Qatari-owned aircraft, not anybody else," Jubeir said.

"The seaports of Qatar are open. There is no blockade on them. Qatar can move goods in and out whenever they want. They just cannot use our territorial waters."

Tillerson on Friday had called the measures imposed on Qatar "a blockade".

"We call on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to ease the blockade on Qatar," Tillerson said.

Import-dependent country

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's senior political analyst, said that Saudi Arabia seemed to be toning down its rhetoric against Qatar through Jubeir's statement.

"Instead of backtracking on previous Saudi threats to Qatar, [Jubeir] tried to clarify that Qatar is not under blockade and Riyadh was only exercising its sovereign rights with the measures it took," he said.

"He tried to express that Saudi Arabia is not imposing aggressive draconian punitive measures against Qatar."

Qatar is a country that heavily relies on imports of food and water, among other products.

The Gulf state, which imported vast majority of its food from Gulf Arab neighbours before the diplomatic shutdown, has been cooperating with Iran and Turkey to secure food and water.

The three Arab Gulf countries also ordered Qatari nationals to leave within 14 days, while Saudi, UAE and Bahraini citizens were also given the same timeframe to leave Qatar.

Qatar has condemned the boycott declared by its neighbours as "collective punishment". 

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

Saudi expat tax will hit workers & businesses

Saudi Arabia's expat tax: Impact on workers, businesses

Expats' savings are likely to be impacted by higher expenses as a result of new levy, VAT

Dubai: The expatriate levy in Saudi Arabia will be a financial burden on both foreign workers and businesses, analysts have said.

Starting next month, the kingdom is set to start collecting a new monthly fee of 100 riyals (Dh97.93) for every expat dependent, with plans to increase the fee gradually next year until 2020.

The newly introduced fee will apply to foreigners who have families in Saudi Arabia and will be collected on top of the existing monthly tax that some companies are already paying for expat workers.It is not clear who will shoulder the new levy, but there have been reports that some employers have already decided to charge the fees to staff’s monthly pay. “I suppose in most cases it will be borne by expats,” M. R. Raghu, executive vice president for Kuwait Financial Centre “Markaz,” told Gulf News.

Companies that have more foreigners than locals on their payroll are currently spending 200 riyals every month for every expatriate. The fee is applicable only to foreign workers that exceed the number of Saudi staff. Between next year and 2020, the tax will gradually increase. The fee will also be collected across the board, and will not just apply to employers heavily dependent on foreigners.

“For expatriate employees not exceeding the number [of] Saudi employees, the fee will no longer be waived but will be levied at a discounted rate,” PwC said in its briefing paper. Raghu said the revised expat levies will put a strain on businesses that have a huge number of foreign workers. “The primary concern of the levy is that the cost of doing business would increase multi-fold as a consequence of this taxation. The companies that have more Saudi employees than expatriates will no longer be exempt, but will have to incur a discounted levy,” said Raghu.

Raghu said organisations with higher expat workforce are likely to suffer more from the incremental levy per employee. Expats, at the same time, will not just have to fork out a monthly fee if they have dependents, they’ll have to face higher expenses, with the upcoming VAT and higher fuel and utilities costs eating into their savings. “Additionally, there would also be tax on dependents of the expat employees. Adding to this, the other indirect levies, such as VAT and higher fuel and utilities charges would further considerably impact the savings of the expats.”

“A back of the envelope estimate is that the savings could decline between 6 per cent and 15 per cent as a consequence. The levies are good for the economy as long as they don’t take away the attractiveness of doing business in the country, especially the private sector which is highly dependent on expat labour.” Saudi Arabia has considered collecting taxes, including the value-added tax (VAT) and excise tax on tobacco and drinks, to boost its revenues amid weak oil prices. The excise tax took effect on Sunday, causing some of the retail products to cost double.

It is estimated that the expat fees alone will generate 65 billion Saudi riyals for the kingdom by 2020. Abdullah Al-Maghlouth, member of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, had earlier warned that the new tax will negatively impact the private sector.

“The fees will have an adverse effect on the private sector including the contractors, the building material, the food and consumer products will increase prices. The citizen will be harmed. This will also harm the attractiveness of the work environment in the kingdom,” Saudi Gazette quoted Al-Maghlouth as saying.

Ministry of Interior To Lifts Ban On Dependent Visa Renewal

The Ministry of Interior is expected to freeze its earlier decision which placed a ban on renewal of family visas for parents, siblings and other relatives under (article 22) except for some limited cases, the Ministry of Interior’s Assistant Undersecretary for Citizenship and Passports Affairs Major General Sheikh Mazen Al-Jarrah discussed the new visa rules in the meeting, the decision was taken last month to reduce pressure on public services in general and healthcare, One of the proposals call to impose mandatory health insurance on expatriates to unblock to renewal the family visa.

DUBAI : Mega Sale up to 90% discount Yas Mall will open for 24 hours during Eid

Yas Mall will open for 24 hours during Eid; shops to offer up to 90% discount

Residents will enjoy non-stop shopping from June 25 to June 26

It's shop till you drop for many bargain hunters in UAE this month, as one mega mall prepares to treat tourists and visitors to a non-stop shopping spree. 

