Indonesians return to roots by farming during pandemic

Indonesians return to roots by farming during pandemic
Farmers harvesting potatoes at a plantation in Dieng plateau, Wonosobo, central Java, Indonesia. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 09 November 2020

Indonesians return to roots by farming during pandemic

Indonesians return to roots by farming during pandemic
  • People who lost their jobs in the cities returned to their villages and became farmers

JAKARTA: When Galih Ainun Najib was fired from his job as a staff member at a hostel in Central Java’s Dieng Plateau in late March due to a drop in tourism numbers triggered by the coronavirus outbreak, he turned to farming to make ends meet.

Today, the 27-year-old Indonesian is a full-time farmer earning up to 15 million rupiahs ($1,055) by harvesting potatoes on his parents’ farming plots, across an area of 0.5 hectares, in the Kepakisan village of the Banjarnegara district.

“I became a full-time farmer in April, growing potatoes and carrots on my parents’ lands. I earn up to 15 million rupiahs from harvesting potatoes every three months,” Najib told Arab News on Tuesday.

It is a tedious process with a 30 to 40-day harvesting break between each plot.

“While waiting for the next planting season on our land, I also work as a farmworker on a daily basis on other people’s farmlands before their harvest,” Najib said. The main reason, he says, is because farming and agriculture have not been “much affected during the pandemic.”

“We are still producing and harvesting as there are still demands for our produce. People would still need to eat, anyway, and Dieng potato is among the best quality in the market,” he said.

While other sectors were battered by the pandemic — which struck Indonesia in March — agricultural activities were able to contribute about 15 percent growth to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter of this year, an increase from the average 12 percent growth reported in 2019, Nunung Nuryartono, dean of School of Economics and Management at Bogor Agricultural University said.

“People who lost their jobs in the cities returned to their villages and became farmers. Even in the cities, people turned to urban farming too, when they had to isolate during the social restrictions, while demand for agriculture and farming produce, such as fish, vegetables, or herbal plants to boost immunity was on the rise,” he told Arab News.

The sector’s resilience during the pandemic was the main point of focus in Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo’s address during the virtual G20 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting hosted by Saudi Arabia on Sept. 12.

“I called on fellow G20 agriculture ministers to collaborate in mitigating the impact of the pandemic on the global food security,” Limpo said.

He added that the sector was able to provide jobs for almost half of Indonesia’s workforce during the pandemic as it was “able to create jobs in rural areas, provide social security, increase farmers’ earnings, and ensure national food security.”

With farming acting as a “solace for burnt-out young urban workers” during the pandemic, the Agriculture Ministry has shifted focus to the occupation by setting up a program to boost the number of millennial farmers to 2.5 million people, its spokesman Kuntoro Boga Andri told Arab News.

“It is part of the ministry’s long term program to ensure a sustainable development in the agriculture sector,” Andri said.


Anghami to be first Arabic tech firm to list on Nasdaq New York

Anghami to be first Arabic tech firm to list on Nasdaq New York
Updated 13 min 39 sec ago

Anghami to be first Arabic tech firm to list on Nasdaq New York

Anghami to be first Arabic tech firm to list on Nasdaq New York
  • UAE-headquartered music streaming service plans to rival Spotify, Deezer with US IPO

DUBAI: Arabic music streaming service Anghami is set to become the first technology company from the region to list on New York’s Nasdaq stock exchange as part of a merger deal valuing the platform at up to $230 million.

Anghami – my tunes, in Arabic – is set to merge with Vistas Media Acquisition Co. Inc., a publicly traded special-purpose acquisition company. Often referred to as “blank check companies” in the industry, the merger is seen as a quicker and cheaper route to a Nasdaq listing.

The listing is expected to close at the end of May, early June and Vistas Media Acquisition Co. Inc. has already gathered $40 million in advance commitments, with $10 million from parent company, Singapore’s Vista Media Capital, and $30 million from the UAE asset management firm SHUAA Capital.

