Dubai firm to launch cost-saving electric motorcycles in the UAE

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A Dubai-based start-up plans to launch electric motorcycles next month that could save delivery drivers almost $7,000 a year.

Adam Ridgway, CEO of One Moto, who describes the company as “to electric motorcycles what Tesla is to cars”, revealed the electric scooters – the Electa (AED16,450/$4,479) and Byka (AED14,950/$4,000) – will be available from September 1.

The Electa is a modern take on the classic Vespa scooter, according to Ridgway, who also told Arabian Business the Byka – which has been designed to cater for the delivery market – will be a “game changer”.

“We truly believe that with the right support, belief and a little luck we will be able to completely eradicate the need for petrol delivery bikes in the UAE within three years, and across the MENA/APAC in five years,” said Ridgway.

He is confident that the cost of a delivery rider could be slashed by up to AED25,000 ($6,800) in the first year when taking into account petrol charges and maintenance – there are also no Salik charges or registration fees as part of government incentives.

UAE designed

Designed in the UAE, the electric motorcycles have a high-capacity range of 120-150kms per charge and high-power output for a quick acceleration and speed of 86km/h.

The vehicle plugs into a standard three-pin socket and the battery gives a life of between 90km and 150km. The full charging takes between four and six hours and 80 percent charge in one hour.

“The most convenient way to owning a One Moto scooter is having multiple battery packs, one for home, one for the office and one in the bike – we swap them with our colleagues and friends, so we always have full batteries,” said Ridgway, who aims to put 50,000 commuters on the road by 2022.

“If your friends also buy a One Moto scooter they’ll also have batteries, so swap and share. You don’t need a specialised charging point, which is a bonus for scooter riders (as cars need a charging station), so if you live in town and city centres apartment blocks – just plug it in to your home/office electricity supply.”

Expansion plans
The vehicles, which will be sold online, are also environmentally friendly.

Ridgway, who revealed plans to expand into Saudi, Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and South Africa, said: “Motorcycles use less fuel than cars, however, better fuel economy doesn’t always result in fewer emissions. Most motorcycles create more air pollution and smog than cars. Bikes produce less carbon dioxide, but they release more carbon monoxide.

“In total there are around 12,000 bikes in the UAE. When you start looking at the carbon emissions, behind aircrafts, petrol-powered motorcycles are the worst. It’s shocking. There’s a huge market out there.”


Areas in Dubai offering the best rental yield

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Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) apartments offer the best gross rental returns in Dubai at 9.5 percent, according to the latest Property Finder Trends report.

The average rental yield in global property hotspots such as London (2.7 percent), Hong Kong (2.4 percent), New York (2.9 percent) and Singapore (2.5 percent) hover in the low single digits while Dubai properties consistently offer over 7 percent gross returns on average.

Rental yields, one of the most important considerations for mid to long-term investors, is the rental income (the money a tenant pays to the landlord) divided by the purchase price of the property.

In the first half of the year, DSO proved the most lucrative, while new communities such as Meydan and Damac Hills offered gross rental yields of 9.3 percent and 8.9 percent respectively.

Investor favourites such as International City (8.4 percent), Dubai Sports City (8.4 percent), International Media Production City and Arjan (both at 7.6 percent) continued to offer good returns for buyers.

Among villa and townhouse communities in Dubai, Town Square offered the highest gross returns at 7.8 percent in H1 2019, the ‘Trends’ report added. This was followed by The Springs (6.6 percent), Reem – Mira (6.4 percent), Mudon (6.3 percent) and Jumeirah Village Circle (6.2 percent).

Luxury villa communities such as Palm Jumeirah Signature Villas, Palm Jumeirah Garden Homes, Emirates Hills, Jumeirah Islands and Mohammed Bin Rashid City offer smaller yields ranging between 2 to 4 percent.

“Despite a sustained contraction in prices, Dubai still holds its own as an investment hotspot with attractive yields and new legislative initiatives to further entice investors and companies,” said Lynnette Abad, director of data and research, Property Finder.

The affordable community of Al Reef leads in terms of offering Abu Dhabi’s gross rental yields for both apartments and villas/townhouses at 8.5 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively.

Apartments in Al Ghadeer (8.3 percent) and Al Raha Beach (7.2 percent) also find favour with investors while villas and townhouses in Al Raha Gardens (5.7 percent) and Golf Gardens (5.5 percent) are also popular with those looking to make a rental income.

Apartments in Ajman’s Emirates City provided the UAE’s best gross rental yield at 11 percent. Al Hamra Village in Ras Al Khaimah (9 percent) and Ajman Downtown (8 percent) also provided apartment buyers with robust rental returns.

