Emirates and flydubai resume operating some flights over Iraq

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Filed on December 11, 2017 | Last updated on December 11, 2017 at 10.48 pm
The use of Iraqi airspace is likely to help Emirates and flydubai to save on fuel costs

Several airlines stopped flying over Iraq in 2014 on safety concerns because of the conflict

Emirates and flydubai have resumed using Iraqi airspace for flights to other countries, the Middle East airlines said on Monday, two days after Iraq declared victory in its years-long fight against Daesh.

Several airlines stopped flying over Iraq in 2014 on safety concerns because of the conflict and after a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet was shot down over Ukraine the same year.

Airlines have instead been flying longer routes over Iran and other countries, increasing congestion in the region, with many airlines also avoiding Syrian airspace.

The use of Iraqi airspace is likely to help Emirates and flydubai to save on fuel costs by shortening flying hours and also reduce regional airspace congestion.

Emirates has “resumed utilising Iraqi airspace and a very small number of our flights overfly Iraqi airspace each day”, an airline spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

The spokeswoman said that Emirates reviews its flight operations regularly, in line with advice from regulators and authorities.

“Safety, security and operational efficiency will always be the top considerations when planning flight paths,” the spokeswoman said.

Emirates did not say when it started flying over Iraq again or which routes were affected.

Airlines flying through the region have in the past used Iraqi airspace for flights to Europe and the United States.

Flydubai started using eastern Iraqi airspace again on Nov. 28, mostly affecting flights to and from Eastern Europe and Turkey, a spokeswoman said in an email.

“All the necessary risk and security assessments were conducted prior to the start of overflying,” the spokeswoman said.

Iraqi forces recaptured the last areas still under Daesh control along the border with Syria on Saturday and secured the western desert, marking the end of the war against the militants three years after they had captured about a third of Iraq’s territory.

Emirates and flydubai have continued flying to and from Iraq since 2014 but with temporary suspensions on some flights from time to time.


Source  :  The Khaleej Times

New taxes on the cards in UAE, no delay in VAT

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Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on December 12, 2017 | Last updated on December 12, 2017 at 12.08 am

Corporate tax or additional taxation on luxury cars may come into effect in future, say experts

Following the announcement of the introduction of value-added tax (VAT) from January 2018 and imposition of excise taxes from October 2017, the UAE’s Ministry of Finance is considering new taxes to be imposed in the future in order to increase its revenue.

However, it ruled out any tax on individual income.

A statement distributed by the Ministry of Finance on Monday said that other taxes will be imposed in the future, but didn’t provide more details.

“Currently, the UAE does not think of imposing tax on individuals’ income. But the UAE is working on other tax options. Yet, they are under study and analysis. It is likely that they will not be implemented in the near future,” the statement said.

The UAE government imposed 50 per cent excise tax on carbonated and energy drinks and 100 per cent on tobacco products. It will also impose 5 per cent VAT from January 1, 2018, on a host of goods and services. The UAE already has one of the lowest tax rates in the world.

Anurag Mehta, secretary, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, said the other taxes that potentially might be introduced in the country could be corporate tax or possibly additional taxation on luxury cars because such is the case in Singapore.

“Tax on luxury cars is very high in Singapore to encourage residents to use public transport in the country,” Mehta said, adding that “taxation is the backbone of any economy. But the question is how people grasp it because the taxation system is rather new to the UAE.”

Addressing a press conference to highlight executive regulations about VAT, Younis Haji Al Khoori, undersecretary of Ministry of Finance, pointed out that VAT would support the economic development witnessed by the UAE, as well as enable it to compete with the world’s most advanced economies.

He said: “All companies should cooperate and respond to the requirements of the Federal Tax Authority to speed up the process of tax registration.”

Khouri warned businesses that have not yet registered to seize this opportunity and register for VAT in order to avoid any penalty as per Cabinet decision No (40) of 2017 about administrative fines applicable on VAT violators.

No delay in VAT

Soothing any concerns among business community about the impact of VAT, he said: “VAT was introduced in the UAE after in-depth studies indicating that there would be no impact on the business sector and the investment environment in the country, nor would it affect the country’s position and competitiveness should it be implemented. In fact, the UAE will implement the lowest VAT tax rate on a global level.”

