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Macau Cathedral to close in October for renovation – Macau News

Macaos Catholic Cathedral will close next month for about nine months for renovation, the Portuguese-language radio channel of public broadcaster TDM reported today.

According to the report, the project is estimated to cost around 9 million patacas (US$1.1 million). The report did not indicate the source of the estimate, nor how it will be financed.

The report cited the cathedrals vicar, Fr Daniel Ribeiro, as saying that at the request of the government the project includes structural strengthening.

The concrete building of the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady was constructed in 1937, which replaced an edifice built in 1850 that was badly damaged by a typhoon in 1874. A small wooden chapel built in the present location was elevated to cathedral in 1623, according to information provided by the diocese.

The report also said that the installation of a large and weighty organ donated to the diocese will require structural strengthening of the nave.

Fr Ribeiro told Radio Macau that the government requested the renovation project as some parts of the building are believed to be in risk of collapse. The report pointed out that some of the present building structure dates back to the 18th century.

Fr Ribeiro also said that from next month the Masses customarily celebrated at the Cathedral will take place at the nearby S. Domingos Church during the renovation project, following the same schedule.

According to the report, the renovated Cathedral is slated to reopen next June. However, Fr Ribeiro admitted that possible complications could delay the reopening.

Macaus Catholic diocese, which was founded in 1576, comprises 11 churches in nine parishes. According to its website, the diocese runs 31 education establishments and 22 social service institutions.

An introduction to the diocese on the website estimates its flock at 30,000 or about 4.5 per cent of the population.

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Macau Cathedral to close in October for renovation - Macau News

Macau marathon to be held with infection control measures – Macau Daily Times

The Galaxy Entertainment Macao International Marathon will be held on December 6, opening with a total of 12,000 spots available for participants, the Sports Bureau (ID) announced in a press conference.Registration for the marathon and half marathon will open to the public on September 12. Registration for the mini marathon will open on September 13.The 38th iteration of the event will have 1,400 spots available for the marathon, 4,800 for the half marathon and 5,800 for the mini marathon.The full marathon and half marathon courses will start at Governor Nobre de Carvalho Bridge, pass World Heritage site A-Ma Temple and run along the Sai Van Bridge.The marathon and half marathon races will start at 6 a.m., while the mini-marathon will kick off at 6:15 a.m.Registrants who opt for on-site registration may go to the Tap Seac Multisport Pavilion from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on September 12 and 13. They should bring the completed registration form, a copy of their identification document, membership card from the General Association of Athletics of Macau for the current year and the registration fee.Galaxy Entertainment Group will sponsor the event until 2021, following the renewal of their title sponsorship for the event last year.The marathon is one of the few events in the city that will occur despite the ongoing pandemic. Macau has not seen a new locally-transmitted case of Covid-19 for several months.The ID said that it will pay close attention to the Covid-19 pandemic and will adopt preventive measures according to the guidelines by the Health Bureau.Meanwhile, there was no information given about what will happen to foreign athletes who are keen on participating in the marathon.If foreigners and non-resident workers are still not allowed to enter the city prior to the date of the marathon, the event will likely be held with athletes from mainland China and Hong Kong only.

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Macau marathon to be held with infection control measures - Macau Daily Times

New urban plan to expand Macau tourism areas but casino activity to remain within current locations – Inside Asian Gaming

The draft of the Master Plan for Macaus urban development has revealed that the future of the SARs tourism and entertainment industries would remain in the current Cotai and NAPE areas, while several locations would become new non-gaming tourism areas.

The draft, launched on Thursday, separated and classified various functions for different districts in Macau. According to the drafts suggestions, the core tourism and entertainment industries would remain in their current areas.

Officials of the Macau SAR Government said at a press conference that casinos would be mainly based in and around hotels in these areas, however the government will keep a certain level of flexibility in considering the compatibility of land in practice.

Meanwhile, the northern part of Taipa, currently referred to as new urban area zones C and D, would become an urban waterfront area via the development of tourism and business elements.

The government also plans to build a new tourism and leisure route along with the new urban area B, Nam Van and Barra areas in order to enrich entertainment experiences in Macau.

The southern part of the artificial island upon which the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge boundary sits would be reserved for the development of hotels, exhibitions and conventions in order to promote a platform of cooperation between the three cities.

With the re-tendering of gaming licenses scheduled for 2022, when the six current concessions expire, the distribution of land for gaming operators and further development of tourism industries in Macau would be a focus in the foreseeable future.

A public consultation for the draft will be held from 4 September to 2 November 2020.

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New urban plan to expand Macau tourism areas but casino activity to remain within current locations - Inside Asian Gaming

Aollywood (Macau-Hollywood, the Eastern Hollywood) established the first Film Critics Association in Macau, China – Business Wire

MACAU, China--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Recently, the high-profile Aollywood Film Critics Association declared to establish in Macau, China. This is one of the film industry associations founded by Aollywood which is Eastern Hollywood founded in Macau, China. It is committed to speaking out for the establishment of Chinese films international discourse power, aesthetic standards and evaluation system. Moreover, its mission is to enable outstanding Chinese films to receive objective and fair evaluation from overseas and to help build the bridge between Chinese films and other films from all over the world.

The Aollywood Film Critics Association board members elected a new leadership team, and the chairman is the famous film critic Zhou Liming; the vice-chairmen are Mao Jian, Lie Fu, Wei Junzi, Song Ziwen, and Zuo Heng; the secretary-general is Hu Jianli. In addition, Alang was elected as the supervisor of the association and the members are senior film critics Li Xingwen, Han Haoyue, Tan Fei, Ye Hang and other 25 people. These scholars are all well-known Chinese film critics.

Zhou Liming, the chairman of the Aollywood Film Critics Association, said that film criticism is a link in the entire film ecosystem. Film critics need to provide evaluations of films, provide guidance to audiences, and provide feedback to the filmmakers. He hopes that the Aollywood Film Critics Association can help the healthy development of Chinese film industry, discover more potential successful filmmakers, recommend more excellent films, and grow together with the whole Chinese film industry.

It is also reported that the Aollywood Film Critics Association will participate in hosting of the Aollywood International Film Festival.

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Aollywood (Macau-Hollywood, the Eastern Hollywood) established the first Film Critics Association in Macau, China - Business Wire

Ulysse Nardin – The brand and DFS Present Sharks in Macau Exhibition – Events – WorldTempus

Xploring has become Ulysse Nardins motivation, and the result is a universe of X-factor: X like an adventure, X like our deepest desires, X for the unknown, X for whats forbidden, bold and exciting. To bring this sense of exploration to life, Ulysse Nardin has partnered with DFS Group, the worlds leading luxury travel retailer, on the Sharks in Macau exhibition at T Galleria by DFS, Macau, City of Dreams. Inspired by the discovery of the mysterious underwater world, the pop up features Ulysse Nardins first interactive shark photobooth in Asia Pacific where adventurers can dive into the deep sea and experience a thrilling moment with ferocious and dangerous sharks suddenly appearing and attacking courageous divers.

