Finance World Magazine| Edition: May 2024

In the May edition of the Finance World Magazine, we shine a spotlight on the vibrant entrepreneurial landscape of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). As the UAE continues to solidify its position as a hub for innovation and economic growth, we find ourselves amidst a flourishing ecosystem of startups and SMEs making significant impacts across various industries. The cover story features a lineup of pioneering startups and SMEs in the UAE, meticulously curated for their groundbreaking contributions to innovation and societal impact. From fintech disruptors to sustainable energy pioneers, each company embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship and resilience, driving positive change and shaping the future of business in the region. Between these pages, readers can uncover Lara Daoud's insights as she previews the MetaGate Summit, shedding light on its transformative role in Middle Eastern immersive technologies. The edition also features articles that dive into discussions surrounding Sharjah's Rental Disputes Center and its pivotal role in sustaining the economy within the emirate's thriving real estate market. And for aspiring entrepreneurs, seize the opportunity to delve into "Startup Funding 101," a comprehensive guide illuminating various sources of capital and strategies for securing investment. Explore "Empowering Entrepreneurs: Navigating Business Financing Solutions in the UAE," which highlights several banks bolstering the startup landscape of the Emirates. 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.

In the May edition of the Finance World Magazine, we shine a spotlight on the vibrant entrepreneurial landscape of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). As the UAE continues to solidify its position as a hub for innovation and economic growth, we find ourselves amidst a flourishing ecosystem of startups and SMEs making significant impacts across various industries.

The cover story features a lineup of pioneering startups and SMEs in the UAE, meticulously curated for their groundbreaking contributions to innovation and societal impact. From fintech disruptors to sustainable energy pioneers, each company embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship and resilience, driving positive change and shaping the future of business in the region.

Between these pages, readers can uncover Lara Daoud's insights as she previews the MetaGate Summit, shedding light on its transformative role in Middle Eastern immersive technologies. The edition also features articles that dive into discussions surrounding Sharjah's Rental Disputes Center and its pivotal role in sustaining the economy within the emirate's thriving real estate market.

And for aspiring entrepreneurs, seize the opportunity to delve into "Startup Funding 101," a comprehensive guide illuminating various sources of capital and strategies for securing investment. Explore "Empowering Entrepreneurs: Navigating Business Financing Solutions in the UAE," which highlights several banks bolstering the startup landscape of the Emirates.

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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UAE's Sporting Revolution: Unveiling the Blueprint for Global Domination<br />

Travelling Beyond Borders: How Startups are Bridging Gaps in Global Tourism<br />

Empowering Entrepreneurs: Navigating Financing Solutions in UAE<br />

Beyond Dubai: RAK DAO's Rise as a Hub for Digital Entrepreneurs<br />

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

UAE - AED 30 | USA - USD 16.5 KSA - SR<br />

61 | Qatar - QAR 60 Oman - OMR 6.3 |<br />

Bahrain - BD 6.2 Kuwait - KWD 5 | UK -<br />

£12 | EU - €14<br />

Breaking Norms:<br />

Impactful Startups that Redefined Industries<br />






We make Short / Long Term<br />

Investments in Growing Businesses<br />

info@wasayainvestments.com<br />



Economic Significance of Family Businesses in UAE<br />

Exploring The AlMulla Brothers' Visionary Approach to Healthcare<br />

UAE's Unified Registry Launch: Strengthening Family Business Governance<br />

Towards Net-Zero: ADNOC’s Decarbonisation Odyssey in <strong>2024</strong><br />

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





UAE - AED 30 | USA - USD 16.5 KSA - SR<br />

61 | Qatar - QAR 60 Oman - OMR 6.3 |<br />

Bahrain - BD 6.2 Kuwait - KWD 5 | UK -<br />

£12 | EU - €14<br />

Business Triumphs:<br />

Family Traditions,<br />

UAE’s Core Enterprises<br />

Contact us at: +971 58 591 8580<br />

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Reaching a visionary goal requires<br />

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

In the <strong>May</strong> edition of the <strong>Finance</strong> <strong>World</strong> Magazine, we shine a<br />

spotlight on the vibrant entrepreneurial landscape Editor’s of the Note United<br />

Arab Emirates (UAE). As the UAE continues to solidify its position<br />

as a hub for innovation and economic growth, we find ourselves amidst<br />

a flourishing ecosystem of startups and SMEs making significant<br />

impacts across various industries.<br />

The cover story features a lineup of pioneering startups and SMEs in<br />

the UAE, meticulously curated for their groundbreaking contributions<br />

to innovation and societal impact. From fintech disruptors to<br />

sustainable energy pioneers, each company embodies the spirit of<br />

entrepreneurship and resilience, driving positive change and shaping<br />

the future of business in the region.<br />

Between these pages, readers can uncover Lara Daoud’s insights as<br />

she previews the MetaGate Summit, shedding light on its transformative<br />

role in Middle Eastern immersive technologies. The edition also<br />

features articles that dive into discussions surrounding Sharjah’s<br />

Rental Disputes Center and its pivotal role in sustaining the economy<br />

within the emirate’s thriving real estate market.<br />

And for aspiring entrepreneurs, seize the opportunity to delve into<br />

“Startup Funding 101,” a comprehensive guide illuminating various<br />

sources of capital and strategies for securing investment. Explore<br />

“Empowering Entrepreneurs: Navigating Business Financing Solutions<br />

in the UAE,” which highlights several banks bolstering the startup<br />

landscape of the Emirates.<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>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 7<br />

September 2022 3




Contents <strong>May</strong><br />

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


P10 | Recognition, Opportunities,<br />

and Leadership: The Impact of<br />

PRCA Awards<br />


P12 | Fortifying Your Future: The<br />

Vital Role of a Financial Safety Net<br />

for Startup Founders<br />



P18 | Sharjah’s Rental Disputes<br />

Center: Nurturing the Emirate’s<br />

Real Estate Economy<br />


P20 | Fintech News<br />

P23 | Fintech Application<br />


P24 | Business News<br />


UAE's Sporting Revolution: Unveiling the Blueprint for Global Domination<br />

Travelling Beyond Borders: How Startups are Bridging Gaps in Global Tourism<br />

