Dubai royal signs deal with world’s first digital licence plate platform

Reviver, creator of the world’s first digital licence plate platform, is set to enter the Middle East under an agreement with SEED Group and the Private Office of Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum.

A strategic partnership has been agreed to further extend the global reach of Reviver in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Reviver’s MENA headquarters will be based in Dubai and headed by Reviver general manager and senior vice president Patrick Allainguillaume, a statement said.

“We are very pleased to be working with the Private Office of Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum to expand access to our connected car platform in the MENA region,” said Reviver co-founder and CEO Neville Boston.

“Their vision of a more connected community, and of transforming the infrastructure of the UAE and the Middle East, perfectly aligns with our mission of establishing a universal connected vehicle innovation platform.”

The Rplate launched on the roads in California in June 2018 and is now available in Arizona, with more states to follow.

Boston said the Rplate transforms the 125-year old stamped metal licence plate into a “digital, high-definition display, offering a connected car platform to simplify daily life, with vast potential for future innovation”.

The Rplate can automate vehicle renewals, replacing legacy stickers with digital decals, and add new levels of personalization to the licence plate, including promoting charitable causes, passion for a sports team, or even a child’s academic and athletic achievements, he added.

The Rplate also enhances vehicle safety and security, enabling stolen vehicle and plate detached information, as well as geofencing capabilities, trips taken, and vehicle miles traveled for business and/or governmental entities. 
Additional features will include Amber and weather alerts, automated parking, tolling, marketing capabilities and much more.

Hisham Al Gurg, CEO of SEED Group and the Private Office of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, said: “Since the international recognition of the effective use of digital licence plates, there has been extreme interest in the Rplate within our region.

“Following a number of Dubai Smart City initiatives, we see innumerable opportunities for synergies with this new technology, which is capable of generating real-time communication and many benefits for vehicle owners, businesses and the general public.

“This partnership is a very positive development for the UAE, which will transform Dubai into an international technology hub. Our vision is to seek innovation that improves the quality of life for our communities and this strategic partnership with Reviver does just that.”

Sean MacNeil, president, and COO of Reviver, added: “This partnership, and our new Dubai Reviver headquarters, expand our operational footprint, extending our ecosystem of partnerships that will bring the Rplate to more users internationally, while also helping to fuel opportunities for collaboration as we broaden the Rplate’s feature set.”

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UAE’s Farnek breaks ground on new $40m Dubai HQ

Farnek, a UAE-based facilities management company, has broken ground on its new AED150 million ($40.8 million) staff accommodation in Dubai Investments Park.

The 100,000 square feet facility, which will become home to 5,000 Farnek employees, will be completed by the summer of 2020, the company said.

The low-rise building will raise the bar for intelligent buildings, employing the latest smart technology and the most energy, water and waste-efficient accommodation centre of its kind in the region, it added.

Markus Oberlin, CEO, Farnek, said: “Through smart and sustainable design, we hope to save at least 20 percent more than a conventional staff accommodation centre, in energy and water savings. That could be worth up to AED3 million every year.”

“Designing a sustainable home for 5,000 people, will come with certain operational challenges, such as waste and sewage management. We have designed a unique solution that will reduce the volume of waste generated that would ordinarily go to landfill,” added Oberlin.

Some of the other design highlights include solar panels on the roof of the building covering 150 square metres, which will meet all hot water requirements. Over 4,000 LED-lights are to be installed throughout, supplying 90 percent of the total amount of lighting required.

The facility’s 800 rooms will be managed by a bespoke software solution, so that new employees can be welcomed 24/7 at a dedicated reception lobby, sign in and be shown to their rooms in minutes. Other features include, a prayer room, medical clinic, restaurant, library, gym, and a barber shop.

“Connectivity is essential for staff welfare today, so free Wi-Fi will be made available to all staff throughout the entire complex,” said Oberlin.

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Ras Al Khaimah attracts more than 1 million tourists in 2018

Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority on Tuesday announced it attracted 1,072,066 visitors from domestic and key international markets during 2018.

The figure exceeded targets in its first three-year strategy launched in 2016, which included the goal of attracting 1 million visitors to Ras Al Khaimah by 2018.

The authority reported a 10 percent growth in visitors compared to 2017, led by the UAE domestic market which continues to generate 38 percent of overall visitors.

