Finance World Magazine| Edition: March 2024

This month’s edition of the Finance World Magazine focuses on the intricate world of tax and accountancy in the UAE, exploring its profound economic implications. The focus is on understanding how the introduction of corporate tax in the UAE has shaped the business landscape, with a spotlight on its influence across various sectors such as real estate, tourism, and sports. The cover story unveils leading tax and accountancy firms in the UAE, providing insights into their pivotal role amid the implementation of Corporate Tax. Between the pages is an exclusive interview with Nirav Shah, Director at FAME Advisory, who shares valuable insights into the essential skill set required to navigate the challenges and opportunities for businesses in the UAE within this new tax framework. The magazine features articles that explain the significant role of accountancy in facilitating smooth mergers and acquisitions, as well as effective personal finance management. Additionally, the article, "Investment Fund Taxation and the Path to Corporate Tax Exemption in the UAE," serves as an ultimate guide to understanding Investment Fund Tax Exemptions in the region. In alignment with emerging global trends, we bring you an exclusive interview with Malak Fouad, the Creator and host of the 'What I Did Next' podcast and Founder of A&T Media. She shares her journey in establishing the podcast and provides a unique perspective on working with a diverse group of intellectuals. Keep yourself up to date with all financial sector news with our current news segments. Each person can find something unique from us. We believe our readers deserve real value from what we have to offer.

This month’s edition of the Finance World Magazine focuses on the intricate world of tax and accountancy in the UAE, exploring its profound economic implications. The focus is on understanding how the introduction of corporate tax in the UAE has shaped the business landscape, with a spotlight on its influence across various sectors such as real estate, tourism, and sports.

The cover story unveils leading tax and accountancy firms in the UAE, providing insights into their pivotal role amid the implementation of Corporate Tax. Between the pages is an exclusive interview with Nirav Shah, Director at FAME Advisory, who shares valuable insights into the essential skill set required to navigate the challenges and opportunities for businesses in the UAE within this new tax framework.

The magazine features articles that explain the significant role of accountancy in facilitating smooth mergers and acquisitions, as well as effective personal finance management. Additionally, the article, "Investment Fund Taxation and the Path to Corporate Tax Exemption in the UAE," serves as an ultimate guide to understanding Investment Fund Tax Exemptions in the region.

In alignment with emerging global trends, we bring you an exclusive interview with Malak Fouad, the Creator and host of the 'What I Did Next' podcast and Founder of A&T Media. She shares her journey in establishing the podcast and provides a unique perspective on working with a diverse group of intellectuals.

Keep yourself up to date with all financial sector news with our current news segments. Each person can find something unique from us. We believe our readers deserve real value from what we have to offer.


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Reaching a visionary goal requires<br />

one percent vision and 99 percent alignment.<br />

This month’s edition of the <strong>Finance</strong> <strong>World</strong> Magazine focuses<br />

on the intricate world of tax and accountancy Editor’s in the Note UAE,<br />

exploring its profound economic implications. The focus is on<br />

understanding how the introduction of corporate tax in the UAE has<br />

shaped the business landscape, with a spotlight on its influence across<br />

various sectors such as real estate, tourism, and sports.<br />

The cover story unveils leading tax and accountancy firms in the<br />

UAE, providing insights into their pivotal role amid the implementation<br />

of Corporate Tax. Between the pages is an exclusive interview with<br />

Nirav Shah, Director at FAME Advisory, who shares valuable insights<br />

into the essential skill set required to navigate the challenges and<br />

opportunities for businesses in the UAE within this new tax framework.<br />

The magazine features articles that explain the significant role of<br />

accountancy in facilitating smooth mergers and acquisitions, as well<br />

as effective personal finance management. Additionally, the article,<br />

“Investment Fund Taxation and the Path to Corporate Tax Exemption<br />

in the UAE,” serves as an ultimate guide to understanding Investment<br />

Fund Tax Exemptions in the region.<br />

In alignment with emerging global trends, we bring you an exclusive<br />

interview with Malak Fouad, the Creator and host of the ‘What I Did<br />

Next’ podcast and Founder of A&T Media. She shares her journey in<br />

establishing the podcast and provides a unique perspective on working<br />

with a diverse group of intellectuals.<br />

We aim to espouse the vision of the UAE’s wise leadership on the<br />

nation’s development path, highlighting the social, economic, and<br />

developmental aspects shaping this dynamic nation. To that end, we<br />

tirelessly curate the latest and most credible finance news for our<br />

readers, aiming to advance financial literacy and contribute to Dubai’s<br />

journey to becoming one of the world’s most pioneering economies.<br />

- Ambrish Agarwal, Editor in Chief<br />

- Ambrish Agarwal, Editor in Chief<br />

Advertisers advertised in this guide are included on a sponsored basis.<br />

Details are correct at the time of going to press, but offers and prices<br />

may change.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 5<br />

September 2022 3

Contents <strong>March</strong><br />

<strong>2024</strong><br />


P8 | Money Matters: Navigating<br />

Accounting Wisdom for Personal<br />

<strong>Finance</strong><br />



P26 | Business News<br />


ENERGY<br />

P48 | Energy News<br />



P10 | Thriving Through Change:<br />

UAE’s Corporate Tax Demands a<br />

Proactive Business Approach<br />


P14 | UAE Banking News<br />


P30 | Fiscal Excellence: A Spotlight<br />

on UAE’s Tax and Accounting<br />

Consultancy Titans<br />


P54 | Corporate Unions: The<br />

Crucial Role of Accounting in<br />

Mergers and Acquisitions<br />

P56 | Mergers & Acquisitions News<br />


P16 | A Leap Towards Global<br />

Leadership, FTA’s InnoVATive<br />

Initiatives for <strong>2024</strong><br />


P18 | Inclusivity, Innovation, and<br />

Security Core of Astra Tech’s<br />

Unprecedented Growth<br />

P20 | Fintech News<br />

P22 | Fintech Application<br />

P44 | Highlighting the Resonating<br />

Impact of Woodshow Middle East<br />

on the Woodworking Industry<br />

P58 | UAE’s Golden Visa<br />

Attraction: Foreign Property<br />

Investors on the Upswing<br />

P60 | Real Estate News<br />

6 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>



P74 | Corporate Results<br />



P62 | “What I Did Next”: Diverse<br />

Stories Shaping the Middle East<br />


P66 | Investment Fund Taxation<br />

and the Path to Corporate Tax<br />

Exemption in the UAE<br />

P68 | Funding & Investment News<br />


P70 | Spot Bitcoin ETFs Granted<br />

Approval - What It Means for the<br />

Future of Cryptocurrency?<br />

P76 | Saudi Sports Market:<br />

Sportswashing or the Dawn of<br />

New Investment Frontiers?<br />

P78 | Sports News<br />


P80 | The Ripple Effect of Tourism<br />

Taxes on Shaping the Economy of<br />

a Country<br />

GLOBAL<br />

P82 | Global News<br />

P84 | The Art Investment<br />

Revolution: A Technological<br />

Perspective<br />

P86 | Local News<br />

TRAVEL<br />

P88 | Top Picks for Family<br />

Getaways this February<br />

P90 | Travel News<br />

P33 | P93 | Launch Express<br />

P46 | P54 | Wheels<br />

P32 | P92 | Tech My Money<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 7

Personal <strong>Finance</strong><br />

Source: pexels.com<br />

Financial literacy is the passport to economic freedom.<br />

Money Matters:<br />

Navigating Accounting<br />

Wisdom for Personal<br />

<strong>Finance</strong><br />

Accounting, the language of business, is<br />

the key to unlocking prosperity in personal<br />

finance.<br />

Accounting is not merely a skill for<br />

generating income; rather, it is a crucial<br />

competency that empowers individuals<br />

to save wisely and maintain a balanced<br />

financial portfolio. In the realm of personal<br />

finance, the principles of accounting<br />

serve as a powerful toolkit, providing<br />

individuals with the means to navigate<br />

the complexities of their financial journey.<br />

It includes wealth management, balancing<br />

taxes, retirement planning, budgeting, and<br />

various other aspects that contribute<br />

to overall financial well-being. “Money<br />

Matters: Navigating Accounting Wisdom<br />

for Personal <strong>Finance</strong>” explores the<br />

symbiotic relationship between accounting<br />

principles and personal financial success,<br />

emphasising the crucial role these<br />

concepts play in achieving financial<br />

well-being.<br />

8 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

The Foundation of Financial<br />

Literacy:<br />

Understanding the basics of<br />

accounting is akin to acquiring a key that<br />

unlocks the doors to financial literacy.<br />

Just as businesses rely on accounting to<br />

measure profitability, manage expenses,<br />

and assess their financial health, individuals<br />

can apply these same principles to gain<br />

insight into their personal finances. A<br />

solid foundation in accounting principles<br />

empowers individuals to make informed<br />

decisions and navigate the often complex<br />

landscape of personal finance.<br />

Budgeting for Success:<br />

At the heart of both accounting and<br />

personal finance lies the concept of<br />

budgeting. Businesses utilise budgets<br />

to allocate resources effectively, set financial<br />

goals, and monitor their financial<br />

performance. Similarly, individuals can<br />

harness the power of budgeting to gain<br />

control over their spending, allocate<br />

funds strategically, and work towards<br />

achieving their financial objectives. By<br />

creating a budget that aligns with their<br />

goals, individuals can bridge the gap between<br />

accounting wisdom and personal<br />

financial prudence.<br />

Monitoring Revenue and Expenditures:<br />

Professionals in the field of accounting<br />

excel at classifying and monitoring financial<br />

transactions. Employing these abilities in<br />

managing your personal finances allows<br />

individuals to develop a comprehensive<br />

grasp of spending patterns and pinpoint<br />

areas where expenses can be reduced.<br />

Through meticulous tracking of<br />

income and expenditures, individuals<br />

can guarantee that they are adhering<br />

to their budget and advancing towards<br />

their financial objectives.<br />

Financial Statements in the<br />

Real <strong>World</strong>:<br />

While businesses generate financial<br />

statements to communicate their financial<br />

position to stakeholders, individuals can<br />

create personal financial statements to<br />

assess their net worth.<br />

Analysing assets, and liabilities, and<br />

understanding the components of personal<br />

financial statements provides a clear<br />

picture of one’s financial standing. This<br />

accounting-inspired approach allows<br />

individuals to track their progress, identify<br />

areas for improvement, and make<br />

informed decisions for the future.<br />

Accounting is<br />

not just about<br />

counting beans;<br />

it’s about<br />

making every<br />

bean count.”<br />

William Reed<br />

Setting SMART Financial<br />

Objectives:<br />

Professionals in accounting and business<br />

ownership are familiar with formulating<br />

SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable,<br />

Relevant, and Time-bound) goals<br />

for their enterprises. When individuals<br />

apply this approach to managing their<br />

personal finances, they can set practical<br />

financial objectives that align with their<br />

priorities and values.<br />

Tax Planning and Optimization:<br />

Accounting principles play a pivotal<br />

role in businesses’ tax planning, and<br />

individuals can benefit from a similar<br />

approach to optimise their tax liability.<br />

Understanding tax laws, deductions,<br />

and credits enables individuals to make<br />

strategic financial decisions that minimise<br />

their tax burden.<br />

By incorporating accounting wisdom<br />

into personal tax planning, individuals<br />

can ensure they are taking advantage of<br />

available opportunities and preserving<br />

more of their hard-earned money.<br />

Establishing a Support System:<br />

For an individual pursuing financial<br />

goals, having a support system becomes<br />

crucial. This network not only aids in<br />

maintaining accountability but also offers<br />

encouragement during challenging periods.<br />

By sharing financial objectives with<br />

friends, family, or a designated financial<br />

accountability partner, and contemplating<br />

involvement in a financial support group<br />

or online community, individuals can<br />

fortify their journey towards achieving<br />

financial milestones.<br />

Debt Management Strategies:<br />

In both business and personal finance,<br />

effective debt management is essential<br />

for financial stability. By applying accounting<br />

principles to analyse interest<br />

rates, create repayment plans, and avoid<br />

excessive debt, individuals can navigate<br />

the complexities of borrowing wisely.<br />

This approach helps bridge the gap between<br />

accounting wisdom and personal<br />

financial prudence, fostering a healthier<br />

financial future.<br />

Automating Savings and Investments:<br />

For individuals seeking to enhance<br />

their financial discipline, establishing<br />

a system that automatically transfers a<br />

portion of their income into designated<br />

savings and investment accounts is key.<br />

This “set it and forget it” approach not<br />

only facilitates consistent wealth-building<br />

over time but also minimises the<br />

temptation to divert savings towards<br />

discretionary spending.<br />

Regularly Reviewing and Adjusting<br />

a Financial Plan:<br />

In life, unforeseen circumstances<br />

can arise, leading to rapid changes in<br />

an individual’s financial situation. It is<br />

advisable to consistently review and<br />

adjust their financial plan to guarantee<br />

its alignment with their current circumstances<br />

and goals.<br />

By incorporating these principles into<br />

their financial journey, individuals can<br />

build a solid foundation for success.<br />

From budgeting to financial statements,<br />

tax planning, and debt management,<br />

accounting wisdom serves as a guiding<br />

light, empowering individuals to make<br />

informed decisions and achieve lasting<br />

financial well-being.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 9

Interview<br />

Thriving Through Change: UAE’s<br />

Corporate Tax Demands a Proactive<br />

Business Approach<br />

10 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

In an exclusive interview with <strong>Finance</strong> <strong>World</strong> Magazine, Nirav Shah, Director<br />

at FAME Advisory DMCC covered a range of crucial topics, from balancing<br />

compliance needs with agility to the recent introduction of corporate tax in<br />

the UAE. Mr Shah shed light on evaluating and managing risks within corporate<br />

structures, the impact of corporate tax on businesses, and strategies for small<br />

and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to adapt.<br />

Exclusive to <strong>Finance</strong> <strong>World</strong> Magazine<br />

Q. How do you balance the need for<br />

compliance with the agility required to<br />

navigate the ever-changing landscape<br />

of international tax regulations?<br />

Navigating the complexities of international<br />

taxation is a critical aspect of multinational<br />

business operations. As a tax professional,<br />

one must adopt a proactive approach to<br />

stay ahead of tax regulation changes.<br />

This entails keeping the clients abreast<br />

of the latest developments in tax laws<br />

and regulations. We assist businesses in<br />

identifying potential challenges early on<br />

by conducting regular compliance audits<br />

and taking necessary measures to mitigate<br />

them. To capitalise on opportunities and<br />

minimise risks, organisations need to<br />

invest in ongoing training for their tax<br />

teams, ensuring they have the necessary<br />

skills and knowledge to navigate complex<br />

regulatory environments. By adopting<br />

such a proactive stance, organisations<br />

can make timely adjustments to their<br />

tax strategies, enhancing their capacity<br />

to respond with resilience and agility<br />

to changes in the tax landscape.<br />

Q. Can you share your approach<br />

to evaluating and managing risks,<br />

both within corporate structures<br />

and in advising clients on potential<br />

investments or transactions?<br />

With the introduction of corporate<br />

tax, it is one of the crucial aspects<br />

that one needs to factor in while<br />

evaluating corporate structures as it<br />

will directly impact the overall costs of<br />

operations. Non-compliance may lead<br />

to hefty penalties, reputational damage,<br />

and potential legal consequences. It<br />

is critical for businesses to remain<br />

vigilant and promptly report any relevant<br />

changes to maintain compliance with<br />

tax regulations.<br />

Q. With the recent introduction<br />

of corporate tax in the UAE, how<br />

do you foresee this impacting the<br />

overall business environment in<br />

the country?<br />

The UAE has long been renowned<br />

for attracting businesses from around<br />

the world owing to its tax-free hub<br />

status The landmark announcement<br />

of corporate tax has brought forth a<br />

major change in the way businesses<br />

operate in the country. The introduction<br />

of CT will definitely impact the tax and<br />

compliance costs of most businesses.<br />

As it will be a direct hit to the bottom<br />

line, it needs to be factored into the<br />

forecasting and decision-making process.<br />

Businesses will need to assess their<br />

existing operating models, corporate<br />

structure, accounting policies as well<br />

as systems and procedures to ensure<br />

compliance with the corporate tax<br />

regime.<br />

Q. With your expertise in international<br />

tax, how does the introduction of<br />

corporate tax in the UAE influence<br />

the attractiveness of the country<br />

as a business hub, particularly for<br />

foreign investors?<br />

The UAE’s decision to introduce<br />

corporate tax in June 2023 is driven by<br />

a combination of strategic objectives,<br />

including cementing its position as<br />

a global business hub, accelerating<br />

economic development and diversification,<br />

and complying with international tax<br />

transparency standards. The tax rate<br />

of 9% still remains highly competitive<br />

in comparison to other jurisdictions.<br />

At an overall level, the UAE authority<br />

is inclined to keep the UAE CT laws<br />

and regulations simple with minimum<br />

procedure and compliances for the<br />

taxpayers. By creating a competitive<br />

and simple tax regime, the UAE aims to<br />

attract businesses and boost investor’s<br />

confidence. The impact of this decision<br />

on the UAE’s economy and attractiveness<br />

as a business destination will unfold over<br />

time. Moreover, dividends and capital<br />

gains are not subject to corporate tax<br />

depending on certain conditions, so<br />

they will remain attractive to investors.<br />

Q. What impact do you anticipate on<br />

small and medium-sized enterprises<br />

(SMEs) in the UAE with the<br />

implementation of corporate tax,<br />

and how can they best prepare for<br />

these changes?<br />

One of the immediate concerns for<br />

businesses in the UAE is the impact of<br />

corporate tax on their overall costs. It<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 11

Interview<br />

is essential to factor in tax obligations<br />

while budgeting and forecasting profits,<br />

ensuring a smooth transition without<br />

compromising operational efficiency.<br />

Having said this, there is a small business<br />

relief available under the new tax regime<br />

to support small businesses and startups<br />

in the UAE by offering them the<br />

option of paying zero taxes and reduced<br />

compliance under specified conditions.<br />

The intent behind the small business<br />

tax relief is to support local businesses<br />

with lower annual revenue and reduce<br />

their costs in order to help them thrive.<br />

A proactive approach needs to be<br />

adopted by businesses on the tax front.<br />

Businesses will need to evaluate their<br />

existing structures, accounting policies<br />

and systems to ensure compliance with the<br />

corporate tax regime. It is also important<br />

to undertake an impact assessment<br />

in the light of the new corporate tax<br />

and transfer pricing regime to ensure<br />

a smooth implementation, rather than<br />

considering it as an after-thought Having<br />

a robust IT infrastructure in place,<br />

training in-house teams and setting-up<br />

integrated tax system function will be<br />

critical to smoothly navigate into the<br />

new tax era.<br />

Q. Are there specific industries<br />

or sectors that you believe will<br />

be more significantly affected by<br />

the introduction of corporate tax,<br />

and how should businesses in these<br />

sectors strategize to adapt?<br />

The UAE’s introduction of a federal<br />

corporate tax regime will have significant<br />

impact across all industries and sectors.<br />

The federal tax system is applicable to<br />

all businesses and commercial activities<br />

operating within the country’s seven<br />

emirates. It is essential to conduct a<br />

thorough impact assessment of the new<br />

corporate tax regulation in the UAE on<br />

your company/organisation to mitigate<br />

any potential risks and prepare for<br />

necessary changes. Additionally, businesses<br />

must consult with tax professionals or<br />

seek expert advice if needed to ensure<br />

compliance and minimise any adverse<br />

effects on a company’s financial stability<br />

and growth.<br />

Q. In your interactions with clients,<br />

what are the most common concerns<br />

or questions they express regarding<br />

the impact of corporate tax, and<br />

how do you address and alleviate<br />

those concerns?<br />

UAE businesses face challenges in<br />

understanding and complying with the<br />

new corporate tax framework. Businesses<br />

will need to establish reliable accounting<br />

systems and processes to be able to<br />

navigate through the new tax framework.<br />

Accounting software plays a pivotal role<br />

in supporting global tax compliance in<br />

today’s complex business environment.<br />

By centralising financial data, managing<br />

multiple currencies, automating tax<br />

calculations, and simplifying reporting<br />

and filing processes, accounting software<br />

can significantly reduce the burden of<br />

tax compliance and minimise the risk of<br />

penalties. The introduction of the new<br />

transfer pricing regulations would also<br />

be a game changer for most businesses<br />

in the UAE as intercompany transactions<br />

both cross-border as well as domestic<br />

would now have to be undertaken at<br />

arm’s length and supported by robust<br />

documentation in line with OECD<br />

transfer pricing guidelines.<br />

It is crucial for companies to plan<br />

for the new tax regime, assess their<br />

current systems and procedures, seek<br />

expert advice and adapt their business<br />

strategies wherever necessary in order<br />

to remain competitive and thrive in the<br />

new tax regime and cost environment<br />

in UAE.<br />

Q. As someone with over two decades<br />

of experience, how do you stay<br />

motivated and inspired in your<br />

work, and what advice do you have<br />

for professionals entering the field<br />

today?<br />

Tax is a fast, exciting profession.<br />

It’s a people business, full of change<br />

and opportunity. Tax has always been<br />

my passion. The adrenaline rush of<br />

managing the needs of a client keeps<br />

me on my toes. What I enjoy most about<br />

tax is that it is always changing. There<br />

is no shortage of new things to learn. It<br />

allows me to work with a wide variety<br />

of clients with different tax needs,<br />

which gives me the opportunity to<br />

problem-solve in different areas of tax.<br />

Adapting to the changing tax system<br />

really helps me to grow critical thinking<br />

and problem-solving skills continually.<br />

Professionals who are detail-oriented<br />

and love solving problems will have a<br />

great career and will thrive in this field.<br />

12 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

UAE Banking News<br />

ADCB Expands into<br />

Saudi Arabia with<br />

First Branch Opening<br />

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank<br />

(ADCB), the UAE’s third-largest<br />

lender, is poised to extend its<br />

reach into Saudi Arabia, strategically<br />

tapping into the growing opportunities<br />

within the Arab world’s largest<br />

economy. Having secured in-principle<br />

approval, pending final regulatory<br />

nods, ADCB’s imminent branch in Riyadh<br />

underscores its commitment to<br />

an expedited business expansion plan.<br />

Operating under the auspices of the<br />

Saudi Central Bank’s foreign banking<br />

branch licence, the bank aims to cater<br />

to corporate and institutional clients<br />

with a diverse range of financial services.<br />

This move mirrors a broader<br />

trend in the financial sector, where<br />

institutions actively seek to establish<br />

a foothold in Saudi Arabia, aligning<br />

with the nation’s ambitious economic<br />

diversification agenda.<br />

Islamic Development Bank Initiates $20M<br />

Agricultural Value Chain Project in Benin<br />

The Islamic Development Bank,<br />

in collaboration with the LLF<br />

Foundation and the Government<br />

of Benin, has introduced a $20M integrated<br />

agricultural value chain project.<br />

This initiative seeks to enhance local<br />

and regional market opportunities for<br />

farmers in Benin. Over the next five<br />

years, the project will engage with<br />

local farming communities, the private<br />

sector, and various stakeholders to<br />

benefit 25,000 households in 16,000<br />

municipalities within the Collins District<br />

of Dassa, Benin Republic. Focused<br />

on corn and rice value chains,<br />

the project aims to boost competitiveness<br />

and sustainable development,<br />

ultimately increasing rice productivity.<br />

The goal is to combat poverty, hunger,<br />

and food insecurity while elevating the<br />

annual income of beneficiary families<br />

and generating new job opportunities<br />

in both agricultural and non-agricultural<br />

sectors.<br />

UAE Banks Hit Record Investments: AED 620B by<br />

November’s End<br />

By the end of November 2023,<br />

UAE bank investments surpassed<br />

an unprecedented AED<br />

620B, marking a historic pinnacle,<br />

as per the latest Central Bank of the<br />

UAE (CBUAE) data. The banking indicators<br />

report revealed a notable 21.4<br />

percent year-on-year surge in bank<br />

investments, reaching AED 620.2B<br />

by November’s close, an increase of<br />

AED 109.1B from 2022’s AED 511.1B.<br />

Overall, these investments exhibited<br />

a growth of AED 93B or 17.6 percent<br />

in the first 11 months of the preceding<br />

year compared to approximately AED<br />

527.4B at the end of 2022. Held-to-maturity<br />

securities comprised the majority,<br />

representing 48.7 percent, amounting<br />

to AED 302.2B, with a monthly<br />

increase of 2.93 percent compared to<br />

approximately AED 293.7B in October.<br />

Debt securities constituted about 41.4<br />

percent of the total investments portfolio,<br />

reaching AED 257.1B by the end<br />

of November’s period.<br />

Mansour bin Zayed Witnessed UAE Central Bank’s Golden Jubilee Celebration<br />

His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin<br />

Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President,<br />

Deputy Prime Minister,<br />

Chairman of the Presidential Court,<br />

and Chairman of the Board of the<br />

Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE),<br />

attended the 50th-anniversary celebration<br />

of CBUAE. The event also marked<br />

the graduation of 1,056 citizens from<br />

the ‘Ethraa’ programme, aimed at<br />

enhancing Emirati representation in<br />

the financial sector through advanced<br />

training. Held at the Abu Dhabi National<br />

Exhibition Center, the ceremony<br />

highlighted CBUAE’s 50-year journey,<br />

contributing to financial stability and<br />

economic growth. The bank’s commitment<br />

to digital transformation, evident<br />

in the Financial Infrastructure Transformation<br />

Programme, aligns with its<br />

strategy to position CBUAE among the<br />

top global central banks.<br />

14 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Nasdaq Dubai Lists China Construction Bank’s $600M Green Bond<br />

Nasdaq Dubai celebrates the listing<br />

of a $600M green bond by China<br />

Construction Bank (DIFC Branch),<br />

underscoring the bank’s substantial<br />

commitment to sustainable financing.<br />

The green bond issuance, aimed at<br />

addressing climate change, signifies the<br />

growing collaboration in green financing<br />

between China and the UAE. Li Xuhang,<br />

Consul-General of the People’s Republic<br />

of China in Dubai, and Hamed Ali, CEO of<br />

Nasdaq Dubai and Dubai Financial Market,<br />

marked the occasion by ringing the market<br />

opening bell. This listing contributes to<br />

Nasdaq Dubai’s total value of ESG-related<br />

issuances, reaching $27.05B, positioning<br />

the exchange as a leading global hub for<br />

fixed-income listings and sustainable<br />

financial instruments. The total value of<br />

outstanding debt from Chinese issuers<br />

listed on Nasdaq Dubai now stands at<br />

$11.95B through 22 issuances, highlighting<br />

the market’s growing prominence.<br />

Gulf Bank, Kuwait Unveils<br />

‘A Step Towards Change’<br />

Sustainability Initiative<br />

Gulf Bank has introduced the<br />

“A Step Towards Change”<br />

environmental sustainability<br />

initiative, aiming to transform societal<br />

behaviour by promoting the use of<br />

reusable bags. In collaboration with<br />

the Environment Public Authority and<br />

five cooperative societies in the initial<br />

phase—Al-Dahiya, Al-Mansouriah,<br />

Al-Shamiya and Shuwaikh, Al-Rawda<br />

and Hawally, Kaifan, and Mishref—the<br />

initiative seeks to reduce plastic usage.<br />

Jassim Mustafa Boodai, Chairman of<br />

the Board at Gulf Bank, and various<br />

bank executives attended the launch<br />

event, along with Dr. Hamad Al-<br />

Mutair, Chairman of the Committee<br />

for Environmental, Food, and Water<br />

Security Affairs in the National<br />

Assembly, and Engineer Abdullah<br />

Al-Otaibi, representing the General<br />

Authority for the Environment. This<br />

initiative aligns with Sustainable<br />

Development Goal 17, promoting<br />

collaboration across public and private<br />

sectors for the benefit of Kuwait’s<br />

environment.<br />

UAE Completes $13.6M Cross-Border Digital<br />

Dirham Payment to China<br />

The UAE achieved a historic<br />

milestone with the completion<br />

of its inaugural cross-border<br />

payment using the Digital Dirham,<br />

transferring AED 50M ($13.6M) to<br />

China. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al<br />

Nahyan, Vice President, Deputy Prime<br />

Minister, Chairman of the Presidential<br />

Court, and Chairman of the Board of<br />

the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE),<br />

conducted this transaction during<br />

a celebration marking the CBUAE’s<br />

The Anwar Gargash Diplomatic<br />

Academy (AGDA) in Abu Dhabi,<br />

a globally renowned centre of<br />

diplomatic excellence, has formalised<br />

a collaborative effort with the Central<br />

Bank of the UAE through the signing<br />

of a Memorandum of Understanding<br />

(MoU). This agreement aims to<br />

strengthen cooperation in research,<br />

knowledge exchange, expertise sharing,<br />

and joint training programs to<br />

enhance diplomatic capabilities. The<br />

MoU was signed by Dr. Mohammed<br />

Ibrahim Al Dhaheri, AGDA’s Deputy<br />

Director-General, and Ehab Anis Al<br />

Ameri, Head of Human Resources<br />

Department at the Central Bank of<br />

the UAE, in the presence of senior<br />

officials from both institutions. AGDA,<br />

50th Anniversary. The payment was<br />

made directly with China through the<br />

“mBridge,” a platform utilising central<br />

bank digital currencies (CBDC) for<br />

international fund transfers between<br />

participating banks, based on distributed<br />

ledger technology (DLT or “blockchain”).<br />

This achievement underscores<br />

the UAE’s commitment to advancing<br />

digital currency solutions and international<br />

financial collaboration.<br />

Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy Inks MoU<br />

with UAE Central Bank<br />

as a respected diplomatic hub, delivers<br />

accredited academic programs<br />

and executive training, fostering an<br />

intellectual community in diplomacy,<br />

academia, and research to contribute<br />

to the UAE’s foreign policy objectives.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 15

UAE Reforms<br />

source: tax.gov.ae<br />

The introduction of taxes in the UAE is part of a GCC-wide initiative to diversify regional economies.<br />

