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MAJOR MISMATCH BETWEEN IT TALENT, JOB MARKET DEMAND IN GCC

Dubai: Techies graduating out of universities from the Gulf are likely to find it tough to get jobs as there are no engineering facilities for most American technology companies operating in the region.

Technology is a vital part of every industry but there is a severe shortage of skilled professionals globally and regionally due to an insanely fast speed of technological development.

Cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, Shanghai, Bengaluru and Singapore are considered hubs for technology innovation and attract talent.

So, what is the scope for techies graduating out of universities in the GCC region?

“The US-based and listed tech companies do not have R&D centres in the region. Tech companies in the UAE do not have engineering facilities and only have sales offices. The offshore engineering facilities of most American tech companies are either in Singapore, Israel, China or India,” said Santhosh Rao, principal research analyst at Gartner.

He said Dubai is neither perceived as one of the centres for innovation, nor a creator of technology.

Most multinational corporations (MNCs) only have sales offices in Dubai.

Jyoti Lalchandani, group vice-president and regional MD, said there was a shortage of IT skills in the local market, especially in new and innovative technologies such as cloud, analytics, machine learning, robotics, artificial intelligence and cyber security.

“Whenever a company wants to apply these kind of skillsets, they at times might have to hire from abroad. There is clearly a scope for tech graduates but what is critical in this region is to ensure the type of graduates that are currently available in the market to fulfill the needs of the organisations,” he said.

Governments in the Gulf, especially the UAE, are putting lot of focus on innovation accelerators and lot of MNCs such as Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, IBM and Cisco are offering training programmes to upscale the local talent.

Lalchandani said that the startup economy is very strong in this region and definitely a big scope for techies.

Saudi Arabia does have King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and have research labs and have invested heavily in technology and the UAE has Higher College of Technology and Khalifa University and has dedicated programmes to try and skill students around latest technologies.

“It really depends on an organisation’s current transformation plans and the demands of the market at large,” he said.

SAP said its Dubai-based SAP Training and Development Institute has already developed skills and knowledge reflecting an “in-country value” of $110 million (Dh404 million) across the region.

Marita Mitschein, managing director of the SAP Training and Development Institute, said that Middle East organisations are increasingly reliant on advanced technical skills, but there is a major mismatch between the current level of talent and the skills.

According to recent Oxford Economics report “Workforce 2020”, cloud, analytics, mobility, and social media skills are posting double or triple digital growth in the Middle East.

“The motivation for American tech companies to invest in offshore development centres is the availability of skillsets, cheap labour and reduce time to market. If Dubai has to be viewed as an alternative for Singapore or India, then the price points has to make sense and local tech skill sets must be available,” Rao said.

However, he said that there is scope as a result of a rapidly evolving startup ecosystem in GCC. These are primarily on e-commerce, cloud, mobile and IoT (internet of Things) technologies that serve the local market and have an aspiration to go global. These startups are scouting for local talent to satisfy their needs.

“The potential for these jobs are promising for tech graduates graduating from local universities.

But in terms of output and demand, the gap is still there. The number of graduates coming out of college and the demand for them is fairly wide,” he said.

TAQA POSTS NET PROFIT OF DH112M IN FIRST HALF OF 2017

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa) on Thursday posted Dh112 million in net profit for the first half of 2017 compared to a net loss of Dh1.2 billion during the same period last year due to higher oil prices and cost-cutting measures.

Revenues of the company went up by 5 per cent to Dh8.4 billion in first half of this year from Dh7.9 billion reported in the first half of 2016.

In the second quarter of this year, revenues of the company reached Dh4.2 billion, up slightly from Dh4.03 billion in the second quarter of 2016. The company made profit attributable to shareholders of Dh35 million in the three months to June 30 compared with a loss of Dh588 million during the same period last year.

This is the second consecutive quarter of profits for the Abu Dhabi-based company after incurring losses for two years due to low commodity prices. It posted a net profit of Dh77 million in the first quarter of 2017.

“Taqa’s results for the first half of 2017, which demonstrated a positive net income for the second consecutive quarter, were driven by strong operational performance, continued efficiency improvements and a focus on core operations,” Saeed Hamad Al Daheri, acting Chief Operating Officer of Taqa, said in a statement.

“A key operational milestone was the achievement of first oil from our Atrush project in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq post period in July. Atrush will be a significant contributor to the Group’s long-term cash flows and net income.”

Taqa will continue to concentrate on safe and efficient operations while looking for opportunities to optimise its portfolio against the backdrop of low oil price environment, he added.

Taqa, which is 74 per cent owned by Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (Adwea), is active in 11 countries in power generation and oil and gas sectors.

The first half production volumes of the firm reached 131,086 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed), down 11 per cent on first half of 2016 (147,415 boed) impacted by prior capital expenditure reductions.

Production from the Atrush Block in the Kurdistan region of Iraq is expected to ramp up towards the 30,000-barrel-per-day project capacity in 2017.

In power and water, global power generation remained stable at 38,346 gigawatts compared to 39,090 gigawatts in first half of 2016. The UAE operations produced 30,091 gigawatts of electricity and 120,643 million imperial gallons of desalinated water.

Total liquidity is strong at Dh12.4 billion, including Dh3.5 billion in cash and cash equivalents and Dh8.9 billion of undrawn credit facilities. The total debt was reduced by Dh1.7 billion in the first half of 2017, the company said.

It added that it exited from Himachal Sorang Power Limited in India but still owns and operates Neyveli plant in Tamil Nadu.

In a conference call with analysts, Mohammad Al Ahbabi, acting chief financial officer of Taqa, said the firm currently doesn’t have any specific plans for any asset divestiture but will continue to review opportunities to monetise non-core assets to maximise shareholder value.

