Qatar Airways partners with utu for tax-free shopping

Qatar Airways partners with utu for tax-free shopping
By leveraging the virtual utu Tax Free Card in the utu Tax Free app, Privilege Club members will now be able to boost their VAT refund value by 25 percent.
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Updated 18 January 2022

Qatar Airways partners with utu for tax-free shopping

Qatar Airways partners with utu for tax-free shopping

Travel tech company utu has teamed up with Qatar Airways Privilege Club, the loyalty program of Qatar’s national flag carrier, in a partnership that will reward travelers with a significant value addition to their international tax-free shopping experience. Members of Qatar Airways Privilege Club will now be able to benefit from a 25 percent increase in the value of their tax refunds by converting them into Qmiles, making their tax refunds even more rewarding.

utu provides a simple way to boost tax refunds on purchases made abroad and convert them into Qmiles. Travelers can benefit from higher tax refund values simply by entering their utu Tax Free Card number on their tax-free forms, and choosing Qatar Airways Privilege Club from the utu Tax Free app as their preferred refund method.

By leveraging the virtual utu Tax Free Card in the utu Tax Free app, Privilege Club members will now be able to boost their VAT refund value by 25 percent. As a special launch offer until March 31, Privilege Club members will collect 1,000 bonus Qmiles in addition to 4,167 Qmiles for every tax refund transaction above $100.

Qatar Airways Privilege Club is the latest airline loyalty program to join utu’s new service, which aims to revolutionize tax-free shopping. Travelers purchasing tax-free with the utu card gain a greater choice of rewards, an easier and more convenient reward claiming process, and significantly greater value in terms of Qmiles collected.

Drawing on its deep industry experience, utu believes travelers should be getting more value and a better experience when it comes to tax refunds. Tax-free shopping is available in 50 countries across the globe, including France, Italy, Germany, Singapore, South Korea, and the UAE. utu allows travelers to claim back the value-added tax or goods and services tax for purchases in countries they visit. By the time a refund is processed by VAT refund operators, shoppers typically only receive about half of the total value of the VAT refund they are due. utu is transforming tax-free shopping worldwide by empowering travelers with the freedom to obtain a higher VAT refund, something they have been unable to do until now.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al-Baker said: “Our partnership with utu will allow Privilege Club members the best value out of their trips. Members will not only be able to enjoy tax-free shopping at 50 countries and earn Qmiles on their travels, but they can even get more value out of their tax refunds when converted to Qmiles. This collaboration is a testament of our dedication toward introducing new ways to earn Qmiles, offering members more unique opportunities to bring them closer to their next reward.”

Asad Jumabhoy, co-founder and CEO of utu, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Qatar Airways Privilege Club, the loyalty program of the ‘world’s best airline,’ to open up a new world of better value, choice and opportunities for Privilege Club members. We believe the partnership is another valuable way Qatar Airways Privilege Club is providing exceptional travel experiences leading up to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and beyond.”


Community Jameel takes Saudi orphans around the world

Community Jameel takes Saudi orphans around the world
Updated 22 May 2022

Community Jameel takes Saudi orphans around the world

Community Jameel takes Saudi orphans around the world

Community Jameel’s Tanweer Orphan Support Program is returning this year with two new international trips for deserving young students. The program will be organized with the support of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, following a two-year pause due to COVID-19 restrictions. Comprising cultural, scientific, recreational and educational visits outside Saudi Arabia, the 2022 program will feature a host of once-in-a-lifetime activities designed to nurture and develop all participants’ sporting, mental and intellectual abilities.

The 2022 edition comprises two trips, one for boys and the other for girls, featuring 40 students aged between 13 and 18 years from orphanages across the Kingdom, all of whom demonstrated exceptional ability, commitment, and performance over the academic year. The trips aim to encourage students to maintain their high academic standards while providing essential skills to communicate with others and build personalities.

