Europe virus pass is endorsed in boost for summer vacations

Europe virus pass is endorsed in boost for summer vacations
Tourists walk in front of the Ancient temple of Parthenon on the Acropolis hill in Athens. (AFP)
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Updated 09 June 2021

Europe virus pass is endorsed in boost for summer vacations

Europe virus pass is endorsed in boost for summer vacations
  • Several EU countries have already begun using the system, including Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece and Poland

BRUSSELS: European Union lawmakers on Wednesday endorsed a new travel certificate that will allow people to move between European countries without having to quarantine or undergo extra coronavirus tests, paving the way for the pass to start in time for summer.
The widely awaited certificate is aimed at saving Europe’s travel industry and prime tourist sites from another disastrous vacation season. Key travel destinations like Greece have led the drive to have the certificate, which will have both paper and digital forms, rapidly introduced. Right now, traveling in the EU’s 27 nations is a trial for tourists and airlines alike. Countries have various COVID-19 traffic-light systems, where those in green are considered safe and those in red to be avoided. But each nation is applying different rules and standards, making travel confusing for all.
The new regulations governing the vaccine certificates were adopted in two votes at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. Rules for EU citizens were passed 546 to 93, with 51 abstentions. Those for people from outside the bloc passed 553 to 91, with 46 abstentions.
The vote must still be rubber-stamped by EU nations, but that’s likely a formality.
It means that beginning July 1 for 12 months, all EU countries must recognize the vaccine certificate. They will be issued free and certify that a person has either been fully vaccinated against the virus, has recently tested negative or has recovered from the disease.
The rules will not be heavily enforced for 6 weeks to allow countries to prepare.
The passes will be issued by individual nations, not from a centralized European system. They will contain a QR code with advanced security features. Personal data will not be shared with other countries.
Spanish Socialist lawmaker Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, who chaperoned the votes through parliament, said “EU states are encouraged to refrain from imposing further restrictions, unless strictly necessary and proportionate.”
People coming from outside the EU, the overwhelming majority of whom should be vaccinated to enter, will be able to get a certificate if they can convince authorities in the EU country they enter that they qualify for one.


Private healthcare investors set for huge returns over the next ten years, claims tech firm CEO

Private healthcare investors set for huge returns over the next ten years, claims tech firm CEO
Updated 14 sec ago

Private healthcare investors set for huge returns over the next ten years, claims tech firm CEO

Private healthcare investors set for huge returns over the next ten years, claims tech firm CEO

Investors in the digital health industry will see a return of up to 35 percent every year for the next decade, according to the head of a global technology firm.

Peter Ohnemus, president and CEO of Zurich-based dacadoo, talked up the rise of the sector during a discussion on investing in medical innovations at the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyad.

He said that the global value of the digitial health industry for 2021 has been estimated at $26billion, but it is forecast to grow to $238.9 billion industry within seven years.

He said: “From an investment perspective going forward over the next ten years will provide a very high return. 

“The integrated digital health sector will create a 30-35 percent return every year over the next decade.”

Ohnemus said that healthcare providers needed to make it simpler for people to understand what they needed to do to stave off chronic illnesses, and the cost implications of developing such conditions. 

Another CEO, Ali Parsa from London-based Babylon Health, also flagged up the costs involved in what he dubbed the “sick caring industry”, saying: “70 percent of all expenditure goes to predictable preventable diseases.”


SABB reports profit of $750 million in first 9 months of 2021

 SABB reports profit of $750 million in first 9 months of 2021
Updated 1 min 13 sec ago

SABB reports profit of $750 million in first 9 months of 2021

 SABB reports profit of $750 million in first 9 months of 2021
  • The chairman reiterated the bank’s efforts to support Saudi’s Vision 2030 plan

The Saudi British Bank (SABB) recorded a seismic leap of 157 percent in net profit after Zakat and income tax of SR2.8 billion ($750m) for the first 9 months of 2021, compared to the loss of SR4.8 billion in the same period last year. 

“It is worth reiterating that we are in the investment phase of our newly announced five-year strategic plan, where we will be taking the necessary steps to develop the Bank into an institution fit to meet the future needs of our customers,” chairman of SABB, Lubna Olayan, said.

“We are investing considerably across the business front-to-back, to ensure that we remain relevant and can create a sustainable banking organization,” she added.  

The chairman reiterated the bank’s efforts to support Saudi’s Vision 2030 plan and unlock the opportunities brought by the economic transformation plans. 


Qatar Energy to launch green bonds in 2022; state commits to emissions reduction

Qatar Energy to launch green bonds in 2022; state commits to emissions reduction
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Updated 17 min ago

Qatar Energy to launch green bonds in 2022; state commits to emissions reduction

Qatar Energy to launch green bonds in 2022; state commits to emissions reduction

RIYADH: Qatar Energy is looking to raise between $5 to $10 billion from issuing green bonds, banking sources told CNBC Arabia.

Qatar Energy is developing an environmental framework in collaboration with global investment banks, including Goldman Sachs, to move into the green bond market in conjunction with the global trend towards reducing carbon emissions, sources said.

The offering is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2022 or by the end of June 2022, sources added.

Separately, Reuters reported that the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change in Qatar launched a national climate change action plan aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2030.

The plan also envisioned reducing "carbon intensity" of its liquefied natural gas facilities by 25 percent by the same year.

Qatar's move follows other Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia which announced its net-zero emission target by 2060 ahead of the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow next week.


Qatar is the world’s largest producer of liquefied natural gas and aims to expand LNG production to 127 million tonnes annually by 2027. It says its gas production helps combat climate change globally because it can help the world shift from high-polluting fuels like oil and coal to renewable energies.


Saudi Arabia will welcome a million cruise ship passengers by 2028, Cruise Saudi MD claims

Saudi Arabia will welcome a million cruise ship passengers by 2028, Cruise Saudi MD claims
Updated 28 October 2021

Saudi Arabia will welcome a million cruise ship passengers by 2028, Cruise Saudi MD claims

Saudi Arabia will welcome a million cruise ship passengers by 2028, Cruise Saudi MD claims

A million cruise ship passengers will visit Saudi Arabia by 2028 according to ambitious plans set out by the managing director of the country’s Cruise Saudi company.

Fawaz Farooqui set out the goal during a session at the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyad, as he also claimed 50,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created by the industry by 2035.

He also pledged that five cruise ports will operate in Saudi Arabia by 2025.

Farooqui added that plans for Cruise Saudi had been hampered by the pandemic, and said: “Our plan was to bring the first cruise passenger in 2023, but the pandemic hit and many unfortunate incidents happened to the industry.”

Farooqui’s comments came just days after Cruise Saudi became a member of the World Travel & Tourism Council as the Kingdom continues its drive to diversify its economy away from oil as per the Vision 2030 agenda.


‘Like fire and nuclear, there must be rules for AI,’ says leading tech voice

‘Like fire and nuclear, there must be rules for AI,’ says leading tech voice
Updated 28 October 2021

‘Like fire and nuclear, there must be rules for AI,’ says leading tech voice

‘Like fire and nuclear, there must be rules for AI,’ says leading tech voice

Humanity needs rules for dealing with artificial intelligence (AI) in the same way it learned to manage fire and nuclear technology, one of the sector’s up and coming voices has claimed.

Bruno Maisonnier, founder and CEO of AI firm AnotherBrain, admitted there was a danger with the new technology, but that is no different from every major discovery since the dawn of man.

Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyad, Maisonnier said: “There’s risk with AI as well as there are risk with every new technology, that’s part of human history 

“We brought fire and people died from fire, we brought nuclear and people died from that . 

“Each time we have the same reaction: First we fear and then we start to put the feedback and learn and put rules to get the positive out of this technology

“The same goes with AI. The question is when do we have to set these rules?

“Rules must be put but first we must allow the evolution to happen.”

Also speaking at the forum, Pascal Weinberger, CEO and co-founder of tech firm Bardeen AI, insisted that machines will never be able to fully replace humans in many environments.

“There are a lot of things that machines are better at than humans, and vice versa — especially at common sense,” he said.