Empowering Entrepreneurs: Navigating Financing Solutions in UAE<br />

Beyond Dubai: RAK DAO's Rise as a Hub for Digital Entrepreneurs<br />

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

ENERGY<br />

P42 | Energy News<br />



P46 | Mergers & Acquisitions News<br />


P50 | Real Estate News<br />


P52 | Exploring the Future of<br />

Immersive Technologies: In<br />

conversation with Lara Daoud<br />


P14 | Empowering Entrepreneurs:<br />

Navigating Business Financing<br />

Solutions in the UAE<br />

P16 | UAE Banking News<br />

UAE - AED 30 | USA - USD 16.5 KSA - SR<br />

61 | Qatar - QAR 60 Oman - OMR 6.3 |<br />

Bahrain - BD 6.2 Kuwait - KWD 5 | UK -<br />

£12 | EU - €14<br />

Breaking Norms:<br />

Impactful Startups that Redefined Industries<br />

P26 | Breaking Norms: Impactful<br />

Startups that Redefined Industries<br />

P56 | Startup Funding 101: Understanding<br />

Different Sources of Capital<br />

and How to Secure Investment<br />

P58 | Funding & Investment News<br />

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



P68 | Corporate Results<br />


LOCAL<br />

P84 | Local News<br />

TRAVEL<br />

P60 | Beyond Dubai: RAK<br />

DAO’s Rise as a Hub for Digital<br />

Entrepreneurs<br />


P64 | Healthcare News<br />


P70 | UAE’s Sporting Revolution:<br />

Unveiling the Blueprint for Global<br />

Domination<br />

P73 | Sports News<br />


P86 | Exploring the Enchanting<br />

Destinations of Saudi Arabia<br />

P88 | Travel News<br />


P66 | Investment Strategies,<br />

Collaboration, and Economic<br />

Growth<br />

P76 | Travelling Beyond Borders:<br />

How Startups are Bridging Gaps in<br />

Global Tourism<br />

GLOBAL<br />

P81 | Global News<br />

P45 | P79 | Launch Express<br />

P40 | P48 | Wheels<br />

P38 | P78 | Tech My Money<br />

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

Interview<br />

Recognition, Opportunities, and<br />

Leadership:<br />

The Impact of PRCA Awards<br />

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

In an engaging discussion, James Hewes, CEO of PRCA, provides valuable<br />

insights into the profound impact of PRCA Awards on nurturing excellence<br />

and fostering innovation within the dynamic PR industry. He elaborates on the<br />

distinctive characteristics that differentiate PRCA Awards from other industry<br />

accolades, highlighting their role as a beacon of recognition and celebration for<br />

outstanding achievements in public relations and communications.<br />

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

Q. Please Introduce PRCA and<br />

PRCA MENA?<br />

The PRCA was founded in London<br />

in 1969 and launched PRCA MENA in<br />

2016. We are the world’s largest professional<br />

PR body and a key part of our<br />

mission is to raise industry standards<br />

worldwide. It therefore made sense to<br />

launch in the region and bring our unique<br />

expertise to our PR & communications<br />

across MENA. Globally, we represent<br />

more than 35,000 PR professionals in<br />

82 countries.<br />

We exist to connect the industry as<br />

the foremost advocate for professional<br />

standards, inclusivity, innovation,<br />

best practices, and the celebration of<br />

excellence. This week’s PRCA MENA<br />

Awards are a great example of putting<br />

our purpose into practice, as we celebrate<br />

the very best of the industry’s<br />

work across the region.<br />

Q. Who can be a member of PRCA<br />

MENA?<br />

Our membership isn’t exclusive to<br />

PR Agencies; we also cater to in-house<br />

members from any company with a<br />

Communications team. Currently, among<br />

our network are notable companies<br />

including Al-Futaim – UAE, Alshaya –<br />

Kuwait, Volkswagen UAE, OSN Group,<br />

MAADEN – KSA, and others. Additionally,<br />

we have established partnerships with<br />

esteemed organisations such as Dubai<br />

Cares and with academic institutions<br />

across the world.<br />

Q. As the CEO of PRCA, how do you<br />

view the importance of the PRCA<br />

Awards in promoting excellence and<br />

innovation within the PR industry?<br />

PRCA was established in 1969 in the<br />

UK, boasting a rich tradition of Awards.<br />

Winning a PRCA MENA Award offers<br />

significant exposure to the agency,<br />

instilling trust in clients. In today’s<br />

competitive market with numerous<br />

agencies, being part of the PRCA network<br />

and receiving an award or being<br />

shortlisted holds substantial significance.<br />

It signals to brands that they can rely<br />

on the agency to deliver exceptional<br />

campaigns with tangible results.<br />

Q. Are there any specific goals<br />

or objectives that PRCA aims to<br />

achieve through the PRCA Awards<br />

in the coming years?<br />

The growth of AI is clearly an important<br />

development in the industry. In addition<br />

to celebrating the technical success<br />

that effective use of this technology<br />

brings, the Awards celebrate the human<br />

success that sets our industry apart.<br />

At last year’s PRCA Digital Awards<br />

in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we<br />

introduced the Best AI-Driven Digital<br />

Campaign, designed to recognise and<br />

celebrate exceptional campaigns that<br />

have successfully harnessed the power<br />

of AI. We also want to use the Awards to<br />

enhance another of our key campaigns,<br />

recognising the value of our industry.<br />

The important work that PR and communications<br />

professionals produce is<br />

critical to the success of any business<br />

– our Awards programme enables us<br />

to highlight the best example of this.<br />

Q. In your opinion, what sets the<br />

PRCA Awards apart from other<br />

industry accolades or recognition<br />

programs?<br />

The PRCA Awards stand out for several<br />

reasons. Firstly, they are backed<br />

by an organisation with a long-standing<br />

reputation for excellence in the industry<br />

since its establishment in 1969, which<br />

lends credibility and prestige to the<br />

awards. Moreover, the PRCA Awards<br />

are known for their rigorous judging<br />

process, which ensures that only the<br />

most deserving entries are recognised.<br />

The judging panel comprises seasoned<br />

professionals and experts who bring a<br />

wealth of experience and insight to the<br />

evaluation process, guaranteeing a fair<br />

and comprehensive assessment. Winning<br />

a PRCA Award carries significant<br />

weight within the industry, serving as a<br />

validation of excellence and innovation,<br />

and showcasing the winning agency’s<br />

ability to deliver outstanding results<br />

and creative campaigns.<br />

This recognition not only boosts the<br />

agency’s reputation but also enhances<br />

its credibility and trustworthiness in<br />

the eyes of clients and stakeholders.<br />

Furthermore, the PRCA Awards provide<br />

unparalleled visibility and exposure<br />

for the winners.<br />

Being honoured with a PRCA Award<br />

leads to increased media coverage,<br />

industry recognition, and new business<br />

opportunities, further solidifying the<br />

agency’s position as a leader in the field.<br />

Overall, the PRCA Awards distinguish<br />

themselves through their esteemed<br />

reputation, rigorous judging process,<br />

industry significance, and the tangible<br />

benefits they offer to winners.<br />

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

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

Source: pexels.com<br />

The foundation of financial security starts with creating an emergency fund.<br />

Fortifying Your Future:<br />

The Vital Role of a<br />

Financial Safety Net<br />

for Startup Founders<br />

Financial experts recommend maintaining a<br />

safety net that covers three to six months of<br />

living expenses.<br />

As an aspiring entrepreneur, the allure<br />

of launching a startup and bringing your<br />

vision to life is undoubtedly thrilling. However,<br />

amidst the excitement and ambition,<br />

it’s crucial to recognise the financial risks<br />

inherent in entrepreneurship. One of the<br />

prevalent shortcomings in many startups is<br />

the absence of adequate financial security<br />

measures. Often, individuals disregard<br />

the importance of financial stability and<br />

instead invest all their resources into their<br />

ventures, inadvertently jeopardising their<br />

businesses and their welfare. Building<br />

a solid financial safety net is not only<br />

prudent but essential for weathering the<br />

uncertainties of startup life. This article<br />

explores strategies for startup founders<br />

to establish a strong financial cushion,<br />

including emergency funds and insurance<br />

coverage, to safeguard personal finances.<br />

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

Understanding the Importance<br />

of a Financial Safety Net<br />

Launching a startup often<br />

involves significant financial investments,<br />

sacrifices, and uncertainties. As<br />

a founder, you may pour your savings<br />

into the business, forego a steady paycheck,<br />

and endure periods of financial<br />

instability. While the potential rewards<br />

can be immense, the journey is fraught<br />

with risks, including market fluctuations,<br />

unexpected expenses, and the possibility<br />

of business failure.<br />

A financial safety net is a buffer against<br />

these risks, providing peace of mind<br />

and stability during turbulent times. It<br />

allows you to focus on growing your<br />

business without constantly worrying<br />

about personal financial obligations or<br />

emergencies that may arise.<br />

A financial safety net refers to a set of<br />

measures and resources put in place to<br />

protect individuals or households from<br />

financial crises or unexpected expenses.<br />

It serves as a cushion to help mitigate<br />

the impact of unforeseen circumstances<br />

such as job loss, medical emergencies,<br />

or economic downturns.<br />

Key components of a financial safety<br />

net may include an emergency fund,<br />

insurance coverage (such as health,<br />

disability, or life insurance), and diversified<br />

investments. The goal of a financial<br />

safety net is to provide peace of mind,<br />

stability, and resilience in the face of<br />

financial challenges.<br />

Building an Emergency Fund<br />

One of the cornerstones of a financial<br />

safety net is an emergency fund—a pool<br />

of savings specifically earmarked for unexpected<br />

expenses or income disruptions.<br />

For startup founders, an emergency fund<br />

serves as a financial lifeline, enabling you<br />

to cover personal expenses and weather<br />

temporary setbacks without resorting to<br />

debt or derailing your business efforts.<br />

To establish an effective<br />

emergency fund:<br />

1. Set a Target Amount:<br />

Aim to save at least three to six months’<br />

worth of living expenses. Calculate<br />

your essential monthly expenditures,<br />

including housing, utilities, groceries,<br />

and insurance premiums, to determine<br />

your target amount.<br />

Success in entrepreneurship<br />

isn’t just about<br />

taking risks;<br />

it’s about<br />

smart risk<br />

management.”<br />

2. Automate Savings:<br />

Treat your emergency fund as a<br />

non-negotiable expense by setting up<br />

automatic transfers from your business or<br />

personal accounts to a dedicated savings<br />

account. Consistency is key to building<br />

a substantial reserve over time.<br />

3. Prioritise Liquidity:<br />

Keep your emergency fund in a liquid,<br />

accessible account, such as a high-yield<br />

savings account or a money market<br />

account. While it may be tempting to<br />

invest these funds for potentially higher<br />

returns, prioritising liquidity ensures<br />

that you can quickly access the money<br />

when needed.<br />

4. Replenish Regularly:<br />

Periodically review and replenish<br />

your emergency fund, especially after<br />

withdrawing funds to cover unforeseen<br />

expenses. Treat it as an ongoing financial<br />

priority rather than a one-time endeavour.<br />

Securing Adequate Insurance Coverage<br />

Apart from an emergency fund, comprehensive<br />

insurance coverage is another<br />

critical component of a financial safety<br />

net for startup founders. Insurance<br />

policies protect against various risks,<br />

including health emergencies, disability,<br />

liability, and property damage, thereby<br />

mitigating potential financial losses<br />

that could jeopardise your personal and<br />

business finances.<br />

1. Key insurance policies<br />

to consider<br />

include:<br />

Health Insurance: Ensure that you have<br />

adequate health insurance coverage for<br />

yourself and your dependents. Evaluate<br />

different plans based on premiums, deductibles,<br />

and coverage options to find<br />

the best fit for your needs.<br />

2. Disability Insurance:<br />

Protect your income and financial<br />

stability in the event of a disabling illness<br />

or injury that prevents you from working.<br />

Disability insurance replaces a portion of<br />

your lost income, allowing you to meet<br />

ongoing expenses and maintain your<br />

standard of living.<br />

3. Life Insurance:<br />

While life insurance may not be a<br />

priority for all startup founders, it can<br />

provide financial support for your loved<br />

ones in the event of your untimely death.<br />

Consider term life insurance policies with<br />

sufficient coverage to cover outstanding<br />

debts, and funeral expenses, and provide<br />

for your family’s future financial needs.<br />

4. Business Insurance:<br />

Depending on the nature of your startup,<br />

you may need specialised business<br />

insurance coverage to protect against<br />

specific risks, such as professional liability,<br />

property damage, or cyber liability.<br />

Consult an insurance agent or broker to<br />

assess your business’s insurance needs<br />

and secure appropriate coverage.<br />

Building a financial safety net is not<br />

merely a precautionary measure; it’s a<br />

strategic imperative for startup founders<br />

navigating the unpredictable terrain of<br />

entrepreneurship. By establishing an<br />

emergency fund and securing adequate<br />

insurance coverage, you can insulate<br />

your personal finances from the inherent<br />

risks of startup life and pursue your<br />

entrepreneurial dreams with confidence.<br />

Remember, investing in your financial<br />

security today lays the foundation for<br />

long-term success and resilience in the<br />

face of adversity.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 13

UAE Banking<br />

Source: freepik.com<br />

Emirates Development Bank has provided AED 1.8 billion in business loans to SMEs.<br />

