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Canada dispute won’t affect oil sales: Saudi

Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic dispute with Canada over its arrest of women’s rights activists will not affect the Kingdom’s oil sales to Canadian customers, the Saudi energy minister said on Thursday.

The remarks by Khalid Al Falih show the limits of the ongoing quarrel and may calm the dispute that suddenly erupted on Monday over Canadian diplomats’ tweets asking the Kingdom to release the detained activists.

A statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency quoted Al Falih as saying oil sales are not affected by politics as there is a “firm and longstanding policy that is not influenced by political circumstances.”

“The current diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia and Canada will not, in any way, impact Saudi Aramco’s relations with its customers in Canada,” the statement said, referring the state-run oil giant Saudi Arabian Oil Co.

Canada, itself one of the world’s five top energy producers, gets some 10 per cent of its oil imports from Saudi Arabia. Bilateral trade between the two nations is $3 billion a year.

Expo 2020 ties up with Emaar hospitality

Organisers of Expo 2020 Dubai unveiled Emaar Hospitality Group, the hospitality and leisure subsidiary of developer Emaar Properties, as one of its official partners.

As the official hotel and hospitality partner, Emaar Hospitality Group will be responsible for serving Expo 2020’s special ticket holders. The group will also operate a number of other experiences across the Expo site.

In addition, Emaar Hospitality Group will showcase trends and innovations in the hospitality industry.

Rolando Martins, chief visitor experience officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, welcomed the partnership as a key element in providing millions of visitors to the Expo with an exceptional experience, as well as an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for UAE tourism.

He said: “The hospitality experience at Expo 2020 is an opportunity to showcase this important aspect of the Emirati identity and culture. Emaar Hospitality Group has a record of warmly welcoming millions of visitors to Dubai every year – many of whom return again and again, which makes them the ideal hospitality partner.”

Olivier Harnisch, CEO of Emaar Hospitality Group, said: “Emaar Hospitality Group has paved the way for creating an innovative hospitality landscape in Dubai, offering a range of experiences, from luxury to contemporary midscale.

“In our role, we focus on providing an exceptional level of hospitality that will encourage visitors from across the world to return and experience everything that Dubai and the UAE have to offer. Expo 2020 will further strengthen Dubai’s position as one of the world’s most open and technologically advanced cities.”

Amanat completes middlesex acquisition for dh369 million

Amanat Holdings, a healthcare and education investment company in the region, completed the acquisition of a 100 per cent stake in Middlesex University Dubai for a consideration of Dh369 million with an additional potential earn-out of up to Dh73 million.

Amanat’s portfolio includes three education assets in the UAE, two healthcare assets in Saudi Arabia and another real estate investment.

Hamad Abdulla Al Shamsi, chairman of Amanat, said the acquisition of Middlesex University Dubai represents another milestone for Amanat, marking its sixth portfolio company.

“Having successfully acquired 100 per cent of the university and deployed 73 per cent of our capital, Amanat demonstrates its commitment to a more active investment strategy.”

Shamsheer Vayalil, vice-chairman and managing director of Amanat, said Middlesex University Dubai is a strategic investment for Amanat. Middlesex University Dubai is Amanat’s third investment in 2018, with Dh1.1 billion of capital deployed so far this year.

“Following Amanat’s investment in Abu Dhabi University Holding Company, our higher education portfolio extends across the emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi and covers a wide range of programmes,” said Vayalil.

Adnoc seeks to boost investment with Japan

Dr Sultan bin Ahmad Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and Adnoc Group CEO, met on Wednesday with Hiroshige Seko, Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, as part of a series of meetings with government officials, business partners and customers, aimed at building on Adnoc’s long-standing energy relationship with Japan’s energy sector.

During the meeting, partnership and investment opportunities, created by Adnoc’s upstream and downstream growth plans were explored, as well as the potential for the long-term supply of hydrocarbon products to Japan.

“For more than four decades, the UAE and Japan have enjoyed a deep-rooted and successful strategic relationship, underpinned by long-standing energy partnerships,” Dr Al Jaber said. “Adnoc is keen to further strengthen the relationship, deepen partnerships and seize growth opportunities along the full oil and gas value chain.

“As we accelerate our focus on the increasing energy needs of Asian economies, such as Japan, Adnoc is introducing new partnership and investment opportunities across our integrated upstream and downstream operations. At the same time, we wish to explore opportunities to increase market access and offer a larger share of Adnoc’s portfolio of products to existing and new customers in Japan.”

UAE revving up its growth engine

Technology entrepreneurs, influencers, high-end individual investors and specialists in certain fields such as science, space and medicine would be eligible for the 10-year visa slated to be implemented by the end of this year, say industry executives.

