Browsing 'security' News

Frankieleon / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only

Updated with Qatar Airways statement

Passengers flying non-stop to the US from Doha are now prohibited from using iPads, Kindles and most other electronic items during their journeys.

The US Department of Homeland Security has announced a ban on such items in the cabin of aircraft coming from 10 cities, including Doha.

Officials said the move was in response to concerns about terrorist attacks.

Reem Saad / Doha News

Hamad Airport security

In a statement released today, DHS cited intelligence suggesting that terrorist groups “continued to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items.”

The agency added that the ban would only affect a “small percentage of flights” to the US and that no flight departing from the states would be affected.

The ban is effective immediately, though airlines have 96 hours to comply with the requirements.

Electronic items larger than a cell phone will not be accepted on board flights, including laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, electronic game units larger than a smartphone and travel printers/scanners.

Passengers would instead have to store such devices in their checked luggage. Medical equipment is exempted.

The ban is in place indefinitely.

Direct flights to the USA

The 10 affected cities are all from the Middle East.

They are Doha, Cairo, Amman, Kuwait City, Casablanca, Riyadh, Jeddah, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Boeing

The Boeing 777

It will affect flights on nine different airlines, including Qatar Airways, Emirates, Etihad and Saudi Arabia.

Royal Jordanian actually tweeted passengers about the ban yesterday, but then deleted the post, saying a further update was coming soon.

Qatar Airways, which flies directly from Doha to 10 US cities, has issued a travel alert to passengers about the ban.

In a statement on its website, it said that it had made “special arrangements” to assist passengers in securing their devices in the aircraft’s baggage hold.

It did not elaborate on what these arrangements are.

How it will affect passengers

But the ban means all Qatar Airways passengers flying to the US – whether they are beginning their journey in Doha or starting it elsewhere and switching planes at Hamad International – will have to place larger electronic items in their checked-in baggage.

Chapendra/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

This includes iPads, laptops, gaming devices and cameras.

The move is likely to cause considerable confusion for passengers boarding Qatar Airways flights in other countries, and frustration for customers who had hoped to use their devices to work or for entertainment during their flights.

Passengers flying from Doha to the US via airports not affected by the ban, such as London, Amsterdam or Frankfurt, will still be able to keep their electronics with them onboard.

It is still unclear whether flight crew from the region – who use company-provided iPads as part of their jobs – will be allowed to bring them into the US.

Theft fears

Many passengers flying on Qatar Airways and other regional carriers are likely to be reluctant to place valuable electronic items in the hold, due to fears about damage or theft.

Some have expressed these concerns on Twitter:

And others have pointed out that the new ban seems to unfairly target major aviation hubs in the Muslim world:

Would the ban affect you? Thoughts?

Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani visits Milipol 2016

QNA

Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani visits Milipol 2016

New weapons for boats, 150 security vehicles and upgraded IT systems to monitor the media and store residents’ fingerprint records were among the deals Qatar signed at this year’s homeland security expo.

The 11 contracts were worth QR260 million and agreed to by the Ministry of Interior (MoI) during the first two days of Milipol, which concluded yesterday.

The expo, which was not open to the public, featured the latest innovations and expertise in border security, civil defense and road safety.

The largest single deal was worth QR140 million and went to Turkish shipbuilding corporation Ares Besiktas for equipment and weapons for boats, according to a statement issued by Milipol this week.

Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani visits Milipol 2016

QNA

Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani visits Milipol 2016

The statement did not give any further details about the contract.

However, this is not the first deal Qatar has struck with the shipyard. In 2014, the government contracted Ares to provide Qatar’s Coast Guard with 17 high-speed patrol boats worth QR200 million.

Last month, Ares announced that the first three boats had been delivered to Qatar and that the MOI was expected to receive a further two by the end of this year.

More vehicles

Also this week, two separate deals were struck with Qatar-based motor companies to provide vehicles for the MOI.

Milipol 2016

MOI/Twitter

Milipol 2016

This included a QR25.4 million agreement with Abullah Abdul Ghani & Bros. Co. to supply 120 Toyota cars, and a contract with Saleh Hamad Al Mana Co. worth QR6.7 million to supply 30 Nissan cars.

