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Shahrukh opens new Kalyan jewellers outlet in bur Dubai

The Baadshah of Bollywood, Shahrukh Khan inaugurated a new Kalyan Jewellers showroom in the UAE amidst a sea of fans at Meena Bazaar.

The much awaited launch at Bur Dubai witnessed an unprecedented crowd and the appearance of Shahrukh Khan saw a gathering of thousands of people who had come to see their favourite star. He was accompanied by Kalyan Jewellers chairman and managing director T.S. Kalyanaraman and executive directors Rajesh Kalyanaraman and Ramesh Kalyanaraman for the inauguration ceremony and on stage.

A special stage was set up outside, next to the main showroom entrance and there was a thundering applause and loud cheering as Shahrukh Khan came onstage.

Speaking about the opening, T.S. Kalyanaraman said: “It is a very exciting moment for us as we have opened a new Kalyan Jewellers showroom in the UAE. I take this opportunity to thank Mr Shahrukh Khan for gracing this occasion and believing in the brand ethos of Kalyan Jewellers. This underscores the overwhelming love and support garnered from those associated with the brand. We continue to remain committed to bringing in unique brand experiences and are humbled by large number of people who came to witness the launch.”

The new Kalyan Jewellers showroom is located at the Salma Bint Rashid Al Zaal Building, Souk Al Kabeer Street – Meena Bazaar, Burdubai. Shoppers at all Kalyan Jewellers showrooms in the UAE will be able to avail of the ongoing festive offer that guarantees shoppers assured gifts* and participate in the ongoing “Win 25 Mercedes Benz” global campaign.

The new Meena Bazaar showroom has an exclusive section displaying Kalyan’s new brand Muhurat which is the wedding collection spanning a wide range of exquisite bridal jewellery including stunning polki pieces.

Maldives makes history on Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange

The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) on Thursday listed a sovereign bond through a private placement for the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) issued by the government of Maldives.

The bond, denominated in US dollars, was listed by the Maldives’ Ministry of Finance and Treasury on the ADX and is worth $100 million with a 5-year maturity (2023) and a coupon rate of 5.5 per cent per annum. The bonds are rated B+ by Fitch Ratings.

This historic listing is the first foreign sovereign bond to have a primary listing on any stock market in the UAE and the region, reflecting the exchange’s leading position in the international market in part thanks to its advanced technical and organisational infrastructure.

Dr Hussain Niyaz. Ambassador of the Republic of Maldives to the UAE, rang the opening bell at the ADX to mark the start of trading in the presence of Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, director-general of the ADFD; Rashed Al Blooshi, CEO of the ADX; and representatives from First Abu Dhabi Bank, the transaction’s arranger and lead manager.

Dr Niyaz said that the Maldives recognises and appreciates the important role that the ADFD has played in the development of the Maldives over the past four decades, providing financing in areas of infrastructure development, transport, telecommunication, housing and energy. In 2017, the ADFD provided $50 million to primarily finance the development of a new terminal at Velana International Airport.

The ambassador stressed the distinct position that the UAE and specifically Abu Dhabi holds as a centre for capital markets in the region in virtue of its world-class regulatory structure. “This issuance strengthens the government of Maldives’ strategy and its ability to find the necessary funding as it prepares to expand its expenditure on development projects and accelerate the economic and social development of the country.”

Al Suwaidi stressed the supporting role of the ADFD to the Maldivian government and the financial aid it has given it to develop infrastructure projects.

He pointed out that the ADFD is providing financial assistance to a number of developing countries in various continents, including the Maldives, with whom they have held a relationship since 1967. The ADFD supported Maldives in financing Dh550 million for the country’s sustainable economic development.

He added that the process of listing sovereign bonds in ADX for ADFD is indicative of the ongoing successful implementation of its investment strategy.

This action not only guarantees good financial returns but also helps ensure the sustainability of the fund’s main activity in providing concessionary loans.

The ADFD invests in 15 strategic companies and four private portfolios, with a total value of Dh3 billion.

Al Blooshi added that the listing reaffirms the ADX’s leading position across the region, given the confidence of governments in the ADX, as well as its technical and organisational readiness to list and trade fixed income instruments, and its adoption of an advanced settlement and clearing system.

“The ADX seeks to become the preferred listing and trading platform, and works on consolidating its position as a leading market in the region by providing the most innovative products and services to ensure a fair and secure investment environment. It also strives to strengthen the local economy and its sustainable development, in line with the Abu Dhabi Plan by developing the financial services sector, creating an attractive business and investment environment in the emirate,” he added.