The UAE government recently announced that it would issue 10-year visas for professionals and investors and will also allow 100 per cent foreign ownership in mainland companies as part of reforms to attract the best talent available in the world and also to lure foreign direct investment into the country.

It is expected that the new reforms will be focused on those professions and industries that meet the UAE’s strategic needs.

Speaking at a seminar recently, Dr Raed Safadi, chief economic adviser at the Department of Economic Development in Dubai, said the key criteria of this new law is to attract investors and would be very generous to bring in all kinds of talent as the emirate seeks a transition towards a knowledge-based economy.

“We have to wait and see the specific directions as to what will include. But from what we have seen is that the initial wave will include technology entrepreneurs, influencers and high-end individual investors in certain areas that the country needs. I think it will not be a blanket for everyone to benefit from this system immediately. Maybe during the time, some new groups will be involved. But for now, I think technology entrepreneurs, influencers, high-tech investors and so on,” said Dr Habib Al Mulla, executive chairman of Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla.

Replying to a query about eligibility of doctors, engineers and architects to be part of the 10-year programme, Dr Al Mulla said he didn’t expect all these categories will be eligible.

“However, some specialists could be included in certain fields like medicine and so on but I don’t think it will be overall for everyone,” he added.

On a question whether PhD degree holders will also be given 10-year visas, Dr Al Mulla hopes it will not be a requirement.

“I think they are not looking for academic degree holders but those with some exceptional expertise that the country may need.”

Saad Maniar, senior partner at Crowe and vice-chairman of the members’ advisory committee of the Association of Chartered Accountants in the UAE, believes chartered accountants, lawyers, doctors and scientists could potentially be included in the 10-year visa list.

Moreover, professionals holding a master’s degree or equivalent, a certain minimum salary bracket and certain designation – directors, etc – could also be considered, he added.

Naveen Sharma, chairman of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India – Dubai Chapter, claims that the exhaustive list is yet to be released but it seems like various categories such as scientists, investors, entrepreneurs, doctors, engineers and innovators will be covered under this rule.

Sharma feels people with higher qualifications and having a master’s degree, PhD, doctoral degree or any other reputed recognised degree in the profession approved under this criteria will be eligible for a 10-year visa.

 

On the possible eligibility for 100 per cent ownership in the mainland, Dr Al Mulla pointed out that full details are still awaited.

“But from what we have seen, the government is looking for global companies with global means like Google to start with. Those multinationals whose businesses are spread all over the continents. I think technology entrepreneurs, for example Tesla and so on, are the type of companies that will be part of 100 per cent foreign ownership. I think once they try it and see how it works, then they may start expanding it to other companies and industries. But to start with, it will be these multinationals.”

In addition to job creation and minimum investments, Dr Al Mulla says full ownership of a company in the mainland will possibly be linked to job creation for UAE nationals, too.

“I think some of the job creations will also be linked to UAE national recruitment targets. So it is not enough you create jobs, but create jobs for UAE nationals. Minimum investment could also be another requirement to obtain full ownership licence in mainland. But they will be high threshold capital requirements to be able to avail exemptions,” he added.

Dr Safadi recently said there would be certain requirements such as minimum investment and a number of job creation for the eligibility of 100 per cent foreign ownership.

Maniar believes that 100 per cent ownership will be allowed only to companies from certain sectors such as healthcare and technology, with more than Dh1 million investment. Additional requirements could be employing over five employees with a certain salary threshold, recruiting a certain percentage of UAE nationals and contributing a certain percentage towards corporate social responsibility after certain a level of profits.

Sharma said currently, a foreign investor can own 100 per cent of a business only in a free zone and not in the mainland. But as per the new announcement, foreigners will soon be able to own 100 per cent of the business outside free zones.

As of now, detailed rules and regulations are not out but in order to obtain full ownership of a business in mainland, Sharma feels an investor will be required to invest over Dh1 million to be eligible.

“This is a welcome move for the UAE economy and it will surely help the economy to move in the right direction. It will not only attract foreign investors but it will also boost the economy. Creation of new jobs, ease in international trade, boost in property market, etc, are some of the advantages among many other advantages from foreign investment,” he added.

“People with a 10-year visa will have more sense of security about their future in the country. This can play a very big factor in boosting the property market in the UAE.”

Dubai attracts dh80 billion FDI into technology sector

Dubai has attracted $21.66 billion (Dh80 billion) worth of foreign direct investment in high-end technology transfers in three years, mainly from the European Union and the US.

According to Dubai’s Department of Economic Development (DED), 860 projects created more than 54,000 jobs in the technology sector during January 2015 to March 2018 period as the emirate remained focused on attracting FDI to transform itself into a knowledge-based economy.

