Dubai Launches Innovation Attraction Programme

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Dubai SME has launched Innovation Attraction Programme (IAP) to attract thousands of innovators and startups from around the globe and accelerate Dubai’s transformation into a knowledge economy. The new programme, announced during Dubai SME’s StartUp Night, seeks to attract foreign startups and give an international platform to local startups. It will reach out to around 25,000 startups in other countries which are considering Dubai as a potential market for their innovative services. The programme will focus on various sectors, including health, education, transport and mobility, aerospace, energy efficiency, medical and information technology.

President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Emirates Airline and Chief Executive of Emirates Group, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum launched the new programme which has been developed on Smart Alliance platform in partnership with SME enablers and facilitators from 15 countries, such as Japan, Singapore and Germany. It aims to position Dubai as a global hub for disruptive technologies and solutions.

The Director-General of Dubai Economy, Sami Al Qamzi said the programme would help achieve the goals outlined in the Dubai SME 2021 Plan. He said, “Dubai already has a unique advantage as an entrepreneurial hub and our startups when empowered with the right resources can usher in innovative solutions and help accelerate our transition to a future-ready economy.”

Speaking about the programme, CEO of Dubai SME, Baset Al Janahi said, “Our experience has convinced us that there is a clear need for innovation-focused collaborative linkages in our startup ecosystem. The Innovation Attraction Programme links local SMEs to a global ecosystem and addresses the challenges of establishing and growing in a new market.”

He further said, “It is a two-way street – it lays down the path for our SMEs to go global while also guiding the most outstanding innovators worldwide to new markets through Dubai.”


Majid Al Futtaim’s New Environment-Friendly Initiatives: Recycle Plastic Bottles, Stop Using Plastic Bags

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UAE retail conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) has launched new environment-friendly initiatives for a plastic-free future. The company announced this week that it intends to eliminate single-use plastic from its operations by 2025. In line with this sustainable strategy, the company has launched a special recycling initiative at Mall of the Emirates. Through this pilot project, MAF is encouraging Dubai residents to recycle plastic bottles via a recycling machine placed in the mall.

Nol Card
The company has partnered with Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) for this initiative and the first 500 residents to recycle 50 plastic be ottles will receive a free Nol card with AED 25 credit.

The recycling project was inaugurated on Tuesday, 5th November, by UAE Minister for Climate Change and Environment, Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi. Based on its success at Mall of the Emirates, the project will be expanded and eventually connected with MAF’s own loyalty programme, Share, which will enable customers to get points for their recycling efforts, which they will be able to redeem against other purchases.

Apart from this, MAF has also shared how it intends to eliminate single-use plastic from its operations by 2025 at all its units, which includes 26 malls, 13 hotels, 46 VOX cinema theatres, more than 285 Carrefour stores, 36 Magic Planet centres and other facilities (such as Ski Dubai, iFly Dubai and Ski Egypt), across the Middle East, Africa and Asia region. To achieve this goal, the retail giant has announced that its Carrefour stores will remove around 800 million plastic bags from circulation annually. This includes single-use-plastic bags used at checkout counters and in other sections (fruits and vegetables, fishery, bakery and butchery).

Carrefour will also stop using polystyrene foam trays for storing its ready meals, ready-to-go food and drink containers and cups, plastic cutlery, straws, cling film, fruit nets, etc. This decision does not however apply to on-the-shelf items such as garbage bags, detergent bottles and cleaning products.

VOX Cinemas
In Vox cinema theatres, MAF will stop using single-use plastic bags, plastic food containers, cutlery and straws. Single-use plastic bags for hands-free shopping and single-use plastic water bottles for VIP valet car lounge will also be eliminated from Mall of the Emirates and City Centre outlets run by MAF.

Majid Al Futtaim has already started promoting reusable grocery bags since 2017 and the company has revealed that the sale of eco-friendly bags has increased by 70 percent this year. The company has also announced that each reusable bag bought between 6-7 November will be credited back in Share points and that there are plans to issue more such rewards in the future.

