Kuwait Mezzan to increase prices, says CFO

The Mezzan Group will develop its manufacturing capabilities to keep pace with international standards. (Mezzan Group)
The Mezzan Group will develop its manufacturing capabilities to keep pace with international standards. (Mezzan Group)
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Updated 17 May 2021

Kuwait Mezzan to increase prices, says CFO

The Mezzan Group will develop its manufacturing capabilities to keep pace with international standards. (Mezzan Group)
  • The company's strategy is to maintain purchasing power inside and outside Kuwait

RIYADH: Kuwait Mezzan Holding KSC may increase prices of its products in the coming period due to disruptions related to production chains, which led to an increase in the prices of production inputs, said CFO Nabil Bin Ayed.

The company's strategy is to maintain purchasing power inside and outside Kuwait, and to control the cost of production by finding internal solutions, he added.

Mezzan's Kuwait Saudi Pharmaceuticals Industries Co. KSPICO signed a joint manufacturing agreement with Abbott Laboratories, which specializes in medical and healthcare devices, to localize the industry of 26 pharmaceutical products in Kuwait.

Bin Ayed said that this agreement will help the company transfer technology to the local market and contribute to the development and production of medicines in Kuwait, Al Arabiya reported.

The priority will be for the local market, he said.

The Group will develop its manufacturing capabilities to keep pace with international standards, he explained.

Mezzan Holding is one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of food, beverage, FMCG and healthcare products in the Gulf.


Saudi VC Sukna, Unifonic launches entrepreneurship program

Saudi VC Sukna, Unifonic launches entrepreneurship program
Updated 34 min 39 sec ago

Saudi VC Sukna, Unifonic launches entrepreneurship program

Saudi VC Sukna, Unifonic launches entrepreneurship program
  • The 14-week program, called Unifonic X, will provide mentorship to aspiring entrepreneurs and early-stage ventures to further develop their business concepts

DUBAI: Saudi venture capital firm Sukna has partnered with Dubai-based Unifonic to host an entrepreneurship program in the Kingdom, the pair announced in a statement.
The 14-week program, called Unifonic X, will provide mentorship to aspiring entrepreneurs and early-stage ventures to further develop their business concepts, as Saudi Arabia ramps up investment in its startup ecosystem.
About 30 participants will be chosen to join the program, which will be delivered in three phases. They will be teamed up to focus on 10 venture ideas.
The teams will then present their ideas to prospective partners, angel and institutional investors.
“Unifonic and Sukna have put together an impressive consortium of partners to help the founders succeed and graduate successful investible ventures,” Fares Bardeesi, founder of Sukna, said.
“Founders with or without ideas joining this program will go through a structured venture building program while having access to a network of market experts, mentors and advisers thus significantly improving their chances of success,” he added.
Unifonic X is modeled after the Global Innovation Catalyst Innovation Execution program, and gives participants access to Silicon Valley experiences and resources from top universities, the company claimed.
“By launching ‘Unifonic X’, we connect this generation of entrepreneurship with the needed skills and resources to lead and excel,” Saudi deputy minister for future jobs and entrepreneurship, Ahmed Altheneyan, said.
“We are doubling down our investment in emerging technologies and entrepreneurship through various incentives and an integrated ecosystem,” he added.


Lebanon currency hits new low

Lebanon currency hits new low
Updated 39 min 30 sec ago

Lebanon currency hits new low

Lebanon currency hits new low
  • Lebanon has been without a fully functioning government for 10 months since the last one stepped down after a deadly port explosion in Beirut last summer

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s currency hit a new low against the dollar on the black market Monday, continuing its freefall in a country gripped by political deadlock, an economic crisis and increasing shortages.
The pound, officially pegged at 1,507 to the US dollar since 1997, was selling for 15,400 to 15,500 to the greenback on the black market, several money changers said.
After hovering around 15,000 to the dollar in mid-March, the unofficial exchange rate dropped to between 12,000 and 13,000 later that month before soaring back up in recent days.
The latest plunge means the pound has lost more than 90 percent of its value on the informal market since October 2019, in what the World Bank has called one of the worst financial crunches worldwide since the mid-19th century.
Lebanon has been without a fully functioning government for 10 months since the last one stepped down after a deadly port explosion in Beirut last summer.
Politicians from all sides have failed to agree on a line-up for a new cabinet even as foreign currency cash reserves plummet, causing fuel, electricity and medicine shortages.
In recent days, frustrated drivers have waited for hours in long car queues outside petrol stations to fill up their tanks.
Pharmacies went on strike on Friday and Saturday in protest at the central bank allegedly failing to provide them with dollars as a preferable exchange rate so they could continue working.
Electricity cuts have increased in length as the state struggles to secure enough fuel to operate power stations.
People earning salaries in Lebanese pounds have seen their purchasing power drastically reduced as they battle to keep up with price hikes.
The country, where more than half the population now live in poverty, is in desperate need of financial aid but the international community has conditioned any such assistance on the formation of a new government to launch sweeping reforms.


Saudi GDP shrinks by 3 percent in Q1 as oil sector contracts

Saudi GDP shrinks by 3 percent in Q1 as oil sector contracts
Updated 14 June 2021

Saudi GDP shrinks by 3 percent in Q1 as oil sector contracts

Saudi GDP shrinks by 3 percent in Q1 as oil sector contracts
  • The main reason for the drop was the 11.7 percent contraction in the oil sector, the General Authority for Statistics

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 3 percent in the first quarter compared to a year earlier, according to official data.
The main reason for the drop was the 11.7 percent contraction in the oil sector, the General Authority for Statistics, said in a report on Monday.
However the non-oil sector recorded a positive growth rate of 2.9 percent while the private sector expanded by 4.4 percent.
A weak oil output had hurt Gulf economies even before the arrival of the pandemic a year ago as reduced hydrocarbon revenues made it more difficult for governments to balance their budgets and fund major infrastructure projects.
The new data reveals that Saudi GDP per capita stood at SR19,895 in the first quarter, down by 0.43 percent from the same quarter of the previous year, but up 0.44 percent on the previous quarter.
Despite the contraction of the economy, international trade continued its strong recovery in the first quarter with imports of goods and services growing by 9.1 percent compared to 11.3 percent growth in the previous quarter. Exports increased by 1.9 percent compared to 3.6 percent growth in the previous quarter.
Private final consumption expenditure grew 6.6 percent compared to growth of 1.5 percent in the previous quarter.


The Emirati oil deal that has infuriated Israeli environmentalists

The Emirati oil deal that has infuriated Israeli environmentalists
Updated 14 June 2021

The Emirati oil deal that has infuriated Israeli environmentalists

The Emirati oil deal that has infuriated Israeli environmentalists
  • The pipeline was first set up as a joint venture between Israel and Iran in 1968 when the two countries were friendly. That partnership collapsed after the 1979 revolution that brought the ayatollahs to power

