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GULF STATES – ECONOMICS & FINANCE
Emirates steel signs agreement with finnish company

Emirates Steel has signed an agreement with Finnish company, Ecofer, due to take effect in 2020, which will provide Emirates Steel with sustainable slag management services for the next 10 years, in line with the company’s long-term commitment and objective of eventually producing zero waste.

Under this new agreement, signed in Abu Dhabi between the CEO of Emirates Steel, Saeed Al Remeithi, and the managing partner of Ecofer Technologies, Ismail Fahmy, Ecofer will process slag from Emirates Steel’s Electric Arc Furnace and Ladle Furnace. The slag, which will be crushed down to one to five millimeter granules, will be sold as raw product for the construction industry, after any remaining metals have been extracted from the slag. In addition to waste slag, Ecofer will also process refractory, heat-resistant materials which are exhausted during manufacturing.

With this new agreement, Emirates Steel’s slag will be processed and recycled more efficiently. This will enable the company to continue delivering high quality products at competitive costs to customers around the world, while further enhancing the sustainability of its operations by facilitating the reuse of slag as construction material.

Emirates Steel has been recycling its Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) slag product since 2014, producing roughly 2,800,000 tons of EAF slag over the past five years and successfully selling it for use in the construction industry.

Finding balance and reflection in life during ramadan through the lens

In the holy month of Ramadan, finding balance in life can come in so many different ways. Two photographers from the region found just that in what they do best – capturing moments that encapsulate the season.

Ramadan has always been a time when people take a moment to find a renewed sense of balance in life, and kickstart a month of good habits and positivity. To maintain this sense of balance throughout the holy month, social relationships, physical activity and spiritual connection should all be taken to account, and how they affect your daily routine.

Mansour Alsofi and Ola Allouz find all these, plus their passion for photography, a perfect mix.

“Ramadan is based on the principle of balance. Unfortunately, there are many who go against the values of Ramadan by over-eating, staying up too late and watching TV excessively,” Alsofi, from Saudi Arabia, says.

He adds that “switching off” by spending quality time with family and friends and being mindful of your activity can help one achieve a greater sense of balance during the season.

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The luxury closet closes growth funding round

The Luxury Closet, an e-commerce platform for pre-owned luxury goods, has completed its growth funding round by securing additional capital that brings the total round to around $11 million.

The second closing was led by Knuru Capital, a newly set-up fund that invests in global digital disruptors, which will now become a key shareholder in the e-commerce platform together with two of the main Middle East and North Africa-focused VC funds and existing shareholders, Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP) and Wamda Capital.

The Luxury Closet also announced its expansion into Hong Kong, with a partnership with Guiltless.com, which was founded by Yen Kuok. The Luxury Closet will be taking over the operations of Guiltless.com.

With the completion of this fundraising round, The Luxury Closet is now fully equipped to continue revolutionising how Middle Eastern consumers purchase luxury goods in a trustworthy online marketplace. The transaction contains a secondary portion as well that allows MEVP’s seed vehicle, MEVF I, to provide its limited partners an initial return on their investment. MEVP still remains as the biggest single shareholder in The Luxury Closet.

IBPC helps al noor training centre with dh100k donation

The Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC) has donated Dh100,000 to Al Noor Training Centre Dubai to help the non-profit organisation overcome financial challenges.

The IBPC held its annual Suhoor at Al Noor Training Centre on Sunday to support the organisation, where around 250 students are undergoing training with more than half of them from India.

“Ramadan is a month of giving and tolerance. The Indian community’s prosperity here shows tolerance towards the Indian community and opportunities that this country offers for all of us. By marking ‘the Year of Tolerance’, the UAE has shown the way to the world,” Vipul, consul general of India in Dubai, said while addressing the IBPC Suhoor on Sunday.

Mohan Valrani, governing board member of IBPC, proposed that the council should hold its annual Suhoor in Al Noor Training Centre to help it overcome funding constraints. “We will call it ‘IBPC – a Day of Giving’. We hope to increase the contribution towards Al Noor next year,” said Valrani.

 

Sharjah DSCD launches economic survey project

The Sharjah Department of Statistics and Community Development (DSCD) has rolled out the implementation phase of its latest economic survey project, which will encompass all administrative communities and free zones in the emirate.

The project was unveiled in January this year. More than 5,800 organisations from all areas and cities of Sharjah including 860 major companies have been notified by DSCD about the survey. The survey’s objective to collect performance data of public and private sector companies, as well as non-profits. The final report will be a comprehensive analysis of sector-by-sector growth of Sharjah, its current economic realities, and will accurately identify each sector’s contributions to the emirate’s economic diversification process.

