Flydubai starts operating flights from DXB’s Terminal 3

Dubai-based carrier Flydubai has started operating flights from Terminal 3, with 11 destinations moving from Terminal 2 at Dubai International (DXB).

The move is part of increased partnership with Emirates that has so far seen the two Dubai-based carriers codeshare on flights and align their frequent flyer programmes under Emirates Skywards.

Flydubai’s flights to Belgrade, Bishkek, Bucharest, Catania, Helsinki, Krakow, Mineralnye Vody, Prague, Rostov-on-Don, Salalah and Zagreb will  now operate from Terminal 3 at DXB.

The destinations have been chosen to help improve the connection between Emirates and Flydubai, with further flights operating from Terminal 3 to be added in the 2019 summer schedule.

“Last July, we announced the extensive codeshare partnership which has seen Emirates and Flydubai work closely together to offer customers unmatched opportunities to travel,” said Sheikh Ahmed, chairman of Flydubai. 

“As part of this next phase flights to 11 flydubai destinations will operate from Terminal 3 optimising connectivity for their passengers from the world’s busiest airport.”

For all the latest UAE 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 jumps most since June on Saudi-Russian pact, trade war truce

Oil headed for its biggest two-day advance since June as concerns over a supply glut eased on hopes that OPEC and its allies will strike a deal to stabilise the market.

Futures in New York rose as much as 1.3 percent, extending Monday’s 4 percent gain.

An agreement between Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin over the weekend raised the possibility of an output accord when OPEC and its partners meet in Vienna on Dec. 6.

Prices also received a boost after Canada’s Alberta province announced plans to cut production by 325,000 barrels a day.

Crude is rebounding from the worst monthly drop in a decade on growing optimism the world’s top oil exporters will tackle the risk of a glut.

Still, Moscow and Riyadh have yet to agree on details, including the size of potential output cuts.

A US-China trade truce also sparked bullish sentiment across global markets, pulling the American benchmark out of “ oversold territory” for the first time in almost a month.

“Even if Russia shows a willingness to refrain from ramping up production, that’s a positive sign for Saudi Arabia and the rest of OPEC,” Kim Kwangrae, a commodities analyst at Samsung Futures Inc., said by phone.

“Oil’s also getting a boost from the easing trade tensions between America and China, as well as Canada’s output cuts which will lift Western Canadian Select’s discount to the US marker.”

West Texas Intermediate for January delivery rose as much as 66 cents to $53.61 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, and was at $53.52 at 12:43 p.m. in Seoul. Futures jumped $2.02 to close at $52.95 on Monday. Total volume traded Tuesday was about 12 percent above the 100-day average.

Brent for February settlement gained 59 cents to $62.28 a barrel, after closing at $61.69 on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange on Monday.

Technical indicators are showing a bearish cloud is still hanging over prices, with the 50-day moving average having fallen below the 200-day average, arriving at what’s known as the death cross. The global benchmark crude was at an $8.58 premium to WTI for the same month.

While the Joint Technical Committee, which met on Monday, is said to have made no recommendations for the Vienna meeting on supplies, another OPEC advisory body said last week a production cut of 1.3 million barrels a day is needed to balance the market in 2019.

On Sunday, group President and the UAE Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei said he was optimistic the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies will reach an accord.

Alberta’s plan to mandate OPEC-style output curbs further eased fears of a glut. The unprecedented step to ease a crisis in the Canadian energy industry will reduce production of raw crude and bitumen by 8.7 percent starting in January until the levels of excess oil in storage are drawn down. The cut would then drop to 95,000 barrels a day until the end of next year at the latest.

Western Canadian Select’s discount to US benchmark WTI narrowed $6 to $23 a barrel on Monday, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The discount sank to as much as $19.75 a barrel earlier in the day, the tightest since July. On an outright basis, prices were up more than $8 a barrel.

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.

