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Intel Saudi Arabia

  • “Honey, I shrunk the cash” – A “graphic” Valentine’s story

    February 2019 has only 28 days. Ideally, we should have all have more money remaining toward the end of the month … but then again, there’s Valentine’s Day!


    There goes the money

    Get this – even though only 51 percent of Americans are keen on celebrating Valentine’s Day in some form or the other, they will be shelling out a record $20.7 billion collectively on the occasion. This pegs the average spend of a person at $161.96 – an increase of 13% from 2018, according to the National Retail Federation survey.

    Valentine’s Day Spending vs Percentage of People Celebrating Valentine’s Day (U.S.)


    Things aren’t very different in other parts of the world. Sentimental spending is up 49 percent and 33 percent in the UK and the Asia Pacific region respectively. The Middle East region witnessed a 10 percent rise in spending and a 20 percent increase in the volume of transactions since 2016.


    Online lure

    The variety of choice and the convenience of making even last-minute purchases for loved ones has resulted in rapid growth in online shopping. The number of e-commerce transactions for Valentine’s Day gifts increased by 236% in the UAE between 2016 and 2018.

    There is “rapid adoption of digital payment solutions among UAE consumers. In an age where contactless payments and same-day delivery e-commerce purchases have become the norm, our solutions are making it easier than ever to impress loved ones with meaningful Valentine’s surprises,” said Girish Nanda, General Manager, UAE and Oman, Mastercard.

    In the UAE, contactless payments also saw huge growth, with the share of transactions increasing by 829 percent in the last two years.  During the same period, the total value of contactless transactions grew by a whopping 1,252 percent margin.


    Experience over expense

    Expensive gifts such as diamonds are becoming a thing of past, with Gen X, millennials and baby boomers emptying their pockets on experiences, dating apps and “self-love” instead. Those not spending on others are perfectly happy spending on themselves.


    Valentine’s Day spending survey


    Expenditures on jewelry have dropped 28 percent on Valentine’s Day in the last three years, while total spending on hotels rose a whopping 74 percent, the Mastercard survey indicates.

    In the UAE, expenditures on experiences spiked with hotel trips and transportation increasing by 20% and 38% respectively between 2016 and 2018.

    Chocolates and flowers, however, remain eternal. The total spending on bouquets in the UAE went up 176 percent in 2018, compared to 2016.


    Swipe right

    Dating apps are picking up, and it’s no surprise. While the U.S. leads in the share of the adult population who are active paying customers, the rest of the world is not far behind. Tinder has witnessed a steady uptick in paying subscribers with 1.25 million subscribers joining the app in a single year.



    Online dating powerhouse Match Group grew its revenue by 30 percent last year, pulling in a record total of $1.73 billion over the past twelve months. Tinder accounted for nearly half that total with subscriber revenue from the popular app amounting to $805 million.


    Early birds

    Consumers in the UAE also plan ahead of time with 29 percent of Valentine’s Day purchases historically happening on February 11.

    In Europe, people began shopping for Valentine’s Day at least a week in advance with sales peaking on Feb. 12 and the eve of the occasion.


    Daily Traffic and Sales in Europe in the Week Preceding Valentine’s Day

    The post “Honey, I shrunk the cash” – A “graphic” Valentine’s story appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • $114 million net profits for GFH: Smart investments; Profitable exits

    For the financial year ended 31 December 2018, GFH Financial Group (GFH) reported consolidated net profit of $115 million (mn) as compared with $103.19 million from the previous year, an increase of 11.4%, and a net profit attributable to shareholders of $114.08mn compared with $104.18mn for the previous year, an increase of 9.5% mainly due to contribution from across all business lines and strategic transactions during the year.

    Commenting on the results, Jassim Alseddiqi, Chairman of GFH, said, “This marks the fourth consecutive year of solid gains. Among the strongest measures of market confidence in GFH today and over the past year was the raising of more than $1 billion through our investment products and treasury and capital markets during 2018, which fuels further growth and investment for GFH in 2019.”

    “We are also delighted to announce the Board’s recommendation for another robust distribution of a dividend of 8.71% and $85mn ($30mn cash and $55mn bonus shares) for 2018 to shareholders, subject to approval by the General Assembly and our regulators. We have entered 2019 in a stronger position than ever to build value and execute on our strategy.”

    For the full year 2018, the Group’s total consolidated revenue was $246.21mn compared with $204.36mn in 2017, reflecting a healthy year-on-year increase of 20.5%.

    GFH also continued to deliver on its strategy of achieving profitable exists, which for the year amounted to $120mn.

    Last October, GFH was conditionally approved to sell its $1bn real estate portfolio to the Bahraini central bank, in the form of both initial cash payments covering over 25% of the deal and through a joint development agreement over 5 years for the remaining balance, a company statement at the time said.

    Reflecting market confidence in the Group was an affirmation of its ratings by Fitch, the international rating agency, at “B” with a Stable Outlook.

    Hisham Alrayes, CEO of GFH, added, “2018 was characterised by a strategic focus on further diversifying and building our portfolio of strong income yielding. We made our first technology investment in the Entertainer, a market leading leisure platform that operates in the region and globally and which has been doubling its turnover year on year. Significantly, we have also made strong progress in achieving strategic and profitable exits ahead of targets, despite challenging market conditions.”

    Left: Hisham Alrayes, CEO of GFH and right: Jassim Alseddiqi, Chairman of GFH

    In May 2018, GFH acquired 85% of UAE retail app, ‘The Entertainer’, in a deal that sees the company invest up to $150mn.

    In January this year, UK’s Hemel Hempstead business park was acquired by GFH.

    Located just north of London, the park comprises four grade A office buildings with approximately 200,000 sqft of space with the property being 96% occupied by tenants from a range of industries.

    As part of GFH exit strategies, Reuters today reported that GFH signed a strategic $100mn real estate deal with a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) owned by Terra real estate investments with instrumental support from Abu Dhabi Financial Group, as published by Zawya.

    “Deal will see Terra acquiring 72% of Harbour Row Residence in Bahrain for $40mn and part of GFH’s real estate project in Morocco for $60mn,” said Reuters.

    “(The) transaction is expected to have a positive impact on GFH’s 2019 financial results and comes as part of planned exits from GFH’s real estate portfolio, to be undertaken over the next five years.”

    Alrayes concluded, “We plan to start the process to launch operations in Saudi Arabia and the UK and to establish dedicated healthcare and education platforms.”

    The post $114 million net profits for GFH: Smart investments; Profitable exits appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Bank lending for ‘real economy’ key to boost China growth: central bank official

    Sat, 2019-02-16 07:50

    SHANGHAI: China should encourage its banks to support smaller, private firms in the real economy, rather than forced lending or policies such as quantitative easing, a state newspaper quoted a central bank official as saying on Saturday.
    “The central bank doesn’t wish to use administrative methods to require banks (to lend),” Sun Guofeng, head of the monetary policy department at the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), told the Financial News, a bank publication.
    “It wants to establish positive encouragement mechanisms though monetary policy tools to encourage banks to actively increase their support for the real economy, especially toward smaller and privately-owned firms,” Sun said.
    The comments come a month after Sun wrote a commentary in which he argued that problems with timely capital replenishment, bank liquidity gaps and poor rate “transmission” are three major constraints on banks’ supply of credit.
    In the interview with the Financial News, Sun said monetary policy transmission had “noticeably improved,” showing that steps to enhance transmission mechanisms had been effective.
    He said the central bank would increase the strength of innovation in monetary policy tools.
    Perpetual bond issuance “is only one breakthrough” in reducing capital constraints on banks, Sun said, adding that “other methods” could be used in the future.
    He said that quantitative easing was neither necessary nor possible at the moment, noting that under China’s financial system the significance of the central bank buying Chinese treasury bonds on the secondary market is limited, and that the PBOC is barred from buying the instruments on the primary market.
    China’s banks made the most new loans on record in January following a series of moves to boost lending as authorities try to prevent a sharp slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

    Main category: 

    Debt guarantee tangle: China’s private firms hit by default contagionWeak credit growth raises odds of China’s first rate cut in years

    Posted: by Arab News

  • China to lure foreign investment in state giants

    Sun, 2019-02-17 06:47

    BEIJING: China will seek to attract foreign investment in its larger state-owned enterprises (SOEs), which are undergoing reforms to make them more competitive, the head of the country’s state asset regulator said.
    China began a new round of reforms in 2016 aimed at streamlining its lumbering SOEs by introducing private capital, curbing overcapacity, shutting down “zombie” subsidiaries and restructuring assets.
    Private and foreign firms should “actively participate in reform and development of central enterprises, and jointly explore ways of deep cooperation including mixed-ownership,” Xiao Yaqing, chairman of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), said on the regulator’s website on Sunday.
    China has been promoting “mixed-ownership” reforms aimed at introducing private capital and management methods into giant central government SOEs. The SASAC will also support investment by state giants in private and foreign firms, Xiao said, without giving details.

    Main category: 

    Foreign businesses fret as China fast-tracks investment lawChina to ease investment access to aviation industry

    Posted: by Arab News

  • China-US trade talks ‘making a final sprint’ — state media

    Sat, 2019-02-16 03:40

    SHANGHAI: Chinese state media on Saturday expressed cautious optimism over trade talks between the United States and China, a day after President Xi Jinping said a week of discussions had produced “step-by-step” progress.
    Xi made the comments at a meeting on Friday with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Beijing, after a week of senior- and deputy-level talks.
    The People’s Daily, the official paper of the ruling Communist Party, said in a commentary that Xi’s meeting with US negotiators had affirmed progress made in previous talks and “injected new impetus into the next stage of the development of Sino-US trade relations.”
    The talks “have made important progress” for the next round of negotiations in Washington next week, the paper said in its domestic edition.
    “It is hoped that the two sides will maintain the good momentum of the current consultations and strive to reach an agreement within the set time limit,” it said.
    US duties on $200 billion in imports from China are set to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent if there is no deal by March 1 to address US demands that China curb forced technology transfers and better enforce intellectual property rights.
    In its overseas edition, the People’s Daily said “zero-sum thinking and games where you lose and I win can only create losses for both. Only on a basis of mutual respect and equal treatment, through dialogue and consultation, can we find a solution acceptable to both sides.”
    An English-language editorial in the Global Times, which is published by the People’s Daily, said news that China had consulted on the text of a memorandum of understanding “shows the two sides have made unprecedented progress.”
    “The MOU and next week’s talks both show that the seemingly endless China-US trade negotiations, like a marathon, are making a final sprint,” it said.
    The newspapers cautioned that any agreement would have to be in the interests of both the United States and China.
    “There are still obstacles to be overcome, and no one should underestimate how daunting a task the two sides face trying to resolve all the differences that have long existed between them in one clean sweep,” the official English-language China Daily said in an editorial.

    Main category: 

    Oil edges higher on upcoming China-US trade talks, OPEC cutsChina-US trade tension dominates opening day of Bloomberg New Economy Forum

    Posted: by Arab News

  • China’s car sales decline deepens, road ahead bumpy

    Mon, 2019-02-18 04:54

    SHANGHAI: China’s automobile sales in January tumbled 15.8 percent from a year earlier, the country’s top auto industry association said on Monday, as the world’s largest auto market hits the skids with the slump in sales extending to the seventh month.
    China’s Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said in an emailed statement to Reuters that sales dropped to 2.37 million vehicles last month. This follows a 13 percent drop in December and a 14 percent fall in November.
    “Car sales in January continued to decline, and there was no sign of improvement. We estimate that February wholesales will also drop sharply” said Xu Haidong, CAAM assistant secretary general.
    “The reason for the sales drop is still the slowing overall economy, and consumption decline in small and medium-sized cities” Xu said.
    China has been grappling with slowing economic growth as well as the fallout of trade frictions with the United States, forces which contributed to its auto market contracting for the first time in more than two decades last year.
    Beijing is now trying to persuade consumers to loosen their purse strings and has pledged to provide subsidies to boost rural sales of some vehicles and purchases of new energy vehicles.
    “Q1 sales were good last year, so this year the industry expects to have negative growth in the first quarter” Yale Zhang, head of consultancy AutoForesight, said, but he predicts sales to gradually pick up in the next three quarters.
    Industry executives also say China’s car sales in January and February tend to be affected by the Lunar New Year holiday, as consumers hold off on their car purchasing decisions around the festival.
    The holiday’s dates change annually but tend to occur in either month. It took place in the first week of February this year.
    China’s sales of new energy vehicles, however, continued to buck the trend, totaling 95,700 in January, a year-on-year increase of 140 percent, CAAM said.

    Main category: 

    Chinese car makers brace for another bumpy ride after tough 2018Nissan to cut China auto output over 3 months as demand slows

    Posted: by Arab News

  • Cloud adoption by education sector to increase security, lower costs

    A Nutanix-commissioned survey by Vanson Bourne reveals how the cloud will host over 50% of education sector IT workloads by 2020

    Use of the cloud to handle IT workloads by education institutions is set to increase by 2020, bringing numerous benefits to the education sector in terms of efficiency, cost reductions and security management, according to the first-ever global Enterprise Cloud index commissioned by Nutanix. The study, which examined the education sector’s plans for adopting private, hybrid and public clouds*, found that 55% of educational institutions’ workloads will be running in the cloud by 2020, compared to 38% currently. The results depict a future powered by ‘hyperconverged’ infrastructure, with education institutions to benefit from advantages including improved scalability, lower total cost of operation and flexibility of workload applications.

    The Enterprise Cloud Index – produced by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Nutanix – also revealed that in the education sector specifically, 32% of IT decision makers envision all of their applications will be working in a hybrid cloud environment within the next two years, mostly due to the flexibility offered by the hybrid cloud. Overall, seven in ten (70%) IT decision-makers stated that the flexibility to choose the right cloud for each application is a major benefit of a hybrid cloud. The findings also revealed that application mobility across any cloud is a top priority for 97% of respondents – with 88% of respondents saying it would “solve a lot of my problems”.

    Aaron White, Regional Director – Middle East, Nutanix

    Aaron White, Regional Director, Middle East at Nutanix comments: “Educational institutions in the Middle East face serious challenges with their legacy IT infrastructure. With the continual growth in online testing, BYOD adoption, the increased need for mobility and remote access by faculty and students, and the surge in learning applications and instructional video — coupled with tighter budgets and more limited IT resources — the supporting IT infrastructure needs to be more adaptable than ever. Hyper-converged infrastructure is the perfect solution for colleges and universities. It provides the ideal combination of high performance, easy scalability, simple management, and low cost for server and desktop virtualization, and campus mobility initiatives.”

    Other key findings of the report include:

    -Middle East outpaces rest of the world in the deployment of hybrid cloud: The Middle East runs slightly fewer workloads in traditional data centres and outpaces the global and regional averages in its deployment of hybrid clouds, with 22% penetration reported as compared to the global average of 19% and EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) average of 17%

    -Hybrid cloud better addresses business needs over single public cloud, including the price tag: 87% of respondents said that hybrid cloud was having a positive impact on their businesses, and more hybrid cloud users reported all their needs were being met (49%) compared to single public cloud users (37%).

    -Security is top of mind for determining workloads: 71% of respondents surveyed for the report ranked data security and regulatory compliance as the top factor in determining where to provision workloads.

    -App developers circumventing IT: 57% of respondents said developers are circumventing IT when it comes to deciding where applications run, putting the organisation at potential risk.

    -Finding hybrid IT talent is difficult: With clear benefits to a hybrid model, respondents say the scarcity of hybrid experts is a challenge.

    Nutanix commissioned Vanson Bourne to survey IT decision makers about where they are running their business applications today, where they plan to run them in the future, challenges in setting up their cloud environments and how their cloud initiatives stack up against other IT projects and priorities. The survey resulted in approximately 2,300 respondents from multiple industries, business sizes and geographies in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa (EMEA), and Asia-Pacific and Japan (APJ) regions.

    To learn more about the report and findings, please download the full Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Index 2018, here.

    *For the purposes of this study, hybrid cloud “describes the combined use of at least one private cloud and at least one public cloud service, with some degree of integration between the two cloud environments.”

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    Posted: by AME Info

  • Cuban cigars hit record sales thanks to increasing Chinese demand

    Mon, 2019-02-18 21:51

    HAVANA: Boosted by growing demand from China, sales of Cuban cigars reached a record $537 million in 2018, a seven percent increase over the previous year despite global laws against tobacco, the partially state-owned Habanos said Monday.
    “China has surpassed France as the second biggest market for Habanos” behind Spain, said the cigar company’s vice president Jose Maria Lopez Inchaurbe.
    Sales in China grew by 55 percent with east Asia as a whole up nine percent, said Lopez.
    Marketing manager Ernesto Gonzalez said the figures showed “the strength of our sales despite the difficulties faced during the year.”
    The French market was hit by a 17 percent increase in taxes on tobacco products, which meant Habanos had to push up its prices by eight to 10 percent, said Lopez.
    Gonzalez said the impressive figures came despite the global luxury tobacco market growing by just one percent in 2018.
    Unlike in Europe, sales in China have not been affected by toughening anti-tobacco laws.
    “The tobacco market regulatory environment is getting increasingly complicated,” said Lopez.
    The growth also comes despite the continuing embargo on Cuban products being sold in the hugely lucrative US market.
    Habanos is half-owned by Spanish tobacco firm Altadis, which is itself the property of British giant Imperial Brand.
    In 2017, Habanos saw sales grow by 12 percent to reach a then-record $500 million, again pushed by a huge upsurge in Chinese demand.

    Main category: 

    Saudi Arabia and Spain’s Navantia plan combat management systems ventureSaudi Arabian Military Industries and France’s Naval sign deal to build warships in the Kingdom

    Posted: by Arab News

  • DestinationDXB launched in Dubai to boost airport experience

    When Mohammed Baker, Emirati athlete, and skydiver, descended from skies on Wednesday evening at Dubai Design District, his parachute had a new logo of Dubai Airports.

    Dubai International Airport, one of the busiest and one of the most efficient airports in the world, launched a new look and brand yesterday in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai.

    Millions of travelers passing Dubai International will soon get to experience unmatched hospitality, a culture of vibrant imagination, as well as a mesmerizing mosaic of exciting and inspiring experiences, ranging from mouth-watering cuisines, evolving retail choices, to world-class music and art.

    After welcoming one billion passengers overall, the airport is transforming toward creating immersive experiences that embody the true spirit of Dubai for its customers, as part of its new brand reveal on Wednesday.

    Per Dubai Airports’ figures, passenger traffic in 2018 was 89.14 million – a rise of 1% from 2017, while cargo movement in 2018 was 2.6 million tons – a decrease of 0.5% from 2017.

    As for the new brand, understanding dining is an integral part of a traveler’s journey through the airport, DXB has introduced a range of delectable options. From the choicest traditional flavors at the S34 Gahwa Mezza Bar, and Americana-style diner options with a local twist at Tranzeet DXB, to live entertainment at the licensed Hard Rock Café, travelers will now be able to delight their taste buds in an environment second to none.

    Away from dining, customers will also be able to experience art, music, fashion and local culture, giving DXB a sense of place and a taste of the city it calls home, said a release from Dubai Airports.

    Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid, Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Airports and Paul Griffiths, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Airports, were at the launch along with several VIPs and global media.

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    Posted: by AME Info

  • Dubai Financial Services Authority to protect public from companies like MGL

    On 4 February 2019, the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), the independent regulator of financial services conducted in or from the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), announced the suspension of the licence of Morgan Gatsby Limited (MGL) for a period of 12 months, consistent with its aim to protect direct and indirect users of the financial services industry in the DIFC.

    DFSA stated that MGL’s licence was suspended due to serious concerns related to the adequacy of its human and financial resources, its non-compliance with DFSA rulebook requirements, and its failure to deal with the DFSA in an open and cooperative manner.

    Neither MGL nor Essel Group ME (“EGME”), owners of MGL, could be reached for comment for failure to pick up the phone.

    But AMEinfo did ask DFSA to provide more details about the issue and in a statement, DFSA responded to the following questions:

    AMEinfo: What prompted the investigation to begin with, what are the main infractions that prompted the suspension and did company violations cause clients to lose asset investments, cash or property?

    DFSA: All pertinent details regarding the DFSA’s decision to take this action are explained in the Media Release and the Decision Notice, both of which are published on our website. 

    For the Morgan Gatsby case, see

    The DFSA carries out its activities in confidence.  The DFSA, therefore, does not publish information about the commencement, conduct, or conclusion of any of its investigations.  However, where the DFSA’s investigations result in action taken by the DFSA, details of these actions are published on our website.

    AMEinfo: What other financial investigations are underway?

    As stated above, all DFSA investigations are confidential.  The DFSA, therefore, does not provide information on the number or type of investigations that it is carrying out.

    AMEinfo: How were previous financial cases handled? (settlements, licenses revoked, etc.)

    All of the DFSA’s Enforcement actions are published on our website –

    The DFSA has a number of actions that it can take and sanctions that it can impose including but not limited to imposing fines, censures, and also withdrawing the licenses or authorisations of firms and individuals.  It can also restrict firms and individuals from being involved in the provision of financial services in or from the DIFC.  Examples of these actions, including those that were arrived at by way of settlement, can be found by going to the Regulatory Actions page on our website:


    The DFSA will also generally issue a Media Release about any action that it has taken:

    AMEinfo: What laws protect investors from financial companies’ mismanagement practices, or rogue intent?

    DFSA: One of the objectives of the DFSA set out in law (and reproduced in the MR) is to protect users and prospective users of the financial services industry in the DIFC, which includes investors.  The DFSA administers laws and Rules which are designed to achieve this including but not limited to ensuring that communications/disclosures to investors are clear, fair and not misleading and also ensuring that products recommended to investors are suitable for them.

