Startup of the Week: Al Mihrab; Unique pieces inspired by Islamic art

Startup of the Week: Al Mihrab; Unique pieces inspired by Islamic art
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Updated 16 March 2021

Startup of the Week: Al Mihrab; Unique pieces inspired by Islamic art

Startup of the Week: Al Mihrab; Unique pieces inspired by Islamic art

RIYADH: A Jeddah-based artist is on a mission to redefine and modernize classical Islamic art by creating affordable handmade pieces inspired by her heritage.

Afnan Tash, the artist behind Al Mihrab, creates unique pieces inspired by Islamic art across the ages, utilizing materials such as paper, glass, wood and metal.

She said that her “great focus is on adding a special beauty to everything that is created.”

Tash takes her inspiration from classic cultural elements of the Kingdom’s western province: The qibla compass, indicating the direction of Makkah; the Holy Ka’aba; and the namesake of the project, the mihrab, or semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla.

“Art has the special purpose of serving mankind and facilitating our lives. It increases our familiarity with beauty, raises our artistic tastes, and enriches our experiences and outlook on life,” she told Arab News. Tash hopes to renew these elements and present them in a way that better reflects contemporary life, while preserving their beauty. 

For Tash, art has a way of transcending reality and creating something unique to each viewer.

Her work involves a variety of techniques and materials, and she has experimented with several mediums. While her interests include drawing and photography, she has a special attachment to gilding and miniature painting, both of which feature frequently in her work.

For that reason, though the work may appear deceptively simple, the focus and attention required takes a lot of effort, she said.

“What surprises me most about this type of art is the presence it requires and the amount of time needed to ensure that every step is perfectly done. The minute details require a lot of care and attention.”

Tash likened the project to a long journey with no end or specific result in mind.

“When I started Al Mihrab in 2014, I had a completely different perception of myself, and it might be different again tomorrow. So I seek to invest in my love of beauty and art by reading, seeing and learning, and through the products and artworks that we offer,” she said.

Tash’s work can be bought online at salla.sa/al.mihrab, and she can be found on Instagram, @al.mihrab


Why we are paying more for tires, timber and tiles

Why we are paying more for tires, timber and tiles
Updated 18 min 46 sec ago

Why we are paying more for tires, timber and tiles

Why we are paying more for tires, timber and tiles
  • The latest IHS Markit Dubai Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) highlights a surge in input price inflation in recent weeks

LONDON: Global product shortages are starting to push up prices as consumers are forced to pay more and wait longer for everyday items.

The latest IHS Markit Dubai Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) highlights a surge in input price inflation in recent weeks “driven by mounting input shortages, restocking efforts by companies and an intensification of global supply delays.” It reported the largest rise in prices in the emirate in 28 months.

It is part of a global trend as the world’s manufacturing engines struggle to keep pace with accelerating consumer demand pushing up prices from hardware stores to garages.

Builders merchants from the US and Europe have started to flag shortages of materials that are already adding to the cost of new homes.

The UK’s Builders Merchants Federation and the Construction Products Association have warned that building material shortages are likely to get worse, especially for timber, steel and roof products.

They said concrete tiles are now taking as long as 36 weeks to be delivered, forcing some projects to be redesigned to use products in better supply.

Timber prices are also being driven by surging demand from the US construction sector, where prices have already jumped by around 150 percent over the last year.

Containers that previously cost $2,100 at this time last year are now costing between $15,000 and $30,000, the trade bodies said.

The Gulf states, which rely heavily on imports that arrive in such containers, are feeling the impact as prices climb and delivery times lengthen.

“We are seeing supply constraints impact on economic activity, and it is also impacting on inflation,” Doug Bitcon, Rasmala Investment Bank’s head of credit strategies, told Bloomberg TV on Monday.

He shared his experience of trying to buy a set of new tires for his vehicle in Dubai this weekend. He was only able to source a set made in 2020 but still had to pay full price.

“This is just one example of the supply constraints you are seeing in the PMI numbers for Dubai,” he said. “This is just the start of what we are going to see in economies around the world.”

China factory gate prices are now running at more than a two-year-high according to March data, while the latest US inflation data is expected on Tuesday.

“We are set to see the first evidence of the much anticipated surge in inflation that is widely expected through the coming months as base effects from a year ago begin to take effect as the sharp declines post-COVID start to fall out of the annual calculations,” said MUFG analysts.


Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers flights under $55 to Belgrade, Luxor and Sohag

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers flights under $55 to Belgrade, Luxor and Sohag
Updated 41 min 9 sec ago

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers flights under $55 to Belgrade, Luxor and Sohag

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers flights under $55 to Belgrade, Luxor and Sohag
  • Fares to Luxor start from 129 dirhams ($35) with Sohag flights from 179 dirhams and Belgrade from 199 dirhams
  • Regional airlines are gradually adding new capacity as vaccinations programs are rolled out worldwide and more people resume flying

DUBAI: Wizz Air Abu Dhabi has announced three new routes connecting the UAE capital to Belgrade, Sohag and Luxor.
Fares to Luxor start from 129 dirhams ($35) with Sohag flights from 179 dirhams and Belgrade from 199 dirhams, it said on Monday.
"The new connection between the capital of the United Arab Emirates and these three new cities within Europe and the Middle East will continue to stimulate air traffic demand and support the growth of Abu Dhabi’s tourism sector and economic agenda," said Kees Van Schaick, managing director of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi.
Regional airlines are gradually adding new capacity as vaccinations programs are rolled out worldwide and more people resume flying.
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is a joint venture between ADQ, one of the region’s largest holding companies and Wizz Air Holdings, the fastest growing European airline which operates a fleet of 137 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft.


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

Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank
Updated 12 April 2021

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 12 April 2021

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 12 April 2021

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.