Dubai-based NFT platform UPYO raises $1m in seed funding round

Dubai-based NFT platform UPYO raises $1m in seed funding round
The platform will use its acquired funding to launch a service in the Arab region (UPYO)
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Updated 28 June 2022

Dubai-based NFT platform UPYO raises $1m in seed funding round

Dubai-based NFT platform UPYO raises $1m in seed funding round

RIYADH: Dubai-based Non-Fungible Token platform UPYO has secured $1 million in a seed funding round led by angel investors.

The platform will use its acquired funding to launch a service providing the Arab region with a market to trade NFTs, according to MAGNiTT.

“The NFT market in Saudi Arabia and the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region is still nascent. People are still discovering the NFT experience. So, we wanted to be their gateway to this amazing digital economy,” co-founder of UPYO, Ahmed Alsenan, said in a statement.

The company’s vision is to educate and empower the digital economy through their platform as well as spread awareness about the Metaverse.

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Emirates steps up plans for ‘biggest-ever’ fleet retrofit

Emirates steps up plans for ‘biggest-ever’ fleet retrofit
Updated 8 sec ago

Emirates steps up plans for ‘biggest-ever’ fleet retrofit

Emirates steps up plans for ‘biggest-ever’ fleet retrofit
  • Multibillion-dollar project will aim to refurbish four aircraft per month over next two years

DUBAI: Emirates has moved forward with plans to revamp the interior cabins of 120 Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft, two of the largest commercial aircraft types in service today.

The multibillion-dollar project will begin in November and will be managed entirely by Emirates Engineering, which aims to totally refurbish four aircraft each month over the next two years.

On completion in April 2025, almost 4,000 new premium economy seats will be installed, 728 first-class suites refurbished and over 5,000 business-class seats  upgraded to a new style and design.

Carpets and stairs will also be upgraded, and cabin interior panels will be given new tones and design motifs, including the ghaf trees native to the UAE.

Emirates said that no other airline has attempted an in-house retrofit of this magnitude. 

Engineering teams have carried out extensive planning and testing to streamline processes, and anticipate any potential roadblocks. 

Trials began on an A380 in July, with engineers disassembling each cabin piece by piece and logging every step.

“From removing seats and paneling to bolts and screws, every action was tested, timed and mapped out,” the airline said on Wednesday.

A cross-disciplinary team has been assembled to monitor the planning process until the start of the project in November.

 


Saudi Arabia’s jewelry sector tops economic activities, with 36% jump in sales in Q2

Saudi Arabia’s jewelry sector tops economic activities, with 36% jump in sales in Q2
Updated 6 min 9 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s jewelry sector tops economic activities, with 36% jump in sales in Q2

Saudi Arabia’s jewelry sector tops economic activities, with 36% jump in sales in Q2

RIYADH: Sales in Saudi Arabia’s gold and jewelry sector witnessed a jump of 36 percent, as the economy continues to recover from the pandemic-induced recession, Al-Watan reported.
Consumer spending in the Kingdom also rebounded in the second quarter exceeding SR124 billion ($33 billion) with an annual growth rate of 7 percent, the report added.
Citing recent data issued by the Jazan Chamber of Commerce, the report said the gold and jewelry sector was followed by clothing and footwear, which grew by 24 percent.


KSA’s drive to localize livestock sector successfully underway: Top official

KSA’s drive to localize livestock sector successfully underway: Top official
Updated 34 min 25 sec ago

KSA’s drive to localize livestock sector successfully underway: Top official

KSA’s drive to localize livestock sector successfully underway: Top official

RIYADH: The success rate of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture localization initiatives has exceeded 50 percent, a top official told Al-Ekhbariya. 

The ministry’s director of localization initiatives, Mosa Al-Kinani, said work is underway to localize professions of beekeeping, fishing, and livestock breeders.

The ministry’s strategy is yielding results as more Saudis are joining the above-mentioned professions.

Kinani said his ministry is working with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development to develop appropriate plans to boost the success of the localization drive.


Oil edges off low as strong export demand drains US crude stocks

Oil edges off low as strong export demand drains US crude stocks
Updated 22 sec ago

Oil edges off low as strong export demand drains US crude stocks

Oil edges off low as strong export demand drains US crude stocks

HOUSTON: Oil edged 1 percent higher after earlier hitting a six-month low on Wednesday, as a steeper-than-expected draw down in US crude stocks outweighed concerns over rising output, Russian exports and recession fears.

US crude stocks fell by 7.1 million barrels in the week to Aug. 12 to 425 million barrels, Energy Information Administration data showed, compared with analysts’ forecasts for a 275,000-barrel drop in a Reuters poll.

Brent crude rose $1.09, or 1.1 percent, to $93.45 per barrel by 12:23 p.m. ET (1723 GMT). Earlier in the day, recession worries had pushed the benchmark price to its lowest since February at $91.51. US West Texas Intermediate crude rose $1.39, or 1.6 percent, to $87.92 per barrel.