To celebrate the opening of the pop up store, Ulysse Nardin presents the below novelty and high complication pieces:

The SKELETON X case, reshaped and very small, a mere 42mm, is perfectly on-trend: more angular, more masculine, less round. Its shape-within-shape-within-shape geometry - an X formed by four of the indexes is framed in a rectangle, in turn inside a circle - delights the eye. Inside and clearly visible beats one of the star innovations of the watchs antecedent: a super-light balance wheel in silicium, extra-wide, with nickel flyweights and stabilizing micro-blades. The new Manufacture movement, the UN-371 caliber has 96-hour power reserve can be read through the back by means of windows, like those in the barrel. The SKELETON X eXists in four different satin-finish versions: satin-finish titani-um blue, satin-finish titanium black, satin-finish rose gold or matte-finish Carbonium GOLD.

Skeleton X Ulysse Nardin

The FREAK X, the little cousin of its Freak antecedents, stands out as the entry point into the FREAK collection. It has a crown for time correction, which breaks with one of the most iconic as-pects of the previous crown-less FREAK models. The sizing is tighter - 43mm. The baguette move-ment is still a carousel, turning once on itself every hour to indicate the time. It is simpler, bolder, and has fewer wheels. It has no dial and no hands - the central bridge acts as a minute hand and one of the wheels indicates the hours.

FREAK X Ulysse Nardin

From now until December 31, 2020, Ulysse Nardin timepieces will be showcased in T Galleria by DFS, Macau, City of Dreams. Do you dare to explore this deep-sea adventure?

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Ulysse Nardin - The brand and DFS Present Sharks in Macau Exhibition - Events - WorldTempus

Govt collaborates with gaming operators to promote in Beijing – Macau Daily Times

The government is set to launch a tourism promotion campaign during the second week of September on Beijings busiest commercial street. The campaign will involve the citys six gaming concessionaires.According to a report by Radio Macau, the promotional campaign, which is being coordinated by the MacaoGovernment Tourism Office (MGTO), will take place on Wangfujing Street in Beijing.This is the first tourism campaign being run abroad since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.During the first half of 2020, visitor arrivals declined by 84% year-on-year to 3.26 million due to travel and border restrictions.Last month, China had set a date for the resumption of tourist visas for visitors travelling to the Macau SAR. From September 23, any mainland resident will be able to apply for an Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) visa to visit Macau for tourism purposes.The timing positions Macau for a tourism recovery bounce during Chinas Golden Week in early October, a normally popular time in the Macau gaming calendar.As the promotion of gambling is prohibited on the mainland, gaming operators are likely to publicize their hotel and restaurant promotions during the upcoming campaign.Recently, the government launched a scheme for tourists from mainland China, aiming to boost the economy and protect local jobs.The scheme was initiated by the Macau SAR government with support from e-commerce giants Tencent and Alibaba, as well as Air Macau. It aims to attract tourism to the city through promotions on air tickets and hotels, and rebates on shopping and dining to encourage tourists to increase their spending and length of stay.After the IVS was reinstated for Guangdong residents on August 12, preliminary data shows that the city recorded a 25% rise in visitor arrivals compared to the weekend prior.Previously, the Public Security Police Force had said that it did not expect significant changes in border traffic. However, they are now predicting a gradual upward trend in the number of arrivals in the coming weeks.

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Govt collaborates with gaming operators to promote in Beijing - Macau Daily Times

China says Czech visit to Taiwan harmed its sovereignty – Macau Business

The Chinese embassy in Prague on Saturday condemned this weeks visit to Taiwan by a Czech delegation as a serious infringement on Chinas national sovereignty.

A delegation of about 90 Czech politicians, entrepreneurs, scientists and journalists led by senate speaker Milos Vystrcil visited Taiwan from August 30 to September 4.

Under its One China policy, Beijing considersTaiwana part of its territory and does not send official delegations to the island.

TheCzechcentre-left government officially accepts the One China policy, but Vystrcil is a member of the right-wing opposition Civic Democrats and is not bound by the protocol.

The embassy said the visit was a serious interference in Chinas internal affairs and called on the Czech Republic to take specific steps to remove the unfavourable impact of the said incident.

There is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inseparable part of its territory, it said.

No matter what manipulation the Taiwanese authorities and anti-China forces come up with, they cannot change this.

On Monday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described the trip as a provocation, saying that China would make Vystrcil pay a high price for his short-sighted behaviour.

The Czech foreign ministry then summoned Chinas ambassador to Prague and Beijing followed suit.

Vystrcil gave a speech inTaiwans parliament and met President Tsai Ing-wen, whose re-election earlier this year upset China as she views the island as a sovereign nation.

Ties between Prague and China suffered a blow last October when Prague city hall, run by a mayor from the anti-establishment Pirate Party, pulled out of a twinning deal with Beijing over its insistence on the One China policy.

Prague mayor Zdenek Hrib, who was on Vystrcils delegation, then signed a partnership agreement with Taipei in January, triggering outrage in Beijing.

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China says Czech visit to Taiwan harmed its sovereignty - Macau Business

Trump in ‘different reality’ on racism: Harris – Macau Business

Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris said Sunday that President Donald Trump is living in a different reality when he denies there is systemic racism in America.

The reality of America today is what we have seen over generations and, frankly, since our inception, which is we do have two systems of justice in America, Harris told CNN.

I think that Donald Trump and Bill Barr are spending full time in a different reality, said Harris, the first woman of color on a major US White House ticket taking aim at the president and his attorney general.

Joe Bidens running mate spoke two days after the White House disclosed that Trump had ordered federal agencies to stop funding anti-racism training sessions for employees, saying they amount to divisive, un-American propaganda that suggests the country is inherently racist.

And last week Barr dismissed the idea that there is, effectively, one justice system for whites in the United States and another for blacks.

I think we have to be a little careful about throwing the idea of racism around, Barr said. I dont think it is as common as people suggest.

Trump is working feverishly to appeal to his largely white, blue-collar base with a tough law-and-order mantra while fighting an uphill battle for re-election amid a pandemic, a struggling economy and a fraught national reckoning over racial injustice in policing and other walks of life.

Protests in major US cities erupted after the death of African American George Floyd in May at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, and flared up again last month after another black man, Jacob Blake, was shot in the back repeatedly by a white policeman in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Trump has blasted such demonstrators as violent anarchists.

Harris insisted that peaceful protest is an American right and that racism is indeed embedded in the country.

