GCC countries to roll out unified tourist visa within 2 years, UAE minister says 

GCC countries to roll out unified tourist visa within 2 years, UAE minister says 
The famous elephant rock in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia – a popular tourist destination. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 23 October 2023
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GCC countries to roll out unified tourist visa within 2 years, UAE minister says 

GCC countries to roll out unified tourist visa within 2 years, UAE minister says 
  • Visa will allow holders to travel to the six Gulf countries

LONDON:  The Gulf Cooperation Council countries will roll out a unified Gulf tourist visa within the next two years, the UAE’s Minister of Economy Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri told Emirates News Agency on Monday.  

The visa will allow holders to travel to the six Gulf countries. 

Al-Marri said that the seventh meeting of GCC tourism ministers, held earlier this month in Oman, unanimously approved the launch of the visa.

Specific regulations and legislation are to be prepared, with a projected implementation between 2024 and 2025, depending on the readiness of each GCC country’s internal systems.

Al-Marri said that the UAE was preparing to welcome international tourists following the implementation of the unified visa, as well as developing a tourist route within the UAE that connected its seven emirates.

The minister added: “This initiative is an integral part of the GCC 2030 tourism strategy, designed to elevate the tourism sector’s contribution to the GDP (gross domestic product) through increased inter-GCC travel and elevated hotel occupancy rates, transforming the GCC into a pre-eminent global destination for both regional and international tourists.”

The tourist sector currently contributes 14 percent of the UAE’s GDP, but the aim is to raise this figure to 18 percent, in line with national strategic tourism objectives.

Al-Marri highlighted the GCC countries’ sophisticated travel and tourism infrastructure. The countries boasted a total of 10,649 hotel establishments by the end of 2022, with Saudi Arabia having the highest number of facilities.

He added that the GCC countries’ joint tourism strategy 2023-2030 was aiming for an annual increase of 7 percent in inbound travel to the region.

The number of visitors to GCC countries reached 39.8 million last year, representing a 136.6 percent increase over 2021.
 


Reaction to Iran’s drone, missile attack on Israel

Reaction to Iran’s drone, missile attack on Israel
Updated 6 sec ago
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Reaction to Iran’s drone, missile attack on Israel

Reaction to Iran’s drone, missile attack on Israel
  • Israel puts Golan, Nevatim, Dimona, Eilat residents on impact standby

DUBAI: Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said it launched dozens of drones and missiles at Israel on Saturday, in an attack that could lead to a major escalation between the regional archenemies.
Here is some reaction to the attack from official statements and postings on social media:

ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU
“In recent years, and especially in recent weeks, Israel has been preparing for a direct attack by Iran. Our defensive systems are deployed; we are ready for any scenario, both defensively and offensively. The State of Israel is strong. The IDF is strong. The public is strong.
“We appreciate the US standing alongside Israel, as well as the support of Britain, France and many other countries. We have determined a clear principle: Whoever harms us, we will harm them. We will defend ourselves against any threat and will do so level-headedly and with determination.”

IRAN’S MISSION TO THE UNITED NATIONS
.”.. Iran’s military action was in response to the Zionist regime’s aggression against our diplomatic premises in Damascus. The matter can be deemed concluded.
“However, should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe. It is a conflict between Iran and the rogue Israeli regime, from which the US MUST STAY AWAY!“

US NATIONAL SECURITY SPOKESPERSON ADRIENNE WATSON
“President Biden has been clear: our support for Israel’s security is ironclad. The United States will stand with the people of Israel and support their defense against these threats from Iran.”

US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SPEAKER MIKE JOHNSON
“As Israel faces this vicious attack from Iran, America must show our full resolve to stand with our critical ally. The world must be assured: Israel is not alone.”

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER RISHI SUNAK
“I condemn in the strongest terms the Iranian regime’s reckless attack against Israel. These strikes risk inflaming tensions and destabilising the region. Iran has once again demonstrated that it is intent on sowing chaos in its own backyard.
“The UK will continue to stand up for Israel’s security and that of all our regional partners, including Jordan and Iraq. Alongside our allies, we are urgently working to stabilize the situation and prevent further escalation. No one wants to see more bloodshed.”

FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER STEPHANE SEJOURNE
“France condemns in the strongest terms the attack launched by Iran against Israel. By deciding on such an unprecedented action, Iran is taking a new step in its destabilizing actions and taking the risk of a military escalation.”

EUROPEAN UNION FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF JOSEP BORRELL
“The EU strongly condemns the unacceptable Iranian attack against Israel. This is an unprecedented escalation and a grave threat to regional security.”

EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT CHARLES MICHEL
“Strongly condemn the attack launched by Iran on Israel. Everything must be done to prevent further regional escalation. More bloodshed must be avoided. We will continue to follow the situation closely with our partners.”

SPANISH PRIME MINISTER PEDRO SANCHEZ
“We are following events in the Middle East with the deepest concern. We are in permanent contact with our embassies in the region which will remain open to support Spaniards in the area.”

DUTCH PRIME MINISTER MARK RUTTE
“Very worrying situation in the Middle East. Earlier today, the Netherlands and other countries sent a loud and clear message to Iran to refrain from attacking Israel. The Netherlands strongly condemns Iran’s attacks on Israel. Further escalation must be prevented. ... We continue to monitor developments very closely.”

DANISH FOREIGN MINISTER LARS LOKKE RASMUSSEN
“Denmark strongly condemns Iran’s announced attack on Israel. I urge everyone to show restraint and deescalate the situation. Iran’s destabilising role in the Middle East is unacceptable — and so is this attack.”

NORWEGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ESPEN BARTH EIDE
“I condemn the illegal and dangerous Iranian attack underway against Israel. This will further deteriorate an already extremely volatile situation. We must prevent further escalation of violence in the Middle East. I call upon all parties to exercise maximum restraint.”

CZECH REPUBLIC FOREIGN MINISTRY
“Czechia firmly condemns the destabilizing behavior of Iran and its proxies who decided to attack Israel. We reiterate the Israeli right for self-defense. Iran’s long term aggressive behavior is preventing the Middle East region to live in peace and security.”

MEXICO’S FOREIGN MINISTRY
“The government of Mexico expresses deep concern over Iran’s attack against Israeli territory, and the impact that this could have on thousands of human lives. Mexico condemns the use of force in international relations, and calls on the parties to self-restrain and seek solutions peacefully to avoid a more general conflict in the Middle East. Mexico also emphasizes the importance of respecting international law for the sake of international peace and security.”

 


Israel puts Golan, Nevatim, Dimona, Eilat residents on impact standby

Israel puts Golan, Nevatim, Dimona, Eilat residents on impact standby
Updated 8 min 17 sec ago
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Israel puts Golan, Nevatim, Dimona, Eilat residents on impact standby

Israel puts Golan, Nevatim, Dimona, Eilat residents on impact standby
  • Israel has a nuclear reactor on the outskirts of Dimona

JERUSALEM: Israel’s military put the northern part of the occupied Golan Heights as well as Nevatim, Dimona and Eilat on standby for possible impact from Iranian drone launches early on Sunday, instructing residents to stay close to bomb shelters.
The Golan was captured from Syria in a 1967 war. Nevatim is the site of an Israeli air base. Israel has a nuclear reactor on the outskirts of Dimona. Eilat is Israel’s southern Red Sea port, which has come under repeated attack by Yemen’s Houthis.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army said it sounded sirens in a kibbutz near the Lebanon border early Sunday, after Iran launched a drone and missile attack on Israel.
"Sirens sounded in Kibbutz Snir, northern Israel," the army said in a statement.

 

 


US intercepts Iranian drone bound for Israel; Jordan’s air defense ready to shoot down any Iranian aircraft that violate its airspace

US intercepts Iranian drone bound for Israel; Jordan’s air defense ready to shoot down any Iranian aircraft that violate its airspace
Updated 1 min 59 sec ago
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US intercepts Iranian drone bound for Israel; Jordan’s air defense ready to shoot down any Iranian aircraft that violate its airspace

US intercepts Iranian drone bound for Israel; Jordan’s air defense ready to shoot down any Iranian aircraft that violate its airspace

WASHINGTON: The US military has shot down Iranian drone aircraft headed toward Israel on Saturday, three US officials said, without disclosing how many drones were shot down or the precise locations.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said it launched dozens of drones and missiles at Israel in an attack that may trigger a major escalation between the regional archenemies.

In Jordan, two regional security sources said the country's air defenses were ready to intercept and shoot down any Iranian drones or aircraft that violate its airspace.

They said the army was also in a state of high alert and radar systems were monitoring any drone activity coming from the direction of Iraq and Syria.

