CORONAVIRUS ALELRT | Saudi Arabia Suspends Entry For Umrah Pilgrimage, Tourism And Coronavirus

RIYADH – Saudi Arabia on Thursday suspended foreigners’ entry for the Umrah pilgrimage and tourism from countries where the new coronavirus has spread, as a growing number of cases outside China deepened fears of a pandemic.

The kingdom, which hosts the two holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina, welcomes millions of Muslim visitors throughout the year with a peak for the haj pilgrimage. It introduced a new tourism visa last October for 49 countries.

Entry is also suspended for visits to the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.

Saudi Arabia has had no causes of the coronavirus but it has been spreading in some neighboring countries.

The ministry did not specify people from which countries would be impacted but said the Kingdom’s health authorities would determine where the outbreak constituted a danger.

Saudi Arabia’s top tourism official said this week 400,000 tourist visas had been  issued since their launch in October and the country aims to attract 100 million annual visits in 2030.

The number of new coronavirus infections inside China – the source of the outbreak – was for the first time overtaken by new cases elsewhere on Wednesday, with Italy and Iran emerging as epicenters of the rapidly spreading illness.

Asia reported hundreds of new cases, Brazil confirmed Latina America’s first infection and the new disease – COVID-19 – was also detected for the first time in Pakistan, Sweden, Norway, Greece, Romania  and Algeria.

U.S. health authorities, managing 59 cases – mostly American repatriated from a cruise ship in Japan – have said a global pandemic is likely. President Donald Trump told Americans on Wednesday that the risk remained ‘very low’, and placed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the U.S. response.


BUSINESS NEWS | Abu Dhabi Fund Suspends Debt Service Repayments For Countries, Companies

ABU DHABI – Abu Dhabi Fund For Development has suspended debt service repayments for some countries and companies for the year, the state-financed fund said on Sunday. The fund provides financial assistance to companies in the United Arab Emirates and to developing countries, which has included Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. Debt service repayments would … Continue reading BUSINESS NEWS | Abu Dhabi Fund Suspends Debt Service Repayments For Countries, Companies

WORLD NEWS | Pope ‘Very Pained’ By Decision To Turn Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Museum Into Mosque

VATICAN – Pope Francis said on Sunday he was hurt by Turkey’s decision to make Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia museum a mosque, the latest religious leader to condemn the move. ‘My thoughts go to Istanbul. I think of Santa Sophia and I am very pained’, he said during his weekly blessing in St.Peter’s Square. Turkish President … Continue reading WORLD NEWS | Pope ‘Very Pained’ By Decision To Turn Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Museum Into Mosque

BUSINESS | Saudi Telecom Extends Vodafone Egypt Stake Purchase For Second Time

RIYADH | SAUDI ARABIA – Saudi Arabia’s largest telecoms operator Saudi Telecom CO said on Sunday it would need another two months to complete the purchase of Vodafone Group’s 55% stake in Vodafone Egypt. STC signed a non-binding agreement in January to buy the majority stake for $2.4 billion, but extended the process in April … Continue reading BUSINESS | Saudi Telecom Extends Vodafone Egypt Stake Purchase For Second Time

TV | There’s A New Documentary All About The Ritz Hotel

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THE POWER OF INFLUENCE | Angelina Jolie Discussed How She Talks To Her Kids About Racism

Angeline Jolie is no stronger to change. She’s worked as a Special Envoy of the High Commissioner for Refugees to bring attention to the challenges that refugees face around the world. With the current state of the world, which involves protestors everywhere fighting for racial equality, Jolie told Harper’s Bazzer U.K. that she’s sitting down … Continue reading THE POWER OF INFLUENCE | Angelina Jolie Discussed How She Talks To Her Kids About Racism

NEWS | Mohamed Bin Zayed Receives Brazilian President’s Phone Call

ABU DHABI – Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, discussed Friday with the Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, bilateral relations and ways to enhance them in all fields. In a phone call, the two leaders reviewed a number of regional and international … Continue reading NEWS | Mohamed Bin Zayed Receives Brazilian President’s Phone Call

NEWS | Saudi King, Crown Prince Send Condolences To UAE Leaders On Death Of Sharjah Official

RIYADH | SAUDI ARABIA – Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman sent messages of condolences on Friday to the leaders of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the death of Sheikh Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, deputy ruler of the emirate of Sharjah. ‘(We) ask God Almighty to bless him with … Continue reading NEWS | Saudi King, Crown Prince Send Condolences To UAE Leaders On Death Of Sharjah Official

NEWS | U.S. State Department ‘Disappointed’ In Turkish Government Decision On Hagia Sophia

