Dubai’s yachts offer socially-distanced luxury

Dubai’s yachts offer socially-distanced luxury
A luxury yacht is pictured off the Dubai Marina Beach in the Gulf emirate. (AFP)
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Updated 14 June 2021

Dubai’s yachts offer socially-distanced luxury

Dubai’s yachts offer socially-distanced luxury
  • Charter companies said they have seen an increased interest in yachting after coronavirus measures eased, especially among those who want to spend time with friends and family

DUBAI: Dubai earned a reputation for delivering luxury for those with cash to splash years ago, but amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a new mode of travel has become popular — yachts.
“It’s more private, you’re with only family and friends, and it’s the ideal outing during a pandemic,” said Nada Naeem, a 36-year-old Saudi citizen living in Dubai.
Dozens of white yachts are seen every day zipping through the emirate’s bays, canals and islands, while others are docked along the coast in Gulf waters overlooking the skyline of high-rise towers.
“You feel like you can breathe,” Naeem said, adding that she had not left Dubai since the pandemic began last year. “It’s like you’ve traveled.”
Unlike so many parts of the world, Dubai opened its doors wide open to tourists just a few months after the coronavirus pandemic took hold last year.
Life in the Gulf emirate — one of the first destinations to welcome visitors again last July — returned to largely normal, with restaurants and hotels up and running and beaches open to the public.
The UAE, made up of seven emirates including Dubai, launched an energetic vaccination drive with some of the highest inoculation rates worldwide, and continues to enforce strict rules on wearing masks and social distancing.
But some are fearful of overseas travel, and wary of crowded places where the risk of catching COVID-19 is higher.
For those who can afford the price tag, yachts are seen as a safer bet.
“When they eased the lockdown ... people preferred something secure and safe with regulations,” said Mohammed Al-Sayyed, manager of Royal Star Yachts charter company.
“We are providing them with the proper customer service, following all the rules, sanitizing the yacht.”
For now, yachts are allowed to operate at 70 percent capacity.
The company has a fleet that includes a 141-foot (42-meter) yacht able to host 80 passengers at full capacity — if you can afford the $4,900 price for a three-hour cruise.
Charter companies said they have seen an increased interest in yachting after coronavirus measures eased, especially among those who want to spend time with friends and family.
“People want to do sightseeing, cruising,” said Sayyed, who has been in the yacht industry for eight years. “They want to relax.”
Cheaper yachts to hire include the company’s 90-foot “Big Daddy” — capable of normally carrying 65 people, at $1,225 for three hours — down to smaller boats.
Some in Dubai said that when the price was split between a group, the cost was not as steep as it seemed at first.
“It can actually be more affordable than an all-inclusive brunch at a restaurant,” said Naeem.
And while some groups have been busted by authorities flouting the rules and slapped with hefty fines, most excursions run smoothly.
Sayyed insisted his company follows all the rules and that even on the most luxurious “party yachts,” there are COVID-19 regulations still in place, including the need for passengers to socially distance from each other and wear masks.
Dubai, known for its skyscrapers and mega-projects, boasts the most diverse economy in the oil-reliant Gulf region and has built a reputation as a financial, commercial and tourism hub.
Tourism, which drew some 16 million visitors a year before the coronavirus hit, took a severe downturn in the first few months of the pandemic.
But a flood of arrivals since the beginning of the year has regenerated the industry, and helped many business activities recover.
Other yacht charter companies report an increase in demand for rentals in recent months.
And being out at sea doesn’t mean the guests must skimp on takeaway food or drinks. Jet skis and speed boats are on standby — for an extra fee — to take orders and deliver groceries from shore to ship.
“To go on a boat is as simple as being outdoors and being away from strangers, gathering with only those you trust,” said Palestinian Jeelan Herz, who has lived in the UAE for more than 30 years.
“It’s also something you can enjoy safely with children — go to the middle of the ocean, take part in water activities and take a nice dip.”


