UAE’s Dana Gas cancels plan to sell Egypt assets

Established in December 2005, Dana Gas is listed on the ADX. It owns gas exploration and production assets in the UAE, Egypt, Kurdistan and Iraq. (Shutterstock/Illustrative)
Established in December 2005, Dana Gas is listed on the ADX. It owns gas exploration and production assets in the UAE, Egypt, Kurdistan and Iraq. (Shutterstock/Illustrative)
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Updated 26 April 2021

UAE’s Dana Gas cancels plan to sell Egypt assets

Established in December 2005, Dana Gas is listed on the ADX. It owns gas exploration and production assets in the UAE, Egypt, Kurdistan and Iraq. (Shutterstock/Illustrative)
  • Dana Gas started negotiations with potential buyers in the second quarter of 2019

CAIRO: The UAE’s Dana Gas announced on Monday it has decided to cancel plans to sell its onshore assets in Egypt.

The company said last October that following a strategic review of its businesses in Egypt, it had concluded a binding deal with IPR Wastani Petroleum Ltd., a member of the IPR Energy Group, to sell its onshore oil and gas assets in the North African country for $236 million.

Dana Gas started negotiations with potential buyers in the second quarter of 2019.

In a bourse statement on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), the company said it had terminated the deal after the parties were unable to agree on conditions within the agreed time frame, which expired on April 14.

Established in December 2005, Dana Gas is listed on the ADX. It owns gas exploration and production assets in the UAE, Egypt, Kurdistan and Iraq.


Startups provide vital shot in the arm for MENA health sector

Startups provide vital shot in the arm for MENA health sector
Updated 17 min 15 sec ago

Startups provide vital shot in the arm for MENA health sector

Startups provide vital shot in the arm for MENA health sector
  • In 2020 alone, 351 digital health startups in the region attracted a combined $13.8 billion in investment
  • Personal experience inspired some innovators to launch apps that provide culturally relevant solutions

DUBAI: The events of the past year have underscored the urgent need for quality healthcare services as well as innovative solutions. In 2020 alone, 351 digital health startups attracted a combined $13.8 billion in investment, almost double the amount in either 2018 or 2019, according to an estimate by MobiHealthNews.

Among them was Dubai-headquartered Okadoc, a physician-booking platform that landed $10 million in Series A funding to expand into new GCC markets.

Vezeeta, which allows patients to find and access medical services across 50 cities, attracted $40 million in fresh capital.

Bahrain-based Saaya Health aims to bring affordable, culturally relevant mental health solutions to GCC consumers.

The move follows its significant success in the B2B space, where it has employee assistance agreements with pharmaceuticals leader Bayer and cosmetics major L’Oreal.

“Access to good-quality and culturally appropriate mental health support is rare in this market, including corporate mental health and employee assistance programs,” company founder Sarmad Ahmad said.

“There was — and sometimes still is — a stigma around the words ‘mental health.’ The coronavirus pandemic has really put our emotions in sharp focus as we have all had had time for introspection. As people look to improve their relationships, their habits, tackle stress and improve performance at work, the demand is rising for good-quality counsellors and therapists.”

Saaya Health’s services are delivered online in seven countries, with 52 therapists providing counselling in 12 languages, including Arabic, French, Pashto, Malayalam, Hausa and Swahili. With its corporate partnerships, the company offers digital mental health services to more than 700,000 individuals.

“Our long-term goal is to be an impact unicorn, serving a billion people globally. Bahrain, with its strong digital infrastructure, will serve as our base to launch a three-year plan to reach at least 5 million people across the MENA region.”

Maria Lagbes, a Filipino doctor who joined the Women Responders team, leaves the ambulance service headquarters after receiving an emergency call on July 13, 2017, in Dubai. (AFP)

The urge to help a friend can sometimes spark the idea for a new business venture. That was the case with medical device company ProvenMed, whose founders Amine Staali and Souheil Guessoum built an innovative adult urinary incontinence device that is already helping thousands of people across 10 different markets.

