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Tea, coffee to lead growth in UAE’S F&B industry

The tea and coffee segment would be a key driver of growth in the UAE’s food and beverage (F&B) industry in the coming years, experts at the Dubai International Coffee & Tea Festival 2018 said.

The three-day event concluded on Friday at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, the event featured coffee, tea and café products, as well as the latest equipment and services. It was the only dedicated event in the Middle East that gave interested parties access to a wide range of suppliers, products and certified training programmes.

Speaking to sources, Anselm Godinho, managing director of International Conferences and Exhibitions, and organiser of the event, said that there is a steady growth in the UAE’s tea and coffee industry. “Dubai has always been a reputed hub for tea; more so when it comes to re-exports than consumption. We have seen an increase in the consumption of both tea and coffee in the UAE and the region.”

Highlighting the growth in the coffee industry in the UAE, he said: “We are seeing more of a shift towards green beans, which is indicative of the trend in the market right now. The roasting industry in the region is also growing and demand for specialty coffee is also on the rise. There are several reasons for this, but the main reason is that consumers have more of an awareness about what specialty coffee is and they are interested in the experience that it offers. Commercial coffee has set the pace for growth in the industry, but now consumers are interested in the more refined sensory experience of specialty coffee.”

Godinho noted that this shift in preferences was apparent given the rise in the number of specialty coffee and tea cafes in the UAE. This, he said, is good news for customers, as they now have more choice, and the coffee culture itself will continue to grow as more consumers get educated on the art of making specialty coffee.

“Specialty coffee is more than just a name: you have to understand that this type of coffee only comes from small farms; the size of the harvest is small; there is a certain way to roast the beans; and there is a certain way to brew it – it is really an art.”

Drew Dennehy, coffee development and sustainability manager at London Dairy Cafe, also spoke about consumers and their love for coffee in the UAE. The company has plans to open at six cafes at various locations over the next six months.

“There is a growing interest and trend towards specialty coffee in the UAE, and we decided to build upon our parlour concept to cater to this. Initially, we started with small grab and go items and then moved on from there. Right now, we have a great team behind us, and we are investing heavily in getting the right equipment, and training the right people, to expand on our cafe concept. We want to ensure that we set ourselves apart with great products and great service,” he said.

DLD highlights employee wellness at work

The Dubai Land Department (DLD) recently organised the Middle East Association Managers Conference 2018, which highlighted a number of topics including the importance of employee wellness at work, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

The conference was attended by high-level delegations representing a number of countries in the world. DLD highlighted the progress it made over the past few years in supporting the operations of its Owners Associations in the emirate, helping them perform their tasks and provide various facilities and services to ensure their comfort and happiness.

During her opening speech at the conference, Hend Obaid Al Marri, CEO of the Dubai Real Estate Institute (DREI), said: “The organisation of this event comes in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai the smartest and happiest city in the world. DLD provides an educational and safe real estate environment through DREI, its educational arm, and the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) its regulatory arm, and ensures the happiness of its customers and partners through the sustainability and transparency of Dubai’s real estate market, especially with the emerging of modern technologies.”

During the conference, the Community Association Institute in the USA honoured DLD, DREI, and RERA for their consistent strategic partnerships that aim to real estate awareness and education in the real estate market, in recognition of their vital roles in organising this event and its success, as well as their efforts in ensuring an educational and safe real estate environment that protects investors’ rights.

RERA participated in a panel discussion on the regulation of the real estate market and the happiness of Owners Associations. Another panel discussion was held on the methods used by Owners Associations in selecting service providers, with the participation of representatives from Dubai Properties, Deyaar, Emaar, and Merali’s, which concluded with a series of recommendations that could be adopted for reliable partnerships between Owners Associations and supply companies. The conference also included another panel discussion on the problems that Facilities Management Companies could face, with the participation of representatives from Emrill, Fixis, Cofely Besix, and JLL.

RAK smartpay integrated e-payment system launched

The Department of Finance and eGovernment Authority in Ras Al Khaimah on Thursday launched their RAK SmartPay integrated e-payment system, which is designed to eliminate revenue collection leakage.

The move, based on the extension of partnership with RAK Bank as exclusive acquiring bank and STS PayOne as a leading regional provider of ePayment solutions, is aimed to best manage and secure public funds, increase revenues, and enhance the sustainable development in Ras Al Khaimah.

