Drop in trips abroad during mid-year school break

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Travel agencies reported high demand for flights to Yanbu and Al-Ula during the mid-year school vacation.
Sami Al-Maghamsi
Okaz/Saudi Gazette
YANBU — Although travel agencies have been coaxing tourists with attractive offers, the volume of foreign travel during the mid-year school break has declined, compared to previous years.

Despite packages costing as low as SR2,300, including air tickers, for stays of up to seven days in five-star hotels in Turkey, Egypt and Dubai, the demand was low as a result of the growth in domestic tourism options, according to travel operators.

They, meanwhile, pointed to an increase in bookings for flights to Al-Ula and Yanbu.

Chairman of the Tourism Committee in the Madinah Chamber Majd Al-Mohammadi told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that there was growth in the volume of domestic tourism despite the higher prices of accommodation, compared to the attractive prices abroad.

He said, “The internal tourism bill is very high, with the prices of rooms in central areas of Yanbu ranging from SR1,000 to SR1,200 during the mid-term vacation, while the travel agencies offered attractive packages at SR2,300, including tickets and accommodation in 5-star hotels for 7 nights per person in Turkey, Egypt and Dubai.”

Abdul-Ella Al-Mehdar, owner of a tourism and travel agency, confirmed that there was a decline in demand for foreign tourism compared to last year when it reached 37 percent of the bookings in most tourist agencies.

He said, “There is growth in demand for domestic flights, especially to Al-Ula and Yanbu, and the prices of hotels in Al-Ula ranged from SR150 to SR600. In Yanbu it was between SR250 and SR1,090, and in Tabuk between SR300 and SR750.

Source : Saudi Gazette

Electricity e-bills now on 28th of each month

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Saudi Gazette report

Riyadh — The Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) will now issue e-bills on the 28th of each Gregorian month.

The move follows a royal decree issued earlier this month according to which utility bills should only be issued after the payment of monthly salaries to government staff on 27th of each Gregorian month.

The SEC will also stop issuing paper bills starting this month.

Electricity bills can be accessed on SEC’s electronic channels, including the company’s website (se.com.sa), through its app, SMS services, and through registered email.

Enquiries about e-bills can also be made through customer service number 920001100, according to Chairman of the SEC Subscribers Services sector Eng. Sultan Al-Matrafi.

Earlier this year, the Saudi Electricity Company launched a series of modern electronic channels to facilitate and speed up the process of communication with subscribers through WhatsApp (0533991100), Twitter (alkahrabafriend), Alkahrabacare subscriber account, subscriber service center (920001100), SMS (500120), website (se.com.sa), and app.

The SEC also signed a deal with Japanese Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), Nissan Motor Co and Takaoka Toko for the first electric vehicle (EV) pilot project.

Under the agreement, fast-charger stations will be developed to charge EVs in 30 minutes. SEC will borrow three EVs from Nissan while TEPCO and Takaoka Toko will provide three fast chargers. Such a move is part of the company’s strategy to reduce reliance on oil and cut emissions, SEC said in a statement.


Source :  Saudi Gazette

Tokyo to encourage foreign tourists to splurge on nightlife

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The Tokyo metropolitan government will survey foreign tourists on what they enjoy about the city’s nightlife, aiming to better cater to their interests while encouraging them to spend, a source said Saturday.

The central government, which is also considering a similar survey, is joining Tokyo authorities in stepping up efforts to increase tourist spending. Japan has seen a decline in the average expenditure per traveler in recent years, even as there has been a rapid increase in inbound visitor numbers.

The Tokyo government plans to spend up to 50 million yen to conduct the survey in fiscal 2018 on what foreign tourists like to do at night in the capital, the source said.

The survey results will be used to tailor information on the Tokyo government’s website to promote a variety of popular spots to visit.

The number of foreign tourists surged 19.3% from the previous year to a record 28.69 million in 2017 and the Japanese government has a stated target of 40 million annual foreign visitors by 2020, the year Tokyo hosts the Olympics and Paralympics. Total spending by foreign visitors increased 17.8% in 2017 from a year earlier to a record 4.42 trillion yen.

But average spending per visitor fell 1.3% to 153,921 yen in 2017 following an 11.5% decrease the previous year. Chinese tourists, the largest source of foreign visitors to Japan who account for a fourth of the total, have cut back on spending.

Having a range of nighttime entertainment options is considered a key to increasing spending by foreign travelers.

The Japan Tourism Agency set up a panel last year to discuss how to encourage more tourists to visit restaurants, theaters and sports events at night. Spending by visitors to Japan for entertainment services related to culture, sports and recreation activities account for around 1% of their overall spending, much lower than the 8% by tourists to France and 10% by those to the United States, according to the agency.


