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Saudi Arabia issues public behaviour code

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Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Riyadh, Sep 29 Saudi Arabia’s government has unveiled a series of public conduct rules that went into effect on Saturday and include fines for 19 different types of infractions, including playing loud music in residential neighbourhoods, not picking up pet waste and spitting in the street.

The new guidelines come at a time when the kingdom is opening up its doors to foreign tourism.

Also included in the list of infractions are “behaviours that are contrary to morality, including those of a sexual nature,” as well as playing music during the “call to prayer or during prayer,” the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement, Xinhua news agency reported.

Other punishable offenses including littering, wearing clothing with phrases or images that promote racism or the consumption of prohibited substances or pornographic material and cutting in front of others in line.

The ministry said those infractions will be punishable by fines ranging from 50 riyals ($13.33) to 3,000 riyals.

Most of those behaviours were already prohibited in Saudi Arabia, but no specific punishment had been provided and the decision had been left to a judge.

The ultra-conservative kingdom took a major step Friday in opening to the world by authorizing the issuance of tourist visas to citizens of 49 countries, including the United States, nations that are part of Europe’s Schengen Area, Australia, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.

It also stated that female visitors from other countries will not be required to wear the abaya, a body-shrouding robe that all local women must wear in public.

Even so, foreign women will need to dress “modestly,” said Ahmed al-Khatib, the chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.

In an earlier move to diversify the kingdom’s economy, Saudi officials made special e-visas for sporting events or concerts available to foreign tourists last December.

In May, the Council of Ministers of Saudi Arabia also approved a new “special residency” program for skilled foreigners that allows successful applicants to move freely and own property and replaced an old system that required ex-pats to have a Saudi sponsor or employer.

All of these projects form part of the Saudi Vision 2030 program, which was unveiled by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and is aimed at reducing the kingdom’s dependence on oil.

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Prachanda faction expels Prime Minister Oli from party

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Discord and division continue inside the Nepal Communist Party, which has not split formally but has virtually fallen apart after Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli unilaterally decided to dissolve the House of Representatives on December 20 without the party’s consent.

Since then, the Nepal Communist Party is acting like two parties — one headed by Oli himself and the other led by former Prime Ministers Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda and Madhav Kumar Nepal. Both sides are running separate programmes across the country under the same banner as they await official recognition from the Election Commission.

Amid this row, the Prachanda-Nepal faction has taken disciplinary action against Oli.

A Standing Committee meeting of the faction held on Sunday decided to expel Oli from the party, its spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha told the media.

The dissident faction has alleged Oli breached the party discipline and is liable to expulsion from the party. It had earlier relieved him from the post of party Chairman.

According to Pampha Bhusal, leader of the dissident faction, Sunday’s meeting decided to expel Oli even from the general membership, accusing him of violating the party statutes.

“He (Oli) is not even an ordinary member of the party now,” Bhusal said.

The faction had earlier asked Oli to furnish, within three days, an explanation why not action should be not taken against him for anti-party activities.

The faction had handed over this notice to the Prime Minister’s residence. However, Oli did not respond to the letter. Sunday’s meeting also reviewed the protest programme and discussed a new protest plan.

The faction had taken to the streets against the dissolution of the House of Representatives, terming the move unconstitutional and undemocratic.

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Pak okays Russian vaccine for ’emergency use’

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The Sputnik V has become the third vaccine to be approved for emergency use in the country — the first one being the Oxford University-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and the second one by Chinese state-owned firm Sinopharm. 

“In a meeting conducted by the registration board of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap), another vaccine has also been given EUA which was developed with the backing of Russian Develop­ment Investment Fund,” Dawn news reported on Sunday citing the official as saying. 
“Russia’s state-owned Sputnik-V has developed a double-dose vaccine, which is administered by syringes,” said the official. 

A local pharmaceutical AGP, he said, had been authorised as the sole importer and distributor of the Russian vaccine. 
The development comes as Pakistan’s overall coronavirus caseload has increased to 532,412 as of Sunday, while the death toll stood at 11,295.

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Twitter locks account of Chinese Embassy in US over Uyghur tweet

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Twitter has locked the official account of China’s Embassy in the US over a controversial post that referred to Muslim Uyghur women as “baby-making machines” prior to government intervention.

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