Dubai’s Emaar chief takes 100% pay cut amid COVID-19 crisis lockdown

Dubai’s Emaar chief takes 100% pay cut amid COVID-19 crisis lockdown
Emaar CEO, Mohamed Ali Alabbar, has agreed to take a 100% pay cut, telling staff he is confident the COVID-19 crisis will pass. (File/AFP)
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Updated 06 April 2020

Dubai’s Emaar chief takes 100% pay cut amid COVID-19 crisis lockdown

Dubai’s Emaar chief takes 100% pay cut amid COVID-19 crisis lockdown
  • The senior management will see a 50% reduction in salaries
  • Those on low grades will not see any reduction in their pay at this stage

DUBAI: The chairman of the property developer Emaar has told staff he will take a 100 percent pay cut during the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an email sent to all 6,600 employees, Mohamed Ali Alabbar explained that a new company-wide salary structure was being introduced from April 1,  across all levels until further notice as the company took strict measures to protect staff and “secure the continuity of our business.”

Under the new salary structure the chairman will take a 100 percent cut, senior management (grade 13-19), will see a 50 percent reduction, and middle management salaries (grade7-8) will be cut by 40 percent.

Junior staff (grade 4-6) will see a 30 percent reduction in their pay packets, but support staff (grade 3 and below) who are working full time during this period will still receive 100 percent of their wages.

The email sent to the 6,600 Emaar staff

Those working in the hospitality sector who are currently not working will retain their accommodation and medical insurance and will also receive 15 percent of their wages, while “other entities” will get 60 percent of their salaries.

Alabbar said he was practicing social distancing and said he often found himself reflecting on the “radical changes that are forcibly taking place in our lives without us knowing when it is coming to an end.”

He said he remained optimistic, saying that despite the spread of COVID-19 that has disrupted everyone’s lives, “I still believe that this too shall pass.”

He said he was confident “that this is only a temporary phase.”


World Economic Forum cancels 2021 annual meeting in Singapore

WEF had already pushed back its special meeting in Singapore, initially scheduled for mid-May, following the announcement last year it was moving from its usual home in the Swiss Alps due to the pandemic situation in Europe. (AFP)
WEF had already pushed back its special meeting in Singapore, initially scheduled for mid-May, following the announcement last year it was moving from its usual home in the Swiss Alps due to the pandemic situation in Europe. (AFP)
Updated 17 min 53 sec ago

World Economic Forum cancels 2021 annual meeting in Singapore

WEF had already pushed back its special meeting in Singapore, initially scheduled for mid-May, following the announcement last year it was moving from its usual home in the Swiss Alps due to the pandemic situation in Europe. (AFP)
  • The WEF's next annual meeting will instead take place in the first half of 2022

ZURICH: The World Economic Forum cancelled its 2021 annual meeting scheduled for Singapore in three months' time on Monday, saying it was not possible to hold such a large, global event due to the COVID-19 situation.

“Regretfully, the tragic circumstances unfolding across geographies, an uncertain travel outlook, differing speeds of vaccination rollout and the uncertainty around new variants combine to make it impossible to realise a global meeting with business, government and civil society leaders from all over the world at the scale which was planned,” it said in a statement.

WEF had already pushed back its special meeting in Singapore, initially scheduled for mid-May, following the announcement last year it was moving from its usual home in the Swiss Alps due to the pandemic situation in Europe.

The city-state has in recent days imposed some of the tightest restrictions since it exited a lockdown last year to combat a spike in local COVID-19 infections.

Acknowledging WEF's decision to cancel the event, the Singapore trade ministry said on Monday that it “fully appreciates the challenges caused by the ongoing global pandemic, particularly for a large meeting with a broad span of international participants.”

The WEF's next annual meeting will instead take place in the first half of 2022. Its location and date will be determined based on an assessment of the situation later this summer, it added in a statement.


Egypt finalizes plans to launch African Economic Integration Initiative

Egypt finalizes plans to launch African Economic Integration Initiative
Updated 22 min 6 sec ago

Egypt finalizes plans to launch African Economic Integration Initiative

Egypt finalizes plans to launch African Economic Integration Initiative
  • Al-Arabi explained that the volume of global African imports amounted to $564 billion from 231 countries

CAIRO: Ibrahim Al-Arabi, president of the General Federation of Chambers of Commerce and president of the Federation of African Chambers of Commerce and Industry, announced the completion of the executive framework for launching the African Economic Integration Initiative.

