Israeli minister says interconnection with Gulf grid would boost Mideast energy security

Rooftop life in Tel Aviv. Israel wants closer energy ties with the Gulf. (Reuters)
Rooftop life in Tel Aviv. Israel wants closer energy ties with the Gulf. (Reuters)
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Updated 03 March 2021

Israeli minister says interconnection with Gulf grid would boost Mideast energy security

Israeli minister says interconnection with Gulf grid would boost Mideast energy security

LONDON: The Israeli energy minister has said connecting his country’s electricity grid with other regional economies would boost energy security for the entire Middle East.

Israeli energy minister Yuval Steinitz made the remarks at the CERAWeek virtual gathering of global energy industry leaders on Wednesday, where his counterparts from the UAE and Egypt were also speaking.

“The connection with Egypt and the Emirates and the regional cooperation give us the assurances that we will be able to increase energy security in the future,” he said.

“Just one example, if we will be able to connect our electricity transmission systems between Egypt, Israel, the United Arab Emirates — and maybe through Jordan and Saudi Arabia — and we are also discussing connecting ourselves and this region to Europe through Cyprus and Greece, this would give us better energy security than we ever knew in the past.”

His remarks come as the Middle East energy landscape is being rapidly redrawn as new gas finds in the Eastern Mediterranean spark new rivalries at the same time as former foes reach rapprochement.

“It is a new Middle East — especially in the field of energy,” he said. “The establishment of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum in Cairo is a testimony to the new atmosphere."

The East Mediterranean Gas Forum, which was formed in 2019, includes Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Greece, Italy and the Palestinian territories — but not Turkey.

On Wednesday, the Turkish foreign minister said that his country was willing to negotiate with Egypt and sign a deal over maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean.

“Depending on the trajectory of relations, we could negotiate maritime boundaries with Egypt and reach an agreement in the future,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters.

The idea of connecting the electricity grids of some of the region’s major power producers could also reduce redundancy in the grid, said UAE energy minister Suhail Al-Mazrouei.

“It is important that as we as countries talk about reducing emissions we need to talk about reducing redundancy in the systems we have and by doing that we can automatically reduce CO2 emissions,” he said.


Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank

Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank
Updated 4 min 35 sec ago

Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank

Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank
  • Online banking has become increasingly popular in the UAE, especially as a result of restrictions as a result of the pandemic

Dubai businessman Mohamed Alabbar is to lead a new digital bank set to be launched soon in the UAE.

Zand is being billed as “the world’s first combined digital corporate and retail bank” and is currently going through final approvals ahead of its launch, according to an announcement issued on Monday.

Alabbar is the founder of Emaar Properties — the Dubai developer behind The Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa — and also teamed up with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) to launch the Noon online shopping platform in 2017. As part of his latest venture, he will take on the role of chairman of Zand.

“The UAE combines progressive regulations with commercial, financial, and technology hubs. This provides the perfect environment for a world-leading digital bank that can launch in the UAE and scale beyond,” Alabbar said in a statement.

“As the first fully independent digital bank in the country, with a full UAE banking license, Zand will provide innovative, effective financial solutions that help simplify businesses and lives, addressing the needs of both retail and corporate customers.”

Online banking has become increasingly popular in the UAE, especially as a result of restrictions as a result of the pandemic, which made it harder to get to a physical bank branch.

A survey by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) last October found that 70 percent of respondents said that they are actively searching for a new bank and 87 percent said they would be willing to open an account with a branchless digital-only lender.

The same BCG survey found that 53 percent said that they were using banking mobile apps more often as a result of the pandemic and half of those surveyed had started using digital banking for the first time.

“UAE’s banking customers’ have a strong appetite for digital banks, and we see more growth in the demand of digital products during the pandemic,” Mohammad Khan, partner at BCG, was quoted as saying.


Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO

Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO
Updated 9 min 25 sec ago

Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO

Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO
  • The pandemic had prompted some companies to shelve planned offerings

RIYADH: Bahrain Bourse is expected to attract two new public offerings this year, its CEO told Asharq Business.
The first is a logistics company and the second an oil company, Sheikh Khalifa bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, told the website
However, he said that the pandemic had prompted some companies to shelve planned offerings.
He said that the exchange was focused on easing the entry of investors into the market.
He also highlighted the launch of the Bahrain Bourse environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting guideline for listed companies, in response to rising appetite for such investments from global institutions.
The stock exchange applies the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) to classify listed companies, he said, highlighting continued cooperation with Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul stock exchange, the largest in the region.
He said the bourse’s main objective was to diversify its investor based which is currently dominated by institutions, unlike some other regional exchanges where individual investors are more strongly represented,
Al-Khalifa pointed to the adoption of new listing rules that better guarantee the rights of investors, including those directed at companies with large accumulated losses.


We are happier at home say UAE workers

We are happier at home say UAE workers
Updated 25 min 12 sec ago

We are happier at home say UAE workers

We are happier at home say UAE workers
  • The Life and Beyond 2020 research after polling 10,000 workers in 11 countries to discover the impact of COVID-19 on their wellbeing

DUBAI: UAE workers are happy working from home according to a new study.

The Life and Beyond 2020 research, conducted by US-based technology company Avaya, revealed the UAE as “among the fondest of work-from-anywhere models,” after polling 10,000 workers in 11 countries to discover the impact of COVID-19 on their wellbeing.

The research found 64 percent of those polled in the UAE would support government policies aimed at adopting modern working practices, including remote working, adding it would contribute to their happiness.

The biggest worry for 51 percent of the country’s workforce was returning to work in the office full-time, the survey also revealed.

The UAE was also identified as the world’s best equipped country for remote working, with 64 percent claiming they have access to technology to be able to work from anywhere. Only 62 percent in the US said the same, and 55 percent inthe UK.


Al Ramz boss sees interest rate upside for UAE property

Al Ramz boss sees interest rate upside for UAE property
Updated 12 April 2021

Al Ramz boss sees interest rate upside for UAE property

Al Ramz boss sees interest rate upside for UAE property
  • Dubai-listed Al Ramz recorded a 2020 loss of investments of about 31 million dirhams ($8.4 million)

DUBAI: Low interest rates may fuel the recovery of the UAE real estate sector, according to the boss of one of the country’s biggest brokers.
The country is well positioned for an “accelerated bounce back from 2020 as all the ingredients for growth come back in play starting in 2021,”
Al Ramz chairman Dhafer Sahmi Al-Ahbabi said in the company’s annual report published on Monday.
“The backdrop of low interest rates not seen since the 2011 lows, will fuel the private sector and real estate sector in the country to fuel the growth over the next few years,” he said.

The UAE stock market has already signaled this positive outlook with the UAE indexes already outperforming in the EMEA and EM region in 2021.”
It comes after a tough year for regional brokers hit hard by the sharp decline in corporate profits and trading activity.
Dubai-listed Al Ramz recorded a 2020 loss of investments of about 31 million dirhams ($8.4 million), resulting to a net loss of 10.9 million dirhams, compared to a profit of 4.1 million in 2019.
Al Ramz had to diversify its income sources to buffer the blow of COVID-19, Al-Ahbabi said.


Dubai to become first location outside US to get self-driving vehicles

Dubai to become first location outside US to get self-driving vehicles
Updated 12 April 2021

Dubai to become first location outside US to get self-driving vehicles

Dubai to become first location outside US to get self-driving vehicles
  • The move will make Dubai the first location outside the US to operate self-driving vehicles

DUBAI: Dubai’s transport authority has signed an agreement with Cruise, a General Motors unit, to operate its autonomous vehicles in the emirate by 2023.
The move will make Dubai the first location outside the US to operate self-driving vehicles, the emirate’s Crown Prince Hamdan bin Mohammed Al-Maktoum said on Twitter.
He said the goal was to convert 25 percent of the total transportation trips in Dubai into self-driving trips by 2030.
The fleet will reach 4,000 vehicles by 2030, the crown prince said, as Dubai aims to cut transportation costs by 900 million dirhams ($245 million) annually and reduce carbon emission by 12 percent per year by then.