Putin warns against internet giants becoming state competitors

Putin warns against internet giants becoming state competitors
Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the virtual World Economic Forum via a video link from Moscow on January 27, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 27 January 2021

Putin warns against internet giants becoming state competitors

Putin warns against internet giants becoming state competitors
  • The Russian leader said it is unclear where the line is between a “successful global business” and “attempts to crudely, at their own discretion, control society”
  • Moscow accused US tech giants of interfering in Russia’s internal affairs, in particular during anti-government protests led by supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday warned against the increasing influence of large technology companies, which he said are “competing” with states.
His comments came as Russia ramps up pressure on the activities of foreign Internet companies, which are not subject to state censorship unlike the majority of the country’s media outlets.
“These are not just economic giants. In some areas they are already de facto competing with the state,” Putin said during his address to the Davos virtual economic summit.
The Russian leader said it is unclear where the line is between a “successful global business” and “attempts to crudely, at their own discretion, control society.”
“We just saw it all in the United States,” he added, referring to riots earlier this month in Washington led by supporters of then US President Donald Trump.
Moscow earlier this week accused US tech giants of interfering in Russia’s internal affairs, in particular during anti-government protests led by supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on Saturday.
Ahead of the rallies, Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor ordered several online platforms, including YouTube and Instagram, to delete posts by users calling for protesters to attend demonstrations.
On Wednesday, the chairman of the lower house State Duma’s foreign interference committee, Vasily Piskaryov, said that the head of TikTok’s Russian branch had been invited to parliament for a conversation.
Piskaryov was cited by the TASS news agency as saying that “questions had piled up” about the China-based video-sharing service.
In recent months, TikTok has emerged as a popular platform for young Russians to express their political views.
Hashtags dedicated to Navalny have been trending on TikTok, garnering more than 1.5 billion views, after the anti-corruption campaigner was jailed on his return to Russia from Germany.


Emirates NBD profits rise as it expands Saudi branch network

Emirates NBD profits rise as it expands Saudi branch network
Updated 10 min 55 sec ago

Emirates NBD profits rise as it expands Saudi branch network

Emirates NBD profits rise as it expands Saudi branch network
  • The bank reported a net profit of 2.32 billion dirhams ($599 million) in the first quarter of 2021

DUBAI: Emirates NBD, Dubai’s biggest lender, reported a 12 percent increase in first-quarter net profit amid an improving economic outlook.

The bank reported a net profit of 2.32 billion dirhams ($599 million) in the first quarter of 2021, it said in a statement on Tuesday.
Patrick Sullivan, group chief financial officer said the bank was able to deliver a 12 percent rise in profit, "with the significant impact of lower interest rates being more than offset by significantly lower credit impairment, and good cost discipline."
The bank said it increased its branch network in Saudi Arabia to six and became the first foreign bank to be granted permission to open branches in Madinah and Makkah.
The bank highlighted the improving economic outlook in Saudi Arabia with the Kingdom's economy expected to grow by 0.7 percent this year after contracting 4.1 percent in 2020.  
"Higher oil prices will help to reduce the budget deficit to just 1.4% of GDP this year, and a number of initiatives have been announced to boost domestic investment," it said.

 


Saudi Arabia is biggest 5G adopter in the Gulf, report shows

Saudi Arabia is biggest 5G adopter in the Gulf, report shows
Updated 19 min 24 sec ago

Saudi Arabia is biggest 5G adopter in the Gulf, report shows

Saudi Arabia is biggest 5G adopter in the Gulf, report shows
  • Saudi Arabia’s 5G speed was “much faster than the global average”

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia has recorded the highest adoption of 5G technology compared to its Gulf neighbors, a new report showed.
Ookla, an Internet intelligence firm, revealed that the Kingdom had the most number of devices connected to 5G since its commercial release in 2019.
It was measured by looking at the ratio of samples from devices connected to 5G to the number of samples from all 5G-capable devices, which the firm said is an indicator of the maturity of a country’s 5G market.
Qatar came second, followed by the UAE. Oman, which only launched 5G early this year, was at the bottom of the list.
The report also noted Saudi Arabia’s 5G speed was “much faster than the global average.”
Its median download speed was 127 percent faster at 322.42 Mbps.
The Saudi Telecom Company emerged as the fastest operator in the Kingdom, but Mobily recorded the highest rating from customers.


