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TEAM ABU DHABI CLINCH WORLD ENDURANCE CROWN IN POLAND

All-Emirati crew claim commanding race win while Torrente, Al Qemzi,Al Tayer, Abbate secure title on Necko Lake

Team Abu Dhabi wrapped up their first major powerboat racing title of the season today as Shaun Torrente, Rashed Al Qemzi, Rashed Al Tayer and Italian Tullio Abbate clinched the World Endurance Championships in Augustów, Poland.

This time the honours on the day went to the all-Emirati crew of Majed Al Mansoori, Mohamed Al Mehairbi, Rashed Al Remeithi and Faleh Al Mansoori in Abu Dhabi 36 who recorded a commanding victory in the second of two back-to-back six-hour races to finish runners up in the series.

But sixth place was enough to ensure American Torrente, Emiratis Al Qemzi and Al Tayer and Italian Tullio in Abu Dhabi 35 secured the world endurance crown following their win 24 hours earlier and success two months ago in the 24 Hours of Rouen in France.

They had looked set to complete the series with a 100% winning record after leading comfortably for more than four hours today before being briefly forced out of the race to make technical modifications.

Having shadowed their team-mates in second place virtually from the start, Abu Dhabi 36 suddenly found themselves with a commanding lead and ultimately cruised to victory by 19 laps from the Navikart Soliodaires French crew of Sebastien Lemoine, Olivier Betin and Stephane Lemoine

Russians Konstantin Ustinov and Dimitry Vandyshev and Lithuania’s Edgaras Riabko in Nollet 2 were third another five laps behind.

While these are still early days in the season, the result in Poland underlines the prospect of four world powerboat racing titles ending up at Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club.

Ten-times former F1H20 world champion Guido Cappellini, who recently signed a new long-term contract to guide the fortunes of Team Abu Dhabi until 2025, certainly believes the quadruple is possible.

He has already seen reigning world champion Torrente set the pace in this year’s F1H20 series while Rashed Al Qemzi has taken an immediate lead in the UIM F2 championship.

From Poland Cappellini quickly switches focus to the UIM XCAT World Championship in which Torrente and Faleh Al Mansoori begin their title defence in Stresa, Italy next weekend.

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TEAM ABU DHABI TAKE BIG STEP TOWARDS WORLD ENDURANCE CROWN WITH VICTORY IN POLAND

24 Hours of Rouen winners dominate first six-hour race on Necko Lake

 Team Abu Dhabi took a big step towards their first world powerboat racing title of the season today by dominating the opening leg of the Necko Endurance race in Augustów, Poland.

The combination of Shaun Torrente, Emiratis Rashed Al Qemzi and Rashed Al Tayer and Italian Tullio Abbate in Abu Dhabi 35 strengthened their grip on the World Endurance Championships with victory in the first of the weekend’s two back-to-back races.

The result puts them in a commanding position to secure the world endurance crown if they can avoid any mechanical failures or major mistakes in the second six-hour race getting under way at 11am local time tomorrow.

Meanwhile, a fourth place finish on the Necko Lake today means the all-Emirati crew of Majed Al Mansoori, Mohamed Al Mehairbi, Rashed Al Remeithi and Faleh Al Mansoori in Abu Dhabi 36 can take third overall in the championship with a similar performance tomorrow.

With reigning F1H2O world champion Torrente first in action, Abu Dhabi 35 took an immediate lead when the first race got under way as they looked to build on their impressive victory in the 24 Hours of Rouen in France two months ago.

Only briefly did they lose the advantage towards the half way point, firstly to the Navikart Soliodaires French crew of Sebastien Lemoine, Olivier Betin and Stephane Lemoine and then to
Russians Konstantin Ustinov and Dimitry Vandyshev and Lithuania’s Edgaras Riabko in Nollet 2.

At this point there was often as little as two seconds separating the leaders, but over the last two hours Abu Dhabi 35 gradually eased away to complete 294 laps by the finish, three more than Nollet 2 in second place and third-placed Navikart Soliodaires. Abu Dhabi 36 finished 276 laps in fourth position.

If Torrente, Al Qemzi Al Tayer and Abbate avoid problems tomorrow they will deliver the first of four world powerboat racing titles being targeted this season by Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club.