Residents in several cities in the northern part of the country near Syria and central and southern areas heard heavy aerial activity. A security source said the country’s air force was intensifying reconnaissance flights.
Jordan had earlier said it closed its airspace starting on Saturday night to all incoming, departing and transiting aircraft in what officials told Reuters were precautionary measures in the event of an Iranian strike across its border.
“The relevant authorities took the decision to close the airspace for precautionary reasons as a result of the surrounding security situation,” Jordan’s government spokesperson Muhannad Mubaideen said.
Mubaideen denied media reports that the kingdom had announced a state of emergency, adding they were baseless and there was no cause for concern among its citizens.
Jordan neighbors Syria and Iraq – both countries where Iranian proxy forces operate – and also is next door to Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
It has watched Israel’s war against the Palestinian group Hamas, another Iranian ally, with rising alarm for fear of getting caught in a crossfire.
Late last year, Amman asked Washington to deploy Patriot air defense systems to Jordan to bolster its border defenses.
Officials say the Pentagon had since increased its military aid to the kingdom, a major regional ally, where hundreds of US troops are based and hold extensive exercises with the army throughout the year.
In January, three US service members were killed and dozens wounded in a drone attack by Iran-backed militants on US troops in northeastern Jordan near the Syrian border.
It was the first deadly strike against US forces since the Israel-Hamas war erupted in October, and marks a major escalation in tensions that have engulfed the Middle East.


Iran’s UN mission: attack on Israel is a conflict between Iran and Israel

Iran’s UN mission: attack on Israel is a conflict between Iran and Israel
Updated 18 min 16 sec ago
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Iran’s UN mission: attack on Israel is a conflict between Iran and Israel

Iran’s UN mission: attack on Israel is a conflict between Iran and Israel
  • ” Iran’s military action was in response to the Zionist regime’s aggression against our diplomatic premises in Damascus

DUBAI: The United States must stay away from the conflict between Iran and Israel, Iran’s mission to the United Nations said on social media platform X on Sunday, warning Tehran’s response would be more severe if Israel retaliates.
” ... Iran’s military action was in response to the Zionist regime’s aggression against our diplomatic premises in Damascus. The matter can be deemed concluded,” the mission said on X.
“However, should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe. It is a conflict between Iran and the rogue Israeli regime, from which the US MUST STAY AWAY!.”

 


23-hour ordeal ends for 175 holidaymakers stranded in Turkiye cable car

23-hour ordeal ends for 175 holidaymakers stranded  in Turkiye cable car
Updated 14 April 2024
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23-hour ordeal ends for 175 holidaymakers stranded in Turkiye cable car

23-hour ordeal ends for 175 holidaymakers stranded  in Turkiye cable car
  • The stranded people had been stuck on the Tunektepe cable car, just outside the Mediterranean city of Antalya, since 5:30 p.m. on Friday
  • The cable car carries tourists from Konyaalti beach to a restaurant and viewing platform at the summit of the 618-meter Tunektepe peak

ISTANBUL: The last of 174 people stranded in cable cars high above a mountain in southern Turkiye were brought to safety Saturday, nearly 23 hours after one pod hit a pole and burst open, killing one person and injuring seven when they plummeted to the rocks below.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced the successful completion of the rescue operation on X Saturday afternoon.
A total of 607 search and rescue personnel and 10 helicopters were involved, including teams from Turkiye’s emergency response agency, AFAD, the Coast Guard, firefighting teams and mountain rescue teams from different parts of Turkiye, officials said. Helicopters with night-vision capabilities had continued rescuing people throughout the night.
The stranded people had been stuck on the Tunektepe cable car, just outside the Mediterranean city of Antalya, since 5:30 p.m. on Friday, when the accident occurred.
Istanbul resident Hatice Polat and her family were rescued seven hours into the ordeal. Speaking to the Anadolu agency, she said the power went out and the pod flipped four or five times.
“The night was awful, we were very scared. There were children with us, they passed out,” she said. “It was torture being up there for seven hours. It is swaying every second, you’re constantly in fear. ... It was very traumatic, I don’t know how we’ll get over this trauma.”
State-run Anadolu Agency identified the deceased as a 54-year-old Turkish man. Those injured included two children and were six Turkish citizens and one Kyrgyz national. They were all rescued by Coast Guard helicopters soon after the crash and sent for treatment. Images in Turkish media showed the battered car swaying from dislodged cables on the side of the rocky mountain as medics tended the wounded.
Yerlikaya also announced that 13 people rescued from other cars were also taken to hospitals for checkups.
Friday was the final day of a three-day public holiday in Turkiye marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which sees families flock to coastal resorts.
The cable car carries tourists from Konyaalti beach to a restaurant and viewing platform at the summit of the 618-meter (2,010-foot) Tunektepe peak. It is run by Antalya Metropolitan Municipality. The cable car line was completed in 2017 and receives a major inspection around the beginning of the year, as well as routine inspections throughout the year.
Antalya Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation. An expert commission including mechanical and electrical engineers and health and safety experts was assigned to determine the cause of the incident.