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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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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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French companies will introduce their latest offer on the French Pavilion at Seamless Middle East 1-2 May 2017

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  • Fintech, Smartcards & Retail sector to be represented
  • 12 innovative offers to be discovered among exhibitors

Business France, the national agency supporting the international development of the French economy is organizing the French Pavilion at Seamless Middle East 2017 in partnership with French Tech Dubai UAE. The event dedicated to payment methods, retail and e-commerce in the Middle East will take place in Dubai on 1 and 2 May 2017. 10,000 visitors are expected from the Middle East (60% from the UAE), North Africa (20%) and South Asia. 300 exhibitors will be present.

French Pavilion will host 10 French exhibitors specializing in FinTech sector, smartcards and retail. Several French start-ups will be part of the tradeshow to present their innovations. The sectors covered by these companies relate to innovative payment methods, identification/authentication solutions, data management, CRM and e-commerce platform.

The FinTech phenomenon gained pace in France at the start of 2010 ith the distribution of new technologies, the rapid growth in e-commerce, the boom in collaborative consumption, etc. The real boost was provided by French legislature, which encouraged competition via the creation of “streamlined” statutes.

With almost €80 million in investments in FinTechs in 2015, France is one of the most investor-friendly countries in Europe.

“We were keen to offer French exhibitors a made-to-measure program to support them throughout their development in the Gulf” said Marc Cagnard, Middle East Director at Business France. “Our know-how will help them meet new clients and thus develop close ties with local decision-makers.”

France has the benefit of a dynamic ecosystem marked by several public and private initiatives to encourage the rapid development of FinTechs. Incubators launched by major banks and insurance companies, not to mention the creation of a one-stop shop dedicated to FinTechs professionals, in a regulatory framework that is particularly favorable to start-ups in banking and finance”, Cagnard added.

In addition, in 2015, FinTechs rose to be one of the five leading sectors that are the most attractive for venture capital investments in France (after Internet services, software, technologies, and biotechnology and life sciences).

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HP Delivers World’s Most Secure Mobile Workstations for Digital Creators

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  • New ZBook mobile workstation line up offers innovators outstanding VR capabilities and more

HP has announced superb HP ZBook Mobile Workstation solutions packed with the power of an HP Z desktop in a lightweight mobile design, including award-winning display technology, 3D graphics and server-grade processing power. With this new workstation line up, HP continues to offer world-class innovation to power filmmakers, designers, artists, explorers and other visionary thinkers.

“Our Z Workstation products have been a leading choice among customers worldwide for their world-class innovation, reliability, performance and application certification,” said Gwen Coble, director, Workstations, Thin Clients, Retail Solutions and Immersive Computing, EMEA, HP Inc. “With client security continuing to grow in importance, we’ve made these fourth generation HP ZBook Workstations the most secure and manageable mobile workstations to date. This ensures we protect the intellectual property of digital creators everywhere – so they can focus on bringing their best work to life without the worry of IP theft or breaches.”

HP is reinventing device security for its fourth-generation ZBook workstations by providing several unique security features including: HP Sure Start Gen32, the industry’s first self-healing PC BIOS with comprehensive encryption, strong authentication, malware protection, data protection, identity assurance, and threat detection and response.

HP is also creating dynamic, high performing devices that allow customers to pursue their passion and achieve their goals without compromising on style or flexibility. To address the move to virtual reality, one of the new workstation  models can be configured to visualize work in an ultra-smooth virtual reality experience. VR creation to consumption is rapidly becoming the strategic direction for many enterprises from amusement parks to automotive and HP began selling powerful, VR-ready desktop workstations in 2016.

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Emirates Printing Press Opens New Printing and Packaging Facility in Dubai Industrial Park

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  • State-of-the-art machines print 27000 meters per hour
  • New 255,000 sq. ft. facility introduces advanced flexible packaging options

Emirates Printing Press (EPP), a high-quality, multi-award-winning commercial printing press based in Dubai, announced the opening of its third 255,000 square feet printing and packaging facility in Dubai Industrial Park.