RAK SmartPay, based on STS PayOne’s SmartGate, is a unified central payment platform that enhances accessibility to e-government 1,063 services by providing several payment methods including credit and debit cards as well as digital wallets, according to senior official.

Yousef Ali Mohammed, GM of the RAK Department of Finance, said the project, in line with RAK Government’s Vision 2030, is part of their commitment to adopt most innovative solutions and meet the needs of beneficiaries. “The project, covering 1,063 diverse services, is to boost the financial performance of the RAK Government in view of the latest international practices and standards, considering global competitiveness and ongoing smart transformations regionally and worldwide.”

Mohammed told that the RAK SmartPay is to increase the government revenues by 15 to 30 per cent. “This new smart system will put an end to revenue collection leakage.”

He added that 18 out of 48 government entities are now covered in the first phase of the project. “The remaining 30 entities are to be added in the second two phases,” he said, noting that they review all expenses and revenues every month, and “more extensively every three months.”

The Emirates ID card shall be integrated in the new system. “This will save much time, effort, and money,” he stated.

Janti Abdallah, GM of STS PayOne, said that clients can simply make payments through an array of user-friendly channels. “These include the ‘mrak’ smart app, ‘rak.ae’ web portal, along with 400 points of sale, and over 1,000 kiosks nationwide which are expected to be increased to 3,000 as per demand.”

Ahmed bin Saeed Al Sayah, general manager of the eGovernment Authority in Ras Al Khaimah, said the project will help improve the quality of life and competitiveness of the smart transformation process in the emirate. “We want to utilise the world-class technology of digital payment to provide the safest revenue collection methods, ensure customer protection, offer a safe revenue for the government, and reduce costs.”

Peter England, CEO of RAKBANK, said they spare no effort to promote convenient and secure e-payment solutions and simplify payment procedures for citizens and residents in the emirate. “RAK SmartPay will be a significant stride in Ras Al Khaimah’s financial and digital development that will contribute to achieving the emirate’s sustainable economic development goals.”

Theme parks, entertainment scene to boost Dubai’s tourism targets

Several new developments in the leisure and entertainment industry across Dubai, have been instrumental in bringing Dubai one step closer to its tourism targets, experts said.

Chief among these developments are the various theme parks that have put Dubai on the map for international visitors. PwC has forecast that the UAE’s leisure and entertainment market potential will reach 45 million visitors by 2021, with international tourists accounting for 30 million, while residents and their friends and relatives total a further 15 million. As per estimates by the International Expo Consults, Dubai’s theme parks could generate around $5 billion in annual revenue by 2020.

Ahmed AlRayyes, chief commercial officer at DXB Entertainments, said that Dubai has evolved as a multi-faceted tourist destination, with something for everyone.

“Not only is the city famous as a shopping destination and home to some of the world’s most famous malls, it has also transformed into a family-friendly destination with a multitude of leisure and entertainment options,” he said.

“Theme parks are the most recent addition to the leisure landscape of the city – and Dubai now hosts multiple theme parks, water parks, and other family friendly attractions,” he added.

AlRayyes also said that as Dubai has continued to add tourist attractions over the last decade, the city has witnessed significant tourism growth.

The addition of theme parks to Dubai has increased the number of family-friendly attractions available for tourists to enjoy, and aims to contribute towards an increase in the average length of stay.

According to Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), Dubai welcomed a record 8.10 million international overnight tourists during the first six months of 2018. The emirate’s tourism sector was worth Dh109 billion a year as at the end of 2017. Top source markets continued to witness stable year-on-year performances in the first half of 2018, with India, Saudi Arabia, and the UK, retaining their position as the top three source market.

Siegfried Boerst, general manager of Legoland Dubai, said: “The launch of a host of new attractions over the past three years has contributed greatly to Dubai’s overall appeal and offering to residents and tourists. Since opening in 2016, Legoland Dubai has not only built a strong base of loyal resident annual pass holders, but we have also seen a significant growth from international visitors.”

He added: “We are [also] the only park in the region that has been specifically designed for families with children between the ages of 2-12 years. Additionally, our resort offers multiple days of entertainment… we continue to work closely with Dubai Tourism on an ongoing basis to achieve the targets.”

Data compiled by Expedia Group from the third quarter of 2018, showed that the number of Asian travellers to the UAE, particularly from China and India, has significantly increased, furthering the country’s position as a top tourist destination. The data revealed that while travellers from US and UK topped the list for travel into the country, travellers from China and India showed the highest growth in demand compared to the same period last year – both showing almost 245 per cent and over 60 per cent, respectively.