A Leap Towards<br />

Global Leadership,<br />

FTA’s InnoVATive<br />

Initiatives for <strong>2024</strong><br />

“UAE InnoVATes is designed to enhance the country’s<br />

position as a global innoVATion hub” FTA<br />

Commencing in June 2023, the United<br />

Arab Emirates (UAE) has embarked on<br />

a significant initiative by implementing<br />

a tax rate of 9% for businesses. This new<br />

tax regulation applies to all annual taxable<br />

profits surpassing AED 375,000. The<br />

introduction of this tax framework is a<br />

strategic move by the UAE government to<br />

enhance fiscal policies and contribute to<br />

economic sustainability. The Federal Tax<br />

Authority of the UAE has played a pivotal<br />

role in the smooth implementation of this<br />

tax regime. Beyond its introduction, the<br />

authority has been actively engaged in<br />

various initiatives to raise awareness about<br />

the implications and processes associated<br />

with taxation. These efforts are aimed at<br />

ensuring that residents and businesses in<br />

the UAE are well-informed and compliant<br />

with the new tax regulations.<br />

16 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

By instituting a 9% tax rate on<br />

businesses with annual taxable<br />

profits exceeding AED 375,000,<br />

the UAE is aligning itself with global<br />

practices while seeking to bolster its<br />

financial infrastructure. This tax reform<br />

is part of a broader strategy to diversify<br />

revenue sources, support public services,<br />

and contribute to the overall economic<br />

development of the country.<br />

Businesses operating in the UAE are<br />

urged to familiarise themselves with the<br />

intricacies of the new tax system and<br />

ensure compliance with the stipulated<br />

regulations. The Federal Tax Authority<br />

is actively providing resources and<br />

support to facilitate a smooth transition<br />

for businesses and individuals affected<br />

by this taxation adjustment.<br />

The FTA has undertaken notable<br />

initiatives to advance tax reforms,<br />

including the launch of a public awareness<br />

campaign aimed at aiding taxpayers<br />

in comprehending and fulfilling their<br />

responsibilities under the Corporate Tax<br />

Law. This forms a crucial component of<br />

the FTA’s endeavours to facilitate the<br />

seamless enactment of Federal Decree-Law<br />

No.47 of 2022, focusing on the Taxation of<br />

Corporations and Businesses, commonly<br />

referred to as the “Corporate Tax Law.”<br />

The applicability of this law extends to<br />

financial years commencing on or after<br />

June 1, 2023.<br />

Following this, in February <strong>2024</strong>, the<br />

FTA initiated the campaign’s second<br />

phase, scheduled to continue until the<br />

year’s end. This phase will incorporate<br />

numerous events and workshops, both<br />

virtual and in-person, spanning the UAE’s<br />

seven emirates. The program aims to<br />

heighten awareness of specific subjects,<br />

including legislation, Corporate Tax<br />

compliance requirements, and procedures,<br />

with customization to suit the needs of<br />

each taxpayer. Advanced technologies<br />

will be employed to facilitate accessible<br />

information for taxable individuals,<br />

fostering support and encouraging the<br />

business community to implement the<br />

Corporate Tax Law with efficiency and<br />

precision.<br />

In addition, the Federal Tax Authority<br />

(FTA) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)<br />

is set to kick off three transformative<br />

initiatives as part of the UAE InnoVATes<br />

<strong>2024</strong> month-long event. This initiative<br />

aims to foster a culture of innovation,<br />

celebrate innovators, and align with the<br />

National Strategy for Advanced Innovation.<br />

The details of these initiatives and their<br />

potential impact on tax procedures in the<br />

UAE are discussed as follows.<br />

InnoVATion Challenge Award for the<br />

FTA Team:<br />

The InnoVATion Challenge award<br />

underscores the FTA’s commitment to<br />

developing forward-looking solutions<br />

by encouraging its team members to<br />

showcase their innovative skills and ideas.<br />

This initiative seeks to drive tangible<br />

improvements in the FTA’s operational<br />

and strategic processes by periodically<br />

evaluating and implementing the most<br />

promising proposals. As the FTA focuses<br />

on achieving global leadership in tax<br />

procedures, this challenge sets the stage<br />

for innovative solutions that address<br />

future challenges.<br />

We aim to foster<br />

an environment<br />

for continuous<br />

innovation and<br />

customer service<br />

development.”<br />

Hackathon Program for Strengthening<br />

Community Partnerships:<br />

The Hackathon program represents<br />

a collaborative effort between the FTA,<br />

government bodies, and educational<br />

institutions. By bringing together talented<br />

developers, programmers, and designers,<br />

this initiative aims to develop innovative<br />

technological solutions for current<br />

challenges in tax procedures. Challenges<br />

will be announced through official FTA<br />

platforms, encouraging participants<br />

to present their ideas for evaluation.<br />

The best solutions will be recognised<br />

and celebrated, fostering a dynamic<br />

partnership between the FTA and the<br />

wider community.<br />

Expansion of ‘TAX 10’ Digital Innovation<br />

Platform:<br />

The third major initiative involves<br />

expanding participation in the ‘TAX 10’<br />

digital innovation platform. Initially<br />

accessible to FTA employees, the platform<br />

will now be opened to 100 members of the<br />

UAE community, including representatives<br />

from universities, government entities,<br />

and tax authorities across the Gulf<br />

Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.<br />

This move signifies the FTA’s commitment<br />

to collaboration and knowledge-sharing,<br />

fostering a community-driven approach<br />

to tax innovation.<br />

The Vision of His Excellency Khalid<br />

Ali Al Bustani:<br />

H.E. Khalid Ali Al Bustani, Director General<br />

of the FTA, emphasises the importance<br />

of these initiatives in aligning with the<br />

UAE’s rapid digital transformation across<br />

all sectors. By encouraging innovative<br />

ideas and solutions, the FTA aims to drive<br />

sustainable financial diversification while<br />

upgrading services for taxpayers. H.E.<br />

Al Bustani affirms that these initiatives<br />

reflect the FTA’s dedication to achieving<br />

global leadership in tax procedures.<br />

As the UAE enters a month-long<br />

celebration of innovation, the Federal<br />

Tax Authority’s three-pronged approach<br />

to the InnoVATes <strong>2024</strong> initiative is poised<br />

to make significant strides in reshaping<br />

the landscape of tax procedures. By<br />

engaging stakeholders, fostering a culture<br />

of innovation, and expanding collaborative<br />

platforms, the FTA is actively contributing<br />

to the UAE’s journey towards becoming a<br />

global leader in innovation and taxation.<br />

These initiatives not only celebrate the<br />

present but also lay the groundwork<br />

for a future where innovative solutions<br />

drive the evolution of tax procedures<br />

in the UAE.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 17

Fintech<br />

Source: National News<br />

In just four months, Astra Tech has become the largest fintech issuer in the industry.<br />

Inclusivity, Innovation,<br />

and Security Core<br />

of Astra Tech’s<br />

Unprecedented Growth<br />

Astra Tech’s Swift Ascent as MENA’s Premier Fintech<br />

Powerhouse Under Abdallah Abu Sheikh’s Visionary<br />

Leadership.<br />

The rise of fintech has initiated a profound<br />

revolution, prompting companies<br />

to rethink financial inclusivity and<br />

address the needs of the masses. Amid<br />

this innovation wave, Astra Tech has<br />

swiftly emerged as the MENA region’s<br />

fastest-growing fintech company, boasting<br />

an impressive user base exceeding<br />

140 million individuals. Abdallah Abu<br />

Sheikh, at the helm of Astra Tech, has<br />

steered the company into a prominent<br />

position within the fintech landscape. His<br />

visionary leadership has guided Astra<br />

Tech through significant milestones. This<br />

article highlights the impactful journey of<br />

Astra Tech under Abu Sheikh’s leadership,<br />

exploring key achievements and initiatives<br />

that have solidified the company’s position<br />

in the ever-evolving realm of financial<br />

technology.<br />

18 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Abdallah Abu Sheikh, CEO of Astra<br />

Tech, has forged an entrepreneurial<br />

path that spans from his early<br />

teens to guiding Astra Tech, a prominent<br />

technology investment and development<br />

company in the MENA region. Throughout<br />

this journey, his defining trait has been<br />

a steadfast “can do” attitude.<br />

Describing achievement as an addiction,<br />

the Jordanian entrepreneur, who raised<br />

$500M in a significant financing round,<br />

expresses his commitment to growing<br />

the company with over 130 million users<br />

on its platform. He emphasises the continuous<br />

pursuit of pushing boundaries<br />

and solving larger problems by staying<br />

close to users, attributing this drive to<br />

his passion.<br />

At 28, Abdallah Abu Sheikh builds on<br />

his late father’s entrepreneurial legacy,<br />

shaped by ventures in manufacturing and<br />

procurement businesses in China. His<br />

diverse experiences, including obtaining<br />

a master’s degree from London Business<br />

School and spending formative years in<br />

China, the US, and Canada, contribute<br />

to his approach.<br />

Astra Tech’s Surge: $500M Funding,<br />

Botim Acquisition, and Unified Platform<br />

Vision<br />

Abu Dhabi’s artificial intelligence<br />

and cloud computing company G42 led<br />

investors in Astra Tech’s funding round<br />

of $500M. The startup, which acquired<br />

FinTech platform PayBy and Rizek, stated<br />

it would utilise the funds to expand and<br />

acquire other consumer platforms.<br />

The following month, Astra acquired<br />

the popular Middle East internet calling<br />

platform Botim, gaining access to Botim’s<br />

90 million registered users. Financial<br />

details were not disclosed at the time.<br />

Apart from voice-over-internet protocol<br />

calls, Botim provides money transfer and<br />

bill payment services to users across<br />

markets.<br />

“Our investors have truly placed significant<br />

confidence in us to establish Astra<br />

and today, Astra stands as the largest<br />

consumer technology company in this<br />

part of the world, with over 130 million<br />

users,” Mr Abu Sheikh states.<br />

The decision to establish Astra Tech<br />

stems from the success and value created<br />

for investors and shareholders in their<br />

previous ventures.<br />

Continuing its quest to establish an<br />

Ultra Platform, Astra Tech broadened<br />

its consumer verticals through the<br />

acquisition of messaging platform BOTIM.<br />

This platform facilitates free video and<br />

voice calls, reinforcing its position as<br />

the largest and most popular MENA-built<br />

communications platform, boasting 90<br />

million registered users and 25 million<br />

active users.<br />

A noteworthy achievement is BOTIM’s<br />

integration of Arabic ChatGPT, a first in<br />

the region. Developed in collaboration<br />

with Abu Dhabi’s MBZUAI, the AI-powered<br />

platform introduces conversational<br />

commerce, revolutionizing user access<br />

to services.<br />

We, as a<br />

company,<br />

collectively<br />

strive to propel<br />

the country’s<br />

economy, its<br />

businesses, and<br />

people to new<br />

heights.”<br />

Astra Tech: UAE’s Top Fintech Card<br />

Issuer, 100,000 Cards in 4 Months<br />

Astra Tech revealed the issuance of<br />

over 100,000 Botim multi-currency cards in<br />

the UAE within a swift four-month period<br />

through its partnership with Mastercard.<br />

This achievement, breaking records in<br />

the fintech sector, highlights Astra Tech’s<br />

efficiency and innovation and signifies a<br />

growing demand for dependable fintech<br />

services in the region, according to the<br />

company’s media statement.<br />

Abu Sheikh sees the remarkable interest<br />

and growth in Botim Prepaid Cards<br />

within this short timeframe as indicative<br />

of the maturity of the UAE’s consumer<br />

market. He emphasises the company’s<br />

dedication to innovative financial services,<br />

promoting financial inclusion, and<br />

simplifying users’ lives.<br />

Astra Tech Plans to diversify its<br />

multi-currency offerings and introduce<br />

a new loyalty program in collaboration<br />

with Mastercard. These initiatives aim to<br />

elevate user experience, address diverse<br />

user needs, and solidify Botim’s standing<br />

in the market.<br />

Botim: Pioneering Fintech Offers<br />

CBUAE’s Aani Solution via Al Etihad<br />

Payments<br />

More recently, in February <strong>2024</strong> Astra<br />

Tech unveiled a partnership with Al<br />

Etihad Payments (AEP), a subsidiary of<br />

the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE),<br />

to introduce Aani—an advanced instant<br />

payment platform.<br />

As the operator of Aani, Al Etihad<br />

Payments facilitates 24x7 instant,<br />

secure, and seamless digital payment<br />

processing. Aani simplifies payments by<br />

enabling instant fund transfers through<br />

the recipient’s mobile number, email,<br />

or QR code, eliminating the need for<br />

complicated IBANs.<br />

This integrated solution is now accessible<br />

on the PayBy-powered Botim app,<br />

marking a significant milestone as the<br />

first fintech platform to offer AEP’s Aani<br />

solution. By ensuring complete interoperability<br />

across all payment services,<br />

this offering establishes a new industry<br />

standard, allowing for 24/7 instant digital<br />

payments.<br />

With a focus on continuous innovation<br />

and user-centric solutions, Astra Tech<br />

is positioned as a leader in shaping the<br />

future landscape of financial technology.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 19

Fintech News<br />

Middle East E-Commerce Surges with Changing Consumer Behaviour<br />

The Middle East is undergoing a<br />

transformative shift in consumer<br />

dynamics, preferences, and digital<br />

integration, as outlined in RetailX’s<br />

latest report, “Middle East Ecommerce<br />

Region Report 2023.” This UK-based<br />

retail and e-commerce research firm<br />

delves into the evolving retail landscape,<br />

emphasising the region’s pivot towards<br />

online shopping and e-commerce. The<br />

report meticulously examines shopper<br />

behaviours and consumer inclinations<br />

across the Middle East, shedding light<br />

on the profound impact of digital<br />

channels on traditional brick-andmortar<br />

establishments and payment<br />

methods. Focusing on six specific<br />

countries—Iran, Israel, Qatar, Saudi<br />

Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab<br />

Emirates—the report meticulously<br />

compares similarities and differences,<br />

offering crucial insights into the rapidly<br />

changing realm of online retail in the<br />

Middle East.<br />

Saudi Central Bank Licences Network Intl. Arabia &<br />

Barraq for Payments<br />

The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA)<br />

has granted licences to “Network<br />

International Arabia” for<br />

point-of-sale (POS) payment services<br />

and “Barraq” for e-wallet offerings.<br />

This brings the total to 27 licensed<br />

companies providing payment services<br />

in Saudi Arabia, highlighting SAMA’s<br />

commitment to bolstering the payments<br />

sector. The move aligns with SAMA’s<br />

objectives of enhancing the efficiency<br />

of financial transactions and fostering<br />

innovative financial solutions for greater<br />

financial inclusion in the country.<br />

SAMA underlines the significance<br />

of engaging solely with authorised<br />

financial institutions, emphasising the<br />

importance of regulatory compliance<br />

and ensuring a secure and robust<br />

financial ecosystem.<br />

Magnati, Al Etihad Payments Partner for Instant<br />

Digital Payments in UAE<br />

Magnati, a prominent payments<br />

solutions provider in the Middle<br />

East, has formed a strategic<br />

partnership with Al Etihad Payments<br />

(AEP), a subsidiary of the Central<br />

Bank of the UAE. This collaboration<br />

integrates AEP’s advanced instant<br />

payment platform, Aani, into Magnati’s<br />

services, enabling swift, secure,<br />

and seamless digital payments for<br />

individuals, businesses, and government<br />

entities across the UAE. Aani,<br />

developed under the Central Bank’s<br />

Financial Infrastructure Transformation<br />

Programme, offers cutting-edge<br />

capabilities for real-time transactions.<br />

Leveraging Magnati’s extensive<br />

merchant network, this partnership<br />

aims to drive widespread adoption<br />

of Aani, contributing to the advancement<br />

of digital payments in the UAE.<br />

The joint effort underscores a shared<br />

commitment to innovation, fostering<br />

enhanced payment experiences and<br />

unlocking transformative potential<br />

in the rapidly evolving landscape of<br />

digital transactions. The partnership<br />

seeks to enhance financial inclusion<br />

by providing accessible and convenient<br />

payment solutions.<br />

Qatari E-Wallet Fintech<br />

Startup Karty Secures<br />

$2M Seed Round<br />

Afintech startup of Qatar, KARTY,<br />

has secured over $2M in a substantial<br />

seed funding round, marking<br />

a pivotal milestone in its journey to reshape<br />

the Qatari financial landscape. The<br />

funds, sourced from local investors, set<br />

the stage for KARTY’s imminent launch<br />

pending final approval and licensing<br />

from the Qatar Central Bank. Having<br />

received in-principle approval in partnership<br />

with Masraf Al Rayan, KARTY<br />

aims to introduce a groundbreaking e-Wallet<br />

and financial resource management<br />

application. With Visa-backed payment<br />

functionalities, KARTY promises clients<br />

instant peer-to-peer transfers, real-time<br />

spending oversight, and interactive chartbased<br />

insights. This innovative, secure<br />

e-wallet is poised to streamline financial<br />

management, offering users efficient tools<br />

for an enhanced understanding of their<br />

personal finances.<br />

20 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Sahm Capital Joins MENA<br />