I dont think that most reasonable people who are paying attention to the facts would dispute that there are racial disparities and a system that has engaged in racism in terms of how the laws have been enforced, said Harris.

She blasted Trump as having bungled the nations handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed nearly 190,000 people in America, and for not doing enough to help millions of people left jobless or otherwise suffering as a result of the global health crisis.

There is no question that Donald Trump has been an abject failure and incompetent when it comes to addressing the severe job loss that has happened as a result of the pandemic, because he has failed to address the pandemic itself, she said.

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Trump in 'different reality' on racism: Harris - Macau Business

Law excludes unqualified healthcare personnel in order to protect their jobs – Macau Daily Times

Chan Chak Mo

The Macau SAR government decided to include 15 types of healthcare professionals into registration and the operation-licensing regime in order to regulate high-risk medical areas as well as to protect the jobs of unqualified practitioners.

According to information revealed by lawmaker Chan Chak Mo during Fridays Legislative Assembly (AL) plenary meeting, the SAR government has excluded from the regime healthcare-related professionals, except for 15 specific types, because the concerned individuals may lose their sources of income.

Today (Friday), the Legislative Assembly (AL) passed the law on the registration of healthcare professionals. A total of 15 types of medical personnel are required to be registered with the Macau SAR government.

Lawmakers and government representatives exchanged opinions on the bill, which was eventually passed article by articles, despite various concerns for professionals outside the 15 types.

The law, named Healthcare Personnel Professional Qualification and Operation Registration Regime, regulates medical practitioners, Chinese medicine practitioners, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, medical laboratory technologists, occupational therapists, radiographers, physiotherapists, chiropractors, nutritionists, psychiatrists, speech therapists, and Chinese medicine pharmacists.

More eight lawmakers, including Agnes Lam, Chan Chak Mo, and Chan Wa Keong, voiced their opinions on the 15 types of healthcare professionals.

Overall, Sulu Sou, Agnes Lam, Chan Iek Lap and others believe that more healthcare professionals, such as optometrists, should be included in the regime.

Ella lei asked how the government will regulate other types of healthcare professionals when there is a violation of the regulation.

Sulu Sou then remarked that these non-included professionals regard themselves as healthcare professionals and consider themselves to be providing a medical service and these individuals should be regulated and because many members of the public use the services of these people.

Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Ao Ieong U said that the SAR government had decided on the types of regulated professionals based on the popularity of the service and the risks of the concerned medical topics.

Director of the Health Bureau (SSM) Lei Chin Ion responded that the government will study whether to establish laws to regulate parties who sell healthcare-related services to people while labeling the service as medical treatment.

However, Lei indicated that the SAR government, at the current stage, has no intention of establishing another registration regime for other healthcare professionals.

After these lawmakers long interrogation towards the government representatives, Chan Wa Keong and Chan Chak Mo voiced their support to the law.

Chan Wa Keong defended the governments proposed law by saying that no law can include everybody.

There is no absolute good nor absolute bad, Chan Wa Keong commented, adding that more types can be included in the bill at any moment.

Following Chan Wa Keong, lawmaker Chan Chak Mo revealed another consideration of the government. According to Chan Chak Mo, the SAR government had a massive discussion on the types of professionals included in this law. The government took into account three aspects when considering the types, including the health risk of these types of healthcare services and the employment situation of the concerned professionals.

If we include [other types], many people may lose their jobs because they dont meet the requirements. Many types are not included because people who are currently offering the service have not reached a professional level and many people will be unable to take exams and internships. They may lose their source of income, said Chan.

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Law excludes unqualified healthcare personnel in order to protect their jobs - Macau Daily Times

Table tennis world cups shifted to China in coronavirus restart – Macau Business

Table tenniss mens and womens world cups and tour finals will be held in China in November, its world body announced, in a rare instance of international sport in the country since the coronavirus pandemic.

The mens and womens world cups are shifting from Dusseldorf and Bangkok respectively despite a mandate from Chinese authorities banning most international competition to prevent virus outbreaks.

No venues were announced for the world cups in mid-November or the tour finals, which are pencilled in for December 10-13. The table tennis calendar has been on hold since March.

Ensuring a safe return to international table tennis has been our utmost priority ever since the pandemic broke out and so I am delighted that we have managed to get events back up and running before the end of 2020, International Table Tennis Federation president Thomas Weikert said in a statement.

The announcement comes just days after the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, Asias richest golf tournament with a blockbuster purse of $10.25 million, joined Chinas list of cancellations.

Shanghais Formula One Grand Prix and all of Chinas WTA and ATP tennis tournaments, including the WTA tour finals, have been axed because of the coronavirus, which emerged in Wuhan late last year.

The table tennis competitions will be held under strict bio-security conditions, including a ban on breathing on balls and no handshakes after matches.

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Table tennis world cups shifted to China in coronavirus restart - Macau Business

OPINION-Loose thoughts – Macau Business

The reputation of this period as the silly season has always been a bit undeserved. Things keep happening; things always keep happening. What also happens is that we need to switch off, pay attention to something else, or nothing at all. Likewise, media outlets feel that pressure, not least because staff favors this season to take a break away from it all.

Unfortunately, as far as we, Macau residents (or, at least, most of us), are concerned, the period got a fancy new name staycation. For many, in fact, at-home-cation. So, as things keep happening, as usual, we are somehow bound to pay more attention to them, which is unusual. Still, the mood of authors, this one included, is also under the seasons spell. A few loose thoughts can come together, and no more.

Pick, for instance, the sempiternal topic of the Light Rail. Readers may remember that issues popped up when the company published the 2019 accounts (or whatever passed as such.)

In particular, among other things, it was not clear from where the declared profits could come. The company just operated for free less than three weeks at the end of the year. One of our legislators duly filed a written request for clarification. The government reply came back a couple of days ago. Should this be a normal silly season, we might not have noticed. As things stand, we could not avoid noticing.

Admittedly, we hoped to learn something new, even exciting:how to make profits without revenues. The answer was no need to hold your breath or roll the drums somewhat of an anticlimax. If full sense we can make from the media reports, the answer was that the declared profit is, in fact, a benefit that should not be understood a profit (QED?).

Let us put aside that accounting norms define well enough what a profit is and how it should be determined. Further, let us ignore that there are mandatory rules concerning the publication of financial results by companies. Ignore also, for another moment, that the CE published, on the first day of his mandate, specific legislation aiming to make the results and operations of companies such as this one more transparent and accountable.

Leave all that aside; the answer to this riddle is straightforward. Publish the accounts and other relevant information according to the applicable laws. Nothing could be easier.