Meanwhile, villas in Ajman’s Al Mwaihat (6 percent), Al Hamra Village in RAK (5.2 percent) and Al Zahraa in Ajman (4.9 percent) rounded up the top three list of best gross returns.


Empowering women in the UAE: The power of the private sector

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Over the past decade, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has made significant strides in empowering women and ensuring they play an increasingly important role in the workplace. The UAE government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been crucial in this regard, deploying a variety of tools to better integrate women into the economy. Yet while a solid foundation has been created for women to maximise their potential, efforts from the government and NGOs alone will simply not suffice. To truly level the playing field in the UAE, the private sector – along with its vast wealth and resources – must step up to fill the gap.

The UAE government continues to make considerable progress in increasing female participation in the workplace through a number of initiatives. A great example of this is the UAE Gender Balance Council, established by the government in 2015, which aims to help place the UAE among the top 25 countries for gender equality by 2021. In line with this goal, a resolution was recently passed to increase female representation in the Federal National Council (FNC) to 50 percent.

The government has also introduced laws to encourage women to join the workforce including the 2018 ‘Law on Equal Wages and Salaries for Men and Women’, as well as paid maternity leave and reduced working hours for new mothers. It is likely that these policies will have a positive impact on GDP: estimates indicate that the MENA region would benefit from a 50 percent boost in economic output if women participate in the workforce to the same extent as men.

The government has further encouraged women to join the workforce through dedicated empowerment summits, including Winspire 2019 in Dubai, which took place under the Patronage of Her Excellency Sheikha Fatima Nasser Bin Sultan Bin Salem Alqassimi. To further facilitate dialogue around the topic, the Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC) collaborated with the University of Wollongong on a research study to gain a better understanding of the role of women in the local workplace. The project looked at factors linked to both attaining and succeeding in leadership positions, with the overall objective of catalysing female professional development opportunities in the future.

International organisations have also played an active role in advancing female inclusion across the UAE, with the UAE recently signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with UN Women to help increase female participation in the military and in peacekeeping positions across the Arab region. The initiative, first announced in September of 2018, provides women with basic military and peacekeeping training, providing them with the necessary skills excel in the field.

Beyond the UN, local NGOs have also played their part. As an example, the NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA) met with academic institutions, municipal councils and ladies club branches in Sharjah. The meetings, which occurred in May 2018, allowed them to promote their programmes which aim to develop and encourage women to excel in their communities .

Evidently, a great deal has been done to integrate women into the UAE economy, positively affecting many lives along the way. Nevertheless, much remains to be done, as reflected in the country’s female labour force participation rate. Presently, this stands at about 51 percent, which fares well when compared to the global female average of 47 percent, but still low compared to the UAE male average of 92 percent. In this context, the private sector, with all its economic might, constitutes perhaps the most crucial element in redressing the balance.

Fortunately, the UAE private sector has shown encouraging signs that it is stepping up across the UAE and pursuing a concerted drive to endow women with new skills and opportunities. Aviation provides a case in point, with the UAE’s aviation industry employing the most female pilots, captains, and aircraft engineers than any other country in the MENA region. Furthermore, the UAE is also the first country to have launched an all-female airline. In the healthcare sector, five Emirati female students were recently selected for a two-week medical training programme in the United States. Announced in July 2019, this was part of the Future Medical Stars initiative, which is a joint collaboration with VPS Healthcare and Fatima College of Health Sciences.

Private companies have also been active in addressing the gender gap in the UAE’s finance and fintech sectors. For instance, the UAE Women in Finance Forum was recently held to promote a shared vision for greater inclusion. In banking, Standard Chartered UAE launched the Goal initiative to provide financial literacy, life skills and employability training to young women. The bank also launched the Women in Tech Accelerator programme in the UAE aimed at promoting the economic and social development of female entrepreneurs. Finally, with 56 percent of graduates in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) programmes in the UAE being women, large technology companies are hosting events with female industry leaders to inspire and lead the way for other young women .

Achieving equal opportunity for all in the workforce is an important moral principle and acts as a catalyst for other positive societal outcomes such as improved financial and physiological well-being. While the government and many NGOs have taken significant steps to empower women in the workplace, private sector companies must do their part if the gap is to truly be closed. Earlier this year, we launched the Art Gap concept to highlight the fact that that paintings by women are sold for 47.6% less than those by men. So, we decided to collaborate with 19 artists representing 11 nationalities to create art pieces that were 47.6% empty which was their dramatic interpretation of pay gap. Our intention was to inspire equality not just in banking but across all industries.

