Planet Group, headed by Georges Moussa of the UAE, has been awarded the general sales agent (GSA) for Uzbekistan Airways, the national carrier of Uzbekistan for the entire UAE. Uzbekistan is rapidly becoming a popular destination for Gulf visitors due to its close proximity, rich history and highly competitive prices. Ibrahim Nalkhande, chief operating officer of the travel wing Planet Travels & Tours and the GSA for Uzbekistan Tourism in the UAE and the other GCC countries as well, said: “We are aiming to launch a standalone brochure on Uzbekistan during the Arabian Travel Market 2009, certainly prior to the super peak season of the summer. There are also plans to increase the number of flights to Uzbekistan from the UAE.” Sabirov Rakhimberdi, regional manager, Middle East, Uzbekistan Airways, told reporters at Sharjah Airport before their departure to Tashkent: “Even as we are expecting to increase the number of tourists from the UAE and the region we will be looking into increasing our flights.” Presently, we have two flights each from Dubai and Sharjah each week.” Uzbekistan Airways operates B-767s and A-320’s on its primary routes. Planet Group is a conglomerate of over 11 companies with diversified business entities in the UAE and overseas. In the UAE, the company boasts a well-established chain of companies, “each complementing the other”, according to Georges Moussa.
Tawfig bin Fawzan Alrabiah, director general of Saudi Industrial Property Authority (MODON), signed a rehabilitation contract for Makkah Industrial City with Al-Salaam Industry and Commerce Establishment for over SR3 million. The contract includes the implementation of works including removal and scraping the old asphalt for the entire city’s roads and re-asphalting of the roads, implementation and asphalting of the new road, supply and installation of sidewalk tiles, lightning and water network, sewage and rainwater drainage network, and paint works of the roads. The work is expected to be completed in the middle of this year. Makkah Industrial City is located along Madinah-Makkah highway on an area of 730,120 square meters and the total number of factories operating in the city is 52 factories. Alrabiah added that MODON is currently overseeing 14 existing industrial cities in various regions of the Kingdom, with investments exceeding SR200 billion and employing over 300,000 workers.
Armani Exchange, one of the major urban and youthful fashion brands created by world-renowned Italian designer and entrepreneur Giorgio Armani, opened its new store at Mall of Arabia on Thursday. This is Armani Exchange’s seventh outlet in the Kingdom. The chain has three stores in Jeddah, two in Alkhobar and one each in Madinah and Riyadh. The store showcases the young and trendy collections epitomizing the brand’s chick, urban, dance music, young fashion statements. Also, it caters to the new generation of fast-fashion consumers offering a vast array of latest designs, middle line apparel and accessories. The new store is in line with the company’s expansion plans across the Kingdom and beyond. The basic concept of the brand is young, urban and trendy — there is a strong association with music and broadly caters to the age group of 16 to 35. The store will continue to capture the spirit for all those who appreciate youthful smile, complementing the latest, music and dance culture. It offers a wide range of stylish pieces for men and women, from jackets and blazers to trousers, jeans, sweaters and T-shirts.
NCB has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Directorate General for Education (DGE) in Jeddah, whereby the bank will provide financial support for equipping two labs, one for diagnosing hearing capabilities and another for educational resources for training and supplying special audio and visual aid materials. The two labs are designed to diagnose and train students who have learning difficulties and require special aid. This initiative comes from NCB’s belief in the importance of providing equal opportunities for people with special needs in our society by enabling them to practice their rights in education and self-development without difficulty. Mahmoud Al-Turkistani, VP and head of corporate social responsibility unit at NCB, and Abdullah Al-Thagafi of DGE signed the deal. A presentation about NCB’s community service programs took place during the signing ceremony.
