Increase Seen for UAE Tourism Spending

Spending within the UAE’s travel and tourism sector is expected to rise steadily over the next five years and reach over US$56 billion in 2022 as new mega projects come to market, a recent analysis conducted by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry showed.

The analysis, based on new data from Business Monitor International (BMI) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) revealed that total spending in the sector is predicted to increase 4.5 % year on year in 2017 to reach over US$42 billion.

Growth within the UAE’s travel market growth will likely be supported by several recently announced projects, including Marsa Al Arab, a US$1.7 billion mega tourist resort near the Burj Al Arab, the new IMG Worlds of Legends theme park, a Formula One theme park at Dubai’s Motor City, Six Flags at Dubai Parks and Resorts, in addition to a number of planned shopping malls and cultural venues.

These mega projects fall in line with Dubai's preparations to host Expo 2020, diversify the emirate’s mix of leisure and entertainment offerings, and accommodate 20 million visitors in the city by 2020.

The data found that tourism and travel accounted for 12.1 % of the UAE’s GDP in 2016, or US$43.3 billion. Leisure travel spending amounted to US$31.31 billion, or 77 % of UAE’s total tourism spending in 2016, while business travel accounted for 23 %, or US$9.13 billion. Leisure travel spending increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 9 % since 2011, and business travel spending rose at a CAGR of 10.83 % over the same period.

The data also revealed that 14.9 million leisure and business travellers visited the UAE in 2016, representing a 4.9 % increase from the previous year. The number of visitors to the country has been growing steadily in recent years as source markets have diversified. The Middle East was identified largest source of visitors, with a share of 28.6 % in total arrivals during 2016, followed by the Asia Pacific region at 25.7 %, and Europe at 17.1 %.


Saudi National Caught Smuggling iPhones into Egypt

A Saudi national is facing legal action in Egypt for attempting to smuggle dozens of new iPhones, according to Sabq newspaper. Customs officers searched the smuggler and seized 128 cellphones valued at 1.025 million Egyptian pounds (~US$58,000). He arrived aboard a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight, which landed at Cairo International Airport.


Saudis Top GCC Investors in UAE Real Estate Sector

Saudi Arabian investors will continue to put their faith in Dubai real estate because the emirate's property market has a proven reputation for delivering long-term benefits, a developer said at Cityscape Global on Wednesday.

Okbah Abdulkarim, Chief Operating Officer of ARTAR Real Estate Development, said Dubai's status as a safe haven for real investors remains intact and major developments driving the economy are building investor interest, particularly from Saudi Arabia.

Official Dubai Land Department figures show that in the 18 months from January 2016 to the end of June this year, the biggest GCC investors in Dubai real estate other than Emiratis were Saudis who made a total of 5,366 transactions worth AED12.5 billion (US$3.4 billion).

“Many Saudis still see Dubai as a desirable city to visit because it's close by, there are shared religious and cultural values and a superb lifestyle here,” said Abdulkarim, currently overseeing ARTAR's Mada Residences tower in Downtown Dubai which is due for completion on schedule by 2Q 2018.

“There's a lot of diversification in the investment opportunities here in Dubai and it's a city that Saudis know well, and trust. Our Mada Residences project has attracted a lot of Saudi investors.”

“Dubai has built protection from negative economic effects by creating an infrastructure for business, investment and living. It is still regarded as a city where residential property provides long-term financial security.”

ARTAR believes the biggest volume of real estate investment in Dubai will continue in prime locations like Downtown, where Mada Residences stands out for a number of reasons, not least its Signature Collection of nine elite 4-bedroom apartments which have been taking centre stage at the company's Cityscape Global exhibition stand this week.

With superb Bianco Venus marble floors, European designed kitchens and some of the most expansive terraces in the Downtown district, the apartments range in size from 2,852 sq ft to 3,234sq ft and offer the all-round quality and style desired by astute investors and end users.

Uniquely, the 193 larger than average 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom luxury apartments include the only two-bed units with maid's rooms in the entire Downtown district.

