Car bomb kills two in Latakia

This frame grab from video provided on Aug. 13, 2017, by the Ghouta Media Center, a Syrian activist media group, shows smoke and debris rising after a Syrian government ground-to-ground rocket strikes the opposition-held town of Ain Terma, in the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus, Syria. (AP)
Updated 20 August 2017
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Car bomb kills two in Latakia

BEIRUT: Activists say a car bomb has killed two people in the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, a stronghold of President Bashar Assad’s regime.
The pro-government Latakia News Network Facebook page said the car bomb was detonated at a checkpoint on Saturday.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the attack.
The government has sought to present the country as slowly returning to normalcy after six years of war.
It held a premier trade fair in the capital, Damascus, last week for the first time since 2011.
But fighting is still underway in several parts of the country, and the attack in Latakia, which has been firmly under government control throughout the conflict, highlighted the lingering instability.
The regime’s forces said on Friday that Russian warplanes were supporting the regime’s offensive against Daesh in a town in central Syria.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the army was now completing the push to encircle Daesh terrorists in the town of Akerbat in Hama province.
Syrian troops have seized key heights in the area, cutting off avenues of supply for the militants, according to the Russian statement.
Daesh has started fleeing the area in small groups, making their way toward Deir Ezzor, the largest city still under Daesh control, it said.
Russian drones are patrolling the area round-the-clock, directing airstrikes, the ministry added.
Separately, the Russian Defense Ministry said its representatives signed a deal with Faylaq Al-Rahman, a Syrian opposition group, to join a de-escalation zone agreement for Eastern Ghouta, an eastern Damascus.
The deal was signed on Friday in Geneva and will go into force later in the day, the ministry said.
Last month, another group in the area, Jaysh Al-Islam, joined the de-escalation agreement.
The de-escalation zone in Eastern Ghouta is one of four proposed in a plan approved in May by Russia, Turkey and Iran.
The plan includes a cessation of hostilities, a halt to Assad’s air force flights over designated areas, and provisions for humanitarian aid access.


Egypt offers residency to foreign investors

Updated 21 November 2018
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Egypt offers residency to foreign investors

  • A three-year residency is on offer for those who invest $200,000, and five years for those who purchase property worth $400,000
  • To begin the process for obtaining Egyptian residency, a preliminary contract must be agreed between the property owner and the foreign investor

CAIRO: In an attempt to further boost its booming real estate sector and attract foreign investment, Egypt will grant residency permits to foreigners who invest at least $100,000 in the country’s property market.
The growth rate of Egypt’s property market stands at 133 percent in 2018. This has been fueled by strong demand for housing, along with the sporadic launch of residential construction projects.
The minimum investment required to obtain a residency permit is $100,000. A three-year residency is on offer for those who invest $200,000, and five years for those who purchase property worth $400,000. The offer also applies to properties that are still under construction.
Khaled Abbas, the deputy minister of housing, said the procedures for the scheme are being set up in consultation with the Passport, Immigration and Nationality Administration.
To begin the process for obtaining Egyptian residency, a preliminary contract must be agreed between the property owner and the foreign investor, and then signed by an authorized body, such the Urban Communities Authority, the Tourism Development Authority or the governorate in which the property is located. Bank statements must also be provided confirming that the money has been transferred from overseas. The passport office will then approve the period of residence.
Members of the House of Representatives welcomed the announcement as a positive move for Egypt and an incentive for foreign investment, which it is hoped will create jobs and economic opportunities.
Whether the public will be so keen remains to be seen.
“This might be a bit problematic,” said Aly Salem, a resident of Cairo. “The housing demand in Egypt is already high, with the surging youth population and more and more people looking to get married each year. Where will they stay, if foreigners start swooping in and acquiring both residency and a huge housing unit with just $100,000?”
Offering further details, Gen. Kamel Amer, the head of the Parliament’s Defense and National Security Committee, said foreigners will not have any political rights for the first five years of residency and they will not be eligible to vote for 10 years. He also said spouses and children of investors will not be granted residency unless they live in Egypt.
Spain and Portugal have implemented similar programs in an attempt to boost their property markets. Previously, a foreigner had to live in Egypt for 10 consecutive years to be eligible for naturalization.
The new residency law is part of the efforts to repair the damage to Egypt’s economy caused by severe austerity measures imposed after the $12 billion loan package from the International Monetary Fund in 2016.
The cost and size of properties in Egypt, which are often large and lavish apartments, compare favorably to those in many other countries. Despite this, few Egyptians can afford to pay for a house upfront, but some private property developers are offering 10-year, interest-free installment plans.