The seven GCC cities listed on UNESCO Global Creative Network — WCID 2022

Special The seven GCC cities listed on UNESCO Global Creative Network — WCID 2022
Local musicians perform at an event in Al-Ahsa, a governorate in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province region. (SPA/File)
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Updated 21 April 2022

The seven GCC cities listed on UNESCO Global Creative Network — WCID 2022

The seven GCC cities listed on UNESCO Global Creative Network — WCID 2022
  • Gulf states keen to promote arts, culture and music

RIYADH: As the World Creativity & Innovation Day is marked on April 21, one can’t help but pay attention to the rich cultural heritage in some of the cities of the Arab Gulf states.

Some of these states boast a very rich tradition of refined arts, culture and music that wooed art lovers from many countries. 

Buraidah: City for gastronomy 

Take Buraidah in Saudi Arabia, for example.

This quiet city is listed as a creative city for gastronomy. Unlike other business cities in the Kingdom, Buraidah’s economy counts a lot on culinary activities that contributed to a great extent to the advancement of the creative and cultural sectors.

Buraidah’s agriculturalists achieved astounding success with cereals and managed to provide a wide range of components used in the development of inventive local recipes, despite their natural preference for oasis crops.

Thanks to these advantages, the city holds annual dates and traditional food festivals that draw tourists from different corners of the country.

Buraidah has close to 2,000 companies, most of whom are home-based. These firms generate close to $426 million in revenues each year from the traditional business they conduct. 

Al-Ahsa: Crafts and folk art




A heritage building in an old town in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia - Al Ahsa, Al Hofuf (Shutterstock)

Also in the Kingdom, Al-Ahsa city is renowned for being the world's largest palm tree oasis, covering 379 sq. kilometers and home to 1.3 million people.

Al-Ahsa is traditionally famous for its beautiful handicrafts that are very appealing to tourists who visit this city to examine and admire these pieces of traditional art.

This craftmanship has passed from one generation to another as the citizens of this city insisted on preserving this heritage despite the spread of advanced technology in the Kingdom.

Close to 50 crafts and folk art expressions managed to stay in business throughout the years.

When it comes to design, a place that comes to the minds of design lovers is the city of Muharraq in Bahrain.

This relatively small city with a population of less than 100,000, is rich in history, art and architectural buildings.

Muharraq: Traditional pear jewelry design

Muharraq is known for its traditional pearl jewelry design and calligraphy.

Among the aspects that draw visitors to this city are architectural design and urban layout that makes Muharraq very unique.

Muharraq holds public events and other cultural activities and festivals each year.

These events are an opportunity for merchants and designers to showcase some of their products to the public.

Doha: City of landmarks

Doha, the capital of Qatar, has also preserved some of its rich traditions and customs.

Among the main landmarks of Doha is the famous Museum of Islamic Art which displays 14 centuries of art from Qatar and other Islamic countries.

Doha also has the futuristic National Museum of Qatar that showcases modern art items that cater to many tastes.




Doha

Abu Dhabi: Emphasis on music

As for music lovers, one can’t forget Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE.

This modern city with its skyscrapers and impressive infrastructure is strengthening its position as a rich cultural center, with an emphasis on music.

Abu Dhabi’s music industry has mushroomed over the past few years with over 600 businesses in this domain alone.

These firms now hire more than 4,000 employees who specialize in the music industry.

Some of these firms have preserved and even promoted traditional and folk music in a bid to stay connected with the country’s history.

One also should be reminded of the famous Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation which was established in 1971.

This foundation has seen numerous cultural events, exhibitions and musical concerts, drawing many famous Arab and international stars.

Bait Al Oud, a center for the study and teaching of classical Arabic music, is also a landmark in Abu Dhabi.

Dubai: Architecture

Furthermore, Dubai has consolidated its position as a center for design.

This cosmopolitan city with its impressive highrise buildings has invested heavily in modern and traditional designs and for this purpose, it created Downtown Design, one of the leading Expo in the Middle East and South Asia.

