How Dubai’s big names dominated property sales in early 2019

Scion Industrial Engineering

Dubai master developers Emaar Properties, Dubai Hills Estate and Nakheel accounted for the bulk of property sales transactions in Dubai in the first two months of 2019, according to new data from Property Finder.

According, Emaar sold 1,374 homes in January and February, representing 24 percent of the total.

Dubai Hills Estate – a JV between Emaar and Meraas – sold 601 homes (10 percent), compared to Nakheel’s 359 homes (6 percent).

Property Finder said the three companies are among the few developers to launch off-plan projects in the last few months, with most developers in Dubai focused on clearing their existing inventory.

Positive residential sales were also recorded by Damac Properties, Dubai Holding, Seven Tides International, Azizi Developments and Danube Properties, the data shows.

In terms of value, Emaar secured deals worth AED 3.56 billion, compared to AED 1.08 billion for Dubai Hills Estate and AED 664 million for Dubai Holding.

“In Dubai last year, we saw a number of long-time renters who converted to homeowners, in part due to attractive prices and payment plans in newly handed over projects,” said Lynette Abad, Property Finder’s director of data and research.

“The combined effect is a healthy trend where off-plan investors are profiting from affordable housing and the number of homeowners is also increasing,” she added.

In terms of off-plan sales, Emaar sold 1,043 homes (34 percent) compared to 539 homes (18 percent) for Dubai Hills Estate and 163 (5 percent) for Dubai Holding.

“Emaar share value has risen by 13% since the beginning of the year as they have taken over 49% of the market share in the first two months of 2019,” Lynnette added.

In terms of the value of off-plan sales, Emaar sold properties worth AED 2.45 billion, or 49 percent, compared to just AED 688,200 (14 percent) for Dubai Hills Estate and AED 308,242 (6 percent) for Dubai Holding.


DIFC FinTech Hive launches new cycle of accelerators programme

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The DIFC FinTech Hive, the largest financial technology accelerator in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, has announced it is now accepting applications for the third cycle of its accelerator programme.

The third cycle will kick off in September, welcoming select FinTech start-ups to an intensive three-month programme, which will include guidance and mentorship from 21 partners, comprising financial institutions, insurance firms and strategic partners.

The start-ups will be presented with the opportunity to engage with executives from their respective fields at an early stage of their development and will be given the chance to advance and test innovative technologies.

During a launch event, there was significant interest in FinTech technologies that address credit scoring, customer acquisition and onboarding, as well as cyber security and data analytics.

Raja Al Mazrouei, executive vice president of DIFC FinTech Hive, said: “We are excited to begin accepting and reviewing applications for the third cycle of the programme. FinTech Hive plays a crucial role in DIFC’s efforts to shape the future of the regional financial landscape.

“This year, we have continued to work closely with our programme partners to identify the challenges from the very beginning and benefit from their insights at an early stage. These valuable insights help our finalists develop technological solutions that are relevant and impactful in today’s financial world.”

FinTech start-ups this year will receive mentorship from partners including Finablr, Standard Chartered, Visa, National Bank of Fujairah, Emirates Islamic, Emirates NBD, Noor Bank, HSBC, Riyad Bank, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Arab Bank and First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Last year’s edition saw over 80 mentorship pairings established between executives from leading financial organisations and programme start-ups.

In addition, the accelerator initiated 20 proof of concepts, of which four were executed during the 12-week programme.
DIFC also announced a further AED10 million commitment towards the expansion of the FinTech Hive workspace.


Dubai’s Dragon Mart adds extra parking as shopper demand grows

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Dragon Mart, the Dubai retail and trading hub, has added 900 extra parking spaces to meet growing customer demand, Nakheel said on Thursday.

A new multi-storey car park has opened at Dragon Mart, which sees 40 million shoppers each year, to bring the total number of parking bays to more than 9,000.

The new car park is part of the AED169 million Dragon City phase three, which also features a retail showroom complex, which is set to open soon.

Dragon City currently comprises Dragon Mart, its sister mall, Dragon Mart 2 and an ibis Styles hotel. Dragon Towers, the first residential development at the community, and a Premier Inn hotel, are under construction.

Dragon Mart is owned and operated by Nakheel Malls, the retail arm of Nakheel.

Its opening comes hot on the heels of the RTA’s launch of phase 2 of International City’s AED400 million road improvement scheme – funded by Nakheel to the tune of AED201 million – which went live last Saturday.


Djibouti ordered to pay DP World JV over $385m in port dispute

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Doraleh Container Terminal, in which DP World owns 33%, is successful in London Court of International Arbitration

Doraleh Container Terminal (DCT), a Djibouti port operator owned 33.3 percent by Dubai-based DP World, has been successful in the London Court of International Arbitration proceeding against the Republic of Djibouti.

The tribunal has ordered Djibouti to pay DCT $385 million plus interest for breach of its exclusivity by development of container facilities at Doraleh Multipurpose Terminal, with further damages possible if Djibouti develops a planned Doraleh International Container Terminal with any other operator without the consent of DP World.

