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Le Meridien in Fujairah expects successful 2013
(Abdul Basit) / 13 May 2013 Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort in Fujairah expects 2013 will be another successful year with high occupancy rate and a double-digit growth over last year, according to general manager Patrick Antaki. The property is located on a 230 metres stretch of a pristine beach and fronted by the Indian Ocean with the breath-taking Hajar Mountains forming the backdrop. “The first quarter was ahead of last year. If rest of the year is going to be like Q1then it’s going to be a great year,” Antaki told Khaleej Times in an interview. Occupancy is almost full, he said, adding: “We closed March with around 90 per cent [occupancy]. We will probably look at 10 to 12 per cent better 2013 than last year.” Tourists’ arrival in Fujairah is increasing significantly every year. In 2012, the emirate hosted 1.2 million tourists, compared to 750,000 in 2011. At the moment, Fujairah has 2,800 hotel rooms, he said, adding that extra 1,000 rooms are going to open in the next 12 months. He mentioned that there is a lot to see in Fujairah as the emirate is home to most of the country’s heritage sites. In addition to that the hotel provides a lot of sea-related activities every day. “We also want to diversify the guests experience and that’s the reason the hotel is starting to set up excursion with helidubai and also planning seaplane facility from Dubai to Fujairah,” he explained. In December last year, the hotel celebrated its 10th anniversary and this year the hotel will undergo with the first phase of refurbishment. “We will spend Dh50 million on refurbishment, which will start from next month. We will do 100 rooms this year and remaining in next summer.” The hotel is also pending money to provide seamless connectivity of tablets and smartphones to TVs, so the guest can see photos and watch movies from their own devices, he informed. Antaki, who is also general manager of Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa, said it’s a luxury property and despite high rates it’s doing very well.
UAE adds power to mobile broadband
Issac John / 23 May 2013 The UAE on Wednesday took a critical initiative to stay ahead in broadband connectivity race by unveiling its band plan for 700MHz and the launch of spectrum in the 800MHz band for mobile broadband services. The move by the UAE is quite decisive as the mobile broadband market in the Arab countries is set to increase by 255 per cent by 2017 to 142 million connections, with the potential to generate $108 billion in GDP between 2015 and 2025. The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, or TRA, said by allocating these bands to mobile broadband with the equivalent global device ecosystems would best serve the UAE public interest, driving down costs and minimising interference along borders. By combining the 800MHz band plan for Europe, Middle East and Africa with the lower duplexer (2 X 30 MHz) — as a baseline — of the Asia Pacific (APT) 700MHz band, the UAE will be the first country in the ITU Region 1 to reap the benefits of both bands, which will support affordable network rollout, benefiting more of the population with mobile broadband connectivity. Majed Al Mesmar, Deputy Director-General for Telecommunications Sector, said by maximising the spectrum for mobile broadband in harmony with the growing economies of scale for both bands, the TRA decision would enable nearly global interoperability and roaming. “The UAE is predicting a rising demand for global harmonisation of the APT 700MHz band benefiting in the growing ecosystem of devices from Asia Pacific across the Middle East and Africa, through to Latin America,” Al Mesmar added. The UAE 700MHz will bring important benefit for the country of utilising the lower duplexer of the APT700 as a base line with the possibility for additional 2 x 10 MHz for more spectral efficiency and for Public Protection and Disaster Relief applications. In addition, 5 MHz has also been considered for direct mode operation to cater for the same purpose. With mobile voice penetration already high in the UAE, future growth will depend on the development of mobile broadband. In order to achieve this, mobile operators will need to have access to additional spectrum, which should be released in a globally harmonised way. The decision today confirms the UAE TRA’s leadership in allocating harmonised spectrum to mobile services. Tom Phillips, Chief Government and Regulatory Affairs Officer of Global System for Mobile Communications Association, said the TRA “has demonstrated outstanding leadership and vision with its decision to allocate new spectrum bands for mobile broadband services.” Phillips said with the prospect of Arab broadband market generating $108 billion in GDP by 2025, other markets are expected to follow suit. He described the combining of the 800MHz band plan for Europe, Middle East and Africa with the lower portion of the Asia Pacific 700MHz band as a significant step forward. “This will ultimately provide a broader choice of devices and more affordable mobile broadband services to the citizens of the UAE and across the Arab states,” Phillips said.