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OPINION-Loose thoughts - Macau Business

Gaming Industry Continues to Bear Coronavirus Brunt in Macau – Yahoo Finance

Although casinos in Macau have resumed operations following the coronavirus-induced shutdown, casino tables still remain empty. This has resulted in a sharp decline in gross gaming revenues (GGR) in July. Notably, gaming revenues from the worlds largest gambling hub fell for the 10th consecutive month. Moreover, GGR declined more than 90% for the fourth straight month.

In July, gaming revenues from Macau plunged 94.5% to 1.3 billion patacas ($162.89 million) following a decline of 97% in June. The can primarily be attributed to a reduction in footfall as China continued to decline individual and group visas to Macau as a safety precaution. The government has also enforced body temperature check at casino entrances.

Moreover, in the first seven months of 2020, GGR fell 79.8%, year over year to $35.1 billion patacas. Notably, the casino operators in Macau were already grappling with a slowdown in China, the coronavirus pandemic has only aggravated their woes. Per Macau's Statistics and Census Bureau (DSEC) in the first half of 2020, the region witnessed a decline of 83.9% in visitation to the region.

Nevertheless, the worst seems to be over for the gaming industry in Macau as China is slowly easing certain restrictions. In mid-July, the Guangdong province lifted quarantine measures. Further, non-tourist visas will commence for the whole country from Aug 12. Analysts anticipate reissuing of visas to Macau in August or September.

However, Macau is likely to record revenue decline in the rest of the year as well. Moreover, gambling industry is suffering in Las Vegas, which is one of the hotspots for gamblers, due to coronavirus outbreak. Although casinos in Las Vegas have resumed operations, traffic is still very low due to the safety protocols and fears related to the pandemic.

The industry currently carries a Zacks Industry Rank #197, which places it at the bottom 22% of more than 250 Zacks industries. Year to date, the industry has declined 27.5%, against the S&P 500s growth of 1.7%.

Shares of Wynn Resorts, Limited WYNN are down 47.4% year to date. In the past 90 days, estimates for the current year have been revised downward to a loss of $11.82 from a loss of $2.74. The company currently has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

Shares of MGM Resorts International MGM have declined 50.9% year to date. The companys performance in 2020 will be impacted by the coronavirus-induced crisis. In the past 90 days, estimates for the current year have been revised downward to a loss of $1.53 from a loss of 33 cents. The company currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Shares of Las Vegas Sands Corp. LVS have tanked 36.2% year to date. In the past 90 days, estimates for the current year have been revised downward to a loss of $1.49 from a loss of 27 cents. The company currently has a Zacks Rank #4.

Shares of Melco Resorts & Entertainment Limited MLCO have plunged 29.3% year to date. The company, which develops, owns, and operates casino gaming and entertainment casino resort facilities in Asia through its subsidiaries, has been impacted by the deadly virus. The Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) companys earnings estimates for current year have declined to a loss of $1.42 from a loss of 30 cents in the past 90 days.

You can see the complete list of todays Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Story continues

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Gaming Industry Continues to Bear Coronavirus Brunt in Macau - Yahoo Finance

Macau joins Organisation of World Heritage Cities – Macau Business

Macau has become the third Chinese city to join the Organisation of World Heritage Cities (OWHC), following in the footsteps of Suzhou and Dujiangyan.

According to a note from the Cultural Affairs Bureau, the ceremony took place on Friday (August 7) via video-conference.

During the ceremony, the OWHC presented the certificate of membership to the Macau SAR, which was represented by the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Elsie Ao Ieong U, who expressed her heartfelt positive feelings for having the opportunity to witness the official inclusion of Macau as a member city of the OWHC, adding that the Historic Centre of Macau is not only a testimony to the citys historical development, but also a crucial cultural resource that lays the cultural ground for and nurtures the citys future advancement.

The President of the OWHC and Mayor of Krakow, Poland, Jacek Majchrowski, said Macau is a rare example of a place where the aesthetic, cultural, architectural and technical influences of East and West have met for several centuries

OWHC is an international non-profit and non-governmental entity founded in 1993 aiming to facilitate the implementation of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

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Macau joins Organisation of World Heritage Cities - Macau Business

OPINION – The new myth – Macau Business

The diversification of Macaus economy, whose myth is still being spread by those who do not know what else to say, has long been dead and buried.

By Paulo A. Azevedo CEO, Global Asia Media

The different governments have had neither the wit nor the skill to turn political discourse into reality, and the consequences loom over the horizon. We were suddenly brought back to our senses by a virus that is changing the routine of our days.

Without tourists, without casino gamblers Macaus greatest sources of wealth times of austerity were to announced.

When casinos were flooding the city with cash, government officials tried to avoid those words like the plague. They appeared ashamed of the origin of the citys wealth, but they did not shy from congratulating themselves for the citys development made possible by that wealth.

Now, they say it is time to cut costs, expenses, and investments.

The decision would even be understandable, if it were studied rather than a sudden reaction. As historical records demonstrate, many of Macaus existing policies were born out of a Yam Tcha, and thats it.

These policies, which will have an impact on future generations, are made with as much forethought as when one goes to the supermarket and, while looking at the shelves, suddenly remembers: Ah! I also need cookies.

There are no strategies, not even a clear understanding of which expenditures are unnecessary and should therefore be cut because most of the spending is secret.

In the past five years, government agencies have spent nearly one billion patacas on studies and other consultancy services, but only 12 percent was made known to the public.

In other words, we know, more or less, how a little more than 100 million were spent. We can only guess about the rest, hidden behind a black curtain of opacity drawn by those who have the ostensible duty to foster transparency. Lets not even mention the need for such studies and the way they are done. Everything escapes us.

But the purpose of this article is to talk about cash, and to discuss which expenses should be cut in the first place.

As a legislator from the so-called democratic camp recently recalled, of the thousands, millions, hundreds of millions of patacas given to local associations, history does not tell. Government-subsidized association accounts are anything but transparent.

Now, if we consider the existence of so many associations many of them headed by members who are part of the consultative bodies of the various government structures we realize the need for greater transparency. Failure to do so only validates the voices who say, albeit in a whisper, that this opacity only fosters an eternal cycle of political and nepotistic patronage.

This money a lot of money goes into the pockets of associations managed by many people who operate within the governments consultation mechanisms, and thus wield great power and influence. Such people are appointed according to criteria defined by those who govern. They spend money without supervision.

Need I say more?

Expenses must be cut that is out of the question. These are difficult times. But we must make the first cuts where they can be most easily afforded, namely on the fabulous sums that are squandered annually through a maze of baseless and unaccountable decisions. Without transparency, spending cuts will only harm public services and citizens quality of life, while irresponsible spending continues to drain public coffers.

Result: the intention to save money will become another myth, as great as the diversification of Macaus economy.

