Thursday, February 23, 2017

Bahrain on fast track with $8.1bn projects

Bahrain is making rapid progress on significant projects with a total worth of more than $8.1 billion, said a senior government official.

Shaikh Mohamed bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, Minister of Oil, was delivering the keynote address at Bahrain British Business Forum (BBBF) networking meeting yesterday (February 22).

He reviewed the present structure of oil and gas sector in Bahrain and provided valuable insight to the strategy adopted by the NOGA to fuel the kingdom’s future.

BBBF chairman Khalid Al Zayani OBE welcomed the guests of honour, Shaikh Mohamed and Simon Martin CMG, the British Ambassador to Bahrain, to the gathering. More than 120 BBBF members and guests attended the event at the Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel yesterday.

The discussed projects include:

•    Saudi Bahrain Pipeline Co (SBP)
•    Bahrain LNG Import Terminal (BLNG)                    
•    Bahrain Gas Project (CGP III)                        
•    Bapco Modernisation Programme (BMP)
•    Bahrain Gasoline Blending (BGB)

Shaikh Mohamed also discussed the expected timelines and financing strategies that have been adopted for each of the said projects. – TradeArabia News Service



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Dubai Future Academy launches training programme

The Dubai Future Academy has launched its first training programme – the Future Design Diploma – in its Office of the Future in Dubai, the world’s first 3D-printed office.

High-ranking executives are set to take part in the 10-day intensive program including executive directors, heads of departments, and decision makers from federal and local government departments, as well as private companies operating in sectors of strategic interest to the UAE, such as healthcare, economics, aviation, education, transportation, and real estate.

The program is designed to develop participants’ future forecasting and planning skills, and to render organizations more future-ready.  

Maha Al Mazeina, the project manager at Dubai Future Academy, said: "The academy seeks to enable government agencies to forecast and proactively plan for the future of strategic sectors. With that in mind, the program targets leaders and strives to develop their future-planning skills."

"This, in turn, allows them to transform their vision into reality, adhering to the ambitious directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who called on decision makers to start building the future today and cement Dubai’s status as a leading global hub for the future industry," she noted.
 
“The Academy’s programs were designed in collaboration with experts from prestigious international institutes and universities,” explained Al Mazeina.

“They seek to educate our national human resources and hone their innovation skills, so that they may formulate solutions for future challenges using scientific tools and models. Our programs also enable leaders in the public and private sectors to proactively come up with future solutions in key sectors,” she noted.
 
The Future Design Diploma seeks to build a highly capable future-oriented national workforce by launching future-focused strategies and services.

According to her, the program seeks to empower leaders to analyze trends, propose solutions, and launch initiatives to face the challenges that may arise in the future and turn them into opportunities.
 
the program touches on a range of theoretical topics, including an introduction to future forecasting and future thinking, as well as analyzing the environment and future trends, stated Al Mazeina.

It also offers practical applications where participants draw up future scenarios, generate ideas, develop prototypes for future experiments, and put timetables for their implementation, she added.
 
The program enlists top-tier future experts from around the world, including Scott Smith, Founder and Managing Partner at Changeist, who has extensive experience in research, strategic planning, and design in social, economic, and technological fields, as lecturers.

Smith’s research focuses on combining anecdotal evidence and exploring unexpected future events.
 
Before joining Changeist in 2007, Smith spent a decade leading start-up research and consulting teams for international technology research firms in New York City, Washington, and London. He has offered consulting services for a number of international institutions on how to take advantage of future opportunities, including UNICEF, Nokia, Ford, and Honda, as well as government entities in the US, Finland, New Zealand, and the UK.
 
“The Future Design Diploma is based on a set of tools allow participants to better understand global trends in several sectors, and to contribute creative ideas that lead to sustainable solutions for the challenges of the future,” Smith said.