In a press statement, Majid Al Futtaim also shared that it received 192 million visitors in 2018 which means more than two million kg of plastic waste. Chief sustainability officer, Majid Al Futtaim – Holding, Ibrahim Al Zu’bi has said that MAF’s sustainability journey begins with its mission to deliver ‘Great Moments for Everyone Everyday’. He said this cannot be done ‘at the sake of the environment’ and in order for a business to be sustainable, ‘it must be in harmony with the planet’.

He further said, “I believe we need to continue to push the sustainability agenda at a faster pace, and our customers are very much a part of that. We listen to them, and we want to make it easy for them to make smart choices to live a sustainable life – and hopefully to support brands that are making a real difference in the war on plastic.” The company will implement online and offline marketing campaigns in order to create awareness among its customers about limiting the use of plastic and minimising their footprint on the environment.


Dubai Exports and Dubai Free Zones Council Sign MoU to Boost Exports

Dubai Exports and the Dubai Free Zones Council (DFZC) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to increase business opportunities and boost the value and volume of exports, reinforcing Dubai’s position as a global trade hub. CEO Dubai Exports, Engineer Saed Alawadi and Deputy to the Secretary General DFZC, Dr Juma Al Matrooshi signed the MoU which seeks to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and information, along with tapping new commercial opportunities and utilising resources efficiently. As per the MoU, members of Dubai Exports and free zone companies will be developing business and investment synergies, and will together organise various promotional and commercial activities.

According to the MoU, qualifying companies can become registered members of Dubai Exports while free zone companies can join the Exporters’ Portal in order to access relevant information and avail electronic services.

Speaking about the new agreement, Dr Juma Al Matrooshi said, “In line with the vision and directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and according to the strategic plan developed by Dubai and its free zones to diversify the emirate’s economy and enhance income sources, Dubai has positioned itself as a global platform for export and transit trade.”

He highlighted how the value of free zone trade has reached AED 2.6 trillion, in the last five years, with imports valued at AED 1.5 trillion, transit trade reaching AED 1.03 trillion and non-oil exports amounting to AED 131 billion.

Meanwhile, Engineer Saed Alawadi said the collaboration would enable them to provide service packages, facilitate participation in local and international trade exhibitions and also to offer knowledge exchange platforms, such as workshops, conferences and research studies. He added, “This agreement will also contribute significantly to achieving the Dubai Silk Road Strategy and Dubai’s geo-economic map launched earlier this year under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.”


UAE to Support World Economic Forum in Developing Skills and Education of a Billion People Worldwide

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The UAE Government has announced its support for a programme launched by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on Friday to develop the skills, education and jobs for a billion people worldwide by 2030. Several UAE officials, including Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office, Shaikh Khalid bin Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and The Future, Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, and others attended the signing ceremony of the agreement between the UAE and WEF.

The cooperation agreement was signed by UAE’s Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills, Dr Ahmad bin Abdullah Humaid Belhoul Al Falasi. This agreement makes the UAE one of the first countries to extend support to and become an active member of WEF’s programme. Speaking on this initiative, Dr Al Falasi said, “It is a pleasure to announce the support of international efforts to provide and spread education, skills and appropriate environment for them and through the agreement, we seek to find appropriate solutions and invest in human capital, which is a major national priority for us in the UAE.”

Founder and Executive Chairman WEF, Professor Klaus Schwab said, “The best way to create a more cohesive and more inclusive society is to provide job opportunities for all, and we here in Davos are working with our partners to create a global platform that will provide a billion people with the skills they need in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and as this is an important and pressing transformation, the least we have to do is move faster to renew and develop skills.”


Al Tayer signs on with

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The Al Tayer Group has become the latest business in the region to sign up with B2B portal The trading company will join Tejari to sell its broad range of goods, including, luxury items such as perfume and jewellery to cars and automobile parts. It will also use Tejari for procurement of general office supplies.

“At the signing with Tejari, Saeed Humaid Al Tayer, managing director, Al Tayer Motors, commented: “We have always placed tremendous emphasis on customer service. fits perfectly in this perspective, as it will help provide our clients with a wide selection of products in the shortest delivery time at competitive rates. Our agreement with will also contribute to reaching a higher cost efficiency. I am confident that this new venture will be very successful.”

