Dubai Expo tickets go on sale starting from $26 for adult one-day access

Dubai Expo tickets go on sale starting from $26 for adult one-day access
The event will feature up to 60 live events a day – including film nights, poetry readings and concerts. (Reuters)
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Updated 19 July 2021

Dubai Expo tickets go on sale starting from $26 for adult one-day access

Dubai Expo tickets go on sale starting from $26 for adult one-day access
  • After almost 10 years of planning, the opening ceremony will take place at Al Wasl Plaza

DUBAI – Tickets for Expo 2020 Dubai have gone on sale with single adult entry priced at 95 dirhams ($26).
After almost 10 years of planning, the opening ceremony will take place at Al Wasl Plaza, which features the world’s largest 360-degree projection surface, the event’s organizers said in a statement.
The entertainment line-up so far includes Oscar-winning AR Rahman’s women’s ensemble the Firdaus Orchestra; Bollywood’s Sonam Kapoor; Emirati singer Ahlam; and the Russian Bolshoi. Sports fans will also have the opportunity to witness the world’s largest Brazilian jiu-jitsu lesson, get to grips with exciting football-based sport teqball and sign up to various fitness activities and events.
There will be up to 60 live events a day – including film nights, poetry readings and concerts.
Season passes allowing unlimited entry for the entire six months of Expo 2020, cost 495 dirhams, with Mastercard debit and credit holders receiving a 25 percent discount. Other ticket packages are also available to view at www.expo2020dubai.com.


French firms keen on establishing regional HQ in KSA, says Al-Falih

French firms keen on establishing regional HQ in KSA, says Al-Falih
Updated 13 sec ago

French firms keen on establishing regional HQ in KSA, says Al-Falih

French firms keen on establishing regional HQ in KSA, says Al-Falih
  • The strategy program will create 35,000 jobs for Saudis

PARIS: Saudi investment minister on Sunday revealed that a French construction company will join 40 other global companies in establishing their regional headquarters in Riyadh.

Khalid Al-Falih, however, did not name the company. Talking to Al-Arabiyah News Channel, the minister said the French renewable energy firms are keen on investing in the Kingdom. Companies such as Total, Engie, EDF, are working extensively to secure new projects in Saudi Arabia, Al-Falih said. 

Earlier in 2021, the Kingdom introduced a policy to stop signing contracts with foreign companies from 2024 unless their regional headquarters are based in the Kingdom.

It is part of the Riyadh Strategy 2030 plan announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Future Investment Initiative forum in January.

The rule includes agencies, institutions and government-owned funds. It aims to incentivize foreign companies that deal with Saudi Arabia’s government to base themselves in the Kingdom.

Al-Falih said Total plans to open petroleum distribution stations, and charging units (stations) for electric vehicles going forward.

This is in addition to Total’s previous investments in one of the largest industrial projects in Jubail, along with Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical Co. project and Amiral complex — with investments exceeding SR30 billion ($8 billion), the minister said.

Al-Falih also told the news channel that several educational agreements were signed during his trip to Paris.

The Royal Commission for Riyadh City has set a target to attract up to 500 foreign companies to set up their regional headquarters in the capital over the next 10 years, with 24 already confirmed, and as part of the initiative the crown prince aims to double Riyadh’s population.

According to studies, the strategy program will create 35,000 jobs for Saudis and help pump up to SR70 billion ($18.67 billion) into the national economy by the end of the decade.


KSA has strongest banking system among GCC, S&P Global Ratings says

KSA has strongest banking system among GCC, S&P Global Ratings says
Updated 26 September 2021

KSA has strongest banking system among GCC, S&P Global Ratings says

KSA has strongest banking system among GCC, S&P Global Ratings says

JEDDAH: S&P Global Ratings said on Sunday that the COVID-19 pandemic and last year's oil price crash did not affect all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) banking systems in the same way, highlighting that the Saudi Arabian banking system appeared to be the strongest in the current environment. 

"We expect GCC banks' asset quality indicators to deteriorate only slightly thanks to regulatory and government support measures, and improving economic sentiment," the rating firm said in the comment.

According to S&P Global Ratings, Saudi banks will continue to benefit from mortgage growth and the implementation of Vision 2030, which it expects will boost asset quality and profitability indicators.