Over 200 million people worldwide suffer from the condition. Launched in 2019, ProvenMed’s flagship device, ActviGo, is a reusable and washable system-integrated urinary external catheter for male incontinence management. It eliminates the need for diapers and condom catheters, allowing patients to manage their condition hygienically and discreetly.

The company, based in Abu Dhabi’s HUB71, also produces non-invasive reusable male external catheters, breathable undergarments, leakproof urine collection bags and portable bidets.

ProvenMed launched an online store in 2019 to bypass coronavirus-linked distribution issues, offering worldwide delivery. A winner of August’s Dubai Smartpreneur 5.0 competition, the business now wants to expand into Asia and Europe as well as develop similar incontinence solutions for women, children with bedwetting problems, people with special needs and the military.

A doctor examines an inmate's X-ray at the medical center of Dubai's Al-Awir central prison amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (AFP file photo)

One product in development is a smart device that monitors illnesses remotely and shares data with urologists.

Jordan’s Carers is a mobile platform that enables households to find and access vetted in-home nurses, physiotherapists and childcare specialists. In the process, it creates new jobs for certified care-givers.

The app was named best healthcare solution in 2019 December’s UCAN Awards at the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival, a $250,000 contest that recognizes regional entrepreneurs who have created high-impact solutions for the post-COVID-19 world.

“Many people faced the same struggle — how do you trust a stranger or ascertain the right quality of care and experience?” founder Raad Al-Kalha said.

Personal experience inspired Al-Kalha to launch the app in Amman in 2018, starting with 35 care-givers and two services.

“We have expanded our offering to include nursing visits, physiotherapy and blood tests and have a network of 300 care-givers who have provided more than 28,000 hours of care, created 5,000 job opportunities, and achieved 300 percent year-on-year growth from 2019-20,” he said.


Egyptian government approves rise in fuel prices

Consumers purchase fuel at a petrol station near Cairo Airport, Egypt.(REUTERS file photo)
Consumers purchase fuel at a petrol station near Cairo Airport, Egypt.(REUTERS file photo)
Updated 23 July 2021

Egyptian government approves rise in fuel prices

Consumers purchase fuel at a petrol station near Cairo Airport, Egypt.(REUTERS file photo)
  • Prices of all three grades raised by 0.50 Egyptian pounds each
  • Citizens who use public transportation will not be affected by latest move, official says

CAIRO: The Egyptian government has raised fuel prices from Friday based on the decisions of the Automatic Pricing Committee for Petroleum Products.

The committee, which meets every three months, issued a statement raising gasoline prices by 25 piasters ($0.016), with the price of a liter of 80 octane gasoline rising to EGP 6.75 ($0.43). The price of 92 octane gasoline is now EGP 8 per litre and high-quality 95 octane gasoline is EGP 9.

The price of diesel remains unchanged at EGP 6.75 per liter for public transport vehicles and EGP 3,900 per ton for the industrial sector.

The government implemented the new gasoline prices on Friday morning, according to a statement from the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources.

The last price hike was in April, in line with the Egyptian government’s plan to gradually stop subsidizing fuel products within the framework of a reform program supported by the International Monetary Fund.

Prices have remained stable over the past year after dropping in April 2020 and October 2019.

The Egyptian Ministry of Petroleum stated that the pricing committee reviewed the average prices of Brent crude in the global market and the exchange rate of the dollar against the Egyptian pound for the period from April to June 2021.

These are the two most important factors “influencing the cost of providing and selling petroleum products in the local market, in addition to other burdens and costs,” the ministry said.

It said the committee’s recommendations reflected the current conditions in the world, such as the severe fluctuation in global prices resulting from the pandemic and the reduction of crude production.

Hossam Arafat, head of the General Division for Petroleum Products, said that the rise was due to the rise in the dollar, the increase in direct and indirect expenses and the rise in the price of a barrel of oil.

He said the prices of diesel used in public and private transportation would remain fixed. It means transportation ticket prices will remain unchanged.

Ahmed Mohamed, a government employee, said that the rise in fuel prices will not affect him because he does not own a car.

He said that the Egyptian government has been very open with its citizens for years, as it had told them that it would gradually stop subsidizing petroleum products.