Among the brands promoted by Al Tayer are Bvlgari, Ferragamo, Range Rover and Jaguar. The trading group consists of twenty separate companies, with interests in luxury goods, automobiles, publishing, manufacturing and industrial and business services. It has been operating in the UAE since 1979.



Dubai’s Wamda leads $3.5m funding in games developer Tamatem

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Dubai-based start-up investor Wamda has led a $3.5 million funding round in games developer Tamatem.

The round also included Saudi Arabia’s Modern Electronics and the UK’s North Base Media, Wamda said in a statement.

Founded in 2013 by Hussam Hammo, Jordan-based Tamatem initially focused on developing mobile games and has since grown to become the leading mobile games publisher in the Arabic-speaking market.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is home to the world’s most active gaming community, with the region hosting some 587 million online gamers in 2017, according to Newzoo.

The size of the mobile games market across the Middle East and North Africa is poised to reach $2.3 billion in 2020, according to Statista, but the market remains severely underserved, creating a major opportunity for Tamatem to invest in culturally relevant mobile games, Wamda added.

Tamatem will also be launching an investment and acquisitions fund, targeted at supporting independent developers and studios. The fund will allow the developers to grow their titles and operations while maintaining their independence.

“Tamatem has cemented its presence as a leader in MENAs gaming market, a space driven by strong consumer demand for localised global titles and culturally relevant content. The launch of its fund offers an opportunity to further develop the gaming industry in the region, where Tamatem is uniquely positioned to build strong partnerships with local and regional developers,” said Fadi Ghandour, executive chairman of Wamda.

Hammo added: “Many start-ups in the Middle East feel their market potential is limited to just this region. We are excited to see businesses think beyond those boundaries and I am proud that the team at Tamatem is now also looking beyond the Arabic-speaking market.

“I believe this latest round of funding will allow us to truly deliver on our vision of becoming the top mobile games publisher for every underserved emerging market in the world.”

In addition to launching its own fund, Tamatem said it will use the round to expand its reach to new markets and increase marketing on current titles. The company will also publish titles in Turkey, South East Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. To date, Tamatem has published over 40 different games on iOS and Android.

Tamatem previously raised a $2.5 million Series A round in 2018.


Global plant-based food giant eyes expansion in Gulf region

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Upfield, the world’s largest plant-based consumer packaged goods company, is targeting growth in the Gulf region as demand grows, driven by a more health-conscious population.

The Netherlands-based company behind brands like Flora and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!, will use its participation at Gulfood 2020 in Dubai next week to showcase its range of plant-based F&B products.

It said it wants to strengthen its presence in the North Africa and Middle East market which is showing a growing appetite for meat-free and healthier food choices.

A Fortune Business Insights report recently forecast that the global plant-based F&B market is on track to reach $7.38 billion in value by 2025, up from $4.16 billion in 2017.

Upfield said demand in the Middle East is on the rise, driven by a growing health-conscious population.

“Upfield’s command of the global plant-based F&B market and our history of innovation in this sector have earned our organisation a reputation as the authority on plant-based F&B. In this regard we have been rethinking food for decades,” said Reinier Weerman, general manager – North Africa & Middle East, Upfield.

“The Middle East region is a vitally important market for us and it is extremely pleasing to see a trade show with the stature of Gulfood calling on the world’s F&B industry to rethink the approach to food as we all strive to provide enough safe, secure and sustainable food for a growing population that is becoming increasingly aware of the need to protect the planet.”

Upfield, which made its Gulfood debut in 2019, will be showcasing its new line of butter beater, cream cheese alternatives, beverage cream spray, chocolate sprinkles, and a new range of 100 percent dairy free plant-based Flora Plant Cream and Flora Plant Butter.


Italian luxury jeweller reveals Gulf growth plan

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Luxury Italian jeweller Damiani, which is set to unveil its second boutique in Dubai next week, is planning to open two more stores in the Gulf within six months and an outlet in Abu Dhabi next year, the president and CEO of Damiani Group has revealed.