Torrente, who leads this season’s UIM F1H2O World Championship, heads straight from Poland to Stresa, Italy to begin his defence of the UIM XCAT World Championship with Faleh Al Mansoori. Meanwhile Rashed Al Qemzi tops the current F2 standings.

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Middle East Chemicals & Industrials Drive Record Q1 M&A Deal Value

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  • Middle East M&A benefits from US investment in Industrials & Chemicals sector
  • Two major deals led M&A deal value to reach eight year high of US$ 5.5 billion
  • Overall Q1 2017 deal value increased 61.8% compared to Q4 2016

Mergermarket, the leading provider of M&A data and intelligence, has published its Q1 2017 M&A Brief for the Middle East. The report shows that the Middle East has benefitted from foreign and domestic investment in Industrials & Chemicals, with the sector driving first quarter M&A to reach its highest value in eight years (16 deals, worth US$ 5.5 billion), increasing 61.8% compared to the final quarter of 2016 (19 deals totalling US$ 3.4 billion).  Mergermarket’s MENA Mergers 2017 forum will take place in Dubai on 8th May.

Record value was driven by two sizeable deals of over US$ 1 billion, including US-based Tronox Limited making a US$ 2.2 billion acquisition of Saudi Arabia’s National Titanium Dioxide Company, accounting for 40% of total regional M&A value. As a consequence, the Industrials & Chemicals sector was the most targeted, representing 55% of total Middle East deals, with total value hitting US$ 3 billion across just three transactions. The second largest deal of the quarter was the US$ 1.1 billion acquisition of a 19.83% stake in Arab Bank Group (Jordan) from Saudi Oger Limited, by a group of investors led by Sabih El-Masry.

Ruth McKee Al Ghamdi, Head of Mergermarket MENA, commented:“Amid an era of low oil prices and falling company revenues, MENA M&A is expected to be driven by businesses looking to reduce costs and increase revenue from greater market shares. Most deals are expected to be mid-cap in size with most activity likely to be in UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. There is also an increasing buyout appetite for the technology sector, and this will only have been bolstered by the recent US$ 650 million acquisition of the UAE’s Souq.com by Amazon.com.”

Borys Dackiw, Co-Managing Partner and Head of UAE Corporate/M&A Practice, at Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, commented:”It’s encouraging to see that despite sustained political turbulence, dealmakers in the region have remained resolute. The Middle East has fared well for both domestic and cross-border deal flow, as seen in Baker McKenzie’s recent Cross-Border M&A Index Report, reflecting a positive outcome for M&A activity in the region for the first quarter of 2017. With continual GDP growth predicted in key Middle Eastern countries, we expect to see more overseas investors looking at their options in the region.”

Phil Gandier, Transaction Advisory Services Leader at EY MENA, said:“The M&A pipeline for full year 2017 continues to be strong in spite of market uncertainty and low oil price headwinds. We believe this is an opportune time for industry shaping transformational deals. Amazon’s acquisition of Souq and Tronox’s acquisition of the titanium dioxide business of Cristal are good examples of the type of transformational deals we will see in 2017. Inbound investment and sector consolidation will be the key drivers for MENA M&A.”

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Digital Disruption for Business Success Tops Agenda at Cisco Connect UAE 2017

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  • Cisco executives and industry experts highlight what it takes to drive sustainable growth in the Digital Era; underscore the need to ‘disrupt to win’
  • 1700 delegates attend insightful keynotes and specialized breakout sessions, experience extensive array of solution demos that bring digitization to life

Cisco Connect UAE 2017, the company’s flagship IT and thought leadership event, provided a platform to experience the technology’s leaders latest solutions and gain insights into the latest trends and thinking about digitization. Held at the Atlantis the Palm Hotel in Dubai, the event brought together over 1,700 delegates across Cisco’s customer and partner organizations to network and discuss the huge potential and opportunities the digital era brings to the success of businesses and organizations in the UAE.

Themed ‘Your Time is Now’, the two-day event explored the fundamental positive changes that digital disruption can bring to a company’s value proposition, and its resulting market position, and how the impact is being felt across industries. A theme that recurred throughout the event’s activities was that in today’s digital era, only those organizations willing to transform themselves into a digital business will survive.