Fintech Association<br />

Botim: First Fintech to Provide CBUAE’s Aani<br />

Solution Through Al Etihad Payments<br />

The MENA Fintech Association<br />

proudly welcomes Sahm Capital<br />

Financial Company (formerly<br />

VCFC) as its newest partner. As a leading<br />

brokerage firm licensed by the Saudi<br />

Capital Market Authority, Sahm Capital<br />

is dedicated to delivering seamless and<br />

tailored investing experiences to Saudi<br />

users. The MENA Fintech Association,<br />

recognised globally as a top fintech body,<br />

has been a driving force in fostering<br />

collaboration and innovation within<br />

the industry since its establishment<br />

in 2018. Sahm Capital’s commitment<br />

to simplifying investing aligns with<br />

the association’s mission, and their<br />

proprietary online trading app, Sahm,<br />

launched in December 2023, offers a<br />

unique platform for users to trade in<br />

both Saudi and US markets, including<br />

Shariah-compliant stocks and US stock<br />

ETFs with Arabic themes.<br />

Astra Tech, the leading consumer<br />

technology holding group in<br />

the MENA region, is partnering<br />

with Al Etihad Payments (AEP), a<br />

subsidiary of the Central Bank of the<br />

UAE (CBUAE), to introduce Aani—an<br />

advanced instant payment platform.<br />

Aani, operated by Al Etihad Payments,<br />

facilitates 24/7 secure and seamless<br />

digital payments, revolutionising the<br />

sector. Enabling instant fund transfers<br />

through mobile numbers, emails, or QR<br />

codes, eliminates the complexity of<br />

IBANs. This groundbreaking solution<br />

is integrated into the PayBy-powered<br />

Botim app, making it the first fintech<br />

platform to offer AEP’s Aani solution.<br />

Aani sets a new industry standard<br />

with full interoperability across all<br />

payment services, contributing to the<br />

UAE’s cashless economy initiatives<br />

and driving financial inclusion.<br />

SingleView Receives Prestigious Award for<br />

Innovation in Saudi Arabia’s Open Banking<br />

Nuqi Digital Wealth<br />

Secures DFSA Licence<br />

SingleView, a groundbreaking<br />

fintech company based in Saudi<br />

Arabia, was recognised as “The<br />

Most Innovative Open Banking Solution<br />

Provider in Saudi Arabia” at the<br />

11th International <strong>Finance</strong> Ceremony<br />

in Dubai. This prestigious award underscores<br />

SingleView’s exceptional<br />

contributions to Financial Technology<br />

solutions, particularly in the realm<br />

of Open Banking. Nominated by a<br />

specialised research team, the company’s<br />

leadership in this sector reflects<br />

a commitment to innovation and<br />

delivering user-friendly services. Abdulrhman<br />

Alarifi, CEO of SingleView,<br />

expressed pride in the achievement,<br />

emphasising the company’s dedication<br />

to enhancing services and meeting<br />

customer aspirations. The International<br />

<strong>Finance</strong> Award, renowned for<br />

acknowledging impactful contributions<br />

to the financial sector, further<br />

validates SingleView’s commitment<br />

to success and expansion in regional<br />

and global markets.<br />

Nuqi Digital Wealth UAE, a prominent<br />

fintech firm, has secured<br />

the Dubai Financial Services<br />

Authority (DFSA) licence in the UAE,<br />

marking a significant milestone in its<br />

commitment to ethical and sustainable<br />

investing. Following the Securities and<br />

Exchange Board (SEBI) licence for<br />

operations in India, this achievement<br />

reinforces Nuqi Digital Wealth UAE’s<br />

position as a responsible financial advisory<br />

firm. Imran Farooqui, Founder<br />

and CEO, emphasises catering to the<br />

modern investor’s desire for transparency,<br />

impact, and ethical alignment.<br />

Shremohan Chauhaan, Co-founder<br />

and COO, highlights their commitment<br />

to shaping a future where ethics and<br />

sustainability drive financial success.<br />

The upcoming launch of their Wealth<br />

Advisory mobile app further demonstrates<br />

Nuqi Digital Wealth UAE’s<br />

dedication to providing secure and<br />

impactful investments aligned with<br />

clients’ values. Additionally, the firm<br />

plans to expand its services globally in<br />

the coming years. The app is poised to<br />

provide secure, values-driven investment<br />

solutions for its clients, ensuring<br />

optimal financial growth and peace<br />

of mind.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 21

Fintech Application<br />


Sarwa, a UAE-based robo-advisory<br />

wealth management app, was<br />

founded in 2017 by Mark Chahwan,<br />

Nadine Mezher, and Jad Sayegh. The<br />

name “Sarwa” translates to wealth in<br />

Arabic, reflecting the company’s commitment<br />

to simplifying the investment<br />

process for users.<br />

Sarwa positions itself as an all-in-one<br />

investment and personal finance app,<br />

offering a range of features such as<br />

Sarwa Invest, Sarwa Trade, and Sarwa<br />

Save to cater to diverse financial needs.<br />

Sarwa Invest allows users to engage<br />

in hands-off investments with ease. The<br />

platform enables quick sign-up, and<br />

users can transfer funds from a local<br />

U.A.E AED account at zero cost. Notably,<br />

Sarwa boasts no lock-ins, account<br />

opening fees, or account closing fees,<br />

providing a flexible and cost-effective<br />

investment environment.<br />

For those seeking a globally<br />

diversified portfolio, Sarwa Invest<br />

constructs portfolios of Exchange-Traded<br />

Funds (ETFs) tailored to individual<br />

risk profiles and values. The platform<br />

takes care of various aspects, including<br />

dividend reinvestment and portfolio<br />

rebalancing, simplifying the investment<br />

process for users.<br />

Sarwa Trade facilitates self-directed<br />

trading, allowing users to invest in<br />

thousands of U.S. stocks and ETFs.<br />

The platform caters to individuals<br />

interested in actively managing their<br />

investment portfolios, providing flexibility<br />

in investment choices.<br />

Sarwa Save allows users to grow their<br />

cash with a 3% interest rate (variable<br />

based on the Federal Funds Rate).<br />

This feature offers a competitive rate,<br />

coupled with no lock-in period and<br />

no management fees, enhancing the<br />

appeal for those looking to optimise<br />

their savings.<br />

Human support is a key aspect<br />

of Sarwa’s service, blending smart<br />

technology with the availability of a<br />

dedicated support team. Users with<br />

accounts above $50K have the option<br />

to schedule meetings and engage with<br />

advisors when needed, emphasising a<br />

personalised touch in customer service.<br />

Ensuring security and compliance,<br />

Sarwa adheres to high industry standards<br />

and is regulated by top-tier regulators<br />

such as the FSRA in the ADGM<br />

and the DFSA. Backed by renowned<br />

regional and international investors<br />

and government funds, Sarwa strongly<br />

emphasises building trust and credibility<br />

in the financial sector.<br />

The platform’s emphasis on user<br />

education, personalised support, and<br />

adherence to security standards positions<br />

Sarwa as a comprehensive and<br />

reliable option in the wealth management<br />

landscape.<br />

source: www.sarwa.co<br />

22 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>


Fintech Application<br />

Founded by Tariq Sheikh in 2019,<br />

Postpay emerged as a versatile<br />

Shop Now, Pay Later (SNPL)<br />

platform, offering users in the UAE a<br />

convenient and interest-free approach<br />

to managing their purchases. This<br />

application allows consumers to split<br />

their payments into three monthly<br />

instalments, creating a flexible and<br />

manageable shopping experience.<br />

To begin using Postpay, users can<br />

download the application, sign up, and<br />

verify their accounts. The straightforward<br />

onboarding process ensures an<br />

easy start for customers interested in<br />

utilising the service. The app is designed<br />

to be user-friendly, providing a<br />

hassle-free experience from the initial<br />

setup to the completion of transactions.<br />

Postpay collaborates with a wide array<br />

of brands and stores, offering users<br />

a diverse selection when choosing to<br />

utilise the SNPL service at checkout.<br />

The advantage lies in the ability to<br />

make immediate purchases without the<br />

need for full upfront payments. Users<br />

can enjoy the flexibility of dividing<br />

their payments into three interest-free<br />

monthly instalments.<br />

The application distinguishes itself<br />

by delivering instant approval with<br />

a single click, eliminating the need<br />

for a credit impact assessment. This<br />

ensures a quick and efficient process,<br />

contributing to the overall user-friendly<br />

interface of the app.<br />

A notable feature of Postpay is its<br />

emphasis on transparency and ease<br />

of payment management. Users can<br />

access a comprehensive overview<br />

of all their purchases and instalment<br />

plans through the app. This feature<br />

allows individuals to keep track of<br />

their spending and adhere to payment<br />

schedules efficiently. The commitment<br />

to zero interest fees and no hidden<br />

charges further reinforces the platform’s<br />

transparency.<br />

Postpay provides a neutral and efficient<br />

approach to Shop Now, Pay<br />

Later services in the UAE. The platform’s<br />

commitment to transparency,<br />

flexibility in payments, and a diverse<br />

array of partner stores position it as a<br />

notable player in the realm of instalment<br />

shopping applications.<br />

source: www.postpay.io<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 23

Events<br />

International Real Estate and<br />

Investment Show<br />

UAE-based International Real<br />

Estate and Investment Show is<br />

set to bring one of the biggest<br />

local and international names in the<br />

real estate and property investment<br />

industry to the UAE’s capital. The event<br />

is organised by Abu Dhabi-based Exhibition<br />

organising firm Dome Exhibitions.<br />

Scheduled to be held at the Beach<br />

Rotana Hotel in Abu Dhabi from October<br />

18th to 19th <strong>2024</strong>, the show is<br />

expected to be a one-stop shop for<br />

global investors who seek real estate<br />

investment opportunities in the UAE.<br />

The International Real Estate and<br />

Investment Show IREIS, a B2C sales<br />

and networking platform where spot<br />

sales are permitted, 12th edition is<br />

bringing leading local and foreign real<br />

estate developers under one roof will<br />

reflect the attractiveness of UAE’s real<br />

estate sector and will attract investors<br />

from various parts of the world.<br />

The show is expecting over 50 highend<br />

exhibitors and more than 500<br />

visitors. To give a greater value to the<br />

exhibitors and visitors, the associated<br />

events that will complement the<br />

main IREIS Abu Dhabi <strong>2024</strong> are ‘The<br />

International Real Estate Conference,<br />

Citizenship & Residency Expo and the<br />

Global Investor Meet.<br />

Abu Dhabi, with geographical limitations<br />

of its core islands, supply levels<br />

are expected to gradually align with<br />

demand, making Abu Dhabi’s maturing<br />

market present long-term investment<br />

opportunities for the astute buyer<br />

Abu Dhabi saw a huge increase in the<br />

number of real estate transactions last<br />

year, while prices remained similar,<br />

according to CBRE analysis.<br />

The total volume of residential transactions<br />

reached 11,235 in 2023, up by<br />

77.8 percent from the year prior, said<br />

the property experts at CBRE. This<br />

increase has been underpinned by a<br />

104 per cent growth in off-plan market<br />

sales and a 27.7 percent increase in<br />

secondary market sales.<br />

Average apartment rents in the emirate<br />

increased by 2 per cent and average<br />

villa rents marginally increased by 0.8<br />

per cent in the year to the fourth quarter<br />

of 2023. Considering recent rental<br />

registrations that occurred in Q4 2023,<br />

average apartment and villa annual<br />

rents reached AED64,996 ($17,700) and<br />

AED 163,098 ($44,400), respectively.<br />

In the year ahead, an additional 4,438<br />

units are expected to be completed,<br />

with 69.1 per cent of this new stock<br />

expected to be delivered to Yas Island<br />

and Al Maryah Island.<br />

The tourism sector is also at its peak<br />

Arun Bose, Exhibitions Director at<br />

DOME Exhibitions, said: “We had very<br />

positive meetings with several developers<br />

who showed overwhelmingly<br />

positive interest in IREIS Abu Dhabi<br />

<strong>2024</strong> for an opportunity to sell their<br />

properties”.<br />

In previous years, the International<br />

Real Estate and Investment Show attracted<br />

$220 million (Dh807 million)<br />

worth of investments with 125 exhibitors<br />

from 24 countries and 8600 visitors<br />

from 75 countries, with the presence<br />

of major exhibitors like Emaar, Damac,<br />

Danube, G & Co, Arada, Majid Al<br />

Futtaim, Azizi, Dubai Properties, FAM<br />

Holding and many more.<br />

That made the show a resounding<br />

success. “Special offers and exclusive<br />

instalment schemes offered by major<br />

developers with spot booking benefits<br />

are attracting more investors and provide<br />

more value for the purchases during<br />

the 2-day event. Property consultants<br />

and financial institutions will also be<br />

at hand to provide potential buyers<br />

with expertise on the latest market<br />

trends and suitable mortgage offers.”<br />

24 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Business News<br />

Saudi PIF Launches Company for Robotic Systems and Heavy Machinery<br />

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment<br />

Fund (PIF) has launched Alat, a<br />

new company with the ambition to<br />

position the kingdom as a global hub for<br />

sustainable technology manufacturing.<br />

Alat will operate across seven business<br />

units, including advanced industries,<br />

semiconductors, smart appliances, health<br />

devices, buildings, and next-generation<br />

infrastructure. The company, chaired<br />

by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin<br />

Salman, plans to manufacture over 30<br />

product categories, spanning robotic<br />

systems, communication systems,<br />

advanced computers, digital entertainment<br />

products, and heavy machinery<br />

for construction, building, and mining.<br />

Alat aims to create 39,000 direct<br />

jobs in Saudi Arabia and contribute a<br />

direct non-oil GDP of $9.3B by 2030,<br />

reinforcing the nation’s commitment to<br />

technological innovation and economic<br />

diversification.<br />

OPEC+ Commitment to<br />

Output Cuts Boosts Oil<br />

Prices<br />

Oil prices surged on Thursday<br />

following the decision by OPEC+<br />

members to maintain their existing<br />

oil production policy during an<br />

online meeting amid ongoing market<br />

uncertainties. Brent, the global oil<br />

benchmark, witnessed a 0.78% increase,<br />

reaching $81.18 a barrel, while West Texas<br />

Intermediate, tracking US crude, rose<br />

by 0.8% to $76.46 a barrel. The OPEC+<br />

Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee<br />

(JMMC) evaluated the current global<br />

market conditions before reaffirming<br />

the production policy. According to<br />

OPEC’s statement, the JMMC reviewed<br />

crude oil production data for November<br />

and December 2023, acknowledging<br />

high conformity among participating<br />

OPEC and non-OPEC countries. The<br />

decision underscores efforts to stabilise<br />

oil markets amidst evolving economic<br />

landscapes.<br />

GCC Banks Forecasted for Robust <strong>2024</strong> with<br />

Strong Profitability and Credit Growth<br />

The Gulf Cooperation Council<br />

(GCC) is poised for a robust<br />

financial year in <strong>2024</strong>, as affirmed<br />

by S&P Global Ratings. The credit rating<br />

agency anticipates strong profitability<br />

and credit growth across the region,<br />

fueled by resilient credit demand<br />

from the non-oil sector and ongoing<br />

economic diversification initiatives.<br />

Notably, the banking systems in the<br />

UAE and Saudi Arabia are expected<br />

to outpace their regional counterparts.<br />

S&P emphasises the dynamic non-oil<br />

growth in these key economies. Despite<br />

global challenges and geopolitical<br />

uncertainties, the six-member bloc<br />

is experiencing continued economic<br />

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre<br />

(DMCC) initiates the second<br />

phase of Uptown Dubai, breaking<br />

ground on two mid-rise towers at<br />

the southern end of the city. The 23-<br />

and 17-storey towers will encompass<br />

approximately 70,000 sq m of Grade<br />

A commercial office space and 8,000<br />

sq m for food, beverage, and retail<br />

outlets. With Swissboring Overseas<br />

Piling Corporation handling foundation<br />

works, the expansion aligns with<br />

DMCC’s commitment to enhancing its<br />

real estate offerings. Once completed,<br />

Uptown Dubai will boast a total gross<br />

floor area of 538,000 sq m, further<br />

growth momentum. S&P projects that<br />

interest rates in the GCC will remain<br />

elevated but anticipate a 1% reduction<br />

by year-end, aligning with the trajectory<br />

of the US Federal Reserve. This positive<br />

outlook reflects the GCC’s resilience,<br />

driven by both oil and non-oil sectors.<br />

DMCC Unveils New Phase of Uptown Dubai with<br />

2 Towers Under Construction<br />

solidifying its position as a premium<br />

urban community with diverse amenities,<br />

including The Plaza, a central<br />

hub for artistic and entertainment<br />

experiences.<br />

26 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

UAE Emerges as Crucial Growth Market for Irish Businesses in the Region<br />

Dara Callery TD, Ireland’s Minister<br />

of State for Trade Promotion,<br />

Digital, and Company Regulation,<br />

emphasises the UAE’s significance as<br />

a pivotal growth market for Irish businesses.<br />

During a four-day trade mission,<br />

Callery highlights the mission as an<br />

opportunity to strengthen economic<br />

ties, showcasing Ireland’s prowess in<br />

innovation and global trade. The visit<br />

aims to deepen economic connections<br />

and explore collaborations in sectors<br />

where Ireland excels, including medtech,<br />

aviation, technology, and fintech. A<br />

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)<br />

signed between Enterprise Ireland and<br />

Dubai Chambers during the mission is<br />

strategically crafted to unlock opportunities<br />

in technology, manufacturing, ESG,<br />

and clean technologies, enhancing trade<br />

collaboration and innovation access.<br />

UAE Economy Set<br />

to Surge with 5.7%<br />

Growth in <strong>2024</strong>, Says<br />

<strong>Finance</strong> Ministry<br />

The UAE economy is anticipated<br />

to achieve a remarkable 5.7%<br />

growth in <strong>2024</strong>, overcoming<br />

global economic challenges, including<br />

a slowdown and challenging financial<br />

conditions. Younis Haji Al Khoori,<br />

Undersecretary of the Ministry of<br />

<strong>Finance</strong>, highlighted the nation’s effective<br />

efforts in economic diversification<br />

and sustainable growth. Non-oil GDP<br />

is expected to reach 5.9% in 2023 and<br />

continue to grow at 4.7% in <strong>2024</strong>. Al<br />

Khoori shared that the UAE’s nonoil<br />

foreign trade recorded a historic<br />

AED 1.239T in the first half of 2023,<br />

reflecting a substantial 14.4% increase<br />

compared to the same period the previous<br />

year. These positive indicators<br />

underscore the resilience and success<br />

of the UAE’s economic strategies.<br />

General Authority for Foreign Trade Initiates<br />

Workshops to Boost Saudi Exports<br />

The General Authority for Foreign<br />

Trade, through the Agency for<br />

Private Sector Affairs and International<br />

Representation, has launched<br />

the “Through the Attachés’ workshops<br />

aimed at enhancing Saudi exports’ global<br />

market access. These periodic workshops<br />

provide Saudi exporters with insights<br />

into procedures, requirements, targeted<br />

markets, and opportunities for exporting<br />

products globally. Focused on identifying<br />

markets and understanding key agreements,<br />

the workshops aim to encourage<br />

Dubai Trade, the UAE’s premier trade<br />

facilitation hub, has achieved a<br />

significant milestone by surpassing<br />

300M transactions since its inception<br />

in 2003. Notably, this accomplishment<br />

has resulted in the elimination of approximately<br />

617M printed documents,<br />

leading to a reduction of 25,400 metric<br />

tonnes of CO2 emissions. In 2023 alone,<br />

Dubai Trade recorded a remarkable 25%<br />

increase, with 32.6M transactions compared<br />

to 26M the previous year. Clearance<br />

investment and facilitate entry into global<br />

markets. Acting Deputy Governor Fawaz<br />

bin Saad bin Rafa’ah emphasised the<br />

importance of these meetings in aiding<br />

Saudi exporters and promoting their<br />

participation in global exhibitions. The<br />

initiative underscores Saudi Arabia’s<br />

commitment to leveraging its geographic<br />

strengths and competitive advantages for<br />

a more diverse and sustainable economy,<br />

ultimately maximising trade gains and<br />

defending its trade interests.<br />

Dubai Trade Platform Surpasses 300M<br />

Transactions Milestone<br />

and border controls constituted 48% of<br />

these transactions, while cargo handling<br />

and logistics accounted for 44%. Dubai<br />

Trade, the digital arm of DP <strong>World</strong> in<br />

the GCC region, plays a pivotal role in<br />

enhancing trade efficiencies, aligning<br />

with Dubai’s Economic Agenda D33 and<br />

contributing to sustainability objectives.<br />

The platform currently facilitates nearly<br />

90,000 transactions daily, reflecting its<br />

ongoing commitment to digitalizing trade<br />

and logistics in Dubai.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 27

DJI Osmo Pocket 3<br />

DJI’s Osmo Pocket 3, the latest<br />

iteration in the gimbal camera<br />

family, marks a significant step<br />

forward in terms of features and capabilities.<br />

With a larger 1-inch sensor, the<br />

device enhances image quality, especially<br />

in low-light conditions, catering to users<br />

who prioritise cinematic shots. The<br />

addition of a sideways-flipping, 16:9<br />

2-inch screen brings more versatility,<br />

allowing users to shoot in both landscape<br />

and portrait modes seamlessly.<br />

Weighing 179 grams and measuring<br />

5.5 inches in length, the Osmo Pocket<br />

3 retains its portability and ease of use,<br />

thanks to the 3-axis gimbal stabilisation.<br />

While the larger camera head accommodates<br />

a 1-inch 9.4MP sensor, the<br />

overall design mirrors its predecessor,<br />

the Pocket 2. The touchscreen interface,<br />

though not entirely intuitive, offers<br />

access to various functions through<br />

swiping and tapping.<br />

The gimbal excels in providing smooth<br />

and stable video, with three modes—<br />

follow tilt lock, and FPV—catering to<br />

different shooting scenarios. The 1-inch<br />

sensor facilitates natural-looking motion<br />

blur due to slower shutter speeds,<br />

enhancing the device’s capability for<br />

cinematic video creation. The introduction<br />

of ActiveTrack subject tracking,<br />

dynamic framing, and spin shots adds<br />

creative options to the user’s toolkit.<br />

In terms of video and image quality, the<br />

Pocket 3 supports 4K at up to 60 fps, with<br />

additional features like 10-bit D-LogM<br />

mode, HLG mode for HDR shooting,<br />

and 4K 120p shooting for high-speed<br />

scenarios. The low-light video mode,<br />

operating at a boosted ISO of 16,000,<br />

further improves performance in dim<br />

environments. The gimbal’s optical<br />

stabilisation and improved low-light<br />

capabilities contribute to outstanding<br />

image quality for a device of its size.<br />

DJI’s Osmo Pocket 3 positions itself<br />

as a versatile tool for cinematic video<br />

creation, providing enhanced image<br />

quality, advanced tracking features,<br />

and improved low-light capabilities.<br />

While it may not cater to every content<br />

creation scenario and comes at a premium<br />

price, its unique combination of<br />

features makes it a compelling choice<br />

for those who prioritise cinematic shots<br />

in their vlogging endeavours.<br />

source: www.store.dji.com<br />

28 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

ASUS ROG Carnyx<br />

ASUS ROG Carnyx is a precision-engineered<br />

device designed<br />

for optimal audio performance<br />

in recording and streaming applications.<br />

Featuring a remarkable 24-bit, 192<br />

kHz sampling rate, this microphone<br />

ensures the capture of every sound<br />

with unparalleled clarity. The premium<br />

features, including a built-in pop filter,<br />

metal shock mount, and touch-sensitive<br />

mute button, contribute to a crisp and<br />

clear audio experience.<br />

One of the notable additions to the<br />

Carnyx is the touch-sensitive mute button,<br />

offering real-time monitoring and<br />

a high-pass filter function for precise<br />

sound control. Its sleek design and<br />

convenient USB connectivity simplify<br />

setup, making it an ideal tool for gamers<br />

and content creators.<br />

The Carnyx is not just about performance;<br />

it boasts user convenience<br />

and durability. The USB connectivity<br />

allows for a hassle-free plug-and-play<br />

experience, and its compatibility with<br />

standard boom arms ensures effortless<br />

positioning for optimal voice capture.<br />

Crafted from aluminium, the Carnyx<br />

exhibits solidity and durability, featuring<br />

a distinctive triangular design that<br />

adds a touch of style to any gaming<br />

or recording setup. The customizable<br />

Aura Sync RGB lighting enhances its<br />

aesthetic appeal, synchronising with<br />

other ASUS peripherals for a cohesive<br />

look.<br />

The 25mm diaphragm capsule and<br />

fixed cardioid pickup pattern of the<br />

Carnyx deliver warm, natural vocal<br />

tones with high-resolution 192 kHz/24-bit<br />

audio output. Noise reduction features,<br />

such as the metal stand, integrated<br />

shock mount, and built-in pop filter,<br />

ensure clear and crisp audio even in<br />

noisy environments.<br />

In terms of performance, the ROG<br />

Carnyx sets a new standard in audio<br />

recording with its 25mm condenser<br />

capsule and impressive 192 kHz / 24-bit<br />

sampling rate. Equipped with customisable<br />

Noise Gate and Equaliser presets,<br />

it offers optimal audio performance,<br />

catering to various preferences. Its<br />

cardioid polar pattern excels at isolating<br />

the user’s voice during gaming sessions,<br />

delivering clear and distortion-free<br />

communication.<br />

ASUS ROG Carnyx is a versatile and<br />

high-quality microphone designed to<br />

meet the demands of content creators<br />

and gamers alike. Its superior sound<br />

capture, noise-reduction features, and<br />

ease of use make it an excellent choice<br />

for anyone looking to produce top-notch<br />

audio content or communicate clearly<br />

during gaming sessions.<br />

source: www.asus.com<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 29

Cover Story<br />

OVER<br />

Fiscal Excellence:<br />

A Spotlight on UAE’s<br />

Tax and Accounting<br />

S<br />

Consultancy Titans<br />

30 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

The cover story highlights the top consultancy firms<br />

in the UAE, specifically chosen for their comprehensive<br />

offerings in both accounts and tax consultancy across the<br />

region. The selection process entailed categorising these<br />

firms based on their clientele, ranging from mid-sized<br />

companies to large enterprises with revenues exceeding<br />

10 million dollars. In addition to their services and market<br />

size, we considered the diversity of sectors these firms<br />

engage with. This approach aims to showcase consultancy<br />

firms that provide reliable services and cater to several<br />

industries, including real estate, hospitality, etc, benefiting<br />

diverse readerships. Additionally, the firms in the cover<br />

story are arranged alphabetically for easy reference.<br />

TORY<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 31

Cover Story<br />

Established in 2021, Al Burhan Accounting and Bookkeeping<br />

is a dynamic firm led by Ghulam Hussain<br />

Gadriwala, a qualified Chartered Accountant from<br />

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan. With<br />

a mission to provide comprehensive financial services, Al<br />

Burhan has swiftly become a reliable partner for businesses<br />

in need of accounting and financial management expertise.<br />

The firm’s service offerings draw from extensive<br />

industry experience, covering a spectrum of essential<br />

financial aspects. From accounting and bookkeeping to<br />

tax consulting, end-to-end setup of accounting departments,<br />

and CFO services, Al Burhan ensures a one-stop<br />

solution for businesses seeking financial efficiency. The<br />

team also specialises in treasury management, internal<br />

control system setup, and reviews of accounts receivables,<br />

payables, and inventory.<br />

Aligned with strategic partners and regulatory authorities,<br />

Al Burhan extends its expertise to facilitate services<br />

such as In-Country Value Certification (ICV), Economic<br />

Substance Regulations (ESR) notification and reporting,<br />

Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) notification, goAML<br />

reporting, and feasibility studies, due diligence, and<br />

business planning. The firm’s commitment to offering<br />

a comprehensive suite of services is underscored by its<br />

collaboration with partners and authorities to provide<br />

clients with a holistic financial support system.<br />

The clientele of Al Burhan Accounting and Bookkeeping<br />

reflects the diversity of its services. With a focus on<br />

mid-market enterprises (ranging from $10 million to $1<br />

billion), comprising 60% of its clients, and enterprise<br />

clients exceeding $1 billion making up 10%, the firm<br />

caters to businesses of varying sizes and complexities.<br />

In terms of industry distribution, 85% of its clients hail<br />

from the financial services sector, while 15% are from<br />

the legal domain.<br />

The firm takes pride in its all-encompassing approach,<br />

providing not just accounting services but also assisting<br />

with tax, secretarial, legal, and administrative matters. Al<br />

Burhan’s commitment to compliance and risk mitigation<br />

ensures that businesses can navigate regulatory landscapes<br />

seamlessly. The leadership of a highly experienced<br />

Chartered Accountant, boasting over 45 years in statutory<br />

and internal audit, further adds to the firm’s credibility<br />

and expertise.<br />

For businesses seeking an all-in-one accounting solution,<br />

Al Burhan Accounting and Bookkeeping emerges as a reliable<br />

partner, dedicated to facilitating financial success and<br />

compliance in today’s competitive business environment.<br />

Visit their website at www.alburhanaccountancy.com to<br />

explore the breadth of their services and how they can<br />

contribute to your business’s financial objectives.<br />

Fiscal Excellence:<br />

A Spotlight on UAE’s<br />

Tax and Accounting<br />

Consultancy Titans<br />

32 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Cover Story<br />

Fiscal Excellence:<br />

A Spotlight on UAE’s<br />

Tax and Accounting<br />

Consultancy Titans<br />

Since its establishment in 2016, Abdulla Al Mulla<br />

Auditing and Accounting, commonly recognised as<br />

AM Audit, has maintained a strong presence in the<br />

dynamic landscape of finance. Throughout its journey,<br />

AM Audit has established itself as a symbol of impactful<br />

solutions, delivering unmatched value to clients across<br />

the globe. Large enterprises and SMEs across the globe<br />

have entrusted the firm with their financial needs, and its<br />

commitment to delivering top-notch auditing, accounting,<br />

and business consulting services has never wavered.<br />

The driving force behind AM Audit is Mr Abdulla Al<br />

Mulla, who, with over a decade of experience, has been<br />

a close observer of the various booms and busts shaping<br />

businesses in the region. Recognising the impact of technological<br />

advancements and evolving regulatory landscapes,<br />

Mr. Al Mulla and his team are passionate about helping<br />

businesses compete, succeed, and grow. Their commitment<br />

extends beyond efficiency, emphasising delivering results<br />

that exceed expectations and ensuring compliance with<br />

the latest norms and regulations.<br />

AM Audit has positioned itself as an approved auditor<br />

in the UAE Mainland and all free zones in the UAE, including<br />

prominent ones like RAKEZ, Dubai Silicon Oasis<br />

(DSOA), TECOM, JAFZA, DAFZA, DMCC, and Hamriyah<br />

Free Zone. The firm has also made its mark by being listed<br />

in all malls for sales audit, showcasing a commitment to<br />

comprehensive financial services that meet the diverse<br />

needs of its clientele.<br />

The client base of AM Audit is diverse, consisting<br />

predominantly of large enterprises and SMEs operating<br />

globally. Over the years, the firm has carved a niche for<br />

itself, providing impeccable services that offer reliable<br />

and timely support to clients without fail. In a rapidly<br />

changing business landscape, AM Audit’s adaptability<br />

and commitment to client satisfaction have been key<br />

contributors to its success.<br />

AM Audit caters to a wide range of industries, including<br />

financial services, consumer products and services, energy<br />

and natural resources, hospitality and leisure, legal,<br />

eCommerce, and other sectors. The firm’s diverse client<br />

base, comprising over 50% mid mid-market enterprises<br />

ranging from $10 million to $1 billion in revenue, spans<br />

across various industries.<br />

Service lines offered by AM Audit encompass accounting,<br />

tax law, business consulting, and finance and accounting<br />

outsourcing (FAO). As businesses face the challenges of<br />

an increasingly competitive and regulated environment,<br />

AM Audit positions itself as a reliable partner, committed<br />

to helping clients achieve growth and navigate the complexities<br />

of the modern business landscape.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 33

Cover Story<br />

Founded in 2016, Corporate Group stands as a dynamic<br />

consultancy, navigating the business landscape with<br />

a forward-thinking approach. Guided by a diverse<br />

board of experts, the consultancy has rapidly evolved,<br />

establishing itself as a fast-growing entity in the industry.<br />

With a core vision to transform organisations into better<br />

businesses, Corporate Group crafts solutions that help<br />

clients navigate complexities through tested frameworks<br />

and methodologies, employing a customer-centric, boutique<br />

approach to tax, audit, and advisory services.<br />

At the helm of Corporate Group is Mohamed Osman,<br />

Founder and Chairman of the Corporate Group. His expertise<br />

in corporate tax consulting has played a pivotal role in<br />

the success and growth of the organisation. As a partner<br />

at Daria 360 Communications and CEO and co-founder<br />

of Corporate Group, Osman provides strong leadership,<br />

guiding the organisation’s expansion.<br />

Osman’s skill set encompasses financial services,<br />

value-added tax (VAT), mergers and acquisitions (M&A),<br />

regulatory compliance, financial audits, and assurance<br />

services. His wealth of knowledge in these areas has<br />

consistently delivered exceptional results for clients,<br />

establishing Osman as a trusted figure in the industry.<br />

Beyond technical proficiency, Osman is recognised<br />

for his strong interpersonal skills and the ability to build<br />

positive relationships with clients and colleagues. His<br />

reputation for honesty, professionalism, and dedication<br />

to excellence precedes him in the industry. Osman’s leadership<br />

and management abilities have been instrumental<br />

in Corporate Group’s success, positioning the consultancy<br />

as a reliable financial partner.<br />

The consultancy’s unique approach to services focuses on<br />

quality relationships and service efficiency, distinguishing<br />

itself from the competition. The seamless process, from<br />

initial briefs to execution, is a key reason clients choose<br />

Corporate Group to enhance their financial structures.<br />

The team, composed of professionals with extensive<br />

experience from major finance companies, seamlessly<br />

blends local and international expertise, striking a perfect<br />

balance between personalised attention and quality service.<br />

With a client distribution of 50% in the mid-market<br />

segment ($10 million to $1 billion) and 25% in the enterprise<br />

segment (exceeding $1 billion), Corporate Group<br />

demonstrates its ability to cater to businesses of varying<br />

sizes. The industries they serve, including government,<br />

financial services, and hospitality & leisure, reflect the<br />

consultancy’s versatility in addressing diverse client needs.<br />

As Corporate Group continues to unlock the true potential<br />

and lasting growth for businesses, Mohamed Osman’s<br />

leadership remains a driving force behind their success.<br />

Fiscal Excellence:<br />

A Spotlight on UAE’s<br />

Tax and Accounting<br />

Consultancy Titans<br />

34 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Cover Story<br />

Fiscal Excellence:<br />

A Spotlight on UAE’s<br />

Tax and Accounting<br />

Consultancy Titans<br />

Founded in 2017, Finace Consultancy has swiftly<br />

become a leading financial management consultancy<br />

in the UAE, earning recognition for its unwavering<br />

commitment to integrity and confidentiality. The firm has<br />

become a sought-after choice, particularly among small<br />

and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the burgeoning<br />

business sector.<br />

With a qualified team of Chartered Accountants and<br />

Business Management experts, Finace Consultancy upholds<br />

a sincere and professional approach to providing<br />

unparalleled financial services in the UAE. Their emphasis<br />

on addressing the unique needs of clients and delivering<br />

optimal financial solutions has solidified their standing as<br />

one of the premier financial consulting firms in the country.<br />

At the heart of Finace Consultancy’s mission is an unwavering<br />

dedication to honesty and integrity in service<br />

delivery. The firm maintains strict confidentiality for<br />

the information obtained, utilising the latest and most<br />

technologically advanced methods for conducting audits.<br />

Their commitment to prompt customer service and excellence<br />

distinguishes them in the competitive landscape of<br />

financial consultancy.<br />

The firm serves a diverse array of industries in Sharjah,<br />

UAE, including Banking & Financial Institutions, FMCG<br />

& Retail, Power Sector, Health Care, Information Technology,<br />

Manufacturing, and more. This comprehensive<br />

industry coverage underscores Finace Consultancy’s<br />

versatility and ability to cater to the unique financial<br />

needs of various sectors.<br />

With a client distribution of 40% in the mid-market<br />

segment ($10 million to $1 billion) and 20% in the enterprise<br />

segment (exceeding $1 billion), Finace Consultancy<br />

showcases its capability to serve businesses of varying<br />

sizes and complexities. Their tailored financial solutions<br />

contribute to the success of clients across diverse industries,<br />

solidifying them as a trusted partner for businesses<br />

seeking financial management expertise in the UAE.<br />

Finace Consultancy’s rapid ascent in the financial<br />

consultancy landscape is attributed to its steadfast commitment<br />

to integrity, confidentiality, and excellence in<br />

financial services. As they continue to serve a diverse<br />

clientele and expand their influence, the firm remains<br />

dedicated to providing optimal financial solutions for<br />

businesses in the UAE.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 35

Cover Story<br />

Ali El Naggar, the CEO & Tax Partner of Alliance<br />

Prime, stands at the helm of a dynamic and globally<br />

recognised Accounting and Tax Consultancy.<br />

With a robust presence in the UAE, United Kingdom,<br />

USA, Egypt, and Pakistan, Alliance Prime collaborates<br />

with a diverse range of companies spanning multiple<br />

industries. Boasting more than 20 years of experience,<br />

the consultancy’s in-depth understanding of government<br />

regulations and specific social obligations within each<br />

sector sets them apart.<br />

As a leading Accounting and Tax Consultancy in Dubai,<br />

Alliance Prime is dedicated to assisting business owners<br />

in navigating the ever-changing and complex federal tax<br />

landscape. Their deep comprehension of both local and<br />

international tax laws positions them as trusted advisors<br />

in the industry.<br />

The foundation of Alliance Prime is built on a professional<br />

code of ethics, characterised by honesty, respect,<br />

transparent communication, and strict confidentiality<br />

practices. Their powerhouse team of highly trained experts<br />

upholds these values, ensuring that clients receive<br />

exceptional service, pragmatic solutions, and impeccable<br />

customer service tailored to individual organisational needs.<br />

Alliance Prime prides itself on being a leading Accounting<br />

& Tax Consultancy in Dubai, equipped with qualified<br />

finance professionals and business advisors. Their vision<br />

is to be recognised as the consultancy of choice for corporations<br />

seeking comprehensive and professional financial<br />

and taxation services to meet both quantitative goals and<br />

social responsibilities.<br />

The mission of Alliance Prime revolves around delivering<br />

incomparable professional services while maintaining the<br />

highest levels of competency, integrity, and effectiveness.<br />

They strive to meet the current and future needs of clients,<br />

fostering long-term business success and establishing<br />

trust, loyalty, and respect within their organisation and<br />

the community.<br />

Embedded in the Alliance Prime culture are values that<br />

serve as building blocks, guiding every conversation and<br />

service they provide. Integrity, professionalism, empathy,<br />

and competency are the core principles that allow them to<br />

deliver exceptional support to multinational businesses.<br />

In terms of client distribution, Alliance Prime caters to<br />

35% in the mid-market segment ($10 million to $1 billion)<br />

and 25% in the enterprise segment (exceeding $1 billion).<br />

The consultancy collaborates with industries such as Automotive,<br />

Business Services, Consumer products & services,<br />

Manufacturing, Non-profit, Retail, Supply Chain, Logistics,<br />

Transport, and e-commerce. With a global footprint and<br />

unwavering commitment to excellence, Alliance Prime<br />

continues to be a trusted partner for businesses seeking<br />

unparalleled financial and taxation services.<br />

Fiscal Excellence:<br />

A Spotlight on UAE’s<br />

Tax and Accounting<br />

Consultancy Titans<br />

36 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Cover Story<br />

Fiscal Excellence:<br />

A Spotlight on UAE’s<br />

Tax and Accounting<br />

Consultancy Titans<br />

Established in 2010, KBA Accounting and Bookkeeping<br />

Services LLC has become a major player in the<br />

realm of accounting firms, offering comprehensive<br />

VAT professional services, financial consultancy, and<br />

cost-effective solutions to address diverse business needs.<br />

Positioned as one of the top corporate accounting firms,<br />

KBA adheres to the highest standards of professional<br />

ethics and quality, specialising in setting up efficient<br />

bookkeeping systems for small businesses.<br />

Under the leadership of CEO Emad Al Qudah, a Certified<br />

Management Accountant and an approved tax agent by<br />

the Federal Tax Authority of the UAE, KBA is driven by a<br />

mission to provide open, honest, and proactive business<br />

advice. The firm strives to help businesses and individuals<br />

meet their commercial obligations while optimising tax<br />

savings within the bounds of the law. The dedicated team<br />

of professionals at KBA combines talent, knowledge, and<br />

experience to offer tax, accounting, and auditing services<br />

with accuracy, reliability, and the personal attention<br />

clients deserve.<br />

KBA Accounting and Bookkeeping Services LLC distinguishes<br />

itself through a broad spectrum of accountancy<br />

services, covering everything from accounts management<br />

and business planning to VAT returns and payroll. The<br />

firm’s clientele spans various backgrounds and industries,<br />

not only within the UAE but also across the globe. With a<br />

fast-growing team of qualified and dedicated professionals,<br />

KBA adopts innovative and commercial approaches to<br />

navigate the complexities of today’s highly challenging<br />

business environment. The team comprises VAT experts<br />

from the UAE and professionals with backgrounds in<br />

established international audit firms.<br />

KBA Accounting and Bookkeeping Services LLC caters<br />

to a diverse range of industries, including arts, entertainment,<br />

music, business services, and others. Notably, the<br />

firm exclusively serves mid-market clients, with 100% of<br />

its clientele falling within the $10 million to $1 billion<br />

revenue range.<br />

With a passion for their business and a proud history<br />

of expertise, KBA guarantees every client an efficient<br />

service that surpasses expectations. The firm’s commitment<br />

to efficiency and client satisfaction, coupled with<br />

its longstanding experience and a roster of satisfied<br />

clients, solidifies its position as a trusted partner in the<br />

financial landscape.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 37

Cover Story<br />

Founded in 1985, NR Doshi & Partners has established<br />

itself as a prominent audit firm in Dubai and the<br />

UAE, boasting years of dedicated service. Headquartered<br />

in Dubai, the firm strategically operates from<br />

seven offices across the UAE, employing a skilled team<br />

of 104 professionals. This expansive presence dictates NR<br />

Doshi & Partners’ commitment to delivering top-notch<br />

services and building a foundation of trust.<br />

Rahul Doshi serves as the Managing Partner of NR<br />

Doshi & Partners. Armed with a distinguished professional<br />

background, including a CPA (USA) designation,<br />

ACCA (UK) accreditation, and a BSc in Accounting and<br />

<strong>Finance</strong>, Rahul plays a pivotal role in steering the firm’s<br />

overall leadership, planning, growth, and vision. Rahul’s<br />

extensive knowledge spans diverse industries, providing<br />

him with the insights needed to offer clients strategic<br />

business advice tailored to their specific needs.<br />

The firm caters to a broad clientele, with 40% consisting<br />

of mid-market enterprises, ranging from $10 million<br />

to $1 billion in revenue. In addition, 20% of NR Doshi<br />

& Partners’ clientele comprises enterprise clients with<br />

revenues exceeding $1 billion. This demonstrates the<br />

firm’s capability to handle the complex financial needs<br />

and strategic considerations of large enterprises, showcasing<br />

a track record of delivering high-quality financial<br />

services to some of the most substantial businesses in<br />

the United Arab Emirates.<br />

The diversity of clients underscores the firm’s adaptability<br />

and proficiency in navigating various industries,<br />

making NR Doshi & Partners a trusted partner for businesses<br />

across business services, consumer products and<br />

services, hospitality and leisure, information technology,<br />

legal, manufacturing, real estate, retail, telecommunications,<br />

and eCommerce.<br />

NR Doshi & Partners offers a comprehensive suite of<br />

services, encompassing Audit and Assurance, VAT Consultancy,<br />

Bookkeeping and Accounting, Business Setup,<br />

and Account Outsourcing Services. These services are<br />

designed to meet the diverse needs of clients, showcasing<br />

the firm’s adaptability and commitment to excellence.<br />

As a result of engaging with the firm, clients benefit from<br />

a combination of experience and innovation. The firm’s<br />

strategic approach ensures compliance and efficiency and<br />

unlocks opportunities for growth and profitability. The<br />

client-centric focus is reflected in NR Doshi & Partners’<br />

commitment to delivering tangible benefits:<br />

NR Doshi & Partners stands as a cornerstone in the<br />

accounting and consulting landscape of Dubai. Its dedication<br />

to excellence, trust, and personalised service has<br />

solidified its position as a premier choice for businesses<br />

seeking strategic financial guidance in the UAE.<br />

Fiscal Excellence:<br />

A Spotlight on UAE’s<br />

Tax and Accounting<br />

Consultancy Titans<br />

38 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Cover Story<br />

Fiscal Excellence:<br />

A Spotlight on UAE’s<br />

Tax and Accounting<br />

Consultancy Titans<br />

Founded in 2010, Risians 360 Solutions has emerged<br />

as a leading accounting firm in Dubai, dedicated<br />

to delivering financial advisory services with a<br />

commitment to promptness, premium value, and maximum<br />

client satisfaction. Specialising in risk management,<br />

turnaround strategies, and scaling up medium to smallscale<br />

businesses, the firm has been at the forefront of<br />

accounting and auditing for many years, consistently<br />

raising the bar for excellence and providing lasting and<br />

sustainable business solutions.<br />

Mohamed Al Sharhan, a distinguished figure in the financial<br />

and business advisory landscape of Dubai, serves as the<br />

esteemed partner and mentor at Risians 360 Solutions. His<br />

profound expertise and visionary leadership have played a<br />

pivotal role in shaping the firm’s success and establishing<br />

a commendable reputation within the industry.<br />

With an illustrious career marked by a wealth of experience,<br />

Mohamed Al Sharhan brings a unique blend<br />

of strategic insight and in-depth knowledge to Risians<br />

360 Solutions. As a mentor, he guides the firm with a<br />

forward-thinking approach, emphasising innovation and<br />

excellence in financial and business advisory services.<br />

In a relatively short period, Risians has evolved into a<br />

highly trusted and reputed financial and business advisory<br />

firm in Dubai, staying abreast of current technical<br />

advancements and readily adapting to emerging trends.<br />

The firm prides itself on its reliability, responsive team, and<br />

cutting-edge solutions, leveraging a deep understanding<br />

of the financial market to craft tailored solutions for its<br />

diverse clientele.<br />

Risians 360 Solutions maintains a client-centric approach,<br />

ensuring reliable guidance and innovative strategies. The<br />

firm’s team of hard-core professionals, qualified in the<br />

fields of Internal Audit and Assurance, Accounting, Taxation,<br />

Advisory, Business, and Management Consultancy, is<br />

determined to create effective solutions that increase the<br />

productivity of businesses and optimise working processes.<br />

With a client distribution of 40% in the mid-market<br />

segment ($10 million to $1 billion) and 20% in the enterprise<br />

segment (exceeding $1 billion), Risians showcases<br />

its versatility in catering to businesses of varying sizes<br />

and complexities. The firm’s commitment to delivering<br />

excellence is evident in its diverse clientele, spanning<br />

across different industries.<br />

Risians 360 Solutions takes pride in its role as a reliable<br />

financial partner, consistently providing cutting-edge<br />

solutions that align with the evolving needs of businesses.<br />

As a trusted entity in the financial landscape of Dubai,<br />

the firm is poised to continue its journey of innovation<br />

and excellence, contributing to the success and growth<br />

of its clients in diverse industries.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 39

Cover Story<br />

Shlok Tax Consultancy stands out as a leading tax<br />

consultant in Dubai, boasting an impressive 27-year<br />

legacy in the UAE market. As a registered tax firm<br />

with a robust reputation, they are committed to delivering<br />

expert guidance and comprehensive services to their<br />

clients. The team, comprising experienced professionals,<br />

navigates the intricacies of the local tax landscape, ensuring<br />

clients receive accurate and up-to-date advice tailored to<br />

their specific needs.<br />

Whether clients require assistance with tax planning,<br />

compliance, or resolving complex tax matters, Shlok Tax<br />

Consultancy positions itself as a reliable and efficient<br />

solution provider. Clients can trust the consultancy to<br />

navigate the complexities of the tax system and optimise<br />

their tax strategy for maximum benefits.<br />

Bharat Vyas is the Managing Director of Shlok Tax<br />

LLC. With two decades of experience in the UAE market,<br />

the consultancy under Vyas’s leadership has become the<br />

premier choice for expert tax guidance and services. Vyas<br />

takes pride in the registered tax firm and its dedicated<br />

professionals, emphasising their commitment to delivering<br />

excellence in all aspects of their work. The personalised<br />

approach ensures a deep understanding of the client’s<br />

unique goals and requirements, offering tailored solutions<br />

to optimise tax strategies, ensure compliance, and resolve<br />

complex tax matters.<br />

Shlok Tax Consultancy values long-term relationships<br />

and strives to provide exceptional service, integrity, and<br />

professionalism. Clients can rest assured that their tax<br />

matters are in capable hands, contributing to their ongoing<br />

success. The consultancy is grateful for clients choosing<br />

them as their trusted tax advisor and looks forward to<br />

further contributing to their success.<br />

In terms of services, Shlok Tax Consultancy covers a<br />

wide range, including audit and assurance, accounting services,<br />

and tax outsourcing. Their professionals, equipped<br />

with the highest standards, ensure clients’ needs are met<br />

with precision and care.<br />

With a client distribution of 50% in the mid-market segment<br />

($10 million to $1 billion) and 25% in the enterprise<br />

segment (exceeding $1 billion), Shlok Tax Consultancy<br />

demonstrates its versatility in catering to businesses<br />

of varying sizes. Serving diverse industry sectors, the<br />

consultancy positions itself as a comprehensive solution<br />

provider in the competitive tax consultancy landscape.<br />

As they continue to uphold their commitment to excellence,<br />

Shlok Tax Consultancy remains a trusted partner<br />

for businesses seeking expert guidance in tax matters.<br />

Fiscal Excellence:<br />

A Spotlight on UAE’s<br />

Tax and Accounting<br />

Consultancy Titans<br />

40 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Cover Story<br />

Fiscal Excellence:<br />

A Spotlight on UAE’s<br />

Tax and Accounting<br />

Consultancy Titans<br />

Established in 2005, Xact Auditing stands as a prominent<br />

audit firm in Dubai, offering integrated and<br />

independent services in audit, accounting, VAT,<br />

excise tax, corporate tax, and tax advisory. The firm’s<br />

team of professional auditors and accountants, equipped<br />

with exceptional knowledge of the UAE business environment,<br />

shares a commitment to delivering excellence<br />

and quality services.<br />

Under the leadership of CEO Mr Ahmed Abu Bakr, a<br />

qualified Chartered Accountant with over 20 years of experience,<br />

Xact Auditing has garnered accolades, including<br />

the “Best Accounting and Auditing Services Provider in the<br />

UAE” award in 2018 and 2020. Recognised as a “Trusted<br />

Service Provider” by Dubai Economy, the firm prides<br />

itself on its customer-centric approach and commitment<br />

to delivering timely and cost-effective solutions.<br />

Xact Auditing’s mission revolves around continuous<br />

innovation and a dedicated effort to enhance service<br />

quality, assisting clients through both prosperous and<br />

challenging times. Their experienced professionals strive<br />

to provide strategic insight, drive, and dedication to deliver<br />

exceptional results.<br />

At the heart of Xact Auditing’s vision is a commitment<br />

to being a leading provider of quality financial services in<br />

Dubai. With a focus on client-centred business practices,<br />

the firm aims to generate sustainable business growth by<br />

delivering authentic and timely services that help manage<br />

and preserve wealth.<br />

Xact Auditing, headquartered in Dubai, offers a range<br />

of services, including audit and assurance, accounting<br />

and bookkeeping, VAT and tax consultancy, and business<br />

advisory services.<br />

The firm caters to diverse sectors such as trading,<br />

manufacturing, construction, hospitality, healthcare,<br />

and IT. With a team of experienced professionals, Xact<br />

Auditing provides tailored solutions to meet the unique<br />

needs of each client.<br />

With a diverse team of professional auditors and chartered<br />

accountants from different regions and nationalities,<br />

Xact Auditing provides a multicultural perspective,<br />

ensuring clients receive high-quality services tailored to<br />

their specific needs.<br />

The firm’s clientele comprises 35% midmarket enterprises<br />

($10 million to $1 billion) and 20% enterprise clients<br />

(exceeding $1 billion) from various industries, showcasing<br />

its versatility and adaptability in meeting the financial<br />

needs of businesses in Dubai and beyond.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 41

