Saudi fund ‘to take over Riyadh financial district’

Saudi fund ‘to take over Riyadh financial district’
The first phase of the King Abdullah Financial District is due to launch next year. (Reuters)
Updated 23 November 2017

Saudi fund ‘to take over Riyadh financial district’

Saudi fund ‘to take over Riyadh financial district’

LONDON: Riyadh’s $10 billion business hub, which has been under construction since 2006, will be given a fresh lease of life under the management of the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, according to reports.
The Public Investment Fund (PIF) has finalized a deal to take over the management of the King Abdullah Financial District from the Public Pension Agency, Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed sources.
While details of the deal have yet to emerge, Hilmi Ghosheh, who acts as an adviser for PIF’s real estate projects, is reportedly set to manage the completion of the development.
The Saudi Vision 2030 economic reform plan outlines details for the rehabilitation of the capital’s financial district, which is to be an economic free zone with visa exemptions and a direct connection to the airport.
The first phase of the project is due to launch next year with plans to host the G-20 meeting there in 2020.
The government is now exploring new incentive options to attract financial institutions to occupy space in the district, Bloomberg reported. Decade-long tax breaks for banks are among the ideas circulating to help populate the 73-building development, which has been restructured to reduce office space and increase the number of residential units.
PwC and local regulator Capital Market Authority are among the companies due to take space in the area.


China moves to bring order to online environment

China moves to bring order to online environment
Updated 8 min 1 sec ago

China moves to bring order to online environment

China moves to bring order to online environment
  • Tightens regulations governing media-related mobile apps to protect citizens

SHANGHAI: China’s internet watchdog said on Saturday that it will ban some mobile app notifications and tighten regulations as the government ramps up a campaign to rein in the growing influence of internet companies over its citizens’ daily lives.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) will strengthen guidance and control of mobile app information sources, and restrict notification volumes as part of what it terms a “people’s war” aimed at bringing order to the online environment, Xie Dengke, a CAC spokesperson told a State Council press conference.

Global Times also reported that CAC aimed to check illegal online behavior, including chaotic phenomena relating to the entertainment sector and irrational behaviors of fan groups.

“Regulations on online behaviors of institutions or official fan groups behind entertainment celebrities will also be shored up,” and action will be taken against online bullies, the report said.

The CAC will ban media-related mobile applications from sending notifications from independent social media accounts operating in violation of regulations, and will filter what it sees as harmful and undesirable information, Xie said.

Xie did not name specific mobile applications or social media accounts affected by the new rules.

The CAC will also work with financial regulators to “rectify” self-published financial accounts that have spread rumors, Xie said, to bring the dissemination of financial information under control.

China has in recent months sought to curb the economic and social power of its once loosely regulated internet giants, in a clampdown. Greater scrutiny and a strengthening of antitrust regulatory powers mirror an increasingly tough approach to the tech sector in the US and Europe. Following a “self-inspection” period to give mobile application operators an opportunity to address problems, the regulator will punish those not meeting certain requirements with penalties including fines and service suspensions, Xie said.

He did not say how long the self-inspection period would last.Earlier this week, the internet watchdog found that 33 mobile phone apps broke data privacy rules by collecting data without consent, among other issues.


India, EU to build joint infrastructure projects in Asia, Africa

India, EU to build joint infrastructure projects in Asia, Africa
Updated 17 min 43 sec ago

India, EU to build joint infrastructure projects in Asia, Africa

India, EU to build joint infrastructure projects in Asia, Africa
  • EU-India trade talks were frozen in 2013 over differences including tariff reductions, patent protection, data security and the right of Indian professionals to work in Europe

NEW DELHI: The EU and India will build joint infrastructure projects in Africa, Central Asia and the Indo-Pacific, an Indian Foreign Ministry official said on Saturday, after the conclusion of bilateral talks. 

India and the EU also revived stalled free trade negotiations, while also seeking closer cooperation to combat climate change, as concerns about China bring Brussels and New Delhi closer.

EU-India trade talks were frozen in 2013 over differences including tariff reductions, patent protection, data security and the right of Indian professionals to work in Europe.

A 2020 study by the European Parliament put the benefits of a trade deal for the EU with India at up to €8.5 billion ($10.2 billion), although the estimate was made before Britain’s departure from the bloc.

“It is no coincidence that items on the Europe-India agenda — maritime security in the Indian Ocean, alternatives to the BRI, emerging technologies, 5G — all have elements of competition with China,” said Garima Mohan, an Asia expert at the German Marshall Fund think tank.

The India-EU Connectivity collaboration also calls for developing a “joint vision and an aligned roadmap for beyond 5G technologies” and fostering “open, more secure, sustainable, interoperable, environmentally friendly and fair access to cloud services,” the Indian media reported.

There was also provision for “resilient, secure and standards-compliant networks, stepping up collaboration on mitigating network risks and increasing joint efforts to promote an open, free, stable and secure cyberspace.”

Creating an environment for boosting digital investments between India and the EU, leveraging opportunities for improving cross-border payments including remittances, between the EU and India is also accounted for under the terms of the India-EU connectivity cooperation.

The EU accounted for €96 billion ($117 billion) of trade in goods and services in 2020, 11 percent of India’s total, just behind China and the US, according to the European Commission.

Alongside the trade talks, the sides also agreed to launch negotiations on two separate agreements on investment protection and on geographic indications — those that protect products that have a specific place of origin.

Still, EU officials warn that even though there is willingness to re-engage in trade negotiations, progress is still scant on a lot of key areas including Indian tariffs for goods — especially cars — and intellectual property rights.


