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No suspension of Etihad Airways flights over iran-controlled airspace

Etihad Airways is carefully monitoring the situation, following the emergency order on Thursday by US Federal Aviation Administration (USFAA) prohibiting US operators from flying in Iran-controlled airspace over the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman.

“Contingency plans are in place, and we will decide what further action is required after carefully evaluating the FAA directive to US carriers, an Etihad spokesperson told on Friday.

“We are working closely with the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority,” the airline added.

The downing of the unarmed Global Hawk aircraft was the latest in a series of incidents in the Gulf region. US FAA said according to flight tracking applications, the nearest civil aircraft was operating within around 45 nautical miles of a US Global Hawk drone when it was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile.

Up to 75pc sale at 1,600 stores across 8 UAE malls

Over 1,600 stores are offering massive discounts to shoppers during the Abu Dhabi Summer Festival, that kicked off this week.

Line Investments & Property Company in cooperation with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi announced special offers and discounts at eight malls in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain with more than 1,600 stores participating in the shopping festival.

The sale offering discounts in the range of 25 per cent to 75 per cent started on June 18 and will end on August 3.

The participating malls include Al Wahda Mall, Mashref Mall, Khalidiya Mall, Al Raha Mall, Mazyad Mall, Madinat Zayed Market in Abu Dhabi, Barari Outlet Mall and Al Foah Mall in Al Ain.

“Shoppers will also be able to win cash prizes up to Dh1.5 million, including weekly draws of Dh50,000 and other instant prices at Dh200,” Wajib Al Khoury, director of Line Investments & Property told Al Ittihad.

NBK Capital Partners abandons talks to buy Abraaj’s credit fund

NBK Capital Partners, owned by Kuwait’s biggest lender, has walked away from advanced talks to buy a global credit fund previously managed by collapsed buyout firm Abraaj Capital Ltd, two sources familiar with the matter said.

The move came as US prosecutors last week charged several senior executives of Abraaj with criminal charges, accusing them of taking part in a massive international scheme to defraud investors.

NBK Capital Partners “is not engaging with them,” a source with direct knowledge of the matter told referring to the liquidators for Abraaj, who are seeking a new manager for the fund.

NBK Capital Partners had been seen as the frontrunner to manage the fund and had been close to a deal, sources have previously said.

Abraaj, which managed $13.6 billion at its peak, had been the largest buyout fund in the Middle East and North Africa until it collapsed last year in the aftermath of a row with investors, including the Gates Foundation, over a $1 billion healthcare fund. Abraaj filed for provisional liquidation in the Cayman Islands in June last year.

Its global credit fund, which had raised over $250 million, was an emerging markets fund offering private debt to medium-sized and growth-oriented companies.

Investors in the credit fund also could not agree on a valuation for a potential deal with NBK, the source with direct knowledge of the matter said. The fund had invested over $100 million, less than half of what it had raised.

“There is a US lawsuit… and you have LPs (limited partners) that can’t get coordinated,” the source said, referring to an agreement on the value of a deal. NBK Capital Partners declined to comment. Deloitte and PwC, joint liquidators for Abraaj, did not immediately respond.

Revealed: UAE’s 10 most popular brands

The consumer goods industry ranked 10 out of the 15 industries, a considerable drop from its highest rank of 3 in 2018, new research by MBLM has found.

According to the new report, Patchi leads the industry followed by Al Rawabi and Almarai. The top 10 was rounded out by Galaxy, Al Ain, Nido, Kelloggs, London Dairy, Sadia and Americana respectively.

The consumer goods industry shows considerable variances across demographics, resulting in different preferred brands depending on gender, income levels or age.

Patchi ranked highest overall and among high income users, Al Rawabi ranked highest for men, while women were most intimate with Nido.

Kelloggs took the top spot with millennials, while Galaxy was the favorite for consumers aged between 35-64.

Nostalgia (focuses on warm memories of the past) is the dominant industry archetype, suggesting many of the brands have been part of users lives since they were children.

Brand Intimacy is defined as the emotional science that measures the bonds we form with the brands we use and love.

Top Intimate Brands outperform top brands in the S&P and Fortune 500 indices for revenue and profit. Consumers are willing to pay price premiums for Intimate Brands and less willing to live without them, according to the report.

MBLM leverages the yearly study to help client brands create, sustain and measure ultimate brand relationships.

“The consumer goods category has dropped considerably in this year’s study.” said William Shintani, managing partner of MBLM.

