Iran-Saudi Haj talks halted ‘due to visa hurdle’



TEHRAN // Talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia on this year’s Haj pilgrimage have stalled because of a disagreement on how visas can be processed in the absence of formal diplomatic relations.

An Iranian delegation last week travelled to Saudi Arabia – which cut ties with Tehran in January – to discuss the pilgrimage to the Muslim holy places in the kingdom.

According to Said Ohadi, head of the Iranian Haj Organisation, said four days of negotiations had achieved progress on security issues and travel to the kingdom.

But the shutting down of the Saudi embassy in Tehran and the kingdom’s mission in Iran’s second city Mashhad means there are currently no visas being issued to Iranians.

“The problem of visa issuance has not been solved yet,” said Mr Ohadi. “Saudi Arabia has not yet offered a clear solution.”

Tehran wants visas to be issued inside Iran.

In the absence of its own representatives, Switzerland looks after the interests of Saudi Arabia inside Iran.

He said Saudi Arabia had agreed that Iranian aircraft could land for the Haj, an exception since all flights from the Islamic republic were barred after the diplomatic crisis.

Security was another contentious issue in the talks.

The death of hundreds of pilgrims, including 464 Iranians, in the stampede at last year’s Haj caused a major spike in tensions between Tehran and Riyadh, who back opposing sides in the Syrian and Yemeni conflicts.

“The Saudis offered good solutions on security,” introducing electronic tracking bracelets for all Haj participants, Mr Ohadi said.

The Iranian delegation was due back in Tehran on Tuesday.

Other officials in Tehran also waded into the row.

“Saudi Arabia is stonewalling on the visa issue,” culture minister Ali Jannati said on Monday.

“We say that if the Swiss government is protecting your interests in Iran, then it should issue visas too. Issuing visas in a third country is absolutely unacceptable for us.”

This year’s pilgrimage to Mecca is due to take place in September.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran in January after its diplomatic missions in Tehran and Mashhad were stormed and set alight by mobs angry at the kingdom’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric and activist, Nimr Al Nimr.

Riyadh’s regional allies followed suit with the UAE and Kuwait recalling their ambassador to Iran, while Bahrain and Sudan all severed diplomatic ties with Tehran.

Oman also expressed regret at attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran, but stopped short of recalling its ambassador or cutting ties.

* Agence France-Presse

Sinopharm vaccine explained

The Sinopharm vaccine was created using techniques that have been around for decades. 

“This is an inactivated vaccine. Simply what it means is that the virus is taken, cultured and inactivated," said Dr Nawal Al Kaabi, chair of the UAE's National Covid-19 Clinical Management Committee.

"What is left is a skeleton of the virus so it looks like a virus, but it is not live."

This is then injected into the body.

"The body will recognise it and form antibodies but because it is inactive, we will need more than one dose. The body will not develop immunity with one dose," she said.

"You have to be exposed more than one time to what we call the antigen."

The vaccine should offer protection for at least months, but no one knows how long beyond that.

Dr Al Kaabi said early vaccine volunteers in China were given shots last spring and still have antibodies today.

“Since it is inactivated, it will not last forever," she said.

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

HIV on the rise in the region

A 2019 United Nations special analysis on Aids reveals 37 per cent of new HIV infections in the Mena region are from people injecting drugs.

New HIV infections have also risen by 29 per cent in western Europe and Asia, and by 7 per cent in Latin America, but declined elsewhere.

Egypt has shown the highest increase in recorded cases of HIV since 2010, up by 196 per cent.

Access to HIV testing, treatment and care in the region is well below the global average.  

Few statistics have been published on the number of cases in the UAE, although a UNAIDS report said 1.5 per cent of the prison population has the virus.