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OPINION - The new myth - Macau Business

It’s a time to rethink the tourism industry as a whole – Macau Business

From the peak to the valley.After reaching a record high of nearly 40 million visitors last year, the citys tourism industry has been feeling an unprecedented pinch due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) launched Macau Ready Go, a campaign initially planned for returning visitors that had to be adjusted to cater to local residents. MGTO Director Helena deSennaFernandessuggests the industry needs to undergoa soul-searching to find a way forward in the yet-to-be-known post-COVID-19 new normal. At this juncture, theres no way to predict visitation figures for the coming months, as uncertainty looms. The silver lining is that the city sits next to a massive source market, and Ms.Fernandesanticipates a gradual opening to tourists beyond Guangdong province to include Fujian and Hunan.

Interview | By Jos CarlosMatiasand NelsonMoura

Photos by Cheong Kam Ka

Just recently we had the newborder-crossingarrangements. How much of a light at the end of the tunnel is that, and where do we go from here?

Helena deSennaFernandes:Im sure this newmeasure,therelaxation of border measures,would help restore confidence particularly in the tourism industry. It will also give them hope.

The government has been givingsome subsidies we have been running some programs in order to bring people to spend money, but the issue is that without new visitation, without outside people coming in, its very difficult in the long run because wedo depend very much on tourismin order to sustain many different businesses in Macau.The new border arrangements arevery positive, but I would say that after such a big pandemic, its still a slow recovery.

We cant expect that tomorrow, millions of tourists would come, and that would not happen because on the one hand, people would still have that little bit of fear of travelling, so we need time to overcome that. Then alsoaccording to thenew measures,in order to cross the borderyou have to have your tests done, so that would still need some time for people to get used to, and to get used to travelling again.

They will notcome by the millionssurely.In any case,is there a realistic visitation figure for the whole year?

H.S.F.:Well, its very difficult to do any projections at this juncture because, for one, we have stopped forquite some months, ever sincetowardsendof January basically, tourism hascome very much to a standstill. And we have had very few tourist visitors coming into Macau for a prolonged period of time. We have seen numbers as low as 200 visitors a day, sometimes maybe a couple hundreds more. On a good day, maybe we hada little bit over 1000 visitors.

Wecant expect the visitor numbers to be growing very quickly. Because one, you would be very much conditioned by how many people can actually get their tests done, because that is a prerequisite in terms of crossing the border, and then secondly, with people having gone through such a serious pandemic, they would also think twice about where should I go. We need to give them confidence that Macau, well when we say Macau is ready Macau is also a safe place for people to come to, because we have a responsibility towards our own residents, and we also have a responsibility for the visitors coming in.So that they feel safe, and our local residents also feel safe.

You mentioned the impact the pandemic had on the local industries, obviously travel agencies,tour guides, and bus drivers. How have those efforts panned out so far, and what kind of concerns the sector has expressed to the government, in terms of how they can be assisted in this time?

H.S.F.:To be honest, when we conceived the idea of Macau Ready Go, the initial idea was for visitors, because we started with the Macau Ready Go platform. Why did we chooseMacau Ready Go?Wewould like to convey the message that Macau was ready to restart again, and I would say ready to retake the receiving of visitors again. So that was the whole idea behind why we used the tagline Macau Ready Go. We want to show that Macau has all the conditions, that we have everything in place, thatwe have a very safe environment. We also have very good facilities, and we want to make sure that people know about that.

So, thats why the focus then shifted a little bit to what we callStaycation Staying at home and having a vacation. So thats why the entire focus shifted toStaycationprograms, meaning to say we want to lure our own people, our local residents to tour around so that there is movement, and with those movements also come business, particularly for the SMEs.

Its timeto rethink the entire tourism industry as a whole

{Tourism visitation}will restart at a very slow pace at this point in time

How do you assess the results so far?

H.S.F.:I would say very promising.Travel agencies in Macau have never served local residents, in terms of touring around Macau. Or, they might have served (locals) but in a very limited way.

Many suppliers have opened new facilities for people to go to, say for example: we have never thought of bringing people to go to see Air Macaus operation center. We have never thought of bringing people to go to see for example: the electricity company, the back of the house programs for a lot of the big concessionaires. Theres a lot of interesting work that I believe finally has finally paid off.

Butrealisticallyspeaking, obviously the local sectorcantsurvive on local residents for the future. Are you worried about the impact to the sector in general, lets say next year, if the numbers of tourists continue to be reduced?

H.S.F.:I think that in a way, it is alsotimeto rethink the entire tourism industry as a whole. I think tourists will still continue to come,butit will restart at a very slow pace at this point in time, because obviously, there are no vaccines yet, so international travel has stopped for a long while. The airplanes are not flying very regularlynowadays;there are a lot of border controls in different parts of the world, so there is actually still some time until we actually can resume travelling. Besides that, insurance considerations are also another for international travel, because if insurance companies are not giving or are not covering them in terms of travelling it is very difficult for people to decide on travelling internationally.

So there are many considerations still that we need to overcome. But I think that for us, we have the big advantage due to the proximity we have with one of the biggest markets of the world in terms of tourism, and that is Mainland China. So withMainlandChina gradually opening up,I think we would get very good results. Idontthink it would be as many as before, and probably it would give us some breathing space to restart at a good but gradual pace. Also, it would give us the opportunity to rethink our entire strategy,so there is always a silver lining in any situation. We have to learn from what we call, the new normal, we have to re-program ourselves, and I guess we have to also send out new messages to the world.

You mentioned that our geographic location gives us a sort of competitive advantage in the way for the recovery.Regarding theGreater Bay Area puttingHK aside for nowhow much of a reciprocity do youanticipatein terms of the flow ofvisitors?

H.S.F.:Guangdong is a very important market, in terms of the number of visitors coming in to Macau. Last year, if we look at the numbers, last year we had about 22 million from the mainland, and about 42%, if Im not mistaken, actually come from Guangdong province. Many of the people from Guangdong province, particularly those who live just across the border from us Zhuhai orZhongshan,I think Macau for them, is a good getaway, where they can buy supplies, to buy daily stuff as well, so it is not just for a tourism environment, they are also coming here to get what they need. So Guangdong is also a very important part of this tourism mix, so to speak.

It is very difficult to have number projections for the timebeing, because wedontknow how or when the individual visitation scheme would resume, because obviously, some people may still hold valid visitation permits. But a lot or most of them have expired, or the new registrations or new application are not in place yet. So I think for this month at least, we have to take it slowly for the time being. And besides the permits being granted, they would also need to do the nucleic tests, which is also an issue because the availability for the tests are not infinite.

Macau is not considered to be in the interprovincial group of possibilities. So we still need the next step, but we hope eventually to have some possibilities to get some tourist visitation, from then onwards it can grow again, and not limited to the very small numbers that are crossing.

