Russian billionaires arriving in UAE in ‘unprecedented numbers’

Russian billionaires arriving in UAE in ‘unprecedented numbers’
Influx of wealth has stimulated Dubai’s property market. (FILE/SHUTTERSTOCK)
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Updated 05 May 2022

Russian billionaires arriving in UAE in ‘unprecedented numbers’

Russian billionaires arriving in UAE in ‘unprecedented numbers’
  • Influx of wealth has stimulated Dubai’s property market
  • Multinationals, startups also relocating employees

LONDON: Russian billionaires fleeing Western sanctions stemming from the war in Ukraine are arriving in the UAE in “unprecedented numbers,” say business leaders.

One report said property purchases in Dubai by Russians rose 67 percent in the first three months of 2022.

Virtuzone, which helps companies set up in Dubai, has seen a “huge surge” in its number of Russian clients, its CEO George Hojiege told the BBC. “We’re receiving five times more enquiries from Russians since the war began,” he said.

This influx of wealth has stimulated the city’s property market, with real estate agency Betterhomes saying Russian demand for luxury villas and apartments had generated a two-thirds jump in new purchases during the first quarter of the year.

Modern Living, another real estate agency, told the BBC it had hired a plethora of Russian-speaking agents to cater to the rising demand.

It is not just individuals hitching their wagon to the UAE, as numerous multinationals and startups have relocated their employees to the country.

Faud Fatullev, co-founder of blockchain company WeWay, said he and his partners have moved hundreds of employees to Dubai.

“The war had a massive impact on our operations,” he added. “We couldn’t continue (as we were) as we had to move hundreds of people outside of Ukraine and Russia.”

Similarly, the likes of Goldman Sachs, Google and JP Morgan shut down Russian operations and shifted some of their employees to Dubai.


Louvre Hotels advances its influence in KSA, signs up 12 properties

Paul Diab, vice president of operations, Middle East and North Africa region, Louvre Hotels Group. (AN photo)
Paul Diab, vice president of operations, Middle East and North Africa region, Louvre Hotels Group. (AN photo)
Updated 12 sec ago

Louvre Hotels advances its influence in KSA, signs up 12 properties

Paul Diab, vice president of operations, Middle East and North Africa region, Louvre Hotels Group. (AN photo)
  • We are currently looking at 14 properties and have 12 in the pipeline that are signed, top official says
  • We are concentrating not only on the big cities but also on other destinations. When the tourists come, they will also want to visit smaller cities

RIYADH: Paris-based Louvre Hotels Group has signed up 12 properties and identified 14 locations to fuel its expansion plans in Saudi Arabia, said a top executive.

“We are currently looking at 14 properties and have 12 in the pipeline that are signed. We also have another six to eight properties that are under negotiation across different destinations in the Kingdom,” Paul Diab, vice
president of operations, Middle East and North Africa region, Louvre Hotels Group, told Arab News.
The locations under consideration include places such as Alkhobar, Jazan, Jeddah, Makkah, Madinah and Riyadh.
“We are concentrating not only on the big cities but also on other destinations. When the tourists come, they will also
want to visit smaller cities such as Abha, which has unique things to offer,” said Diab.
According to Diab, the Red Sea and Abha are important destinations as the Kingdom aims to attract 100 million visitors as part of the Vision 2030 blueprint.
“Louvre is keen to make sure that at least one or two of our brands are available to be part of the giga-projects,” he said.
Louvre Hotels Group already operates 16 hotels in some of the most sought-after locations in Saudi Arabia.
He further added: “With our experience being in the region for the last 35 years, we have seen different cities also have big growth, which gives us an advantage to be part of the growth that’s happening in the Kingdom.”
The hospitality major ventured into the Kingdom in June last year with the launch of Golden Tulip Riyadh. The hotel has 94 rooms, including 15 suites.


Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah port tops CPPI list of 370 global ports

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah port tops CPPI list of 370 global ports
Updated 27 May 2022

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah port tops CPPI list of 370 global ports

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah port tops CPPI list of 370 global ports

RIYADH: Saudi ports are on top of global indicators with three of them leading the second edition of the Container Port Performance Index 2021.