Each home is intelligently designed to offer genuine liveability, meaning more space and easy movement for residents.

Mada Residences is a one-minute walk from Dubai Mall and within easy reach of other major attractions such as the Dubai Opera and a huge wealth of dining, entertainment, retail, leisure, cultural and other facilities.


Tehran Ready to Complete Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline

Iranian President Hassan Rohani voiced Iran's readiness to complete a long-sought gas pipeline project that is intended to deliver Iran's gas to neighboring Pakistan ( IPI Pipeline ).

"Iran is ready to complete the gas pipeline expressing hope that the obligations of both sides be fulfilled, which will be in the interest of both countries," said Rohani in a meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan held late on Tuesday local time in New York.

Rohani emphasized that Tehran wants to develop relations with Islamabad in all areas, stating that Iran attaches great weight to its friendly, brotherly relations with Pakistan, reported Mehr News Agency.

President Hassan Rohani welcomed the recent development in relations between the two countries, saying “the two nations are willing to have solid, permanent relations between Iran and Pakistan.”

“We are ready to supply Pakistan’s energy, and we welcome Pakistani investors in this area,” the president said, referring to the vast potentials in Iran and Pakistan to deepen the cooperation.

Dr. Rohani said that develop economic relations requires better cooperation between the banks of the two countries and added “Iranian and Pakistani banks should be encouraged and to establish branches in the two countries supported on the basis of agreements made.”

The president also referred to the Iranian gas pipeline to Pakistan and said “in this section, we have carried out our part and in the form of a huge work, we have taken the gas pipelines to the border of the two countries. - Shana


Bahrain Abusing Fisheries Issue to Stoke Regional Row: Qatar

Qatar accused Bahrain on Tuesday of abusing a routine fisheries enforcement case to deepen a three-month diplomatic crisis between the emirate and its neighbors.

Qatar's state-run news agency QNA said in a statement that Qatar condemned the statement issued by the Bahraini interior ministry on the detention of 15 Bahraini boats carrying 20 sailors, describing it as a desperate attempt to escalate the ongoing diplomatic dispute,” Al Manar reported.

An interior ministry official said the 15 Bahraini fishing boats seized by the Qatari coastguard, most of them over the past three days, had been operating illegally in the emirate’s waters and had been held under routine procedures.

The 20 fishermen on board would be released within the next three days while the courts would decide what happened to the boats.

The official told QNA the Coast and Borders Security Department had repeatedly warned the fishermen not to operate in Qatari waters and not to use harmful fishing practices.

Qatar had a longstanding territorial dispute with Bahrain over the waters and small islands that separate the peninsula from the main islands of its maritime neighbor which was only resolved by the International Court of Justice in 2001.

In June this year, Bahrain joined with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt in breaking off diplomatic relations with Qatar and severing all sea and air links.

The four governments issued a string of demands of the emirate, notably that it follows them in blacklisting the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group and downgrading relations with Iran.

Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, has held talks in Turkey, Germany and France over the past week to try to find a way out of the crisis and is due to meet US President Donald Trump in New York later on Tuesday.


Oil to Keep GCC Region Vital Globally: Bahraini Minister

Bahraini Oil Minister Sheikh Mohamed Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said that the political challenges in the GCC region will always be present but the GCC will always have an important economic weight in the world.

“Oil will remain the most important commodity in the world. The GCC region, which has the world’s leading strategic location, will continue to have the largest oil reserves and the highest production rates,” said Sheikh Mohammed in a press statement yesterday. He added that he expects oil prices to rise to over US$55 a barrel next year.

The GCC will be unable to meet the global market’s needs and demands for renewable energy, the minister said, although it is good to promote the idea of clean energy.


Report on Oil Auctioned on Dubai Mercantile Exchange

Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME), the premier international energy futures and commodities exchange in the Middle East, concluded its latest auction on Wednesday on behalf of Iraq’s National Oil Company, SOMO. The 2-million barrel cargo of Basra Light was awarded at a premium of US$0.13 per barrel over the November Basra Light Official Selling Price (OSP). 20 companies participated in the auction with 14 bids received during the two-minute auction.

