Qatar al-Shaheen Crude Exports to Dip in September

The number of al-Shaheen crude oil cargoes loading in September could fall to about 13, probably due to field maintenance, several trade sources said on Wednesday.

Qatar Petroleum offered two cargoes to load on Sept. 5-6 and 28-29 via a tender. A total 15 cargoes for August loading were sold last month, the sources said. Qatar Petroleum could not be immediately reached for comment.


ENI, Egyptian Minister Refute Discovery Reports

Media reports are rampant on the massive gas discovery supposedly made by ENI offshore Egypt, but both the company and the Egyptian government are downplaying the reports. And downplaying they should, given that ENI has yet to even spud a well on the acreage.

The Italian firm has denied that it made a massive discovery, estimated by media reports as being nearly three times the size of the Zohr natural gas field, with CEO Claudio Descalzi as telling reporters last week, “There are prospects and new (geological) structures in Egypt but we still haven’t discovered anything,” .

Egyptian oil minister Tarek El Molla also downplayed the reports saying that seismic studies of the acreage had yet to be completed.

The Egyptian cabinet approved ENI’s exploration plans for the Noor sblock in March and the company plans to begin drilling shortly. It is only after drilling takes place that the industry will know if lightening has indeed struck twice for ENI offshore Egypt.


Oil Exports from Libya’s East Resume

Libya’s Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC) said on Wednesday that four export terminals were being reopened after eastern factions handed over the ports.

Force majeure, a legal waiver on contractual obligations, was lifted on the ports of Ras Lanuf, Es Sider, Zueitina and Hariga, it said in a statement.

“Production and export operations will return to normal levels within the next few hours,” it said.

The ports were closed last month amid a struggle for control by rival factions, slashing Libya’s national production by as much as 850,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Ras Lanuf and Es Sider were shut when armed opponents of eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar attacked them on June 14.

The attack was repelled a week later, but eastern officials aligned with Haftar blocked operations at both terminals as well as at Zueitina and Hariga, saying they would take control of exports through a rival NOC based in the east.

On Wednesday the NOC commended Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) for “putting the national interest first” by handing back the ports.

Eastern oil facilities guards and the head of the rival NOC, Faraj Said, confirmed the ports were reopening, although Said told Reuters that Ras Lanuf and Es Sider, which have been damaged in repeated rounds of fighting, required maintenance work.

“The ports of Zueitina and Hariga are now open for any tankers carrying a contract. Ras Lanuf and Es Sider need some maintenance,” he said.


Dubai's DMCC Pens Agreement with CCPIT

DMCC, a leading free zone and Government of Dubai Authority on commodities trade and enterprise, has signed an agreement with China Council For The Promotion Of International Trade (CCPIT) for the promotion of global trade.

Designed to strengthen the commercial collaboration between the Hubei business community and DMCC, the memorandum of understanding (MoU) highlights Dubai’s position as a global gateway and the ideal partner for leading Chinese enterprise to access some of the fastest-growing markets in Central, South and South-East Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and beyond.

The agreement was unveiled during a ceremony staged at the Wanda Realm Wuhan hotel, in conjunction with CCPIT Hubai Province, and as part of DMCC’s latest Made for Trade Live event.

The international roadshow is currently touring the Chinese cities of Wuhan, Beijing, Huangshi and Shanghai, to meet with senior business leaders and government officials and highlight the commercial opportunity presented by Dubai, through DMCC.

“Signing this agreement represents a significant step forward in DMCC’s relationship with the Wuhan business community, and will only serve to strengthen the strong and longstanding economic ties between Dubai and China,” said Ahmed Bin Sulayem, executive chairman, DMCC.

“The Made for Trade Live roadshow is a fantastic program in that it enables DMCC to traverse the globe and communicate the commercial appeal of Dubai and the ease of doing business across a wide array of sectors. As the world’s economic gravity continues to shift eastwards, DMCC looks forward to supporting the strategic Dubai-China relationship, and enabling Chinese firms take advantage of its global connections, robust infrastructure and innovative business services,” he added.