The inauguration ceremony on March 22 was attended by Abdulla Belhoul, Chief Executive Officer, Mohan Valrani, Senior Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Al Shirawi Group of Companies, Mohamed Al Shirawi, CEO at Emirates Printing Press, as well as senior representatives of Dubai Industrial Park and Emirates Printing Press.

Boasting the best European-made machinery in the industry, the facility is home to two 10-colour rotogravure printing machines (Windmoller & Holscher and Bobst Rotomec 4003 with a printing speed of 27,000 meter per hour) and one cutting-edge 10-colour Omet XFlex – the first in the GCC region – with combined offset, flexo and rotogravure capabilities designed specifically for specialty flexibles. A host of built-in features, such as the auto viscosity controller and BST inspection cameras, ensures consistent output.

In addition, the machines offer a choice of finishing options that enable EPP to produce tailor-made flexible packaging for a wide variety of foodstuffs and confectionery, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), pharmaceutical products, and personal hygiene products, among others.

The new facility expands EPP’s capabilities into the rapidly growing packaging field. It allows the company to offer innovation and quality to its valued customers while maintaining a focus on environment-friendly processes through reducing the carbon footprint due to the inline LEL monitoring system. Furthermore, supreme printing efficiency, whether in small or large quantities, translates into shorter production lead times.

Certified to the BRC Global Standard for Packaging and Packaging Materials, the plant follows the same international standards that EPP adheres to across its business lines, and applies meticulous attention to detail in quality control.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Abdulla Belhoul, said: “Dubai Industrial Park is delighted to be part of the innovation in high-quality printing and packaging solutions. The new printing and packaging facility pioneers a revolutionary approach in global printing techniques. Our collaboration with Emirates Printing Press aligns with our objective to forge valued partnerships that enable our clients to effectively address their customers’ needs and grow their businesses in sustainable ways.”

Belhoul added: “The printing and packaging industry has greatly benefited from the significant surge in demand for fast moving consumer goods (FMCG). The food packaging market is now registering healthy profits and is expected to continue growing rapidly in the coming years. Given the anticipated growth, Dubai Industrial Park looks forward to attracting more stakeholders from this industry that promises high returns on investment.”

Mohamed Al Shirawi of EPP said: “Emirates Printing Press is a proud advocate of Dubai’s printing industry and the advances it has made in quality and innovative printing and packaging, especially under the auspices of Dubai Industrial Park.”

“The international food packaging industry adheres to the highest standards of consumer safety, sustainability and environmental protection. These standards guide our investment in the most modern packaging and flexible packaging machinery and operator training so our customers can rest assured that their products, regardless of the complexity of their packaging, will reach consumers in perfect condition.”

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Dubai International Financial Centre signs Memorandum of Understanding with Mumbai Metropolitan Region Developmental Authority

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  • Agreement includes exchange of best practice and support for MMRDA in setting up an international financial centre in Mumbai

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading international financial hub in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Mumbai Metropolitan Region Developmental Authority (MMRDA), an urban town planning and development authority established by the Government of the State of Maharashtra.

The City of Mumbai endeavours to set up its own international financial centre, in order to position it as the financial capital of India. In support of this initiative, the agreement signed with DIFC enables both entities to exchange knowledge and international best practice.

Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC Authority, said the MoU would boost mutual cooperation, stating: “DIFC is recognised as the most robust and dynamic regulatory and legal system in the region, and we are pleased to share our experience of over a decade with other authorities looking to develop their own financial ecosystem. By working closely with partners such as MMRDA, we will further advance the development of a secure, stable and well managed global financial system.”

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Standard Chartered Bank partners with Transguard for smart cash transaction

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  • Agreement allows the bank to offer its corporate clients new smart cash management services which will help them save time and cut handling costs  

Standard Chartered Bank has signed a partnership agreement with leading UAE-based business support provider Transguard Group, which will enable the bank to offer its corporate clients a smarter and more convenient cash solution, by integrating ‘smart’ cash deposit machines with Transguard’s cash in transit (CIT) services.

Although efficient connectivity has helped online banking and other online retail platforms grow exponentially in the UAE over the past five years, cash is not disappearing. It remains the most widely accepted form of payment in the UAE today. However, this trend raises questions around the management of security, safety, time and the costs of actually handling and transporting cash.