Germany continues to be the leading international source market with 83,605 visitors, followed by Russia, with 83,531 visitors. The third largest source market was the UK, with 63,054 visitors, followed by India and Kazakhstan.

One of Ras Al Khaimah’s key milestones in 2018 was the launch of Jebel Jais Flight – the world’s longest zipline, which has welcomed over 25,000 flyers since opening 12 months ago.

In response to growing visitor numbers, further development is planned including a 47 room luxury mountain camp, a survival training academy, hiking trails and the Jebel Jais Adventure Park.

Haitham Mattar, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority said: “2018 has been another remarkable year for the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah in terms of achievements and milestones accomplished, primarily exceeding our target of 1 million visitors.

“With the current robust visitor demand, solid regional and international partnerships in place and iconic product launches over the past few years, Ras Al Khaimah is on a mission to further assert its position as the fastest growing tourism destination in the region, whilst promoting our emirate’s breadth of offerings to regional and international target markets.”

By 2021 RAKTDA aims to support the employment of 10,000 more people into the tourism and hospitality sector.

Ras Al Khaimah has also identified the supply of new hotel rooms as a major focus moving forward in order to support the increasing popularity of the destination with tourists. The emirate is preparing to add 5,000 rooms to the 6,500 currently available over the next three years.

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Flydubai flash sale offers 50% off for travelling companion

Dubai low-cost carrier Flydubai has launched a Valentine’s Day inspired sale for couples travelling booking flights in the coming days.

The airline said flights that are being booked together between now and February 17 will get a 50 percent discount the second booking.

The sale applies to flights being booked in either economy or business class and applies to a variety of destinations on the Flydubai network, including Georgia, Sri Lanka, Zanzibar, Bucharest, Helsinki, Krakow, Prague or Sofia.

Flights can be booked through Flydubai’s website (

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Dubai’s Enoc expands aviation operations in Egypt

Enoc Group has announced plans to expand its aviation operations in Egypt through its acquisition of a share in the jet fuel hydrant system at Terminal 2 of Cairo International Airport.

The company said it also plans to establish a physical presence by opening an office for its aviation operations and jet fuel marketing.

Enoc’s announcements follow a recent agreement with the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) to enable the supply of jet fuel at all key airports across the country, providing further opportunities to drive foreign direct investments in the Egyptian market.

The hydrant system fuels 18 aircrafts at Terminal 2 and has been operational since 2017. The jet fuel hydrant system has seen investment and development from Egyptian and multinational players from the energy sectors.

Saif Humaid Al Falasi, group CEO of Enoc, said: “With an expected 5.8 percent GDP growth for 2019 and a commitment to diversify markets and products, Egypt offers strong fundamentals for international investors… We hope that our recent plans will elevate the country’s critical infrastructure.

“By joining a consortium of oil companies in Egypt, ENOC Group is now one of a select list of globally-renowned partners contributing to the country’s socio-economic growth. Our strong track-record in jet fuel operations will enable us to provide the highest standards of jet fuel operations, EHS and business performance, which will undoubtedly enable the country’s aviation infrastructure.”

Enoc’s international aviation presence was established in 2002, operating in 152 airports across 25 countries in the Middle East, Africa, South East Asia and Europe.  In addition, it currently operates in Egypt through its subsidiary, Dragon Oil, which owns the East Zeit Bay offshore concession.

Terminal 2 is one of three terminals at Cairo International Airport, the country’s largest airport and Africa’s second largest.

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Emirates may look to Etihad, Norwegian Air to help fill pilot gap

Emirates, the world’s biggest long-haul airline, may feed its appetite for new pilots with recruits from Etihad Airways and cash-strapped discounter Norwegian Air Shuttle, according to an internal memo from the Gulf carrier obtained by Bloomberg News.

Hong Kong Airlines has also contacted Dubai-based Emirates about opportunities to temporarily transfer some cockpit crew, according to the document. Pilots at the unit of beleaguered HNA Group are Airbus SE-rated, meaning they could be trained to fly Emirates’ A380 superjumbos.

“The current situation with several airlines in financial difficulty globally leaves Emirates in a good position to be sourcing and selecting good-quality pilots,” the memo says. It said the airline recruited 52 pilots last month, the highest number since August 2016, and that the number of viable applications it’s receiving “is higher than the number of candidates that can be invited.”

