Daily Archives: September 3, 2019

Qatar’s pavilion at China expo marks National Day

Qatar’s pavilion at the ongoing International Horticultural Exhibition in Beijing (Expo 2019) yesterday hosted a symbolic celebration of Qatar National Day.

The event was held through co-operation with the authorities concerned at the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) and the Qatari embassy in China, with the participation of government entities. The celebration was attended by a number of dignitaries from Qatar and China.

Qatar?s ambassador to China Mohamed bin Abdullah al-Dehaimi stressed that Qatar?s participation in the Beijing Expo comes as part of the efforts made to enhance the growing good and friendly relations between the two countries.

He also noted that the event has served as an excellent platform for the exchange of experiences and expertise in the field of horticulture.

He congratulated China for the success of the event and stressed that the Qatar pavilion there will remain as a gift from Qatar to the local government as a symbol of the friendship between the two countries and the two peoples.

He also invited all the participants to the 2021 edition of the exhibition, which will be held in Qatar.

He added that the participation of Qatar in this year?s expo will reflect positively on the organisation of the upcoming event.

Accordingly, the logo of the 2021 expo in Qatar was launched on the occasion.

Source: Ministry of Municipality and Environment

VAT registration call for BD 18,750-500,000 generating entities

Manama, The National Bureau for Revenue (NBR) highlighted that the VAT registration process is open for entities generating or expected to generate between BD 18,750 and BD 500,000 in annual vatable supplies.

Concerned entities that wish to register early for VAT with the NBR will have the option of choosing the date to start implementing VAT until the end of the grace period. The NBR stressed that collaboration and raising awareness on technical and procedural aspects of VAT are of utmost importance to ensuring the success of the VAT application process.

The NBR noted the positive cooperation provided by businesses regarding the proper application of VAT, adding that more than 4500 entities have registered for VAT since its launch within the Kingdom on 1 January 2019.

For further information, please contact the Call Center on 80008001 or email vat@nbr.gov.bh, in addition to leveraging the information available on NBR’s website (www.nbr.gov.bh), Twitter, Instagram and YouTube channel (@bahrainNBR).

Source: Bahrain News Agency

Smartec conference opens in Bahrain

Manama, A two-day key conference focused on cyber-security has opened today at the Gulf Hotel in Bahrain.

The Bahrain Technology Companies society (BTECH) is organizing the conference under the (Smartec) conference under the patronage of Electricity and Water Minister Dr. Abdul Hussein bin Ali Mirza.

The conference is being attended by a large number heads of companies and cyber security companies, along with more than 200 participants from Bahrain and abroad.

Addressing the opening session. Dr. Mirza welcomed the participants and thanked the organizers, keynote speakers and sponsors of the second edition of the Smartec conference.

He stressed the Government’s keenness on bolstering cyber security, establishing the High Committee for Information Technology and Telecommunications, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa.

He highlighted the crucial role of the Information and Electronic Government Authority (iGA) which launched several initiatives and workshops and held meetings to highlight cyber threats.

The iGA thwarted over 5 million malwares, 2.7 million emails and reported more than 50 million attempts to infiltrate database, which represent huge numbers for a small country like Bahrain, said the minister.

Source: Bahrain News Agency

Bahrain’s anti-terror funding strategy highlighted

Manama, The Undersecretary for International Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, stressed that the Kingdom of Bahrain, under the leadership of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, is making pioneering efforts to combat terrorism and its funding, as its adopts a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy covering a wide range of dimensions, including economic growth, sustainable and human development, as well as the consolidation of coexistence and the strengthening of the rule of law in the framework of a constant and evolving reform process.

This came in the remarks delivered by Dr. Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa during the inauguration of the UNCCT National Capacity-Building Workshop for the Kingdom of Bahrain on Safeguarding the Non-Profit Sector from Terrorist Abuse, held for two days, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in partnership with the National Committee for Follow-up of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s commitment to all UN Security Council resolutions and the Policy Committee for Prohibiting and Combating of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing, in cooperation with the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism.