Flydubai begins Salalah flights
Staff Report / 23 May 2013 Flydubai on Wednesday began flights to Salalah, in the Sultanate of Oman, bringing its operational network to 60 destinations. The airline also launched flights to the Sri Lankan city of Mattala. Flydubai flight FZ039 touched down at Salalah Airport just hours before the airline began scheduled operations to Mattala, its second point in Sri Lanka, following a special flight in March on the opening day of Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport. The inaugural flight delegation, led by flydubai’s CCO Hamad Obaidalla, was met by Shaikh Hamood bin Mustahil Al Mashani, vice-president of Muscat Overseas group; Shaikh Abdullah bin Saif Al Mahrooqi, deputy governor of Dhofar; Salim bin Awadh Al Yafi, director general of Salalah Airport; and Khalid bin Musallam bin Salim Al Rawas, director-general of the directorate general of tourism in Dhofar.
Design experts discuss new trends
Staff Report / 23 May 2013 The Index International Design Exhibition and The Office Exhibition, which close today, have provided the regional interior design and architecture community with an inspiring professional experience, organisers said. The latest editions of the region’s leading trade shows for the residential and commercial interior design sector have hosted over 30 free-to-attend Design Talks sessions covering interior design hot topics since the show opened on Monday. More talks focusing on hospitality design and retail are planned for the final day today. Located in Shaikh Saeed – Hall 3, two Design Talks Theatres have been abuzz as international industry experts, including Christopher Seymour, partner and head of property social infrastructure UAE at EC Harris; Shelley Pond, creative director of Scarlet Opus; and Matteo Bianchi, owner and director of Matteo Bianchi Studio shared insights into the latest and best in design. Morten Georgsen, the Danish designer who has created several collections for BoConcept now marketed in over 50 countries, spoke at an exclusive closed-door event organized by dmg events. Sharing more than three decades of his experience and vision for the future with the audience, Georgsen said: “Trends for the future such as urbanisation, the XL generation, single living, social and ecological responsibility are all taken into consideration when developing a new concept. The inspiration for a new design can come from different elements; it can be a new trend, a building, a city and even a logo.” Georgsen also presented a case study to the Design Talks audience on why Scandinavia has become so influential in modern design. “The shortest distance between two points is a line as the shortest distance between functionalism and design’s appearance is minimalism,” said the designer. “The line-up of speakers is the result of long and accurate research conducted at dmg events. We selected experts from different disciplines and we are delighted with the quality of debate sparked by this year’s line-up,” commented Frederique Maurell, Index and The Office Exhibition event director. “Observing the products showcased by thousands of exhibitors attending the two shows, and listening to the opinions of industry gurus, INDEX and Office together provide an unrivalled opportunity for the interior design and architecture professionals in the region. No other event in the Middle East provides this breadth and depth of networking and business opportunities, inspiration and industry updates all in the course of just four days,” said Maurell. The Design Talks programme for Thursday will start with the session ‘The detail is in retail – theatre’ where Kate Hardcastle, co-founder of Insight with Passion, will explore the ways to bring a shop floor to life for customers. Christian Merieau, managing director of Samuel Creations, will present the guidelines, procedures, methods and control tools necessary to manage a successful hospitality project from conception to completion. Finally, Sana Toukan, research manager for the Middle East, Euromonitor International, will lead a panel discussion around ‘The Changing Face of Homes Gardens.’