Speaking at the event, Shukri Eid, Managing Director – East region, Cisco Middle East said, “In the digital era, new rules will need to be applied while many old rules will need to be disregarded, if organizations are to benefit from accelerated rate of transformational innovation that the world is experiencing. We are continuously seeing new business models being introduced and new industries evolving, which must spur a drastic rethink of how we serve the different industries and what value we bring to our customers and society at large.”

A study by the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, a joint initiative of Cisco and IMD, reveals that roughly four of today’s top 10 incumbents – in terms of market share – across multiple industries will be displaced by digital disruption in the next five years. To flourish in the Age of Digitization organizations were urged to build their digital operating models with security as the foundation so as to benefit from agility, innovation and growth in today’s digital economy.

Speaking at the C-level executive dinner on the eve of Cisco Connect UAE’s opening, Mike Weston, Vice President, Cisco Middle East, said: “We are fortunate enough to live in a country with a progressive vision which places itself at the forefront of the digitization drive. As the second most tech savvy government globally, the UAE is well positioned to reap the benefits of emerging technologies and capitalize on the opportunities presented by digital transformation. This context presents us with immense opportunities, and responsibilities, as leaders. Not only must the vision for our organizations harmonize with the UAE’s digitization drive – it must also encourage and advance it.”

Shukri Eid opened the event with a strong message ‘disrupt or be disrupted,’ urging UAE businesses to embrace digital disruption for success. He also highlighted Cisco’s commitment to partnering with customers and partners to support them on their digitization journey. Guy Diedrich, Cisco’s Global Innovation Officer, warned that disruption waits for no one and that complacent leaders will get run over in the digital age if they do not act fast to innovate and become agile. Andre Laurent, Worldwide Director of Engineering for Enterprise Networking Sales at Cisco spoke on ‘Network as a Platform for Digital Transformation’.

Hosted by Cisco and sponsoring partners, the event included an executive panel discussion of distinguished government IT leaders and over 75 demos at the World of Solutions, an interactive exhibition area that incorporated the latest solutions from Cisco and its channel partners. It also featured 30 dedicated breakout sessions by Cisco specialists on key technology frameworks including data center and cloud, enterprise networking, security, collaboration and digital industries.

Younus Al Nasser, Assistant Director General of the Smart Dubai Office spoke on Smart Dubai’s initiatives towards becoming the happiest city in the world and the city’s ambition to achieve a happy life for the citizens and residents of Dubai. Ferhad Patel, Intel’s DCG EMEA Sales Director spoke on ‘Vortex of Change’. Additionally, an executive panel of distinguished guests from the Dubai Electronic Security Centre, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and Expo 2020 discussed the importance of digitization, innovation and security in powering the future.

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Nestlé Launches its First Ever Organic Growing Up Milk Made Exclusively in Switzerland

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  • New NIDO ONE PLUS ORGANIC now available in stores across the UAE

Nestlé launched today its first ever organic growing up milk in the UAE, NIDO ONE PLUS Organic within its much loved growing up milk range. The new product, exclusively made from Swiss organic certified farms, is a high quality organic growing up milk that allows moms to nurture their children and support their growth.

NIDO ONE PLUS Organic powdered milk is created with a child’s health, nutrition and development at the heart. Each serving is tailored to provide toddlers aged between 1 and 3 years with the high-quality ingredients they need as they grow. It is fortified with immunonutrients vitamins A, C and D, iron, selenium and zinc to help the normal function of a child’s immune system, and natural fibres to support their digestive system

Sophia Jalal, Business Executive Officer of Nestlé Infant Nutrition in the Middle East said: “At Nestlé, we know how important it is for moms to establish a healthy eating routine for their kids at a young age and to provide them with the best of nature. By raising their children on organic food, with high quality ingredients, moms will not only support their child’s healthy growth, development, and immune system, but also help preserve the environment during the pivotal stages of growth. These are the core values and standards behind Nestlé NIDO ONE PLUS Organic.”

