UAE lifts mandatory mask policy in indoor places

UAE lifts mandatory mask policy in indoor places
Shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak, the UAE placed a stringent mask policy in indoor and outdoor places, imposing $815 (Dh3,000) fine on violators. (File/AFP)
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Updated 27 September 2022

UAE lifts mandatory mask policy in indoor places

UAE lifts mandatory mask policy in indoor places
  • Masks are still mandatory in medical facilities, place of worship, and public transport
  • The new rules, effective from Sept. 28, waived social distancing between worshipers

DUBAI: UAE residents are no longer required to wear masks in indoor public places, in the country’s biggest ease of restrictions since the outbreak of COVID-19, the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) announced.

However, masks are still mandatory in medical facilities, place of worship, and public transport, officials said.
“Senior citizens and residents and people with chronic diseases are advised to continue wearing masks for their safety,” according to Dr. Saif Al-Dhaheri, NCEMA’s official spokesperson.
The new rules, effective from Sept. 28, also waived social distancing between worshipers, while keeping the mask policy in mosques and other places of worship.
Shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak, the UAE placed a stringent mask policy in indoor and outdoor places, imposing $815 (Dh3,000) fine on violators.
In February, authorities lifted the requirement to wear masks outdoors.
Face masks will also be optional in schools.
Under the new rules, the isolation period for COVID-19 positive cases has been reduced from 10 days to five. Close contacts are required to take a PCR test only if they display symptoms.


Morocco and UNESCO to work together to protect Sub-Saharan heritage

Morocco and UNESCO to work together to protect Sub-Saharan heritage
Updated 29 November 2022

Morocco and UNESCO to work together to protect Sub-Saharan heritage

Morocco and UNESCO to work together to protect Sub-Saharan heritage
  • Under an agreement signed on Tuesday in Rabat, they will cooperate in efforts to combat the illegal trafficking of cultural property

RABAT: The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization will work with authorities in Morocco to protect heritage in Sub-Saharan African countries, under a partnership agreement signed in Rabat on Tuesday.

In particular they will cooperate in efforts to combat the illegal trafficking of cultural property. They will also share their expertise in the protection of cultural artifacts with specialists in museums, promote the role of museums in African societies, create inventories, and train heritage-conservation experts.

The agreement was signed on behalf of Mohammed Mehdi Bensaid, the Moroccan minister of youth, culture and communication, and Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s director-general.

 


Iraqi prime minister and Iranian president vow to fight ‘terror’

 Iraqi prime minister and Iranian president vow to fight ‘terror’
Updated 29 November 2022

Iraqi prime minister and Iranian president vow to fight ‘terror’

 Iraqi prime minister and Iranian president vow to fight ‘terror’

TEHRAN: Tehran and Baghdad Tuesday identified fighting “terrorism,” maintaining mutual security and extending economic cooperation as key priorities during the new Iraqi prime minister’s first official visit to Iran.

Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani was received by President Ebrahim Raisi, who expressed hopes of bolstering ties that have lately been hit by tensions over Iran carrying out cross-border strikes against exiled opposition groups.

Al-Sudani came to power last month, after a year-long tussle between political factions over forming a government following an October 2021 general election.

“From our perspective and that of the Iraqi government, security, peace, cooperation and regional stability are very important,” Raisi told a joint press conference.

“As a result, the fight against terrorist groups, organized crime, drugs and other insecurity that threaten the region depends on the common will of our two nations,” he said.

Al-Sudani said that “our government is determined not to allow any group or party to use Iraqi territory to undermine and disrupt Iran’s security.”

Since nationwide protests erupted in Iran more than two months ago, Iranian officials have accused Kurdish opposition groups exiled in northern Iraq of stoking the unrest and the Islamic republic has repeatedly launched deadly cross-border strikes.

Such strikes — targeting Iranian-Kurdish groups in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region — resumed this month, even after Iraq’s federal government summoned Iran’s ambassador in late September to complain about cross-border missile and drone hits that killed at least seven people.

Iraq has announced in the past week that it will redeploy federal guards on the border between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran, rather than leaving the responsibility to Kurdish peshmerga forces — a move welcomed by Tehran.

Al-Sudani added that the two countries’ national security advisers would hold consultations to “establish a working mechanism for on-the-ground coordination to avoid any escalation.”

Al-Sudani also thanked Iran for its continued deliveries of gas and electricity, which have been in short supply in Iraq, while he also pointed to discussions on a “mechanism” to enable Iraq to pay Iran for these services.


Dubai's Careem celebrates 1bn rides

Dubai's Careem celebrates 1bn rides
Updated 29 November 2022

Dubai's Careem celebrates 1bn rides

Dubai's Careem celebrates 1bn rides
  • Family trip back home to India brings delight to employee
  • Super app had 10th anniversary in July

DUBAI: Hailing app Careem has celebrated the completion of 1 billion rides across the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan.

The billionth journey was completed by Captain Razak Uppattil, who has completed 10,500 rides since joining Careem four years ago. 

To commemorate the milestone, the Dubai-based super app gave Uppattil a trip back home to visit his family in India.

He said: “It’s the people that I get to meet from all over the world that I really enjoy.

“I have three children back home in Kerala, India, and I am so excited I’ll see them soon.”

