Dubai grants new business privileges to ‘Emiratis of determination’

Citizens who are deemed to be ‘people of determination’ will be entitled to business privileges in Dubai. (Reuters)
Updated 10 February 2018
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Dubai grants new business privileges to ‘Emiratis of determination’

LONDON: Dubai-based companies that are owned by people with disabilities, or ‘people of determination,’ are set to get new business perks from the government.
The local municipality will offer UAE nationals with disabilities ‘preferential’ treatment at the purchasing section in the Contracts and Purchasing Department of Dubai Municipality, said a report from Dubai’s state news agency WAM.
In April last year, Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum decreed that disabled people would be known as ‘people of determination’ in a move to recognize “their monumental efforts in overcoming all challenges.”
Those who possess the People of Determination card issued by the Ministry of Community Development, or Sanad Card issued by the Community Development Authority in Dubai, are entitled to the business privileges.
Mohammed Al Zaffin, Director of the Contracts and Purchasing Department at the Dubai Municipality, said: “The privileges include prioritizing people of determination who are UAE nationals with a bid price difference of five percent, exempting them from registration and renewal fees for suppliers and prioritizing their purchase orders for less than 10,000 dirhams.”
He added that the privileges also include exclusive offers, prioritizing the disbursement of financial payments to their companies, and accepting the receipt of documents by email, without the need to be present at the office.
Al-Zaffin said: “These privileges are part of the social commitment of the municipality, to support and empower people of determination and appreciate their efforts and potential. The municipality attaches significant importance to people of determination and is keen to establish and launch initiatives to support them,” he said.
The initiative is part of Dubai’s National Strategy for Empowering People with Disabilities, which revolves around six pillars including health and rehabilitation, education, vocational rehabilitation and employment, mobility and social protection.
At the time of the launch of the strategy, Sheikh Mohammed said: “Disability is in fact the inability to make progress and achievements. The achievements that people of determination have made in various spheres over the past years are proof that determination and strong will can do the impossible and encourage people to counter challenges and difficult circumstances while firmly achieving their goals.”


On former battlefield, Kuwaiti investor plans date palm groves, ostrich and deer reserve

Updated 21 May 2018
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On former battlefield, Kuwaiti investor plans date palm groves, ostrich and deer reserve

SOUTHERN BADIA, Iraq: On a former battlefield of the 1991 Gulf War, deep in Iraq’s southern desert, a Kuwaiti investor is looking to grow 100,000 date palms and build a nature reserve complete with ostriches and deer.
Few Kuwaiti firms have returned to do business in Iraq since Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of its smaller neighbor and its UN-led liberation a year later.
But businessman Abdul-Aziz Al-Babtain is pouring $58 million into a date farm project in southern Badia, some 150 km from the port city of Basra, officials said.
“We hope to have 100,000 (trees) in the next five to six years,” said Diyah Sharadeh, Babtain’s representative in Iraq, adding that the dates would first be sold in Iraq and later exported.
So far 5,000 date trees have been planted.
Iraq once produced three-quarters of the world’s output of dates but now accounts for 5 percent after decades of conflict, despite being home to around 350 types of date tree.
Babtain had begun the farm in the 1980s, a sign at his office shows.
But Iraq seized it after the 1990 invasion, and due to its proximity to the Kuwaiti border it turned the area into a military zone, digging trenches for heavy guns.
These were then bombed in air strikes as part of Kuwait’s liberation campaign, but authorities never cleaned up the trenches, leaving bullets and parts of tank turrets rusting away just outside the field.
In a bid to turn a new leaf, Iraq returned the farm to Babtain and granted his business tax exemptions.
“This will be the first private (date) investment project in Iraq,” said Ali Ghasseb, head of the Basra Investment Commission. “It was a farm, then became a battlefield and is now again a farm.”
The farm has created some 50 jobs in this desolate area and will need up to 500 workers once the trees begin producing.
In a second step, Babtain plans to set up a natural reserve for which ostriches and deer will be imported, Sharadeh said.
THAW
Ties between Kuwait and Iraq remained strained, but they have improved since the US-led invasion in 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein, with the Gulf state hosting in February a donor conference to rebuild Iraq.
But Kuwaiti firms have been reluctant to return, demanding guarantees that their business will not be taken away again. There is only one other Kuwaiti investor in Basra, involved in a shopping mall, Ghasseb said.
But trade has picked up in recent years as foreign firms use Kuwait’s port to ship goods to Iraq due to its better security. Up to 200 vehicles cross the border at the Safwan post every day, an Iraqi officer said.
Kuwaiti visitors are also trickling back to the Shiite Muslim holy cities of Najaf and Kerbela. A third of Kuwaitis are Shiites.
In the other direction there is little private traffic as Kuwait rarely grants visitor visas for Iraqis for security reasons.
“I come twice a year. There are no problems for Kuwaitis now,” said a Kuwaiti who gave his name as Mohamed after crossing the border to make a pilgrimage to Nawaf.