Thiscrisis, you mentioned, also offers opportunities for soul searching, with regards to the futureofMacaus tourism industry and the citys rebranding. Can you tell us a bit what has been discussed what has been brainstormed here in these sessions?

H.S.F.:I think one of the things we actually discussed internally, is how would tourism be different from now on. One of the answers, or the ideas, definitely is that we would need to work very closely with the health authorities from now onwards. For example, if we wanted to establish a travel bubble, its not because the tourism authorities feel good about it, or the tourism department feels that this would work. Definitely, we need to work with health authorities on the outbound and receiving end. They would have a very big say as to who are able come, who are not able to travel to a certain place,the travel conditions for them. So, going forward, working with health authorities is a must.

There is a lot of confidence building that we need to do for our residents as well, so the messages have to be crafted in a way to say how safe we are, not only that but, showing them what exactly has been done to safeguard their interests, besides giving them good experiences and services. This is something we need to learn as well.

WithMainlandChina gradually opening up I think we would get very good results

It is very difficult to have number projections for the timebeing

Talking about business tourism and events,what can we expect in this rest of the year?

H.S.F.:In terms of the events, speaking about MGTO, obviously we have the travel fair, which was supposed to beheldin April, but we moved that to September. We still have the Global Tourism Economy Forum, which will also need to be shifted a little later in the year. But we have hopes that we would still hold it this year.

For ourselves, we are not able to run the fireworks festival this year. We have decided to go ahead with the light festival, which is now announced to start on the 26 of September, and run until the end of October. We decided thatthereneeds to be something for an earlier time, to try to boost everybodys spirits, so the light festival has always been a veryanticipatedevent.

For the National Day, obviously we will have a fireworks event, and we are looking forward to working together withHengqin, in terms of a combination of drones as well as fireworks. Although we cant run the fireworks contest, we still would have some fireworks, some special events for our residents and eventually our visitors.

We will also run the film festival. But it will have to be probably a combination of physical film watching and also maybe, I wouldnt say virtual, butaonline segment in terms of the competition sections. Because we understand not everybody in the world would be able to come.

Asair travel to and from Macau isverylimited, with which countries and regions are thetourism and health authorities are trying to negotiatethe reestablishingroutes?

H.S.F.:I would be very conservative in that, in these kinds of pandemics, we need to be more on the safe side. For the rest of the year, I would only be looking very much within our immediate vicinity. Meaning to say, Guangdong definitely, hopefully we can have a little further afield in the mainland, traditionally, besides Guangdong, our next market would be Fujian, would be places like Hunan because of the rapid rail system.Then, we would definitely see HK be back in the scheme as well, because HK is, in terms of numbers, the second most important market apart from the mainland. Another one is Taiwan, who seems to have very good control over the pandemic.

At this pointitsstill not possible because of the travel restrictions, but hopefully, before the end of the year, we hope to see some form of development.With regards toother countriesitsvery difficultto guessat this point in time.

Obviously MGTOencountered unexpected situationsthis year.How challenging the past months were to undergo these tasks?

H.S.F.:I think the last few months, starting January, we were into a phase of almost daily or hourly rapid response.Because things are happening all the time, the situation changing from moment to moment.It was really a test of how quickly we can respond and how we can actually put together resources to tackle each task in a short period of time. We have learnt a lot, to be honest. Although we have the TourismCrisisManagement Office, we never would have thought or imagined we would have to do, for example repatriation of residents by vehicle, plane, or by ferry.

It was a steep learning curve, everybody had to learn to react very quickly, think out of the box, so as to invent ways to try to solve different situations. I must admit that we cannot serve everybody, and also we cannot find solutions for 100% of tasks. Sometimes it is not a perfect solution, more or less not the perfect way, but we have to make do with the limitations we are facing. The last few months have really been a big test for everybody, not just us,but alsoour partnersin theimmigrationservices, including health, including the ferry companies, travel agencies, everybody.

Besides Guangdong, our next market would be Fujian,andplaces like Hunan because of the rapid rail system

The last few months have really been a big test for everybody

In the meantime,MGTO is undergoing atransition of the Secretary for Social affairs and Culture to Economy and Finance. Where are we now in terms of that transition?

H.S.F.:I can say we are very close in terms of moving to the Economy and Finance portfolio.Doesntmean once we have moved there we dont work on theculture side, the other side.We do, we will still continue to work together with a lot of our partners. Because tourism entails many aspects, culture definitely is a very important tourism asset, the big events,sportsevents, also important for us. Besides that,we also worked together with the education departments, and other departments. We still have a lot of synergy together continuing into the future.

This transition does hint as a somewhat more business oriented approach to tourism. In terms of your mission would there be any sort of adjustment?

H.S.F.:I think the adjustment would come in terms of the income generating area.I guessthere will bea little bit more focus there. But adding the focus there doesnt mean diminishing the others. I would say for us, for sure, tourism for Macau definitely, is an important economic activity, so we need to make sure people understand that. We also need to work harder, especially after this pandemic, in order to get more income back into Macau.

We are commemorating 15 years on the listing ofMacaus Historic CentreasUNESCO.Some voices have expressed concerns on the impact ofurban developmenton the citysheritageprotection.How much does it concern you that heritage in Macau is being impacted?

H.S.F.:Heritage is very important for us in terms of our entire promotion. Its notjustbecause having Macau listed on UNESCO that we started working on promoting culture. We have actually even in the1990s,wehave always used culture as part of the promotion messages.Heritage and culture is not limited to just buildings. It is also in the environment itself, in the way we eat, the things we eat, the food culture, the way of life of people. It has always been a very important aspect in the ways we promote, if we look at our travel guides, our promotional messages that we have done, on social media, or traditional media. We always put an angle of culture in it. It has become hand in hand with tourism, we wouldnt imagine promoting Macau in terms of tourism without the cultural aspects. It has always been and will continue be a part of the tourism message.

You have been atworking at MGTO for over three decades and have been serving as director since December 2012.The current term ends come December.Whatare your futureplans? Will you continue as MGTO director?

H.S.F.:Itsnot me to decide that;my boss decides whether I continue or not. Well I would say over thesethreedecades, it has beena very interesting job. To be honest, when I joinedMGTO, I would not have imagined civil serviceto belike this. When we look at civil service, people sayitsvery slow, bureaucratic, that was the kind of image of civil service when I joined some 30 years ago. Forme it was a learning experience.I have hadvery good role models to follow.I have been working with CostaAntunes{previous director}for a longtime;hesa very good teacher. And also other colleagues of mine, my past department heads, our Deputy Directors, they have also taught me alot. Also Ive learnt alot from other governmentdepartments, whichwe have worked with very closely.

