UAE, Germany explore partnerships to build on industrial ties and climate efforts

A delegation from the UAE met with representatives from almost 30 companies from Germany on Tuesday during a roundtable.

The objective was to accelerate industrial collaboration and build on joint efforts in promoting sustainable industrial development, de-carbonisation and energy security.

The roundtable co-hosted by the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT) during Hannover Messe, the industry trade fair, was attended by representatives from the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), ADNOC Group, Abu Dhabi Investment Office, KEZAD Group and Dubai Industrial City.

Titled ‘Make it in the Emirates: The UAE as a Global Industrial Hub’, the roundtable introduced German companies to the UAE’s unique value proposition and vision for sustainable industrial growth. It also showcased the Make it in the Emirates initiative, which invites foreign industrialists, investors and innovators to benefit from the UAE’s competitive advantages.

Chaired by Omar Al Suwaidi, under-secretary of the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology, the roundtable highlighted how foreign companies can benefit from collaborating with UAE entities as well as from incentives and enablers introduced by the government, national companies such as ADNOC and industrial zones.

Addressing delegates, Al Suwaidi said: “The UAE and Germany are making steady progress in vital fields such as hydrogen fuel, which will be critical to industries of the future.

The partnerships between our government institutions and national enterprises are leading to pioneering innovation in sectors such as green steel.

By combining our strengths, talents and resources, the UAE and Germany can pave the way for greater energy security and more sustainable industrial development in our respective regions.”

He added: “Our two countries are aligned on creating solutions to industry’s global challenges, and there is significant appetite for collaboration among our industrial communities.

As a ministry, we are committed to supporting industrial companies in the UAE to work alongside international counterparts to achieve business growth and adopt best practices.

In line with our national industrial strategy, we will continue to explore and facilitate collaborations between UAE-based companies and our international partners to attract investment and support the growth of green industries and renewable energy supplies.”

During Hannover Messe, Al Suwaidi co-chaired the second Energy Security and Industry Accelerator (ESIA) Steering Committee, which provided an update on the progress made across a number of projects since the ESIA agreement was signed in 2022.

On Wednesday, members of the UAE delegation participated in a panel discussion where they highlighted the UAE’s efforts in accelerating the transition towards greener and more sustainable industries.

The panel, titled “Driving the Transition to a Sustainable and Diversified Economy: The Critical Role of Green Energy, Green Economy, and Innovation in the UAE”, highlighted competitive advantages and enablers, including green financing, certified green energy supply, robust regulation infrastructure and access to markets through a growing number of free trade agreements.


Aramco JV HAPCO breaks ground on new refinery and petrochemical complex

A ground-breaking ceremony took place today for a major integrated refinery and petrochemical complex being developed by Huajin Aramco Petrochemical Company (HAPCO). The joint venture between Aramco (30%), NORINCO Group (51%) and Panjin Xincheng Industrial Group (19%) is developing the complex in the city of Panjin, in China’s Liaoning Province.

On March 26, it was announced that the complex was expected to be fully operational by 2026. Aramco is expected to supply up to 210,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil feedstock to the facility.

Among those attending the ground-breaking ceremony were Abdulrahman Alharbi, Saudi Ambassador to China; Hao Peng, Secretary of the Provincial Party Committee and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Liaoning Provincial People’s Congress; Li Lecheng, Deputy Secretary of the Provincial Party Committee and Governor of the Liaoning Provincial Government; Liu Shiquan, Chairman of Norinco Group; Wang Bingsen, Secretary of the Panjin Municipal Party Committee; and Zou Wenchao, Vice President of Norinco Group.

Mohammed Y. Al Qahtani, Aramco Executive Vice President of Downstream, said in a speech at the event: “This complex is a cornerstone of our efforts to support a world-class, integrated Downstream sector here in China, as petrochemicals will play a vital role in our joint success. Once complete, we believe HAPCO will be a model for China’s modern petrochemicals industry moving forward, able to deliver lower carbon products, chemicals, and advanced materials.”

On March 27, Aramco also announced it had signed definitive agreements to acquire a 10% interest in Shenzhen-listed Rongsheng Petrochemical Co. Ltd. for RMB 24.6 billion ($3.6 billion at current exchange rates). Combined, the partnership with Rongsheng and the HAPCO joint venture would see Aramco supply a total of 690,000 bpd of crude to high chemical conversion assets in China, in line with its strategy of converting four million bpd of crude to chemicals by 2030.


First accredited low-carbon ammonia shipment for power generation dispatched from Saudi Arabia to Japan

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A first shipment of independently-certified low-carbon ammonia has arrived in Japan for use as fuel in power generation. It represents another milestone in the development of this lower-carbon energy solution.

The shipment is the result of a successful multiparty collaboration across the low-carbon ammonia value chain. The ammonia was produced by SABIC Agri-Nutrients (“SABIC AN”) with feedstock from Aramco, and sold by Aramco Trading Company to the Fuji Oil Company (“FOC”). Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (“MOL”) was tasked with shipping the liquid to Japan, then the low-carbon ammonia was transported to the Sodegaura Refinery for use in co-fired power generation, with technical support provided by Japan Oil Engineering Co (“JOE”).

The ammonia is categorized as low-carbon because CO2 from the associated manufacturing process was captured and utilized in downstream applications.

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has announced plans to increasingly harness ammonia as a fuel for power generation and for ship propulsion, as part of the country’s 2050 decarbonization goals. The low-carbon ammonia that reached Japan is part of broader efforts by Aramco and SABIC AN to establish a global supply network for this lower-carbon fuel. Aramco and SABIC AN aim to supply low-carbon ammonia to other players to meet their early demand needs.

Olivier Thorel, Aramco Senior Vice President of Chemicals, said: “This is another milestone that highlights the possibilities for low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia made from Aramco feedstock, with the potential to play a role in a lower-carbon future. Not only is low-carbon ammonia a means to transport lower-carbon hydrogen, it is an important energy source in its own right that can help decarbonize key sectors – including power generation for both utilities and industries. By dispatching this accredited low-carbon ammonia to Japan, we are helping chart a course for the development of this vital commodity.”

Abdulrahman Shamsaddin, SABIC AN CEO, said: “Our aim is to capitalize on this important milestone to grow and expand our positive contribution toward carbon neutrality. SABIC Agri-Nutrients made a public commitment not only to become carbon neutral by 2050 but also to collaborate with customers to help them achieve their net-zero emission targets. Customers in the energy, fertilizer and chemical sectors are looking for suppliers of lower-carbon hydrogen and ammonia. And we can meet their demand by leveraging our long-standing strengths across the value chain.”

Shigeto Yamamoto, FOC Representative Director, President, said: “As Japan aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, low-carbon ammonia is expected to be a next-generation fuel that can contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions. In order to reduce CO2 emissions from our own operations, we have been working on co-firing ammonia, which is a by-product of the petroleum refining process, in the boiler at our Sodegaura Refinery, and we plan to burn low-carbon ammonia imported this time with the cooperation of our partners in the same boiler. We will continue these efforts to contribute to the construction of the ammonia supply chain.”

Mohammed Al-Mulhim, Aramco Trading Company CEO, said: “This landmark achievement is an example of excellent collaboration across businesses within Aramco, SABIC, Aramco Trading and our Japanese partners, and indeed a major boost for our sustainability efforts.”

Toshiaki Tanaka, MOL Representative Director, Executive Vice President Executive Officer, said: “Ammonia is expected to be in great demand as a next-generation, clean energy source. Japan aims to achieve a carbon-neutral society by 2050, and we are very pleased to transport independently-certified low-carbon ammonia from Saudi Arabia to Japan. We are aiming for a track record of safe, reliable services across multiple transportation modes, in accordance with our customers’ needs. By combining accumulated knowledge and proactively participating in a broad range of value chains, we hope to contribute to the decarbonization of society.”

In 2020, Aramco collaborated with SABIC to dispatch the world’s first shipment of low-carbon ammonia to Japan in a demonstration project. Then, in 2022, Aramco and SABIC AN received the world’s first independent accreditation for low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia products. By the end of that year, the two companies had delivered the world’s first accredited low-carbon ammonia shipment to South Korea. The latest shipment to Japan brings this lower-carbon energy solution one step closer to the mainstream.


Saudi Arabia plans to become leader in additive manufacturing

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Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Al-Khorayef addressed a panel session titled: “Dealing with the Unpredictable Economic Consequences of 4IR Technological Progress” in the second edition of the LEAP Tech Conference held in Riyadh between the 6-9 February under the theme Into New Worlds.

Al-Khorayef confirmed that the ministry is targeting to become a global leader in additive manufacturing (3D printing) through producing additive manufacturing raw material, developing engineering design capabilities, and localizing additive manufacturing services.

“This conference is a clear demonstration of the Kingdom’s appetite for attracting new and major players in the field of IT, which work to strengthen Saudi Arabia’s position as a regional and international hub for business”, Al-Khorayef said.

“Technologies related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, in particular, support Vision 2030 objectives by increasing productivity while reducing costs, waste and carbon emissions, thereby advancing sustainability goals while improving the quality of goods and products. This makes investing in innovation, developing scientific research, and encouraging the adoption of emerging technologies in the industrial sector a core strategic priority for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he added.

To support these objectives, Saudi Arabia’s leadership has prioritized the creation of an attractive investment environment in line with the National Industrial Strategy and Vision 2030 to enhance the sector, drive innovation and support its growth. In doing so, the strategy will drive economic diversification, create meaningful employment opportunities for citizens, and encourage skills and training development among the youth to advance a sustainable industrial sector.

“Distinguished by its geographical location, enormous resources, and large young and talented workforce, if leveraged correctly, Saudi Arabia has the opportunity to become one of the greatest success stories in the 21st century as we emerge an innovation driven, industrial global powerhouse,” Al-Khorayef concluded.


UAE’s e& takes $400m majority stake in ride-hailer Careem’s Super App

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Emirates Telecommunications Group Co. has agreed to take a 50.3 percent stake in a super app managed by Careem, Uber Technologies’ Middle East subsidiary, in a transaction valued at $400 million, e& said in a filing on Monday.

The Super App will be managed by Careem founders Mudassir Sheikha and Magnus Olsson, said the company, formerly known as Etisalat Group and now called e&.

The ride-hailing business will be separated from the Careem Super App business and will be fully owned by Uber, but will still be available on the Super App.

The deal will be financed from e&’s existing cash balance, and subject to regulatory approvals, customary closing conditions and administrative procedures, e& said in the filing.

Reuters reported last month that talks with e& were at an advanced stage and a deal could be announced soon.

Careem began seeking outside investors last year to help finance its Super App, which offers services outside its core ride-hailing business such as food delivery, bike rentals, digital payments and courier services.

Etisalat rebranded to e& in June last year as the majority state-owned telco company embarked on a new strategy to position itself as a global technology and investment conglomerate.

E& said the transaction fits into its own ambitions to scale up consumer digital offerings and would allow the company to take advantage of the app to boost the growth of its consumer digital services.

Uber and Careem’s co-founders Sheikha, Olsson and Abdullah Elyas have the remaining stakes in the super app, a Careem spokesperson said.


Egypt’s headline inflation rate increased to 32.7% in March

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Egypt’s annual urban consumer inflation rate in March climbed to 32.7 percent year-on-year, just shy of an all-time record, from 31.9 percent in February, data from the country’s statistics agency CAPMAS showed on Monday.

The surging inflation rate follows a series of currency devaluations starting in March 2022, a prolonged shortage of foreign currency and continuing delays in getting imports into the country.

Egypt, which secured a $3 billion financial support package from the International Monetary Fund in December, has devalued its currency by half since March 2022 after fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exposed vulnerabilities in Egypt’s economy.

The median forecast of 13 analysts polled showed annual urban consumer inflation rising to 33.6 percent in March.

Egypt’s highest inflation rate ever was 32.952 percent, reached in July 2017, eight months after Egypt devalued its currency by half as part of a previous $12 billion IMF support package.

The core inflation rate, which excludes fuel and some volatile food items, is expected to be released later on Monday. The median of the analysts’ forecasts expect that to climb to a record 42.25 percent from February’s 40.26 percent, the current record.

Treasury bills sales climb

Meanwhile, sales of 273- and 91-day Egyptian treasury bills at an auction on Sunday climbed from last week’s low after the finance ministry paid record high yields to partly reflect a 200-basis-point hike in central bank overnight interest rates on March 30.

Investors have sought higher yields to match the increased central bank rates and on the expectation the currency will continue to weaken after having lost half its value against the dollar over the last year, analysts say.

The finance ministry has struggled to keep its budget deficit from widening as it was forced to pay increasingly high interest rates on its large stock of debt.

The average yield on 273-day bills edged up to 23.341 percent from 23.059 percent last week, with both figures exceeding a record 22.444 percent reached on July 11, 2017.

The central bank only accepted 76 bids worth 5.58 billion Egyptian pounds ($181 million) for the 273-day bills out of the 203 bids worth 32.66 billion pounds it received. Last week it accepted bids worth a mere 79.38 million pounds.

The average yield on 91-day bills climbed to 21.297 percent from 20.924 percent last week. This was still shy of a record 22.523 percent average yield paid on July 11, 2017.

The central bank only accepted 239 bids worth 4.47 billion Egyptian pounds for the 91-day bills out of the 519 bids worth 58.55 billion pounds it received. Last week it only accepted bids worth 324.1 million pounds.

Crude steadies; Bahrain’s Oil and Gas Holding partners with Oracle


Oil steadied on Monday, after rising for three straight weeks, as looming supply cuts from Saudi Arabia and other producers of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, balanced concern about weakening global growth that may dampen fuel demand.

Crude last week jumped more than 6 percent, a third weekly gain, after OPEC+ surprised the market with a new round of production cuts starting in May.

Brent crude was up 9 cents or 0.11 percent to $85.21 a barrel at 11.00 a.m. Saudi time, while US West Texas Intermediate crude gained 15 cents to $80.85.

Oil and Gas Holding Co. inks deal with Oracle

In an attempt to accelerate its digital transformation journey, Bahrain’s Oil and Gas Holding Co. has signed an agreement with Oracle to use Fusion Cloud applications to automate the company’s core business processes and improve its operations.
The agreement was signed between Mark Thomas, group CEO of Oil and Gas Holding Co. and Rahul Misra, vice president of Cloud applications at Oracle.

“Oracle Fusion applications will accelerate the company’s overall performance and enhance efforts related to the sustainability of the sector’s productivity in accordance with Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030,” said Thomas.
Misra added: “We are proud to partner with the Oil and Gas Holding Co., which is the main driver of the oil and gas business in Bahrain, and responsible for securing and developing the future of the sector.”


UAE passport is now the most powerful in the world

Top Italian firms want in on Kuwait’s development, establish partnerships within its private sector and offer expertise to businesses, an industry chief from Italy says.
Carlo Bonomi, President of Italian business confederation Confidustria, lauded its efforts to diversify its economy under the Kuwait Vision 2035 development strategy, reported the state’s official news agency (KUNA) on Friday.
Bonomi praised the approach “to create an effective government administration, develop a diversified economy, an integrated infrastructure, increase contribution of the private sector and lure international entrepreneurs.”
He said there were already Italian business agents and distributors, particularly for clothes and entertainment, working in Kuwait.
Italian companies in 2019 won contracts worth $672 million but only a single one was awarded the next year valued at $87.5m, he said, indicating that investments shrank due to COVID-19.
Bonomi said the Italian exports to Kuwait rose to $1.52 billion, which was double the 2021 figure.
Italian exports include aircraft, aerial devices, computer chips, medical equipment, watches and food products.


New downtown projects progressing as planned in Muscat

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Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran) has affirmed that work on several projects is progressing at a steady pace and is in various stages of implementation.

Speaking to the Observer, Ammar al Kharusi, Director of Development, said: “We are currently working on the Masterplan for the Sustainable City Yiti project of the flagship ‘The Nikki Beach Resort’ that will be ready for guests early next year.”

This property will have 140 hotel rooms and 30 villas and an array of facilities, including the beach club, restaurants and swimming pools with unique panoramic views.

The Sustainable City Yiti will be developed within the Phase 1 of the Yiti Integrated Tourism Development Masterplan.

The project will be developed in three phases on an area of 3.5 million square metres comprising of residential units of medium-sized villas, townhouses and low-rise apartments.

“The Four Seasons Resort at the Marina Bandar Al Rowdha is a long-term development and is currently in the design stage. Apart from bringing the Four Seasons brand to the Sultanate, the project will add 200 rooms to the market and also upgrade facilities at the marina. The project will be ready by the end of 2026,” Al Kharusi said.

He said Madinat al Irfan would be developed as a premium downtown hub, which will bring more footfall to the area.

A three-star Ibis hotel project is under the implementation stage by the investor while for the Business Park, one building is under construction and three others are in the design stage.

Omran is also working with the local other authorities in other governorates to develop tourism facilities and one of the eagerly-awaited ones is the World Class theme park in Barka developed by the ASAAS, in which Omran is the stakeholder.

“All our future tourism projects will be just hospitality centric but also a pure leisure lifestyle.”

Hayy al Sharq will be spread over a multi-cluster 1.5 million square metre entertainment and leisure theme park, which will boast an integrated theme park, wildlife and water parks, an equestrian centre, and an edutainment centre, as well as retail areas that will offer a range of retail, leisure and dining options. It will also feature hotels, with a residential zone and retail areas.

Zipline in Musandam is part of the Oman Adventure and will be replicated in other parts of the Sultanate of Oman.

Chips industry goes all-in on AI

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It’s been a wild few years for the microchip industry, recovering from a long-term supply squeeze only to be thrust into the centre of a US-China battle to control supply lines of the valuable technology.

But an industry long associated with volatility is quietly getting excited that artificial intelligence (AI) could be the key to some longer-term stability.

US firm Nvidia dominates the market in specialised chips known as GPUs, which happen to be ideal for training AI programmes like the wildly popular chatbot ChatGPT.

“Technology trends are working in Nvidia’s direction,” the firm’s vice president Ronnie Vasishta told AFP this week at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.

This has helped make Nvidia the biggest company in the sector — and one of the biggest firms of any kind in the United States — with a valuation of $580 billion.

Traditional rivals like Intel and Qualcomm are now on manoeuvres, desperate to make sure they do not miss out.

The tiny components, also known as semiconductors, are essential in everything from smartphones, PCs and electric cars to sophisticated weaponry, robotics and all other high-tech machinery.

AI already features heavily in all of these fields, and the advent of chatbots is only pushing it further into the public imagination.

Even in a sector where low-key engineers do the talking, the enthusiasm is palpable.

– ‘Scratching the surface’ –

“The most exciting thing right now is AI,” Cristiano Amon, boss of rival firm Qualcomm, told a Wall Street Journal event at the MWC.

He wants the world’s phones to be tooled up with chips able to handle even the most tricky AI-related tasks, largely because Qualcomm leads the field in phone chips.

Vasishta is equally enthused.

“Where and how does AI get used? It’s probably going to be easier to answer where is it not getting used,” he said.

Another chip firm, the British-based Arm, is even further back in the production chain than Nvidia — it provides the designs used by chip suppliers.

The firm’s Chris Bergey told AFP there was massive potential with AI.

The kind of chips Nvidia produces are great for training AI models in data centres, he said, but smartphones need chips that can act based on those models.

“It’s a huge opportunity and it’s ubiquitous,” he said.

He compares the AI revolution to the onset of apps, which appeared about 15 years ago and rapidly changed the way we used technology.

“Definitely AI is something that has a lot of interesting applications and we’re still scratching the surface of where we’ll go.”

Yet, with chips, nothing is straightforward.

The supply chain is fiendishly complex — consulting firm Accenture reckons a chip crosses borders 70 times before it ends up in a phone, camera or car.

Countries like China and the United States would prefer to have greater control.

And there is an added problem: the factories that make most of the world’s chips are in Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China claims.

This could bring China and the United States into direct conflict.

Mild-mannered as ever, semiconductor executives will not be drawn into discussions on these issues.

“We don’t have really a position on the geopolitics, we comply with all the US regulations that are required as a US company,” said Vasishta.

Bergey, who has spent 25 years in the industry, said he had seen chips lurch from being “very cool” to “very boring”.

“They’re cool right now, perhaps too cool with too much attention,” he said.

“It’s a dynamic thing the industry is dealing with and we’ll have to see how these things play out.”