Emaar Malls announce new digital-focused CEO to take over in August

Emaar Malls will have a new CEO from August, according to a disclosure filed to the Dubai Financial Market.

Emaar Malls said Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne will join as CEO, where “he will focus on preparing our malls business for tomorrow’s challenges and further increase our customers’ trust, strengthen tenant relationships and enhance the digital experience.”

Prior to joining Emaar Malls, Bousquet-Chavanne worked at Marks Spencer, where he served as chief marketing and digital officer, helping position MarksAndSpencer.com as one of the UK’s foremost clothing and footwear retail websites.

According to the statement, Emaar Malls’ current CEO, Nasser Rafi – who led the company when it was successfully listed on the DFM in 2014 – has “decided to take up new challenges.”

Rafi’s new post within Emaar Group “will be announced later”, according to the statement.

In April, Emaar Malls announced that over 35 million people visited Emaar Malls in Q1 2018, a 3 percent increase over the same period last year.

The announcement came on the same day as the company announced a net profit of AED 548 million ($149 million) in Q1 2018, slightly above the AED 539 million ($147 million) recorded in Q1 of the previous year.

For all the latest retail news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

Oil falls below $71 as Saudis are said to offer extra crude to some buyers

Oil retreated below $71 a barrel after Saudi Arabia was said to offer extra crude supplies to some customers as OPEC’s biggest producer plans to boost output, while the US is considering tapping into its emergency stockpiles to rein in prices.

Futures in New York slid as much as 0.8 percent, after falling 3.8 percent last week. Saudi Arabia offered additional cargoes of its Arab Extra Light crude to at least two buyers in Asia for August, people with knowledge of the matter said, after supplying full contractual volumes to customers in the region.

Meanwhile, the US government is said to be mulling the release of oil from the nation’s 660-million-barrel Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Crude has been weakened by fears that global demand will be hurt by trade tensions between the US and China, after prices hit a three-year high last month on prospects of a supply crunch.

Investors are watching for signs that members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners are moving to fill any potential gaps in supply caused by renewed US sanctions on Iran, falling output in Venezuela and sporadic disruptions in Libya.

OPEC and its partners could increase production by more than the 1 million barrels a day agreed under a deal last month if needed, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak said.

Still, the group’s Gulf members may need to pump almost as much oil as they can to cover swelling output losses, according to the International Energy Agency.

“Going forward, we may see OPEC members with the ability to ramp up output seek to grab more market share, whereas other nations such as Iran and Venezuela trying to stick to the agreement,” said Ahn Yea Ha, a commodities analyst at Kiwoom Securities Co.

“It’s unclear whether the US will actually use the emergency inventories, but we can at least tell that they feel a lot of pressure from crude trading above $70 a barrel.”

West Texas Intermediate crude for August delivery fell as much as 59 cents to $70.42 a barrel, and traded at $70.68 on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 12:26 p.m. in Seoul. Total volume traded was about 44 percent below the 100-day average. Prices dropped $2.79 to $71.01 last week.

Brent for September settlement lost 37 cents to $74.96 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe Exchange. Prices fell 2.3 percent last week. The global benchmark crude traded at a $5.36 premium to WTI for September.

For all the latest energy and oil news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

Bahrain needs a comprehensive package of economic reforms, says IMF

Bahrain needs a comprehensive package of reforms to reduce its fiscal deficits over the medium term, the IMF said, as the island kingdom seeks to secure crucial support from rich neighbours to avoid a currency devaluation.

“Despite planned fiscal consolidation measures, fiscal and external deficits are projected to continue over the medium term, due to the large and growing interest bill,” IMF’s Executive Board said in a report on Sunday.

“Public debt is expected to increase further over the medium term and reserves are projected to remain low,” it added.

Bahrain, one of the most vulnerable Gulf Arab economies to lower oil prices, confirmed last month that it was in talks with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait for support that would help reduce ballooning debt and shore up foreign-exchange reserves.

