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TONNES OF GOLD: 9% JUMP IN DUBAI SALES

Dubai: Gold jewellery sales in the UAE picked up slightly — by 9 per cent — in the second quarter to total 12.2 tonnes from a year ago.

But retailers have little to cheer about as the Q2-17 total represents a dip from the 14.5 tonnes recorded in the first three months of this year, according to the latest updates from World Gold Council. There were also some gains in demand for gold bars and coins during the April to June period.

To put the numbers in perspective, the best performance UAE jewellery sector had in the last 10 quarters was in Q1-15, when demand touched 16.3 tonnes.

Saudi Arabia remains the biggest regional jewellery market, with the second quarter seeing 47.7 tonnes being sold.

Clearly, in the UAE, “there is little sign of sustained confidence among consumers, but they did manage to discount the impact of the import duty on jewellery (in Dubai),” said London-based John Mulligan, Head of Member and Market Relations at WGC.

Earlier this year, authorities in Dubai removed the import duty exemption on jewellery, but retailers by and large have managed not to pass on the full impact on shoppers.

At the same time, the zero per cent duty on bullion remains intact.

As with other key retail categories, WGC reckons that gold and jewellery sales should see a spike in the fourth quarter and before the VAT comes into effect early 2018.

“It’s a specific trigger for sales and we have seen that happen in other markets where such taxes have come into effect,” said Mulligan.

“But, across the board, the regional situation and other factors continue to be responsible for the weak consumer market.”

But Chirag Vora, Director of Bafleh Jewellers, feels the economy had only a small part to play in depressing buying activity.

“Rising gold prices as well as the lack of tourists in summer can be part of the reasons,” he said.

UAE’S PRIVATE SECTOR ACTIVITY HOLDS UP EVEN DURING SUMMER

Dubai: UAE’s private sector activity continued to turn in a decent performance during summer, with the July data showing “sharp expansions” in output and new work.

Businesses also managed to push up inventories and even added to their employment rolls though in low numbers, says the new update from Emirates NBD.

But on the negative side, export orders dropped by the quickest pace since the monthly surveys started. This is the second straight month that export orders have seen a dip. The rate of contraction was sharp overall, with the respective index falling to a record low, the survey finds.

Plus, “On the price front, firms faced stronger input cost inflation, but were unable to pass these on to consumers amid intense competitive conditions,” the report adds.

But local businesses are looking to the bigger picture, and in doing so they sense a reason to be optimistic.

“Firms were more optimistic about the coming year, and increased inventories at a record rate, partly in anticipation of further order growth,” said Khatija Haque, Head of MENA Research at Emirates NBD.

The survey, sponsored by Emirates NBD and produced by IHS Markit, contains data collected from a monthly survey of business conditions in the UAE non-oil private sector.

The seasonally adjusted Emirates NBD UAE Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to a three-month high of 56.0 in July from 55.8 in June. This was indicative of a “sharp improvement in operating conditions in the non-oil private sector”.

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UAE FLASH SALE: SHOPPERS TO GET UP TO 85% OFF ON SOME PRODUCTS — FOR ONE DAY ONLY

Dubai: UAE shoppers hitting the malls this weekend can expect to bring home some cool bargains, as the Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) continues to offer more money-saving deals.

The annual retail bonanza is already into its fifth week, and the thousands of merchants across Dubai’s shopping centres are still giving away hefty discounts.

After this week’s 72-hour sale, DSS announced on Thursday that another surprise awaits shoppers.

Every Friday throughout DSS, shoppers get the chance to bag “an amazing deal on an exclusive product” at a specified shopping location.

Exclusive sales all throughout the DSS period have been a boon to Duba’s retail sector, with merchants at various malls reporting an increase in footfall traffic and transactions.

A retailer of beauty products, Wojooh reported that its sales doubled and customer traffic increased by more than 190 per cent during the “Friday Surprise” promotion alone.

Other stores are still offering discounts and these include Splash, New Look, Forever21 and H&M, among many others.

SAUDI ARABIA TO PAY TWO STATE FIRMS $1.14B FOR BROADBAND ROLL-OUT

Saudi Arabia will pay two state firms 4.26 billion riyals ($1.14 billion) to roll out fibre optic broadband to 2 million locations, the companies said on Wednesday.

