2019
May , June
Aswaq Magazine

Tolerance. a Malaysian Experience

How magnificent it is for a human being to be tolerant, a noble human value and high moral principles that
was motivated by all religions and enlightening human thinking. A value recognized by all prophets and
reformists for its high importance in strengthening the integration and solidarity in societies, and its role in
rejecting disagreements. Because in the end, it means respecting other people’s beliefs, values, and cultures
as a core for human rights, democracy, justice, and human   liberties .

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Tolerance. a Malaysian Experience​

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How magnificent it is for a human being to be tolerant, a noble human value and high moral principles that was motivated by all religions and enlightening human thinking. A value recognized by all prophets and reformists for its high importance in strengthening the integration and solidarity in societies, and its role in rejecting disagreements. Because in the end, it means respecting other people’s beliefs, values, and cultures as a core for human rights, democracy, justice, and human liberties.

 

From this comes the talk about tolerance in the Malaysian society, which appears especially in religious events. One of these is what comes after the holy month of Ramadan as the events between Muslims and non-muslims in Malaysian villages manifest in a bright example of tolerance.

 

Ethnic variety in Malaysia represents a challenge for governments, a challenge they succeeded in by avoiding religious tensions in many events. Backed by making the national benefit for the state on top priority of any party or group, as the Malaysian administration always realized that establishing flexible institutional rules that respond to the needs of the social fabric can guarantee a stable system.

 

One of the live examples of religious tolerance in Malaysia is the way Malaysian governments redistributed wealth between Malay Muslims and other ethnicities after independence in 1957, as it didn’t practice any aggressive measures against the Chinese but invested in economic growth to improve the social and economic situation of Malays, along with a strong care for the interests of the Indian and Chinese minorities to end any possibility of ethnic conflict.

 

It can be said that Malaysia succeeded in implementing the philosophy of distributing material and moral values, which led it to be the only Islamic country in the ‘Asian Tigers’ states. Achieving the difficult formula after realizing that growth and development is the opposite of isolation, especially in a time where all borders and restrictions collapsed. Malaysia succeeded in shifting loyalty to the nation as a whole instead of a party, a religion, an ethnicity, or a person.

 

Previous deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi affirms this as he once said that religious tolerance is the main determinant in ethnic harmony of Malaysia, all by keeping a strong relationship between the ethnicities responsible for all Malaysians, muslims and non-muslims alike.

 

The Malaysian experience of tolerance is a phenomenon worth looking at in our Arab and Islamic societies to reach an applicable standard for our reality away from sectarianism and discrimination.

Saudi Shoura Council approves new ‘green card’ residency scheme for expatriates

Thousands of foreign investors and residents have been identified for a “golden card” permanent residency scheme, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, announced on Tuesday.

Sheikh Mohammed said the current investments of the 6,800 selected investors and residents are worth an estimated Dh100 billion, as The new permanent visa will generate foreign investment, encourage entrepreneurship, and attract top engineers, scientists and students.

 

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​​UAE unveils ‘golden card’ permanent residency scheme for expats

 

Dubai – ASWAQ

Thousands of foreign investors and residents have been identified for a "golden card" permanent residency scheme, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, announced on Tuesday.

 

Sheikh Mohammed said the current investments of the 6,800 selected investors and residents are worth an estimated Dh100 billion, as The new permanent visa will generate foreign investment, encourage entrepreneurship, and attract top engineers, scientists and students.

 

Exact criteria for the visa are yet to be made public but more details are expected in the coming days. Permanent residency will also be extended to the spouse and children of the cardholder.

 

"We launched today a permanent resident system named 'Golden Card' in the UAE," Sheikh Mohammed tweeted. "It is a permanent residency for investors and for exceptional workers in the fields of health, engineering, science and art.” He added.

 

"Throughout history, the UAE opened its door to millions of people looking to pursue their dreams and better their lives."The Golden Card is our way to welcome all those seeking to be a part of the UAE’s success story and making it a second home."

 

Typically, foreign residents have renewable visas that are valid for two or three years and often tied to their employment. But last year the government announced plans to reform its visa policies.

 

It pledged to allow five and 10-year visas for sought-after professionals and academics and for long-term investors.The permanent residency program set out on Tuesday goes a step beyond this.

 

Many countries offer forms of permanent residency. Among them is the Green Card system in the US, issued to priority workers, relatives of residents and $1 million-plus (Dh3.6m) investors.

 

The latest announcement comes after the UAE announced last year that it would grant five or 10-year residency visas to investors, entrepreneurs, specialists in the medical, scientific, research and technical fields, and ‘outstanding’ students to “facilitate business and create an attractive and encouraging investment environment” in the country. It has already started issuing the longer-term visas to scientists as well as entrepreneurs and investors.

 

The UAE’s move also comes soon after Saudi Arabia implemented a ‘green card’-style residency scheme for expats.The special residency scheme is aimed at attracting wealthy and high-skilled expats and will grant the special iqama (permit) holders residency without the need for a Saudi sponsor.

 

Under the law, the holder of such an iqama will have family status, can recruit workers, own and lease property and transport in the kingdom, can obtain visit visas for relatives, can freely enter and exit the country and will also have the use of designated queues at airports.