NIDO ONE PLUS Organic is made using milk sourced predominantly from the Emmental region of Switzerland. The cows are nurtured and cared for by organically certified farmers, in land supported by the Swiss government. They are almost entirely grass-fed, grazing the fields in the foothills of the Alps in the summer and moving to large barns for the winter months.

The organic journey starts with the Swiss farmers that are the trusted experts; many of their families have been farming for generations, so they are able to combine age-old traditions with today’s science – to ensure every child receives quality organic milk. Nestlé supports the farmers that make sure the cows live healthy and happy lifestyles to produce high quality organic milk – just the way nature intended.

Thomas Saurer, Compliance Manager and Expert in Organic Dairy Production at Nestlé Factory in Switzerland (Konolfingen) said “Nestlé incorporates Swiss precision into every step of the production process from cow to cup. Its specialised and state of the art factory is organically certified as per Swiss Organic Certification standards and features an original and precise production line to produce high quality organic growing up milk. Every step of the process is designed to ensure quality, so that every child is provided with the protection and nutrition they deserve.”

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Al-Futtaim Motors and Dubai Police one step closer to UAE Vision 2021’s sustainability targets

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  • Dubai Police tests zero-emissions Toyota Mirai and welcomes its first Lexus ES hybrid to the fleet

Al-Futtaim Motors, exclusive distributor of Toyota, Lexus, Hino and Toyota Material Handling Equipment and leader in sustainable mobility in the UAE, have joined Dubai Police in reinforcing both organizations’ support for UAE Vision 2021’s sustainable environment initiatives, by test driving Toyota’s zero-emission Fuel Cell technology in the form of the hydrogen-powered Fuel Cell Toyota Mirai.

Al-Futtaim Motors also handed over the first Lexus ES 350 hybrid, which will help Dubai Police spread awareness of greener transport solutions, while aiding its efforts in more sustainable mobility.

Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Merri, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, said: “The introduction of environmentally friendly vehicles into our patrol fleet is important as the Force aims to adopt more sustainable energy sources, including renewable energy, as well as reducing carbon emissions that are harmful to the environment.”

“The General HQ has developed many initiatives to protect natural environments, such as the planting of mangrove trees in the Ras Al Khor area, which has become a globally recognized nature reserve, as well as many initiatives to combat air pollution by reducing traffic congestion and introducing regulations for the maintenance of vehicles to reduce harmful emissions.”

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Arctic Trucks has introduced its very first modified Isuzu in the Middle East

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  • Explore without limits with the newly launched Isuzu D-Max AT35

The modified Isuzu D-Max AT35, that launched earlier this month at Abu Dhabi’s Custom Show, is an exciting addition for conversion enthusiasts in the region. Boasting higher ground clearance and better traction control, this model provides a softer ride and higher all round visibility. Very popular in Europe especially in countries like Norway and UK, the vehicle now aims to makes its mark in the UAE and the growing conversion market of the Middle East.

The Isuzu D-Max AT35 is fitted with 35“ tyres on 17×10 wheels and the body has been raised by 30mm with 20mm raised suspension. The extended wheel flares are not only designed for housing the 35” tyres, but they have also given the Isuzu D-Max AT35 a powerful look which makes it stand out from the crowd. Bought to the Gulf region by local dealer Genavco, the car is available from their showroom for both businesses and private individuals.  Genavco is a forerunner in providing this option for motoring enthusiasts.

Anton Du Plessis, General Manager, Genavco comments, “The partnership with Arctic Trucks Middle East is exciting for us as we strive to further build Isuzu brand awareness within the market. The image of the Isuzu DMAX range is not just that of a truck manufacturer or of a commercial workhorse vehicle, but also one of fun and adventure; this is what this vehicle represents. It is a versatile model, that is comfortable enough for normal day-to-day working applications, and with the AT35 conversion is it also perfect for off terrain desert exploration…. for those who dare!”

The vehicle provides ultimate mobility on and off road – it is only a turn of a dial that is mounted behind the gearstick that engages the four-wheel drive, and another turn selects low gears. The re-engineered suspension cushions the ride, while at the same time ensuring you can still feel the ‘real’ driving experience whether the car is being driven either on or off road.

