Kuwaiti embassies to issue visit visas

KUWAIT: In collaboration with the Foreign Ministry and the hospitality sector, Deputy PM and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al-Khaled Al-Sabah authorized his undersecretary Lt Gen Suleiman Al-Fahd to contact the citizenship and passports department and the immigration departments to allow Kuwaiti embassies and consulates abroad to issue tourism, commercial, family and other types of visas. The authorization includes granting embassies the responsibility to issue visas according to standard laws, procedures, conditions and documents needed.

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MP threatens to grill information minister

KUWAIT: MP Abdulkareem Al-Kandari yesterday threatened to use “all constitutional tools” against Information Minister Sheikh Salman Al-Humoud Al- Sabah over allegations that he has demoted and dismissed a number of senior officials at the ministry. Kandari, who provided no names, said that the measures against these officials had been taken while the ministry has been waiting to undergo a new organizational structure. The lawmaker also accused the minister of giving contracts to private production companies although the ministry has an army of young Kuwaiti employees specialized in these fields. The MP however did not set an ultimatum for any possible action against the minister, but urged him to rectify the decisions that harmed senior employees in the ministry.

In other developments, the National Assembly’s stateless or bedoons committee yesterday discussed with officials from the public authority for the handicapped a proposal to include bedoon handicapped people under the authority. Head of the committee MP Abdullah Al-Tameemi said the director general of the authority Jassem Al-Tammar informed the committee that the inclusion of bedoons requires amendments to the law, specifically the clause that restricts coverage to Kuwaiti nationals and foreigners whose mothers are Kuwaiti. Tameemi said that it was agreed that the authority’s officials will provide committee members with all necessary amendments to the law so they can present a request to the Assembly to make the amendments.

MP Rakan Al-Nasef meanwhile asked Communications Minister Essa Al-Kandari if the issue of the purchase of the building of Sheikh Saad Airport by the Amiri Diwan has been studied by the government’s legal department and the Audit Bureau. The lawmaker also demanded copies of all the contracts between the Civil Aviation Authority and the communications ministry with Wataniya Airways to lease and operate the airport, which has been inactive for the past several years after the airline ceased operations due to financial difficulties.

Wataniya Airways recently offered the building for sale, apparently as a way of repaying parts of its debt. Meanwhile, the court of misdemeanors yesterday acquitted 14 citizens including 8 former opposition MPs from charges of taking part in an illegal demonstration in Sabah Al-Nasser over a year ago. The court however fined four former opposition MPs and a citizen KD 100 each over the same accusation.

By B Izzak

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No visit to work visa transfer from April 1 – Ministry working on new regulations

KUWAIT: The government will not open transfers of commercial visit visas to work permits on April 1 as expected earlier. A Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor official announced Sunday that the process of transferring commercial visit visas to work permits – suspended since Feb 15 – will remain closed for an undetermined length of time.

Jamal Al-Dousary, the ministry’s assistant undersecretary for the labor department, noted that the ministry is working on a set of new regulations that would facilitate private sector recruitment of foreign workers, but the new regulations are not yet finalized. Apart from a few specialized fields exempt from this rule, no company in Kuwait can hire expats here on a commercial visit visa and transfer their visas to work permits.

This forces companies in Kuwait to recruit directly from abroad and severely limits the number of visitors who can successfully find work in Kuwait.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry reportedly plans to introduce new measures to prevent violations committed by domestic workers’ recruitment offices, based on changing regulations to transfer a housemaid’s visa. The measures are based on two studies prepared by Maj Gen Sheikh Faisal Al-Nawaf Al-Sabah, the assistant undersecretary for citizenship and passports affairs. The first study suggests that a domestic worker can only transfer her visa once, and the process has to be done within 60 days after arriving in Kuwait.

Main objective
Following that period, the maid would have the choice to either transfer her visa under her employer’s sponsorship immediately, or leave Kuwait. If her visa is transferred during this period, she would not have the option to transfer to another employer until her visa expires. According to sources with knowledge of the study, the main objective behind this measure is to prevent cases in which housemaids are often encouraged to flee their employers’ homes, often by employees at the recruitment office that brought them to Kuwait, so that the maid can work for another employer for higher pay. An office in this case would make profit by collecting additional fees from a new employer for the same maid they had previously hired.

This process has been compared to human trafficking, and has become a source of criticism against Kuwait by rights groups inside and outside the country. The second study suggests another measure which extends the office’s sponsorship period over a domestic helper from 100 days to a year. The current period is considered a ‘trial’ period after which an employer is required to transfer the maid’s visa under his sponsorship. Extending the period to one year also helps prevent ‘manipulation’ on the part of recruitment offices, which in some cases encourage maids to abscond shortly after their visas are issued, the sources said.