 

The fee for permit has been fixed at SAR800,000 ($213,333), local daily Saudi Gazette reported. A one-year temporary iqama will cost expats SAR100,000 ($26,666), the report quoted unnamed sources as saying.

 

On Tuesday, the property industry said permanent residency would give a boost to developers and sellers.

 

Lewis Allsopp, chief executive of Allsopp & Allsopp, said the move was a "huge milestone for the UAE and for the property market".

"Over the past few years we have seen continual steps to enhance the property market and to add longevity to the UAE with five-year retirement visas, long-term visas and 10-year visas," Mr Allsopp said.

 

“The Gold Card will further the stability of the UAE by encouraging more distinguished professionals to the country. "The property market will benefit hugely from this step in strengthening the economy.”

Infographic

Dubai's Careem launches first bus service between Jeddah-Makkah

Careem, the Dubai ride-hailing platform that was bought in March by US mobility partner, UBER, for US$3.1 billion (Dh11.39bn) has launched direct bus services from Jeddah to Makkah, the company announced recently

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Dubai's Careem launches first bus service between Jeddah-Makkah

DUBAI – “ASWAQ”

Careem, the Dubai ride-hailing platform that was bought in March by US mobility partner, UBER, for US$3.1 billion (Dh11.39bn) has launched direct bus services from Jeddah to Makkah, the company announced recently.

 

Careem Bus is expanding to Saudi Arabia with the launch of a direct bus service between Jeddah and Makkah, a distance covering about 85 kilometres (53 miles). The company said that it has obtained approval from the Saudi Public Transport Authority to launch the service, thus making Careem Bus the first private app-based mass transportation service in the country.

 

The Dubai-based company, which started a similar service in Egypt (available in Cairo and Alexandria) in December,only offer local city trips there along different routes. Saudi is the first market where Careem is bringing app-based inter-city bus trips where there are hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who travel between Jeddah and Makkah throughout the year, apparently that is Careem’s primary target market.

 

“The service comes as part of Careem’s ongoing commitment to solving transportation issues, improving mobility and creating jobs and is ideal for people flying into Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah,” said Careem in a statement.

 

The recently launched service will cost SAR 25 (about US$7) for one-way trips and is available through a dedicated Careem Bus app for iOS and Android. The service initially is being rolled out with 13-seater buses with “comfortable seats, headrests, and air conditioning.”

 

Hadeer Shalaby, Director of Careem Bus, commenting on the occasion, said, “Careem Bus will revolutionize mass transportation across Saudi Arabia and bring a new level of sophistication and price to our customers. The 13-seater service has been a huge success in Egypt, easing traffic flows and providing a safe and efficient way to commute. Through our superior technology, the app-based service is as seamless as ride-hailing a car, allowing customers to enjoy the benefits of our tech as well as enjoying cheaper travel and reducing traffic on the roads.”

 

However, the company has not shared the details on pick-up/drop-off points for their service but has said that the customers will be able to check availability of the bus, monitor its arrival and secure a seat, through its app. The service is currently cash only, but soon passengers will be able to pay via the Careem wallet on the app.

 

The company has been expanding into mass transit and aims to offer bus routes throughout the region. It acquired Indian bus-shuttle app Commut in September 2018, and is also moving into other areas.

 

In Saudi Arabia, the company aims to capture traffic from religious visitors and residents of Saudi Arabia performing Umrah, Islam’s minor pilgrimage. It will start with 13-seat buses, Careem said in a recent statement. Unlike Hajj, which occurs once a year, Umrah journeys can be taken year- round. Careem Bus may add routes in the Kingdom based on customer feedback.

 

Saudi Arabia expects the number of visiting pilgrims, which makeup the vast majority of the country’s tourism industry, to jump to an annual 30 million by 2030 from 8 million now. The government is promoting the industry as part of a broader effort to lessen the kingdom’s dependence on oil.

 

The Careem service will ultimately allow San Francisco-based UBER to further cement its presence in the Middle East’s biggest market, and potentially counter any drop-off from when Saudi Arabia lifted a ban on women driving in September 2017.

 

Careem has also branched out into food and package deliveries, scheduled rides as well as credit transfers. UBER announced the acquisition in March, but the deal, which has not been completed according to Careem, allows the company to continue to operate as a standalone brand.

Device Slider

BitOasis gets approval to operate in MENA region

BitOasis, the Dubai-based cryptocurrency exchange, is set to become the first to operate in the Middle East and North Africa, following a promising response from the United Arab Emirates.

Founded in 2015, BitOasis is reported to be the Middle East’s first digital currency wallet that uses multi-signature technology.

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BitOasis gets approval to operate in MENA region

DUBAI – “ASWAQ”

BitOasis, the Dubai-based cryptocurrency exchange, is set to become the first to operate in the Middle East and North Africa, following a promising response from the United Arab Emirates.Founded in 2015, BitOasis is reported to be the Middle East's first digital currency wallet that uses multi-signature technology.

Ola Doudin, the founder and CEO of BitOasis, said the company is seeking to be fully licensed in the financial center Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) before the end of this year, hoping to be one of the first regulated exchanges to get that licence. The company is set to get a licence once it satisfies certain technical and operational requirements, which it plans to do in the second half of the year, said Doudin.

