‘Single’ GCC visa targets frequent travelers

Updated 21 October 2014

‘Single’ GCC visa targets frequent travelers

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will soon introduce a Schengen-style, unified visa for tourists and businessmen from 35 foreign and Arab countries, according to a high-ranking Kuwaiti official.
Samira Al-Gharib, assistant undersecretary for tourism at the Kuwaiti Ministry of Trade, told a local daily that plans for a “unified tourism visa” are being considered by GCC Interior ministries, which will be responsible for visa-related formalities.
Nationals from these countries would be able to visit the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman under a single visa once the system is finalized.
“The unified visa targets frequent visitors to the GCC,” she said.
Al-Gharib denied, however, that the new visa system would be implemented by next year, saying that there are many hurdles to be overcome ahead of the new proposal.
Al-Gharib said that seven recommendations, including the visa system, will be filed amid efforts to promote regional tourism.
Modifications to the recommendations are expected to be completed by Oct. 22.
Al-Gharib confirmed that the new visa system would garner huge revenues within the regional tourism sector, saying visas would mostly be sought for leisure and not work-related purposes.
She explained that more details would be announced in the aftermath of the GCC tourism ministers’ meeting in Kuwait this week.
“The new system would also help facilitate financial and administrative procedures,” she said.
“Security concerns had previously forced GCC states to limit visas to residents only. Under the new system, states will, nevertheless, have their own individual systems to ensure their own security.”


US sanctions Iran minister over Internet censorship

Updated 29 min 53 sec ago

US sanctions Iran minister over Internet censorship

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin: We are sanctioning Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology for restricting Internet access
  • Mnuchin: Iran’s leaders know that a free and open Internet exposes their illegitimacy, so they seek to censor Internet access to quell anti-regime protests

WASHINGTON: The US Treasury slapped punitive sanctions on Iran’s communications minister, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, Friday after the Tehran regime blocked Internet communications amid violent protests triggered by a petrol price hike.
“We are sanctioning Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology for restricting Internet access, including to popular messaging applications that help tens of millions of Iranians stay connected to each other and the outside world,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement.
“Iran’s leaders know that a free and open Internet exposes their illegitimacy, so they seek to censor Internet access to quell anti-regime protests,” Mnuchin said.
The protests erupted across the country on November 15, after the price of petrol was raised by as much as 200 percent.
Officials have confirmed five deaths, while Amnesty International said that more than 100 demonstrators were believed to have been killed after authorities reportedly used live ammunition to quell the protests, which brought attacks on police stations and petrol stations and some looting of shops.
The Treasury said Azari Jahomi is a former official of the Ministry of Intelligence who has advanced Internet censorship since becoming minister two years ago.
He has “also been involved in surveillance against opposition activists,” the Treasury said.
Internet service remained mostly blocked on Friday for a sixth day, with officials and news agencies saying the blackout was gradually being rolled back.
The sanctions would freeze financial assets and property Azari Jahomi has in US jurisdictions and forbid Americans or US businesses, especially banks, from dealing with him.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump accused Iran of blocking the Internet to cover up “death and tragedy” resulting from the protests.
“Iran has become so unstable that the regime has shut down their entire Internet System so that the Great Iranian people cannot talk about the tremendous violence taking place within the country,” Trump tweeted.
“They want ZERO transparency, thinking the world will not find out the death and tragedy that the Iranian Regime is causing!” he wrote.