    The DFSA, however, does not have criminal jurisdiction.  Criminal conduct is referred to the appropriate authorities in the UAE.

    Bryan Stirewalt, Chief Executive of the DFSA, commented on Feb 4: “The DFSA will take immediate action to ensure the interests of its clients and the DIFC are protected. We will not hesitate to suspend a firm that repeatedly fails to comply with our regulatory requirements and also fails to deal with us in an open and cooperative manner. The DFSA is committed to protecting the investors’ interests as well as the reputation and integrity of the DIFC’s financial services.”

    The DFSA formally brought these concerns to MGL’s attention in April 2018, and MGL failed to address the concerns to the DFSA’s satisfaction, DFSA said.

    Who is MGL?

    Morgan Gatsby is a diversified financial services group based in Dubai. It mentions capabilities covering Investment Banking, Wealth Management and Corporate Advisory, and serving a wide range of clients, including high net worth individuals, family offices and small to medium-sized regional businesses.

    “We are renowned for building long-standing and successful relationships with our clients and for delivering services that are tailored to their individual needs and requirements,” it said on its website.

    “We understand the importance of integrity in promoting and building sustainable business and personal relationships with all stakeholders, and are committed to generating value for our clients,” it added.

    The post Dubai Financial Services Authority to protect public from companies like MGL appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Dubai sustains its global competitivity for 2018 as a logistics hub

    Leading property consultancy and chartered surveying firm, Cavendish Maxwell, has released its Dubai Industrial and Logistics Report for 2018. The report offers a comprehensive and unique outlook on Dubai’s overall competitivity as a logistics hub, the infrastructure available, supply and demand, and market sector opportunities for growth and investment. The report was compiled by the firm’s in-house Investment and Commercial Agency team, drawing data from its in-depth industry knowledge, in collaboration with its extensive client and partner portfolio.

    Commenting on the report, Andrew Love, Partner and Head of Investment and Commercial Agency at Cavendish Maxwell, said:

    “Dubai’s industrial and logistics real estate market remained relatively stable in the six months leading up to 2019. However, the market continues to be challenging, with increased flight-to-quality and supply still outstripping take up. We will continue to monitor market conditions going into 2019, providing our customers with expert insights to help them decide how best to maximise investment and returns.”

    Key sector insights

    Demand for property in the industrial sector is being driven by SMEs across Dubai, many of which are seeking opportunities to relocate and benefit from the softer market conditions in an attempt to reduce their occupational costs.

    The logistics/distribution and general trading industries accounted for over 60% of demand, with manufacturing also showing positive enquiry levels, testament to the competitiveness of Dubai for business.

    Accounting for approximately 10% of the UAE’s economy, the logistics and transport industry’s market share far outperforms the wider region. Continued significant investments into this sector should provide the platform for future growth and ensure the industry plays an important role in the economy in the future.

    Funds, Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and high-net-worth individuals looking for opportunities are driving appetite for investment in the industrial and logistics sector of the property market. In the absence of good quality investment opportunities, investors with cash to spend are increasingly reviewing options that would not have been considered 12-18 months ago.

    For more detailed information and the complete market outlook download your copy of the 2018 Industrial and Logistics Report here:

    Cavendish Maxwell is a highly respected independent firm of chartered surveyors and property consultants, focusing on property services throughout the Middle East and Africa

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    Posted: by AME Info

  • Economic slowdown in 2019: Qatar and Turkey at risk

    (Report by S&P Global)

    Global financial conditions are tighter at the beginning of 2019 than they were a year ago. This is
    because of higher interest rates after the Federal Reserve hiked its policy rate by 100 basis points
    in 2018, concerns about weaker growth in Europe and China, uncertainties surrounding Brexit,
    international trade tensions, and the damage to confidence by a U.S. government shutdown. For
    emerging markets (EMs), the Fed’s decision in its Jan. 30 meeting to keep rates stable has
    provided some relief. But the underpinnings of this relief–slower global growth–suggest that
    2019 could be another turbulent year.

    S&P Global Ratings considers the top global risks to be:

    1) the possibility of a financing squeeze in
    a mature credit cycle;

    2) trade disruption from a further escalation of the U.S.-China tariff dispute;

    3) potential vulnerabilities in emerging markets, particularly for those with weak fiscal positions
    (such as Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Lebanon, Oman, and Pakistan) or challenging growth prospects
    (Argentina, Ecuador, South Africa, and Turkey); and 4) the high level of private sector external debt
    in some emerging markets, such as Turkey and Qatar.

    Within this global context, we have analyzed 10 banking systems among the largest emerging
    market economies: Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South
    Africa, and Turkey. We have first looked at the expected economic performance of these countries.
    We then identified the three main common risks that their banking system will face in 2019. These
    are related to weakening asset quality, the vulnerability of some of them to external capital flows,
    and finally the correlation between these countries from an investor’s point of view.

    The Macro Story: Gradual Slowdown

    During the first few weeks of 2019, emerging market assets have benefited from revived investor
    interest, spurred by the Fed’s shift to a more neutral monetary stance. However, the key reason for
    this shift in the Fed’s monetary bias–new evidence of weakening global growth, particularly in
    Europe and Asia–should concern emerging market investors. A slowdown in developed market
    growth will have implications for exports, growth prospects, and fiscal outcomes in the emerging

    The outlook for global growth is weaker than it was only a few months ago, with volume export
    performance down in some of the world’s largest manufacturing economies, including China and
    Europe, as well as in emerging markets, including nearly all of Southeast Asia and Central Europe.

    For the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and other commodities exporters, the years of strong growth are definitely gone. We expect them to show much lower, but stable, growth rates.

    If the U.S. or China were to slow down materially, commodities exporters in our sample would be
    the hardest hit, as this could weigh on their terms of trade, a development that could ultimately
    feed into more pressure on currencies with limited reserve backing. The second round
    effect of a U.S. slowdown on Europe would exacerbate the risks. In our base-case scenario, we
    currently assume that oil prices will average $55 in 2019. As always, a combination of geopolitical
    flashpoints (most recently Venezuela), fresh U.S. shale supply, and uncertain growth conditions
    make forecasting oil prices a highly uncertain business.

    Debt dependence putting Qatar and Turkey at risk 

    Of the countries surveyed, Qatar and Turkey are most at risk from banking systems’ external debt.

    On Sept. 30, 2018, the total external debt of Turkish banks stood at $100.4 billion ($117.8 billion including nonbank financial institutions). This included $40.5 billion coming to maturity in the next 12 months ($47.0 billion including nonbank financial institutions). These numbers exclude other short-term liabilities, including among others nonresident deposits (both in Turkish lira and foreign currencies), which stood at $60.6 billion on Sept. 30, 2018.

    The volatility of the Turkish lira and uncertainty related to policy direction, amid the deterioration of the country’s relationship with Western allies, weighed on investor sentiment toward Turkey and led to the default of some corporates and nonbank financial institutions last year. Market access has somewhat improved recently, with several banks refinancing their debt with high rollover rates, albeit at higher costs. It is important to note that banks still have some foreign currency-denominated assets (about $95 billion on Sept. 30, 2018, although some of these are reserve requirements against domestic foreign currency deposits). If rollover rates drop below a certain level or banks lose a significant amount of other short-term debt, the risks will be displaced to the balance sheet of the central bank because banks will have to use their foreign currency reserves deposited there.

    With regard to Qatar, we note that external debt is picking up again. Outflows caused by the
    country’s boycott dropped to about $2.1 billion as of Sept. 30, 2018, from $22.1 billion at year-end
    2017. However, new inflows came from interbank funding, which can be volatile in case of an
    escalation of geopolitical risk, and the stock of external debt of Qatari banks remains significant.

    We consider it positive that the government is showing strong willingness and capacity to support
    its banking system. This was demonstrated when it injected, together with other
    government-related entities, up to $42.5 billion to help the banking system cope with the outflows.
    Other countries in our sample either have limited external debt or are in a net external asset

    The post Economic slowdown in 2019: Qatar and Turkey at risk appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Eni’s Gulf expansion has just started -CEO

    Sat, 2019-02-16 22:36

    MILAN: Italian major Eni said it intends to expand in the Middle East after a spree of deals in the Gulf last year, pressing ahead with plans to reduce its reliance on Africa and oil and gas exploration.
    Since last March Eni has secured nine deals in the United Arab Emirates, gained a foothold in Bahrain and expanded in Oman to underpin its future growth.
    Last month it pledged $3.3 billion to buy part of the world’s fourth-biggest refinery in the UAE, increasing its own refining capacity overnight by more than a third.
    Chief Executive Claudio Descalzi said on Friday there were huge opportunities to grow in the Gulf area and rebalance the group’s operational portfolio.
    “It’s not finished, we’ve just started,” he told analysts on a conference call after its fourth-quarter results, adding long-term the group aimed to produce 100,000 barrels per day in the area.
    Eni, which generates more than half its output in Africa, produced a record 1.851 million barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2018, lifted by operations in Egypt, Indonesia and Kazakhstan.
    Giant gas discoveries in Mozambique and, more recently, Egypt have given the energy major the strongest discovery record in the industry, boosting its credentials with oil-producing nations.
    “We’ll be able to enter new markets thanks to our technology and know-how,” Descalzi said.
    The 63-year-old said that besides the Gulf Eni is also looking to Asia to boost its gas prospects as well as Alaska to increase its oil production.
    “That’s a main oil target for us,” he said.
    Eni said it had made a 470 million euro ($529.50 million) writedown on reserves in Venezuela where it has a 50 percent stake in the giant Perla gas field and 40 percent of the Junin 5 oilfield.
    “Outstanding arrears with the country amount to about $700 million,” said CFO Massimo Monduzzi.
    A deep economic and social crisis in Venezuela has seen output plummet and the recent move by Venezuela’s opposition to oust president Nicolas Maduro has made matters critical.
    In the fourth quarter Eni’s adjusted net profit jumped 55 percent to 1.459 billion euros ($1.65 billion), above an analyst consensus forecast of 1.19 billion euros.
    Free cash flow after dividends was the highest since 2006, with excess cash for the year of 3.8 billion euros.
    Massimo Bonisoli, oil analyst at Milan-based broker Equita, said that the strong set of results showed the improvement in the group’s asset portfolio.
    “The improvement of shareholders’ remuneration is likely through buy-back and some dividend increase in 2019,” he said in a note.
    At 1419 GMT Eni shares were up 2.1 percent while the European oil and gas sector was up 1.2 percent. ($1 = 0.8876 euros)

    Main category: 

    Posted: by Arab News

  • Exclusive: Great travel deals, innovations at ATM 2019!

    The Arabian Travel Market (ATM), an annual travel trade show considered by many to be a barometer for the MENA region’s tourism sector, is back with its 26th edition scheduled to take place from April 28 to May 1, 2019, at the Dubai World Trade Center.

    ATM 2019 is expected to highlight cutting-edge technology and innovation. The event is projected to attract over 30,000 visitors and overall attendance is expected to cross 40,000. The travel and tourism extravaganza will host more than 2,500 exhibiting companies, including 100 new exhibitors and 150 country pavilions.

    Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE), which organizes ATM under the World Travel Market (WTM) banner, will also launch the Arabian Travel Week this year. This will include four co-located events including ATM 2019, ILTM Arabia, and “CONNECT Middle East, India, and Africa 2019” – a new route development forum. As a special addition this year, RTE will also host a one-day “ATM Holiday Shopper” event on Saturday, April 27. More than 30 travel and hospitality exhibitors from both regional and international destinations will offer attractive travel and tourism discounts for people attending the show.

    AMEinfo spoke exclusively to Claude Blanc, Portfolio Director of World Travel Market, about trends in the travel and tourism sector, digital disruptions, innovative technologies and more.



    Q: Talk to us about Arabian Travel Market 2019.  What are the main attractions at ATM 2019?

    Mr. Claude Blanc:  First of all, we are expecting over 30,000 visitors. There are a couple of new things, but the new thing this year is the new umbrella of Arabian Travel Week.

    ATM has always been a B2B event and we wanted to give it a wider audience. So, we decided to add a consumer element with the “Holiday Shopper” day. The day before the ATM, there will be in a separate hall, the first “ATM Holiday Shopper” dedicated to the consumer of the region with very attractive travel deals. We are asking our partners to make it really incredible. We are partnering with hotel chains, online travel agencies; we have airlines coming as well. It would be a flash sales kind of opportunity.

    People will pay to come – a little amount of money – but they may find very attractive travel deals.

    “Connect Middle East, India, Africa” will be launched this year as the first edition. There is great development and it starts with airlines routes. So, we bring professionals from the airlines, from the airports, from the aviation industry to try and build the routes of the future.


    Q: Experts are pointing to translation chatbots as positive incorporation of technology, but they are also advising caution on “over-automation” that seeks to replace customer interaction with intelligent bots. What are your comments on the issue?

    Mr. Blanc: This is really an issue. We are almost close to a “technical burnout”. There is a kind of renewal from the travelers’ perspective looking for authentic real-life experiences. And this is up to the travel players to find the happy balance between technology and the human touch.

    It’s all about people; our industry is all about people. So, we need to make the traveler experience seamless, frictionless – and there is still a lot of friction along the journey.

    People are looking for authentic experiences and for good collaborative experiences with people in the destination. This kind of research for authenticity is definitely a major trend. The other trend is linked to wellness. Wellness is a major request for travelers along with food, which is a human experience as well. You could have some waiter as a robot, but we are not yet able to see a robot as a chef of a restaurant. Food is still a kind of human science. That’s why we are adjusting the meter. We encourage technology, but at the same time, we want to increase the quality of human touch at every stage of the traveler journey.

    It’s a challenging experience. Of course, robots could be seen as a threat because they could replace people; they could suppress some jobs. But on the other hand, it could also create some new jobs because we need to implement some intelligence into the robot; we need to maintain it; we need to increase its skills. It will be a progressive shift.


    Q: There are a number of mobile applications coming up in the market that are attempting to integrate itinerary management, air and hotel bookings, currency conversions, local weather reports, budget calculations and more. How are such new technologies affecting hospitality, trade and travel?

    Mr. Blanc: The whole customer experience journey is impacted by new technology. Of course, we have artificial intelligence, but then we go from robotics – which will massively impact our industry – to all what you mentioned in the mobile app matchmaking tools. For instance, there will be innovation in terms of our own matchmaking tools; our app will be much more effective. Apart from this, we have hotel rooms that are changing and we have a forum about “hotel rooms of the future”.

    Because we would like to announce and launch “Travel Forward” softly, we would like to have a startup contest. Maybe, it will not appear this year but we would like to prepare it definitely for next year. It was very successful in Travel Forward London. We selected 20 startups and it covered the whole spectrum of travel innovation and this is where the future is.  We would like to encourage students and the new generation the millennials to join the travel industry with great innovation.

    It is part of our job to encourage innovation and to integrate innovation and technology within our business. We need to work on that because our trade traditional tradeshow model does not exist anymore. So, we are incredibly focused on the digital scene and on integrating technology at every level.



    Q: How is user-generated content on social media being used for predictive insights? How do you balance this with increasing cautiousness about personal data?

    Mr. Blanc: Once again, this is very challenging. We use social media a lot in our marketing campaigns. We understand that within the decision process for travelers, social media is becoming of key importance. The credibility of the price, in general, is declining and the credibility of digital influencers is growing. We need to find the right balance.

    But at the same time, there is a huge level of legislation to protect personal data. The travelers expect some type of customization in terms of service, but they don’t want to be controlled totally. More and more you want to be part of the travel experience; it’s kind of a co-creation of a trip.

    In the past, I could say you trust your travel agent, and then you’ve bought a full holiday package. But now this is not anymore the case. And even when you buy your whole inclusive package, you want to have outside experiences, to meet with people, to dine with people, and to have real-life experiences.

    Once again, I am optimistic by nature, but I think the customer is aware of the risk.


    Q: In your opinion, can blockchain technology and cryptocurrency disrupt the huge marketplace of travel and tourism? Will it prove to be a savior to cover certain gaps such as record exchange when it comes to medical and healthcare tourism?

    Mr. Blanc: I think blockchain and the virtual currency are really disrupting the travel market. A couple of examples – the payment chain – the Afro, that’s an interesting one! It could help a whole continent to have access to a kind of global currency, and to support the development of the countries and the people. This is kind of an interesting thing likely to totally disrupt the whole of Africa, and of course, especially in travel.

    You have other application in terms of payment security, which is very important. Digital payment often involves fraud. Yeah, so blockchain is very useful. And the other one where it is very useful is the yield management capability. Of course, the airlines are far ahead of that, but the hospitality business is still catching up. So, I think this is very helpful to make our industry more credible and to make our life better.


    Q: The World Tourism Organization recently announced that travelers to the Middle East rose 10 percent to 64 million in 2018. Is this upward trend likely to continue despite fears of a global economic slowdown? What’s your outlook for 2019?

    Mr. Blanc: Well, all the trends are forecasting a double-digit rise in terms of tourists’ arrival in the Middle East. It doesn’t mean that there are no challenges. There are some challenges. But what makes us confident, as ATM, is the level of quality of the travel experience. Value for money is at a high level, which is a positive thing. Then there is a huge level of investment to attract people to the area. We are part of this movement of course – to shed some light on this area. There is a great level of investment in WTM. I have been on the Saudi Arabia boost. There are some huge projects. Saudi Arabia is expecting 30 million visitors by 2030. So, there is a huge plan. There is a huge level of investment likely to attract these people. And the airlines are part of the game as well.

    There is this global trend of increase in term of airline passengers. This region is a hub that can attract people from everywhere in the world. There is a great climate; there is the level of quality of people; there is the investment; there is the infrastructure; there are a number of hotels; there are a number of theme parks and a number of new attractions emerging in this part of the world and it’s incredible.


    Q: Rising fuel costs, fierce competition and geopolitical tensions affecting air routes have seen many airlines including Qatar Airways, Etihad and Oman Air announcing losses in 2018. Will the increased number of passengers be enough to help lift these airlines’ yearly projections?

    Mr. Blanc: It’s a good question. The airlines market is very competitive. Even with low-cost carriers entering the market, they have a chance. I must say that the low-cost model has not been proven sustainable for the long haul. Although once again, in India, you have Indigo, which is a very successful company, and in the other places, you have some great local low-cost companies as well.

    I think the demand is so massive for corporate travel, leisure travel and the demographics are so in favor of an international trip boom, that the airline industry has to follow it. They need to find the right positioning in the marketplace. And of course, if they only compete on price, they will not be profitable; they must compete on value.

    You have some very successful companies increasing the value to travelers. I used the Virgin Atlantic for myself to come here. This is an example of an airline, which is quite smart to impose its difference in the marketplace. So, it’s simply a marketing exercise. You can work on your price, but you can add value on the customer experience.


    Q: What are the top regions/destinations for people from the Middle East to travel to in 2019?

    Mr. Blanc: Europe remains very attractive. I’ve seen the UK, France, Italy remain very attractive destinations. I’ve been in Brazil and Latin America and I’ve been impressed with the potential of the Latin American market. In Brazil, for instance, they have only 6 million international travelers coming into the country. Maybe it’s a more personal view, but I would bet on the Latin American market. But, also, of course, African countries are investing a lot in their transportation, in their hospitality sectors.

    The post Exclusive: Great travel deals, innovations at ATM 2019! appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Exclusive: Till “debt” do us part – or not? An investment outlook

    For those who believe that the last decade has been volatile for investment, consider this: Despite contractions, there has been no economic recession; the “new” instrument of quantitative easing provided a formidable tailwind with central banks pumping fresh liquidity into the system, and there was stable weather with record low volatility.

    2018 has, however, marked the beginning to a much more turbulent decade. Liquidity has given way to tightening. Economic growth has slowed down. The markets have become unpredictable, fluctuating almost 3 percent on some days. And to top it off, the huge burden of accumulated debt is bound to take its toll in the near future.

    “For sure the developed world will experience a recession somewhere in the next five years. There’s absolutely no doubt; it’s the law of gravity. We think 2019 is safe, and we have reasons to think that 2020 could be as well because of the U.S. election … There will be trouble for the developed world. I’m afraid it might be a problem because of the high levels of debt. But again, we could have said exactly the same things 10 years ago, and we did not know then that Quantitative Easing was possible,” said Maurice Gravier, Chief Investment Officer, Emirates NBD Group.


    20 years of global debt by sector – USD TRN (LHS) and U.S. 10Y yield (RHS)


    With the right tools, however, it is possible to weather any storm. Despite markets overshooting fundamentals early in 2019, Emirates NBD remains mildly optimistic in its global investment outlook for 2019 – “Preparing for the next decade”.

    “The decade ahead looks set to be more challenging for investors than the previous one, highlighting the need for discipline in portfolio construction, risk allocation, as well as selectivity of securities and products,” Gravier said.

    AMEinfo spoke to Maurice Gravier about the GCC region, Fed rate hikes, emerging market currencies and more.



    Q: Is the outlook for the next decade bleak for the GCC region as well?

    Mr. Gravier: I am absolutely convinced that this region has its own self-sustaining drivers. It’s amazing what’s happening. The enormous driver for me is the transformation of Saudi Arabia with its Vision 2030, diversification out of oil, boosting the private sectors – it’s enormous. It’s really something that is historical. If there’s one country in the world that can afford a U.S. recession, it’s probably Saudi Arabia.

    The UAE, in particular, is a close partner of Saudi Arabia. It’s also a gateway to an area from Africa to India, Pakistan, some parts of Europe – all of this is connected through Dubai. We’re talking about almost 700 million people; a very young population of millennials with tremendous potential for growth … Nobody is really immune to the recession from a market perspective, but the long-term perspective is fantastic.


    Q: Faster output growth, an increase in the new orders index and stronger demand have spurred non-oil growth in 2019. Do you expect non-oil growth to outdo oil growth in the coming decade?