The King Abdullah Port ranks 1st on the list of 370 global ports, while Jeddah Islamic Port ranks 8th, and King Abdulaziz Port placed at 14th, a statement showed.

Strategically located on the Red Sea coast in King Abdullah Economic City, King Abdullah Port is the region’s first port to be fully owned, developed and operated by the private sector.

It enjoys close proximity to the key Saudi cities of Jeddah, Makkah, Madinah and Yanbu.

Saudi ports' performance in April (Source: Mawani)

The CPPI 2021 is an indicator produced by the Transport Global Practice of the World Bank in collaboration with the Maritime, Trade and Supply Chain division of S&P Global Market Intelligence, to serve as a reference point for improvement for key stakeholders in the global economy.

President of the Kingdom's ports authority — Mawani — Omar Hariri said that the Saudi ports’ achievements on the CPPI 2021, which outdone the results of 2020, came as result of Mawani’s efforts of enabling operations, enhancing customers’ experience, and ensuring an effective, reliable commercial and regulatory environment.

The three Saudi ports recorded exceptional scores that indicate ports’ performance efficiency, despite challenges in 2021 that affected the world, according to the CPPI.

King Abdullah Ports rank increased from the 2nd position to the 1st , Jeddah Islamic Port from 55th position to the 8th, and King Abdulaziz Port which jumped to the 14th, surpassing 88 ranks from last year’s report.

Minister of Transport and Logistics Services and the Chairman of Mawani, Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser emphasized that the ports and maritime transport sectors are on a clear path towards achieving the objectives of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy, in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

 

 


Investment firm Amanat wants to revolutionize education in the Middle East

Investment firm Amanat wants to revolutionize education in the Middle East
Updated 27 May 2022

Investment firm Amanat wants to revolutionize education in the Middle East

Investment firm Amanat wants to revolutionize education in the Middle East
  • Investment firm Amanat aims to integrate video gaming with education to make learning more attractive
  • People are more likely to retain information acquired visually and experientially, says CEO Mohamad Ali Hamade

LONDON: The UAE-based healthcare and education investment company Amanat aims to revolutionize education in the Middle East by integrating experiential learning and virtual reality into the curriculum, its CEO told Arab News.

Speaking during the World Economic Forum, Dr. Mohamad Ali Hamade outlined how virtual reality would take “center stage” in how education was provided to children across the region.

“As a leading investor in the education space, Amanat is looking at what the future would look like in the education sector,” Dr. Hamade said. “We believe that experiential learning and virtual reality are going to take center stage in the future of how we provide education services to our kids.”

According to Dr. Hamade, Saudi Arabia is a promising market for this kind of investment as the Kingdom has recently opened up to foreign branch campuses across the country and is increasingly open to international curricula.

“I think if a product comes in and promises to have a more progressive curriculum, but also a technology aspect attached to it, I think we have a very good opportunity to prove a concept in Saudi Arabia,” Dr. Hamade said.

Targeting mainly stable markets in the region, Dr. Hamade explained that investment would focus in the interim on Saudi Arabia, UAE and other Gulf countries.

“Historically, we have been trying to solve a problem of access to education and quality of education while keeping the costs acceptable,” he said. “And I think this is what Web 3.0 would do, and what the technology aspect will allow us to achieve.”

Founded in 2014, Amanat Holdings is a listed investment firm in Dubai that seeks to make investments within the education and health care sectors in the MENA region.

In 2021, the company witnessed a twenty-eightfold increase in net profit to 280.8 million dirhams ($76.4 million). Additionally, the company saw a 2,680 percent increase in net profit on strong health unit performance.

Explaining how the new model of education would work, Dr. Hamade said that the company’s main idea was to integrate gaming with education, as gaming is usually very attractive to young people.

“Instead of channeling gamification to wasteful and non-productive time, we’re actually channeling it into a very productive thing, which is education and learning,” Dr. Hamade said.

