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UAE consumers careful about spending in q3

Consumers across the UAE and Saudi Arabia were increasingly cautious about their spending in the third quarter of 2018, new research by Nielsen has shown.

The data showed that both the resource-rich economies generally enjoy high levels of confidence; however, consumer confidence in the third quarter of 2018 witnessed a marginal decline by one point in Saudi Arabia and five points in the UAE, compared to levels recorded in the second quarter of the year.

Nielsen’s research also pointed out that consumers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are generally optimistic about their personal financial situation, but that they have also expressed some concern about job prospects and are largely cautious regarding their spending.

Pakistan recorded the highest confidence level in the region and it also had the highest improvement in confidence over the previous quarter – an increase of 11 points.

Experts have pointed out that the retail industry across the Middle East continues to record a steady performance, especially in the UAE. According to Robert Half UAE, over the last 15 years, the fastest growing sectors within the UAE have been the hospitality and retail sectors. The UAE continues to see strong demand from international brands that are looking to open retail outlets, pushing the region into position as the seventh most popular destination for retail expansion.

In addition, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry reported that the retail sector is expected to exceed a $71 billion sales turnover by 2021, despite the introduction of the value-added tax (VAT).

Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of the Dubai Festivals & Retail Establishment, agreed that the introduction of VAT was a “great challenge” for the industry, but the fact that the rate was decided at a “mere five per cent” helped consumers to quickly get used to it.

“Today, consumers don’t even notice the tax,” he said. “All of them understand why it was introduced and know the benefits of the tax. In addition, VAT is a great exercise in improving efficiencies across the retail sector.”

UAE inflation falls further in November

Annual inflation in the UAE dropped to 1.3 per cent in November from 1.6 per cent in October because of a weak housing market, figures from the statistics agency showed.

Housing and utility costs fell 5.3 per cent from a year ago in November. Food and beverage prices rose 1.8 per cent while transport costs increased 8.8 per cent because of rising domestic gasoline prices.

Job hunters in UAE flock to tech giants

Job hunters across the UAE gravitated towards online job listings in technology companies more than any other company in 2018, new research by LinkedIn has shown.

Four of the most-viewed jobs of 2018, including the two highest ranked, were at technology-related multinational corporations including Amazon that took the first spot, followed by ABB at the second spot. Huawei Technologies made it to the fourth position on the list and Temenos secured the eighth position.

Ali Matar, head of LinkedIn Emerging Markets, Middle East & Africa, said: “It should come as no surprise that the technology industry is the most popular option for UAE jobseekers, especially as the country continues to drive its tech ambitions.”

The top 10 most popular jobs on LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, received over 940,000 views in the past year, underscoring the UAE’s status as the leading technology hub in the Middle East. The top spot went to the ‘Business Development Manager’ role at Amazon, which collected more than 124,000 views.

Earlier in March, the American e-commerce giant had clinched the top spot in LinkedIn’s 2018 Top Companies to work for in the US, based on reach, engagement, job interest and new hire staying power.

The position of ‘Lead Engineer Railway’ at ABB came close on the heels of Amazon, with over 121,000 views, followed by ‘Front Office Assistant’ at Marriott Hotels Dubai Marina Complex with around 115,000 LinkedIn user views. Property developers Emaar and Majid Al Futtaim also featured on the list, with ‘Arabic Speaking Customer Service Officer’ and ‘Personal Assistant’ roles, respectively.

Tax waiver for industrial imports in Abu Dhabi

The Industrial Development Bureau of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (Added) and the General Administration of Customs in Abu Dhabi have announced implementing an immediate exemption of imported industrial inputs from customs duties. These include raw material, machinery, equipment and spare parts. The move is implemented as part of the stimulus that Added provides to the industry sector in Abu Dhabi. It was announced during a media briefing in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Ali Alhumami, director of industrial organisation department at the Industrial Development Bureau, and a number of officials from the General Administration of Abu Dhabi Customs were present. Ali Alhumami said that immediate exemption of imported industrial inputs from customs duties relies upon the yearly balance system of beneficiaries via direct e-connection between the systems used by the General Administration of Customs in Abu Dhabi and Industrial Development Bureau. He said the volume of transactions pertaining to exempting industrial inputs from customs duties received by Industrial Development Bureau in 2017 amounted to 26,000 transactions with a total value of Dh1.5 billion. These are most affordable areas to live in Abu Dhabi The Abu Dhabi property market has seen sales and rents decrease on average for apartments and villas. Only certain areas in the emirate have seen a significant price change, according to a recent report by Bayut, a property portal. Al Reem Island is the post popular community for apartment sales while the most popular area for villa sales is Al Reef. For apartments, the most significant price changes occurred in Al Raha Beach, where 2-bedroom units have seen prices fall by 10 per cent, from an average of Dh2 million in H1 to Dh1.8 million now. The sale prices for apartments in Al Reem remain largely stable. When compared to H1, studio apartments in the area have seen the biggest decrease of 6.5 per cent from an average of Dh620,000 to Dh580,000 now. The average prices for 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments are Dh950,000 and Dh1.5 million, respectively. Al Reef remains the most popular among buyers for villas. Prices have remained stable throughout H2, with only a slight decrease. Mohammed Bin Zayed City is the most popular community for apartment rents. For villa rents, Khalifa City A is the most popular. Khalifa City A has seen the most significant changes in apartment rents. Two-bedroom units have seen a fall in rents from an average of Dh80,000 in H1 to Dh67,000 now. For villas, 5-bedroom units in Al Muroor have dropped in rents by 9.5 per cent from Dh210,000 in H1 to Dh190,000 now. Mohammed Bin Zayed City remains the most popular area for apartment rents, and compared to H1, studios and 1-bedroom units in the area have seen a decline of 10.7 per cent and 11.1 per cent, respectively. You can find studios for an average rent of Dh25,000, while 1-bedroom units are being offered at a price of Dh40,000. Khalifa City A remains the most popular area for villa rentals in Abu Dhabi, and prices have experienced minor changes, standing at Dh130,000 for 3-bedroom units and Dh165,000 for 4-bedroom units, while 5-bedroom averages at Dh175,000. Haider Ali Khan, CEO of Bayut, said: “Abu Dhabi is still a favourable market for investors and tenants. Property prices in the capital city remain on a downtrend that continues from H1 and Q3. However, as the price changes have remained marginal, it heralds the possibility of a change in investor outlook.”