Saudi Arabia’s ICD to introduce blockchain-based Islamic banking solutions

The Saudi-based Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) has penned an agreement with a Tunis-based fintech company to develop blockchain solutions for Islamic banks, it has been announced.

In a statement, the ICD – which is the private sector arm of Islamic Development Bank Group – said it signed an investment agreement with I-FinTech Solutions (IFTS) to develop a pipeline of products which are designed mainly to solve liquidity management issues.

The first product in the pipeline is slated to be a real-time platform which facilitates transacting of real commodities and to solve inter-banking issues between conventional and Islamic bans in a Sharia-compliant manner.

According to ICD, by using blockchain the product will reduce overall execution times as well as the cost of the financial and commercial transaction. Additionally, it is also expected to improve the transparency and traceability of the transactions.

“IT will always play an important role for the financial system,” said ICD CEO Ayman Sejiny. “We will consistently pursue our strategy of service orientation and help our partners with innovative Sharia-compliant fintech solution.”

Currently, Islamic banks are largely restricted from money markets and interest-bearing funded tools provided by central banks, which could potentially be disadvantageous during a liquidity crunch.

Last week, UAE-based Al Hilal Bank became the world’s first Islamic bank to use blockchain technology for the resale and settlement of an Islamic Sukuk. According to ceo Alex Coelho, the technology will pave the way for more digitised “smart” Islamic Sukuks, one of the fastest growing asset classes in recent years.

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.

Mubadala Aerospace eyes investments in 3D printing, AI technologies

Mubadala Aerospace will increasingly look towards investments in “fourth industrial revolution” technologies such as 3D-printing and artificial intelligence-backed predictive maintenance, according to Badr Al Olama, the head of the organising committee of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) and head of Mubalada Aerospace.

In an interview with Arabian Business, Al Olama said that in the near future Mubadala Aerospace will “look to invest with technology-focused companies across the sector to innovate and develop a competitive value proposition for its customers to ultimately generate sustainable financial returns for our shareholder.”

“Consequently, we will be looking into 3D printing and robotics, advanced materials and predictive maintenance using artificial intelligence technologies,” he added.

Al Olama added that he believes that these modern technologies will create – rather than eliminate – jobs and lead to new “hybrid” roles in which skilled workers use technology to facilitate production, efficiency and decision-making.

“The introduction of robotics to the manufacturing sector, for example, allows higher levels of work flexibility as monotonous or repetitive tasks are overtaken by machines, allowing workers to focus on creative or competitive thinking,” he said.

As another example, Al Olama pointed to additive manufacturing which he said will “support more local and community-led manufacturing”, with benefits include more precision and less waste, reduced CO2 emissions and fewer transportation miles by printing onsite.

“Researchers anticipate that by 2030, the majority of private consumers in industrial countries will have additive manufacturing printers at home, which may shrink and scale down global supply chains,” he added.

“Therefore, it’s not just employment that will shift, but our relationship with manufacturing at its core.”

However, Al Olama said that while the development of new technologies can create “unprecedented opportunities” for the manufacturing workforce, the dramatic shift has also led to the emergence of a skills gap.

“To ensure the full scale of the [Fourth Industrial Revolution] is realised, particularly in the manufacturing sector, an international initiative to shift, train and retrain skills towards digitalisation is needed, urgently,” he said. “This is why it is so important to enable collaboration between stakeholders across the sector, including policymakers, the private sector and civil society leaders.”

For all the latest tech 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.

UN-led talks a ‘critical opportunity’ for Yemen peace, says Gargash

Proposed UN-led talks in Sweden mark a “critical opportunity” to bring peace to war-torn Yemen after four years of conflict, a top Emirati official said Tuesday.

The comments from the UAE, which is part of the pro-government coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen, came as UN envoy Martin Griffiths is in the rebel-held capital Sanaa seeking to push forward the planned talks.

“Evacuating wounded Houthi fighters from Sanaa once again demonstrates the Yemeni government the Arab coalition’s support for peace,” the UAE’s state minister for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said in a tweet.