    Mr. Gravier: In the decade, without a doubt. But it’s a fantastic articulation between the revenue of oil developing the non-oil growth and I think it’s very harmonious. I’m not at all calling for the end of oil … but for sure, the non-oil is accelerating and it’s on purpose. There is a very successful execution of the plan, especially in the UAE. In Saudi, it’s impressive as well about this diversification. Where there is a will, there is a result, and yes, for sure non-oil will be higher.


    Q: The Emirates NBD Outlook for 2019 expects two rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve. The December 2018 Fed minutes took a hawkish stance speaking of “gradual increases” in rates, which was then followed up with a slightly dovish stance in January with the statement reading “the Committee will be patient.” Is this just an attempt to lower negative sentiment or does this reflect a long-term policy change?

    Mr. Gravier: It’s a fascinating point. The mission of the Fed is quite simple – to foster stability and employment. So, based on that there’s absolutely no doubt that there should be more hikes. The Fed hikes rates for two reasons to avoid overheating – and frankly there’s no overheating – and the second key point why they would raise rates is to be able to lower them for the next crisis. So, they are obsessed, and rightly so, by the next crisis. If they want to be able to fight the next crisis, they don’t want to trigger it.

    Our general perception is that they have understood that their monetary policy was hurting markets at a moment in time when we were witnessing the trade tariffs and Brexit and many things. I think it is by pragmatism that they have said it would be “paused”. Frankly, the U.S. macro-economic data is not weaker; not at all; things are just fine; the unemployment rate is at 4 percent. They should fundamentally hike the rates. We are not saying that they will necessarily have two hikes, but this is our official view from our chief economist – and he’s absolutely right.

    What is very interesting for us in this January move is the fact that the Fed and all the central banks have generally taken years to be very clear, to be explicit on their forward guidance. They generally tell you what every member thinks in terms of where the rates should be. And, suddenly you feel that, oh no, we don’t know. And I don’t think we should be very happy about that. We like visibility.


    A man walks past the Federal Reserve Bank in Washington, D.C., US. (Image: Reuters)

    The Federal Reserve Bank in Washington, D.C., US. (Image: Reuters)


    Q: Last month, Fed Chair Jerome Powell raised investors eyebrows while speaking of a “substantially smaller” balance sheet. But in January, the Fed modified that tune to say that it would consider being “flexible” regarding balance-sheet normalization. Does this mean that the Fed intends to have a large balance sheet even when it’s done trimming it?

    Mr. Gravier: What it means is that they will not end Quantitative Easing on “autopilot”. It means that don’t worry, we’ll take care of the conditions, even to reduce the Quantitative Easing … and the markets love that, and rightly so. This shows that the Fed cares about what happens to markets. The question three months ago was: “Is Mr. Trump putting pressure on Mr. Powell?” and I think it’s not the case. It’s just that the Fed cares about the markets. It’s part of their role to ensure a stable financial environment that they are here to provide.


    Q: Analysts are expecting the developed market growth to slow to 1.7% in 2020 while emerging markets are expected to grow to 4.2% by 2020. Will this signify that emerging market currencies will bounce back through the next 24 months?

    Mr. Gravier: That’s another excellent question. I think our stance, and especially after the Fed, is that the dollar should have peaked … but overall, we believe that emerging markets local currency risk is actually quite compelling. In our positioning, we have put an allocation to emerging market bonds in the local currency, which is not in our benchmark, because it’s back. Again, that’s the key message. We do long-term projections and we use short-term volatility as a means to allocate an entry point and an exit point. In the short-term, we have little clue, but in the long-term, we believe that the dollar may have peaked.


    Highlights of the Emirates NBD 2019 Investment Outlook:


    Asset Allocation and Portfolio Construction

    • Gradually taking profits on the developed market (DM) government bonds to reinforce cash and equity
    • Emerging Market (EM) debt and global equities are preferred sources of return; gold and cash the best defensive assets


    Emirates NBD long-term capital market assumptions



    • DM: neutral U.S.; slightly underweight Europe; slightly overweight Japan
    • EM: Asia is favored, with no specific country bias. Positive on KSA with MSCI EM inclusion acting as a catalyst
    • Sectors: Technology is a preferred growth sector; healthcare is the preferred defensive sector.



    • Favor Corporate Credit and EM debt over DM Government bonds
    • Favor Investment Grade over High Yield in credit
    • GCC bonds offer value across select Sovereigns and Credit (Utilities, Energy, and Financials including hybrids)


    Oil Outlook

    • Oil prices to fluctuate against weakening outlook for the global economy
    • Brent futures expected to average USD 65 per barrel in 2019 with significant volatility

    The post Exclusive: Till “debt” do us part – or not? An investment outlook appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Expert: Growing UAE expats demand for second passports

    Vazir Group, the UAE-based migration services firm, reports a growing demand in the region for second passports and permanent residency visas. The bespoke provider offers tailor-made solutions to gain access to residency, passport and citizenship options for its clients. Most of Vazir Group’s clients are from the High Net Worth (HNW) community, with the firm identifying an increasing number of individuals who value the stability and security of permanent residency and citizenship of a second country.

    According to the UN International Organisation for Migration, the most recent report suggests there are approximately 244 million migrants in the world, as of 2018. Migrants may have chosen to depart their homeland for a number of reasons, whether it is to seek better economic prospects, fleeing conflicts, or simply trying to attain a better lifestyle. With so many ‘global citizens’, who are not tied to a particular nation or place, it can leave individuals and their families without the foundation of a strong passport. This can be particularly destabilising for those who wish to travel extensively, whether for business or leisure. Additionally, children of migrants born in the UAE do not have access to Emirati citizenship, which can leave individuals with heritage passports from their family background that are deemed inferior.

    Vrinda Gupta, Managing Partner of Vazir Group said: “There are currently around 8.5 million expatriates living in the UAE, many of whom hold passports and citizenship that restrict their access to global travel. We are seeing increasing interest from individuals and their families who require alternative citizenship options. For many business people, it is an absolute necessity to be able to operate freely across the world, so a second passport or permanent residency can be a great investment.”

     According to the Global Business Travel Association, corporate travellers take more than 480 million business trips per year. It is therefore essential for many UAE residents to have a passport that grants easy access to key economic hubs.

    Vazir Group can also reveal that Canada tops their list of most desirable locations for those looking for second citizenship, with Cyprus and Malta rounding off the top three.

    The ‘Best Countries Ranking’, developed by brand perceptions company BAV Group & The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, surveyed 21,000 global citizens and classifies Canada as the ‘Best Country for Immigrants’.  This is attributed to its national policy of multiculturalism and its economic backdrop that encourages entrepreneurs.

    Gupta added: “Canada is the top location for those seeking secondary nationality, as there are a variety of options for those who either want to permanently relocate or make an investment that grants citizenship. The system can sometimes be quite confusing for those who know little about the processes. It’s not impossible for individuals to do the application themselves, but there are many essential documents and local authorities involved, so for those who value their time we’d recommend speaking to a specialist advisor.”

    The Vazir Group is a boutique firm that disrupts the established model of migration services in the UAE, offering specialist advice and tailor-made solutions that are perfectly attuned to the needs of the High Net Worth community, opening up new worlds of opportunity, stability and global citizenship.

    For more information, visit:

    The post Expert: Growing UAE expats demand for second passports appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Filipino remittances from the Middle East down 15.3% in 2018

    Sun, 2019-02-17 10:13

    DUBAI: Money sent home by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East went down 15.3 percent to $6.62 billion in 2018 from $7.81 billion a year earlier, latest government data shows.
    Lower crude prices, which affected most OFW host countries in the region, the job nationalization schemes of Gulf states and a deployment ban last year of household service workers to Kuwait were the primary reasons for the decline, a reversal from the 3.4 percent remittance growth recorded in 2017.
    A government study has noted that Saudi Arabia was the leading country of destination for OFWs, with more than a quarter of Filipinos being deployed there at any given time, together with the United Arab Emirates (15.3 percent), Kuwait (6.7 percent) and Qatar (5.5 percent).
    Cash remittances from OFWs in Saudi Arabia fell 11.1 percent last year to $2.23 billion from $2.51 billion a year before; down 19.9 percent to $2.03 billion in the UAE from $2.54 billion in 2017; 14.5 percent lower in Kuwait to $689.61 million from $806.48 million and 9.2 percent down in Qatar to $1 billion in 2018, from $1.1 billion a year earlier.
    The Philippine government issued a deployment ban for Kuwait early last year, and lasted for five months, after a string of reported deaths and abuses on Filipino workers in the Gulf state.
    OFW remittances from Oman, which implemented a job nationalization program like that of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, dove 33.8 percent to $228.74 million in 2018 from $345.41 million a year before. In Bahrain, cash sent by Filipinos rose 2.2 percent to $234.14 million last year from $229.02 million previously.
    Meanwhile, overall OFW remittances grew 3 percent year-on-year to $32.2 billion, the highest annual level to date.
    “The growth in personal remittances during the year was driven by remittance inflows from land-based OFs with work contracts of one year or more and remittances from both sea-based and land-based OFs with work contracts of less than one year,” the Philippine central monetary authority said.
    Personal remittances are a major driver of domestic consumption and in 2018 accounted for 9.7 percent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product.

    Main category: 

    OFW remittances from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar fallAdditional OFW remittances to help families back home cope with higher consumer prices

    Posted: by Arab News

  • Germany: US calling European cars a threat is ‘frightening’

    Sat, 2019-02-16 10:28

    MUNICH, Germany: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday labelled as “frightening” tough US trade rhetoric planning to declare European car imports a national security threat.

    “If these cars… suddenly spell a threat to US national security, then that is frightening to us,” she said.

    Merkel pointed out that the biggest car plant of German luxury brand BMW was not in Bavaria but in South Carolina, from where it exports vehicles to China.

    “All I can say is it would be good if we could resume proper talks with one another,” she said at the Munich Security Conference.

    “Then we will find a solution.”

    A US Commerce Department report has concluded that auto imports threaten national security, setting the stage for possible tariffs by the White House, two people familiar with the matter said Thursday.

    The investigation, ordered by President Donald Trump in May, is “positive” with respect to the central question of whether the imports “impair” US national security, said a European auto industry source.

    “It’s going to say that auto imports are a threat to national security,” said an official with another auto company.

    The report, which is expected to be delivered to the White House by a Sunday deadline, has been seen as a major risk for foreign automakers.

    Trump has threatened to slap 25 percent duties on European autos, especially targeting Germany, which he says has harmed the American car industry.

    After receiving the report, the US president will have 90 days to decide whether to move ahead with tariffs.

    Trump in July reached a trade truce with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, with the two pledging no new tariffs while the negotiations continued.

    Brussels has already drawn up a list of €20 billion ($22.6 billion) in US exports for retaliatory tariffs should Washington press ahead, the commission’s Director-General for Trade Jean-Luc Demarty told the European Parliament last month.

    The White House has used the national security argument — saying that undermining the American manufacturing base impairs military readiness, among other claims — to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, drawing instant retaliation from the EU, Canada, Mexico and China.

    Trading partners have sometimes reacted with outrage at the suggestion their exports posed a threat to US national security.

    Main category: 

    EU warns Trump: auto tariffs could lead to $300B retaliationEU to respond to any US auto tariff move: report

    Posted: by Arab News

  • GoEmirati! Try an Emirati driver on Careem today

    If you live in Abu Dhabi, you can now request an Emirati to drive you around in his or her luxurious car wherever you want to go within the UAE – and it will cost you the same as a government taxi!

    Careem, in collaboration with ITC, has opened its doors to the first batch of Emirati “captains” who will be driving their own cars in either a full-time or a part-time capacity – depending on their convenience.

    They drive comfortable, high-end cars including Range Rovers, Hyundai Genesis, Cadillac Escalade, and Nissan Patrol, among others.

    All you need to do is download the Careem app, choose Go Emirati from the list of car options, and confirm your pickup.



    What’s in it for Emiratis?

    The initiative not only creates jobs for UAE nationals but also provides them with a flexible income even if they already have a job. The Emirati Captains can choose whenever they want to make themselves available on the Careem app and can earn money based on the rides.

    Careem has processed more than 150 applications, with hundreds of UAE nationals including men and women still registering on the company’s portal The screening process is rigorous and includes a detailed application, interviews, character references, and background checks, including accidents, fines, and other aspects of their driving history. Emiratis have to be above 23 years of age and must have a minimum of five years of driving experience in order to meet the basic requirements of becoming a Careem captain.

    Out of the hundreds of applications received, 14 Emiratis have acquired the necessary ITC clearances and permits. More than 30 others are being prepared to add to the fleet in the coming weeks. Eight UAE nationals have already begun picking up and dropping tourists, expats and nationals using the Careem app

    Abdulla Alamri is one of the new Careem Emirati Captains who holds a PhD degree, has a full-time job, and drives people around in his Nissan Patrol for two to three hours every evening.

    “When a visitor arrives, I introduce him to my country, to my culture. I show him what we are doing here. We are in the “Year of Tolerance”, so I speak about what this “tolerance” means and what’s going on here. This is the first part of why I want to be a captain. The second part is that it is a good income for us. Yes, we are employed with good salaries, but if we can get something extra, then why not?” Abdullah Alamri said.

    “When people expect a normal cab or a taxi and they see a nice car with an Emirati in Emirati clothing coming to pick them up, they start to ask about us and about this program. They take videos of us and our cars. Some people have even been here in the UAE for a long time but have not had the opportunity to talk with an Emirati due to their busy work environments. So, when they meet an Emirati local and talk to us, they begin to learn more about us,” Alamri added.

    In an effort to upskill its captains, Careem also conducts training sessions on how to use Careem technology; best driving practices; vehicle and road safety; and customer service. Careem offers all its captains additional benefits including support for applying for a vehicle, health insurance, personal finance training, and discounts on fuel and groceries.


    Building a welcoming community

    Not only does the GoEmirati initiative create jobs and churn the economy, but it also adds promise to UAE’s vision of economic diversification and socio-cultural integration.

    “This is a major step towards supporting the transport sector in Abu Dhabi and offering new job opportunities for Emiratis who will now benefit from earning an income and serving their community at the same time. Together we will continue to invest in and leverage the advanced technology available to secure comfort and safety for our society,” said Mohammed Darwish Al Qamzi, General Manager of Integrated Transport Center.


    From left, Gheed El Makkaoui, GM, Careem UAE; Mohammed Darwish Al Qamzi, GM, Integrated Transport Center (ITC); Bassel Al Nahlaoui, Managing Director, Careem Gulf



    Careem Pay and the road forward … 

    AMEinfo spoke exclusively with Bassel Al Nahlaoui, Managing Director of Careem Gulf, about expansion plans, community initiatives, new ventures and more …

    On expansion plans:

    “We have a very long list of opportunities on our table that we are exploring. Yes, from having drivers on the platform all the way to having rental car services. At the end of the day, the way we look at it is that we put the customer first and we think of how we can serve them the best and how we can create synergies with the different services. That’s how we prioritize what we work on and what we create.”


    On tapping into youth potential:

    “This is a great ingredient for us. The region we look after is just over 600 million, from Pakistan to Morocco, up to Turkey and down to Sudan. The proportion of young people in the region is growing. What young people do well is to stay connected, which creates a better opportunity for us to serve them through our application. Today, it is ride-hailing, food, payments, but you can imagine a lot more verticals hopefully will be introduced soon.”


    On new venture with RTA Dubai:

    “We will use the Careem technology and capabilites to dispatch taxis. That will be run by a separate private-public-partnership (PPP) company between Careem and the RTA. This will add convenience, reliability and comfort to the customers. Online payments will make the process smoother. We are hoping that we can bring the ETA time down to two minutes anywhere in Dubai.”

    “Our mission is simplifying and improving the lives of people. We are doing it by creating a platform that today acts as a marketplace between demand and supply. My ultimate goal is to create more options for customers.”


    On upskilling the community and competition:

    “The One Million Arab Coders is just one of the many programs that we have decided to participate in. We are mentoring and giving internship opportunities to coders.”

    “We are also working towards the goal of building an organization that inspires. I don’t think Careem will succeed if it’s the only unicorn in this region. Our goal is to inspire entrepreneurs; to prove to local entrepreneurs in the region that they actually can build a unicorn. So we would also like to see a lot of our peers also build their companies and become the same size. Apart from being a role model, we also want to give back to the community through training, mentorship programs and more.”


    On helping the Pakistani community of UAE Careem drivers:

    “We try to support in a lot of different areas. Sometimes it can vary from: how do we help them get better deals for their major costs – whether it’s fuel, maintenance programs – but it can also involve better education for the captain’s family and children. We are also working with the Pakistani government to see what kind of programs we can create to add even further value to our captains, other than the earnings and other benefits that we provide them.”

    The post GoEmirati! Try an Emirati driver on Careem today appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Gulf defense spending ‘to top $110bn by 2023’

    Arab News
    Fri, 2019-02-15 20:57

    LONDON: Defense spending by Gulf Arab states is expected to rise to more than $110 billion by 2023, driven partly by localized military initiatives by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, a report has found.

    Budgets are increasing as countries pursue the modernization of equipment and expansion of their current capabilities, according to a report by analytics firm Jane’s by IHS Markit.

    Military expenditure in the Gulf will increase from $82.33 billion in 2013 to an estimated $103.01 billion in 2019, and is forecast to continue trending upward to $110.86 billion in 2023.

    “Falling energy revenues between 2014 and 2016 led to some major procurement projects being delayed as governments reigned in budget deficits,” said Charles Forrester, senior defense industry analyst at Jane’s.

    “However, defense was generally protected from the worst of the spending cuts due to regional security concerns and budgets are now growing again.”

    Major deals in the region have included Eurofighter Typhoon purchases by countries including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

    Saudi Arabia is also looking to “localize” 50 percent of total government military spending in the Kingdom by 2030, and in 2017 announced the launch of the state-owned military industrial company Saudi Arabia Military Industries.

    Forrester said such moves will boost the ability for Gulf countries to start exporting, rather than purely importing defense equipment.

    “Within the defense sector, the establishment of Saudi Arabia Military Industries (SAMI) in 2017 and consolidation of the UAE’s defense industrial base through the creation of Emirates Defense Industries Company (EDIC) in 2014 have helped consolidate and drive forward industrial defense capabilities,” he said.

    “This has happened as the countries focus on improving the quality of the defense technological work packages they undertake through offset, as well as increasing their ability to begin exporting defense equipment.”

    Regional countries are also considering the use of “disruptive technologies” such as artificial intelligence in defense, Forrester said.

    Meanwhile, it emerged on Friday that worldwide outlays on weapons and defense rose 1.8 percent to more than $1.67 trillion in 2018.

    The US was responsible for almost half that increase, according to “The Military Balance” report released at the Munich Security Conference and quoted by Reuters.

    Western powers were concerned about Russia’s upgrades of air bases and air defense systems in Crimea, the report said, but added that “China perhaps represents even more of a challenge, as it introduces yet more advanced military systems and is engaged in a strategy to improve its forces’ ability to operate at distance from the homeland.”

    Main category: 

    Abu Dhabi’s Tawazun Economic Council launches $680m defense fund‘Saudi defense sector to contribute $61.6bn to GDP by 2020’

    Posted: by Arab News

  • Honda launches brand new HR-V model to complete ‘Power of 3’ SUV range

    Honda Motor Co. Africa and Middle East Office announced the launch of its brand new sleek crossover, the HR-V, at an exclusive event in Abu Dhabi last month. The event, entitled the ‘Power of 3’ also saw the unveiling of the updated popular CR-V and Pilot models, which boast bold new designs and features upgrades, completing the manufacturer’s SUV line up.

    Several VIPs and car enthusiasts attended the much-anticipated ‘Power of 3’ event, which saw the unveiling of the HR-V for the first time in the region, since its debut in late 1999.

    The Honda HR-V marks the presence of an entry level SUV from the Honda Range. This 5-seater vehicle will be available across all GCC Countries and North Africa. The Honda HR-V has been positioned as a fun and sporty SUV which has been designed for life. It is available in three grades for the region and will launch in the showrooms across the GCC by end of February 2019.

    The new model to market was accompanied by the refreshed 5th Generation CR-V, which boasts bold new styling, a more premium interior and a host of new features, such as, Hands-Free Power Tailgate” and technologies aimed at maintaining the CR-V’s status as the outright benchmark in the highly popular compact SUV segment.

    The final model to complete the ‘Power of 3’ line up, which was showcased at the event, was the redesigned and re-engineered 2019 Honda Pilot. This brings with it a long list of upgrades to Honda’s award-winning 8-seat SUV, with changes including more aggressive front styling, the option for a new hands-free power tailgate, major upgrades to available connected-car technology,  with a new Display Audio touchscreen system. Honda’s comprehensive suite of safety technologies called “Honda Sensing” has been expanded to the 2019 Pilot Touring grade.

    Alongside the newly unveiled SUVs was the completely new “NEO CAFÉ CB1000R motorcycle, and a brand new Drive By Wire BF 250 marine engine. The much-loved CB1000R has been completely redeveloped and includes a striking modern CAFÉ racer-inspired design, showcased at the event. The bike has been in huge demand since its launch, outstripping supply, with additional bikes ordered to meet customer demand. Honda also announced the arrival of the CB1000R+ model, which is equipped with many standard features, such as Quick shifter. The new boating season also sees the newly developed Honda’s flagship outboard motors, the BF175, BF200, BF225 and BF250 engines. All engines are equipped with the latest V6 engines featuring mechanical or Drive By Wire system. The BF175 is only equipped with Drive By Wire.