Hjalti Hjaltison, General Manager of Arctic Trucks ME speaks proudly of one of his favourite conversions “There has been an increase in the popularity of pick-ups in the region and you very often see them being driven on the roads here. As soon as this version of the Isuzu was launched during the Custom Show in Abu Dhabi, we knew it would be an ‘in-demand’ vehicle, as excitingly it now not only gives the comfort and feel of a standard 4-wheel drive, but the additional horse-power and the monster truck look, means you can’t stop but look twice at it!”.

Even though the standard D-Max model is known for superb handling and mobility, the AT35 version further builds on these fantastic features and takes the off roading experience to another level. The Isuzu 3.0 litre twin-turbo common-rail diesel engine produces 163 PS maximum power and delivers 400 Nm of torque between 1,400 and 2,000 rpm. That, alongside its 3.5 tonne towing capacity, makes the Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35 the perfect work-mate

Isuzu D-Max AT35 Features:

·         315/70 R17 – BFGoodrich
·         17 x 10 -25mm Offset AT Alloy Wheel (black or silver)
·         30mm Body Lift / 20mm Suspension Lift
·         Fender Package to Front & Rear
·         Replacement Front and Rear Dampers
·         Extended Profile Sill Step
·         Torque Wrench
·         AT Chrome Badge & Decal Set

The Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35 sets itself apart from other 4 wheel drives in both looks and performance – The fact that its unique pedigree is founded on exploration of some of the world’s harshest environments speaks for itself.

The range of optional accessories for the Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35 have all been engineered to the same exacting standards to enable people to get the absolute most out of the vehicle on and off-road. The increased ride height improves visibility all round, and the re-engineered suspension delivers impeccable road manners combined with outstanding off road capabilities, making this car a force to be reckoned with.

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Panasonic showcases B2B solutions themed “New Era of Connectivity”

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  • Al Futtaim Group companies get a first-hand experience on the latest range of B2B Technology

Panasonic Marketing Middle East & Africa (PMMAF) alongside Al-Futtaim Panatech recently organised a B2B solutions event for companies within Al Futtaim Group at the Intercontinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City.

Al Futtaim, one of the largest conglomerates in the UAE, with varied interest in Automobile, Retail, Financial Services and Real Estate was engaged in a 2-day customized seminar themed ‘New Era of Connectivity’ organized by Panasonic to showcase the latest range of products and solutions specially targeting the growing B2B and B2G sector in the UAE.

The Al-Futtaim group, a provider of products, services and solutions to various verticals as well as being a huge consumer themselves with footprints around Middle East especially UAE, this seminar was an eye-opener to the myriads of technological offerings for the B2B sector from Panasonic.

The event focused on Panasonic’s innovative display solutions, which were used recently at global premium events like Olympics and at Dubai Festival City’s light show attraction “IMAGINE”. The event covered interesting demonstrations of Link Ray, HD Beacon, Digital Signage Solutions, and focused on their connectivity feature. These advantages make them ideal for application in retail, hospitality and entertainment. The attendees also showed particular interest in Panasonic’s innovative Transparent Screen, which was displayed at the seminar.

Panasonic’s cutting-edge business and communication solutions were also demonstrated by PMMAF team. Some of these solutions were, Rugged Toughbook series, HD Visual Communications and Interactive Kiosk. In addition to these, Panasonic’s wide range of office and building security solutions like 4K Security Cameras, Multiple Video Streaming System and Video Intercom were also presented.

Mr. Sean Conor, Managing Director, Al Futtaim Electronics (Panasonic’s UAE distributor) said, “The event was a great opportunity for Al Futtaim Group Companies to understand Panasonic’s latest innovative B2B solutions available in the region. The cutting-edge technology can transform businesses in retail, entertainment, real estate and hospitality. Redefining the customer experience across any of those environments with the use of innovative technology”.

Speaking at the Seminar, Mr. Yasuo Yamasaki – Director, System Solutions and Communications Division, PMMAF said “As a brand that always thinks ahead of its customers, we believe in educating our patrons first about the advancements and trends in technologies that can progress their businesses. By bringing such radical product innovations to the region, we aim to build on the robust reputation that Panasonic has earned over decades of years of business.”

