Arab billionaire businessman Majid Al Futtaim dies

Arab billionaire businessman Majid Al Futtaim dies
Majid Al Futtaim, left, with Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed. (Wikimedia Commons)
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Updated 17 December 2021

Arab billionaire businessman Majid Al Futtaim dies

Arab billionaire businessman Majid Al Futtaim dies
  • Al Futtaim established Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) in 1992, a conglomerate that develops shopping malls across the Middle East and North Africa
  • He was ranked the third-richest Arab businessman by Forbes Magazine this year with a family fortune of $3.6 billion

DUBAI: Prominent UAE businessman Majid Al Futtaim, who founded retailing and entertainment giant MAF, has died, Dubai’s ruler said on Friday in a Twitter post paying tribute to one of the emirate’s pioneers “who gave back to the nation.”
Al Futtaim, who was born in the 1930s according to local media, in 1992 established Majid Al Futtaim (MAF), a conglomerate that develops shopping malls across the Middle East and North Africa.
He was ranked the third-richest Arab businessman by Forbes Magazine this year with a family fortune of $3.6 billion.
“May God have mercy on our brother Majid Al Futtaim, a pioneering businessman and one of the most important in Dubai and among its greatest men who gave back to the nation,” Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum tweeted.
He referenced MAF’s decision this year to hire 3,000 Emiratis over the next five years.


Middle East carriers see 15% fall in air cargo volumes in October: IATA

Middle East carriers see 15% fall in air cargo volumes in October: IATA
Updated 7 min 19 sec ago

Middle East carriers see 15% fall in air cargo volumes in October: IATA

Middle East carriers see 15% fall in air cargo volumes in October: IATA

RIYADH: Economic headwinds across the globe continued to affect air cargo demand in October, as Middle Eastern carriers witnessed a 15 percent fall in air cargo volumes compared to the same period last year, according to the International Air Transport Association.

The October report from the organization, which represents some 290 airlines comprising 83 percent of global air traffic, revealed the impact of the economic headwinds on the aviation sector could even follow into 2023.

“Air cargo continues to demonstrate resilience as headwinds persist. Cargo demand in October — while tracking below the exceptional performance of October 2021 — saw a 3.5 percent increase in demand compared to September. This indicates that the year-end will still bring a traditional peak-season boost despite economic uncertainties,” said IATA’s Director General Willie Walsh. 

He added: “As 2022 closes out it appears that the current economic uncertainties will follow into the New Year and need continued close monitoring.” 

In October 2022, air cargo volumes in Asia-Pacific airlines decreased by 14.7 percent compared to the same month in 2021. 

The report noted that the fall of air cargo volumes in the Asia Pacific was impacted by conflict in Europe, and lower levels of trade and manufacturing activity due to omicron-related restrictions in China

North American carriers posted an 8.6 percent decrease in cargo volumes in October 2022, while European carriers saw an 18.8 percent decrease compared to the same month last year, primarily due to the war in Ukraine and high inflation levels. 

Latin American and African carriers also witnessed a fall in cargo volumes by 1.4 percent and 8.3 percent over the same period.

The report also suggested that the global demand for air cargo measured in cargo ton-kilometers fell 13.6 percent in October 2022 from the same month last year. 

“Capacity was 0.6 percent below October 2021. This was the first year-on-year contraction since April 2022, however, month-on-month capacity increased by 2.4 percent in preparation for the year-end peak season,” said IATA in the report. 

International cargo capacity grew 2.4 percent in October 2022, compared to the same month in the previous year. 


Egypt expresses support for Palestinians on international solidarity day

Egypt expresses support for Palestinians on international solidarity day
Updated 16 min 52 sec ago

Egypt expresses support for Palestinians on international solidarity day

Egypt expresses support for Palestinians on international solidarity day
  • Aboul Gheit criticized the international community’s inaction over continued Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people
  • The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the country stands with Palestine on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

CAIRO: The Arab League celebrated on Nov. 29 the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People with a high-level diplomatic and cultural event in Cairo.
The event was attended by many representatives of Arab countries and foreign diplomats in Cairo as well as a number of public figures.
Ahmed Aboul Gheit, secretary-general of the bloc, delivered an opening speech at the event, which also witnessed speeches by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki, and representatives of the UN, Al-Azhar Al-Sharif and the Egyptian Church.
Aboul Gheit criticized the international community’s inaction over continued Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people, including the killing of civilians by the occupation forces, the recent incursions and the unjust siege Israel has imposed on more than 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip for 15 years.
He specifically thanked the new Australian government for its reversal of a previous government’s decision to relocate the Israeli Embassy to Jerusalem.
He warned of the consequences of countries transferring their embassies to occupied Jerusalem and urged those that did to retract their decision, just like Australia.
Aboul Gheit called on the countries of the world to recognize the Palestinian state in order for it to obtain full membership in the UN.
He also appealed to the international community to support Palestinian diplomatic efforts to present the issue of occupation at the International Court of Justice, stressing that this path is what gives Palestinians hope that the world has not abandoned them.
Meanwhile, Al-Maliki gave a presentation on the dangers associated with the formation of a right-wing government in Israel and the negative repercussions this entails for the two-state vision.
Aboul Gheit emphasized the need to put the recent Algiers summit decisions into action by backing the Palestinians and confronting the Israeli extreme right.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the country stands with Palestine on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People and will always support the Palestinian cause as the central issue of the Arab world.
The ministry stressed that Egypt’s position with regard to the Palestinian issue has not changed and will not change.
It is not conceivable that regional stability will be achieved in the Middle East without a just and comprehensive settlement of the issue on the basis of the two-state solution, it added.
Egypt stressed the need to put an end to the cycle of violence in the occupied Palestinian territories and to stop taking unilateral measures, foremost of which are illegal settlement activities, policies of eviction of Palestinians in Jerusalem, changes to the demographic character of the city and the division of Al-Aqsa Mosque and its surroundings, the statement said.
Egypt said it will, with the help of the international community, keep making unceasing and earnest efforts to restart the peace process and persuade parties to come together for negotiations.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry discussed with Al-Maliki the coordination of efforts at the regional and international levels to put the Palestinian cause back under the spotlight.
Shoukry expressed Egypt’s deep concern about developments in the occupied territories.
He said Egypt will always support the right of the Palestinian people to establish their own independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
In 1977, the UN General Assembly declared Nov. 29 the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.


Saudi foreign ministry announces mechanism for obtaining a personal visit visa

Saudi foreign ministry announces mechanism for obtaining a personal visit visa
Updated 21 min 57 sec ago

Saudi foreign ministry announces mechanism for obtaining a personal visit visa

Saudi foreign ministry announces mechanism for obtaining a personal visit visa

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry announced on Wednesday a mechanism for obtaining a personal visit visa which enables people to enter the Kingdom to visit their friends or acquaintances who are Saudi citizens, Saudi Press Agency reported.

Developing 


Saudi PIF secures record-breaking $17bn seven-year senior unsecured term loan

Saudi PIF secures record-breaking $17bn seven-year senior unsecured term loan
Updated 44 min 25 sec ago

Saudi PIF secures record-breaking $17bn seven-year senior unsecured term loan

Saudi PIF secures record-breaking $17bn seven-year senior unsecured term loan

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has announced that it has secured a new $17 billion seven-year senior unsecured term loan, according to a statement.

The loan is the largest-of-its-kind general corporate purpose loan worldwide and was twice oversubscribed.

The new loan falls in line with the sovereign wealth fund’s strategy of diversifying its funding sources in an attempt to prompt effective investment in the Kingdom and globally.

The new loan also aligns well with the PIF’s medium-term capital raising strategy as well as its 2022 Annual Capital Raising Plan.

“It is a significant achievement for PIF, raising a record-sized term facility in the longest tenor ever for a loan of its size that is subscribed to by an unprecedentedly diversified number of lenders. PIF will continue to explore a variety of debt funding sources as it delivers on its strategic objectives,” said Head of Global Capital Finance Division at PIF Fahad AlSaif in a statement.

The PIF’s $11 billion five-year loan which was arranged back in 2018 is set to be repaid early, the statement disclosed.

While the new transaction recorded the support of 25 financial institutions across Europe, America, the Middle East, and Asia, the $11 billion loan of 2018 was supported by just 15 financial institutions.

In February 2022, the PIF received strong international credit ratings from US credit firm Moody’s as well as US finance and insurance company Fitch, reflecting the creditworthiness and quality of the sovereign wealth fund’s investments.


Iran World Cup loss sparks despair — and joy from regime critics

Iran World Cup loss sparks despair — and joy from regime critics
Updated 36 min 55 sec ago

Iran World Cup loss sparks despair — and joy from regime critics

Iran World Cup loss sparks despair — and joy from regime critics
  • Iranian gaming journalist Saeed Zafarany: ‘Who would’ve ever thought I’d jump three meters and celebrate America’s goal!’
  • Danish journalist Rasmus Tantholdt said that he was briefly detained by Qatari security forces after filming pro-regime fans attacking supporters of the Iranian protest movement

NICOSIA: For Iranians, their football team’s World Cup loss against the United States was cause for either sadness or exuberant joy, depending on where they stand on a two-month-old protest movement.
Caught between the clerical regime and calls to show solidarity with protesters, the national team pressed near-relentlessly in the second half on Tuesday night but were unable to cancel out a 38th minute opener by the US, resulting in an early exit.
That prompted the extraordinary spectacle of Iranians cheering a defeat inflicted by the Islamic republic’s arch-enemy often labelled the “Great Satan.”
“Who would’ve ever thought I’d jump three meters and celebrate America’s goal!” tweeted Iranian gaming journalist Saeed Zafarany.
Inside Iran, celebrations were especially marked in western Kurdistan province, the cradle of a movement sparked by the death of young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in morality police custody after her arrest for allegedly infringing the nation’s strict dress code for women.
A video shared online by Kurdish activist Kaveh Ghoreishi showed a Sanandaj city neighborhood at night with sounds of cheering and horns blaring after the United States scored.
That goal also prompted joy in Amini’s hometown of Saqez, according to the London-based news website Iran Wire, which published images showing fireworks and sounds of people cheering.
Protesters also set off fireworks in Mahabad, Kurdistan, following Iran’s loss, according to videos shared online, while Norway-based Hengaw human rights group also reported celebrations there and in the city of Marivan.
The scenes of joy were not confined to Kurdistan province, reflecting the nationwide nature of the protest movement.
Videos on social media showed citizens celebrating in the capital Tehran and Ardabil, Mashhad, Kerman and Zahedan — many with people dancing and cheering in the streets amid long traffic jams.
It was a very different story in a hall in Tehran, where hundreds gathered to unreservedly cheer on their team — including women, in a country where they often have difficulty accessing stadiums.
“I’m so sad that Iran couldn’t defeat the USA but anyway we are proud of our national team and its players,” said Ali, a retiree. “They did their best and we are not angry with them.”
In Qatar itself, supporters of the US and Iran mingled cordially before the crunch game.
Crowds with the Stars and Stripes and the red, green and white colors of Iran’s flag talked largely freely as they entered Al Thumama Stadium.
Inside the ground, female Iranian fans sat — and often stood — proudly cheering their team without headscarves, some with the national flag daubed on their faces.
Iran’s players, after refusing to sing the national anthem for their opening game against England in a gesture of solidarity with the protests, reversed that stance for their second game with Wales, resulting in opprobrium in some quarters.
Players again voiced the anthem, albeit with little enthusiasm, for what turned out to be Iran’s final game.
They now go home to a country that remains on edge, as authorities crack down on the mainly peaceful protests that have become the biggest challenge to the regime since its birth in 1979.
After Iran’s victory over Wales, the judiciary announced the release of more than 1,100 detainees, including protesters, among them former national goalkeeper Parviz Boroumand.
Emblematic of the divisions, an AFP video showed scuffles breaking out among pro- and anti-regime Iranians outside the stadium after the US match.
The footage showed a woman wearing a T-shirt with the protest slogan “Woman, life, freedom” being harassed by Iranian men as she gave a televised interview.
A Danish journalist said he was briefly detained after filming pro-regime fans attacking supporters of the Iranian protest movement.
Rasmus Tantholdt of TV2 Denmark tweeted that Qatari security forces had instructed him to erase the footage but he refused to do so.
Iranian supporters have had run-ins with security for sporting clothing bearing images of Amini or the words “Woman, life, freedom” in Qatar which, unlike most other Gulf states, maintains cordial relations with Tehran.
Iran says more than 300 people have been killed since the protests erupted, but Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights says at least 448 people have been killed by the security forces in the ongoing protest crackdown.