Algeria closes airspace to Moroccan aviation as dispute deepens

Algeria closes airspace to Moroccan aviation as dispute deepens
A source at Royal Air Maroc said the closure would only affect 15 flights weekly linking Morocco with Tunisia, Turkey and Egypt. (AFP/File)
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Updated 23 September 2021

Algeria closes airspace to Moroccan aviation as dispute deepens

Algeria closes airspace to Moroccan aviation as dispute deepens
  • Algeria late last month decided to cut diplomatic ties with Morocco

ALGIERS/CAIRO: Algeria’s supreme security council decided on Wednesday to close the country’s airspace to all Moroccan civil and military aircraft, the Algerian presidency said, less than a month after it cut diplomatic relations with the kingdom.
The decision came “in view of the continued provocations and hostile practices on the Moroccan side,” it said in a statement.
The closure also includes any aircraft carrying a Moroccan registration number, the presidency said after a meeting of the council.
There was no immediate Moroccan official response. A source at Royal Air Maroc said the closure would only affect 15 flights weekly linking Morocco with Tunisia, Turkey and Egypt.
The source described the closure as insignificant and said the relevant flights could reroute over the Mediterranean.
The airline gave no official comment on the Algerian decision.
Algeria late last month decided to cut diplomatic ties with Morocco, citing “hostile actions” from the Kingdom, referring mainly to comments made by Morocco’s envoy in New York in favor of the self-determination of the Kabylie region in Algeria.
Algiers also accused Rabat of backing MAK, a separatist group that the government has declared a terrorist organization. Authorities blame the group for devastating wildfires, mainly in Kabylie, that killed at least 65 people. MAK has denied the accusations.
Morocco said in response that Algeria was unjustified in cutting ties and its arguments were “fallacious and even absurd.”
The border between Morocco and Algeria has been closed since 1994 and Algeria has indicated it will divert gas exports from a pipeline running through Morocco, which was due to be renewed later this year.
Relations have deteriorated since last year, when the Western Sahara issue flared up after years of comparative quiet. Morocco sees Western Sahara as its own, but the territory’s sovereignty has been disputed by the Polisario Front, an Algeria-backed independence movement.


Egyptian, Russian navies launch joint exercise

Egyptian, Russian navies launch joint exercise
Updated 2 min 4 sec ago

Egyptian, Russian navies launch joint exercise

Egyptian, Russian navies launch joint exercise
  • Friendship Bridge 4 is part of Egypt’s plan to carry out joint military training with friendly countries

CAIRO: The Egyptian and Russian navies have launched the joint exercise Friendship Bridge 4, which will last for several days in the Mediterranean.

It began with a ceremony welcoming Russian forces at the Alexandria Naval Base in the presence of Lt. Gen. Ahmed Khaled Hassan Saeed, who delivered a speech in which he stressed the importance of cooperation between the two countries’ navies.

Friendship Bridge 4 is part of Egypt’s plan to carry out joint military training with friendly countries.

 Meanwhile, the armed forces of Egypt and Jordan concluded their joint exercise Aqaba-6. The training, which took place in Jordan, included a joint operation to eliminate an armed terrorist outpost inside a border village, and the interception of a merchant ship.


Al-Hokair partners with dentsu’s Merkle in Saudi Arabia

Al-Hokair partners with dentsu’s Merkle in Saudi Arabia
Updated 5 min 54 sec ago

Al-Hokair partners with dentsu’s Merkle in Saudi Arabia

Al-Hokair partners with dentsu’s Merkle in Saudi Arabia
  • Merkle will offer performance media services for retail giant’s brands

DUBAI: Merkle Saudi Arabia, public relations firm dentsu’s data-driven customer experience management company, has been selected by Al-Hokair to deliver its performance marketing strategy across its fashion, beauty, and sport retail brands including Decathlon, Aldo, Gap, and Flormar in the Kingdom.

Merkle was selected after a competitive pitch in a bid to consolidate performance marketing for Al-Hokair’s retail arm with a scalable strategy and an overarching account structure, while still maintaining the requirements for individual brands under the group.

Hassan Al-Redha, head of marketing for Al-Hokair Fashion Retail, said: “We were looking for a new agency partner to deliver across all performance marketing capabilities, consolidating our pay-per-click, social, and digital media efforts across numerous distinct brands.

“Merkle’s approach is helping us to integrate our tools and augment our data assets, delivering people-based insights that will ultimately lead to more meaningful customer engagement across all touchpoints,” he added.

The agency’s remit is to deliver personalization through performance marketing and granular feed management for the premium franchise retailer across various categories including women’s wear, menswear, children and baby goods, shoes and accessories, cosmetics, food and beverages, and sports and entertainment.

Vimal Badiani, head of Merkle in the Middle East and North Africa region, said: “We are looking forward to leveraging our expertise in customer experience management to support its (Al-Hokair’s) objective of targeting audiences more efficiently and effectively by delivering personalization at scale.”