Nasser bin Saleh Al-Marshoudi, director of residential care at the General Department for the Care and Empowerment of Orphans at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, said: “We are pleased to be the permanent partner of this program since its launch, as part of the cooperation between the private and public sectors, and in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. The initiatives benefit our young male and female orphans and positively contribute to developing their capabilities. They help adjust their behavior, motivate them for academic excellence, and help them gain new experiences through visits to new countries.”

Abdallah Talab, manager for social programs at Community Jameel Saudi, said: “The return of Community Jameel’s Tanweer Orphan Support Program this summer represents a big step forward toward achieving our primary goal of serving and developing the skills of our nation’s young men and women across various fields, including training programs which combine education and entertainment to positively impact their lives. The program’s relaunch in 2022 manifests our long-held belief in the importance of guiding and mentoring young orphans and supporting them on their journey to a promising future while contributing to society.”

Commenting on Tanweer Jameel’s 2019 trip, one of the male participants said: “The Tanweer program’s international trip to Malaysia in 2019 was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that offered me the chance to gain essential life skills and to learn about new cultures. I am pleased to learn that the program is coming back this summer — I wish the next group of participants the best of luck on their journey.”

A female participant of the 2018 trip to the UAE said: “As a participant in the Tanweer program, I developed a better understanding of other cultures and gained a new perspective on life. I am grateful for the opportunity and continue applying the skills I learned in my daily life.”

Since the launch of Community Jameel’s Tanweer Orphan Support Program in 2005, 320 students have successfully participated. Past Tanweer international trips include visits to European countries, such as France and Spain, as well as Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Turkey and other Arab countries.


stc pay commits to creating a cashless society

stc pay commits to creating a cashless society
Updated 22 May 2022

stc pay commits to creating a cashless society

stc pay commits to creating a cashless society

Saudi Arabia’s leading payments solutions provider stc pay has underlined its commitment to working closely with the local leadership to create a cashless society. Participating in the 2022 edition of Mobile 360, one of the region’s most influential connectivity events, the brand reiterated its aim to develop an inclusive digital economy, pioneering online banking services that transform lives and realizing the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.

Attended by more than 70 percent of major mobile network operators and developers of technical infrastructure services, Mobile 360 Riyadh brought stakeholders from ministries, regulatory bodies, and the broader mobile ecosystem together to drive the growth of the digital economy.

Joined by a lineup of experienced industry leaders, stc pay’s Vice President of Business Saad Al-Muhanna took part in a panel discussion addressing the future of fintech and financial services in the region. The session explored the impact of COVID-19 on the digital transformation of the MENA economy, spotlighting the advances made by regional startups and scale-ups following investments of more than $200 billion in 2021.

During the panel, Al-Muhanna emphasized that innovative companies and brands will be instrumental to safeguarding the Kingdom’s future, calling attention to the contributions made by digital wallets and financial firms, such as stc pay, to the development of the Kingdom as a world-class commercial hub.

He said: “The pandemic was a difficult test for many sectors and entities in terms of going digital. There was also the struggle of providing their services to customers even at the time of the pandemic, and perhaps the digital payments sector was one of the readiest sectors that was not affected by the consequences of the pandemic. The fintech sector is led by stc pay, and we were ready to grow, progress, and continue to provide our services to customers and different sectors. This was only capable of being done due to the proactive development and adoption of digitization and regulatory support.”

Al-Muhanna added: “The pandemic has a major role to play not only in ensuring the continuity of the sector, but also in helping other sectors continue and grow.”


