Neighbourhood stores in Qatar can get their licences extended on a yearly basis until the end of 2019, according to a draft decision of HE the Minister of Economy and Commerce approved by the Cabinet.

The decision amends some provisions of Decision No 239 of 2011 on regulations for granting temporary licences to open commercial and public shops in residential areas, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.

Under the amendment, licences can be renewed for such neighbourhood shops that function during the application of the said decision and carry out activities other than those stipulated in Article 1 of Decision No 239 of 2011. The extension period will end on December 31, 2019.

In September 2013, the cabinet had approved a draft decision allowing the renewal of such outlets annually until the end of 2016.

The decision had come as a welcome relief for more than 7,100 groceries and other shops spread across the country as the Ministry of Economy and Commerce had decided in March that year not to renew the licences of most of the business establishments located in residential neighbourhoods after September 15, Gulf Times had reported.

Back then, residents, including expatriates and locals, had called for the continuation of neighbourhood groceries because they offered “necessary and timely” services, according to the daily.

After the Cabinet’s regular weekly session chaired by HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani at the Emiri Diwan yesterday, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Mahmoud said the meeting gave its nod to a draft Cabinet decision that amends some provisions of Decision No 2 of 2012 on the organisation of the National Committee on Biosafety.

The Ministry of Municipality and Environment prepared the draft decision as part of integrating a number of ministries and delegating some departments, which required a restructuring of the committee.

The committee is concerned with a number of issues, including biosafety policies, identifying procedures that control biotechnology in order to create a safe policy for research on genetic recombination, approving the national framework of biosafety, and conducting a risk assessment of organisms and genetically modified products.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet yesterday reviewed HE the Minister of Economy and Commerce's draft decision to identify certain areas in the country as tourist spots.

At its meeting, the Cabinet welcomed the results of the 37th GCC Supreme Council summit held in Bahrain earlier this month with the participation of HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

HE al-Mahmoud noted that the Sakhir Declaration issued at the summit and its closing statement constituted an “important addition to the path of the GCC and the achievement of the ambitions of its peoples”, QNA reported.

In addition, the Cabinet welcomed the joined communique issued by the summit, which involved GCC leaders and British Prime Minister Theresa May, during which they agreed to the launch of a GCC-UK strategic partnership to promote closer ties in all fields.

Additionally, the session approved a proposal by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce to ratify the requested budget to participate in Expo 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan.

It also reviewed a memo from HE the Minister of Public Health on the results of the 80th session of the GCC council of health ministers, held in Riyadh in October.

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