Saudi Telecom Co (STC) will be paid about 2.7 billion riyals in “financial support” as part of its agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the company said in a bourse statement. Separately, Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) said it would be paid 1.56 billion riyals to connect 744,500 locations by 2020. That will be paid in instalments and through financial and regulatory exemptions. The impact of the project on the company would be positive in the long term, STC said.

STC said in May it had signed an agreement with the government to connect 1.3 million housing units with fibre optic lines by the end of 2020.

MOST IN-DEMAND JOBS IN UAE TODAY

Dubai: Engineers, accountants and sales executives are just among the top skills in high demand in UAE today, as new real estate developments continue to pop up and businesses look to stay competitive.

The latest vacancies featured getthat.com showed that there are high levels of recruitment for candidates with engineering, accounting and sales qualifications. There is also a significant demand for customer and healthcare services staff, as well as information technology professionals.

Over the last few days, companies in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain posted an additional 2,523 vacancies on the listings site, slightly up from 2,241 postings more than a week ago.

Hiring for civil, mechanical and electrical engineers; foremen, draftsmen and crane operators tend to dominate the lists of in-demand jobs. Sales executives, outdoor salesmen and in-store sales ladies are also highly sought after.

There are also plenty of opportunities for those who can work as a receptionist, secretary, administrator and office assistant.

Gareth El Mettouri, associate director at Robert Half UAE, said that as companies today are looking for ways to prop up revenues and stay ahead of the pack, opportunities continue to open up for jobseekers.

“We are seeing businesses eager to explore options that will support their growth in revenues and competitive advantage, and are turning to their finance departments to support them in finding these opportunities,” El Mettouri told.

The introduction of value-added tax (VAT) is likewise fueling recruitment for accountants, financial modellers and finance business partners across real estate and development, fast-moving consumer goods and logistics industries.

CONSUMERS IN UAE MORE READY TO ADOPT AI-POWERED DEVICES

Dubai: The majority of consumers in the UAE prefer to get things done easily with the help of smart devices and technologies that are powered by artificial intelligence (AI), according to a new survey.

In fact, there are more people in the country (76 per cent) than in other markets who are ready to embrace AI in their lives. And what’s more interesting is that a huge proportion of residents prefer AI devices to human interaction.

These are the findings from the annual research done by Accenture (NYSE: ACN) which surveyed 26,000 consumers in 26 countries.

Artificial intelligence is going mainstream and is changing the way people do everyday tasks, from turning on the lights to playing music or browsing the Internet and ordering a home delivery. The technology is popularised by smart innovations like Siri and Alexa, or Google Home and Amazon Echo.

In the study, 8 in 10 (82 per cent) UAE residents cited the availability of AI anytime as a key reason they prefer it to human interaction, and three-fourths (74 per cent) said AI engagements are faster and more polite than human interactions.

According to Accenture, these findings are in line with some of the innovative applications and aspirations for AI in the market.

“In Dubai, for example, AI will provide the intelligence for one of the world’s first flying taxi services powered by a drone by the end of this year. And the UAE AI/Robotics Good Award is fostering creative innovations that will deliver life-changing benefits in healthcare, education and humanitarian aid.”

“These experiences are spurring demand in the country for smart devices and new technologies.”

EMIRATES’ NEWLY REVAMPED LOUNGE TAKES TO THE SKIES

Dubai: Emirates’ premium flyers can now enjoy the airline’s newly revamped lounge aboard the world’s largest passenger plane.

The redesigned airplane bar made its operational debut on a flight to Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, marking the ninth anniversary of Emirates’ A380 service.

The plush lounge is one of the fancy amenities that Emirates’ business and first-class passengers get to enjoy on a double decker aircraft.

This is where high flyers can while away the time in the sky, as they sip a cup of coffee or a glass of bubbly while watching live TV broadcasts of the latest news or sports updates.

A popular social spot at 40,000 feet, the lounge stocks fine beverages such Moet & Chandon and Hennesy. It went through a makeover after it was first introduced on August 1, 2008 and now features a look inspired by private yacht cabins with a more intimate and social area.

