Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces clash, water cannon deployed

Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces clash, water cannon deployed
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Updated 10 May 2021

Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces clash, water cannon deployed

Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces clash, water cannon deployed

Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces clash in East Jerusalem, as tensions boil over the postponement of a key court hearing on a flashpoint property dispute.

Hundreds of Palestinian protesters were wounded in clashes with Israeli security forces over the weekend, as Israel vows to restore order in Jerusalem.

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UAE retailers ‘cautiously optimistic’ as sales rise above pre-COVID-19 levels for first time

UAE retailers ‘cautiously optimistic’ as sales rise above pre-COVID-19 levels for first time
Updated 8 min 35 sec ago

UAE retailers ‘cautiously optimistic’ as sales rise above pre-COVID-19 levels for first time

UAE retailers ‘cautiously optimistic’ as sales rise above pre-COVID-19 levels for first time

DUBAI: The UAE’s retail sector showed signs of recovery in the third quarter of 2021 as shoppers returned to malls or embraced e-commerce to send sales above pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels for the first time.

Point-of-sale transactions rose by 7 percent in the third quarter of the year, according to a recent report by retail giant Majid Al Futtaim.

The company, which runs major shopping malls in the region, such as Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, said the change was significant because it was the first time “consumer spending exceeded levels last seen in 2019.”

MAF group chief executive officer Alain Bejjani, said: “Our research shows a continuation of the buoyancy in consumer sentiment, with further positive indicators pointing to solid growth and momentum in the non-oil sector.”

Despite the COVID-19 health crisis having crippled consumer spending amid salary cuts and job losses, Dubai Economy, a government body set up to diversify the emirate’s economy, recorded the highest level of consumer confidence in a decade over the third quarter, the MAF report said.

However, the survey results were compiled before the emergence of the omicron COVID-19 variant, which may set back progress in the final quarter of this year.

According to MAF, footfall in its outlets in the third quarter jumped 18 percent compared to the same period a year ago, while online shopping was up by 34 percent over the same quarter.

“The adoption and acceleration of e-commerce and food delivery services are a great example of how changes to consumer behavior have become a ubiquitous part of post-pandemic day-to-day life for us all,” Bejjani added.

He pointed out that the recovery of retailers would depend heavily on innovation “in order to effectively cater to both new preferences and old habits.”

Dubai’s hosting of Expo 2020 has helped with the economic recovery (Shutterstock)

Bejjani noted that many factors had led to this “cautious optimism,” including an aggressive COVID-19 vaccination drive that allowed the UAE to lift restrictions relatively faster than other countries.

The revival of trade and tourism had also helped retailers, MAF added, and the positive economic outlook may be applied to the UAE’s Gulf neighbors, citing data organization Oxford Economics’ projection of up to 5.1 percent regional gross domestic product growth in 2022.

Other factors behind the retail recovery include Dubai’s hosting of Expo 2020, as well as the emirate’s growing real estate transactions, which official figures claim to be the “highest since 2015.”

Bejjani said: “While there are undoubtedly risks ahead, overall, we see much from which to draw strength, as the economic recovery continues to accelerate, and our communities adapt to living in a new post-pandemic world.”


Vatican nuncio in Syria urges international community to lift sanctions

Vatican nuncio in Syria urges international community to lift sanctions
Updated 6 min 15 sec ago

Vatican nuncio in Syria urges international community to lift sanctions

Vatican nuncio in Syria urges international community to lift sanctions
  • Zenari called on the EU, the US, and Syrian government, to “take a step of good faith” and remove sanctions
  • He has convened a conference of the Syrian Catholic Church and charities, to be held in March next year

VATICAN CITY: The Vatican nuncio in Syria called on the international community to lift economic sanctions, and lamented the Syrians’ loss of hope as the world forgot their suffering. 

Cardinal Mario Zenari has been the apostolic nuncio to Syria for over 13 years and has lived in Damascus throughout the war. 

He has convened a conference of the Syrian Catholic Church and charitable agencies working in the country, to be held in March next year.

“I am extremely sorry to see that, in Syria, hope is dying,” Zenari told Vatican Radio. “I was greatly pained to watch people, especially children, die during the war. But, beyond this suffering, people nourished glimmers of hope. At that stage they said that eventually the war would end, and people would be able to go back to work, make a little money, and perhaps repair their homes and return to a normal life.”

He said this dream was far from the reality that faced Syrians today, which was one filled with poverty.

“Bombs are no longer falling in many parts of Syria, but another terrible bomb has exploded which has silently opened a gaping wound.”

Syria faced continuing economic uncertainty, largely as a consequence of the international sanctions against the government, and he believed that these, combined with growing corruption, the pandemic, and the economic and political crisis in Lebanon were placing a heavy economic burden on the Syrian population.