He explained that people were more likely to retain and remember information that had been acquired visually and experientially. As such, integrating virtual reality in the curriculum would produce more positive outcomes than textbook-based learning.

CEO of Amanat since 2020, Dr. Hamade joined the company in 2017 as chief investment officer. He holds an MD and a BSc in biology from the American University of Beirut and an MBA from Cornell University in the US.

While it is a highly innovative idea, Dr. Hamade anticipates that there will not be much resistance from the region given how far countries in the Middle East have come in terms of modernization.

“I think we’ve come a long way in our region where policymakers are willing to listen, to accept, to ask the right questions, to push us, and together to put a solution that allows us to improve the quality of education in the region,” he said.

 


Inspired by Vision 2030, Taj Holding focuses on retail expansion

Inspired by Vision 2030, Taj Holding focuses on retail expansion
Updated 27 May 2022

Inspired by Vision 2030, Taj Holding focuses on retail expansion

Inspired by Vision 2030, Taj Holding focuses on retail expansion
  • CEO wants company to be a hub utilized by talented entrepreneurs and and international investors

RIYADH: Independent thinker Omar Henaidy — an engineer by qualification but an entrepreneur at heart — was able to create and grow Taj Holding into a vast business across the Middle East.

Today, the group encompasses brand names such as fashion retailer Beside, medical center Amaly, specialized transportation solutions M, and Mac Aerospace, to name a few.

After studying engineering and obtaining a master’s degree in supply chain management from the University of Missouri in the US, Henaidy spent several years working with international companies and managing a local business in Saudi Arabia.

However, he realized that his passion and aspirations were building something for himself with the assistance of individuals who shared his ideals and the DNA for success.

That is how Taj Holding was born.

“I have always aspired for Taj Holding to be a hub utilized by talented entrepreneurs and international investors to fulfill their dreams and be used as a platform to develop and build for their next step forward,” Henaidy told Arab News.

Expansion plan

Taj Holding currently operates across five main verticals — retail, healthcare, manufacturing, IT and defense.

“Over the past decade, we have put a lot of effort into growing our portfolio in a robust manner, which resulted in an ecosystem of companies that can work together as one unit,” he said.

Given the recent developments in Saudi Arabia, along with Vision 2030, the company is now focused primarily on retail expansion within the fashion and hospitality sectors.

Taj Holding continues to grow its large portfolio by focusing on the sustainability of the firm’s ongoing businesses in addition to starting new joint ventures.

“In Q1 2022, we signed a nine-digit-contract in the defense sector. We are signing a similar contract in Q2. In the healthcare business, we recently partnered with Priory; together, we will be opening our first clinic in Q2 of 2022,” Henaidy revealed.

The holding also has an industrial complex under construction, including three factories. In addition, it has a maintenance, repair and operations hub, known as MRO, for helicopters, which will open in 2023.

With its fashion arm Beside, the company looks to meet the desire for iconic brands and tap into the Kingdom’s massive youth demographics, with a 35-million-plus population and a median age of 32 years, observed Henaidy.

“The youth are leading the most extensive social transformation the country has ever witnessed. Beside and through its exciting brand portfolio will be able to cater to a large part of this segment’s massive potential,” he added.

The company is expanding swiftly across the Middle East. It is focused on strengthening its presence throughout the region through existing operations across Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. It also plans to enter Oman for the first time in 2022, but it will continue to strengthen its presence in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

These efforts have seen Taj triple in size over the past three years. The company has achieved this rapid growth organically through new investment opportunities. “There is immense potential for investments across several industries to the point where it is becoming a challenge to identify a specific industry, considering the strong growth our nation is experiencing,” Henaidy pointed out.

He underscored that the company’s emphasis is on the long-term potential of its investments and the contribution they provide in support of vision 2030. “Beside is a perfect example of such a model; investing in the retail sector has sustainable growth potential and thus compliments our vision.” Another testament to this strategy, Henaidy said, is the fact that “we have not made a single exit from any of our acquisitions over the past decade.”