The tribunal has found that by developing new container port opportunities with China Merchants Holdings International Co Limited, a Hong-Kong based port operator, Djibouti has breached DCT’s rights under its 2006 concession agreement to develop a container terminal at Doraleh.

It added: “In respect of the development of the Djibouti Multipurpose Port facility, the facts are clear. At no stage before the decision was made to go ahead with that facility with China Merchants did… Djibouti… offer… DCT… the right to develop the proposed container facilities at the DMP.

“Djibouti was therefore in breach of clause 3.6.3 of the Concession Agreement”. China Merchants also operates a $3.5 billion free trade zone it developed pursuant to an agreement with Djibouti, in contravention of DP World’s exclusive right to develop and operate such a free zone under its own concession, which is the subject of other litigation proceedings.”

The tribunal also ordered Djibouti to pay DCT $148 million for historic non-payment of royalties for container traffic not transferred to DCT once it became operational. Djibouti is also ordered to pay DCT’s legal costs.

This is the fifth substantial ruling in DCT and DP World’s favour on disputes relating to the Doraleh terminal.

DCT and DP World said they continue to seek to uphold their legal rights, following Djibouti’s unlawful efforts to expel DP World from Djibouti and transfer the port operation to Chinese interests.

Litigation against China Merchants also continues before the Hong Kong courts.

In February 2018, the Djibouti government cancelled DP World’s contract, signed in 2006, to run the Doraleh Container Terminal. DP World claimed this attempted renationalisation was illegal and began court proceedings, resulting in the the latest ruling.


Adnoc Distribution reveals new dividend policy amid strong growth

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UAE’s largest fuel and convenience retailer says it will award a 63% rise in annual dividend for fiscal year 2019

Shareholders of Adnoc Distribution, the UAE’s largest fuel and convenience retailer, on Thursday approved a significant increase in dividends.

Under the new policy, the company said it will increase its annual dividend payment, starting in 2019, in recognition of the a strong financial performance and cash position in 2018, as well as its confidence in future prospects.

It said it will award an annual dividend for fiscal year 2019 of AED2.39 billion ($650 million), a 63 percent increase compared to 2018.

It added that an annual dividend for fiscal year 2020 of AED2.57 billion will be awarded with a minimum payout of 75 percent of distributable profits from 2021 onwards.

Adnoc Distribution said the new policy reflects the shareholders’ trust in the company, following its robust financial performance in 2018, when it reported AED2.1 billion in net profit, an increase of 18 percent from 2017.

Shareholders also approved a second and final dividend payment of AED735 million for the year ended December 31 2018 on top of an initial AED735 million dividend payment for the year, which was paid in October.

Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Adnoc Distribution’s chairman, said: “The new dividend policy approved today demonstrates our commitment to our shareholders and our confidence in the company’s future prospects and growth strategy. As we expand the Adnoc Distribution business, we will continue to look at both organic and inorganic growth options to deliver ambitious, but disciplined growth that delivers attractive returns.”

During 2018, the company opened 17 new service stations in the UAE, including the company’s first three locations in Dubai and also opened itss first two service stations in Saudi Arabia

Saeed Mubarak Al Rashdi, Adnoc Distribution’s acting CEO, said: “Our balance sheet is strong, and we continue to generate significant cash flow. We have an extremely compelling investment proposition that we expect to continue into 2019 and beyond.”


Dubai retailer Union Coop plans to double online sales in 2019

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Largest consumer cooperative in the UAE expects AED30 million sales in 2019, nearly double that seen last year

Union Coop, the largest consumer cooperative in the UAE, has revealed that it expects AED30 million sales in 2019, nearly double that seen last year.

The retailer said it is seeking to sell more than 60,000 units from its web store and online partners, up from 22,357 in 2018.

Khalid Humaid Bin Diban Al Falasi, CEO of Union Coop, said: “Our web store crossed AED5 million in sales by February and at the same rate we are looking forward to a figure of AED30 million in sales by 2019-end, nearly twice compared to the AED15.8 million sales of 2018.

“Today, the web store offers premier facilities like same day or next day delivery for fresh and frozen groceries all over Dubai.”

As part of a major push online, Falazi said Union Coop is deploying cutting-edge technology in its web store to offer a next-generation shopping experience to consumers and is collaborating with renowned digital channels and marketplaces such as,,, Dukkaani and

He added that the company also plans to expand its home delivery service this year to reach Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah.

“One can expect more changes and updates in the future to the web store as we have to keep up with the changing technology to make the customer experience even better,” he said.

As well as its online presence, Union Coop also recently announced plans to nearly triple its portfolio to 6.26 million sq ft by 2022 as it predicts an 84 percent jump in revenue.

Union Coop, which began its journey with Satwa branch, now has 15 branches and two malls, and 16 future projects in the five-year forecast.