JERUSALEM: The first cargo ships from Dubai that docked last year in the Mediterranean port of Haifa were met by celebration in Israel. Flags waved. Reporters gathered. The prime minister walked the pier and gave a speech about the fruits of making peace.
There was zero fanfare, however, when oil tankers began arriving at the smaller Israeli port of Eilat on the Red Sea in an arrangement with Emirati partners. Rather than washing machines and cleaning supplies for consumers, the ships unloaded oil to be transferred through a pipeline across Israel to the Mediterranean.
The companies involved say this land bridge is the shortest, most efficient and cost-effective route to transport oil from the Gulf to the West. But the risks to the environment are far too great, say their opponents who are hoping to end the deal.
About a month after Israel normalized ties with the United Arab Emirates last September, Israel’s state-owned Europe-Asia Pipeline Company (EAPC) announced the new collaboration.
The deal was signed in Abu Dhabi with MED-RED Land Bridge, a company with Emirati and Israeli owners. In attendance was then-US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
EAPC’s roots are in the Arabian Gulf. It was first set up as a joint venture between Israel and Iran in 1968 when the two countries were friendly. That partnership collapsed after the 1979 revolution that brought the ayatollahs to power.
The Israeli pipeline still operates in both directions but well below capacity in recent years, energy experts say. With the UAE stepping into the role once held by Iran, EAPC hopes to increase quantities by “tens of millions of tons per year.”
The influx of ships set to dock alongside the fragile coral reefs in Eilat and the large amounts of oil to pass through Israel have outraged the country’s biggest environmental advocates.
Fresh in their minds is an offshore oil spill in February that blackened much of Israel’s Mediterranean coast with tar. And in 2014, one of EAPC’s own pipelines ruptured, spilling 5 million liters of crude oil into a desert nature reserve.
“Most of the details (of the deal) are confidential by law. We know just a little bit, but the little bit makes us very anxious,” said Noa Yayon, head of the legal department at the Society for the Protection of Nature.
Eilat’s coral reef is unique in that it has proved to be more resilient to climate change, when many reefs around the globe are dying. It is also a big tourism draw.
But its proximity to the port means that even the smallest leak from one tankers would cause big, possibly irreversible, damage, Yayon said.
“We are of course very happy with the current geopolitical status with the Arab countries in our area, but we don’t think that it has to come with the super-specific risks to our environment,” she said. “We think that we better promote business with these countries based on clean energy and not oil.”
Minister of Environmental Protection Gila Gamliel last Tuesday sent a letter to Israel’s national security adviser saying “the warning lights are already flashing” and demanded the deal be scrapped.
Too much was decided behind closed doors and remains secret, she said.
EAPC has not made public details of the deal.
“From a rate of six tankers a year, we expect an increase to more than 50 tankers a year docking in Eilat,” Gamliel wrote. “The continuation of this deal will be a tragedy for generations, whether from mishaps that may occur or in a wartime scenario.”
Gamliel is being replaced with the swearing in of the country’s new government, and her successor on Monday called the deal a mistake and said the government should oppose it.
EAPC said the new business is part of its routine operations and that it meets the strictest international standards. Plus, the broader geopolitical gains cannot be ignored.
“Israel is expected to benefit greatly from the agreement, which will strengthen the Israeli economy and its international standing, as well as ensure its energy independence and security,” the company said in a statement.
The Society for the Protection of Nature together with other groups have petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court for a temporary order to freeze the deal. Yayon said the state is due to present its official position in coming days.
The Finance Ministry, which oversees EAPC, declined to comment due to the open court case.
A representative of UAE’s National Holding, which owns Petromal, one of the owners of MED-RED Land Bridge, had no immediate comment on the issue.


Dubai’s Shuaa to launch digital wealth platform

Dubai’s Shuaa to launch digital wealth platform
Updated 14 June 2021

Dubai’s Shuaa to launch digital wealth platform

Dubai’s Shuaa to launch digital wealth platform
  • Ex-Visa and Google executive Hadi Raad will lead the company’s digital transformation

DUBAI: Dubai asset management firm Shuaa Capital has appointed a chief digital officer in preparation for the launch of a new digital wealth platform.
Ex-Visa and Google executive Hadi Raad will lead the company’s digital transformation, developing its fintech to utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Drawing from a study by Knight Frank, the Dubai-based company said it wants to target the millennial investor segment which is perceived to be under-served.
“Our intention to launch a new digital wealth platform is in line with our increasing focus on technology, which, as we have previously indicated, will be one of Shuaa’s top priorities going forward,” Group CEO Jassim Alseddiqi said.
The new chief digital officer will drive the company’s product innovation and development, as well as create fintech partnerships.