“The program expands the study of sectors to anticipate the challenges that lie ahead, and to propose ideas and solutions to those challenges. It launches experiments and feasibility studies to implement them on the ground and build a better future for coming generations. The program establishes a culture of planning for the future in government departments in the UAE,” he added.-TradeArabia News Service



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Dubai residential property prices down 3.72pc in January

Residential property prices in Dubai's rental market fell by 3.72  per cent year-on-year in January due to a sharp drop in both apartment and villa prices compared to the same period last year, said a report.

The Dubai Residential Property Rental Price Index for all residential decreased by 0.2 points, from 95.8 to 95.6, which represents a decrease of 0.16 per cent in January, stated the leading real estate information company.

Apartment rental prices registered a decrease in January 2017. Prices fell 0.07 per cent month-on-month (mom) and also decreased 3.01 per cent y-o-y, it said.

Villa rental prices too registered a decrease last month down 0.63 per cent m-o-m and 7.46 per cent y-o-y.

The Dubai Residential Property Sales Price Index for all residential decreased by 0.8 points, from 259.9 to 259.1, which represents a decrease of 0.31 per cent in January 2017, according to Reidin.

On the other hand, prices decreased 0.81 per cent y-o-y, it added.

Dubai's apartment sales prices too witnessed a drop in January 2017. Prices were down 0.13 per cent m-o-m and also decreased 0.83 per cent y-o-y.

Villa sales prices registered a decrease in January. Prices dived 1.07 per cent m-o-m and 0.71 per cent y-o-y, it added.

On Abu Dhabi sector, Reidin said the residential property sales price index for all residential decreased by 1.3 points, from 80.8 to 79.5. This represents a drop of 1.56 per cent compared to the same period the previous year. On the other hand, prices decreased 5.38 per cent y-o-y.

Apartment sales prices too registered a decrease last month down 1.60 per cent m-o-m and 5.03 per cent y-o-y.

Villa sales prices too witnessed a decline falling 1.46 per cent m-o-m and 6.49 per cent y-o-y.

The Abu Dhabi Residential Property Rental Price Index for all residential decreased by 0.9 points, from 62.8 to 61.9, which represents a decrease of 1.53 per cent in January 2017. On the other hand, prices decreased 5.96 per cent y-o-y, said Reidin in its report.

The apartment rental prices in the UAE capital decreased 1.59 per cent m-o-m and 6.71 per cent y-o-y. However, the villa sector witnessed mixed results with rental prices surging 3.06 per cent y-o-y but falling 1.39 per cent m-o-m, it added.-TradeArabia News Service



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Dewa’s Smart Centre gets good response

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority’s (Dewa) said its Smart Centre has achieved remarkable results with growth in smart adoption surging from 64 per cent in 2015 to 70 per cent last year.

The Smart Centre was launched as part of the Customer Happiness Centre and aims to involve customers in improving services, designing future services, and to increase the adoption of smart services, said a statement from Dewa.

Customer trust increased from 86 per cent to 93 per cent, and customer happiness also increased from 85 per cent to 94 per cent, it stated.

The Dubai utility said it works to achieve the happiness of customers by making smart services easy to use, and available at all times.

Dewa also provides smart services to people with special needs, in addition to providing other smart services in collaboration with Dubai Smart Government, such as the MyID service, which allows customers to login to multiple smart services via a single account, it added.

Dewa's managing director and CEO Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer said the results achieved by Smart Centre, in terms of enhancing customer experience, reflects the utility's smart transformation, to achieve the happiness of customers through new services and innovative channels.

The Smart Centre represents a strong push towards achieving the goals of the Smart Dubai initiative, he noted.

Dewa’s Smart Centres are located at its head office, the Sustainable Building in Al Quoz, and Al Hudaiba Customer Happiness Centre.

It launched the Tayseer service, a smart platform for electricity and water bill payment. Bills can be easily paid through Emirates NBD’s cheque deposit machines available anytime, anywhere, and by cash through Etisalat payment machines.