Empowering Entrepreneurs:<br />

Navigating<br />

Business Financing<br />

Solutions in the UAE<br />

Customised banking and financing solutions<br />

in the UAE serve as essential tools for<br />

entrepreneurial success.<br />

Embarking on a business venture in the<br />

UAE’s vibrant market might appear intimidating<br />

at first glance. Yet, by focusing<br />

on key essentials like developing a<br />

solid business plan, acquiring necessary<br />

licences, establishing a bank account, and<br />

securing funding, you can pave a smoother<br />

path for your entrepreneurial journey. For<br />

making informed decisions, this article<br />

explores banks offering services tailored<br />

to kick-starting businesses in the UAE.<br />

These institutions provide vital support,<br />

guiding entrepreneurs through various<br />

services to navigate the market effectively<br />

and accelerate business growth. With their<br />

expertise and resources, entrepreneurs<br />

can confidently embark on their entrepreneurial<br />

endeavours and thrive in the<br />

competitive landscape of the UAE.<br />

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

Banking services play a vital role in<br />

the journey of startups and SMEs<br />

in the UAE, providing access to<br />

capital, enabling financial management,<br />

facilitating seamless payments, mitigating<br />

risks, supporting international<br />

trade, ensuring regulatory compliance,<br />

and offering valuable expertise. By<br />

leveraging the comprehensive suite of<br />

banking services available in the UAE,<br />

entrepreneurs can fuel their aspirations,<br />

drive economic prosperity, and embark<br />

on a path towards sustainable success<br />

in the dynamic business landscape of<br />

the Emirates.<br />

Starting a business venture demands<br />

careful preparation, and among the initial<br />

milestones is the establishment of<br />

a business account. This step, though<br />

sometimes intimidating, stands as a<br />

crucial foundation for startups and Small<br />

and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to lay<br />

down their financial groundwork and<br />

gain entry to a diverse range of banking<br />

services crafted to suit their requirements.<br />

Comparing Business Account Options<br />

for Startups and SMEs in the UAE<br />

When evaluating the banking options<br />

available for startups and SMEs in the<br />

UAE, it’s crucial to consider various factors<br />

such as minimum balance requirements,<br />

address proof necessities, key charges,<br />

existing bank account requirements,<br />

cross-border transaction capabilities,<br />

average opening time, and any notable<br />

comments or additional features.<br />

ADCB offers a relatively low minimum<br />

balance requirement and accepts<br />

a wide range of address proofs, making<br />

it accessible for businesses at various<br />

stages. However, its inability to facilitate<br />

cross-border transactions may limit its<br />

utility for companies with international<br />

aspirations. ADIB, with an AED 5000 balance<br />

requirement, provides the advantage<br />

of allowing cross-border transactions,<br />

which can be essential for businesses<br />

engaged in global trade. E20 stands out for<br />

its flexibility, with no minimum balance<br />

requirement and a fully digital application<br />

process, making it convenient for<br />

tech-savvy entrepreneurs. Additionally,<br />

its low monthly maintenance fee and<br />

reasonable transaction charges make it<br />

an attractive option for cost-conscious<br />

startups.<br />

Mashreq Neo offers the advantage of<br />

waiving the monthly maintenance fee<br />

with a minimum balance, which could be<br />

beneficial for businesses with fluctuating<br />

cash flows. However, its requirement<br />

for a higher minimum balance to qualify<br />

for the waiver may be a deterrent<br />

for some startups. RAK Starter, while<br />

offering competitive fees and allowing<br />

cross-border transactions, may have a<br />

longer average opening time and a fully<br />

digital application process, which might<br />

not suit all entrepreneurs.<br />

Ultimately, the choice of banking<br />

partner depends on the specific needs<br />

and priorities of the startup or SME,<br />

weighing factors such as cost-effectiveness,<br />

convenience, digital capabilities,<br />

and international transaction facilitation.<br />

However, E20 looks like an ideal<br />

choice for start-up businesses as It offers<br />

flexibility with no minimum balance<br />

requirement, competitive fees for local<br />

and international transfers.<br />

Analysing the Business Financing<br />

Solutions for UAE Startups and SMEs<br />

Mashreq Neo Business Loan offers<br />

startups and SMEs in the UAE a convenient<br />

way to access funding based on<br />

their card payment receivables through<br />

its Merchant Lending facility. With no<br />

requirement for cash or security, entrepreneurs<br />

can secure term loans of up<br />

to AED 5 million, providing substantial<br />

capital to fuel their growth. The loan<br />

comes with flexible repayment options<br />

of up to 48 months, allowing businesses<br />

to align their repayments with their cash<br />

flow projections. The application and<br />

approval process is streamlined, ensuring<br />

quick access to funds and minimising<br />

administrative hassles.<br />

ADIB Small Business <strong>Finance</strong> presents<br />

a tailored financing solution for<br />

small and medium businesses in the<br />

UAE, catering to both short-term and<br />

long-term financial goals. With options<br />

like Working Capital <strong>Finance</strong> for local<br />

and international purchases or CAPEX<br />

<strong>Finance</strong> for equipment, machinery, and<br />

auto needs, ADIB offers a comprehensive<br />

suite of financing solutions to meet<br />

diverse business requirements. Key<br />

benefits include financing up to AED 1.5<br />

million, a hassle-free application process,<br />

competitive financing profit rates, and<br />

flexible tenor options.<br />

ADCB offers fast-track finance solutions<br />

tailored to the dynamic needs of<br />

growing businesses. With their unsecured<br />

loan option, entrepreneurs can access<br />

up to AED 1.5 million in loan amounts,<br />

providing the capital necessary to seize<br />

growth opportunities promptly. The flexibility<br />

extends to repayment terms, with<br />

options for up to 48 months, ensuring<br />

businesses can manage their cash flow<br />

effectively. What’s more, ADCB’s unsecured<br />

loan eliminates the need for collateral,<br />

simplifying the borrowing process for<br />

entrepreneurs. With a streamlined documentation<br />

process and quick approval<br />

turnaround, businesses can access the<br />

funds they need with minimal hassle.<br />

Unlocking unparalleled features, RAKvalue<br />

SME Business Loan caters to the<br />

diverse financing needs of businesses,<br />

offering a comprehensive solution to<br />

fuel growth. With financing amounts<br />

extending up to AED 3 million and a<br />

repayment period of up to 60 months,<br />

entrepreneurs gain the flexibility to expand<br />

their operations without the burden<br />

of collateral. For urgent financial needs,<br />

express loans of up to AED 500,000 are<br />

available, ensuring businesses can seize<br />

opportunities promptly.<br />

Emirates NBD empowers small and<br />

medium enterprises (SMEs) to shape the<br />

future of their businesses with flexible<br />

financing solutions through their Small<br />

Business Loan offering. Whether businesses<br />

seek to expand operations, invest<br />

in new equipment, or hire additional<br />

staff, Emirates NBD provides the support<br />

needed to achieve these goals. Tailored<br />

for sole proprietors, self-employed individuals,<br />

and SMEs, this Commercial Loan<br />

offers funding up to AED 300,000, with<br />

a minimum loan amount of AED 50,000,<br />

ensuring accessibility to businesses at<br />

various stages.<br />

Each of these financing options provides<br />

businesses with the necessary capital<br />

and support to achieve their growth and<br />

expansion goals. Depending on specific<br />

requirements, businesses can choose the<br />

option that best aligns with their financial<br />

needs, offering flexibility, competitive<br />

rates, and additional benefits to drive<br />

success in the UAE market.<br />

Investing in the right banking and<br />

financing solutions lays the groundwork<br />

for success, empowering entrepreneurs<br />

to navigate the dynamic landscape of<br />

the UAE market with confidence and<br />

resilience.<br />

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

UAE Banking News<br />

UAE Banks Lead<br />

Region with $18.6M<br />

Revenue Per Branch<br />

UAE bank branches lead the<br />

region in revenue, averaging<br />

$18.6M per branch for retail<br />

services, marking a 27% surge from<br />

2019. Saumitra Sehgal, head of financial<br />