“There continues to be an under leveraged opportunity for brands in this industry to better leverage emotion when building consumer relationships. We would strongly encourage brands in this space to revisit what they are prioritising and consider tangible ways to create stronger bonds,” he added.


DFSA shuts down Dubai company for non-compliance

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), the independent regulator of financial services conducted in or from the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), on Wednesday announced that it has suspended the licence of Rasan Capital Limited (RCL) for a period of 12 months, consistent with its aim of protecting direct and indirect users of the financial services industry in the DIFC.

RCL’s licence was suspended due to serious concerns about the adequacy of its financial resources, its non-compliance with DFSA rulebook requirements, and its failure to keep the DFSA informed and notified of such integral matters.

RCL notified the DFSA of a capital breach on 30 July 2018. Despite commitments made by RCL to rectify the breach in the intervening period, as of the date of the suspension notice, the firm remains in breach of the capital requirement. The DFSA’s public register has been updated to reflect the licence suspension, and a decision notice has been issued on its website.

The DFSA is committed to protecting the reputation and integrity of the DIFC’s financial services and will take action to ensure the interests of direct, indirect, and prospective users of financial services in the DIFC are protected.

The DFSA is regularly reminding firms of their requirement to maintain adequate financial resources at all times, and of the importance of dealing with the DFSA in an open and cooperative manner.

DTI reveals ‘Bangkota’ theme for expo 2020 Dubai

The Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) hosted a sneak preview of the country’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai.

The DTI revealed “Bangkota”, the ancient Tagalog word for coral reef, as the theme of the Philippines’ participation at the Expo in October 2020 to April 2021.

The theme highlights not only the country’s natural resources but the similarities between the coral reef and Filipinos: both grow into colonies that thrive throughout the world. Expo 2020 Dubai is the latest edition of the World Expo that started in London in 1851. Dubai’s 428-hectare expo will feature 190 country pavilions to be visited by 25 million tourists.

The Philippine pavilion will be a 3,000sqm space with a 1,300sqm enclosed area and designed by Budji+Royal Architecture+Design. It will feature five exhibits, an artisanal café,l and Go Lokal! stores. After the Expo, the exhibit will be installed permanently in New Clark City.

“Our most important goal in participating at the Expo is to present a country brand that reflects our rich history and our values as caring, compassionate, and creative people,” said DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez.

Although the Expo is not a trade fair, Lopez said that the government’s budget of just under one billion pesos will be earned back through tourism, trade, services and investments, as the DTI will also organise an investment mission to maximise the opportunity.

He added that the interest to join the Expo came from President Rodrigo Duterte because there are around 700,000 Filipinos in the UAE. The president since issued Administrative Order 17, assigning the DTI to lead the Philippine Organizing Committee (POC) for Expo 2020 Dubai. The POC is also composed of the Departments of Tourism, Foreign Affairs, Budget, Labor, Science and Technology, and Information and Communications Technology.

Microsoft’s Middle East data centres in Abu Dhabi, Dubai now online

Microsoft on Wednesday officially announced the online operations of its much-anticipated cloud data centres in the UAE, as it pushes further in its quest to make digital transformation more available to businesses.

Dubbed ‘cloud regions’, the centres are the first for the US tech giant in the Middle East and are pegged to support organisations’ adoption of the tech-rich Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, graced the event and gave a keynote.

“We call this tech intensity,” Sayed Hashish, regional general manager of Microsoft Gulf, said in his speech at the event.

In an interview prior to Wednesday’s launch, Hashish stressed that the new cloud regions will provide entities access to the cloud, which is scaleable, always available and resilient, while maintaining data residency, security and compliance needs – some of the most critical issues in the world of tech .

“We are committed to empowering every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more,” he said.

“Customers in the Middle East can move with confidence. they will be more competitive as they start their digital transformation journeys – engaging customers, empowering employees, optimising operations and reinventing products and services.”

Microsoft – which has been serving the UAE for over 25 years now – has some of the biggest names in the industry as its clients, including, among several others, government entities Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and Dubai Airports, aviation giants Emirates and Etihad Airways, telecom pioneer etisalat, and sector heavyweights such as Emaar Properties, Majid Al Futtaim and Mashreq.

Redmond, Washington-headquartered Microsoft says its aim is to transform one million businesses in the Gulf region within the next three years.

“To help meet the compliance needs of our customers, we have engaged very closely with local authorities to ensure that our cloud services are compliant with relevant local standards and certifications, as well as the global and industry standards with which our services already comply,” Hashish said.

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