UAE jewellers eye VAT relief on retail sales

Gold and jewellery industry executives in the UAE hope that the government will extend VAT exemption to the retail segment, similar to what was given to wholesalers and investors for the benefit of end-users.

“We welcome the move of VAT [value-added tax] exemption by the UAE Cabinet on the gold and diamond trade in the B2B market. One of the major tourist attractions of the UAE is the jewellery sector that generates billions of dollars in revenue every year and by exempting it from the tax, the benefit will be immense for the businesses and the overall economy,” said Firoz Merchant, chairman of Pure Gold Group.

“I hope that the government extends a similar exemption to the retail sector, which will not only benefit the jewellery retailers but also tourists and consumers,” he added.

“We are not expecting total VAT exemption on purchases as we have requested to charge only on making charges as raw gold [pure gold] is VAT-free and jewellery is made from raw gold,” said Anil Dhanak, managing director of Kanz Jewellery.

“Retail will greatly benefit once we go back to the old pricing structure and VAT is levied only on making charge – which comes to around Dh1 per gramme; it will be easy to absorb by retailers and even customers will not feel the pain.”

He added that VAT refund at airports for tourists will also be a win-win situation for the seller, buyer and the nation’s economy.

Chandu Siroya, owner of Siroya Jewellers, also hoped that the government will reconsider and levy 5 per cent VAT only on value-addition rather than the whole piece. “Dubai’s gold business will come back to glory by the removal of VAT on whole piece and levying it only on making charges.”

“Five per cent VAT is very expensive. In India, it is 3 per cent. Even profit margins of jewellery retailers are around 1-2 per cent and 5 per cent VAT is very high,” Siroya added.

Joy Alukkas, chairman and managing director of Joyalukkas Group, too is hoping for a revision in the retail segment as VAT on wholesale has been rolled back so that end-consumers will benefit and this will surely have a positive impact on sales.

“The Dubai Gold & Jewellery Group is lobbying in the best interest of the industry and for the jewellery shoppers; the industry as a whole is also in discussion with relevant authorities. In the end, the final decision will surely be in the best interest of the country’s economy.”


Masala King Dhananjay Datar bags social entrepreneurship award

Masala King Dhananjay Datar, CMD, Al Adil Group, Dubai, was honoured by Master Deenanath Mangeshkar Smruti Prathishthan recently, for his social entrepreneurship efforts, by being conferred with a special award.

He received the award from Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of India. The ceremony took place in Mumbai at Shanmugam Hall, Sion. Dr Datar got the memorable opportunity to share the stage along with other eminent recipients like Asha Bhosale, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Anupam Kher, Shekhar Sen, Yogesh Gaud, Rajiv Khandekar and Mary Behlihimji.

Expressing the emotions after receiving the award, Dr Datar said: “Non-residential Indians like me, while excelling high in our respective fields abroad, always cherish an adoring love towards our motherland. That is why we feel elated when our society honours us. I have received many national and international awards for my contribution to the business field, but for social entrepreneurship, this is the first one. It bears immense importance for me.”

He further said: “The Mangeshkar family, in every way, has been giving Maharashtra, the best of their best. Apart from entertaining the society with divine music, they have been active in social service and enrichment of our culture. Their noble philanthropic service has set a unique example for others to follow. Therefore, it is a blessing for me to receive this award. Secondly, I myself have got a lot of inspiration and encouragement from Pandit Hridaynathji Mangeshkar, when I humbly started promoting Indian and specially Marathi culture in the Gulf countries. His words of appreciation boosted my spirit and enthusiasm to march forward in this direction.”

Dubai powering UAE’s growth

The UAE non-oil economy is set for a strong rebound with a projected growth of 2.8 per cent in 2018 and 3.3 per cent in 2019 after a slowdown to 1.9 per cent last year, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday.

Jihad Azour, director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, said Dubai would be a key driver of the resilience with its non-oil economy on track to record a 3.7 per cent growth in 2018 compared to 3.3 per cent in the previous year.

Abu Dhabi’s non-oil GDP is poised to grow by 1.1 per cent this year from 0.7 per cent negative growth in 2017. The emirate’s oil GDP, which was -2.4 per cent in 2017, is expected to show a flat growth this year and rebound in 2019, the IMF official said while unveiling the fund’s latest Regional Economic Outlook.

According to the IMF, the UAE will need oil prices to average $71.5 and $64.8 per barrel respectively in 2018 and 2019 to balance its budget, while Saudi Arabia requires $87.9 and $77.9.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia and other GCC states need to pursue their reform agenda in order to prepare for a post-oil order.

Praising investment in education and innovation by the UAE, Azour called for region wide labor market and education reforms that boost productivity and create opportunities for everyone.