services at Roland Berger,<br />

attributes this growth to digital transformation,<br />

which saw the Gulf region’s<br />

banks reduce branches by 328 over<br />

three years. The UAE spearheaded<br />

this trend, slashing 157 branches by<br />

2022, followed by Saudi Arabia with<br />

82 and Bahrain with 57. Qatar reduced<br />

branches by 20. Sehgal anticipates the<br />

UAE could further decrease branches<br />

by 10 to 15% in the next two years.<br />

This shift, driven by digitalisation, sees<br />

branches evolving from transaction<br />

hubs to specialised service centres<br />

like mortgage acquisition, streamlining<br />

simple transactions digitally, a move<br />

beneficial for banks and customers<br />

alike.<br />

UAE and Qatar Banks Lead GCC in Reputation<br />

Banks in the UAE and Qatar stand<br />

out in the GCC for their exceptional<br />

reputation, according to<br />

a report by KPMG, which delves into<br />

customer perceptions of the region’s<br />

banking sector. Emirati banks lead in<br />

reputation, showcasing the highest net<br />

positive sentiment among GCC peers,<br />

measured through an analysis of nearly<br />

4 million online posts on platforms<br />

like X (formerly Twitter). Meanwhile,<br />

Qatar secures the top spot for overall<br />

net sentiment, with Bahrain following<br />

closely in second place. The report, a<br />

first of its kind in the region, provides<br />

valuable insights into customer sentiments<br />

and interactions with banks<br />

online. Saudi Arabian banks notably<br />

lead in engaging with customers online,<br />

with a response rate of 58.6%,<br />

surpassing the GCC average of 31.3%,<br />

with Oman and Kuwait ranking next.<br />

These responses, mainly from bank<br />

social media teams, address customer<br />

mentions on X, indicating proactive<br />

engagement to address potential risks<br />

or opportunities for the brand.<br />

Fitch Affirms Ajman Bank’s ‘BBB’ Rating;<br />

Stable Outlook<br />

Fitch Ratings has reaffirmed<br />

Ajman Bank’s long-term issuer<br />

default rating (IDR) at ‘BBB+’,<br />

with a stable outlook, and viability<br />

rating (VR) at ‘b+’, as per a recent<br />

press release. Mustafa Al Khalfawi,<br />

Group CEO of Ajman Bank, expressed<br />

pride in receiving the ‘BBB+’ rating,<br />

underscoring the institution’s strong<br />

financial outlook and strategic trajectory.<br />

Al Khalfawi emphasised the<br />

endorsement as a testament to their<br />

operational resilience, prudent risk<br />

management, and commitment to<br />

corporate governance and financial<br />

integrity. He noted the rating as a<br />

catalyst for further innovation, expansion<br />

of service offerings, and<br />

enhancement of shareholder value<br />

amid evolving financial landscapes.<br />

The ratings reflect UAE authorities’<br />

support for the bank’s IDR, while the<br />

VR highlights aspects such as narrow<br />

franchises, undiversified business<br />

models, risk concentrations, improving<br />

asset quality, modest profitability, and<br />

capitalisation.<br />

4 UAE Banks Facilitate AED 4.25B Syndicated Loan for Africa<br />

Four UAE banks, alongside lenders<br />

from Europe and Asia, facilitated<br />

Africa <strong>Finance</strong> Corporation<br />

(AFC) in raising a $1.16B (AED<br />

4.25B) syndicated loan. This agreement,<br />

signed on Tuesday, saw leading<br />

international financial institutions<br />

such as First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB),<br />

Mashreqbank, MUFG Bank, and Standard<br />

Chartered as global coordinators,<br />

with Industrial and Commercial Bank<br />

of China (London Branch) as the China<br />

coordinator. Abu Dhabi Commercial<br />

Bank (ADCB), Emirates NBD Bank,<br />

Mizuho, and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking<br />

Corporation acted as initial mandated<br />

lead arrangers and bookrunners. Bank<br />

of China and Société Générale S.A also<br />

participated as initially mandated lead<br />

arrangers, alongside first-time lenders<br />

Société Générale, Bank Muscat, and<br />

Intesa Sanpolo Bank Luxembourg<br />

S.A. The syndicated loan, initially<br />

launched at $1B, was upsized due to<br />

oversubscription by 49%, indicating<br />

strong global investor confidence in<br />

AFC’s creditworthiness and resilience<br />

in navigating today’s economic landscape<br />

with unwavering strength and<br />

determination.<br />

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

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank Donates AED 3M to Mothers’ Endowment Campaign<br />

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB),<br />

a leading financial institution,<br />

has contributed AED 3M to the<br />

Mothers’ Endowment campaign, initiated<br />

by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al<br />

Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime<br />

Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.<br />

The campaign’s objective is to honour<br />

mothers by establishing an AED 1B<br />

endowment fund aimed at sustainably<br />

supporting education worldwide. Managed<br />

by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum<br />

Global Initiatives (MBRGI), the campaign’s<br />

funds will be utilised to implement<br />

education projects in collaboration with<br />

humanitarian organisations, empowering<br />

millions of underprivileged individuals<br />

with essential skills for independent<br />

living. Within two weeks of its launch, the<br />

campaign has already raised AED 770M<br />

in donations, demonstrating significant<br />

progress towards its ambitious goal.<br />

Investcorp Names<br />

Abbas Rizvi as CFO<br />

Investcorp, a prominent alternative<br />

investment firm, announces the<br />

appointment of Mr. Abbas Rizvi as<br />

its Group Chief Financial Officer (CFO),<br />

effective April 1, <strong>2024</strong>, succeeding Mr.<br />

Jan Erik Back, who will retire. With 19<br />

years of experience at Investcorp, Rizvi<br />

has showcased exceptional dedication<br />

and leadership across various roles,<br />

positioning him uniquely for this new<br />

role. Before joining Investcorp, he<br />

served at Ernst & Young, specialising<br />

in auditing and advisory services for<br />

financial institutions. Rizvi is a fellow<br />

member of the Institute of Chartered<br />

Accountants of Pakistan and an alumnus<br />

of Yale School of Management’s Global<br />

Executive Leadership Program.<br />

Mohammed Alardhi, Investcorp<br />

Executive Chairman, expressed<br />

confidence in Rizvi’s ability to lead<br />

the firm’s financial strategy, thanking<br />

Jan Erik Back for his contributions<br />

and wishing him well in retirement.<br />

Abu Dhabi Welcomes Tungsten, UAE’s Digital<br />

Asset Custodian<br />

Tungsten, the UAE’s inaugural<br />

regulated digital asset custodian,<br />

has secured its licence<br />

from the Financial Services Regulatory<br />

Authority (FSRA) to operate<br />

within the Abu Dhabi Global Market.<br />

Positioned to cater to institutional<br />

investors, Tungsten will offer secure<br />

storage solutions for cryptocurrencies<br />

and various digital assets. With the<br />

UAE witnessing over $34.9B worth of<br />

digital asset transactions in the past<br />

year, Tungsten aims to capitalise on<br />

this burgeoning market by providing<br />

The Central Bank of the UAE<br />

(CBUAE) has decided to maintain<br />

the status quo on interest<br />

rates, opting to keep the base rate<br />

for the Overnight Deposit Facility<br />

(ODF) unchanged at its prevailing<br />

rate of 5.40 percent. Additionally, the<br />

interest rate applicable to borrowing<br />

short-term liquidity from the central<br />

bank remains at 50 basis points above<br />

the Base Rate for all standing credit<br />

facilities. This decision closely follows<br />

the US Federal Reserve’s recent<br />

announcement to keep the interest<br />

rate on Reserve Balances (IORB) unchanged.<br />

Given that the CBUAE’s Base<br />

Rate is anchored to the US Federal<br />

Reserve’s IORB, this move signals the<br />

a safer alternative to self-custody or<br />

reliance on exchanges. Chris Desjardins,<br />

founder and senior executive<br />

of Tungsten, expressed pride in operating<br />

within the UAE’s progressive<br />

regulatory framework, emphasising the<br />

company’s dedication to excellence<br />

and innovation. Tungsten’s services<br />

will include online and offline bankgrade<br />

storage, enterprise-grade wallet<br />

management, and insurance coverage<br />

to instil confidence among institutional<br />

clients.<br />

UAE Central Bank Maintains Base Rate at 5.40%<br />

general stance of monetary policy and<br />

serves to establish an effective floor<br />

for overnight money market interest<br />

rates within the UAE.<br />

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

UAE Reforms<br />

source: wam.ae<br />

Sharjah’s occupancy rate exceeds 87%, with scarce availability of prime properties.<br />

