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Abu Dhabi to host major global healthcare congress starting 2019

Abu Dhabi will be hosting a major annual healthcare event starting from next year, as part of strategies to promote the UAE capital into a world-class healthcare hub, authorities said.

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) on Sunday signed a memorandum of understanding with the Medical Tourism Association (MTA) to join efforts to position Abu Dhabi as a world-leading medical tourism destination by hosting the MTA’s annual World Medical Tourism and Global Healthcare Congress in Abu Dhabi as a major part of the agreement.

The globally-recognised event – that brings together experts and organisations from more than 100 countries worldwide and regularly attracts more than 10,000 visitors, approximately 200 exhibitors and sponsors and up to 100 hosted VIP buyers – will be held in Abu Dhabi in September 2019.

The MTA will also open its office in Abu Dhabi as well as the production of a new Abu Dhabi Destination Guide as it works to attract the best international healthcare firms into the capital so as to promote Abu Dhabi as a hub for medical tourism.

The MoU opens a pathway for DCT Abu Dhabi and the MTA to strategically cooperate to further build a medical tourism proposition for consumer markets in several key areas, including Russia, China, India and across the GCC.

In a Press conference, Jonathan Edelheit, chairman and CEO of the MTA said: “Through launching this new portal, we want to support the strategy of DCT Abu Dhabi in transforming Abu Dhabi into a world-class healthcare hub.”

“The partnership between the MTA and DCT Abu Dhabi will boost the medical travel industry. It is our goal to establish Abu Dhabi as the most-trusted medical tourism destination, initiating joint trade missions into the GCC, China and the world.” He noted that the MoU establishes a 10-year partnership demonstrating Abu Dhabi’s long term commitment to emerging as one of the most advanced and sustainable medical tourism destinations in the world.

Saif Saeed Ghobash, Under-secretary of DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “The new initiative to promote healthcare facilities in the capital so that they match with international standards will include all public and private hospitals.”

Rupee slips to new low, touches 20.33 against dirham

The rupee on Thursday weakened by 24 paise to hit another low of 74.45 against the US dollar on strong demand for the American currency from importers amid unabated foreign fund outflows and a sharp losses in the domestic equity market.

Against the UAE dirham, the rupee was trading at 20.26 at 7:50am (UAE time).

At the Interbank Foreign Exchange (forex) market, the domestic currency opened weak at 74.37 and slipped further to quote at an all-time low of 74.45, depreciating 24 paise against the US dollar in the early trade.

Forex dealers said besides strong demand for the American currency from importers, concerns of fears of rising fiscal deficit and capital outflows weighed on the domestic currency.

On Wednesday, the rupee snapped its six-session losing streak to end 18 paise higher at 74.21 against the US dollar after the American currency weakened overseas.

Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) sold shares net worth a net of Rs 1,096 crore Wednesday, provisional data showed.

Investors remained concerned over sustained foreign capital outflows.

The key Indian equity market indices on Thursday opened lower following a muted trend in global markets even as the Indian rupee slipped to a new record low of 74.46 against the greenback.

The Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE, which had closed at 34,760.89 points on Wednesday, opened lower at 34,063.82 points.

Minutes into trading, it was quoting at 33,891.52 points, down by 869.37 points, or 2.50 per cent.

Sharjah’s gulftainer to expand portfolio in Africa, Americas

Sharjah-based global port operator Gulftainer is looking at expanding its portfolio in Americas, Africa and Far East and will close another acquisition in Americas next year, its group CEO said on Wednesday.

“We will be making another announcement about acquisition in 2019. We are very close to finalising a port agreement in Americas. I would love to see Gulftainer taking 2 acquisitions every year for the next 10 years. But realistically, if we can get one acquisition a year, it would put us in a good position,” said Peter Richards, group CEO of Gulftainer.

“In the next few years, we are not just increasing in North America but South America as well. We did Brazil venture but Brazil was then not going through good time. However, we will not forget Brazil and will look at it. We are talking to numerous entities in Europe also aim to go to Far East Asia as well. We believe Indian market is saturated but there are niche opportunities,” Richards said on the sidelines of a press conference organised for the signing of a sister port agreement between the Department of Seaports & Customs of Sharjah and the Diamond State Port Corporation (DSPC), a corporate entity of the State of Delaware, USA.

Sheikh Khaled bin Abdullah bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman, Department of Seaports & Customs, Sharjah Airport International Free Zone and Hamriyah Free Zone Authority, and Jeffrey Bullock, Secretary of State of Delaware, signed the agreement at the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce.


Industrial sector to create 27k jobs

The fast diversifying and innovation-driven industrial sector, a key driver of UAE’s economic growth, is expected to account for 20 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product by 2030.

The predicted growth is in line with Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030 that seeks to redefine the industrial landscape, senior government officials said at the Future Manufacturing and Trade Summit on Tuesday.

The Dubai government aims to increase total GDP by Dh165 billion by 2030 in keeping with the Dubai Industrial Strategy. It also plans for the creation of 27,000 jobs, with exports forecast to increase by Dh16 billion. The industrial sector is projected to grow by an additional Dh18 billion by 2030.

Delivering the opening address at the summit on behalf of Suhail bin Mohammed Faraj Faris Al Mazrouei, the UAE Minister of Energy and Industry, Ahmed Al Kaabi, assistant undersecretary for Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources at the Ministry, said the country seeks to develop knowledge-based manufacturing of goods and services, as well as in optimising the use of digital technology in manufacturing in order to enhance the nation’s rankings in global competitiveness indices.