Organisations with effective initiatives in place provide a useful blueprint for others to follow. Above all, we should remind ourselves that this is not about empowering one group over another. By paving the way for women to fully participate in the economy, the UAE will grow at a faster rate, ultimately benefiting the society as a whole.


Gulf countries strengthen oil coordination amid tensions: Kuwait

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Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister said countries in the Gulf have strengthened coordination to provide oil to global markets amid increased regional tensions.

“It is normal amid this escalation that Kuwait and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries take these steps,” Khalid al-Jarallah told reporters late Sunday on the sidelines of a Ramadan sit-down organised by the Iraqi embassy.

“There is cooperation and coordination between Kuwait and the Gulf countries to provide guarantees for oil tankers and continuous supply of energy to global markets.”

Jarallah’s comments come days after sabotage attacks against tankers in highly sensitive Gulf waters and the bombing of a Saudi pipeline – the latter claimed by Iran-aligned Yemeni rebels.

Both attacks targeted routes built as alternatives to the Strait of Hormuz, the conduit for almost all Gulf exports.

The US Fifth Fleet headquartered in Bahrain said the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council began “enhanced security patrols” Saturday in international waters, in “tight coordination with the US navy”.

Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait in case of war with the United States, which earlier this month announced it was sending an aircraft carrier and strike group to the region.

Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister said “tension was escalating quickly” but he remained hopeful.

He added Kuwait was in “constant contact” with its ally, the US.

On Saturday, OPEC giant Saudi Arabia called for urgent meetings of the GCC and the Arab League to discuss recent “aggressions and their consequences” in the region.

The two summits are scheduled to be held in Mecca on May 30.

Jarallah welcomed the kingdom’s invitation, saying Kuwait was keen to take part in discussions on issues “potentially dangerous” to the region.


Kuwait gives initial approval for $160m Jaber Al-Ahmed bridge contract

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Kuwait’s Central Agency for Public Tenders has all-but approved a potential $160 million contract with South Korean construction conglomerate Hyundai for operating and maintaining the Jaber Al-Ahmed bridge.

The Ministry of Public Labour said in a statement that the five-year contract is worth 29-$32m (KD9-10) per year, according to a report by the Kuwait News Agency.

The deal includes maritime dredging works and regular examination of all construction materials for all maritime and land causeways. It covers sewage and rainwater networks, maintenance of buildings, power installations, air-conditioning sets, cleaning and landscaping.

Works also include studying the marine environment and effects on sea creatures.

The final phase of inking the deal will involve the Audit Bureau, Fatwa and Legislation Department and the National Assembly.

The causeway, which stretches for over 30km across Kuwait Bay to Sabbiya, is a key project as part of the country’s development strategy 2035.


Kuwait working with Saudis on resuming neutral zone oil output

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Kuwait said it’s working with Saudi Arabia to resume oil production in the neutral zone between them that has been shuttered for at least four years.

Saudi Minister of State for Energy Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman visited Kuwait Wednesday. The two sides will discuss a resumption after the “completion of all technical issues required,” Tareq Al-Mezrem, a Kuwaiti government spokesman, told Kuwait’s state-run KUNA news agency.

The zone can produce as much as 500,000 barrels a day, equal to about 4% of the countries’ combined output last month. No timeline for a resumption was given, nor was it clear if the additional production would be offset by lower output elsewhere. Both countries are subject to quotas set by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The two sides have resolved the major issues and those outstanding are technical in nature, according to a person familiar with the discussions, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The talks are the most advanced they’ve ever been, the person said.

Desert dispute
Years of negotiations have so far failed to bring about a resolution. The two Gulf nations have held a number of private meetings since 2015, at one point even coming close to signing an agreement before pulling back at the last minute over wording in the final documents regarding contentious sovereignty issues.

The neutral zone hasn’t produced anything since fields there were shut down after spats between the two countries in 2014 and 2015. The barren strip of desert straddling Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – a relic of the time when European powers drew implausible ruler-straight borders across the Middle East – can pump about as much as OPEC-member Ecuador.

It’s not clear whether the neutral zone will add much oil to global markets in the near term because OPEC has extended production cuts into early 2020. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait split the crude produced from the neutral zone within their respective OPEC output quotas.

The neutral zone, spread over 5,700 square kilometres –an area a bit smaller than Delaware — was created by a 1922 treaty between Kuwait and the fledgling Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In the 1970s, the two nations agreed to divide the area and incorporate each half into their territory, while still sharing and jointly managing the petroleum riches. The region contains two main oil fields: the onshore Wafra and the offshore Khafji.