“This is a huge milestone,” she said. “It gives us legitimacy as well, and we can now work with regulated financial entities. We’re able to work with other regulators in the region, such as Saudi Arabia. Overall, it will boost our growth in the region, legitimize the space and expand our reach in the market.”

Bloomberg recently reported that BitOasis received preliminary approval in April from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of ADGM to operate a crypto asset platform and wallets. To get a license, the exchange has to meet specific technical and operational requirements.

In June 2018, the ADGM announced they would be establishing a framework to regulate spot crypto asset activities. “I want to give credit to the ADGM, and to the FSRA team for taking action and putting the first crypto asset exchange framework, that allows companies to get fully regulated and serve the wider market, ” said Doudin.  

The UAE has been demonstrating a proactive approach toward cryptocurrencies. In February this year, six commercial banks from Saudi Arabia and the UAE joined a digital currency project after the authorities of both the countries announced an agreement to cooperate on the creation of a cryptocurrency in January.

Last October, Cointelegraph reported the Dubai government also intends to use a digital currency backed by the state and pegged to the UAE’s fiat currency, the dirham, for utilities payments.

With Bitcoin’s 40% increase in value, the highest since September 2018, many other crypto-currencies have benefitted from this rally, including BitOasis, which experienced delays in processing requests due to the volume of new applicants from the Middle East.

If agreements can be met on the regulation of blockchain-based trading, BitOasis will become a major contender in cryptocurrencies as it moves from the UAE to global trading.“On BitOasis, you can trade Ethereum, XRP, Litecoin, Zcash, Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum Classic against Bitcoin,” said Doudin.

However, BitOasis is not the only contender for the first regulated cryptocurrency exchange in the UAE. Cryptonews.com previously reported that cryptocurrency exchange Kraken is also looking in the same direction.

The Emirates is reported to be entering the crypto game as a force to be reckoned with. For example, in the last six months, the UAE was second in the world by amount raised during token sales (USD 228 million, or 12.9% of the total amount,) according to token sale data provider CoinSchedule. However, by the number of token sales, the UAE was outside the top 10 countries The cryptocurrency sector remains largely unlicensed and unregulated in major global financial hubs, providing an opening for smaller jurisdictions such as Malta and Liechtenstein to create regulatory structures.

Earlier this year, Bahrain, the Arab world’s smallest country, issued rules on crypto assets. BitOasis says it handled US$1.6 billion in trades in the last two years, making it one of the largest in the region.

The company aims to focus mainly on Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries for the next year, with Saudi Arabia particularly seen as an opportunity for growth, Doudin  added.

Saudi Shoura Council approves new ‘green card’ residency scheme for expatriates

Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council recently approved a new plan to attract entrepreneurs and investors from overseas with a “green card”-style residency scheme, similar to the Green Card in the United States of America (US). The approved draft law regulates the issuance of residence permits for highly-skilled and wealthy foreign nationals without the need for a sponsor. Further details of the law along with executive regulations are expected to be announced in the coming months.

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Saudi Shoura Council approves new ‘green card’ residency scheme for expatriates

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DUBAI – “ASWAQ”

Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council recently approved a new plan to attract entrepreneurs and investors from overseas with a “green card”-style residency scheme, similar to the Green Card in the United States of America (US).

 

The approved draft law regulates the issuance of residence permits for highly-skilled and wealthy foreign nationals without the need for a sponsor. Further details of the law along with executive regulations are expected to be announced in the coming months.

 

The new residency scheme, officially known as “Privileged Iqama” and commonly referred to as the Saudi “green card”, was first mentioned by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman nearly three years ago, as part of the ambitious Saudi Vision 2030 plan to open up the kingdom and diversify its economy.

 

In an interview with Bloomberg, when asked what "non-oil revenue measures" the kingdom will likely undertake to diversify the economy, the Crown Prince said: "We are working on a specific program similar to the US green card." The green card system in the US authorises people to live and work in the country on a permanent basis. The employment status of a green card holder has no effect on their ability to live in the US.

 

The new green card scheme will give any expatriate, for a required fee, the right to live, work and own business and property in the Kingdom. There will be two types of Iqamas:

  • Permanent Residence permit
    • Temporary Residence permit with specific fees

This will enable expats for few privileges including practicing business, according to specific conditions.

Six Conditions for Obtaining ‘Special Privilege Iqama’ for Expats:

 Holding a valid passport

 Applicant should be financially solvent

 Applicant should be at least 21 years of age

 If he is staying in the kingdom, he should be holding a valid Iqama

 He should possess a clean criminal record, devoid of any previous offenses

 He should present a medical report proving he is free from any contagious diseases. The report should be in line with the requirements of the regulations in force in the kingdom.

As for the fees, applicants will be required to pay, as reported by Arab News they are the subject of debate within the concerned government agencies. The amounts being discussed at the moment are thought to be on the high side, which may make the scheme unaffordable for those on lower or even middle incomes. The law envisages that expatriates will have to make payment of a special fee determined by the Executive Regulations and that a center called the Center of Distinguished Iqama will be established for the purpose.

