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GULF ROUNDUP NEWS AROUND THE GCC AND BEYOND LIFE IN THE GULF.

Kuwait to expel foreign government employees aged over 50

Expatriate government workers in Kuwait aged over 50 will be made to leave the country under new plans to reduce the number of foreign workers, according to local media reports. The age limit would be applied to public sector workers in professions where roles can be filled by Kuwaitis.

The new measures are to be implemented from March 1 and will cover all nationalities, a government source reportedly said. Over the last year, the government has been attempting to reduce its reliance on foreign workers, who are believed to make up about 31 per cent of Kuwait's total population of three million.

In April this year, the government announced plans to freeze the numbers of expats moving to Kuwait, allowing people into the country only to replace those leaving. Three months later, the government stopped issuing visas to expats' parents and reduced the validity of a family visit visa from three months to just a month. -- GULF BUSINESS

Galleria on track to start receiving customers by early next year

The all-new family shopping and recreation destination is strategically located in Al Zinj on the Shaikh Isa Bin Salman Highway that links Saudi Arabia to Bahrain, the retail centre has been conceived as a boutique strip mall, sprawling across a plot area of 30,000 square metres and boasting a total built-up area of over 42,000 square metres.

Lulu Hypermarket has been announced as the anchor tenant and will be spread over two floors covering 12,000 square of superior interior fit-out and shelving space. Galleria will also host a variety of food and beverage brands.

Expansive glass facades, elegant tree-lined walkways and tranquil water features, harmoniously combine to bring alive a destination that sublimely merges the charm of the outdoors with elegant designs that can be experienced indoors. The mall is expected to attract customers from all over Bahrain and its main catchment areas of Al Zinj, Al Mahooz, Adliya, umm Al Hassam, Tubli, and Gudaibiya which house a substantially large cosmopolitan population. - DAILY TRIBUNE NEWS, BAHRAIN

Electronics-focused iMall to open in Sharjah next year

The Dh180 million iMall will welcome electronics-savvy shoppers in the first quarter of 2016, iMall director nadeem Balash, said in a statement.

Balash disclosed that more than 60 per cent of leasable area has already been booked and another 20 per cent booking is expected before the official opening. It includes 85 stores, six restaurants, a pharmacy, parking space for 230 cars and an entertainment area designed especially for children.

The launch of iMall comes in line with the growing demand for technology products and devices in the uAE, which is expected to grow faster than other retail categories. Balash said that iMall is a real addition to the electronics retailer and modern technology sector, being the first specialised technology and electronics centre in the Middle East. The mall will also provide free wi-fi services. -- KHALEEJ TIMES

Qatar's new residency law in force from last month

Issued on October 27, the law replaces the Kafala (sponsorship) system with a contract- based system and cancelled the exit permit system. It has also removed the two-year period required for an expatriate worker to return to the country to take up a new job, after his departure. As per the new law, the worker can return to the country two or three days after his departure if he gets a new contract and fulfils entry visa requirements and if there is no court verdict against him.

There will be a job contract to be signed by every expatriate worker with his employer which will rule the relation between the two sides. Both sides are obliged to respect the contract period, whether it be two or five years. An exit permit from the sponsor will no more be required for an expatriate worker to leave the country. He only needs to inform the employer that he will be leaving, the daily quoted the official as saying.

law no. 21 of 2015 regulating the entry, exit and residency of expatriates will come in force on December 14, 2016, Al sharq reports. -- ZAWYA

Marassi Al Bahrain's first reveal

Eagle Hills, the private real estate investment and development company based in the uAE and developer of Marassi Al Bahrain, in partnership with Diyar Al Muharraq, announced that both residential unit sales and development work for the first phase of the master planned community are set to launch during the first quarter of 2016. A kilometre stretch of sandy beach and f&B outlets, will also open soon alongside the sales centre, allowing the public to experience what the vibrant waterfront lifestyle has to offer.

Promising a sophisticated new lifestyle choice, the first phase of Marassi Al Bahrain includes iconic landmarks such as a lifestyle shopping complex anchored by two luxury hotel brands The Address Hotels + resorts and Vida Hotels and resorts, seafront residential apartments, a canal waterfront promenade and a community mosque, with all related roads, utilities and other infrastructure. A total of 480 serviced and residential apartments offer access to the beach and outstanding views overlooking one of Bahrain's most spectacular sea fronts. The first of the five development phases will be completed by 2019.

Potential investors can register their interest online and visit the recently launched website www.marassialbahrain.com for more information, ahead of the sales launch which will be announced soon.

Hundreds of run-down villas to be demolished in Dubai

An estimated 250 dilapidated villas across Dubai pose a public health risk and are to be demolished, Dubai Municipality has reportedly announced. The villas have been abandoned and may be being used by criminals to store drugs, house illegal workers or for sexual abuse, according to a report in uAE daily 7Days.

Many of the properties are caught up in inheritance disputes between family members and the rightful owner has neglected them,

making them a threat to security and public health. The municipality intends to demolish a "remaining" 256 houses, by issuing an order stating that the house must be renovated or demolished by the owner and then intervening if they do not comply. The owner is charged for the demolition and ordered to pay administration fees. -- ARABIAN BUSINESS

Discussions on Filipina maid shortage continue

UAE and Philippine labour officials will hold their second round of discussions on the issue of re-sending filipino maids to the UAE in the first quarter of 2016. UAE employers have not been able to hire maids directly from the Philippines since June 2014 due to conflicting recruitment rules from the UAE and labour- sending countries like the Philippines.

The issue arose when the Ministry of Interior introduced a unified contract for domestic workers that led to the suspension of various embassies' role in verifying and attesting contracts, including the Philippines. But the Philippines insists that based on their domestic laws, they are mandated to verify and record these contracts to protect their workers. with the suspension of contract verification, no maids could be hired directly from the Philippines legally. This is a problem for many residents since filipina maids are the preferred house help in the country.

Labour attache Delmer Cruz said major points on the domestic workers' issue were discussed in the two-day meeting. Once all matters are agreed upon, an agreement is expected to be signed between the two countries in the following months. -- GULF NEWS

Deadline Alert: Report foreign income or lose your US passport

It is possible that the united states expats could have their passports revoked next month if they fail to comply with their tax and financial obligations under the foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), according to Jim O'niell, Vice-President of us financial Advisory and Audit firm (USFAAF).

The Act stipulates that Americans -- whether they are resident in the us or not -- must report their worldwide income as well as their foreign bank accounts to pay taxes in the united states if they opt to retain their passports. "The us law says that American citizens living around the world with a balance of $10,000 at any giving day per year in their bank accounts are required to submit FBAR. The FATCA also mandates financial institutions around the world to submit annual reports on their customers who are required to comply," he added.

It is expected that nearly eight million us citizens who live overseas will be affected if they fail to comply with the Act. It is estimated that around 250,000 us nationals are based in the GCC. The IRS has collected $8 billion in taxes and penalties under its offshore account programmers during the past few months.

under the new Act set to take effect on January 1, 2016, the Internal revenue service (IRS) will compile a list of Americans in violation of the new rule. - EMIRATES 24/7

More information available on www.usfaaf.com/fatca.

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Publication:GulfInsider
Geographic Code:7KUWA
Date:Jan 31, 2016
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