Source :  Japan Today

Woman gets 12 years in prison for killing lover

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The Tokyo District Court has sentenced a 34-year-old woman to 12 years in prison for killing the 45-year-old married man with whom she had been in a relationship.

The court found Seikin Okuma guilty of murdering Kazumasa Kurobe at the apartment they shared in Chiyoda Ward last year, Fuji TV reported Saturday.

Although Kurobe was married to another woman, he and Okuma had been living together for about two years.

The court heard that Okuma, who was unemployed, called 110 at around 12:15 a.m. last Aug 10 and said she had stabbed a man in her apartment. Police rushed to the apartment and found Kurobe lying on the floor, bleeding from a stab wound to the chest. He was taken to hospital where he died about one hour later.

Okuma’s lawyer told the court that she and Kurobe got into an argument after Kurobe told her he was going on a trip with his wife. She lost her temper and stabbed him with a kitchen knife, but maintained she didn’t mean to kill him.

© Japan Today

Source :  Japan Today

15-year-old stabbing suspect says target could have been anyone

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A 15-year-old boy who has been arrested for allegedly stabbing a female high school student in the southwestern city of Kagoshima earlier this month told police his target “could be anyone,” investigative sources said Sunday.

Given that the boy chased the fleeing girl after stabbing her on Jan 7 and that he was also stalking a woman after purchasing a knife on Saturday shortly before his arrest, the police believe the boy may have tried to attack a woman indiscriminately, the sources said.

The boy has admitted to the charges.

According to the police, the junior high school student is suspected of stabbing the 16-year-old girl in the abdomen and back with a knife several times near a park in Kagoshima city.

The girl told the police she was followed by a man and she was stabbed as she turned around. Although the boy chased her in the park, he fled as the girl tried to call police with her smartphone.

Source :  Japan Today

Over 3,500 surgeries a month at HMC hospitals

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21 Jan 2018 – 10:28

Over 3,500 surgeries a month at HMC hospitals

One of the operating theaters in the new surgical unit at Hamad General Hospital. Pic: Abdul Basit/The Peninsula

By Fazeena Saleem | The Peninsula

Doha: An average of 1,500 surgeries are performed in different specialities at the Hamad General Hospital and the number exceeds 2,200 each month at the Rumailah Hospital, said a senior official.

Among them at least a 50 percent are general surgeries and orthopedic related procedures, said Professor Dr Moustafa Alkhalil, Director of Operation Theaters at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).

HMC’s hospitals within Doha have around 50 operation theatres with advanced facilities and also expansions continue due to the increasing demand.

“We have a big number of theaters and soon will increase it to meet the growing demand. There are new hospitals and expansion plans, we have state-of-the-art theaters, we have the newest equipment and the largest number of surgeries performed in different specialities,” said Dr Alkhalil.

“Majority are general and orthopedic surgeries and it makes about half of all surgeries. The General Surgery Department deals with common surgeries including surgery of the pancreas, liver, colon, stomach and gallbladder – among others. Orthopedic Department also has a big number of theatres as they deal with many cases including trauma. They deal with emergency and elective surgeries and the capacity of theatres will be increased soon to meet the increasing demand,” he added.

The new surgical unit at the Hamad General Hospital with sophisticated equipment and services is revolutionising surgical practice at HMC’s largest hospital and providing patients with even better care, according to Dr Alkhalil.

The 10,000 square metres operating theater expansion features 20 newly equipped surgical theatres. The facility has three highly advanced hybrid operating rooms to complete surgical procedures as well as CT and MRI imaging.

These operating rooms allow surgeons and radiologists to work on five to seven specialities at the same time. One of the new operating theaters also features the latest high-tech robotic surgery apparatus – the da Vinci Xi surgical robot, which Hamad surgeons use to perform a variety of specialist and general surgeries.

“There is a revolution all the time for expansion and improvement at our hospitals. To achieve the improvement which happened here within 15 years, some countries might need more than 50 years,” said Dr Alkhalil.

“Also that guests from Europe and the US while visiting HMC are fascinated and impressed with equipment, technology and the design of our theatres,” he added.

Dr Alkhalil said that the vacant spaces created by the shifting of Women’s Hospital clinics to the new Women’s Wellness and Research Centre will be occupied by the Surgical Department, as part of the expansion plan.

“However, it’s not easy and requires a lot of time as patient safety is very important and we have to make sure everything is perfect and ready for operations,” he said.

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