The disagreement between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait started on the Wafra field, which is operated by Chevron Corp., the second-largest energy company in the U.S. In 2009, Saudi Arabia extended the original 60-year-old concession of the field, giving the American company rights over Wafra until 2039. Kuwait was furious over the announcement and claims Riyadh never consulted it about the extension.

The importance of the fields is now higher due to the impact of sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, which has tightened the supply of so-called sour-heavy crude — precisely the kind of oil that the neutral zone produces. U.S. diplomats had been pressing both sides to reach an agreement.


Kuwait’s Kamco, Global win regulatory nod for merger

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Kamco Investment Company and Global Investment House, two firms operating in the Kuwaiti asset management and investment banking industry, have announced they have secured regulatory approval for a proposed merger.

The companies said they have received the Capital Markets Authority’s approval on the draft merger contract in which Kamco will be the merging company and Global the merged company.

Once successfully concluded, the merger will position the combined entity as one of the largest investment companies in the region in terms of assets under management totaling about $14 billion, a statement said.

It added that the merger is categorised as the largest of its kind in Kuwait’s investment scene.

Kamco acquired 70 percent acquisition of Global from NCH Ventures last September and since the acquisition, both companies have engaged in an extensive integration exercise.

Moving forward, Kamco and Global will call for extraordinary general meetings to obtain their shareholders’ approvals to complete the merger.

The companies also said the combined entity will serve thousands of clients from seven local offices.


Kuwait and Iraq sign deal to explore joint border oilfields

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Kuwait and Iraq have signed a contract with the British energy advisory firm ERC Equipoise to prepare a study for the development of joint oil fields on the border between the two countries.

The deal will see the British advisory firm prepare studies of the joint productive border fields, Safwan-Al-Abdali and South Rumaila-Ratqa, paving the way for joint investment between Iraq and Kuwait, according to the report by the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).

Abdul Mahdi Al Amidi, director general of Iraqi Oil Ministry’s department of contracts and petroleum licences, said: “The signing also emphasises the keenness of the (Iraqi) government and the ministry to resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries. The signing is an important step to strengthen bilateral relations.”

The border oil fields between Iraq and Kuwait had been a source of tension between the two countries before and during the 1990 war, as Iraq repeatedly accused Kuwait of drilling wells that crossed the border and pumped oil from Iraqi territory, which was denied by Kuwait.

The contract came on the anniversary of the 1990 war launched by the Iraqi former leader Saddam Hussein against Kuwait.


Bahrain’s Ithmaar says planning to delist from Boursa Kuwait

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Ithmaar Holding, a Bahrain-based company that is licenced and regulated as an investment firm by the Central Bank of Bahrain, has announced plans to voluntarily delist from Boursa Kuwait.

The company said it will continue to list on the Bahrain Bourse and Dubai Financial Market.

The announcement, by Ithmaar Holding chairman Prince Amr Al Faisal follows the board’s review and approval of the plan, which will be presented to shareholders for approval.

The plans are subject to the approval of relevant authorities in Kuwait and Bahrain, the company said, without giving a reason for the delisting.

Ithmaar Holding said its plans to voluntarily delist from Boursa Kuwait will have no effect on its subsidiary, Ithmaar Bank or any of its customers or investors.

In May, Ithmaar Holding reported a net profit of $8.62 million for the three-month period ended March 31, an increase of 79 percent compared to the same period in 2018.


Kuwait’s Agility sees rise in Q2 profit despite ‘tough environment’

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Kuwait-based logistics giant Agility has reported second-quarter net profit of KD21.6 million, an increase of 8.1 percent over the same period in 2018.

Half-year net profit of KD41.9 million was up 7.7 percent while revenue was KD775 million, an increase of 2.5 percent over the year-earlier period.

Tarek Sultan, Agility vice chairman and CEO, said: “We had a good Q2 despite the tough environment we operate in. Agility Global Integrated Logistics (GIL) reported very good results and continues to implement its strategy to drive operational efficiency. Agility’s Infrastructure companies performed well, and key initiatives in each business unit are moving ahead according to plan.”

The global air freight market continued to be under pressure and GIL Air Freight net revenue decreased 1.8 percent as the result of lower job volume and tonnage, although the decrease was offset in part by higher yields. Q2 tonnage fell 8 percent compared to Q2 2018.

Strong ocean freight performance was driven primarily by yield improvement, despite a 2 percent drop in volumes while contract logistics growth continued in Q2 with gross revenue of KD32.8 million, a 1 percent increase from the same period in 2018.

Agility’s Infrastructure group revenue grew 21.2 percent to KD118.2 million while Agility Logistics Parks reported 15 percent revenue growth for the quarter.

Agility said it enjoys a healthy balance sheet with KD2 billion in assets.