Wheels<br />

Specifications<br />

Torque: 390 Nm<br />

Horsepower: 251 hp<br />

Acceleration: 0 – 100 in 4.26 seconds<br />

42 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Jetour T2<br />

Jetour T2 is a versatile 4X4 SUV<br />

that combines functionality<br />

with modern design. Tailored<br />

for various driving experiences, this<br />

5-door model features a 4-cylinder<br />

2.0T engine, delivering a balanced 390<br />

Nm of torque through a 7-speed DCT<br />

transmission, ensuring a reliable drive<br />

across different terrains.<br />

Innovatively designed, the Expandable<br />

Feature Tailgate enhances cargo<br />

space while maintaining an elegant<br />

appearance. The Magic Electric Door,<br />

an advanced security system, replaces<br />

traditional locking mechanisms,<br />

offering a smooth, quiet, and secure<br />

opening and closing experience.<br />

Beyond its aesthetics, Jetour T2’s<br />

high-strength steel body ensures safety<br />

and durability, suitable for navigating<br />

diverse terrains. The straightforward<br />

design reflects a robust SUV style,<br />

emphasising practicality. The Skylight<br />

feature floods the cabin with natural<br />

light, creating a spacious and open<br />

ambience, and providing views of the<br />

surroundings.<br />

Technically proficient, Jetour T2<br />

boasts a length of 4785mm and a 2800<br />

mm wheelbase, offering ample space<br />

for various travel needs. With approach,<br />

ramp, and departure angles of 39°, 25°,<br />

and 30° respectively, the T2 navigates<br />

challenging terrains with ease. The<br />

BorgWarner 6th generation 4-wheel<br />

drive system, combined with seven<br />

driving modes, allows for adaptable<br />

driving experiences based on the<br />

terrain.<br />

The SUV comes with a 10-year/ 1<br />

Million KM Warranty and 3 years or<br />

up to 40,000 km service packages. The<br />

Jetour Service Centre at Elite Motors<br />

Services ensures reliable customer<br />

support.<br />

Jetour T2 offers a versatile blend of<br />

functionality and design, making it a<br />

compelling choice for those seeking a<br />

reliable, adaptable, and aesthetically<br />

pleasing companion for their driving<br />

needs.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 43

Interview<br />

Highlighting the Resonating Impact<br />

of Woodshow Middle East on the<br />

Woodworking Industry<br />

44 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

In conversation with Mr Walid Farghal, Director General of the WoodShow<br />

Global Organising Committee, exploring the impact of Middle East<br />

woodworking shows on the evolution of the woodworking industry and how<br />

they align with the economic transformations and sustainability goals of their<br />

respective regions.<br />

Exclusive to <strong>Finance</strong> <strong>World</strong> Magazine<br />

Q. Can you provide an overview of<br />

the Dubai, Cairo, and Saudi Wood<br />

Shows and their significance in the<br />

woodworking industry?<br />

Dubai Wood Show, Cairo Wood Show,<br />

and Saudi Wood Show are pivotal events<br />

in the woodworking industry, serving as<br />

essential platforms for manufacturers,<br />

suppliers, and decision-makers to exhibit<br />

wood and woodworking machinery<br />

technologies and products while fostering<br />

invaluable networking and business<br />

opportunities.<br />

Dubai Wood Show, one of the largest in<br />

the Middle East and GCC region, drives<br />

innovation in wood and woodworking<br />

across the region and is considered<br />

the hub for international partners and<br />

associations from all over the world to<br />

participate in our platform.<br />

Cairo Wood Show contributes to the<br />

growth of Egypt’s woodworking sector<br />

and surrounding regions in North Africa<br />

and the Levant region by showcasing the<br />

latest trends in wood and woodworking<br />

industry to attract neighbouring countries<br />

to join our exhibition.<br />

The Saudi Wood Show plays a critical<br />

role in promoting the woodworking<br />

industry in Saudi Arabia and the GCC<br />

region, facilitating international-local<br />

collaborations in a rapidly developing<br />

wood market. Together, these exhibitions<br />

significantly impact the wood and<br />

woodworking industry’s development,<br />

making them vital for decision-makers<br />

and businesses in the field.<br />

Q. How has the woodworking industry<br />

evolved in these regions, and what<br />

role do these events play in its<br />

development?<br />

The woodworking industry has<br />

witnessed significant evolution in various<br />

regions, driven by a combination of<br />

factors and pivotal events. In the past,<br />

woodworking was primarily a localised<br />

and traditional craft that was mostly<br />

handmade. However, with the advent<br />

of industrialization and technological<br />

advancements, it has transformed into<br />

a sophisticated and globalised industry.<br />

For instance, the introduction of<br />

modern woodworking machinery and<br />

tools has revolutionised the industry.<br />

Automation, CNC (Computer Numerical<br />

Control) machines, and advanced<br />

software have increased efficiency and<br />

precision in woodworking processes.<br />

These technological advancements<br />

have made it possible to mass-produce<br />

wooden products with high quality.<br />

Furthermore, the rise of e-commerce<br />

and digital marketing has changed<br />

the way woodworking products are<br />

marketed and sold. Online platforms<br />

allow artisans and businesses to reach<br />

a global audience, expanding market<br />

opportunities. Thus, our exhibitions<br />

serve as important events in the<br />

woodworking industry. These events<br />

provide a platform for networking,<br />

showcasing innovations, and sharing<br />

knowledge. They play a crucial role in<br />

keeping industry professionals in the<br />

wood industry updated on the latest<br />

trends and technologies.<br />

Q. Dubai has been a significant hub<br />

for trade and commerce. How does<br />

the Dubai Wood Show contribute<br />

to the growth of the woodworking<br />

industry in the Middle East?<br />

Dubai Wood Show has served as a<br />

critical catalyst for the growth and<br />

development of the woodworking<br />

industry in the Middle East for twenty<br />

years, leveraging Dubai’s position as<br />

a prominent trade and commerce hub<br />

in several ways.<br />

Firstly, it provides a central platform<br />

for industry professionals, manufacturers,<br />

and suppliers from around the world<br />

to converge and showcase their latest<br />

innovations, products, and technologies<br />

in the wood and woodworking machinery<br />

industry. This facilitates knowledge<br />

exchange, networking, and business<br />

collaborations, fostering industry-wide<br />

growth.<br />

Secondly, the event plays a pivotal<br />

role in promoting sustainability within<br />

the woodworking sector by highlighting<br />

environmentally responsible practices and<br />

showcasing sustainable wood sourcing<br />

and manufacturing techniques. This<br />

aligns with Dubai’s commitment to<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 45

Interview<br />

sustainability and positions the Middle<br />

East as a region actively engaged in<br />

eco-conscious woodworking.<br />

Additionally, the Dubai Wood Show<br />

facilitates access to a wide array of<br />

woodworking machinery and equipment,<br />

fostering technological advancements<br />

and efficiency improvements within the<br />

industry. Furthermore, the event’s role<br />

in attracting investors and entrepreneurs<br />

to the region amplifies the woodworking<br />

industry’s potential for expansion and<br />

economic diversification. In essence,<br />

the Dubai Wood Show serves as a vital<br />

platform that not only stimulates growth<br />

but also projects Dubai and the Middle<br />

East as influential players in the global<br />

wood and woodworking landscape.<br />

Q. Egypt has a rich history in<br />

woodworking and craftsmanship.<br />

How does the Cairo Wood Show<br />

embrace this heritage and promote<br />

it on an international scale?<br />

Cairo Wood Show effectively bridges<br />

Egypt’s illustrious history in woodworking<br />

and craftsmanship within the global<br />

stage and more specifically North Africa,<br />

creating a platform that celebrates and<br />

promotes this heritage internationally<br />

as well as locally.<br />

The event showcases Egyptian<br />

woodworking traditions, including intricate<br />

designs, carving techniques, and artisanal<br />

craftsmanship, allowing local artisans<br />

and businesses to display their skills and<br />

products to an international audience.<br />

This not only preserves Egypt’s cultural<br />

legacy but also highlights its relevance<br />

in the contemporary woodworking<br />

landscape.<br />

Moreover, the show often collaborates<br />

with international and local wood and<br />

woodworking experts and organisations,<br />

creating a platform for cultural exchange<br />

and collaboration. This helps Egyptian<br />

craftsmen and businesses learn from<br />

international best practices while<br />

showcasing their unique contributions.<br />

Overall, the Cairo Wood Show effectively<br />

merges Egypt’s rich woodworking history<br />

with contemporary woodworking trends,<br />

promoting this heritage on a global scale.<br />

Q. Saudi Arabia has been undergoing<br />

significant economic transformation.<br />

How does the Saudi Wood Show<br />

align with the Kingdom’s Vision<br />

2030 and its goals for diversifying<br />

the economy?<br />

Saudi Wood Show aligns closely with<br />

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, a comprehensive<br />

plan aimed at diversifying the Kingdom’s<br />

economy and reducing its dependence<br />

on oil revenue. Our exhibition will play<br />

a pivotal role in advancing these goals<br />

in several ways. Firstly, it promotes<br />

entrepreneurship and innovation within<br />

the woodworking and related sectors,<br />

supporting the Vision’s objective of<br />

nurturing a vibrant and diversified private<br />

sector. By attracting local and international<br />

wood industry professionals, the show<br />

fosters partnerships, investments, and<br />

business opportunities in Saudi Arabia,<br />

contributing to economic growth.<br />

Secondly, the Saudi Wood Show<br />

emphasises sustainability and<br />

environmental responsibility, aligning with<br />

the Vision’s goals to enhance environmental<br />

protection and resource management.<br />

Through its focus on sustainable wood<br />

sourcing and manufacturing practices,<br />

the show encourages the adoption of<br />

eco-friendly approaches within the<br />

woodworking industry. Lastly, the<br />

event promotes knowledge transfer<br />

and technological advancement, in<br />

line with Vision 2030’s aspiration to<br />

drive research and development in<br />

key sectors.<br />

Overall, the Saudi Wood Show<br />

serves as a valuable tool in advancing<br />

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, supporting<br />

economic diversification, sustainability,<br />

and innovation within the Kingdom.<br />

Q. What are some notable trends<br />

in the woodworking industry that<br />

these Wood Shows aim to showcase<br />

or address?<br />

As previously mentioned, Dubai,<br />

Cairo and Saudi Wood Shows each<br />

serve a unique dynamic showcase of key<br />

trends in the wood and woodworking<br />

industry, spotlighting themes such as<br />

sustainability, artisanal craftsmanship,<br />

46 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

sustainable materials, design aesthetics,<br />

and global market access. They provide<br />

a unique platform where industry<br />

professionals, exhibitors and visitors<br />

can explore innovative technologies,<br />

sustainable practices, and evolving<br />

consumer preferences. Also, these events<br />

foster collaboration and knowledge<br />

exchange, helping businesses adapt to<br />

the changing landscape while promoting<br />

the importance of responsible and<br />

eco-friendly wood and woodworking<br />

practices on a global scale.<br />

Q. How do these exhibitions<br />

incorporate sustainability and<br />

innovation in woodworking practices,<br />

considering the global emphasis<br />

on environmental responsibility?<br />

Our exhibitions are pivotal in leading<br />

sustainability and innovation within<br />

the wood and woodworking industry,<br />

recognizing the pressing need for<br />

environmental responsibility on a<br />

global scale. In addition, these shows<br />

dedicate substantial floor space to<br />

exhibitors who champion sustainable<br />

practices. They spotlight the utilisation<br />

of responsibly sourced wood, often<br />

certified by organisations like FSC<br />

(Forest Stewardship Council), and<br />

demonstrate how it aligns with the<br />

circular economy concept by ensuring<br />

minimal waste and maximal resource<br />

utilisation. Secondly, the exhibitions<br />

feature cutting-edge innovations that<br />

significantly reduce the environmental<br />

impact of woodworking processes. This<br />

includes energy-efficient machinery that<br />

minimises electricity consumption and<br />

the integration of automated systems<br />

to optimise material use. Additionally,<br />

visitors have the opportunity to explore<br />

advanced finishing techniques and<br />

coatings that are environmentally<br />

friendly, low in VOCs (volatile organic<br />

compounds), and contribute to the<br />

longevity of wood products, reducing<br />

the need for replacements.<br />

Furthermore, these events promote<br />

sustainable materials beyond wood,<br />

such as engineered wood products<br />

and alternatives, demonstrating their<br />

viability as eco-friendly options. On<br />

top of that, they often host specialised<br />

sessions and panel discussions where<br />

experts discuss eco-conscious strategies<br />

like recycling wood waste into new<br />

products or bioenergy and the use<br />

of renewable energy sources within<br />

woodworking facilities. By serving as<br />

comprehensive hubs of knowledge and<br />

innovation, these exhibitions actively<br />

drive sustainability and innovation,<br />

instilling a deep sense of environmental<br />

responsibility within the woodworking<br />

industry and fostering its transition<br />

towards a more sustainable future.<br />

Q. For businesses and individuals<br />

planning to participate in these<br />

Wood Shows, what advice would you<br />

offer to maximise their experience<br />

and benefits from attending?<br />

To make the most of their participation<br />

in our esteemed Wood Shows, businesses<br />

and individuals should meticulously<br />

plan their objectives, register early,<br />

and research exhibitors of interest.<br />

Bringing impactful marketing materials,<br />

actively engaging in networking, and<br />

attending our talk shows to enhance<br />

their experience. Exploring new<br />

technologies, emphasising sustainability,<br />

and considering partnerships present<br />

avenues for growth. After the event,<br />

promptly following up with contacts<br />

and leads is crucial. As well as being<br />

informed about industry trends post-event<br />

will ensure they maximise the benefits<br />

of these exhibitions, which serve as<br />

invaluable platforms for networking,<br />

innovation, and business growth within<br />

the wood and woodworking industry.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 47

Energy News<br />

UAE and UK Ministers Unite for Renewable Energy Collaboration<br />

In a proactive step to strengthen<br />

economic bonds, H.E. Abdulla<br />

bin Touq Al Marri, UAE Minister<br />

of Economy, recently held talks with<br />

H.E. Greg Hands, British Minister of<br />

State. The bilateral meeting aimed at<br />

exploring new avenues for economic<br />

and investment collaboration, with a<br />

focus on reinforcing private-sector<br />

connections. The strategic encounter<br />

occurred during a UAE delegation’s<br />

visit to the UK, coinciding with their<br />

UAE Unveils Energy<br />

Investment Roadmap<br />

A<br />

roadmap is underway for the energy<br />

cooperation agreement signed<br />

between Turkey and the UAE, focusing<br />

on solar, wind, offshore wind, and<br />

hydroelectric projects. The initial phase<br />

aims to establish a renewable portfolio of<br />

6,500 megawatts. Technical teams from<br />

both nations are actively progressing on<br />

this initiative, with concrete steps expected<br />

in the coming months. The $50.7B<br />

agreement allocates approximately $30B<br />

to renewable energy, with investments<br />

in offshore wind projects, wind turbines,<br />

and solar panels. Geographical tests and<br />

wind measurements are underway for<br />

offshore wind investments, reflecting<br />

Turkey’s commitment to developing its<br />

renewable energy potential, including<br />

thermal power plants.<br />

participation in Investopia London on<br />

January 31, <strong>2024</strong>. Organised by Investopia,<br />

the event facilitated interactions<br />

among over 200 leaders, businessmen,<br />

investors, and entrepreneurs from<br />

both nations. H.E. Bin Touq praised<br />

the UAE-UK relations as exemplary,<br />

emphasising the commitment to fortify<br />

economic cooperation, particularly in<br />

emerging sectors aligning with shared<br />

visions for future economic transition<br />

and industry expansion.<br />

Dubai Sets Record with 1-Minute Power Outage<br />

in 2023<br />

Dubai Electricity and Water<br />

Authority (DEWA) achieved a<br />

remarkable milestone in 2023<br />

by reporting the lowest electricity<br />

Customer Minutes Lost (CML) globally,<br />

with just 1.06 minutes per customer.<br />

This breaks DEWA’s previous record<br />

of 1.19 minutes in the preceding year<br />

and represents less than 0.0002% of<br />

the total minutes in a year. For context,<br />

leading utility companies in the<br />

European Union record around 15<br />

minutes of CML. Saeed Mohammed Al<br />

Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA, attributed<br />

this accomplishment to the organisation’s<br />

commitment to innovation and<br />

the use of Fourth Industrial Revolution<br />

technologies like AI, blockchain, and<br />

IoT, ensuring the highest standards of<br />

availability, reliability, efficiency, and<br />

sustainability in providing electricity<br />

and water services.<br />

ADNOC Boosts Decarbonization Budget to $23B,<br />

Creates 6,500 Jobs<br />

ADNOC will amplify its decarbonization<br />

investment to $23B, aligning<br />

with global energy transition<br />

goals. UAE President Sheikh Mohamed<br />

bin Zayed Al Nahyan, serving as ADNOC<br />

Board Chairman, directed the company<br />

during its annual meeting to expand its<br />

diversified portfolio and provide secure,<br />

reliable, and responsible energy to facilitate<br />

a just and equitable global energy<br />

transition. ADNOC is actively tripling<br />

its renewable energy capacity through<br />

its stake in Masdar while progressing<br />

toward interim targets, including a 25%<br />

reduction in greenhouse gas intensity<br />

and achieving near-zero methane<br />

emissions by 2030. This commitment<br />

underscores the UAE’s dedication to<br />

global energy security and fostering a<br />

sustainable future.<br />

48 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

ADCB Partners with UNIDO for Green Growth in Egypt<br />

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank<br />

Egypt (ADCB) has entered into<br />

a partnership with the United<br />

Nations Industrial Development Organization<br />

(UNIDO) through the Inclusive<br />

Green Growth in Egypt (IGGE)<br />

program. The collaboration focuses on<br />

supporting small and medium enterprises<br />

(SMEs) in transitioning to a green<br />

economy. ADCB’s involvement aligns<br />

with its sustainability strategy, and<br />

UNIDO will provide technical support<br />

to facilitate the issuance of sustainable<br />

financial and non-financial products.<br />

Key sectors targeted by the program<br />

include renewable energy, resource<br />

efficiency, sustainable agriculture, and<br />

waste management. The announcement<br />

was made at ADCB’s headquarters by<br />

Hisham Abbas, representing ADCB,<br />

and Patrick Jean Gilabert, UNIDO’s<br />

Representative for the Regional Office<br />

Hub in Egypt, with senior managers<br />

from both entities present.<br />

L&T Secures EPC Order for UAE’s Largest<br />

Renewable Energy Project<br />

Larsen & Toubro (L&T), the Indian<br />

engineering and construction<br />

giant, has secured a significant<br />

Engineering, Procurement, and Construction<br />

(EPC) contract for the 1,800<br />

MW Phase 6 of the Mohammed bin<br />

Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai.<br />

The contract, awarded by Masdar to<br />

L&T’s Power Transmission & Distribution<br />

business, encompasses a solar<br />

photovoltaic power plant spread over<br />

20 square kilometres. The project will<br />

be operational in three phases and<br />

includes Gas Insulated Substations,<br />

high-voltage underground cabling, and<br />

medium-voltage distribution networks.<br />

Masdar and Dubai Electricity and Water<br />

Authority (DEWA) signed the Power<br />

Purchase Agreement in September<br />

2023, with DEWA retaining a 60% stake<br />

in the project.<br />

Saudi Aramco Halts Plans for Oil Output Boost<br />

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil<br />

producer, has reversed its earlier<br />

decision to boost oil production<br />

to 13 million barrels per day (bpd) and<br />

will maintain its sustainable capacity<br />

at 12 million bpd. The company cited<br />

a directive from the kingdom’s Ministry<br />

of Energy for the change. While<br />

no additional details were provided,<br />

Saudi Aramco mentioned it would<br />

update its capital spending guidance<br />

when disclosing full-year 2023 results<br />

in <strong>March</strong>. The decision comes after a<br />

directive in <strong>March</strong> 2020 to increase<br />

capacity to 13 million bpd amid market<br />

share disputes with Russia. CEO<br />

Amin Nasser had previously outlined<br />

a gradual approach, reaching full capacity<br />

by 2027 through a combination<br />

of existing and new fields.<br />

Daimler Truck and<br />

Masdar Partner for<br />

Green Hydrogen in<br />

European Road Freight<br />

Masdar and Daimler Truck have<br />

inked a Memorandum of Understanding<br />

(MoU) to assess<br />

the viability of exporting liquid green<br />

hydrogen from Abu Dhabi to Europe<br />

by 2030. The collaboration aims to<br />

reduce CO2 emissions in road freight<br />

transport. Signed in Abu Dhabi by<br />

Fawaz Al Muharrami of Masdar and<br />

Martin Daum, CEO of Daimler Truck,<br />

the partnership aligns with the UAE’s<br />

goal to be a key player in the low-carbon<br />

hydrogen market by 2031. Masdar<br />

CEO Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi sees<br />

transportation as a strategic market<br />

for green hydrogen, emphasising the<br />

potential for significant emissions<br />

reduction in European road freight.<br />

Daimler Truck’s CEO, Martin Daum,<br />

emphasises their commitment to leading<br />

sustainable transportation and making<br />

green energy globally accessible.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 49

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Wheels<br />

1340<br />

Horsepower<br />

52 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Lamborghini Lanzador EV<br />

Lamborghini unveils Lanzador,<br />

marking the automaker’s<br />

foray into the electric grand<br />

tourer segment. It is a practical 2+2<br />

seating configuration grand tourer,<br />

distinguishing itself from Lamborghini’s<br />

asphalt-hugging supercars and full-size<br />

SUVs. Its design, inspired by spaceships,<br />

features an angular and muscular<br />

exterior with active aerodynamics<br />

for stability or efficiency based on the<br />

driver’s preference.<br />

The concept, characterised as an<br />

“Ultra GT,” employs a dual-motor<br />

drivetrain with a peak power output<br />

of over 1 megawatt, making it the most<br />

powerful Lamborghini to date. With<br />

electric torque vectoring and a rear<br />

power bias, the Lanzador promises<br />

dynamic cornering behaviour and<br />

the option for controlled drifts. While<br />

specific details about battery capacity,<br />

voltage, and range remain undisclosed<br />

the car is expected to offer exceptional<br />

power and performance with over 1,340<br />

horsepower. Lamborghini indicates that<br />

its first mass-produced electric vehicle<br />

will hit the market in 2029.<br />

Inside, the Lanzador embraces a<br />

modern yet believable design, featuring<br />

two small seats behind the driver and<br />

passenger. A spacious storage area<br />

behind the second row caters to sports<br />

equipment or luggage, complemented<br />

by a frunk due to the absence of an<br />

engine under the nose. The interior<br />

incorporates recycled and sustainable<br />

materials, including leather tanned<br />

with water from olive oil production,<br />

renewable Merino wool, and 3D-printed<br />

foam made from recycled plastic bottles.<br />

Driving dynamics are enhanced by<br />

the Lamborghini Dynamic Veicolo<br />

Integrata (LDVI) driving control<br />

system, promising a refined driving<br />

experience with increasing data inputs<br />

from sensors and actuators. Lanzador<br />

serves as a demonstration of the<br />

creative possibilities offered by electric<br />

platforms, allowing manufacturers to<br />

explore new design elements and cater<br />

to a broader customer base. With a<br />

production timeline set for the later<br />

part of this decade, Lanzador hints at<br />

Lamborghini’s commitment to evolving<br />

with the electric automotive landscape,<br />

offering a glimpse into the future of<br />

the renowned brand.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 53

Merger & Acquisitions<br />

Source. pexels.com<br />

60% of CEOs plan to make at least one acquisition in the next three years. PwC<br />

Corporate Unions: The<br />

Crucial Role of<br />

Accounting in Mergers<br />

and Acquisitions<br />

Accountants play a multifaceted role in M&A<br />

success, ensuring informed decision-making<br />

and effective risk mitigation.<br />

Acquiring or divesting a business presents<br />

more complexities compared to transactions<br />

involving other assets. Unlike real<br />

and personal property, which can be easily<br />

valued based on market prices determined<br />

by supply and demand, businesses entail a<br />

more intricate pricing process. Businesses<br />

comprise numerous dynamic components<br />

that necessitate comprehensive evaluation<br />

before any buying or selling decisions.<br />

While assets and liabilities are crucial<br />

considerations, strategic alignment with<br />

the buyer plays a significant role. Mergers<br />

and acquisitions (M&A) represent strategic<br />

moves that companies undertake to<br />

enhance their market position, achieve<br />

synergies, or access new technologies<br />

and markets. In this intricacy of corporate<br />

unions, accounting plays a pivotal role in<br />

ensuring a seamless transition.<br />

54 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

In the contemporary business environment,<br />

mergers and acquisitions<br />

(M&A) have assumed a pivotal role<br />

as companies actively pursue growth,<br />

market expansion, and the realisation of<br />

synergistic advantages. These intricate<br />

transactions involve the amalgamation<br />

of operations, assets, and liabilities from<br />

two or more businesses.<br />

Anticipated to be a year marked by<br />

heightened merger and acquisition activity,<br />

<strong>2024</strong> holds promise for an increased<br />

number of strategic corporate deals. As<br />

mentioned by Malcolm Lloyd, Global<br />

Deals Leader, PwC Spain, “Market signals<br />

are more positive and we’re seeing<br />

a willingness among dealmakers to find<br />

creative solutions to get deals done and<br />

accelerate transformation. I believe these<br />

factors—and pent-up demand—have<br />

created a tipping point and we will see<br />

an upswing in M&A in <strong>2024</strong>.”<br />

The potential growth of these deals<br />

at various corporate levels necessitates<br />

the participation of accountants to make<br />

these deals smooth and profitable. While<br />

M&A transactions offer significant commercial<br />

prospects, they concurrently<br />

pose various challenges, particularly for<br />

corporate accountants.<br />

M&A activities serve as strategic<br />

mechanisms for companies aiming to<br />

enhance their competitive positions and<br />

achieve economies of scale. The union of<br />

resources and capabilities from multiple<br />

entities can lead to increased efficiency<br />

and broader market reach. However, the<br />

intricacies involved demand meticulous<br />

attention to financial details, making the<br />

role of accountants pivotal in navigating<br />

these multifaceted transactions.<br />

Accountants play a crucial role in mitigating<br />

these challenges by conducting<br />

thorough due diligence, addressing financial<br />

discrepancies, and ensuring compliance<br />

with regulatory frameworks. Simultaneously,<br />

they facilitate the identification<br />

and capitalisation of opportunities that<br />

arise during the merger or acquisition,<br />

contributing to the overall success of<br />

these strategic initiatives.<br />

Due diligence:<br />

Accountants meticulously scrutinise<br />

the financial health of the target company.<br />

This process involves a comprehensive<br />

examination of financial statements, tax<br />

records, and contracts to identify potential<br />

risks and vulnerabilities. Accountants<br />

assess the accuracy and completeness<br />

of financial information, ensuring that all<br />

aspects of the target’s financial position<br />

are thoroughly understood. Through this<br />

careful analysis, accountants contribute<br />

valuable insights that enable informed<br />

decision-making, helping mitigate potential<br />

challenges and ensuring a transparent<br />

understanding of the target company’s<br />

financial landscape for those involved<br />

in the merger or acquisition process.<br />

Financial Analysis:<br />

In the context of mergers and acquisitions,<br />

accountants are pivotal in evaluating<br />

the financial performance, profitability,<br />

and cash flow of both the acquiring and<br />

target companies. This thorough analysis<br />

is crucial for ascertaining the viability of<br />

the transaction and identifying potential<br />

synergies resulting from the amalgamation<br />

of these entities. Through the<br />

assessment of these essential financial<br />

factors, accountants offer valuable<br />

insights that assist decision-makers in<br />

navigating the intricacies of the deal.<br />

Their contribution ensures a thorough<br />

grasp of the financial terrain and the<br />

potential benefits that may arise from<br />

the merger or acquisition.<br />

Valuation:<br />

In the determination of the target<br />

company’s value, accountants contribute<br />

significantly by establishing the purchase<br />

price. Utilising methods like discounted<br />

cash flow analysis and market comps,<br />

they carefully assess and quantify the<br />

entity’s worth. Through these valuation<br />

approaches, accountants deliver a<br />

comprehensive evaluation that guides<br />

decision-makers in setting a fair and<br />

justified purchase price.<br />

Tax Planning:<br />

Accountants are instrumental in structuring<br />

deals for optimal tax efficiency,<br />

and strategically navigating income<br />

tax, capital gains tax, and other tax<br />

considerations. Their role extends to<br />

evaluating the potential impact of existing<br />

tax liabilities associated with the<br />

target company. By carefully analysing<br />

the tax landscape, accountants ensure<br />

that the deal is structured to minimise<br />

tax implications, fostering a financially<br />

advantageous arrangement. This meticulous<br />

approach not only contributes to the<br />

successful execution of the transaction<br />

but also aligns with overarching financial<br />

goals, demonstrating the pivotal role of<br />

accountants in securing favourable tax<br />

outcomes.<br />

Financial Modelling:<br />

Developing financial models projecting<br />

the performance of merged entities<br />

serves a crucial role in evaluating return<br />

on investment. This process allows<br />

accountants to forecast the combined<br />

financial outcomes, providing valuable<br />

insights that guide decision-makers in<br />

assessing the potential profitability and<br />

viability of the merger or acquisition.<br />

Integration Planning:<br />

Post-finalisation, accountants assume<br />

a pivotal role in planning and executing<br />

the integration of two companies. This<br />

involves critical tasks such as consolidating<br />

financial systems, aligning accounting<br />

policies, and ensuring a seamless transition.<br />

Accountants contribute to the<br />

efficient merging of operations, systems,<br />

and policies, thereby facilitating a smooth<br />

and cohesive integration process that<br />

optimises the benefits derived from the<br />

merger while minimising disruptions to<br />

ongoing business activities.<br />

Risk Assessment:<br />

Accountants actively identify and assess<br />

financial and operational risks linked to<br />

M&A transactions. Their role extends<br />

to offering valuable recommendations<br />

on risk mitigation strategies, helping<br />

safeguard the interests of the involved<br />

entities. Additionally, accountants play<br />

a pivotal part in post-acquisition monitoring,<br />

ensuring ongoing vigilance and<br />

adaptability to potential challenges.<br />

Compliance and Reporting:<br />

Throughout the M&A process, accountants<br />

diligently oversee compliance with<br />

financial reporting and regulatory obligations.<br />

This includes meticulous adherence<br />

to accounting standards and transparent<br />

disclosure of material information to<br />

stakeholders. Accountants navigate the<br />

intricate regulatory framework, ensuring<br />

that all reporting requirements are met.<br />

This commitment not only upholds transparency<br />

but also establishes a foundation<br />

for clear communication.<br />

Accountants assume a diverse role in<br />

M&A transactions, encompassing due<br />

diligence, financial analysis, valuation,<br />

tax planning, and post-merger integration.<br />

Their proficiency is crucial for informed<br />

decision-making and optimising financial<br />

gains in mergers and acquisitions, all while<br />

effectively mitigating associated risks.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 55