Eddy Maroun, co-founder and CEO of Anghami, told Arab News the transaction was likely to value the company at between $220 million and $230 million.

Founded in 2012 by Maroun and fellow Lebanese entrepreneur Elie Habib, Anghami is the first music-streaming platform in the Middle East and rivals global brands such as Spotify and Deezer.

With more than 57 million Arabic and international songs and around 70 million registered users, it generates approximately 10 billion streams a year.

Maroun said: “Elie and I co-founded the company in 2012 with a vision for Anghami to be a first of its kind, digital media entertainment technology platform in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.

“Today, we have taken a significant step forward in our growth plans in seeking to become the region’s first Arab technology company to list on Nasdaq. Being a US-listed public company gives us access to growth capital and a global platform that is the best in the world.”

Headquartered in Abu Dhabi since early 2021, following a partnership with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, it also has offices in Beirut, Dubai, Cairo, and Riyadh. The duo of founders currently own 32 percent of the company, with the remaining 68 percent backed by regional venture capital funds and major media and telecommunications companies.

According to Anghami, its revenue has grown 80 percent over the last three years and is forecast to increase five-fold over the next three years.

Rabih Khoury, managing partner of Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), said: “As the largest institutional investor in Anghami, we at MEVP are delighted that one more of our top portfolio companies will list on Nasdaq, the leading global market for technology.

“We have partnered with Eddy and Elie from the outset in 2012 and continuously supported Anghami starting with its seed round and all its subsequent funding rounds.”

Sam Barnett, CEO of MBC, said his company was “honored” to be a part of Anghami’s success and how it was “revolutionizing the Arabic music industry through innovation.”

Maroun revealed that he planned to use the new funding to tap into more of the 450 million Arabic-speaking population and to expand into new markets outside the Middle East.

“In our region we believe that there is a lot of untapped potential still in the Middle East and North Africa, meeting Gulf and Levant or in North Africa. And we also have a direction to go bigger with the Arab diaspora, which is a huge addressable market.

“We never spent any marketing dollars on diaspora, although there’s big potential there. And we believe that we have the capabilities to grow into other emerging markets given the learnings we had in our region,” he added.


UAE’s ADNOC to remove all destination restrictions for all its crudes

UAE’s ADNOC to remove all destination restrictions for all its crudes
Updated 10 min 26 sec ago

UAE’s ADNOC to remove all destination restrictions for all its crudes

UAE’s ADNOC to remove all destination restrictions for all its crudes
  • Intercontinental Exchange Inc will launch ICE Futures Abu Dhabi (IFAD) and trade in Murban futures contracts this month

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) will remove all destination restrictions for all its crudes, and has signed deals to explore use of Murban futures with Chinese end users, a senior ADNOC executive said on Wednesday.
Intercontinental Exchange Inc will launch ICE Futures Abu Dhabi (IFAD) and trade in Murban futures contracts this month.

The oil company said that it expects Murban crude to contribute about half of its 5 million barrels per day  (bpd) production capacity by 2030.


Abu Dhabi-owned GlobalFoundries may bring forward IPO as it pours $1.4bn into fab expansion

Abu Dhabi-owned GlobalFoundries may bring forward IPO as it pours $1.4bn into fab expansion
Updated 03 March 2021

Abu Dhabi-owned GlobalFoundries may bring forward IPO as it pours $1.4bn into fab expansion