Zimbabwe's Central Bank studies digital currency, rejects cryptocurrency

Zimbabwe's Central Bank studies digital currency, rejects cryptocurrency
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 9 min 59 sec ago

Zimbabwe's Central Bank studies digital currency, rejects cryptocurrency

Zimbabwe's Central Bank studies digital currency, rejects cryptocurrency
  • The country plans to send a team to Nigeria to learn from their experiences

RIYADH: Zimbabwe's Central Bank is exploring using its own digital currency instead of allowing cryptocurrency as legal tender, its Governor John Mangudya told Bloomberg.

“As a central bank we don’t believe in cryptocurrencies,” Mangudya said in an interview on Monday.

“We believe in central bank digital currency which is basically trying to say how do we have an e-Zimbabwe dollar as opposed to cryptocurrency,” he said.

The country plans to send a team to Nigeria to learn from their experiences in launching the first digital currency in Africa in October.

“We have got our fintech group and they are working very hard, most central banks in the world are working on this CBDC and we are definitely almost there," he said.

The government decided to pay annual bonuses to civil servants in US dollars rather than the local currency. Use of the Zimbabwean dollar would have increased its recent decline. 

The government paid annual bonuses to civil servants in US dollars instead of the Zimbabwean dollar. Using the latter could have added to its recent depreciation, according to Mangudya.


Korean bioscience firm tops list of world’s best-performing IPO in 2021: Bloomberg

Korean bioscience firm tops list of world’s best-performing IPO in 2021: Bloomberg
Updated 11 min 34 sec ago

Korean bioscience firm tops list of world’s best-performing IPO in 2021: Bloomberg

Korean bioscience firm tops list of world’s best-performing IPO in 2021: Bloomberg

RIYADH: South Korean SK Bioscience Company has topped the list of the world’s best-performing IPO in 2021 after raising more than $1 billion.

The biopharmaceutical firm, which is a local COVID-19 vaccine production partner with AstraZeneca, led a ranking dominated by listings from its home country, according to an analysis by Bloomberg.

The IPO raised $1.3 billion for SK Bioscience to become the first among five Korean firms that raised more than $1 billion each through public offerings this year, with several tech-related names also surging in their trading debuts, Bloomberg said.

SK Bioscience outperformed two major listings in Shanghai, China Three Gorges Renewables Group and Zhuzhou CRRC Times Electric Co., which are each up more than 140 percent. 

US Affirm Holdings came fourth, followed by South Korean Kakao Pay, and India’s Zomato.


Phasing out gas-powered cars depends on customer demand: Nissan exec

Phasing out gas-powered cars depends on customer demand: Nissan exec
Updated 16 min 54 sec ago

Phasing out gas-powered cars depends on customer demand: Nissan exec

Phasing out gas-powered cars depends on customer demand: Nissan exec

DUBAI: Nissan is eco-friendly but also consumer-led, a top official from the Japanese automaker said in the wake of the company not signing a COP26 global pledge to phase out gas-guzzling cars. 

As many as 30 national governments joined the deal struck in Glasgow last month, as the transportation industry races to fix decades of environmental damage due to carbon emissions.

They were joined by six automotive giants, including Ford and Mercedes-Benz, but Nissan, with its French partner Renault, skipped the pact. 

“If customers say remove it (gas-fueled vehicle production), we will remove it,” Ashwani Gupta, Nissan’s chief operating officer told Arab News on Tuesday. 

“If (a customer) doesn’t find any more excitement in internal combustion engines cars; if he doesn’t find any price competitiveness in ICE cars; if he has to pay a CO2 penalty, why will he keep it?”

Gupta, who was in Dubai for a media tour, emphasized the importance of making the transition smooth for Nissan’s customers.

“I think it’s up to us how to make it competitive, so customers will naturally do it,” he explained, adding: “In Europe, it will happen very soon.”

The Japanese automaker is ramping up efforts to introduce new electric car models in the next 10 years, aiming for a 50 percent electrification mix by 2030, as it also doubles down on being carbon neutral across the life cycle of its products by 2050. 

Last week, it announced a $17.6 billion investment to develop solid-state batteries for its planned electric model line-up, as well as to establish a pilot plant by 2024, with production starting by 2028. 

Europe is the company’s biggest market for electrification, and it plans to increase sales of electric vehicles in the region by more than 75 percent — followed by Japan, China, and the US. 

As for the Middle East, Gupta said the region has the vision for sustainability and global excellence. 

“Timing could be different because other markets started before, but the Middle East is starting now,” he said.

In an earlier statement, Gupta said his company’s vision is focused on creating “customer pull through an attractive proposition.”

The company is planning to localize manufacturing and sourcing to make electric vehicles more competitive — starting with its core markets of Japan, China, and the US, drawing from its EV Hub concept in the UK. 

“Nissan is working for the future,” Gupta said, downplaying remarks of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn, who said the carmaker is “visionless.”