The Smart Centre in Dewa’s head office features a Future Services Department, so that customers can design and develop new services.

"We provide customers with smart, fast, easy-to-use, and integrated services that are available around the clock. This contributes to achieving our objective to provide intelligent and integrated services to meet our customers’ needs through modern scientific techniques in all aspects of our work," remarked Al Tayer.

"We realise the importance of our role as the distributor of electricity and water in the emirate, and seek to continuously improve our services to meet the increasing needs of all of our customers," he added.-TradeArabia News Service



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GCC set to pump $320bn into power projects

The total value of GCC power projects in the pipeline stands at more than $320 billion at present, of which over $100 billion are linked to the renewable and alternative sources, according to a report.

In recent years, the interest in renewable energy across the GCC has been on the rise due to the surging demand for electricity which is set to hit 100GW within the next 10 years, stated Ventures Onsite, a project tracking portal.

Availability of resources, improved technology, decreased costs, among others, are factors which make investing in renewable energy easier than before, it added.

The region's power sector will continue to be active for the near future, said the report citing senior industry experts.

According to them, the GCC countries will require an additional generating capacity of 69GW between 2016-2020 through development of projects worth $137 billion.

"What is required for the next 10 years is 100GW, they added.

The spurt in demand is mainly due to the surgeing population, urbanisation, industrialisation, and the higher income levels.

According to the experts, about 85 to 90 per cent of future renewable energy projects will be utilizing solar energy.

The GCC certainly has an abundance of sunshine and space for developing large solar plants and already the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have emerged as the biggest solar markets in the region, they said.

Other renewable sources used for projects in the region include wind, geothermal and biomass.

Alternative sources like nuclear, coal-fired, and hydrogen based power plants are also being developed or planned in the region, said the experts.

Government has launched several key initiatives to encourage diversifying the energy mix in the GCC such as setting up credible and time-bound energy targets backed by dedicated policies and sound regulatory frameworks, according to Venture Onsite report.

A major initiative from the UAE region in this direction has been the ambitious Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050. As per timelines set, seven per cent of Dubai’s energy will come from clean energy sources by 2020, 25 per cent by 2030, and 75 per cent by 2050.

Some of the programs already initiated to achieve these ambitious targets include the Shams Dubai which is aiming to have solar panels on every rooftop by 2030, usage of smart grid and smart meters, it stated.

In a similar manner, each of the GCC countries has set definite timelines with targeted capacity for incorporating renewable energy into their energy mix.

GCC countries are investing in the research and development for renewable energy with Masdar (UAE), Qatar Foundation, Sultan Qaboos University (Oman), Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR), and King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KSA) taking the lead, according to the report.

Some of the major renewable energy power projects across the GCC are Al Abdaliya Integrated Solar Combined Cycle (ISCC) Power Plant in Kuwait; Taibah Integrated Solar Combined Cycle (ISCC) Power Plant (Saudi Arabia); Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park (UAE); Miraah Solar Thermal Park (Oman); Shagaya Renewable Energy Complex - Phase III: 1150MW CSP Plant     (Kuwait) and KA-Care - Alternative Energy Projects  (Saud Arabia) and Sweihan IPP (PV) solar project (UAE), it added.-TradeArabia News Service



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Flynas celebrates 10 years of domestic flights in Saudi Arabia

Flynas, Saudi Arabia's leading low-cost carrier, recently marked its 10 year anniversary of its first flight in Saudi Arabia, with celebrations staged at the King Khaled International Airport, Riyadh.

Passengers at the event took part in folk dances, and received free travel vouchers, distributed amongst passengers' bags.

The celebrations took place on the evening of February 16 with the slogan "Nas is Ten", at terminal 5 for domestic flights at King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh, where a large number of citizens and residents travelling on domestic flights participated in the celebrations.

During the celebrations, which marked 10 years since the start of operations, several promotional offers were announced - the first of which being the blanket sale of all domestic flights at SR100 ($26.6) for a limited 48-hour period, for all travel dates between March 1 and May 31, 2017.

Bandar Al-Muhanna, Nas Holdings chief executive officer, said: "Firstly, let us praise Allah for the success we have achieved in only 10 years since the first flynas flight - a very short period for any airline to achieve the success which we have with a fleet of 30 aircraft, completing 1,100 flights weekly across 34 routes, both domestic and international. None of this would have been possible without the blessings of Allah, and the professional and efficient staff which have allowed flynas to reach its prominent position in the region, and to achieve the success and win the accolades which we have so far. That said, we still consider ourselves to be at the start of our journey, as we strive to become the regions' leading airline, providing the best customer service, and flying to the most exclusive destinations with the best prices possible." - TradeArabia News Service
 



from Travel Tourism Hospitality

Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana, Abu Dhabi welcomes new GM

Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana in Abu Dhabi has appointed Nadim El Zyr as general manager of the hotel.

Born and raised in a legacy of hoteliers, he spans a career of over 15 years in the hospitality industry and brings an assortment of rich experience. In his new role he will provide strategic leadership that ensures effective and efficient management of the property in the capital city of UAE.     

El Zyr’s professional alliances have given him the intellect of detail orientation. He prospered working with Rotana in various capacities and joins Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana from the position of executive assistant manager at the Park Rotana Complex in Abu Dhabi.

Commenting on his new role, El Zyr said: “I remember very well visiting the Al Maha Arjaan and witnessing the opening in 2002. I am delighted to have been chosen by Rotana to oversee Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana’s renaissance. I look forward to welcome both business and leisure guests with the new product offering.”

Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana is completing its final phase of renovation and has emerged as a fresh new product. El Zyr will spearhead the new strategy and the repositioning of the renovated property. -
Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana has appointed Nadim El Zyr as general manager of the hotel.

Born and raised in a legacy of hoteliers, he spans a career of over 15 years in the hospitality industry and brings an assortment of rich experience. In his new role he will provide strategic leadership that ensures effective and efficient management of the property in the capital city of UAE.     

El Zyr’s professional alliances have given him the intellect of detail orientation. He prospered working with Rotana in various capacities and joins Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana from the position of executive assistant manager at the Park Rotana Complex in Abu Dhabi.

Commenting on his new role, El Zyr said: “I remember very well visiting the Al Maha Arjaan and witnessing the opening in 2002. I am delighted to have been chosen by Rotana to oversee Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana’s renaissance. I look forward to welcome both business and leisure guests with the new product offering.”

Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana is completing its final phase of renovation and has emerged as a fresh new product. El Zyr will spearhead the new strategy and the repositioning of the renovated property. - TradeArabia News Service



from Travel Tourism Hospitality

Jazeera Airways marks Kuwait national holiday

Kuwait-based Jazeera Airways has embellished an aircraft from its fleet and dedicated gates at Kuwait International Airport with the country's national colors to commemorate Kuwait’s National and Liberation days.

During the most celebrated month of the year, the Airbus with registration CAJ is furnished with the Kuwaiti flags alongside captivating text that reads ‘daaam 3eezik ya Kuwait' as a gesture of the airline’s pride of the Kuwaiti heritage and liberation.

Commenting on Jazeera Airways participation in the country’s festivities, Dr. Mohammed Barakat, vice president Marketing and Product, said: “As a proud Kuwaiti airline, we are committed to supporting the country through our growing business and as we move forward, we continue looking back at our history and the wonderful journey Kuwait has travelled since the Independence and Liberation Days.  This month is a reflection of the Kuwaiti peoples’ will to prevail and we are honored to be part of such a great nation."

