Encrypted chat app Signal alleges flaws in Cellebrite equipment

Cellebrite digital intelligence kit. (Handout images from cellebrite.com)
Cellebrite digital intelligence kit. (Handout images from cellebrite.com)
Short Url
Updated 22 April 2021

Encrypted chat app Signal alleges flaws in Cellebrite equipment

Encrypted chat app Signal alleges flaws in Cellebrite equipment

WASHINGTON: Encrypted chat app Signal suggested in a blog post published on Wednesday that products sold to law enforcement from Israeli surveillance provider Cellebrite can easily be sabotaged.
Cellebrite DI Ltd, which specializes in helping law enforcement and intelligence agencies copy call logs, texts, photos and other data off of smartphones, has repeatedly come under fire for past sales to authoritarian governments, including Russia and China.
Signal, a privacy-focused app eager to show the lengths it goes to protect users’ conversations, clashed with Cellebrite last year when the Israeli company said its equipment was upgraded to allow law enforcement to scoop up Signal messages from devices in their possession.
Signal creator and CEO Moxie Marlinspike said in his blog post on Wednesday he had come into possession of a bag of Cellebrite equipment and examined the gear inside.
He was “surprised to find that very little care seems to have been given to Cellebrite’s own software security,” Marlinspike said, noting it would be easy to add a specially crafted file onto a phone that would derail Cellebrite’s functionality.
In a statement, Cellebrite did not directly address Marlinspike’s claim but said that the company’s employees “continually audit and update our software in order to equip our customers with the best digital intelligence solutions available.”
Elsewhere in his blog post, Marlinspike alleged he had found snippets of code from Apple Inc. inside Cellebrite’s software, something he said “might present a legal risk for Cellebrite and its users” if it was done without authorization.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Signal’s allegations come as Cellebrite prepares to go public through a merger with a blank-check firm, valuing the equity of the combined company at around $2.4 billion. 


Oxford study: Return of US shale could derail oil market rebalancing

Oxford study: Return of US shale could derail oil market rebalancing
Updated 16 May 2021

Oxford study: Return of US shale could derail oil market rebalancing

Oxford study: Return of US shale could derail oil market rebalancing
  • With global crude prices heading back toward $70 a barrel, the financial pressures on US shale have eased

DUBAI: The rising oil price could allow for a significant return of US shale to the market in 2022, potentially threatening the rebalancing of the global oil market, according to an analysis by the authoritative Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.

In its latest monthly report, Institute Director Bassam Fattouh and analyst Andreas Economou wrote: “As we enter 2022, the US shale response becomes a major source of uncertainty amid an uneven recovery across shale plays and players alike. As in previous cycles, US shale will remain a key factor shaping market outcomes.”

With global crude prices heading back toward $70 a barrel, the financial pressures on US shale have eased, and producers have adapted to the constraints of lower demand. “There has been a shift in perceptions about this sector’s behavior. There is a widely held belief that US shale producers have endorsed the principle of capital discipline,” the authors said.

The key “rig count” — the number of drilling operations in progress on shale fields — is set to rise to 602 by the end of the year, a big jump from the 13-year low of 222 rigs last summer. While the direct relationship between rigs and production is complex, the authors concluded that rising shale output could affect the careful calculations of OPEC+, the producers’ alliance led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, to balance the global market.

“Unless demand underperforms relative to current expectations, an increase in US shale output of 0.95 million barrels per day could be absorbed, though this would reduce the overall supply deficit to 0.66 million. If the US shale growth hits the upper bound of 1.22 million barrels per day and demand recovery turns out to be slower than expected, then US shale could disturb the rebalancing, flipping the market into a surplus in Q4 2022,” the report added.


