Behind the chainmail curtains: Wacky interiors, tax breaks and big profits at Dublin headquarters of tech giant

The Google headquarters complex in Dublin is home to 6,000 employees, complete with a conference room set inside a giant fake tree, curtains made of chainmail, and an entire floor carpeted in a layer of fake grass. (Photo courtesy of Google)
Updated 07 November 2017
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Behind the chainmail curtains: Wacky interiors, tax breaks and big profits at Dublin headquarters of tech giant

The headquarters for Google in Europe, the Middle East and Africa is something else. A multi-hued complex with themed floors and wacky spaces – there is even a 25-meter swimming pool. That alone is enough to make you question previous career choices.
Home to 6,000 employees, the Dublin offices don’t look like a working environment at all. There’s a tiny conference room set inside a giant fake tree, curtains made of chainmail, and an entire floor carpeted in a layer of fake grass.
There are swings and reclining chairs, informal meeting rooms and alternative working zones. They have names such as The Forge and The Lab, and there’s even The Store, which sells everything from Google stationery to the latest merchandise. Here and there are communication hubs with micro-kitchens and gaming zones. Oh, and don’t forget the Soda Lab and the five restaurants, the largest of which can fit 1,000 people.
Traveling between the three main buildings (Gasworks House, Gordon House and the newly constructed Google Docks) involves walking across a glass hyperlink bridge, with Google Docks — at 14 storys — the tallest commercial building in Dublin. With panoramic views of the city below, you can see all of Dublin’s “Silicon Docks”, which are also home to the European headquarters of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
None of them would arguably be here, of course, if it weren’t for Ireland’s favorable tax laws, which have helped attract the world’s largest tech companies to Dublin.
The country’s low corporate tax rate (12.5 percent), which can be lowered even further by financial engineering, has fueled this tech and social media invasion. But not without controversy.
In January last year, Google agreed to pay £130 million in back taxes to the UK government following an open audit of its accounts. It stood accused, along with other multinational companies, of avoiding paying tax via complex international tax structures, in spite of making billions of pounds of sales in the UK.
Then there’s the EU. According to a report released in September by EU lawmaker Paul Tang, the bloc lost €5.4 billion in tax revenues from Google and Facebook between 2013 and 2015.
“Large digital platforms operate as a single unit in the EU internal market, but face a patchwork of tax jurisdictions competing for profits,” wrote Tang in the report, EU Tax Revenue Loss from Google and Facebook. “This enables them to minimize the overall tax burden in the EU by routing all revenues to low-tax member states such as Ireland and Luxembourg. Hence, the other member states are very likely being deprived of billions of euros of tax revenues.”
It’s a situation the EU is determined to counter. In September the European Commission said it was looking at ways to gather a larger amount of tax from companies such as Google and Facebook, which capitalize on their lack of office space in European countries to book their profits in low-tax states.
It is a strategy that could backfire, with the American Chamber of Commerce stating that plans to raise more tax revenue from the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon would make Europe less attractive to investors.
What this would mean for Google’s Irish dream, remains to be seen.


MBC Group inks deal with China’s National Radio and Television Administration

The agreement was signed at MBC Group’s headquarters in Dubai. (Supplied)
Updated 15 November 2018
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MBC Group inks deal with China’s National Radio and Television Administration

  • The deal will includ dubbed television programs from both territories, as well as joint productions
  • The digital media sector is of utmost importance to us: Al Ibrahim

JEDDAH: MBC Group has signed a three-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China’s National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) on Wednesday.
The MoU seeks to develop traditional and digital media content; sharing TV and film production expertise and competencies; and promoting and developing the human resource sector.
The strategic agreement will comprise media content in all its forms, including dubbed television programs from both territories, as well as joint productions.
The signing ceremony took place at MBC Group’s headquarters in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in the presence of MBC Group Chairman Sheikh Waleed Bin Ibrahim Al Ibrahim; Vice Chairman Ali Al-Hedeithy, and CEO Sam Barnett. Representing NRTA was Gao Jianmin, Deputy Minister of Information at NRTA, as well as a number of senior executives and consultants.
Al Ibrahim said: “The National Radio and Television Administration aims to develop a comprehensive media environment that simulates its peers from the world's largest companies, in terms of efficiency, performance, innovation, research and development, as well as other areas of growth and development.”
In terms of digital media, the agreement will see MBC showcasing Chinese films dubbed and translated into Arabic, with NRTA tailoring MBC content for Chinese audiences.
“The digital media sector is of utmost importance to us; digital platforms are now a necessity for the growth of any media organization in the region and the world. Investing in the event industry and in human capital is as crucial as investing in media content, so we are now sharing our experiences in these sectors with our partners in China,” Al Ibrahim said.
Jianmin stated: “We are pleased to announce today this strategic cooperation with MBC in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative. MBC has established over the years the prime broadcasting platform across the Middle East and North Africa region and we believe our partnership will support the cultural cooperation and content sharing across our regions.
“We are looking forward to a successful cooperation that will represent one more milestone on the long history of exchanges between China and the Middle East.”
The agreement also includes the attendance and participation of both parties in events and festivals hosted by either party. For example, this includes the participation of MBC in the China-Arab Cooperation Forum in Radio and Television, in addition to other television and film festivals held in China. Meanwhile, MBC Group will host NRTA at media, film, television and festival events in the region.
Resourcing and the human development sector is at the heart of this agreement, focusing on the exchange of expertise through joint seminars, courses and training programs aimed at honing the human talent of both parties.