Emirates has a fleet of A380s that fly to 48 cities on six continents, serving 80 million passengers since 2008.

The airline prides itself in employing more than 6,000 crew who can easily whip up 14 cocktails in the sky.

UAE FIRM DENIES DISCRIMINATION IN HIRING

Dubai: An events company in the UAE has denied posting discriminatory comments against Filipino job applicants.

Show Buzz Events Management clarified that it doesn’t condone acts that tend to alienate candidates on the basis of their passport, religion or gender.

“The original post for makeup artists was posted on our page and then stolen by [the career site which] started posting racist comments,” the company said on its Facebook page.

“Show Buzz Events doesn’t support racism and is open to all nationalities. We are here to give talented people a chance, be it of any race, age, caste, age.”

Some UAE expatriates have lashed out at a career listings site for allegedly banning Filipinos from applying for a job.

The social media outrage started after an Omani national alerted fellow netizens that she had just been banned from a Facebook page for tagging a Filipino friend on an online advertisement looking for a makeup artist in the UAE.

Miha Hillal, who works as an events manager in Dubai, recently came across an ad announcing that a company is holding a competition to search for the “best makeup artist” who will then have the opportunity to work for an “upcoming series and TV shows” in the UAE.

Excited about the ad, Hillal decided to tag the post to one of her friends who happens to be from the Philippines. About five minutes later, she received a message from the site, telling her that she’s just been blocked.

“The job is not for Filipinos and they [are] not welcome on this page. You are banned for tagging a Filipino. You cannot view this page again,” the message sent to Hillal reads.

Hillal said she found the hiring agency rather offensive and racist towards Filipinos in general.

“This agency went out of their way to send me a private message stating that I am never allowed to post anything on their page about any individual from the Philippines and that I was banned and blocked from viewing future jobs simply because I referred someone who happens to be from the Philippines,” Hillal told.

MAJID AL FUTTAIM TO BUILD FIRST-EVER CITY CENTRE MALL IN ABU DHABI

Dubai: Mall developer Majid Al Futtaim is set to begin in October the construction of a mega shopping centre in Abu Dhabi.

To be called City Centre Al Jazira, the complex will cost Dh1.4 billion to build and will not be just any other shopping centre.

The retail conglomerate behind Mall of the Emirates, Carrefour and a number of commercial establishments is partnering with Al Jazira Sports and Cultural Club to make the latest project the next lifestyle destination in the UAE capital.

The first-ever City Centre mall is a large-scale , mixed-use development that will have 153 retail stores, a Carrefour Hypermarket, Magic Planet and a 15-screen VOX Cinemas. It will have a City Centre Clinic, a fitness centre and a number of indoor and alfresco dining choices.

With a total built-up area of 215,000 square metres, the project will have a wider scale compared to the neighbourhood My City Centre.

Majid Al Futtaim’s announcement on Tuesday marks the company’s latest investment into Abu Dhabi’s retail and entertainment scene. It is part of a wider plan to pump Dh30 billion in investments by 2026, taking its total investment in the country to Dh48 billion.

The new mall in Abu Dhabi is scheduled for completion in early 2021.

“The Al Jazira Sports and Cultural Club is a renowned and long-time established institution that believes in empowering and developing communities. By joining forces with Majid Al Futtaim, we are thrilled by the opportunity to play a role in the creation of a new lifestyle destination that will bring people together in the heart of the capital, Abu Dhabi,” said Saeed Mohammed bin Batti Al Qubaisi, Chairman of Al Jazira for Investment at Al Jazira Sports and Cultural Club

The retail conglomerate announced on Monday that its earnings rose by 4 per cent to Dh15.7 billion during the first six months of the year.

The company has been on an investment spree, acquiring Geant supermarkets and announcing new real estate developments recently.

Majid Al Futtaim had earlier announced new malls including My City Centre Masdar, also located in Abu Dhabi, which is set to open by the end of 2018, as well as City Centre Al Zahia in Sharjah, and My City Centre Al Dhait in Ras Al Khaimah.

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