The Undersecretary for International Affairs noted that this workshop is part of a series of workshops in which it is sought to create a common space and a qualitative partnership to build capacities and skills, exchange ideas and insights on best practices and means to strengthen efforts to counter the threat of terrorism and its funding and contribute to the protection of our sustainable security and our core values.

He also illustrated that if terrorism in all its forms constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, then money is what manifests terrorism. One of its main tributaries is the exploitation of NGOs, non-profit and charitable sectors along with other forms of crime, such as money laundering, drugs, arms trade, trafficking in persons and others.

He added that despite the precautionary measures taken by most countries to dry up the sources of terrorist funding, terrorist organizations were often able to secure their financial needs illegally.

Dr. Shaikh Abdulla pointed out how this is evident in the Middle East, especially with countries such as Iran and Qatar sponsoring armed terrorist organizations and pledging to establish, finance and harbour terrorists, noting in this regard the outcomes of the Iranian Future Bank being regulated by the Central Bank of Bahrain, where it deduced that this bank was a terrorist financing center and that it laundered $ 4.7 billion through SWIFT messages, and $ 2.7 billion in an old scheme of sending interbank messages using one-time codes and delivery was done manually, thus, a total of $ 9 billion was found, some of which amounted to terrorist operatives and participants.

The Undersecretary for International Affairs showcased how the International community’s war against terrorism embarked in 1934, when the League of Nations discussed a draft convention for the prevention and punishment of terrorists. In 1963, the United Nations created an international convention to counter terrorism, thus noting the end of the first millennium as crucial to the world in recognizing the close link between the financing of terrorism and the survival and expansion of terrorist groups, hence why the United Nations drafted the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism in 1999, and the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Counter-Terrorism Strategy in September 2006.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was also established in 1989 to implement legal measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, with the issue of drying up the sources of financing of terrorism as the main pillar of any counter-terrorism strategy.

Dr. Shaikh Abdulla exemplified that the legal frameworks for combating the financing of terrorism in the Kingdom of Bahrain are based on many legislations and laws, most notably Law No. (4) of 2001 on banning and countering money laundering and its subsequent amendments, as well as Law No. (7) of 2017 on the ratification of the Arab Convention for Combating Money Laundering, Financing of Terrorism and other Outstanding Legislation. On the external level, the Kingdom of Bahrain actively participates in addressing cross-border terrorism through participation in international and regional alliances, as well as hosting the International Conference to Combat the Financing of Terrorism in 2014.

The Undersecretary for International Affairs noted that as Chairman of the National Committee to follow up the commitment of the Kingdom of Bahrain to all Security Council resolutions, we have sought to follow up the implementation of the international resolutions issued by the Council, especially the fight against terrorism, as part of our vital partnership with the United Nations, we believe in the responsible role they play in achieving a more stable and prosperous world.

Dr. Shaikh Abdulla also affirmed that the Kingdom of Bahrain will continue to contribute actively and resolutely to combating extremism and terrorism in all its forms and to drying up its sources of financing through compliance with established international obligations and its active participation in international and regional arrangements for combating the financing of terrorism, including the normative framework established by the Security Council through a series of important resolutions is accompanied by a periodic review of the mechanisms of action of non-profit and charitable institutions, stressing that an objective and accurate sustainable assessment in the non-profit sector and the establishment of preventive controls to fill the gaps to avoid any exploitation of these organizations as a cover for the financing of terrorism, does not indicate disrupting the legitimate charitable activities of civil society which we value their role and goals.

The Executive Director of Financial Institutions Supervision at Central Bank of Bahrain, Abdul Rahman Al Baker praised the cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Central Bank of Bahrain in many areas, particularly the issues related to money laundering and terrorist financing, and the application of international standards, especially the FATF standards, noting that all participants will benefit from this vital workshop and build on its results and implement the recommendations.