The country hired investment bank Lazard Ltd. to advise on how to repair its strained public finances, people with knowledge of the matter said earlier this month.

The IMF emphasised the need to “introduce direct taxation, including a corporate income tax, while containing the public wage bill and targeting subsidies to the poorest” and said Bahrain’s exchange rate peg to the dollar “remains appropriate for the economy.”

The IMF said it looked forward to the newly established debt management office to develop a contingent financing strategy to mitigate financing risks and costs.

“Delays in implementing a “credible fiscal plan and changes in market sentiment as global financing conditions tighten present downside risks.”

For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

Emirates NBD declares $38.9 million exposure to Abraaj

Emirates NBD has exposure to embattled private equity firm Abraaj through a $21.3 million investment in the management group, the bank said in a disclosure to the Dubai Financial Market. 

Additionally, the disclosure added that Emirates NBD has a total exposure of $17.6 million across three separate Abraaj funds.

With the disclosure, Emirates NBD becomes the latest in a growing list of companies with exposure to Abraaj, with recent additions including Shuaa Capital, Ajman Bank and the Commercial Bank of Dubai.

Other companies that have declared direct or indirect exposure to Abraaj include First Abu Dhabi Bank, Air Arabia and Union Arab Bank.

Aramex, Damac, Emaar Properties and RAK Ceramics have said that do not have any exposure to Abraaj.

Founded in 2002 by Arif Naqvi, Abraaj had nearly $14 billion of assets under management before being granted a court-supervised restructuring last month in the Cayman Islands, where it is registered, following allegations of the misuse of funds. The Cayman Islands court appointed liquidators to oversee an “orderly restructuring” of the group.

Four key investors in a $1 billion healthcare fund managed by Abraaj, including Bill and Melinda Gates and a World Bank affiliate, have demanded an inquiry into allegations that money from the fund had been misused.

That in turn triggered investor demands for their funds to be returned. Abraaj had the funds to repay secured investors but could not repay unsecured investors.

The company categorically denied any wrongdoing.

For all the latest banking and finance news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

Middle East airlines cancel Najaf flights amid growing unrest

A number of Middle East airlines have halted flights to the Iraqi cities of Najaf and Basra after days of protests and unrest.

On Friday, hundreds of protestors stormed the Shi’ite holy city’s airport, part of larger protests about corruption and poorly managed government services that have wracked the southern port city of Basra for several days.

According to various news outlets, protesters in Najaf had entered the airport’s main hall. Some had reportedly crossed onto the airport tarmac.

Following the Friday incident, Iraqi transportation authorities announced that the airport would close. The airport re-opened on Sunday, the Iraqi Prime Minister’s Office said in an announcement.

In a statement, flydubai said that its flights between Dubai and Najaf – FZ221 and FZ222 – were cancelled “due to disruption on the ground at Najaf Airport until 22nd July 2018.”

“We are in touch with the relevant authorities and continue to monitor the situation,” a flydubai spokesperson said. “Our passengers can rebook to a later date or receive a refund.”

On Monday, Emirates also suspended its flights to and from Basra, EK945 and EK946, “due to political unrest at the airport.”

“We are in the process of rebooking customers with alternative flights and will send updated itineraries to them on contact details given in the booking,” a travel advisory on the Emirates website noted. “Customers are requested to ensure their contact details are correct by visiting the ‘manage my booking’ page.”

The advisory also noted that the airline is monitoring the situation and aims “to give customers as much notice as possible if there are any further changes to our operations.”

Passengers holding tickets to and from Basra are also being advised to check the status of their flight.

Royal Jordanian Airline, which operates four weekly scheduled flights to Najaf, announced that it was halting services from Amman “until further notice, in view of the security situation at Najaf Airport.”

With the announcement, Najaf becomes the ninth Royal Jordanian destination to be suspended for security reasons, in addition to Mosul in Iraq, Damascus and Aleppo in Syria, Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata in Libya and Aden in Yemen.

Additionally, Kuwait Airways announced it was also halting flights, and that existing bookings would either be transferred to other companies or refunded without penalties.