“CCPIT is thrilled to sign this MoU with DMCC and by doing so, promote the significant commercial opportunities available to Chinese companies in Dubai. We look forward to working alongside the world’s leading free zone and connecting the Wuhan business community to exciting growth markets through the global hub of Dubai,” Aiming Zhang, deputy chairman, CCPIT Hubei Province added.

Made for Trade Live also profiles the 15,000 plus member companies in DMCC, including the growing number of leading Chinese firms such as Hisense; Hikvision; China Petroleum Engineering & Construction Corporation (CPECC); China Petroleum &Chemical Corporation (Sinopec); China Harbour Engineering Company, Power Construction Corporation of China and CHEMCHINA Chinese registrations have risen at an average annual growth rate of 46% in the five years up to May 2018.

The latest Made for Trade Live event is part of DMCC’s increasing engagement with China. Last year, DMCC’s Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange (DGCX) was the first foreign exchange to list Shanghai Gold Futures (SGF) outside of China.

Ahead of the DMCC Coffee Centre launch later this year, DMCC signed a strategic supply agreement with MCH and Yunnan State Farms and last month, DMCC also signed a knowledge transfer agreement with Meishan, representing the Ningbo Province.


KSA to Import Fodder Barley

Saudi Grains Organization has completed steps for its fifth tender for this year to import 1.74 million tons of fodder barley during September-October 2018 on board 29 ships through the kingdom's ports on the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, said a report.

The organisation's Governor Engineer Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al-Faris pointed out that this batch comes as an extension of the kingdom's plan to cover the local demand for fodder barley and preserve its strategic stocks, added the Saudi Press Agency report. The official noted that the organisation has contracted so far 6.2 million tons of fodder barley, it added.


Saudi Sabic World's Fastest-Growing Chemicals Brand

Saudi Arabia’s petrochemicals giant Sabic has grown faster over the past year than any other brand in 2018, jumping from eighth to third rank, according to brand valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance.

Contributing to Sabic’s impressive 78 % increase in brand value to US$3.7 billion is the renewed effort by the brand to capitalise on the US shale boom by growing its business across America, said the Brand Finance Chemicals 10 2018 report.

Having recently announced plans for a new head office in Houston, Texas, Sabic is a major supplier of polyethylene and other commodity resins across the Western Hemisphere. Boosted by the rise in oil prices, Sabic is also looking into opportunities to access the African market and considering acquisitions in Europe and China.

Andrew Campbell, managing director, Brand Finance Middle East, commented: “Sabic’s remarkable growth in brand value this year can be attributed to the way in which the Riyadh-based brand has been rapidly developing its global portfolio. All eyes are on Sabic now as it expands its plastics production, foaming technologies output and innovation capabilities across the world.”

BASF has maintained its status as the world’s most valuable chemicals brand, following 13 % brand value growth from last year to US$7.4 billion, according to the report.

The brand value of BASF was boosted as a result of increased revenue projections after a strong 2017, which included the announcement and subsequent purchase of parts of Bayer’s businesses, in connection with Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto.

In second rank, Dow’s brand value surged 38 % to US$6.5 billion, offset by the result of DuPont (down 10 % to US$2.7 billion).

Michigan-based Dow and Delaware’s DuPont have now completed their corporate merger while continuing to restructure their businesses to operate under separate Dow, DuPont, and new Corteva brands. Although, at the moment, the combined value of Dow and DuPont at US$9.2 billion is greater than that of BASF, it remains to be seen how the merger and ensuing reallocation of assets impacts their respective brand values.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, said: “The undergoing transformation within DowDuPont will have a tremendous impact on the brands and how they are perceived in the future. So far, Dow has seen its brand value boosted by the merger, while DuPont’s brand value has been significantly disrupted.

