News Updates

Weekly News Update

September 25, 2016

Bahrain, Middle East’s top destination for expatriates ahead UAE

According to HSBC’s Expat Explorer 2016 report Bahrain has been ranked 9thamong the world’s top destination for expatriates, Singapore being at the top. In the Middle East region Bahrain tops the list leaving behind UAE which is placed at 12th position, ahead of Oman 18th, Qatar 29th, Saudi Arabia 31st and Kuwait 35th.

The report said the Middle East remained an excellent destination for expats to improve their earnings, increase their savings and enjoy greater disposable income, despite the fact that all Middle Eastern countries (except Kuwait) slipped slightly in this year’s Economics league table. Two countries, the UAE and Qatar, remain in the top 10 for Economies in fifth and eighth place respectively, while three countries in the region (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman) were not rated in the top 10 countries this year for economic aspects.

Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City in Abu Dhabi 87% complete

As revealed by the Abu Dhabi General Services Company (Musanada), 87 percent of the work at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City has been completed. The Abu Dhabi project is set to be handed over to Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) in the fourth quarter of 2017.

The Dh4 billion ($840m) medical city will accommodate 732 hospital beds, including two royal and 36 VIP suites.

It is located in the Al Mafraq area in Abu Dhabi, spreading over 300,000 sq m area and will include parking facilities that can accommodate 1,660 vehicles.

Qatar Financial Centre announced its relocation

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) has announced plans to relocate to Msheireb Downtown Doha. The new QFC firms will be able to operate from the new location from the middle of next year while existing firm can choose to move in mid-2017 or early 2018.

As well as the new financial city, Msheireb Downtown Doha will also encompass five heritage quarters and multiple geographic phases. Tenants will include major government buildings, heritage quarters, a school and the National Archive, as well as the recently opened mosque.

Twitter Inc in talks with Goldman, looking for buyers

Twitter Inc is holding informal talks with several potential buyers after receiving interest from Inc, a San Francisco-based social media company. Twitter has hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Allen & Co. to solicit other potential buyers as well as Salesforce.

Twitter’s stock has fallen after several quarters of slowing growth, making it a potential takeover target having large data, user base and influence in politics, culture and the media.

Twitter recently expanded into live video streaming, making it possible for some users to watch NFL games for free, with Tweets related to the game appearing alongside the video. It’s making similar deals for content related to politics, business and entertainment.

UAE, Kuwait and Egypt markets full of public-private partnership potential

According to the BMI research conducted recently UAE, Kuwait and Egypt are the three markets which will offer more opportunities to major international contractors and financers as they have adopted the public – private partnership (PPP) model. The consultancy said that increased use of PPPs to fund infrastructure projects in the region will allow major companies with experience of delivering long term, privately-fin¬anced projects.

The UAE is expected to generate more opportunities after Dubai passed its PPP law last November. But currently Egypt is leading the way in the Mena region.

Saudi Aramco plans to spend $334 billion by 2025

Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil giant Aramco plans to invest about $334 billion by 2025, including spending on infrastructure and projects to maintain oil capacity, a senior Aramco official said. The company was working with Chinese partners to look at locations for oil storage, and wanted toboost its oil recovery rate to 70 percent from 50 to 55 percent currently.

Last year Saudi Aramco had outlined a plan known as In-Kingdom Total Value Add (IKTVA) and had projected to spend more than $300 billion in the coming 10 years. IKTVA's goal is to double the percentage of locally produced energy-related goods and services to 70 percent of the total spent by 2021.

23% Public Private Projects abandoned in Middle East

According to a research by MEED, nearly one in four public private partnership (PPP) projects launched in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) are abandoned. 23 percent of the 80 PPP projects brought to MENA region since 1996 failed to convert in a deal because the government failed to offer attractive deal structures to investorsas they carried too much investment risk, either from a lack of detail in the project scope, or inadequate guarantees over revenues.

Analysing more than 100 projects the results showed that about 49 percent of all PPP projects since 1996 had reached financial close while 23 percent failed to reach financial close. The remainder of the deals, about 28 percent, remains at different stages of development, the report added.

Microsoft launches new security features for businesses

Microsoft has unveiled a range of new security, cloud and intelligence-focused offerings for IT professionals which includes Windows 10, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility + Security, offering powerful protection against security threats.

Its products include:Windows Defender Application Guard,a virtualisation-based security technology making Microsoft Edge the most secure browser for enterprise users.

Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection will be extended to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, while Outlook for iOS and Android is now fully powered by the Microsoft Cloud for Office 365 commercial users supporting Exchange Online mailboxes.

Secure Productive Enterprise offering most advanced security and productivity capabilities across all Microsoft products.

Mall of Qatar to generate 8,000 new jobs

Mall of Qatar a project of worth Dh5.4 billion($1.48 billion) has revealed that it will generate about 8,000 jobs nationwide.

When fully operational by the end of last quarter of 2016, it will be host to more than 500 shops, including over 100 F&B restaurants, all of which are anticipated to yield numerous employment opportunities over a variety of disciplines, including sales, management, operations, marketing, and similar positions.

Cisco launches cloud-based security solutions

Cisco introduced its new cloud based security services with Cisco’s threat-centric security architecture. From the network to the endpoint to the cloud, Cisco’s architectural approach detects more threats and reduces the average time to detection to less than 13 hours which is faster than the industry standard. Its services include:

Cisco UmbrellaRoaming:Designed to remove blind spots and block connection to malicious sites. Cisco Umbrella Branch: provides more control over guest wi-fi use with easy content filtering. Cisco Defense Qrchestrator:Manages security policies across Cisco security products. Cisco Meraki MX Security Appliances with Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) and Threat Grid: Gives protection against malware threats by identifying malicious content and blocking it to download it.

Qatar Foundation signs MoU with 500 Startups to promote Mena innovation

Qatar Foundation a non-profit organization for Education, Science and Community Development, signed a Memorandum of understanding with 500 Startups to provide seed funding, training and mentorship to start-ups across the MENA region over the next five years.

The initiative aims to help startups achieve market traction and scale, using customer acquisition and scaling strategies mastered by high-growth tech companies in Silicon Valley, such as Facebook, Salesforce and others.

Qatar Foundation will organize 500 Distro Dojo, an annual growth marketing accelerator programme and Start-ups will be given access to QF’s incubation centre at Qatar Science & Technology Park.

Iran rejects Saudi oil output offer

Iran rejected an offer from Saudi Arabia to limit its oil output in exchange for Riyadh cutting supply. The two major OPEC countries are hoping to find a compromise in a week to help ease a global glut of crude.

An oversupply of oil has more than halved prices since 2014, prompting OPEC ministers and non-member Russia to seek a market rebalancethat would boost revenues from oil exports. But differences between Saudi Arabia and Iran remain. Both their economies depend heavily on oil, but Iran is seeing the pressure easing as it emerges from years of sanctions. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, faces a second year of record budget deficits and is being forced to cut the salaries of government employees.

Drop in US Consumerspending in August

For the first time in seven months, US consumer spendingunexpectedly fell in August, while inflation showed signs of accelerating, mixed signalsthat could keep the Federal Reserve cautious about raising interest rates. The consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, fell 0.1 percent last month after accounting for inflation.