 

Government officials tell Arab News the scheme now awaits only Cabinet approval. Once approved and implemented by the government, it is likely to resolve many outstanding issues with a current immigration system that is complex, bureaucratic, restrictive and often difficult to navigate.

 

The new Privileged Iqama system offers various benefits to highly skilled expatriates and owners of capital funds. Unlike the existing iqama system, such residents would not require a Saudi sponsor or employer. Essentially, this new system will end the need for expatriates to have a local sponsor, or “kafeel.” For those who constantly renew their limited visitor visas, there will no longer be “visa runs” every few months. It will also eliminate long queues at embassies and having to deal with interminable government bureaucracy.

 

The new benefits include the ability to recruit workers; ownership of property and transport; employment in the private sector, commerce and industry; freedom of movement and exit from the Kingdom and return; and the use of designated queues at airports. Beneficiaries of the program will be allowed to sponsor visitor visas for their relatives and employment visas for domestic workers. The exceptions will be citizenship itself, and access to the services that come with it, such as government hospitals and schools.

 

With a Saudi “green card,” and with the proper guarantees and processes in place, expatriates will be able to invest freely, confident of being treated in the same way as their Saudi counterparts, and without the need to find a partner who adds no value to the business. It will also unleash the full entrepreneurial spirit of investors who already live in the Kingdom.

 

The new system will also contribute to social cohesion. Expatriate families who have grown up here will now have the opportunity to remain together, rather than, as is often the case, return to a “home country” that in truth they hardly know.

 

The new system will help solve a number of cases in which investors resort to tasattur, causing great harm to the Saudi economy as a result of disorganized work and the existence of an owner just in name whereas the actual owner of these investments is someone else.

 

This investor might even be practicing undeclared activities, as this system would leave no room for resorting to tasattur. It will also attract people to live in the Kingdom and invest in it, as reported by Al-Arabiya. Nevertheless, a Saudi “green card” would be a valuable investment for many, and it is something expatriates have craved for decades. Consider this; if millions of devout Muslims are prepared to spend their life savings on the holy journey that is the Hajj pilgrimage, wouldn’t the more well-off welcome the opportunity to own property next to the holy mosques in Makkah or Madinah?

 

Equally, many expatriates are keen to establish businesses in the Kingdom, or have already set up successful enterprises, but with the burden of having a Saudi sponsor. It is true that some of these sponsorship arrangements have worked well, and delivered long-term success. But too many have ended in bitter disputes and court cases in which the expatriate partner is rarely on the winning side; unfairly, many have had to pay out huge chunks of the profit they worked so hard to earn, or even hand over their share of the business entirely to their local partner.

 

For this new initiative to work, of course, it will need to come with well-publicized, guaranteed and irreversible rights. It will also require a transparent and easily navigable system for applicants to track their applications and obtain clear answers.

 

On another note, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development had announced in April the launch of its Gold Card extended residence program. The ministry called on consultants and agencies to analyze the possibility of providing incentives to beneficiaries.

 

The Gold Card program is part of the Quality of Life Program 2020, which was launched in 2018 by the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, with the aim of promoting expatriates’ engagement with Saudi culture, and to increase acceptance of other cultures among Saudis.

 

On another occasion, Minister of Media Turki Al-Shabanah said in a statement to Saudi Press Agency following the session that the Cabinet entrusted the Ministry of Justice to discuss and sign a draft memorandum of cooperation with the American Bar Association in the fields of justice.The Council decided to authorize the Minister of Foreign Affairs or his deputy to sign a draft uniform agreement in the diplomatic and consular field of the GCC States.

 

Al-Shabanah said the Cabinet approved two memoranda of understanding between the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the fields of science and education as well as in the field of information.

 

The Cabinet also endorsed the organizational structure and organizational guide of the Ministry of Civil Service. This news comes just a few weeks from the announcement on the launch of a new Gold Card extended residence visa scheme, with agencies and consultancies asked to research the possibility of further incentives aimed at attracting wealthy expat investors.

IMF Expects Bahrain economy to grow 1.8 percent in 2019

Bahrain’s economy is expected to remain at growth rate of around 1.8 percent in 2019, the same pace as last year, said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently. Bahrain’s central bank governor however said, in early March, he expected growth of 2 to 2.5 percent this year.

Bahrain is benefiting from the US$10 billion (Dh36.7bn) aid pledged by the Arabian Gulf neighbours last October, which has alleviated the kingdom’s financing needs, the IMF said.

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IMF Expects Bahrain economy to grow 1.8 percent in 2019

 

DUBAI – “ASWAQ”

Bahrain’s economy is expected to remain at growth rate of around 1.8 percent in 2019, the same pace as last year, said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently. Bahrain’s central bank governor however said, in early March, he expected growth of 2 to 2.5 percent this year.

 

Bahrain is benefiting from the US$10 billion (Dh36.7bn) aid pledged by the Arabian Gulf neighbours last October, which has alleviated the kingdom's financing needs, the IMF said.

 

In 2018, the smallest Gulf economy released a Fiscal Balance Programme (FBP), which aims to eliminate its fiscal deficit by 2022, and tied to the financial aid from the UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The country received the first tranche of the aid money in February, but did not disclose the amount.