OPEC should leave oil market in hands of the Saudis – Mizuho

OPEC should leave oil market in hands of the Saudis – Mizuho
Updated 23 July 2021

OPEC should leave oil market in hands of the Saudis – Mizuho

OPEC should leave oil market in hands of the Saudis – Mizuho
  • Saudi Arabia has managed production effectively during COVID era
  • Risks remain as COVID resurgence could hurt demand

RIYADH: OPEC and the entire energy industry should thank Saudi Arabia for helping oil prices recover from negative territory last year, and the market would be best left to the Kingdom to manage, according to a senior investment banking energy commentator.

“They’ve done a magnificent job of managing their production program in the COVID era,” Robert Yawger, executive director of Energy Futures at Mizuho Securities said in an interview on Bloomberg Television on Thursday.

Crude oil futures fell below zero for the first time in history on April 20 last year as demand evaporated amid widespread lockdowns in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

That was an “unprecedented event” and “left a terrible scar on the industry,” said Yawger. “It rallied back under the management of the Saudis. The rest of OPEC has a lot to thank them for. Anyone that has anything to do with energy has a lot to thank them for, for that matter.”

WTI crude, the US benchmark, reached a six-year high of $76.98 on July 5 as OPEC+ failed to find agreement on output quotas, but has edged lower since then as the UAE and Saudi Arabia hammered out a compromise. The group will raise output by 400,000 barrels a month from August for 14 months.

While discipline on production has helped bring prices back, the market is at risk if renewed lockdowns hurt demand, said Yawger.

“I understand that everyone wants to get as many barrels on the market as possible, but you just can’t do that,” he said. “You cannot flood the market. It’s a very fragile state right now.”

“In my opinion, it’s best to let the Saudis manage it; they’ve done an incredible job. As long as they don’t flood the market themselves,” he said.

“Everybody remembers negative prices. That was the result of the price war last year. They all came to the assumption that it’s better to keep the barrels off the market and let the Saudis take charge and manage the situation than let prices slide in that direction again. Nobody can sustain that kind of slide for very long.”

“I don’t know if we’re going to see that $76.98 number again. That may be a challenge.”

US COVID-19 cases have climbed in recent weeks, reaching almost 64,000 yesterday compared with below 10,000 a day at the beginning of the month. However, that’s down from the peak in January of more than 250,000 new cases per day.

“If we have a COVID flare up that’s a third of what it was last fall, we have a serious problem on our hands and demand would not be that supersized as a result,” said Yawger. “If everybody was vaccinated we would not even be having this conversation. But because we’re headed into the winter with a big part of the population that’s not vaccinated, it has the potential to be a big problem for crude oil demand.”


New Russian war plane has Mideast orders in sights

New Russian war plane has Mideast orders in sights
Updated 23 July 2021

New Russian war plane has Mideast orders in sights

New Russian war plane has Mideast orders in sights
  • Plane has combat radius of 1,500 km and shortened takeoff and landing
  • Russia expects 300 orders for the plane over the next 15 years

DUBAI: Mideast governments could figure among customers for Russia’s new Sukhoi stealth fighter jet, a top Rostec executive told Arab News.
Known popularly as “The Checkmate,” the aircraft was inspected by President Vladimir Putin ahead of Moscow’s biennial airshow on Tuesday.
Designed to compete with the US F-15 fighter jet, few details had previously been made public about the plane made by Rostec, Russia’s defense industry manufacturing conglomerate and United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).
Victor Kladov, Rostec director for international cooperation and regional policy, told Arab News the aircraft had high export potential.
“This included singling out countries of the Middle East among potential customers,” he said.
Earlier, UAC General Director Yury Slyusar told Russian TV the plane had a combat radius of 1,500 kilometers and shortened takeoff and landing.
He expects as many as 300 orders for the plane over the next 15 years, mainly from the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.
“Market appetite for advanced aircraft such as “the Checkmate” is strong in the Middle East, particularly if workshare and investment opportunities can help to satisfy local offset and industrialization policies,” said Charles Forrester, a regional lead analyst at Janes, a defense intelligence provider. “The desire to have sovereign control over advanced capabilities is a key part of this, particularly given the challenge of supply chain security in the face of export controls from foreign partners.”
The plane is expected to cost between $25 million and $30 million according to Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov.
Russia has invested heavily in its defense sector in recent years and has targeted exports to the Gulf states where it has been highly visible in regional arms fairs.
However strong US ties to the region have sometimes hampered its marketing push in the Arab world — with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) deterring potential clients.
“From an operational perspective, a number of militaries in the region are undertaking the process of refreshing their aircraft fleets that were acquired in the 1990s and 2000s, in order to deploy new capabilities, improve interoperability, and reduce maintenance costs. For some countries, such as Qatar and Egypt, this has involved significant increases in fleet sizes and capabilities. Changing threat dynamics, such as new anti-aircraft missile technology, have also meant that new capabilities are required to maintain an edge over their potential adversaries,” added Forrester.