Sharjah’s Rental<br />

Disputes Center:<br />

Nurturing the Emirate’s<br />

Real Estate Economy<br />

Rental Disputes Center will regulate the relationship<br />

between landlord and tenant and guarantee them<br />

justice, stability, and speed of litigation.<br />

Sharjah emerges as the epitome of accessibility,<br />

affordability, and tranquillity in<br />

residential living. The emirate’s economy<br />

is largely supported by its rental market,<br />

which, in contrast to Dubai and Abu Dhabi,<br />

experiences comparatively lower levels<br />

of inflation. With escalating rental costs<br />

in Dubai in recent years, a significant migration<br />

from the city to Sharjah has been<br />

observed. This influx of residents also<br />

brings an increased likelihood of rental<br />

disputes. To address this, the government<br />

has proposed a draft law to establish a<br />

rental disputes center in <strong>2024</strong>. This move<br />

aims to ensure the sustainable growth of<br />

the rental sector and maintain a fair environment<br />

for both tenants and landlords.<br />

This article explores the implications of<br />

this regulatory reform and its anticipated<br />

impact on Sharjah’s residential landscape.<br />

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

The real estate landscape in Sharjah<br />

is experiencing a notable upswing,<br />

mirroring the growth trend observed<br />

across the UAE. Over the past three<br />

years, a series of policy adjustments and<br />

the introduction of new projects have<br />

facilitated the transformation of Sharjah’s<br />

real estate market into an affordable yet<br />

high-quality and integrated sector.<br />

This evolution has broadened its appeal,<br />

attracting several buyers from beyond the<br />

traditional GCC market. In line with the<br />

buoyancy seen in Dubai and Abu Dhabi,<br />

Sharjah witnessed a surge in real estate<br />

transactions in 2023, with transaction<br />

volumes soaring by 14.6% year-on-year<br />

for the first nine months alone, reaching<br />

a total value of over AED 19 billion.<br />

As per the recent Real Estate Transactions<br />

and Mortgages Movement report released<br />

by the Sharjah Real Estate Registration<br />

Department, Sharjah’s real estate market<br />

showed robust activity in February <strong>2024</strong>.<br />

The report disclosed a trading volume<br />

totalling AED 3.1 billion ($844 million),<br />

reflecting 4,458 real estate transactions<br />

carried out across various regions and<br />

cities within the emirate.<br />

According to a report by Savills, Sharjah<br />

experiences a positive influx of tenants<br />

and buyers from neighbouring Dubai,<br />

where prices in specific communities<br />

have nearly doubled over the past 18 to<br />

24 months. Consequently, demand has<br />

surpassed supply in Sharjah over the past<br />

year, with occupancy rates averaging over<br />

87%. The most sought-after properties have<br />

extremely limited availability. However,<br />

a two-tier market dynamic is emerging:<br />

older or lower-quality buildings remain<br />

price-sensitive, while demand sharply<br />

rises for properties meeting a certain<br />

quality standard.<br />

In a move aimed at enhancing judicial<br />

efficacy and fostering economic stability,<br />

the Sharjah Consultative Council (SCC) has<br />

approved a draft law for the year <strong>2024</strong> to<br />

establish and regulate the Rental Disputes<br />

Center in Sharjah. This pivotal decision,<br />

made during the eighth session of the<br />

Council, marks a significant milestone<br />

in the Emirate’s legislative landscape.<br />

The establishment of the Rental Disputes<br />

Center in Sharjah is poised to play a<br />

pivotal role in sustaining the economy<br />

through several key mechanisms. Some<br />

of these are discussed below:<br />

1. Enhanced Investor Confidence:<br />

A transparent and efficient mechanism<br />

for resolving rental disputes instils<br />

confidence among investors, both domestic<br />

and foreign. By providing a reliable<br />

framework for addressing potential<br />

conflicts between landlords and tenants,<br />

the centre reduces uncertainty in the real<br />

estate market, thereby attracting greater<br />

investment. Increased investment, in<br />

turn, stimulates economic activity and<br />

fuels growth across various sectors of<br />

the economy.<br />

2. Stability in the Real Estate Sector:<br />

The real estate sector is a cornerstone<br />

of Sharjah’s economy, with significant<br />

contributions to GDP and employment.<br />

By establishing a dedicated centre for<br />

resolving rental disputes, the Emirate<br />

mitigates the risk of protracted legal battles<br />

and ensures the smooth functioning of<br />

real estate transactions. This stability is<br />

essential for sustaining property values,<br />

encouraging development projects, and<br />

maintaining investor confidence in the<br />

long term.<br />

The centre,<br />

under<br />

Sharjah City<br />

Municipality,<br />

strives for<br />

efficient<br />

resolution of<br />

rental disputes,<br />

ensuring timely<br />

and quality<br />

rulings.”<br />

3. Fostering Entrepreneurship<br />

and Small Businesses:<br />

Small businesses often rely on rental<br />

properties for their operations. Delays or<br />

uncertainties in resolving disputes can<br />

disrupt business operations and impede<br />

growth. The Rental Disputes Center, by<br />

offering timely and fair resolutions, provides<br />

small businesses with the assurance they<br />

need to thrive. This, in turn, encourages<br />

entrepreneurship, supports job creation,<br />

and contributes to the diversification of<br />

the economy.<br />

4. Promoting Consumer Spending:<br />

A stable and predictable real estate<br />

market benefits not only investors and<br />

businesses but also consumers. Tenants,<br />

assured of their rights and confident in<br />

the dispute resolution process, are more<br />

likely to invest in their rented properties,<br />

whether through improvements or long-term<br />

commitments. This increased consumer<br />

spending has a multiplier effect on the<br />

economy, driving demand for goods and<br />

services and fueling economic growth.<br />

5. Attracting Foreign Investment:<br />

In an increasingly interconnected global<br />

economy, foreign investors scrutinise<br />

the legal and regulatory environment of<br />

potential investment destinations. The<br />

establishment of a Rental Disputes Center<br />

demonstrates Sharjah’s commitment to<br />

upholding the rule of law and protecting<br />

the rights of all stakeholders in the<br />

real estate sector. This commitment<br />

enhances the Emirate’s attractiveness<br />

as a destination for foreign investment,<br />

leading to inflows of capital, technology<br />

transfer, and knowledge exchange—all of<br />

which are vital for sustainable economic<br />

development.<br />

The Rental Disputes Center in Sharjah<br />

serves as a linchpin for economic<br />

sustainability by promoting stability,<br />

confidence, and fairness in the real estate<br />

market. By resolving disputes efficiently<br />

and upholding the rule of law, the centre<br />

facilitates a conducive environment<br />

for investment, entrepreneurship, and<br />

consumer spending—all of which are<br />

