Facebook plans to hire 10,000 in EU to build 'metaverse'

Facebook plans to hire 10,000 in EU to build 'metaverse'
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Updated 18 October 2021

Facebook plans to hire 10,000 in EU to build 'metaverse'

Facebook plans to hire 10,000 in EU to build 'metaverse'
  • Using technologies such as virtual and augmented reality Facebook plans to create a greater sense of "virtual presence"

Facebook Inc plans to create 10,000 jobs in the European Union over the next five years, the social media giant said on Monday, to help build the so-called metaverse - an online world where people can use different devices to move and communicate in a virtual environment.


Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has been talking up metaverse since July and the buzzy word, first coined in a dystopian novel three decades earlier, has been referenced by other tech firms such as Microsoft.


"No one company will own and operate the metaverse," Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, wrote in a blog post.

"Bringing this to life will take collaboration and cooperation across companies, developers, creators and policymakers."


Using technologies such as virtual and augmented reality Facebook plans to create a greater sense of "virtual presence", which will mimic the experience of interacting in person.


The coronavirus pandemic has shifted much of the office meetings online, leading to the rise of conferencing apps such as Zoom, and big tech companies are looking to capitalize on this shift.


Facebook, which has invested heavily in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), including buying companies like Oculus, intends to connect its nearly three billion users through several devices and apps.


Zuckerberg believes the metaverse would be accessible across VR, AR, PC, mobile devices and game consoles.


It has already committed $50 million for building the metaverse, and testing a new remote work app where users of Oculus Quest 2 headsets could hold meetings as avatar versions of themselves.


While Facebook did not say what roles it would hire for and where they would be based, the company has been facing antitrust probes in the region, and is often criticised over online safety and hate speech on its platform.


"We look forward to working with governments across the EU to find the right people and the right markets to take this forward, as part of an upcoming recruitment drive across the region," Clegg wrote.


Gazprom Neft expects record hydrocarbon output this year, topping 100m tonnes

Gazprom Neft expects record hydrocarbon output this year, topping 100m tonnes
Close-up of Gazprom Neft truck. Translation of a sign in Russian means Gazprom Oil. Shutterstock
Updated 7 sec ago

Gazprom Neft expects record hydrocarbon output this year, topping 100m tonnes

Gazprom Neft expects record hydrocarbon output this year, topping 100m tonnes
  • The company has been actively developing northern regions of Russia, mainly the Yamal region

Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russian gas giant Gazprom, expects its hydrocarbon production to exceed 100 million tons of oil equivalent this year, reaching a record high, it said on Thursday.


Gazprom Neft had aimed to reach the 100 million tons target by 2020 but had to delay that due to production restrictions agreed by the OPEC+ group of leading oil producing countries.


The company has been actively developing northern regions of Russia, mainly the Yamal region, as its key oilfields in Western Siberia are beсoming increasingly depleted.


Gazprom Neft said on Thursday that higher production volumes in 2021 have been supported by the commissioning of the Tazovskoye field in the Yamal-Nenets region, as well as the launch of a new integrated gas treatment plant at the Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye field.


The company also said it would increase investment next year.


“In 2022, Gazprom Neft’s total investment is expected to increase by more than 10 percent, with funding for the investment program expected to exceed 500 billion roubles ($6.8 billion),” it said.


Italy hits Amazon with $1.3bn antitrust fine

Italy hits Amazon with $1.3bn antitrust fine
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Updated 25 min 59 sec ago

Italy hits Amazon with $1.3bn antitrust fine

Italy hits Amazon with $1.3bn antitrust fine
  • As Europe powers ahead with antitrust litigation, US regulators are closely watching its approach to big tech firms

Italian regulators hit Amazon with a 1.1 billion euro ($1.3 billion) antitrust fine Thursday for allegedly abusing its dominance in the market, the latest action against US Big Tech in the EU.


US technology giants have been in the firing line in the European Union over their business practices.


In the latest salvo, Italy’s competition watchdog said Amazon abused its dominant position by promoting its own logistics service on its Italian platform to the detriment of third-party sellers who did not use it.


“The abusive strategy adopted by Amazon is particularly serious, since it is likely to discourage, if not eliminate competition in the relevant markets,” read the 250-page decision.


The move comes two weeks after the same authority imposed a 68.7 million euro fine on Amazon for infringing EU laws through restrictions that penalized sellers of Apple and Beats products.


In the same action, Apple was ordered to pay 134.5 million euros.


As Europe powers ahead with antitrust litigation, US regulators are closely watching its approach to big tech firms, after Washington pledged to intensify scrutiny of the technology industry.


Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Italian watchdog said Thursday that third-party sellers who do not use Amazon’s logistics service are excluded from “a set of advantages essential for obtaining visibility and better sales prospects.”


