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Dubai customs, Indian firms explore ways to promote trade

Dubai Customs’ director Ahmed Mahboob Musabih and Indian Consul-General in Dubai Vipul have explored ways of enhancing trade with India and tackling any challenges that may face the companies of both countries. This was discussed during the visit of a delegation headed by Vipul and included a number of businessmen, and representatives of Dubai-based Indian companies. The move is part of Dubai Customs ‘Ertebaat’ Programme. At the meeting, Musabih highlighted the role Dubai Customs plays to develop and promote relationships with foreign business councils in support of Dubai’s economy. He pointed out there are 4,500 Indian companies operating successfully in the UAE and hoped 2019 will see the signing of a mutual Authorised Economic Operator, AEO, recognition agreement between the UAE and India. The Dubai Customs AEO programme, which now serves 40 companies, facilitates business and covers both security and compliance. The number of these companies is expected to rise, especially with plans to host the 5th WCO Global AEO Conference in 2020, which will be in conjunction with Expo 2020 Dubai. “Dubai offers investors and businesses working from Dubai all what they need to succeed. This includes highly advanced customs services and products which will help towards a better achievement of Dubai Plan 2021,” Musabih said.

UAE Economic Statistics
GDP Annual Growth Rate (%)0.8Dec/173
Unemployment Rate (%)1.72Dec/171.64
Inflation Rate (%)1.3Nov/181.6
Interest Rate (%)2.75Dec/182.5
Balance of Trade (AED Million)315100Dec/17251400
Current Account (AED Million)971000Dec/1748500
Current Account to GDP (%)7.3Dec/173.8
Government Debt to GDP (%)20.7Dec/1720.7
Government Budget (% of GDP)-2.6Dec/17-3.9
Manufacturing PMI54Dec/1855.8
Consumer Confidence (Index Points)111Sep/18116
Anxiety about retirement higher among UAE residents: survey

The more you work, the more you earn and less are the worries. But this might not be true here in the UAE, reveals a new survey. According to a survey conducted by KPMG in eight countries, UAE residents work longer than those in China, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and France, but still their anxiety level about retirement is higher than the people residing and working in those Western countries. The survey results conducted in its Me, My Life, My Wallet report revealed that around 54 per cent of UAE residents feel that they work too much or more than they’d like to, second only to India. People in the UAE work 5.5 days per week on average compared to 5.7 days in India. Those in China and Brazil work 5.3 days per week on average, 5.30 in France, 4.9 in the US, 4.8 in Canada and 4.7 in the UK. When it comes to retirement, 32 per cent of UAE consumers report a high level of anxiety compared to 28 per cent in Canada and India and 25 per cent in France and US, said Willy J. Kruh, global chairman for consumer and retail at KPMG. Ambareen Musa, CEO of souqalmal.com, attributed the higher anxiety level because expats don’t have families and they don’t really get time to play and spend time with their them. Another component is that their career level in the UAE is different from their home country.

The AI gap: why the middle east needs to disrupt businesses now

The evolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI) throughout the years has revealed a tremendous and transformative impact on entire industries, organisations and life itself. The Middle East has not been immune to this disruption, with the UAE recently appointing the world’s first AI minister to develop and execute the country’s national AI strategy. Corporations have now reached a turning point whereby the disruptive force of AI technology no longer hinges on whether or not a specific sector is currently undergoing digitisation. The key revelation around AI that we should all be mindful of – is if we want to progress as entities – is that the technology has now matured to a level where it is set to disrupt almost any technology-based industry; regardless of future progress in the field. This makes a strong case for paying attention to AI as a top national and business priority. Are Middle East business leaders doing so? A recent survey of over 3,000 global business executives, conducted jointly by MIT Sloan Management Review and The Boston Consulting Group, paints a revealing picture of global ambitions and expectations for AI, as well as the actions taken or planned to engage on the topic. While most global executives said they had not perceived any substantial impact of AI on their business, a majority – 63 per cent – expect AI to play a major role within the next five years. Interestingly, a different picture emerges when zooming in on Middle East executives’ responses. Expectations are higher for the short term, with 23 per cent believing AI already has a large impact on their organisation (9 per cent higher than the global average) and slightly lower for the five-year horizon (58 per cent versus 63 per cent).


Accounting firm Morison Menon joins Kreston

Dubai-based Morison Menon, one of the region’s largest accounting and professional services firm, has rebranded itself as Kreston Menon after aligning with Kreston International.

Raju Menon, chairman and managing partner, Kreston Menon, said this decision has been taken to move from an association to a forum of firms which will help the company to have access to knowledge and resources of Kreston.

“Kreston has 25,000 people with presence in more than 130 countries and turnover of over $2.3 billion, Around 60 to 70 per cent of Kreston members are large entities. So, when we move to this network, we will have access to knowledge and resources globally. This is the advantage of the network,” he said.

However, there will be changes made to the management team. Menon said the company will disassociate itself from Bahrain and Oman.

Kreston International members include big industry players.

Menon revealed that Kreston Menon will also be part of the UAE’s Expo 2020 pavilion.

Safiya Haji, partner, Kreston Menon, said the company is fully geared up to meet the opportunities that Expo 2020 will bring to Dubai and the UAE.