“As the operations are split into three separate divisions, each specialising in a different line of products: agriculture, materials science, and specialty products, DowDuPont will need to raise awareness of these new developments and smoothly manage the transition to ensure the brand portfolio does not lose value.”

Brands mid-ranking lose value

Brands in the middle of the Brand Finance Chemicals 10 ranking did not share in the strong gains of those at the top. Air Liquide (down 9 % to US$2.3 billion), Asahi Kasei (down 5 % to US$2.3 billion) and Mitsubishi Chemicals (down 9 % to US$2.3 billion) suffered significant losses to their brand value. Asahi and Mitsubishi were both affected by the relative weakness of the Japanese yen.

In addition to measuring overall brand value, Brand Finance also evaluates the relative strength of brands, through the Brand Strength Index (BSI) – a balanced scorecard of factors such as marketing investment, customer familiarity, staff satisfaction, and corporate reputation. Along with the level of revenues, brand strength is a crucial driver of brand value.

Mitsubishi’s brand has the weakest strength in the top 10 as a result of the company’s online and social media performance lagging behind its peers who have expanded their digital marketing and promotion, particularly on LinkedIn, a crucial portal for talent recruitment. The staff are one of the main stakeholders influenced by a brand’s strength, with stronger brands attracting and retaining quality employees.

To catch up, Mitsubishi is hiring specialist social media marketeers and launched a multi-million-dollar cross-platform campaign. The brand also suffered reputational damage in October last year when, in the course of an investigation into data falsification by supplier Kobe Steel, it reported that its materials division had also falsified data.


Brent Sinks after Trump Tariff Threat, Libya Ports Reopen

Global oil benchmark Brent fell more than US$2 a barrel on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to levy new tariffs on China and Libya announced the reopening of key oil export terminals.

The spectre of tariffs on a further US$200 billion of Chinese goods sent commodities lower along with stock markets, as tension between the world's biggest economies intensified.

Brent crudefell US$2.06, or 2.61%, to a low of US$76.80 before recovering slightly to US$76.86, down US$2.00, by 0945 GMT.

U.S. light crude, supported by a tight North American market, was down 75 cents at US$73.36 a barrel.

"Trade concerns have bitten today," said Michael McCarthy, chief markets strategist at CMC Markets ( ). "If these tariffs are introduced there will be an impact on global growth and demand."

The price fall was aided by news Tripoli-based National Oil Corp (NOC) had lifted a force majeure on four Libyan oil ports, saying production and exports from the terminals would "return to normal levels in the next few hours".

Libyan oil production fell to 527,000 barrels per day (bpd) from a high of 1.28 million bpd in February following the port closures, the NOC said on Monday.

"The lifting of force majeure at all the Libyan ports will certainly come as relief from a supply perspective, but it remains to be seen how quickly exports can return to normal," Harry Tchilinguirian, head of oil strategy at BNP Paribas, told Reuters Global Oil Forum.

Adding to the bearish mood were signs of a possible relaxation of U.S. sanctions on Iranian crude exports.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that Washington would consider requests from some countries to be exempt from sanctions due to go into effect in November to prevent Iran from exporting oil.

Washington had previously said countries must halt all imports of Iranian oil from Nov. 4 or face U.S. financial measures, with no exemptions.

The United States pulled out of a multinational deal in May to lift sanctions against Iran in return for curbs to Tehran's nuclear programme.

The prospect of sanctions on oil exports from Iran, the world's fifth-biggest oil producer, has helped push up oil prices in recent weeks with both crude contracts trading near 3-1/2-year highs.

Supply to the U.S. market has also been squeezed by the loss of some Canadian oil production.

U.S. crude inventories fell last week by 6.8 million barrels, according to the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group.

Analysts polled by Reuters forecast on average that crude stocks fell by 4.5 million barrels, ahead of government data at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on Wednesday.