He added, “The theme of this seminar, ‘New Era of Connectivity’ was chosen to highlight how Panasonic’s B2B & B2G solutions can be integrated with IoT and smart environments to support UAE’s move towards a smart ecosystem. Everything around us today is connected, and connectivity means convenience. We are offering products, which are ready for a connected environment, and stand by our mission of creating a better life for our customers.”

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FedEx Cares Campaign Celebrated Across GCC Countries

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  • FedEx Team Members Volunteered and Serviced their Communities in Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE

FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) and the world’s largest express transportation company, recently concluded its FedEx Cares campaign, a program designed to benefit local communities. Throughout the MEISA region (Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Africa), 1,795 FedEx team members took part in community outreach activities, committing more than 7,746 hours to volunteer work during the campaign.

The global FedEx Cares volunteering program involves FedEx team members and their families donating their personal time and effort in giving back to the communities they live in.

“Our People are at the heart of our corporate culture” explained David Ross, regional president of FedEx Express Middle East, India Subcontinent and Africa. “This commitment reflects the passion our team members have giving back to their communities. The FedEx Cares campaign provides the opportunity to volunteer, and make the communities we work and live in better places through initiatives, in which we take great pride.”

In the Middle East, FedEx team members participated in various activities through the FedEx Cares program, including:

  • Bringing smiles to children at a cancer hospital in Kuwait;
  • Entertaining people with down syndrome during a picnic in Bahrain;
  • Sharing joy with children with special needs through a fun fair organized in the FedEx Garhoud station in Dubai;
  • Protecting the environment by cleaning the desert in Dubai; and
  • Hosting a blood donation drive in Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.

The FedEx Cares initiatives in the GCC complement the volunteer activities undertaken by FedEx teams across the globe. FedEx Cares is the company’s global giving platform, where FedEx has committed to invest US$200 million in more than 200 global communities by 2020 to create opportunities and deliver positive change globally. Over the past 12 years, the campaign has expanded to nearly 400 cities around the world. In addition to the thousands of volunteer hours invested each year, FedEx donated more than $53 million globally in 2015.

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QNB takes home four prestigious awards from the Asian Banker

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QNB, the largest financial institution in the Middle East and Africa, received four prestigious awards from The Asian Banker at its Middle East & Africa Regional Awards Ceremony held recently in Dubai.

After a rigorous evaluation process, The Asian Banker recognized QNB’s success in bringing superior products and services to its customers. QNB was awarded 2017’s “Mobile Banking Application of the Year”, “Best Mobile Banking Project”, and “Best Smart Branch Project”, where the last award was a joint award with QNB’s consumer transaction technology partner NCR.

 “The Retail Banker of the Year” for 2017 was awarded to Ms. Heba Al-Tamimi, The General Manager of Group Retail at QNB, for demonstrating a distinguished leadership and achievement in the retail banking sector.

The Asian Banker’s Middle East & Africa Regional Awards are the most, prestigious and transparent awards programme in consumer banking, transaction banking, risk management, and technology implementation for the two regions.

The awards programme overseen by The Asian Banker is an industry benchmark in the financial services sector. The Asian Banker is used by prominent banking leaders, consultants, academics, financial technology companies, and other stakeholders to stay informed on cutting-edge industry developments and the latest trends.

Accolades achieved by QNB at The Asian Banker’s Middle East & Africa Regional Awards are further recognition of the great progress made by the Bank in recent years.

QNB Group’s presence, through its subsidiaries and associate companies, now extends to more than 31 countries across three continents with an ATM network of more than 4,300 machines. The Bank provides a comprehensive range of advanced products and services to its retail and commercial baking customers through their team of 28,000 plus employees operating across 1,250 locations globally.

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MEIRA’s new Saudi chapter seeks to bring best Investor Relations practice to the Kingdom

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The Middle East Investor Relations Association (MEIRA) has launched a new chapter in Saudi Arabia, supported by the Saudi stock market “Tadawul”, to further develop best practice in Investor Relations (IR) across the Kingdom.