GCC nations, Mena oil exporters face growth
IMF projects their average GDP to fall from 5.7 in 2012 to 3.2 in 2013 • By Babu Das Augustine, Deputy Business Editor Dubai: Gulf countries and other oil exporters from the Middle East and Africa are expected to face a deceleration in economic growth this year, according to the latest update of the regional economic outlook from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The region’s oil-exporting countries achieved robust growth of 5.7 per cent in 2012 on account of the almost complete restoration of Libya’s oil production and strong expansion in GCC countries. “For the region as whole economic growth is projected to fall to 3.2 per cent in 2013, as oil production growth pauses in the context of subdued global oil demand. However, non-oil growth continues at healthy rates of about 4.5 percent on average,” said Masood Ahmad, director of the IMF’s Middle East Department. For Gulf oil exporters, GDP growth is projected to moderate from 5.8 per cent last year to 5 per cent this year. Despite the decline in growth rates, the fiscal health of Gulf oil exporters is expected to remain stable in the short to medium term. However, the IMF warned that the region’s economies should be mindful of the ever rising break-even oil prices and the looming fiscal deficits that could limit the growth of these economies in the medium term. “Sharp increases in fiscal expenditure resulting from the prevailing socio-political compulsions could eventually lead to [the] depletion of reserves and prolonged periods of fiscal deficits,” Ahmad said. Elevated oil and gas export volumes and prices allowed oil exporters to accumulate current account surpluses of about $440 billion (Dh1.6 trillion) in 2012. A small decline in projected global oil prices (based on futures markets) and an expected rise in imports will lead to a somewhat smaller — but still sizeable — current account surplus of about $370 billion this year. Fiscal break-even oil prices — the price levels that would ensure that fiscal accounts are in balance at a given level of spending — have been trending upward in most countries. In several countries, some degree of fiscal consolidation to rein in spending and bring down the government deficit will need to be considered to bring fiscal balances down to more sustainable levels, the IMF said. The IMF expects a decline in oil prices due to slower economic growth across the world, new supplies from Iraq, Libya and new shale oil supplies coming onto the market. “To build resilience to a possible sustained decrease in the oil price, oil exporters should contain increases in hard-to-reverse current government expenditures, like wage [bills] and subsidies,” Ahmad said. Effective social and capital expenditure can decrease dependence on oil revenues in the long term by promoting future growth in non-energy sectors, the IMF said, adding that high-quality education can support job creation for nationals. Tim Fox, chief economist at Emirates NBD, said while the growth supported by the oil sector is declining in the GCC, growth rates in the region are still much better compared to many parts of the world. “We expect the non-oil sector growth to compensate for the decline in oil sector growth over time with Saudi Arabia and the UAE topping performance in the non-oil sector,” Fox said.
IMF stays upbeat on Dubai
Isaac John / 22 May 2013 The International Monetary Fund, or IMF, said on Tuesday that it was confident of Dubai’s ability to meet all financial obligations given its track record of successfully managing payment rescheduling. Masood Ahmed, director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, said Dubai government-related entities had so far managed debt rescheduling quite successfully since 2009. Speaking to reporters, Ahmed said debt levels in Dubai remained high with substantial debt roll to be witnessed over the next few years. Calling for better communication between the emirate and the investors, Ahmed said Dubai was on track to record a four per cent growth in 2013 on the back of a bounce back in construction and logistics industries. According to IMF estimates, Dubai and its entities spent about $113 billion to transform the emirate into a sought-after global tourism and commercial hub. Ahmed also observed that Dubai needed to keep a moderate pace in its property sector to keep at bay a boom-bust scenario. Launching IMF’s Regional Economic Outlook Update for the Middle East North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan region, or Menap, Ahmed said oil producers were expected to scale back the rate of production from an average of 5.7 per cent in 2012 to 3.2 percent this year. “This is due to modest global oil demand; however, continued strong public spending is expected to support non-oil growth at comfortable levels in many of these countries.” Ahmed said the GCC states would see growth ease from six per cent in 2012 to four per cent this year and next. According to the report, last year’s subdued growth in Menap oil importers is expected to improve by three per cent in 2013. However this will not be sufficient to make sizeable inroads into the region’s large unemployment pool. The IMF report also highlights the need for Arab countries in transition, still undergoing social unrest, impaired economic conditions, and complex political transition; to undertake difficult economic policy choices implemented in a socially balanced way. Ahmed said resolute policy action, across the region, would be necessary this year, for both oil exporter and oil importer countries. “For Menap oil exporters, further strengthening of fiscal and external positions will be important to reduce their vulnerability to potential material oil price decline.” The IMF’s baseline scenario for oil prices in 2013 is $100 a barrel, lower than the levels at which Iran, Bahrain and Algeria can balance their budget. “For Arab countries in transition, decisive policy action will be essential, given diminished fiscal and foreign exchange buffers. Recent subsidy reforms in some countries, paired with measures to implement more targeted social protection, have begun to reduce fiscal and international reserve pressures,” Ahmed said. Jeff Singer, CEO of DIFC Authority, pointed out that the IMF report indicated the need for job creation in the region and for policymakers to design and implement a bold agenda of structural reforms.
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