Transguard is able to offer an integrated solution to its customers including Standard Chartered Bank, to help manage the security and risk around cash handling and transportation.

Under the current agreement, Transguard will provide cash deposit machines to Standard Chartered Bank on an OPEX (operational expense) model, thereby allowing the bank to outsource the entire process, from installation of cash machines to operation and maintenance, to Transguard.  The cash machines will be installed at several locations and will allow Standard Chartered Bank’s clients to directly deposit and receive credit for cash.

Commenting on the agreement, Julian Wynter, CEO of Standard Chartered UAE said: This agreement reflects Standard Chartered’s confidence in Transguard’s services and reiterates our commitment to strengthening our relationship with them.”

Standard Chartered has already started taking delivery of the automated ‘smart’ cash deposit machines, to offer to its corporate clients, especially those generating large amounts of cash. Additionally, these smart machines come complete with banking software solutions, so they receive, check, count, credit and securely store cash until it is collected by our CIT teams.

“A major benefit for our customers is the improved cash flow. When funds are deposited in the drop box, they are automatically credited into the client’s bank account, in real time, as opposed to physically waiting for the cash to be collected by CIT before it can be credited to the client’s account, and we are the only provider in the market with the technology to offer this service,” said Dr. Abdulla Al Hashimi, CEO, Transguard Group

There are other operational benefits for Standard Chartered Bank. The smart cash machines can reduce footfall at the bank branch as the cash machines eliminate the need for clients to physically travel to their nearest bank branch. This reduces the intense workload of the tellers and allows the branch to improve the efficiency of its it will not have to process bulk cash deposits.

“This agreement is of great benefit to our corporate clients – as it reduces staff time sorting and counting cash and reconciling sales with deposits, as well as reducing shrinkage due to counterfeit notes and miscounts – it also improves cash flow,” said Motasim Iqbal, Head of Transaction Banking, Standard Chartered UAE

When funds are deposited in the drop box of the ‘smart’ cash deposit machine, all transactions are electronically tracked by Standard Chartered’s award-winning, fully integrated electronic trading platform, Straight2Bank and credited into the client’s bank account, in real time, as opposed to physically waiting for the cash to be collected by

CIT before it can be credited to the account. These highly sophisticated machines, also accept small denomination notes and coins.

The cash machines also eliminate the risk of loss through theft or fraud and, because the client is no longer liable for the cash once it has been deposited in the drop box. Having no access or ownership of the cash at that stage, significantly reduces risk and potentially insurance premiums.

Standard Chartered has successfully piloted its first ever smart cash deposit machine at its Bur Dubai Branch and brought on-board its first client; Maersk Kanoo UAE LLC. During the first phase, the Bank has also selected another two branches to be involved in the initiative, Deira and Khalidiya in Abu Dhabi.

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Epic Technology Group to Demonstrate Financial Technology Solutions at Seamless Middle East, Dubai.

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  • ‘Epic Mobile Wallet’ and ‘Epic Branchless Banker’ shortlisted for Seamless Awards

Premier and award winning regional technology leader – Epic Technology Group, synonymous for innovative and superior financial technology or ‘FinTech’ solutions, is set to participate at Seamless Middle East, Dubai. The exhibition and conference for eCommerce and secure payments will be held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, Zaabeel Halls 4-6, from 01-02 May 2017.

Epic Technology Group has been at the forefront of developing innovative ‘FinTech’ solutions since 1998 and will demonstrate many world-class and one-of-its kind ‘FinTech’ and content management innovations at the exhibition. Epic’s out-of-the box, advanced yet affordable technology solutions have changed the traditional landscape of secure payments, enterprise content management, secure mobile communication, mobile enterprise automation, and information security domains.

The Epic Mobile Wallet is one such innovation, which is the World’s first-ever application that integrates ‘payer’ and ‘payee’ into a single wallet, while integrating multiple payment instruments and payment modes as preferred by the users. The ‘Epic Mobile Wallet’ and ‘Epic Branchless Banker’ are shortlisted for Seamless Awards 2017 to be held at the Armani Hotel, Dubai.