Emirates declined to comment on the communication, which was dated January 29 and appeared to be a meeting report. A spokeswoman said there are sufficient pilots for current operations, though the airline will “continue to welcome qualified candidates.”

Norwegian Air said it’s not uncommon for members of any company’s workforce to seek opportunities elsewhere. Hong Kong Airlines couldn’t be reached during the Chinese New Year holiday, while Abu Dhabi-based Etihad didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Emirates faces an annual hiring challenge to meet the needs of its expanding global network. President Tim Clark said last April that there would be a shortfall of 100 to 150 flight crew over 2018’s busy summer travel season. According to the memo, 499 crew have been deemed eligible to join from this coming April through the end of 2019.

Applications from Norwegian Air and Etihad have been spurred by redundancies at the airlines, according to the Emirates memo.

Etihad last June offered captains and first officers a two-year secondment, or temporary transfer, to Emirates. In January, it revealed plans to cut 50 pilot posts as it cancels jet orders and shrinks operations to stem losses.

The Emirates memo said Hong Kong Air has identified a 10 percent surplus in pilot numbers. The carrier, whose debt-laden owner HNA is offloading $20 billion in assets, is being sued by a Macau-based lender for failing to pay $20 million in principal and interest, according to a court filing last month.

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US Expo 2020 Dubai pavilion to recreate hyperloop travel

The experiential pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai will include a recreation of a hyperloop ride complete with the visuals, sounds and feel of an actual ride on the futuristic transport system, according to Greg Houston, the CEO of Pavilion USA 2020.

In an interview with Arabian Business, Houston said that the pavilion – which he compared to the Guggenheim Museum in New York – will allow visitors to ‘experience’ various innovations that the United States has to offer.

“When you first walk in, the ground floor will be all sorts innovations and things you have probably never heard of before. There will be displays and models,” he said.

“As you walk through, the first major thing you do is going to be to go through a long escalator that will take you to the very top of our walkway.

“There, you’ll enter the hyperloop pod,” he added. “It will be the first time anywhere in the world that you’re able to go through a hyperloop pod. These things will be designed to have the look, the feel, the sounds and the vibrations – what little vibrations there are – of a real hyperloop.”

Houston adds that that the experience is designed as a “virtual ride from Dubai to the United States” which exits into the US mobility pavilion.

The experience is the result of a partnership between Pavilion USA 2020 and California-based Virgin Hyperloop One.

The US pavilion is being held under the theme “What Moves You”, which will showcase American technology, culture and values, particularly in the field of mobility.

Mobility, he added, also includes topics such as financial and social mobility, rather than ‘traditional’ mobility such as automobiles, aircraft and trains. Other topics will include logistics and shipping.

“For us, mobility is so much more. The ‘American Dream’ is built on social mobility. That’s a fundamental export that the US puts forward,” he said, adding that financial mobility and financial technology will also be a key focus.

“That [financial technology] created mobility in whole new ways around the world,” he said. “Our pavilion is designed to take you through each one of those, and let you think about mobility in ways that you might not have seen it before and do it under the idea that America is always leading the world in mobility.

“That’s created mobility in whole new ways around the world. Our pavilion is designed to take you through each one of those, and let you think about mobility in ways that you might not have seen it before, and do it under the idea that America is always leading the world in mobility.”

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UAE’s Amanat hires new CEO to drive growth plan

Amanat Holdings, the GCC’s largest healthcare and education investment company, on Tuesday announced the appointment of Tristan de Boysson as its new CEO.

In his new role at Amanat, de Boysson, a former Investcorp senior executive, will set the strategy and direction for Amanat, oversee the company’s ongoing development and delivery on its business commitments and investments in its sectors of focus, a statement said.

He will oversee the next phase of the company’s ambitious growth plans with a focus on expansion in the GCC and beyond as it seeks to become the investment partner of choice in healthcare and education.

Prior to joining Amanat, de Boysson spent 20 years at Investcorp, most recently as the managing director, co-head and a founding member of Investcorp Private Equity MENA where he launched Investcorp’s first Middle East focused fund.