The Saudi MEIRA chapter was formally inaugurated at a ceremony of founding members who have been long-standing partners in the regional development of IR: Ikram Ulhaque from Almarai, Walid Al Hakim from Ma’aden, Faisal Al Modlij from Sipchem, Rayan Al Karawi from Zain KSA and Samantha Bartel Al Khalaf in the Saudi stock market “Tadawul” offices on Thursday, 27 April.

Commenting on the new chapter, Alex MacDonald-Vitale, Chairman of MEIRA said, “As the biggest market in the GCC, we are delighted to announce the inclusion of Saudi Arabia in the regional IR network. This timely launch of the Saudi MEIRA Chapter follows many years of commitment and dedication to raise awareness of the importance of IR in the Kingdom. We look forward to working closely with local Investor Relations Officers (IROs), their companies, and the Tadawul, helping Saudi Arabia accede to ‘Emerging Market’ status, and providing ongoing support for the development of international standards in IR and corporate governance across the Kingdom”.

MEIRA is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to promote IR best practice throughout the Middle East. The Saudi MEIRA Chapter will help foster a culture of effective communication between listed companies, exchanges, regulators, advisers and the buy and sell side communities in the Kingdom, and to promote transparency in the market.

Walid Al Hakim, Chairman of the Saudi MEIRA Chapter added, “The establishment of the Saudi MEIRA Chapter is fully aligned with Saudi Arabia’s 2030 vision and the plans to diversify the Kingdom’s economy, open up the Saudi stock market “Tadawul” to international investors,  and the inclusion of Saudi Arabia in the MSCI, FTSE and S&P Emerging Markets Indices.

The Saudi MEIRA Chapter will act as a knowledge hub where IR professionals can come together to network and learn from international leaders in IR, and will support the advancement of the Tadawul as the primary Middle East stock exchange. Furthermore, enhancing local practice in IR by facilitating more effective communication between listed companies and the capital markets will encourage the active participation of more international investors”.

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Middle East Construction Market to Top USD 300 Billion by 2019

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Architects and Interior Designers Use Felt Material to Cut Costs and Deliver Comfortable Spaces

With the Middle East and North Africa’s construction market topping USD 300 billion by 2019, felt solutions will cut costs and deliver comfortable spaces, architects and interior designers agreed today ahead of International Design Exhibition (INDEX) in Dubai.

Demonstrating the potential for felt, the Middle East and North Africa’s construction market is set to top USD 300 billion by 2019, and grow by 43 percent from USD 235 billion in 2016 to USD 336 billion by 2020, according to a recent BMI Research report.

“GCC mega-projects will host millions of people over their lifetime – meaning they need interior spaces that prioritize design and quality to cut costs, provide comfortable spaces, and are environmentally sustainable. Felt is set to be deployed from the deepest train stations to the tallest skyscrapers, and every interior in-between,” said Santhosh Vallil, Sales Manager of mega-project consultancy Hunter Douglas Middle East.

In response to the growing popularity of felt among architects and designers, Hunter Douglas has seen strong Middle East interest on the recently-launched world’s first new felt linear ceiling, called HeartFelt. The system can be customized to different settings, and also reflects light and absorbs sound.

Demonstrating the momentum for felt, HeartFelt recently won the Red Dot: Product Design 2017 award. HeartFelt beat more than 5,500 submissions from 54 countries around the world. Judges praised Heartfelt for its “exceptional and innovative” design.

HeartFelt’s non-woven thermoformed polyester fibers also allow the material to meet strict fire safety requirements. Felt is also resistant to dust and dirt, and is maintenance-friendly – particularly effective in the desert climates of the Middle East.

“Most linear ceiling systems are made of metal, often aluminum. Felt ‘breaks’ the light so as to create an attractive, natural color, and at the same it is a natural sound absorber. That makes it a lot easier for architects to achieve great acoustics in buildings,” said Bjarne Hammer, of Denmark’s Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects.

Bjarne Hammer was involved in the development of HeartFelt from the start, including its modular system that offers designers many design possibilities and colors, and its Cradle-to-Cradle certification as a sustainable solution.

“Felt is fantastic to work with if you’re an architect. It is a material that stirs emotions; it is warm to the touch and has an amazingly natural look and feel,” said Bjarne Hammer.

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