Fifty wounded rebels left on a UN-chartered plane Monday for neutral Oman to be treated, in what was termed “a confidence-building” measure ahead of any talks.

The conflict, which erupted in late 2014, has brought the impoverished country to brink of famine, and the UN has described Yemen as the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

Nearly 10,000 people are said to have been killed since the Saudi-led pro-government coalition intervened in the conflict in early 2015, according to the World Health Organization.

No date has yet been set for the talks, which are due to be held in Sweden, but hopes have been building that they could go ahead this week.

“We believe Sweden offers a critical opportunity to successfully engage in a political solution for Yemen,” Gargash said in his tweet.

He added that “a sustainable Yemeni-led political solution offers the best chance to ending the current crisis.”

UN envoy Griffiths on Monday said on Twitter that he was “pleased to confirm” 50 injured Yemenis were to be treated on neutral ground in Muscat and “urged all Yemenis to work together in pursuit of peace and stability”.

The evacuation marked a key step in kickstarting stalled negotiations as world powers press for an end to the devastating conflict.

Saudi Arabia and its allies, who back Yemen’s embattled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, had agreed the 50 wounded combatants, 50 escorts and a team of Yemeni and UN doctors could be flown out to Muscat – a condition set by the Houthis for negotiations.

The Houthis have also called for guarantees for their safety if they leave the country – a key condition which led to the collapse of earlier talks planned for September in Geneva.

Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah told reporters that a Houthi delegation was now set to leave Sanaa for Stockholm on Tuesday morning together with his country’s ambassador to Yemen.

The oil-rich Gulf emirate, which has been a mediator in the devastating conflict, hosted Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom for talks in Kuwait City on Monday.

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.

Careem to launch Saudi bus service after Cairo debut

Ride-hailing app Careem has launched a new bus service in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, the company announced on Monday.

Careem Bus is a separate app that allows users to choose their pick-up and drop-off locations, after which they will have the option of picking the best that best suits their time.

The app will also allow users to track their bus in the same way that the ride-hailing app tracks cars, with fares set at a fixed rate that is between 60 and 70 percent cheaper than the car service.

Additionally, the app will ensure that every passenger is guaranteed a seat on the bus. The service is currently cash only, but Careem said that passengers will “soon” be able to pay via the Careem wallet on the app.

“Customers now expect the same high-tech experience across all products and services they engage with. Why shouldn’t taking a bus be as seamless as ride hailing a car?” said Hadeer Shalaby, the director of Careem Bus.

Shalaby added that research conducted by Careem found that 40 percent of Egypt’s population is not adequately served by a transportation.

In the greater Cairo area, which currently has a population of 22.9 million, the World Bank estimates that the annual costs of congestion may be as high as $8 billion, with around 50 hours per person every month spent in traffic and 60 percent of trips only having one passenger per vehicle.

“The launch of Careem Bus means that transport options and mobility has just improved for millions of people, as well as decreasing congestion and pollution in the city,” he said. “Cairo is just the start.”

Initially, Careem Bus will begin operations on 13-seat air conditions buses, with bus stops to be marked at city landmarks. The service will look to improve and add to its offerings based on customer feedback.

In the near future, Careem plans to expand the service to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

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.

Ghosn to be re-arrested for understating income

Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn faces likely re-arrest next week as Tokyo prosecutors add a fresh claim that he understated his income by more than has previously been reported, according to a Japanese media report.

Prosecutors plan to re-arrest Ghosn and Greg Kelly, a fellow member of Nissan’s board, on Dec. 10, Sankei reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The prosecutors believe that Ghosn’s pay was understated by about 9 billion yen ($79.2 million), the newspaper said.

Ghosn and Kelly were arrested Nov. 19 over allegations that the longtime leader of the Japanese automaker understated his income by 5 billion yen over the five years that ended in fiscal 2014. The new claim by prosecutors involves the years ended in fiscal 2017.

