GULF STATES| ECONOMICS & FINANCE
Dubai’s private sector continues to foster innovation
Companies across Dubai are increasing their efforts to foster innovation, reflected by the 4.7 percent improvement in the innovation score of Dubai’s private sector over the 2017-2018 period, new analysis conducted by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry has revealed. Released on the occasion of UAE Innovation Month, the analysis showed Dubai’s private sector innovation score rising to 64.4 percent in 2018, marking a 13 percent improvement compared to 2015. Based on the feedback of 1,600 Dubai-based companies, the analysis identified several areas where Dubai’s private sector saw improvement, including accessing new ideas, developing new products and services, technology readiness, and talent and organisational culture. These findings underline the efforts of Dubai-based companies to keep pace with the rapid innovation-related developments and implement innovative initiatives to enhance their competitiveness. The analysis found that in 2018, growth and revenue generation saw an improved score of 48.9 percent compared to 40.8 percent in 2017, recording a 19.7 percent growth. With regards to new products and services, it showed that the private sector grew by 15.5 percent in 2018 compared to 2017, while its technology readiness rose by 15.6 percent to reach 66.8 percent in 2018.
Update Emirates ID today or lose your bank access
The UAE Central Bank’s ruling to have Emirates ID details of all resident banking customers updated will contribute to enforcing best practice KYC (know your customer) in the financial sector and in helping banks have standardised and current identity documentation for their customers, he added. By the end of December 2018, there were 22 national banks, 38 foreign banks (including wholesale banks) and eight Islamic banks. Among the 38 foreign banks, six are GCC banks. There were 743 branches operated by the national banks and 80 branches by foreign banks across the country. Geoff Stecyk, chief operating officer at RAKBank, said in line with the recently circulated UAE central bank memo requesting banking and financial institutions to update their customers’ personal information, RAKBank has prompted all its customers to update their details by following a few quick and easy steps using one of the bank’s multiple channels like digital banking, SMS update, branches, IVR and ATMs.
Ceramics major Porcelanosa eyeing huge growth in UAE
The UAE is a promising growth market for the construction industry due to huge government spending on infrastructure ahead of Expo 2020 Dubai, which will drive business and economic activity in the country, according to an industry official. Ammar Hayani, managing director of Porcelanosa Dubai, said companies in the construction material business will have a good time ahead after a slowdown in the region last year. He is confident of the bright outlook for the company in the GCC in general and the UAE in particular due to massive infrastructure spending in the region.
Sheikh Mohamed visits Samsung R&D centre in South Korea
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, visited the Samsung Device Solutions Research Centre in Hwaseong, South Korea. As part of the visit, Sheikh Mohamed toured Samsung’s fifth-generation semiconductor showroom and production line. He also met Lee Jae-yong, vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics, where they discussed means to enhance cooperation between UAE companies and Samsung, specifically in fifth-generation communications, semiconductors and AI technologies. The tour also included a live demonstration of the latest Samsung technologies, including an unmanned aircraft flying over the Hwaseong centre that captured 360-degree, high-definition video footage, and transferred to virtual reality goggles, which Sheikh Mohamed wore as part of the demonstration, showcasing the speed and stability of 5G communications and the simultaneous transmission of HD video content on the latest K8 QLED television screen.
UAE quickly emerging as a preferred investment destination
Given how uncertain and volatile the global economic and political landscape currently is, with market uncertainty pervasive and investor confidence deteriorating, global private equity firms are on the lookout for stable, new markets where they can be certain not just of promising returns on investment but also an investor-friendly regime. As a result, the UAE, with its pro-business environment, excellent infrastructure, relatively diversified economy and political stability, is quickly emerging as a preferred investment destination, renowned international investors Laurence Fink and Henry Kravis said at a panel discussion hosted at the Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed.
Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum business award winners honoured
The 10th edition of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum (MRM) Business Award and the 2nd cycle of the MRM Business Innovation Award was held in Dubai on Tuesday where more than two dozen companies from the UAE and other Gulf countries were honoured for their excellence and innovation in their respective fields. Gulf Petrochemical Industries Co. was named “Outstanding Winner” for MRM Business Award while Enoc Retail bagged “Outstanding Winner” award in MRM Business Innovation Award category. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Emirates Airline and Chief Executive of the Emirates Group, awarded the winners. More than 1,500 delegates, including dignitaries, government officials, and business leaders from the UAE and GCC attended the event. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, UAE Minister of Economy and Chairman of Panel of Judges for the MRM Business Award and MRM Business Innovation Award, said the awards have fostered a culture of excellence within business communities in the UAE and GCC, facilitated the adoption of best practices and raised industry standards.
