Sharjah majlis explores impact of UAE stimulus plan

The virtual majlis was attended by senior government officials, diplomats, CEOs, business owners and investors from the UAE’s public and private sectors.
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Updated 17 May 2020

Sharjah majlis explores impact of UAE stimulus plan

In the presence of senior government officials, diplomats, CEOs, business owners and investors from the UAE’s public and private sectors, the sixth edition of the Sharjah Economic Ramadan Majlis explored how the UAE’s economic stimulus packages have positively impacted major industry sectors, markets and businesses, and recommended response strategies to help businesses in the UAE recover from the coronavirus crisis.

Under the theme, “Impact of the UAE Stimulus Plan on Economic Stability and Growth,” the majlis was convened on May 13, on a virtual platform.

Organized by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), in collaboration with the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) and Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), the virtual majlis session focused on four key pillars — economic stimulus package and enhancement of investors’ confidence, lessons learnt from the crisis, vibrant key sectors and creative experiences, and wise vision.

The panel of speakers at the session included Abdulla Al-Saleh, undersecretary of foreign trade and industry, UAE Ministry of Economy; Marwan bin Jassim Al-Sarkal, executive chairman, Shurooq; Fahad Al-Gergawi, CEO, Dubai Investment Development Agency (Dubai FDI); and Hussain Al-Mahmoudi, CEO, Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI).

Others speaking at the virtual majlis were Najla Al-Midfa, CEO, Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa); Mohammed Abdallah, CEO, Sharjah Islamic Bank; Mohamed Juma Al-Musharrkh, CEO at Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah); and Sameh Abdulla Al-Qubaisi, deputy director general, Abu Dhabi Investment Office.

Al-Saleh said: “As part of the long-term stimulus plan to speed up recovery and encourage investments, the UAE government’s economic stimulus package targeting the financial and private sector has totaled 282 billion dirhams ($76.7 billion) till date, and will be focused on sectors most directly affected by the pandemic including SMEs.”

He added: “We are accelerating into the digital economy earlier than imagined — our digital goals for 2030 are now being realized in 2020 due to the onset of COVID-19.”

Al-Sarkal reiterated the vital role of the UAE government in providing timely reassurance to the business community through the introduction of a host of stimulus packages. “Sharjah’s current three-month stimulus package is based on the existing realities and may be extended upon reviewing the situation,” he added.

Al-Gergawi said: “This is an overall reality check for our lives, our government strategies and commitments, and our corporate policies. This government and the nation were put on virtual work mode over one weekend, and we did not falter. We are adapting to our new realities and we will come out of this stronger, not just as a nation but as one world.”

He added: “Although some sectors such as tourism, aviation, petrochemicals, and retail took a severe hit, some are seeing a rise in prominence including technology, R&D, health care, education and the food business. The UAE’s preparedness on the digital front is paying dividends now and these high priority sectors will see significant investments in the future.”

Al-Mahmoudi said: “As a nation, the UAE has proven its ability in harnessing technologies and adopting digital transformation strategies to improve productivity and boost economic output.”


Ascott prepares for growth in post-COVID-19 era

Updated 01 June 2020

Ascott prepares for growth in post-COVID-19 era

CapitaLand’s wholly owned lodging business unit, The Ascott Limited (Ascott), will review the design of its lodging products and services to ensure they are future-ready for continued growth in a post COVID-19 landscape.

Leveraging the existing design strengths of Ascott’s serviced residences, it aims to redefine the guest experience to take advantage of emerging trends such as the increased popularity of working from home, deeper health and safety concerns, and a rapidly digitizing world.

Kevin Goh, chief executive, lodging, CapitaLand Group and chief executive, Ascott, said: “Ascott’s serviced residences have remained resilient amid COVID-19. We continue to be the accommodation of choice by providing a safe haven for our guests who have placed their trust in Ascott. To cement Ascott’s position as a dominant lodging player and deliver more value for our guests and business partners, we are taking steps to ready Ascott for a post COVID-19 landscape. Ascott is reviewing every touchpoint within the living and workspaces of our apartments to tap on the work-from-home trend. We are also improving our digital solutions and looking at leveraging smarter technologies to provide value and safety to our guests.”

As global and domestic travel restrictions ease, the group has launched “Ascott Cares” across its properties, to reassure guests and staff of the stringent cleanliness and hygiene measures in place, as the global properties begin to welcome new and returning guests home. These measures will also be effective across Ascott’s properties within the Middle East and Turkey: Ascott Park Place Dubai, Citadines Metro Central Dubai, Ascott Tahlia Jeddah, Ascott Sari Jeddah, Citadines Al-Salamah Jeddah, Spectrums Residence Jeddah, Ascott Rafal Olaya Riyadh, Ascott Corniche Al-Khobar, Somerset Panorama Muscat, Somerset Al-Fateh Bahrain, Somerset Maslak Istanbul, and Somerset West Bay Doha.

Vincent Miccolis, Ascott’s regional GM for Middle East, Africa, Turkey and India, said: “We have implemented enhanced sanitization measures across our regional properties in the Middle East and Turkey. These include daily temperature checks, and governmental directives on leisure and health facilities. In addition, the obligatory regulations of face masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers are in place, while sterilizing efforts have been ramped up across apartments, lobbies and public utilities. Ascott has always been a trusted brand and we look forward to the same momentum, assuring our long and short stay guests of a care-free and safe haven when they come home to Ascott.”

To tap in to the work-from-home trend, Ascott is looking at upgrading its design to create a more productive workspace within the serviced apartment. Improvements to the overall ergonomics of the workspace may include better task lighting, better use of space and appropriate wall features suited for videoconferencing or webcasting.

Digital solutions and technologies may also be further deployed to provide convenience, value and safety to guests. The use of sensors at Ascott properties can offer better safety through thermal scanning or to track footfall and crowds to facilitate better safe distancing measures, as well as smarter room energy and water management.

Ascott will also increase the adoption of mobile technology, including the launch of a new mobile app later this year. A one-stop service, the app will offer guests contactless services such as contactless entry to their apartments, payments, check-in and check-out. It can also provide seamless in-room service and smart controls, management of Ascott Star Rewards loyalty points or redemption of special flash deals.