National Aquaculture Group bags ASC’s shrimp farm certification

National Aquaculture Group bags ASC’s shrimp farm certification
Updated 22 May 2022

National Aquaculture Group bags ASC’s shrimp farm certification

National Aquaculture Group bags ASC’s shrimp farm certification
  • NAQUA has become the first shrimp farm in the Middle East and North Africa region to be awarded this distinction

RIYADH: The National Aquaculture Group, the largest aquaculture operation of shrimp farming, fish farming and feed business in Saudi Arabia, received the Aquaculture Stewardship Council’s shrimp farm certification, making it the first shrimp farm in the Middle East and North Africa region to be awarded this distinction. This in turn places Saudi Arabia among the top 15 countries to have the ASC certification for shrimp.
ASC represents the strictest standards in the aquaculture industry, which include a wide set of requirements such as responsible sourcing of feed, water quality, animal welfare, disease prevention, fair treatment, compensation for workers and maintaining a positive relationship with neighboring communities,
NAQUA attained the certificate for producing vannamei shrimp. In addition to the ASC certification, NAQUA will also receive the ASC Chain of Custody certification for its processing plant in respect to product traceability and post-harvest best practice.
Diego Illingworth, CEO of the National Aquaculture Group, said: “At the National Aquaculture Group, we pursue a strong approach on product integrity, quality and food safety, environment and sustainability. The ASC certification complements NAQUA’s compliance to all global regulatory and industrial norms for a responsible and sustainable aquaculture system. NAQUA is committed to producing the best possible quality of aquaculture products for our customers and consumers, and ASC certification is a big step to fulfill our promise.”
He added: “We have achieved a remarkable milestone with the ASC shrimp farm certification. It is not an easy certification, but it clearly demonstrates NAQUA’s compliance to best farming, environmental and biosecurity practices in a socially responsible way.” 
NAQUA is considered a model for local and global aquaculture and seafood production.
Miss Koh Siewlan, director of international sales at National Aquaculture Group, said: “NAQUA offers the highest quality of shrimp products to the world. Today, we stand on a new horizon for aquaculture excellence with ASC certification. This is a proof of NAQUA’s commitment to maintaining and leading in responsible aquaculture best practices. I congratulate the entire NAQUA family on this historical success.” 
The ASC certification is an addition to NAQUA’s existing international certifications and recognitions, such as GAA BAP, Global GAP, FSSC 22000, ISO 22000, ISO 9001, ISO 14001, HACCP and halal certification.


Report calls for urgent action to tackle hunger crisis in E. Africa

Today, nearly half a million people across parts of Somalia and Ethiopia are facing famine-like conditions. (Save the Children)
Today, nearly half a million people across parts of Somalia and Ethiopia are facing famine-like conditions. (Save the Children)
Updated 22 May 2022

Report calls for urgent action to tackle hunger crisis in E. Africa

Today, nearly half a million people across parts of Somalia and Ethiopia are facing famine-like conditions. (Save the Children)

One person is likely dying of hunger every 48 seconds in drought-ravaged Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, according to estimates by Oxfam and Save the Children in a report published on Wednesday in partnership with the Jameel Observatory, highlighting the world’s repeated failure to stave off preventable disasters.
More than a decade since the delayed response to the 2011 famine that killed more than 260,000 people in Somalia — half of them  children under five — the world is once again failing to avert catastrophic hunger in East Africa. Today, nearly half a million people across parts of Somalia and Ethiopia are facing famine-like conditions. In Kenya, 3.5 million people are suffering from extreme hunger. Urgent appeals are woefully funded, as other crises, including the war in Ukraine, are worsening the region’s escalating hunger crisis.

Donors, development agencies, governments and the private sector must work together with affected communities to prepare and respond to risks, rather than wait for crises to spiral out of control.