UAE’s Ras al Khaimah reveals 20 attractions to get pulse racing

UAE’s Ras al Khaimah reveals 20 attractions to get pulse racing
Updated 16 May 2021

UAE’s Ras al Khaimah reveals 20 attractions to get pulse racing

UAE’s Ras al Khaimah reveals 20 attractions to get pulse racing

DUBAI: The UAE's northernmost emirate has revealed a 500 million dirhams ($136 million) tourism investment plan to tempt thrill seekers and lovers of the great outdoors.
Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority revealed the plans at the Arabian Travel Market which kicked off in Dubai on Sunday.
Some are located at Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest peak and focus on nature, leisure, adventure, accessibility and authenticity.

"This multi-million investment plan further demonstrates our resolve and commitment to tourism, despite the global challenges faced this past year that continue to shake our industry today," said  Raki Phillips, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority.

Here are some of the projects that RAK is promoting at this year's travel gathering:

• Earth Hotels Altitude, an eco-based pop-up hotel concept set to feature 15 fully fitted accommodation units, an activation center and swimming pool.

• Saij, A Mantis Collection Mountain Lodge, comprising 35 luxury lodges.



• Cloud7 Camp Jebel Jais – a glamping experience with 30 accommodation units built out of sustainable material.

• The new Basecamp Jais will offer affordable accommodation for outdoor enthusiasts, thrill seekers and nature lovers as well as a range of activities such as yoga, Emirati live cooking and will serve as a leisure hub at the base of the rugged mountains.

• Jais Yard - an F&B Village with food trailers, kiosks, retail containers, vintage truck restaurants, open air cinema and children's play areas.

• Jais Wings - adventure seekers can take off on a paragliding experience from the top of Jebel Jais with landing pads near Saraya Islands and Al Rams. It will be the region’s first dedicated paragliding site in the GCC.



• Balloon Base with fixed hot air balloons that visitors can take in the infinite beauty of Jebel Jais.

• Jais Swing - an Instagramable swing made of twin ropes that provide amazing views and a unique content opportunity.

• Wadi Track at Wadi Showka will feature a new bicycle pump track for bike enthusiasts of all ages.



• Ras Al Khaimah is set to host the first ‘HIGHLANDER’ hiking experience in the GCC in November 2021.
 
• A mega-beachfront development by Marjan with a marine district, inflatable aqua park, leisure trampoline, swimming pool, outdoor gym and extensive food and beverage offering.

• Scallop Ranch at Al Hamra Marine will offer oyster/scallop diving, live cooking, family and kids’ experiences, and cultural activations.



• Cloud7 Camp AlSawan – a luxury glamping experience with 60 units where guests can learn what it takes to become an agriculturalist.

• Flying Arch at Manar Mall will welcome the region's first 130-metre aerial structure composed of over 1.5 million knots and around 300 km of twine that will cause the wind to create a choreography of constantly changing shape and color.

• Luminaze at Manar Mall will also welcome an aesthetic and playful art installation based on a light maze, ideal for family and team activities.

• Ras Al Khaimah is developing Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island with 418 hotel keys and direct sea views. Guests can choose from large-sized family rooms, suites or 28 beachfront chalets with private pools and gardens.


Gulf Air delays jet deliveries in difficult market

Gulf Air delays jet deliveries in difficult market
Updated 16 May 2021

Gulf Air delays jet deliveries in difficult market

Gulf Air delays jet deliveries in difficult market
  • Gulf Air has previously said it was looking to delay deliveries of Airbus A320neo jets and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners

DUBAI: Gulf Air’s chairman on Sunday said that market conditions remain difficult and that the Bahrain state carrier had reached a deal with Airbus and Boeing to delay deliveries of some new aircraft.
Flying remains at very low levels around the world as airlines struggle to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic that has left many planes grounded or flying near-empty.
“It is very difficult because you are bound by your destinations. We have the fleet. We have the crew. We would like to fly to as many as places as we can, but we have to factor in demand,” Zayed bin Rashid Al-Zayani told reporters at the Arabian Travel Market exhibition in Dubai.
The Bahraini airline has reached an agreement with Airbus and Boeing to delay aicraft that were scheduled for delivery in 2020 and 2021 by about six to nine months, he said.
Zayani, also a Bahraini government minister, did not disclose which aircraft had been delayed, but he said the airline would receive six new jets this year, twice as many as it did in 2020.
Gulf Air has previously said it was looking to delay deliveries of Airbus A320neo jets and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.
The airline is not canceling aircraft orders, Zayani said.
Asked if Gulf Air was receiving “government support,” he replied: “who isn’t?”
The airline received 36 million dinars ($95.6 million) from the Bahrain government last year, according to a government bond prospectus seen by Reuters.