The Resident Coordinator of the UN System’s Operational Activities in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Amin Al Sharqawi, stated that terrorism and its financing constitute a real obstacle and a major challenge that hinders sustainable development efforts and its 17 goals. He also noted that the UN is working with governments and communities to implement these goals, as they contain work plans and durable solutions that prevent conflict, violence, insecurity, malign extremism and terrorism, whose consequences are devastating not only for their economies but for the global economy as a whole.

He also commended the role played by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in financing the fight against terrorism, pointing out that this workshop comes as a result of this aforementioned funding, affirming that these successes bring partnerships, just as sustainable and inclusive development is not possible without cooperation, the fight against all forms and challenges of terrorism is not possible without the unity of the international community.

Source: Bahrain News Agency

U.S. Coast Guard: 25 bodies found after California boat fire

Santa Barbara, A middle-of-the-night fire swept a boat carrying recreational scuba divers anchored near an island off the Southern California coast early Monday, leaving at least 25 dead and nine others missing.

Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr Matthew Kroll said Monday night that 25 people had died. Five of six crewmembers on the Conception escaped by jumping into an inflatable boat they steered to a nearby vessel, The Associated Press reported.

Rescuers initially recovered four bodies about 145 kilometers northwest of Los Angeles just off Santa Cruz Island, and 16 others were pulled from the water later in the day. The Coast Guard says five others have been found but not recovered due to unsafe conditions under the boat, which sank about 18 meters from shore.

Authorities will search for the nine people still unaccounted for through the night.

We should all be prepared to move into the worst outcome, Coast Guard Capt. Monica Rochester said at a news conference.

The four bodies recovered initially had injuries consistent with drowning, Kroll said.

It was not immediately clear when the bodies on the ocean floor might be retrieved or when divers could search the boat for others.

It’s upside down in relatively shallow water with receding tides that are moving it around, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said. Investigators have not yet determined a cause for the fire.

A person making a radio distress call to the Coast Guard from a dive boat on fire off California said that he could not breathe and there were people trapped on board.

The 23 meters Conception was on a three-day excursion to the chain of rugged, wind-swept isles that form Channel Islands National Park in the Pacific Ocean. The fire broke out around 3 a.m. in Platt’s Harbor off Santa Cruz Island.

The five crewmembers who escaped took refuge on a boat called The Grape Escape, anchored nearby. Two had minor injuries, Coast Guard Petty Officer Mark Barney said.

The Grape Escape’s owners, Bob and Shirley Hansen, told The New York Times they were asleep when they heard pounding on the side of their 60-foot (18-meter) fishing vessel about 3:30 a.m. and discovered the frightened crewmembers. They told the couple they fled when the fire grew out of control.

When we looked out, the other boat was totally engulfed in flames, from stem to stern, Hansen said, estimating it was no more than 100 yards (91 meters) from his craft. I could see the fire coming through holes on the side of the boat. There were these explosions every few beats. You can’t prepare yourself for that. It was horrendous. The fire was too big, there was absolutely nothing we could do, he added.

Hansen said two of the crew members went back toward the Conception looking for survivors but found no one. Asked at a news conference if the crew tried to help others aboard, Rochester told reporters, I don’t have any additional information.

The Conception, based in Santa Barbara Harbor on the mainland, was owned by Truth Aquatics, a Santa Barbara-based company founded in 1974. Dave Reid, who runs an underwater camera manufacturing business with his wife, Terry Schuller, and has traveled on the Conception and two other boats in Truth Aquatics’ fleet, said he considered all three among the best and safest.

When you see the boats they are always immaculate, he said. I wouldn’t hesitate at all to go on one again. Of all the boat companies, that would be one of the ones I wouldn’t think this would happen to.

His wife said Truth Aquatics crews have always been meticulous in going over safety instructions at the beginning of every trip she’s been on.

They tell you where the life jackets are, how to put them on, the points of egress, the exits, where the fire extinguishers are, on every single trip, said Schuller, who goes on diving expeditions often with her husband. They are the best, the absolute best.

