From Kuwait to Egypt” – this is how brokers of visa trade have crossed borders … through a criminal activity that is based on trafficking in the sweat of toiling people and selling illusions to those looking for opportunities to earn a “halal” (legitimate) livelihood, reports Al- Qabas daily. Just seven months after this issue was highlighted by Al-Qabas daily in its issue on April 30, 2019 regarding one such broker, an Egyptian who fled Kuwait and was arrested in one of the governorates of Upper Egypt, the Egyptian arm of law caught up with him this week and sentenced him to four-year imprisonment with hard labor. The court obligated him to compensate his victims financially. Investigations into the case, as obtained by the daily, revealed that the accused had professionally brokered to sell visas and bring workers under the sponsorship of fictitious companies. He later fl ed back to his country after the COVID- 19 crisis, but he was arrested there after hundreds of workers whom he conned had filed lawsuits against him. According to investigations and security information, it was found that the accused possesses bank balances exceeding 400 million Egyptian pounds which he obtained through visa trade. He also owned real estate in various parts of Egypt.
For years, he worked for the benefit of fictitious companies, whose owners were convicted in several cases following the COVID-19 crisis. This week, the victims and their families flocked to a court in Upper Egypt, where the judge listened to the complaints of some of them. They revealed that the accused was residing in Jahra from where he conducted his illicit business of conning hundreds of his countrymen by promising to provide jobs for them in Kuwait at a cost of KD 1,500 per visa but later left them out on the streets to fend for themselves. The investigations revealed that the broker received 30 percent of the visa-trade proceeds, and the rest went to the owners of fictitious companies who were disavowing workers upon their arrival in Kuwait.
All this was exposed during the COVID-19 crisis. According to security sources, the accused was charged with illicit gain, after discovering that the money he owned originated from Kuwait, where his bank balances exceed millions of pounds, He also owned real-estate properties including houses and lands. With the correspondence of the reports, a suspicion of human trafficking, fraud, and illegal business was detected. Cases are ongoing in regard to other charges. Since the time of his arrest, reports continued to pile up against him, all of which were related to human trafficking, fraud, selling of fake visas to Kuwait, and establishing partnerships with Kuwaitis who own fictitious companies. This was based on investigations and information obtained by the Egyptian authorities from their Kuwaiti counterparts, in addition to the statements of the victims. Locally, coordination is ongoing between the General Department for Residency Affairs and the Public Authority for Manpower to control the fake labor offices, which advertise the sale and transfer of residency through social media platforms, or provide services in exchange for money from October 1 to November 22.
Devices said being operated in abandoned homes Regarding the government’s recent moves to deal with the issue of mining the digital currency “Bitcoin” and besieging encrypted virtual currencies locally in the absence of a law preventing or criminalizing them, informed sources revealed that a governmental study prepared in this regard concluded that there is a major scenario that the “miners” resort to in Kuwait, which is operating their devices in abandoned homes, especially in some areas of private housing due to the low value of the electric tariff, reports Al- Rai daily.
The sources said, “Users of coin-mining devices disconnect some of the cooling devices in the house in order not to draw attention to the unusually high consumption of electrical energy, and to use the amount of current saved from turning off the air-conditioning devices, which is also known to consume high amounts of electricity. According to the government’s understanding in this regard, the Ministry of Electricity and Water is due to work on increasing control over consumption indicators, especially in areas where there are abandoned homes. In the event of any warnings indicating that electricity consumption from these homes may be a cause for concern, those in charge will inform the concerned officials in the Ministry of Interior to take appropriate measures, to deal with the seized devices if any, and refer them to the Public Prosecution with those responsible for the property”.
The sources revealed that the Ministry of Electricity and Water, few months ago, had worked on tracking some of the rental properties where electricity was used to mine digital currencies, adding that the ministry cut off the power to one of the houses after discovering an unjustified rise in consumption and the existence of manipulation in the extensions that supply the high consumption trading devices without reflecting it in the electricity meters. In another development, while the competent authorities in the Ministry of Education are keen on solving the school cleaners crisis by recruiting 2,100 cleaning workers under the fixed salary contract; the ministry encountered another problem as the recruitment conditions have not been met although more than 3,500 individuals have applied so far, reports Al-Jarida daily quoting sources. Sources disclosed most of the applicants hold high school certificates or higher, but the requirement for this job is an average degree or lower, which means the committee tasked to evaluate applicants will not accept them. Sources said only 350 applicants met the conditions so far; so the ministry has not recruited the required number of cleaners until now, unless an exception is applied.
Kuwait authorities in its fight to prevent Omicron mutant coronavirus infiltration specially after the detection in neighboring countries, strict measures have been taken in issuing of tourist visas specially from those countries where Omicron virus has been detected. Senior ministerial sources confirmed that currently there are no plans to impose curfew or lockdown in Kuwait. Director of Ahmadi Health District Dr. Ahmed Al Shatti stated the need of the hour is to continue to adhere to health requirements and preventive measures also at land, sea and air ports.
