Saudi Fund for Development signs $10m deal with National Bank of Iraq

The agreement was signed by SFD CEO Sultan Abdulrahman Al-Marshad and Bassem Al-Salem, chairman of the board of directors of Capital Bank Group. (SPA)
The agreement was signed by SFD CEO Sultan Abdulrahman Al-Marshad and Bassem Al-Salem, chairman of the board of directors of Capital Bank Group. (SPA)
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Updated 31 May 2021

Saudi Fund for Development signs $10m deal with National Bank of Iraq

Saudi Fund for Development signs $10m deal with National Bank of Iraq
  • The agreement will grant a payment period of up to 36 months depending on the type of imports
  • It is in line with the Kingdom’s efforts to diversify sources of national income and increase the volume of non-oil exports

AMMAN: The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) has signed a financing agreement with the National Bank of Iraq (NBI) to provide $10 million in credit facilities to Iraqi investors wanting to import products and services from Saudi companies.
The move aims to contribute to strengthening trade relations between the two countries, a statement issued by Saudi Press Agency said.
Under the agreement, SFD will grant NBI, a subsidiary of Capital Bank Group, a revolving financing line to import various goods and services of Saudi origin for the bank’s importing company clients, with a 100 percent financing rate of its value.
The agreement was signed in Jordan’s capital Amman by SFD CEO Sultan Abdulrahman Al-Marshad and Bassem Al-Salem, chairman of the board of directors of Capital Bank Group.
It will grant a payment period of up to 36 months depending on the type of imports and the nature of the operation.
The agreement “reflects the two countries’ desire to enhance cooperation between them in various fields, and is part of what was allocated by the Saudi government to support reconstruction and development projects in Iraq, exceeding $1.5 billion,” said Al-Marshad.
He added that supporting stability in countries seeking to achieve sustainable economic and social development is one of the fund’s most important priorities, and through this agreement, Saudi Arabia seeks to enhance efforts to achieve joint prosperity.
The agreement is in line with the Kingdom’s efforts to diversify sources of national income and increase the volume of non-oil exports of Saudi goods and services, as it will open new markets for Saudi producers and contribute to stimulating Iraq’s commercial and financial sectors, he said.
Al-Salem praised SFD for its efforts to support and finance development projects in Iraq and stimulate bilateral trade relations.
“The fund’s role reflects the Kingdom’s historical orientations and its continuous support of joint Arab action, and contributes to achieving Arab economic integration,” he said.
Al-Salem added that the agreement will contribute to increasing trade between the two countries by providing NBI with credit facilities for importers to import high-quality Saudi goods and services at competitive prices to the Iraqi market. The agreement will also activate transport operations between the two countries.


Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills ready to open biggest water park in Jordan

Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills ready to open biggest water park in Jordan
Updated 35 min 16 sec ago

Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills ready to open biggest water park in Jordan

Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills ready to open biggest water park in Jordan
  • It will open on July 3
  • The park was developed by Abu Dhabi-headquartered Eagle Hills, one of the largest developers in Jordan

DUBAI: The Saraya Aqaba Waterpark – billed as the biggest in Jordan – is opening its doors on July 3.
Located in the country’s only coastal city, Aqaba, the park spans an area of more than 28,500 square meters. It has rides, slides, as well as food and beverage stalls.
“At Saraya Aqaba Waterpark, guests from all around the world are in for an aquatic adventure like no other with slides, rides and experiences suitable for guests of all ages,” Chris Van Der Merwe, its general manager said in a statement.
The park was developed by Abu Dhabi-headquartered Eagle Hills, one of the largest developers in Jordan, and is operated by Abu Dhabi-based Farah Experience, which also handles Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
Theme parks and other physical attractions have taken a hit when the pandemic forced countries to restrict people’s mobility, however some are now welcoming guests again as attractions make a gradual return.


Saudi inflation driven up by food and vehicle prices as VAT hangover lingers

Saudi inflation driven up by food and vehicle prices as VAT hangover lingers
Updated 38 min 35 sec ago

Saudi inflation driven up by food and vehicle prices as VAT hangover lingers

Saudi inflation driven up by food and vehicle prices as VAT hangover lingers
  • Prices rose 5.3 percent the previous month according to data from the General Authority for Statistics

RIYADH: Saudi inflation rose for a second straight month as the consumer price index hit 5.7 percent.
Prices rose 5.3 percent the previous month according to data from the General Authority for Statistics.
The pickup in inflation highlighted the continuing impact of higher value added tax (VAT) which was increased to 15 percent in July 2020 from 5 percent before.
Transport prices also increased by 19.3 percent, led by the rising cost of buying a vehicle.
However food and beverage prices were the main driver in the rising cost of living, rising by 7.3 percent. Food represents a weighting of 17 percent in the Saudi consumer basket that economists use to measure the cost of living in the country.
“In particular, the increase in the prices of meat (6.8 percent) and vegetables (6.7 percent) was remarkable. Food prices were the main driver of the inflation rate in May 2021.” the authority said in a statement.
Food prices are accelerating across the Arab world with Egypt this week also reporting a pick-up in inflation to 4.8 percent year-on-year in May, up from 4.1 percent the previous month. It comes as the United Nations Food Agency predicts a double-digit spike in global food import costs this year.


