GULF STATES – ECONOMICS & FINANCE
Abu Dhabi airports awards spaces at midfield terminal to Lulu group
Abu Dhabi Airports has awarded two retail unit spaces in the upcoming new Midfield Terminal at Abu Dhabi International Airport to the Lulu Group.
Bryan Thompson, CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports, signed the agreement with Saifee Rupawala, CEO of Lulu Group for a specialist gifting retail space and a dedicated non-food department store encompassing a total of 1,833 square meters in the presence of Sheikh Mohammad Bin Hamad Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, chairman of Abu Dhabi Airports; Yusuff Ali MA, chairman of Lulu Group; and Tony Douglas, CEO of Etihad Airways.
The Midfield Terminal includes 28,000 square meters of retail space for duty free shopping, dining, relaxing and entertainment, catering to the diverse needs of Abu Dhabi International Airport’s passengers. The partnership with Lulu Group is a result of Abu Dhabi Airports’ commitment to developing strategic partnerships with local industry within the UAE, ensuring that local products and services are a key aspect of the world-class passenger experience delivered by the Midfield Terminal.
Sheikh Mohammad Bin Hamad Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan said: “The Midfield Terminal is one of the region’s most significant aviation infrastructure projects, and it is only fitting that it will now be home to one of the region’s most successful international conglomerates. Lulu Group will make a significant contribution to our long-term retail strategy, and we look forward to working closely with them in the coming months and years.”
Bryan Thompson added: “We are delighted to partner with the Lulu Group as we work to deliver the Midfield Terminal. This deal showcases the inclusive and diverse retail environment present at Abu Dhabi International Airport, and we are confident that the addition of the Lulu brand will contribute toward providing passengers with an enjoyable and memorable experience when arriving, departing or transiting through the airport. The innovate thinking and strategy behind our fit out of the Midfield Terminal’s retail spaces is perfectly aligned with the grandeur of the building itself, ensuring that we exceed passenger expectations and deliver a seamless and comfortable experience.”
Sharjah eyes tie ups with European R&D companies
Sharjah offers investors several attractive opportunities across various sectors, especially in fields such as technology and research, experts said at the Sharjah – Europe Business Roundtable.
Organised by the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), an affiliate of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), the roundtable served to highlight sectors which have been playing increasingly important roles in enriching Sharjah’s FDI appeal, such as transportation and logistics, light manufacturing, travel and leisure, environment, technology and innovation, healthcare, education and research, start-ups and SMEs.
Sharjah has been collaborating with the European business community across several sectors including trade, culture and tourism over several years. As of November 2019, the number of European companies registered in Sharjah include 423 from France; 396 from Germany; 148 from Belgium; 96 from Spain; 86 from Portugal; 92 from Switzerland; and 18 from The Netherlands. These numbers continue to grow due to the Sharjah government’s pro-investor policies and strategic budget allocations. For instance, out of the approved 2019 budget of $9 billion for Sharjah, 23 per cent has been dedicated to the development and improvement of its infrastructure, and 41 per cent has been committed towards the economic development sector.
Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, executive chairman of Shurooq, noted the importance of the roundtable in offering European investors the opportunity to take a closer look at Sharjah’s rapidly diversifying economy and to showcase its major projects, such as the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI Park), which is a centre for innovation and applied sciences research; the Sharjah University City; Sharjah Media City (Shams); and our other free zones such as the Sharjah Airport Free Zone and the Hamriyah Free Zone, with customised services.
Property management startups making their disruption felt
The UAE’s real estate sector is undergoing a massive change with technology paving the way for innovation in every layer of the sector. The inevitable disruption has created a niche for every segment, from traditional buying and selling of properties, to maintenance and management, short-term rentals and holiday homes, among many others.
Digital transformation will change the way property is bought, sold, rented, designed, built and managed. From streamlining documentation processes and more efficient customer marketing, to allowing tenants to access building amenities through an app. Technology is having a transformative impact across the entire value chain.
Research and networking platform Magnitt has indicated in its third-quarter report that out of the top five Mena industries – real estate, e-commerce, delivery and transport, renewable energy and fintech – real estate sector funding and deals topped 19 per cent compared to other sectors.
Startups like Inventally, Mabany, Ajar, HiGuests and Yovza are pioneering the paradigm shift in the sector among other successful players. The virtual buying, selling, maintaining properties, coordinating with facilities management firms are closely being shaped by proptech trends in the country.
Inventally, a niche startup, provides property inventory reports pre and post tenancy to save clients the hassle of disputes, financial claims and security deposit misusage.
Ahmed Al Hassoni COO of inventally, said: “Property management is one the key aspects to running a successful real estate portfolio, and with rise of competition, property managers are facing issues on a daily basis on how can they streamline, outsource or use tech companies who provide them a better way to handle their daily operations better. This allows them to create better customer satisfaction. Physical property management companies will not necessarily get replaced rather a higher standard will be set out for them, and for those who use these technologies and outsource companies their efficiency will increase and will place them far ahead of local and small scale property management companies.”
Saudi oil giant Aramco announces world’s largest IPO
Saudi Arabian state oil giant Saudi Aramco on Thursday priced its initial public offering (IPO) at the high end of the targeted range, a level that will allow the company to raise a record total of at least $25.6 billion.
The company plans to sell 3 billion shares, or 1.5 per cent of its total shares, at a price of 32 Saudi riyals ($8.53) per share.
This IPO’s size gives Aramco a market valuation of $1.7 trillion, pushing it ahead of Apple ($1.17 trillion) as the world’s most valuable publicly traded company, Efe news reported.