NADEC consortium submits bid for privatized Saudi flour mill

NADEC consortium submits bid for privatized Saudi flour mill
Updated 20 April 2021

NADEC consortium submits bid for privatized Saudi flour mill

NADEC consortium submits bid for privatized Saudi flour mill
  • Saudi Arabia is accelerating plans to privatize key infrastructure in an effort to modernize the economy

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia's National Agricultural Development Company (NADEC) is part of a consortium that has bid for a privatized flour mill in the Kingdom.
It has teamed up with OLAM International Limited, Al Rajhi International for Investment and Abdulaziz Alajlan & Sons Company for Commercial and Real Estate Investment, to bid for one of two mills being privatized, the company said in a stock exchange filing.
The two mills are being offered for privatization by the Saudi Grains Organization.
NADEC said  it has agreed a "term sheet" relating to the creation of a limited liability company to acquire the mill should its bid be successful.
The potential acquisition would be financed through a combination of self-financing by the consortium members and borrowing from local banks, it said.
Saudi Arabia is accelerating plans to privatize key infrastructure in an effort to modernize the economy, speed major infrastructure works and develop its financial services sector.


Dubai’s external food trade hit $14.2bn in 2020

Dubai’s external food trade hit $14.2bn in 2020
Updated 20 April 2021

Dubai’s external food trade hit $14.2bn in 2020

Dubai’s external food trade hit $14.2bn in 2020
  • The emirate imported foodstuff worth 34.7 billion dirhams

DUBAI: Dubai’s external food trade reached 52 billion dirhams ($14.2 billion) in 2020, according to government data.
The emirate imported foodstuff worth 34.7 billion dirhams, Dubai Customs manager Nassim Al-Mehairi said, while exports and re-exports were valued at 10 billion dirhams and 7.3 billion dirhams respectively.
Food security is a major issue in the UAE, which has been investing in technology that will reduce its reliance on importing key staples.
Dubai Customs has streamlined its processes to accelerate the clearance of foodstuff shipments to ensure they are delivered to markets on time, especially during Ramadan when consumption is high, Al-Mehairi said.


Saudi Red Sea tourism plan to clinch a $3.7bn green loan

Saudi Red Sea tourism plan to clinch a $3.7bn green loan
Updated 20 April 2021

Saudi Red Sea tourism plan to clinch a $3.7bn green loan

Saudi Red Sea tourism plan to clinch a $3.7bn green loan
  • The Red Sea Development Co.’s SR14 billion ($3.7 billion) loan is set to close with a small group of local banks
  • The proceeds will be used to finance environmentally sustainable investment

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is weeks away from clinching the first significant funding package for a key part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s program to diversify the Kingdom’s economy, Bloomberg reported.
The Red Sea Development Co.’s SR14 billion ($3.7 billion) loan is set to close with a small group of local banks including Saudi National Bank, Banque Saudi Fransi, Riyad Bank and Saudi British Bank, the newswire reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The deal to help fund the first phase of the development will be a so-called green loan. The proceeds will be used to finance environmentally sustainable investment, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. It will have a tenor of 15 years and an interest rate of about 1 percent above the Saudi interbank offered rate, they said.
The company first started approaching banks for the loan in mid-2019, Bloomberg said.
Opening to tourism is one of the ways Saudi Arabia intends to diversify the economy away from oil. Its other ambitious projects include an entertainment hub near the capital Riyadh, and the new NEOM city in the north-west, which is expected to cost $500 billion to build.
The Red Sea Development, owned by the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, will oversee a luxury tourism zone equivalent in size to Belgium. When the entire project is completed in 2030, it will target 1 million visitors a year, split evenly between domestic and international tourists.
Construction of a new international airport for the area has begun, and the first phase of the project is due to be completed with the opening of four hotels at the end of 2022.
12 more hotels will be open the following year, Chief Executive Officer John Pagano said in an interview in November.