Bahrain Economy Shrinks as Oil Output Falls

Bahrain's gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, shrank 1.2 % from a year earlier in the first quarter of 2018 as oil production sagged, data from the official statistics agency showed on Wednesday. The oil sector of the economy shrank 14.7% from a year ago, while the non-oil sector expanded 1.9%.


Oil Output Jumps to Highest in 16 Months: Oman Data

Oman’s crude oil and condensate production in June jumped to its highest in 16 months, another sign that key producers in the Middle East are beginning to pump more oil, data from Oman’s oil ministry showed Tuesday (10 July).

The sultanate’s crude oil and condensate output averaged 973,500 b/d in June or 29,205,000 barrels, the highest since February last year.

Crude oil exports in Oman averaged 782,540 b/d as flows to its largest customer China rose 10% accounting for 84% of total exports.

Around 9% of total exports went to India, while Japan and Thailand were the other destinations of Omani crude exports in June.

Oman is one of the few non-OPEC producers besides Russia which has some spare production capacity.

OPEC and 10 allies, led by Russia, agreed June 23 to raise production by 1 million b/d but left unsettled how the increase would be allocated.

The sultanate is also a member of the six-country monitoring committee – along with Saui Arabia, Algeria, Kuwait, Venezuela and Russia — that are working towards reallocating production quotas in the OPEC/non-OPEC supply accord.

In December 2016, Oman had agreed to cut monthly crude and condensate production by 50,000 b/d from 1.019 million b/d under the OPEC/non-OPEC production cut deal.


Libyan Oil Production Only Heading Lower

When back in September 2016 the Libyan National Army retook control over the export terminals in the country’s Oil Crescent from the Petroleum Facilities Guard and handed it over to the National Oil Corporation, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. After a two-year blockade, the terminals could once again start loading crude and Libya could start recovering its oil industry.

Two years later, the LNA is once again in control of the Oil Crescent. But this time it has shared this control with another NOC, and no oil is being loaded at the terminals. As a result, the country’s oil production is falling steadily, the official NOC’s chairman Mustafa Sanalla has warned.

“We hope that the army leadership will hand over the ports to keep oil production going, and any other discussion can be held with the government, the central bank, the house of representatives,” Sanalla said in a statement carried by Bloomberg. The statement is an appeal to the command of the LNA, which won control of the ports after a series of clashes with militants in June.

Led by a commander of the PFG who is wanted by the internationally recognized authorities, the militant groups tried to wrest control of five oil terminals from General Khalifa Haftar’s LNA, which is affiliated with the eastern government, but until recently worked well with the Tripoli-based, western NOC that the UN recognizes as the only entity legally allowed to sell Libya’s oil.

The LNA won, but this time it did not pass control of the terminals to the legal NOC. The eastern NOC effectively suspended loadings of oil in the beginning of July, as the tankers docked to load did not have express permission from it, which immediately erased 850,000 bpd from daily loadings. However, since the storage tanks at the ports are full, this has meant that production at several fields also needs to be suspended.

“Despite our warning of the consequences and attempts to reason with the LNA General Command, two legitimate allocations were blocked from loading at Hariga and Zueitina this weekend. The storage tanks are full and production will now go offline,” NOC’s Sanalla said at the time.

The prospects are grim. Sanalla said in his recent statement that current daily production is 527,000 barrels of oil. That’s about half the amount Libya pumped just two months ago, and “tomorrow it will be lower, and after tomorrow it will be even lower and everyday it will keep falling,” unless the eastern NOC agrees to hand over control of the ports.

So far there have been no indications that this would happen. In fact, the eastern NOC has accused the western NOC of mismanaging oil revenue money, reflecting the overwhelming sentiment among the population in the east of the country. The company said that from now on, all export revenues will go into a central bank in the east. What revenues these will be remains unclear: the UN and the EU have both called on the LNA to release the terminals to the western NOC, and the EU has urged buyers of Libyan oil to not do business with the eastern NOC.