FIGHT CARD

Welterweight Mostafa Radi (PAL) v Tohir Zhuraev (TJK)

Catchweight 75kg Leandro Martins (BRA) v Anas Siraj Mounir (MAR)

Flyweight Corinne Laframboise (CAN) v Manon Fiorot (FRA)

Featherweight Ahmed Al Darmaki (UAE) v Bogdan Kirilenko (UZB)

Lightweight Izzedine Al Derabani (JOR) v Atabek Abdimitalipov (KYG)

Featherweight Yousef Al Housani (UAE) v Mohamed Arsharq Ali (SLA)

Catchweight 69kg Jung Han-gook (KOR) v Elias Boudegzdame (ALG)

Catchweight 71kg Usman Nurmagomedov (RUS) v Jerry Kvarnstrom (FIN)

Featherweight title Lee Do-gyeom (KOR) v Alexandru Chitoran (ROU)

Lightweight title Bruno Machado (BRA) v Mike Santiago (USA)

Afro salons

For women:
Sisu Hair Salon, Jumeirah 1, Dubai
Boho Salon, Al Barsha South, Dubai
Moonlight, Al Falah Street, Abu Dhabi
For men:
MK Barbershop, Dar Al Wasl Mall, Dubai
Regency Saloon, Al Zahiyah, Abu Dhabi
Uptown Barbershop, Al Nasseriya, Sharjah

MATCH INFO

Chelsea 1 (Hudson-Odoi 90+1')

Manchester City 3 (Gundogan 18', Foden 21', De Bruyne 34')

Man of the match: Ilkay Gundogan (Man City)

The BaaS ecosystem

The BaaS value chain consists of four key players:

Consumers: End-users of the financial product delivered

Distributors: Also known as embedders, these are the firms that embed baking services directly into their existing customer journeys

Enablers: Usually Big Tech or FinTech companies that help embed financial services into third-party platforms

Providers: Financial institutions holding a banking licence and offering regulated products

The specs: Macan Turbo

Engine: Dual synchronous electric motors
Power: 639hp
Torque: 1,130Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Touring range: 591km
Price: From Dh412,500
On sale: Deliveries start in October

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

TOP 10 MOST POLLUTED CITIES

1. Bhiwadi, India
2. Ghaziabad, India
3. Hotan, China
4. Delhi, India
5. Jaunpur, India
6. Faisalabad, Pakistan
7. Noida, India
8. Bahawalpur, Pakistan
9. Peshawar, Pakistan
10. Bagpat, India

Source: IQAir

Specs

Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km

Europe wide

Some of French groups are threatening Friday to continue their journey to Brussels, the capital of Belgium and the European Union, and to meet up with drivers from other countries on Monday.

Belgian authorities joined French police in banning the threatened blockade. A similar lorry cavalcade was planned for Friday in Vienna but cancelled after authorities prohibited it.

SPECS: Polestar 3

Engine: Long-range dual motor with 400V battery
Power: 360kW / 483bhp
Torque: 840Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 628km
0-100km/h: 4.7sec
Top speed: 210kph
Price: From Dh360,000
On sale: September

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
Power: 218hp
Torque: 330Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
Price: From Dh215,000 (estimate)
On sale: September

Top 10 most competitive economies

1. Singapore
2. Switzerland
3. Denmark
4. Ireland
5. Hong Kong
6. Sweden
7. UAE
8. Taiwan
9. Netherlands
10. Norway

Key features of new policy

Pupils to learn coding and other vocational skills from Grade 6

Exams to test critical thinking and application of knowledge

A new National Assessment Centre, PARAKH (Performance, Assessment, Review and Analysis for Holistic Development) will form the standard for schools

Schools to implement online system to encouraging transparency and accountability

RESULTS

5pm: Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (Turf) 2,200m
Winner: Jawal Al Reef, Fernando Jara (jockey), Ahmed Al Mehairbi (trainer)

5.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m
Winner: AF Seven Skies, Bernardo Pinheiro, Qais Aboud

6pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,200m
Winner: Almahroosa, Fabrice Veron, Eric Lemartinel

6.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,200m
Winner: AF Sumoud, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel

7pm: Wathba Stallions Cup Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 1,200m
Winner: AF Majalis, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel

7.30pm: Handicap (TB) Dh90,000 (T) 1,400m
Winner: Adventurous, Sandro Paiva, Ali Rashid Al Raihe

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

SPEC SHEET: APPLE IPHONE 14 PRO MAX

Display: 6.7" Super Retina XDR OLED, 2796 x 1290, 460ppi, 120Hz, 2000 nits max, HDR, True Tone, P3, always-on

Processor: A16 Bionic, 6-core CPU, 5-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine

Memory: 6GB

Capacity: 128/256/512GB / 1TB

Platform: iOS 16

Main camera: Triple 48MP main (f/1.78) + 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) + 12MP telephoto (f/2.8), 6x optical, 15x digital, Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Portrait Lighting

Main camera video: 4K @ 24/25/30/60fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD @ 30fps, slo-mo @ 120/240fps, ProRes (4K) @ 30fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Front camera: 12MP TrueDepth (f/1.9), Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Portrait Lighting; Animoji, Memoji

Front camera video: 4K @ 24/25/30/60fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, slo-mo @ 120/240fps, ProRes (4K) @ 30fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Battery: 4323mAh, up to 29h video, 25h streaming video, 95h audio; fast charge to 50% in 30min; MagSafe, Qi wireless charging

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Apple Pay)

Biometrics: Face ID

I/O: Lightning

Durability: IP68, dust/splash/water resistant up to 6m up to 30min

Cards: Dual eSIM / eSIM + eSIM (US models use eSIMs only)

Colours: Deep purple, gold, silver, space black

In the box: iPhone 14 Pro Max, USB-C-to-Lightning cable, one Apple sticker

Price: Dh4,699 / Dh5,099 / Dh5,949 / Dh6,799

Tailors and retailers miss out on back-to-school rush

Tailors and retailers across the city said it was an ominous start to what is usually a busy season for sales.
With many parents opting to continue home learning for their children, the usual rush to buy school uniforms was muted this year.
“So far we have taken about 70 to 80 orders for items like shirts and trousers,” said Vikram Attrai, manager at Stallion Bespoke Tailors in Dubai.
“Last year in the same period we had about 200 orders and lots of demand.
“We custom fit uniform pieces and use materials such as cotton, wool and cashmere.
“Depending on size, a white shirt with logo is priced at about Dh100 to Dh150 and shorts, trousers, skirts and dresses cost between Dh150 to Dh250 a piece.”

A spokesman for Threads, a uniform shop based in Times Square Centre Dubai, said customer footfall had slowed down dramatically over the past few months.

“Now parents have the option to keep children doing online learning they don’t need uniforms so it has quietened down.”

SPECS

Engine: 2.4-litre 4-cylinder turbo hybrid
Power: 366hp
Torque: 550Nm
Transmission: Six-speed auto
Price: From Dh360,000
Available: Now

The specs

Engine: 2-litre 4-cylinder mild hybrid
Transmission: 7-speed S tronic
Power: 265hp / 195kW
Torque: 370Nm
Price: from Dh260,000
On sale: now

DUNE: PART TWO

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Starring: Timothee Chamalet, Zendaya, Austin Butler

Rating: 5/5

BUNDESLIGA FIXTURES

(All games 4-3pm kick UAE time) Bayern Munich v Augsburg, Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg v Mainz , Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg, Union Berlin v RB Leipzig, Cologne v Schalke , Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach, Stuttgart v Arminia Bielefeld

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League semi-final:

First leg: Liverpool 5 Roma 2

Second leg: Wednesday, May 2, Stadio Olimpico, Rome

TV: BeIN Sports, 10.45pm (UAE)

Squads

Sri Lanka Tharanga (c), Mathews, Dickwella (wk), Gunathilaka, Mendis, Kapugedera, Siriwardana, Pushpakumara, Dananjaya, Sandakan, Perera, Hasaranga, Malinga, Chameera, Fernando.

India Kohli (c), Dhawan, Rohit, Rahul, Pandey, Rahane, Jadhav, Dhoni (wk), Pandya, Axar, Kuldeep, Chahal, Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar, Thakur.