Kuwait Finance House using robotic assistant for loan applications

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Kuwait Finance House (KFH) has implemented robotic process automation systems to support customer loan applications.

The robotic process automation bot, named Baitak Assistant, will handle customer loan applications and will autonomously create credit reports for applicants.

KFH says it is the first fully automated workflow for retail credit in the region. The robotic process automation has been created by specialist Blue Prism, based on Microsoft technologies.

“Automation of our retail credit application creation and review process is a natural extension of our ongoing journey to introduce new, digitally driven efficiencies for customers and employees,” said Waleed Mandini, Group Chief Retail, Kuwait Finance House.

“Microsoft has been an invaluable partner and mentor for us throughout this journey, aiding our technology team in the development of the Baitak Assistant and enabling us to empower our service teams to deliver enhanced customer experiences. Automation allows us to reduce waiting times for credit-application creation, and streamline the approval process.”

Reduce workload
The Baitak Assistant bot will calculate the customer’s eligibility status, accounting for current KFH policy and national regulations, and issue a credit-eligibility report. It will forward all relevant material to the Relationship Manager.

The technology will reduce workload for staff members, freeing up time for more sales-generating activity. The bot will also represent a significant cost reduction, stemming from error reduction and increases in compliance.

“Kuwait Finance House has become a digital-transformation pioneer in the regional FSI sector, working tirelessly to engage customers, empower employees, optimise operations and reinvent products and services,” said Charles Nahas, Country Manager, Microsoft Kuwait.

“Improvement of the company’s internal processes and customer experience through digitisation has become part of KFH’s DNA. By ensuring that customers need to spend less time in branches when applying for housing or consumer financing, KFH provide higher customer satisfaction and more efficient services.”


Kuwait Airways forced to cancel flights over Airbus A320 delivery delay

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Kuwait Airways is set to cancel some of its flights as it looks to lease three aircraft to cover for a delay in aircraft deliveries.

The national carrier said it was due to receive three new Airbus A320 Neo aircraft in March this year, but has been informed by the French manufacturer that they will be delayed and delivered in June, October and November of this year.

Kuwait Airways had suspended operations of its older Airbus A320 aircraft since April 1, which have been put in “standstill mode” in preparation for their sale and in anticipation of the new aircraft being delivered.

As a result, Kuwait Airways said it will have to cancel some flights.

“Kuwait Airways may be required to temporarily cancel some of our current flights and merge other flights to cope with these circumstances while we work diligently to restore or planned operating schedule within a few days,” the airline said.

“All alternatives are being considered to accommodate our passengers and ensure the least minimum disruption to their travel itinerary.”

Kuwait Airways expects that it will have the new leased aircraft within the next two weeks.


Kuwait’s Jazeera Airways launches in-flight shop with Trolley

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Low-cost carrier Jazeera Airways has announced a partnership with Kuwait-based convenience chain, Trolley, to provide an on-board retail experience for passengers.

With over 100 unique items, the on-board convenience store will include personal and children care, food and beverages, games, skin care, and electronics, a statement said.

Jazeera Airways CEO, Rohit Ramachandran, said: “We continue at Jazeera Airways to bring convenience to our customers, making their travel experience more enjoyable. We have the pleasure today to be partnering with Trolley which has become a leading service provider in Kuwait, to introduce their wide range of travel-related retail products on-board all our flights.”

The on-board convenience store will be available for Business and Economy Class passengers, in addition to the on-board duty free shop.

Trolley co-founder and CEO, Mohammed Boodai, added: “We are glad to be the first in the Middle East to introduce a unique concept of convenience store in the sky. Trolley will be serving its versatile range on-board Jazeera Airways to enable passengers to buy what they need while travelling.”

Trolley is a chain of convenience stores that opens shops in locations such as universities, gas stations and malls.


$494bn construction projects active in Kuwait

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Construction projects worth more than $494 billion are currently active in Kuwait, according to new research by ProTenders.

Of these, projects worth $15.5 billion (3.1 percent) are on hold, the consultancy said in a statement.

Projects in the design stage are valued at $243.5 billion (49.3 percent) while another $63 billion (12.8 percent) are in the planning stage while $140.9 billion worth of projects are in the construction phase, making up 28.5 percent of the total.

Of the project under construction, most (44 percent) are in the oil and gas sector while infrastruction projects make up 21.9 percent and the urban buildings sector make up 34.1 percent, ProTenders data showed.

Total upcoming projects in Kuwait are worth $337.7 billion, with the large majority in the urban buildings sector (72.7 percent). Oil and gas makes up 12 percent and infrastructure 15.4 percent.