Lebanese ministries told to wait to grant approval for subsidized imports

Lebanese ministries told to wait to grant approval for subsidized imports
A man counts U.S. dollar banknotes next to Lebanese pounds at a currency exchange shop in Beirut, Lebanon April 24, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 08 May 2021

Lebanese ministries told to wait to grant approval for subsidized imports

Lebanese ministries told to wait to grant approval for subsidized imports
  • Finance Ministry to reduce number of subsidized goods from 80 to 30, source tells Arab News
  • Stores report declining sales as food prices surge

BEIRUT: The Banque du Liban has informed the Economy Ministry and other concerned ministries of the need to wait to grant approval for subsidized imports.
The move by Lebanon’s central bank comes as the caretaker government has been unable to secure a social safety net by agreeing to issue ration cards for the poorest families.
Meanwhile, there are no solutions to the problems obstructing the formation of a government to rescue the country from its economic crisis.
Prices of food such as beef and chicken have risen steeply, shocking supermarket customers. Employees at these stores say sales have declined due to people’s inability to pay these higher prices.
A source in the Finance Ministry told Arab News that the state supports “about 80 commodities,” including “wheat, fuel and medicines,” and that the ministry is planning to reduce this number to 30.
Subsidies have been removed from medical devices and supplies. The Medical Equipment and Devices Importers Syndicate said: “This means that the prices of goods (in this sector) will significantly rise.”
Subsidies on over-the-counter drugs are likely to be permanently lifted, but there are no plans to remove subsidies on medicines for incurable diseases.
Monthly subsidies do not exceed $500 million, but the scarcity of financial resources and the government’s inability to undertake reforms has made covering this cost difficult.


Dubai hub private jet traffic quadruples as Gulf high fliers return to travel

Dubai hub private jet traffic quadruples as Gulf high fliers return to travel
Updated 08 May 2021

Dubai hub private jet traffic quadruples as Gulf high fliers return to travel

Dubai hub private jet traffic quadruples as Gulf high fliers return to travel
  • After years in the doldrums, the private jet sector is rebounding strongly as Gulf operators report rising bookings and plane makers unveil new aircraft

DUBAI: Private jet traffic at one Dubai airport more than quadrupled in the first quarter as the sector rebounds strongly amid reduced commercial airline capacity.
The Mohammed bin Rashid Aerospace Hub in Dubai South recorded a 336 percent increase in private jet traffic in the first three months of this year, totaling 4,904 charters, it said on Saturday.
"We look forward to sustaining the momentum of aircraft movements as Dubai gears up to welcoming the world to Expo 2020 in October," said Tahnoon Saif, CEO of Mohammed Bin Rashid Aerospace Hub.

After years in the doldrums, the private jet sector is rebounding strongly as Gulf operators report rising bookings and plane makers unveil new aircraft such as Dassault's $75 million 10X that has been dubbed "the flying penthouse."

The Falcon 10X will be the company’s most powerful model when it goes into service in late 2025, with a range of 13,890 kilometers, and compete with high-end models offered by Canada's Bombardier and General Dynamics unit Gulfstream. It will come equipped with Rolls-Royce Pearl engines designed to run entirely on sustainable aviation fuel.

Regional carriers including Qatar Airways are also promoting their private jet charter units as scheduled air travel remains under pressure because of pandemic-related flying restrictions.

Charter jet movements at the Dubai hub’s VIP Terminal come from its four operators Jetex Executive Aviation, Jet Aviation, DC Aviation, and ExecuJet Middle East.
US-based firm General Dynamics said last week it recorded a surge in demand for private jets, in part due to increasing hopes of economic recovery following mass COVID-19 vaccination drives.
The company’s business jet deliveries increased to 28 units from 23 a year earlier, as travel restrictions gradually ease.
India has also become a lucrative market for private jet charter companies as wealthy expatriates seek to escape the deadly spike in COVID-19 infections in the country.
New Delhi-based JetSetGo has seen rising demand among the country's rich.
The company’s bookings jumped 900 percent in recent weeks, CNBC reported


Egypt’s economy to rebound from 2022, S&P Ratings says

Egypt’s economy to rebound from 2022, S&P Ratings says
Updated 08 May 2021

Egypt’s economy to rebound from 2022, S&P Ratings says

Egypt’s economy to rebound from 2022, S&P Ratings says
  • Real GDP growth will average 5.3 percent between 2022 and 2024

DUBAI: Egypt’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth will begin to rebound from 2022 onward on its foreign reserve buffers and debt market access, ratings agency S&P Global said, as it affirmed the country’s credit rating at “B/B” with a stable outlook.
Real GDP growth will average 5.3 percent between 2022 and 2024, S&P forecasts, due to higher public and private investment.
That compares to an expected 2.5 percent growth in 2021, where the impact of the pandemic was felt in full force, affecting major sectors such as tourism, manufacturing, and construction.
Still, S&P’s rating of the North African country is constrained by its wide fiscal deficit, large public debt and low-income levels.
But ongoing fiscal and economic reforms present strong medium-term growth prospects for Egypt, the new report said, and recovering growth and lower domestic interest rates will put the debt ratio back on a downward path.
“We expect Egypt’s foreign exchange reserves and access to domestic and external debt markets will allow it to cover higher external financing needs and upcoming maturities,” the report added.
Remittance inflow into the country will remain at high levels, and higher oil prices this year will have a balanced impact on its hydrocarbon exports and imports.
Egypt’s main sources of foreign exchange will remain under pressure, the report warned, as tourism and Suel Canal receipts still struggle amid the pandemic.