India is set to resume regular international flight operations from March 27, after two years. This was announced by the Civil Aviation Ministry on March 8.
An order from the ministry said: “After being recognised the increase of vaccination coverage across the globe and in consultation with the stakeholders, the government of India has decided to resume scheduled commercial international passenger services to/from India from March 27, 2022, ie start of the summer schedule 2022.”
The ministry further added that international operations shall be subject to strict adherence to Ministry of Health guidelines for international travel.
Earlier on February 28, the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had extended the ban on regular commercial international passenger flights until further orders.
However, the DGCA said that the flights that are operational under air bubble arrangements as well as international cargo flights will continue to operate as scheduled.
Since March 23,2020, the scheduled international flight services have remained suspended in India. However, special international flights have been operating between India and about 35 other countries since July 2020 under air bubble arrangements.
In November last year, the aviation ministry had announced that regular international flights would be resumed from December 15, 2021. However, the order had to be rescinded as Omicron cases rose.
And India’s population in UAE is …
India’s foreign minister has revealed the latest statistics, showing a marked influx into the UAE in recent months.
The number of Indians living in the UAE has crossed 3.5 million, with more than 130,000 making the move since the end of last year, new figures show.
India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, V Muraleedharan, announced the latest migration numbers at a session of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the country’s parliament, on Saturday.
He revealed 3.554 million Indians reside in the Emirates, up from 3.419 million at the end of 2022. He said the UAE remained the most popular destination for Indian citizens seeking work overseas.
The Gulf region continues to attract an influx of Indian talent, with a total of 7.93 million living in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman alone.
The Indian government has established Overseas Indian Help Centres in Dubai, Riyadh, Jeddah and Kuala Lumpur to help meet the needs of an increasingly mobile workforce, he said in remarks carried by state news agency Wam on Sunday.
India prepares to mark its 77th Independence Day on Tuesday as it has evolved into a 1.4 billion-strong nation among the third world countries. The majority of the remittance by non-resident Indians come from those living in the Gulf countries.
The visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United Arab Emirates in July served as another proof of the strong ties that unite the two nations.
Since taking power in 2014, Mr Modi has travelled to the UAE five times. The esteemed Indian Institute of Technology, or IIT, will start offering classes in Abu Dhabi in 2019, the nation’s envoy to the UAE announced in February.
The long-awaited Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi will finally be completed in February after four years of meticulous work by artisans in India and the UAE.
The site, which spans 5.4 hectares, was donated to the Indian community in 2015 by President Sheikh Mohamed, who was then Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince.
Meet the Dubai actor who Naseeruddin Shah wants to work with
If there is one word that describes Tahaa Shah best, it is tenacity. Having observed the Sharjah-born actor for over a decade now, his determination and focus has been commendable, as well as his ability to adapt and reinvent. His journey in the glamour industry has not been an easy one by any means and like any other “outsider”, he has seen his share of successes, failures, triumphs and heartbreaks.
Over the years, he has been seen in films like Luv Ka The End (a YRF production), Baar Baar Dekho (a Karan Johar and Farhan Akhtar produced venture), Gippy (Dharma) among many others. They yielded mixed results but his love for cinema, dedication to his craft and never-say-die attitude keeps him going in Mumbai.
However, it would seem that the talented youth, now a Dubai resident, is finally getting his due. Tahaa’s portrayal as Murad, one of Akbar’s sons in the ZEE5 show Taj: Divided by Blood is being appreciated by one and all. The plot, detailing the palace intrigues and struggle for power in Akbar’s court, is fascinating, but the actors lined up for this make it more fascinating.
With veteran Naseeruddin Shah and Dharamendra leading the cast, and Aditi Rao Hydari, Sandhya Mridul, Ashim Gulati and Zarina Wahab among others headlining it, Taaha is in great company. We met during his stopover in Dubai and chatted about life, the show and the art of being tenacious!
‘Taj: Divided by Blood’ has put you in the spotlight once again. What else are you busy with these days?
Aside from promoting Taj, I am working on a few projects. An interesting one is for Amazon, a comedy show. It has a sitcom, Friends-like feel that is quite enjoyable. I am really looking forward to its release. Then I am also working on a huge production, unfortunately I can’t reveal details of it just yet. But I promise, it will be huge! Finally, I am also doing a film, Ikroop, that will be released on Sony Liv or Hotstar or maybe even the big screen. Besides, I have started developing projects of my own as well, have started writing and looking at production details for them.