So everydaytheres somethingnew, you learn something different. Its just keeping our eyes open, our minds open, so that we can try to see something different everyday, to try to accumulate this experience for ourselves.

So are you eager,willing to continue?How do you regardyour career as a civil servant?

MHSF: Very difficult to say, I would always say that we do our part, but the one up there would decide. I do make some plans for myself but they are not set in stone.Plansdo change. Then personally, Im a Catholic, so I always keep a veryveryopen attitude that someone would always tell me exactly where he would want me to be.

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Pandemic has lifted tourist pressure in the city, with twice as many visitors from Venice – Macau Business

The pandemic has lifted tourist pressure in Macau, which in 2019 received twice as many visitors from Venice, but experts point out differences between the two cities, both UNESCO world heritage sites, starting with the risks for heritage.

Last year, around 40 million tourists visited the former territory under Portuguese administration, with an area of 33 square kilometers more than Paris (38 million), Venice (20) or Portugal (27 million).

In Macau, before the health crisis, an average of 1.2 tourists entered every second more than 70 per minute, 4,500 every hour, about 109,000 per day.

The cartoonist Rodrigo de Matos, who collaborates with the newspaper Ponto Final and the weekly Expresso, illustrated the floods in a 2017 cartoon: a can of sardines with the brand Macau. Before the covid, it was everyday life, mainly in the city center: there were areas where it was practically impossible for a person to walk, it was reminiscent of a disco, he recalls.

Living in the territory since 2009, the cartoonist had never seen the city so empty, except during the occasional typhoon, and believes that it improved the quality of life of the residents. We take the opportunity to see some parts of the city that we dont normally go to, due to the flood of people. For those who didnt know the historic center, its the ideal time.

Those who walk these days find an empty city, from the historic center left by the Portuguese to the existing 40 casinos.

The president of the International Council of Portuguese Language Architects (CIALP), Rui Leo, who arrived in the territory in the late 1970s, criticizes the enormous transformation of the city since the liberalization of the gaming industry in 2002.

In recent years we have been subjected to an excess [of tourists] that is truly distressing, with consequences in everything: there are no more cafes or neighborhood grocery stores in the historic center, he exemplifies.

The complaints are the same as those in Venice or Barcelona, and, more recently, Lisbon: gentrification, rising real estate prices, pollution, degradation of monuments.

But if Macau suffers from equal tourist pressure, the situation is different, defends Leo. The tourist who goes to Venice or Lisbon goes there because of the heritage, the architecture, the city itself, while in Macau the people come because of the casinos, he explains.

For that reason, in Venice and Lisbon heritage is safeguarded, because it is very clear that without that heritage there is no tourism. In Macau, there is no such awareness: heritage can disappear, and it has disappeared, he laments.

From the top of the staircase of the ruins of So Paulo, you can see the Grand Lisboa, the crown jewel of the former magnate Stanley Ho, in a territory where the casinos rival the authentic heritage left by the Portuguese.

We have the Venetian, which is the imitation of Venice, the Parisian, with the imitation of the Eiffel tower, and we will have the Londoner, points out the architect Maria Jos de Freitas, who has lived in Macau since 1997, two years before the handover to China.

For the doctoral student in Portuguese-influenced heritage, it is this Disneyland species that attracts the thousands of tourists from China looking for a European atmosphere, with visits to the historic center being nothing more than an appointment.

They go through the ruins of So Paulo to take a photo and say I was here, they dont even have time to read the signs, he criticizes.

The visit nevertheless leaves marks on the historic center, registered as a World Heritage Site on July 15, 2005. The ruins of So Paulo are constantly being visited by tourists, and buses and pollution, and all road traffic in the area, they are extremely harmful , she stresses.

The architect points out that there is still no plan for the protection of the Portuguese legacy in Macau, foreseen in the heritage safeguard law of 2013, approved just eight years after enrollment in UNESCO.

Without legal guidelines, the heritage left by the Portuguese was quickly surrounded by real estate pressure, with the Government authorizing the construction of casinos on the peninsula and buildings to emerge around the protected area.

The most recent controversy involves Guia Lighthouse, the first lighthouse on the southeast coast of Asia, threatened by plans to build a 90-meter building.

The case led Associao Nova Macau to file a complaint with the Commission against Corruption, on July 23, a month after the Guia Lighthouse Safeguard Group complained to UNESCO.

In 2017, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee criticized the Macau Government for the possible impact of high-rise developments on the landscapes of Farol da Guia and Colina da Penha, warning that the lack of a heritage safeguard plan could put in jeopardy danger to their status.

For Rui Leo, the degradation does not seem easy to reverse, when 80% of Macaus GDP comes from gambling revenues, the great tourist attraction.

Any monofunctional economy is a place where there is not much debate, laments the architect, considering that the territory risks losing what makes its difference: a heritage of five centuries, at the crossroads between east and west.

This makes Macau not an alienated or unbearable place, like Doha [the capital of Qatar] or Dubai, where there may be a lot of money, but there is no world: they are fake cities, made of nothing, he defends.

Paula Telo Alves

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Pandemic has lifted tourist pressure in the city, with twice as many visitors from Venice - Macau Business

Government to reduce NAT fee to MOP 120 – Macau News

The Macao government will lower the current testing fee of MOP 180 to MOP 120 for its nucleic acid testing (NAT) scheme from Wednesday next week, the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre announced in a statement on Thursday.

The statement said that from today, residents can make an appointment to undergo their nucleic acid tests from Wednesday next week. The statement reminded that those who have made an appointment to undergo their tests before Wednesday next week will still have to pay the current testing fee of MOP 180.

The statement said that if those who have made an appointment to undergo their tests before Wednesday next week want to reschedule their tests so that they will only have to pay the new testing fee of MOP 120 they can change the date using the online appointment system if they have already paid the fee of MOP 180, in which case they can apply for the refund of the MOP-60 difference. If they have still not paid the fee of MOP 180, they will have to cancel their appointment first before making a new appointment, the statement said, in which case the government cannot guarantee that places will still be available for them when they make a new appointment.

Residents who plan to visit Guangdong have to make an appointment online to be tested for COVID-19 under the Macao governments NAT scheme so that they can present a NAT certificate confirming that they have tested negative for COVID-19 when crossing the Macao-Zhuhai border.

The Macao government launched its NAT scheme on 7 May when its first and main testing station at the Taipa Ferry Terminal in Pac On started operating. The Health Bureau (SSM) has commissioned a third-party testing institution Kuok Kim (Macau) Hygiene Examination Company Limited to carry out COVID-19 testing there.