The Dubai government completed the Dubai Design District as part of an effort to put design and innovation at the center of its attention.

This effort by the Dubai government is part of an attempt to promote the Dubai Design & Innovation Blueprint concept.




Dubai

Sharjah: Crafts and folk art

Finally, the emirate of Sharjah has turned into a center for the UAE’s cultural and folk preservations.

Sharjah has been keen to promote various traditional crafts, such as 'Talli' weaving, in addition to its cultural heritage sites and museums.

Sharjah was determined to support its crafts and folk art sector through programs such as the Bidwa project.

Employing over 60 craftsmen, the Bidwa project has gained international recognition thanks to its program that provides vocational training and assistance to help merchants improve their abilities and break into new markets.




Sharjah

 


China launches $28bn loan facility to support manufacturers

China launches $28bn loan facility to support manufacturers
Updated 28 September 2022

China launches $28bn loan facility to support manufacturers

China launches $28bn loan facility to support manufacturers
  • Yuan ends at weakest since global financial crisis, hits record low

BEIJING, SHANGHAI: China’s central bank said on Wednesday it has set up a relending facility worth more than 200 billion yuan ($27.59 billion) to help manufacturers and other companies upgrade their equipment, as part of a push to revive flagging demand.

The People’s Bank of China said in a statement that it will provide low-cost funds to financial institutions and guide them to lend to firms to support such upgrades. The loans will be issued on a monthly basis, and the interest rate for qualified firms will be no higher than 3.2 percent from Sept. 1, 2022 to Dec. 31, 2022, the central bank added. China’s one-year loan prime rate is currently 3.65 percent.

The lending facility will support sectors including education, health, culture, tourism and sports, electric vehicle chargers, urban underground facilities, new infrastructure and industrial digital transformation, the central bank said.

The PBoC has increasingly relied on structural, or targeted policy tools, including low-cost loans, to support the slowing economy, as it faces limited room to cut interest rates for fear of fueling capital flight and inflation.

The PBoC has rolled out relending facilities to support the transport, logistics and storage sectors that have been hit hard by COVID-19, as well as carbon emission reduction, tech innovation and elderly care.

On Sept. 14, China’s Cabinet announced steps to support equipment upgrades by companies, extending a raft of measures to bolster the COVID-ravaged economy.

Onshore yuan

China’s onshore yuan extended losses on Wednesday to end the domestic session at its lowest level against the dollar since the global financial crisis of 2008, while the offshore yuan hit a record low, pressured by expectations of more US rate hikes.

Currency traders said the yuan was reacting to broad greenback strength in global markets as the dollar hit a fresh two-decade peak against a basket of currencies, buoyed by safe-haven demand and a hawkish Federal Reserve.

In onshore markets, the yuan finished the domestic trading session at 7.2458 per dollar, its weakest such close since January 2008 and down 658 pips or 0.91 percent from previous late night close of 7.18.

The offshore yuan followed suit and weakened 1.15 percent on the day to trade at 7.2635 around 0830 GMT.

Fuel export

China may tweak a proposed sharp increase in refined fuel export quotas for this year by extending the plan into next year, as it weighs the benefits to the economy of higher exports against low domestic stocks and operational challenges, four sources told Reuters.

However, the four sources with direct knowledge of the matter — and three others — said the government was still reviewing the matter.

The market has been widely expecting China to release a fifth batch of fuel export quota of up to 15 million tons for the rest of the year, which would be its largest so far in 2022 and lift China’s sagging exports.

The proposal from refiners’ planning departments, following a government call to boost trade, has led some refiners to ready an increase in output to take advantage of the quota.


Consultancy agreement signed to launch Jordanian-Iraqi economic city

Consultancy agreement signed to launch Jordanian-Iraqi economic city
Updated 28 September 2022

Consultancy agreement signed to launch Jordanian-Iraqi economic city

Consultancy agreement signed to launch Jordanian-Iraqi economic city
  • Industries on the site will benefit from free trade agreements and have access to over 1bn consumers without customs restrictions

AMMAN: The Jordanian-Iraqi Industry Company and the Coalition for Engineering Consultancy have signed a contract for the provision of services for a Jordanian-Iraqi border economic city project, Jordan News Agency reported.