    Commenting on the Power of 3 launch, Anup Ravindranath, General Manager – Business Development and Marketing, Honda Motor Co. Africa and Middle East Office, said: “We’re excited to be able to introduce the HR-V to the market here in the Middle East and Africa, as this is such a key market for SUVs. One in two cars purchased in the region is an SUV, and so we’re pleased to launch the HR-V alongside the updated popular CR-V and Pilot models.  This expands our range of having an SUV to suit the needs of each of our customers.”

    Video coverage follows below:

    The post Honda launches brand new HR-V model to complete ‘Power of 3’ SUV range appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Hong Kong economy stalls amid US-China trade dispute: finance chief

    Sun, 2019-02-17 09:31

    HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s economy stalled last year as the ongoing China-US trade dispute and retail woes dragged down local business, the city’s financial chief said Sunday.
    Beijing and Washington have already imposed duties on more than $360 billion in two-way trade, roiling global financial markets and weighing heavily on manufacturing output in both countries.
    “The impact of China-US trade frictions on Hong Kong’s exports has clearly emerged at the end of last year,” said finance secretary Paul Chan.
    Economic growth in the semi-autonomous Chinese city for the last quarter of 2018 was less than 1.5 percent — the weakest since the first quarter of 2016 and a “significant slowdown” from the average growth rate of 3.7 percent in the first three quarters, Chan wrote on his official blog.
    The slowdown brought last year’s growth rate to an estimated three percent, down from the higher-than-forecast 3.8 percent recorded in 2017, he added.
    “It was almost ‘zero-growth’ for commodities exports in the fourth quarter, which was a sharp drop compared to the average 6 percent growth in the first three quarters,” he wrote.
    Chan said consumer sentiment had also dampened with retail sales rising only 2.1 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter, a far cry from the more than 12 percent increase in the first half of the year.
    “The external political and economic situation remains unclear … Therefore, we repeatedly stress the need to support enterprises, safeguard employment, stabilize the economy and benefit people’s livelihoods,” he wrote, hinting at the ongoing trade negotiations between the world’s top two economies.
    Chan is expected to deliver the Hong Kong budget on February 27.

    Main category: 

    Posted: by Arab News

  • Huawei nova 4 – the first Punch Display smartphone in the UAE

    Huawei Consumer Business Group (BG) introduced late last month the HUAWEI nova 4 in the UAE, its newest device featuring a notch-less Punch display. Developed with Huawei’s insights into industry trends and consumer needs, the HUAWEI nova 4 brings a cutting-edge premium design and a new generation of FullView experience to the UAE consumers.

    HUAWEI nova 4 is equipped with the industry’s smallest 25MP under-display front camera, which measures at 3.05mm in diameter, as well as an AI Triple Camera featuring a high resolution 20MP primary camera and a 16MP camera with Ultra-wide angle lens. Running on HiSilicon Kirin 970 and 8GB RAM, HUAWEI nova 4 delivers the ultimate user experience on everything from productivity apps to high-octane action games. The new HUAWEI nova device is shipped with EMUI 9.0, Huawei’s Android 9-based custom OS, allowing users to easily access work and entertainment apps with a few simple taps or swipes.

    The Future of Displays: Punch Display

    Since the very first HUAWEI nova was unveiled, Huawei has never stopped in its pursuit of beauty. HUAWEI nova 4 sports a new generation 6.4-inch Punch display. A culmination of years of experience in premium design, craftsmanship and high technology, the Punch display takes bezel-less displays to new heights with a minimalist blind hole opening for the 25MP under display camera. This design allows Huawei to eliminate the notch and achieve a screen-to-TP ratio of 91.8%, which makes for a truly natural and stunning viewing experience.

    The 25MP front camera under the Punch display is the industry’s smallest camera, measuring at only 3.05mm – 20% smaller than the current industry standard. The opening on the display is a blind hole, meaning the screen is not completely punched through. From assembly (sub-0.1mm margin of error) to adhesive application, the precise manufacturing processes minimize the light leakage from the edges of the blind hole.

    AI Triple Camera with 20MP Main Camera and 16MP Camera with Ultra-wide Angle Lens

    Following the HUAWEI P20 Pro and HUAWEI Mate 20 Series, HUAWEI nova 4 is Huawei’s third product to feature an AI Triple Camera. The high-specs model features a triple-camera module consisting of a 20MP primary camera and 2MP secondary camera, complemented with a 16MP camera augmented with Ultra-wide camera lens. The primary camera captures with a high-end sensor whose pixel size is 1.0µm with better performance to capture the light. It also supports hardware-level background bokeh effect to highlight the subject, benefited by the 2MP lens.

    Equipped with an Ultra-wide lens, the 16MP camera supports a 117-degree field of view. After adjusting for distortion, its performance is equivalent to a 103-degree 17mm wide angle lens, capturing 2.4 times more information compared to 78-degree wide angle lens. Together, the 20MP high-resolution camera and the 16MP Ultra-wide Angle camera make HUAWEI nova 4 the perfect device for capturing endless plains or sprawling metropolis that stretch towards the horizon.

    Artificial Intelligence Bolsters Video Editing and Gaming Support

    The new HUAWEI nova 4 fully utilizes the hardware processing power and AI computation capacity of Kirin 970’s NPU to deliver a powerful and smart video editing experience. After taking a video with the HUAWEI nova 4, users can activate the automatic footage analysis with one tap. This innovative feature leverages the smart aesthetics scoring engine. Trained with 60,000 basic models as well as one million facial models generated through facial recognition, the feature can automatically process and edit footage.

    Apart from that, HUAWEI nova 4 also supports a new generation of GPU Turbo. This technology greatly enhances the graphics processing efficiency of smartphones by optimizing the clock speed and power consumption of the chipset, allowing HUAWEI nova 4 to deliver an accelerated, top framerate experience even when running premium mobile games.

    Price and availability

    HUAWEI nova 4 (8GB + 128GB) is available in two fashionable colors: Crush Blue that evokes a sense of mystery with a tinge of romance; and the Black that exudes understated class.

    Consumers will be able to pre-order HUAWEI nova 4 starting February 8 and can purchase the device online and across select retailers in the UAE starting from February 14 at a price of AED1799

    Etisalat HUAWEI nova 4 exclusive offer:

    All Etisalat pre-paid customers will enjoy 6 months free STARZ PLAY subscription and up to 1GB monthly free data for 3 months with their new HUAWEI nova 4 smartphone.

    Service offer in the UAE

    HUAWEI nova 4 comes with standard Huawei 1-year service offer that includes a 6 months single-time free screen damage warranty, free UV device sanitizing, free customized engraving and door-to-door service.

    The post Huawei nova 4 – the first Punch Display smartphone in the UAE appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Huawei’s founder says world can’t live without it

    Tue, 2019-02-19 02:55

    BEIJING: The founder of Chinese telecom giant Huawei has hit back at US efforts to blacklist the company, saying defiantly that the world cannot do without Huawei and its “more advanced” technology.
    “There’s no way the US can crush us,” Ren Zhengfei said in an interview with the BBC.
    “The world cannot leave us because we are more advanced.”
    Ren, 74, also denounced as “politically motivated” the December arrest of his daughter, Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who is accused of violating US sanctions against Iran.
    “We object to this,” he said.
    “But now that we’ve gone down this path, we’ll let the courts settle it.”
    The normally media-shy Huawei founder has been forced to step into the limelight in recent months as the company has come under increasing pressure over espionage concerns and the US-led campaign to persuade other countries to ban its technology.
    Last year, security concerns prompted Australia to ban Huawei equipment from its future 5G network.
    New Zealand has also blocked its largest telecom carrier from using Huawei technology for the next generation network, while the Czech Republic has reportedly excluded it from a 20-million-euro ($22 million) tender to build a tax portal.
    US prosecutors also are charging Huawei with stealing trade secrets, saying it offered rewards to employees for stealing technology from other rivals.
    Ren shrugged off the growing pressure.
    “If the lights go out in the West, the East will still shine,” he said. “America doesn’t represent the world.”
    “Even if they persuade more countries not to use us temporarily, we can always downsize and become smaller.”

    Main category: 

    New Zealand to conduct own assessment of Huawei equipment riskSeizing on Huawei’s troubles, Samsung bets big on network gear

    Posted: by Arab News

  • IPO of remaining 50% of Kuwaiti bourse seen in Q4 2019 or Q1 2020

    Sun, 2019-02-17 09:09

    KUWAIT: The initial public offering for the remaining 50 percent of shares in the Kuwaiti bourse will take place in the fourth quarter of 2019 or the first quarter of 2020, said Abdulaziz Al-Marzouq, commissioner of the Capital Markets Authority and vice chairman of the bourse’s privatization committee.
    On Thursday, a consortium led by Kuwait’s National Investment Co. and including the Athens bourse won a tender to acquire 44 percent of the Kuwait stock exchange.

    Main category: 

    Kuwait’s Agility enters fray for logistics group PanalpinaSaudi Arabia’s crown prince receives message from Kuwaiti emir

    Posted: by Arab News

  • Kalebr: Digital generations growing up fast in the age of technology

    Words by Aaditya Tangri, CEO, Kalebr

    The alphabet ends after Z. What comes next? The answer is emerging. Futurist, demographer and TEDx speaker Mark McCrindle is leading the campaign to call anyone born after 2010 a part of “Generation Alpha”.

    This generation is growing up in a world where every aspect of their communication, entertainment, social activities, private and school lives is entwined with technology. Members of this generation are the so-called “digital natives,” who have grown up with information technology and social media, and to whom the smartphone feels natural and easily accessible. By contrast, their parents and grandparents, even if they may possess and use the same technology, will never have the same relationship with it. These massive technological changes, among others, make this generation the most transformative ever.

    So, what specifically sets apart this distinct generation? Are young people just more interested in modern technology and thus, more motivated to learn it? Or are there more profound differences in the way younger generations perceive the world?

    The influences of major events, cultural norms, social moves, and even politics can be seen in the differences amongst Baby Boomers, the Silent Generation, and Xennials, to name but a few. And of course, the direct impact of technology. The question of technology’s role – and especially when it comes to media technology’s – role in our experiences has fascinated philosophers, sociologists and media theorists since the first half of the 20th century.

    The next generation is arguably the most ambitious and exciting generation since the baby boomers. Brought about by the social connectivity, they feel well positioned to explore the status quo as a result of growing up within an era of unprecedented access to information and opportunities granted by modern technology. Consider this: the Industrial Revolution allowed individuals to be far more powerful; with the growth of literacy during this time, it meant an increase in individuals moving out of their hometowns, starting companies, and forming organisations. The information revolution has further empowered individuals by handing them the technology tools to compete against established organisations – it’s bloggers vs. newspapers, YouTube directors vs. studios, app-makers vs. entire industries.

    Technology is dynamic, it evolves constantly. It’s also having a huge impact on how the next generation of digital natives interact and build relationships. There is a certain sense that for the next generation, things are constantly within reach. After all, they’ve grown up with instant news updates from across the globe, the ability to video chat in real-time with friends and family from anywhere, and a world that ultimately feels much smaller because of the internet. Further, this generation is not a group of selfie-obsessed digital conformists. Digital is not shaping their world. They are shaping it. They manage it and mould it, developing strategies to get the most out of every platform while minimising the risk of negative feedback. They are the ones in the digital driving seat, they call the shots. As such, they have become adept at fragmenting their identities, cultivating multiple digital selves depending on the platforms they use and the results they wish to elicit from their posts, photos and other content shared.

    This is also a generation of digital strategists and content editors (even if they don’t know it), who are challenging perceived notions. While they may be actively seeking experiences online, they have learned to be extremely calculated in how they present their personal brand, creating strict strategies around how, when and where they are seen.

    It’s not just that this generation is tech-savvy; technology is omnipresent in today’s world, which also dramatically alters the trajectory of commerce and growth. With technology playing such an immense role in nearly every industry, the next generation is learning the right skills, such as being strategists, multi-tasking and relying on their creativity and imagination, for their future career opportunities. At the same time, technology is making educational opportunities more available than ever before. Today’s youth are often planning careers predicated entirely on the innovations of the past few decades. Compared with the manual labour roles of the mid-century as well as other professional, non-digital careers, this is definitely a visible shift in the world of work which welcomes new ideas, remote workers, flexible roles and a constant shift in the narrative.

    Another outcome of growing up in the digital age is the drastic difference in the ways in which everyday things are done. For instance, technology has changed the way we meet people, the ways in which we fall in love, search for jobs, manage our finances, seek out new experiences, build and control objects through artificial intelligence, and so much more. Is there an aspect of modern life that has not been affected by technology? Ultimately, it’s important to remember that the major difference in all of these areas has to do with efficiency. Technology has created faster, more efficient ways to do nearly everything.

    Technology adapts and alters at an incredible rate, and the next generation has been there for all these permutations. This generation will never know a world without the efficiency and ubiquity of technology, and this changes how people will live and work in the future. From birth, this generation has a path which will diverge greatly and more rapidly from those of the older generations, presenting a new world full of endless potential.

    Kalebr, the home of concept-based learning, is a Canadian ed-tech company with a regional office in Dubai, UAE, preparing today’s learners for success in tomorrow’s uncertain future. Kalebr’s products and engaging learning tools promote 21st-century skills, happiness, sustainability, making, coding and innovation for students of all ages, catering to the needs of educational bodies that must adapt to the fast-changing world.


    The post Kalebr: Digital generations growing up fast in the age of technology appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Less than half of innovation projects make it to market – Oracle report

    Cloud company Oracle has released a report showing that companies are failing to realize more than half of the innovations they propose. Despite a clear link between growth and innovation, organizations are being held back by poor processes and a lack of focus. The report showed that innovation barriers were particularly pronounced amongst big companies, as well as companies experiencing higher growth rates.

    The report, “Having a successful innovation agenda,” is based on a survey of 5,000+ decision makers in cloud solutions and software. The respondents represented companies across 24 markets, generating revenues between less than £1 million to more than £500 million and workforces of 100 to 50,000 employees.

    Key findings:

    -One-third of companies are overwhelmed by too many innovation projects

    -85% of companies experiencing strong to significant growth are investing in innovation

    -21% say lack of commitment from business is a major barrier to innovation

    -22% say lack of process is hampering their innovation efforts, while 22% blame a lack of vision

    -22% say that an underinvestment in technology is holding back their innovation program

    Not enough focus and structure

    Over-commitment is preventing companies from bringing their innovation initiatives to life, with one third admitting to being overwhelmed by too many projects. The issue was particularly evident in high-growth companies, with 38% reporting an excess of parallel initiatives.

    Despite ambitions to embed processes that encourage innovation, 22% of organizations said that the ideal workflows had not yet been properly implemented. Meanwhile, 19% of companies said they were being held back by a lack of suitable technology.

    Lack of leadership

    Insufficient commitment from the business, coupled with a lack of clear ownership, were shown to be key barriers to a company’s success in innovation. Executives (48%) and IT (46%) were identified as common owners of the innovation topic, but other functions were identified as owners in near-equal proportions (35-41%).

    Customer engagement as an indicator of success

    Organizations are moving away from traditional KPIs of employee productivity (53%) and revenue (53%), and increasingly looking towards customer experience (57%) as a measurement of ROI. However, this shift is drawing attention away from employee engagement, with only 44% looking at organization pipeline as an innovation lever, and only 41% considering company culture.

    “Employees will always be a critical factor in any innovation program – both coming up with new ideas that address real problems and seeing them through to fruition,” says Neil Sholay, Vice president of Innovation, Oracle. “But they need an effective and supporting culture of innovation to be successful. This starts with a clear vision from leaders and the prioritization and funding of chosen projects. Being innovative isn’t just about ideas, it’s about execution.”

    “Companies must be able to meet changing customer demands by acting on ideas quickly. Take Melia Hotels International, it recognized its customers wanted a getaway where they didn’t need to carry around cash, IDs, credit cards, and keys. It quickly launched a personal passport in the form of a bracelet, giving guests a whole new level of freedom to seamlessly travel around the hotel. The concept went from idea to innovation in a matter of weeks because the chain had technology behind it that was ready-to-work, ready-to-build and ready-to-go.”

    The post Less than half of innovation projects make it to market – Oracle report appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Lockheed Martin targets UAE for new Falcon Air Defense System

    Mon, 2019-02-18 09:40

    ABU DHABI: Lockheed Martin is hoping the United Arab Emirates would be its first customer for the Falcon Air Defense System, which the defense contractor rolled out at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) on Monday.
    The latest missile system is a joint project involving Lockheed Martin, Saab and Diehl Defence, and was developed in response to the UAE’s request to replace the Hawk Air Defense System, a Lockheed executive said.

    Main category: 

    UAE announces $1.1 bln of military deals with international companies — IDEXGulf defense spending ‘to top $110bn by 2023’

    Posted: by Arab News

  • March 14 – 21: Save the Dates!

    Less than 26 days to go for the Special Olympics World Games to be hosted in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It’s the first time that the event is coming to the Middle East and it’s generating quite the buzz.

    Close to 7,500 athletes from more than 190 nations will participate in the weeklong event from March 14 to 21. The event will feature 24 sports across 11 venues, including Zayed Sports City, the Yas Marina Circuit, the Dubai Police Academy, the Abu Dhabi Yacht and Sailing Club, among others. The event is expected to draw close to 20,000 volunteers and more than half a million spectators.


    Will we see you at the Games?

    Tickets to the opening ceremony are already available at AED 100 on Ticketmaster and The opening ceremony, which is scheduled to begin at 5 pm on Thursday, March 14, will be telecast on ESPN and Abu Dhabi TV. The athletes’ parade at the opening ceremony will also feature international celebrities and sporting icons.

    In keeping with the Year of Tolerance and the aim of being the most unified Games in history, the UAE has also ensured that People of Determination are playing a pivotal role in conceptualizing, organizing, and being the “Makers” of the opening ceremony and other sporting events at the Games.


    Here’s one of the reasons you should be there!

    Meet Santiago Fraser, a 24-year old boy with Downs Syndrome who works a full-time job at Emirates NBD bank. He has been to seven countries around the world and has played basketball, football and tennis for most of his life. He will be representing the UAE in the sport of tennis at the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.

    From left: Santiago Fraser, with current tennis coach Paul Espie and mother Andrea Fraser

    “I feel very proud because I was chosen. I feel proud also to be part of something so huge and so important for the UAE. This is a country that we have grown to love because it has given us so many opportunities – socially, and in sports, and in terms of work as well, work inclusion,” said Santiago Fraser.

    Santiago has been working within Emirates NBD’s Marketing team for 18 months and was hired under the bank’s Careers Network programme, an initiative to connect work-ready individuals with disabilities to employers interested in bringing diversity into their workforces.

    “Santi has so many more opportunities here than anywhere else in the world. We have been to seven countries and this is the country that has given him more opportunities than ever. He has participated and been invited to so many events. The community is very strong here for people of determination. It’s incredible that Santi can work for himself. He doesn’t need me or his father to necessarily sponsor him. Apart from the benefits of working at such a great place, he also feels a sense of purpose in contributing to the bank and the community,” said Andrea Fraser, Santiago’s mother and his first tennis coach.

    Santiago has become an inspiration to everyone around him. He works a full day – leaving home at 7 am and coming back at around 5:30 pm. Despite this, he makes it a point to hit the gym three times a week, and trains rigorously on the weekends. Due to his love and passion for sports, he often sacrifices time to spend with friends in order to train.


    Business support pouring in


    ADNOC is the presenting partner with a number of other business also lending support as sponsors, suppliers, partners or supporters of the Games. Most recently KPMG joined Careem, Crescent Petroleum, CreatorUp, Daman and others as an official supplier to the event.


    “Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 is the world’s largest sports and humanitarian event of the year and a global movement, which encourages and enables people of immense determination to achieve their goals. It aligns directly with KPMG’s core principles of inclusion, diversity, passion and purpose,” said Nader Haffar, CEO of KPMG Lower Gulf., which is making its mark in the digital marketplace, has joined Lulu Group International, Meydan, Nirvana and NMC as one of the sponsors for the multi-sport event.

    “We are proud to leverage noon’s technology to provide an integrated online and games time retail experience to purchase our exclusively designed World Games merchandise. This will create more opportunities for fans and followers to showcase their support of the Special Olympics movement and celebrate the upcoming World Games in Abu Dhabi, spreading our message of inclusion and unity,” said Rashed Abdullah, Chief Operating Officer of the Games, in a statement.

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  • Medium-Sized businesses leading digital workplace, Says Aruba

     As they continue to contribute more than €1tn to the economy across EMEA, today’s medium-sized businesses are investing fast in technology. However, with digital now a priority for businesses of all sizes, they must ensure they have the necessary skills and security management in place to handle the change, or risk falling behind competitors according to Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.

    Developed to explore how medium-sized businesses across the globe are currently adopting workplace technology, and featuring responses from over 2,700 employees in management and non-management roles across medium-sized businesses, ‘The Hidden Middle’ report uncovered a number of key trends:

    -Medium-sized businesses are the most active users of workplace technology: Almost two-thirds (63%) of medium-sized business employees rated the ‘choice of technology, applications and IT support’ at their company as either good or very good. That compared to 53% of those also surveyed from the largest companies. Medium-sized businesses are also ahead of the competition in their use of advanced audio-visual technologies (such as voice-activated speakers), which are offered by an average of 27% of medium-sized businesses, compared to 16% of smaller and 22% of larger employers.

    -They are placing a heavy emphasis on the cloud: Around a quarter (24%) of medium-sized business employees said their company had invested in cloud storage software over the last 12 months, compared to 17% of large firms. Medium-sized businesses also appear to be prioritizing cybersecurity software: 39% reported investments in this area in the last year, compared to 31% of large businesses.