For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

President Xi Jingping visit an ‘important step’ in UAE-China economic relationship

The UAE’s leaders have said this week’s “promising” visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the emirates as an “important step” in the economic, diplomatic and cultural relationship between the two countries.

Xi Jinping’s visit – his first to the UAE – comes as the country prepares to launch “UAE-China Week” between July 17 and 24, with the stated objective of highlighting the relationship between the two countries and enhancing trade cooperation.

According to UAE authorities, UAE-China Week will be celebrated every year to coincide with Chinese New Year celebrations.

“We welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping in this historic visit that celebrates the strategic partnership between the two countries and establishes a new phase of fruitful cooperation and promising outlooks,” said Sheikh Mohammed, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Sheikh Mohammed noted that the UAE is currently home to 200,000 Chinese citizens and 4,000 trading companies.

“We seek to build long-term economic, cultural, trade and investment ties with China,” he added. “We are happy to celebrate China’s rich and continued historical culture on an annual basis.”

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, said that China and the UAE play a “pivotal role” in stability and a promising economic future for the region.

“Over 28 years ago, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan visited China, founding the strategic relationship between the two countries that has yielded fruitful trade and investment as well as cultural relations of more than three decades,” he said, adding that that country has political and economic impact on a global level.

During his visit, Xi Jinping is expected to hold a series of high-level meetings aimed at strengthening ties between the two countries, increasing trade and investment opportunities and expanding social and cultural exchange through a series of cultural and political seminars.

According to government statistics, the annual trade volume between the UAE and China has exceeded $50 billion, with the UAE representing 23 percent of Arab trade with China.

China’s top four banks have a presence in the UAE, and there are over 100 flights a week between the two countries. Additionally, the number of Chinese tourists rose 26 percent year-on-year in 2016 to 880,000.

According to the China Foreign Trade Centre, bilateral trade between the two countries is expected to reach $80 billion over the next two years.

For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

Bollywood singer Mika Singh claims to book entire Emirates first class cabin

A Bollywood singer claims to have booked the entire First Class cabin of an Emirates aircraft in a move he said he hoped would start a trend among celebrities.

On his Instagram, Mika Singh, a 41-year old singer, songwriter and composer, claims to have booked the entire section on a flight from Dallas, Texas to Dubai.

“Today I had a great show in Dallas. I want to share with you that Michael Jackson used to say he wanted to travel alone,” he says in a video. “Today I decided that I want to travel alone and I don’t want any disturbance. I don’t want to see a single person in the First Class, so I booked the entire First Class.”

Singh added that “there is only one lion here [in First Class]. You need guts to do this.”

“I hope I set off a trend that big stars and celebrities would want to follow,” he added.

A previous post, on Twitter, shows Singh in the First Class cabin of “his favourite airline” a few days before, on his way to Dallas.

Emirates’ website shows that a First Class ticket from Dallas to Dubai on Monday (July 16) would cost AED 74,400 ($19,742).

Singh’s posts were criticised by many on social media, with some accusing him of taking the video after the cabin had cleared out, and others accusing him of unnecessarily boasting about his wealth.

“Meaningless. It’s not a trend [to] show off and be insensitive,” one Instagram user commented. “Great and profound people won’t ever do this despite the fact that they have the money to do so.”

A post shared by Mika Singh (@mikasingh) on Jul 9, 2018 at 1:37am PDT

Others, however, came to the singer’s defence.

“People are mocking him for buying out the entire first class. It’s his money and his life, he can do whatever he wishes to,” another user wrote. “If he’s looking stupid doing that, then I guess that’s what comes with making choices like these…looks like he doesn’t care about that either. Let the guy do whatever he wants.”

For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

From Al Ain to Russia: Zlatko Dalic on the brink of FIFA World Cup glory

In Croatia they call Miroslav Blazevic “the coach of all coaches” but on Sunday it is his former pupil, Zlatko Dalic, who will lead the small country into their first ever World Cup final.

