Global fashion’s workshop returns as Bangladesh factories reopen despite virus surge

Global fashion’s workshop returns as Bangladesh factories reopen despite virus surge
Aerial photograph taken on July 31, 2021 shows people disembarking from a ferry in Sreenagar to return to their work areas after the Bangladesh government relaxed the lockdown norms for all export oriented factories. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 31 July 2021

Global fashion’s workshop returns as Bangladesh factories reopen despite virus surge

Global fashion’s workshop returns as Bangladesh factories reopen despite virus surge
  • Country’s 4,500 garment factories employ more than four million people
  • Nation suffered 80,000 pandemic deaths, experts predict

SHIMULIA, BANGLADESH: Hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshi garment workers rushed back to major cities Saturday, besieging train and bus stations, after the government said export factories could reopen despite a deadly coronavirus wave.
With the economy badly hit by the pandemic, the government excluded the factories that supply top brands in Europe and North America from a nationwide lockdown order.
Authorities had ordered factories, offices, transport and shops to close from July 23 to August 5 as daily coronavirus infections and deaths hit record levels.
Officially, Bangladesh has reported 1.2 million cases and more than 20,000 deaths. Experts say the real figures are at least four times higher.
The government said however that the country’s 4,500 garment factories, which employ more than four million people, can reopen from Sunday, sparking a rush back to industrial cities.
The influential garment factory owners had warned of “catastrophic” consequences if orders for foreign brands were not completed on time.
Hundreds of thousands who had gone back to their villages to celebrate the Eid al Adha Muslim festival and sit out the lockdown, headed to Dhaka in any available transport — some just walking in the monsoon rain.
At the Shimulia ferry station, 70 kilometers (45 miles) south of Dhaka, tens of thousands of workers waited hours for boats to take them to the capital.
Garment factory worker Mohammad Masum, 25, said he left his village before dawn, walked more than 30 kilometers (20 miles) and took rickshaws to get to the ferry port.
“Police stopped us at many checkpoints and the ferry was packed,” he said.
“It was a mad rush to get home when the lockdown was imposed and now we are in trouble again getting back to work,” Jubayer Ahmad, another worker, told AFP.
Bangladesh is the world’s second largest garment exporter after China and the industry has become the foundation of the economy for the country of 169 million people.
Mohammad Hatem, vice president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said up to $3 billion worth of export orders were at risk if factories had stayed closed.
“The brands would have diverted their orders to other countries,” Hatem told AFP.


UK will be 'hard-headed' to defend interests, will challenge 'malign acts': Foreign minister

UK will be 'hard-headed' to defend interests, will challenge 'malign acts': Foreign minister
US Australia and Great Britain flag. Aukus defense pact.
Updated 7 sec ago

UK will be 'hard-headed' to defend interests, will challenge 'malign acts': Foreign minister

UK will be 'hard-headed' to defend interests, will challenge 'malign acts': Foreign minister
  • The pact has angered France as it saw Canberra ditch a multi-billion-dollar order for French submarines in favor of an alternative deal with Britain and the United States
  • The partners will use a wide range of cutting-edge technologies, from nuclear-powered submarines at first and then looking at artificial intelligence and quantum computing

Britain's new security pact with Australia and the United States (Aukus) shows its readiness to be "hard-headed" in defending its own interests, newly appointed Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in an article published on Sunday.


The pact has angered France as it saw Canberra ditch a multi-billion-dollar order for French submarines in favor of an alternative deal with Britain and the United States. It has also riled China, the major rising power in the Indo-Pacific region.


"This is about more than foreign policy in the abstract, but delivering for people across the UK and beyond by partnering with like-minded countries to build coalitions based on shared values and shared interests," Truss wrote in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.


"We will be working closer together to use a wide range of cutting-edge technologies, from nuclear-powered submarines at first and then looking at artificial intelligence and quantum computing. It shows our readiness to be hard-headed in defending our interests and challenging unfair practices and malign acts."


On Friday France recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia on Friday after the contract's cancellation set off a diplomatic crisis citing the "exceptional gravity" of the matter.