Merger and Acquisition News<br />

DHL Global Forwarding Finalizes Danzas AEI Emirates Acquisition<br />

DHL Global Forwarding, the freight<br />

specialist within the DHL Group,<br />

has finalised the acquisition of<br />

shares in Danzas AEI Emirates, rebranding<br />

all facilities under the DHL name.<br />

The integration includes the transfer of<br />

1,100 logistics experts and ownership<br />

of 20 facilities, enhancing operational<br />

capabilities. This move aims to provide<br />

more efficient and seamless logistics<br />

services in the UAE, GCC, and MEA<br />

regions. DHL Global Forwarding solidifies<br />

its position as a market leader in Dubai,<br />

accelerating logistics business growth<br />

in the Middle East and Africa. Amadou<br />

Diallo, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding<br />

Middle East and Africa, emphasises the<br />

integration’s potential for strengthened<br />

logistics operations and regional competitiveness.<br />

With a focus on innovation and<br />

collaboration, this partnership signifies<br />

a significant milestone in advancing<br />

sustainable practices.<br />

Dubai’s Amantra FM<br />

Acquires AL MANQAB,<br />

Boosting Service<br />

Portfolio<br />

Amantra FM, a Dubai-based<br />

facilities management company,<br />

has acquired AL MANQAB<br />

Technical Services LLC, specialising in<br />

firefighting and safety solutions. This<br />

strategic move marks Amantra’s entry into<br />

the construction industry, emphasising<br />

the importance of integrating firestop<br />

solutions in design stages to prevent future<br />

fire hazards. AL MANQAB, established in<br />

2018, offers a comprehensive portfolio of<br />

firestop solutions and related services,<br />

enhancing Amantra’s competitive edge<br />

in construction. The synergy between<br />

AL MANQAB’s proven competencies and<br />

Amantra’s existing MEP capabilities aims<br />

to provide advanced value to customers,<br />

promoting a preventive approach to fire<br />

safety in future buildings. CEO Sangeetha<br />

B. expresses pride in championing this<br />

cause in the GCC region.<br />

MENA M&A Records $80B in 2023, Marking<br />

Lowest Since 2020<br />

In 2023, the M&A landscape in the<br />

Middle East and North Africa (ME-<br />

NA) region witnessed transactions<br />

with a total value of $80B, marking a<br />

7% decline from the previous year and<br />

the lowest annual total since 2020, according<br />

to the London Stock Exchange<br />

Group (LSEG). Despite an 18% drop<br />

from the 2022 record, the number of<br />

announced deals in the region reached<br />

the third-highest level since 1980. Deals<br />

involving MENA targets amounted to<br />

$31.7B, a six-year low, while inbound<br />

deals with non-MENA acquirers and<br />

domestic deals both decreased by<br />

35%. MENA outbound M&A reached<br />

$44.1B, the highest in sixteen years.<br />

The Financials sector led M&A activity,<br />

comprising 27% of MENA target M&A.<br />

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt<br />

were the most targeted nations, and JP<br />

Morgan emerged as the top financial<br />

advisor for any MENA involvement in<br />

announced M&A during 2023.<br />

Elite in UAE Acquires LogX in Multi-Million<br />

Dollar Logistics Deal<br />

GreenDome Holdings, via its subsidiary<br />

Elite Co., has successfully<br />

acquired LogX, the foremost temperature-controlled<br />

logistics company in<br />

the UAE, in a significant multi-million<br />

dollar deal. This move marks a pivotal<br />

moment for GreenDome Holdings as it<br />

expands service offerings and reinforces<br />

its market presence. Dr Mohammed<br />

Sharaf, CEO of GreenDome Holdings,<br />

expressed excitement about welcoming<br />

LogX into the GDH family, highlighting the<br />

acquisition’s importance in revolutionising<br />

the logistics industry. LogX, known for its<br />

robust network and exceptional customer<br />

satisfaction, aligns with GDH’s strategy to<br />

build a comprehensive logistics services<br />

powerhouse, capitalising on both regional<br />

and global growth opportunities.<br />

56 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Tadawul Group Acquires Stake in Dubai Mercantile Exchange<br />

Saudi Tadawul Group Holding<br />

Company (STG), a prominent<br />

capital markets group in the<br />

MENA region, has signed a binding<br />

agreement to acquire a 32.6% stake<br />

in the Dubai Mercantile Exchange<br />

(DME). This strategic move positions<br />

STG as the joint largest shareholder in<br />

DME Holdings Limited alongside CME<br />

Group. The investment aims to leverage<br />

expertise, accelerating DME’s growth<br />

as a regional commodities leader, and<br />

bridging production hubs and end<br />

markets. The partnership sets the stage<br />

for the Gulf Mercantile Exchange to<br />

capture the surging demand for energy,<br />

metals, and agricultural commodities,<br />

supporting the global transition to a<br />

sustainable economy through innovative<br />

derivatives contracts and solutions.<br />

Hitachi Energy Successfully<br />

Acquires COET<br />

Global technology leader Hitachi<br />

Energy has successfully finalised<br />

the acquisition of COET, a<br />

prominent power equipment designer<br />

and manufacturer based in Italy. This<br />

strategic move enhances Hitachi Energy’s<br />

global standing and expands<br />

its capabilities in high-power electric<br />

vehicle charging infrastructure, power<br />

electronics, and grid-edge solutions.<br />

The acquisition builds on the longstanding<br />

collaboration between Hitachi<br />

Energy and COET, particularly in<br />

the development of Grid-eMotion®<br />

high-power charging infrastructure.<br />

COET’s expertise in DC traction products<br />

for rail and high-power industrial<br />

applications further enriches Hitachi<br />

Energy’s offerings, aligning with the<br />

growing global demand for power<br />

electronics. This move positions Hitachi<br />

Energy to play a crucial role in<br />

advancing the clean energy transition<br />

and serving diverse sectors such as<br />

sustainable mobility, smart living, and<br />

data centres.<br />

PureHealth Completes Acquisition of UK’s<br />

Largest Private Healthcare Group<br />

PureHealth, the leading healthcare<br />

platform in the Middle East, has<br />

announced the completion of its<br />

strategic acquisition of Circle Health<br />

Group, the UK’s largest independent<br />

hospital operator. This achievement,<br />

with rapid regulatory approvals, marks<br />

a significant milestone in PureHealth’s<br />

global expansion strategy, showcasing<br />

its operational capabilities and commitment<br />

to international growth. The<br />

transaction reinforces PureHealth’s<br />

dedication to becoming a major global<br />

healthcare player, aligned with<br />

the UAE’s vision for well-being and<br />

enhanced healthcare services. The<br />

company’s strategic expansion into<br />

the UK healthcare market underscores<br />

its steadfast commitment to advancing<br />

longevity science and fostering innovations<br />

that positively impact humanity’s<br />

well-being.<br />

EFG Hermes Advises Kazyon on 50% Stake<br />

Acquisition in Dukan<br />

EFG Hermes, a prominent investment<br />

bank specialising in Frontier<br />

and Emerging Markets, has<br />

effectively advised Kazyon, a leading<br />

discount retailer in the Middle East<br />

and North Africa (MENA) region, on<br />

the acquisition of a 50% stake in Dukan,<br />

the exclusive discount retailer<br />

in Saudi Arabia. The remaining 50%<br />

is retained by Al Dabbagh Group, the<br />

existing shareholder. Founded in 2013,<br />

Dukan currently operates over 100<br />

stores across key Saudi cities and has<br />

expansion plans into Riyadh. Kazyon,<br />

established in 2014, has a significant<br />

presence with over 1,000 stores in<br />

Egypt and Morocco. This strategic<br />

move signifies a crucial milestone in<br />

Kazyon’s regional expansion strategy,<br />

following its successful entry into<br />

Morocco in 2023 and now venturing<br />

into the Saudi Arabian market.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 57

Real Estate<br />

Source: pexels.com<br />

Dubai’s superior law and order make it a safer and more attractive destination for Europeans.<br />

UAE’s Golden Visa<br />

Attraction: Foreign<br />

Property Investors on<br />

the Upswing<br />

The absence of property tax and relaxed down<br />

payment requirements is attracting foreign<br />

investors to the UAE.<br />

Dubai’s real estate market continues to<br />

prosper, establishing itself as a prime<br />

choice for investors seeking diversification<br />

and attractive returns. Recent data indicate<br />

a remarkable $100B investment in Dubai’s<br />

real estate market in 2023. Predictions<br />

suggest a 5 percent growth in <strong>2024</strong>. The<br />

economic expansion in the UAE is poised<br />

to benefit various sectors, with Dubai’s<br />

real estate standing out prominently<br />

among them. The recent changes in the<br />

UAE’s Golden Visa program have become<br />

a significant catalyst for the influx of<br />

European investors into Dubai’s real<br />

estate landscape. Real estate experts have<br />

observed a notable trend of Europeans<br />

investing in Dubai, driven in part by the<br />

challenges of high taxes in their home<br />

region.<br />

58 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

In 2023, Dubai’s real estate market<br />

witnessed remarkable growth, solidifying<br />

its position as an enticing<br />

investment hub. Transactions surged<br />

by over 36.7 percent, reaching a total<br />

value of $429.67B from a record-setting<br />

116,116 transactions. Market research has<br />

highlighted a common expectation among<br />

real estate experts: aside from a boost in<br />

investments in the real estate market, a<br />

significant portion of these investments<br />

is anticipated to come from Europeans.<br />

The main reason behind this trend is<br />

the increasing taxes in their respective<br />

countries. Additionally, some experts<br />

mention that rental returns on properties<br />

in the UAE are higher compared to those<br />

in New York and London.<br />

Furthermore, Bas Kooijman, a real<br />

estate expert, highlights the opportunity<br />

to purchase properties at reasonable<br />

prices and rent them out at high annual<br />

yields, making Dubai an ideal location<br />

for investors aiming to maximise returns,<br />

with profit margins ranging from<br />

5 percent to 9 percent. According to<br />

Betterhomes, investors from the UK,<br />

Russia, Italy, France and Turkey were<br />

ranked in the top 10 in 2023 in terms of<br />

top property buyers.<br />

The year 2023 saw Dubai gain 100,000<br />

new residents, but only 50,000 new properties<br />

were delivered in 2022, causing a<br />

shortage of residential units and driving<br />

prices upward. With almost 120,000 sales<br />

transactions in 2023, a 32% YoY increase,<br />

the total transacted value rose by 44%<br />

YoY to AED 314B due to price hikes.<br />

While the market has historically<br />

exhibited resilience, signs suggest a<br />

moderation in the rapid surge as property<br />

prices cool in selected Dubai neighbourhoods.<br />

Supported by population growth<br />

and potential Fed interest rate cuts,<br />

rental rates are projected to rise, with<br />

Dubai property leasing deals estimated<br />

to surge by 400% YoY in January <strong>2024</strong>.<br />

The sustained population growth is<br />

projected to reach 5.8 million by 2040<br />

which emphasises sustainable living and<br />

green development, and Dubai’s status<br />

as an international investment hub with<br />

ongoing infrastructure developments.<br />

In <strong>2024</strong>, Dubai’s real estate cycle may<br />

enter a new phase, with a resurging<br />

apartment market compared to more<br />

restrained growth in the villa market.<br />

Anticipated improvements in transport<br />

links, particularly with the Dubai Metro<br />

Blue Line, are expected to boost demand<br />

in specific communities like Dubai Silicon<br />

Oasis, Ras Al Khor, Dubai Creek Harbour,<br />

and International City.<br />

We are seeing<br />

an influx<br />

of German<br />

buyers…<br />

many people<br />

are moving to<br />

Dubai because<br />

they don’t want<br />

to be taxed.”<br />

Miloš Antic, Vice President DHG Properties<br />

UAE Golden Visa Dubai real estate<br />

boost<br />

Springfield Properties’ analysis indicates<br />

that changes to the UAE Golden<br />

Visa regulations are poised to attract a<br />

diverse group of investors to the Dubai<br />

real estate sector. To encourage increased<br />

investor involvement in real estate and<br />

strengthen ties with residents, the UAE<br />

government is eliminating the AED1m<br />

($272,000) minimum down payment<br />

condition for Golden Visa eligibility tied<br />

to real estate investment. Effective from<br />

January 24, <strong>2024</strong>, the UAE has removed<br />

the requirement for a minimum down<br />

payment of AED1m ($272,000) or 50%<br />

of the property’s value for the property<br />

Golden Visa.<br />

This implies that investors can now<br />

qualify for a Golden Visa in the United<br />

Arab Emirates by owning a property worth<br />

AED 2M ($545,000), irrespective of the<br />

down payment amount or the property’s<br />

status (off-plan, completed, mortgaged,<br />

or not mortgaged).<br />

Investors opting for properties valued<br />

at AED 2M ($545,000) or more can now<br />

secure long-term residency in the United<br />

Arab Emirates.<br />

Farooq Syed, CEO of Springfield Properties,<br />

a prominent real estate brokerage<br />

in Dubai, praises the removal of the AED<br />

1M ($272,000) minimum down payment<br />

for real estate investments to qualify<br />

for golden visas as a significant move<br />

towards attracting foreign investment<br />

and catalysing growth in the real estate<br />

sector.<br />

The elimination of this financial<br />

threshold widens the doors for a more<br />

diverse pool of investors, fostering<br />

increased engagement in the property<br />

market. This benefits not only international<br />

investors but also strengthens the<br />

overall development and prosperity of<br />

the UAE economy.<br />

Recent figures from the Dubai Land<br />

Department reveal that the emirate’s real<br />

estate market has reached unprecedented<br />

heights, witnessing 1.6m transactions in<br />

the previous year, reflecting a notable<br />

17 per cent increase compared to the<br />

preceding year, according to Springfield<br />

Properties.<br />

The elimination of the minimum down<br />

payment requirement aligns with the UAE’s<br />

vision of cultivating a business-friendly<br />

ecosystem and positioning itself as a<br />

leading global hub for investment and<br />

innovation. We eagerly anticipate the<br />

positive impact of this decision on the real<br />

estate sector and the broader economy.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 59

Real Estate News<br />

R.evolution Launches EYWA Collection in Dubai<br />

with Altman Brothers<br />

Renowned European developer<br />

R.evolution, led by CEO Alex<br />

Zagrebelny, unveiled the highly<br />

anticipated EYWA Penthouse and<br />

Sky Collection Apartments at The<br />

Ritz-Carlton, DIFC, in Dubai, in the<br />

presence of stars Josh and Matt<br />

Altman from Million Dollar Listing.<br />

The event, attended by over 1,000<br />

real estate brokers, celebrities, and<br />

investors, showcased 46 meticulously<br />

designed apartments spread across 19<br />

floors. EYWA boasts ultra-luxurious<br />

penthouses featuring captivating crystal<br />

and waterfall entryways, complemented<br />

by a crystal garden, clubhouse, private<br />

dining, and an array of unique amenities.<br />

Notably, the development incorporates<br />

a groundbreaking crystal energy system<br />

based on Vastu Shastra principles,<br />

further enhancing residents’ wellbeing<br />

with a hidden pyramid of over<br />

1,450 exquisite crystals, creating an<br />

unparalleled living experience.<br />

Abu Dhabi Real Estate Poised for Strong Growth<br />

in <strong>2024</strong><br />

Abu Dhabi’s residential capital<br />

values are projected to see a<br />

steady 3 to 5 percent growth<br />

in <strong>2024</strong>, driven by strategic expansion.<br />

Anticipating modest increases in freehold<br />

villa communities and stable apartment<br />

prices, the market also foresees<br />

a rise in homeownership due to lower<br />

mortgage rates, potentially boosting<br />

transactions. Residential rents for both<br />

villas and apartments are expected to<br />

achieve modest gains, reflecting positive<br />

momentum. Additionally, the Abu<br />

Dhabi real estate sector may experience<br />

increased demand for Grade-A office<br />

spaces, supported by the government’s<br />

efforts to attract foreign investors and<br />

professionals through tailored visa<br />

programs for remote workers and<br />

enhanced transparency.<br />

Abu Dhabi Cuts Jointly Owned Property Service<br />

Charges by 6% in 2023<br />

Abu Dhabi implemented a significant<br />

6% reduction in service and<br />

community charges on jointly<br />

owned properties in 2023, as reported<br />

by the Abu Dhabi Real Estate Centre<br />

(Adrec). This reduction, totalling AED<br />

39.7M ($10.81M), aimed to incentivize<br />

real estate buyers in the emirate. Adrec,<br />

part of the Department of Municipalities<br />

and Transport, expects these cuts<br />

to streamline property management,<br />

reduce operational expenses, enhance<br />

returns on real estate investments,<br />

and provide competitive pricing for<br />

homeowners in Abu Dhabi. Despite<br />

challenges, the UAE’s property market<br />

remained robust in 2023, witnessing<br />

increased transaction volumes in both<br />

Dubai and Abu Dhabi, propelled by<br />

government initiatives such as residency<br />

permits for retired and remote<br />

workers and overall economic growth.<br />

Ras Al Khaimah<br />

Reveals New High-Rise<br />

Financial Center<br />

Marjan, the property developer in<br />

Ras Al Khaimah, has unveiled<br />

ambitious plans for RAK Central<br />

in Al Hamra, featuring a vast commercial<br />

and residential district. Encompassing<br />

three million square feet of rentable<br />

office space, over 4,000 apartments,<br />

and three hotels, this development on<br />

Sheikh Mohammed bin Salem Al Qasimi<br />

Street aims to become the largest<br />

commercial business district in the<br />

Northern Emirates. With picturesque<br />

views of Al Hamra Golf Club and the<br />

Arabian Gulf, RAK Central will offer<br />

parks, retail spaces, and interconnected<br />

buildings. The project, developed in<br />

phases, includes one million square<br />

feet of commercial office space in the<br />

initial phase, attracting investors for 34<br />

freehold residential tower plots, with<br />

construction scheduled to commence<br />

this year and the first phase expected<br />

to conclude in Q4 2026.<br />

Sharjah Real Estate Booms<br />

with $7B Sales, Record<br />

Foreign Investments<br />

Sharjah’s real estate market witnessed<br />

a remarkable resurgence<br />

in 2023, reaching a six-year peak<br />

with a transaction volume surge of<br />

13.1%, totalling AED 27.1B ($7.37B).<br />

This level of activity is the highest<br />

since 2017. The diversity of investors<br />

expanded to 103 nationalities, marking<br />

a notable 21.2% growth from 2022.<br />

Non-Arab foreign investors notably<br />

increased trading volume by 165%, with<br />

a substantial 131.7% rise in property<br />

transactions. Mortgage transactions<br />

reached AED 7.5B ($2.04B). The report<br />

showcases a 7.5% increase in property<br />

deed transactions (24,842) and a surge<br />

in sales transactions (8,731) across 232<br />

diverse areas, encompassing over 89<br />

million square feet. Initial sales contract<br />

transactions exhibited remarkable<br />

growth, totalling 6,442 with a value<br />

of AED 7.5B ($2.04B), reflecting a<br />

38.4% increase from 2022. This resurgence<br />

underscores Sharjah’s growing<br />

prominence in the regional real estate<br />

landscape.<br />

60 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Taraf Unveils Premium<br />

Residences ‘CELLO’ in<br />

Dubai Real Estate<br />

Taraf, the real estate arm of UAEbased<br />

investment holding group<br />

Yas Holding, has unveiled its<br />

latest project, CELLO, set to offer premium<br />

residences in Dubai’s Jumeirah<br />

Village Circle (JVC). Seeking to redefine<br />

sophisticated living in a well-established<br />

neighbourhood, CELLO Residences by<br />

Taraf feature distinctive architecture<br />

and serene interiors that seamlessly integrate<br />

work, living, and leisure spaces.<br />

The property options range from open<br />

studios to spacious 1- to 3-bedroom<br />

apartments and 4-bedroom penthouses,<br />

emphasising a perfect balance between<br />

functionality and ambience. Ranging<br />

from 430 to 5,000+ square feet, Taraf’s<br />

commitment to detail and comfort<br />

solidifies its presence in JVC, with<br />

optimism for further projects in Dubai<br />

throughout <strong>2024</strong>, as expressed by Low<br />

Ping, Group Chief Executive Officer at<br />

Yas Holding.<br />

Ennismore & Partners Debut Rixos Residences in<br />

Dubai’s Real Estate Market<br />

Ennismore has forged a strategic<br />

alliance with East & West<br />

Properties, Driven Properties,<br />

and Refine Development Management,<br />

heralding a real estate venture named<br />

Rixos Financial Center Road Dubai Residences.<br />

Nestled in Downtown Dubai,<br />

this architectural marvel will soar to<br />

340 metres, encompassing 76 stories of<br />

contemporary sophistication. François<br />

Baudin, Chief Business Officer of Ennismore’s<br />

Immersive Resorts, expressed<br />

the project’s commitment to refined<br />

elegance, inviting residents to partake<br />

in an unparalleled journey of luxury.<br />

The property will boast 260 residences,<br />

featuring one to four-bedroom units and<br />

opulent four and five-bedroom duplex<br />

penthouses. Positioned as more than<br />

just residences, these spaces promise<br />

an elevated luxurious living experience<br />

akin to honoured guests in a world-class<br />

resort in Dubai.<br />

Ras Al Khaimah Unveils $1.3B JW Marriott Branded<br />

Residences<br />

WOW Resorts has launched a<br />

$1.3B branded residence development<br />

in Ras Al Khaimah,<br />

featuring JW Marriott Residences and<br />

JW Marriott Al Marjan Island Resort<br />

on Al Marjan Island. Positioned as<br />

a premium tourism, business, and<br />

investment destination, Al Marjan<br />

Island will host the first JW Marriott<br />

branded residential property in the<br />

GCC. The AED 4.8B ($1.3B) project<br />

is set for handover by 2026 and aims<br />

to redefine coastal living in the UAE<br />

market and the wider region. Anwar<br />

Aman, Co-Founder and co-CEO of WOW<br />

Resorts, expressed excitement for the<br />

venture, hinting at more awe-inspiring<br />

projects to redefine hospitality and<br />

real estate in the thriving UAE market.<br />

Lana Residences Handover Underway: OMNIYAT and Dorchester<br />

Collection in Dubai<br />

OMNIYAT, a prominent Dubai<br />

developer, has initiated the<br />

handover process for The Lana<br />

Residences, a collaboration with<br />

Dorchester Collection, Dubai, marking<br />

a significant milestone in Marasi Bay’s<br />

transformation into an ultra-luxury<br />

waterfront enclave. Nestled in Dubai’s<br />

emerging premium lifestyle hub, these<br />

residences offer direct access to a<br />

187-metre water promenade, connecting<br />

residents to upscale dining and<br />

stylish boutiques. Crafted by Foster<br />

+ Partners and Gilles et Boissier, The<br />

Lana Residences showcase pioneering<br />

architecture and timeless designs, accentuated<br />

by floor-to-ceiling windows<br />

providing panoramic views of the<br />

Burj Khalifa District. With meticulous<br />

attention to detail, the interiors boast<br />

luxurious finishes, oak flooring, and<br />

cutting-edge furnishings. Residents can<br />

indulge in amenities such as a spacious<br />

outdoor pool, a private gym with pilates<br />

and yoga studios, and other world-class<br />

facilities. The project aspires to meticulously<br />

redefine luxury living standards<br />

in Dubai’s dynamic and ever-evolving<br />

urban landscape, setting new benchmarks<br />

for opulence and sophistication<br />

in residential experiences.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 61

Interview<br />

“What I Did Next”: Diverse Stories<br />

Shaping the Middle East<br />

62 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Malak Fouad, Founder of A&T Media, shares her journey in establishing the<br />

‘What I Did Next’ podcast. With diverse guests and authentic storytelling,<br />

the podcast navigates identity, failure, and impact, fostering inclusivity<br />

in the Middle East.<br />

Exclusive to <strong>Finance</strong> <strong>World</strong> Magazine<br />

Q. As the founder of A&T Media,<br />

can you share the vision behind<br />

establishing the company and how it<br />

aligns with your goals in enhancing<br />

communication strategies, particularly<br />

within the financial sector?<br />

I founded A&T Media in my midlate<br />

40s and it’s a venture born from a<br />

blend of my professional experience<br />

and happenstance.<br />

Having spent my professional life in<br />

the communications industry, be it as a<br />

journalist in a variety of publications in<br />

cities like New York, London, and Cairo,<br />

or delving into market research and<br />

entering the world of Public Relations, I<br />

cultivated a rich experience. Eventually,<br />

as I felt settled in my family life and had<br />

some extra hours at hand, I decided to<br />

go back to university. Going back to the<br />

board, I experienced a transformative<br />

journey at the American University in<br />

Cairo (AUC), while pursuing an MA in<br />

Global Affairs. It was during this period<br />

that I discovered podcasts and was<br />

instantly hooked —a captivating, versatile<br />

form of entertainment. I recognized the<br />

immense potential the medium held<br />

and decided to immerse myself in it<br />

upon completing my degree.<br />

Q. In your experience working across<br />

different cultural and linguistic<br />

landscapes, how do you navigate<br />

the nuances of communication to<br />

ensure effective messaging in the<br />

finance industry, where clarity and<br />

precision are paramount?<br />

On ‘What I Did Next’, we delve into<br />

the life journeys and pivot points of<br />

our guests, all of whom either originate<br />

from the Middle East or have a strong<br />

connection to the region.<br />

As a result, our guests so far have<br />

been multilingual, which has added a<br />

layer of richness to our discussions.<br />

The interplay between language and<br />

nuance is a recurring theme explored<br />

extensively on the show, often in dialogue<br />

with esteemed guests such as Hala<br />

Gorani, former CNN anchor.<br />

We’ve also had the chance to speak to<br />

many personalities from the business and<br />

finance world, such as Fadi Ghandour,<br />

Founder of Aramex, and Ahmed Hikal,<br />

Founder of Citadel Capital. Clarity and<br />

precision are at the forefront of their<br />

communication style, and this comes<br />

through on the show as well, both in<br />

terms of their personal journeys, but<br />

also how they’ve navigated their specific<br />

industries and conquered them.<br />

Q. As the founder, how do you see<br />

the future of ‘What I Did Next’<br />

podcast evolving, and are there<br />

specific guests or topics you’re<br />

excited to explore in upcoming<br />

seasons?<br />

With two seasons annually, each<br />

comprising eight episodes, ‘What I<br />

Did Next’ Podcast continues to evolve<br />

dynamically. Central to this evolution is<br />

our ability to consistently attract highcalibre<br />

guests from diverse backgrounds<br />

and industries across the region. These<br />

individuals, renowned for their leadership<br />

and resilience, graciously share their<br />

compelling life experiences with our<br />

audience.<br />

The essence of our show lies in<br />

exploring some pivotal moments of our<br />

guests’ lives, and how they navigated<br />

through them. The show has continued<br />

to evolve each season in terms of our<br />

guests, the type of journeys they’ve<br />

had, the industries they’re from, and<br />

our ability to showcase pioneers from<br />

across the region, and explore both their<br />

personal and professional pivots. For<br />

instance, in the current season, we’re<br />

exploring the idea of legacy, and how<br />

each of our guests is thinking about<br />

the impact they’re leaving behind for<br />

the next generation.<br />

We’ve also evolved our content model<br />

to complement our core episodes, with<br />

video clips, shorts and teasers, email<br />

newsletters and a subscribers’ club<br />

with bonus content with each of our<br />

guests, so that we continue to engage<br />

with our community.<br />

We have been fortunate to host leaders<br />

from the worlds of art, culture, business,<br />

finance, sustainability, media, entertainment<br />

and more on our podcast so far. Looking<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 63

Interview<br />

ahead, we are enthusiastic about the<br />

continued growth and refinement of<br />

the podcast and keen to explore a<br />

diverse range of guests and topics,<br />

each contributing to the rich tapestry<br />

of human experiences.<br />

Q. The podcast has featured individuals<br />

with diverse backgrounds and<br />

experiences. How do you believe<br />

this diversity of voices contributes<br />

to the overall impact and relevance<br />

of “What I Did Next”?<br />

The heart of our podcast is centred on<br />

diversity and inclusivity in storytelling.<br />

As mentioned earlier, each season of<br />

‘What I Did Next’ comprises a curated<br />

selection of eight episodes, featuring<br />

individuals from varied industries,<br />

nationalities, and life stages. This allows<br />

for a mix of stories and experiences<br />

that our audience has grown to love.<br />

For instance, within a single season,<br />

we may feature renowned figures such<br />

as actor Ramy Youssef, Fares Akkad<br />

(Regional Director of META), and<br />

Salma El Wardany (BBC radio host),<br />

representing a diverse spectrum of<br />

backgrounds and accomplishments.<br />

The other ‘magic’ ingredient is to mix<br />

well-known names with people who are<br />

less known to the wider public. Some<br />

of the less well-known stories have<br />

resonated the most with audiences. It<br />

is this blend of familiar and unfamiliar<br />

voices that infuses our podcast with<br />

relevance and impact, offering a holistic<br />

portrayal of the human experience.<br />

Moreover, on a broader scale, ‘What I<br />

Did Next’ is a platform to bring positive<br />

narratives from our region to a global<br />

audience. The podcast endeavours to<br />

showcase the remarkable achievements<br />

and inspiring endeavours of individuals<br />

within the region. By celebrating diverse<br />

voices and highlighting the achievements<br />

of extraordinary role models, we aim to<br />

foster a more nuanced and appreciative<br />

understanding of the Middle East, ultimately<br />

contributing to greater cross-cultural<br />

dialogue and empathy.<br />

Q. As a pioneer in the male-dominated<br />

podcast landscape, what challenges<br />

have you faced in establishing and<br />

leading one of the few female-led,<br />

English-language podcasts in the<br />

Middle East, and how do you believe<br />

this unique perspective contributes<br />

to the podcast’s success?<br />

Navigating the male-dominated podcast<br />

landscape in the Middle East can present<br />

its own set of unique challenges. However,<br />

I firmly believe that by amplifying diverse<br />

voices and perspectives, we have been<br />

able to cultivate a dynamic and inclusive<br />

platform that resonates with listeners<br />

across the region.<br />

The primary driver for A&T Media has<br />

been to provide the highest production<br />

quality within the English language space.<br />

This aspiration has been a driving force<br />

behind my endeavours and underscores<br />

my dedication to filling a notable gap<br />

in the market.<br />

I have also inherited traits of curiosity,<br />

empathy, and a relentless pursuit of<br />

truth from my journalism days and<br />

this has been instrumental in creating<br />

an empowering environment for the<br />

podcast’s guests.<br />

Q. How do you perceive the current<br />

level of acceptance and engagement of<br />

the general public towards podcasts<br />

focusing on business and finance,<br />

and how does ‘What I Did Next’<br />

strive to influence and enhance<br />

this acceptance in the Middle East?<br />

Over the last three years, we have<br />

witnessed an increasing appetite for<br />

podcasts in the Middle East, which<br />

underscores a notable shift in consumer<br />

preferences, with Saudi Arabia, the UAE,<br />

and Egypt emerging as key markets. We<br />

also believe that the lines are not strict<br />

regarding content – people consume all<br />

types of content and are excited to gain<br />

perspectives and insights from outside<br />

their usual spheres of influence. Where<br />

‘What I Did Next’ stands out is that we<br />

host guests from across the region, and<br />

across a variety of industries.<br />

While audiences could start listening<br />

to us from a business perspective with<br />

guests like Ahmed Alfi or Kito de Boer,<br />

at the same time, they can also gain<br />

so much from the journeys of Mounaz<br />

and Aya Abdel Raouf, and how they<br />

launched the luxury brand Okhtein, or<br />

gain fantastic regional insights from the<br />

conversation with fashion entrepreneur<br />

Imran Amed. This is a unique mix that<br />

the podcast continues to provide our<br />

listeners, and we believe this creates<br />

a great space for our audience to be<br />

inspired and entertained.<br />

As podcasts continue to gain traction<br />

as a preferred source of entertainment<br />

and information, we are delighted that<br />

‘What I Did Next’ has already established<br />

itself, after six successful seasons and<br />

more than fifty episodes, as a leader<br />

in the field offering premium content,<br />

high-quality production and impactful<br />

conversations.<br />

64 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

21 - 23 MAY <strong>2024</strong><br />

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Funding and Investment<br />

source: pexels.com<br />

The main purpose of qualifying investment funds is not to avoid Corporate Tax.<br />