Zenari called on the EU and the US, along with the Syrian government, to “take a step of good faith and remove the sanctions regime, so that Syria can begin to rebuild and restart its economy.”

Referring to a recent report by the World Food Programme that said 12 million Syrians, 60 percent of the population, were living in food insecurity, he said: “It is the people, the poor people, who are suffering.”

Zenari also said there was a general lack of interest from the international media about the situation in Syria.

The conference will be held on 15-17 March, 2022, and aims to coordinate charitable activities in Syria to better serve those in need there and increase the necessary coordination to better help the Syrian people “who are living this extremely difficult moment.”


Aramco: A step ahead in digital transformation 

Aramco: A step ahead in digital transformation 
Updated 13 min 23 sec ago

Aramco: A step ahead in digital transformation 

Aramco: A step ahead in digital transformation 

Aramco migrated its largest SAP Enterprise Resource Planning system to SAP’s latest generation technology, S/4HANA. Over 1,200 employees worldwide, from the Kingdom, the US, Europe and Asia participated in this major event. This is a major step that will enable the Company to meet the demand for the latest digital technologies and support its digitalization ambitions. To facilitate this, it is imperative that the ERP systems supporting the Company’s core business are upgraded to the latest technologies.

Saudi Aramco’s strategy to migrate the ERP systems comprises a hybrid of the 3 approaches: System Migration of the main ERP systems to an SAP S/4HANA on-premise digital core; System Consolidation to consolidate specific ERP systems into the Digital Core resulting in a reduction in the number of systems and applications; and System Migration to Cloud for specific applications. The new platform provides technologies in the areas of mobility, machine learning, advanced analytics and Internet-of-Things (IoT) that will facilitate a significant number of digitalization use cases. The first set of business applications transferred to the new ERP system was finance and logistics, which are used by more than 64,000 employees and contractors.

This is the first of 13 ERP systems to be migrated to the new technology under Aramco’s ERP Transformation Project and is due to be completed by December 2023.

Yousef Al-Ulyan, Vice President of Information Technology at Aramco, said: “This is an important milestone in our digital journey. As of today, Aramco is the largest S/4HANA installation in the region and in the Oil & Gas Industry globally. This adoption of a cloud-based ERP platform, demonstrates another instance of how Aramco pursues cutting edge technologies to reinforce Aramco’s excellence in efficient operation. By embracing new yet added value technologies, the company will realize entirely new ways of doing business that will ultimately help strengthen our ability to serve our customers and substantially increase our competitive edge.”

Peter Maier, President Industries and Customer Advisory at SAP, said: “We are very proud that Aramco trusts SAP S/4HANA to run their core business. This new platform will optimize key business processes with intelligent technologies and support the company’s strategy to provide clean and reliable energy and innovative products. I am looking forward to seeing Aramco successfully complete this transformation journey and redefine the next business practices in the industry.”


Iraq election body announces final results of October 10 vote

Iraq election body announces final results of October 10 vote
Updated 30 min 58 sec ago

Iraq election body announces final results of October 10 vote

Iraq election body announces final results of October 10 vote

BAGHDAD: Iraq's election body has announced the final results of the October 10 vote held in the country.

Developing 


KSA takes steps to boost private investments in heritage sector

KSA takes steps to boost private investments in heritage sector
Updated 46 min 34 sec ago

KSA takes steps to boost private investments in heritage sector

KSA takes steps to boost private investments in heritage sector

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Heritage Commission has launched 100 projects and 34 initiatives to create investment opportunities for the private sector in the Kingdom’s heritage sector, said Jassir Al-Herbish.

The CEO of the commission told CNBC Arabia on Monday that the commission was working on 100 projects in the education sector, exploration companies, exploration missions, and on the activation of nonprofit organizations and the local community.

Al-Herbish said the commission will launch local and international exploration missions and the target is to reach 95 missions by 2030.

He said the commission has so far discovered around 10 percent of the Kingdom’s ancient archeological sites. Its goal is to discover 90 percent of the hidden treasures. Fifty initiatives will be launched by 2030 to achieve that goal, Al-Herbish added.

The commission unveiled its strategy for the development of the Saudi heritage sector on Sept. 29, which relies on eight main pillars to develop the nation’s culture as a lifestyle, for economic growth, and to enhance the nation’s international standing.

In 2021, it established the National Antiquities Register to record, manage and preserve archeological and historic sites in the Kingdom. There were 624 new archeological and historic sites recorded this year, with more than 8,000 locations registered so far.

Al-Herbish said the Saudi heritage is considered as an economic resource and the commission aims to transform the cultural heritage into a sustainable product by facilitating its management and financing.