He said the ministry has authorised the issuance of tax-related legislation and policies, as well as the establishment of legal frameworks to start the application of value added tax at the beginning of next year without any delay.

Must know

>There will be no effect of VAT on businesses or investment in the UAE

>The cost of living may go up slightly, but the rise will vary depending on lifestyle of people

>VAT will help the country reinforce its economy by diversifying sources of revenues and help fund public services

>The tax is part of the UAE leadership’s vision for long-term growth

>Imposition of VAT has nothing to do with oil price fluctuation

>Currently, the UAE is not thinking of imposing tax on individuals’ incomes



Source  :  The Khaleej Times

Coalition risks its majority in rush to skewer Bill Shorten over Sam Dastyari

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Mark Kenny


Call it smart, or perhaps crazy-brave. Noteworthy at least, that a government with a majority of just one chose right now to prosecute the most muscular case against a foreign power since the Cold War, while also contesting a byelection in a seat notable for that country’s nationals.

So eager is the Turnbull government to increase Bill Shorten’s pain over Sam Dastyari’s China connections, that it has dialled to 11 its anti-Beijing espionage/influence warnings, potentially alienating swathes of voters in Bennelong this Saturday.

And right on cue, Labor’s Kristina Keneally pounced, branding Malcolm Turnbull’s utterances “China-phobic rhetoric” that is causing alarm locally and thus harming John Alexander, the Liberal candidate.

As business interests – including universities – shift uncomfortably in their seats over the anti-China sentiments emanating from Canberra, the Liberal Party seems to have concluded that its 10 per cent margin in the Sydney seat is enough to withstand a small exodus of Chinese-speaking voters who feel insulted on the grounds of race.

For embattled Liberals, Shorten’s Dastyari problem is almost too good to be true – like manna from heaven.

Between the diminutive senator’s exquisitely drawn-out demise, and the marriage equality win last week, the Turnbull government is feeling better about itself than it has all year.

For embattled Liberals, Shorten’s Dastyari problem is almost too good to be true – like manna from heaven.

Between the diminutive senator’s exquisitely drawn-out demise, and the marriage equality win last week, the Turnbull government is feeling better about itself than it has all year.

But cost could yet be an issue. Unlikely as it is, a defeat in Bennelong would kill that morale stone dead, not to mention, erase its majority. If nothing else, Bennelong’s trend-defying “no” vote in the marriage survey was a reminder of the electoral weight of its traditionalist Chinese and Korean populations.

Labor insiders are playing down their prospects, noting that 10 per cent is a healthy buffer and that byelections where MPs have been forced out due to an eligibility problem, such as Lindsay (1996) or New England (earlier this month), have usually produced swings to the “sitting” MP.

Close observers of the Chinese population say it is a multi-layered constituency anyway, warning it is less inclined to vote as a bloc than many presume.

Meanwhile, Shorten and colleagues are lumbered with the same trite talking points which emphasise, lamely, that Dastyari has already “paid a high price” for his contacts with wealthy Chinese benefactors and for the nature of those.

But do voters really consider losing an obscure responsibility as deputy Senate whip while keeping a $200k job to be “paying a high price?” Unlikely.

Illustration: Matt Golding.

But do voters really consider losing an obscure responsibility as deputy Senate whip while keeping a $200k job to be “paying a high price?” Unlikely.


Source  :  WA Today

‘What are you saying?’ Malcolm Turnbull in heated clash over indigenous MPs Ken Wyatt and Linda Burney

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 Latika Bourke

Q&A hosted fiery and emotive scenes as Malcolm Turnbull was challenged about his record on indigenous recognition, culminating in a visibly offended Prime Minister urging his critics to support Indigenous MPs from both sides of parliament.

The Prime Minister was appearing as the sole guest on the program and received a grilling about issues from the MPs with dual citizenships, to the same-sex marriage plebiscite, the influence of the right-wing of the party, his views on climate change and, finally, the National Broadband Network.

But perhaps the most emotional exchange was with two Indigenous Australians over the government’s canning of an idea to enshrine an Indigenous voice in federal parliament in the constitution as part of the Uluru Statement from the Heart released earlier this year.