essential components of a thriving and<br />

resilient economy.<br />

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

Fintech News<br />

Alibaba Cloud Unveils Training Center in Dubai Internet City<br />

Alibaba Cloud has inaugurated a<br />

state-of-the-art training centre in<br />

Dubai Internet City, enhancing its<br />

commitment to empowering ecosystem<br />

partners and customers. Situated within<br />

the global tech hub of TECOM Group<br />

PJSC, the centre will offer a range of<br />

training, workshops, and certifications,<br />

catering to diverse digital skill sets.<br />

With over 3,500 customers, including<br />

Fortune 500 companies, SMEs, and<br />

startups, Dubai Internet City serves as<br />

a vital hub for regional digital transformation.<br />

Collaborating with Aladdin<br />

Cyber Security, a leading provider of<br />

security services, the centre plans to<br />

host monthly training and enablement<br />

programs covering cutting-edge technologies<br />

like AI, database management,<br />

and elastic computing. These initiatives<br />

align with Dubai’s economic agenda and<br />

the UAE’s vision for a future-oriented,<br />

knowledge-based economy, fostering<br />

digital talent and accelerating regional<br />

digitisation efforts.<br />

TCL Unveils <strong>World</strong>’s Largest QD-Mini LED TV in Dubai<br />

TCL unveiled the world’s largest<br />

QD-Mini LED TV, the 115” X955<br />

Max, at a grand launch event<br />

in Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah. Industry<br />

leaders, media representatives, and<br />

influencers gathered for an evening<br />

of excitement and anticipation, joined<br />

by notable personalities like Khalid Al<br />

Ameri, Baymabay, and Latifa Shamsi.<br />

The event showcased the TV’s outstanding<br />

features, including a peak brightness<br />

of 5,000 nits and over 20,000 local<br />

dimming zones, promising exceptional<br />

contrast and visuals. With QLED Pro, a<br />

144 Hz VRR, and an ONKYO 6.2.2 Hi-Fi<br />

system, the TV ensures superior image<br />

quality and immersive audio. Attendees<br />

experienced the product firsthand in<br />

an immersive user experience zone<br />

and enjoyed engaging presentations<br />

from TCL executives, entertainment,<br />

and interactive activities, making it a<br />

memorable affair for all.<br />

Telco-Backed Platforms Dominate E-Wallet Market<br />

in Africa and the Middle East<br />

Telco-backed e-wallet platforms<br />

are leading the market in Africa<br />

and the Middle East, offering users<br />

a range of services directly from their<br />

mobile phones, including payments,<br />

money transfers, and remittances,<br />

according to a market analysis by<br />

financial data company FXC Intelligence.<br />

The report, titled “The State<br />

of E-Wallets: Africa and the Middle<br />

East,” examined the region’s e-wallet<br />

market, highlighting key players and<br />

their offerings. With a significant population<br />

of unbanked individuals and<br />

increasing mobile phone penetration,<br />

e-wallet adoption is surging due to its<br />

convenience and accessibility. This<br />

trend is underscored by the <strong>World</strong><br />

Bank’s Global Findex data, revealing<br />

a notable increase in digital payment<br />

usage in both sub-Saharan Africa and<br />

the Middle East and North Africa. The<br />

report identifies twelve significant<br />

e-wallet platforms in the region, most<br />

of which are telco-backed, highlighting<br />

the dominance of telecom companies in<br />

driving financial inclusion and digital<br />

wallet adoption among unbanked and<br />

remote populations.<br />

Cleeng Partners with<br />

Adyen to Elevate<br />

Subscription Payments<br />

in the UAE<br />

Adyen, a global payments platform,<br />

has extended its collaboration<br />

with Cleeng to the United Arab<br />

Emirates (UAE), enhancing subscription<br />

payment solutions in the region. Cleeng,<br />

renowned for its Subscriber Retention<br />

Management (SRM) software in the<br />

media and entertainment sectors, enters<br />

the UAE market to elevate its services<br />

for broadcasters across the Middle<br />

East and North Africa (MENA) region.<br />

This strategic move is in response to<br />

the requirements of TOD, a prominent<br />

sports and entertainment streaming<br />

service under the beIN Media Group<br />

in MENA, highlighting the increasing<br />

demand for Cleeng’s offerings in new<br />

territories. The partnership addresses<br />

revenue loss challenges stemming from<br />

expired card details by leveraging Adyen’s<br />

Real-Time Account Updater, ensuring<br />

uninterrupted service. Additionally,<br />

Cleeng adopts Adyen’s Network Token<br />

Optimization for enhanced data security<br />

and authentication rates, along with<br />

the RevenueProtect risk management<br />

tool to combat fraud.<br />

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

Visa Co-Hosts Dubai<br />

Fintech Summit<br />

Visa’s participation as a Founding<br />

Partner and Co-Host at the Dubai<br />

FinTech Summit, organised by the<br />

Dubai International Financial Centre<br />

(DIFC), highlights its steadfast commitment<br />

to fostering innovation and<br />

driving progress in the global fintech<br />

landscape. Through a strategic threeyear<br />

agreement with DFS, Visa has<br />

deepened its partnership, signalling<br />

a long-term dedication to supporting<br />

the fintech ecosystem. Leveraging<br />

initiatives like the Fast Track program,<br />

Accelerators, and Visa Everywhere,<br />

Visa remains at the forefront of empowering<br />

fintechs, offering tailored<br />

resources and personalised tools to<br />

fuel their growth and innovation. By<br />

collaborating with industry stakeholders<br />

and thought leaders at events like the<br />

Dubai FinTech Summit, Visa continues<br />

to shape the future of finance, driving<br />

the evolution of digital payments and<br />

advancing financial inclusion worldwide.<br />

UAE Smart Home Market to Grow Over 10% Annually<br />

The UAE smart home market is<br />

set for significant growth, with<br />

a projected annual expansion<br />

rate of 10.49% between <strong>2024</strong> and 2028,<br />

driving the market volume to an estimated<br />

$113.8M by 2028, as indicated by<br />

Statista.com data. Household penetration<br />

is expected to witness a notable<br />

uptick, climbing from 15.7% in <strong>2024</strong> to<br />

22.9% by 2028. Seizing upon this burgeoning<br />

trend, Philips has introduced<br />

HomelD, a cutting-edge application<br />

aimed at seamlessly connecting all<br />

home devices. Beyond offering culinary<br />

insights, HomelD provides comprehensive<br />

tips and tricks, including<br />

guidance for optimising kitchen and<br />

coffee machines, with tailored support.<br />

This innovative app enables users<br />

to effortlessly connect their Philips<br />

kitchen and coffee machines, access<br />

a wealth of recipes and barista tips,<br />

and benefit from valuable guidance,<br />

manuals, and support, ensuring users<br />

fully leverage the capabilities of their<br />

home appliances.<br />

Bolttech’s Middle East Expansion via stc Group<br />

Partnership<br />

Bolttech, a leading international<br />

insurtech company, has unveiled<br />

a partnership with stc<br />

Group, a prominent player in telecommunications<br />

