Wallan Investment Company celebrates Lotus Technology’s debut on Nasdaq

Wallan Investment Company celebrates Lotus Technology’s debut on Nasdaq
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Updated 29 February 2024
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Wallan Investment Company celebrates Lotus Technology’s debut on Nasdaq

Wallan Investment Company celebrates Lotus Technology’s debut on Nasdaq

Wallan Investment Company — a subsidiary of Wallan Holding — was invited by Lotus Technology to present the Nasdaq Stock Market opening bell at the Nasdaq Tower in New York, US. Celebrating Lotus Technology’s debut on the Nasdaq exchange, the ceremony marked a significant milestone for Wallan Investment Company, as Wallan Trading will become the luxury brand’s official representative in Saudi Arabia. 

Under the iconic British brand “Lotus,” Lotus Technology is a pioneering luxury battery electric vehicle maker that designs, develops, and sells luxury lifestyle vehicles. Fusing proprietary next-generation technology built on world-class research and development capabilities and an asset-light model, the company is breaking new ground in electrification, digitization, and intelligence. 

Lotus Technology is renowned for its expertise in manufacturing and developing high-end electric cars with advanced battery, energy management, electronic control systems, smart driving, and smart manufacturing technologies. It is also known for its impressive racing history spanning over seven decades, and it represents the gold standard in luxury sports cars, setting market-leading standards in performance, design, and engineering.

Fahad Al-Wallan, chairman of Wallan Holding, represented the company at the ceremony, with Lotus Technology CEO Qingfeng Feng ringing the opening bell. Lotus Technology was listed under the stock ticker symbol “LOT.”

Al-Wallan said: “I could think of no greater or more fitting way for Lotus Technology to enter such an exciting, new phase of its history. Nasdaq’s opening bell ceremony has become iconic over the years, ushering in eras of sustained prosperity for countless companies and enterprises across a range of sectors. We are proud to join this long and esteemed list, through our investment arm’s — Wallan Investment Company — stake in Lotus Tech. Lotus Technology’s listing on the Nasdaq stock exchange paves the way for sustainable growth, aligning with the company’s transformation strategy and increased investments in innovative products..”

He added: “As demonstrated by our partnership with Lotus Technology, Wallan Investment Company is fully committed to investing in the world’s most innovative and future-focused enterprises. We have developed a diverse and comprehensive portfolio, uniquely curated to deliver the highest return on investments, bolstering our revenues and the wider Saudi economy.”

Wallan Trading Company, a subsidiary of Wallan Holding, is one of the oldest companies in the Kingdom’s automotive sector. With over 45 years of experience, it provides high-quality products and services to its customers. The company represents major global automobile manufacturers such as Hyundai, Genesis, Geely, Renault, and Zeekr. It actively seeks investment opportunities and aims to meet the diverse needs of its customers.


UAE’s Global Hotel Alliance marks 20 years with stellar Q1 results

UAE’s Global Hotel Alliance marks 20 years with stellar Q1 results
Updated 15 April 2024
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UAE’s Global Hotel Alliance marks 20 years with stellar Q1 results

UAE’s Global Hotel Alliance marks 20 years with stellar Q1 results

Global Hotel Alliance, the world’s largest alliance of independent hotel brands, has started its 20th anniversary year on a high note, reporting robust Q1 results across all key performance indicators.

Exceeding expectations, total hotel revenues for Q1 2024 jumped to $649 million, up 17 percent compared to Q1 2023, while total room nights picked up 20 percent and the average daily rate across its portfolio of 800 hotels nudged up 2 percent.

The GHA DISCOVERY loyalty program continued to grow in popularity, with new enrollments increasing 28 percent in the first three months of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023. At the same time, redemptions of the program’s rewards currency, DISCOVERY Dollars, rocketed 109 percent year-on-year, led by members based in Spain, Singapore and China respectively.