Both said the sleeping area is comfortable but tight, however, with bunk beds stacked next to one another on the lowest deck. Coming to the top deck to get off requires navigating a narrow stairway with only one exit. If the fire was fast-moving, Reid said, it’s very likely divers couldn’t escape and the crew couldn’t get to them.

If there was an explosion in the engine area that could have gone right into the sleeping area, Reid said.

The Conception was on the final day of a Labor Day weekend cruise when the fire erupted and a mayday call was made. Rochester said that call indicated the boat was already fully ablaze.

After hearing the call, Capt. Paul Amaral of the vessel assistance company TowBoatUS said a boat sped from Ventura Harbor some 30 miles (48 kilometers) to the island.

We launched that boat knowing that the vessel was on fire, lots of people aboard, he told The Associated Press.

A Coast Guard helicopter and a fireboat were on scene when he arrived around 5 a.m. He first searched the water and shoreline, and then turned back to the Conception, which was going aground, AP said.

Amaral said he attached a line and pulled it into deeper water where fireboats could reach.

Brown said the elements of the tragedy were daunting for rescuers: The boat was in a remote location with limited firefighting capabilities, passengers were sleeping below deck in the middle of the night and there was a quick-moving fire.

You couldn’t ask for a worse situation, the sheriff said.

The Conception was chartered by Worldwide Diving Adventures, which says on its website that it has been taking divers on such expeditions since the 1970s.

Coast Guard records show inspections of the Conception conducted last February and in August 2018 found no deficiencies. Earlier inspections found some safety violations related to fire safety.

A 2016 inspection resulted in owners replacing the heat detector in the galley and one in 2014 cited a leaky fire hose.

Records show all safety violations from the last five years were quickly addressed by the boat’s owners.

The Channel Islands draw boaters, divers and hikers. Five of the eight Channel Islands comprise the national park and Santa Cruz is the largest within the park at about 96 square miles (248.6 square kilometers).

A memorial outside Truth Aquatics in the Santa Barbara Harbor grew Monday night as mourners came to pay their respects.

JJ Lambert, 38, and his fiancee, Jenna Marsala, 33, of Santa Barbara, brought a red and white dive flag to the memorial. Lambert said he’d been on The Conception as a young diver.

Daniel Butts, 55, and his wife, Lisa Olsen, 54, said they saw The Conception getting loaded on Friday night during one of their regular walks around the Santa Barbara harbor.

We thought, ‘Oh, that looks like it’s going to be a fun trip,’ Olsen said.

Butts said six or eight people were loading diving gear onto the boat as they chatted among themselves. The couple brought a bouquet of flowers on Monday evening to add to a growing memorial on the dock.

We probably saw a few of the people that vanished in that fire, Butts said. Everybody who has a flag should be at half-mast in the harbor.

Orlando Aldana, 42, of Santa Barbara, bought 34 candles to the memorial.

I saw the flowers earlier when I here and I just felt like, ‘Well, it’s reaching nighttime,’ he said. This is what us Latinos do; we light candles for our dead.

Source: Bahrain News Agency

Emirati astronauts successfully complete their training in Moscow

Dubai, Hazzaa Al Mansoori, the first Emirati astronaut scheduled to travel to the International Space Station (ISS) on September 25, and Sultan Al Neyadi, the back-up astronaut for the same mission, have successfully completed their final tests for the mission at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, in Star City, in Moscow.

Each day of the tests started with the astronauts saluting the commanders at the training center and then choosing their test scenario. All scenarios are in sealed envelopes and astronauts get to pick one before the start of the exam. The tests lasted over siz hours per day and each crew was examined separately.

The tests included dealing with emergency situations, Simulation of the Russian segment in ISS, the Functional Cargo Block (FGB) mock-up, and Data Management System, as well as the Soyuz Complex simulation.

The final tests included simulating several crew emergency situations during take-off, landing, and docking, while on board the ISS, in addition to dealing with the false operation of the landing sensor, propulsion system problems, interruption of contact, and increased CO2 while aboard the Soyuz spacecraft, the UAE news agency WAM reported.