Abu Dhabi-owned GlobalFoundries may bring forward IPO as it pours $1.4bn into fab expansion
  • Global semiconductor shortage boosts demand for chips
  • Shortage has hit automaker output worldwide
WASHINGTON: Abu Dhabi’s GlobalFoundries will invest $1.4 billion this year to raise output at three factories in the United States, Singapore and Germany, as a global shortage of semiconductors has boosted demand for chips, its chief executive said.
The US-based company, a unit of Abu Dhabi’s state-owned fund Mubadala, may also bring forward its initial public offering to late 2021 or the first half of next year, from a previous target of late 2022 or early 2023.
It is aiming for revenue growth of 9 percent to 10 percent from just over $5.7 billion last year.
Automakers and electronics producers are facing a global shortage of chips which has fueled manufacturing delays.
“The adoption of technology that would normally have taken a decade happened in one year in 2020 because of COVID-19,” GlobalFoundries CEO Thomas Caulfield told Reuters.
Before the pandemic, the chip industry was projected to grow 5 percent over a five-year horizon and now it has accelerated to grow at twice that rate, he said.
While the supply crunch has resulted in car makers such as Volkswagen, Ford and General Motors cutting output, an increase in supply would create further demand.
GlobalFoundries said the $1.4 billion, which will be divided evenly among its fabs in Dresden, Germany, Malta, New York and Singapore, will begin to ramp up output through 2022 to produce chips from 12 to 90 nanometers.
About a third of the investment will come from clients seeking to lock in supply over several years, Caulfield said, forecasting a 20% rise in production next year following an expected 13 percent increase in 2021.
If demand continues to rise GlobalFoundries could build a new plant adjacent to its Malta, New York, plant after securing a purchase option agreement for about 66 acres of undeveloped land last year.
But a decision to break ground there would hinge on the US Congress funding a set of measures to incentivise chip manufacturing in the US known as the Chips Act, which was approved last year.
“It’s not a question of ‘if,’ it’s just a question of ‘when,’... And a key element of going forward will be the funding of the Chips Act,” Caulfield said.
US President Joe Biden, who took office in January, has pledged to support the effort, and senators are looking at providing emergency funding for the law as part of a bigger package to counter China’s rise, as chipmaking has shifted to Asia.
GlobalFoundries is the world’s third-largest foundry by revenue behind Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and Samsung Electronics but ranks second when factoring out the part of Samsung’s foundry business that makes chips for other elements of the South Korean firm.

Oman has fastest port operations in the world, UN body says

Oman has fastest port operations in the world, UN body says
Updated 03 March 2021

Oman has fastest port operations in the world, UN body says

Oman has fastest port operations in the world, UN body says
  • The Sultanate earlier announced the National Logistics Strategy 2040 in a bid to become a global logistics hub

DUBAI: Oman’s ports have been recognized by the UN’s trade and development arm as first in the world in terms of speed of container handling.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), container vessels only stay in the Sultanate’s ports for an average of 12.5 hours – including all entry, exit, loading, and unloading operations.

The Sultanate earlier announced the National Logistics Strategy 2040 in a bid to become a global logistics hub.

The plan involves adding new maritime routes and more international partnerships to ease the movement of goods.

Oman joined Poland and Gulf neighbor UAE at the top of UNCTAD’s list.


Dubai firm acquires Paris towers in $300m deal

Dubai firm acquires Paris towers in $300m deal
Updated 03 March 2021

Dubai firm acquires Paris towers in $300m deal

Dubai firm acquires Paris towers in $300m deal
  • The acquisition of Altais Towers in the east of the French capital is GII’s first purchase in the city and the firm’s largest real estate deal to date

DUBAI: Gulf Islamic Investments (GII), a Dubai-based Shariah-compliant financial services firm, has bought a commercial tower block in Paris, in a deal valued at around $300 million.

The acquisition of Altais Towers in the east of the French capital is GII’s first purchase in the city and the firm’s largest real estate deal to date, bringing the value of its total investments in Europe to around $800 million.

Mohammed Al-Hassan, founding partner and co-CEO of GII, said: “Altais Towers is an exciting marker in GII’s growth trajectory, as we head toward achieving a total AUM (assets under management) of $3 billion by the end of 2021.

“This acquisition highlights our deep and diversified global experience as we expand into new geographies and execute transactions of this scale and complexity, especially amidst the challenges presented by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.”

Altais Towers is located in the Parisian suburb of Montreuil and comprises two towers with 28 and 16 floors, respectively.

Founded in 2014, GII has nearly $2 billion of assets under management and is currently looking at other projects in Europe, namely in the UK and Germany.