The two NOCs, which at one point tried to settle their differences and work together, are in a deadlock. With the ports closed and no oil leaving Libya, revenues are zero, which will at some point force a reconsideration of the situation on the part of LNA and the eastern NOC. Until then, the production drop will add fuel to the oil price rally.


Kuwaiti Equate Group Issues Sustainability Report

Kuwait-based Equate Group, continuing its role as a global petrochemical enterprise committed to sustainability, has issued its 2015-2016 sustainability report that details its combined performance after acquiring MEGlobal in 2015.

As the fifth account of its type issued since 2012, the group’s Sustainability Report 2015-2016 was developed according to the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) to cover the company’s locations in Kuwait, UAE, Canada and the US, said a statement from Equate.

In addition, it details the company’s Sustainability Strategy 2025, it said.

Equate’s president and chief executive officer Dr Ramesh Ramachandran, said: “The group seeks to create sustainable development through the triple bottom line of economy, society and the environment in all our locations.”

“Sustainability is a core strategic objective that we want to achieve with our stakeholders. It is applicable to every aspect of our enterprise, and is not an expression that we use lightly,” he said.

Covering a number of sustainability topics, major highlights from the report include:

* Total amount of community investments reached US$2.8 million in 2015 and 2016;
* An increase in the economic value retained from zero to US$37.5 million during 2015 to 2016;
* An increase of over 119 % in the direct economic value generated from US$1.619 million to US$3.557 million throughout 2015 to 2016;
* A decrease of over 58,000 tons of direct greenhouse gas emissions representing a 1.14 % reduction between 2015 and 2016;
* An achieved goal of zero regulatory fines;

“Having launched our Sustainability Strategy 2025 during 2016, we renewed our focus and plan to enhance the impact of our activities throughout the world. The strategy consists of 16 initiatives identified under three core themes – Build, Innovate and Impact. These are elements that we aspire to achieve in all parts of our business,” added Dr Ramachandran.


Oman Air Eyeing Africa for Potential Network Expansion

National carrier Oman Air is reviewing its route network with a view to further expanding its destinations in Africa. The airline already flies to Cairo in Egypt, Nairobi in Kenya, Zanzibar, Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania and recently on July 1 launched its four times weekly service to Casablanca in Morocco.

The Network and Planning team is working hard to assess the viability of other new routes and Khartoum in Sudan is being investigated thoroughly as a potential addition. With the established Sudan diaspora in Oman, Khartoum is a strong favorite to be amongst the new additions to Oman Air’s African network in 2019.

The African routes are already very popular with Oman Air guests and the airline has recently increased its summer schedule to Egypt from 10 flights a week to 12 due to the demand for the thriving metropolis of Cairo. Last year Oman Air launched its four-times-weekly service to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya and one of its most dynamic cities with a vibrant cultural life, fabulous places to eat and exciting locations to visit. The five-times-weekly service to the popular archipelago of Zanzibar has been a longstanding favorite with holidaymakers with its vibrant atmosphere and culture. Oman Air also flies five-times a week to Dar Es Salaam the largest city and economic capital of Tanzania, and East Africa’s second busiest port.

The most recent addition of Casablanca in Morocco demonstrates the airline’s commitment to expanding the network and its focus on the African market. The keen interest already shown in the route is a positive sign for its future success. As with the majority of new routes, Oman Air is appealing to both business and tourism traffic and aims to strengthen the bilateral relations with all destinations in its growing network.


UNDP Supports Basic Services in Erbil

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Erbil Governorate have launched eight infrastructure projects to improve services that are fundamental to daily life, such as electricity, water, roads, and sewerage, for over 284,000 people across the Governorate of Erbil.