Accelerated growth

Initiatives undertaken for Vision 2030 accelerated the growth in sectors such as tourism, culture, logistics, retail and entertainment — all of which greatly benefited from the recent social and economic evolution, he remarked.

Henaidy said the Kingdom, under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been on a path of exponential growth over the past few years, and “we are proud that Taj Holding was able to contribute significantly to that growth.”

The entrepreneur believes that his family and the Kingdom were also significant contributors to his success.

“I attribute my career and successful journey to my father being a role model and greatest supporter; also, I cannot leave out the vast opportunities our nation has offered me as a young Saudi entrepreneur,” said the CEO.

Henaidy’s father was an Air Force Lt. Gen. and a fighter pilot. As a leader to many young Saudi patriots, he provided his son with a significant support system and mentored him to pursue his dreams.

“I would also like to point out that success to any businessman doesn’t come without having a person who supports you and encourages you during challenging times; my beloved wife Reem is this person. We have four children, three boys and a beautiful daughter,” added Henaidy.

The CEO explained that what motivates him every day is working alongside a fantastic and energetic team.

His business slogan is tantamount to his extraordinary career: “Trusting your gut is the best business tool you’ve got,” he concluded.


ENVI Lodges, Al Rasim Hotels to build ecolodge on the Red Sea coast

ENVI Lodges, Al Rasim Hotels to build ecolodge on the Red Sea coast
Updated 27 May 2022

ENVI Lodges, Al Rasim Hotels to build ecolodge on the Red Sea coast

ENVI Lodges, Al Rasim Hotels to build ecolodge on the Red Sea coast
  • The project will adhere to ENVI’s thorough sustainability standards vetted by Beyond Green

RIYADH: Dubai-based ecolodge brand ENVI Lodges and Al Rasim Hotels & Resorts announced plans to develop a waterfront ecolodge project on the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Future Hospitality Summit, ENVI co-founder Noelle Homsy told Arab News that the project was focused on operating luxury ecolodges in remote destinations that would allow guests to disconnect from their daily lives back in the cities.

The lodge will be made of approximately 40 modular pods, prefabricated and transported to the site. They will be installed on individual decks, lowering the impact on the environment and minimizing any disturbance on the site.

“We specialize in eco pods and tents and follow very high sustainability standards,” said Homsy.

The agreement was signed between Aiad Mushaikh, managing director of Al Rasim Hotels & Resorts, and Chris Nader and Noelle Homsy, co-founders of ENVI, in the presence of Jonathan Worsley, chairman of The Bench, the organizer of FHS.

“We are very excited to bring the ENVI Lodges brand to the booming market of Saudi Arabia,” said Mushaikh upon signing the agreement.

“We want to invest in unique hospitality projects and develop immersive lodges that offer both domestic travelers and international tourists the opportunity to discover the natural beauty of the Kingdom. As a Saudi company, we want to contribute to the implementation of the Saudi tourism strategy through investing in high-end tourism project. ENVI’s proposition and approach to hospitality is exactly what we were looking for, and this project will become a reference forexperiential lodging on the shores of the Red Sea.”

The project will adhere to ENVI’s thorough sustainability standards vetted by Beyond Green, the sustainability alliance that ENVI follows.

Saudi Arabia is stepping up its efforts to become the vanguard of a UN pledge to develop a sustainable model of tourism after the sector’s levels of resilience were pushed to breaking point by the pandemic and new dire warnings of tourism’s environmental footprint emerged.

Scientists have said CO2 emissions from tourism will increase by 25 percent by 2030 compared to 2016 levels, which if left unaddressed could be a bullet for the sector as visitors begin to factor in the impact, and morality, of climate change on their destination choices.

The lodge facilities will include a restaurant, a beach club, private pools, an experience hub, a wellness sanctuary and a kids club. The lodging is expected to open by mid-2023.

“The property will be on the Red Sea with 40 keys and will offer a memorable guest experience,” she added.

The company is also looking at a few other projects in the Kingdom and will announce them soon.