Bangladesh hopeful migrant workers will benefit from Saudi e-visa facility

Bangladesh hopeful migrant workers will benefit from Saudi e-visa facility
Saudi ambassador to Bangladesh, Issa bin Yousef Al-Duhailan, middle, sits besides Shahidul Alam, director-general at Bangladesh’s Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training, second from right, during the e-visa launching event in Dhaka on May 1, 2023. (Twitter/@KSAembassyBD)
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Updated 02 May 2023

Bangladesh hopeful migrant workers will benefit from Saudi e-visa facility

Bangladesh hopeful migrant workers will benefit from Saudi e-visa facility
  • First country to get electronic work, residence, visit service
  • Over 610,000 Bangladeshis went to work in Kingdom in 2022

DHAKA: Bangladesh is hopeful that Saudi Arabia’s expanded electronic visa facility will benefit its migrant workers, an official from the manpower export bureau told Arab News on Tuesday, a day after the Kingdom launched the new initiative in Dhaka.
Saudi ambassador to Bangladesh, Issa bin Yousef Al-Duhailan, launched on Monday the electronic visa facility for work, residence and visits of Bangladeshis, aimed at easing the process for citizens of the South Asian country.
Bangladesh is the first country to have this service, the Saudi embassy in Dhaka said in a tweet. Saudi Arabia’s e-visa facility is open for tourists from nearly 50 other countries, but in Bangladesh the service was previously only available for those going for Umrah.
“Bangladesh is the first country to get opportunities for e-visas for the migrants from the Kingdom’s authorities,” Shahidul Alam, director-general at the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training, told Arab News.
“The initiative was launched on May 1st — the day for workers’ rights — and we believe it will bring good results for the migrants of Bangladesh.”
More than 610,000 Bangladeshis went to work in Saudi Arabia last year, making up more than half of migrant workers from the South Asian country, according to data from BMET.
Visas for migrants will be processed much faster under the new system, Alam said.
“It’s expected that the new system will reduce the migration cost. The more it becomes automated and free from human touch, the more it makes the system hassle-free,” Alam, who attended the e-visa launching event in Dhaka, added.
The e-visa launch in Bangladesh is an “implementation of the generous directives and in achieving the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to automate all procedures and to provide highly efficient digital services,” the Saudi embassy in Dhaka said.
The Kingdom was the second-biggest source of remittances to Bangladesh in the fourth quarter of last year, just behind the US, according to a Bangladesh Bank report published in February, as workers brought in about $910 million from the Kingdom during the period.


US conducts strike near site of Shabab attack in Somalia

US conducts strike near site of Shabab attack in Somalia
Updated 28 May 2023

US conducts strike near site of Shabab attack in Somalia

US conducts strike near site of Shabab attack in Somalia
  • Al-Shabab militants drove a car laden with explosives into the base, prompting a gunfight, local residents and a Somali military commander told AFP

WASHINGTON: The United States conducted an airstrike that destroyed stolen Al-Shabab weapons and equipment in Somalia near an African Union military base that was attacked by the group, officials reported Saturday.
The base in Bulo Marer, 120 kilometers (75 miles) southwest of the capital Mogadishu, was housing Ugandan troops when it was raided Friday in an attack claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group.
In a statement, US Africa Command said that it “destroyed weapons and equipment unlawfully taken by Al-Shabab fighters,” without specifying when or where the weapons were stolen.
“US Africa Command conducted an airstrike against militants in the vicinity” of Bulo Marer on Friday, in support of the Somali federal government and the AU force known as ATMIS, it said.
Al-Shabab militants drove a car laden with explosives into the base, prompting a gunfight, local residents and a Somali military commander told AFP.
It was not immediately known if there were any casualties from the Al-Shabab attack.
US Africa Command said its “initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed” in its operation.
Pro-government forces backed by ATMIS forces launched an offensive last August against Al-Shabab, which has been waging an insurgency in the fragile Horn of Africa nation for more than 15 years.
The 20,000-strong ATMIS force has a more offensive remit than its predecessor known as AMISOM.
The force is drawn from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya, with troops deployed in southern and central Somalia.
Its goal is to hand over security responsibilities to Somalia’s army and police by 2024.