The engineering consultancy firm will be involved in all stages of finding a developer to carry out the project, including the creation of tender documents, according to the agreement. 

Following the signing ceremony, the company, which is owned by Jordan and Iraq, announced the start of administrative and procedural steps for the project. 

The economic city will strengthen Jordanian-Iraqi business cooperation, and spur development in western Iraq and eastern Jordan. 

The company said in a statement that industries operating in the economic city will benefit from free trade agreements signed by Jordan with many countries, and have access to more than 1 billion consumers without technical or customs restrictions.

It added that the project “constitutes an opportunity to build Jordanian-Iraqi economic integration in many fields, especially industrial ones.”

The joint economic city will be built on the Jordan-Iraq border, with both countries making land available for construction.

 


Bahrain-based Eat App raises $11m in a series B funding

Bahrain-based Eat App raises $11m in a series B funding
Updated 28 September 2022

Bahrain-based Eat App raises $11m in a series B funding

Bahrain-based Eat App raises $11m in a series B funding

RIYADH: Bahrain-based restaurant reservation platform, Eat App, raised $11 million in a series B funding round.

The funding round included venture capital firms MEVP, 500 Startups, Derayah VC, Dalah Albaraka, Ali Zaid Al-Quraishi and Brothers, and Rasameel Investment Company.

The firm seeks expand globally and invest in product development to support restaurants and guest experience.

“Looking back, the pandemic impacted Eat App greatly. While it caused a drop in revenue, it was also one of the largest accelerators of the business, as restaurants were forced to implement digital tools,” Nezar Kadhem, co-founder and CEO of Eat App, said in a statement.

Founded in 2015, Eat App currently operates in Bahrain, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha, with more than 800 restaurants on its platform.


Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures leads French AI firm Alteia’s funding round

Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures leads French AI firm Alteia’s funding round
Updated 28 September 2022

Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures leads French AI firm Alteia’s funding round

Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures leads French AI firm Alteia’s funding round

RIYADH: Alteia, a European artificial intelligence and industrial software company, announced that it closed its latest funding round led by Wa’ed Ventures, Saudi Aramco’s venture capital arm.

Alteia will utilize its funding to increase its presence in the Kingdom by opening an office in Dhahran to support companies in the region as well as invest in research and development.

“To have the world’s leading energy company invest in Alteia through its investment arm is a strong show of faith in our trajectory, and weighs in the value of contextualized, actionable visual data as the foundation to shape a more efficient, more sustainable industrial future,” Benjamin Benharrosh, co-founder of Alteia, said in a statement.


Egypt B2B marketplace Mazaya raises $5m in pre-seed round

Egypt B2B marketplace Mazaya raises $5m in pre-seed round
Updated 28 September 2022

Egypt B2B marketplace Mazaya raises $5m in pre-seed round

Egypt B2B marketplace Mazaya raises $5m in pre-seed round

RIYADH: Mazaya, an Egypt-based B2B e-commerce marketplace, raised $5 million in a pre-seed round, said a statement issued on Tuesday.

The funding round was led by financial investment firm Raya Trade and Distribution, it added.

The company will use the funds to boost its operation in Egypt as well as expand into new markets and other verticals.

“The funds raised will allow us to quickly scale our operations and expand to other markets beyond Egypt, we have plans to launch our services in Nigeria before this year-end,” Amir Aboul Fotouh, Mazaya co-founder, said.

The Mazaya App provides retailers and merchants of electronic goods and home appliances the ability to procure inventory for their stores from all major brands.

“The platform conveniently supports merchants, particularly small merchants who do not receive adequate services, with the ability to scale their business through a superior level of service and a wide range of electronic devices from all international and local brands at the click of a button,” Bassem Megahed, CEO of Raya Trade and Distribution, said in a statement.

The company also plans to offer financial services and support to their retailers by offering credit facilities and flexible payment options.