In an official statement, Al-Arabi said that the first phase of implementing the initiative will begin by launching a new website for the union, which will display investment opportunities.

Al-Arabi explained that the volume of global African imports amounted to $564 billion from 231 countries, while the volume of African exports to 223 countries is estimated at $452 billion. He said the value of intra-continental trade is about $70 billion annually.

He stressed that the optimal utilization of African resources will give the continent sovereignty over international markets, as reports indicate that it possesses 30 percent of the world’s mineral wealth, 12 percent of oil reserves, 43 percent of gold sources, 50 percent of diamond resources and 67 percent of untapped agricultural land.

“We have developed a realistic strategy for multilateral regional cooperation in light of the needs of African countries, their resources and opportunities to create integrated activities for joint industrialization and to replace African imports from outside the continent with alternatives available in Africa,” Al-Arabi said, adding that he was also looking at opportunities with Arab partners.


Kuwait Mezzan to increase prices, says CFO

The Mezzan Group will develop its manufacturing capabilities to keep pace with international standards. (Mezzan Group)
The Mezzan Group will develop its manufacturing capabilities to keep pace with international standards. (Mezzan Group)
Updated 17 May 2021

Kuwait Mezzan to increase prices, says CFO

The Mezzan Group will develop its manufacturing capabilities to keep pace with international standards. (Mezzan Group)
  • The company's strategy is to maintain purchasing power inside and outside Kuwait

RIYADH: Kuwait Mezzan Holding KSC may increase prices of its products in the coming period due to disruptions related to production chains, which led to an increase in the prices of production inputs, said CFO Nabil Bin Ayed.

The company's strategy is to maintain purchasing power inside and outside Kuwait, and to control the cost of production by finding internal solutions, he added.

Mezzan's Kuwait Saudi Pharmaceuticals Industries Co. KSPICO signed a joint manufacturing agreement with Abbott Laboratories, which specializes in medical and healthcare devices, to localize the industry of 26 pharmaceutical products in Kuwait.

Bin Ayed said that this agreement will help the company transfer technology to the local market and contribute to the development and production of medicines in Kuwait, Al Arabiya reported.

The priority will be for the local market, he said.

The Group will develop its manufacturing capabilities to keep pace with international standards, he explained.

Mezzan Holding is one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of food, beverage, FMCG and healthcare products in the Gulf.


Preservation is as important as development, say chiefs of top Saudi megaprojects

Preservation is as important as development, say chiefs of top Saudi megaprojects
Updated 17 May 2021

Preservation is as important as development, say chiefs of top Saudi megaprojects

Preservation is as important as development, say chiefs of top Saudi megaprojects
  • The Red Sea Development Co. is expecting its first influx of tourists in 2023

DUBAI: Top officials from Saudi Arabia’s various megaprojects highlighted the importance of preserving the environment while achieving ambitious development goals in the Kingdom’s previously untouched sites.

John Pagano, chief executive of the Red Sea Development Co., said the biggest challenge they have is not “messing up the place” and avoiding “over tourism” that has traditionally compromised nature-based tourist sites.

“At the end of the day, our environment is our most valuable asset. It’s making sure that we balance the desire to build, and build it in a timely fashion, but never to the extent where we put at risk the very thing that will make this place so special,” he said.

The Red Sea Development Co. is expecting its first influx of tourists in 2023, Pagano mentioned, saying they will put a cap on the number of visitors in the area.

AlUla’s Melanie de Souza echoed Pagano’s sentiments on preserving the “pristine” characteristics of Saudi heritage sites, saying it is an important element in their plan.

“I think there is a job to be done to continue to educate our communities, and to indulge in best practices in developing infrastructure,” de Souza, the executive director of tourism and destination marketing at the Royal Commission of AlUla, said.

The same goes with the NEOM project in the Tabuk province of Saudi Arabia, where the major concern lies in regenerating “these places for future generations.”

In March the Kingdom solidified its dedication to sustainability with the launch of the Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives, which call for regional cooperation to tackle the environmental challenges facing Saudi Arabia and the wider region.

Unveiled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the initiatives include a number of ambitious projects designed to reduce carbon emissions in the region by 60 percent. This will be achieved mainly through the use of clean hydrocarbon technologies and the planting of 50 billion trees, including 10 billion in the Kingdom. 