    -And are offering a better working environment as a result: In light of their impressive commitment to new technology medium-sized business employees are significantly more likely (66%) to rate their ‘environment at work’ as either good or very good in comparison to those at the largest companies (57%). Businesses of this size are also more agile when it comes to offering flexibility for employees to use personal devices at work – with 72% of medium-sized business employees allowed to do this, compared to only 53% of those who work for larger employers.

    -But there is demand for stronger management to handle technological investments: Over three quarters (77%) of medium-sized business employees either agreed or strongly agreed that ‘if not managed correctly, the introduction of new technology could damage employee morale’; while 78% agreed that ‘my organization’s management and control of the connected devices that are in use could be improved.’

    A risky road ahead

    With two-third of employees at medium-sized businesses (66%) saying their organization was “at risk of falling behind competitors” by not implementing new technology, the pressure to keep pace is clear – but so too are the associated dangers.

    Despite being conscious of their organization’s cybersecurity, nearly three quarters (74%) of medium-sized business employees said they had taken risks with company data in the past year. In addition, less than half (48%) said that security was the responsibility of ‘every employee’ – compared to two thirds of those who work for the largest employers (66%).

    According to Morten Illum, VP of EMEA at Aruba: “As the adoption and integration of technology becomes a bigger priority across the corporate spectrum, medium-sized businesses have a distinct opportunity. Though often forgotten in the digital transformation conversation – with the focus instead on how large companies are struggling to adapt or smaller businesses are seizing the ability to scale – it is medium-sized businesses whose employees show the agility and willingness to make better use of technology and understanding of the opportunities it brings. The key is enabling them to do so. But with that comes a certain degree of security risk.”

    “The success of the digital workplace depends on the practical implementation of technology – and that’s as much about the user experience as it is the technical infrastructure. For medium-sized businesses to realize the full value of their investments and eliminate the risks, their leaders must ensure employees are given the training and support needed to make both productive and safe use of the new tools.”

    For more information visit:

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  • New Zealand to conduct own assessment of Huawei equipment risk

    Mon, 2019-02-18 07:15

    WELLINGTON: New Zealand will independently assess the risk of using China’s Huawei Technologies in 5G networks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday after a report suggested that British precautions could be used by other nations.
    Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecoms equipment, faces intense scrutiny in the West over its relationship with the Chinese government and US-led allegations that its equipment could be used by Beijing for spying.
    No evidence has been produced publicly and the firm has repeatedly denied the allegations, which have led several Western countries to restrict Huawei’s access to their markets.
    The Financial Times reported on Sunday that the British government had decided it can mitigate the risks arising from the use of Huawei equipment in 5G networks. It said Britain’s conclusion would “carry great weight” with European leaders and other nations could use similar precautions.
    New Zealand’s intelligence agency in November rejected an initial request from telecommunications services provider Spark to use 5G equipment provided by Huawei.
    At the time, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) gave Spark options to mitigate national security concerns over the use of Huawei equipment, Ardern said on Monday.
    “The ball is now in their court,” she told a weekly news conference.
    Ardern said New Zealand, which is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network that includes the United Kingdom and the United States, would conduct its own assessment.
    “I would expect the GCSB to apply with our legislation and our own security assessments. It is fair to say Five Eyes, of course, share information but we make our own independent decisions,” she said.
    Huawei New Zealand did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Spark said it was in discussions with GCSB officials.
    “We are working through what possible mitigations we might be able to provide to address the concerns raised by the GCSB and have not yet made any decision on whether or when we should submit a revised proposal to GCSB,” Spark spokesman Andrew Pirie said in an emailed statement.
    The Huawei decision, along with the government’s tougher stance on China’s growing influence in the Pacific, has some politicians and foreign policy analysts worried about potential strained ties with a key trading partner.
    Ardern’s planned first visit to Beijing has faced scheduling issues, and China last week postponed a major tourism campaign in New Zealand days before its launch.
    Ardern said her government’s relationship with China was strong despite some complex issues.
    “Visits are not a measure of the health of a relationship they are only one small part of it,” she said, adding that trade and tourism ties remained strong.

    Main category: 

    Huawei’s crucial role in advancing 5G technologyAlibaba slams US treatment of Huawei, efforts to curb China’s rise

    Posted: by Arab News

  • Nissan panel to recommend outside director to chair board: report

    Sun, 2019-02-17 02:57

    TOKYO: A Nissan Motor governance committee will recommend the appointment of an external director as board chairman, a role distinct from company chairman, in a move to decentralize power at the top level, the Nikkei business daily reported on Sunday.
    Under Nissan’s current corporate charter, the position of board chair is automatically appointed to head the company board, the Nikkei said citing a source. Former Chairman Carlos Ghosn had filled both roles prior to his arrest in November for under-reporting his salary for eight years.
    The issue of Nissan’s chairmanship is now particularly important after the Japanese firm identified the concentration of power in one executive as one of the reasons Ghosn was able to carry out his alleged fiscal misconduct.
    Speculation has swirled about whether the newly appointed chairman of France’s Renault, Jean-Dominique Senard, would assume the chairmanship of the Japanese automaker.
    The Nikkei report comes after the governance committee said in a statement that the separation between operation and oversight was among topics discussed on Friday at the committee’s third meeting since it was formed in December after Ghosn’s arrest.
    The panel, comprising three Nissan external board directors and four third-party members, is scheduled to make recommendations to Nissan’s board in March on how to tighten lax governance and approval processes for matters including director compensation and chairman selection.
    A spokeswoman for the committee said it could not comment on potential recommendations before they are submitted to the Nissan board. Nissan did not immediately reply to emailed request for comment.

    Main category: 

    Renault: Ghosn remains director of Renault, Bollore chairman of Renault-NissanNissan poised to propose Ghosn replacement on board

    Posted: by Arab News

  • No new A380s! Emirates reduces orders, Airbus cuts production

    Emirates and Airbus have come to an agreement on outstanding A380 orders. Emirates will reduce its overall order of A380 aircraft from 162 to 123, and in doing so will receive its final 14 double-decker carriers between 2019 and 2021.

    Airbus, in turn, has decided to pull the plug on the A380 production, with the last deliveries of the world’s biggest passenger plane scheduled for 2021.

    The news, although expected, has left an indelible mark on the airline industry as the reality of rising fuel prices and unaffordable expenditures hits closer to home. Passengers and pilots across the world loved the massive A380, but the plane was too heavy a financial burden for airlines to carry.

    “Emirates has been a staunch supporter of the A380 since its very inception. While we are disappointed to have to give up our order, and sad that the programme could not be sustained, we accept that this is the reality of the situation. For us, the A380 is a wonderful aircraft loved by our customers and our crew. It is a differentiator for Emirates. We have shown how people can truly fly better on the A380, and Emirates has set the standards for that by introducing customer experiences that are unique to the A380 like our Shower Spas and Onboard Lounge. The A380 will remain a pillar of our fleet well into the 2030s,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group.

    Instead of spending on new A380s, Emirates has decided to order 40 new A330-900 aircraft, and 30 new A350-900 aircraft, in an agreement signed with Airbus. The deal is worth US$ 21.4 billion at list prices.

    “By selecting A330-900neo’s and A350-900s, both powered by Rolls-Royce engines, as well as reducing its future commitments to the A380, Emirates has effectively reduced its exposure to the giant jet and arguably introduced more fleet flexibility – this is critical with its deepening relationship with flydubai in its pursuit to expand and capture efficiencies across its growing fleet,” said Saj Ahmad, Chief Analyst, StrategicAero Research.


    How the world’s favourite dino went extinct

    The massive A380 jet, which has been around for more than a decade, seats more than 500 passengers. At a time when people around the globe are considering the cheapest forms of travel, airlines are finding it difficult to sell those seats. Qantas cancelled eight orders before Emirates cancelled 39.

    “Given that Emirates leases all its A380s, it has shielded itself against a new defunct programme and an asset whose values will only decline as time goes on. For Airbus, this deal will have been a very hard pill to swallow given the immense costs associated not just with producing the A380, but also to close it down,” Saj Ahmad said.



    It doesn’t help that the much-loved A380 behemoth has four engines that guzzle fuel. Over the past two decades, airlines have been finding it much more efficient to operate on a new generation of smaller, but more nimble jets that have only two engines.

    “There has been speculation for years whether we were 10 years too early for the A380, but I think it has become clear that we were probably at least 10 years too late … or more … However, let me stress one point here. We’re talking about the end of the production of the A380 in 2021. We’re not talking about the end of the program. Obviously, Airbus will support these 220-something aircraft that are in operation out there with many airlines,” said Tom Enders, outgoing CEO of Airbus, in a public statement.


    A checkered history

    The A380 has had to deal with more than an average share of troubles.

    Even before the plane was introduced to the market, Airbus struggled to reduce the weight of the plane to avoid financial penalties. After disagreements between Airbus’ French and German management, the manufacturer was plagued with production delays and cost overruns.

    Ever since the A380 behemoth was introduced into the commercial market with its voyage to Sydney under the Singapore Airlines banner, it has failed to shake off its “niche” label. It has tried to become a global mainstay with deals with multiple airlines including Qantas and Emirates, but it has failed to attract passengers.

    Airbus also was unable to foresee that airlines would not necessarily need to fly through international hubs but instead would have smaller planes with shorter one-stop routes to multiple locations.

    The beginning of the end was indicated in early 2018 when the initial A380s came off lease from Singapore Airlines. Most other airline carriers turned their back to the A380, leaving the gentle giants parked near the foothills of the French Pyrenees.

    Late last year, Emirates and Airbus missed a deadline to select engines for new planes after the airline struggled to convince Rolls-Royce on price and performance concessions. The latest announcement by Emirates to reduce its A380 orders was too much for Airbus to bear.

    “As a result of this decision we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years,” Tom Enders said in a statement.

    While there is great concern about job losses due to the discontinuation of A380 production, Airbus has assured that there is sufficient interest in newer models to reorganize its workforce.

    The post No new A380s! Emirates reduces orders, Airbus cuts production appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Oil lower despite falling supply and geopolitical troubles

    WTI and Brent crude oil both remain rangebound following a failed attempt to move higher. Both found technical resistance after correcting 38.2% of the October to December sell-offs.

    In WTI the level is $55.5/b and it attracted enough selling to avoid a break higher towards the next potential target of $59.6/b. Supply fundamentals have increasingly been turning supportive in recent weeks but against this the market still worries about the yet-to-be-realised – if at all – impact on demand from weaker macroeconomic fundamentals, according to Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank.

    “The Opec+ group of nations’ efforts to cut production and support the price has so far been quite successful. While some uncertainty with regards to Russian efforts has been raised, Opec, led by Saudi Arabia, has led from the front with data from Bloomberg showing a 2.1 million b/d drop in production during the past two months.

    “Adding to the support is the political crisis in Venezuela where President Nicolas Maduro’s future remains the focus. Even the Russians have indicated that Maduro’s popular support is draining away following years of economic mismanagement. Libya’s biggest oilfield, meanwhile, has been closed since December due to ongoing hostilities between eastern military commander Haftar and the UN-backed authorities in Tripoli,” says Hansen.

    He adds: ” Despite these supportive price developments, crude oil traded lower with disappointed longs bailing out following the failure to break higher. Based on current fundamentals the upside potential looks the greatest but the market is clearly still worried about the potential negative impact on demand should global growth continue to deteriorate. The key level of support to look out for remains $50/b in WTI.

    Given the focus on macroeconomic developments, an important week lies ahead. Monthly oil market reports from EIA and Opec on February 12 and the IEA on February 13 will be watched closely for any signs of downgrades to future demand growth.”

    Additional factors

    Oil prices have been flat for several days, weighed down by concerns about the health of the global economy, plus the potential return of supply from Libya. “Growing economic concerns, falling stock markets and emerging doubts that the trade conflict between the US and China will be resolved are putting oil prices under pressure,” Commerzbank wrote in a note on Friday, according to

    US President Donald Trump said he would not meet Chinese President Xi Jingping before the March 1 trade deadline. A meeting of the two, experts suggest, would be an indication that the U.S. and China were close to reaching a sweeping trade deal. Trump has promised to hike tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10 to 25%. White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said that there is a “pretty sizable distance” to go on the trade talks. The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. business titans are urging Trump to make a deal. reports that the Libyan National Army (LNA), run by General Khalifa Haftar, have reportedly taken control of the country’s largest oil field, the Sharara. The 315,000-bpd field had been offline since December, leading to a significant decline in oil production. The seizure of the Sharara could lead to its reopening. Oil prices saw downward pressure on the news

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    Posted: by AME Info

  • Oil prices hit 2019 highs amid supply cuts, trade talk hopes

    Mon, 2019-02-18 04:08

    SINGAPORE: Oil prices on Monday hit their highest levels since November last year, lifted by OPEC-led supply cuts, US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, and hopes that the Sino-US trade dispute may soon end.

    International Brent crude futures were at $66.66 per barrel at 0746 GMT, up 41 cents, or 0.6 percent, from their last close. Brent earlier climbed to its highest since November 2018 at $66.78 a barrel.

    US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $56.07 per barrel, up 48 cents, or 0.9 percent, from their close. WTI prices also rose to their highest since November, at $56.13 per barrel, earlier on Monday.

    Prices have been bolstered by a tightening market because of supply cuts organized by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and some non-affiliated producers like Russia. The group of producer countries agreed late last year to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to prevent a large supply overhang from swelling.

    Further supporting crude prices have been US sanctions against oil exporters and OPEC-members Iran and Venezuela.

    Financial markets, including crude futures, were also generally supported by hopes that the United States and China would soon resolve their trade disputes, which have dragged on global economic growth.

    “OPEC production cuts and US sanctions on both Iran and Venezuela are limiting supply. Trade tensions which have weighed on global growth are showing signs of easing boosting sentiment across markets and lifting oil demand prospects,” said Jasper Lawler, head of research at futures brokerage London Capital Group.

    Earlier in the trading day, news of a fall in Chinese car sales in January had raised concerns about how fuel demand in the world’s second-largest oil user might fare.

    China’s vehicle sales last month fell by 15.8 percent versus the same month in 2018, an industry association said on Monday. This continued the 2018 trend, in which China recorded the first annual drop in vehicle sales on record.

    So-called new energy vehicle sales in January, which include electric vehicles, registered a 140 percent increase, underlining expectations that oil demand from cars may peak in China in the coming years.

    Looming over oil markets in the near term, meanwhile, is the rise in US crude oil production of more than 2 million bpd in 2018, to a record 11.9 million bpd — with signs that US output will rise further.

    US energy firms last week increased the number of oil rigs looking for new supply by three, to a total of 857, energy services firm Baker Hughes said in a weekly report last Friday.

    That means the US rig count is higher than a year ago when fewer than 800 rigs were active.

    Main category: 

    Sanctions and cuts push sour crude prices above BrentBrent likely to average $70 next year, says American bank

    Posted: by Arab News

  • Pakistani Captains: Careem wants to make your life easier!

    To work on ease of living and financial inclusion of Pakistanis working in Dubai, ride-hailing Careem, announced a partnership with the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis, after hosting a meeting with Ministry representatives and 50 Pakistani Captains (Careem’s title for their drivers). 

    The meeting was attended by Mudassir Sheikha, CEO, and Co-Founder of Careem along with Junaid Iqbal, Managing Director of Careem Pakistan and Zulfiqar Bukhari, Special Assistant of the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistan along with 50 Pakistani Captains working in Dubai.

    Several initiatives were discussed at the meeting, meant to improve the lives of Pakistani Captains working in Dubai and away from home. According to Careem, there are currently 9 million Pakistani expats living outside their home country. Currently standing at $22 billion, on average overseas Pakistanis are sending around $1.7 to $1.9 billion a month. Amongst these remittances, 82% are received from 5 countries which are KSA, UAE, USA, UK, and Malaysia.

    Careem CEO and Co-Founder Mudassir Sheikha speaks at the meeting.

    Commenting on the occasion is Mudassir Sheikha, CEO, and Co-founder of Careem: “We were honoured to host Zulfiqar Bukhari, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis at our HQ in Dubai. It gave us a valuable opportunity to discuss ways in which we can improve the lives of Pakistani Captains in the UAE and across the Gulf region.”

    Zulfiqar Bukhari, Special Assistant for Overseas Pakistan commented: “The government tremendously values the contribution of overseas Pakistanis to the economy of Pakistan, and will take every measure to ease out their living outside of Pakistan, from the perspective of financial inclusion and investment back home“.

    Speaking to a Careem representative, AMEinfo learned that “Careem is working with all its Captains include Pakistani Captains to provide a fair earning in terms of bonuses and other incentives.” While no specifics were given regarding these proposed incentives, they are generally aimed at improving the quality of life for Pakistani expat Captains.

    Many Pakistani Captains were in attendance.

    “To further facilitate the collaboration, Junaid Iqbal, the Managing Director of Careem Pakistan is working with the Ministry of Overseas to develop special promo codes for Pakistanis travel home,” an official press statement by Careem said. “Furthermore, a team will be formulated to work with various governments in Gulf countries to increase the number of Pakistani expats.”

    Currently, Pakistani Captains in the UAE already enjoy a multitude of benefits, the representative said. “We have partnerships to reduce the cost for our captains: Maintenance partners (garage, servicing, car wash, etc), restaurants partnerships (food meals, Karak at discounted prices), grocery partnerships (daily use items at a discounted rate), free medical checkup and discounts on medical test for visa/RTA.”

    Currently, Pakistani Captains number in the thousands, with 99% of them being male. “The average age is within the 25 – 40 age bracket,” the representative said.

    The post Pakistani Captains: Careem wants to make your life easier! appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Recession Watch: Is gold really a safe hedge?

    By Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank


    Applying hedges during periods of economic stagnation or decline can best be compared to taking out an insurance policy to offset, or more likely, to try and mitigate adverse market movements in riskier assets such as stocks, corporate credit, and real estate.

    Hedging does not come without risks as both the choice of product and timing of when the trade is entered will have a major impact on its potential success.

    A good hedge is finding an asset where correlations to other asset classes decrease during recessions. Studies have found that gold’s correlation with stocks breaks down during recessions. This means that historically, gold will often move in the opposite direction of stocks during periods of recession. However, the mere fact that the economy enters a recession doesn’t necessarily lift the price of gold. It also depends on the behavior of other markets.

    However, in general, one can say that during a recession, interest rates typically go down while stocks are being hurt by a decline in earnings as consumers’ fear of losing their jobs prompts them to save money instead of spending it. While both are likely to provide support, the risk aversion associated with an economic slowdown may trigger a need from investors to reduce exposure across the board. On that basis, an already elevated speculative involvement by hedge funds could trigger selling of gold, purely from the need to reduce exposure.

    There have been seven recessions since 1965 and during these periods gold rose during five while only suffering a noticeable decline in one.

    One key consideration for gold in the event of a coming recession is the likely policy response, which at the margin almost must prove supportive of the nominal price of the yellow metal. If we look back at the post-global financial crisis response and the US Federal Reserve’s multiple iterations of quantitative easing, it is clear that gold rallied whenever it became obvious that the Fed was set to ease policy again – most famously when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke tipped the markets off that QE2 was on its way in August of 2010 at the Fed’s Jackson Hole symposium.

    Gold rallied in the ensuing weeks to new highs above $1,265/oz and ran up to its all-time high in USD terms in late 2011. Subsequently, gold slowly began to change its behavior as the market realized that central bank policy was not bringing the kind of inflation that gold bulls anticipated. By early 2012, the USD was turning around, and the top in gold versus the euro was posted in late 2012 and against the yen in April of 2013, the very week that the Bank of Japan’s Kuroda launched his “big bazooka” of quantitative easing.

    But that doesn’t mean gold is permanently down for the count or that policymakers can’t engineer inflation if they really want to. Consider that if the world is indeed going into a new recession now it will be doing so with record levels of debt and at low – and even in some cases – negative interest rates.

    With so little policy room to work with, and having demonstrated that the “old unconventional” tools of QE and ZIRP and NIRP don’t work, policymakers will inevitably reach for something new. That something new is likely to include something along the lines of nominal GDP targeting and fiscal forcing of the economy, measures that could prove far more inflationary if the focus is injecting money into the economy that will be spent rather than used to inflate asset prices, which was the chief result from QE and low rates.

    In this kind of fiscal forcing or debt monetization scenario aimed at bringing down the economy’s leverage while keeping unemployment low, gold could quickly play its role as something that retains its value relative to other assets. Certainly, the risks given the likely eventual policy response look asymmetric to the upside.


    Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank

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    Posted: by AME Info

  • Russia's Gazprombank freezes accounts of Venezuela's PDVSA - source

    Sun, 2019-02-17 23:15

    MOSCOW: Russian lender Gazprombank has decided to freeze the accounts of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and halted transactions with the firm to reduce the risk of the bank falling under U.S. sanctions, a Gazprombank source told Reuters on Sunday.

    While many foreign firms have been cutting their exposure to PDVSA since the sanctions were imposed, the fact that a lender closely aligned with the Russian state is following suit is significant because the Kremlin has been among Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s staunchest supporters.

    “PDVSA’s accounts are currently frozen. As you’ll understand, operations cannot be carried out,” the source said. Gazprombank did not reply to a Reuters request for a comment.

    PDVSA brandished the story as “fake news” on its Twitter account in capital red letters, but did not reply to a request for comment.

    Reuters reported this month that PDVSA was telling customers of its joint ventures to deposit oil sales proceeds in its Gazprombank accounts, according to sources and an internal document, in a move to try to sideline fresh U.S. sanctions on PDVSA.

    Washington says the sanctions, imposed on Jan. 28, are aimed at blocking Maduro’s access to the country’s oil revenue after opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself interim president and received widespread Western support.

    Gazprombank is Russia’s third biggest lender by assets and includes among its shareholders Russian state gas company Gazprom.

