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)
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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.


Saudi builder Arriyadh Development appoints ex-PIF exec Jihad Al-Qadi as CEO

Saudi builder Arriyadh Development appoints ex-PIF exec Jihad Al-Qadi as CEO
Updated 14 sec ago

Saudi builder Arriyadh Development appoints ex-PIF exec Jihad Al-Qadi as CEO

Saudi builder Arriyadh Development appoints ex-PIF exec Jihad Al-Qadi as CEO
  • The Tadawul-listed company is involved in a number of public service projects
  • He holds more than 18 years of experience in the financial and investment sector

DUBAI: Saudi developer Arriyadh Development Company (ARDCO) has appointed Jihad bin Abdul Rahman Al-Qadi as its new chief executive officer.

The Tadawul-listed company is involved in a number of public service projects, including building, operating, and managing transportation centers and public markets.

Newly appointed Al-Qadi will assume the position in December, the company said in a stock exchange filing.

He holds more than 18 years of experience in the financial and investment sector. He has also worked in the treasury sector of the National Bank of Saudi Arabia, Jadwa Investment Co., and the Saudi Economic and Development Co.

He previously worked at the Public Investment Fund, where he was the director of real estate asset management and director of institutional development.

Al-Qadi is a member of a number of boards of directors, including that of the Islamic Development Bank Fund for Infrastructure, and the Saudi Economic Association.

The appointment is part of the company’s ongoing plans to boost value for its shareholders.


Saudi-government Kafalah grants $115m in loans to female-led enterprises

Saudi-government Kafalah grants $115m in loans to female-led enterprises
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 47 min 53 sec ago

Saudi-government Kafalah grants $115m in loans to female-led enterprises

Saudi-government Kafalah grants $115m in loans to female-led enterprises
  • Businesses in the central region of Riyadh got the lion's share as they received the highest Kafalah support
  • The Kafalah program spans several business sectors

The Small and Medium Enterprises Loan Guarantee Program (Kafalah), a government initiative to finance small and medium enterprises, granted SR432 million ($115 million) of loans to 456 businesses led by women in the first half of 2021, according to Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper.


Businesses in the central region of Riyadh got the lion's share as they received the highest Kafalah support, with 151 establishments accounting for 33 percent of the total, taking SR178 million in financing. This was followed closely by Makkah region with 115 establishments, or 25 percent, receiving SR97 million. The Eastern Province came third, with 102 establishments, or 22 percent, receiving SR99 million.


The Kafalah program spans several business sectors including wholesale commerce, catering and hotels, manufacturing industries, and administrative and support services.


Dubai’s Amanat sells stake in Jeddah IMC hospital for $118m

IMC image: celebration of the 5th Anniversary of the pledge of allegiance
Updated 26 September 2021

Dubai’s Amanat sells stake in Jeddah IMC hospital for $118m

IMC image: celebration of the 5th Anniversary of the pledge of allegiance
  • The divestment resulted in a cash return of 100 million dirhams
  • The move is part of the Dubai firm’s strategy to exit minority investments, and pursue more specialized opportunities in health and education

DUBAI: Dubai-based investment firm Amanat Holdings has completed the sale of its minority 13.13 percent share in Jeddah hospital International Medical Center (IMC) for SR443 million ($118 million).

The transaction was done through the Saudi Healthcare and Education fund, which is indirectly owned by Amanat through its subsidiaries.

The divestment resulted in a cash return of 100 million dirhams, and is expected to report a gain of 40 million dirhams, Amanat said in a statement.

“IMC has a unique market position in Saudi Arabia and is a reputable provider of quality healthcare. We invested through the Fund in IMC nearly five years ago, with a different vision to obtain exposure across recognized assets through minority stakes,” Hamad Alshamsi, Amanat chairman, said.

The move is part of the Dubai firm’s strategy to exit minority investments, and pursue more specialized opportunities in health and education.

IMC is a 300-bed multi-disciplinary tertiary care hospital that serves the Kingdom’s western region.


Saudi mining portal received 4,073 license applications since launch

Saudi mining portal received 4,073 license applications since launch
Updated 25 September 2021

Saudi mining portal received 4,073 license applications since launch

Saudi mining portal received 4,073 license applications since launch
  • The Kingdom plans to launch a comprehensive geological survey to map the country’s mining potential

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources has received 4,073 applications through its online portal since it was launched earlier this year, it said in a statement on Saturday.

The ministry has issued 1,092 licenses to investors seeking opportunities in the Kingdom’s mining sector, and is processing a further 1,446, it said.

The sector is witnessing a rapid transformation and attracting investors from around the globe since the launch of a new mining law earlier this year.

According to geological surveys dating back 80 years, the Kingdom has an estimated reserve of untapped mining potential valued at $1.3 trillion.

Saudi Arabia’s mining industry has already attracted some major foreign investors. American industrial corporation Alcoa has a 25.1 percent stake in two companies, Ma’aden Bauxite and Alumina and Ma’aden Aluminum, as part of $10.8 billion joint venture with the Saudi Arabian Mining Co., Ma’aden, located in Ras Al-Khair Industrial City in the Eastern Province.

The Kingdom plans to launch a comprehensive geological survey to map the country’s mining potential.

The five-year program will conduct geophysical and geochemical surveys and create detailed mapping of more than 700,000 sq. km of the mineral-rich Arabian Shield area in Saudi Arabia.

The Vision 2030 reform plan identified the mining sector as a potential third pillar of the Kingdom’s industrial growth, alongside petroleum and petrochemicals. The country is investing SR14 billion to develop the sector.

About $45 billion in private and public sector investments have gone into the mining sector over the past decade, mainly in phosphate and aluminum production.

The Kingdom also plans to auction two major mining licenses in 2022 for commodities including gold, copper and zinc, as the Kingdom aims to triple the mining sector’s contribution to the national gross domestic product to SR240 billion ($64 billion) and double the number of jobs to 470,000 by 2030.


Egypt extends natural gas exploration auctions to end of September

Egypt extends natural gas exploration auctions to end of September
Updated 25 September 2021

Egypt extends natural gas exploration auctions to end of September

Egypt extends natural gas exploration auctions to end of September
  • Nine new exploration licence awards announced

CAIRO: Nine international natural gas exploration auctions that were announced in March have been extended until the end of September, said the Magdy Galal, chairman of the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company.

Galal also announced that nine new natural gas exploration agreements have been signed with international companies, bringing the total number to 44. The new exploration licenses will lead to investment of nearly $1 billion with signature grants amounting to $24 million, he said during the company’s general assembly headed by the Minister of Petroleum.

Last year witnessed eight new discoveries of natural gas, two discoveries in the Mediterranean and six in the Western Desert, adding an estimated 600 billion cubic feet of new reserves.

Four projects were implemented for the development and production of gas from the discovered fields with investments of more than $4 billion, and 15 new wells were placed on the gas production map, with an average daily production of 1.4 billion cubic feet of gas and more than 25,000 barrels of condensate.

The total average production of natural gas amounted to more than 6.8 billion cubic feet, covering the entire needs of the local market. The average daily local consumption of natural gas amounted to more than 6 billion cubic feet.

The electricity sector consumed the most gas, accounting for more than 60 percent of production, followed by the industrial sector with more than 22 percent and the petrochemical and gas derivatives industry with about 11 percent. Domestic home and vehicle use took and 6 percent.

Exports of natural gas were made to Jordan through pipelines, and liquefied natural gas has been exported to global markets with a total of 71 shipments from the Idku and Damietta facilities.