Nissan representatives weren’t immediately available to comment on the report outside normal business hours.

Japan’s justice system

The shock arrest of Ghosn has thrown the international spotlight onto Japan’s criminal justice system, where suspects face prolonged detention and interrogation without lawyers present.

Rights groups, lawyers and legal scholars have for years criticised the system, which relies heavily on squeezing out a “confession” from a suspect after lengthy and gruelling questioning.

After securing this confession, prosecutors nearly always secure a conviction at trial, as an admission of guilt usually outweighs all other evidence.

Colin Jones, a professor at Doshisha Law School, wrote recently in the Japan Times daily that the system is often referred to as “hitojichi shiho” or “hostage-based justice system.”

“The ‘hostage’ is the suspect. The ‘ransom’ is their confession,” wrote Jones.

But despite international criticism, there is little public appetite for change, as Japan’s ultra-safe streets mean ordinary people have virtually no experience of crime and often view it as an abstract concept.

Authorities also defend the status quo, arguing that the nation’s legal protocols have emerged out of Japan’s unique culture and history and foreigners should mind their own business.

‘Aggressive interrogations’

Ghosn, 64, was arrested on November 19 and the court has granted prosecutors’ requests to hold him through December 10 to decide whether to indict him on charges of under-reporting his salary.

Prosecutors are widely expected to file additional charges against the tycoon and with each charge they can seek to hold him for another 22 days with limited access to his lawyers.

Even after that, the high-profile businessman can still be held in pre-trial detention.

All this has prompted some criticism abroad, particularly in France, where the high-profile tycoon holds citizenship.

The Japanese system “creates an environment which makes it possible for aggressive interrogations and risks producing forced confessions and false convictions,” the Japan arm of Amnesty International told AFP.

Hirofumi Uchida, criminal law specialist and professor emeritus at Kyushu University in western Japan, said it was “very hard to gain public empathy” for protecting the rights of criminal suspects.

“We need to bring the system up to par with international standards,” with shorter detentions, allowing lawyers to be present during questioning and less reliance on confessions in court, he told AFP.

However, prosecutors stress they are working within the existing legal framework, which emerged from the wreckage of World War II, when Japan sought to restore social order via bolstered authority for prosecutors.

In the fevered post-defeat atmosphere, suspects’ human rights were seen as a secondary concern, say experts.

Shin Kukimoto, deputy chief prosecutor at Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, lashed out at foreign criticism of their work in a recent news conference.

“Each and every country has its unique history and tradition and systems. I do not criticise other countries’ systems just because they are different,” said Kukimoto.

“We do not unnecessarily keep people in custody for a long time,” Kukimoto said.

False convictions

Defence lawyers say any trial is effectively decided before it starts, with prosecutors enjoying a 99.9-percent success rate – with confessions the key weapon at their disposal.

“Investigations basically determine the outcome of the process, not trials,” said Kana Sasakura, professor at Konan University.

The defence is often reduced to arguing for clemency in sentencing rather than trying to win the case.

Police and prosecutors believe in confessions as a key to discovering the truth, although experience in other nations has shown this it is not the case, Sasakura said.

“It is perplexing that they fixate on the old way of doing things, when there are better ways,” she told AFP.

The traditional system has resulted in horrendous cases of prosecutor misconduct, as well as false convictions.

In 2009, a team of prosecutors arrested a senior welfare ministry official for an alleged scam and held her for months.

She was later cleared of all charges and several elite prosecutors involved were sued for a range of crimes including evidence tampering.

The existing system runs the risk of producing wrong verdicts, as there is little scope for reviewing individual cases or prosecutors’ conduct, Uchida said.

In addition, Uchida said courts, prosecutors and police are bound together with a sense of pride in keeping Japan safe.

Moreover, there are now decades of legal precedents based on the system, making any reform extremely difficult, Uchida added.

“Lawyers, legal scholars and journalists are not aware of the historical background and they do not question the status quo,” Uchida said.