Doha-based Qatar Airways, one of only few airlines in the world to be rated 5-star by independent aviation monitor Skytrax, yesterday showcased its product and services to the local business community at a meeting held at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday. JCCI’s Deputy Secretary General Othman Basaqr, who presided over the meeting, said the chamber welcomed the meeting of the Qatari national carrier because of its excellent track record. “Such meetings should also benefit our business community in particular and traveling public in general as they have always been looking forward to better deals both in terms of traveling comfort and destinations. Some of the JCCI members present at the meeting said they were impressed with the Qatari national carrier’s product and services showcased in a presentation by Ahmed M. Alidrissi, the airline’s area manager for the Western Province. He urged Saudi businessmen to take advantage of the airline’s Qbiz scheme specially tailored for them. The airline currently operates a modern fleet of 60 Airbus and Boeing aircraft to more than 80 destinations from Doha to Europe, Middle East, Africa, Indian subcontinent, Far East and North America.
Makarem Sobhi Batterjee has been named to the prestigious Bretton Woods Committee, headquartered in Washington DC. Batterjee is one of only a few Arabs on the committee and he is also the youngest Arab businessman to be so honored. (Abdulatif Hamad, Ghazi Abdul-Jawad, Hisham Al-Razzuqi, Walid Chammah, Moeen Qureshi, Khalid Sheikh and Randa Fahmy Hudome are others of Middle Eastern heritage). Batterjee’s leadership and vision came to the attention of Bretton Woods through his many innovative and cross-cultural endeavors, the acme of which was his being in 2008 a “Young Global Leader” in the iconic World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, an honor for the 300 most outstanding people under the age of 40 who are helping to change the world. The Bretton Woods Committee monitors world economic conditions and imparts advice to world leaders and governments. Its stated mission is to increase understanding of the World Bank, IMF and WTO and to foster economic growth, rid the world of poverty and create financial stability. Its membership includes captains of industry, intellectuals and academics, economists, former government leaders and ambassadors.
Shafallah Center For Children With Special Needs and Qatar Airways have announced a partnership to promote global awareness of autism. The two organizations have combined resources in a campaign that will run throughout the month of April and was timed to coincide with World Autism Awareness Day (April 2). The Qatari national carrier was airing an in-flight public service announcement on all its flights, and distributing autism awareness pins and informational pamphlets on its flights to the United States on World Autism Awareness Day. The airline has also been working with the Shafallah Center to train its cabin crew in disability awareness. “The campaign to raise awareness of autism truly has wind under its wings now that Qatar Airways has partnered with us,” said Hassan Ali bin Ali, chairman of Shafallah Center. “Such a campaign, to succeed, must be an effort of the whole society.” Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al-Baker said: “ I feel that Qatar Airways can help spread positive messages to the traveling public, and help remove any stigma.”
Saudi Hollandi Bank has inaugurated a new Ladies branch in Riyadh. The new branch is at the upscale Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz (Tahlia) Street in north Riyadh and is part of the Bank’s strategy of upgrading its services to women. The branch offers a full range of Shariah-compliant banking and investment services to meet the personal and business needs of female customers. Faten Abalkhail, SHB’s head of ladies’ banking, explained that “one of the bank’s top priorities is to develop a comprehensive range of banking and financial services for women.” She said that significant progress had been made by SHB in establishing the bank as a leader in women’s banking in the Kingdom. Increasing awareness of SHB’s quality services for women is already resulting in business growth. Abalkhail said that the ladies banking sector was developing rapidly in the Kingdom, a result of heightened financial awareness among Saudi women. The new branch is the bank’s second largest ladies branch in Riyadh, and brings the total number of such outlets in the capital to nine.
Aramco Overseas Company BV (AOC), a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, the national oil company of Saudi Arabia, is moving its headquarters back to The Hague from Leiden from where it is functioning from 1984. AOC thus returns to its base, The Hague, from where it began operating in 1952. “Saudi Aramco has shared a rich history with the Netherlands dating back to over 55 years. AOC wanted to expand its operations and has been considering several locations, within the Netherlands but also outside our borders. We are very pleased that AOC eventually decided to stay in our country and move back to The Hague,” said Patrick Polman, director Gulf region of the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA). “AOC’s decision to return to its original home augurs well for the company, because of the presence of a large number of oil companies in The Hague. “More importantly, we expect the move will also benefit Dutch businesses, as AOC is a major operator with diverse activities spanning the globe,” added Polman.