Since its inception over a decade ago, Jazeera Airways has strengthened its presence by currently flying to over 15 destinations and continues to serve as a beacon of excellence for innovative products and services to enhance travel experience on ground and in the air. Only recently, Jazeera Airways introduced a first in Kuwait – the Park & Fly services for smart travel, followed by a dedicated business lounge adjacent to its respective gates at Kuwait International Airport and is now scheduled to reveal its brand-new terminal that will showcase a broad portfolio of advanced technological and innovative solutions, as a testimony to its pioneering spirit.

To learn more about Jazeera Airways services, offers, promotions and destinations, customers can contact the Call Center on 177 or visit the airline’s website on www.jazeeraairways.com. Customers can also download the Jazeera Airways app on the iPhone or Android or Windows. - TradeArabia News Service
 



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ME hotel occupancy, rates down in January

Hotels in the Middle East reported declines across the three key performance indicators in January, while hotels in Africa recorded positive results for the same period, a report has revealed.

According to January 2017 data from STR, a hotel data benchmarking firm, the Middle East reported a 2.7 per cent decrease in occupancy to 68.4 per cent, resulting in an 8.4 per cent drop in average daily rate (ADR) to $177.81. Revenue per available room (RevPAR) showed the steepest fall, slipping 11.0 per cent to $121.62.

On the other hand, Africa experienced a 4.5 per cent increase in occupany to 50.6 per cent, pushing average daily rate up 12 per cent to $118.16. RevPAR also climbed significantly, moving up 17.5 per cent to to $59.76.

Performance of featured countries and local markets for 2016

The UAE hospitality sector posted a slight increase in occupancy rates (+0.5 per cent to 81.1 per cent) in January, but saw declines in ADR (down 8.0 per cent to Dh711.80/$193.7) and RevPAR (down 7.5 per cent to Dh577.09/$157)

While supply (up 5.3 per cent) in the UAE grew at a rapid pace, demand (up 5.8 per cent) grew at a stronger rate each month since November 2016, leading to moderate occupancy growth.

Most of the occupancy growth for January occurred in smaller markets like Fujairah (up 7.2 per cent), Ras al-Khaimah (up 10.1 per cent) and Sharjah (up 5.5 per cent). Abu Dhabi reported a 1.5 per cent decline, and Dubai posted nearly flat performance. Jumeirah Palm & Beaches, a submarket within Dubai, posted the highest occupancy growth (up 5.8 per cent), although ADR declined marginally (down 0.2 per cent). As a result of strong supply growth, especially in the midscale segment, ADR declined across most Emirates markets in January.

Egypt’s also reported positive occupancy rates (up 24.3 per cent to 47.5 per cent), with ADR (up 92.9 per cent to EGP1,276.25/$80.6) and RevPAR (up 139.8 per cent to EGP606.79/38.3) also climbing significantly.

While Egypt’s performance represented significant improvement in local currency, STR analysts note that the devaluation of the Egyptian pound has significantly inflated ADR figures. When reported in U.S. dollars, ADR decreased 19.1 per cent.

January did, however, result in an improvement in occupancy from the very low levels of the last 15 months. STR analysts believe that year-over-year results show some recovery from the air crash in the Sinai Peninsula in late 2015, but ongoing security concerns are still weighing on actual performance levels. Demand for the country increased 24.8 per cent during the month, which is noteworthy considering demand was down 15.3 per cent for total-year 2016.

At the market level, Cairo hotels posted a 20.6 per cent increase in occupancy to 68.6 per cent for the month, while Sharm El Sheikh’s occupancy rose 26.2 per cent to 29.9 per cent.

The occupancy rate in Mauritius moved up 4.1 per cent to 83.8 per cent, pushing ADR up 8.1 per cent to MUR9,225.28 ($249.5) and RevPAR up 12.5 per cent to MUR7,726.48 ($208.9).

The country has recorded year-over-year increases in occupancy for four Januarys in a row, and the 83.8 per cent actual level marked the highest for the month since 2007.