Further underlining the success, the total cross-brand revenue, driven by members staying in a different brand to where they enrolled, increased 32 percent to $86.2 million in Q1, with hotel brands such as Anantara, Kempinski, Pan Pacific and PARKROYAL benefiting the most.

Since launching just over two years ago, D$206 million have been issued to GHA DISCOVERY members, with D$1 equal to $1. This has created a stimulus for travel within the alliance, and has helped drive more direct bookings for hotels, which are up 40 percent on GHA channels in 2023. Nearly two thirds of those direct bookings are now made on the GHA DISCOVERY app.

Key market and member trends in Q1 2024

• International stays made by the 26 million GHA DISCOVERY loyalty program members dominate: 68 percent of hotel room revenues were generated by international stays, led by properties in the Maldives (99 percent of revenue from international stays), Thailand (94 percent) and Hong Kong (86 percent).

• US and UK members were highly influential: 72 percent of the room revenue from US GHA DISCOVERY members and 89 percent of the room revenue from UK members came from their international stays. The US is the most important feeder market for GHA hotel brands, generating $52 million in international room revenue in Q1 2024, followed by the UK with $37 million. This collective $89 million represents 26 percent of total international stays room revenue. 

• 2024 destination hotspots revealed: The most preferred international destinations for each major feeder market were — Saint Lucia for US members; the UAE for members in the UK and Germany; Thailand for members in Russia; Hong Kong for members in mainland China; and Singapore for members based in Australia.

“As we enter our 20th anniversary year, GHA is not only delivering impressive numbers, but tangible business growth to our hotel brands. Our Q1 results also underscore our commitment to providing our GHA DISCOVERY members with unparalleled choice and flexibility; the surge in new enrollments and record-breaking redemptions of D$ reflect their level of engagement with the program,” said GHA CEO Chris Hartley.

Since GHA was launched in 2004, the alliance has grown exponentially to represent a collection of 40 brands with more than 800 hotels, resorts and palaces in 100 countries, and the 26 million members of its GHA DISCOVERY loyalty program, first launched in 2010, now drive $2.3 billion in revenue and 10 million room nights (as of 2023).

“Looking ahead, building on two decades of success, we remain dedicated to delivering exceptional value and experiences, ensuring that GHA continues to be the preferred choice for independent hotel brands and their customers,” added Hartley.


Hong Kong university delegation visits UAE for collaborations

Hong Kong university delegation visits UAE for collaborations
Updated 15 April 2024
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Hong Kong university delegation visits UAE for collaborations

Hong Kong university delegation visits UAE for collaborations

A high-level delegation from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology — a world-class research-intensive university that focuses on science, engineering, business, as well as humanities and social science, is visiting the UAE from April 15-18.

Led by the university president, the delegation aims to establish relationships with the UAE’s higher education and innovation sectors to explore opportunities for research and technology transfer collaboration in robotics, artificial intelligence and clean energy. Additionally, the delegation seeks to identify potential synergies between HKUST’s expertise in engineering and technology and the UAE’s investment in these essential areas for the future.

Over the past decade, Hong Kong and the UAE have formed strong economic partnerships, with the UAE emerging as one of Hong Kong’s main trading partners and the largest in the Middle East. Demonstrating the commitment to strengthening connections, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee embarked on his first overseas visit to the nation last year. Earlier in March, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry Professor Sun Dong, visited the UAE to foster collaborations, particularly in the fields of technological innovation. Consequently, building upon these efforts, HKUST’s President Professor Nancy Ip is leading a delegation to the UAE, marking a significant milestone as the first leader among Hong Kong’s universities to reinforce the city’s commitment to advancing research and innovation with the UAE.

The HKUST delegation will establish new connections with key partners and stakeholders in the UAE’s higher education and innovation systems through various meetings and discussions with government representatives, various companies and other partners dealing with innovation, research, technology, and technology transfer in the fields of robotics, AI, clean energy, and startup incubation. These key institutions include the Dubai Future Foundation, University of Sharjah, Khalifa University and Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence.