 

“The authorities’ FBP, underpinned by the 2019-2020 budget, has provided a commendable framework to arrest the decline in fiscal and external buffers since 2014,” Bikas Joshi, IMF mission chief to Bahrain, said recently. “The measures envisaged under the FBP are expected to further reduce the fiscal deficit over the medium term, but public debt will continue to increase.”

 

The programme, together with the US$10 billion in aid, “marks a major step in Bahrain’s reform agenda and has alleviated near-term financing constraints,” the IMF said in a statement following its recent visit to the country.

 

Despite the programme, Bahrain’s public debt rose to 93 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) last year, the highest among the Gulf countries., and it expects public debt to continue rising. Thus, additional reform efforts, anchored in a more transparent medium-term agenda, will be needed to ensure fiscal sustainability,” the IMF said.

 

IMF added, “Economic activity was subdued in 2018. Oil output is expected to have declined by 1.2 percent, while non-oil output growth decelerated to 2.5 percent, driven by slowdowns in retail, hospitality, and financial services sectors.”

 

Bahrain needs to contain its fiscal deficit, which fell to 11.7 per cent of GDP in 2018 from 14.2 percent the previous year, partly because of higher oil prices, cuts in utility subsidies and new excise taxes, according to the IMF.

 

The island kingdom plans to tap the global capital markets to help fund its fiscal reform plan in addition to the Gulf aid, the country’s Finance Minister, Sheikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, said in February.

 

The fiscal plan outlines six key initiatives, including reducing government operational and administrative expenditure, and raising revenues through subsidy reductions and the 5 per cent VAT that came into force on January 1. It also includes other measures to boost small and medium-sized enterprises and incentivise private-sector expansion. Despite the progress, the IMF said more reforms are needed by the kingdom.

 

The Fund said, “Additional reform efforts, anchored in a more transparent medium-term agenda, will be needed to ensure fiscal sustainability and support the currency peg, which continues to provide a clear and credible monetary anchor. Further revenue measures, including a direct taxation system such as corporate income tax, could be considered and spending reforms should be designed to protect the most vulnerable.”

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modhesh-world-dubai

Dubai Summer Festival is back starting 21 June until 3 August 2019

Dubai is back with its sizzling annual city-wide summer festival, as Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) returns for the 22nd edition starting 21 June until 3 August 2019. Bigger and brighter than before, the DSS for the upcoming summer season has kicked off and is offering everyone an extravaganza of sales, retail experiences, entertainment, and events. Not just for shoppers, but this popular summer fiesta is a full line-up of not-to-be-missed surprises and activities to keep the whole family entertained. Explore the treasure trove of family fun across town and make the most of Dubai’s bright summers with live concerts, fireworks and discounts almost everywhere in the city.

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Dubai Summer Festival is back starting 21 June until 3 August 2019

 

DUBAI – “ASWAQ”

Dubai is back with its sizzling annual city-wide summer festival, as Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) returns for the 22nd edition starting 21 June until 3 August 2019. Bigger and brighter than before, the DSS for the upcoming summer season has kicked off and is offering everyone an extravaganza of sales, retail experiences, entertainment, and events. Not just for shoppers, but this popular summer fiesta is a full line-up of not-to-be-missed surprises and activities to keep the whole family entertained. Explore the treasure trove of family fun across town and make the most of Dubai’s bright summers with live concerts, fireworks and discounts almost everywhere in the city

 

Organised by Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), this year the summer festival that takes over indoor spaces across Dubai, will offer an array of summer deals across the city’s shopping outlets, attractions, hotels and family entertainment spot

 

DSS promises six weeks of unlimited fun for residents and visitors alike with amazing bargains and incredible world-class entertainment throughout the city. The annual summer festival is one of the most popular events of the retail calendar, having attracted visitors from all over the world in the past years.

 

World-class hotels and resorts make highlife luxury more affordable during this period with discount packages that include extensive buffets and top-notch restaurants. While kids can chill out with special offers at Dubai’s world-class waterparks or chase thrills at the exciting theme parks that are never short on uninterrupted fun Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of DFRE, said: “There is always great anticipation and excitement among the city's residents and visitors for DSS, so we are very pleased to reveal this edition's dates. We look forward to the incredible events and activations that our retail partners have in store for this year's festival. Once again, we encourage everyone to experience all that Dubai has to offer during the summer months”

 

Returning favourites this summer include Modhesh World, Deal of the Day (an exclusive deal every day for one brand, in one location for one day only) announced on the DSS social media daily, live concerts and many more. The festival will also offer new excitements including huge chances to win life-changing prizes throughout the summer season

 

Sales

Last year, 17 malls participated with 700 brands at 3,000 outlets offered discounts. This year, visitors and residents alike, can expect sales across all of Dubai’s major malls, including Mall of the Emirates and Outlet Village. Shops that are involved in the sales will generally have yellow and blue signs in their windows.

 

Entertainment

Throughout the six weeks visitors can expect plenty of entertainment pop ups in malls, especially on weekends; from acrobatics to interactive shows for kids.

There are also ‘big ticket’ shows that are generally still free. Last year Hala Al Turk and Hussain Jassmi performed, and the year before that The Greatest Showman star, Zendaya, visited Dubai as part of the festival

This year’s entertainment events have yet to be announced.