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Cabinet resents US official’s remarks against Al-Ajmi – All forms of terrorism rejected

prime-ministerKUWAIT: The Cabinet yesterday expressed “resentment” at recent allegations by a US official against Minister of Justice Nayef Al-Ajmi. The remark was made during a routine weekly cabinet meeting held at Bayan Palace under Chairmanship of His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al- Sabah. During the meeting, Al-Ajmi, who also doubles as minister of Awqaf and Islamic affairs, briefed the ministers on all details pertinent to such accusations and allegations which he rejected as “baseless and groundless,” Minister of Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al- Mubarak Al-Sabah said in a statement following the meeting. Al-Ajmi affirmed that all his activities and efforts are part of Kuwait’s well-recognized official and unofficial efforts in charitable, religious and humanitarian realms. He added that this comes just out of Kuwait’s commitment to the religion of Islam and its tolerant teachings, and to the noble cultural values.

The cabinet, in turn, reiterated Kuwait’s firm rejection to all forms of terrorism regardless of its justifications, while reaffirming cooperation with all brotherly and friendly countries and international organizations in the fight against terrorism, Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah said. The cabinet then welcomed a planned visit by Turkish President Abdullah Gul to the State of Kuwait on April 3, wishing him and his wife a very pleasant stay here.

On the recent Arab summit in Kuwait, the ministers highly commended the outcomes of the Arab gathering held last Tuesday and Wednesday. They hailed His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s speech at the summit, in which he stressed the significance of exerting concerted efforts to face major problems and challenges haunting the Arab world. They also hailed the Kuwait Declaration issued following the summit which called for resolving differences and divisions among Arab countries through fruitful and constructive dialogue based on frankness, actuality and transparency.

The Kuwaiti Cabinet, therefore, vowed to stick to the declaration in order to cement Arab integration and achieve Arab comprehensive renaissance on all tracks. Meanwhile, the cabinet approved a draft decree promoting Maj. Gen. Mohammad Al-Khidr to Lieut. Gen. and deputy chief of the army staff. It also consented to another draft decree authorizing a supreme civil aviation council including its makeup, powers, competence and statute. Furthermore, the ministers congratulated Saudi Prince Miqren bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud on having been appointed as deputy crown prince. Finally, the cabinet discussed recent reports on the latest Arab and international political developments. — KUNA

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Kuwait Prize for Quran kicks off

His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah visits the stalls after inaugurating Kuwait’s fifth International Prize for Quran

His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah visits the stalls after inaugurating Kuwait’s fifth International Prize for Quran

KUWAIT: Kuwait’s fifth International Prize for Quran kicked off yesterday under the patronage of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah with the presence of His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. The opening ceremony of the competition organized by the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs was held at the International Islamic Charity Organization (IICO) theater.

The opening speech was given by Minister of Justice and Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Nayif Al-Ajmi, and Undersecretary of the ministry and Chairman of the Prize’s supreme committee Dr Adel Al-Falah.

The ceremony also included the playing of a documentary movie showcasing the Prize’s previous competitions and achievements of participants, followed by honoring the prime minister, who also inaugurated the prize’s exhibition, containing publications by private and public sectors about Holy Quran sciences.

The prime minister praised the Amir’s attention towards the Prize to spread the teachings of Islam and Quran-memorizing internationally, and the efforts of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs to organize the event. The ceremony was attended by Amiri Diwan Advisor and Chairman of the IICO Abdullah Al- Matoug, Advisors of the Diwan of His Highness the Prime Minister Faisal Al-Hajji, Sheikh Salim Jaber Al- Ahmad Al-Sabah, and Sheikha Rasha Al-Humoud Al- Sabah, Arab ambassadors, and prominent Kuwaiti figures. — KUNA

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DDI recognized as a GCC diabetes reference center

ddKUWAIT: Dasman Diabetics Institute (DDI) is celebrating yet another achievement since it was established in 2006 by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS), after it was officially recognized as a GCC reference center for diabetes care. The recognition was announced by member of the executive board of the GCC health ministers’ council Dr Qais Al-Duwairi, who said the health ministry is not the only body that is concerned with diabetes, but the disease has been tackled by various societal institutions too. “We are interested in the new generation that is exposed to stress as well as physical inactivity and smoking, all of which require great awareness efforts and programs,” Duwairi said.

The Dasman Diabetics Institute has carried out major efforts against diabetes and prepared awareness, educational and treatment programs, while the health ministry gave its support by providing manpower and the requirements needed for success. Duwairi said the institute is a bright spot at the Gulf level in research, education and treatment, and hoped that it will be recognized internationally too. He also called for effective social contributions.

Meanwhile, Sheikha Intisar Salem Al-Ali Al-Sabah said, “We are proud to have such a credible institution in Kuwait that is recognized all over the world, and it is a great honor for us to become a reference center in the GCC.” Dasman Diabetics Institute Director General Dr Kazim Behbehani told Kuwait Times that because of the type of food and changes in behavior and lifestyle, diabetes is now appearing in children as young as 10 years, “which is unfortunate”. This will have an effect not only children, but also on parents. “The country depends on the future of these nationals, who will be having difficulties to make it to the age of 40,” he warned.

The important thing is how to deal with this, how to educate, how to make sure they exercise and how can we ensure behavior changes in schools, he added. “We are doing a lot of research on diabetes, and there is a scientific advisory board which advises us on how to approach schools. We can even look at the problems that will lead us to make the changes, along with behavioral changes,” Behbehani said. “We educate children in schools and invite them to the Dasman institute. We are noticing a gradual understanding, and hope they will take what they learn home, so parents will understand the issue and be more aware,” he said.