Dr. Nayana Dehigama, the Executive Chairman and Managing Director of Epic Technology Group said, “We want the region to get a first-hand experience of Epic’s innovative and disruptive ‘FinTech’ solutions that will be showcased and demonstrated at Seamless Payments Middle East. Over the years, we have maintained our superiority in this industry by producing highly-creative and one-of-its-kind solutions.  Seamless Middle East is an ideal platform for industry leaders and decision makers to experience the difference our solutions offer from those in the market.”

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Breitling Jet ‘lands’ in Saudi Arabia

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  • Breitling Jet and Bentley Continental GT Speed inspired by the Breitling Jet Team on display outside Roshana Mall, Jeddah
  • Display celebrates Breitling’s recently launched Boutique in Roshana Mall
Breitling Jet Team L-39 C Albatros and Bentley Continental GT Speed Breitling Jet Team – Breitling Boutique Jeddah

Visitors to Jeddah’s Roshana Mall are currently in for a special treat, with a full-size replica of one of the world-famous Breitling Jet Team’s L-39C Albatros aircraft currently making a flying visit to the shopping centre. Swiss luxury watchmaker and aviation chronograph specialist, Breitling is displaying the striking model alongside a Bentley Continental GT Speed in Breitling Jet Team colours to celebrate the new Breitling Boutique in Roshana Mall.

The display, which is prominently located next to the roundabout outside the new Breitling Boutique in Roshana Mall, Jeddah, was set up by Breitling and its Saudi Arabia retail partner, Abu Issa Holding. It will be in position until the end of May.

The Breitling Jet Team is comprised of seven L-39 C Albatros Jets that can reach speeds of up to 565 mph and fly within just a few feet of each other. Performing in displays around the world, it is the world’s largest professional civilian flight team and is widely recognised for its breath-taking displays, incredible speed, and flawless performance.

Sitting proudly alongside the striking jet is a Bentley Continental GT Speed which has been customised to replicate a model from the Breitling Jet Team Series. The exterior is painted in a striking duo-tone split of Hallmark and Onyx with highlights colour matched to the exact Pantone of Breitling’s unique Yellow, reflecting the trademark look of the L-39 Albatros Jets.

Commenting on the display, Aed Adwan, Breitling Middle East said: “The Jet Team is a key part of Breitling’s worldwide marketing activities and stops everyone in their tracks wherever it puts on a display. By appearing outside Roshana Mall, this particular Breitling jet is generating the same impact on the ground, and is already proving extremely popular with visitors.”

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Gold and oil supported despite troubled week

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  • Commodities end April down slightly for second consecutive month
  • Gold proves resilient to Trump tax plan, Macron’s first-round victory
  • Gold-to-silver ratio hits highest point since June of 2016

The commodity sector ended the last week of April close to unchanged, but overall it was down for a second consecutive month – albeit by just 1%. The aftermath of the first round of the French presidential election saw gold weaken as the political risk faded, but it nevertheless put up a good fight against multiple headwinds from a weaker JPY to rising stocks and bond yields.

Crude oil also faced multiple headwinds and slumped before once again managing to find support. Drivers were returning production from Libya, stubbornly high US and global inventories, and concerns about Opec’s ability to successful extend production cuts into H2.

The agricultural commodities were mixed with the soft sector being hit again from continued selling of cocoa, coffee, and not least sugar. Key crops such as corn and wheat received demand from funds covering sold positions amid some concerns about the US planting prospects due to cold and wet weather.

Gold traded in a relatively tight range following the initial weakness in the aftermath of the first round of the French presidential election, which yielded no major surprise. Trump presented his tax reform plan but being short on detail, it failed to hurt gold as the prospect of getting it past lawmakers could prove difficult.

Other headwinds were the continued strength in US and global stocks and a pickup in US bond yields. These developments were countered by North Korean worries as Trump warned that a major conflict remains possible if diplomacy fails.

April was not a good month for silver as it failed to receive the safe-haven bid which helped support a strong mid-month rally in gold. Hedge funds held a record net-long in silver as the month began, and the unwinding pressure from these helped bring down the cost of silver relative to gold.