With the continuous support from the Government of Germany, UNDP’s Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Program (ICRRP) and the Erbil Joint Crisis Coordination Centre (E-JCC) will construct or upgrade six critical infrastructure projects, namely constructing roads, improving lighting, repairing the water network, and upgrading the electricity grid. This initiative directly supports residents of Sarbasty, Farmanbaran, Baharka, Naly, Shamamik, and Krechyan quarters of Erbil Governorate.

With continuous funding from the Government of Japan, ICRRP and the E-JCC are supporting two projects benefiting over 210,000 host community members and displaced people. The supply and installation of 40 transformers, already completed, has improved access to reliable electricity for people living in the targeted quarters of Erbil city and the districts of Soran, Koyia, Shaqlawa and Salah Al Din sub-district.

In addition, the supply and installation of a mobile substation for Ifraz Water Treatment Plant, which is the main water source in Erbil Governorate, is expected to increase the supply of water in Darashakran and Kawergosk sub-districts, as well as in Kawergosk refugee camp, Darashakran refugee camp and in the nearby villages.

At a ceremony marking the launch of the projects, the Governor of Erbil, H.E Mr. Nawzad Hadi, said: “We highly appreciate the support from the Governments of Germany and Japan, and collaboration with UNDP, to improve the delivery of basic services and boost livelihood opportunities for displaced populations in Erbil. Today we are signing the agreements with UNDP to launch infrastructure projects with a total budget of up to US$3 million. These contributions are essential for coping with the current crisis and ongoing recession and will meet current community needs.”

The Consul and Head of the Consular Office of Japan in Erbil, Mr. Katsumi Moriyasu, said: “Japan is very active in extending humanitarian and stabilization assistance to IDPs, refugees and host communities in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. Its contributions in those areas so far reached US$460 million since 2012. As well, Japan is determined to stay as a close partner of Iraq and Kurdistan Region with respect to their reconstruction and socio-economic development.”

The Head of Development Cooperation at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr. Johannes Schneider, noted: “Thanks to UNDP and the ICRRP the enormous challenges in the response to the Iraqi Crisis are being addressed in a timely and effective manner. The program ensures that anybody in need, independent from his or her ethnic or religious background can benefit from the support. Germany is happy to have contributed to this program with a total amount of €59.5 million so far.”

Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General, Marta Ruedas, notes that: “Supporting Iraq’s livelihoods and basic service delivery bolsters Iraq’s path to recovery from the recent conflict. UNDP is committed to working closely with the Erbil Governorate on these critical infrastructure projects that support both displaced populations and host communities”.

UNDP’s Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Program (ICRRP) promotes the recovery and resilience of communities vulnerable to multi-dimensional shocks associated with large-scale returns and protracted displacement of Iraqis and Syrian refugees.

This is achieved through a medium-term programming integrating crisis management capacity building, rehabilitating basic service infrastructure, livelihood recovery and social cohesion.


Iran's NIGC to Set Up Talent Assessment Center

Head of Human Resources Training Department of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) Eshaq Farshidi said the company's Talent Assessment Center (TAC) will be established soon aiming at assessing and classifying the employees' talent in the National Gas Company. - Shana


Iran Eyes Marine Tourism Hub in Northern Ports

The Iranian northern ports of Anzali and Caspian will be soon turned into two major marine tourism hubs in the country, the deputy at the Ports and Maritime Organization said.

A 10-mile tourism route stretched from the port of Anzali in Gilan province to the Caspian Sea coastline in Mazandaran Province will be created in the near future, Hadi Haghshenas told ISNA news agency.

He added the Caspian Sea littoral states have a positive view about the project and that the ports can attract beachgoers and tourists interested in marine tourism.

We are currently facing with lack of tourism facilities and resorts in coastal locations, Haghshenas said, plans are underway to develop recreational facilities along the ports’ coastlines.

Noting that the government needs foreign finance in order to go ahead with the plans, he said the project has the potential to attract foreign investors.