The rating firm said the most vulnerable banking system among GCC countries is the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where the pandemic affected sectors such as hospitality, trade, and real estate sector.

"In our view, UAE banks are among the most vulnerable in the GCC region, as a result of their high exposure to real estate and other hard-hit sectors, while Saudi banks are better placed thanks to stronger profitability," it said.

"Other issues include Qatar's increasing net external debt and Kuwait's fiscal impasse, which may not just hurt the economy but also question the government's ability to support the banking system in a predictable and timely manner," it added.


Bahrain to double VAT to 10%: Reports

Bahrain to double VAT to 10%: Reports
Updated 26 September 2021

Bahrain to double VAT to 10%: Reports

Bahrain to double VAT to 10%: Reports

RIYADH: Bahrain plans to increase value-added tax to 10 percent in a bid to curb budget deficits and boost state revenue, 

Bahraini media outlets reported on Sunday.

According to a report published in a section of the Bahraini press, the legislators also discussed the options of reducing wages or social welfare given to nationals to bolster the economy.

According to IMF estimates, Bahrain’s budget deficit will contract by half this year after lower oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic boosted it to a record 18 percent of economic output in 2020.


Petrofac to plead guilty to 7 counts of bribery in Mideast oil projects

Petrofac to plead guilty to 7 counts of bribery in Mideast oil projects
Updated 26 September 2021

Petrofac to plead guilty to 7 counts of bribery in Mideast oil projects

Petrofac to plead guilty to 7 counts of bribery in Mideast oil projects

LONDON: British oil services group Petrofac said on Friday it would plead guilty to seven counts of failing to prevent bribery to secure projects in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the UAE between 2012 and 2015, calling it a “deeply regrettable period.”

The company indicated its plans at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court after being formally charged by the UK Serious Fraud Office, drawing a line under a four-year criminal investigation. Its shares surged 25 percent in relief.

Petrofac, which has struggled to secure key contracts in the Middle East and has seen its shares battered during the SFO investigation, will formally enter its pleas and await sentencing at London’s Southwark Crown Court on Monday.

Petrofac said offers or payments to agents to help secure projects were made between 2011 and 2017 but that all employees involved had left.

“This was a deeply regrettable period of Petrofac’s history,” said Chairman Rene Medori in a statement, adding that the company’s “comprehensive program of corporate renewal” had been acknowledged by the SFO.

“Petrofac has been living under the shadow of the past, but today it is a profoundly different business, in which stakeholders can be assured of our commitment to the highest standards of business ethics, wherever we operate,” he said.

Former executive David Lufkin, who has separately pleaded guilty to 14 charges of bribery to secure billions of dollars worth of contracts for Petrofac in the Middle East, is also expected to be sentenced on Monday.

His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In March, the UAE’s state-backed oil firm, ADNOC, barred Petrofac from competing for new contracts in the country.

It is the second corporate guilty plea secured by the SFO in five months.

Former Airbus subsidiary GPT Special Project Management pleaded guilty to corruption over military contracts for Saudi Arabia in April.


CFO of Russia’s Novatek arrested in US on tax charges of over $93 million

CFO of Russia’s Novatek arrested in US on tax charges of over $93 million
Updated 13 min 17 sec ago

CFO of Russia’s Novatek arrested in US on tax charges of over $93 million

CFO of Russia’s Novatek arrested in US on tax charges of over $93 million
  • Novatek has grown into a major competitor of Gazprom, produced last year, 18.8 million tons of liquefied natural gas, 5 percent of global output
  • The situation has absolutely no effect on Novatek’s operational and financial activities

RIYADH: The US government has arrested Mark Gyetvay, the deputy chairman of the management board of Novatek, Russia’s second-largest natural gas producer, on federal tax charges for more than $93 million hidden in offshore accounts, according to the IRS statement.


The situation has absolutely no effect on Novatek’s operational and financial activities, adding that it isn’t involved in related litigation, the company said in WSJ about Mr. Gyetvay’s case.


Novatek has grown into a major competitor of Gazprom, produced last year, 18.8 million tons of liquefied natural gas, 5 percent of global output, WSJ said.


The arrest of Gyetvay, comes as Russia wrestles with European regulatory challenges to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline running along the bed of the Baltic Sea, seen by opponents as a geopolitical tool, Nord Stream 2 will deliver Russian natural gas to Germany, WSJ added.