Mr Turnbull said that would effectively create a third chamber of parliament in addition to the House of Representative and the Senate, a view disputed by some Indigenous leaders, including the prominent coalition adviser Noel Person.

The Prime Minister said that he disagreed with Mr Pearson on this issue and said the cabinet, as well as every single MP with whom he has raised the idea, believed that the public would not back the plan.

He was then confronted by Teela Reid, who was part of the Uluru dialogue process.

“Why won’t you respect our proposal to take it to a referendum like you put marriage equality to the people because polls reveal up to 61 per cent of Australians are in support of this proposal?” she asked to applause.


Source  :  WA Today

Peter Dutton: The same-sex marriage postal vote worked but we shouldn’t use it again

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Almost 13 million Australians can’t be wrong. They took a decision to register their vote in the same-sex marriage postal survey. But, while an 80 per cent turnout was exceptionally high and the result clear, we shouldn’t use the postal vote process again.

This is not because the process lacked integrity – there can be no such claim.  Not because the critics picked holes in the non-binding nature of the outcome or their declaration that the whole thing was an abrogation of parliamentary responsibility.  Not even because of overhyped claims about people self-harming or advocates for or against same-sex marriage in a sophisticated country like ours being able to conduct themselves in a civil way as they took part in a public debate.  No, the reason is the nature of this issue and the significance of a proposal to fundamentally change a social foundation stone that dictated the break-glass option of the postal plebiscite.  The postal plebiscite is not a tool for garden variety issues of public policy.

For many of us, we live and breathe politics and enjoy public debates, but for the vast majority of Australians the three-yearly trudge to the polling booth is driven only by its compulsion. The turnout rate indicates Australians were motivated by the significance of this issue.

And while the debate was largely respectful, some of the most vocal on both sides of the debate failed to appreciate the passion and the emotion of the other side. The religious influence (particularly in many ethnic communities), or the emotion of watching a gay child or grandchild in a committed relationship – that is what stands this issue out from almost any other decision a government might make term to term.

Public pressure had built significantly and in 2014 the Abbott government faced a dilemma on the issue of the definition of marriage.  From the time a decision was made (for good reasons) to adopt a plebiscite as the means of dealing with the issue, change was inevitable.  For many the adherence to a traditional view of marriage was based around religious belief.  With several notable exceptions, church leaders in Australia were silent or advocated a “yes” vote, including Jesuit priests in Sydney! Coupled with low church attendance rates the “no” case was never going to be won on the basis of adherence to religious belief.

The plebiscite policy was taken to the 2016 election and still Labor would not support the plebiscite bill through the Senate.  It was particularly galling given Labor had six years under Rudd and Gillard to legislate and didn’t.

In a one-seat majority Parliament every member is empowered and becomes “the one” crucial vote.  The reality was people were prepared to cross the floor to force a vote on same-sex marriage given we could not deliver on our commitment to deliver the plebiscite.

Malcolm Turnbull, cabinet and, ultimately, the party room had the courage to back the next-best option, the postal plebiscite that, because of its non-compulsory nature, did not require legislation.  Other options, including a free vote, would have killed the government at the next election because this was an issue of significant interest to Liberal and National voters across the country as evidenced by 5 million Australians voting “no”, many of them members and supporters of the Coalition.

People who claim we should have proceeded straight to a free vote fail to recognise our election commitment on an issue of this nature could not be broken.

The significant legal issues and funding of the postal vote were properly managed by Mathias Cormann, making the option possible and the rest is history.

People will be critical saying legislation should have been passed months ago. But given the voluntary expression of view by 8 million people and the emphatic “yes” vote that followed in the Parliament, the legitimacy given to this significant social change was infinitely greater than a shabby vote in the Parliament with people crossing the floor. The 5 million who hold a legitimate “no” view would have felt cheated and would not have accepted the process and outcome.

Coalition supporters are patriotic and respect our rule of law. Even those of us who voted “no” in the plebiscite, accept the “yes” outcome because a fair and respectful postal vote delivered a democratic result. The postal vote means same-sex couples have received a legitimacy to their marriage that could not have been delivered through a parliamentary vote alone

Next year, away from the shadow of the marriage debate, there is a legitimate discussion to be had around religious protections.  There will be many people who voted “yes” or “no” to same-sex marriage who will support sensible measures around religious and parental choice.  It, too, should be a respectful debate.