‘Ciro’ Blazevic coached Croatia at the 1998 World Cup, their first as an independent nation, taking them to the semi-finals where they eventually lost to France.

Dalic was Blazevic’s assistant at Varteks in the early days of his coaching career and the education he received back then has helped shape his journey to the top.

“I am not ashamed to say I learnt a lot from ‘Ciro’ Blazevic,” said Dalic this week.

“I worked with him for two years as an assistant coach and sporting director at my club and it transpires that I have gone one step further. He was number three in the world and on Sunday I will be number two at least.”

Zlatko Dalic and Luka Modric of Croatia celebrate victory following the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Semi Final match between England and Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 11, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Getty Images)

Dalic was there in France 20 years ago, but not as a player. He never represented his country at international level during a modest career as a defensive midfielder.

Instead he travelled to watch Blazevic’s team — led by the likes of Robert Prosinecki and Davor Suker — as a fan, but had gone by the time the ‘Vatreni’ beat Germany 3-0 in the quarter-finals. He had to return home for pre-season training.

‘Harder path’

After moving into coaching, he did not hesitate when the chance came to move abroad.

Dalic took over at Saudi club Al-Faisaly in 2010 and went on to enjoy considerable success at Al-Hilal and United Arab Emirates club Al-Ain.

It was with Al-Ain that he first appeared in a major international final, in the 2016 AFC Champions League, where they lost to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of South Korea.

“Throughout my career and my life I have always taken the harder path and had to fight for everything myself,” he said. “I did not want to stay in Croatia and be a middling coach and live off handouts. I went abroad as soon as I found a job.”

Al Ain Manager Zlatko Dalic is thrown in the air by his players after winning the Presidents Cup Final match between Al Ain and Al Ahli at Zayed Sports City on May 18, 2014 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Getty Images)

‘Give me Real Madrid or Barcelona’

There can be little arguing with Dalic’s pedigree — he was born in the town of Livno in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina. Suker and Niko Kovac, as well as Niko’s brother Robert, another former Croatia star, have origins there too.

Dalic is revelling in the moment in Russia and was keen to point out that in the era of the super-coach, Croatia has some of the best managers in the busness, citing Niko Kovac and Slaven Bilic.

“This is what we are about. I used to say give me Real Madrid or Barcelona and I will win titles,” Dalic said of himself.

Yet he was only given the opportunity to manage the national team with the country’s federation in a panic last October.

Ante Cacic had been sacked and Dalic took over in time for a critical World Cup qualifier against Ukraine. They won 2-0 to reach the play-offs, before beating Greece make it to Russia.

“There were no negotiations, I just accepted it because my life’s dream was always to coach my national team,” Dalic said of his appointment.

Al Ain Manager Zlatko Dalic reacts during the Presidents Cup Final match between Al Ain and Al Ahli at Zayed Sports City on May 18, 2014 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Getty Images)

“I had no doubts about taking the job. I did not put down any conditions. After the Ukraine game I worked for another six weeks without any contract.”

Croatia, with a population of just over four million people, is the smallest nation to reach the World Cup final since Uruguay in 1950, an achievement all the more remarkable as football in the country is plagued by off-field scandals.

Dalic has called it “a miracle” and he has already been made an honorary citizen of the county of Varazdin, where he lives.

Watching from afar, Blazevic, now 83, is a proud man.

“I’m very happy that my pupil has done better. He created a family atmosphere in the squad and not everyone can do that.”

For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

Prince Alwaleed offers support to Saudi crown prince’s reform agenda

Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has pledged his support to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his sweeping Vision 2030 reform plan.

Prince Alwaleed said in a tweet on Thursday: “I was honoured to meet with my brother HRH the Crown Prince and to discuss economic matters and the private sector’s future role in #Vision2030 success. I shall be one of the biggest supporters of the Vision through @Kingdom_KHC all its affiliates.”

He also posted a photograph of the two men smiling warmly and embracing in front of a desk. It was the first publicly disclosed meeting between the royal cousins since Prince Alwaleed was released in January after being detained the previous November in Riyadh’s Ritz Carlton hotel for three months under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s anti-corruption campaign.

Prince Alwaleed was the most high-profile figure to be detained, along with dozens of royals, senior officials and businessmen. Most were released after reaching financial settlements with the authorities. The kingdom’s attorney general Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said a total of $106.7bn was raised in the crackdown.

The financial details of the deal cut by Prince Alwaleed to secure his release are not known. Prior to his arrest Forbes had estimated his net worth at $17.4bn. Most of that figure was down to his 95 percent stake in Kingdom Holding, over which he has thought to have retained control following his release.

Crown Prince Mohammed’s any-corruption drive was part of the sweeping Vision 2030 plan to move the kingdom away from its reliance on oil revenues and liberalise the country’s economic and social landscape.

For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

Manny Pacquiao rolls back years to knock out Matthysse

Manny Pacquiao rolled back the years as he stopped WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse on Sunday — the 39-year-old Filipino icon’s first knockout win since 2009.

It was a dominant, devastating display as “smoking hot” Pacquiao registered the 60th win of a fabled 23-year career that now looks certain to extend beyond his 40th birthday in December.

Pacquiao knocked down the big-puncher from Argentina as early as the third round with a stunning left uppercut that thudded around the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur.

The 35-year-old Argentine, who came in with a reputation as a big puncher, had no answer to Pacquiao’s blistering speed and he dropped again in the fifth.

When a right-left combination thudded home to send Matthysse crashing down for a third time in the seventh round referee Kenny Bayless stepped in to save him from further punishment.

“It was a long time ago since I’ve done that. I came out smoking hot,” said Pacquiao who extended his record to 60 wins, seven losses and two draws.

“I’m surprised I knocked him down so early — in the third, fifth and seventh.

“We did a good job in training. We were not pushing hard — we controlled our pace and ourselves.

“I’m no longer young, so thanks to my trainer and all my team members.”

Manny Pacquiao of the Phillipines celebrates after defeating Lucas Matthysse of Argintine on July 15, 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Getty Images)

A shell-shocked Matthysse, who had come in with a record of 36 knockouts in 39 wins with just four defeats, conceded he had no answer to Pacquiao’s speed, movement and power as the “old Manny” returned with a vengeance.

“It’s most difficult to be fighting Manny Pacquiao,” he said. “He’s a great fighter. I lost to a great legend.”

‘First step to a dream’

On a great morning in Malaysia for fighters for the Philippines, Jhack Tepora earlier stopped Mexico’s Edivaldo Ortega to win the interim World Boxing Association featherweight title.

Tepora unleashed a wicked short right hand in the ninth round to knock down Ortega for the first time in what had been to that point an even contest.

He swiftly followed up with a barrage of powerful swinging punches that forced the referee to step in after 2min 38sec of round nine.

“I didn’t expect the win but I really trained hard for this fight for three long months,” said the big-punching Tepora who extended his unbeaten record to 22 wins with 17 inside the distance.

Tepora cited Pacquiao as his inspiration. “When I saw Manny’s story, coming from the streets, I thought one day I could be like that and this is the first step to that dream,” he said.

Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse reacts after he was knocked down by Philippines’ Manny Pacquiao during their world welterweight boxing championship bout at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur on July 15, 2018. (AFP/Getty Images)

Lu Bin’s brave bid for a record world title win in just his second professional fight came crashing to earth when he was knocked out in the dying seconds of his battle with experienced WBA light flyweight champion Carlos Canizales of Venezuela.

Lu was felled near the end of the 11th round for the first time in his short pro career.

Canizales went for the kill in the 12th and final stanza. After a barrage of punches a storming straight right dropped Lu and the referee waved it off.

Moruti Mthalane from KwaZulu Natal in South Africa got off the canvas to take home the vacant International Boxing Federation flyweight title by outpointing Waseem Muhammad, who was bidding to become Pakistan’s first ever world champion.

For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.