Factors contributing to this significant increase include several initiatives made by the UAE government to further inbound tourism, such as providing free 48-hour transit visas to travellers passing through the UAE, visa on arrival facilities, and acceptance of Chinese credit cards.

Additionally, Indian tourists are likely to be choosing UAE as a holiday destination due to its easy reach; more than 1,000 flights operate weekly between the UAE and India. AlRayyes noted that as with any industry, the theme park industry in Dubai is likely to evolve over the coming years, with new rides and attractions being added to refresh the existing offering.

“We have recently seen a move towards the increased use of virtual reality technology within entertainment, and this is likely to feature in theme parks in the coming years.”

“Dubai has firmly positioned itself as a family-friendly destination, and provides a wealth of activities and events for all ages throughout the year,” said Dr Mohammed Ali Al Wahaibi, owner of Museum of Illusions Dubai, which recently opened in the brand-new Al Seef area.

The Al Seef area, he adds, has “perfected the combination of culture and entertainment”.

“I believe that we will continue to see an increase in visitors to Dubai specifically because of family-friendly venues and the fantastic support we receive from Dubai Tourism and Meraas,” Dr Al Wahaibi added.


UAE leads Arab world in economic freedom

UAE businesses enjoy the highest economic freedom in the Arab world. This opens a wealth of opportunities to grow for UAE Inc. It also helps reduce poverty in the country, generate more employment opportunities and makes workforce and credit easily available.

According to the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the Arab World’s annual report 2018, the UAE tied with Bahrain for first place with a score of 8.0.

Among the sub-indices, the UAE’s score for legal structure and security of property rights remained 8.0 and retained its first place. The Emirates’ score for sound money rose to 9.5 from 9.4, leaving the UAE ninth place in the ranking, the same as last year.

The UAE came in first place in freedom to trade, up from second, with an improved score of 8.3 compared to 8.1 last year. For regulation of business, labour and credit, the UAE scored 7.6, but rose from fifth to third place in the rankings.

Regionally, Jordan has been ranked third, followed by Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. The bottom-ranked countries were Libya, Syria, Algeria, Sudan, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen and Djibouti.

Increased economic freedom is the solution that will unleash the drive and ingenuity of the whole population and power Arab nations into a new era of prosperity and opportunity. This is a necessity for even resource-rich states as they move to diversify, said Fred McMahon, a Fraser Institute resident fellow.

“Economic freedom supports these goals directly and by boosting prosperity. Prosperity, in turn, supports both democracy, stability and the further growth of freedom. True economic freedom also combats corruption. When people are economically free, they may do what they like economically,” McMahon said.

According to the report, economic freedom dramatically reduces poverty. In the least free nations, over 30 per cent of the population suffers extreme poverty – defined as $1.90 a day – and over 50 per cent suffers moderate poverty – $3.20 a day. In the freest nations, 1.48 per cent of the population suffers $1.90-a-day poverty and only 4.31 per cent suffer $3.20-a-day poverty.

Mahmood Bangara, chairman, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (Dubai chapter), said the UAE has an open economy with relatively simpler employment regulations and an open and vibrant capital markets.

“Reforms adopted in previous years have created a relatively efficient and well-functioning regulatory system, free of corruption. E-governance and automation too have been superb, avoiding wastage of time, which will make business efficient, with phenomenal infrastructural developments,” he said.

Bangara pointed out that the cost of manpower is relatively higher and called for affordable housing for SME employees.

“The businesses deserve protection from the rental increase as the cost of business must be at the level or below par with peer international cities. Partial privatisation of state-owned enterprises and opening to foreign investors with independent regulators could be a boost. Foreign ownership may be widened in various sectors,” he suggested.

Jitendra Gianchandani, chairman, Jitendra Chartered Accountants, said the UAE ranked top regionally mainly due to higher government spending, government integrity and judicial effectiveness, business freedom, trade freedom, investment freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom, fiscal health, etc.

Also, the UAE has outpaced other Arab countries in the region when it comes to lifestyle, infrastructure and balanced investment in human resources, education, health and welfare of the society, he said.