Guido Damiani said Damiani’s boutique in BurJuman Centre had been a success since it opened in November last year, but would not disclose sales figures.

It also opened a store in Thuraya Mall in Kuwait City in March.

“The Middle East is quite a new market but we believe it will be one of our best,” said Damiani, the third generation of the jeweller, which is only one of two listed Italian jewellery companies.

“We opened in Dubai last year and will double our size next month. In the region we are quite new even though we were founded 84 years ago but we are working with our partner here, Al Tayer Group, and we believe with them we will do great things.”

Damiani will unveil another boutique in the new Dubai Mall when it opens in the next ten days, with Damiani revealing the company will further boost its presence in the region with new stores planned for Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Qatar within the next six months and Abu Dhabi in 2009.

He said Damiani will also have a point of sale within Harvey Nichols store in the Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, before the end of the year.

Outside the region, Damiani said the company was looking for a location in Bond Street, London, to open its first UK store.

Damiani has 54 boutiques and 600 points of sale in more than 50 countries worldwide.

Damiani was one of the keynote speakers at the two-day Leaders in Luxury 2008 conference in Dubai taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday.


‘Made in Iraq’ labels headed for USA

BAGHDAD — U.S. shoppers will soon see “Made in Iraq” on clothing sold in American stores.

Shelmar, a 51-store retail chain based in Memphis, became the first American retailer to place an order with an Iraqi factory last month. About 2,000 tracksuits and boys shirts are expected to be on store shelves by early October, says Mike Longo, president and partner in the privately held company. Shelmar also does business as M Town and has stores in seven Southern states.

“We’ve got to get (Iraqi workers) back to work,” says Longo, who is a West Point graduate and former Army captain who taught at the Army’s military college in 1991 and 1992. “Otherwise, my buddies are going to keep getting … blown up.”

Longo says the deal with Mosul Ready to Wear, a state-owned factory in northern Iraq, was made after he was approached by a Defense Department team connecting American businesses to suppliers in Iraq.

At $10,000, the order is small, but the price was “comparably priced or lower” than what he normally pays, he says. The boys shirts will sell for $8, and the tracksuits will sell for $20, Longo says.

Hopes for a ‘great deal’

Sami Al-Araji, deputy prime minister of Industry and Minerals, which runs all of Iraq’s state-owned factories, says the deal is the first to bring together an American retailer with an Iraqi state-owned enterprise.

“It will be a great deal,” Al-Araji said. “For the first time, our product produced in our country will be in American stores. … And if Iraq succeeds in this, it means Iraq will be able to capture a percentage of the American market for our products.”

The order is small for a factory the size of Mosul Ready to Wear, which produces men’s suits, teen clothing and athletic wear primarily for the domestic market. Together with the Mosul Textile Factory next door, it employs about 3,500 people, Al-Araji says. The plant was shut down for about six months after the 2003 U.S. invasion and is now operating at 30% to 40% of capacity, Al-Araji says. With access to spare parts, continuous power and raw materials, it could return to 90% of capacity, he says.

Al-Araji says that talks about more clothing deals are in progress between other Iraqi textile plants and several well-known American retailers. The Shelmar deal is serving as a prototype for making future ones possible.

Shipping is still being worked out. “We’re trying to put some type of a system together for other arrangements,” Al-Araji said, adding that four or five other factories are expected to be making shipments to the U.S. market.

American retailers place orders from all over the Third World, Al-Araji says, citing textile producers China, Bangladesh and Jordan.

“We want to be just like them,” he says.

Bob Love, director of operations for the Task Force to Improve Business and Stability Operations in Iraq, says the Shelmar deal is a first but not the only one. Two more deals have since been signed. One deal is worth $250,000 for 200 rugs to be made by the State Company for Hand-woven Rugs in Baghdad. The other is for 120 rugs to be manufactured for $115,000 at seven different sites in Kurdistan, Love says. He did not provide the names of American buyers.