The Ministry of Interior has issued about 1,200 tourist visas within a week where maximum daily requests were set to 600 visas only. Majority of these visas are issued to 53 countries citizens through e-visa online system. In addition some expats from Gulf countries who have specific professions are also granted tourist visas. Kuwait has advised its citizens and expatriates against leaving the country at present as part of precautions against the new coronavirus variant Omicron, Gulf News quoting a local newspaper said. Kuwaiti authorities have said the new strain has not been detected in the country and have suspended flights from nine African nations. Al Anba newspaper, citing “well-informed” sources, said the Omicron-related developments are still unclear in terms of scale of spread and hotspots. “It may be rife in one country, but there are no clarifications,” an unidentified source. “Taking tougher precautions at the local and foreign levels depends on the spread of the variant,” the source added. The Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry Tuesday urged citizens against travelling abroad unless necessary to stay safe.
The ministry called on Kuwaitis, who have to travel at present for compulsory reasons, to strictly comply with health standards and measures enforced by several countries to tackle the coronavirus and its mutants. Saudi Arabia said Wednesday it detected its first case of the new coronavirus variant omicron. The kingdom’s state-run Saudi Press Agency said the case was a citizen coming from what it described as a “North African country.” The report said the infected individual and his close contacts had been quarantined. The case marks the first known instance of omicron being detected in a Gulf Arab nation. Much remains unknown about the new variant, which has been identified in more than 20 countries, including whether it is more contagious, whether it makes people more seriously ill, and whether it can thwart the vaccine.
KUWAIT: For the first time since opening in 2016, Kuwait College of Science and Technology (KCST) organized its first ever graduation ceremony for the classes of two academic years: 2019/2020 and 2020/2021. The ceremony was attended by parents, some government and school officials at a jam-packed venue set-up at its school campus in Doha, west of Kuwait City. KCST is an accredited private university in Kuwait offering internationally recognized undergraduate education in engineering and other courses in science and technology. Its operations are regulated by the Private Universities Council of Kuwait and the Ministry of Education.
In his opening remarks, Dr Khalid Al-Begain, first founding president of KCST, welcomed the guests and thanked the parents who supported them until the very end to the first graduation ceremony. “We have several gigantic achievements for the last five years,” started Begain. “We are proud that in June 2021, we received our first institutional accreditation from the Private Universities Council with the maximum five-year accreditation,” he said.
“We have already completed the evaluation for the accreditation for our engineering programs with the American Accreditation Board, for engineering and technology,” he added. He went on to say that he was proud of KCST students as they have won “almost all the competition in the technology and innovation since 2018 in Kuwait.”
Begain also took pride as the KCST recently hosted and organized the 35th international conference of modeling assimilation in collaboration with the European Council for Modeling and Simulation. “In addition, we organized events for talented Kuwaiti young people such as the cyber accelerated program, jointly with the British Embassy as well as the Steven’s Initiative for Next Generation Program, jointly with the US Embassy.” He also mentioned a cube satellite project built by KCST students with plans to launch it into space before the end of the year.
KCST was established with the purpose of providing undergraduate degree courses in science and technology. The degree programs being offered include undergraduate degrees in computer science, computer engineering, and electronics and communications engineering. The computer science degree program takes four years whereas the engineering degree programs take four and a half years to complete.
The university campus has a large central library, a 500-seat main auditorium, and two 250-seat lecture theatres, as well as several lecture rooms, faculty and staff offices, and laboratories. The on-campus sports facilities include a football ground and tennis courts with plans underway for a swimming pool and additional sports facilities.
KUWAIT: Zain, the leading digital service provider in Kuwait, hosted a number of social, cultural, and entertainment programs for Kuwaiti students in the United Stated throughout two consecutive days in Chicago. The company’s contribution came as part of its Platinum Sponsorship of the 37th annual conference of the National Union of Kuwaiti Students in the United States of America (NUKS USA), which was held under the patronage of HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.
Zain’s support to this annual event for the past 17 years came as part of its Corporate Sustainability and Social Responsibility strategy towards the youth and education sectors. The company is proud to have become an integral part of this event’s success, through which it connects with the country’s youth abroad. The event, considered the largest gathering of Kuwaiti students abroad, made a return after a halt of nearly two years due to the COVID pandemic.
As it does every year, Zain took part in the conference by hosting a number of unique social, cultural, and entertainment programs for the attending students. The company sponsored a health seminar titled “Kuwait Faces the Pandemic”, which featured Ministry of Health Spokesperson Dr Abdullah Al-Sanad, who flew to the United States to share a behind-the-scenes look at the ministry’s efforts to curb the COVID outbreak last year. Sanad showcased the Kuwaiti government’s speedy actions and the brave sacrifices of frontliners in facing the pandemic.
Zain also sponsored a special sports seminar titled “Kuwaiti Sports Across Generations”, which featured many distinguished Kuwaiti athletes from current and past generations. The guests shared the most prominent historical achievements and millstones of Kuwaiti sports, and discussed the challenges faced by the sports sector and explored the best ways to overcome them.