By Abdellatif Sharaa

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Prostitute to ‘teens’ nabbed at local hotel

KUWAIT: Police arrested an Arab woman Sunday morning on charges of offering sexual services to teenagers for money. According to the police report, detectives at the Juveniles Investigations Office began recently looking into information about a prostitute who targeted underage boys.

Investigations soon confirmed that the woman’s phone number was circulated by a ‘considerable number’ of teenagers. Following a monitoring period, police obtained a warrant to raid an hotel apartment they believed the suspect used to practice her illegal activity. The woman was arrested inside the apartment where police also found two teenagers. She was taken to the authorities for further action.

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Egyptian offers bribe at airport to exit Kuwait

Kuwait: A man faces charges after he offered a bribe to airport police in order to help a fugitive exit the country. According to the police report, a passports counter officer approached the chief detective at the Kuwait International Airport and told him that an Egyptian man offered him KD 1,200 to help his friend bypass his travel ban and get out of the country.

The officer received permission to lure the suspect into a trap. The man was arrested red-handed as police documented the process. Police detectives simultaneously detained his friend who admitted to planning to escape to his home country of Egypt before he is convicted for rape he committed in Kuwait. Police referred the two to the public prosecution, and provided photo and video evidence showing the first suspect handing the bribe money to the officer.

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Murder threat at Riqqa school

Kuwait: Riqqa detectives are looking to identify a suspect who threatened to burn down a girl’s high school in the area and kill students on April 15. Police were called to the school after teaching staff found leaflets containing warnings to set the school ablaze and ‘assassinate’ students in revenge against a teacher who was named in the leaflets. One of the teachers gave police during questioning information of a student who she saw putting the flyers in the science lab. Preliminary investigations indicate that the student who has disputes with the teacher mentioned in the flyers is allegedly responsible for the threats. Nevertheless, they are taking the threats seriously as they plan to summon the student identified during questioning with teaching staff for questioning.

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Media-sense

Badrya Darwish

Badrya Darwish

Media, media, media and its effect and role on our lives. That was the topic at a diwaniya I attended last night hosted by Osama Al-Duaij and his wife Elvisa Al-Duaij in Qadsiya. The moderator and speaker was well-known German TV host and journalist Ali Aslan. I am sure that many Europeans, and especially those who watch German channels, are familiar with his international talk show.

Ali touched upon humanitarian issues and tolerance between cultures and nations. Ali, who is of Turkish descent, has initiated a program called German Islam Conference that is dedicated to the integration of Muslims into German society.

Anyone who thinks that the media does not shape the world we live in is naive. I did not have time to debate with Ali, due to limited time and many guests. The fact is that the media nowadays is our life. It is both a useful and a very dangerous tool. Just like Ali mentioned, the media can have a constructive or destructive role. Just like what we have been watching since 9/11 on how the Western media attacks Islam and Muslims and portrays them in an ugly way. They depict Islam as a savage and terrorist religion.

The media can spoil nations or educate nations. It depends on the agenda it has. Rarely you see independent media corporations. Most of them are either commercialized or politicized. Either way, you can question the objectivity of such media.

It is simple mathematics. Look at us. We are affected by the ads we see on TV although we are educated and well-travelled. The media decides for us which food to eat and which detergent to use. Which shampoo to use for my hair and which lotion to put on my face and what chips and chocolates my kids should eat. It could be worse than that. The media decides for us the trips we take, the venues we go and in which resort we spend our holidays, what airline to fly and which hotel to stay in. Even the food you give to your cat or dog is influenced by ads and commercials.

Leave alone politics. I am only focusing on the commercial aspect of things. The list here goes on and on. I do not think my editor will give me the space to mention it all because my list will be as long as the distance from Kuwait Times’ offices in Shuwaikh to the Al-Duaij diwaniya in Qadisiya!

What if we move towards the politicized media? Tell me which media is independent of political influence and is 100 percent free from political influence? Maybe CNN or Al Jazeera or BBC for instance? Or maybe TV 5 has no political issues?  How about our local channels in the Gulf or the Middle East, all across from Oman to Mauritania? Can we really boast and say that we have a free media source? I will tell you which TV does not have any political issues – the Israel TV news channel.  They bomb people in Gaza, kill hundreds of children and women and the broadcaster presents an Israeli victim whose balcony was destroyed.

Switch on CNN. Does Fox news ever talk about the peace process or Palestine? Even social media has its own agenda depending on the source of financing and interests. The channels twist their serials and movies in the direction they want. Even the movies we watch are politicized.

I think I have to put a full stop. I am sure many readers will have other things to contribute to my article. Whether we like it or not, the media is a part of our life now and we have to live with it. Maybe the solution can only come from the news recipients, be it of TV, online or newspapers. Education is the answer. At the end of the day, a well-informed reader can differentiate between the various agendas and form his or her own judgments.

By Badrya Darwish
badrya_d@kuwaittimes.net

@BadryaD

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