Global demand for diamonds rebounds

Global demand for diamonds rebounds
A machine scans a rough diamond at "Diamonds of ALROSA" factory in Moscow, Russia April 30, 2021. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 13 May 2021

Global demand for diamonds rebounds

Global demand for diamonds rebounds
  • Sales by the state-controlled company totaled $1.6 billion for the first four months of 2021

MOSCOW: Russia's Alrosa, the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds, said on Wednesday its April sales of rough and polished stones rose by 12 percent month-on-month to $401 million after demand for diamond jewelry strengthened in the main markets.

Global demand for precious stones has been recovering from the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic since the second half of 2020.

Sales by the state-controlled company totaled $1.6 billion for the first four months of 2021. At the height of the pandemic in April 2020, Alrosa’s sales were only $15.6 million. 

They rose to $357 million in March this year.

Alrosa, which competes with Anglo American unit De Beers, is gradually restoring its production after last year's 22 percent reduction. It plans to return to its usual annual output of 36-37 million carats within 2-3 years from 31-32 million carats in 2021.

Rough diamonds account for the bulk of Alrosa’s sales, although it polishes those of rare colors or of large size for sale in auctions.

“Our April sales were well supported by the successful results delivered by auctions of high-quality large rough, as well as by strong sales of polished diamonds,” Evgeny Agureev, its deputy chief executive, said in a statement.

A 100.94 carat stone called the Alrosa Spectacle — the largest polished diamond ever cut in Russia — will be auctioned by Christie’s in Geneva on Wednesday.


China cracks down on cryptocurrency mining

China cracks down on cryptocurrency mining
Updated 5 min 47 sec ago

China cracks down on cryptocurrency mining

China cracks down on cryptocurrency mining
  • Authorities order closure of 26 suspected mining projects

SHANGHAI, HONG KONG: China’s crackdown on cryptocurrency “mining” has extended to the southwest province of Sichuan, where authorities ordered cryptocurrency mining projects closed in the major mining center.

Crypto mining is big business in China, accounting for more than half of global bitcoin production. But the State Council, China’s Cabinet, last month vowed to clamp down on bitcoin mining and trading as part of a series of measures to control financial risks.

Other popular mining regions, such as Inner Mongolia, have cited cryptocurrency mining’s use of electricity generated from highly polluting sources such as coal in orders targeting the industry.

Friday’s move in Sichuan — where miners mostly use hydropower to run the specially designed computer equipment used in verifying bitcoin transactions — suggests the crackdown is more broadly based.

The Sichuan Provincial Development and Reform Commission, and the Sichuan Energy Bureau issued a joint notice, dated Friday and seen by Reuters, demanding the closure of 26 suspected cryptocurrency mining projects by Sunday.

Sichuan is China’s second-biggest Bitcoin mining province, according to data compiled by the University of Cambridge. Some miners move their activities there in the rainy summer to take advantage of its rich hydropower resources.

The notice orders state electricity companies in Sichuan to conduct inspections and make corrections, reporting their results by Friday. They are to immediately stop supplying electricity to crypto mining projects they have detected. The authorities urged local governments in Sichuan to start combing for crypto mining projects and shut them down. It banned new projects.

Other regional mining centers including Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Yunnan have ordered crackdowns on bitcoin mining.

Friday’s notice appears to indicate that Beijing’s displeasure with cryptocurrency mining extends beyond cases where it uses electricity generated by burning coal. “Renewable power does not help,” said Winston Ma, NYU Law School adjunct professor and author of the book “The Digital War.”

“The four largest mining regions — Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Yunnan and Sichuan — have implemented similar crackdown measures, even though mining in the latter two are mostly based on hydropower, whereas the first two are on coal,” Ma told Reuters.

Some miners have been considering moving elsewhere due to the crackdown.


Boeing 737 MAX model takes off on maiden flight

Boeing 737 MAX model takes off on maiden flight
Updated 9 min 5 sec ago

Boeing 737 MAX model takes off on maiden flight

Boeing 737 MAX model takes off on maiden flight
  • The plane completed a roughly 2-1/2-hour flight over Washington State, returning to Renton Municipal Airport near Seattle

WASHINGTON: Boeing Co.’s 737 MAX 10, the largest member of its best-selling single-aisle airplane family, took off on its maiden flight on Friday, in a further step toward recovering from the safety grounding of a smaller model.

The plane completed a roughly 2-1/2-hour flight over Washington State, returning to Renton Municipal Airport near Seattle at 12:38 p.m.

The first flight heralds months of testing and safety certification work before the jet is expected to enter service in 2023.

In an unusual departure from the PR buzz surrounding first flights, the event was kept low-key as Boeing tries to navigate overlapping crises caused by a 20-month grounding in the wake of two crashes and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Boeing must also complete safety certification of the plane under a tougher regulatory climate following two fatal crashes of a smaller 737 MAX version grounded the model for nearly two years — with a safety ban still in place in China.