“The UAE has a vibrant industrial sector which is not dependent on oil derivatives only but has expanded to fertilizers, chemicals, aluminum, building materials, food and pharmaceutical industries, and also includes a variety of small and medium enterprises operating in different free zones,” said Al Kaabi.

Welcoming delegates to the summit, Sami Al Qamzi, director-general of Dubai Economic Department, highlighted the ongoing focus of Dubai and the UAE towards integrating innovation as a key enabler of productivity growth and Industry 4.0. He said the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030, launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, aims to develop Dubai into an international hub for innovation-driven and sustainable industrial activities, is now redefining the industrial landscape in Dubai.

Dubai has also established a number of dedicated manufacturing facilities in the emirate, including 18 industrial zones. The manufacturing industry accounted for 9.4 per cent of Dubai’s GDP, with a total value of Dh36.8 billion in 2017, compared to Dh36.1 billion in 2016,” said Al Qamzi.

Largest Gitex technology week set to focus on AI, startups

The annual Gitex Technology Week will strongly focus on startups, Artificial Intelligence and all those new age technologies and experiences that benefit the masses at large.

Featuring over 4,500 exhibitors from 100-plus countries, the 38th edition of the largest gathering of IT companies and executives in the Mena region will see 80 per cent higher participation of technology startups to 700-plus companies as compared to last year’s edition. The five-day event will offer unique solutions to over hundreds of global investors descending down from all over the world for the exhibition and competing for more than Dh1 million in prizes.

Trixie LohMirmand, senior vice-president for events management, Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), expects over 100,000 visitors at this year’s edition, more than last year, and over 290 hours of conferences and seminar where panelists.

“Gitex has grown to 1.3 million sqft and it is spread over 21 halls. We have more than 4,500 exhibitors, largest ever exhibition,” LohMirmand said.

“We have a lot of startups, especially on AI side, this year. There is no value of technology on its own until and unless it creates experiences and people can derive happiness out of it. This year’s edition is going to move away from just showcasing of PCs to better experiences for the visitors.”

GE arm buys 5% stake in Adnoc unit

Baker Hughes, the world’s second-largest oil services company, will take a 5 per cent stake in Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s (Adnoc) drilling unit for $550 million under a tie-up announced on Monday.

Baker Hughes, a subsidiary of General Electric Co, becomes the first foreign company to take a stake in one of state-owned Adnoc’s services companies under the agreement, which values Adnoc Drilling at about $11 billion, including $1 billion in debt.

The deal will allow Baker Hughes to cement its presence in the Middle East, the fastest growing region for oil and gas operations, and enable Adnoc Drilling to gain access to the know-how and technical expertise of a global player.

The transaction is expected to close before the end of this year, with operations starting in 2019, Adnoc and BHGE said in a joint statement.

“The partnership forms an important building block of Adnoc’s 2030 smart growth strategy,” said Dr Sultan bin Ahmad Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and chief executive of Adnoc Group.

He said the combined capabilities and expertise from this partnership will create greater drilling efficiencies and faster well completion times, generate attractive returns and enable the transfer of know-how and access to technology. “Importantly, it will also drive job creation and economic growth, as well as maintain a healthy level of competition in the dynamic UAE oilfield services market.”

“There are no plans at this point of time to float a stake in Adnoc Drilling,” Al Jaber said.

Adnoc Drilling operates over 90 drilling rigs, making it the Mideast’s largest drilling company. Overall, Adnoc produces some 3 million barrels of crude oil and 10.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day.

Baker Hughes’ CEO Lorenzo Simonelli said BHGE will have a representative on the board of Adnoc Drilling and will create a dedicated training team.

“The transaction significantly increases our activity in the region and demonstrates our unique ability to create value for our customers and shareholders through innovative commercial arrangements, partnerships and leading technology solutions,” he said.

Since its acquisition by General Electric Co last year, Baker Hughes has sought new business models following a sharp decline in global drilling activity since 2014. That includes offering a suite of services to oil and gas producers from exploration to drilling.

Bank mergers help cut funding costs, enhance pricing power

Merger and consolidation trend among banks in the UAE and other GCC countries will help better-position financial institutions with higher pricing power, and less pressure on funding costs, a report by Indosuez Wealth Management said.

Consolidation will also help banks increase their scale and revenue base, said Aabid Hanif, senior credit analyst at Indosuez Wealth Management Credit Pulse.

Most analysts are of the view that a new round of bank mergers – the fourth series of consolidation in the UAE’s banking history – would serve to further consolidate the over-crowded financial system.

In September 2018, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Union National Bank and Al Hilal Bank announced the start of merger talks. And more recently, three other Abu Dhabi-listed Shariah banks – Bank of Sharjah, Invest Bank, and United Arab Bank – publicly denied media reports of another three-way merger.

“Taking into account the UAE market, the consolidation trend is fundamentally positive and will improve banks through increased pricing power as well lowering funding costs for banks. However, existing weaknesses, namely sizeable single name and sector concentrations, high levels of related-party lending, and asset-quality issues are still characteristics of banking in the Middle East and remain key features for creditors to look out for,” said Hanif.

The potential three-way merger of ADCB, UNB and AHB will create an entity with approximately $113 billion of assets, making it the fifth-largest lender in the GCC and third-biggest in the UAE. Abu Dhabi has also merged several state investment funds, including Mubadala and Abu Dhabi Investment Council – the latter holding majority stakes in Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Union National Bank, potentially easing the progress of any merger, said Hanif.

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