Each rug takes two to three people six months to weave, Love says.

Vital to restoring security

Paul Brinkley, director of the Pentagon-based Task Force for Business and Stabilization Operations in Iraq, says rebuilding Iraqi industrial capacity is an important element of restoring security.

According to a paper Brinkley wrote last month, Iraq’s unemployment rate is effectively at 60% and “a major contributor to instability.”

Before the war, 64 Iraqi government-owned factories produced consumer, agricultural and industrial goods. But Iraqi industrial production plummeted 80% after the U.S. invasion, due in large part, Brinkley writes, because of a series of decisions by the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran the country for 13 months after the invasion.

The CPA transferred cash and receivables from factory coffers to infrastructure reconstruction projects, shutting off cash flow needed for operations. It prohibited commanders and diplomats from doing business with state-owned businesses, to drive demand to private enterprise. And the process of removing members of Saddam Hussein’s regime from Iraqi institutions eliminated the government’s planning staff, who managed industrial production, according to Brinkley’s report.

“If people are out of work, and you’ve got a population that’s disenfranchised and not part of the process, they’re going to become part of the problem,” says Col. Steve Boylan, a spokesman for Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military leader in Iraq.

Last year, Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, then commander of military operations and stabilization efforts in Iraq, pushed the Bush administration to consider restarting state-owned factories. Brinkley recently traveled to plants that produce fertilizer, pharmaceuticals, tractors and textiles, doling out grants totaling $40 million, which was appropriated by Congress to revitalize Iraqi industry.

Brinkley visited the Mosul clothing factory to deliver $575,000 for cotton, thread and fabric, spare parts and a new boiler to help expand production. Mosul Ready to Wear submitted a business plan describing how the money would be spent and how it intends to expand, Al-Araji said.

Factories will be monitored

Each factory that receives money has submitted a business plan for expansion, has been assessed by U.S. experts and will be monitored for a year to make sure it progresses toward its goals, Brinkley says. Brinkley says at least two dozen factories will reopen this year. They include manufacturers of textiles, tractors, fertilizer, plastics and handmade rugs.

Factories are identified for help after U.S. forces secure the surrounding area. Factories have not been targeted by militants, but Brinkley says the ongoing insurgency is still a concern.

“I worry all the time, but so far it hasn’t been a problem,” he says. “(Insurgents) haven’t attacked, and the local population seems to know better than anybody if it’s safe to go back to work.”

Longo says he has concerns, too.

He has no plans to draw attention to the Iraqi-made products, but he’s not sure how shoppers will react.


Kurdistan to develop Vision 2030 supported by UNDP

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The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Kurdistan Region of Iraq’s Ministry of Planning, in order to provide strategic guidance and technical support for the development of KRG Vision 2030.

Held in Erbil on 03 February 2020, the signing reaffirms the Region’s commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Minister of Planning at the Kurdistan Regional Government, Dr. Dara Rashid Mahmud, said:

“The people of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq have been through a lot in the past years. They deserve a better life and upgraded social, economic and environmental conditions.

“We are confident that our strategic partnership with UNDP will provide us with the necessary tools and means to achieve sustainable development in a way that meets the aspirations of our people.”

Resident Representative of UNDP Iraq, Ms. Zena Ali Ahmed, said:

“The global Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development emphasizes that no one should be left behind. This is precisely what we are working to achieve in Iraq by this expanded partnership with the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

“The foundations for this work were established through our earlier cooperation, including the previous support to KRG Vision 2020. Only through sustainable development will the Region and Iraq realize sustainable peace and justice.”

The MoU provides a framework for cooperation to implement and monitor progress towards the SDGs in the Kurdistan Region, as part of broader efforts to achieve the SDGs in Iraq. It focuses on strengthening the institutional and analytical capacity of relevant stakeholders, including to meet the challenges of transitioning from a crisis to a sustainable development context.

Vision 2030 will be aligned with the new Government Programme 2019-2023, addressing reforms, service delivery, freedoms, democracy and coexistence, economy and finance, among other priorities.

Detailed information about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs can be found here: