Dubai targets Hong Kong as part of Far East exports push

Dubai Exports, the export promotion agency of the Department of Economic Development (DED), said it has concluded a successful visit to Hong Kong, attracting buyers and importers eager to source products from Dubai to Far Eastern markets.

The visit, led by Mohammed Al Kamali, deputy CEO of Dubai Exports, aimed to strengthen relations with key stakeholders as part of enabling UAE-based companies to expand their international presence in the Far East.

“Dubai Exports has already received enquiries from 71 buyers in Hong Kong interested in sourcing products from Dubai while 17 of our local companies have also sought our assistance in exporting to Hong Kong,” said Al Kamali.

Dubai Exports said it has been able to establish and develop strong relations with business and government decision makers in Hong Kong since its overseas trade office (OTO) opened in August 2017.

The office has proactively reached out to the local business community, industrial associations, and importers in order to promote the benefits and competitiveness of products and services from Dubai.

“Dubai is viewed by people in Hong Kong mainly as a tourist and oil-exporting region. However, with the emirate’s strategic plan for 2021, we aim to show that Dubai is much more and indeed a highly diversified economy,” Al Kamali said.

“Dubai is a global exporter and manufacturer of a diverse range of products, from porcelain to caviar and tea. Dubai also shares a similar DNA as Hong Kong and both regions can work closer across re-exports, trading, logistics, and more.”

According to the Trade Industry Department of Hong Kong, the UAE was the 15th largest trading partner and its most important partner in Middle East in 2017.

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Bahraini hospitality firm GHG opens first hotel in the UAE

Gulf Hotels Group (GHG), a Bahrain-based hospitality firm, has announced the soft opening of its first UAE property, The Gulf Court Hotel Business Bay.

The opening is the first phase of GHG’s expansion plan across the region, a statement said.

The four-star hotel offers a total of 270 rooms, including superior rooms to suites, which overlook the Dubai Water Canal.

Gulf Court Hotel Business Bay also boasts fine-dining restaurants alongside lounges and a banquet hall. Other facilities include meeting rooms, a swimming pool, fitness centre and spa. The hotel also has a nightclub and karaoke room.
Garfield Jones, Gulf Hotels Group CEO said: “It is another landmark day in the history of the group. Since the opening of the Gulf Hotel Bahrain Convention Spa back in 1969, the group has been committed to delivering the highest standards of Bahraini hospitality.

“The opening of Gulf Court Hotel Business Bay is the first step of our regional expansion program, which will include Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries in the future.”

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Champions League win not essential for Abu Dhabi’s Man City

Manchester City don’t need to win the Champions League to be judged a success, claims Belgian star Kevin de Bruyne in an interview with the BBC.

European club football’s most prestigious trophy has proved elusive to City despite the hundreds of millions invested in players since Abu Dhabi United Group bought the club in 2008 with a semi-final appearance in the 2015/16 season under Manuel Pellegrini their best showing.

However, De Bruyne — whose Champions League hopes were dashed by Premier League rivals Liverpool last season — tells the BBC winning the league crown last season probably ranks as a greater achievement than if one were to win the Champions League.

“I don’t agree that we have to win the Champions League to be a success,” said De Bruyne, who has been with City since 2015.

“It is a big title to win but in the Champions League you don’t need to have the consistency that you need in the league.

“We were great for the whole year, maybe a bit less against Liverpool, and so we were out.”

De Bruyne speaks with even more recent painful experience of disappointment at a major tournament with Belgium beaten by eventual champions France in the World Cup semi-finals.  

“It is a tournament, you need to be good at the right time,” he said.

“In the league if you have a bad spell then you are running behind.

“It is a different prospect, cup games are different to a league.”

De Bruyne, who scored a stunning goal in Belgium’s 2-1 World Cup quarter-final win over Brazil, says he enjoys a professional relationship with City manager Pep Guardiola.

Guardiola is filmed in the eight part documentary series ‘All or Nothing’ made by Amazon covering City last season — which is to be aired on the streaming service Amazon Prime on Friday — telling the players if they felt they would play better by hating him then they should do so.  

“Pep has different relationships with everyone,” De Bruyne told the BBC.

“I am lucky that I like to play the way already that he implemented so it was an easier transition, more natural.”

De Bruyne, who unlike his former Genk team-mate Thibaut Courtois did not enjoy a successful time when he joined Chelsea in 2012 and was eventually sold to German outfit VfL Wolfsburg in 2014, concedes levity can be in short supply in Guardiola’s pep talks. 