Genera Tesoro, who was Careem’s 1 billionth passenger, was given a year of ride-hailing trips to mark the milestone. 

Careem, which marked its 10-year anniversary in July, is now operating in more than 100 cities in 14 countries. It recently expanded its fleet in Qatar by more than 50 percent ahead of the World Cup.

 


Turkish ground op in Syria would ‘jeopardize’ anti-Daesh gains: Pentagon

Turkish ground op in Syria would ‘jeopardize’ anti-Daesh gains: Pentagon
Updated 39 min 29 sec ago

Turkish ground op in Syria would ‘jeopardize’ anti-Daesh gains: Pentagon

Turkish ground op in Syria would ‘jeopardize’ anti-Daesh gains: Pentagon
  • The Syrian Democratic Forces have played a key role in dislodging Daesh fighters from the territory they seized in the country

WASHINGTON: A Turkish ground operation in Syria would “severely jeopardize” gains made in the war against Daesh, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, urging restraint.
Turkiye has carried out air strikes against semi-autonomous Kurdish zones in Syria and Iraq since a deadly Istanbul bombing it blames on Kurdish groups, and has threatened to launch an operation on the ground in Syria.
The US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), now the Kurds’ de facto army in northeast Syria, have played a key role in dislodging Daesh fighters from the territory they seized in the country.
“The continued conflict, especially a ground invasion, would severely jeopardize the hard-fought gains that the world has achieved against Daesh and would destabilize the region,” Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told journalists.
“We... remain concerned about a potential Turkish ground operation in Syria, and again would urge restraint,” he said, while also acknowledging Ankara’s security concerns.
Ryder said US forces have reduced the number of joint patrols with the SDF, but have not redeployed.
“We have reduced the number of patrols because... we do these partnering with the SDF, and so they have reduced the number of patrols that they’re doing,” he said.
Since 2016, Turkiye has launched several incursions against Kurdish forces in northern Syria that have allowed it to control areas along the border.


Lebanese troops called in to halt drug turf war

Lebanese troops called in to halt drug turf war
Updated 29 November 2022

Lebanese troops called in to halt drug turf war

Lebanese troops called in to halt drug turf war
  • Lebanese troops were forced to step in to end the fighting in an area adjoining the Burj Al-Barajneh camp for Palestinian refugees
  • Clashes initially broke out when Hassan Jaafar, an alleged Syrian drug dealer with a Lebanese mother, began arguing with members of a rival family

BEIRUT: Rival drug-dealing families using machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades brought mayhem to the streets of a southern Beirut neighborhood during a series of violent clashes on Tuesday.

Lebanese troops were forced to step in to end the fighting in an area adjoining the Burj Al-Barajneh camp for Palestinian refugees after members of the two families became embroiled in a dispute over drug trafficking.

Clashes initially broke out late on Monday when Hassan Jaafar, an alleged Syrian drug dealer with a Lebanese mother, began arguing with members of a rival family living in the same area, known as the Baalbekien neighborhood.

Samir Abu Afash, an official of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Fatah movement in Beirut, told Arab News that Jaafar started “shooting randomly in the direction of the camp” due to a dispute with other gunmen.

“We feared that something was planned against the camp,” he said.

Abu Afash said that the PLO has pledged not to interfere in Lebanese affairs, or involve refugee camps in any disputes between the Palestinians and the Lebanese.

“So we contacted the Lebanese army and Hezbollah to stop the clashes. But the fights continued throughout the night and intermittently until the army intervened in the morning and entered the haven Jaafar had formed years ago for his gang and arrested two people. Jaafar remains at large.”

He added: “Hezbollah and the Amal Movement have repeatedly stressed that they do not provide cover for Jaafar, and when they do intervene, he usually lays low for a while. Jaafar was able to make a name for himself in the area and managed to bring in prohibited materials into the camp, including building materials for example, along with drugs.”

The army is believed to have seized stolen items, including motorcycles, during the raid.

Burj Al-Barajneh camp is home to over 35,000 Palestinian refugees, as well as some Syrians and Palestinians who fled from Syria.

Lebanese security forces are combating drug dealers in neighborhoods adjacent to the camp. According to a security source, dealers and distributors encourage people from the site to sell their drugs.

Havens for drug dealers and fugitives are common in various Lebanese regions, especially in Hezbollah areas in the southern suburbs of Beirut and in northern Bekaa, although the party claims to have nothing to do with them.

The problem appears to have worsened in recent months, with drug dealers even threatening the security services.

Lt. Col. Ibrahim Rashid, head of the regional anti-narcotics office in Tripoli, said that statistics showed an increase in the numbers of drug addicts and dealers since 2016.

The problem is placing greater strain on Lebanon’s security and judicial systems, he said.

“Drug users pose a threat to the lives of others, as well as to the security of society in their pursuit of theft, fraud, criminality and aggression,” he added.

Lebanon North investigative judge Samaranda Nassar told a recent seminar on Lebanon’s drug problem that rising rates of addiction are leading to an increase in thefts and murders around the country.

“We are confronting new types of drugs intended for young ages and adolescents, as well as digital drugs that are no less dangerous than traditional drugs in their effect on confusing the human brain,” she said.

“Stricter penalties need to be imposed on drug dealers. I am determined to take appropriate decisions and punish criminals.”