“To realise the ambitious goal to be a tourism hub and global trade destination, the UAE should equally invest in soft and hard infrastructure, increase the private sector contribution and liberalise financial, real estate and cyber sectors to attract more foreign investments. Making the legal system more independent and effective is the need of the hour,” Gianchandani said.

According to the Fraser Institute’s study, the per capita income of least free economies is around $5,649 while residents of most free economies enjoy on average $40,376 per capita income.

Nimish Makvana, senior partner, Crowe UAE, said the UAE is one of the Gulf’s most liberal countries with a constitution that allows freedom of religion.

“When competition is global rather than local, the UAE is staying ahead of rivals by constantly improving its business laws, developing innovative concepts and employing the latest technology,” he said.

Makvana noted that for any economy, the key driving factors are finance and real estate sectors to attract foreign investors and tourists. And it is important to enhance the legal and regulatory framework to further strengthen investor confidence.

Dollar out – India, UAE to trade in their currencies

In a landmark move, the UAE and India on Tuesday inked a currency swap agreement, which allows rupee and dirham for businesses, instead of dollar.

With nearly $50 billion bilateral trade, the two countries are one of the largest trade partners and have made robust investments bilaterally. The latest development will be a big boost to import and export trade.

The agreement to this effect was inked during the 2-day visit by Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. The minister co-chaired the 12th session of the UAE-India Joint Commission Meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan held at the ministry’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi.

Both leaders agreed to boost cooperation in trade, security and defence. The leaders also decided to strengthen their resolve to combat extremism and terrorism in all its forms, regardless of the perpetrators and their intent.

Sheikh Abdullah said the UAE has always shared strong historical ties with India and the bilateral ties are based on mutual respect and trust, which are aimed at enhancing mutual benefit of the people.

Swaraj congratulated the leadership, government and the people of the UAE on the occasion of the celebration of the National Day.

The ministers also oversaw memorandums of understandings signed for development of cooperation in Africa between both the ministries and the currency swap agreement inked between the Central Bank on UAE and the Reserve Bank in India.

Mohammed Ali bin Zayed Al Falasi, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of UAE; and Navdeep Singh Suri, UAE Ambassador to India, signed the agreement.

Separately, Mohamed Sharaf, Assistant Minister for Economic and Commercial Affairs at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; and T.S. Tirumurti, Secretary for Economic Affairs at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, led the Senior Officials Meeting which saw a series of discussions held under 8 subcommittees. The topics included bilateral matters, consular field, space, education, agriculture and livestock and development cooperation, civil aviation, and economic and trade, investments, banking and finance cooperation.

How emerging technology will impact various key industries

Robotics, drones, and cloud computing are some of the technologies that will take center stage as economies across the UAE develop, experts said.

The Autodesk Futures Forum on Wednesday welcomed hundreds of architects, designers, engineers, and digital artists from around the region to experience ‘the future of making’ at the YasConference Center in Abu Dhabi.

The event focused on how future technologies will disrupt and change the way industry experts can showcase their evolving excellence to realise the goals outlined in the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 and UAE Vision 2021. The event comes after a successful inaugural launch held at the IMG Worlds of Adventure last year in Dubai.

The forum provided a platform for industry experts across region to explore future trends in strategic sectors such as architecture, construction, engineering, industries shaping Abu Dhabi’s majestic skyline. The event has previously featured industry leaders whose endeavours embody the emerging future, including former US president Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mohammad Saleh, regional manager at Autodesk Middle East, said: “As the global population rapidly increases, it is evident we are facing the biggest challenge we have ever seen. There will be almost 9.5 billion people in the world by 2050, an exponential growth that we won’t be able to accommodate using today’s technologies.”

“We must find different ways to build more with less, at a much faster rate. I cannot think of a more fitting venue to explore and discover such ground-breaking technologies and innovations than at YasMarina, most known for the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – a representation of ultimate speed and agility of the most technologically-advanced sport around.”

Some of the topics discussed at the event included robotics, drones, additive manufacturing, reality capture, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and much more.

Emerging technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality were also highlighted throughout the event via multiple sessions and hands-on experiences.

In line with Abu Dhabi’s core commitment to build a sustainable and diversified economy by 2030, Khalfan Al Noaimi, executive director of town planning at Abu Dhabi Municipality, briefed the attendees about upcoming Building Information Modelling initiatives including the launch of BIM e-Submission and BIM e-review systems.

These initiatives come as part of the recently launched Zayed Smart City Project, a five-year plan for Smart cities and AI.

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