Those included better access to Amazon’s “most loyal and high-end customers” who use Amazon Prime, the e-commerce giant’s loyalty program.


Moreover, a tough performance measurement system is reserved for sellers who do not use Amazon’s logistics system, which can lead, if failed, to suspension of the seller’s account.


“In doing so, Amazon has harmed competing e-commerce logistics providers by preventing them from presenting themselves to online sellers as service providers of comparable quality to Amazon’s logistics,” said the watchdog, adding that such conduct had “increased the gap between Amazon’s power and that of its competitors.”


In its decision, the authority said it had imposed measures on Amazon subject to review by a monitor.


The company must grant sales privileges and visibility to all third-party sellers who meet fair and non-discriminatory standards for fulfilment, and must decide and publish such standards, it said.


Last month, EU legislation to impose unprecedented restrictions on how US tech giants do business passed a first, significant hurdle, with a European Parliament committee approving their version of the Digital Markets Act.


That would slap far-reaching rules on companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft.


Such tech companies have been variously accused of stifling competition, not paying enough taxes, stealing media content and threatening democracy by spreading fake news.


Vegetable price cuts helps slow Egypt’s inflation in November

Vegetable price cuts helps slow Egypt’s inflation in November
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 34 min 9 sec ago

Vegetable price cuts helps slow Egypt’s inflation in November

Vegetable price cuts helps slow Egypt’s inflation in November
  • Transportation also cost 4.3 percent more in November compared to the same period last year

A drop in vegetable prices helped slow Egypt's inflation in November, with the rate dropping from 7.3 percent to 6.2 percent, data by the country’s official statistics agency, Capmas, showed.

The cost of the foodstuff declined by 12.6 percent compared to the 22.8 percent surge it experienced in the previous month.

Alongside this, the prices of food and beverages in general saw a slowdown, rising by a yearly rate of 9.3 percent in November compared to a higher 13.7 percent a month earlier.

Prices of clothing and footwear edged up by an annual rate of 2.2 percent in November, up from 1.9 percent in October. 

Transportation also cost 4.3 percent more in November compared to the same period last year. 

In October, the yearly rise in prices for this component was a slightly lower 4 percent.

Prices of housing, water, electricity, gas and fuels rose by 4.3 percent on higher costs of the latter three components.

Education costs went up by a notable 13.9 percent while the group of culture and entertainment surged by 11.6 percent.

Meanwhile, consumer prices in the North African country remained unchanged in November compared to the previous month.

Prices of food and beverages were down by 0.8 percent from a month ago while transportation was 0.3 percent higher.

Clothing and footwear experienced the highest monthly increase, as prices rose by 2.2 percent.

 


Saudi Arabia signs four agreements to localize production of medical products

Saudi Arabia signs four agreements to localize production of medical products
Updated 38 min 16 sec ago

Saudi Arabia signs four agreements to localize production of medical products

Saudi Arabia signs four agreements to localize production of medical products
  • The deals are expected to cover about 70 percent of the government health authorities’ need for these products

RIYADH: Four agreements were signed to localize the manufacture of medical personal protection products, SPA reported citing the Local Content and Government Procurement Authority.

The 3-5-year agreements were signed between the National Unified Procurement Company for Medical Supplies and a group of private investors, to localize medical masks, eyeglasses, and medical isolation uniforms.

The deals are expected to cover about 70 percent of the government health authorities’ need for these products, in addition to contributing to the gross domestic product with approximately SR180 million ($47,98 million), LCGPA CEO, Abdulrahman Al Samari said.

The agreements aim to cover the government demand for the health sector in light of the ongoing developments of the pandemic, maximize the development benefit of the national purchasing power, and increase local content in the private sector. 

They also aim to encourage local factories to go to export markets, and transfer new technologies to the Kingdom, SPA said.


Chinese property giant Evergrande defaults for first time: Fitch

Chinese property giant Evergrande defaults for first time: Fitch
Updated 31 min 10 sec ago

Chinese property giant Evergrande defaults for first time: Fitch

Chinese property giant Evergrande defaults for first time: Fitch

Chinese real estate behemoth Evergrande was declared in default on Thursday by Fitch Ratings agency, citing the debt-laden property developer’s failure to pay more than $1.2 billion in bond repayments.

“The non-payment is consistent with an ‘RD’ (restricted default) rating, signifying the uncured expiry of any applicable grace period, cure period or default forbearance period following a payment default on a material financial obligation,” Fitch said in a statement.

Chinese property developer Kaisa Group Holdings was also declared in default by Fitch, according to Bloomberg.

The agency cited missed dollar bond interest payments in Evergrande’s case and failure to repay a $400 million dollar bond in Kaisa’s.

Evergrande’s inability to meet its obligations is a market event and will be dealt with in a market-oriented way, the People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang said on Thursday.

The interests of investors should be handled according to seniority of their capital, he said.