DME has now hosted 13 auctions on its platform since January 2016, with a total of 21.6 million barrels sold, generating premiums totaling US$13.7 million. Four different crude grades have been sold via the platform including Oman crude oil blend, Basra Light, Basra Heavy and Malaysian Kimanis.

Ahmad Sharaf, Chairman, DME said: “DME auctions allows sellers to access a large pool of potential buyers and what would take many hours of phone conversations can now be accomplished during a two-minute auction period.” More than 60 companies from around the globe are registered to participate in DME auctions.

“The success of DME auctions underlines the need for price discovery mechanisms in the region and greater transparency. It has enabled national oil companies to assess their monthly official selling price and adjust it to find fair value for national resources,” added Sharaf.

Additionally, DME is working on a reverse auction, where buyers can procure commodities to meet domestic demand. Launched in 2007, DME has rapidly grown into a globally relevant exchange. Its flagship Oman Crude Oil Futures Contract (DME Oman) contract is now firmly established as the most credible crude oil benchmark relevant to the rapidly growing East of Suez market.

Reflecting the economics of the Asian region like no other contract, and the largest physically delivered crude oil futures contract in the world, DME Oman is the world’s third crude oil benchmark and the sole benchmark for Oman and Dubai exported crude oil.

DME is a joint venture between Dubai Holding, Oman Investment Fund and CME Group. Global financial institutions and energy trading firms including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Shell, Vitol and Concord Energy also hold equity stakes in the DME.


Abu Dhabi Carrier Offers Installment Payment Plan for Flights

Abu Dhabi carrier Etihad Airways on Wednesday launched an initiative that allows customers to book and pay for flights in monthly installments. Etihad on Wednesday said it has partnered with online payment service provider Payfort for the scheme, wherein travelers who book through the carrier’s website can choose to pay for their flight tickets via installment ranging from three to 60 months. The carrier said 17 banks in the region are participating in the initiative.

The initiative was designed to assist low to medium income travelers and families by empowering them with the ability to book travel without the burden of having to pay for it up front, Justin Warby, the Vice President for Digital Strategy and Innovation fo Etihad Airways, said. “We’re taking a global outlook and bringing best practice to the region. … This is perhaps an example of the most intuitive use of technology we can provide as an airline,” Warby said.


Lukoil Eyes Field Development Tenders in Algeria

Russian oil major Lukoil is interested in participation in tenders for fields’ development in Algeria, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters on Wednesday. "Lukoil is interested in taking part in tenders on fields’ development in Algeria," Novak said. The Russian company is interested in both onshore and offshore tenders, the minister noted.

Algeria is a leading natural gas producer and one of three top oil producers on the African continent. Proven reserves of natural gas in Algeria amount to 4.5 Tcm and oil reserves equal to 1.5 billion tons.


Alec Starts Work on Dubai Project

UAE-based Al Jaber Engineering and Contracting (Alec) recently completed the early works including site excavation, preparatory works, shoring and piling on the site of One Za’abeel, a 36-storey mixed-use project from Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), and has now begun construction of a seven-floor basement.

An ambitious project from ICD, the state's sovereign wealth fund, One Za’abeel is located between the Dubai World Trade Centre and Za’abeel Park. It consists of two towers (residential and commercial) linked by a suspended bridge.

With a total built up area of 480,000 sq m, the two-tower, high-rise mixed-use development incorporates luxury residences, a luxury and ultra-luxury hotel, serviced apartments, office spaces, a retail podium, known as The Gallery, and a panoramic sky concourse, The Linx, that connects the two towers of One Za’abeel, said Alec, a multi-disciplinary builder with operations in Dubai and Abu Dhabi besides Oman and Qatar.