“Pep can be intense,” said the 27-year-old who scored eight goals and provided 16 assists in City’s title win which yielded several records including passing 100 points,

“In the end sometimes it can be an overload (of information from him) but every person in life has that when they are at work. We cope with it fine.

“You don’t have to shout at him, you talk like an adult, you are both people who came here to win as a team. If you explain what you are thinking then there is no problem.”

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Dubai policeman pays fine to save woman from jail

A kind-hearted Dubai police officer reportedly agreed to pay a fine on behalf of a woman who was sentenced to 100 days in jail.

Lieutenant Abdul Hadi Al Hammadi, an officer at the Rashidiya police station, paid AED10,000 to prevent the mother of a baby from going to prison.

The woman’s husband who had only AED100 with him was unable to raise funds to pay the penalty, local media reported.

The officer said that he was moved by the sight of the husband sobbing in front of him. 

“On realising that the man had failed to find support from his family and close friends, I decided to help out the family,” the policeman was quoted as saying.

“I was assigned by my seniors to help people and solve their problems. So when I saw the plight of the couple, I swung into action to ensure that the mother is not imprisoned and goes back home with her child and husband,” he added.

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Work starts on Netflix’s first Arabic original drama series

Netflix, the internet entertainment service, has announced that its first Arabic original series has begun principal photography in Amman, Jordan.

Mixing themes of the supernatural and teen soap, Jinn will bring Middle East folklore into the modern world, exploring contemporary themes of Jinn mythology but with a coming of age supernatural story about friendship, love and adventure.

Produced by Kabreet Productions, the drama will be directed and executive produced by rising star, Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya (Very Big Shot) and executive produced by Elan and Rajeev Dassani, with Elan serving as head writer.

The six-episode series is expected to launch to Netflix members all around the world in 2019.

Jinn follows a group of Arab teenagers as their friendships and budding romances are tested when they unknowingly invite the supernatural forces of Jinn into their world.

Erik Barmack, vice president of International Original Series said: “At Netflix, we’re always looking for local stories with an interesting and relatable perspective to bring to screens all over the world.

“With Jinn, we aim to create a fantastical show about young people in the Middle East in Arabic that’s real, authentic and action-packed. This Netflix show will be full of intrigue, adventure and amazing storytelling from Jordan and for our audiences around the world.”

Elan Dassani added: “The freedom Netflix gives producers really allows us to delve deep into the nature of storytelling and bring Arabic stories to life. Arab youth are just like teens everywhere, trying to find the balance between embracing modern culture whilst keeping true to their rich history. We’re excited to be able to bring a show reflecting this to Netflix fans across the world.”

Netflix has 130 million memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages.

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Dana Gas ends sukuk dispute, issues resized instrument

Sharjah-based energy company Dana Gas has completed the issuance of a new Sukuk, the size of which has been reduced to $530 million. 

In a statement, Dana Gas said that the issuance of the Sukuk is now listed on Euronext Dublin, formerly known as the Irish Stock Exchange. 

In May, Dana Gas reached an agreement with debt holders, including Blackrock, with the company paying $235 million in redemptions, profit payments and early participation fees. 

“The new sukuk represents a fair consensual deal for the benefit of all our stakeholders. It is a ringing endorsement that the overwhelming majority of Sukuk holders chose to remain invested with the company,” said Dana Gas CEO, Patrick Allman-Ward. 

Dr. Allman-Ward added that the company can now “move forward with its exploration and development plans to evaluate and develop its world-class portfolio of assets, both in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and Egypt.” 

According to Dana Gas, the Sukuk will have a three-year life and will mature in October 2020, with a new profit rate of 4 percent per annum. 

The relaxed dividend covenants, lower profit and reduced size of the instrument are expected to rude the company’s finance cost by $35 million per annum, equivalent to 63 percent of its annual finance cost. 

In July, Dana Gas announced that it netted $44 million in dividends through its share in Iraqi Kurdistan natural gas provider Pearl Petroleum between January and June. 

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Dubai retailer Marka announces Q2 profit amid restructuring

Retail operator Marka reported a total profit of AED 2.8 million in Q2 2018 – compared from an operational loss of AED 48.6 million in the same time period in 2017 – as the company continues with its restructuring plan, it announced on Wednesday. 

The results mark the second consecutive operationally profitable quarter for the company. 

“The positive results of this quarter and for 2018 so far reflect the progress the company is making on its restructuring programme, in light of these challenges over the past two years,” said Marka chairman Khaled bin Kalban.  