 


One dies in Russia's night air raid on Kyiv, more than 20 drones downed - official

One dies in Russia's night air raid on Kyiv, more than 20 drones downed - official
Updated 28 May 2023

One dies in Russia's night air raid on Kyiv, more than 20 drones downed - official

One dies in Russia's night air raid on Kyiv, more than 20 drones downed - official
  • Reuters witnesses said that during the air raid alerts that started sounding soon after midnight on Sunday, many people stood on their balconies, some screaming slogans like “Glory to air defense”

KYIV: At least one person died and three were injured in Russia’s night air raid on Kyiv with the defense systems downing at least 20 drones moving toward the capital, city officials said early on Sunday.
Falling drone debris on a gas station killed a 41-year-old man in the city’s Solomyanskyi district, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said. Kyiv’s military administration said at least three people were injured in the attack on the city.
“Air defense forces have already destroyed more than 20 UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) moving toward Kyiv,” Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging channel. “But a new wave of drones is coming to the capital. Stay in shelters.”
Reuters witnesses said that during the air raid alerts that started sounding soon after midnight on Sunday, many people stood on their balconies, some screaming slogans like “Glory to air defense.”
Klitschko added that a fire broke out after falling drone debris hit a seven-story non-residential building in the Solomyanskyi district west of the city. The district is a busy rail and air transport hub.
In the Pecherskyi district, a historical neighborhood of Kyiv, a fire broke out on the roof of a nine-story building due to falling drone debris, Kyiv’s military administration officials said on the Telegram.

 


NATO urges Kosovo to de-escalate tension with Serbia

NATO urges Kosovo to de-escalate tension with Serbia
Updated 28 May 2023

NATO urges Kosovo to de-escalate tension with Serbia

NATO urges Kosovo to de-escalate tension with Serbia
  • Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti defended police actions in escorting the new mayors the previous day

BRUSSELS: NATO on Saturday urged Kosovo to dial down tensions with Serbia, a day after its government forcibly accessed municipal buildings to install mayors in ethnic Serb areas in the north of the country.
The resulting clashes on Friday between Kosovan police and protesters opposed to the ethnic Albanian mayors prompted Serbia to put its army on full combat alert and to move units closer to the border.
“We urge the institutions in Kosovo to de-escalate immediately and call on all parties to resolve the situation through dialogue,” said Oana Lungescu, a spokeswoman for the transatlantic military alliance, in a Twitter post.
She said KFOR, the 3,800-strong NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, would remain vigilant.
Things were still tense in the north part of the country where heavily armed police forces in armored vehicles were guarding municipality buildings.
Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti defended police actions in escorting the new mayors the previous day.
“It is the right of those elected in democratic elections to assume office without threats or intimidation. It is also the right of citizens to be served by those elected officials,” Kurti said on Twitter on Saturday.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday criticized Kurti’s government for its actions in the north, saying they “unnecessarily escalated tensions, (were) undermining our efforts to help normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia and will have consequences for our bilateral relations with Kosovo.”
Almost a decade after the end of a war there, Serbs in Kosovo’s northern region do not accept Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia and still see Belgrade as their capital.
Ethnic Albanians form more than 90 percent of the population in Kosovo, with Serbs only the majority in the northern region.