A new testing station for the governments NAT scheme, which is located at the Macau Forum complex in Zape, came into operation last month. The new Macau Forum testing station is temporarily being operated by the Health Bureau before it will commission a third-party testing institution to carry out COVID-19 testing there. The government has not said whether the same testing institution Kuok Kim or a new one will carry out the COVID-19 testing.

(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)PHOTO The Macau Post Daily/Maria Cheang Ut Meng

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Committee predicts oversupply of teaching staff in the next 3 years – Macau News

The government-appointed Talents Development Committee (SCDT) said in a statement on Thursday that it expects an oversupply of teaching staff for non-tertiary education schools in the next three years.

The committee also released data from a research project on the topic.

The statement said that the aim of the research was for the general public to understand the demand for teaching staff in Macao and use it as a reference for career planning. The research surveyed all 78 non-tertiary education schools in Macao and gathered information about the demand for teaching staff from 2020 to 2023, according to the statement.

Non-tertiary education comprises primary and secondary schools as well as schools for pupils with special needs and kindergartens.

According to the data, the 78 non-tertiary education schools require 7,411 teaching staff, yet they only need to recruit 235 new teaching staff members, with the data showing that the demand for new teaching members is just 3.2 per cent of the total staff needed. The data also showed that the demand for new teaching staff will decrease over the next few years, predicting that in 2022-2023, only 124 new teachers will be needed.

The statement also predicted that there will be an oversupply of teacher-training graduates in the next few years. Besides primary education institutions, all other institutions will have an excessive supply of teacher-training graduates, according to the research.

(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)

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Egypt highway uproots graves, homes in ‘City of Dead’ – Macau Business

Egyptian mother-of-three Menna said she was caught off guard when a bulldozer clearing space for a controversial highway flattened much of a mausoleum that doubled as her home in a sprawling cemetery.

The earth mover suddenly hit the wall and we found ourselves throwing our things in a panic outside, she told AFP.

They kicked us out on the street, she said, surrounded by rubble and dust in the UNESCO-listed world heritage site.

Mennas parents and grandparents had made their home among the graves of the City of the Dead, the oldest necropolis in the Muslim world.

For those unable to afford prohibitively high rents in Egypts capital,the burial chambers provide shelter for thousands like her.

Many built extensions to the original mausoleums, eking out a largely tranquil, if bizarre, existence side-by-side with dead sultans, singers and saints in the sprawling east Cairo cemetery.

But Menna said her peace and that of the dead was shattered by the arrival of workmen.

It was awful. We moved the dead on straw mats, she said.

She and her husband shifted several bodies, including the remains of her father, to a segment of her home still intact.

Menna is now living with neighbours in part of the cemetery that is not in the demolition area.

Dozens of bodies were displaced by the construction work in the second half of July, according to local media, to make way for the 17.5 kilometre (11 miles) Al-Ferdaous, or Paradise, highway.

Ferdaous, connecting major Cairo road arteries, is the latest instalment of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisis urban vision.

He is intent on transferring the centre of political power to a new capital, about 45 kilometres east of Cairo a mega-project in the desert overseen by the militarys engineering arm.

Sisi led the armys overthrow of elected president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 following mass protests against the Islamist leaders rule.

He won his first term as president in 2014 and was re-elected four years later with more than 97 percent of the vote.

It is not just residents of the City of the Dead who are upset by the demolition work undertaken there.

Galila El-Kadi, a Marseille-based veteran architect and urban researcher, said the site is an important component of the capitals urban history.

A final resting place for illustrious figures including singer Farid al-Atrash and writer Ihsan Abdel Kouddous as well as ordinary Egyptians, the Islamic necropolis founded in the seventh century stretches over 6.5 kilometres (four miles).

It is full of ornately designed domes with chiseled Koranic verses that have been the object of fascination for orientalist painters and historians.

Kadi, who authored a book on the City of the Dead (al-Qarafa in Arabic), said the demolition had reached a historic perimeter where luminaries are buried, including Sultan Abu Said Qansuh of the Mamluk dynasty in the 15th century.

Shesaid the demolitions would result in a loss of Cairos visual identity and its memory.

They reveal the blind and arbitrary character of a haphazard urban planning vision, driven by a bulldozer policy, Kadi alleged.

UNESCO told AFP that it was neither informed nor consulted about the demolition work undertaken in July.

The World Heritage Centre is following up with the Egyptian authorities to review the matter and assess any potential impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value, authenticity and integrity of the property, it added.

On social media, Egyptians have documented the urban destruction with photos of their family vaults as well as historic ones.

A Twitter user with the handle @morocropolis said his maternal family had maintained a vault in Qunsah Street since the 1940s.

He declined to give his full name fearing his criticism of the highway project would land him in trouble.

The authorities told us that they needed part of the womens burial chamber, but they started to destroy the fence and the tombstones before the remains were moved, he told AFP.

He said he will not be eligible for compensation since the crypt was partially, rather than fully, destroyed.

Egypts ministry of antiquities defended the work undertaken in the cemetery last month and said there was no destruction of monuments.

Only recent graves were moved, it said.

But Menna said she is haunted by the disturbed bodies.

They abuse the living and the dead, without mercy and in the end, no one cares about us.

by Hager Harabech

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String of MP resignations after Beirut blast – Macau Business

A three-member Lebanese parliamentary bloc resigned Saturday in protest at the Beirut blast widely blamed on government negligence and corruption, bringing to five the number of MPs to quit since the disaster.

In an emotional speech during a funeral service for one of his top party officials who died in Tuesdays blast, Samy Gemayel announced his resignation and that of the two other MPs from his Kataeb party.

Your comrades took the decision to resign from parliament, Gemayel said, addressing Kataeb secretary-general Nazar Najarian, one of the 154 confirmed victims of the explosion at Beirut port.

Gemayel criticised the reactions of several top politicians who argued the international aid effort following the disaster would be an opportunity to break the diplomatic isolation of Lebanon.

A new Lebanon must be born on the ruins of the old one, which you represent, he said, addressing the authorities at large and their clan leaders.

The Christian partys three resignations from the 128-seat parliament come after those of Marwan Hamade from the party of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and independent MP Paula Yacoubian.

Yacoubian told the CNN news channel that she was urging the entire parliament to stand down.

As the MP of Beirut, I took the decision of resigning because I feel Im a false witness in this parliament, she said.

Theres nothing we can do, the decision-making is outside the parliament, she said. Everyone should resign.

Lebanons ambassador to Jordan also resigned in the aftermath of the blast, caused when fire spread to a depot where a huge amount of ammonium nitrate had been stored for years, unsecured.

Early evidence shows top officials knew of its presence at the port and that safety procedures were knowingly and repeatedly violated.

The government has promised a swift and thorough enquiry but public trust is low that an investigative committee chaired by top officials will uncover the real culprits.

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