The last three years have witnessed investors from the European Union and the United States outstripping all others in both the number of projects they have initiated – 355 and 213 projects, respectively, and in their capital investments – $5.7 billion and $3.9 billion, respectively.

During 2015 to Q1 2018, investors from the EU and the US launched 66 per cent of the total number of projects in Dubai, contributing 45 per cent to the total FDI flows into Dubai, and created 28,241 new jobs.

Dubai was also ranked first globally in the share of FDI in technology transfer, it said.

“These investments have ushered in a new era of sustainable economic growth in Dubai, driven by higher productivity growth. Close to 60 per cent of the total capex FDI into Dubai during the last three years have been realised in medium to high-tech sectors. These have earned the emirate the top rank globally in 2018 in the share of FDI in technology transfer such as AI and robotics. This transformation has created new opportunities for business and boosted Dubai’s competitiveness across all sectors,” the DED said in a statement on Wednesday.

These achievements are in line with the Dubai 2021 Plan that embodies His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, vision to transform Dubai into a smart city where innovation and digitisation play a critical role in driving economic growth.

Today, Smart Dubai boasts AI-enabled services, most notably ‘Rashid’ that responds to investors and entrepreneurs’ questions in audio format or in writing and gives the most relevant and up-to-date information on business licence procedures and fees as well as step-by-step instructions on setting up a business.

Why residents are happy to be in UAE

The well-being of citizens is certainly the top-most priority of any government and the UAE is not an exception to it.

According to the BCG’s 2018 Sustainable Economic Development Assessment index, the UAE has improved its position among the list of countries, which strike a right balance between growth and the well-being of its citizens. And certainly, this is one of the key factors that attracts foreigners, who make up around 85 per cent of the UAE population, as they enjoy a better quality of life.

The UAE moved up one place to 28th position as residents enjoy better well-being than those in Italy, Malaysia, Turkey, Russia and over 100 other nations around the world.

The index data showed that the UAE’s high ranking was due to the government policy to ensure higher income, infrastructure, economic stability and employment to its residents.

Anita Yadav, head of fixed income research at Emirates NBD Research, said the UAE government puts considerable effort in developing and maintaining world-class infrastructure. “Also, legal systems and enforcement of laws is very efficient which gives a general sense of security to the common man.”

In addition, she pointed out that the UAE government’s recent measures such as freezing of school fees, easing of residency visas and lowering of certain government fees, were undertaken to enhance the well-being of residents.

YS Shashidhar, partner and managing director, Frost & Sullivan, said there are several firsts that UAE has undertaken namely world’s first happiness minister, specific tools and techniques to measure the happiness index of the residents, transforming customer services centres into customer happiness centres, etc.

“In fact, a lot of measures undertaken have instilled the value of happiness and positivity among the residents and that is what makes the UAE unique.”

He stressed that the most important measures wherein the UAE stands out among others in the region is clearly with respect to the state-of-the-art infrastructure, government services, safety and security. “All of these add up to a higher quality of life for its residents.”

Citing few examples about the well-being for its residents, he noted that average response time for an ambulance for healthcare emergency is down to four minutes while it is an average of six-seven minutes for fire incidents.

“In fact, continuous measures are being undertaken to reduce these timelines further – e.g, like a 30 seconds response time call in case of fire related incidents, etc,” Shashidhar said.

He said lots of efforts and measures are already being undertaken to enhance the quality of life of the residents by using advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, etc., as well.

According to Boston Consulting Group report, European countries dominated the list of countries with most sustainable economic development assessment rankings with Norway maintaining its lead followed by Switzerland, Iceland, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Singapore, Finland, Austria and Netherlands making up to top 10 list.

While African countries namely Central African Republic, Chad, Yemen, Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Nigeria, Mozambique, Pakistan, Guinea and Burundi were ranked at the bottom of the well-being index.

In the Middle East, the UAE is followed by Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Joao Hrotko, partner and managing director, Boston Consulting Group, said over the past 10 years, well-being has been on the rise in the overwhelming majority of the countries around the world.

Hrotko believes that the well-being of a country’s citizens doesn’t have to come at the expense of “hard core” economic growth.

“We found that countries that were better at converting wealth into well-being tended to have faster economic growth. They also tended to be more resilient – recovering more quickly from the 2008-2009 financial crisis,” he added.

“For countries that already enjoy a relatively high level of well-being, investments in education and employment can do the most to improve both well-being and economic growth. For countries with a relatively low level of well-being, it is not enough to focus only on areas that are key pillars of development, such as health and education. They must also improve governance, a critical foundation for sustainable economic growth, and infrastructure,” Hrotko said.

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