With so many shows and movies being produced for OTT, has the increased number of platforms resulted in greater opportunities for actors like you?
Yes and No. Sure, there are a lot of projects happening but you want to be part of ventures that take off and would be considered good and credible. Otherwise, it’s like doing any other run-of-the-mill TV show which won’t help you in any way. Hence, having patience and keeping the faith is important. I have said no to so many projects because I didn’t want to do ordinary stuff.
How difficult is it to say no to work?
It is a risk to wait for the right one but at the end of the day you need to know where you see yourself and work accordingly. If you don’t, nothing will fall into place. You should have that belief. I try and keep working to make myself better and better each day, for then when the opportunity strikes, it strikes hard. As they say, opportunity meets preparation = success. The same thing happened with Taj and my other current projects. The opportunity came and I was prepared for it.
In the last 14 years of my life, the one conclusion I have come to is that when you want something really hard, most of the time it won’t come to you. But you can’t allow that to get you down, you need to get up, pick the pieces and move on. You need to constantly upskill, learn what you need to and keep moving.
What’s the best compliment you have got recently?
Naseeruddin Shah said something incredible. At a screening event of a few episodes, he came up to me and said, “Son, I am so proud of you, I didn’t expect this from you.” He gave me a kiss and added, “You and me… we have to do a movie now.” That is my biggest reward – him coming up to me and saying he wants to work with me and not the other way round! It was unbelievable! I made him say it on camera for it was so unbelievable!
Of course, I have got a great response for my character, Murad. A lot of people send me messages about my performance which were great but the compliment from Naseeruddin Shah was something else altogether.
UAE chips in for food parks in India to tackle insecurity
Reuters – The UAE has pledged $2 billion to help develop a series of “food parks” in India to tackle food insecurity in South Asia and the Middle East, a joint statement said on Thursday.
Speaking in Jerusalem at a virtual summit with UAE, Israeli and Indian leaders, US President Joe Biden said the investment could “increase India’s food yields in the region three-fold in just five years”.
The parks would bring farmers, processors and retailers together using advanced climate technology to minimise waste, conserve water and maximise crop yields, focusing at first on crops including potatoes, rice and onions.
The four countries would also advance renewable energy projects in India, including wind and solar energy plants, they said.
The projects would be supported by the Israeli and US private sectors, Biden said at the summit on food security and clean energy amid fears of global food shortages caused by the war in Ukraine.
Russia and Ukraine are the world’s third and fourth largest grain exporters, respectively, while Russia is also a key fuel and fertiliser exporter.
The war has disrupted their exports, pushed world food prices to record levels and triggered protests in developing countries already contending with elevated food prices due to COVID-related supply chain disruptions.
Going bananas and potatoes
Economic fallout from the pandemic, climate change, food insecurity and volatile energy markets, Biden said, had been “made worse by Russia’s brutal and unprovoked attack” on Ukraine.
“All these issues require cooperation and coordination, and none of us can mount a comprehensive response on our own,” Biden said.
UN agencies warned this month that the war in Ukraine and climate change could push starvation and mass migration to unprecedented levels.
Apart from benefiting local farmers, the food parks would help reduce trade barriers and unify food safety standards, Indian foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said in New Delhi.
They would also provide India with an opportunity to benchmark its perishable food products for global export and allow Indian produce access to the strategic Gulf markets starting with UAE, Kwatra said.
He said Indian states Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh – both ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party – were exploring setting up these parks, which would initially cultivate bananas, potatoes, rice, onions and spices.
Gulf Arab states import as much as 80-90% of their food and while their oil wealth renders them less vulnerable to rising global food prices than poorer countries in the region, disruptions threaten their supply chains.
India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer and consumer, depends on Gulf state for meeting most of its oil needs.
Wealthy Gulf states have invested heavily in farmland overseas and have been investing domestically more in agritech, which is also a fast-growing sector in Israel.
Crop yields are relatively low in India, which despite being a major farm goods producer, lacks regular irrigation for around half its farmland. Venture capital firms are increasingly pouring money into local agritech start-ups.