In addition to measuring the overall economic performance of the emirate in this fiscal year, the survey report will offer local and global investors fresh insight into the opportunities and challenges unique to each sector in the emirate of Sharjah, and allow them to better determine their areas of interest.

Dubai duty free signs agreement with tencent

Dubai Duty Free has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Tencent Holdings, a provider of Internet value-added services in China, which will greatly enhance the Chinese visitors’ travel and shopping experiences at Dubai Duty Free.

The agreement aims to leverage Tencent’s expertise and digital platforms in China, while building upon Dubai Duty Free’s global status as a retail destination, in order to boost the retail operator’s integrated marketing outreach in China. The collaboration will also enhance the Chinese visitors’ travel experience in Dubai using Tencent’s “Social and Smart Retail Solutions”. These include but are not limited to WeChat Pay, WeChat Mini Program and Tencent Cloud. The co-operation will also deepen Dubai Duty Free’s insight into the Chinese travelers’ consumption behavior.

The signing of the agreement took place earlier this year at Tencent Binhai Tower in Shenzhen, China and the ceremony was attended by Ramesh Cidambi, chief operating officer of Dubai Duty Free and Norman Tam, general manager, Hong Kong and Taiwan Office, International Business Group, Tencent.

Colm McLoughlin, executive vice chairman & CEO, Dubai Duty Free, said: “China is an important market for us and Dubai Duty Free is continually looking at ways that will further enhance our appeal to Chinese travelers. With its long-standing reputation for innovation, Tencent is an exciting partner for Dubai Duty Free and we look forward to working with them in the coming year.”

UAE set to add 56,701 new hotel rooms by 2020

The UAE’s hospitality sector is all geared up for the World Expo 2020 with a significant capacity boost by adding 56,701 rooms that represent 33.6 per cent of the country’s existing supply over the next one year.

The latest available industry data shows that the UAE drives the Middle East hotel industry boom with an exponential surge in the number of new hotel projects and rooms, followed by Saudi Arabia with an additional supply of 42,571 room, accounting for 42.9 per cent of the kingdom’s existing inventory.

By 2022, the UAE’s hospitality market is expected to reach $7.6 billion, growing at a five-year CAGR of 8.5 per cent between 2017 and 2022, latest data shows.

Other countries in the region showing dynamic growth include Qatar with 13,086 rooms in the pipeline, accounting for 47.8 per cent of the current hotel room supply. Oman is next in line by adding 4,129 rooms by 2020.

A recent hospitality industry report said hotel supply in Dubai, the fourth most visited city in the world, is expected to reach 132,000 in 2019, with the emirate aiming to complete 160,000 hotel rooms by October 2020 – in time to welcome 25 million visitors for Expo 2020.

Dubai still offers lucrative rental returns: Arif Mubarak

Dubai Asset Management, a subsidiary of Dubai Holding, is looking to expand its portfolio both organically and inorganically with focus on Dubai as the emirate still offers lucrative returns on rentals, a senior official said.

“We are definitely growing our portfolio in different ways as we are an investment institutional-driven organisation. Our growth is driven by market demand and supply and our customer base comprises of both corporate and individuals. We own, manage and operating one of the largest rental portfolios in Dubai,” said Arif Mubarak, chief executive officer, Dubai Asset Management.

Dubai Asset Management owns and manages 10 communities in different categories including upscale villas, medium affordable housing, staff accommodation and corporate housing. Around 100,000 residents live in those communities.

“We have one of the largest occupancy rates in Dubai at around 95 per cent across our portfolio with a better than market average stay of tenant. Market average stay is 3.5 years while our customers stay average is 4.5 years,” said Mubarak.

Dubai Asset Management recently announced its foray into the short-term rental market also through a partnership with HiGuests.

Mubarak revealed that expanding outside Dubai is an option but the firm is not focusing on that because he still sees Dubai as a lucrative market in terms of rental returns.

According to real estate consultancy CBRE, Dubai offer one of the best rental returns and is ranked among the world’s top-10 cities where investments in property can get handsome gains.

“We are looking for residential assets that are complementary to our existing assets. They could be villas and apartments but residential for rentals. There are growth opportunities in the market as long as we manage growth right. Because growing without asset management mindset and skills, we feel it will not take use anywhere,” he added.

Despite oversupply concerns in the Dubai real estate, Mubarak believes there are opportunities as well.

“It is really looking at a right opportunity at right moment. There is a drop in rental rates but we continue to see healthy pricing,”

“We have sizeable sizable market share and we get special index from Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Rera) for our communities. Since our communities are bit different than the neighbouring rental market, the index gives us a good advantage because of our amenities and accordingly our prices continue to be slightly in a good rate in comparison to market which we see acceptable by people and accordingly we see demand in our own communities very acceptable to the market,” Mubarak added.

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