Dubai carrier Emirates restores some capacity on US routes

The Middle East’s largest airline plans to restore daily flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando from its Dubai hub from March 25. (Courtesy Emirates)
Updated 25 January 2018

Dubai carrier Emirates restores some capacity on US routes

DUBAI: Emirates will increase the number of flights to some US cities, it said on Thursday, in a sign that demand dented by the policies of US President Donald Trump’s administration could be returning.
Emirates cut frequencies to five US cities last year, blaming new US restrictions on citizens of some Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, and curbs on carrying large electronic devices in passenger jet cabins.
The Middle East’s largest airline plans to restore daily flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando from its Dubai hub from March 25, having been cut back to five a week last year.
This increase reflects the “steady rebound in customer demand,” Emirates said in a statement.
The US restrictions largely affected Middle East carriers. Rival Etihad Airways announced last year it would cancel flights to San Francisco and Dallas Forth Worth.
The electronics restrictions were lifted in July 2017, though a third version of a policy banning citizens of some countries from entering the US remains.
Emirates did not say when it plans to increase services to Boston, Los Angeles, and Seattle, which were also reduced last year.
“We continue to closely monitor the situation with the view to reinstate and grow our US flight operations as soon as viable,” an Emirates spokeswoman told Reuters.
The airline also said Thursday that it would add a daily, direct Boeing 777 service to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey from June 1 but drop one of its four daily Airbus A380 flights to nearby New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport from March 25.
Emirates already operates a daily flight to Newark via Athens, Greece from Dubai, and one of its remaining three daily New York flights is operated via Milan, Italy from Dubai.


Indonesia hails ‘historic’ $22.9bn mega-investment deal with UAE

Updated 17 January 2020

Indonesia hails ‘historic’ $22.9bn mega-investment deal with UAE

  • Leaders agree initial $6.8bn projects plan, including initiative to build a replica of Abu Dhabi grand mosque in Java

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s business community on Thursday welcomed the UAE’s pledge to pump tens of billions of dollars into a wide range of key sector projects.

President Joko Widodo and his entourage secured an overall $22.9 billion deal during an official two-day visit to Abu Dhabi earlier this week covering the fields of energy, logistics, port construction, mining, and agriculture.

It was also revealed that the delegation brokered a UAE commitment to assist in establishing an Indonesian sovereign wealth fund.

At a bilateral meeting, the Indonesian leader and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan witnessed the signing of 11 business accords between the two countries. Indonesia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi said the UAE had committed to investing $6.8 billion out of the total agreed spending package into the initiatives.

Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s chief minister for maritime affairs and investment, described the UAE’s pledges as possibly being “the biggest deals in Indonesia’s history, secured with the UAE within only six months,” referring to the crown prince’s visit to Indonesia last July.

While most lauded the deal, some Indonesian business leaders remained cautious over the long-term prospects for the projects.

Fachry Thaib, head of the Middle East Committee and OIC at the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, said the schemes could trigger a wide-ranging domino effect through job creation and other business ventures.

“The government needs to have a strong lobbying team that can follow up these deals and push them into investment realizations. We have had such commitments from other Gulf countries, but there was no further lobbying and the pledges were hardly realized,” he told Arab News.

Zaini Alawi, a businessman who exports and imports between Indonesia and the Middle East, said: “It would set a good precedent to attract other Gulf countries to invest here if Indonesia shows it could aptly manage these investment deals.”

Director for Middle East affairs at Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry, Achmad Rizal Purnama, told Arab News that the $6.8 billion commitment from the UAE was only the first phase of a long-term program.

Widodo and the crown prince also witnessed the signing of five government cooperation agreements in health, agriculture, Islamic affairs, and counterterrorism.

Indonesian Minister of Religious Affairs Fachrul Razi said one of the main aspects of the cooperation agreement would be the promotion of religious moderation and raising awareness of the dangers of extremism.

FASTFACT

The UAE has pledged to assist in establishing an Indonesian sovereign wealth fund.

Noting that the UAE had pledged to fund the construction of a replica of the Abu Dhabi grand mosque in Solo, the president’s hometown in Java, the minister pointed out that the grant was part of a commitment by the two countries to establish a mosque that welcomed all people and served a pivotal role in promoting the middle path of Islam.

Riza Widyarsa, a Middle East expert at the University of Indonesia, told Arab News that the cooperation deal could help more Indonesians to understand that not all countries in the Middle East observed conservative Islam. “They are also very active in countering religious extremism and radicalism,” he said.

In addition to the multi-billion-dollar projects, Purnama said Indonesia had also secured the UAE’s commitment to assist in establishing an Indonesian sovereign wealth fund into which the UAE, the US International Development Finance Corporation, and Japan’s SoftBank would inject funding.

And according to Pandjaitan, the UAE had pledged to be “the biggest contributor” to the fund.

The fund would be used to finance Indonesia’s ambitious infrastructure development projects and the construction of its proposed new capital in East Kalimantan, a relocation that has been estimated to cost $33 billion and of which Indonesia could only afford 19 percent.

He said all parties involved would meet in Tokyo soon to set up the structure of the fund and to finalize the plan, which the government expected to launch by mid-2020, a year after the crown prince proposed the idea to Widodo.

“This could be the first time that big capitalists work together in a single project,” Pandjaitan added.