HOTEL ROOM RATES ACROSS DUBAI FALL BY 11.5% IN JULY

Dubai: Rates at hotels and resorts across Dubai continue to fall, as more rooms come on stream and put pressure on hoteliers.

Initial data released by hotel industry research firm STR showed that room prices in the emirate have gotten even more affordable in the summer, costing an average Dh471.25 per night in July, down by 11.5 per cent compared to the same period last year.

The decline is mainly due to the room inventory growing faster than guest numbers. “Dubai’s hotel performance continues to be affected by supply expansion,” STR said in a statement.

While demand increased by 1.8 per cent in July, room supply went up by 5.6 per cent, leaving plenty of accommodations empty and revenues falling.

Hotel occupancy rates across Dubai averaged at 65.7 per cent, falling by 3.6 per cent compared to a year earlier. As a result, the revenue per available room dropped by 14.7 per cent to Dh309.76.

LAST FLASH SALE FOR DSS TO OFFER UP TO 90% OFF MERCHANDISE

Dubai: Before the final curtain falls on the annual Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS), shoppers will be treated to one last flash sale and this time, budget-savvy consumers can take home goodies at 90 per cent off the price.

The last hurrah of the ‘Friday Surprise’ will be a big one, according to organisers, and money-savvy spenders will be assured to snap up some really cool bargains, such as select ladies’ handbags from only Dh10. “That’s a bargain you’ll not want to miss,” an announcement reads.

Shoppers are advised, however, that the 90 per cent discount on bags is not offered across the malls in Dubai. Since the ‘Friday Surprise’ promotion is exclusive, the heavily discounted duffel bags, dome bags and clutches can be bought only at the Splash outlet at Mall of the Emirates.

The ‘Friday Surprise’ is a new fixture of the annual shopping extravaganza, providing bargain hunters a chance to enjoy once a week the biggest price discounts at one retail location.

Previous flash sales saw shoppers rummaging the racks and shelves for branded jeans priced at Dh50, as well as heavily discounted cosmetics and gowns.

But fret not if you can’t make a dash for the bags this Friday- there are still many deals to be had at other shops across Dubai.

It’s the last weekend of DSS, after all, so starting, Thursday until Saturday, shoppers can enjoy further price reductions when they visit select stores such as Harvey Nichols, Bloomingdale’s, Debenhams, Marks & Spencer, Le 66 Concept Store, Le BHV Marais and Salam Stores.

There are other brands joining in the DSS ‘Grand Finale Sale’ as well, and they are marking down their prices further and for the very last time this summer.

HOTEL ON PALM JUMEIRAH HAS A COOL JOB OFFER

Dubai: It may still be too early to say or do anything Christmassy, but one hotel in Dubai is already getting way ahead with festive preparations.

The Fairmont Hotel on The Palm Jumeirah has just launched a global campaign to find the perfect person to fill the role of Santa Claus at the luxury resort in Dubai during the festive occasion in December.

“The North Pole is inevitably a little busy this year, so the resort is looking for a Santa from another destination to fill the [snow-covered boots],” the hotel said in a statement.

The job offer comes with exciting perks and freebies, including a once-in-a-lifetime, all-inclusive trip to Dubai, a posh accommodation for two people at the five-star resort, daily breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“The chosen Santa will be whisked away to Dubai for a holiday never to forget, inclusive of flight, hotel stay for three weeks, all-inclusive food and beverage for the Santa and [his guest], and various activities while there,” a spokesperson said.

In return, all the successful candidate needs to do is spend an hour or two of ‘Santa duties’ each day.

The duties and responsibilities include “drinking glasses of milk and eating a plate of cookies every evening,” ensuring that the mince pies coming out of the hotel kitchen every day are of top quality, and managing a team of festive elves.

To be successful, however, applicants are required to have a “round and rather large waistline,” and a jolly disposition.

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7 OF CRAZIEST THINGS SOLD TO UAE CONSUMERS ONLINE

Dubai: The internet is a huge marketplace where anyone can sell anything and everything. And as more social media platforms and websites open up, users are bombarded with thousands of ads on a daily basis.

But, out of the adverts encountered online, there are a few that appear out of this world. A listings site in the UAE, dubizzle has identified seven of them.

A set of dinosaur bones was once advertised for sale in the UAE. The brontosaurus skeleton named Einstein was offered to UAE buyers for a whopping Dh88 million.

“This is a once in a 150 million year lifetime opportunity,” said the advertiser, who assured that the item on sale was “perfect inside out” and “used only a few times.”

Someone who accumulated too many plastic bottles, weighing at least a ton, did go online to get rid of the huge stockpile. And to get anyone interested, the price was fixed at Dh1.

EXCLUSIVE BURJ KHALIFA CLUB ‘OPENS UP’ TO UAE RESIDENTS

Dubai: An exclusive club at the Burj Khalifa has just announced a generous offer that lets outsiders chill out by the pool of the world’s tallest tower at sunset.

The Burj Club’s Rooftop Soiree is now open to anyone who is willing to pay Dh150 at the entrance. The price includes access to the pool, plus food and beverage worth up to Dh100. The deal is on for three nights a week, from Wednesday to Friday.

The club is located on the terraces of Burj Khalifa, and with the new evening pass, both UAE residents and tourists can get the chance to lap up in luxury while watching the views of the Dubai Fountain and Downtown Dubai, from 6pm to 11pm.

The fee may be a tad pricey for those on a budget, but it’s actually cheaper compared to the entrance ticket to The Top in Burj Khalifa during prime viewing hours which currently costs Dh200.

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