Investment Fund<br />

Taxation and the<br />

Path to Corporate Tax<br />

Exemption in the UAE<br />

A well-informed approach to tax considerations is<br />

pivotal to unlocking the full potential of investment<br />

opportunities.<br />

In the dynamic landscape of global finance,<br />

investment funds play a pivotal role in<br />

providing investors with access to diversified<br />

portfolios, managed by professionals<br />

who navigate financial markets with a<br />

predefined strategy. The introduction<br />

of a 9% corporate tax in the UAE has<br />

prompted a closer examination of the<br />

taxation landscape for investment funds.<br />

Cabinet Decision No. 81 of 2023 brings<br />

essential clarity to the conditions for<br />

Qualifying Investment Funds, particularly<br />

focusing on the potential for corporate<br />

tax exemption. This article explores the<br />

insights surrounding the taxation of investment<br />

funds in the UAE, shedding light<br />

on the conditions and opportunities for<br />

funds, including Real Estate Investment<br />

Trusts (REITs), to secure corporate tax<br />

exemptions.<br />

66 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

An investment fund is a pooled<br />

vehicle that collects money from<br />

multiple investors to collectively<br />

invest in a diversified portfolio of financial<br />

instruments, such as stocks, bonds, real<br />

estate, or other securities. These funds are<br />

managed by professional fund managers<br />

or investment firms, who make decisions<br />

on behalf of the fund’s investors based<br />

on a predefined investment strategy.<br />

The primary goal of an investment fund<br />

is to provide investors with exposure<br />

to a diversified portfolio, allowing them<br />

to benefit from economies of scale and<br />

professional management expertise.<br />

Investment fund taxation encompasses<br />

the rules governing the tax treatment of<br />

income, gains, and transactions associated<br />

with investment funds. These regulations<br />

vary based on factors such as the fund’s<br />

structure, location, and the nature of<br />

its assets. Typically, investment funds<br />

generate income through dividends,<br />

interest, or capital gains, and the tax<br />

implications extend to both the fund<br />

level and the investors.<br />

The UAE’s introduction of Corporate<br />

Tax has significantly influenced businesses<br />

and has had a profound impact<br />

on investment funding. Cabinet Decision<br />

No. 81 of 2023, which outlines the Conditions<br />

for Qualifying Investment Funds<br />

under Federal Decree-Law No. 47 of 2022<br />

on the Taxation of Corporations and<br />

Businesses, has brought added clarity to<br />

the regulatory framework surrounding<br />

investment funds, including Real Estate<br />

Investment Trusts (REITs).<br />

The Decision offers guidance on whether<br />

these funds can seek exemption from UAE<br />

corporate tax, subject to the discretion<br />

of the UAE tax authority. Notably, this<br />

Decision applies universally to all investment<br />

funds, irrespective of their place<br />

of incorporation, be it in the Abu Dhabi<br />

Global Market (ADGM) or the Dubai<br />

International Financial Centre (DIFC).<br />

Conditions for seeking an exemption<br />

from corporate tax, as outlined in Article<br />

10(1) of Federal Decree-Law No. 47 of<br />

2022 on the Taxation of Corporations<br />

and Businesses (“CT Law”), require an<br />

investment fund to apply to the Federal<br />

Tax Authority (“FTA”) as a Qualifying<br />

Investment Fund.<br />

The eligibility criteria include the investment<br />

fund or its manager being under<br />

the regulatory oversight of a competent<br />

authority in the UAE or a recognized<br />

foreign competent authority. Additionally,<br />

the interests in the investment fund<br />

should be traded on a licensed stock<br />

exchange in the UAE or a Recognized<br />

Stock Exchange outside the UAE, and<br />

the primary purpose of the fund should<br />

not be tax avoidance.<br />

Further clarifying Article 10, the Decision<br />

introduces additional conditions<br />

for an investment fund (with separate<br />

conditions for a REIT) to qualify for<br />

corporate tax exemption. These include<br />

the investment fund predominantly engaging<br />

in Investment Business activities,<br />

defined as issuing investment interests<br />

for fund-raising or pooling investor funds,<br />

with any other activities being ancillary<br />

and not surpassing 5% of its total annual<br />

revenue. Additionally, ownership interests<br />

in the fund held by a single investor and<br />

its Related Parties should not exceed a<br />

specified limit.<br />

This Cabinet<br />

Decision balances<br />

the UAE remaining<br />

competitive as an<br />

investment hub<br />

while maintaining<br />

the integrity of<br />

the Corporate Tax<br />

system.”<br />

HE Younis Haji Al Khoori<br />

Ownership interests in the investment<br />

fund are subject to specific conditions,<br />

with the percentage determined based<br />

on the number of investors involved. If<br />

the fund has less than ten investors, a<br />

maximum ownership interest of 30% is<br />

allowed, while for funds with ten or more<br />

investors, the permissible ownership<br />

interest extends to 50%. Notably, this<br />

ownership condition is not applicable<br />

during the initial two financial years<br />

of the investment fund, provided there<br />

is ample evidence demonstrating the<br />

investors’ intent to meet these criteria<br />

post this period.<br />

In addition to ownership stipulations,<br />

the investment fund is required to be<br />

managed or advised by an Investment<br />

Manager employing a minimum of three<br />

investment professionals. Furthermore,<br />

the condition specifies that investors<br />

should not exert control over the dayto-day<br />

management of the investment<br />

fund, emphasising the separation between<br />

investors and operational management<br />

for compliance with the regulatory<br />

framework.<br />

For a Real Estate Investment Trust<br />

(REIT) seeking exemption from Corporate<br />

Tax under Article 10(1) of the CT Law,<br />

certain qualifying criteria must be met,<br />

and an application can be submitted to<br />

the Federal Tax Authority. The REIT must<br />

demonstrate that the value of its real<br />

estate assets, excluding land, surpasses<br />

AED 100,000,000.<br />

Additionally, at least 20% of the REIT’s<br />

share capital should either be listed on a<br />

Recognized Stock Exchange or be directly<br />

wholly owned by two or more institutional<br />

investors, with a crucial stipulation that at<br />

least two of these institutional investors<br />

must not be Related Parties.<br />

Furthermore, the REIT must maintain<br />

an average Real Estate Asset Percentage<br />

of at least 70% during either the relevant<br />

Gregorian calendar year or the pertinent<br />

12-month period covered by the financial<br />

statements. These conditions collectively<br />

aim to ensure that qualifying REITs contributing<br />

significantly to the real estate<br />

sector can benefit from corporate tax<br />

exemptions following the regulatory<br />

framework.<br />

Using these strategic insights, investors<br />

can position themselves to make<br />

informed decisions and capitalise on<br />

opportunities within the evolving tax<br />

framework of the UAE.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 67

Funding and Investment News<br />

Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala<br />

invests in India’s<br />

Manipal Health<br />

Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment<br />

Company is extending<br />

its reach in India, investing in<br />

Manipal Health Enterprises as part of<br />

its strategic expansion in the country.<br />

Manipal Health, established by Ranjan<br />

Pai in 1991, operates over 30 hospitals<br />

across India, catering to approximately<br />

six million patients annually. With a<br />

workforce exceeding 5,000 doctors,<br />

it stands as India’s second-largest<br />

hospital chain in terms of bed capacity.<br />

Although Mubadala did not disclose<br />

the stake size or transaction value, it<br />

noted that Temasek, a Singapore-based<br />

global investment company, will maintain<br />

a majority stake in Manipal. The<br />

investment aligns with the escalating<br />

demand for high-quality healthcare in<br />

India, with the hospital sector projected<br />

to grow over 18% annually, reaching<br />

18.34T rupees ($220.99B) by the 2027<br />

financial year, according to Invest India.<br />

Qatar Free Zones:<br />

Investment Surges to<br />

$1.37B, says Chairman<br />

Qatar Free Zones (QFZ) has garnered<br />

substantial investment,<br />

reaching approximately QR<br />

5B, according to HE Dr Ahmad bin<br />

Mohammed Al Sayed, Chairman of<br />

QFZ. Hosting nearly 500 companies<br />

across diverse sectors, discussions<br />

around collaboration and support for<br />

the national economy took place during<br />

a meeting with a delegation from the<br />

Qatar Chamber. The delegation, led by<br />

HE Mohamed bin Ahmed bin Twar Al<br />

Kuwari, explored investment benefits<br />

and opportunities at the Ras Bufontas<br />

Free Zone. Emphasising QFZ’s commitment<br />

to fostering collaboration with<br />

the Qatari private sector, the Chairman<br />

highlighted ongoing efforts to facilitate<br />

and encourage investors, reinforcing<br />

the strategic role of free zones in economic<br />

development. These persistent<br />

efforts underscore the crucial role of<br />

free zones in contributing significantly<br />

to the economic development of the<br />

nation, positioning them as key drivers<br />

of sustainable growth and prosperity.<br />

India and UAE Elevate Economic Ties Through<br />

New Bilateral Investment Treaty<br />

During the upcoming visit on<br />

February 13-14, Prime Minister<br />

Narendra Modi is set to strengthen<br />

economic ties between India and the<br />

UAE by signing a Bilateral Investment<br />

Treaty (BIT) with President Mohammed<br />

bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The UAE<br />

stands as the third-largest source of<br />

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into<br />

India and ranks seventh among India’s<br />

trade partners. This BIT is expected<br />

to facilitate significant investments<br />

from UAE sovereign wealth funds,<br />

including the Abu Dhabi Investment<br />

Authority and Mubadala Investment<br />

Fund, totalling over $1.5T. Additionally,<br />

the collaboration extends to the Middle-East<br />

Economic Corridor project,<br />

linking Mundra Port in Gujarat to Fujairah<br />

Port in the UAE, providing a new<br />

trade route and reinforcing India-UAE<br />

strategic partnerships in the region.<br />

Aldar Properties: $1.4B for Abu Dhabi Office and<br />

Hospitality Assets<br />

Aldar Properties, Abu Dhabi’s<br />

leading developer, is set to invest<br />

an additional AED 5B ($1.4B)<br />

in the development of income-generating<br />

assets across key destinations<br />

in the city. The phased delivery of<br />

retail, commercial, and hospitality<br />

assets is scheduled between 2025 and<br />

2027, contributing to a 31% increase in<br />

Aldar’s commercial net leasable area.<br />

Notable projects include a 12-storey<br />

office tower on Yas Island, set to be<br />

handed over in 2025, a business park<br />

at Saadiyat Grove on Saadiyat Island<br />

by 2027, and a second Grade A commercial<br />

tower on Al Maryah Island<br />

in collaboration with Mubadala. This<br />

strategic investment reinforces Aldar’s<br />

commitment to enhancing Abu Dhabi’s<br />

real estate landscape.<br />

UAE President Issues Decree Appointing Under<br />

Secretary for Ministry of Investment<br />

President Sheikh Mohamed bin<br />

Zayed Al Nahyan has issued<br />

a Federal Decree naming Mohammed<br />

Abdul Rahman Al Hawi as<br />

the Undersecretary of the Ministry of<br />

Investment. With a rich background<br />

in the investment sector, Al Hawi<br />

previously served as the Director of<br />

Economic Development at the Executive<br />

Council of Dubai and held a<br />

Vice President role at Mubadala. His<br />

seven-year tenure included diverse<br />

positions at the Prime Minister’s Office<br />

and the Executive Office of Dubai,<br />

contributing to his extensive experience.<br />

The appointment reflects the<br />

UAE’s commitment to leveraging seasoned<br />

professionals to drive strategic<br />

initiatives in the realm of investment<br />

and economic development.<br />

68 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Dubai’s Tumodo Secures $35M in Pre-Seed Funding for Travel Platform<br />

Tumodo, the Dubai-based business<br />

travel platform, has successfully<br />

secured $35M in a pre-seed funding<br />

round, co-led by MENA-focused<br />

angel investors. The newly acquired<br />

capital is earmarked for expanding<br />

operations in the UAE market, ongoing<br />

product development, and exploring<br />

new partnerships within the MENA<br />

region, according to a statement from<br />

Tumodo. Additionally, the company<br />

aims to scale its platform to 25 more<br />

countries worldwide by 2026. Tumodo’s<br />

Chief Commercial Officer, Stan Klyuy,<br />

highlighted the company’s commitment<br />

to contributing to the rapid recovery<br />

and technological advancement of the<br />

MENA business travel market, emphasising<br />

their role in optimising travel<br />

expenses and enhancing employee<br />

productivity for clients.<br />

Akkrue Capital Closes First Funding Round in UAE<br />

Akkrue Capital, the UAE-based<br />

digital asset management platform,<br />

has successfully closed<br />

its first funding round, with Luxembourg-based<br />

DHF Capital S.A. leading<br />

the investment. While the specific<br />

funding amount remains undisclosed,<br />

Akkrue Capital intends to utilise the<br />

fresh capital to advance its innovative<br />

financial products and services. The<br />

company aims to continue providing<br />

cutting-edge solutions for businesses,<br />

institutions, banks, and Ultra High Net<br />

Worth (UHNW) individuals, simplifying<br />

their engagement with the dynamic digital<br />

asset landscape. Oliver von Wolff,<br />

Founder and CEO of Akkrue Capital,<br />

emphasised the significance of having<br />

DHF Capital S.A. as a partner, considering<br />

it a substantial endorsement of<br />

the company’s mission in digital finance<br />

asset management.<br />

Future Fund Oman Aims<br />

for Investment Boost<br />

Future Fund Oman is set to enhance<br />

national income sources by<br />

increasing investments and seeking<br />

strategic partnerships to support<br />

projects. With a capital of RO 2B over<br />

five years, the fund will allocate 90% to<br />

new or existing projects, emphasising<br />

sectors like tourism, industry, green<br />

energy, and technology. The remaining<br />

10% will focus on supporting SMEs and<br />

startups. This unprecedented initiative<br />

aims to attract investors with financing<br />

ranging from RO 5M to RO 100M, fostering<br />

economic growth. Noteworthy<br />

financial entities, including Oman<br />

Development Bank, Inma Fund, SME<br />

Authority, Rakiza Fund, and Oman<br />

Technology Fund, are poised to support<br />

aspiring investors within a structured<br />

economic framework.<br />

Nykaa Investment Committee Greenlights $2.5M Investment in UAE’s<br />

Nykaa Beauty<br />

FSN E-Commerce Ventures, the<br />

parent company of Nykaa, disclosed<br />

that its Fundraise & Investment<br />

Committee approved an<br />

investment proposal by Nessa International<br />

Holdings Limited into Nysaa<br />

Beauty LLC, the newly established<br />

multi-branded beauty retail operation<br />

in the UAE. The investment, totalling<br />

$2.5M, is set to be deployed in<br />

one or more tranches. Nessa International<br />

will acquire equity shares of<br />

Nysaa Beauty at AED 1000 per share.<br />

The announcement follows Nykaa’s<br />

strong market performance, reaching<br />

a 52-week high on January 10 at approximately<br />

AED 8.65 per share. The<br />

investment decision reflects Nessa<br />

International’s strategic vision and<br />

confidence in the growth trajectory of<br />

Nysaa Beauty, positioning the company<br />

as a key player in the beauty retail<br />

sector of the UAE.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 69

Digital Assets<br />

Source. Ai gfenerated<br />

BlackRock’s Bitcoin ETF received most of the week’s inflows, amassing $1.6 billion in capital.<br />

Spot Bitcoin ETFs<br />

Granted Approval - What<br />

It Means for the Future<br />

of Cryptocurrency?<br />

Spot ETF approval will impact crypto markets the<br />

way securitization transformed credit markets in<br />

the 1980s - Preston Byrne<br />

The US Securities and Exchange Commission<br />

(SEC) has reached a pivotal<br />

decision by approving the first-ever exchange-traded<br />

funds (ETFs) for spot bitcoin.<br />

This marks a significant moment for<br />

cryptocurrency enthusiasts, who see this<br />

as a catalyst for attracting a wave of new<br />

investors, both retail and institutional, to<br />

the market. The approval of these ETFs<br />

is anticipated to significantly influence<br />

the cryptocurrency landscape, providing<br />

a more accessible entry point for a diverse<br />

range of investors. The article examines<br />

the market response to the SEC’s decision<br />

highlighting its prominence as a catalyst<br />

for attracting a wave of new investors.<br />

Additionally, it analyses the expected<br />

impact of this development on digital<br />

asset investments in the UAE.<br />

70 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

In this groundbreaking move, the SEC<br />

has given the green light for 11 ETFs<br />

to be listed. Notable sponsors include<br />

established industry giants such as Fidelity<br />

and Invesco, as well as newer entrants<br />

like Grayscale and Ark Invest, who are<br />

known for their focus on digital assets.<br />

The diversity in sponsorship underscores<br />

the growing interest and participation<br />

from both traditional financial players<br />

and digitally oriented investment firms.<br />

The approval reflects a growing acceptance<br />

of cryptocurrencies within<br />

mainstream financial markets, signalling<br />

a potential shift in perception and<br />

paving the way for increased adoption<br />

in the future.<br />

The initial funds, operating as tradable<br />

stocks with special tax advantages in the<br />

US, are poised to commence trading,<br />

coinciding with BlackRock’s ringing of<br />

the opening bell at Nasdaq to promote<br />

its iShares Bitcoin Trust. While spot bitcoin<br />

ETFs have been accessible in other<br />

markets, the US approvals are expected<br />

to inaugurate a transformative era for the<br />

widely popular and liquid cryptocurrency.<br />

US institutional and retail investors can<br />

now directly access the coin through<br />

a regulated product, mitigating risks<br />

associated with unregulated exchanges<br />

and lowering costs compared to ETFs<br />

investing in bitcoin futures.<br />

This development is recognized as a<br />

substantial milestone, affirming Bitcoin’s<br />

status as a mainstream investment. Jad<br />

Comair, CEO of Melanion Capital, the<br />

first to launch a bitcoin thematic ETF<br />

in the EU, describes it as opening doors<br />

to Wall Street.<br />

Enthusiasts anticipate that these ETFs<br />

will significantly stimulate demand for<br />

digital assets, although some observers<br />

remain sceptical about the extent of<br />

massive inflows. The launch of the first<br />

bitcoin futures ETF by ProShares garnered<br />

$1B in just two days.<br />

Bitcoin ETF launch triggers the<br />

classic market reaction<br />

The aftermath of the launch can be best<br />

described as a classic “buy the rumour,<br />

sell the fact” scenario. Bitcoin peaked at<br />

$49,000 on the launch day, only to endure<br />

a +15% loss in the subsequent days. The<br />

correction, thus far, has not triggered<br />

any significant technical sell signals but<br />

has left early entrants affected, with all<br />

ETFs experiencing losses during the<br />

initial week of trading.<br />

Two winners have emerged out of<br />

the ten launched – BlackRock’s iShares<br />

Bitcoin Trust and the Fidelity Wise Origin<br />

Bitcoin Fund, attracting the majority of<br />

inflows. However, it’s worth noting that,<br />

rather than being new money, the bulk<br />

of these funds has come from the sale<br />

of Grayscale’s Bitcoin Fund, a Trust that<br />

commenced trading in 2013 before its<br />

recent conversion to an ETF.<br />

Coinbase, known for its safety, security<br />

for investors, and low transaction fees,<br />

has become the custodian for most of the<br />

recently launched ETFs. Its share price<br />

witnessed a more than 400% increase last<br />

year, driven by strong earnings and speculation<br />

about the ETF launch providing a<br />

significant boost in the last two months.<br />

However, leading up to and following<br />

the launch, the share price corrected by<br />

one-third, realising that low-cost ETFs<br />

might pose a threat to eroding Coinbase’s<br />

margins and trading volumes.<br />

This ETF approval<br />

has the potential<br />

to accelerate<br />

market adoption<br />

and foster lasting<br />

momentum.”<br />

Gavin Michael, CEO Bakkt<br />

Prospects of Spot Bitcoin ETFs in<br />

the Middle East<br />

Given the market reaction and the<br />

dynamics observed with the launch of<br />

Bitcoin ETFs globally, the future of a<br />

spot Bitcoin ETF in the UAE could be<br />

influenced by various factors. The initial<br />

surge and subsequent correction witnessed<br />

in Bitcoin prices following ETF<br />

launches indicate the impact of market<br />

speculation and profit-taking behaviour.<br />

UAE has maintained its position as<br />

one of the leading countries in the Middle<br />

East for digital asset investors and<br />

this is going to have multiple benefits.<br />

According to Manhar Garegrat, Country<br />

Head, India & Global Partnerships at<br />

Liminal “The introduction of spot ETF in<br />

the Middle East will have a dual benefit.<br />

First, it will legitimise the digital asset<br />

industry and make it more attractive to<br />

institutional investors. Second, it will<br />

increase liquidity and transparency in<br />

the digital asset markets, making it easier<br />

for investors to participate in the growth<br />

of the industry.”<br />

However, according to a former regulator<br />

associated with a financial free zone<br />

authority in the UAE, the UAE appears<br />

to be among the regions least likely to<br />

immediately endorse Bitcoin ETF-type<br />

products.<br />

He suggested that the UAE/MENA<br />

region is not currently conducive to the<br />

prompt introduction of a spot Bitcoin<br />

ETF. The key factors mentioned include<br />

the need for sufficient market liquidity<br />

from traditional finance players and the<br />

issue of connectivity with global markets.<br />

The emphasis on connectivity with<br />

traditional finance players suggests that<br />

the success of a spot Bitcoin ETF in the<br />

UAE depends on attracting interest and<br />

participation from established financial<br />

institutions. Additionally, the challenges<br />

related to establishing links and the<br />

associated costs make it a complex endeavour,<br />

especially if the aim is to offer<br />

a single product without a broader suite<br />

to attract traditional finance (TradFi)<br />

players.<br />

The UAE has consistently embraced<br />

innovation and advancement, earning<br />

recognition for its strategic and futuristic<br />

approach. Although the adoption of a<br />

spot Bitcoin ETF holds several potential<br />

benefits, it is currently premature to<br />

assess its impact on the country’s digital<br />

assets market.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 71

Scan Here to Visit Website

Corporate Results<br />

Saudi Arabia’s Almarai<br />

Q4’23 Net Profit: 4%<br />

Increase<br />

Saudi Arabia’s Almarai, one of the<br />

largest dairy companies in the Middle<br />

East, announced a 4% increase in fourthquarter<br />

net profit, driven by higher<br />

revenue primarily from its poultry and<br />

dairy sectors. The net profit, attributable<br />

to shareholders after zakat and tax,<br />

reached 370.72M Saudi Riyals ($98.85M)<br />

for the three months ending December<br />

31, as reported in a filing to the Saudi<br />

Stock Exchange Tadawul. The boost<br />

in net profit was attributed to a rise<br />

in operating profit, fuelled by revenue<br />

growth, stabilised commodity costs,<br />

and efficient management of operating<br />

expenses. The company noted positive<br />

performance in its core GCC markets,<br />

particularly Saudi Arabia.<br />

Mashreq<br />

Q4’23 Net Profit: AED 2.8B<br />

Mashreq, Dubai’s third-largest lender,<br />

reported a substantial surge in<br />

fourth-quarter profit, reaching AED<br />

2.8B ($762M), more than doubling<br />

from AED 1.1B in the previous year.<br />

The notable increase was attributed<br />

to a boost in net interest income and<br />

income from Islamic financing, rising<br />

almost 41% annually to AED 2B.<br />

Additionally, income from insurance,<br />

foreign exchange, and other sources<br />

experienced a remarkable 116%<br />

year-on-year growth, reaching AED<br />

541M. The bank’s impressive financial<br />

performance reflects the ongoing economic<br />

momentum in the UAE. Notably,<br />

Mashreq’s full-year profit also more than<br />

doubled, reaching a record AED 8.6B,<br />

a significant increase from AED 3.7B<br />

in the corresponding period of 2022.<br />

Adnoc Distribution<br />

Q4’23 Net Profit: AED 677M<br />

Adnoc Distribution, the UAE’s one of<br />

the largest fuel and convenience retailers,<br />

reported a substantial year-onyear<br />

increase in fourth-quarter profit,<br />

reaching AED 677M ($184.3M). This<br />

surge was attributed to a significant<br />

rise in retail fuel volumes sold. The<br />

company disclosed this information<br />

in a statement to the Abu Dhabi Securities<br />

Exchange, where its shares are<br />

listed. The revenue for the reporting<br />

period witnessed a robust annual<br />

growth of nearly 17%, reaching AED<br />

9.56B. The stellar performance in 2023,<br />

marked by a record EBITDA of $1B, is<br />

described by CEO Bader Al Lamki as a<br />

“remarkable and transformative year.”<br />

Furthermore, Adnoc Distribution’s<br />

board has greenlit a new five-year<br />

strategy for <strong>2024</strong>-2028.<br />

Emaar<br />

FY’23 Net Profit: AED 11.6B<br />

Emaar Properties concluded a remarkable<br />

2023 marked by robust sales<br />

growth, a substantial surge in profitability,<br />

and noteworthy progress<br />

in recurring revenue segments. The<br />

Dubai-based developer achieved a 7%<br />

rise in revenues, reaching AED 26.7B<br />

($7.3B), and an impressive surge in<br />

net profit, totalling AED 11.6B ($3.2B)<br />

compared to 2022. The property sales<br />

sector thrived with group property sales<br />

reaching AED 40.3B ($11B), reflecting<br />

a notable 15% year-over-year growth,<br />

supported by 27 new project launches<br />

in the UAE. Operational efficiency<br />

and improved margins were evident<br />

by an increase in EBITDA to AED 16B<br />

($4.4B). Recurring revenue segments,<br />

including malls, hospitality, leisure,<br />

and entertainment, experienced a robust<br />

26% growth to AED 9.2B ($2.5B),<br />

constituting over 34% of Emaar’s total<br />

revenue.<br />


Q4’23 Net Profit:<br />

AED 430.9M<br />

The National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah<br />

(RAKBank) revealed a notable surge in<br />

its fourth-quarter net profit, propelled<br />

by increased interest and non-interest<br />

income. The bank reported a net profit<br />

after tax of AED 430.9M ($117.32M) for<br />

the October-December period. Operating<br />

income experienced a robust nearly<br />

15% increase, exceeding AED 1B in the<br />

September quarter. RAKBank’s full-year<br />

net profit soared to nearly AED 1.8B,<br />

with operating income rising approximately<br />

to surpass AED 4.4B during<br />

the same period. The bank attributed<br />

its 2023 success to factors such as a<br />

34% growth in net interest income to<br />

AED 3.3B and robust fee income of<br />

AED 1.1B, reflecting a 17.8% increase.<br />

RAKBank’s total assets reached AED<br />

74B in December, compared to AED<br />

66.3B the previous year.<br />

Borouge<br />

Q4’23 Net Profit: 17%<br />

Increase<br />

Borouge, the joint venture between<br />

Adnoc and Borealis, reported a substantial<br />

nearly 17% annual increase in<br />

its fourth-quarter net profit, attributed<br />

to reduced costs and expenses. The<br />

net profit attributable to owners of the<br />

company for the three months ending<br />

December reached $285M. Cost of sales<br />

for the period decreased by 11% YoY to<br />

$896M, while general and administrative<br />

expenses and selling and distribution<br />

expenses saw declines of 15% and 33%,<br />

totalling $50M and $100M respectively.<br />

Despite a 6% annual decline in revenue<br />

to $1.5B due to “weaker global demand,”<br />

Borouge continues to be a key player<br />

in the petrochemical industry, providing<br />

polyolefin solutions across various sectors<br />

globally.<br />

74 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

International Holding<br />

Company (IHC)<br />

FY’23 Net Profit: AED 32.75B<br />

Abu Dhabi’s International Holding Company<br />

(IHC) announced its preliminary<br />

unaudited financial results for 2023,<br />

revealing a year marked by remarkable<br />

growth and strategic expansion. The<br />

group experienced an impressive yearon-year<br />

surge in preliminary revenue,<br />

totalling AED 60.09B ($16.4B), attributed<br />

to strategic acquisitions and robust<br />

performance in existing businesses.<br />

Despite market challenges, the net<br />

profit remained strong at AED 32.75B<br />

($8.9B), and earnings per share more<br />

than doubled to AED 12.36 ($3.40),<br />

underscoring IHC’s profitability and<br />

value creation for shareholders. Under<br />

the leadership of Vice Chairman and<br />

Managing Director Syed Basar Shueb,<br />

the company emphasised its success<br />

to diversified portfolio. Strategic acquisitions<br />

have also positioned IHC<br />

for sustained growth.<br />

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank<br />

Q4’23 Net Profit: AED 1.5B<br />

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), the<br />

largest Sharia-compliant lender in the<br />

emirate, reported a noteworthy yearon-year<br />

increase in net profit for the<br />

fourth quarter of the previous year,<br />

propelled by heightened revenue and<br />

fee income. The bank’s net profit after<br />

zakat and tax for the three months<br />

ending December surpassed AED<br />

1.5B ($408.7M). Gross revenue from<br />

funds during this period rose by an<br />

impressive 33%, totalling nearly AED<br />

2.6B. ADIB achieved remarkable fullyear<br />

results, with a surge in net profit<br />

to a record AED 5.25B, while revenue<br />

experienced a substantial year-on-year<br />

increase, surpassing AED 9.2B. The<br />

bank’s chairman, Jawaan Al Khaili,<br />

highlighted ADIB’s exceptional performance,<br />

surpassing the AED 5B net<br />

profit milestone in 2023.<br />

Abu Dhabi Commercial<br />

Bank<br />

Q4’23 Net Profit: 38%<br />

Increase<br />

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank reported<br />

a robust 38% increase in fourth-quarter<br />

profit, surpassing analyst expectations.<br />

The bank attributed this success to<br />

elevated interest and financing income,<br />

along with a one-off gain from selling its<br />

property unit. Net profit for the three<br />

months ending December 31 reached<br />

AED 2.45B ($667.14M), up from AED<br />

1.78B a year ago, exceeding the average<br />

forecast of AED 1.97B by analysts.<br />

ADCB proposed a cash dividend of 0.56<br />

dirhams per share for the entire 2023,<br />

a notable increase from the previous<br />

year’s cash and stock payout. The bank’s<br />

strategic divestment in Abu Dhabi<br />

Commercial Properties contributed to<br />

a net gain of AED 490M, showcasing<br />

its financial acumen. Additionally,<br />

ADCB’s robust retail business, marked<br />

by increased disbursements in personal<br />

loans, mortgages, and auto loans,<br />

contributed to its stellar performance.<br />

Emirates Integrated Telecommunications<br />

Company<br />

PJSC<br />

Q4’23 Net Profit: AED 1.67B<br />

Emirates Integrated Telecommunications<br />

Company PJSC disclosed its Q4<br />

and full-year 2023 financial results,<br />

indicating a 6.9% growth in full-year<br />

revenues to AED 13.64B. The notable<br />

expansion reflects sustained demand<br />

for mobile services and robust growth<br />

in postpaid and fixed services. Full-year<br />

EBITDA surged by 12.8% to AED 5.80B,<br />

showcasing impressive top-line growth,<br />

margin expansion, and disciplined cost<br />

management. The full-year Net Profit<br />

reached an outstanding AED 1.67B,<br />

marking a significant YoY increase.<br />

Full-year Capex remained stable at AED<br />

2.2B, and Operating Free Cash Flow<br />

for the year increased to AED 3.6B.<br />

e&<br />

FY’23 Net Profit: AED 10.3B<br />

In its fiscal year 2023 financial results,<br />

e& revealed a record consolidated<br />

net profit of AED 10.3B, showcasing<br />

a 3% YoY growth. Emphasising value<br />

creation for shareholders, the Board<br />

proposes a dividend of AED 0.40 per<br />

share for H2 2023, totalling AED 0.80<br />

per share for FY2023. The board recommends<br />

a new progressive dividend<br />

policy, incrementing by 3 fils annually<br />

from <strong>2024</strong>, reaching 89 fils per share<br />

by FY2026, subject to shareholder approval.<br />

Consolidated revenues grew by<br />

8.3% YoY, reaching AED 53.8B, driven<br />

by successful business transformation<br />

and diversified revenue streams. Consolidated<br />

EBITDA rose by 3.7% YoY to<br />

AED 26.1B, resulting in a robust EBIT-<br />

DA margin of 49%. e& UAE reported a<br />

substantial increase in its subscriber<br />

base, exceeding 14 million, marking a<br />

3% YoY growth.<br />

Emirates NBD<br />

Q4’23 Net Profit: 3% Increase<br />

Emirates NBD, one of Dubai’s largest<br />

lenders, reported a 3% increase in<br />

fourth-quarter net profit, reaching AED<br />

4B ($1.1B), driven by sustained economic<br />

momentum in the UAE and the<br />

wider MENA region. The bank’s diversified<br />

business model contributed to a 5%<br />

annual growth in total quarterly income,<br />

amounting to AED 10.3B. Net interest<br />

income rose by 2% year-on-year to AED<br />

7.8B, while non-funded income surged<br />

by an impressive 18%, totalling AED 2.5B<br />

for the three months. Sheikh Ahmed bin<br />

Saeed, Chairman of Emirates NBD, attributed<br />

the rise in quarterly net profit to a<br />

“healthy regional economy” and success<br />

of the bank’s diversified business model<br />

amid global headwinds.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 75

Sports as a Business<br />

Source: SRJ Press Release<br />

The Saudi sports market is expected to grow by 12.22% (2022-2027), reaching US$4.24 million in 2027.<br />