New Abu Dhabi entertainment hub set for 2020 completion

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Al Qana waterfront project will offer waterside eateries, cinema, the Middle East’s largest aquarium, marina, a wellness hub and outdoor skatepark

Al Barakah International Investment (BII) has announced that its Al Qana wterfront project in Abu Dhabi is on course for completion in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Al Qana, which spans over 2.4km and will offer waterside eateries, cinema, the Middle East’s largest aquarium, marina, a wellness hub and outdoor skatepark, is being developed as part of a public-private partnership between BII and Abu Dhabi Municipality.

Al Qana is located on the historic natural Khor Al Maqta, the waterway bordering the mainland close to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and will dedicate over 50 percent of the leasable area being assigned to entertainment.

To underline this, Al Qana has brought on board a key partner, The National Aquarium of Abu Dhabi, which will be the largest of its kind in the Middle East.

Moataz Mashal, managing director of BII, said in a statement: “In line with the capital’s vision for 2030, this new landmark destination will play a key role in supporting the government to realise its vision of enhancing Abu Dhabi’s status as one the world’s most popular destinations for business, leisure, lifestyle and entertainment.

“Al Qana will offer a new lifestyle for residents through exciting dining destinations and convenient facilities, whilst also being an attractive place for tourists to visit, in close proximity to many of the most famous landmarks in the capital.”

Stuart Gissing, general manager of Al Qana, added: “Since the launch of the project, our team of experts have been working closely with the authorities and our partners to ensure a unique, vibrant mix of complementary commercial services and facilities that bolster the value to investors, tenants and customers.

“We have been looking for the best experts in their fields and made key hires as we remain committed to create a quality multi-excitement destination that will keep pace with ever growing need to offer entertainment and memorable experiences at every level, with the requirements of visitors, whilst also reflecting Abu Dhabi’s multicultural society.”

Al Qana is the first build-operate-transfer model implemented by the Abu Dhabi Municipality. International Construction Contracting Company is the lead contractor of the project.


Emirates says to add more flights to Cairo amid rising demand

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Emirates will four additional flights a week to its existing thrice-daily service from October 28

Emirates has announced it will increase the frequency of flights between Dubai and Cairo, adding four additional flights a week to its existing thrice-daily service.

The four new flights operating on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, which start on October 28, will take the total number of weekly Emirates flights serving Cairo to 25.

“Cairo is a very popular destination for both business and leisure travellers, and the additional flights will provide our customers with greater flexibility in their travel choices… We’ve seen a consistent demand for the Emirates experience, with passenger occupancy on the route averaging 90 per cent,” said Orhan Abbas, Emirates’ senior vice president, Commercial Operations Africa.

Similar to the current service, the new flights will be operated by a Boeing 777-300ER in a three-class configuration, adding 1,416 seats each way per week on the route.

In 2018, Emirates SkyCargo transported over 35,750 tonnes of cargo including both exports of close to 19,750 tonnes and imports of 16,000 tonnes on the route. Close to 90 percent of the commodities exported from Cairo are fruits and vegetables.

The flight increase will bring about an additional 160 tonnes of cargo capacity per week to and from Cairo on top of the more than 800 tonnes of cargo capacity already provided on Emirates’ flights.

Emirates started operations to Cairo in April 1986 with three flights a week. Emirates operates 21 weekly flights between Cairo and Dubai.

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Mechanism Commensurate with INSTEX “to be Established Soon”

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Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Abdonnaser Hemmati said a mechanism commensurate with the European Union’s mechanism for trade with Iran, known as the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), will be established in the country soon.

“In the talks that my colleagues had with representatives from the three European countries (Britain, France and Germany) and the president of INSTEX at the CBI (office) in Tehran last week, they gave a full explanation of the Iranian mechanism in line with the European mechanism,” Hemmati said late on Friday.

“We are waiting for practical measures from Europe,” the official said, adding that the Iranian mechanism known as STFI will be established in Tehran in the near future.

Earlier this week, the president of the INSTEX traveled to Tehran to hold talks with senior Iranian officials on ways to make the mechanism operational.

INSTEX is based in Paris and managed by the German banking expert Per Fischer.

The three European countries that are signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are reportedly going to use the channel initially only to sell food, medicine and medical devices in Iran.

In May 2018, the US president pulled his country out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal that was achieved in Vienna in 2015 after years of negotiations among Iran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany).

Following the US withdrawal, Iran and the remaining parties launched talks to save the accord.


Turkish-Iranian Trade Disappoints Big Time

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By Mehmet Cetingulec for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

Turkey and Iran have maintained cooperation in regional affairs in recent years, including most notably joint efforts for a settlement in Syria but also solidarity against US and Israeli policies in the Middle East. Earlier this month, Turkey’s interior minister even raised the prospect of a joint operation against Kurdish militants.

The political solidarity has been widely expected to strengthen bilateral trade, with a number of steps taken to that effect. In 2015, a preferential trade agreement between the two neighbors lowered tariffs on 125 industrial and 142 agricultural products. Two years later, a swap agreement took effect to allow the use of national currencies in bilateral trade.

When introducing the preferential trade agreement, the two countries had set a target to boost the volume of bilateral trade to $35 billion. Four years on, the result is a disappointment in full measure. In 2018, bilateral trade was worth $9.3 billion, the lowest level over the past nine years.