Trump deal delivers $420 mln windfall for wondering dealmaker

Trump deal delivers $420 mln windfall for wondering dealmaker
Updated 7 sec ago

Trump deal delivers $420 mln windfall for wondering dealmaker

Trump deal delivers $420 mln windfall for wondering dealmaker
  • Digital World shares ended trading on Wednesday up 357 percent after the deal was announced, giving the firm a market value of close to $1.5 billion

A merger with former US President Donald Trump’s new social media venture has delivered a potential windfall of $420 million for a former finance executive who has been trying for a decade to reinvent himself as a serial dealmaker.
Benessere Capital CEO Patrick Orlando’s stake in Digital World Acquisition Corp, the Miami-based blank-check acquisition firm he is leading, was worth $423 million on Thursday after his deal to merge Trump Media and Technology Group was announced, according to a regulatory filing and Reuters calculations.
Orlando invested only $3 million in Digital World, and is set to receive the windfall because the deal entitles him to additional compensation in shares as sponsor of the firm, the filing shows. Digital World shares ended trading on Wednesday up 357 percent after the deal was announced, giving the firm a market value of close to $1.5 billion.
To be sure, these gains are on paper. The terms of the SPAC do not allow Orlando to cash out until six months after the merger has been completed.
It is nonetheless a remarkable reversal of fortune for the former Deutsche Bank AG derivatives banker who worked in Peru’s biofuel industry and for a US sugar trading company before trying his hand at special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs).
He launched Benessere in 2012 to advise other companies on their deals but it was not until last year that he launched four SPACs with the help of Shanghai-based investment bank ARC Capital.
He struggled to gain traction. One of his SPACs, which was based in Wuhan, China, failed last month to complete a merger with Giga Energy Inc. that would have valued the transportation solutions provider at $7.3 billion, because it could not deliver the cash required, according to regulatory filings.
Orlando did not respond to requests for comment.
Trump Media said it would receive $293 million in cash that Digital World had in a trust if no shareholder of the acquisition firm chose to cash in their shares.
The company said it planned a trial version of its social media app next month and a full roll-out in the first quarter of 2022.


John Kerry to attend Middle East Green Initiative Summit in Saudi Arabia

John Kerry to attend Middle East Green Initiative Summit in Saudi Arabia
Updated 21 October 2021

John Kerry to attend Middle East Green Initiative Summit in Saudi Arabia

John Kerry to attend Middle East Green Initiative Summit in Saudi Arabia
  • Kerry will “engage with government counterparts and private sector leaders on climate crisis

LONDON: US climate envoy John Kerry will travel to Saudi Arabia on Sunday to take part in the Middle East Green Initiative Summit.

During his two-day visit to the Kingdom, Kerry will “engage with government counterparts and private sector leaders on efforts to address the climate crisis,” the State Department said.

Kerry’s meetings will “bolster the United States’ bilateral and multilateral climate diplomacy” ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow that starts on Oct. 31.

Saudi Arabia will host the inaugural Saudi Green Initiative Forum and Middle East Green Initiative Summit in Riyadh on Oct. 23-25.

The environmental initiatives were launched in March by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Together they aim to plant 50 billion trees in the region and reduce Middle East carbon emissions by 60 percent.


NEOM’s green hydrogen plant to operate in 2026: Air Product’s CEO

NEOM’s green hydrogen plant to operate in 2026: Air Product’s CEO
Updated 21 October 2021

NEOM’s green hydrogen plant to operate in 2026: Air Product’s CEO

NEOM’s green hydrogen plant to operate in 2026: Air Product’s CEO
  • Seifi Ghasemi noted that the project is the biggest in the world and that it is the first time for the company to handle a project with this scale, echoing a similar comment from ACWA Power CEO to Arab News. 

NEOM’s green hydrogen plant will start operations in 2026, the chief executive officer of Air Products & Chemicals revealed in an interview with Alarabiya.

The project will export hydrogen in the form of liquid ammonia to the world market for use as a biofuel that feeds transportation systems.