One Za’abeel will consist of three separate towers that will be inter-connected at the top and will have a common podium at the base. In a first for the region, a highway will run through the development. One Za’abeel will also be in close proximity to two Metro stations.

The unique complex will include a residential tower with 450 apartments, a five-star hotel tower with 370 rooms and a commercial tower offering 500,000 sq ft of office space, said the statement.

The project was named One Za’abeel as it carries the address 1 Za’abeel, located strategically between the old and new business districts of Dubai on Sheikh Zayed Road, it added.


Sharjah's Al Bait Hotel Set for 2018 Launch

Work on Sharjah’s luxury and heritage hospitality property, Al Bait Hotel, is progressing as per schedule with more than 70% of the project already completed, according to a report.

The first five-star luxury hotel on a heritage site in the UAE, Al Bait Hotel is being built by Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq).

It will feature 54 luxury guestrooms and suites, hotel facilities including five cafes and restaurants, among other amenities, reported state news agency Wam.

The hotel is also connected to one of the oldest marketplaces in the country, Souq Al Arsah, providing its guests with one-of-a-kind experience to see and feel one of the emirate's oldest souqs from their doorstep.

Al Bait Hotel, said to be the largest-of-its-kind in the region, is being built at an investment of Dh100 million (US$27.2 million), it stated.

The mega project will be completed by next year, said the report citing Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, the chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq).

She was speaking after carrying out inspections across the authority’s latest authentic and luxury hospitality projects in Sharjah including Mleiha’s newly announced "Fossil Rock Lodge."

She was joined by Shurooq CEO Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal and COO Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer.


Minister: Iran Ready to Do Business with German Entrepreneurs

The Iranian Minister of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare Ali Rabiei has announced Iran’s readiness for business interactions with German startups and industry owners. In the specialized panel of German startups and industry owners with holding companies and their subsidiaries, Ali Rabiei said that the ministry’s four funds that are managed by the private sector, but are supported by the government which guarantees investments, have led to extensive economic cooperation with Germany.

Stressing that the Islamic Republic is a safe and secure country in the region, he said Iran’s market enables the country to have interactions with 300 million people from neighboring states. He specified that more than 10% of Iran’s stock market belongs to the Ministry of Cooperative Labor and Social Welfare, adding that the capital of the ministry’s covered funds amounts to US$33 billion. - Mehr


UAE Delegation Attends IAEA General Conference

The United Arab Emirates is taking part in the annual week-long General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, at the organization’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

The UAE delegation, led by Hamad Al Kaabi, UAE Permanent Representative to the IAEA and Ambassador to Austria, includes various national stakeholders in nuclear industry such as the UAE’s Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, FANR, Emirates Nuclear Energy Cooperation, ENEC, and Nawah.

The General Conference is the highest policy-making body of the IAEA. It is composed of representatives of all member states of the agency. The General Conference meets annually, typically in September, to consider and approve the agency's program and budget and to decide on other matters brought before it by the Board of Governors, the Director-General and member states.

Mr. Al Kaabi delivered a key-note speech to the Plenary Session of the General Conference that highlights the strong relationship that binds the IAEA and the UAE. "Nuclear power continues to play an important role and contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions while delivering large scale energy to support economies and population growth worldwide. The UAE is in the final stages of construction of its first NPP with the commissioning process underway. The construction of my country’s four nuclear power reactors continues to progress well and in a timely manner with overall completion of all four units more than 82%. The completion rate of Barakah Unit 1 reached over 96%. In making this progress, the UAE recognizes the agency’s indispensable role in supporting the development of its national program," he said.

"The UAE commends the IAEA for its role in the transfer of knowledge and technology supporting the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, in member states. The Technical Cooperation Program remains an essential channel for this support. The UAE has received value services through the TC Program which facilitated the development of the infrastructure and human resources required for a safe, secure and successful nuclear energy program," added Al Kaabi.