 

Modhesh World

Entry is completely free to this family ‘edutainment’ centre which will take place at Dubai World Trade Centre during the festival. This year will be the 20th annual iteration of Modhesh World

There will be experiences, games, shows and workshops, and visitors will be able to ride, climb, skate, drive, bungee jump, play arcades, read and eat.

Modhesh, a yellow mascot designed to represent sunshine, is the mascot of DSS and has been around since 1997.

 

Competitions

There are also plenty of chance to win throughout DSS; from cars to cash. At last year’s festival, shoppers at Mirdif City Centre had the chance to win a Nissan Patrol, and Majid Al Futtaim malls held a competition for those who spent Dh300 at any of their malls could win Dh1 million

Here are a few reasons why you should attend DSS 2019

  • Awesome deals and promotions for the best retail experience ever.
  • Amazing shop-and-win competitions.
  • Sensational weekly performances by talented musicians and dancers.
  • Thrilling activities (like Ice Skating and Waterpark Rides).
  • Numerous fun character shows and games for children.

UAE Space Agency to launch new satellite developed by students

The UAE Space Agency and EXOLAUNCH have announced a joint agreement to launch MeznSat into orbit by the end of this year.

The agency signed an agreement with EXOLAUNCH, a leading launch service provider specialised in small satellites, for the launch of MeznSat during the Global Space Congress which took place at St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi, in March. The Congress brought together over 900 key decision makers from space agencies, commercial space, academia along with end users of space services.

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UAE Space Agency to launch new satellite developed by students

 

DUBAI – “ASWAQ”

The UAE Space Agency and EXOLAUNCH have announced a joint agreement to launch MeznSat into orbit by the end of this year.

 

The agency signed an agreement with EXOLAUNCH, a leading launch service provider specialised in small satellites, for the launch of MeznSat during the Global Space Congress which took place at St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi, in March. The Congress brought together over 900 key decision makers from space agencies, commercial space, academia along with end users of space services.

 

MeznSat, developed by students from the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) and Khalifa University, will operate using a shortwave infrared spectrometer to measure the abundance and distribution of methane and carbon dioxide in UAE’s atmosphere.

 

A team of students has been assigned to monitor, process, and analyse the data sent from the satellite at a ground station in YahSat Labs in Khalifa University.

 

Director General of the UAE Space Agency, Dr. Eng. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, said, “The MeznSat project falls within the framework of the UAE Space Agency’s strategy, which aims to develop Emirati capacities and expertise and support scientific research. The satellite will play a key role in studying the Earth’s atmosphere and providing high-quality data which will help to address the many challenges facing our planet. It’s a privilege to arrange launch services for the MeznSat mission and support the growth of the UAE’s small satellite industry,” said Jeanne Medvedeva, Launch Services Commercial Director at EXOLAUNCH.

 

Medvedeva said, “As the project also aims at developing competencies in a University setting, our educational background will lead the students through the whole process of a launch arrangement so they will be able to apply these skills in the future. He noted that the firm’s wide experience in cubesat launches will ensure the success of this important milestone.

 

UAE Space Agency’s Head of Space Projects, Eng. Abdulla Al Marar, said, “We will assemble the satellite during the upcoming months and then conduct comprehensive tests in a simulated space environment to ensure that MeznSat will operate efficiently once it is in orbit above Earth. It is crucial that we test the satellite prior to its launch at the end of this year.”

 

“MeznSat will join the outstanding collection of satellites developed, owned and operated by the UAE for a wide range of purposes, from remote sensing and Earth observation to communications and navigation and more, collectively showcasing the UAE's position and leadership within the space industry,” Eng Al Marar said.

 

The UAE Space Agency has launched several satellites since it was established in 2014.

 

But the first satellite built entirely on UAE soil, KhalifaSat, was not set off till October 2018. KhalifaSat was also first to be built by Emirati engineers.

Before the space agency was formed the UAE launched satellites made by Airbus, YahSat 1A and 1B, and Boeing, Thuraya 1, 2 and 3.

 

It also launched the MBRSC DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2, developed as part of a technology transfer programme with South Korea's Satrec Initiative.

More recently in November 2018, UAE-built MYSAT-1 successfully launched. It was crafted by a team of 20 students at Khalifa University.

 

The UAE is also developing a satellite that will orbit Mars, which is set to be launched in 2020 as the first mission to the Red Planet by any Arab or Muslim majority country.

 

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai is looking to create the first holistic diurnal picture of Mars' atmosphere with three science instruments mounted on an orbiter, intending to reach orbit over Mars in early 2021.  

Employers in UAE looking beyond grades when hiring, survey finds

UAE employers are looking beyond the grades when hiring new recruits, as revealed in a study

The survey was conducted by Oliv, a Dubai-based technology firm that runs a youth employment platform and Noon.com, a UAE-based e-commerce platform, having sought the views of 452 graduates and 216 students

Students with one eye on the future need to think about more than just grades if they want to secure the job they want when they step away from the world of education

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Employers in UAE looking beyond grades when hiring, survey finds

 

DUBAI – “ASWAQ”

UAE employers are looking beyond the grades when hiring new recruits, as revealed in a study.