    The bank has held PDVSA accounts for several years. In 2013, PDVSA said it signed a deal with Gazprombank for $1 billion (£774 million) in financing for the Petrozamora company. The source said that Petrozamora accounts were frozen, too.

    Russian officials have said they stand by Maduro and have condemned opposition actions as a U.S.-inspired ploy to usurp power in Caracas.

    But Russian firms find themselves in a quandary, caught between a desire to endorse the Kremlin line and back Maduro, and the fear that by doing so they could expose themselves to secondary U.S. sanctions which would harm their businesses.

    Main category: 

    Venezuela shifts oil ventures’ accounts to Russia’s Gazprombank — document, sourcesPDVSA says Venezuela oil industry normal after Chavez death

    Posted: by Arab News

  • Russian arrests of foreign businessmen shocks Western investors

    Tue, 2019-02-19 05:44

    MOSCOW: The arrest in Russia of prominent US and French investors on suspicion of fraud has sent shockwaves through Western business circles and sparked fears of cutbacks in foreign investment sorely needed for economic growth.
    The founder and employees of the Baring Vostok private equity firm were arrested on Friday in a case brought with the help of the FSB security service.
    The arrest took place on the same day Russia hosted leading business people in the Black Sea resort of Sochi for a major economic forum which trumpeted the country’s openness to investment.
    Michael Calvey, a US citizen and the founder and director of Baring Vostok, has been placed in pre-trial detention in a Moscow jail for the next two months for alleged fraud, along with five others — including Philippe Delpal, a French citizen.
    They are accused of defrauding Vostochny Bank of at least 2.5 billion rubles ($37.7 million). All of them deny any wrongdoing and blame the case on a shareholder dispute.
    In an opinion piece on Monday in the Vedomosti business daily, Maxim Bouev — vice-rector of Moscow’s New Economic School — wrote the case proves what investors have long known: “If you want to invest in Russia, you have to accept your risk of eventually being arrested and finding yourself in the dock.”
    This is the latest in a long line of cases in which top business people have been accused of crimes motivated by commercial or political interests, but these have rarely involved foreigners.
    Business figures and economists reacted strongly to investigators swooping on Baring Vostok, founded 25 years ago, which has brought in investments of more than $3 billion to Russia despite the geopolitical tensions and Western sanctions of recent years.
    Arkady Volozh, the CEO of Russian Internet giant Yandex, defended Calvey in a statement, saying he “has always been a standard for the market of decency and law-abidingness.”
    Other business leaders said they fear the case will deal a severe blow to an investment climate already marred by corruption and the lack of independent courts — especially given the strong-arm tactics employed.
    “This gives Russia a hateful image abroad,” the president of the French-Russian chamber of commerce, Emmanuel Quidet, told AFP.
    The chamber on Monday said it was “very concerned” about the arrests in a joint statement with the Association of European Businesses, a federation of multinational companies working in Russia.
    The case could “severely damage the climate and attractiveness of Russia for direct investments from abroad,” it said.
    The Kremlin sought to dispel those fears, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying Calvey’s arrest should “not affect the investment climate” in Russia.
    He added he was aware of the contribution to the Russian economy made by Calvey, who has met President Vladimir Putin numerous times.
    The government in early February unveiled a 340 billion euros ($385 billion) plan to achieve its economic goals and support growth that is forecast to slow this year. This will require major private investment.
    “It’s an electric shock,” a source in the Association of European Businesses told AFP.
    “You get the impression that business rivals are using the justice system and Russian (security) services to settle their scores. But the fact that the authorities are letting this happen sends out a very negative signal. You wonder who will be next.”
    In the Novaya Gazeta independent newspaper, outspoken commentator Yulia Latynina claimed that in the context of current East-West tensions, “for security officials, business people are criminals and foreigners are spies.”

    Main category: 

    Russia’s Gazprombank freezes accounts of Venezuela’s PDVSA – sourceRussian court jails US investor pending fraud trial

    Posted: by Arab News

  • Russian big gun rolls out latest hardware for Gulf customers

    Mon, 2019-02-18 01:11

    LONDON: As the region’s biggest military exhibition gets underway in Abu Dhabi, Sergey Chemezov, CEO of Russian defense conglomerate Rostec, spoke exclusively to Arab News about the company’s regional ambitions.
    What is the expected value of your exports this year? 
    The order portfolio of Rosoboronexport, Rostec’s subsidiary, currently exceeds $50 billion. Russia is the second-largest arms supplier in the world.
    In 2018, arms and military machinery were supplied to over 40 countries worldwide. In addition, we signed more than 1,100 contractual documents to an amount of over $20 billion, which is nearly one-quarter more than in 2017. 
    The Middle East and North Africa accounted for almost half of Rosoboronexport’s supplies of military products, more than 40 percent. Only two years before, that share had been significantly smaller, about 20 percent. That trend says it all; military and technical cooperation with the countries of that region have been strengthening. The Middle East is currently the leading region in the world by the volume of arms purchased, accounting for nearly one-third of the total market. Middle Eastern states (Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, the UAE and Qatar) make half of the list of 10 major importers of military products, and Saudi Arabia remains the top importer. 
    Which country will most likely become your largest client in the Middle East in 2019? Which systems is Rostec planning to sell in the region this year?
    We’re implementing a range of projects in the UAE, both in civil and military areas. Russia is also interested in developing military and technical cooperation with all countries of the region. In recent years, we’ve resumed close contacts with a whole range of states, including Iraq.
    I’d like to particularly focus on the Yak-130 combat trainer aircraft. The countries of the region are showing a continuously increasing interest in combat trainers. The Yak-300 has all the necessary characteristics required for aircraft of that type, and I firmly believe that it has great potential for supplies to the countries of the region.
    What are the potential consequences of the suspension of the New START Treaty with the US? Is it affecting Rostec’s production plans? 
    As a person who cares about what’s happening in the world, I can say that I’m worried by the position of the US. It is leading to a new arms race and aggravating international tension. The Russian Army is well equipped, and is capable of efficiently responding to attacks. Our corporation has done its best for this purpose. Yet there will be no winners in a third world war if it happens. 
    Is there up-to-date information on supplies of S-400 systems to Turkey?
    The contract for the S-400 was signed in 2017. We’ve agreed to reduce the terms already twice, and in autumn 2019 the obligations will be fulfilled. Of course, Turkey does have ambitions to develop its national defense industry, and in this regard, it has already achieved significant progress in a range of areas. Therefore, our partners are interested in such topics as joint development of machinery, including such advanced equipment as air defense systems.
    As to joint production, the contract for the S-400 provides for an option. This is about cooperation in technology. We’re ready to agree to localization of manufacture of certain elements of that system. I’ve said it earlier and will repeat it again: The S-400 is a defense system, not an offensive one. We can sell it to the Americans if they want it. Thus, strategically there are no problems in this regard. And I can see no problems for Russia in terms of security.
    Is Rostec discussing any potential sales with Saudi Arabia, and if yes, in which area?
    The military sector prefers silence, therefore I wouldn’t go into detail. I’d only say that we’re actively working in a range of areas. We can confirm information about signing a number of contracts with Saudi Arabia, as well as about both parties’ readiness to fulfill them, including on the S-400. Talking of the civil area, Rostec possesses a whole range of innovative technologies that can be demanded within implementation of the ambitious NEOM city project. These are water treatment systems, electronic services, various solutions in the area of composite materials, glazing with special features, as well as advanced technologies and innovations for manufacturing biodegradable polymers and products based on natural renewable raw materials. 
    Do you have up-to-date information on progress in the privatization of Rostec’s holdings?
    The sale of shares isn’t an end in itself for Rostec, but rather a tool for developing its assets in compliance with the corporation’s development strategy until 2025. We’re interested not only in attracting additional investments, but also in gaining new competences, technologies and markets. Private-public partnerships help our enterprises, and holdings become more efficient and take new positions quicker. 
    What are your expectations of the corporation’s profit for the year?
    We’re finishing assessment of the results, and will officially announce them in the near future. Now I can say that the company continues to show good financial results, and we expect an increase in both revenue and net profit compared to 2017.
    Do you expect that long-standing low oil prices will affect regional sales this year?
    The example of Russia shows that oil prices do not determine everything. Even when they are low, the economy can develop. 
    We sense that the countries of the region have already adapted to the new price realities that dramatically appeared in 2014. At the same time, interest in our products, both military and civilian, in the region is growing from year to year.
    What products will Rostec holding companies present at IDEX 2019?
    The IDEX exhibition is one of the world’s largest venues where Russia demonstrates its latest developments in the field of weapons and military equipment. This is an opportunity for us to negotiate and discuss cooperation with our traditional partners, primarily from the Middle East, which is of particular interest to Russian industry. After all, the Middle East and North Africa account for almost half of the sales of Russian military products abroad. The joint exposition of Russian enterprises at IDEX, which occupies more than 1,100 square meters of exhibition area, will feature about 1,000 samples of military products.
    In particular, the unparalleled Pantsir-ME, an air defense missile and artillery system, will make its international debut at the exhibition, presented by the High-Precision Complexes Holding. The system is able to protect ships from all types of aerial kill assets.
    A large-caliber automatic assault rifle complex, the SHAK-12, designed for close combat, will also be shown there. Units of Russian special services are armed with these complexes.
    Kalashnikov Concern will showcase a wide range of small arms and hunting weapons. The AK-15 and 200 series Kalashnikov certified for export will be shown abroad for the first time. The 200 series assault rifles will be one of the key Russian novelties at IDEX 2019. 
    Tecmash Concern will exhibit a number of its latest ammunition products. These include a 122-mm unmanned rocket missile with a detachable blast fragmentation warhead for the Tornado-G multiple-launching rocket system. This ammunition has much greater kill effectiveness than issued shells of the Grad system. At the same stand, visitors will for the first time see a unique video showing how the Tornado-G works. In addition, at the show the world community will for the first time see Tecmash’s AZ-TSR-47, an increased-efficiency jet-stabilized projectile designed to protect surface ships from weapons equipped with radar guidance systems.
    TSNIITOCHMASH will present at IDEX its already well-known second-generation Ratnik combat equipment, which is exactly what is now supplied to the Russian Army. Ratnik in the color of sand, presented at IDEX, has been successfully tested in Syria. Its components include a body armor backed with a special armor panel. This panel can withstand 10 hits of SVD sniper rifle armor-piercing incendiary bullets, fired from a distance of 10 meters, and the plate is not deformed on the back, providing protection against contusion damage. The Russian bulletproof vest also wins in terms of weight: It is 2.5-3 kg less compared to the US general military bulletproof vest.
    Each exhibition held in the Middle East demonstrates that the corporation has immense potential to cooperate with the countries of the region. 

    Main category: 

    Russia’s Rostec doing brisk arms trades despite sanctions

    Posted: by Arab News

  • Russian court jails US investor pending fraud trial

    Sat, 2019-02-16 23:03

    MOSCOW: A Russian court on Saturday jailed the US founder of a major investment firm for two months over fraud charges he says were fabricated for use in a shareholder battle.
    Michael Calvey, founder of the multi-billion-dollar investment fund Baring Vostok Capital Partners (BVCP), was placed under arrest until April 13 as he and five others await trial on charges they embezzled 2.5 billion rubles ($37.7 million).
    Authorities detained four BVCP employees on Friday, including French national Phillipe Delpal.
    Two other suspects include a former fund employee and someone at another firm mentioned in the probe. All six are now under pre-trial arrest.
    In a statement Saturday, Baring Vostok said the claims made against its employees “have no merit.”
    The case has already drawn comparisons to other high-profile probes against foreign investors in Russia, notably one against Bill Browder and the Hermitage Capital fund.
    Ironically, it comes as Russia hosts a high-profile investment forum in its Black Sea city Sochi.
    Calvey says he is innocent and argued in court that the probe is a bid to exert pressure on him amid a shareholder conflict within Vostochniy Bank, which he is trying to resolve in a London arbitration court.
    The charges against him are intended to “pressure Baring Vostok to drop its arbitration claims in London or to obstruct the new share emission of Vostochniy Bank,” Calvey alleged according to a statement by Baring Vostok on Saturday.
    Investigators say that a firm controlled by Calvey in 2017 owed 2.5 billion rubles to Vostochniy bank and paid the debt with a 59.9 percent stake in the Luxembourg company International Financial Technology Group (IFTG), which was valued at three billion rubles.
    The investigators claim that IFTG’s real value was only 600,000 rubles.
    The fraud claim against Calvey was filed with the FSB security service this month by Sherzod Yusupov, a minority shareholder in Vostochniy Bank, Russian agencies reported.
    Baring Vostok controls more than 52 percent of Vostochniy Bank, while 32 percent is owned by Artyom Avetisyan, Russian reports said.
    Calvey said in court that he and Avetisyan are tangled in a shareholder dispute, and that by filing the claim Yusupov was in fact acting on Avetisyan’s behalf.
    BVCP is a veteran investor in Russia, with current and past projects that include the Internet company Yandex, online retailer, several drugstore and food store chains, and Russia’s leading online classifieds service Avito.
    Some Russian officials have supported Calvey, with Rosnano board chairman Anatoly Chubais calling him “one of the most respected investors” whose efforts “attracted about four billion dollars in foreign direct investment to Russia.”

    Main category: 

    Posted: by Arab News

  • Saudi Arabia and Spain’s Navantia plan combat management systems venture

    Mon, 2019-02-18 10:20

    ABU DHABI: State-owned Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) signed an agreement on Monday with Spanish state-held shipbuilder Navantia to set up a joint venture to provide combat systems, the new partnership’s chief executive said on Monday.
    The SANNI venture, the name of which stands for SAMI Navantia Naval Industries, will integrate and adapt Navantia’s combat management systems for Saudi navy corvette ships, said Antonio Barberan at the IDEX military exhibition in Abu Dhabi.
    SANNI is also in talks with other potential customers in the Middle East, he said.
    SAMI owns 51 percent of SANNI, with Navantia holding the remaining 49 percent.
    In November SAMI and Navantia signed an agreement to jointly manufacture five corvettes for the Saudi navy.

    Main category: 

    Posted: by Arab News

  • Saudi Arabia, Pakistan ‘to sign deals worth up to $20 billion’

    Sat, 2019-02-16 22:22

    KARACHI: Saudi Arabia is expected to announce investments in Pakistan worth between $15 billion and $20 billion during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s official visit, according to the head of Pakistan’s Board of Investment.

    The Kingdom and the UAE in recent months have offered Pakistan more than $30 billion in loans and investments to tackle a soaring current-account deficit. The Saudi crown prince is due to sign off on his country’s deals, including one for a $10 billion oil refinery in Pakistan’s Gwadar Port.

    “We are expecting Saudi investment in the range of $15 billion to $20 billion based on the interest investors have expressed so far,” said Haroon Sharif, minister of state and chairman of the Board of Investment.

    Sharif previously said that Pakistan expected investments worth about $15 billion from Saudi Arabia over the next three years, and about $40 billion from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and China combined in the next three to five years.

    Mian Mehmood, the Pakistani head of the Pakistan-Saudi Arabia Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said recently that in addition to the oil refinery project, a further $10 billion is expected to be invested in sectors other than oil and gas, bringing the total to $20 billion.

    “About 25 to 30 agreements are expected to be finalized during the visit of the crown prince,” said Mehmood who recently led a business delegation to the Kingdom to explore bilateral investment and cooperation opportunities.

    More than 30 public and private companies are poised to invest in Pakistan, including Saudi Aramco, SABIC and ACWA Power, he added.

    The sectors targeted for Saudi investment include oil refining, petrochemical, mining, construction, power generation, agriculture and glass.

    “Ten Saudi manufacturing companies working in construction and allied materials, and 10 companies interested in the food processing sector will come to sign agreements,” Mehmood said.

    Speaking this month during a visit to Gwadar to inspect the site of the $10 billion oil refinery, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said: “Saudi Arabia wants to make Pakistan’s economic development stable through establishing an oil refinery and partnership with Pakistan in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.”

    Work on the refinery is expected to begin within 18 months.

    “Once the project starts production, the country would be able to save about $2 billion in foreign exchange on costly imports,” said Samiullah Tariq, the head of research at investment firm Arif Habib Limited.

    Main category: 

    Saudi-Pakistan bond stronger than ever, says ambassadorStreets of Pakistan lined with pictures of Saudi Crown Prince

    Posted: by Arab News

  • Saudi oil refinery in Gwadar to help Islamabad save $3 billion a year

    Sat, 2019-02-16 21:26

    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan expects to agree a deal to build an oil refinery and petrochemical complex at the Balochistani deep-sea Port of Gwadar, during the first state-level visit by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

    The deal will see Pakistan join with Saudi Aramco to build the facility, expected to cost $10 billion.

    “We are working on feasibility studies for the establishment of the oil refinery and petrochemical complex in Gwadar, and will be ready to start by early 2020,” Pakistan’s Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan told Arab News on Thursday.

    Once established, the project will help the South Asian nation cut its annual crude oil imports by up to $3 billion annually, in addition to creating thousands of job opportunities in the impoverished western province.

    The country spends more than $16 billion each year on importing 26 million tons of petroleum products, including 800 million cubic feet of liquified natural gas (LNG) from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Gulf countries.

    Khan claimed the refinery would produce up to 300,000 barrels per day once completed.

    “The Saudi authorities have asked us to complete all the initial work on the project on a fast track, as they want to set it up as early as possible,” he said.

    A Saudi technical team, including Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih, has visited Gwadar twice in recent months to examine the site for the refinery, getting briefings from Pakistani officials on security in the area near the border with Iran.

    “We will ensure complete security for Saudi investments and people working on the project. A detailed security plan has already been chalked up with help of the security agencies,” Khan added.

    Pakistan currently has five oil refineries, but they can only satisfy half of its annual demand. Islamabad and Riyadh have long maintained strong ties, with the latter repeatedly offering the former financial assistance. Last year, the Kingdom guaranteed Pakistan $3 billion in foreign currency support for a year, and a further loan worth up to $3 billion in deferred payments for oil imports, to help stave off an economic crisis. The Islamic Republic also received $3 billion from the UAE to protect its foreign reserves.

    Khan added that the Pakistani-Arab Refinery Co. (PARCO) was also setting up an oil refinery at Khalifa Point, near the city of Hub in Balochistan. 

    “The work on this project is at an advanced stage. Land for it has been acquired and other formalities are being fulfilled,” he said.

    Khan hopes the world’s perception of Pakistan will change upon completion of these deals, after years of war in the surrounding region. Exxon Mobil returned to Pakistan last month after 27 years, and started offshore drilling with $75 million of initial investments. 

    “All results of the drilling are positive so far, and we expect huge oil and gas reserves to be discovered soon,” he said.

    “More foreign companies are contacting us to invest in offshore drilling and exploration. Saudi Arabia is also setting up reservoirs for LNG in Pakistan. More Saudi investment will come to Pakistan with the passage of time.”

    Main category: 

    Saudi Arabia to set up $10 billion oil refinery in Pakistan’s GwadarStreets of Pakistan lined with pictures of Saudi Crown Prince

    Posted: by Arab News

  • Saudi’s military company eyes $10bn revenue in next five years

    Mon, 2019-02-18 09:50

    ABU DHABI: State-owned Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) aims to generate $10 billion in revenue over the next five years, its chief executive said on Monday, as the wealth fund-backed group spearheads a drive to localize military spending.
    SAMI, owned by the Public Investment Fund, wants exports to account for 30 percent of its revenue by 2030, Chief Executive Andreas Schwer told Reuters at a defense event in Abu Dhabi.
    The company, established in May 2017, seeks to localize 50 percent of military spending by 2030 as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to diversify the kingdom’s economy away from oil revenue.
    “By 2030 SAMI will be more than just a regional player. We will be a truly global player, to be among the top 10 companies,” Schwer said. “We won’t serve only the domestic market. We will generate 30 percent of revenues from export markets by 2030.”
    He said Saudi Arabia has a $70 billion annual defense budget plus a $30 billion security-related budget from other ministries.
    Schwer said SAMI had signed 19 joint venture deals with companies from Western Europe, the United States, Asia and South Africa since 2018 and planned to sign 25 to 30 more in the next five years.
    Schwer said SAMI would not do business with Russia due to US sanctions. “SAMI as an entity will not do any business with any country or company which is falling under embargo or sanctions,” he said.
    SAMI also planned to build a company in the Kingdom as part of a joint venture with Abu Dhabi state investor Mubadala to build aircraft components for commercial and military uses. A foreign partner could join the venture.
    “We are looking to acquire other existing assets as a technology provider,” Schwer said.

    Main category: 

    Posted: by Arab News

  • Shake-up between humans, machines can create 133 million new jobs

    One of the most senior officials of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has called on governments and institutions around the world to collaborate far more closely around the Fourth Industrial Revolution, to harness the opportunities of technological change to end poverty, curb inequalities, confront discrimination and ensure vast numbers of people are not left behind.

    Addressing a plenary session titled ‘The Future of the Economy in the Age of 4IR’, at the seventh World Government Summit (WGS 2019) in Dubai, José Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of OECD, said it was vital that countries use digital technologies as a great equalizer, and not create a situation where they have to look after people who are unable to participate in a new digitally-driven economy.

    “The digital transformation can change the world, but we have to create a level playing field. In OECD countries alone, we estimate up to half of all people will be displaced or affected by technology. How do you empower half of the workforce that will be affected? How do you provide the skills that will allow them to profit? What do you do with the hundreds of millions of youth who have not yet been incorporated into this new order?” Gurria asked, in response to questions by moderator Becky Anderson.



    The OECD estimates that 133 million new jobs may emerge in the shake-up between humans and machines by 2022. However, at the same time, 75 million jobs may be displaced. The OECD’s projections suggest that one billion people worldwide lack the necessary digital literacy and skills to participate in the digital economy, with Gurria pointing to the fact that uneven broadband access means that less than half the world’s population uses the internet. Globally, 200 million fewer women are online than men.

