Thursday February 15, 2018 / 29 Jumada al-ula 1439
DAMMAM — Guests staying in hotels and furnished apartments will now have to pay more on room tariff by way of the newly-introduced municipal tax on top of Value-Added Tax (VAT) and the already existing service tax.
According to hotel industry sources, a guest will now have to pay somewhere between 25% and 30% extra on their room tariff.
This will be in addition to food and beverages and other taxable facilities in the hotel.
The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has imposed a flat levy of 5% on each room occupied in hotels and furnished apartments across the Kingdom.
The levy for rooms in three star hotels and downwards will be 2,5 %.
This is on top of 5% VAT which is collected by the General Authority of Zakat and Tax (GZAT).
The levy, known as municipal tax, came into effect on Wednesday.
Municipal tax, however, will be levied only on occupied rooms.
It is mandatory for all hotels of any size, furnished apartments of any standard and any other commercial residence facilities.
Hotels and furnished apartments will deposit the tax taken from guests with the ministry every month.
Hotels and other commercial residential facilities will have to register with the ministry which in turn will issue them a unique number to get access to their accounts in the ministry.
The hotel industry is passing through an extremely tough period due to the mushroom growth of hotels in Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam, Makkah and Madinah.
“Occupancy is not even 60% during the peak period,” said a hotel executive in Al-Khobar.
The business community feels that municipal tax should be paid by hotels as guests are already burdened with several other surcharges.
Hotels in Dammam, Al-Khobar, Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah and elsewhere in the Kingdom have displayed notice about the 5% municipal tax.
It has also been reported that business establishments, hotels, furnished apartments and many other commercial centers will be levying taxes on various other municipal services like garbage collection, etc.
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Authorities wipe out 4 Taif sites visited by pilgrims for 'blessing'
Thursday February 15, 2018 / 29 Jumada al-ula 1439
TAIF — Emir of Makkah Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, during his recent visit to Taif, has instructed officials to remove four places frequented by pilgrims of various nationalities to seek blessings.
The four locations in Bani Saad village in the Misan area of Taif governorate included two trees and a rock. Pictures of pilgrims in ihram kissing and hugging the trees and the rock to invoke blessings from Allah appeared on various social media platforms.
There is also a three-room structure that the pilgrims visit for worshiping Allah. The fourth location was a piece of land where the pilgrims used to sit on for long hours hoping to be blessed.
Such visits and practices are against the teachings of the Qur'an and the traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
A committee consisting of the police, the municipality and the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, carried out the emir's instructions by felling the two trees, and leveling the rock and the piece of land.
Prince Khaled also ordered the formation of a committee comprising representatives of the police and a number of government departments concerned with the Haj services to investigate the violations.
The committee will question the Umrah companies that transported the pilgrims to these places with a view to penalizing them.
Concluding his annual inspection visits to the areas of the southern Sahel on Tuesday, Prince Khaled told the residents of Qunfudah that the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) would award the contract to build an airport in the city within 60 days.
SAUDI ARABIA: The planned launch in March of commercial services on the Haramain high speed line between Makkah and Madinah is in doubt following further delays in completing three of the line’s five stations.
Announcing on January 30 that he would be visiting Saudi Arabia in the near future to agree a timescale for the start of commercial operations over the 450 km line, Spanish Minister of Development Íñigo de la Serna said that test trains had been running over the whole route since December 31, when an inaugural special ran between Madinah and Makkah in 2 h 52 min.
Operation of the line will be the responsibility of Spanish national operator RENFE as a member of the Saudi-Spanish Al Shoula consortium which was chosen for the €6·7bn railway systems contract in October 2011. De la Serna made it clear that the consortium was trying to fulfil its commitments, but that these depended on resolution of issues that were not its responsibility.
Construction of the stations is largely in the hands of local companies Saudi Bin Laden Group and Saudi Oger; those at Jeddah, Makkah and Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport are understood to be behind schedule.
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.
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