WASHINGTON – The U.S. State Department on Friday said it ‘was disappointed’ by the government of Turkey’s decision to change the status of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan declared the ancient monument a mosque again. ‘We understand the Turkish Government remains committed to maintaining access to the Hagia Sophia for all visitors, … Continue reading NEWS | U.S. State Department ‘Disappointed’ In Turkish Government Decision On Hagia Sophia

NEWS | Turkey’s Erdogan Signs Decree Converting Hagia Sophia Into Mosque

ISTANBUL – President Tayyip Erdogan signed a decree on Friday opening Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia as a mosque after a Turkish court annulled a 1934 government decree that had turned it into a museum, a copy of the decision showed. Erdogan shared on his Twitter feed a copy of the decree he had signed which said … Continue reading NEWS | Turkey’s Erdogan Signs Decree Converting Hagia Sophia Into Mosque

NEWS | Russian Orthodox Church Says Regrets Decision Over Hagias Sophia – TASS

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TRAVEL | Italy Bans Entry From 13 Countries Due To Coronavirus Fears

MILAN | ITALY – Italy on Thursday banned entry to people coming from 13 countries that it said presented an excessive rate of COVID-19 infections. The list compiled by the health ministry comprises Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, Kuwait, North Macedonia, Moldova, Oman, Panama, Peru and Dominican Republic. The ban affects anyone … Continue reading TRAVEL | Italy Bans Entry From 13 Countries Due To Coronavirus Fears

NEWS ALERT | Saudi Crown Prince Makes Phone Call To Brazilian President

RIYADH | SAUDI ARABIA – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense made Thursday a telephone call to His Excellency President Jair Messias Bolsonaro of Brazil. During the phone conversation, Prince Mohammed bin Salman was reassured of the health of the Brazilian President, … Continue reading NEWS ALERT | Saudi Crown Prince Makes Phone Call To Brazilian President

ROYALS | Meghan Markle Asks British Court To Prevent Newspaper From Revealing Identities Of Friends Who Defender Her

LONDON – Meghan Markle asked a British court to order a newspaper to refrain from publishing the names of five friends who previously defended her in a U.S. magazine on the condition of anonymity. The Duchess of Sussex made the request in a witness statement for her lawsuit against the Daily Mail and its parent … Continue reading ROYALS | Meghan Markle Asks British Court To Prevent Newspaper From Revealing Identities Of Friends Who Defender Her

NEWS ALERT | Saudi-led coalition in Yemen says explosive boats destroyed in Red Sea – Saudi TV

RIYADH | SAUDI ARABIA – The Saudi-led military coalition fighting the Iran-aligned Houthi group in Yemen said it destroyed two explosive –laden boasts in the red Sea, Saudi State TV  reported on Thursday. The two remotely controlled boats were threatening navigation, the coalition said. They were destroyed south of the Yemeni port of Salif it … Continue reading NEWS ALERT | Saudi-led coalition in Yemen says explosive boats destroyed in Red Sea – Saudi TV

HEALTH | Nonprofits Urge Johnson & Johnson To Halt Sales Of Baby Powder Globally

MILAN | ITALY – More than 170 nonprofit groups on Wednesday called for Johnson & Johnson to stop selling its talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder world-wide, citing concerns that is contains  cancer-causing asbestos, according to a statement from advocacy group Black Women  for Wellness. The groups, which include educational institutions such as Emory University and activist … Continue reading HEALTH | Nonprofits Urge Johnson & Johnson To Halt Sales Of Baby Powder Globally

BUSINESS NEWS | Coronavirus Will Cost Banks Over $2 Trillion In Loan Losses: S&P Global

LONDON – The coronavirus crisis will cost banks across the world a combined $2.1 trillion in losses on loans by the end of next year, credit ratings agency S&P Global estimated on Thursday. This year is expected to see a $1.3 trillion hit, more than double the 2019 level, S&P predicted. Around 60% of the … Continue reading BUSINESS NEWS | Coronavirus Will Cost Banks Over $2 Trillion In Loan Losses: S&P Global

SOCIAL MEDIA | Facebook Takes Down Accounts And Pages Of Trump Ally Roger Stone

MILAN – Facebook Inc on Wednesday removed 50 personal and professional pages connected to U.S. President Donald Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone, who is due to report to prison next week. The social media platform said Stone and his associates, including a prominent supporter of the right-wing Proud Boys group in Stone’s home state Florida, … Continue reading SOCIAL MEDIA | Facebook Takes Down Accounts And Pages Of Trump Ally Roger Stone

SOCIAL MEDIA | Facebook Suspends Disinformation Network Tied To Staff Of Brazil’s Bolsonaro

BUCHAREST | ROMANIA – Facebook Inc on Wednesday suspended a network of social media accounts it said were used to spread divisive political messages online by employees of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and two of  his sons. The company said that despite efforts to disguise who was behind the activity, it found links to staff … Continue reading SOCIAL MEDIA | Facebook Suspends Disinformation Network Tied To Staff Of Brazil’s Bolsonaro

BUSINESS NEWS | Saudi Arabia Completes First Phase Of State Mills Privatisation

RIYADH | SAUDI ARABIA – Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it had complete the first batch of its flour milling sector privatization, according to a statement by the state grain buyer and privatization centre. The long-awaited flour mills sale was one of the first privatisations the kingdom planned as part of a wide-reaching overhaul of … Continue reading BUSINESS NEWS | Saudi Arabia Completes First Phase Of State Mills Privatisation

BUSINESS NEWS | Saudi Arabia Nominates Candidate To Bead WTO: Document

GENEVA – Saudi Arabia nominated a former economy and planning minister to head the World Trade Organization on Wednesday, a WTO document showed, amid a last –minute flurry of submission to succeed the incumbent Roberto Azevedo who is stepping down in August. ‘The following communication, nominating Mr. Mohammad Mazid Al-Tuwaijri for the position of Director-General, … Continue reading BUSINESS NEWS | Saudi Arabia Nominates Candidate To Bead WTO: Document

HEALTH | WHO To Travelers – Keep An Eye On ‘Anywhere And Everywhere’ COVID-19

Geneva – The World Health Organization on Tuesday urged travelers to wear masks on planes and keep themselves informed as COVID-19 cases surge again in some countries, prompting new restrictions in places like Australia. Spokeswoman Margaret Harris urged people not to be cough off-guard by resurgent local epidemics and quarantine measures, saying: ‘If it’s anywhere, … Continue reading HEALTH | WHO To Travelers – Keep An Eye On ‘Anywhere And Everywhere’ COVID-19

BUSINESS NEWS | Kanye West’s Clothing Brand Hollywood Production Companies On Pandemic Loan List

LOS ANGELES – Ventures backed by big-name entertainers Kanye West and Francis Ford Coppola were among those approved for loans under a U.S. government program to help businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic, according to a list released on Monday. Billionaire rapper West’s clothing brand Yeezy received clearance for a loan between $2 million and $5 … Continue reading BUSINESS NEWS | Kanye West’s Clothing Brand Hollywood Production Companies On Pandemic Loan List

BUSINESS NEWS | Saudi Unemployment Falls In First Quarter, But Before Coronavirus Impact

RIYADH | SAUDI ARABIA – Unemployment among citizens in the first quarter fell below 12% for the first time in four years, official figures released on Tuesday showed, but they did not capture the impact of the coronavirus crisis. Unemployment fell to 11.8%  from 12% the previous quarter, the General Authority for Statistics said. ‘Data … Continue reading BUSINESS NEWS | Saudi Unemployment Falls In First Quarter, But Before Coronavirus Impact

SOCIAL MEDIA | Pompeo Says U.S. Looking At Banning Chinese Social Media Apps, Including TikTok

NEW YORK – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that the United States is ‘certainly looking at’ banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, suggesting it shared information with the Chinese government, a charge it denied. ‘I don’t want to get out in front of President (Donald Trump), but it’s something we’re looking … Continue reading SOCIAL MEDIA | Pompeo Says U.S. Looking At Banning Chinese Social Media Apps, Including TikTok

NEWS ALERT | Saudi Arabia Announces Haj Health Measures For Domestic Pilgrims

RIYADH | SAUDI ARABIA – Saudi Arabia announced health protocols to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in the 2020 Haj Season, banning gatherings and meetings between pilgrims, the state news agency said on Monday. Saudi Arabia decided in June to limit the number of domestic pilgrims attending the Haj to around 1,000 to … Continue reading NEWS ALERT | Saudi Arabia Announces Haj Health Measures For Domestic Pilgrims

ARTS & CULTURE | India Puts Back Taj Mahal Reopening Citing COVID-19 Risks

NEW DELHI – India has withdrawn a planned reopening of the Taj Mahal, citing the risk of new coronavirus infections spreading in the northern city of Agra from visitors flocking to see the 17th century monument to love. Local authorities issued a new advisory late on Sunday ordering an extension of lockdown curbs on monuments … Continue reading ARTS & CULTURE | India Puts Back Taj Mahal Reopening Citing COVID-19 Risks

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