Also speaking on Sunday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said France would have known Australia had “deep and grave concerns” that a submarine fleet the French were building would not meet Australian needs,  

France accused Australia of concealing its intentions to back out of the 90 billion Australian dollar ($66 billion) contract for French majority state-owned Naval Group to build 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines. He added the cancelled contract will cost his government at least AU$2.4 billion ($1.7 billion)


SABIC, ExxonMobil in US preparing for initial startup

SABIC, ExxonMobil in US preparing for initial startup
Updated 31 min 28 sec ago

SABIC, ExxonMobil in US preparing for initial startup

SABIC, ExxonMobil in US preparing for initial startup
  • The project includes the establishment of an ethylene production unit with annual capacity of about 1.8 million tonnes
  • It supports SABIC's strategy to diversify its feedstock sources and strength its petrochemical manufacturing presence in North America

Saudi Basic Industries, the world's fourth-biggest petrochemicals firm, said on Sunday its joint venture project with ExxonMobil in the U.S. Gulf Coast has started commissioning activities and preparing for an initial startup.

The project includes the establishment of an ethylene production unit with annual capacity of about 1.8 million tonnes, which will feed two polyethylene units and a monoethylene glycol unit, it said in a statement.


SABIC expects that this project will have a positive impact on its consolidated financial statements after the commercial operation begins.

It supports SABIC's strategy to diversify its feedstock sources and strength its petrochemical manufacturing presence in North America for a wide range of products, it said.


Saudi digital payment solutions startup, CashIn, gets $1.6m in funding

Saudi digital payment solutions startup, CashIn, gets $1.6m in funding
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 48 min 28 sec ago

Saudi digital payment solutions startup, CashIn, gets $1.6m in funding

Saudi digital payment solutions startup, CashIn, gets $1.6m in funding
  • The startup provides digital payment solutions, virtual points of sale, and other payment features to businesses
  • It comes as a new e-invoicing rule in the Kingdom is set to be implemented, with CashIn partnering with the government sector to fully comply with it

DUBAI: Saudi financial technology startup CashIn has raised SR6 million ($1.6 million) in its latest funding round, as the industry grows bigger due to evolving consumer habits.

The startup provides digital payment solutions, virtual points of sale, and other payment features to businesses who are looking to manage sales in an integrated platform.

It comes as a new e-invoicing rule in the Kingdom is set to be implemented, with CashIn partnering with the government sector to fully comply with it, the startup said in a statement.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is undergoing rapid growth in the FinTech and technology sectors in comparison to other countries, and we are keen on CashIn to adapt to these fast-paced changes in parallel with Saudi’s 2030 vision,” its chief executive officer Omar Al-Rammah said.

The seed round was led by BIM Ventures and a number of angel investors, the startup said.


Saudi, Oman ties open door for businesses to explore opportunities in the sultanate

Saudi, Oman ties open door for businesses to explore opportunities in the sultanate
Updated 19 September 2021

Saudi, Oman ties open door for businesses to explore opportunities in the sultanate

Saudi, Oman ties open door for businesses to explore opportunities in the sultanate
  • Several KSA businesses in talk with their Omani counterparts to expand into the sultanate

JEDDAH: More Saudi businesses are actively exploring investment opportunities in Oman following recent reciprocal visits of Saudi and Omani top officials.
The visits have given a new impetus to the bilateral ties and slammed open doors of new opportunities for both countries in various sectors.
Among a long list of such businesses are Al Sayadiyah United Co. and Luberex Co. for Trade and Industry, which are reportedly in talks with their Omani counterparts to expand into the sultanate. 
Marwan Raffa, CEO of the Kingdom-based Al Sayadiyah United Co., said the company has been operating for about 40 years. It trades in fish and seafood items from different Gulf Cooperation Council countries and expects a very good experience in trade operations with Oman.
The CEO is in touch with Oman's counterparts to expand business operations in the country.
He said the Kingdom’s relationship with other countries, of course, would affect his line of work.
“Good relationships open up more opportunities,” he said.

FASTFACTS

Currently, the total Saudi investments in Oman amount to nearly SR24 billion and Omani investments have reached over SR4 billion.

