Dubai completes funding for Dubai Metro’s Route 2020 extension project

The Roads and Transport Authority said that tunneling on the Route 2020 Project is progressing at a steady pace with more than 50 percent of the excavation work already completed. (Roads and Transport Authority)
Updated 22 March 2018
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Dubai completes funding for Dubai Metro’s Route 2020 extension project

DUBAI: The government has completed the 9 billion-dirham financing exercise to complete the construction of the Dubai Metro’s Route 2020 extension project, the emirate’s Department of Finance said on Thursday.
The transaction consists of a 17-year billion dirham loan guaranteed by the French export credit agency Bpifrance Assurance Export and the Spanish export credit agency Compañía Española de Seguros de Crédito a la Exportación, with 14-year amortizations to start in 2020, and a 10-year conventional facility of 4 billion dirhams, with payments over six years to start in 2022.
The five-stage Route 2020 project, which will cost 10.6 billion dirhams, will extend the existing Dubai Metro Red Line to the Expo 2020 site and will have seven stations in between.
“The encouraging response received for this financing, illustrates the strong confidence of international banks in Dubai’s economy … we have been able to achieve long-term financing at competitive rates while at the same time allowing us to manage our budget proactively and in a fiscally responsible manner,” Abdulrahman Saleh Al Saleh, DoF director general, said in a statement.
Banco Santander, First Abu Dhabi Bank, HSBC Middle East Limited, Intesa Sanpaolo and Standard Chartered Bank acted as mandated lead arrangers and the facility providers for the financing.
The contract for the design and build for the project was awarded by Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority to a consortium of Alstom Transport, Acciona Infraestructuras and Gulermak.


Ether cryptocurrency, a victim of blockchain success

Updated 23 September 2018
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Ether cryptocurrency, a victim of blockchain success

  • Ether has slid 20 percent in value, taking a further hit from comments made by Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, which powers the cryptocurrency
  • Buterin has previously spoken about ‘scalability’ probably being the number one challenge facing the sector

LONDON: For all the attention afforded bitcoin, it is its rival ether that is hitting the headlines, with the popularity of its blockchain technology Ethereum driving concerns that have sent investors fleeing.
Virtual currencies have struggled across the board this month after US investment banking giant Goldman Sachs pulled back from its plans to open a trading desk for bitcoin, damaging sentiment for the entire sector.
Ether has slid 20 percent in value, taking a further hit from comments made by Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, which powers the cryptocurrency.
Earlier this month, the 24-year-old Russian-Canadian programmer told Bloomberg that “the (Ethereum) blockchain space is getting to the point where there’s a ceiling in sight.”
A blockchain is essentially a ledger for recording transactions, which is both open to all who use it but extremely secure, and has enabled the rise of cryptocurrency trading.
A multimillionaire thanks to Ethereum, Buterin has previously spoken about “scalability” probably being the number one challenge facing the sector.
Unlike bitcoin’s blockchain, which carries out transactions involving only the cryptocurrency, Ethereum can host different virtual tokens and also enable certain digital applications and so-called smart contracts.
Such programs can for example automatically trigger payments without the use of a third party when pre-defined conditions are met, such as winning a sports bet.
Ethereum is also home to two-thirds of initial coin offerings (ICOs), essentially a fundraising tool for companies which issue the tokens against cryptocurrencies much like issuing shares on a stock market.
An explosion in the number of ICOs in 2017, two years after ether’s launch, resulted in the cryptocurrency’s price rocketing 160 times in value over a 12-month period.
The craze surrounding ICOs has also caused congestion to Ethereum’s network, contributing to ether’s price collapse beginning in January.
“The more it’s demanded, the more likely you are to clog the network,” said Jerome de Tychey, president of Asseth, an association promoting the use of Ethereum.
A clogged Ethereum results in higher charges for clients wanting their transactions prioritized — and average fees briefly hit a record $5.50 in July according to bitinfocharts.com. Generally, though, fees fluctuate around a few cents.
Delays to a planned overhaul of Ethereum’s scalability have meanwhile likely discouraged some investors from using the blockchain, according to de Tychey.
Naeem Aslam, an analyst at traders Think Markets, said Buterin “isn’t doing the job which he is supposed to do” — that is, to make companies “trust the technology and provide them (with) what they need.”
The plunge in the value of ether has indeed been dramatic. Since the start of August, it has lost more than half its value.
Going back to May, the drop is 75 percent, with the total value of the virtual currency tumbling to about $23 billion from $82.5 billion.
Yet the huge drop has only taken ether back to its value of a little over a year ago, at some $220 for one token.
Another factor weighing on ether’s price has been the success of ICOs. The companies which raised funding in ether with ICOs now need to sell to them to cover operating expenses in fiat currencies.
According to sector analysts Diar the companies that raised funding before the price boom at the end of last year have sold off some 20 percent of their ether holdings since April, weighing on its price.