Additionally, even in comparison with a strong first month of 2016, Mauritius still posted impressive ADR growth. On both New Year’s Day and Chinese New Year (January 28), Mauritius’ occupancy levels exceeded 90.0 per cent. STR analysts note that the country is a major destination for Chinese tourists. - TradeArabia News Service



from Travel Tourism Hospitality

Flydubai, Boeing partner for data analytics tools

Boeing has partnered with flydubai to add Software Distribution Tools to the list of Boeing services the airline utilizes to enhance maintenance and engineering operations, safety and efficiency across the airline’s growing 737 fleet.

The agreement, which extends to flydubai’s 737 MAXs, builds on flydubai’s current implementation of Boeing’s Airplane Health Management on the airline’s Next-Generation 737s and 737 MAXs. Both are data analytics-driven Boeing solutions.

“Boeing’s Airplane Health Management and other software tools allow flydubai to proactively initiate planning for necessary repairs, strengthening the efficiency of our 737 fleet operations,” said Mick Hills, senior vice president, Engineering and Maintenance at flydubai. “By reducing the maintenance and ground time for our fleet, these solutions ultimately help to benefit on-time arrivals and departures for our customers.”

Boeing Software Distribution Tools included in the new agreement include the Loadable Software Airplane Parts Librarian and software management solutions that provide cost savings by enhancing the efficiency of flydubai maintenance operations.  

“We are pleased to add flydubai to our roster of customers supported by our data analytics-driven products through which we are able to provide real-time data, enhancing and accelerating the airline’s success as it continues to expand its 737 fleet,” said David Longridge, vice president of sales and marketing, Boeing Commercial Aviation Services.

Boeing’s Airplane Health Management is currently used by more than 90 airline fleets worldwide to collect and evaluate airplane operations data while the airplane is in flight. Designed to interface with existing airplane systems and communication infrastructure, the system captures real-time data and notifies ground crews of any potential maintenance issues before the airplane lands.

This minimizes schedule disruptions and maintenance delays, resulting in significant efficiencies and cost savings for airlines. The predictive analytics tools of AHM provide insights to the performance of the system to airline maintenance and engineering staff. These insights enhance safety, enable ground crews to address technical issues during scheduled maintenance, avoid costly disruptions and reduce overall maintenance costs.

Flydubai is the largest Boeing single-aisle operator in the Gulf region, operating an all-Boeing fleet of Next-Generation 737-800s. The airline took delivery of its 50th airplane in September 2015, and is continuing to expand its fleet. In January 2014, the airline announced an order for 75 737MAXs, with the first delivery scheduled this year. - TradeArabia News Service



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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Saudi Arabia unveils $50bn renewable energy plan

Saudi Arabia is kicking off its $50 billion renewable-energy push as the world’s top crude exporter turns to solar and wind power to temper domestic oil use in meeting growing energy demand, said a report.

The move comes in line with the Saudi government's plan to develop almost 10 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2023, requiring investment of $30 billion to $50 billion, reported Bloomberg.

Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan and Morocco are developing renewable energy to either curb their fuel imports or conserve more valuable oil that could otherwise be exported.

The Saudi energy ministry has invited leading international and regional companies to submit bids for 700 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar power plant projects by March 20.

The projects include a 300 MW solar facility at Sakaka in the country’s northern Al Jouf province and a   400 MW wind plant at Midyan in northwestern Tabuk province, he added.

Those selected will be announced by April 10 and qualified bidders will be able to present their offers for the projects starting on April 17 through July, stated the report, citing the ministry.

“This marks the starting point of a long and sustained program of renewable energy deployment in Saudi Arabia that will not only diversify our power mix but also catalyze economic development,” Khalid Al-Falih, the energy minister.

The ministry’s Renewable Energy Project Development Office intends to set up “the most attractive, competitive and well executed government renewable energy investment programs in the world,” stated Al Falih.

Building more solar, wind and nuclear power plants is part of a broader plan that the kingdom announced in April to diversify away from crude sales as the main source of government income, he added.



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