Bitcoin set for weekly gain after Musk helps recovery above $30,000

Bitcoin set for weekly gain after Musk helps recovery above $30,000
Updated 23 July 2021

Bitcoin set for weekly gain after Musk helps recovery above $30,000

Bitcoin set for weekly gain after Musk helps recovery above $30,000
  • Bitcoin fell below $30,000 on July 20
  • Musk said he and his companies own crypto assets

RIYADH: Cryptocurrencies rose on Friday, with bitcoin headed for a weekly gain following a volatile period that saw it dip below $30,000 for the first time in a month.

Bitcoin, the most traded cryptocurrency, was 1.1 percent higher at $32,419.46 at 12:36 a.m. Riyadh time, according to Coindesk desk data. Ether, the second most traded crypto asset, rose 3.7 percent to $2,056.70.

Bitcoin fell as low as $29,504.96 on July 20 before comments from Elon Musk at the B Word conference the follow day helped stir bullish sentiment. Both Tesla and SpaceX hold bitcoin on their balance sheet, and he personally owns bitcoin, ether and dogecoin, he said.

His comments helped boost prices across the crypto complex, with ether breaking above $2,000 for the first time since July 14.

Crypto traders have experienced a “roller coaster ride,” Lukas Conrad, chief product officer at Bitpanda told Coindesk. “Even though pressure from sellers might be diminishing, buyers won’t turn things around until resistance is broken.”

Core Scientific Holding Co. said on Wednesday it would go public through a merger with a blank-check company backed by BlackRock Inc, in a deal that values the cryptocurrency miner at $4.3 billion.

The deal with Power & Digital Infrastructure Acquisition Corp will fetch $300 million in cash proceeds, but the companies did not disclose a private investment in public equity (PIPE) round that typically accompanies blank-check mergers.

Core Scientific said it had mined 928 bitcoins in the second quarter and forecast revenues of $493 million and $1.1 billion for fiscal 2021 and 2022, respectively.

The company said it was 100 percent net carbon neutral and aims to remain so as it grows. Bitcoin is virtual but mining the asset consumes a lot of energy as it is created using high-powered computers around the globe.

A survey conducted by the investment bank Goldman Sachs found that 45 percent of family offices are interested in investing in cryptocurrencies, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

Another 15 percent, over 150, said they have already invested in cryptocurrency. And they see the crypto industry as a hedge against higher inflation, prolonged low rates and other macroeconomic developments following a year of unprecedented global monetary and fiscal stimulus.

FTX Trading Ltd said on Tuesday its valuation had risen to $18 billion after a $900 million funding round that included SoftBank Group Corp and was one of the biggest fundraises for a crypto company.

The round saw participation from more than 60 investors, including venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, private equity giant Thoma Bravo, Daniel Loeb's Third Point, the Paul Tudor Jones family and British hedge fund manager Alan Howard.

JPMorgan Chase & Co will allow all of its wealth management clients access to cryptocurrency funds, Business Insider reported on Thursday, citing sources.

The bank told its financial advisers in a memo earlier this week to take buy and sell orders from its wealth management clients for five cryptocurrency products effective July 19, the report said.

Four of such products are from Grayscale Investments and one from Osprey Funds, according to the report. JPMorgan declined to comment on the report.