Seifi Ghasemi noted that the project is the biggest in the world and that it is the first time for the company to handle a project with this scale, echoing a similar comment from ACWA Power CEO to Arab News. 

This comes amid the Kingdom’s directions towards green energy. 

 


US jobless claims fall; Turkey’s central bank slashes interest rate again: Economic wrap

US jobless claims fall; Turkey’s central bank slashes interest rate again: Economic wrap
Updated 21 October 2021

US jobless claims fall; Turkey’s central bank slashes interest rate again: Economic wrap

US jobless claims fall; Turkey’s central bank slashes interest rate again: Economic wrap

Americans applying for jobless benefits declined to 290,000 in the week ending 16 October, compared to the previous seven day's 296,00 claims, official data showed. 

This is the lowest level since March 2020 as job hirers hold on to their employees as a result of worker shortages.

Turkish interest rate falls once more

The Turkish Central Bank decided to cut its interest rate again from 18 percent to 16 percent, despite rising inflation and a depreciating currency. 

This decision came after the president renewed calls to alleviate borrowing costs to promote economic growth. Economists considered this confirmation of the bank's loss of independence as the president sacked the last three central bank governors.

South Korea's exports

Based on data released by its customs agency, South Korea's exports jumped in the first 20 days of October by 36.1 percent compared to a year earlier, while imports soared by 48 percent, causing a provisional trade deficit of $2.49 billion.

Exports rose the most for petroleum products and vessels as they leapt by 128.7 percent and 93.5 percent respectively.

The data showed that exports to China, the United States and the European Union increased during this period by 30.9, 37.1 and 42.1 percent respectively.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s recovery at risk 

The IMF said that the weak vaccination rollouts in sub-Saharan Africa could setback the region’s economic recovery in the coming period.

While higher commodity prices and favorable harvests were beneficial for some countries, the overall outlook is pessimistic as the region is likely to considerably lag behind developed countries.

The international organization expects sub-Saharan economic growth to be 3.7 percent in 2021 and 3.8 percent in 2022. 

Russia’s producer prices

Russian producer prices went up by a 26.3 percent annual rate in September, official data revealed. This is the lowest level since March and was mainly driven by a 41.4 percent surge in costs of raw materials extraction and a 25.4 percent jump in manufacturing costs.

China’s investments abroad

China's non-financial outbound direct investment (ODI) grew by 2.4 percent in the first nine months of 2021 compared to the same period last year to reach $80.78 billion, the commerce ministry said.

Ukraine’s interest rate 

The Central Bank of Ukraine kept the interest rate on hold at 8.5 percent. However, the bank said there was a possible chance to increase the rate in December if needed to manage rising inflationary pressures.


TASI closes 0.3 percent higher at 11,940 points: Market Wrap

TASI closes 0.3 percent higher at 11,940 points: Market Wrap
Updated 21 October 2021

TASI closes 0.3 percent higher at 11,940 points: Market Wrap

TASI closes 0.3 percent higher at 11,940 points: Market Wrap

RIYADH: The Tadawul All-Share Index was up 35 points on Thursday, or 0.3 percent, closing at 11,939,58 points.

Some 202.4 million of shares changed hands in 305,000 deals.

Al Rajhi Bank, SABIC and Saudi Aramco rose by 1 percent.

Baazeem was the top gainer, rising 5.6 percent, to SR124.80, with about 2.2 million shares traded.

Sulaiman Al Habib jumped 5.2 percent, to SR178.20.

Alinma Bank, Arab Sea, Sipchem and Saudi National Bank recorded their highest closings since the listing.

The parallel market index “Nomu” decreased by 719.49 points, or 2.94 percent, and closed at 23730.47 points. The liquidity amounted to about SR15.6 million.

Makkah Construction declined 1.9 percent to SR77.10. In Q3 2021, the company recorded a net profit of SR12 million.

NADEC and National Gypsum closed at SR34.95 and SR46.80, respectively.