Other agreements included:

  • A QR22.25 million contract with UK-based De La Rue International Ltd. to supply travel documents printers;
  • A QR21.7 million deal with Gulf Business Machines, headquartered in the UAE, for licenses for operating programs and the development of computer systems for the MOI;
  • A QR11.5 million contract with Airbus Defense and Space for the maintenance, supply and upgrade of Tetra radio systems. Earlier this year, the European defense organization said it was awarded a contract to supply Qatar’s Armed Forces with satellite data;
  • A QR10 million agreement to maintain residency document printers with Dubai-based GET Group;
  • A QR7.8 million contract with Safran Identity & Security to provide new fingerprinting systems and an expansion of the fingerprinting database;
  • A QR7.8 million deal with Telco International for the maintenance and data collection of traffic radar devices. According to a statement on the firm’s website, it was the first company in Qatar to introduce speed radars; and
  • A separate agreement worth QR4.4 million was struck with Al Tanmiyah for information from traffic radars.

Finally, Austria-based Sail Labs Technology agreed to a QR2.5 million deal with the MOI to provide comprehensive media monitoring systems, the Milipol statement said.

Emir’s briefing

The homeland security event, which was held at the Doha Exhibition and Conference Center (DECC) over three days, usually takes place every two years.

The next one will be in October 2018, the MOI said on Twitter.

At the 2014 Milipol, the MOI went shopping for gear to the tune of nearly QR309 million.

This year’s event attracted more than 6,500 visitors from 103 countries.

Some 54 Qatar-based firms showed off their wares, and new nations representing gear this year included Algeria, Belize, Cyprus, Jordan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Pakistan and Uganda.

A total of 27 French companies were at the event, while firms from China, Germany, North America and the UK were also present.

Expert briefings and seminars during the exhibition covered issues including large event security, cyber threats, counter-terrorism response and crisis management.

Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani visits Milipol 2016

QNA

Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani visits Milipol 2016

Qatar’s Emir toured the final day of the expo with the Prime Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani.

He was briefed on the latest ways of securing industrial sites and transport and communications as well as the new developments in civil defense and combating crime, QNA reported.

One of the highlights for visitors to this year’s event was a McLaren 650S in the livery of the Qatar Traffic Police.

Concept police car

Mawater

Concept police car

It was showcasing covert speed radar technology which can monitor traffic, and which had been trialled in Qatar over the summer.

Thoughts?

For illustrative purposes only

Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Security patrols will be stepped up around residential areas, shopping malls and other hotspots in Qatar in the lead-up to Eid Al Fitr this week, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) has said.

The increased police presence aims to discourage crimes like robbery, theft and “acts of sabotage,” Brig. Jamal Mohammed Al Kaabi, director of CID, said in a statement on QNA.

The official did not give any details about which areas would be fortified or what security methods will be deployed. So far, there has been no noticeable increase in arrangements at public places.

Parking closed at Church complex last year

Chantelle D'mello

Parking closed at Church complex last year

Last year, security was significantly upped outside Qatar’s church complex and at hotels and shopping malls as Eid approached.

Some venues began using metal detectors, while security guards at other locations checked underneath the cars of visitors before they entered underground parking lots.

Concerns in Kuwait

This year, there has been no talk of a possible security threat in Qatar.

However, the MOI’s announcement follows a move by Kuwaiti authorities to cancel Eid prayers in open areas due to security concerns.

According to Kuwait’s state news agency KUNA, Eid prayers will be held in mosques instead of outdoor prayer grounds “out of keenness for the safety of worshipers.”

Eid prayers in Qatar

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

Eid prayers in Qatar

Eid is expected to begin either on Tuesday or Wednesday this week, depending on the sighting of the new moon.

Dawn prayers are traditionally held in mosques around the country and many open-air prayer grounds also open up for the occasion to accommodate all the worshippers.

Safety advice

In addition to stepping up security, Qatar’s MOI has issued a number of other safety tips during the holiday period, citing senior ministry officials.

For those traveling overseas by plane, the advice includes:

  • Not carrying any prohibited objects in their luggage such as sharp objects;
  • Not helping strangers with their baggage;
  • Getting to the airport at least three hours before departure; and
  • Using e-gate if possible to save time.
A 2015 sandstorm caused flight delays and cancellations at HIA.

Supplied

For illustrative purposes only

Meanwhile, undefined “measures” are being put in place at Hamad International Airport for the “safety and convenience of travelers,” Col. Mohammed Rashid Al Mazroui, Director of the Passport Authority, said.

Other common-sense tips included ensuring that passports are up-to-date, are valid for travel and are not damaged and that the requisite visas are procured.

General home safety tips such as locking all windows and doors, switching off gas bottles and unplugging electrical appliances before leaving were also given.

Are you ready to travel? Thoughts?


More on Eid here: