UAE satellite company Yahsat to go in for IPO, list on Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange

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The UAE satellite equipment company Al Yah Satellite Communications Co. is going for an IPO by offering nearly 30 per cent of its issued share capital to the public. The offer price is to be determined through a book-building process.

This near 30 per cent is is currently held by Mamoura Diversified Global Holding, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Abu Dhabi’s wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company. The shares will be offered to individuals and other investors in the UAE (as part of the UAE retail offering) and to qualified institutional and other investors (as part of the qualified investor offering).

Musabbeh Al Kaabi, CEO of UAE Investments at Mubadala and Chairman of Yahsat, said: “Mubadala takes pride in the creation of Yahsat, and is proud of its position as one of the world’s leading fixed and mobile satellite communication providers, through its high caliber of talented UAE and international experts. We believe the listing of Yahsat on Abu Dhabi’s Stock Exchange further reiterates our role in contributing to the growth of the UAE economy.”

Listing dateline
The offering and subsequent listing are expected to take place in the third quarter of 2021, subject to market conditions. (The offering has been declared Sharia-compliant by the Internal Sharia Supervision Committee of HSBC Bank Middle East.)

What is Yahsat into?
The satellite company has operations across more than 150 countries, being the preferred partner for integrated satellite communication solutions. The company was established in the UAE in 2007 to meet growing demand for satcom services. “Today’s announcement marks an important milestone in Yahsat’s journey as we continue to build on our strong national and international partnerships and invest in new technologies to drive future growth,” said Ali Al Hashemi, CEO of Yahsat.

“We believe we have established a strong and proven operational and financial trackrecord over the years and look forward to welcoming new investors to participate in Yahsat’s growth story.”


Abu Dhabi’s ADQ offers to combine exhibitions company with ADNH

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Abu Dhabi state-owned ADQ said on Wednesday it submitted an offer to Abu Dhabi National Hotels Company (ADNH) to combine Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC) with the hotel firm.

The combination would “create one of the largest hospitality, events, and catering powerhouses in the region,” the holding company said in a statement via email.

Upon completion, the combined group would have assets of around 20 billion UAE dirhams ($5.45 billion), it said.

ADNH would issue to ADQ a convertible instrument that would convert into 1.221 billion ordinary shares in the capital of ADNH at a price of 3.93 dirhams per share.

After the transaction is completed, ADQ will own roughly 54.98% of ADNH, it added.

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Emirates got $3.1 bn from Dubai govt as Covid-19 pandemic drove losses

The Dubai government has injected $3.1 billion into Emirates since the onset of the pandemic, the airline group said in its annual report. It disclosed a $2 billion equity injection last year.

Emirates airline made a 20.28 billion dirham ($5.52 billion) loss for the year, while the group recorded an annual loss of 22.1 billion dirhams, its first in 33 years.

The airline, one of the world’s largest prior to the pandemic, saw revenue plunge 66.4% to 30.9 billion dirham as passenger traffic plummeted 88.3% to just 6.5 million

“No one knows when the pandemic will be over, but we know recovery will be patchy,” Emirates Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said in a statement.


Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala acquires 60% stake in Saudi, UAE healthcare provider

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Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Co. on Wednesday announced it has acquired a 60% stake in healthcare provider United Eastern Medical Services (UEMedical), which operates in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The state fund’s health unit bought the majority stake from United Eastern Group and Saudi investment firm Jadwa Investment, according to a statement published by Abu Dhabi’s media office.

The value of the transaction was not disclosed. The deal is expected to close by this September.

Following completion of the deal, Mubadala’s health business will add fertility & IVF, obstetrics, neonatology, and paediatric sub-specialties to its healthcare portfolio, the statement said.

UEMedical’s assets include a women’s and children’s hospital and a Moorfields Eye Hospital, both in the Abu Dhabi emirate.


UAE launches Sinopharm vaccine trial for children under 18


Some members of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family are participating in a trial administering China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 3-17, the emirate’s media office said.

The trial will monitor the immune response of 900 children “in preparation to vaccinate children in the near future”, Abu Dhabi Media Office said in a Twitter post on Wednesday.

Sheikh Theyab bin Mohammed, a son of the United Arab Emirate’s de facto ruler and Abu Dhabi’s crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, accompanied his children, nieces and nephews to participate in the immune bridge study, it said.

The UAE in May approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use in children aged 12-15. Dubai, the second-largest member of the UAE federation, started inoculating that age group this month.

The UAE, which has among the world’s highest immunisation rates, on Wednesday registered 2,011 new coronavirus infections to take its total to 603,961 cases with 1,738 deaths. It does not provide a breakdown for each of its seven emirates.

The Gulf state led Phase III clinical trials of the vaccine produced by China’s state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm and has started manufacturing it under a joint venture between Sinopharm and Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42.


Dubai airport targets 28 million passengers this year

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Dubai’s state airport operator is hoping for a “flood” of travelers as the coronavirus pandemic eases, targeting passenger traffic through Dubai International Airport to grow 8% to 28 million this year as demand rebuilds.

Terminal 1 is reopening this Thursday after a 15-month closure. Operations were consolidated through Terminals 2 and 3 last year as the pandemic took hold.

“People think it will trickle back. I don’t believe that. I believe it will be an absolute flood of demand when people get the confidence to travel again,” Dubai Airports Chief Executive Paul Griffiths told Reuters on Sunday.

The airport, one of the world’s busiest, could see over 40 million passengers this year if it was “really, really lucky,” Griffiths said, though it was likely to be somewhere between 24.7 million and 34.3 million.

“We’re comfortable with that mid-range of about 28 (million).”

Terminal 1 has an annual passenger capacity of 18 million, while the entire airport can handle up to 100 million.

Griffiths estimated the terminal’s reopening would result in 3,500 additional jobs at the airport, including those working in retail, hospitality, security and immigration.

By the autumn, 90% of the 260 destinations served from Dubai airport prior to the pandemic could be restored, Griffiths said, up from 63% today.

Dubai announced on Saturday some restrictions on passengers flying from India, South Africa and Nigeria would ease from Wednesday.

The airport handled 5.75 million passengers in the first quarter, a 67.8% fall compared to the same quarter in 2020 before the pandemic halted traffic.

In 2020, passenger traffic plummeted 70% to 25.9 million from 86.4 million in 2019. The airport is the base of state carriers Emirates and flydubai whose entire operations are international flights.

Over a two-week period starting Thursday, 66 foreign airlines will move from Terminal 2 and 3 to Terminal 1.

Terminal 3, where Emirates operates from, will continue to operate with two of its three concourses for the time being.

Dubai’s second airport, Al Maktoum International, will also remain closed to commercial passenger flights.


Tencent Cloud Deploys its First MENA Region Internet Data Centre Hub in Bahrain

Tencent Cloud, the cloud business of Tencent, today announced its collaboration with the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) – the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Investment promotion agency. The two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), with the aim to drive the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Internet Data Centre (IDC) development and support its rapid emergence as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s hub for the cloud and IDC sectors. The MoU signing also marks a significant milestone for Tencent Cloud as it deploys its first public cloud infrastructure in the MENA region.

According to research by MarketsandMarkets, the Middle East’s cloud market is expected to reach USD 4.5 billion by 2024, with a CAGR of 17.5 percent over the same period, highlighting the growing opportunity in this region.

The MoU between Tencent Cloud and the Bahrain EDB will allow for substantial opportunities to boost the local digital economy, empowering local organisations to expedite their digital transformation journey. It will also allow Tencent Cloud to leverage on Bahrain’s regional position, and the EDB’s connectivity with local and regional stakeholders, including Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund, Mumtalakat.

The terms of the MoU include:

Tencent Cloud’s first IDC in Bahrain and MENA: Tencent Cloud will launch a brand-new IDC in Bahrain, which will go live by the end of 2021.
Promoting the deployment of Tencent Cloud: Bahrain EDB, together with public and private stakeholders will encourage the continued adoption of cloud services to further the digital transformation agenda. Additionally, support will be offered to partner companies to leverage cloud services in collaboration with local stakeholders such as Tamkeen.
Local talent development: Tencent Cloud will explore and set up training initiatives jointly with the local government in universities and educational institutions across the Kingdom to allow for further knowledge transfer and qualified digital technology talents.
H.E. Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, Bahrain’s Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications, said, “This is an important milestone in Bahrain’s journey to become the MENA region’s cloud and data centre hub and I commend the EDB for their ceaseless efforts in developing the partnership with Tencent and ensuring that Bahrain is a favored destination for investment. Tencent joins leading global cloud giants in setting up in Bahrain which will drive massive growth in data traffic towards MENA. Moreover, the launch of the new data centre stands to create a clustering effect as other global providers turn their attention to the increasingly attractive region, with Bahrain positioned as the destination of choice with proactive initiatives such as the Government’s ‘Cloud-First’ policy and nationwide 5G.”

Poshu Yeung, Senior Vice President, Tencent Cloud International, said, “While the local government in Bahrain has been making significant efforts to grow the local IDC industry, Tencent Cloud is excited to collaborate with Bahrain EDB as part of our ongoing efforts to ramp up the global IDC landscape. We will launch all necessary steps to set up a brand-new IDC in Bahrain to provide better coverage all over the Middle East and North African regions along the Belt and Road, fully supporting Bahrain’s ‘Cloud-First’ strategy.”

H.E. Khalid Humaidan, Chief Executive, Bahrain Economic Development Board, said, “As a global leader in technology, innovation and cloud services, the EDB is very proud to be partnering with Tencent to set up their first MENA data center hub in Bahrain. We are confident that Tencent will be able to leverage on the Kingdom’s regional connectivity, local talent, and business friendly environment to expand their services and reach clients across the region.”

Raed Fakhri, Managing Director – Investments, Mumtalakat, added, “Innovative technologies, including cloud services and other content driven services, are an area that Mumtalakat is keen to explore and support as Bahrain progresses with its ‘Cloud First’ policy. As one of the first organisations in the Kingdom to achieve full cloud migration we are excited to witness this milestone that will only further enhance Bahrain’s diversification strategy.”

In 2017, Bahrain introduced the region’s first nationwide “Cloud-First” policy to enhance government information and communication technologies, driving the adoption of cloud across state entities and reducing IT costs by up to 90%.

Operating in 27 regions and 60 availability zones worldwide, Tencent Cloud is a secure, reliable and high-performance public cloud service provider that integrates Tencent’s infrastructure-building capabilities with the advantages of its massive user platform and ecosystem. By harnessing Bahrain’s track record of agile and forward-thinking data regulation, as well as its strategic location within the region, Tencent Cloud will enhance its rich array of global services to both the public and private sectors in the region.


Bahrain tops GCC rankings as best place for expats to live

Bahrain remains the best place in the GCC for expats to live and work despite the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the recently published InterNations Expat Insider 2021 survey. The survey, which samples key indices related to things like quality of life and cost of living, ranks the Kingdom ahead of Qatar, the UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

While the pandemic has caused expats around the world to cut their time abroad short and return home, nearly a third of respondents in Bahrain said they no immediate or future plans to return home due to the global crisis.

In the InterNations survey, Bahrain ranked highly across key indicators including quality of medical care, political stability, ease of settling in and job satisfaction.
Just over 80% of expats in Bahrain are happy with medical care quality, compared with 71% globally. Meanwhile, 84% are happy with the country’s political stability compared to 64% globally. This combined with Bahrain’s best-value cost of setting up and operating a company than neighbouring countries, as well as the Kingdom’s unparalleled access to the GCC region’s fastest growing market are all key factors in ensuring demand from companies looking to set up in the region.

Most expats in Bahrain also feel financially secure while almost 70% of respondents said they are satisfied with their job in general. The majority of expats in Bahrain work in healthcare, energy & utilities, education and hospitality. Rapid population growth in the country is driving demand for both healthcare and education services and workers.

Exactly half of expats in Bahrain rate the cost of living positively and the Kingdom is placed 26th in the global rankings for cost of living.

Despite the pandemic, Bahrain remains a very easy place for expats to settle in, according to the survey. The country was ranked fifth globally for ease of settling in and most expats (87%) find it easy to live in Bahrain without speaking the local language, compared with 54% globally. Bahrain ranks sixth globally in the language subcategory.

Moreover, 77% of expats feel at home in the local culture (versus 63% globally), and 70% say it is easy to settle down in Bahrain (versus 62% globally). Bahrain ranks fifth in the world for ease of settling in.


Foundation Holdings to invest $30m in healthcare and education in Bahrain

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The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) today announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Foundation Holdings to invest US$30 million into launching its affiliate companies, in Bahrain including a new state of the art medical centre focused on specialised healthcare and non communicable diseases.

This investment into the Kingdom will support Foundation Holdings & EDB’s shared goal of driving meaningful and positive impact in Bahrain’s healthcare and education sectors. The launch of primary care provider Right Health – an affiliate of Foundation Holdings – will be centred around a new research and development centre that, along with a chain of outpatient and diagnostic facilities and pharmacies, will offer a clinical capacity of 150 doctors and nurses capable of serving as many as 500,000 patients annually.

The agreement also includes launching medical solutions through ProMedEx – another Foundation Holdings affiliate – who will work with the country’s leading private and public hospitals to offer the world’s best-in-class technology orthopaedic and general surgery implants and devices.

The healthcare market in Bahrain has been growing at an annual average rate of 12.2%, from an estimated $1.1 billion in 2015 to an estimated $2.0 billion in 2020[1] which reflects the growing investment opportunity within this key sector.

Abhishek Sharma, Chief Executive Officer of Foundation Holdings said, “We believe that Bahrain is poised to become a major hub for finance, healthcare, education, technology and innovation and we are proud to partner with Bahrain to enhance the quality of the healthcare and education sectors in the Kingdom and the wider GCC region. We are committed to driving innovation within these critical sectors, to meeting the growing demand for specialised service offerings and to creating jobs to lay the foundation for stronger long-term economic growth. This MoU enables us to establish Bahrain as the regional pioneer for healthcare and education and in turn become the springboard for the entire GCC, attracting foreign direct investment and importing global best practice to enhance and boost Bahrain’s position in the global sphere. The latest technologies of our investee companies like ProMedEx and Right Health will further benefit all residents of Bahrain in addition to creating local jobs, and we look forward to using our talent, scale and experience as an effective private sector partner to make a significant positive impact in the Kingdom.”

Commenting on the partnership, Mahmood Al Aradi, Chief Investment Officer at Bahrain EDB said, “This is a strategic investment that has the potential to unlock significant opportunities for healthcare providers in Bahrain over the coming years.

“We are extremely pleased to be supporting Foundation Holdings with their plans to enter the Bahrain healthcare market. Our strategic location, our competitive business offering, which includes delivering the best value operating costs in the region, and the growing demand for healthcare services will all play a fundamental role in contributing to the success of the project.”

Foundation Holdings is a global strategic investment firm focused on the healthcare and education sectors in India and the GCC. It currently holds investments in UAE, Saudi Arabia and India. Foundation Holdings will deploy the funds into establishing its portfolio companies in Bahrain, creating 300-500 locally sourced, specialised healthcare jobs in the process. The news of the MoU comes as Bahrain continues to embark on ongoing healthcare reforms as part of its Vision 2030 programme, creating new and expanded opportunities for investors and healthcare providers.


Bahrain tops global financial attractiveness rankings for 3rd consecutive year

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Bahrain has topped the globally-recognised AIRINC Global 150 Cities Index financial attractiveness ranking for the third straight year, leading impressive rankings for MENA capitals – with seven leading MENA cities in the top 16 places. Aside from the capital of Bahrain in first place, others cities ranked included Riyadh, Kuwait City, Amman and Abu Dhabi.

The rankings evaluate the salary levels, cost of living, and taxes in a particular market in order to create an overall score for financial attractiveness.

The news of Bahrain’s win follows its recent success in the InterNations Expat Insider 2021 survey, where the country led the GCC across different indicators that included quality of medical care, political stability, ease of settling in and job satisfaction. The country was ranked fifth globally for ease of settling in, and a high number of respondents in Bahrain said they had no immediate or future plansto return home despite the pressures of the pandemic.

The Government of Bahrain was one of the first in the region to develop an economic diversification strategy away from hydrocarbons, successfully creating an economy where more than 80% of its GDP comes from non-oil sectors, providing a broad range of opportunities for Bahrainis and expats working in the country. Bahrain has since become known for its great regional connectivity, regulatory innovation, and best-value operating costs.

AIRINC describes itself as ‘the leading authority on international mobility data since 1954’ and supports multi-national corporations and others with the workforce globalisation strategies. The rankings are put together by an in-house team at AIRINC who ‘continuously research the costs and living conditions of many cities around the world to evaluate international mobility’.