Saudi Sports Market:<br />

Sportswashing or<br />

the Dawn of New<br />

Investment Frontiers?<br />

Saudi Arabia’s strides in elevating its nonoil<br />

GDP reflect a progressive vision that<br />

transcends the boundaries of sportswashing.<br />

The Saudi sports market has garnered<br />

significant attention in recent years, raising<br />

questions about the motives behind its<br />

rapid expansion. On one hand, there’s a<br />

surge of investment in sports, from acquiring<br />

football clubs to hosting major<br />

international events. On the other hand,<br />

concerns linger about sportswashing, a<br />

term referring to the use of sports investments<br />

to enhance a country’s image on<br />

the global stage. The Kingdom of Saudi<br />

Arabia’s remarkable strides in diversifying<br />

its sports sector deserve a closer look to<br />

discern the authenticity of its intentions,<br />

moving beyond the term ‘sportswashing.’<br />

This article explores various initiatives<br />

spearheaded by the Saudi Government<br />

to foster sports investments within the<br />

country, offering an analysis of its current<br />

global standing.<br />

76 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has<br />

swiftly emerged as a significant participant<br />

in the global sports arena,<br />

investing substantial sums in various<br />

high-profile deals. Saudi authorities assert<br />

that these government expenditures<br />

are a component of a strategy aimed at<br />

broadening the nation’s economy beyond<br />

petroleum. However, critics argue that<br />

Saudi’s motives involve utilising sports<br />

to elevate its international standing and<br />

mitigate concerns regarding its human<br />

rights record.<br />

Saudi Arabia’s investments in sports,<br />

including potential deals with the Professional<br />

Golf Association (PGA) Tour and<br />

significant spending on recruiting soccer<br />

stars and tourism ambassadors, have<br />

triggered accusations of “sportswashing”<br />

– an attempt to enhance its global image<br />

through sports.<br />

In 2018, the Saudi sports ministry<br />

marked the kingdom’s initial major<br />

foray into foreign sports investments by<br />

signing a decade-long contract to host<br />

<strong>World</strong> Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)<br />

events. Valued at a reported $100M<br />

annually, approximately 10 percent of<br />

WWE’s yearly revenue, this deal set the<br />

stage. Subsequently, Saudi Arabia spared<br />

no expense in hosting events spanning<br />

boxing, tennis, horse racing, and Formula<br />

1. Additionally, it has funded international<br />

golf competitions and acquired<br />

interests in a Formula 1 franchise and<br />

an English football team, with the latter<br />

reflecting an investment in the nation’s<br />

most popular sport.<br />

The kingdom’s recent investments<br />

have been orchestrated through its $650B<br />

Public Investment Fund (PIF), currently<br />

the world’s fifth-largest sovereign wealth<br />

fund. Noteworthy acquisitions by the kingdom<br />

include Newcastle United, a top-tier<br />

professional football team in England; LIV<br />

Golf, an international competitor turned<br />

partner to the U.S-based PGA Tour, the<br />

premier competitive body in golf; and<br />

stakes in four teams within the Saudi<br />

football league. This league has attracted<br />

global stars with exceptionally lucrative<br />

contracts. Moreover, Riyadh is navigating<br />

a shifting “middle power” geopolitical<br />

landscape, with ongoing negotiations<br />

around the PGA/LIV merger, extending<br />

past the December 31, 2023 deadline.<br />

These sports investments align with<br />

the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan, aiming<br />

to diversify the economy, generate private<br />

sector jobs for Saudis, and secure<br />

a sustainable future post-oil. Crown<br />

Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud<br />

(MBS) is driven to achieve Vision 2030’s<br />

ambitious goals, emphasising metrics and<br />

performance. Apart from these impressive<br />

investments in the sports sector, it<br />

is noteworthy to mention the initiatives<br />

taken by the government to boost the<br />

country’s economy through sports.<br />

Saudi Arabia’s<br />

sports marketing<br />

boom aligns<br />

with tourism,<br />

technology, and<br />

entertainment<br />

growth.<br />

Abdulrahman Saud, CEO - Bassmat<br />

The Sports for All (SFA) initiative,<br />

launched in 2018, is integral to Vision<br />

2030’s sports-related targets. SFA aims<br />

to promote sports participation across<br />

all age groups, emphasising inclusivity<br />

and breaking gender stereotypes. The<br />

goal is to have 40 percent of the Saudi<br />

population active by 2030. Prince Khaled<br />

bin Alwaleed, SFA President, underscores<br />

these objectives, emphasising the broader<br />

health and community benefits associated<br />

with increased sports engagement.<br />

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia’s Public<br />

Investment Fund (PIF) officially launched<br />

SRJ Sports Investments, a significant<br />

move aimed at advancing the sports<br />

landscape in the Kingdom and the wider<br />

Middle East and North Africa (MENA)<br />

region, as reported by the Saudi Press<br />

Agency (SPA).<br />

SRJ Sports Investments strategically<br />

positions itself to catalyse the sports sector’s<br />

growth by acquiring and generating<br />

new intellectual property (IP) for sports<br />

events, securing commercial rights for<br />

prestigious sporting competitions, and<br />

organising major international events<br />

within the Kingdom.<br />

A central objective for SRJ Sports<br />

Investments is to enhance engagement<br />

with sports enthusiasts by exploring<br />

unique fan-focused activities. The company<br />

aims to delve into transformative<br />

sports technology solutions, contributing<br />

to Saudi Arabia’s aspirations to become a<br />

global hub for sports and entertainment.<br />

The establishment of SRJ Sports<br />

Investments aligns with this vision,<br />

aiming to drive financial growth, foster<br />

partnerships, and position Saudi Arabia<br />

as a global hub for sports and entertainment.<br />

As geopolitical dynamics evolve,<br />

understanding these developments is<br />

crucial for policymakers and businesses,<br />

especially with ongoing negotiations in the<br />

sports industry extending beyond 2023.<br />

The boost in sports investments by<br />

Saudi Arabia, led by the Public Investment<br />

Fund (PIF), is a complex and<br />

multifaceted strategy. Despite facing<br />

criticisms of “sportswashing” to enhance<br />

its international image amid human<br />

rights concerns, the kingdom emphasises<br />

the importance of these initiatives in<br />

realising the Vision 2030 goals for economic<br />

diversification. As Saudi Arabia<br />

strives to improve its global reputation<br />

through broader economic and tourism<br />

reforms, labelling these actions solely<br />

as sportswashing may oversimplify the<br />

kingdom’s endeavours. The recruitment<br />

of top sports talent and the introduction<br />

of initiatives like LIV Golf showcase a<br />

nuanced and comprehensive approach<br />

to sports investments, challenging a<br />

simplistic characterization of the motives<br />

behind these strategic moves.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 77

Sports News<br />

Dubai Launches First Football League for Inmates in Penal Institutions<br />

The Dubai Sports Council (DSC)<br />

and Dubai Police have jointly<br />

launched the General League<br />

for Inmates, marking the region’s first<br />

football league dedicated to individuals<br />

in penal and correctional institutions.<br />

Running from February 7 to May 31,<br />

the initiative involves 14 football teams<br />

competing in a six-six league system,<br />

to promote physical exercise within<br />

penal and detention facilities. The announcement<br />

was made during a press<br />

conference at the Dubai Sports Council<br />

headquarters, attended by Nasser Aman<br />

Al Rahma, Assistant Secretary-General<br />

of the Dubai Sports Council, Brigadier<br />

Marwan Julfar of Dubai Police, and<br />

Salem Al Karbi, Chairman of the event<br />

organising committee. Nasser Aman Al<br />

Rahma emphasised the initiative’s role<br />

as a pioneering community effort and<br />

highlighted the strategic cooperation<br />

between the Dubai Sports Council and<br />

Dubai Police in promoting sports for<br />

its various societal benefits.<br />

Abu Dhabi to Host Global<br />

Triathlon Opener <strong>2024</strong><br />

Abu Dhabi Sports Council is set<br />

to host the inaugural event<br />

of the <strong>2024</strong> <strong>World</strong> Triathlon<br />

Championship Series from <strong>March</strong> 8-9.<br />

Building on the success of hosting the<br />

Championship Finals in 2022, Abu Dhabi<br />

continues its nine-year tradition as the<br />

MENA region’s sole WTC event before<br />

the series spans Yokohama, Cagliari,<br />

Hamburg, Montreal, and concludes<br />

in Malaga, Spain. The opening round<br />

unfolds at Yas Marina Circuit’s waterways,<br />

tracks, and roads, concluding at<br />

the F1 start line. The event village in<br />

the F1 Pit Lanes, open to the public,<br />

returns with family-friendly attractions.<br />

With 270 elite and para-elite triathletes<br />

competing, the event carries significance<br />

as athletes vie for Olympic or<br />

Paralympic qualifying points ahead of<br />

the Paris Games.<br />

Inaugural Abu Dhabi Run and Ride Happened on<br />

February 18th<br />

Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC)<br />

inaugurated the Abu Dhabi Run<br />

and Ride event on February 18,<br />

<strong>2024</strong>. Accompanying this, the ADSC<br />

launched Fitness Village, a wellness<br />

and fitness hub offering a range of<br />

family-oriented activities from February<br />

15-18 at Abu Dhabi Corniche.<br />

This initiative aligns with ADSC’s<br />

commitment to fostering a healthy and<br />

active lifestyle within the community.<br />

Fitness Village hosted diverse fitness<br />

classes, including yoga, high-intensity<br />

interval training (HIIT), spine exercises,<br />

and more for participants of all ages<br />

and fitness levels. Younger attendees<br />

enjoyed various kids’ activities like<br />

arts and crafts and face painting. The<br />

Abu Dhabi Run and Ride event aims to<br />

blend health, happiness, and togetherness,<br />

catering to runners, cyclists, and<br />

families seeking outdoor entertainment.<br />

NBA and DCT Abu Dhabi Unveil Expanded Third<br />

Season of Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi League<br />

The National Basketball Association<br />

(NBA) and the Department<br />

of Culture and Tourism – Abu<br />

Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) have launched<br />

the expanded third season of the Jr.<br />

NBA Abu Dhabi League. Operated by<br />

Sport360, the league will include over<br />

1,300 youth aged 11-14 from schools<br />

in Abu Dhabi and, for the first time,<br />

Al Ain. The Jr. NBA programming has<br />

engaged over 10,000 youth in Abu<br />

Dhabi since 2022. The draft event, held<br />

on January 27th at NYU Abu Dhabi<br />

campus, featured the assignment of<br />

NBA teams to schools, distribution<br />

of NBA team-branded jerseys, and<br />

basketball development clinics led<br />

by NBA champions James Worthy and<br />

LaMarcus Aldridge. The league games<br />

begin on February 5th, with the finals<br />

scheduled for May 5th.<br />

78 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

UAE Fencers Triumph with Gold and Silver at AWST <strong>2024</strong><br />

UAE fencers brought glory to their<br />

home country at the 7th Arab<br />

Women’s Sports Tournament<br />

(AWST <strong>2024</strong>), claiming gold and silver<br />

in Saber Individuals. Held at Sharjah<br />

Women Sports, the event showcased the<br />

elite talents of Arab fencers in Saber,<br />

Épée, and Foil competitions. Emirati<br />

athlete Mahra Abdullah clinched gold<br />

by defeating teammate Asila Darwish,<br />

who earned the silver. Syrian fencers<br />

Mary Aqsm and Haneen Elhamood<br />

secured third place. Mahra, from the<br />

Fujairah Martial Arts Club, expressed<br />

pride, calling the gold a pivotal career<br />

milestone. In Épée Individuals, Omani<br />

Jana Mohamed Al-Sharjya seized<br />

gold, facing off against Emirati Sheikha<br />

Youssef, who took silver. Syrian Afrodet<br />

Hatem Hatem and Omani Esraa Seif<br />

shared third place, adding intensity to<br />

an unforgettable tournament.<br />

UAE National Olympic<br />

Committee Explores<br />

Cooperation with<br />

Albanian Counterpart<br />

The United Arab Emirates and<br />

Albania are exploring avenues<br />

for strengthened collaboration<br />

in support of the Olympic movement.<br />

Fidel Ylli, President of the Albanian<br />

National Olympic Committee, met with<br />

officials from the UAE National Olympic<br />

Committee (UAE NOC) in Dubai.<br />

The NOC Board members, including<br />

Major General Dr. Mohammed Al Murr,<br />

Ahmed Abd El Malik, Qais Al-Dhalai,<br />

Noura Al Jasmi, and Abdulaziz Al<br />

Salman, discussed means to enhance<br />

bilateral cooperation for the mutual<br />

benefit of both countries’ athletes and<br />

sporting communities. Discussions<br />

included recent developments, major<br />

sporting events like the ongoing Winter<br />

Youth Olympic Games, and potential<br />

partnerships through training camps<br />

and workshops, aiming to facilitate<br />

the exchange of expertise and successful<br />

practices in various Olympic<br />

disciplines.<br />

First-ever UAE-Qatar Super Cup to kick off in April<br />

The inaugural UAE-Qatar Super Cup,<br />

symbolising collaboration between<br />

the United Arab Emirates and Qatar,<br />

is set to kick off with its first event, the<br />

Qatar-UAE Super Cup, in Doha on April<br />

12, <strong>2024</strong>. The opening match will feature<br />

Qatar’s Amir Cup champion, Al Arabi,<br />

against the UAE’s President’s Cup winner,<br />

Sharjah. Following this, the UAE-Qatar<br />

Super Shield Cup is scheduled for April 13,<br />

<strong>2024</strong>, in Dubai, presenting a clash between<br />

ADNOC Pro League champions Shabab<br />

Al Ahli and Qatar Stars League winners<br />

Al Duhail. The agreement was signed<br />

at Doha’s Mandarin Oriental, marking a<br />

significant milestone in regional sports<br />

collaboration, attended by officials, sports<br />

personalities, and international media<br />

representatives from both countries.<br />

Official Poster Unveiled for FIFA Beach Soccer<br />

<strong>World</strong> Cup UAE <strong>2024</strong> in Dubai<br />

The FIFA Beach Soccer <strong>World</strong> Cup<br />

UAE <strong>2024</strong> Dubai has unveiled its<br />

vibrant Official Poster, igniting<br />

anticipation for the event set to bring 16<br />

top teams, including former champions<br />

Brazil and Portugal, to Dubai from February<br />

15 to 25. The poster, inspired by<br />

vintage tourism aesthetics, vividly captures<br />

the excitement and energy of beach<br />

soccer. With dynamic depictions of the<br />

beautiful game and colours reflecting the<br />

sun, sand, and sea, the artwork features<br />

a spectacular bicycle kick, synonymous<br />

with beach soccer, against the backdrop<br />

of Dubai’s skyline and a packed stadium.<br />

The scene also pays homage to the tournament’s<br />

Official Emblem, incorporating<br />

the iconic bicycle-kick silhouette.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 79

Tourism<br />

source: pexels.com<br />

The Ripple Effect of<br />

Tourism Taxes on<br />

Shaping the Economy<br />

of a Country<br />

Tourism, known for boosting economies, faces<br />

challenges with the introduction of tourist taxes<br />

intended to manage over-tourism and generate<br />

revenue.<br />

80 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong><br />

Global Travel & Tourism market to reach US$1063.00bn by 2028, growing at 3.47% from <strong>2024</strong>.<br />

Tourism is frequently referred to as a<br />

‘clean industry’ and is widely acknowledged<br />

as a pivotal force behind economic<br />

expansion. One of its foremost advantages<br />

lies in its capacity to invigorate local economies<br />

through the ripple effect of expenditures<br />

by tourists, whereby money spent<br />

in a particular area generates a cascade<br />

of economic benefits extending beyond<br />

the initial outlay. Initially implemented by<br />

specific governments, tourist taxes were<br />

introduced to address the challenges of<br />

over-tourism while concurrently generating<br />

revenue from the influx of numerous<br />

travellers to the destination. Nevertheless,<br />

research indicates a detrimental impact of<br />

these taxes on tourism, ultimately causing<br />

a ripple effect on the country’s economy.<br />

This article delves into the influence of<br />

tourism on economies and how it impacts<br />

the implementation of government taxes.

Tourism, a thriving industry, extends<br />

far beyond providing picturesque<br />

landscapes and memorable experiences.<br />

The economic impact of tourism<br />

goes deep:<br />

1. Increased Employment Opportunities:<br />

Tourism spending immediately results<br />

in the creation of job opportunities within<br />

the local community. The surge in tourist<br />

numbers correlates with heightened demand<br />

for goods and services, fostering<br />

employment in sectors like tourism,<br />

hospitality, retail, and transportation.<br />

For instance, a small town drawing a<br />

substantial tourist influx can generate<br />

jobs in restaurants, souvenir shops, and<br />

transportation services.<br />

2. Boost in Local Business:<br />

Tourism contributes to the prosperity<br />

of local businesses by augmenting their<br />

revenue. Tourists, when visiting an area,<br />

tend to spend on local products and<br />

services, such as food, accommodation,<br />

and souvenirs, thus enhancing the sales<br />

of local enterprises and fortifying the<br />

local economy. For example, a small bed<br />

and breakfast catering to tourists may<br />

experience a notable upswing in revenue<br />

during peak tourist seasons, sustaining<br />

the business year-round.<br />

3. Infrastructural Development:<br />

Tourism spending often triggers the<br />

development of local infrastructure. The<br />

increasing number of tourists necessitates<br />

the construction of new facilities like<br />

hotels and resorts, as well as upgrades<br />

to existing infrastructure such as roads<br />

and airports. This enhances the overall<br />

infrastructure of the local area, further<br />

attracting future tourism.<br />

4. Environmental Preservation:<br />

Tourism serves as an incentive for the<br />

conservation of natural environments.<br />

Tourists, drawn to the natural beauty of<br />

an area, heighten awareness regarding<br />

the importance of preserving the environment.<br />

For instance, a national park<br />

frequented by tourists might receive<br />

funding to safeguard its wildlife and<br />

natural habitats.<br />

All of these help in boosting the economy<br />

of a country, and the implementation of<br />

tax might break the bridge between economy<br />

and tourism. The diverse approaches<br />

to tourist taxes implemented by various<br />

countries worldwide have a profound<br />

impact on the economic dynamics of<br />

each nation. Tourist taxes are a common<br />

practice in over 20 countries worldwide,<br />

employed either to regulate the influx of<br />

tourists or to bolster economic growth. In<br />

the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic,<br />

which significantly impacted the global<br />

economy, many nations, heavily reliant<br />

on tourism, faced economic crises. With<br />

tourism playing a pivotal role in the global<br />

GDP, it became crucial for countries to<br />

reassess their strategies.<br />

In Austria, the seamless addition of a<br />

3.2% tourist tax to accommodation bills<br />

in Vienna contributes to the economic<br />

structure. Meanwhile, Brussels, Belgium,<br />

experiences a fluctuating tourist tax<br />

below $4.40, varying across its different<br />

cities. Bhutan’s reduction in the daily<br />

Sustainable Development Fee to $198<br />

for adults since September 2023 reflects<br />

the nation’s efforts to balance tourism<br />

revenue and sustainability. Bulgaria’s<br />

tourist tax, typically below $1.65 and<br />

varies based on destination and hotel<br />

standards, plays a role in shaping the<br />

economic landscape.<br />

Greece’s capped tourist tax at $4.40 per<br />

night is influenced by the standard and<br />

size of accommodations, contributing to<br />

the economic balance. Hungary charges a<br />

fixed four per cent of the accommodation<br />

cost per night, impacting the revenue<br />

and financial equilibrium. Indonesia’s<br />

introduction of a 150,000 rupiah ($9.50)<br />

tourist tax for travellers entering Bali<br />

starting from February 14, <strong>2024</strong>, signifies<br />

a strategic move in shaping the nation’s<br />

economic trajectory.<br />

Malaysia’s 2023 tourist tax of $2.12 per<br />

night plays a role in contributing to the<br />

country’s economic framework. Thailand’s<br />

expected tourist tax of around $8.60<br />

adds to the revenue stream, influencing<br />

economic aspects. In Amsterdam, the<br />

Netherlands, with one of Europe’s highest<br />

tourist taxes, currently set at seven per<br />

cent of the accommodation price plus a<br />

flat rate of €3 ($3.30) per person per night,<br />

the economic impact is significant and<br />

shapes the financial landscape of the city<br />

and the country at large. This intricate<br />

web of tourist taxes across the globe<br />

reveals how these levies play a crucial<br />

role in shaping the economies of nations<br />

and highlights the interconnectedness of<br />

global economic systems.<br />

Recent findings indicate that an<br />

uptick in tourism taxes could lead to a<br />

5% reduction in tourist numbers, subsequently<br />

exerting a negative influence<br />

on the country’s economy. This not only<br />

diminishes the volume of visitors but<br />

also deprives the nation of numerous<br />

High tourism<br />

taxes act as<br />

a deterrent,<br />

reducing<br />

visitor influx<br />

and impacting<br />

a country’s<br />

economy.”<br />

business opportunities.<br />

In 2023, Thailand announced the implementation<br />

of a 300 Baht per Tourist Tax,<br />

although the official implementation date<br />

was not specified. However, a recent report<br />

from the nation indicates a delay in the<br />

tax collection process. The Tourism and<br />

Sports Minister mentioned, “The tourist<br />

tax collection would be postponed until<br />

the tourism situation is better. Although<br />

the fees are not high, we see that they<br />

may affect travel plans and the sentiment<br />

of many foreign tourists.” This development<br />

underscores the delicate balance<br />

countries must strike between taxation,<br />

economic stability, and maintaining an<br />

appealing environment for international<br />

travellers.<br />

Reduction in tourism due to high<br />

tourism taxes can create a ripple effect<br />

on the economy. A decline in tourist<br />

arrivals means a significant reduction in<br />

revenue from tourism-related expenditures,<br />

impacting businesses, hotels, and<br />

local services. This, in turn, leads to job<br />

losses in the tourism sector, affecting<br />

livelihoods and consumer spending.<br />

Additionally, the decreased economic<br />

activity can have broader consequences,<br />

affecting sectors dependent on tourism,<br />

such as transportation, restaurants, and<br />

retail. Ultimately, a downturn in tourism<br />

due to high taxes can have cascading effects,<br />

contributing to an overall economic<br />

slowdown and diminished prosperity.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 81

Global News<br />

Egyptian Pound Expected to Reach at Least 55/$ by Year-End<br />

As Egypt grapples with a persistent<br />

foreign currency shortage, Oxford<br />

Economics anticipates the<br />

Egyptian pound to decline to 55/$ to<br />

60/$ by year-end if regulators shift to a<br />

flexible exchange rate. This adjustment<br />

aims to narrow the disparity with the<br />

black market, where rates surpassed<br />

70/$ recently, later moderating to<br />

nearly 58/$. The official rate remains<br />

at 30.9 against the US dollar. Oxford<br />

Economics predicts a peak in annual<br />

inflation in Q4 <strong>2024</strong>, ranging from 40%<br />

to 45%, while Capital Economics offers<br />

a bleaker outlook, foreseeing an initial<br />

drop to 60-65/$ if devaluation occurs.<br />

Despite calls from the IMF, the Central<br />

Bank of Egypt has maintained a fixed<br />

rate below 31/$ for nearly a year, resisting<br />

a move to a flexible exchange<br />

rate deemed vital for attracting foreign<br />

capital and addressing a widening<br />

financing gap.<br />

RBI Action Sends Paytm to Near-Record Low, Wipes<br />

$2.5B in Market Value<br />

New Jersey Secures<br />

2026 <strong>World</strong> Cup Final<br />

Paytm’s shares plunged 10%, nearing<br />

a record low, as it grapples<br />

with a continued slide initiated<br />

by the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI)<br />

crackdown on its banking unit. Since<br />

the RBI directed Paytm Payments Bank<br />

to halt fresh deposits in <strong>March</strong>, the<br />

company has witnessed a staggering<br />

$2.5B or 43% market value decline. The<br />

stock hit its daily trading limit, dropping<br />

to 438.5 rupees ($5.28), just shy of the<br />

previous all-time low in November 2022.<br />

The regulatory order has far-reaching<br />

implications for Paytm, resulting in a<br />

20% daily maximum drop last week.<br />

Amidst the turmoil, Paytm is reportedly<br />

in talks with HDFC Bank and Jio<br />

Financial Services to sell its wallets<br />

business. The RBI’s investigation has<br />

uncovered numerous accounts at<br />

Paytm Payments Bank lacking proper<br />

identification, raising concerns about<br />

potential money laundering activities.<br />

New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium,<br />

home to the NFL’s New York<br />

Giants and New York Jets, will<br />

host the 2026 <strong>World</strong> Cup final on July 19,<br />

according to FIFA’s announcement. The<br />

tournament, co-hosted by the United<br />

States, Canada, and Mexico, features a<br />

schedule that includes Canada hosting<br />

13 games, split between Toronto and<br />

Vancouver, while Mexico will host 13<br />

games in cities like Mexico City, Guadalajara,<br />

and Monterrey. The remainder<br />

of the matches will take place in<br />

various U.S. cities. Opening matches<br />

for the respective national teams will<br />

be held in Toronto, Mexico City, and<br />

Los Angeles. Mexico’s Estadio Azteca<br />

will stage the tournament’s opening<br />

match on June 11, 2026.<br />

Ireland Expanding Trade Ties with UAE for Economic Growth<br />

Ireland’s commitment to bolstering<br />

trade relations with the UAE has<br />

been underscored by Minister Dara<br />

Calleary’s recent visit, solidifying<br />

economic ties. At Arab Health, he<br />

spotlighted Irish health tech, fostering<br />

collaboration through ministerial<br />

meetings with key entities like<br />

Emirates, Dubai Airport Authority,<br />

and Dubai Duty-Free. This marks the<br />

eighth ministerial visit in the past 12<br />

months, highlighting the sustained<br />

efforts to strengthen bilateral partnerships.<br />

Enterprise Ireland’s partnership<br />

with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce<br />

and Industry is a strategic move to enhance<br />

cooperation further. The $1.2B<br />

Irish–UAE trade in 2022, evenly split<br />

between imports and exports, signifies<br />

the mutually beneficial relationship.<br />

With a focus on food, technology, and<br />

life sciences, Ireland’s economic prowess<br />

is evident, particularly with €16.6B<br />

in food exports in 2022. Optimism<br />

surrounds Ireland’s economic future,<br />

with the European Union forecasting<br />

GDP growth of 3% in <strong>2024</strong> and 3.4%<br />

in 2025.<br />

82 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Cleveland Clinic Abu<br />

Dhabi Pioneers Future<br />

Healthcare Solutions<br />

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part<br />

of the M42 network, continues<br />

its commitment to world-class,<br />

multidisciplinary complex care through<br />

innovative medical and surgical strides<br />

in 2023. Across fields such as oncology,<br />

neurology, transplant, and cardiovascular<br />

care, the hospital stands as a beacon<br />

of future healthcare. Embracing the<br />

role of the “hospital of the future,” it<br />

employs cutting-edge technologies and<br />

methodologies to optimise treatments<br />

and enhance patient experiences. As<br />

an integral part of the M42 network,<br />

a global health powerhouse, the clinic<br />

is positioned uniquely to drive innovation.<br />

Its multidisciplinary approach,<br />

global expert team, and integration of<br />

artificial intelligence across institutes<br />

underscore its dedication to reshaping<br />

healthcare. From AI-powered<br />

breast cancer screenings to adaptive<br />

radiotherapy, Cleveland Clinic Abu<br />

Dhabi demonstrates a commitment to<br />

pioneering healthcare solutions and<br />

improving patient outcomes.<br />

Dubai and Abu Dhabi<br />

Stand Among BRICS<br />

Bloc’s Wealthiest Cities<br />

Beijing, Shanghai, and Dubai stand<br />

out as the most prosperous cities<br />

within the expanded BRICS<br />

bloc, boasting a significant presence<br />

of millionaires, centi-millionaires, and<br />

billionaires. The recent inclusion of<br />

Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and<br />

the UAE has enriched the BRICS group,<br />

now encompassing Brazil, Russia, India,<br />

China, and South Africa alongside these<br />

new additions. The Henley & Partners’<br />

BRICS Wealth Report underscores the<br />

global elite’s strategic shift towards<br />

emerging economic hubs. This comprehensive<br />

report unveils unexpected<br />

cities chosen by the super-wealthy for<br />

residence, providing valuable insights<br />

into the ever-changing dynamics of<br />

wealth creation in the global economy.<br />

In a strategic shift, Henley & Partners’<br />

BRICS Wealth Report highlights the<br />

prominence of emerging economic<br />

hubs like Beijing, Shanghai, and Dubai,<br />

underscoring global elite preferences.<br />

Tata Motors Advocates Government Support for<br />

Electric Vehicle Transition<br />

Tata Motors emphasises the crucial<br />

role of government support for<br />

India’s electric vehicle (EV) transition,<br />

urging clarity on the preferred<br />

clean-car technology to meet zero-emission<br />

goals. CFO P.B. Balaji stresses the<br />

need for a decisive government stance,<br />

stating that automakers cannot invest<br />

in all technologies simultaneously.<br />

With electric vehicles taxed at 5% and<br />

hybrids at 43%, Tata Motors discourages<br />

any potential reduction in import<br />

taxes on hybrids. Balaji acknowledges<br />

the government’s choice of a “destination”<br />

technology but emphasises the<br />

necessity of substantial investments,<br />

advocating for government support<br />

to make the transition from gasoline<br />

cars to EVs financially viable. Tata<br />

Motors remains committed to EVs and<br />

opposes subsidies for what it considers<br />

a “transient” technology like hybrids.<br />

Indonesia’s 2023 GDP Growth Slows to 5.1%<br />

Amid Declining Commodity Prices<br />

Indonesia’s 2023 GDP growth reached<br />

5.05%, slightly below 2022’s 5.3%,<br />

impacted by falling commodity<br />

prices and stringent monetary policies.<br />

Statistics Indonesia’s report highlighted<br />

the decline in key commodities like<br />

palm oil, coal, and nickel, coupled<br />

with subdued demand from major<br />

trading partners amid global economic<br />

softening. Central bank rate<br />

hikes, totalling 250 basis points from<br />

August 2022 to October 2023, further<br />

restrained domestic consumption. The<br />

government anticipates a rebound to<br />

5.2% in <strong>2024</strong>, driven by election-related<br />

spending and increased private<br />

investment post-political uncertainty.<br />

However, economists express caution,<br />

with DBS Bank forecasting 5% growth<br />

and Bank Danamon expecting a more<br />

conservative 4.9% for <strong>2024</strong>, citing trade<br />

challenges and global uncertainties.<br />

PM Modi Headlines <strong>World</strong> Environment Summit<br />

<strong>2024</strong> in UAE Address<br />

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is<br />

set to address the <strong>World</strong> Environment<br />

Summit in the UAE on<br />

February 14 as the guest of honour,<br />

marking his second participation in<br />

this significant Abu Dhabi summit,<br />

the first being in 2018. Running from<br />

February 12 to 14, the summit will<br />

showcase over 1,000 exhibitors from<br />

the research sector, presenting ongoing<br />

innovations across various fields.<br />

With 100 participating countries and<br />

33 as partners, the event underscores<br />

global collaboration in addressing environmental<br />

challenges. This follows<br />

UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin<br />

Zayed Al Nahyan’s recent visit to India,<br />

where he acknowledged PM Modi’s<br />

Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit as a<br />

vital platform for economic growth.<br />

Modi’s UAE visit will also include<br />

addressing the mega diaspora event,<br />

Ahlan (Hello) Modi, on February 13 at<br />

the Zayed Sports City Stadium.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 83

Investment in Art<br />

Source. Ai generated<br />

Cryptocurrency will revolutionise the art market with its secure and decentralised transactions.<br />