UAE leads Mena startups sees demand for more funding

The UAE has proved to remain the most active ecosystem in 2018 and this has been affirmed by Magnitt’s 2018 Mena Venture Investment Report.

The UAE has maintained its dominance thanks to continued government support, corporate venture interest and growing investor appetite for startups. The report states that 30 per cent of all transactions were made in to UAE-headquartered startups in 2018, while it also accounted for 70 per cent of total funding.

Egypt was the fastest growing ecosystem in 2018 – receiving the 2nd highest number of deals at 22 per cent of all deals, up 7 per cent from 2017. Lebanon, ranked third by number of transactions with 10 per cent, saw the highest fall in deal flow compared to 2017, with a 4 per cent drop.

MAGNiTT, Mena’s leading data platform tracking the region’s startup ecosystem, released their annual 2018 Mena Venture Investment Report, which provides an in depth analysis of startup funding across the Mena. The report highlights strong growth with a record number of transactions and an increase in total funding across Mena-based startups, up 31 per cent from 2017. Philip Bahoshy, MAGNiTT founder and CEO, said: “This is an extremely positive signal. 2018 saw more international investors enter the foray than before, new accelerator programs created the region, multiple government initiatives spurring innovation and established regional Venture Capital firms closing out new funds to deploy further capital. The 2018 has seen more later stage investment deals at Series B and beyond than ever before and we expect this trend to continue into 2019 as startups scale to get closer to exits.”

2018 saw 366 investments in Mena -based startups, which amounted to $893 million of total funding.

Emirates, other airlines test new system for passengers to buy tickets

Emirates airline participated in a live test of a new airline ticket purchasing system designed by the global aviation body International Air Transport Association (Iata), which will make buying airline tickets online easier and quicker.

As part of an industry-supported initiative, Iata conducted the live test successfully of Iata Pay in which direct debit transactions payments are made from the customer’s bank account directly into the bank account of the merchant.

The testing process will initially be rolled out in German early 2019 and will be expanded to other regions later.

Apart from Emirates airline, Cathay Pacific Airways and Scandinavian Airlines were part of the live test conducted with ipagoo under European Commission’s second Payment Services Directive, and the UK’s Open Banking regulation.

This new method is more secured and cost-efficient for airlines as compared to other alternatives and will result in fewer lost sales, Iata said on Tuesday.

“Today’s consumers, and especially millennials, have expectations of multiple payment options including mobile and peer-to-peer. Iata Pay responds to these expectations. At the same time, airlines are trying to manage significant card payment costs – $8 billion per year and rising. A large part of this cost is incurred in direct purchases from airline websites. One of Iata’s strategic objectives is to support airlines’ financial sustainability including controlling costs,” said Aleksander Popovich, Iata’s senior vice-president of financial and distribution services.

Saj Ahmad, an analyst at London’s StrategicAero Research, said airlines are always looking for avenues to slash costs and ticketing can be a cumbersome process.

Direct debit fund movements eliminate a sizeable portion of costs and thereby provide increased revenues for airlines. While customers know that their payment(s) will be processed immediately, dispensing the need of any intermediary. Direct ticket distribution is a key desire for all airlines if they could make it work. Processes like this actually prove beneficial for customers and airlines alike,” said Ahmad.


Air Arabia launches Sharjah-Belgrade flights

Air Arabia will commence direct flights to Serbia’s capital city, Belgrade, from Sharjah. The direct flights will start from June 28 and return flights to Belgrade will operate four times a week, every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

On Tuesdays and Fridays, flights will depart Sharjah International Airport (SHJ) at 09:00 hours arriving at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport (BEG) at 13:00 local time, while return flights departs Belgrade at 13:40 hours, arriving to Sharjah at 21:00 hours local time.

On Thursdays and Saturdays, the scheduled departure time from Sharjah is 15:45 hours, arriving to Belgrade at 19:45 hours local time, while the return flight with depart from Belgrade at 21:45, arriving to Sharjah at 05:05 local time the following day.

Dubai creek harbour launches palace residences

Dubai Creek Harbour has announced the launch of Palace Residences, a five-star waterfront branded residence development.

The residences are only steps away from two waterfront destinations – Creek Marina and the Creek Beach. Located on the promenade, the homes offer unobstructed views of the iconic Dubai Creek Tower and Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary. They are also in walking distance of Dubai Square. Palace Residences bring a boutique waterfront living experience for residents with branded 1, 2, 3 and 4-bedroom apartments. The homes will be serviced on demand by Address Hotels + Resorts.

Investors will have several benefits including 5-year property management services by Emaar, 50 per cent discount on membership at the Palace Dubai Creek Harbour Spa and pool, as well as a 25 per cent discount on food and beverage at the hotel’s outlets.

Palace Residences are adjacent to the upcoming 121-room Palace Dubai Creek Harbour hotel featuring a range of dining choices and luxury hotel services. An architectural landmark, Palace Dubai Creek Harbour and Palace Residences are housed in two contemporary 44-storey towers rising above the Creek Canal and Creek Beach. With Palace Residences, investors and homeowners become part of a thriving neighbourhood, as the first homes in Dubai Creek Harbour are scheduled for hand-over early in 2019. Over 5,000 residents are set to move in to their homes in Creek Marina this year, with over 12,750 residents to move in next year.

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