Source  :  WA Today

Cell phone use responsible for 7,500 road deaths in 2017

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Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — Drivers distracted by text messages and calls on cell phones were responsible for the deaths of 7,489 people on the Kingdom›s roads in 2017, a new campaign revealed.

«Every single time someone takes their eyes or their focus off the road — even for a few seconds —- they put their lives as well as the lives of others in danger,» said Mohammed Bin Ali Swaidan as he got ready to launch “Your Life is More Precious Than a Message” campaign in Jeddah Tuesday.

The campaign is organized in cooperation with the Makkah emirate, Jeddah governorate, the Directorate of Education in Jeddah, the Traffic Department, the Police, Saudi Sports Authority, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah University, Umm Al-Qura University and Taif University.

The initiative aims to contribute to the modification of driver behavior by creating awareness on the dangers of many negative practices behind the wheel through an interactive program combining theory and practice.

«The campaign touches the drivers’ emotions, raises awareness and urges the community to take personal responsibility besides safety. The behavior modification needs to be reflected among the members of society, achieving sustainability on behavioral, cultural and social aspects,” said Swaidan, supervisor of the campaign.

The campaign is an initiative of the Makkah culture forum under the theme “How to Be a Role Model” announced last October by Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, emir of Makkah.

According to Swaidan, the launch of the initiative comes after the alarming statistics on traffic accidents recorded last year. As many as 460,488 accidents causing 7,489 deaths and 33,199 serious injuries were recorded last year, at a rate of one accident every minutes and 4 injuries every hour and 20 deaths a day. About 73 percent of accidents occurred in major cities.

“A total of SR21 billion is wasted annually as a result of road accidents. Saudi Arabia is ranked 23rd on the list of countries with the highest death rates in road accidents in the world. It is second among Arab countries in terms of road deaths,” said Swaidan.

He revealed that the vast majority of people who died on the roads were in the age group of 18-30 years. The mortality rate for males was 88 percent and for females 12 percent.

«A number of reliable studies and researches by prestigious universities and research institutions in different countries of the world found that sending and receiving text messages or talking on cell phones while driving caused a lot of fatal accidents leading to deaths and disabilities,” Swaidan said.

He pointed to the need to raise the index of informed behavior with regard to the rules and procedures of safety and the level of traffic culture.

He explained that the «Your Life is More Precious Than a Message» campaign came out a sense of social responsibility toward the country and its children by reducing the number of accidents, injuries and disabilities that drain the economy.


Source  :  Saudi Gazette

King honors winners of King Khalid Award

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Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman graced the ceremony of honoring winners of King Khalid Award for the year 2017 in Riyadh on Monday evening.

Awards for “Development Partners,” “Nonprofit Excellence,” and “Responsible Competitiveness” were given away by the King at a colorful ceremony held at Prince Sultan Hall of Al Faisaliah Hotel.

King Salman presented the first prize in the category of Development Partners Award to Sami Al-Harbi while second and third prizes were given away to Abdullah Al-Hawas and Yazeed Al-Shadouhi respectively for their outstanding voluntary initiatives.

The Makkah-based Al Mawaddah Society for Family Development won the first prize in the category of Nonprofit Excellence Award. The second and third prizes went to the Charitable Society for Marriage and Family Care (Usrati) of Madinah and Al-Kauthar Charity Health Society of Asir respectively. The King presented the awards to the officials of these societies.

Four firms won the awards in the category of “Responsible Competitiveness.” The Al-Hafr Arabian Company bagged the first prize while Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) was given the second prize. The third place was shared by Middle East Company for Manufacturing and Producing Paper (MEPCO) and Special Direction Company.

Earlier, Prince Faisal Bin Khalid, emir of Asir and chairman of the board of trustees of King Khalid Foundation, spoke about the award.

Riyadh Emir Prince Faisal Bin Bandar, several other princes, and senior officials attended the ceremony.

King Khalid Awards are designed to recognize, encourage and support exceptional achievements in the fields of corporate social responsibility, nonprofit management excellence and social innovation.


Source  :  Saudi Gazette

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