His remarks came after Mohammad Rastad, the Iranian deputy minister of road and urban development, announced the government’s decision about the two ports.

While Gilan's marine tourism potential has been known for years, it wasn't until 2015 that plans were finally put in motion, thanks to the involvement of the private sector.

Gilan's 300-kilometer coastline stretches from Chaboksar to Astara, but it's lacking in tourism infrastructure. However, the proposed plans aim to remedy the problem by financing projects in Anzali, Chamkhaleh and Astara.

The popular province has 87 hotels, 23 hotel apartments, 47 inns, 233 roadside diners and cafes, and 53 travel agencies.

Iran’s coastal regions have the potential to attract 3 million foreign visitors a year, according to tourism and environment officials. - Trend


Swiss-Belhotel International to Open Properties in GCC

Strengthening its presence in the region, Swiss-Belhotel International will be opening 10 hotels in key destinations across the GCC and Africa by 2019. Laurent A Voivenel, Senior Vice-President, Operations and Development for the Middle East, Africa and India for Swiss-Belhotel International, said, “We have 10 new openings lined up this year and the next in addition to a series of projects under development. These will not only add some fantastic hotels to our portfolio but will allow us to penetrate new destinations such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Egypt while growing our presence in existing territories. In addition, it marks the debut of some of our brands that will be available in the region for the first time ranging from luxury 5-star to mid-market segments.”

Gearing up for opening in the coming months under the Swiss-Belhotel International banner are: Swiss-Belinn Airport Muscat, Oman; Grand Swiss-Belresort Seef, Bahrain; Swiss-Belresidences Juffair, Bahrain; Swiss-Belhotel Al Aziziyah Makkah, KSA; Swiss-Belboutique Tahlia, Riyadh, KSA; Swiss-Belhotel Riyadh, KSA; Swiss-Belresidences Al Sharq, Kuwait; Swiss-Belboutique billioneid Al Gar, Kuwait; Swiss-Belresort Battersea, North Coast, Egypt; and Swiss-Belhotel and Suites Asmarat, Cairo, Egypt.

Tourism performance in the main cities across the Middle East is expected to remain strong with the fruition of major infrastructure projects such as airport expansions, increased global connectivity and growth of low-cost carriers, new leisure attractions, enhanced business facilities and a year-long calendar of regional and international events.

Laurent stressed, “The hospitality landscape is developing at a rapid pace and we are keen to take advantage of this massive opportunity. Our aim is to position Swiss-Belhotel International as the best alternative to blue chip companies offering superior returns, unbeatable value and unforgettable experiences. One of the most important differentiators of Swiss-Belhotel International is our award-winning service. The essence of our brands revolves around the heritage of Swiss hospitality with the passion and service of Asia, and our hotels deliver on this promise. Therefore, Passion and Professionalism are the core of our brand culture. Our philosophy is to work hand-in-hand with our owners and business partners to maximise the financial returns and exceed the expectations of our guests, investors and associates.”

According to industry sources the Middle East ranks:

- 8th in the world in terms of travel and tourism’s direct contribution to GDP with US$85.0 billion in 2017. It is expected to grow by 4.6 % pa to US$133.1 billion (3.3 % of GDP) by 2027.

- 9th in the world in terms of travel and tourism’s total contribution to employment. Generated 2,406,000 jobs in 2017. By 2027 it will rise to 2,986,000 jobs.

- 5th in the world in terms of visitor exports. US$83.2 billion in visitor exports in 2016. By 2027 it is forecast to reach US$148.3 billion.

- 4th in the world in terms of travel and tourism investment with US$49.6 billion in 2016. It will rise to US$98.9 billion in 2027.

- The Middle East reported the strongest annual traffic growth of any region globally for the 6th year running in 2017.

- Looking ahead, 7.2 billion is the number of global air passengers predicted by 2035. The Middle East will see an extra 245 million passengers a year on routes to, from and within the region by 2035 that will continue to support demand for hotels.