Trading of Aramco’s shares is expected to begin next week pending an announcement by Riyadh’s stock exchange.
Aramco had previously announced that its shares would not be offered in the United States, Australia, Canada or Japan.
Saudi Arabia has pursued a commitment from wealthy Saudi citizens and regional allies to purchase shares as a gesture of solidarity and goodwill as opposed to an investment decision.
Meanwhile, the kingdom’s banks were directed to double the leverage limit for loans to investors looking to buy Aramco’s shares. Compared to an average leverage-ratio limit for loans of 1 to 1, banks were allowed to lend to retail customers for this purpose at a 2-to-1 ratio.
The company will offer 33.3 percent of the available shares (0.5 percent of Aramco’s total shares) to retail investors, while the remaining 66.7 percent have been allocated for institutional investors.
The IPO was 4.65 times oversubscribed, with total bids of $119 billion, according to sources close to the process.
An additional 450 million Aramco shares could be sold under an over-allotment option for underwriters, which would bring the total amount raised to nearly $30 billion. The previous record IPO ($25 billion) was set in 2014 by Chinese online commerce company Alibaba Group Holding.
Trading of the shares is expected to commence after all relevant legal requirements and procedures have been completed.
The company plans to pay a base dividend of $75 billion in 2020. However, it has cautioned about investment risks that include fluctuating oil prices and the backlash faced by oil companies due to their role in climate change.
The sale has been bolstered by Saudi Arabia’s regional allies, whose participation was a relief to the kingdom after plans to market the IPO globally floundered.
Proceeds from the IPO are needed as the kingdom aims to diversify its economy away from oil and implement domestic socio-economic reforms.
Aramco’s IPO plans were put on hold last year in preparation for Saudi capital market reforms. No information currently exists on where the IPO will be listed abroad.
The IPO may encourage other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) state oil companies to carry out their own initial public offerings.
Aramco reported net income of $111.1 billion in 2018 and $46.9 billion in the first half of 2019.
The company suffered a damaging drone and missile attack on some of its oil-processing facilities in September of this year.
Dubai chamber unveils results and impact of recycling campaign
More than 35,000 plastic bottles, 10 tonnes of paper and 66 tonnes of waste were recycled by companies and schools in Dubai as part of the “Let’s Reduce and Recycle” Campaign which was organised as part of Dubai Chamber Sustainability Week 2019.
During the closing ceremony of Dubai Chamber Sustainability Week 2019 at its premises, Dubai Chamber unveiled the results and impact of the week-long campaign which attracted the participation of more than 17,700 individuals, 41 companies and 10 schools, in addition to seven recycling partners who supported the effort.
Held from November 21-28 under the theme “World Without Waste”, Dubai Chamber Sustainability Week 2019 featured a series of events joined by 400 delegates from the local business community, including a CEO dialogue and roundtable discussion on waste management, an exhibition displaying the latest waste management solutions and a workshop tackling the issue of food waste in the UAE.
The CEO dialogue event, organised in cooperation with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, was joined by representatives from the UAE’s government and business spheres who shared their recommendations for reducing, recovering and recycling waste to and preventing its disposal to landfills. Industry experts highlighted the need to reframe the concept of waste as a resource and noted that companies need to do more to promote responsible consumerism among employees and customers.
The roundtable shed light on practical waste management strategies to help accelerate progress towards achieving the UAE’s waste diversion goals. Among the main suggestions made by participants were the need to put more emphasis on segregating recycling material from waste at the primary source, analyse the lifecycle of company products, reduce waste at each stage of the supply chain and source raw materials.
More public-private sector partnerships and collaborations are required to provide right technology, infrastructure and financial resources to encourage recycling, according to the participants who also identified key challenges in this area such as limited infrastructure to support waste collection and recycling, a lack of transparency in the traceability of waste management and the prevalent use of landfills throughout the UAE.
Now, earn emirates miles as you go shopping, use them for flights, upgrades
The airline’s Emirates Skywards has launched Skywards Everyday, a location based app that gives members the power to earn Skywards Miles anytime, every day at their favourite retail, entertainment and dining outlets across the UAE.
With Skywards Everyday, members earn Miles going about their daily routine – whether shopping for groceries or gifts, tucking into their favourite food, relaxing with a weekend massage, having fun at the movies, and much more across 250+ popular brands in 1,000+ outlets in the UAE. What’s more, members can see their Skywards Miles racking up in real-time, which they can spend instantly on flights, upgrades and more.
For members’ convenience, the Skywards Everyday app has grouped retail outlets into eight distinct categories: grocery, leisure & entertainment, services, beauty & wellness, casual dining, fine dining, high street shopping and luxury shopping.
Dr Nejib Ben Khedher, Divisional Senior Vice President Emirates Skywards said: “We’ve designed Skywards Everyday keeping in mind relevance, purpose, simplicity, immediacy and appeal across our member base. It offers a fresh proposition in the airline loyalty space, and makes Emirates Skywards a truly lifestyle brand as our members earn Skywards Miles going about their daily routines.
“With many more retailers set to join, the app will have a significant impact on our members’ lives every day, not just when they travel. They can burn these earned Miles instantly on reward tickets, upgrades, Skywards Exclusives and with many global and regional partners. Our members can now earn more Miles quicker, live life richer and fly better.”
Members can download Skywards Everyday on iOS and Android smartphones and devices, and log in using their Skywards credentials. At participating outlets, all a member needs to do is to select the partner on the app and show their device to the cashier, who will enter the bill value and a PIN. Easy – Miles earned instantly!
Emirates Skywards co-branded cardholders and The Dubai Mall app users earn even more Miles on the same purchase.