ProTenders said the top five developers in the Gulf country are currently the Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development with $125 billion worth of projects, followed by the Kuwait Authority for Partnership Projects ($50.5 billion), Kuwait National Petroleum Company ($45.8 billion), the Ministry of Public Works ($30.2 billion) and Kuwait Oil Company ($23.7 billion).


India-Bhutan sign Rs 4,500 crore Mangdechhu Hydro project’s power tariff protocol

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Following prime ministerial level bilateral agreement between India and Bhutan, both the countries have finally signed tariff protocol for the output of 720 Megawatt Mangdechhu hydropower project. First yield of this Rs 4,500-crore Bhutan project is set to get into India’s national power pool by May-June this year.

The agreement was signed by Bhutan’s economic affairs secretary, Dasho Yeshi Wangdi and the power secretary of India, Ajay Kumar Bhalla in Bhutan’s capital Thimphu.

Prior to this protocol finalisation, basic tariff structure was agreed upon by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bhutanese counterpart Lotay Tshering in December last year.

As per the finalised protocol detail provided by Bhutan Government’s Ministry of Economic Affairs, the starting tariff for a term of 35 years is Ngultrum 4.21 (Eqv. INR 4.21) per unit. That will go up at a rate of 10% every 5 years till Bhutan’s loan for the project is repaid and 5% afterward. Government of ..


Yangon Region to Launch Projects to Ease Traffic in Two Townships

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Traffic congestion is the bane of all commuters in cities around the world, and Yangon is no exception. According to calculations by the Asia Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), there are roughly 2.8 million commuters in Yangon. About 70,000 of these ride the trains, while very few people take the water buses that run along Yangon River.

The situation can be enough to raise the blood pressure, at times. It has needed attention, and now efforts are under way to curb the congestion.

Yangon Regional Government has launched multi-transport projects in Pazundaung and Kyeemyindaing Townships. To accomplish the goal of reducing traffic snarls and delays, they plan to integrate three different means of transport: trains, cars and ships.

“In order to provide more efficient, effective, and convenient transportation, we will try to integrate road and waterway transport,” U Phyo Min Thein, Chief Minister of Yangon, said. “We are currently doing feasibility studies for these projects, in the hopes of easing traffic congestion.”

Currently, water buses run along the Yangon River, and plans are in the works to expand the service in Ngamoeyeik Creek, following feasibility studies of the projects and their safety. Plans are in the works to dismantle the old bridge.

The regional government chose Kyeemindaing and Pazundaung Townships because they are located at the juncture of road and waterway transport routes. Plans to improve them in both the short and long term are in the works.

Daw Ni Lar Kyaw, Regional Minister for the Ministry of Electricity, said: “Now, we are building jetties along the bank of Ngamoeyeik Creek for ships. Moreover, projects to renovate the circular railway are nearly complete in western areas. We will connect the waterway and railway.”


Digital Economy Association To License Online Shops

The Ministry of Commerce and the Union Federation of Commerce and Industry will be forming a new organization. It will be called the Digital Economy Association, and its purpose will be to handle disputes over products sold online.

Why is this necessary? Online shops are very popular among people who want to start their own businesses, and the number of online shops in Myanmar has increased rapidly in recent years.

Additionally, online shops on Facebook are selling various consumer items, ranging from handicrafts and antiques to electronic products and vehicles. People in Myanmar now seem to accept Facebook as the best platform to reach out to consumers, and to establish a digital presence as a seller.

However, there are cases in which consumer rights have been violated. Furthermore, because the industry is wholly unregulated, some online shops now offer smuggled products with lower prices than when they are sold by official traders and importers, according to an official from the Myanmar Retailers Association.

All of this is nothing but a recipe for trouble, both for buyers who could easily be scammed, and for licensed traders and importers. For these reasons, the government is taking action to draft the E-Commerce Law, which will regulate e-commerce in Myanmar.

An official from the Consumers Protection Department said: “It is better to have a law regulating the industry, in order to protect consumers.”

The new Digital Economy Association will list online shopping businesses, and help them officially register. The ministry is now in talks with other government agencies to register online shopping businesses.


Capstone Wins Order for Microturbines in Basra

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US-based Capstone Turbine Corporation (Nasdaq: CPST) has announced today that it has secured an order for two C600 Signature Series microturbines to provide 1.2 megawatts (MW) of energy to power a triethylene glycol (TEG) dehydration facility in the Basra region of Southern Iraq.

The order also includes Capstone’s new self-cleaning pulse filtration system which will allow the microturbines to endure the remote and sandy conditions with minimal maintenance. The order was secured by Technical Solutions to Industry FZE (TSI), Capstone’s authorized distributor to Iraq and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Fueled by available raw gas, Capstone’s two C600S microturbines will power 100% of the new dehydration facility. The new facility is part of a larger 25-year joint venture between local gas and leading oil producer’s efforts to capture, treat and monetize associated gas currently being flared from three southern Iraq oilfields.