The survey was conducted by Oliv, a Dubai-based technology firm that runs a youth employment platform and Noon.com, a UAE-based e-commerce platform, having sought the views of 452 graduates and 216 students.

 

Students with one eye on the future need to think about more than just grades if they want to secure the job they want when they step away from the world of education

The survey of more than 450 UAE graduates found that higher marks does not increase the chances of getting hired The study further finds that a higher percentage of graduates who achieved lower scores in university exams had secured positions than those who were at the top of the class. Just under half of those polled had already gained employment ahead of graduation.

 

Major employers such as Google and Apple have recently dropped the requirement of a college degree for applicants Oliv’s chief executive officer and founder, Jean-Michel Gauthier, said the results showed indication that UAE employers acknowledge that academic achievement was only part of the equation when it came to hiring the right talent.

 

“UAE employers are following the global trend towards much more holistic hiring processes that take into account a whole range of factors, not just education," according to Jean-Michel Gauthier, chief executive officer and founder of Oliv, speaking to The National “Grades are an indicator of success at university, the working world is a very different environment and requires effective relationship management, communications skills, decision-making abilities and many other skills not reflected in university grades".

 

The survey also found that 70 per cent of graduates polled had completed some form of work experience, of which only 27 per cent was unpaid, a marked improvement on last year, when the survey found that four out of ten internships or work placements were unpaid

“It’s also good to see a decrease in unpaid internships and work experience in this year’s survey. For employers to really get the maximum value out of internship programmes they need to invest in them, both time and money," said Gauthier

 

UAE students are optimistic about securing employment after graduating, with 43 per cent of respondents saying they were confident they would get a job in the country. A quarter of students said they would be willing to wait for a year to find a job in the country.

 

According to Oliv's survey, 37 per cent of students and graduates believe universities need to focus on careers fairs to facilitate jobs for students.

 

A total of 63 per cent of the respondents said they wished to work for multinational corporations while only 11 per cent wanted to work in the government sector.

 

According to the Annual Economic Report 2017, the total labour force in the UAE in 2016 was 6,330,540. The rate of employment was about 77 percent of the total population aged 15 years and above. The overall unemployment rate declined to about 3.7 per cent of the total workforce in 2016 from its level of 3.8 per cent in 2013.

 

Some of the possible reasons that may be keeping graduates unemployed are: filling out online applications randomly, which is not an effective approach for landing a job; not sending the customized CV to make a graduate appear as a natural fit for what the recruiter is looking for in a candidate; not researching about the company so as to be well prepared for the interview; not communicating about the job search as a strong career network is crucial to connect with more people both, online and offline to build a wider professional network; not following up with the hiring manager after the interview to convey to the recruiter that the graduate genuinely wish to work for their company; getting influenced by past failures and inability to face rejections in the job search. Never moan over the past failures but instead learn from them and move ahead.

 

The UAE has traditionally lost students at 18, who have headed instead to international universities, most notably in the UK, US, Canada and Australia. However a buoyant job market in the UAE could eventually turn that around.

Standard Chartered gets Saudi banking licence

Standard Chartered has been licensed to launch banking operations in Saudi Arabia, one of the global bank’s strongest markets. Saudi currently has 27 banks operating in the kingdom, 15 of which are foreign banks.Stanchart, as the bank is popularly known, began talks with regulators in the Kingdom to obtain a banking licence in 2017, as it looked to add the market to the list of more than 70 countries where it already operates. The bank already has a licence from the Capital Markets Authority to offer securities services in the kingdom.

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Standard Chartered gets Saudi banking licence

 

DUBAI – “ASWAQ”

Standard Chartered has been licensed to launch banking operations in Saudi Arabia, one of the global bank’s strongest markets. Saudi currently has 27 banks operating in the kingdom, 15 of which are foreign banks.

 

Stanchart, as the bank is popularly known, began talks with regulators in the Kingdom to obtain a banking licence in 2017, as it looked to add the market to the list of more than 70 countries where it already operates. The bank already has a licence from the Capital Markets Authority to offer securities services in the kingdom.

 

The 150-year-old lender has been operating in the kingdom through Standard Chartered Capital Saudi Arabia since 2009. Its head office in the region is located in Dubai, which is also the centre for its Islamic Banking arm, Standard Chartered Saadiq.

 

The British bank is the latest among international lenders to establish presence in Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy and the world’s biggest oil exporting country that has undertaken an economic overhaul.

 

 “After viewing what had been presented by His Excellency the Minister of Finance, the Cabinet has decided to approve the licence for Standard Chartered Bank allowing it to open a branch in the Kingdom. The decision also delegates the Minister of Finance to decide on any subsequent request to open other branches of the bank in the Kingdom,” said a statement by the Saudi Press Agency.

 

“The council of ministers' approval of the Standard Chartered Bank to operate in the kingdom confirms the kingdom's position on the international map and reflects the strength of the growing Saudi economy,” said Saudi Press Agency. 

 

Central bank chief Ahmed al-Kholifey said to state TV recently, “This will help provide modern banking technology, create more jobs and meet the increasing financing needs in the sector, especially in light of the ambitious plans of Vision 2030.”