 


Iraq seeks multi-sector engagement with Philippines after 10-year gap

Iraq Embassy Charge d’Affaires Dr. Khalid Ibrahim Mohammed poses for a photo at the Iraqi Embassy in Manila on May 24, 2023.
Iraq Embassy Charge d’Affaires Dr. Khalid Ibrahim Mohammed poses for a photo at the Iraqi Embassy in Manila on May 24, 2023.
Updated 28 May 2023

Iraq seeks multi-sector engagement with Philippines after 10-year gap

Iraq Embassy Charge d’Affaires Dr. Khalid Ibrahim Mohammed poses for a photo at the Iraqi Embassy in Manila on May 24, 2023.
  • The last time the Iraq-Philippines joint committee convened was in 2013
  • 4,000 Filipinos live and work in Iraq, and many are married to Iraqi nationals

MANILA: Iraq is seeking a reboot in relations with the Philippines after a lull of 10 years, its head of mission has told Arab News, as Baghdad eyes possible cooperation in agriculture, oil, health and tourism.

Formal relations between Iraq and the Philippines were established in 1975 with the opening of the Iraqi embassy in Manila. Five years later, the Philippines opened its mission in Baghdad, but in the early 2000s both countries closed their respective diplomatic offices.

The embassies were later reopened, and in 2012 the two countries signed an agreement to boost diplomatic exchanges and develop bilateral relations. But the last time the Iraq-Philippines Joint Committee Meeting was held was in 2013.

Iraq is hoping to persuade tourists from the Philippines to explore the country known as the ‘cradle of civilization,’ as it was the site of the Mesopotamians who developed the world’s first writing, agriculture and cities.

Iraq Embassy Charge d’Affaires, Dr. Khalid Ibrahim Mohammed

“Now we are restarting ... Iraq is keen to strengthen relations with the Philippines at various levels,” Iraq Embassy Charge d’Affaires Dr. Khalid Ibrahim Mohammed told Arab News earlier this week. “There are a lot of things we can do with the Filipinos ...  we actually need many projects. And we are looking now for partners.”

Mohammed, who took up his post a few months ago, said that while Iraq has, in the past two decades, been the scene of prolonged conflict, it was already witnessing security and stability.

A number of cooperation proposals, particularly relating to agriculture, health, education, security, and oil, were being prepared for the Philippine side, and Mohammed said the Philippines has been invited to participate in his country’s largest expo, the Baghdad International Fair, in November.

“(The fair) is an appropriate opportunity to exchange experiences, display Philippine products, learn about the Iraq market close-up, and see the great openness that the country is experiencing,” he said.

Currently, around 4,000 Filipinos live and work in Iraq, many of whom have Iraqi spouses.

To strengthen connections, Baghdad has launched a Study in Iraq program, offering scholarships to Filipino students.

Mohammed said Iraq is also hoping to persuade tourists from the Philippines to explore the country known as the “cradle of civilization,” as it was the site of the Mesopotamians who developed the world’s first writing, agriculture and cities.

For Filipinos, who are predominantly Catholics, a major attraction could also be the ancient city-state of Ur, where Abraham was born. According to Mohammed, the state has allocated 9,000 square meters for the construction of “the tourist city of Ur, which will be one of the largest tourist cities in the Middle East.”

Mohammed added that tourist traffic could flow both ways, too.

“Maybe very soon you will see the first Iraqi (tourist) group visit the Philippines” he added. “It’s now under process.”

 


Pope Francis holds talks with head of Muslim World League in the Vatican

Pope Francis holds talks with head of Muslim World League in the Vatican
Updated 28 May 2023

Pope Francis holds talks with head of Muslim World League in the Vatican

Pope Francis holds talks with head of Muslim World League in the Vatican

LONDON: The Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, Sheikh Mohammad Al-Issa, on Saturday held talks with Pope Francis at his office in Saint Martha House in the Vatican, the organization said.

The two sides discussed a number of issues related to shared values and the civilizational alliance, it added.

Following the meeting, Alissa said he was delighted with the sincere, brotherly and deep dialogue with Pope Francis at his residence. 

“We discussed our shared values and building bridges between civilizations based on effective and sustainable initiatives,” he added. “I appreciate Pope Francis’s kind hospitality and noble sentiments.

Pope Francis held a number of private meetings on Saturday after resuming his regular appointments a day after canceling his schedule due to a fever.