Given HKUST’s plans to establish Hong Kong’s third medical school, the delegation will also visit the state-of-the-art medical-related research facilities of these key UAE institutions to gain insights and explore potential collaboration opportunities.

“HKUST is a distinguished global research institution with leadership in the field of AI. There is tremendous potential for collaborative ventures that span education, research, and knowledge transfer with the UAE, which has made substantial investment in the field. Together, we can make meaningful contributions to the advancement and betterment of humankind,” said Ip.


Maersk innovates system to deliver freshwater from vessels to ports

Maersk innovates system to deliver freshwater from vessels to ports
Updated 14 April 2024
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Maersk innovates system to deliver freshwater from vessels to ports

Maersk innovates system to deliver freshwater from vessels to ports

Freshwater scarcity is an increasing problem faced by regions all over the world. Four billion people — almost two thirds of the world’s population — experience severe water scarcity for at least one month each year, and half of the world’s population could be living in areas facing water scarcity by as early as 2025. With this background, a team of three employees of A.P. Moller — Maersk, who are former seafarers, decided to undertake an innovative project that could store and deliver freshwater from vessels to ports.

Cargo ships undertaking global trade are equipped with freshwater generator systems that produce clean drinking water by distilling sea water using heat energy harnessed from their engines. Traditionally, this system has been used to generate water for consumption only onboard the vessels. However, the excess water produced has been overlooked. Through this innovative project, this untapped resource has been capitalized on by optimizing the process and storing the excess water in tank containers before delivering it to ports.

Each vessel can fill two tank containers on an average sea voyage between two ports. With the process optimized and tank containers stored at the right location onboard, two tank containers with a combined capacity of 50,000 liters can be filled with freshwater. Amongst the first pilot runs were the deliveries at the Port of Colombo and Port of Salalah of two tank containers, each filled with 25,000 liters of freshwater.

Keld M. Christensen, chief executive, Port of Salalah, said: “At Port of Salalah, sustainability is one of our top priorities and we are committed to decarbonizing our operations by 2040. We also recognize that sustainability is not only about decarbonizing supply chains but also protecting our environment and its finite resources. The first tank container of freshwater delivered by Maersk from its vessel is an important milestone that has the potential to pave the path for a larger scheme of things.”

He added: “This project opens doors for many more ships moving around the world, which can replicate this system and create an incredibly large supply of freshwater that can be delivered all around the world to address the ever-increasing challenge of water scarcity.”

A pivotal aspect of the project’s success is its rigorous adherence to quality and environmental standards. The water quality, tested by the Ceylon Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research, an official Sri Lankan government laboratory, met all WHO standards, underscoring the project’s commitment to safety and sustainability. Furthermore, a Life Cycle Assessment study conducted by the Danish Technical University has provided valuable insights into the project’s environmental impact, comparing it favorably against traditional tanker truck water delivery methods.

The fresh water generated and delivered through this innovative project can be used in various ways:

• Consumption at port facilities for basic sanitation, cleaning, and maintenance of offices, warehouses, and restrooms.

• Ship repair at yards for tasks like cleaning vessels, tools, and work areas.

• Container washing before storage or reusing.

• Firefighting at port facilities for emergencies.

• Power generation at power plants located in ports for cooling systems or other processes.


Global wedding experts head to Zimbabwe for annual congress

Global wedding experts head to Zimbabwe for annual congress
Updated 14 April 2024
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Global wedding experts head to Zimbabwe for annual congress

Global wedding experts head to Zimbabwe for annual congress

The 10th Annual Destination Wedding Planners Congress, known as the world’s strongest B2B platform for destination weddings, is set to begin from April 15 to 17, commencing a voyage on an African adventure. The event is organized by QNA International along with strategic event partner RSVP Events, amidst the breathtaking Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

In the global wedding industry, as the DWP Congress celebrates 10 years of excellence, this annual congress will open doors to endless possibilities in the world of destination weddings. It will have all the heart and soul of the most important gathering for the destination wedding industry.