The ratio between the two (which reflects the number of silver ounces required to buy one ounce of gold) reached 73.25, the highest level since last June.

The impact on gold from Trump’s presidency remains to be seen and as he celebrates his first 100 days in office, gold has returned to the level it was trading at prior to the November 8 election.

In between, however, it has been a very bumpy ride with an 11.5% selloff in the immediate aftermath being replaced by a strong rally as the reflation trade began to fade.

Where gold will trade following the next 100 days depends on several factors, including the trajectory of US growth and the Fed funds rate, the dollar, and the level of geopolitical uncertainty combined with Trump’s ability to get his policies pass lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

The multi-year downtrend line, now just below $1,290/pz on the weekly chart, has been rejected six times during the past year. A rally above this level will set the stage for an extension while a break below $1,235/oz – the uptrend from December’s low – could see renewed long-liquidation.

We have been encouraged by gold’s recent resilience and while neutral at current levels we maintain our overall bullish stance with a year-end target of $1,325/oz.

Next week we have an almost forgotten FOMC meeting as the risk of another rate hike has been put at single digits. It is also worth keep in mind that May has from a recent historic perspective proven to be a challenging month for gold with the price falling in 4 out of 5 as per the table below.

April has been a troubled month for oil as the tug-of-war between the Opec-led cutting efforts and rising US production continued. However it seems to be finishing on a firmer footing after seeing a rejection below the 200-day moving average on both WTI and Brent crude oil.

The latest weakness that took oil through support came from additional supply pressure from Libya which is planning to lift production by 300,000 barrels/day following the restart of two oilfields.

The closure of Libya’s largest oilfield combined with the US missile strike at Syria were two key reasons behind the early April rally.

The weekly US inventory report proved to be another challenge for the market as a supportive reduction in crude oil inventories increased stocks of gasoline and distillates through surging refinery activity.

In addition, more crude oil was exported while imports from key Opec producers rose for a second week.

On a positive note from a price perspective, the weekly estimate of oil production growth slowed for a second week to 13,000 b/d, well below the 30,000 b/d average witnessed since last October.

We maintain the view that the oil market remains rangebound for now and we may see the price tick higher after finding support towards $50/barrel on Brent and below $50/b on WTI. The geopolitical risk premium has been removed but can return while in the US we have seen production growth slow during the past couple of weeks.

Opec meets on May 25 to discuss a potential extension of the current deal. The expectations for a seasonal pickup in H2 demand combined with a slowdown in US production growth would help boost the impact of an extension.

Opec seems to be in general agreement that an extensions will be required, in order to avoid an even deeper selloff, but much hinges on Russia, which so far has adopted a wait-and-see approach.


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Construction outlook improving despite spending cuts

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  • Latest MEED research shows construction outlook improving
  • Private sector investment will be a key driver of new construction opportunities in 2017
  • Private investment will be vital to easing pressure on government finances
  • 2016 saw 33 per cent fall in project contract awards in the GCC
  • Dubai, Kuwait and Bahrain were GCC’s strongest construction markets in 2016
  • Government spending cuts saw a 62 per cent fall in awards in Saudi Arabia in 2016
  • Implementing reform programme will be Saudi Arabia’s driver for coming three years

The outlook for construction companies in the GCC will improve in 2017, according to the latest industry research report from Middle East business intelligence service MEED.

In Outlook for GCC Construction 2017, MEED reports that the region still offers significant opportunities for construction companies despite the slowdown in project spending.

But the report warns however that a fall in the volume of new opportunities coupled with increased uncertainty about project timelines will see the construction marketing further hardening in response to increased competition.

Outlook for GCC Construction 2017 says that the region’s strongest markets over the past 12 months were Dubai, Kuwait and Bahrain, which saw its second-best year for awards since 2007, thanks to the financial support of its GCC partners through the Gulf Development Fund.

The approval of the main contract award on the expansion of Kuwait airport took that market to an all-time high of $12.2bn of project contract awards in 2016, while the start of work towards Expo 2020 in Dubai enabled the UAE also to record an increase in awards in 2016.

