Milken Abu Dhabi forum hears why big data is a big deal

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Hussain Sajwani
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Jonathan Goldstein, CEO of Cain International said: “What we are finding across our business is that by using data sensibly, we are able to understand want our customers want, what they look for.”
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Updated 13 February 2020

Milken Abu Dhabi forum hears why big data is a big deal

  • Damac’s founder says new technologies being used by firm for customer relations and sales
  • CEO of Cain International says firms must reflect mindset of millennial customer base

ABU DHABI: Property companies should use technology to stay in touch with a fast-changing market or risk being left behind, an Abu Dhabi forum heard.
“The ability to access data is essential,” Jonathan Goldstein, CEO of Cain International, a private real-estate investment firm, told the first day of the Milken Institute’s 2020 Middle East and Africa summit.
Speaking in a session titled “Being the disruptor, not the disrupted: Innovators shaping real estate,” Goldstein said: “What we are finding across our business is that by using data sensibly, we are able to understand what our customers want, what they look for.”
He said that millennials, who make up a quarter of the global population, “look at the world differently.”
“We need to reflect that mindset,” he said.
Referring to the role of data and modern technologies in the real-estate industry, Goldstein said the more a company knows its customers, the better its chances of success. 
Hussain Sajwani, founder and chairman of Dubai-listed Damac Properties, told the forum that the company has been aggressive in incorporating technology in its operations.




Khaldoon Khalifa Al-Mubarak, group CEO and managing director of Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company. (Milken Institute)


“We have been going digital. We are moving very fast in adopting new technologies for customer relations and for sales,” he said.
Sajwani said that technology has given Damac a greater understanding of its clients, allowing it to focus its spending strategy on customer acquisition and retention.
Only 1 percent of spending last year went on TV ads, while 90 percent went toward digital expenses, he said.
“A lot of companies are going through disruptions. The risk is very high,” Sajwani said, adding that some retailers have gone bankrupt because of their inability to compete with the technology-driven rise of e-commerce.
While physical assets are still important, their value can be enhanced through the application of technology for sales and customer relations, Sajwani said.
“It is amazing how big Damac’s data is for us to be able to monetize it in the interest of the company and customers ... but not to sell to third parties,” he said.
Sajwani’s comments came as Damac reported its first full-year loss in almost a decade and a 28 percent drop in revenue.
Full-year revenue fell to $1.2 billion, Damac said, as it “selectively launched fewer projects in softer market conditions to avoid adding new commitments and focus on selling complete and near completion inventory.”
Banks in the UAE are bracing for more write-downs from the real-estate sector amid a downturn, especially in the Dubai property market.
Fitch Ratings recently said that a weakening property market is likely to put more pressure on the asset quality of the UAE banking sector.
 


Conflict-hit Libya to restart oil operations but with low output

Updated 10 July 2020

Conflict-hit Libya to restart oil operations but with low output

  • There is significant damage to the reservoirs and infrastructure
  • A first cargo of 650,000 barrels will be shipped by the Kriti Bastion Aframax tanker

TUNIS: Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) lifted force majeure on all oil exports on Friday as a first tanker loaded at Es Sider after a half-year blockade by eastern forces, but said technical problems caused by the shutdown would keep output low.
“The increase in production will take a long time due to the significant damage to reservoirs and infrastructure caused by the illegal blockade imposed on January 17,” NOC said in a statement.
A first cargo of 650,000 barrels will be shipped by the Kriti Bastion Aframax tanker, chartered by Vitol, which two sources at Es Sider port said had docked and started loading on Friday morning.
The blockade, which was imposed by forces in eastern Libya loyal to Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), has cost the country $6.5 billion in lost export revenue, NOC said.
“Our infrastructure has suffered lasting damage, and our focus now must be on maintenance and securing a budget for the work to be done,” NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in the statement.
Control over Libya’s oil infrastructure, the richest prize for competing forces in the country, and access to revenues, has become an ever-more significant factor in the civil war.
The internationally recognized Government of National Accord, supported by Turkey, has recently pushed back the LNA, backed by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt, from the environs of Tripoli and pushed toward Sirte, near the main oil terminals.