“The efforts of the Marka management team have put the company in a stronger position ahead of the capital restructuring that has been proposed for later this year and will instill confidence in the company’s future, for the shareholders,” he added. 

In July, Marka announced that trading of its share will be suspended at least through September 4, the company said in a statement filed to the Dubai Financial Market (DFM). 

Marka shares have been suspended from trading since late April, when in a general assembly Marka shareholders agreed to postpone discussions regarding a turing plan under another meeting, in September.

“The focus of Marka’s team is on building a lean, agile and profitable business supported by a performance-driven culture,” Marka Group CEO Benoit Lamonerie.

“This commitment is now yielding positive results, as demonstrated by our second consecutive operationally profitable quarter.” 

In 2017, Lamonerie replaced Nick Peel, who resigned in 2016 after failing to make Marka profitable, which he said would occur by Q4 2015.

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Dubai Customs seizes $9.66m worth of fake goods

Dubai Customs made a total of 130 intellectual property seizures in the first half of 2018, with a total value of AED 35.5 million ($9.66 million), it was announced on Tuesday. 

The seizures included electronics, glasses, spare automobile parts, textiles, utensils, bags and shoes. 

“We support innovation and authenticity in the UAE following the wise directives of our leadership,” said Yousef Ozair Mubarak, director of the Dubai Customs IPR Department.

“For this we enhance our partnerships with different stakeholders to consolidate efforts in protecting intellectual property rights. We work together with local and federal government departments and trademark owners in the private sector to prevent counterfeiting and piracy.”  

Mubarak added that Dubai Customs has equipped its customs centres with high-tech inspection devices and “developed the competencies and skills of its officers to effectively prevent any smuggling or counterfeiting attempts.” 

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Etihad, Emirates cancel Cochin flights following Kerala floods

Cochin International Airport in the Indian city of Kochi has suspended operations for four days amidst heavy rains and rising water levels caused by the opening of damn shutters on the nearly Periyar River, it was announced on Wednesday. 

The airport is expected to remain closed until Saturday, August 18 at 2pm local time, according to the airport’s website. No flights to or from the airport will operate until that time. 

Both Etihad and Emirates were among the airlines that that were forced to cancel flights to the airport. 

“Due to heavy rains and risk of flooding, Cochin Airport is temporarily closed,” an Etihad spokesperson said in a statement sent to Arabian Business. “Consequently, Etihad inbound and outbound flights to Kochi have also been cancelled.” 

Etihad added that it is assisting guests with rebooking and onward travel arrangements. 

Additionally, an Emirates flight, EK530 on Wednesday, was showing as cancelled on Emirates’ website. The airline could not immediately be reached for comment. 

The decision to temporarily halt operations was taken after damn shutters on the Cheruthoni and Idamalayar dams were opened to release excess water brought on by days of heavy rains. Both dams are on the Periyar River, which is in close proximity to the airport. 

The dams were opened amid flash floods in Kerala, which have killed dozens of people and displaced nearly 40,000, many of whom were forced to flee to relief camps set up across the state. 

“Our state is in the midst of an unprecedented flood havoc,” Kerala Chief Minister Pinerayi Vijayan posted on Twitter last week. “The calamity has caused immeasureable misery and devastation. Many lives were lost. Hundreds of homes were totally destroyed.” 

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Makkah travel bookings up 20 percent ahead of Hajj

The number of flights arriving in Makkah ahead of this year’s Hajj season rose by 20 percent compared to last year, according to statistics released by travel commerce platform Travelport. 

The statistics stem from an analysis of travel bookings made through global distribution systems (reservation networks) as of July 31, arriving from July 19 – one month before Hajj – to August 18. 

According to the analysis, flights from Pakistan saw the greatest growth in bookings compared to 2017, with volume up 61 percent to 13,788. 

Pakistan was followed by the UK, which saw the volume of bookings rise 47 percent to 4,324, compared to 4,306 bookings from Bahrain (an 173 percent increase). 

India and the UAE rounded out the top five positions in the table, with Indian bookings rising 19 percent to 3,791 and the UAE’s rising 24 percent to 2,887.

Overall, flight bookings around Mecca through GDS were made from 148 countries around the world. 

“Every year, Hajj sees one of the great migrations of people on the planet,” said Travelport managing director Matthew Powell. “It is likely many of the rises in flight bookings we’ve seen through our analysis can, at least in prat, be attributed to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s government increasing the Hajj quotes for the countries in question.” 

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