 

UAE signs protocol to amend aviation agreement

Fahad Saeed Al Raqbani, the UAE’s ambassador to Canada, has signed the Protocol for Amending the Agreement Concerning Offences and Acts Committed on Board Aircrafts approved in Montreal, Canada. The protocol expands the grounds of jurisdiction by recognising, under certain conditions, the competence of the state of landing and the state operator to exercise jurisdiction over offences and acts on board aircrafts. The establishment of such jurisdiction over offences is mandatory if the criteria set out in the protocol are met. The protocol extends legal recognition and certain protection to in-flight security officers and contains provisions for coordination among states to protect air transportation. Al Raqbani stressed the necessity of this protocol, saying: “The UAE is one of the supporting countries to the protocol and took part in drafting it through an expert team from the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA). The UAE is a strong advocate of international aviation security, removing all obstacles before it, and cooperation between the member states in securing air transport.” The signature took place at the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) headquarters in Montreal, and was attended by ICAO’s Secretary General Fanj Liu; Sheikh Sultan bin Saeed Al Nahyan, GCAA’s Director General; Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Ayesha Al Hamili, the UAE’s Permanent Representative at ICAO’s Council; Hamad Al Muhairi, the Assistant Director General for Aviation Security Affairs at GCAA; Mohammad Salem, the UAE Alternate Representative at the ICAO Council; Saeed Al Suwaidi of GCAA DG Office Manager; Mohammed Al Shamsi, Third Secretary at the UAE Embassy in Canada, ICAO’s legal affairs director; and the accompanying delegation. Fanj Liu hailed the UAE’s efforts for signing the protocol and the continuous support the UAE has shown for ICAO, and the member states. The General Civil Aviation Authority is the federal authority which manages and regulates the UAE airspace and the aviation sector in order to serve the public in a dynamic and thriving aviation environment.

ARAMCO sets up fuel retail subsidiary

Saudi Aramco is establishing a domestic fuel retailing subsidiary as part of the national oil company’s drive to expand beyond crude oil production into downstream businesses. The new firm, Saudi Aramco Retail Co, will create a network of filling stations within Saudi Arabia to sell automotive fuels, Aramco said on Wednesday, without giving details of the size, cost or time-frame for the network. In April, Aramco said it had signed a memorandum of understanding with French firm Total to evaluate the feasibility of jointly buying a retail service station network in Saudi Arabia. But Wednesday’s statement did not mention Total or the possibility of buying existing stations. The new Saudi network will complement a global retail network which Aramco already operates through joint ventures, the company said. In the long run, the new retail subsidiary could help Saudi authorities conduct an initial public offer of shares in Aramco. Aramco is now focusing on a range of downstream projects, including the purchase of a major stake in petrochemical producer Saudi Basic Industries, which could boost its value and attractiveness to international investors, ultimately allowing the IPO to go ahead.

Abu Dhabi global market seeks to streamline auditing industry

The Registration Authority of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and the Ministry of Economy have agreed to cooperate more with respect to the registration and supervision of auditors with the aim of promoting high standards of financial audits in the UAE. To this effect, an MoU was signed by Dhaher bin Dhaher Al Mheiri, CEO of the Registration Authority of ADGM, and Humaid bin Butti Al Muhairi, Assistant Undersecretary for Commercial Affairs, Ministry of Economy. Al Muhairi said: “This strategic MoU between ADGM and the Ministry of Economy facilitates the exchange of information and expertise between both parties. The MoU also seeks to align the country’s auditing standards with global best practices and ensure that auditing companies comply with internationally accepted legal and organisational requirements.” Al Mheiri said: “Our goal is to ensure that the highest standards of quality are maintained when it comes to auditing, by pursuing best practices and increasing transparency. Through this agreement, ADGM and the Ministry of Economy will work hand in hand to coordinate on the oversight and development of the audit profession.”

8 tips to capture great Christmas photos in Dubai

Christmas is mere hours away, but the celebrations have long begun. It’s one of those occasions in which you can see and feel it everywhere, thanks to the decors we see all around, the greetings we give to each other, the parties and meals shared and, of course, the presents we send and receive. Our smartphones are our companion here, ready to capture those moments. Debbie Fortes, a Dubai-based photographer who wields the iPhone XR, shares eight of her tips to get those “merry” shots. With all the sparkling lights, taking photos during Christmas means taking advantage of the natural and intimate moments available in every corner of the season. Your flash can do wonders, but using natural light when possible is always a great idea. This will allow you to highlight all the details in better lighting, giving your images that natural look and feel. Before you snap away, take a precious little moment to focus on your subject by tapping on it until your camera locks in; the result will be crisper, avoiding any blur in the process. And also, don’t overcrowd your shot; it would take away the impact. Fun and cosy portraits are a staple on occasions like this. Try to experiment with candles for a warmer background. After taking your shot, try adjusting the depth of field effect to give it more drama.

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