“The debate should not be about simply comparing the French and Japanese systems.

“Japan and France have had many of the same problems. France has made changes to improve its system. Japan has not moved,” Uchida said.

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.

Travel platform Almosafer sees surge in Saudi visitors to London

Saudi online travel platform Almosafer recorded an 143 percent increase in visits to London by Saudi travellers between January and November, the company has announced.

According to Almosafer, the trend has been bolstered by a promotional partnership with Visit Britain and extended holiday periods in the Kingdom this year.

Data from Almosafer shows that Saudi travellers stay an average of seven nights in the British capital and tend to book ahead, with an average booking window of 38 days.

More than half – 58 percent – of Saudi travellers stay in properties with four star ratings, while another 28 stay in five stay accommodations.

Approximately 40 percent of all the hotel bookings through the platform were found to be within a 1 kilometre radius of Park Lane in Central London, suggesting that shopping is a key determining factor in the decision making and travel booking process of Saudi travellers.

“London has long been a popular destination for Saudi travellers and we are impressed that the momentum and growth of the market continues to accelerate,” said Muzzammil Ahussain, EVP of Almosafer.

For all the latest travel 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.

Qatar withdrawal impact on OPEC to be minimal, experts say

Qatar’s decision to leave OPEC next month is unlikely to have a major impact on the entity’s ability to manage the oil market, according to a new report from Fitch Solutions.

In the report, Fitch noted that Qatar is among the smallest oil producers in OPEC, with production averaging slightly about 600,000 barrels per day as of October, compared to 32 million from the rest of the OPEC producers.

“We estimate that Qatar’s move…will not decisively affect OPEC’s ability to influence the oil market as Qatar represented a very small player within the cartel,” the report said.

“We therefore do not expect it to affect the group’s ability to enact coordinated oil production cuts.”

However, the report said that the consequences for OPEC may be “reputational” if Qatar’s withdrawal leads to other small producers leaving as well.

Qatar has said it will still participate in the upcoming OPEC meeting in December, where it is expected to announce coordinated production cuts to support lowering oil prices.

“We do not expect Qatar’s withdrawal to affect the outcome of the meeting, but we anticipate that it will further distance the country politically from its GCC neighbours,” the Fitch report said.

Other analysts agreed that the move will have only a limited impact on the global market.

“Quitting OPEC is largely symbolic for Qatar,” Energy Aspects chief oil analyst Amrita Sen told AFP. “Its oil production has been steady with limited prospects for increases.”

On Monday, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Anwar Gargash said that Qatar would be further “isolating itself” by withdrawing from OPEC.

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.

Serena Williams to take on sister Venus in Abu Dhabi tournament

Serena Williams has been added to the high profile line-up for this year’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship, which will take place from December 27 to 29.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion will take on her sister Venus Williams on the first day of the 11th edition of the championship.

Abu Dhabi was where Serena made her return to competitive action last year, after nearly a year away from the game following the birth of her daughter, and since then, has gone on to have a strong season reaching the finals at both Wimbledon and the US Open.

“I loved playing in Abu Dhabi last year. I am excited to return to such a beautiful city and to see my fans. This time, I’ll be playing against my sister, so the match will be even more special,” Serena Williams said.

Serena Williams in action at last year’s tournament. 

Serena holds the advantage over her older sister Venus, with an 18-12 career head-to-head record in matches.

The line-up for this year’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship also includes world number one and 14-time Grand Slam Champion Novak Djokovic, world number two and 17-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, alongside last year’s defending MWTC champion, Kevin Anderson, French Open finalist, Dominic Thiem, Australian Open semi-finalist Hyeon Chung and recent Paris Masters Champion, Karen Khachanov.

Organisers are encouraging families can take advantage of the special offer whereby children can enter for free on purchase of an adult ticket on day one of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at the International Tennis Centre at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi.

Tickets are priced from AED 100 and can be purchased from www.ticketmaster.ae and all Virgin Megastores

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.