In addition, the initiatives aim to preserve marine and coastal environments, increase the proportion of natural reserves and protected land, improve the regulation of oil production, accelerate the transition to clean energy and boost the amount of energy generated by renewables.

The panelists, who were speaking at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, predicted a strong recovery in the tourism sector, especially as the Kingdom sets its goal to attract 100 million tourists by 2030.

Pagano was particularly hopeful because of developments in vaccine rollouts across the world, specifically in their source markets.

“By the time that we open up our resorts at the end of next year, most of these places will be beyond herd immunity,” he predicted.

“I think the traveling public is going to come and (is) predominantly going to be vaccinated. In fact, I suspect maybe that’s going to be one of the key criteria to allow people to come in,” Pagano added.


Saudi tourism chief eyes Q4 turning point as international flights resume

Saudi tourism chief eyes Q4 turning point as international flights resume
Updated 13 min 18 sec ago

Saudi tourism chief eyes Q4 turning point as international flights resume

Saudi tourism chief eyes Q4 turning point as international flights resume
  • Kingdom has opened international tourism offices in major countries, including China and Russia

DUBAI: The fourth quarter of this year could be a turning point for Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry as the countries that the Kingdom is targeting reach a 70 percent vaccination rate.

Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) CEO Fahd Hamidaddin made the prediction at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai, as the Kingdom reopened its borders to certain group of people on Monday.

Although foreign tourists are still not allowed to travel to Saudi Arabia, Hamidaddin said on Monday that it was preparing to reopen its borders for inbound travel and an announcement would be made “very soon.”

Saudi Arabia has opened international tourism offices in major countries including China and Russia, and is targeting 28 markets in a global marketing push.

Hamidaddin said international tourism in the country could only boom when other countries also restarted their travel industries — and that this could only be fully considered after they had reached a vaccination rate of 70 percent.

He said that such a vaccination milestone may be reached in the last quarter of the year. Speaking at an ATM panel focused on Saudi Arabia, participants highlighted the strong performance of domestic tourism in the Kingdom. “Domestic tourism was our huge success,” Hamidaddin told the conference.

Capt. Ibrahim AlKoshy, CEO of Saudia, the Kingdom’s state-owned flag carrier, who attended the event through a video link from Riyadh, said local demand was even exceeding airline capacity at times. He said travelers were particularly interested in leisure tourism, more than business and other essential travel. The aviation chief also told Reuters on Monday the airline expects to turn a profit by 2024.

HIGHLIGHT

Riyadh aims to raise the contribution of its tourism sector to its GDP from 3 percent to 10 percent, in a bid to modernize its economy and veer away from oil dependence.

Saudi Arabia opened up to international tourism in September 2019 and has since announced a number of megaprojects to attract visitors, including a $530 million fund to develop key destinations across the Kingdom. Riyadh aims to raise the contribution of its tourism sector to its GDP from 3 percent to 10 percent, in a bid to modernize its economy and veer away from oil dependence.

Market research firm Euromonitor International estimated in March that inbound tourism spending in Saudi Arabia would reach $25.3 billion by 2025, recovering from the impact of the coronavirus disease pandemic.

Saudi domestic tourism exceeded expectations during the pandemic, despite the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) describing 2020 as “the worst year on record in the history of tourism.”

Figures from the UNWTO in December revealed that destinations welcomed 900 million fewer international tourists between January and October, compared with the same period in 2019 — a 72 percent year-on-year slump.

Despite the dire international picture, the Saudi Ministry of Tourism announced in September that domestic tourism saw a significant rise in traveler numbers, surpassing official projections.

During the 2021 Budget Forum in December, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said the Kingdom is aiming to attract new tourism investments worth SR220 billion ($58 billion) by 2023, and more than SR500 billion by the end of the decade. In 2019, Saudi travelers spent $22 billion traveling overseas. One of the ways the ministry is aiming to boost the Kingdom’s tourism revenues is to encourage Saudis to spend some of their tourism cash at home.

“We have reduced the leakage,” Al-Khateeb told Arab News in December. “In 2019, we launched 11 ‘seasons’ in Saudi Arabia and reduced travel outside by 30 percent. If we continue to do this, we will definitely reduce the leakage — Saudis will like to stay at home and they will enjoy the offering.”