    Gurria said countries across the world are at different stages of the digital revolution and some people will be left behind. “Even in developed countries like the UK, you have cities just a few miles apart, in which you have 10 years’ difference in life expectancy. How do you deal with the responsibility to protect the vulnerable? How do you not create a situation where the state becomes a great provider of assistance?” he asked.

    “The Fourth Industrial Revolution will have its upsides and downsides. It’s our challenge and duty to harness the upside, and mitigate the downside.”

    The three-day World Government Summit 2019 runs until February 12 at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. The landmark event has convened more than 4,000 participants from 140 countries, including heads of state and governments, as well as top-tier representatives of 30 international organizations.

    The post Shake-up between humans, machines can create 133 million new jobs appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Survey: Business growth will be driven by positive digital experiences

    Riverbed, The Digital Performance Company, this week announced the results of key local research which reveals that 85% of respondents claimed end-user digital experience would play a ‘significant’ role in driving business growth for their companies. As a result, Middle East organizations looking to grow their business and raise customer and employee satisfaction in 2019, would be well advised to invest in technologies that enable them to monitor and improve the experiences users have when utilizing their enterprise applications.

    “Business models are rapidly changing as digital services make it possible for users to engage with organizations at any time, and from anywhere. When properly delivered, this 24/7/365 service availability and exposure can enhance customer experience, engagement and loyalty, while also contributing to higher productivity and satisfaction among employees,” explained Elie Dib, Regional Vice President, EMEA Emerging Markets, at Riverbed.

    “On the other hand, if the performance and usability of digital services cannot be assured, it could have a significant and long-lasting impact on the brand. The digital experiences of the user – whether an employee, customer, partner, or citizen – is therefore crucial to businesses and governments in the Middle East,” he added. Despite understanding this pressing need to ensure positive digital experiences, the majority (63%) of respondents still face readiness issues as their networks are overwhelmed by the growing volume of applications and services. Consequently, 62% admitted their inability to monitor and measure the performance of enterprise apps as is actually experienced by users on their endpoint devices.

    Another likely reason for this shortcoming is that despite dramatic changes in customer expectations of digital services, organizations continue to rely primarily on age-old established metrics when assessing the performance of their applications, with 49% of respondents highlighting their perception of availability and reliability as being the key metrics to consider. The advancement and automation of networking and connectivity technologies mean that today, ensuring such high-availability is achievable even with only modest effort by IT teams. The next set of application performance metrics organizations currently monitor most closely are:

    -44% – Average response time

    -31% – Throughput / Bandwidth

    However, addressing the digital experience, which is proving to be equally critical to success, requires measuring actual end-user experience – something only 24% of respondents were capable of tracking.

    With these gaps in their monitoring abilities, it is no wonder that 68% of respondents admitted to being surprised by complaints of poor performance from end-users. “Since today’s multi-layered application delivery models are so complex, without the ability to pinpoint and understand the issues users face, it’s monumentally challenging to improve their experiences,” said Dib. “Traditional tools monitor the network and applications by ‘looking out’ from the data centre resulting in a visibility gap between what your tools are telling you and what your users are actually experiencing. Instead, the ideal scenario for measuring the digital and end-user experience is to ‘look in’ from the end-user’s perspective. This approach can provide clear insights into how customers are consuming applications, what their digital experience is like, and how that experience impacts their main business KPIs.”

    Looking ahead, it is clear that consumers and employees in the Middle East will continue to push for more services to be delivered via digital channels. Respondents to Riverbed’s survey believe that if their organizations could add new features and functionality to their applications (49%) or ensure consistent high-performance and usability of existing services (47%), they would be able to improve the perception these tech-savvy users have of their digital services.

    The post Survey: Business growth will be driven by positive digital experiences appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • To fight off unemployment, Iraqi youth plant start-up seeds

    Sun, 2019-02-17 03:52

    BAGHDAD: Stuck between an endless waitlist for a government job and a frail private sector, Iraqi entrepreneurs are taking on staggering unemployment by establishing their own start-ups.
    The first murmurs of this creative spirit were felt in 2013, but the Daesh group’s sweep across a third of the country the following year put many projects on hold.
    Now, with Daesh defeated, co-working spaces and incubators are flourishing in a country whose unemployment rate hovers around 10 percent but whose public sector is too bloated to hire.
    Many self-starters begin their journey at an aptly named glass building in central Baghdad: The Station.
    There, they sip on coffee, peruse floor-to-ceiling bookshelves for ideas and grab a seat at clusters of desks where other stylish Iraqis click away at their laptops.
    “We’re trying to create a new generation with a different state of mind,” said executive director Haidar Hamzoz.
    “We want to tell youth that they can start their own project, achieve their dreams and not just be happy in a government job they didn’t even want,” he said.
    Youth make up around 60 percent of Iraq’s nearly 40 million people.
    After graduating from university, many spend years waiting to be appointed to a job in the government, Iraq’s biggest employer.
    Four out of five jobs created in Iraq in recent years are in the public sector, according to the World Bank.
    And in its 2019 budget, the government proposed $52 billion in salaries, pensions, and social security for its workers — a 15 percent jump from 2018 and more than half the total budget.
    But with graduates entering the workforce faster than jobs are created, many still wait indefinitely for work.
    Among youth, 17 percent of men and a whopping 27 percent of women are unemployed, the World Bank says.
    When Daesh declared Mosul its seat of power in Iraq back in 2014, resident Saleh Mahmud was forced to shutter the city’s incubator for would-be entrepreneurs.
    With Mosul now cautiously rebuilding after the militants were ousted in 2017, Mahmud is back in business.
    “Around 600-700 youth have already passed by Mosul Space” to attend a seminar or seek out resources as they start their own ventures, said the 23-year-old.
    He was inspired after watching fellow Mosul University graduates hopelessly “try to hunt down a connection to get a job in the public sphere.”
    “A university education isn’t something that gets you a fulfilling job,” he said.
    Another start-up, Dakkakena, is capitalizing on Mosul’s rebuilding spirit, too.
    The online shopping service delivers a lorry-full of home goods every day to at least a dozen families refurnishing after the war.
    “On the web, we can sell things for cheaper than stores because we have fewer costs, like no showrooms,” said founder Yussef Al-Noaime, 27.
    Noaime fled Daesh to the Netherlands, where he was introduced to e-commerce. When he returned home, the computer engineer partnered with another local to found their venture.
    A similar service, Miswag, was set-up in the capital Baghdad in 2014 and last year reported hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits.
    On an autumn day, some 70 young Iraqi innovators converged for a three-day workshop in Baghdad on founding start-ups.
    They flitted among round tables planning projects, their Arabic conversations sprinkled with English terms.
    “What we’re doing is showing youth what entrepreneurship is — not necessarily so they succeed, but so they at least try,” said organizer Ibrahim Al-Zarari.
    He said attendees should understand two things: first, that the public sector is saturated. And second, that oil isn’t the only resource on which Iraq — OPEC’s second-largest producer — should capitalize.
    More than 65 percent of Iraq’s GDP and nearly 90 percent of state revenues hail from the oil sector. Many youths turn to it for work, but it only employs one percent of the workforce.
    Widespread corruption and bureaucracy also weaken Iraq’s appeal for private investors. The World Bank ranks it 168th out of 190 for states with a good business environment.
    Under current legislation, private sector employees are not offered the same labor protections or social benefits as those in the public sector.
    And Iraq’s stuttering banking industry appears too cautious to dive in, said Tamara Raad, 26, who researches start-ups.
    “The banks have a role to play. They must make loans without interest and help young entrepreneurs,” she said.
    Banks or no banks, Mahmud in Mosul is already planning how he’ll grow his business in 2019.
    “We will open a new, larger space for new gatherings,” he said excitedly, to bring together returning designers, developers and other inventors.

    Main category: 

    By necessity or design, Iraqi women launch Mosul firmsIraq’s conflict-affected youth learning how to code

    Posted: by Arab News

  • Top 5 trends for UAE luxury hotels to watch out for in 2019!

    We’ve heard industry analysts talk about everything from improving food and entertainment to introducing artificial intelligence and robots to engage with customers. While some refer to trends that will continue from the previous year, there are others who point to new trends.

    Why speculate when you can speak to an expert? That’s exactly what we did!

    AMEinfo asked Tareq Derbas, General Manager of the Ritz-Carlton, DIFC, for his exclusive insights into the top trends to watch out for in 2019.

    … and here’s what he had to say:


    Tareq Derbas, General Manager of the Ritz-Carlton, DIFC


    Social media and influencers
    “Social media and networking is definitely going to remain and is going to be more active. Unless you’re ahead of the game, you’re going to lose much, I mean, with the new generation coming into play.

    I think influencer marketing is a very heavy trend. It was late last year, and this year it’s going play a major role. We’ve experienced it ourselves. Every week we have about five influencers coming in.

    “It’s easy for me to influence an influencer and for the influencer to influence the social network. When I get an email and I’m told there’s an influencer coming who has 1.5 million followers – this is the jackpot for me!”

    What we call it between GMs – fish where the fish are. At least we go and grab the influencers and let them influence their social network.


    Personalized customer experiences

    Personalized and bespoke customer experiences will continue for luxury brand experiences, including interesting and lifestyle food and beverage concepts. Especially in Dubai, I’ve never seen such a market where F&B concepts are born every couple of hours, not even every day, and it’s all new and it’s all trendy. The trend to look out for is not only to get a new concept, but also to make it sustainable. You don’t want to be hot for six months, and then afterwards have people forget about you!

    When I went and visited each and every new F&B concept in our hotel, I asked, yes, this is going to click in Dubai; yes, it’s new, trendy and has a lifestyle element, but most important is whether it is sustainable?


    Millennial – a generation of experiences

    I think looking at the new generation of people visiting the hotels – the millennials – and what they require in a hotel is also a new trend.  I think hotels have also started catering their experiences to that requirement. They want the experience more than the objects itself, and therefore, creating the experience is important. Ritz Carlton – as a brand – it’s all about creating these experiences; something you can keep for many years to come as a memory. It’s a culture within the hotel to “wow” the guest. This is very important, but we do it with a lot of care, so we don’t intrude in the guests’ personal spaces.


    The “B-Leisure” trend

    For Dubai, a main trend that will come to us this year and next year is that a lot of business travelers that are coming here will combine business with leisure. I call it “B-Leisure”. They combine it together. They want to come for 3-4 days to do their business; they bring their families with them too. It is cost-effective, and there is a lot to do for families in Dubai. I think we (Ritz Carlton) could gain a lot because we have a big chunk of that group coming to the DIFC and staying with us. This segment is our bread and butter. So, I think, if we need to start being creative with that and create a package for them to come and do their business while we are taking care of the family and kids, I think that would be great.


    Medical and wellness tourism

    Dubai is already positioned as the premier luxury tourism destination. I think a lot of signs are pointing to medical tourism, and I think this is a path that we need to tap very heavily into.

    The healthcare establishments that we have in Dubai are of international standards. It is cost effective – it’s the same establishments that you see in the U.S. and Europe, but in this region, it is more cost effective. That’s something that we will definitely see in 2019 and 2020.

    Wellness tourism is also something that is coming. A lot of guests who are coming want to make sure that they can have fun but also take care of their well-being. So we need to have an establishment within the facility – the spa, the fitness center, the personal trainer, and the dieticians.


    Disappearing trends

    A lot of old trends are disappearing, such as planning for vacations. I think that’s gone. A lot of people want to do it quickly, and you need to adapt your system and be flexible to their requirements and needs. The “lead time” is not there – to plan three or six months for a trip.

    The post Top 5 trends for UAE luxury hotels to watch out for in 2019! appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Turkish central bank lowers lira required reserves

    Sat, 2019-02-16 22:45

    ANKARA: Turkey’s central bank on Saturday lowered the level of lira reserves that banks must hold against deposits, while also raising the limit of gold that lenders can hold.
    In an issue of the Official Gazette, the central bank said the reserves ratios were by reduced by 100 basis points for deposits and participation funds with maturities up to one year and for other liabilities with maturities up to, and including, three years. All other liabilities were cut by 50 basis points.
    It also said the upper limit of holding standard gold converted from wrought or scrap gold was increased from 5 percent to 10 percent of lira reserve requirements.
    Reducing reserve requirements gives banks more money that they can use, for example, for lending.

    Main category: 

    Turkish economic growth dips as lira crisis darkens outlookTurkish lira weakens, Moody’s delivers more downgrades

    Posted: by Arab News

  • UAE property developers’ earnings give Gulf markets a boost

    Sun, 2019-02-17 13:07

    DUBAI: Most stock markets in the Middle East closed higher on Sunday, reflecting a rally in global stock markets on Friday, and were also boosted by better-than-expected company results, particularly in real estate.

    The Abu Dhabi index gained 0.7 percent and the Dubai index 0.6 percent, as two of the largest property developers in the United Arab Emirates posted positive fourth-quarter financial results last week that beat market expectations.

    “The market is starting to rebuild confidence in earnings as a driver for sentiment,” said Arqaam Capital in a research note. “Sentiment on the UAE was very weak in 2018, specifically for real estate, on concerns over oversupply risk, pricing pressure that is leading to extended payment plans, and a rental yield compression that is continuing to fall,” Arqaam said.

    “But Q4 numbers provided evidence that a few developers have emerged as winners (Emaar Co’s, Aldar) out of market consolidation.” Emaar Properties, Dubai’s largest listed developer, reported a 27 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit.

    The stock rose 2 percent on Sunday. DAMAC Properties closed up 0.8 percent, despite having reported a nearly 60 percent fall in full-year profit and an 87 percent drop in fourth-quarter net profits.

    In Abu Dhabi, Aldar Properties gained 3.6 percent. Last week, the developer reported a rise in fourth-quarter earnings and higher dividends for 2018. In other sectors, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank rose 0.5 percent after saying it had no merger and acquisition plans. This was in response to a Bloomberg report last week which said the bank was considering such options.

    The Saudi index closed 0.4 percent down, in contrast to the rest of the region’s markets. Arab National Bank reported an increase in full- year net profit to 3.13 billion riyals ($834.62 million) from 3.03 billion riyals one year earlier.

    The stock remained unchanged and this failed to give support to the banking sector. Alinma Bank < 1150.SE> and Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp. lost 0.3 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

    In Egypt, where the main index gained 1.4 percent, Orascom Investment Holding, up 3.2 percent, was among the stocks attracting the highest trading volume. Shares in the company jumped last week after its chairman, Egyptian billionaire businessman Naguib Sawiris, said he saw possible investment opportunities in North Korea if a summit between its leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump later this month was successful.

    SAUDI The index lost 0.4 pct to 8,592 points ARABIA DUBAI The index rose 0.6 pct to 2,550 points ABU DHABI The index rose 0.7 pct to 5,070 points QATAR The index gained 0.7 pct to 10,011 points EGYPT The index rose 1.4 pct to 15,199 points KUWAIT The index gainedd 0.1 pct to 5,427 points OMAN The index was down 0.8 pct at 4,077 points BAHRAIN

    The index went up 0.6 pct to 1,381 points ($1 = 3.7502 riyals)

    Main category: 

    Posted: by Arab News

  • UAE search trends revealed: Most popular consumer goods include coffee, shoes

    The UAE’s insatiable demand for computer electronics, coffee and health and beauty products continue to drive consumer search trends, according to the latest research into fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) conducted by the online digital marketing suite, SEMrush.

    Online searches originating in the UAE over the last 12 months related to FMCG products highlight the most popular items as falling in both the food and the non-food categories

    Health and beauty products make up a majority of the top 10 non-food related FMCG list, with UAE residents searching for hair colours, paracetamol, soap and cosmetics. However, computer electronics took the first and third spots with desktop computers and laptops attracting significant search volumes over the past 12 months. Luxury items topped the food-related FMCG list, with coffee, chocolate and ice cream taking the first three spots, followed by yoghurt and honey.

    “The two lists under FMCG are valuable for marketers in the industry, providing further data that can help understand competitor or market trends,” commented Adam Zeidan, SEMrush’s Corporate Communications Manager for the MENA region. “Insights about competitors and consumers’ online shopping habits are vital when devising SEO-led marketing strategies to enhance online visibility towards the right target customer.”

    E-commerce is predicted to become the largest retail channel in the world by 2021, with local variances across all regions related to different product categories that generate the most online shopping in each market. A recent report by global consultancy Nielsen indicates that 11 per cent of the UAE’s consumers purchased fresh groceries online, an increase of eight per cent from the previous year. The report also highlights that e-commerce CTA’s (Calls-To-Action) such as money-back guarantees for products not matching an order, motivate the majority of UAE shoppers to buy online, while 44 per cent favouring free delivery services.

    The same report revealed that 38 per cent of UAE online shoppers purchase IT related products through websites, reflecting the popularity of search terms highlighted by SEMrush research data.

    A forecast by investment experts Alpen Capital said the GCC region’s e-commerce sales are expected to touch $41.5bn by 2020, with the UAE becoming the largest online retail market in the GCC with a market share of 53 per cent, followed by Saudi Arabia (14 per cent).

    ‘With constantly changing online algorithms coupled with constant growth forecast for the e-commerce and consumer goods sectors through 2021, the need to utilise up-to-date digital marketing tools will become vital for UAE marketers in the region to gain better quality digital market intelligence about both consumers and competitors,” added Zeidan.

    The post UAE search trends revealed: Most popular consumer goods include coffee, shoes appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Uber agrees to pay VAT in Egypt

    Mon, 2019-02-18 13:02

    CAIRO: Uber has agreed to pay value-added tax on its services in Egypt, Egyptian officials said on Monday, a move that may help resolve a long-simmering feud with traditional taxi drivers.
    The agreement would also apply to other ride-hailing companies, the head of the Egyptian Tax Authority, Abdel Azeem Hussein, said. Egypt’s value-added tax (VAT) rate is 14 percent.
    “Reaching an agreement and determining the tax treatment that will be applied to the company Uber and other companies operating in the same area will enhance confidence and cooperation between the authority and the tax community,” state news agency MENA quoted Hussein as saying.
    Uber Egypt was not immediately available for comment.
    Egypt introduced a law last May regulating ride-hailing apps Uber and Careem, after Egyptian taxi drivers filed a lawsuit arguing that the two companies were illegally using private cars as taxis and were registered as a call center and an Internet company, respectively.
    An Egyptian court suspended Uber and Careem’s services in March last year after the taxi drivers’ suit but another court stayed the suspension ruling in April, allowing the companies to operate while the case was appealed to a higher court. A verdict is expected on Saturday.
    Careem could not immediately be reached for comment on whether it will pay the VAT.
    Uber riders and drivers in Egypt have said they faced various technical difficulties with the Uber app in recent weeks, which two security sources said was linked to data-sharing disputes with Egyptian authorities.
    Uber has faced regulatory and legal setbacks around the world amid opposition from traditional taxi services. It has been forced to quit several countries, including Denmark and Hungary.
    Uber has said that Egypt is its largest market in the Middle East, with 157,000 drivers in 2017 and 4 million users since its launch there in 2014.

    Main category: 

    Posted: by Arab News

  • US-China trade talks resume in Washington from Tuesday

    Tue, 2019-02-19 03:11

    WASHINGTON: US-China trade talks aimed at ending a damaging tariff war will resume from Tuesday in Washington, the White House has announced.
    The last set of talks ended Friday in Beijing with no deal, though US President Donald Trump said the discussions were going “extremely well” and suggested he could extend a March 1 truce deadline for an agreement to be reached.
    The next round of negotiations will commence with deputy-level meetings before moving on to principal-level talks on Thursday, a White House statement issued Monday said.
    For the US, the talks will be led by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and include Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, economic policy adviser Larry Kudlow, and trade adviser Peter Navarro.
    China’s commerce ministry meanwhile announced it would be represented by Vice Premier Liu He, Beijing’s top trade negotiator.
    On Friday, Trump re-iterated he might be willing to hold off on increasing tariffs to 25 percent from the current 10 percent on March 1 on $200 billion in Chinese goods if Washington and Beijing are close to finalizing an agreement to deal with US complaints about unfair trade and theft of American technology.
    American officials accuse Beijing of seeking global industrial predominance through an array of unfair trade practices, including the “theft” of American intellectual property and massive state intervention in commodities markets.
    Since a December detente, China has resumed purchases of some US soybeans and dangled massive buying of American commodities to get US trade negotiators closer to a deal.
    The talks are aimed at “achieving needed structural changes in China that affect trade between the United States and China,” Monday’s statement said.
    “The two sides will also discuss China’s pledge to purchase a substantial amount of goods and services from the United States.”
    Beijing and Washington have imposed duties on more than $360 billion in two-way trade, which are weighing on their manufacturing sectors and have shaken global financial markets.

    Main category: 

    China’s car sales decline deepens, road ahead bumpyHong Kong economy stalls amid US-China trade dispute: finance chief

    Posted: by Arab News

  • USD rally takes investors by surprise: Winning streak able to continue?

    (Written by Jameel Ahmad, Global Head of Currency Strategy & Market Research at FXTM)

    A key overhang for the Dollar may be clearing up after US lawmakers announced they have a deal in principle to avoid another US government shutdown this weekend. However, President Trump’s approval is still required before the spending bill can go through.

    At the time of writing, the DXY is holding marginally close to 97, having posted gains over the last eight consecutive days – its longest winning streak since 2016. This recent run of form certainly goes against initial expectations for muted Dollar strength this year given the Federal Reserve’s recent U-turn on US monetary policy.