The trade volume between the two countries amounted to more than SR2 billion ($533)

Oman’s coasts and beaches are no less than 3,000 km long. He said it is a great and fruitful place for his business.
“The location of the Sultanate of Oman in the south of the Arabian Peninsula and its coasts overlooking the Indian Ocean in the south and the Arabian Sea in the east, with a length of more than 3,000 km, makes it a treasure trove of marine life and an excellent and rich source of seafood,” he said.
Al Sayadiyah has 12 restaurant branches in the Kingdom — 10 in Jeddah and 2 in Riyadh.
Ali Al-Attas, CEO of Luberex Co. for Trade and Industry. His company makes car oil in Oman.
“We want to open a market in Oman and neighboring countries,” Al-Attas told Arab News.
He said manufacturing in Oman has high-quality outcomes. “Oman’s manufacturing quality is well known, just as Saudi Arabia’s industrial manufacturing.”
“Its process for investment is easy as well,” he added.
Luberex was established in 2016 and manufactures all types of car oils in Oman, and manufactures more items such as paint spray and rust remover in Riyadh.
Their annual turnover is $3 million-$5 million, and they are looking to be listed on Tadawul.
Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq recently visited Saudi Arabia during which the two sides agreed on several initiatives including boosting Saudi investments in Oman’s Duqm region, cooperation in the energy, food, culture, sports, and tourism sectors.
Saudi and Omani businessmen are also considering setting up a joint venture specialized in petrochemicals and chemicals, Argaam reported recently.
The report quoted Nasser Al-Hajri, chairman of the Saudi-Oman Joint Business Council as saying, “Saudi businessmen are looking for major investments in Oman’s industrial, petrochemical, chemical manufacturing, fish farming, mining, food, animal feed, tourism and real estate sectors.
The proposed name of the  joint venture is “Gulf Company.”
Saudi businessmen are keen on investing in Oman, provided they get better incentives and facilities, Al-Hajri said.
The trade volume between the two countries amounted to more than SR2 billion ($533 million) in the first quarter of 2021.
The number of Saudi investors in Oman has reached 1,235 whereas 320 Oman companies have so far invested in various sectors in the Kingdom.
Currently, the total Saudi investments in Oman amount to nearly SR24 billion and Omani investments have reached over SR4 billion.


UAE, UK sign deal to strengthen cooperation on climate action

UAE, UK sign deal to strengthen cooperation on climate action
Updated 19 September 2021

UAE, UK sign deal to strengthen cooperation on climate action

UAE, UK sign deal to strengthen cooperation on climate action
  • The MoU comes ahead of the UN COP26 climate summit in November

DUBAI: The UAE and the UK on Saturday signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen cooperation to accelerate measures to protect environment.

The MoU comes ahead of the UN COP26 climate summit in November, due to be hosted by the UK in the city of Glasgow and offers a framework for wide-ranging cooperation by government entities, companies, and research agencies in support of realizing COP26 goals.

UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Dr. Sultan Al-Jaber, who is also special envoy for climate, and UK Minister of State for Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly signed the memorandum, which recognizes that strong, decisive climate action can be an engine for economic growth.

HIGHLIGHT

Under the MoU, the UAE and the UK will work together in seeking to deliver on the Paris Agreement, including by reducing emissions to keep 1.5 degrees in reach, facilitating greater action on adaptation, mobilizing finance for climate action and collaborating on pathways to low emission and climate-resilient growth.

Under the MoU, the UAE and the UK will work together in seeking to deliver on the Paris Agreement, including by reducing emissions to keep 1.5 degrees in reach, facilitating greater action on adaptation, mobilizing finance for climate action and collaborating on pathways to low emission and climate-resilient growth.

Al-Jaber said: “Fifteen years ago, the UAE made a strategic decision to invest heavily in innovation and low-carbon energy, especially renewables and in partnership with other countries. 

“Today’s MoU, on the eve of the UN climate summit in Glasgow, builds on our long-standing partnership with the UK, including on environmental cooperation and investment. We look forward to strengthening our collaboration across all sectors to help support and realize the bold ambitions the UK has outlined for COP26.”

The UAE was the first country in the region to ratify and sign the Paris Accords and the first in MENA to set an economy-wide reduction in emissions by 2030, as part of its second Nationally Determined Contributions. 

November’s UN climate summit will see the official launch of the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate , co-founded by the UAE and the US with endorsement from the UK’s COP Presidency.