Previously, he was an associate principal at McKinsey Company where he advised clients on strategy, valuation, organizational and operational improvement issues.

In November, Amanat Holdings recorded a net profit of AED24.3 million for the first nine months of 2018.

The company said that it had invested AED2 billion ($540 million), across three education assets, three healthcare assets and one social infrastructure asset.

Recent majority stakes acquired include 100 percent of Middlesex University Dubai and a 69.36 percent holding in Royal Hospital for Women in Bahrain.

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Dubai sees near-10% growth in restaurants, cafes in 2018

The total number of restaurants and cafes in Dubai reached 11,813 at the end of 2018, according to the Department of Economic Development (DED).

The report by the DED’s Business Registration Licensing (BRL) sector showed that the number of 1,109 new restaurants and cafes opened in 2018, up from 1,011 in the previous year.

In 2018, the number of newly opened restaurants reached 641, while the number of cafes stood at 468, compared to 601 and 410 respectively in 2017.

“The restaurants and cafes sector is one of the fastest growing in the region, especially in Dubai, as the emirate is home to people from across the world,” said Abdulaziz bin Hathboor, director of Customer Relation Division, BRL sector.

“In addition, the city has a flourishing tourism sector and modern lifestyle that supports restaurants and cafes of all kinds… International and regional restaurants and coffee shops operating in Dubai attract all segments of the community including locals, residents and visitors,” he added.

The report said Bur Dubai accounted for the largest share (7,312) followed by Deira (4,457) and Hatta (44). The top ten sub-regions were Burj Khalifa (590); Ayal Nasser (405); Al Marar (363); Jumeirah 1 (356); Al Karama (349); Al Barsha 1 (310); Hor Al Anz (256); Al Muraqabat (205); Naif (200); and Al Garhoud (169).

Bin Hathboor added that there is a growing variety of foreign and local concepts in the sector, raising the level of competition and in turn standards.

The report also showed that the top ten nationalities investing in this sector was led by Indians, followed by Pakistanis, Egyptians, Brits and Kuwaitis.

The total number of workers in active restaurants and cafes in Dubai reached 151,127, with an average of 13 workers per restaurant/coffee shop.

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Digital vision: Dubai gov’t reveals first ‘paperless’ journeys

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, has initiated a three-year countdown for implementing the Dubai Paperless Strategy.

He also announced the first two fully digital and paperless customer journeys during a visit to the Smart Dubai headquarters, state news agency WAM reported.

The Dubai Paperless Strategy seeks to transform Dubai Government into a fully digital government in line with the vision of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The two journeys, which were launched via Smart Dubai’s DubaiNow platform, the city’s one-stop shop for smart services, revolve around driving a vehicle in Dubai and relocating to a new house in the emirate.

“In February last year, we officially launched the Dubai Paperless Strategy right here at the Smart Dubai Office headquarters,” said Sheikh Hamdan. “Today, at the same place, we look to the tremendous progress Smart Dubai has made, in collaboration with other government entities, which has materialised in the launch of the first two integrated experiences that usher in a new era of digital government services and propel Dubai to the fore in the field of smart city experiments.”

He also launched the second phase of the Dubai Paperless Strategy, which includes four new customer journeys while directing eight government entities to begin implementing the Dubai Paperless Strategy – Dubai Courts, Dubai Municipality, Dubai Public Prosecution, Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dubai Health Authority, Community Development Authority, Dubai Airports, and Dubai Customs.

Sheikh Hamdan added: “Our success allows us to take this experiment from Dubai to the world, providing a unique living experience that makes the emirate a world-leading smart city, whose residents and visitors will be the happiest in the world.”

Dr. Aisha bint Butti bin Bishr, director general of Smart Dubai, said: “Today, we set a new milestone on our journey to establish Dubai as one of the smartest cities in the world, in line with the directives of our wise leadership.

“We are on the cusp of a new era, where we prepare to move beyond traditional services, and embrace innovation and creativity to transform 1,600 smart services into 32 end-to-end individual and business journeys that adhere to the latest international standards and solutions in customer service.

“We look forward to achieving full digitalisation by the end of 2021, saving hundreds of hours for residents, visitors, and the government, as well as saving over 130,000 trees per year. This, in turn, boosts the emirate’s competitiveness, and stimulates economic growth.”

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