Boeing has carried out design and training changes on the MAX family, which returned to US operations in December.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal said the company is producing about 16 737 MAX jets a month at its Renton factory.

Boeing is working on safety enhancements for the 737 MAX 10, including for its air data indication system and adding a third cockpit indication requested by European regulators of the “angle of attack,” a parameter needed to avoid stalling or losing lift. Deal’s comments were provided to the media via a pool reporter inside a Boeing aircraft delivery center.

“We’re going to take our time on this certification,” Deal said.

The flight showcased a revamped landing gear system illustrating an industry battle to squeeze as much mileage as possible out of the current generation of single-aisles.

It raises the landing gear’s height during takeoff and landing, a design needed to compensate for the MAX 10’s extra length and prevent the tail scraping the runway on takeoff.


Cairo-Montreal flights to help Egypt economy

Cairo-Montreal flights to help Egypt economy
Updated 4 min 28 sec ago

Cairo-Montreal flights to help Egypt economy

Cairo-Montreal flights to help Egypt economy

CAIRO: The recently launched direct flights between Montreal and Cairo will help the Egyptian tourism sector and boost foreign investments, said Ghada Shalaby, Egypt’s deputy minister of tourism and antiquities.

She said this during a ceremony organized to welcome Air Canada’s first direct flight from Montreal to Cairo.

Three direct flights will be operated weekly between the two countries.

The Middle East News Agency quoted the deputy minister as saying that Egypt had taken all measures to check the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and her ministry was closely monitoring the vaccination of all those working in the country’s tourism sector.

The deputy minister said these flights would help increase the number of tourists to Egypt.


Iraq and Egypt eye enhanced IT cooperation

Iraq and Egypt eye enhanced IT cooperation
Amr Talaat. (Social media)
Updated 19 June 2021

Iraq and Egypt eye enhanced IT cooperation

Iraq and Egypt eye enhanced IT cooperation
  • Talaat underlined the depth of Egyptian and Iraqi relations and stressed the directives from the political leaders of the two countries to intensify joint cooperation

CAIRO: Iraq and Egypt discussed improved cooperation in the fields of communications and IT at a meeting between Amr Talaat, the Egyptian minister of communications and information technology, and his Iraqi counterpart, Arkan Shihab, on Thursday.

Shihab was leading a high-level delegation to Egypt that included government officials and representatives of the Iraqi private sector.

The two ministers chaired a meeting that included executive leaders from both sides, where they discussed mechanisms to boost cooperation, exchange experiences and stimulate joint initiatives in related fields, which were included in an MoU signed between the two countries.

The MoU covered the areas of infrastructure, digital transformation, capacity building, postal services, Arab digital content, innovation and entrepreneurship, cybersecurity research and development and investment in the field of communications, IT and satellites.

Talaat underlined the depth of Egyptian and Iraqi relations and stressed the directives from the political leaders of the two countries to intensify joint cooperation.

There was agreement on a proposal submitted by the Iraqi minister to establish an Egyptian-Iraqi company to start digital transformation projects and the digitization of services in Iraq. A joint team will develop the idea and implement it, Talaat said.

He said a joint committee will be formed to oversee cooperation plans and added that he has accepted the invitation to visit Iraq. He highlighted Egyptian companies’ aspiration to work in the Iraqi market.

Talaat said he and his Iraqi counterpart reviewed the areas of cooperation that had been agreed upon during their meeting with the Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli.

Madbouli hailed Egyptian-Iraqi cooperation in the communication sphere, highlighting President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s directives to the government to offer required support to enhance relations with Iraq.

Shihab said there is a political will to establish real partnerships and open horizons for cooperation between Cairo and Baghdad, given the strategic importance of the two countries.


Accor’s Hyde to open first international property in Dubai

Accor’s Hyde to open first international property in Dubai
Updated 19 June 2021

Accor’s Hyde to open first international property in Dubai

Accor’s Hyde to open first international property in Dubai
  • The new five-star hotel will be located in Business Bay, which is close to the iconic Burj Khalifa

Hyde, a brand under global hospitality group Accor, said that it is launching its first property outside the US in Dubai — set to open in the last quarter of the year.

The new five-star hotel will be located in Business Bay, which is close to the iconic Burj Khalifa. It has 276 rooms and offers canal views.

Developer Emerald Palace Group (EPG) is working with hotel management company SBE to develop the property, which is part of Accor’s expansion plans.

“We couldn’t be happier to be working with Emerald Palace Group on bringing the Hyde brand to Business Bay in Dubai,” said Chadi Farhat, CEO of SBE.

“Hyde Dubai Business Bay will continue to bring additional lifestyle experiences to one of the most vibrant destinations in the world,” he added, saying they are set to bring well-known culinary concepts to the hotel.

The Accor group earlier announced it was expanding its global portfolio of hotels around the world, especially amid a challenging time for tourism and hospitality.

Recent Accor openings include the SLS Dubai and SLS Cancun.