Saudi flower farm Astra plucked by Dubai-based Floranow

Saudi flower farm Astra plucked by Dubai-based Floranow
Updated 15 June 2021

Saudi flower farm Astra plucked by Dubai-based Floranow

Saudi flower farm Astra plucked by Dubai-based Floranow
  • Floranow describes itself as the MENA region’s first online B2B flower marketplace

DUBAI: Floranow, a Dubai-based B2B floral marketplace said it acquired the distribution business of Saudi Arabia’s Astra Farms
Floranow describes itself as the MENA region’s first online B2B flower marketplace, connecting global producers of flowers and plants to regional and international buyers, including florists, hotels, event planners and supermarkets.
Astra Farm is the Middle East’s largest producer of cut flowers and runs an extensive distribution network across the Kingdom.
“It will enable us to help the Saudi floriculture sector innovate and thrive via the use of amazing technology and world-class, cool-chain logistics,” said Charif Mzayek, Floranow’s founder and CEO.
The company said the deal will disrupt the Kingdom’s floral industry by introducing innovative technology to an otherwise traditional sector.
The value of the acquisition was not disclosed.


25,000 UAE students join after-school maths and coding program as parents fret over pandemic lost learning

25,000 UAE students join after-school maths and coding program as parents fret over pandemic lost learning
Updated 15 June 2021

25,000 UAE students join after-school maths and coding program as parents fret over pandemic lost learning

25,000 UAE students join after-school maths and coding program as parents fret over pandemic lost learning
  • Global demand for math and coding education has surged
  • Cuemath has taught over 200,000 students across 20 countries

DUBAI: More than 25,000 school children in the UAE have signed up for the pilot program of Cuemath, an after-school math and coding program backed by Google.
Cuemath’s online learning program was launched early this year in the UAE, and thousands of students have downloaded the application and online classes.
Demand among students in grades 3 to 7 has been especially strong, the company said in a statement.
The company recently received $40 million in funding, which it said will be utilized in bringing its curriculum to more students in the Emirates. It was backed by Google and Sequoia Capital.
Cuemath has taught over 200,000 students across 20 countries, including the US, UK, Singapore, Canada, Nigeria, Egypt, and Thailand.
Global demand for math and coding education has surged, the company said, with its program growing three times across its geographies.
The trend has been driven by a boom in the EdTech industry during the pandemic when millions of kids were forced to study at home.
“Education is transforming globally, as digital formats allow students to access education best practice from anywhere,” Manan Khurma, founder of Cuemath, said.
“The MEA EdTech and smart classroom market is forecast to double to $7.6 billion by 2027. The global market is many multiples of this,” he added.


Emirates reports $5.5bn loss as group headcount falls by 33,000

Emirates reports $5.5bn loss as group headcount falls by 33,000
Updated 15 June 2021

Emirates reports $5.5bn loss as group headcount falls by 33,000

Emirates reports $5.5bn loss as group headcount falls by 33,000
  • Emirates Group revenues fell some 66 percent to $9.7 billion over the year

DUBAI: Emirates reported a full-year loss of $5.5 billion, the first time it has fallen into the red in more than 30 years.
The results highlight the devastating impact of the pandemic on the carrier that has helped Dubai become one of the world’s most important international aviation hubs.

Overall employee numbers for the wider Emirates Group, which includes dnata, fell by more than 33,000 over the year as its headcount fell 31 percent to about 75,000. It carried 6.6 million passengers over the year, down 88 percent on a year earlier.

“No one knows when the pandemic will be over, but we know recovery will be patchy,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, the chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline and Group. “Economies and companies that entered pandemic times in a strong position, will be better placed to bounce back.”
While the pandemic has had a brutal impact on airlines worldwide, the crisis has impacted carriers and airports differently, depending on their route and passenger profiles. Because Emirates relies heavily on international travel without a domestic network, it has not benefited from the bounce back in domestic airline travel in other parts of the world, such as the US and China.
“It is not surprising that Emirates has reported a substantial loss and as with all airlines recovery will take an extended time,” aviation consultant John Strickland told Arab News. “However short term it has been able to benefit from the cargo capabilities of its 777-300ER’s. It is already evaluating options for the future shape of its fleet and network as new aircraft types enter its fleet and will extend the close partnership with flydubai which also increases its flexibility for network development options.”
Emirates Group revenues fell some 66 percent to $9.7 billion over the year. The company said it had received a capital injection of 11.3 billion dirhams ($3.1 billion) from its ultimate shareholder, the government of Dubai. Its dnata unit, which includes ground handling, travel services and catering, also received 800 million dirhams in relief, it said.
Emirates has cut costs across the group by renegotiating contracts and restructuring financial obligations which resulted in estimated savings of 7.7 billion dirhams for the year, it said.
Sheikh Ahmed said the airline aimed to recover its full operating capacity as quickly as possible.
“Together with Dubai’s undiminished ambitions to grow economic activity and build a city for the future, I am confident that Emirates and dnata will recover and be stronger than before,” he said.
Emirates’ total passenger and cargo capacity declined by 58 percent. It received three new A380 aircraft during the financial year and phased out 14 older aircraft comprising of 9 Boeing 777-300ERs and 5 A380s, leaving its total fleet count at 259 at the end of March.
Its order book for 200 aircraft remains unchanged.