Dr. Guyo Roba, Head of the Jameel Observatory

The number of people experiencing extreme hunger in the three countries has more than doubled since last year — from over 10 million to more than 23 million today. This is against a backdrop of crippling debt that more than tripled in under a decade — from $20.7 billion in 2012 to $65.3 billion by 2020 — sucking these countries’ resources from public services and social protection.
The report, Dangerous Delay 2: The Cost of Inaction, examines the changes in the humanitarian aid system since 2011. It finds that despite an improved response to the 2017 East Africa drought when widespread famine was averted, the national and global responses have largely remained too slow and too limited to prevent a repeat today.
“Despite worsening warning signs over time, world leaders have responded woefully — too late and still too little — leaving millions of people facing catastrophic hunger. Starvation is a political failure,” said Gabriella Bucher, Oxfam International’s executive director.
Entrenched bureaucracies and self-serving political choices continue to curtail a unified global response, despite improved warning systems and efforts by local NGOs, the report finds.
The report sheds light on the continued failure of donors and aid agencies to prioritize local organizations at the forefront of the crisis response, which slowed down the response further, even when they were ready to act.
Save the Children’s regional spokesperson for East and Southern Africa Shako Kijala said: “We’re seeing horrific numbers of severe malnutrition with 5.7 million children currently acutely malnourished, including more than 1.7 million who are severely acutely malnourished. And with the UN warning that more than 350,000 could die in Somalia if we do not act, the clock is ticking and every minute that passes is a minute too close to starvation and possible death of a child. How can we live with that if we let it happen again?”
Dr. Guyo Roba, head of the Jameel Observatory, said: “Donors, development agencies, governments and the private sector must work together with affected communities to prepare and respond to risks, rather than wait for crises to spiral out of control.”
Oxfam, Save the Children and the Jameel Observatory are calling for urgent action to tackle the catastrophic hunger crisis in East Africa. To help save lives now, G7 and Western leaders must immediately inject money to meet the $4.4 billion UN appeal for Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, and ensure the funding is flexible enough to be used where it is most needed.
Donors must guarantee that at least 25 percent of funds go to local responders at the heart of response. Moreover, governments of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia must scale up social protection to help people cope with multiple shocks.
They should invest at least 10 percent of their budgets in agriculture, with a particular focus on smallholder and female farmers, as they had agreed in the African Union Malabo Declaration of 2014.

 


Saudi Gastroenterology Association launches program on inflammatory bowel disease

Prof. Nahla Azzam
Prof. Nahla Azzam
Updated 22 May 2022

Saudi Gastroenterology Association launches program on inflammatory bowel disease

Prof. Nahla Azzam

The Saudi Gastroenterology Association, in coordination with Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, owned by Johnson and Johnson, launched the first Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center of Excellence Program, in the Kingdom.
The two-day program was held at Crowne Plaza Riyadh, and drew gastroenterologists from various regions of the Kingdom to discuss the importance of the early diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease, optimal treatment targets in both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, therapeutic options for management, and treatment courses for challenging IBD cases.
Aiming to raise awareness about IBD and the management goals for both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, the program educated physicians about the specific red flags of IBD, and how to build an IBD care team to ensure optimal patient care.
Prof. Nahla Azzam of the Saudi Gastroenterology Association said: “The Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center of Excellence Program is the first in Saudi Arabia. This program was a dedicated course over two days for a group of gastroenterologists and was delivered by eminent speakers from different IBD centers in Riyadh. It aimed to educate physicians about the importance of early diagnosis of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, to establish a multidisciplinary management approach for IBD patients, and to create a permanent connection with gastroenterologists located outside the major cities of Saudi Arabia. This program will be followed by multiple virtual and physical meetings with the participants over one year.
“The Saudi Gastroenterology Association’s  president, Prof. Majid Almadi, is delighted to launch this national educational initiative in collaboration with Janssen as a key partner in medical education for optimal patient outcomes.”
Mohamed Alquwaizani, general manager of Janssen Saudi Arabia, said: “The cumulative frequency of patients with IBD in Saudi Arabia has been increasing year-on-year. Hence, there is a great need to grow our network of gastroenterologists, surgeons, and nurses in the region, in order to better serve patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in Saudi Arabia. We are committed to helping establish this inclusive network, where we hope great ideas and best clinical practices will be shared, in collaboration with the Saudi Gastroenterology Association.”