In the emergency simulation of the Russian segment in ISS, astronauts successfully passed the test of the failure of communications device, the oxygen supply system, power outages, the failure of fire detection systems, and how to deal with emergency situations.

“We are proud of Al Mansoori and Al Neyadi’s success in the final tests, as it confirms that Emiratis are worthy of the UAE’s wise leadership belief in their ability to succeed in facing challenges in different sectors and disciplines, Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director General of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), said.

Our mission is to ensure that the UAE Astronaut Programme is sustainable and we aim to train and prepare more Emirati astronauts to contribute to the enrichment of the Arab region, as well as the global scientific community.

The ISS mission will pave the way for more human spaceflights by the UAE, which will significantly contribute to developing a future map to explore deep space, he added.

Salem Al Marri, Assistant Director General for Science and Technology Sector and Head of UAE Astronaut Programme, said that the tests taken by Al Mansoori and Al Neyadi the culmination of their training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, in Star City, for their mission to travel to the ISS.

“These tests have confirmed their readiness for the mission and for emergency situations during the take-off and return trips, and aboard the ISS. The jury members applauded the professionalism, the solid theoretical knowledge, and practical skills, possessed by both the main and the back-up crew of the mission,” added Al Marri.

The UAE Astronaut Programme is funded by the ICT fund of the TRA. Launched in 2007, this fund, the first of its kind in the Arab world, aims towards supporting research and development within the ICT sector in the UAE and helping it to grow into a nationally significant industry with a leading place in the world.

Source: Bahrain News Agency

Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre promotes cultural openness at Aqdar World Summit

Abu Dhabi, The Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre has participated in the third edition of Aqdar World Summit in Moscow within its strategy to promote cultural communication and openness towards others.

The summit was held in the Russia capital on August 29 September 1 under the theme “Global Empowerment of Communities: Experiences and Lessons Learned”, UAE news agency WAM reported.

The Centre, at its pavilion, showcased an interactive display screen that offered a virtual reality tour of Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

It also displayed a model of the mosque that allowed visitors to view the abundant aesthetic features of Islamic art and architecture manifested at the mosque.

The pavilion also showcased some of the Center’s publications and images that reflect values of peace, tolerance, and interfaith coexistence.

A workshop titled The Role of Worship Sites in Enhancing Coexistence and Tolerance, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque as A Global Paradigm of Tolerance was presented by Dr. Yousef Al Obaidli, Director General of the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre.

During the workshop, he shed light on the culture of the diversity manifested at the mosque through designs and art dating back to different eras in the history of civilization and engineering.

He also touched upon the various programs and initiatives embraced by the mosque to promote its role in spreading the message of tolerance, coexistence, and cross-cultural communication. The very same vision, mission, and dream, the late founding father sought to realize, and thanks to God, has become a blatant tangible reality evident to all at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

According to WAM, the Center’s participation in the summit aimed to highlight the vision and mission of Shaikh Zayed who wanted the mosque to be one of the most prominent bridges of cultural rapprochement and a leading forum advocating tolerance and coexistence between cultures and religions worldwide.

Source: Bahrain News Agency

Qatar Airways Hosts A Splendid Gala Dinner In Amman Under The Patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein

DOHA, Qatar Airways is delighted to have hosted a glittering gala dinner in Amman, Jordan, under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein. The elegant event was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Amman on Monday 2 September 2019.

The gala dinner was attended by His Royal Highness Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein; Her Royal Highness Princess Rym Ali; His Royal Highness Prince Asem Bin Nayef; Her Royal Highness Princess Sanaa Asem; His Royal Highness Prince Mired Bin Raad; Her Royal Highness Princess Dina Mired; Her Royal Highness Princess Najla Bint Asem; Her Royal Highness Princess Salha Bint Asem; Minister of Transport of Jordan His Excellency Eng. Anmar Khasawneh; Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Her Excellency Ms. Majd Shweikeh; President of the Jordanian House of Representatives His Excellency Atef Al Tarawneh; Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive His Excellency Akbar Al Baker; Charge’ d’Affairs of the State of Qatar in Jordan H.E. Abdulaziz Al-Sada; and Ambassador of Jordan to the State of Qatar His Excellency Mr. Zaid Al Lozi.