Equally promising is Africa’s hospitality that sector remains resilient and is poised for further growth over the next five years. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) international tourist arrivals grew by a remarkable 8 % in 2017 in Africa to reach a total of 62 million. Arrivals grew by 13 % in North Africa, while Sub-Saharan Africa arrivals increased by 5 %.

This strong momentum is expected to continue in 2018. The hospitality industry contributed US$165.6 billion — or 7.8 % — to Africa’s GDP in 2016 and this figure rose by 2.9 % in 2017 as per figures released by World Travel & Tourism Council. Meanwhile, the number of planned hotel chain developments has doubled in Africa since 2009 from around 30,000 rooms in 144 hotels to 73,000 rooms in 417 hotels.


Oman Tourism Development Co. JW Marriott Hotel to Open in Early 2019

Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN) has reported on the progress of its plans to open the second hotel within the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre (OCEC) precinct at Madinat Al Irfan. Set to be completed by the end of this year in parallel with the Convention Centre, the five-star JW Marriott will open its doors in early 2019 and will play an integral role in attracting business and leisure travelers as well as boosting the Sultanate’s MICE offering.

Situated in the eastern area of Madinat Al Irfan, the new metropolitan development in the heart of Muscat, the 305-room property will be the first JW Marriott hotel to open in Oman. With over 1,200m2 of flexible function space directly connected to the OCEC, multilingual and experienced event planners, two grand ballrooms, six meeting and boardrooms, tailored menus and bespoke wedding services, travelers will find that their every need will be catered to.

The new hotel will also feature five restaurants and lounges as well as over 700m2 of health and leisure facilities for guests to enjoy, including a 24 hour state-of-the-art fitness center, sublime spa that features sauna facilities, a juice bar and three outdoor swimming pools.

Salah al Ghazali, Head of Development Partnerships & Investment Relations at OMRAN, said, “This highly anticipated project not only supports the tourism sector by providing a wider variety of extra rooms and premium lifestyle facilities, but it will also be essential to the overall fabric of the city and Madinat Al Irfan components, especially the OCEC Development.”

He added, “OMRAN is presently working at a rapid momentum to deliver the hotel following large interest from the private sector for investment. This is following the success of Crowne Plaza Muscat, the first hotel that opened in OCEC, in which 49% of the property stake was acquired by local pension funds.”

Madinat Al Irfan is the Sultanate’s largest urban development project and is set to contribute to Oman Vision 2040. The eastern area currently being developed by OMRAN is located just minutes from the newly opened Muscat International Airport.

It is a multi-use district adjoining the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre, a world-class venue for international conferences, trade shows and concerts.


New Cities, Major Urban Poles to Benefit from Effective Support: Algerian Minister

Minister of Housing , Urban Planning and the City Abdelwahid Temmar affirmed Tuesday, in Annaba, that the management of the new cities and major urban poles constitutes, for his department, “a high priority that will be benefit from an effective support.”

In an inspection visit to the site of the new city Draa Errich, in the municipality of Oued El Aneb, the minister considered that these new cities require “an integrated and intelligent management” to accompany the development of these urban poles.

He also urged the managers of various public housing and equipment projects to make from the new city of Draa Errich “a model of an ecological and smart city,” notably in terms of energy exploitation, water recovery and management of open spaces.

While inspecting the construction sites of residential complexes of this new city which will host its first inhabitants “before the end of 2018,” the minister insisted on the execution, simultaneously, of external refurbishment works and encouraging young people to launch vital activities for the inhabitants’ daily life.

Temmar welcomed the dynamic of the execution of various housing programs allowing the delivery, since 2015, of 13,000 housing units in the province of Annaba.

At Sidi Acour university center in Annaba, Abdelwahid Temmar also chaired the symbolic handing over ceremony of keys and decisions of 2,000 housing units to the staff of the National Defense Ministry of several provinces.