 

“The move reflects that the kingdom is open to improve its financial sector and is ready to accept more foreign banks units,” he added.

 

Under its strategy to wean economy off oil, the Saudi government is seeking to boost private sector participation and is reforming its financial sector to allow more foreign banks to access the kingdom to meet the private sector’s financing needs.

 

During its global results presentation recently, Standard Chartered said its Saudi Arabia operations performed well despite slowing oil output in the GCC region.

 

Saudi Arabia’s push to transform its economy, and its plans to sell stakes in state-owned entities including Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producing company, has opened up new business avenues for banks.

 

Last year, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who is driving the economic reforms of the country, said about 20 state-controlled companies will be privatised.

 

The kingdom, which relies heavily on the sale of hydrocarbons for revenues, has turned to debt markets in the wake of a three-year oil price slump, and a low interest rate environment, making it the most attractive market for advisory business for banks.

 

Only a handful of international banks such as JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas, have licences to operate in the kingdom. Others including HSBC have maintained presence through minority stakes in local lenders.

 

Largest Japanese lender Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Abu Dhabi’s FAB and Dubai's Emirates NBD are among other international banks that received licences to launch operations in Saudi Arabia.

An exterior view of the Standard Chartered headquarters is seen in London in this August 7, 2012, file photo.  Standard Chartered was thrown into turmoil last week after a New York banking regulator accused it of hiding $250 billion of banned transactions with Iran. Standard Chartered agreed to pay $340 million on Tuesday to settle the allegations.  REUTERS/Olivia Harris/Files (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS)

Greater investor interest in off-plan homes near Dubai's Expo 2020 site

Upcoming off-plan developments near the Expo 2020 Dubai site are said to be attracting buyer attention and greater investor interest, according to property portal Bayut. 

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Greater investor interest in off-plan homes near Dubai's Expo 2020 site

 

DUBAI – “ASWAQ”

Upcoming off-plan developments near the Expo 2020 Dubai site are said to be attracting buyer attention and greater investor interest, according to property portal Bayut. 

 

Dubai South, Meydan City, Mudon, and Town Square are among the developments that have attracted interest from owners and tenants, Bayut said in a statement.

 

Bayut further said the fact that these projects are backed by builders such as Emaar, Meydan, Sobha, Dubai Properties and Nshama "definitely adds to the increasing interest".

Chief executive officer of Bayut, Haider Ali Khan, said: “We can be optimistic about the growth of areas near EXPO 2020 such as Dubai South, Meydan City, Town Square and Mudon in the next few years.”

 

Commenting on the property trend, Ali Khan, said: "They are well-integrated neighbourhoods which already offer a high ROI to investors. This could improve further when more handovers are completed and tenants have a wider portfolio of properties to choose from.”

 

He said that while a few units have been handed over in Dubai South and Meydan, investors can still find a large portfolio of reasonably priced properties in these emerging districts. Dubai South also offers one of the best options in terms of ROI with rental yields of over 11 percent.

 

According to Bayut data, studio apartments for sale in Dubai South average AED385,000, while 3-bedroom villas are at AED1 million. In Meydan City, prices are higher with 3-bedroom villas going for an average of AED3.3 million and studios averaging AED450,000. However, the premium amenities of the neighbourhood, which includes a golf course, equestrian centre and mall easily justify the higher price tag.

 

Bayut also noted that when it comes to rentals Town Square and Mudon are the emerging areas gaining popularity with its users, with the Arabella Townhouses in Mudon and the Hayat Townhouses in Town Square the most popular out of all sub-communities within the two areas.

 

Prices have come down slightly for villas in both Mudon and Town Square in the first quarter of 2019. The average rent for a 3-bed villa in Mudon is AED125,000 per year and in Town Square, a similar unit is priced at AED100,000. As a result, both areas are extremely attractive alternatives for people who had to rely on areas which are further away such as Mirdif and Al Warqa’a which offer properties at a similar price.

 

Offering a complete suite of real estate services and insights, Bayut is already a great success story in the UAE with 50 million searches performed in 2018 and having the most number of real estate agencies on board than any other website in the region.

 

Ever since the announcement of Expo 2020, construction in Dubai has been moving fast. With one more year to go on the Expo 2020 timeline, real estate projects such as the Dubai Frame, Dubai Water Canal and Dubai Parks and Resorts are open to the public. The 5 top Dubai real estate projects that are expected to be completed for Expo 2020 Dubai: Al Wasl Plaza, the new Dubai metro line Route 2020, Aladdin City, Ain Dubai at Bluewaters Island, and Museum of the Future.

 

With increased supply of properties, it is unlikely that all these units will further impact the property prices this year. Saying this, the government’s efforts of creating relaxed rules on property ownership, the extended visas and hopefully a lower entry point for secondary property mortgages soon are important initiatives to incentivize investment, and will allow the UAE to keep the momentum created by tourism boost after the Expo ends in April 2021.

 

The new visa rules that have recently come into effect, including the 10-year residency visa, will make it easier for those who view Dubai as a world hub to settle here and become contributors to the overall economy. This will also help in soaking up current and upcoming supply and will lead the market to see a much-needed stabilization of prices.

Expo_2020_Dubai_Master_Plan-1

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