Yas Mall has announced that its shopping centre will open its doors for at least 24 hours from June 25, 2017, in time for Eid Al Fitr celebrations. More than 300 brands will be offering up to 90 per cent discount. “Most stores will open around the clock with exciting hourly specials post-midnight including Geant, Home Centre, Hamley’s, House of Fraser, Tryano, Vox Cinemas, Ferrari World, Fun Works, Ikea and Ace Hardware,” the mall said in a statement.

The Mega Sale will last for 24 hours, although a staff at the mall said the stores will open from 10 am during the first day of Eid on June 25 and close at 12 midnight the next day. "It's actually more than 24 hours of shopping," the staff said. Mall visitors will also be treated to some live performances, with professional jugglers, dancers and musicians scheduled to do their stunts throughout the shopping bonanza.

“Yas Mall is creating the shopping and entertainment event of the year with our 24-hour mega sale starting June 25th at 10am. For the first time in the emirate, Yas Mall and Yas Island partners will be open for 24 hours for Eid Al Fitr, including Yas Mall, Ferrari World, Ikea and Ace Hardware,” said Saoud Khoory, Yas Mall general manager.

“We are looking forward to welcoming tourists and residents to enjoy their stay on the island and take advantage of Yas Mall’s incredible Eid Al Fitr celebrations and Mega Sale.” Aside from entertainment and 24-hour shopping, mall visitors will also get the chance to win some prizes, including a brand new electric car, Tesla model S, or a return Etihad Airways business class ticket.


Eid Al-Fitr holiday will be five days if Eid falls on 25th Jun


The State Minister for Cabinet Affairs and acting Minister of Information Sheikh Mohammed Al-Abdullah announced Monday that Eid Al-Fitr holiday will be five days if the first day of Eid falls on Sunday, June 25, indicating Monday and Tuesday June 26 and 27 will be holiday and work will resume on June 28. However, it will be nine days holiday if it falls on Monday.

In another scenario, Sunday June 25 will a be rest day, then Monday June 26 will be declared the first day of Eid if Ramadan is completed in 30 days. In that case, Tuesday and Wednesday will be official holiday and Thursday another rest day, as it falls between two working days. Work will officially resume on Sunday, July 2.

His Highness the Amir congratulates Philippines on national day

His Highness the Amir congratulates Philippines on nat'l day..

Kuwait His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent Monday a cable to President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte, congratulating him on his country's national day. His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and His Highness Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah sent similar cables

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Price of cigarettes, energy drinks to doubled in Saudi


Price of Saudi cigarettes doubles as first tax hits

Cost of energy drinks also doubled while the price of soft drinks rose by 50%

Riyadh: The price of a pack of cigarettes doubled for Saudi Arabian smokers on Sunday under first-time tax measures to help the kingdom cope with a drop in oil revenues. Residents of the world’s biggest oil exporter long enjoyed a tax-free and heavily subsidised existence but a collapse in crude prices since 2014 sparked cutbacks and a search for new revenue.

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The “selective tax”, effective from Sunday, raised the price of tobacco 100 per cent, to between about 18 and 24 riyals (Dh17.6 and Dh23.46) per pack. The cost of energy drinks also doubled and the price of soft drinks rose 50 per cent, according to the General Authority of Zakat and Income Tax. Cigarettes and fizzy drinks are popular in Saudi Arabia, where alcohol is banned. 

Saudi Arabia’s implementation of the new tax follows an agreement among the six Gulf Cooperation Council nations, and is line with International Monetary Fund recommendations. GCC states have also agreed to introduce a value-added tax of 5 per cent on certain goods in 2018.

Since last year Saudi Arabia has pursued a wide-ranging social and economic reform plan to develop its industrial and investment base while boosting small- and medium-sized businesses. The effort aims to create more jobs for Saudis and reduce reliance on oil revenue.After collapsed income from crude led to a record $98 billion (Dh360 billion) deficit in 2015, the kingdom cut subsidies on fuel and other utilities, delayed major infrastructure projects, and temporarily halted public service benefits.

These and other measures led to a much-improved fiscal performance in the first quarter of 2017, the government said.

It reported a deficit in the first three months of 26 billion riyals, which would put the budget shortfall on course to be substantially lower than the $53 billion initially projected.

MoH set to increase health insurance fees

Health Minister Dr Jamal AlHarabi said that he will meet with Ministry of Health (MoH) undersecretaries after Eid holidays to discuss the increase in health insurance fees for expatriates. 

According to report, the increase in health insurance will be gradual. In the first phase, ministry will increase the health insurance fees on visitors (those arriving on visit visas) - and then on resident expatriates. The health insurance fee increase was scheduled to take effect last February as MoH undersecretaries Council had approved the recommendations. The study recommends that the new prices would be 20 percent less than those provided by private hospitals.

The increase in health fees for expatriates will be for visitors only and not for residents, pointing out that then there will be an evaluation of raising fees on residents.He explains that it will be completed by the new maternity hospital in 2021 and will include more than 700 beds.



Ministry of Health: increased health fees on expatriates after Eid


Ministry of Health: increased health fees on expatriates after Eid

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