    There is a likelihood that central bank policy in the form of the Federal Reserve is not the catalyst behind the USD rally. It probably doesn’t have anything to do with the U-turn from the Fed a few weeks ago either. Investors are possibly thinking that “no news” when it comes to the ongoing US-China trade talks is not necessarily an example of “no news is good news” for this environment of trade tensions. The threat can’t be understated that the United States will pull the trigger on extra trade tariffs on Chinese goods at the beginning of March. We saw throughout the second half of 2018 that market anxiety over trade tensions pushed the Dollar higher against its global counterparts, and it wouldn’t be that much of a surprise if recent history repeats itself – if there is another escalation in the trade tariff world.

    According to the Bloomberg terminal, spot returns for G10 currencies against the stronger Dollar since January 30 have experienced a clear sea of red in favour of the USD. This is following the euphoria that was created when Fed Chair Jerome Powell signalled the need for “patience” when it comes to the potential of hiking interest rates in the United States.

    (Source: Bloomberg Terminal)

    What else is driving the Dollar train higher?

    Another perspective on what could potentially be driving the USD higher is the lure towards the Greenback being amplified by ongoing praises for the US economy. At the same time, it has become a strain to market headlines that counterparts to the United States throughout a range of developed and emerging markets are highlighting downside risks to their respective economies.

    Those who are fatigued from yo-yo trade headlines in the market might be inclined instead to align their mindset to the return of economic and central bank divergence between the United States, and pretty much everywhere else. This ultimately supports the prospects of a stronger Dollar.

    What data to look out for next and what could this mean to interest rate policy?

    Markets will look to this week’s US January CPI reading as the next test of the Fed’s data dependence. Following that, attention will turn to next week’s release of the FOMC January 30 meeting minutes for potentially further clues on what could have encouraged the Fed’s recent pivot.

    The current stance on US interest rate policy is expected to, in turn, allow other central banks to take a pause on tightening monetary policy. With central banks worldwide either standing pat or moving towards another round of a potential easing bias, investors may have less impetus to part with their current darling, the Dollar.

    The dovish outlook on global monetary policy, coupled with further positive indicators of US economic strength, should support the Dollar’s attractiveness and this could mean DXY returning to its recent high of 97.54 achieved in November 2018.

    Remember, a positive conclusion to trade talks would be seen as Dollar-negative

    However, this isn’t to say that demand for the Greenback will continue unabated in the near term. Traders should not be looking at the USD as one-way traffic going higher up the charts by any means.

    While the US government shutdown may have been averted, markets are also having to contend with this week’s crucial talks in Beijing surrounding US-China trade tensions. Both countries are nearing the end of the 90-day truce and in the event that President Trump pushes through with hiking tariffs on Chinese goods come March 2, that will be seen as a potential trigger to give the US dollar another leg up.

    Although given the political and economic pressures that are at risk of creating headwinds to the world’s two largest economies, markets are holding out hope that a deal would be struck sooner rather than later. This would be viewed in the market as a potentially Dollar-negative outcome.

    Should key deals be approved in Washington (to fund the US government) and in Beijing (to avert a tariff hike), these will be viewed as the catalysts for risk-on sentiment to return to the fore. Meaning that this would be a significant driver behind potentially higher global equity markets, improved demand for emerging markets and commodities like Oil.

    It would, however, be seen as a risk to the relentless Dollar rally that has taken place over February.

    Where do Emerging Markets stand in the currency environment? 

    Yet amidst this winning streak against G10 currencies, the US dollar has seen mixed results against emerging-market currencies during the same period.

    (Source: Bloomberg Terminal)

    Some of these EM currencies that posted gains against the Greenback are coming back from oversold positions last year, and are supported by factors such as resilient domestic economic fundamentals, foreign fund inflows, and rebounding commodity prices.

    However, EM currencies are still exposed to major events that can sway global risk sentiment, such as US-China trade tensions, Brexit uncertainties, and slowing global growth. China’s moderating economic conditions remain a major overhang for the global growth narrative, and the slowdown may be felt in many emerging economies via the trade and FX channels.

    Ultimately, EM currencies will likely be dictated primarily by the broader US dollar theme, and whether the Greenback can build on its 1% climb so far in 2019.

    The post USD rally takes investors by surprise: Winning streak able to continue? appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Video: GCC makes history with largest-ever VW convoy in the Middle East

    Volkswagen fans from across the GCC helped make history this weekend as over 300 Volkswagen cars drove in convoy through the streets of Abu Dhabi to take part in Dub Drive GCC 2019 – the largest ever gathering of Volkswagen owners and fans in the Middle East, thanks to the support of the local Abu Dhabi Police and Automotive Touring Club.

    The Dub Drive event – now in its 3rd year and hosted by Volkswagen Middle East – witnessed local and international Volkswagen Club members from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, alongside Germany, the Netherlands and the USA travel thousands of kilometres to join the festivities and secure their spot at the gathering; hosted at the iconic F1 venue, Yas Marina Circuit.

    Showcasing an unwavering passion from vintage Volkswagen Beetles and Campers, to a powerhouse of GTIs and Golf Rs, the family-friendly event entertained with food trucks, live tunes by DJ Taya, a series of competitions and stunts, activities from event sponsor Pirelli, VW accessories and dealership stand from Ali & Sons. For the first time ever at Dub Drive, guests were also invited to experience GTI drifting, take part in a Touareg pulling competition, many family activities and put their driving skills to the test on an exclusive track driving experience.

    “Each year this event gets bigger and better and we were overwhelmed to receive such great support from the clubs across the GCC and the globe, together with our dealer network in particular Ali & Sons. It is fantastic to see the spirit of unity and witness Volkswagen families, fans and customers unite around one shared passion” commented Andrew Savvas, Brand Director for Volkswagen Middle East.

    For the Volkswagen Club guests, the pinnacle moment of the whole festival was the Award Ceremony.

    This year’s Dub Drive ‘Car of the Year Award’ went to Mohammed Al Hammadi from the Abu Dhabi Club, who will now be going to Wöerthersee later this year as his winning prize and to complete the experience. “This year’s event has been exceptional, with hundreds joining from around the GCC for the convoy and the festival,” Al Hammadi said. “I look forward to representing the UAE and GCC at Wöerthersee.”

    Oman Club members, Muntaser Al Barwani, the administrator for the Club and Abbas Al Lawati, seized the runners up positions of the ‘Car of the Year’ award.

    Dub Drive has come as an inspiration from an old tradition, Wöerthersee Club Treffen, which is the largest Volkswagen GTI event in the world. The festival started off over 37 years ago in a small village at lake Wöerthersee in Austria by a few Volkswagen fans meeting up, showcasing their cars and exchanging stories. Since then, the event has grown into a long festival attended by hundreds of thousands of Volkswagen fans from all over Europe.

    The post Video: GCC makes history with largest-ever VW convoy in the Middle East appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Why you need to hire millennials: A reply to Simon Sinek

    (Words by Medy Navani, Founder and Creative Director of Design Haus Medy)

    Last year, author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek went viral via a 15-minute interview where he not only criticized everything millennials do but also made them look like a shallow and dumbed down generation that only care about social media and likes. The exact words Sinek used to describe millennials were ‘entitled’, ‘narcissistic’, self-interested’, ‘unfocused’, and ‘lazy’.

    However, hiring millennials is no longer an option big corporations can ignore. Refusing to hire millennials means refusing to allow your company to expand and reinvent itself. What many big corporations are still yet to realize is that hiring young people can be massively beneficial (as discussed below). Not just that, but according to a study done by Pew Research Centre, there are currently more millennials than boomers. So unless companies wish to be a team of 50-something-year-olds, they’re going to have to start hiring younger employees.

    On the topic of why millennials aren’t doing well in the workplace, Sinek says it’s because of four characteristics: ‘parenting’, ‘technology’, ‘impatience’ and ‘environment.’ Sinek goes on to explain himself, blaming parents for spoiling the children, blaming technology for teaching them addiction at a young age, blaming the need for success because it makes them impatient and blaming the corporate environment for not being built to accommodate unconfident, selfish and impatient employees.

    Here is why corporate entities need to welcome the newest members of the workforce into their companies.


    Almost every negative article written on the subject of millennials references entitlement. When in reality, entitlement is not always a negative characteristic. The truth is, entitled people have a strong drive for success. When passionate about something, entitled people stop at nothing to get it. This works well in climbing the position ladder or ticking off company goals. A study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology suggests that entitlement, in small doses, boosts creativity. Lynne C. Vincent, a post-doctoral research fellow at the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management says, “our results suggest that people who feel more entitled value being different from others, and the greater their need for uniqueness, the more they break convention, think divergently and give creative responses”. So really, not entitled, just different.

    Technologically Advanced:

    The truth is, whether people acknowledge it or not, millennials are simply way more technologically advanced than previous generations. Research suggests that millennials are the most educated generation to enter the workforce. They’re also continually developing new skills throughout their career life. A company not only benefits but also saves time when hiring people fully capable of understanding how technology and social media works, what trends are in and how to attract customers’ attention through new techniques.

    Fresh perspective:

    In some cases, companies fail because of the lack of creative thinking and lack of knowledge of what the market needs. Millennials are great for bringing in fresh ideas and perspectives into the workplace. For companies that target younger customers, hiring millennials is an asset. This youthful group can also teach their older coworkers how to balance their work and personal life, as research reinforces that they are better at coping, with 92% of millennials revealing they are happy at work. So perhaps asking for bean bags and free food, what Sinek claims all millennials ask for at work, is not a bad idea after all.  

    The only reason millennials have it more challenging than other generations is because they’re currently the youngest in the workforce. Previous generations can often find it hard to welcome them into the team, finding their different attitude alarming and tough to manage. So when videos like Simon Sinek’s come out, claiming to have “figured out” why millennials don’t succeed in the workplace, it is only because people tend to point out how others are different instead of accepting that not everyone’s the same.

    The post Why you need to hire millennials: A reply to Simon Sinek appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Will Aramco head to South Africa next to explore oil&gas?

    Southern Africa has just become the hottest destination for hydrocarbon exploration in the world, according to quoting Stephen Larkin, CEO, Africa New Energies.

    “A ‘giant discovery’ is defined as more than 500 million barrels of oil equivalent… This is, by a country mile, the largest that has been found. For every barrel of oil geologists find, petroleum engineers find another seven,” Larkin added of the country oil&gas findings

    French oil firm Total recently made public its discovery of a large (500 million to over a billion barrels of oil equivalent) “gas condensate”, according to

    The gas condensate trades at a premium of between $5 and $10 to the oil price.

    Why is all that important? It’s because Aramco has just announced it will compete in oil and gas explorations around the world with the likes of Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell.

    Efforts already underway

    Aramco has already invested in overseas refineries and petrochemicals plants such as the Motiva facility in Texas, the largest US refinery, CNBC reports.

    The country has nonetheless not meaningfully ventured overseas to extract resources, favouring domestic exploration instead.

    Khalid al Falih, Saudi energy minister and chairman of state oil company Saudi Aramco said he expects oil and gas to generate 40% to 50% of the kingdom’s revenue in the future, from 90% today.

    Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister al-Falih talks to journalists before a meeting of OPEC oil ministers in Vienna

    Saudi is diversifying its economy away from oil under Saudi Vision 2030, but this latest decision seems to run contrary to that.

    “Saudi Arabia plans to develop an international energy exploration and production business for the first time, doubling down on oil and gas despite the kingdom’s ambitions to curb its reliance on hydrocarbons,” said the Financial Times (FT), following an interview with al Falih.

    He told FT that overseas expansion would be a critical part of the company’s future.

    “We are no longer going to be inward-looking and focused only on monetising the kingdom’s resources,” Falih said. “Going forward the world is going to be Saudi Aramco’s playground.”

    Going head to head with international energy explorers

    Falih told FT it was “correct” to say the company now has ambitions to become an international energy player like Royal Dutch Shell or ExxonMobil, pumping oil as well as gas overseas.

    “We can stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone and outdo them,” al Falih said.

    Al Falih said that efforts would initially be focused on creating a “global gas” business, in line with world’s energy majors increasingly investing in gas, as the growth of demand is outpacing oil.

    “Saudi Arabia has eyed investments in Russia’s liquefied natural gas sector and is in talks about taking a stake in export facilities in the US. But Falih also mentioned Australia as a possible investment destination,” FT said.

    Tie up to IPO

    Al Falih explained that the exploration expansion plans reflected a need to please potential outside shareholders.  “If I have investors from New York or London or Tokyo that are investing in Saudi Aramco, they want Saudi Aramco to be competing with the world’s best international oil companies,” he said.

    The raising of value for Aramco was also reflected in its effort to strengthen its downstream arm through a buyout of the PIF’s 70% stake in Saudi petrochemicals maker SABIC.

    Oil market performance

    According to MarketWatch, U.S. benchmark March West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil added 69 cents, or 1.3%, to settle at $53.1 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, Tuesday. April Brent crude gained 91 cents, or 1.5%, to end at $62.42 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

    The monthly U.S. Energy Information Administration report released Tuesday revealed higher U.S. crude production forecasts for 2019 and 2020, which may drop prices as supply grows.

    “U.S. production is on pace to average 13 million barrels per day in 2020, which puts the nation on track to set a new production record for a third consecutive year,” said EIA Administrator Linda Capuano, in a statement.

    Efforts to raise oil values are led Saudi and Russia, especially as Saudi balances its budget with levels closer to $80m, according to FT.

    The post Will Aramco head to South Africa next to explore oil&gas? appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Winter travelers: Be ware of ransomware during this ski season

    The winter season is upon us and vacationers in the Middle East are all set for their holiday ski trips. However, according to FireEye Threat Intelligence, you can’t get away from hackers even during holidays in the mountains. The new report highlights recent ransomware attacks to cable cars in Austria and Moscow, highlighting a greater risk to the kind of transportation systems used by winter travelers.  

    The cable car attacks in Moscow and Austria involved servers becoming infected with ransomware, causing a shutdown of cableways for two days. These incidents appear to be the result of hackers targeting the cableway specifically.  

    According to FireEye, the CEO of the corporate entity that owns the Moscow Ropeway (MKD) reportedly received an email claiming “files on the company’s major computer had been encrypted,” a ransom would have to be paid in Bitcoin for their decryption, and that the size of the necessary ransom would be dictated by “the speed of the response” to the demand. While data does not suggest MKD was targeted with any kind of malware aside from ransomware, the impact to the cableway’s operations recalls that earlier this year researchers identified a gondola lift in Austria that had an exposed human-machine interface as well.

    (Alister Shepherd, Middle East and Africa director for Mandiant at FireEye)

    Alister Shepherd, MEA Director, Mandiant at FireEye stated, “Industrial control systems are increasingly being exposed to attacks from the internet in ways that have a real-world impact. This can have a critical impact on public health and safety, and organisations need to take it seriously. With cable cars in many of the Middle East’s popular skiing destinations running on the same or similar systems, this threat something that travelers need to be aware of.”

    Shepherd added, “The reality is that the interconnectivity of operational technology, which used to be properly isolated, has been increasing without the proper implementation of security in many instances. When a ransomware attack can affect such systems, we need to take notice and start to build appropriate security measures around these systems.”

    FireEye previously reported that ransomware threats to industrial control systems are particularly acute and recommends asset owners avoid exposing such systems to the internet. If such systems are required to be internet-facing, FireEye recommends putting proper network safety actions in place.

    The post Winter travelers: Be ware of ransomware during this ski season appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Yaser Dajani: A corporate sleuth for the digital era

    Sun, 2019-02-17 01:19

    DUBAI: The old image of the corporate investigator — a seedy individual tailing a “suspect” along darkened alleyways, occasionally stopping to rummage through garbage bins for tell-tale correspondence — was never realistic.

    These days, it is further away from the truth than ever. The investigations industry now is staffed by people with degrees in information technology who know how to use sophisticated software to get the information they need, and run by executives who are all but indistinguishable from their client bankers, lawyers and accountants.

    Executives such as Yaser Dajani, the senior managing director for the Middle East and North Africa for FTI Consulting, who is in charge of forensic and litigation consulting in the region for the US-listed firm. Dajani is polished and C-suite sleek, as far removed from the traditional “gumshoe” as you could imagine.

    “There has been a transformation in the corporate investigations business,” Dajani said, highlighting the move away from intelligence gathering by people to electronic techniques.

    “For example, transactional due diligence work has either moved toward compliance, a box-ticking exercise, or very complex business intelligence work. That middle space is no longer relevant. We only do the latter — complex work. The investigations business in the Middle East is a tough industry, and those who don’t understand the challenges operate in a gray area — the one that we avoid,” he added.

    Dajani spent a good part of his career at the Middle East unit of Kroll, the original corporate investigations business dating back to 1970s Manhattan. Almost two years ago he joined FTI to set up a forensic and litigation business for the firm.

    FTI also has operations in corporate finance and restructuring, economic consulting, strategic communications and technology. “It is a multi-disciplinary platform that offers different services across a range of sectors, and they all complement each other,” he said.

    “The methodology of 10 years ago is no longer valid. Then a report would have been produced based on rumors and market gossip, but it was really of very little added value. Unfortunately, many still do that, and that gets people in a lot of trouble. You have to have human intelligence still, but the role of online research has grown with the digital age. Our methods involve deep web research using state-of-the-art software,” Dajani said.

    “Those firms that do this are staying ahead of the curve, for example in social media analytics and predictive sciences. Technology applies across everything we do, and that is part of the reason we have set up the forensic technology business — that business focuses on data analytics, computer forensics, cybersecurity and cyber investigations. These are very sophisticated technological platforms created by us.”

    The benefits of a high-tech approach have not been lost on other players in the corporate intelligence sector, which is becoming increasingly crowded in the Middle East. Not only have the specialist firms — many with origins in Europe and North America — expanded with offices in the region (to mixed results), but the big accounting firms also have boosted their own in-house investigations capabilities.

    Dajani believes his approach produces better results. “The Big Four accounting firms have set up investigations businesses in response to client demand, but we do it better because we are experts in what we do and have diverse experiences and credentials,” he said.

    So why has the Middle East suddenly become a target market for the investigators? Dajani sees the demand for his services coming from several areas, but the family businesses that have traditionally been the backbone of regional economies is the most interesting.

    “In many cases they have not evolved very far along the corporate governance spectrum. We can help them come in line with international standards, with proper board structures, financial oversight, codes of conduct, ethical standards and oversight mechanisms.

    “Those that have been slow doing this often face internal problems — fraud, embezzlement, value destruction. It usually happens when the founding patriarch retires, and women family members are very often the victims in these cases. We have been busy advising minority shareholders in these situations. We can also advise on the restructuring operations that are sometimes needed to stave off bankruptcy if things become really serious,” he said.

    Another stream for new revenue is from multinational corporations based in or seeking to do business in the region, and from international regulatory authorities on the tail of “hot money” in the Middle East, in the form of money laundering or terrorism finance.

    “We aim to be organic within the region. We do not rely on work that comes from overseas, but inevitably some work comes from the UK and US, and also from India and Asia, which have seen a big influx of foreign direct investment in this region. But most work is from local economies,” he said.

    Dajani explained: “We are advising banks and regulators on these issues and helping banks respond to queries and orders from regulators and banking counter-parties. The Gulf has come under greater scrutiny in this respect in the past five years, with the emergence of groups such as Daesh and situations like Iran and Yemen,” he said.

    In addition, regional regulators and the banking authorities have become more inquisitive about who is doing business in the Middle East, often in response to international pressure.

    “The central bank of the UAE, for example, has been a lot more active in the past year on anti-money laundering activities,” Dajani said.

    The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the international body set up to coordinate action in response to global financial crime, is due to visit the UAE later this year to deliver a verdict on the efficiency of the country’s measures against money laundering and terrorism finance.

    The other important reason for the growth in the regional investigations business is that US authorities have become more interested in the Gulf’s financial systems. 

    Illustration by Luis Grañena

    “America is looking at banks in the Middle East more closely. In part this reflects the growth of the regional banking industry, with many having operations in the US and, therefore, subject to US banking regulations,” Dajani said.

    “Most of them also conduct many of their operations in dollar denominations, which gives the US authorities the right to look at them. The extent of intrusion by US authorities into regional banks and financial institutions is very high, and this is where we often get called in.”

    Saudi Arabia has become a major focus of the FTI business in the past few years. “We don’t have an office there yet, but everyone in the UAE office has a Saudi visa and we travel to the Kingdom on a regular basis. We will respond to our clients’ needs there. We have been asked to set up a Saudi office and we are looking into it,” he said.

    “In the Kingdom some of the work relates to public companies facing challenges, but we also — again — help family businesses and also deal with regulators and the government. Much of the work is dispute driven. Saudi

    Arabia is modernizing its corporate, legal and regulatory structures, and in addition will always remain a strategic location for foreigners and regional players wanting to invest,” he said.

    As the Saudi government has recognized with its anti-corruption campaign, there is still work to be done. Last week the EU criticized the Kingdom for its practices to curb money laundering. The last visit by the FATF in 2017 found: “KSA is achieving good results in fighting terrorist financing, but needs to focus more on pursuing larger-scale money launderers and confiscating their assets.”

    Dajani will not reveal the names of his clients in Saudi Arabia, or elsewhere for that matter. But FTI has worked for some of the biggest names in the region, not only in investigations, but also through its other business units.

    Back in the 1980s, Jules Kroll, the founder of Dajani’s previous firm and the man who made the corporate investigations business, was featured in The New York Times, smoking a fat cigar, with Gordon Gekko braces and his feet up on a mahogany desk under the heading “Wall Street’s private eye.”

    Is Dajani the modern equivalent, minus subterfuge, uprooted from New York and set down in the Dubai International Financial Center?

    “I wouldn’t call myself a private eye. That is not the appropriate term in this region — and certainly the practices of the 1980s and 1990s are no longer appropriate. We have set the standards for investigations here. We are the best at what we do. We are experts with impact,” he replied.

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