Speaking at the gala, H.E. Mr. Al Baker said: For Qatar Airways, Jordan is a key market. We serve Amman with three-daily flights, on some of the world’s most modern wide-body aircraft, including the revolutionary Airbus A350. The opening of this new office comes as a response to the increase in demand, which proves we have become a carrier of preference for the Jordanian market. We are now keen to enhance our services and expand our offerings to the Jordanian people, and I am confident that the new office will enable us to achieve this objective

Qatari visitors to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan registered the biggest rise amongst all tourists in 2018. Last year 23,700 Qataris visited this beautiful country compared to 11,800 in 2017, a giant leap of over 100%.

During the gala dinner, H.R.H. Prince Ali and H.E. Mr. Al Baker had a photo taken holding the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar themed jerseys alongside the guest of honour, Bayern Munich football legend, Lothar MatthA�us, the only outfield player in the world to compete in five World Cup tournaments.

Guests at the gala dinner were treated to an incredible performance by the talented Qatari singer and record producer Fahad Al Kubaisi, who dedicated a special song to the VIPs, guests and the people of Jordan, reflecting on the strong relationship between both countries. Additionally, the globally renowned Jordanian singer, Omar Al-Abdallat, also performed a remarkable line-up of his most popular songs.

Earlier in the day, the airline hosted a media roundtable and a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the new office.

The national carrier of the State of Qatar actively participates in numerous Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives in Jordan, most notably its support to King Hussein Cancer Centre. Representatives from Qatar Airways visit the center regularly, and the airline’s Kids Club mascots have made special appearances and entertained the young patients. Moreover, Qatar Airways has taken part in relief food distribution to underprivileged families in Jordan, in cooperation with Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation, Qatar Charity and Qatar Red Crescent.

Qatar Airways also expressed its desire to attract more Jordanian talent in many fields including engineering, air crew and operations. Last year, the State of Qatar announced the creation of 10,000 jobs for Jordanian nationals in Qatar.

The first Qatar Airways flight to Amman was in 1994, which makes this capital city one of the first destinations for the airline since its establishment in 1993. Currently, Qatar Airways operates 21 weekly flights between Doha and Amman.

In 2015, Qatar Airways and Royal Jordanian launched a codeshare agreement, allowing passengers of both airlines to benefit from connectivity to the most popular routes. Since then, the agreement has expanded to allow Royal Jordanian passengers to travel to the East through Qatar Airways’ hub, Hamad International Airport.

Known for its unique blend of old and new, Amman is a bustling city filled with restaurants, art galleries, traditional coffee shops and historic landmarks, catering to both business and leisure travellers. Amman also provides convenient access to Jordan’s many magnificent historic and natural sites, including Petra, Jerash, Wadi Rum, Aqaba and the Dead Sea.

In 2019, Qatar Airways became the first airline to win the World’s Best Airline award for the fifth time, showcasing the airline’s consistency in providing the best for its passengers. The award was presented at the 2019 World Airline Awards, managed by international air transport rating organisation Skytrax. Qatar Airways was also recognized as having the World’s Best Business Class for the fourth successive year, as the Best Airline in the Middle East for the third successive year, and has been recognized as having the World’s Best Business Class Seats with the introduction of Qsuite.

Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of more than 250 aircraft via its hub, Hamad International Airport (HIA), to more than 160 destinations worldwide. Qatar Airways has recently launched an array of exciting new destinations, including Rabat, Morocco; Izmir, Turkey; Malta; Davao, Philippines; Lisbon, Portugal; Mogadishu, Somalia, with Langkawi, Malaysia and Gaborone, Botswana slated to be added to its extensive route network in October 2019.

Source: Qatar Airways