UAE bets on AI in education
After playing a video for students, Alef asks them some questions. Based on their answers, Alef assesses the students’ understanding of the concepts, and recommends further reading material. They then answer follow-up questions and participate in group activities to develop their understanding of the subject matter further. After 12 months of this experiment, about 240 Grade 6 students in Abu Dhabi excelled in their studies. While English scores improved by 27 percent, Math results soared by 78 percent. This is all thanks to Alef, an AI (artificial intelligence) education system. The UAE is a regional pioneer in incorporating AI for economic development. Ever since the formation of the UAE AI Council in 2017, the government has organised various initiatives, such as workshops and field visits, to raise awareness about the importance of employing AI in the advancement of the country.
First self-driving car made in UAE
UAE-based automotive company W Motors’ has announced the unveiling of MUSE at Auto Shanghai 2019 on April 16. The fully-electric MUSE features a Level 4 / Level 5 autonomous driving system, innovative user interfaces and cloud-computed connectivity, as well as several interior configurations catering to different business needs and consumer requirements. It will be fully produced in Dubai, UAE by W Motors at the all-new production facility of which the first phase is set to be completed in the last quarter of 2019. Pioneers of the future of driving, W Motors is the first and only automotive developer in the Middle East – in partnership with sister company ICONIQ Motors – to release a self-driving vehicle, designed to be on the road for EXPO 2020 in Dubai. MUSE was developed by W Motors and ICONIQ Motors in collaboration with international partners AKKA Technologies, Magna Steyr and Microsoft USA, each offering highly specialized and cutting-edge technologies in the realm of advanced autonomous driving solutions. With its name deriving from the greek goddesses of inspiration, all elements of the MUSE create a balanced harmony of the science and art of automotive technology and functionally aesthetic design.
Emirates NBD ranked no.1 UAE banking brand
Dubai-based Emirates NBD on Sunday said it has been positioned as the UAE’s most valuable banking brand with a $4.04 billion valuation in The Banker’s annual brand valuation league table. The lender also secured a spot among the top 100 global banking brands and was ranked second in the Middle East and Africa region. Emirates NBD was ranked 76th worldwide on the Brand Finance Banking 500 list. “Our brand value reflects our robust financial performance as well as our collective efforts and ongoing initiatives in customer service, product development, corporate social responsibility, marketing and others. As we prepare for Expo 2020 Dubai next year, Emirates NBD will remain at the forefront with its initiatives to simplify banking, aiming to deliver a modern technology-driven banking experience with the human touch,” said Shayne Nelson, group CEO of Emirates NBD.
Why Middle East oil nations are on solid ground in 2019
Middle East oil economies are on a strong footing in 2019 despite faltering oil prices following the best year in five years, analysts at PwC Middle East said. Stronger oil prices in most of 2018, combined with the fiscal and structural reforms that were developed during the low parts of the commodities cycle, including subsidy cuts, put these economies on a more stable footing for 2019, PwC said in the latest issue of the Middle East Economy Watch. “2018 was the best in five years for Middle East oil exporters, driven by two main factors – rising oil prices and increased government spending,” noted Richard Boxshall, senior economist at PwC Middle East. “This combination of stronger prices, as well as fiscal and structural reforms put these economies on a solid footing for 2019, despite a weaker final quarter marked by increased geopolitical risks and oil prices falling into correction by year’s end.” The report said oil market developments are likely to be the dominant economic driver for the region once again in 2019, following the sharp decline in prices in the final months of 2018 and Opec and its allies agreeing to cut output by 1.2 million barrels a day in November. “Weaker oil would put pressure on expenditure in countries with higher break-even prices. This includes Saudi Arabia, whose 2019 budget envisages a 20 percent increase in capex and a 7 percent overall increase compared with the 2018 outturn. However, Saudi Arabia’s low debt level [about 19 percent of GDP] means it can finance a larger deficit if needed, although it is still aiming to balance its budget by 2023,” said the report.
UAE to invest in petrochem, oil facilities in India
The UAE said on Monday that it is looking at investing more in refining and petrochemical projects in India, as well as pumping more crude oil into the latter’s strategic petroleum reserves. Speaking to reporters after receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Petrotech 2019 global energy conference from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, UAE Minister of State and CEO of Adnoc Dr Sultan bin Ahmad Sultan Al Jaber said his country is looking to go beyond only selling crude to India and wants to develop a strategic partnership. “We are looking at expanding investment portfolio in the downstream sectors, especially in oil refining and petrochemicals,” he said. “We are looking at strategic partnership, given that we can also bring our own crude. India is not only an important market for us… it is a very strategic partner.” The proposed $44 billion Ratnagiri refinery project in Maharashtra has Adnoc and Saudi Arabian national oil company Aramco as overseas strategic partners.