While talking about the countdown to the DWP Congress, Tapiwa Mukoti, founder and managing director, RSVP Events, Zimbabwe, said: “I am thrilled and beyond excited to be hosting luxury wedding connoisseurs in my homeland, and it is my privilege to showcase the African bounties of Zimbabwe to all the attendees.”

She added: “We have made the best efforts to give a taste of true African hospitality experience during the three days of the congress. From a gala in the wild to a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River, there are some amazing experiences waiting in store. I believe Zimbabwe is a rare, undiscovered gem nestled in the crown of Africa that has all the potential to become a sought-after wedding destination.”

Kevin Lee, founder, Luxury Events By Kevin Lee, US, who is one of the world’s most renowned celebrity wedding specialists, said: “I always dream of mystic Mother Nature of the African jungle so getting to see all of that makes me so excited with the beginning of another decade of DWP.”

“Our partnership with the DWP Congress holds significant potential to benefit the African wedding industry in various ways. By being actively involved in this global platform, we aim to showcase the beauty and unique offerings of African destinations, especially Zimbabwe, as ideal locations for destination weddings. As a videography partner, we will have the opportunity to highlight the stunning landscapes and cultural richness of Africa through our work, attracting more attention and interest to the continent as a premier wedding destination,” said Simba Shamu, founder, Amikam Media, Zimbabwe.

Floral designer Gideon Hermosa, founder and CEO, House of Hermosa, Philippines, said: “I’m truly honored to be a part of this year’s DWP Congress and thrilled to attend once again. It’s one of the highlights of my career. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with colleagues from the events industry worldwide.”


Ethiopian Airlines marks 78 years of success in African skies

Ethiopian Airlines marks 78 years of success in African skies
Updated 13 April 2024
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Ethiopian Airlines marks 78 years of success in African skies

Ethiopian Airlines marks 78 years of success in African skies

Ethiopian Airlines Group, Africa’s largest airline group, has marked its 78th anniversary, highlighting a legacy of resilience and innovation since 1946. Group Chief Executive Officer Mesfin Tasew and Chief Commercial Officer Lemma Yadecha accompanied the crew on a flight to Cairo, marking the airline’s inaugural international service. Their involvement extended beyond in-flight duties, as they also provided assistance to passengers during check-in and boarding processes, ensuring a seamless travel experience.

Tasew said: “This event symbolizes our unwavering commitment to our passengers and our belief that true leadership lies in serving others first. Serving our passengers on this special flight to Cairo is not just a tribute to our first international service but a reaffirmation of our commitment to the ethos of servant leadership. From our humble beginning back in 1946, we’ve come to be the aviation giant in Africa that we are now, pioneering African aviation with many first aviation innovation introductions to Africa along the way. As we are maturing beautifully, our commitment only gets stronger.”

In line with the airline’s values of community engagement, passengers received season’s greeting packages and “Happy Fasting” messages, reflecting the airline’s respect for diverse traditions. The packages included a postcard commemorating the anniversary, serving as a tangible reminder of the airline’s enduring legacy.

“Our mission extends beyond transportation,” said Yadecha. “We strive to foster a sense of unity and belongingness among our passengers, regardless of their background or belief. This anniversary is a celebration of unity and diversity. By stepping into the roles of our dedicated ground and flight crew, we honor every individual who has been part of our story. Our service today is a promise of continued service excellence for all our passengers.”

In a display of commitment, all executives at Ethiopian Airlines have taken a hands-on approach to service, personally attending to the needs of the airline’s valued customers. This initiative underscores the airline’s ethos of servant leadership and its dedication to providing an exceptional travel experience.

Celebrating its 78th anniversary, Ethiopian Airlines has reaffirmed commitment to its mission of bridging Africa with the world. The airline remains dedicated to enhancing passenger experience, as evidenced by its consideration to offer complimentary Wi-Fi to Cairo-bound travelers.