US crude exports hit 5 million barrels per day, the highest on record, according to EIA data, as WTI has traded at steep discount to Brent, making purchases of US crude ore attractive to foreign buyers. In a sign of strong demand, gasoline stocks also drew 4.6 million barrels, much higher than the expected 1.1 million barrel draw.

“It was expected to be a friendly report and it was pretty much across the board. Some of those demand destruction concerns that the market was going through seem to be alleviated a little bit,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures group.

The American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday had flagged a 448,000 barrel draw in crude stocks and 4.5 million barrels in gasoline inventories, according to sources.

Oil has soared in 2022, coming close to an all-time high of $147 in March after Russia's invasion of Ukraine exacerbated supply concerns.

However, Russia has started to gradually increase its oil production after sanctions-related curbs and as Asian buyers have increased purchases, leading Moscow to increase its forecasts for output and exports until the end of 2025, an economy ministry document seen by Reuters showed.

Russia’s earning from exports

Russia’s earnings from energy exports are expected to rise 38 percent this year partly due to higher oil export volumes, according to the document, in a sign that supply from the country has not been impacted as much as markets originally expected.

The prospect of recession has also more recently weighed on oil prices. 

Political developments

On the oil supply front, the market is awaiting developments from talks to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which could eventually lead to a boost in Iranian oil exports if a deal is reached.

The EU and US said on Tuesday they were studying Iran’s response to what the EU has called its “final” proposal to save the deal.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs said a return of Iranian crude supply would reduce their 2023 forecast by $5-10 per barrel from $125 per barrel.


Egypt’s central bank governor resigns as economic woes mount

Egypt’s central bank governor resigns as economic woes mount
Updated 17 August 2022

Egypt’s central bank governor resigns as economic woes mount

Egypt’s central bank governor resigns as economic woes mount
  • President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi accepted the resignation of Tarek Amer and named him a presidential adviser
  • The currency is under pressure, sliding in value to about 19 Egyptian pounds to the US dollar

CAIRO: Egypt’s central bank governor resigned Wednesday as the Middle East’s most populous nation struggles to curb inflation triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine, high oil prices and a drop in tourism.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi accepted the resignation of Tarek Amer and named him a presidential adviser, the Egyptian leader’s office said in a statement. The brief statement offered no explanation for Amer’s resignation.
No replacement was immediately named for Amer, who had been appointed governor of the central bank in November 2015. He has been criticized for his handling of Egypt’s financial challenges.
The currency is under pressure, sliding in value to about 19 Egyptian pounds to the US dollar. That followed a central bank decision allowing the currency to depreciate by around 16 percent in March to try to stem a growing trade deficit.
“It seems there’s a lot of tensions within policymaking circles, and I think that’s ultimately what led to Mr. Amer’s resignation,” said Jason Tuvey, a senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics.
Tuvey said there are officials that oppose devaluing the pound and instead support measures like rationing gas consumption by curbing electricity usage, which could in turn harm business activity. Amer had traditionally been seen as in the camp that supported the pound’s depreciation as a way to secure a loan from the International Monetary Fund.
The London-based Capital Economics research firm predicts that Egypt’s currency will continue to slide, reaching 25 pounds to the dollar by the end of 2024 amid sustained pressure.
The resignation of the central bank head comes after key ministries were reshuffled Saturday as the government faces mounting pressure from economic challenges. The Cabinet shake-up, which was approved by parliament in an emergency session, affected 13 ministries, including health, education, culture, local development and irrigation. The country’s minister of tourism and antiquities also was replaced.
Egypt’s expansive tourism industry, which employs millions, was hit hard by years of turmoil, the COVID-19 pandemic and then the war in Ukraine. Prior to the conflict, around a third of tourists to Egypt came from Russia.
Russia’s war has been deeply felt in other ways in Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer that sources around 80 percent of it from the Black Sea region.
In the first weeks after the invasion of Ukraine in late February, the price of wheat and other grains skyrocketed, as did the price of fuel. Although prices have come down somewhat, the cost of grains remains at least 50 percent higher than before the pandemic in early 2020. Furthermore, the cost of shipping to export those grains through the Black Sea is high.
Inflation in the country of 103 million people reached 14.6 percent in July, increasing pressure on lower-income households and everyday necessities. Around a third of Egyptians live in poverty, according to government figures.
The World Bank notes that Egypt’s government announced an assistance package worth 130 billion pounds (more than $8 billion) just before devaluing the pound in March to alleviate the impact of rising prices. The package aimed to increase public-sector wages and pensions, as well as expand direct cash assistance programs.
Egypt’s Gulf Arab allies have come to its assistance with multibillion-dollar investments buoyed by high oil prices that have helped their bottom line.
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, known as the Public Investment Fund, recently established a division in Egypt that has already announced deals worth $1.3 billion with the aim of bringing in $10 billion into Egypt.