Dubai recorded the lion’s share of the project activity in the UAE in 2016, accounting for 72 per cent of all construction and transport deals in the country, while project spending fell sharply in Abu Dhabi.

Elsewhere in the region however, the fall in oil prices since mid-2014 has had a profound impact on the construction market in the GCC.

With government revenues halved, ministries and other client bodies have had strict limitations imposed on capital spending. This has resulted in projects delays and payment areas, while construction and transport contract awards have dropped in the GCC for the past three years.

The worst performing countries were Saudi Arabia, which saw a 62 per cent drop in contract awards, followed by Qatar and Oman. Delays in payments from government clients were a huge problem in Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE, affecting the cash flow of contractors and forcing thousands of layoffs.

Outlook for GCC Construction 2017 concludes that while the regional construction market will continue to be challenging in 2017 due to continued uncertainty surrounding government spending, the outlook is brightening.

The recovery in oil prices in 2016 has eased some of the pressure on government finances, while the increased pace in the roll out of economic reforms will see an improvement in confidence as well as an increase in new forms of project model, such as public private partnerships (PPP).

All GCC governments want to increase private sector investment to ease the burden of capital spending on the treasury and this will create new opportunities in the year ahead.

Governments have been taking important steps to develop new revenue streams as well as tapping debt markets, which will help clear up payment arrears.

Saudi Arabia says it plans to double infrastructure and transport spending this year. Its Vision 2030 programme provides a long-term vision for economic development while the National Transformation Programme has set economic strategy up to 2020 and the coming three years will be all about implementation. But, according to the Outlook for GCC Construction 2017. The kingdom must first establish project management offices, which could delay any recovery.

Outlook for GCC Construction 2017 warns however that considerable risks remain.

Capital spending will remain constrained and the success of PPP has been limited in the past, so there will be many new challenges to address.

“There is no doubt that the worst is behind us for the region’s construction market,” says MEED editorial director Richard Thompson. “The sharp cuts to spending in 2015 and 2016 across the region, but particularly in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Abu Dhabi has been very painful for the GCC construction industry.  But the recovery in oil prices and the implementation of reforms means that we will see things improving throughout 2017.”

“Contractors should still be prepared for a challenging year however,” says Thompson. “The reform programme will take time to kick in and while we can expect to see key projects moving forward this years, there is still considerable uncertainty about delivery timelines.”

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  • Prominent Saudi developer honoured for 50 years of construction excellence at Riyadh property show

ARTAR Real Estate Development has been awarded the Best Real Estate Developer at Restatex, the Riyadh Real Estate and Urban Development Exhibition.

Sulaiman Abdulrahman Al Rashid, Chief Executive Officer of ARTAR, picked up the award on behalf of the company at the awards ceremony held during the four day real estate exhibition, which concluded on 26 April at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

ARTAR played a prominent role in the event, bringing their Mada Residences project to virtual reality for the thousands of visitors to their stand, so that they could truly experience the quality of build and greater liveability offering in a prime Downtown Dubai location.

“Our presence at Restatex has been very positive and we have generated a number of sales leads from Saudi investors interested in purchasing units in Mada Residences, our first UAE project,” said Sulaiman Abdulrahman Al Rashid, CEO of ARTAR.  “Receiving this award is a great way to close a very successful week and I thank the organisers of the event for the honour and congratulate them on creating such a prominent platform for the region’s real estate industry.”

Liveability, which describes open-plan homes designed to maximise space and comfort for residents, is the central theme for the 36-storey high rise tower at the heart of Downtown Dubai.

Located within a minute’s walk of The Dubai Mall, the world’s biggest shopping destination, Mada Residences offers 193 larger than average 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom luxury apartments, with a big emphasis on quality throughout.

Visitors to the ARTAR exhibition stand at Restatex took virtual reality tours of the Mada Residences apartments by slipping on headsets connected to a mobile app which allowed them to get a real feel for the apartments, their layouts and the space in each unit.

ARTAR is the real estate development arm of Abdul Rahman Saad Al-Rashid & Sons, the Riyadh-based group with over 50 years of regional experience in delivering high end projects on schedule.

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