The UAE delegation will take part in different activities scheduled, including the Scientific Forum at the General Conference which will be convened in conjunction with the 61st General Conference, entitled "Nuclear Techniques in Human Health: Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment". They will take part in other activities such as meetings of The Cooperative Agreement for Arab States in Asia for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology, ARASIA, as well as an event on the Renovation of the Nuclear Applications Laboratories, ReNuAL. The UAE will have an exhibition to showcase the UAE nuclear energy program.

Since joining the IAEA in 1976, the UAE has been cooperating with the IAEA based on its national developmental priorities. The cooperation spans across different sectors such as training and capacity building, nuclear energy infrastructure development, as well as use of nuclear applications in healthcare, agriculture, environmental monitoring and others.

The UAE’s cooperation with the IAEA is guided by the UAE Vision 2021 which seeks to make the nation among the best countries through various pillars such as social development and economy. The IAEA-UAE accomplishes some of these pillars through achieving a competitive knowledge economy, first-rate education system, world-class healthcare and sustainable development.


Abu Dhabi to Cut November Oil Exports to Asia

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has informed buyers in Asia it will reduce supplies of its flagship Murban crude by 15% in November to comply with OPEC production cuts, trade sources said on Wednesday.

The cut for Murban supplies was slightly deeper than the 10% reduction in October because of oilfield maintenance, one of the sources said. The producer will also cut November Das crude supplies by 10% and allocation of Upper Zakum crude by 5%, the sources said. ADNOC could not be immediately reached for comment.


BIBAN 2017 Held in Riyadh

The first day of "BIBAN 2017" Conference and Exhibition, which was launched by the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center on Sunday, witnessed interactive sessions that discussed supporting aspects and growth rates of SMEs in the Kingdom. The gathering ended Sept. 20.

The Trade and Investment Minister Dr. Majid Al Qasabi, Governor of the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority Ghassan Al Sulaiman, Communications and Information Technology Minister Eng. Abdullah A. Al-Sawahah and Labor and Social Development Minister Dr. Ali Al Ghafees participated in a session entitled "the Government role to empower SMEs in Saudi Arabia"

The Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority Governor Ghassan Al Sulaiman stressed the importance of entrepreneurship due to its vital role to develop the national economy.

He pointed out that the percentage of SMEs amounted to 99.2% of the private sector companies in the Kingdom. This is the same percentage in the European Union, Canada and Malaysia.

"SMEs’ contribution of to support economic growth in Saudi Arabia is still limited with only 22%, while in Europe it is 77% and 65% in Malaysia. SMEs’ exported products in Saudi Arabia is also only 3%,” he said.

Saudi Arabia aimed to be 15th in the world by 2030 with SMEs’ contributions would reach US$2.2 trillion,

Al-Sulaiman said that 26 projects were launched on the sidelines of “BIBAN 2017, in addition to what were previously launched.

"Our ongoing work will help to find special solutions for the two biggest challenges, finance and government procedures," he added.

Trade and Investment Minister said Social Insurance Fund will bear the costs of self-employed.

Al-Gosaibi highlighted his ministry's experience in reducing routine procedures in business environment and developing procedures to support SMEs in the Kingdom. He also praised Tayseer initiative, which was launched by the Council for Economic and Development Affairs.

He clarified that the measures which were taken by Meras Initiative aims to improve the private sector’s performance and facilitate procedures to start business by providing related services to investors.

"We will register free and part-time employers with social insurance. The social insurance fund will pay all the costs of the self-employed in case of registration," said Dr. Al-Gosaibi.

Minister of the Municipal and Rural Affairs Eng. Abdullatif Al Al-Sheikh said that his ministry considers SMEs as "an important part in supporting the growth of the Saudi economy," pointing out that the time came to expand the SMEs’ role.

Al Al-Sheikh highlighted his ministry’s experience in supporting the concept of entrepreneurship in the business field as well as the need to facilitate the administrative procedures for SMEs.

The minister also revealed that Baladi platform has been electronically linked with the Meras platform to enable the access of entrepreneurs and investors to the municipal sector via the “Maras platform”, which is managed by the Ministry of Trade and Investment.