Saudi bank mortgage portfolios to expand 30 percent annually says S&P

Saudi bank mortgage portfolios to expand 30 percent annually says S&P
Updated 16 May 2021

Saudi bank mortgage portfolios to expand 30 percent annually says S&P

Saudi bank mortgage portfolios to expand 30 percent annually says S&P
  • The credit ratings agency expects mortgage portfolios in the banking sector to expand by about 30 percent annually over the next couple of years

DUBAI: Strong housing demand and the government’s commitment to meet Vision 2030 targets is expected to support Saudi credit growth over the next two years, S&P said.
The credit ratings agency expects mortgage portfolios in the banking sector to expand by about 30 percent annually over the next couple of years as total growth is expected to top 10 percent in 2021-2022.
“Our assessment of economic risk reflects our view that the Saudi Arabian economy recently started to rebound, with global economic conditions and oil markets improving and the global economy emerging from the pandemic,” S&P said in a report on Sunday. “We expect government efforts to meet Vision 2030 targets and strong demand for housing from Saudi nationals will support solid mortgage and retail loan growth.”
S&P said it expects credit costs to be elevated as the government phases out pandemic-related support packages. However the Kingdom’s central bank has consistently encouraged banks to build strong loan loss provisions, it said.
Lenders in the Kingdom also benefit from a low-cost and stable core deposit base, with limited reliance on external debt. Low cost of funds and better-than-average cost of risk have supported the banking sector’s profitability, said S&P.
“We continue to see banks’ healthy funding and liquidity profiles as a key differentiator when compared with most other banking systems in the region and globally,” it said.
Despite the jump in mortgage lending, house price growth has been muted in the Kingdom because of a strong supply pipeline and the absence of speculation.
“We expect only modest growth in prices in real terms over the next few years,” said S&P. “We also note that commercial real estate prices performed much weaker than residential ones. Changes in customer behavior and a shift toward online deliveries and more widespread remote work could put pressure on this segment of the market.”


Dubai’s Amanat profit surges on strong health unit performance

Dubai’s Amanat profit surges on strong health unit performance
Updated 16 May 2021

Dubai’s Amanat profit surges on strong health unit performance

Dubai’s Amanat profit surges on strong health unit performance
  • The Dubai-listed company saw a 449.9 percent year-on-year increase in net profit

DUBAI: Healthcare and education investment company Amanat has reported a fivefold increase in net profit to 31.5 million dirhams ($8.6 million) in the first three months of the year.
The Dubai-listed company saw a 449.9 percent year-on-year increase in net profit, as it managed to bring down its expenses by 30.7 percent.
The increase was driven by the company’s health care portfolio, with its most recent acquisition, the Cambridge Medical and Rehabilitation Center (CMRC).
The CMRC contributed up to 6.2 million dirhams to Amanat’s income from its health care investments.
“The start of 2021 we began to reap the benefits of the strategic decisions taken during 2020 and we are also taking important steps to further optimize our portfolio,” Amanat chair Hamad Alshamsi said.
Amanat’s education portfolio also delivered steady growth on the back of higher enrollments. Income from the company’s education investments in the first quarter reached up to 8.8 million dirhams — up from 2.5 million dirhams last year.
It also boosted its operational efficiency throughout the year, bringing total expenses down. Staff costs declined by 24 percent, general expenses by 42 percent, and project expenses by 78.5 percent.