Spanish movie studio Minimo to invest $250m in Saudi joint venture

Spanish movie studio Minimo to invest $250m in Saudi joint venture
Cinemas were allowed back in Saudi Arabia in 2018 for the first time in 35 years. (AFP)
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Updated 18 June 2021

Spanish movie studio Minimo to invest $250m in Saudi joint venture

Spanish movie studio Minimo to invest $250m in Saudi joint venture
  • Minimo VFX will open a headquarters in Riyadh in early 2022
  • Minimo helped produce The Dark Knight, Avatar and Harry Potter

RIYADH: Spanish film studio Minimo VFX plans to invest $250 million in the Saudi market through a joint venture with a local company, said CEO Felix Balbas.

“Our partnership with the Saudi Next Level Co. consists of opening a regional headquarters in Riyadh and localizing the film content industry, as well as training Saudis and empowering them globally,” Felix told Asharq on Thursday.

Minimo was involved in the production of films including The Dark Knight, Avatar, The Mission, Doom, and Harry Potter.

It will begin operations in Riyadh in early 2022 with a team of about 45 employees, offering production, logistical and advisory services for visual effects, long and short films, television shows and advertisements, he said.

Filmmaking and the screening of films is a recent phenomenon in the Kingdom after Saudi Arabia allowed the opening of cinemas in 2018.


Al Sharjah government announces Friday, Saturday and Sunday as official weekend

Al Sharjah government announces Friday, Saturday and Sunday as official weekend
Updated 22 sec ago

Al Sharjah government announces Friday, Saturday and Sunday as official weekend

Al Sharjah government announces Friday, Saturday and Sunday as official weekend

JEDDAH: Al Sharjah’s Executive Council approved on Thursday a three-day weekend following the introduction of a new working system in the UAE.

The changes by the city’s government see a shift to a four day working week, running from Monday to Thursday, with the weekend becoming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, according to the Emirates News Agency.

The official working hours of government agencies will also be changed to 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with the implementation of the new system starting from January 1, 2022.

These decisions come in line with UAE vision to enhance its competitive position in various sectors in a way that supports the business environment and the economic market.

The move came following other emirates' decision to transition to a four-and-a-half day working week, as it effectively moved its weekend to Saturday and Sunday. 


US mortgage lender Fannie Mae issues $100bn in green bonds 

US mortgage lender Fannie Mae issues $100bn in green bonds 
Updated 11 min 34 sec ago

US mortgage lender Fannie Mae issues $100bn in green bonds 

US mortgage lender Fannie Mae issues $100bn in green bonds 

DUBAI: US mortgage loan company Fannie Mae has reached $100 billion in its green bond issuances, which it claims to be a major milestone in “greening the US housing stock.” 

The company began issuing green multifamily mortgage-backed securities over 10 years ago to support both sustainable and affordable housing through its “Green Building Certification” program and “Green Rewards” scheme.

“More than a decade ago, we pioneered green housing mortgage finance to make multifamily housing more energy-efficient, resulting in tangible and meaningful benefits for building owners and residents,” Michele Evansee, an executive vice president at the US-listed firm, said. 

The securities particularly finance homes and communities that meet energy-efficiency and water-saving benchmarks.

Fannie Mae claims their bonds have saved 9.5 billion British thermal units of energy, 8.5 billion gallons of water, and 634,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions across 872,000 properties. 

“Fannie Mae is working to accelerate the greening of US housing supply and help reduce the carbon footprint of housing,” Laurel Davis, the company’s senior vice president, said.


SABIC chief urges cross-sector collaboration to tackle climate change

SABIC chief urges cross-sector collaboration to tackle climate change
Updated 16 min 16 sec ago

SABIC chief urges cross-sector collaboration to tackle climate change

SABIC chief urges cross-sector collaboration to tackle climate change

JEDDAH: The head of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation — known as SABIC — has urged the petrochemical industry to work with other sectors to help deliver ambitious carbon neutral goals.

Speaking at the Annual Forum of the Gulf Petrochemical and Chemical Association in Dubai, Yousef Al Benyan said now was the time for the industry to “redefine, reshape and reinvent” itself.

Al Benyan said that while players around the world are moving quickly toward clean energy, more effort is needed to match global trends.

"Decarbonization and circularity are not just for one company or even for one industry. They are for the whole of society and the economy. The solution has to be generated through collaboration not only within the chemical industry but also across multiple industries in the value chain,” he said.

Al Benyan also announced the approval of the GPCA board decision to rotate its annual forum among the capitals of Gulf Cooperation Council countries, starting with Riyadh next year.


Lebanon’s Central Bank sets new rate for withdrawals from dollar deposits

Lebanon’s Central Bank sets new rate for withdrawals from dollar deposits
Updated 44 min 52 sec ago

Lebanon’s Central Bank sets new rate for withdrawals from dollar deposits

Lebanon’s Central Bank sets new rate for withdrawals from dollar deposits
  • The rate was previously set at 3,900 pounds
  • The central bank also set a withdrawal ceiling of $3,000 per month equivalent in Lebanese pounds

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s central bank said on Thursday it had set a new rate of 8,000 Lebanese pounds to the US dollar for withdrawals from bank deposits denominated in dollars but which can now only be accessed in the local currency.
The rate was previously set at 3,900 pounds, which implied a “haircut” or loss of more than 80 percent at the current market rate of around 25,000 pounds per dollar. The new rate represents a haircut of around 70 percent.
The central bank also set a withdrawal ceiling of $3,000 per month equivalent in Lebanese pounds for account-holders, who have been unable to freely access their savings since the collapse of the financial sector in 2019.
The central bank had maintained a pegged rate of 1,500 pounds per dollar until summer 2019, when it unofficially allowed the currency to become untethered after accumulating tens of billions of dollars in losses.
The pound has since lost more than 90 percent of its value, throwing the majority of Lebanon’s population into poverty and leading to shortages of basic goods such as medicines in the formerly middle-income country.
The central bank officially maintains a rate of 1,500 but almost all goods trade at the market rate.


Egypt to list army companies on stock exchange soon: sovereign fund CEO

Egypt to list army companies on stock exchange soon: sovereign fund CEO
Updated 54 min 22 sec ago

Egypt to list army companies on stock exchange soon: sovereign fund CEO

Egypt to list army companies on stock exchange soon: sovereign fund CEO

RIYADH: Egypt is planning an initial public offering of two of its army’s companies, the CEO of the country's sovereign fund has said.

Ayman Soliman told Asharq the fund is currently in the final stages of legal restructuring of Safi and Wataniya to make them eligible for listing on the Egyptian stock exchange.

Safi supplies the Egyptian market with bottled mineral water while Wataniya specializes in supplying and distributing petroleum products.

Both companies are subsidiaries of the National Services Products Organization, which is part of Egypt’s armed forces.

Soliman emphasized that the main condition before listing on the bourse is to identify a strategic investor to manage the companies’ operational activities.

The official added that the offering pipeline includes more companies that are to be disclosed after finalizing their legal restructuring.