In addition, Zain hosted many entertainment programs for the students, hosted by Kuwaiti presenters Dhari Al-Blaihees and Mohammed Al-Hamli. The event featured a unique atmosphere filled with a sense of national unity, where Zain presented valuable prizes to the crowds. Zain also hosted ZAINPHONIC, a special workshop that shared tips and tricks of smartphone photography, giving the students a chance to learn the best techniques for taking pro-level photos with their smartphones and helping them unleash their creativity.
Zain’s presence in the event conveyed its enthusiasm to interact with the future generations of Kuwaiti youth, especially those who pursue their education abroad, as the NUKS USA conference is considered the largest gathering of Kuwaitis outside of Kuwait, and welcomes students from all over the US. The event appeals to students on both intellectual and social levels, and serves as an open forum for them to exchange opinions and views regarding important domestic issues with the presence of distinguished national figures from the Kuwaiti community, including academics, media personalities, athletes, doctors, and more who fly to the US for the purpose of meeting with the students and sharing their experiences with them.
Zain sees its annual participation in the conference as part of its responsibility as a leading national company to help provide bright and enthusiastic young Kuwaitis with a great social experience, as well as listen to their ideas and experiences while pursuing their education abroad. The National Union of Kuwaiti Students in the United States of America (NUKS USA) serves nearly 14,000 Kuwaiti students studying in the United States.
The union aims, through its events and programs, to connect Kuwaiti students with each other on one level, and with their nation and the latest updates of the Kuwaiti community on another. NUKS USA was publicized in the USA and was granted the recognition of the United States government. The achievement is considered a proud milestone for Kuwait’s youth, and is a direct result of the great relations between the State of Kuwait and United States. Such a recognition is a clear reflection of the strategic relations between the two nations.
The CEO of the Health Assurance Hospitals Company (Dhaman), Thamer Arab, revealed that the price of the mandatory health insurance policy that Dhaman will offer to residents in Kuwait will start at 130 dinars for the first time, and then it will witness a periodic rate increase at an upward rate every two years, with a value of 20 dinars until It reaches the maximum insurance limit of 190 dinars per person after 9 years, reports Al-Anba daily. In an exclusive statement to Al-Anba, Arab stated citizens and others have the right to benefit from the various “Dhaman” services the cost of which in according to the usage if there is not policy document, pointing out at the same time that the new Dhaman insurance policy will cover all the needs of the residents who buy the insurance from all aspects of health care, including medical advice, diagnosis, treatment and cost of medicines that the company provides.
Arab explained that the insurance policy followed by the company revolves around providing the new mandatory health insurance for residents working in the private sector in Kuwait according to residence under Article 18 only and their families to replace the current mandatory health insurance provided by the Ministry of Health. Arab pointed out the compulsory health insurance policy is currently issued by the Ministry of Health for 50 dinars, with additional fees for radiology services, laboratory, and other services in government centers and hospitals.
He added that the company’s implementation of the integrated system for the maintenance of health (Health Maintenance Organization HMO) provides a new policy that will cover all the needs of the beneficiary in all aspects of health care. Arab explained that the price of the policy at 130 dinars will be applied to all expatriates, including the wife and children who have a residence status to join a family, especially since the price of the policy, which is set at 130 dinars, is considered as the base price for a person, noting at the same time that the presence of private health insurance for the expatriate has nothing to do with compulsory health insurance upon renewal of residence, as according to the current compulsory health insurance system of the Ministry of Health, which implements the texts contained in the Kuwaiti law, the compulsory insurance is a must for a person residing in Kuwait even if he possesses private health insurance according to the decisions of the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Health.
KUWAIT CITY : The prices of return tickets to Kuwait have begun to gradually decrease from KD 200 due to the emergence of Omicron virus. Although the government has not intended to close the airport or the borders, the prices of air tickets arriving from Cario were 181 KD on Tuesday, by Wednesday it was 158 KD, 116 on Thursday, 107 on Friday and KD 97 on Saturday. Prices have almost come down to half the price in just 5 days. The sources say that the prices will continue to decline in coming days until the situation returns to normal in accordance with supply and demand rates not related to travel seasons.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Federation of Tourism and Travel Offices, Muhammad Al-Mutairi stated that emergence of new mutant of coronavirus should not lead to closures as it has happened in the past. All countries of the world including Kuwait have enough experience of two years on how to deal with it , reports Al Anba. Al-Mutairi called on all Kuwaiti citizens and expats not to rush to amend travel dates or make new reservations earlier than the date of return so that the demand for travel does not increase during a specific period of time and unjustifiably which raises prices accordingly according to market factors of supply and demand. All tourism and travel offices and airlines operating at Kuwait Airport are available around the clock to meet all the expectations of Kuwaiti citizens and expats with ease.
There has been new strategy and understanding in how to deal and precautions to be taken. The government has begun to pay attention to the economic conditions including air traffic movement which is needed for economic growth. Message of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al-Ali regarding keeping the airport and borders open is a message of reassurance and clear announcement from the government in dealing with any corona crisis and action will be taken in accordance with the strategy of health and economy at the same time.