The Art Investment<br />

Revolution: A<br />

Technological<br />

Perspective<br />

Technology reshapes art transactions while<br />

tokenization and fractional ownership redefine<br />

ownership models.<br />

Innovations in technology are broadening<br />

access to the art world, accelerating<br />

sales, and fundamentally altering the operations<br />

of businesses in the art industry.<br />

Three crucial stages of art transactions,<br />

encompassing display methods, payment<br />

procedures, and ownership exchange,<br />

have been transformed by technology,<br />

enhancing market efficiency. However,<br />

there is a risk of technology leading to<br />

the financialisation and commodification<br />

of art, potentially diminishing the intrinsic<br />

value of artworks. Institutions and<br />

art professionals must establish clear<br />

guidelines for implementing and governance<br />

these technologies to address<br />

this concern. This article highlights how<br />

these technologies can impact the way<br />

art investments are made.<br />

84 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Accessibility to the art market and<br />

the presentation of artworks have<br />

been transformed by technological<br />

advancements. Now, individuals can<br />

explore art collections, participate in auctions,<br />

and swiftly complete transactions<br />

from any part of the world, fostering the<br />

exchange of information and expanding<br />

global access to the art world. This<br />

technological progress facilitates digital<br />

interactions between buyers and sellers,<br />

accelerating the pace and increasing the<br />

volume of art transactions.<br />

There is no longer a need to physically<br />

visit a gallery, fair, or take part in an<br />

auction to make an art purchase. Virtual<br />

and augmented reality, building upon the<br />

advancements of the Internet, now enables<br />

buyers to experience a “simulated,<br />

computer-generated environment” from<br />

nearly any location.<br />

This is how technology facilitates<br />

reaching broader audiences. However,<br />

in a market accustomed to instant gratification,<br />

other aspects of the buying and<br />

selling process have also adapted. In the<br />

art world, where the sale of artwork can<br />

be a somewhat mysterious interaction,<br />

technology has enhanced the speed and<br />

confidence of these transactions. Take,<br />

for instance, provenance and authentication.<br />

With the emergence of blockchain<br />

technology, previously document-intensive<br />

processes crucial to any sale or<br />

purchase can now be securely recorded<br />

on decentralised ledgers or blockchains.<br />

Blockchain technology can document<br />

bids and verify transactions, accelerating<br />

sales while safeguarding the privacy<br />

of those involved, a crucial aspect in<br />

the art world. Although it’s still early<br />

days for blockchain technology and<br />

cryptocurrencies, the digital currencies<br />

facilitated by blockchains, the potential<br />

is remarkable. They are revolutionising<br />

the speed, accuracy, and transparency<br />

of art deals and have the potential to<br />

disrupt the market, even altering how<br />

payments for artworks are made.<br />

Cryptocurrencies and the future of<br />

art payments<br />

Trades involving cryptocurrencies<br />

like Bitcoin have already been executed.<br />

Instead of relying on bank transfers,<br />

cash, or traditional payment methods<br />

that necessitate clearances from third<br />

parties, which can be time-consuming<br />

or prohibitively expensive, buyers can<br />

now make payments at a lower cost,<br />

and sellers can receive payments almost<br />

instantly. Cryptocurrencies alleviate the<br />

need for trust between parties through<br />

decentralised consensus networks. Their<br />

semi-anonymous nature also enables<br />

traders to operate privately, a crucial<br />

aspect of the art market.<br />

One such example is Galloire which<br />

achieved a milestone by partnering with<br />

Abu Dhabi’s MidChains, becoming the<br />

first major gallery in the Middle East to<br />

embrace cryptocurrency for physical<br />

and digital art transactions.<br />

Founder Edward Gallagher emphasises<br />

the gallery’s commitment to leveraging<br />

technology, citing the use of photorealistic<br />

VR and AR to extend the reach of<br />

art exhibitions to a broader audience,<br />

aligning with the gallery’s mission to<br />

make art accessible to as many people<br />

as possible.<br />

Pioneering secure<br />

payments for<br />

physical assets<br />

like art with<br />

digital assets is a<br />

significant stride<br />

forward in the<br />

UAE.”<br />

Transferring ownership in novel art<br />

business frameworks<br />

Fresh approaches have emerged<br />

concerning both art consumption and<br />

the elements exchanged in the sale of<br />

an artwork. Regarding physical artworks,<br />

buyers are no longer confined<br />

to acquiring an entire piece; ownership<br />

extends beyond the physical artwork<br />

itself. Pioneering startups are introducing<br />

liquidity to the art market by tokenising<br />

artworks through blockchain technology.<br />

Companies like Maecenas, Feral Horses,<br />

and Masterworks employ tokens to<br />

enable purchasers to attain “fractional<br />

ownership” of art. Many of these startups<br />

issue their cryptocurrencies (tokens)<br />

to fund their operations, facilitating<br />

fractional ownership through initial coin<br />

offerings. Blockchain technology utilises<br />

cryptocurrencies and tokens to record and<br />

validate semi-anonymous transactions on<br />

an immutable distributed ledger. These<br />

‘ArtTech’ investment platforms differ in<br />

their approaches to acquiring included<br />

artworks but collectively assert that this<br />

new model broadens participation in the<br />

art market, allowing more individuals to<br />

own a share of a masterpiece. The ownership<br />

of the artwork isn’t necessarily<br />

transferred but operates similarly to art<br />

investment funds.<br />

Furthermore, there are emerging<br />

business models where the actual ownership<br />

of the artwork isn’t exchanged,<br />

but rather, rights to a digital reproduction<br />

are authorised. Technologies such<br />

as streaming and subscription services<br />

have made their mark on the art world.<br />

For instance, Samsung’s 4K smart television,<br />

“The Frame,” is positioned as a<br />

digital canvas.<br />

Technology is revolutionising the art<br />

buying and selling landscape, impacting<br />

fundamental aspects such as the location<br />

and method of sales, payment procedures,<br />

and the nuanced details of ownership<br />

exchanged during an art transaction.<br />

This transformation paves the way for<br />

innovative business models and the<br />

creation of value, enhancing the speed,<br />

affordability, reliability, and transparency<br />

of art transactions. However, it also<br />

introduces changes in the susceptibility<br />

of the art buying and selling process to<br />

financialisation. To prevent the commodification<br />

of the industry, there is a<br />

crucial need for internal organisations<br />

to guide and govern the implementation<br />

of technology.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 85

Local News<br />

UAE President Recognises Chalhoub Group for Parent-Friendly Initiatives<br />

Chalhoub Group proudly announces<br />

the receipt of the Parent-friendly<br />

Label (PFL) from the Abu Dhabi<br />

Early Childhood Authority (ECA),<br />

recognising its exemplary parentfriendly<br />

policies and practices. The<br />

prestigious ceremony at Qasr Al Shati<br />

in Abu Dhabi, attended by His Highness<br />

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan,<br />

President of the UAE, and His Highness<br />

Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed<br />

Al Nahyan, Chairman of the ECA,<br />

honoured Chalhoub Group and other<br />

distinguished institutions. This accolade<br />

underscores the Group’s commitment<br />

to prioritising the health, safety, and<br />

overall well-being of its employees.<br />

Chalhoub Group stands among the UAE’s<br />

most supportive organisations, offering<br />

generous parental leave policies, flexible<br />

working arrangements, mental health<br />

support, and fostering a collaborative<br />

environment through initiatives like<br />

“Culture Labs.”<br />

Shuaa Capital Confirms<br />

Board Decision: No Delisting<br />

Plans in Dubai<br />

Dubai’s Shuaa Capital dismisses<br />

rumours of delisting from the<br />

Dubai Financial Market (DFM),<br />

affirming in a statement that recent<br />

reports about the company going<br />

private and its board considering<br />

delisting are unfounded. The investment<br />

bank and asset manager clarify that a<br />

capital restructuring plan is underway,<br />

emphasising that shareholders will<br />

receive updates on developments by<br />

February 14th. As part of this disclosure,<br />

unaudited full-year results for 2023 will<br />

also be presented. The announcement<br />

aims to dispel speculation surrounding<br />

Shuaa Capital’s market status, providing<br />

transparency about its strategic<br />

direction amid ongoing transformations<br />

in the financial landscape.<br />

Meydan Free Zone Partners with Zoho for<br />

Comprehensive Business Tech Solutions<br />

Meydan Free Zone (MFZ), the<br />

UAE’s exclusive 24/7 digital<br />

free zone, has joined forces<br />

with Zoho, a global technology leader,<br />

to enhance business growth through<br />

access to a comprehensive suite of<br />

cloud-based solutions. This collaboration<br />

aims to enhance the business<br />

licensing experience within MFZ.<br />

Registered companies in MFZ will<br />

enjoy exclusive access to Zoho One,<br />

an integrated suite featuring over 50<br />

business management applications on<br />

TASC, a leading Global Resourcing<br />

Outsourcing (GRO), Human<br />

Resources Outsourcing (HRO),<br />

and Immigration solutions specialist,<br />

is reshaping the Saudization journey<br />

by addressing challenges in global<br />

mobility. The company’s recent market<br />

research in Saudi Arabia revealed<br />

that achieving a Green Nitaqat status<br />

while hiring expatriate talent poses a<br />

significant hurdle for organisations. In<br />

response, TASC organised the webinar<br />

‘Mastering Global Mobility for a Green<br />

Nitaqat in Saudi Arabia,’ featuring<br />

industry experts to dispel misconceptions<br />

about Nitaqat’s status. Additionally,<br />

TASC released a Guidebook<br />

in three languages to help businesses<br />

a single platform. Covering key functions<br />

like sales, marketing, customer<br />

service, finance, and HR, Zoho One<br />

empowers businesses with efficiency<br />

and scalability. The Memorandum of<br />

Understanding was signed by Hamed<br />

Ahli, Head of Meydan Free Zone, and<br />

Premanand Velumani, Regional Manager,<br />

Middle East and Africa at Zoho.<br />

This strategic partnership reflects their<br />

commitment to fostering innovation<br />

and success for entrepreneurs in the<br />

region.<br />

TASC Survey: Challenges in Global Mobility and<br />

Green Nitaqat Balance<br />

navigate the regulatory landscape. The<br />

company, having assisted over 40 local<br />

and international businesses in establishing<br />

a presence in Saudi Arabia,<br />

now focuses on streamlining Nitaqat<br />

and Saudization, further emphasised<br />

by the inauguration of a larger office<br />

in Riyadh.<br />

86 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Emirates Litfest<br />

Partners for Youth<br />

Engagement Across<br />

Gulf Region<br />

The Emirates Airline Festival of<br />

Literature is forging powerful<br />

partnerships with the Investment<br />

Corporation of Dubai, Dubai<br />

Business Associates, and FlyDubai to<br />

enhance the impact of Youth Day <strong>2024</strong>.<br />

This collaboration enables the Festival<br />

to extend invitations to students<br />

across the region for an all-expenses-paid<br />

experience, covering flights,<br />

accommodation, and immersive Festival<br />

activities. Youth Day, scheduled for<br />

February 1, <strong>2024</strong>, at Intercontinental<br />

– Dubai Festival City, offers a diverse<br />

program encompassing artificial intelligence,<br />

innovation, literature, and<br />

sustainability, with a core focus on Arabic<br />

culture. Designed for individuals<br />

aged 16 and above, the event, priced at<br />

a nominal AED 125, provides a unique<br />

opportunity to attend specially curated<br />

sessions fostering adaptability and<br />

resilience in an ever-evolving world.<br />

Apparel Group Unleashes Expansion: 29 New<br />

Stores Set to Grace Philippines<br />

Dubai’s Apparel Group is embarking<br />

on a major expansion,<br />

unveiling plans to open 29 retail<br />

stores this year in the UAE and<br />

venture into new markets like the<br />

Philippines and Hungary. The fashion<br />

and lifestyle retail giant, managing a<br />

portfolio of 2,100 stores, confirmed<br />

these growth initiatives during the<br />

inauguration of five outlets at Abu<br />

Dhabi’s Al Reem Mall. The upcoming<br />

stores are slated to join the vibrant<br />

retail landscape within the same mall.<br />

With a diverse brand portfolio encompassing<br />

global names like Tommy Hilfiger,<br />

Charles & Keith, Skechers, Aldo,<br />

and more, Apparel Group continues<br />

to make significant strides across the<br />

Middle East and beyond, solidifying<br />

its presence in countries such as Saudi<br />

Arabia, India, and South Africa.<br />

Abu Dhabi Health Dept. Partners with Masdar City<br />

& Global Leaders<br />

The Department of Health – Abu<br />

Dhabi (DoH) has entered a strategic<br />

alliance at Arab Health<br />

<strong>2024</strong>, signing a Memorandum of Understanding<br />

(MoU) with Masdar City,<br />

Xlife Sciences, and Thermo Fisher<br />

Scientific. The collaboration aims<br />

to foster innovation in Abu Dhabi’s<br />

healthcare sector, promoting clinical<br />

research and trials, and nurturing a<br />

supportive ecosystem for life science<br />

startups. Under the agreement, these<br />

entities will work closely with DoH<br />

to drive advancements, with a focus<br />

on supporting local innovators and<br />

utilising the emirate’s advanced infrastructure<br />

for startups. The MoU was<br />

signed by key representatives, including<br />

Dr. Asma Ibrahim Al Mannaei from<br />

DoH and leaders from Masdar City,<br />

Xlife Sciences, and Thermo Fisher<br />

Scientific.<br />

UAE Tops Global Charts as Prime Hub for Expats’ Work Visas<br />

The UAE has claimed the top<br />

spot as the global epicentre<br />

for expatriates seeking work<br />

visas, according to the latest Deel<br />

Global Hiring Report. Analysing data<br />

from 300,000 contracts worldwide,<br />

the report highlights the UAE’s dominance<br />

over 150 countries in attracting<br />

international talent for employment.<br />

This appeal is particularly strong in<br />

industries such as financial services,<br />

IT, software development, management<br />

consulting, marketing, and advertising.<br />

In today’s competitive job<br />

market, key sought-after roles span<br />

a diverse range of sectors and skill<br />

sets. Among these coveted positions<br />

are management consultants, content<br />

managers, software engineers, and<br />

strategy directors. The study reveals<br />

that the Netherlands secured the<br />

second spot in the list of popular visa<br />

destinations, with France, the United<br />

Kingdom, and Singapore following<br />

suit. The findings reflect the UAE’s<br />

dedication to cultivating a diverse<br />

and dynamic multinational workforce,<br />

emphasising its role as a top choice for<br />

recruiters globally.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 87

Travel<br />

4 Guilt-Free Shopping Destinations to<br />

Visit this <strong>March</strong><br />

As spring arrives, beckoning pleasant weather and global travel adventures, the journey is incomplete without a mix<br />

of leisure, pleasure, and a touch of guilt-free shopping. This article spotlights destinations worldwide that offer tax<br />

refunds on your shopping, extending beyond the well-known option in the UAE. Explore the world, indulge in unique<br />

shopping experiences, and revel in the added perk of tax refunds to enhance your travel memories and make every<br />

destination a retail discovery.<br />

Sydney, Australia<br />

Sydney celebrated for its picturesque<br />

beaches and iconic opera house, emerges<br />

as a premier destination offering<br />

a plethora of entertainment choices.<br />

The country welcomes tourists with a<br />

diverse array of culinary delights and<br />

accommodation options to suit every<br />

traveller’s budget. However, Sydney’s<br />

allure extends beyond its natural beauty<br />

and welcoming atmosphere. With<br />

shopping destinations like the Queen<br />

Victoria Building and <strong>World</strong> Square,<br />

the city caters to those seeking retail<br />

therapy, adding another layer to the<br />

vibrant experiences awaiting visitors.<br />

Notably, Australia’s Tax Refund<br />

Scheme (TRS) permits individuals to<br />

reclaim the Goods and Services Tax<br />

(GST) and Wine Equalisation Tax<br />

(WET) paid on items taken out of the<br />

country. The TRS is accessible to both<br />

international visitors and Australian<br />

residents. To qualify, one must present<br />

a tax invoice for purchases amounting<br />

to $300 or more from a single business<br />

within 60 days before departure. Refunds<br />

encompass the entire GST (computed<br />

at 1/11th of the price) and/or the<br />

full WET (14.5% of the wine price).<br />

Claimants can process their claims at<br />

TRS facilities located in international<br />

airports or cruise terminals. The TRS<br />

app is also available to expedite the<br />

claim process.<br />

London, England<br />

London, the capital of both England<br />

and the United Kingdom, stands as a<br />

modern metropolis in the 21st century,<br />

with a history that traces its roots back<br />

to Roman times. London, a haven for<br />

shopping enthusiasts, boasts a diverse<br />

and vibrant retail scene that captivates<br />

visitors from around the world. The<br />

city’s iconic shopping districts, including<br />

the renowned Oxford Street and<br />

chic Covent Garden, offer a plethora<br />

of high-end boutiques, flagship stores,<br />

and unique marketplaces. From luxury<br />

fashion houses to eclectic vintage shops,<br />

London caters to every taste and style.<br />

Visitors exploring London have the<br />

opportunity to reclaim the Value Added<br />

Tax (VAT) on purchases made from<br />

various British retailers. To qualify for<br />

the refund, individuals must initially buy<br />

items from stores displaying the Tax-<br />

Free shopping sign. Upon completing<br />

the purchase, the retailer will provide<br />

a tax refund form, and it’s essential<br />

to retain both this form and the corresponding<br />

receipt. Upon departure<br />

at the airport, travellers can submit<br />

their forms and receipts at a Travelex<br />

counter or the customs desk to secure<br />

their VAT refund.<br />

88 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Marbella, Spain<br />

Situated on the Costa del Sol in the<br />

Andalusia region of southern Spain, Marbella<br />

is a city and resort area. Framed by<br />

the Sierra Blanca Mountains, it features<br />

27 kilometres of sandy Mediterranean<br />

beaches, alongside an array of villas,<br />

hotels, and golf courses. Marbella, Spain,<br />

emerges as a captivating destination<br />

for shopping sprees, offering a unique<br />

blend of luxury and local charm. The<br />

city’s vibrant shopping scene encompasses<br />

upscale boutiques, renowned<br />

international brands, and quaint local<br />

markets, providing a diverse range of<br />

options for every taste and preference.<br />

The iconic Puerto Banús, a glamorous<br />

marina, stands as a premier shopping<br />

hub where visitors can explore highend<br />

fashion, jewellery, and designer<br />

boutiques. Additionally, the charming<br />

Old Town showcases traditional<br />

Spanish craftsmanship, with narrow<br />

streets adorned with boutique shops<br />

and artisanal stores.<br />

For non-European Union residents<br />

visiting Spain, there is an opportunity<br />

for tax-free shopping, resulting in a<br />

21% discount on purchases exceeding<br />

€90.15. Look for stores providing taxfree<br />

shopping services, similar to the<br />

process in London. Obtain a form from<br />

the shop and retain your receipts. Upon<br />

reaching the airport, present your forms<br />

to customs or at a Travelex counter to<br />

avail the tax-free benefits.<br />

Puebla, Mexico<br />

Puebla, located in central Mexico,<br />

is a city steeped in rich history and<br />

vibrant culture. Recognized as a UN-<br />

ESCO <strong>World</strong> Heritage Site, Puebla is<br />

celebrated for its well-preserved colonial<br />

architecture, charming cobblestone<br />

streets, and colourful Talavera-tiled<br />

buildings. It also offers a delightful<br />

shopping experience for enthusiasts.<br />

Renowned for its Talavera pottery,<br />

Mercado El Parian bustles with diverse<br />

handicrafts and regional products,<br />

providing an authentic Mexican flair.<br />

The antique shops in Callejón de los<br />

Sapos charm with historical finds, while<br />

artisan markets showcase handmade<br />

textiles and leather goods. El Parián,<br />

near the Cathedral, offers a cultural<br />

and shopping blend, and for luxury<br />

seekers, Angelopolis boasts upscale<br />

malls with international and Mexican<br />

designer stores.<br />

In Mexico, the tourist tax refund is<br />

exclusively accessible to international<br />

visitors who make purchases at participating<br />

stores, provided they depart<br />

the country via plane or cruise liner.<br />

Eligibility requires a minimum spending<br />

of 1200 pesos on Mexican goods, with<br />

each receipt meeting or exceeding<br />

this amount. To identify participating<br />

stores, look for the MONEYBACK logo<br />

displayed in the store window. At the<br />

airport, locate a MONEYBACK kiosk<br />

or office to process the refund, which<br />

approximately amounts to 8.9% of the<br />

claimed purchase total.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 89

Travel News<br />

Kuwait Introduces New<br />

Visit Visas and Lists 53<br />

Visa-on-Arrival<br />

Countries<br />

Kuwait announces the resumption<br />

of issuing visit visas for families,<br />

tourism, and commercial<br />

visitors as part of a strategy to boost<br />

commercial, economic, and tourist<br />

activities. Following the instructions<br />

of Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Fahad<br />

Yusuf Saud Al-Sabah, the new visas<br />

aim to stimulate movements while<br />

considering social aspects. Effective<br />

February 7, the issuance of visit visas<br />

for expat family members requires<br />

meeting certain conditions, including a<br />

minimum salary and proof of return air<br />

tickets. The visa is granted to parents,<br />

spouses, and children of expat workers,<br />

with a minimum salary requirement of<br />

KD 400 ($1,300) and KD 800 ($2,600)<br />

for other relatives. This resumption<br />

of visit visa issuance aims to enhance<br />

economic vitality and promote family<br />

reunification.<br />

Saudi Arabia Aims for 150M Tourists; Spending<br />

Hits $26.7B in the Last Year<br />

Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector<br />

achieved a milestone in 2023,<br />

hosting over 100 million tourists<br />

who collectively spent SR 100B<br />

($26.7B), announced Ahmed bin Aqeel<br />

Al Khateeb, the Kingdom’s Minister of<br />

Tourism. This comprised 77 million<br />

domestic and 27 million international<br />

tourists. Al Khateeb, participating in<br />

a ministerial session at the PIF and<br />

Private Sector Forum, highlighted the<br />

Crown Prince’s strategy to attract 150<br />

million tourists by 2030, with 80 million<br />

domestic and 70 million international<br />

visitors. He emphasised Saudi Arabia’s<br />

commitment to funding training programs,<br />

with over 100,000 individuals<br />

trained last year, including 15,000 in<br />

top global institutes for the tourism<br />

sector, and highlighted the role of the<br />

Human Resources Development Fund<br />

in increasing salaries.<br />

UAE Cancels Cruise Voyages Amid Escalating<br />

Tensions in the Red Sea<br />

Major cruise companies like<br />

Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises,<br />

and Carnival Corporation<br />

are adjusting itineraries and cancelling<br />

voyages in the Red Sea due to<br />

escalating tensions between Yemen’s<br />

Houthi militants and British and US<br />

forces. Carnival Corporation, one of<br />

the largest cruise operators globally,<br />

has rerouted a significant number of<br />

ships across its brands. MSC Cruises,<br />

the Swiss-Italian operator, was the first<br />

to cancel sailings in mid-January, prioritising<br />

the safety of passengers and<br />

crew. The affected ships sailed empty<br />

around Africa to reach Europe, where<br />

they will remain until the summer<br />

season. Passengers are offered various<br />

options, including transferring to future<br />

journeys, rebooking with a partial<br />

refund, or opting for a full refund.<br />

Jumeirah Group Opens<br />

First Luxury Hotel in<br />

Saudi Arabia<br />

Jumeirah Group, a luxury hospitality<br />

company, has inaugurated<br />

its inaugural hotel in Saudi Arabia—Jumeirah<br />

Jabal Omar Makkah.<br />

Positioned in the heart of Jabal Omar<br />

and in proximity to the Great Mosque<br />

of Makkah, this marks a significant<br />

step in the company’s regional and<br />

global expansion. As part of the Jabal<br />

Omar project’s second phase designed<br />

by Fosters + Partners architects, the<br />

hotel offers a serene atmosphere<br />

and world-class amenities with 1,121<br />

rooms, suites, and residences. The<br />

dining options include Mediterranean<br />

restaurant Patras, a lobby lounge, and<br />

upcoming venues offering regional<br />

Arabesque, Persian, Middle Eastern,<br />

Southeast Asian, and Indo-Pakistani<br />

cuisine, along with a café serving exquisite<br />

teas and French baked goods.<br />

The property also features three meeting<br />

rooms and event spaces accommodating<br />

10 to 70 people.<br />

90 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

NEOM Unveils Xaynor: Exclusive Beach Club Oasis in Saudi Arabia<br />

NEOM reveals Xaynor, a luxurious<br />

private members’ beach club<br />

nestled along the rocky Gulf of<br />

Aqaba landscapes in northwest Saudi<br />

Arabia. This addition to the evolving<br />

regional development promises an<br />

exclusive retreat where members can<br />

unwind on the pristine Gulf of Aqaba<br />

coastline. Xaynor’s architecture and<br />

curated interiors elevate comfort and<br />

sophistication, creating a space for<br />

leisure, relaxation, entertainment, and<br />

conversation. The entrance, adorned<br />

with a canopy, seamlessly integrates<br />

with the natural landscape, guiding<br />

guests to the beach. The distinctive<br />

architectural style combines concealed<br />

retreats with expansive open spaces.<br />

Facilities at Xaynor include private pools,<br />

beachside lounges, gourmet dining, a<br />

signature entertainment venue, and a<br />

world-class spa and wellness centre.<br />

Dubai Hits Record 17 Million Visitors in 2023:<br />

Sheikh Hamdan<br />

Dubai witnessed an extraordinary<br />

tourism surge in 2023, welcoming<br />

an impressive 17.15 million<br />

international tourists, as disclosed by<br />

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin<br />

Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of<br />

Dubai and Chairman of The Executive<br />

Council of Dubai. This remarkable<br />

growth, a 19.4 percent increase, firmly<br />

established Dubai as a premier global<br />

destination in alignment with the<br />

objectives of Dubai Economic Agenda<br />

D33. The city’s tourism sector exhibited<br />

strength with a remarkable 77.4<br />

percent hotel occupancy rate, surpassing<br />

150,000 rooms to meet escalating<br />

demand. Occupied hotel room nights<br />

reached a new high at 41.7 million,<br />

marking an 11 percent YoY increase<br />

and a 30 percent surge compared to<br />

2019 figures.<br />

Saudi Arabia and VFS Global Unveil New Visa Services<br />

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Commerce<br />

has entered into a significant<br />

agreement with VFS Global<br />

to introduce new visa application<br />

services. VFS Global will establish a<br />

dedicated centre within the Ministry’s<br />

headquarters in Riyadh, streamlining<br />

visa processing for employees, delegates,<br />

and subsidiary companies.<br />

Zubin Karkaria, Founder and CEO of<br />

VFS Global, expressed the company’s<br />

honour in this strategic partnership,<br />

emphasising their commitment to<br />

enhancing the visa application experience.<br />

Approximately 8,000 individuals<br />

associated with the Ministry and its<br />

subsidiary government institutions will<br />

benefit from VFS Global’s expertise.<br />

Notably, the partnership introduces<br />

the Visa At Your Doorstep service,<br />

offering flexibility by allowing trained<br />

professionals to visit applicants at a<br />

chosen location for the visa application<br />

process. Please note that this service<br />

is available for certain missions.<br />

UK Launches Visa-Free<br />

Travel for UAE, Saudi,<br />

and GCC Nationals on<br />

Feb. 22<br />

Starting February 22, citizens of the<br />

UAE, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf<br />

states can benefit from a streamlined<br />

travel process to the UK. The UK’s newly<br />

introduced Electronic Travel Authorization<br />

(ETA) system replaces the Electronic Visa<br />

Waiver (EVW) system, offering a quicker<br />

and more straightforward visa-free process<br />

for repeated visits to Britain under<br />

a single approval. Managed by the UK<br />

Visas and Immigration (UKVI), this ETA<br />

system aims to enhance efficiency and<br />

convenience in travel arrangements. The<br />

initiative is not limited to GCC citizens,<br />

as it is also extended to Jordanian nationals.<br />

This development signifies the<br />

UK’s commitment to facilitating smoother<br />

travel experiences for visitors from these<br />

regions.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 91

Samsung HW-Q990C soundbar<br />

Samsung’s HW-Q990C soundbar<br />

is a comprehensive audio solution<br />

for home theatres, offering<br />

an all-in-one package that includes a<br />

soundbar, subwoofer, and rear speakers.<br />

Priced at $1,900, this high-end model<br />

from Samsung caters to users seeking<br />

a hassle-free setup without the need<br />

to purchase additional components<br />

separately.<br />

In terms of design, the Q990C is<br />

Samsung’s flagship soundbar, boasting<br />

a width of 48.5 inches and incorporating<br />

11 front-facing drivers, including<br />

side-firing ones, four up-firing drivers,<br />

and an internal subwoofer. The substantial<br />

wireless subwoofer, measuring 16 x<br />

16 x 8 inches and weighing 26 pounds,<br />

complements the rear speakers, which<br />

feature a three-driver setup for a more<br />

immersive audio experience. The mesh<br />

plastic covering on both the soundbar<br />

and rear speakers adds a touch of sophistication<br />

and practicality for easy<br />

maintenance.<br />

Setting up the Q990C is a breeze, and<br />

Samsung’s SmartThings app streamlines<br />

the process. The app not only<br />

aids in the initial configuration but<br />

also provides a platform for users to<br />

customise settings. The soundbar supports<br />

two HDMI inputs, Dolby Atmos,<br />

and various audio options, ensuring a<br />

crisp 11.1.4-channel sound experience<br />

in the living room. However, it’s worth<br />

noting that the absence of HDMI 2.1<br />

might disappoint gamers.<br />

The Q990C’s sound quality is a<br />

standout feature, offering immersive<br />

Dolby Atmos and impressive upscaling<br />

capabilities. With 11.1.4-channel output,<br />

this soundbar excels in delivering directional<br />

audio, creating a theatre-like<br />

experience within the confines of your<br />

living space. Music enthusiasts will<br />

appreciate the crisp highs and punchy<br />

bass, making it a versatile choice for<br />

various genres.<br />

The package’s completeness and ease<br />

of setup contribute to its overall value,<br />

making it an attractive choice for those<br />

seeking a premium, all-inclusive home<br />

theatre audio solution from Samsung.<br />

However, the absence of HDMI 2.1 and<br />

the premium pricing may make users<br />

consider alternative options based on<br />

their specific needs and preferences.<br />

source: www.samsung.com<br />

92 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

ACCENTUM Wireless<br />

Sennheiser has recently unveiled its<br />

ACCENTUM Wireless noise-cancelling<br />

headphones in the Middle<br />

East, marking a significant expansion<br />

for this state-of-the-art audio technology.<br />

Launched on September 26, 2023, the<br />

ACCENTUM Wireless is now accessible<br />

to Middle Eastern consumers,<br />

introducing them to a carefully crafted<br />

personal audio device that redefines<br />

standards in headphone performance.<br />

ACCENTUM Wireless prioritises a<br />

thoughtful design, emphasising comfort,<br />

robustness, and sound quality.<br />

This gadget stands out as an advancement<br />

in the audio technology sector,<br />

offering users an unparalleled blend<br />

of features. With a 4-button control<br />

system, users can effortlessly adjust<br />

volume, switch between tracks, and<br />

handle calls without reaching for their<br />

phones. The headphones also allow<br />

for a personalised audio experience,<br />

thanks to customisable sound settings<br />

that enhance immersion during phone<br />

calls, movie watching, or music listening.<br />

One of the standout features of<br />

ACCENTUM Wireless is its impressive<br />

battery life, boasting a staggering 50<br />

hours of playback. This extended playback<br />

time positions the headphones<br />

as ideal for extended music sessions<br />

or lengthy travels, setting them apart<br />

from competitors. Including adaptive<br />

noise cancellation and a manual anti-wind<br />

mode ensures crystal-clear,<br />

high-quality music even in turbulent<br />

or noisy environments, making the<br />

ACCENTUM Wireless suitable for<br />

outdoor use or travel.<br />

Sennheiser’s introduction of AC-<br />

CENTUM Wireless in the Middle East<br />

signifies a strategic move in the company’s<br />

global success within the audio<br />

technology industry. The anticipation<br />

of a positive reception in the Middle<br />

East market is fueled by the device’s<br />

exceptional features and competitive<br />

pricing. This product launch further<br />

reinforces Sennheiser’s reputation as<br />

a leader in advanced audio technology<br />

and innovative hearing care solutions.<br />

The ACCENTUM Wireless is reasonably<br />

priced at AED 729, aligning with<br />

Sennheiser’s commitment to offering<br />

high-quality products at various price<br />

points. Available in two fashionable<br />

colours, black and white, these headphones<br />

not only serve as essential<br />

audio instruments but also make a<br />

stylish addition to any outfit. The elegant<br />

design makes the ACCENTUM<br />

Wireless a versatile choice for those<br />

seeking exceptional audio technology<br />

without compromising on aesthetics.<br />

source: www.sennheiser.com<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 93



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