“With growth prospects low relative to historical standards, it is paramount to accelerate the structural reform agenda and move to a new growth model that promotes diversification and private sector development,” the IMF said in its report.

Across the GCC, non-oil GDP is on track to grow to 2.7 per cent in 2018 and 2019 from 1.8 per cent in 2017 while oil GDP is expected to recover from -2.8 per cent in 2017 to 0.6 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively in 2018 and 2019.

The partial recovery in oil prices will be a boost for the GCC after the region saw its overall economic growth shrink by 0.2 per cent last year, impacted by a 0.7 per cent contraction by the Saudi economy, he said.

“From 2019, the deferred expiration of Opec agreement means that oil GDP growth will pick up faster than anticipated, especially in the GCC,” Azour said.

In the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan region, nations are facing a multitude of challenges on the back of tightening liquidity, trade tensions and ongoing structural issues.

“With growth estimated to have bottomed out in 2017, the overall outlook is little changed from the last quarter of 2017. Economic activity is projected to accelerate in 2018-19, but remain low relative to pre-2014 levels over the medium term. Specifically, overall growth for Menap region is projected at 2.8 per cent this year and 3.3 per cent in 2019,” said Azour.

Azour called for continued economic reforms in Arab countries despite a recent rise in oil prices and cautioned against complacency over a looming debt crisis.

“Reforms should continue on track while reduction of deficit should be a priority. Required reforms include further steps toward full elimination of energy subsidies, and changes to pension and social security systems – including revisions to retirement age and benefits,” the IMF official said.

Despite the improved economic forecast, the IMF estimated cumulative overall fiscal deficits in the region to be $294 billion in 2018-22. Around $71 billion of government debt is expected to mature during the same period.

Voicing concern over the rapid buildup of debt in many Mena countries, Azour said debt has increased by an average of 10 percentage points of GDP each year since 2013, with countries financing large fiscal deficits.

According to the IMF, the economy of oil-importers should grow by 6.2 per cent annually to maintain unemployment at the current rate of 10 per cent. Mena countries need to create 25 million new jobs over the next five years.

At 50 per cent, Oman has the highest percentage of youth unemployment of any Arab country. Seventy per cent of women in Oman are also outside the labor force, according to the IMF. In countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, more than 30 per cent of youth are unemployed and close to 80 per cent of women are outside the labour force.

Dubai’s ready home sales play catch up

Off-plan transactions in Dubai are down 30 per cent year to date compared to the corresponding period last year, according to figures released by consultancy firm GCP-Reidin.

April saw 1,446 off-plan transactions, which was a significant improvement over the 1,302 deals in March 2018. These transactions were driven by Dubai Marina, Downtown Dubai, Dubai Creek Harbour, Jumeirah Village Circle and Dubai World Central (formerly Dubai South).

However, off-plan sales in Meydan are up a whopping 885 per cent year-to-date, primarily driven by Azizi projects Riviera and Victoria.

During the first 4 months of 2018, buyers bought 4,107 ready homes in Dubai, which is only down 12 per cent from the same period last year. This shows that sales of ready units have held up well compared to off-plan units.

For ready properties, Downtown Dubai and Dubai Sports City were the top picks for apartments. Sports City recorded 425 deals in the first 4 months against 298 units sold in the same period last year. Downtown saw a 17 per cent year-on-year increase, with 263 units sold against 224 last year, as per Reidin-GCP data.

For villas, Arabian Ranches and Jumeirah Islands saw robust sales year to date with 92 and 18 units, respectively.

“What we observe is that there are a few green shoots appearing in the ready segment. While Sports City continues to show strength in the mid-income segment, we are also seeing a rebound in Downtown transactional activity as well as in the villa space in Arabian Ranches and Jumeirah Islands,” says Hussain Alladin, head of IR and research at Global Capital Partners.

In all, 6,086 off-plan transactions were registered between January to April 2018, compared to 8,736 transactions in the comparable period last year.

In terms of value, off-plan sales registered a steeper decline of 40 per cent at an estimated Dh7.9 billion in the period from January to April 2018. This compares to off-plan transactions worth Dh13.2 billion in the corresponding period of 2017.

In the ready space, the drop was 20 per cent – from Dh7.95 billion in the first 4 months of 2017 to Dh6.38 billion this year.

“The off-plan segment continues to remain under pressure as investment allocation continues to rotate out of the off-plan space into the ready space,” Alladin pointed out.

A first-quarter drop-off in off-plan launches was expected after what was an exceptional run of launches in 2017. Developers offered incentives such as post-handover payment plans and waiver of DLD registration fees to attract buyers. The lack of an extension of post-handover payment plans and other incentives seems to be impacting off-plan demand this year.

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