Al Al-Sheikh said "we are participating in "BIBAN 2017" with more than 200 investment opportunities for SMEs”.

Labor and Social Development Minister Ali bin Nasser Al Ghafees said “we financed 40,000 SMEs with SR6 billion (US$1.6 billion)”.

He highlighted his ministry's ongoing efforts to enhance the relationship with SMEs in various tracks, including the "Free Labor Track, the Path Payroll, the Path of Emerging Projects, "Ageer" system which provides an attractive environment for free work to SMEs, and other tracks.

During his participation in “BIBAN 2017”, Minister of Communications and Information Technology Eng. Abdullah Al-Sawahah launched a digital platform to serve young entrepreneurs

Al-Sawahah said: “The ministry is working in two phases to support the growth of SMEs in the Kingdom, building phase and digital transformation phase.”

He pointed out that the building phase aims to exploit the young energies, while the digital transformation is based on the elements of "youth" and "data". He stressed the importance of integration to ensure the growth of the SME sector.


Construction of Dubai's CSP Project to Start in 2018: Saudi ACWA

Final preparations are underway to start construction of the world’s largest single-site concentrated solar power (CSP) project in Dubai in 2018, the Saudi company awarded the contract said.

ACWA Power said they are finalising the financial closure of the project in time to start building next year. The first phase of the project covering 3,750 hectares, equal to more than 4,500 football fields of mirrored solar panels, is set for completion at the end of 2020, they said.

Paddy Padmanathan, president and CEO of ACWA Power called the new plant a ‘game-changer’ “by making available renewable energy at a price that competes with fossil fuel generated electricity without subsidy not just when the sun is shining but at any time of the day and night.”

The US$3.9 billion (Dh14.2 billion) contract was awarded to Saudi-based ACWA Power and Shanghai Electric by Dubai state energy utility, DEWA, on Saturday.

The 700 megawatt facility will provide solar power day and night to power 568,000 houses, meeting the same quotas as gas, oil or coal fuelled power plants, ACWA said. The consortium will also set a new world record for the tallest solar tower at 260-meter (850-foot), they said.

The new project will also provide half million tons of natural gas annually, helping increase the share of clean energy in Dubai’s power mix to 7% by 2020, 25% by 2030 and 75% by 2050, they added.

It will also provide a clean substitute to importing million tons of natural gas per year in foreign currency. The consortium bid to supply electricity to Dubai for 7.3 US cents per kilowatt hour.


Construction of WEP New Offshoot Started: Iranian Official

Managing Director of Iran’s Parsian Oil & Gas Development Group Co. (POGD) Morteza Azizi elaborated on the start of construction of the new offshoot of the West Ethylene Pipeline (WEP) from Miandoab to Tabriz Petrochemical Plant and said the project is expected to be completed and commissioned within the next 18 months. The operations have currently been kicked off for the construction of the pipeline. - Energy News 



Qatar Insurance Co. Eyeing Expansion into New Countries

Qatar Insurance Co (QIC), the Middle East and North Africa’s largest insurer by market capitalization, is focusing on new countries to offset the impact of the Saudi-led campaign to isolate Qatar, a senior executive said. “The spat has made us focus on newer markets like Oman,” Salem Khalaf al-Mannai, chief executive officer for the Middle East and North Africa region, said in an interview in Doha on Monday. “In the past three months we have secured business in Oman that is equivalent to our Abu Dhabi business.”

The Doha-based company, which gets 30% of its group’s business from the GCC region, considers the impact of the regional standoff on its operations in the UAE to be “minimal,” al-Mannai said. “The UAE business, though a strategically very important market, represents a small percentage of the overall QIC Group business.” QIC is exploring options to make sure to sustain its position in the UAE, he said. The insurer still has an active license in Abu Dhabi and the renewal process is underway, he said. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and transport links with Qatar on June 5. QIC has been in Abu Dhabi since 2002, and its underwriting gross premium in the market is about 110 million riyals (US$30 million) a year.