Capstone recently developed a new line of self-cleanable severe environment air filtration systems for its Signature Series line of microturbine products to facilitate its expansion into the oil and gas business in the Middle East as part of its overall double digit revenue growth strategy.

The company announced its intentions to expand its business into the Middle East a couple of years ago and has previously delivered successful projects in Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Capstone expects that higher oil prices and the move towards reduced gas flaring will continue to drive demand and should provide a positive backdrop for Capstone’s low emission microturbine solutions.

Darren Jamison, President and Chief Executive Officer of Capstone, said:

“Flaring is the traditional way to dispose of unwanted gas produced during oil exploration activities, but the long standing practice creates an immense amount of carbon dioxide emissions and adds to climate change.

“In Iraq alone, 16 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas is flared annually, making it a wasted resource that could instead provide electricity or other benefits to meet the predicted doubling demand by 2030.”

Iraq is one of the world’s biggest energy producers and is set to become the fourth-largest oil-producer by 2030 behind the United States, Saudi Arabia and Russia according to the IEA report, Iraq’s Energy Sector: A Roadmap to a Brighter Future 2019.

At the same time, 60-70% of gas produced is being flared due to the lack on infrastructure causing Iraq to import natural gas from the neighboring country of Iran. To improve efficiency and help with shortfalls due to rising electricity demand, the Iraqi government is working with international gas companies to capture and utilize its resources versus flaring.

Jim Crouse, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Capstone, said:

“As pressure for more efficient and environmentally conscious oil and gas production increases, we continue to see an increased demand for microturbines for flare reduction applications.

“Capstone, through its distributor network, is committed to do its part by educating and working with producers and local operators for a more profitable production. Flare reduction applications like this in Basra can have a payback as short as one year which makes it an economic win as well as an environmental win.”


“Invaluable Steps” to Cement Ties with Iraq

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Iran’s Ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi highlighted the importance of bilateral relations between the two neighboring countries and said Tehran has taken major strides to strengthen ties with Baghdad.

“We are trying to boost our relations with Iraq in all areas,” Masjedi said, addressing an appreciation ceremony for the outgoing Iranian consuls in the Iraqi cities of Sulaymaniyah and Karbala.

“The embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Baghdad, as well as the affiliated organizations and consulates and other governmental agencies of Iran in Iraq, have taken invaluable strides and actions at various political, economic and security levels to strengthen relations between the two countries in recent years,” the diplomat noted.

Masjedi further pointed to historical, cultural and ideological commonalities of the two countries and said closer ties in all fields are in line with the interests of both Iran and Iraq.

Iran and Iraq enjoy cordial political, security and cultural ties but due to some internal and regional problems including Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL) terrorism in Iraq, they have not been able to increase their trade volume.

Heading a high-ranking delegation, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif recently paid an official visit to Iraq to boost ties with the Arab country in the sanctions era.

US President Donald Trump’s administration announced plans in March to extend a 90-day waiver for the second time to let Iraq continue energy imports from Iran.

(Source: http://www.iraq-businessnews.com/2019/06/07/invaluable-steps-to-cement-ties-with-iraq/)

Korean SMEs “Go Bankrupt” Due to Sanctions on Iran

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The chairman of Iran-South Korea Joint Chamber of Commerce said following last year’s move by the US to renew sanctions against the Islamic Republic, some Korean companies went bankrupt.

Speaking to Tasnim, Hossein Tanhayee pointed to the 70 percent fall in bilateral trade between Iran and South Korea after the re-imposition of the US sanctions and said the reduction of exchanges have been against the will of the Korean companies.

After the anti-Tehran sanctions, major Korean corporations were forced to look at their trade relations with Iran with great consideration, the official said.

Two major banks of the East Asian country had also many problems in their cooperation with the Islamic Republic due to the embargoes, he added,

Tanhayee went on to say that all of these problems led to the decline in Iran-South Korea economic relations, causing the bankruptcy of many so-called SMEs or small and medium-sized enterprises in South Korea that had ties with Iran.

Back in February, South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha voiced Seoul’s willingness to sustain the age-old relations with Iran regardless of the Western sanctions against Tehran.

Earlier, South Korean Ambassador to Tehran Ryu Jeong-hyun said that despite many European companies leaving Iran under the pressure of the US sanctions, South Korean firms understand the significance of the Iranian market and have chosen to stay.

In response to US sanctions, Iran and its trade partners have been negotiating the reduction of the US dollar’s share in mutual trade.

Russia, Turkey, India, Iraq, Qatar, China, and others have been actively taking steps to switch to national currencies in settlements in order to bypass Washington’s pressure.