and digital transformation<br />

across the Middle East.<br />

This collaboration signifies bolttech’s<br />

strategic expansion into several new<br />

markets, capitalising on stc Group’s<br />

well-established presence in the region.<br />

The partnership aims to provide<br />

stc’s customers with cutting-edge<br />

device protection services, integrating<br />

advanced technology to enhance the<br />

overall customer experience. Beyond<br />

mobile device protection, the collaboration<br />

intends to diversify its offerings<br />

to include IoT-enabled solutions for a<br />

wide array of products, spanning from<br />

home appliances to health electronics,<br />

and even cybersecurity solutions for<br />

personal assets. This strategic alliance<br />

underscores both companies’ commitment<br />

to delivering innovative and<br />

comprehensive insurance solutions to<br />

meet the evolving needs of customers<br />

in the Middle East.<br />

Sav-Desert Adventures<br />

Partnership Expands<br />

Leisure Services in UAE<br />

Sav, a leading fintech firm, has<br />

partnered with Desert Adventures,<br />

a prominent destination management<br />

company in the UAE, granting Sav<br />

users access to a wide range of leisure<br />

services. With over 75% of residents<br />

prioritising unique experiences, this<br />

collaboration is poised to capture a<br />

growing market. Through the Sav app,<br />

users can now explore Desert Adventures’<br />

offerings, including city tours,<br />

desert safaris, theme park tickets, sea<br />

cruises, dining experiences, and sports<br />

activities. Exclusive discounts are also<br />

available for Sav users. Purvi Munot,<br />

Sav’s Co-founder and CEO, expressed<br />

excitement about enhancing users’<br />

leisure experiences. Samir Mehta, COO<br />

at Desert Adventures, highlighted the<br />

collaboration’s value in distributing<br />

destination services to the local market.<br />

The integration of Desert Adventures’<br />

offerings into the Sav app is now live,<br />

enabling users to easily access diverse<br />

experiences, and enhancing their ability<br />

to explore cultural and recreational<br />

opportunities available.<br />

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

Organized By<br />



SUMMIT<br />

28 th - 29 th <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> | Dubai<br />

www.wellbeingsummits.com<br />









Fintech Application<br />

NAQAD<br />

Kamelpay has firmly positioned<br />

itself as a leading fintech player<br />

within the UAE’s dynamic financial<br />

sector. Recognised for its agile<br />

and customised payment solutions,<br />

Kamelpay has become a trusted partner<br />

for corporations, offering invaluable<br />

support in efficiently managing the<br />

payroll requirements of low-income<br />

employees.<br />

Central to Kamelpay’s offerings is<br />

its user-friendly application, NaqaD,<br />

which delivers a comprehensive array<br />

of digital payment services, replete<br />

with a multitude of advantages for<br />

both users and businesses:<br />

First and foremost, NaqaD facilitates<br />

seamless money remittance, empowering<br />

users to transfer funds swiftly<br />

and securely to designated recipients.<br />

This functionality not only ensures<br />

timely payments but also underscores<br />

Kamelpay’s commitment to facilitating<br />

hassle-free financial transactions.<br />

In tandem with its remittance services,<br />

NaqaD prioritises the secure<br />

processing of transactions, leveraging<br />

cutting-edge encryption technologies<br />

to safeguard user data and financial<br />

information. This unwavering dedication<br />

to security is a cornerstone of<br />

trust and reliability, establishing it as<br />

a preferred platform for users seeking<br />

peace of mind in their financial dealings.<br />

Moreover, the application offers<br />

seamless mobile top-up services, enabling<br />

users to replenish their mobile<br />

accounts effortlessly and maintain<br />

uninterrupted connectivity. Additionally,<br />

the platform facilitates convenient<br />

bill payments, allowing users to settle<br />

their financial obligations promptly and<br />

conveniently, all from the convenience<br />

of their smartphones.<br />

By streamlining the process of online<br />

transactions, NaqaD empowers<br />

users to navigate the digital landscape<br />

with ease, offering a user-friendly<br />

interface that enhances efficiency<br />

and convenience. This functionality<br />

reflects its commitment to simplifying<br />

financial transactions and enhancing<br />

user experience.<br />

It also empowers users to monitor<br />

their finances closely through its intuitive<br />

application dashboard, providing<br />

real-time insights into financial activities<br />

and expenditures. This transparency<br />

enables users to make informed<br />

decisions and manage their finances<br />

effectively, promoting financial literacy<br />

and responsibility.<br />

One of the application’s standout<br />

features is the provision of transaction<br />

history without incurring any overhead<br />

charges. This transparency ensures that<br />

users have access to comprehensive<br />

records of their financial transactions,<br />

facilitating accountability and financial<br />

planning.<br />

NaqaD epitomises the future of digital<br />

financial solutions, offering a comprehensive<br />

suite of services designed to<br />

meet the diverse needs of users. With<br />

its unwavering commitment to security,<br />

convenience, and transparency,<br />

Kamelpay emerges as a trusted partner<br />

for corporations and individuals alike<br />

in navigating the dynamic landscape<br />

of fintech in the UAE.<br />

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

Business News<br />

Parkin’s Trading Debut in UAE’s Inaugural IPO of <strong>2024</strong> Sees 30% Surge<br />

Dubai’s premier parking operator,<br />

Parkin, experienced a<br />

remarkable surge of over 30%<br />

as it debuted on the Dubai Financial<br />

Market. With shares reaching AED<br />

2.73 ($0.74) at the onset of trading,<br />

Parkin’s initial public offering marked<br />

a resoundingly positive start to the<br />

United Arab Emirates’ inaugural public<br />

listing of the year. Priced at the upper<br />

end of its range at 2.1 dirhams, the<br />

company commanded a valuation of<br />

$1.7B. Oversubscribed 165 times, the<br />

IPO raised AED 1.57B ($429M), with<br />

demand soaring to AED 259B, a record<br />

for the exchange. As Dubai’s leading<br />

provider of paid parking services,<br />

Parkin is poised to capitalise on the<br />

city’s expanding population, evident<br />

from the 63% surge in residency visas<br />

issued in the first half of 2023.<br />

Abu Dhabi Extends<br />

10% Tourism Tax<br />

Waiver for Events<br />

The Department of Culture and<br />

Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT<br />

Abu Dhabi) has extended the<br />

waiver on fees related to event ticket<br />

issuance, distribution, and marketing<br />

in the emirate until December 31.<br />

This move aims to increase growth in<br />

the tourism sector. Event organisers<br />

will benefit from a waiver of the 10%<br />

tourism fee on ticket sales during this<br />

period. Saleh Mohammed Al Geziry,<br />

director general of Tourism at DCT<br />

Abu Dhabi, highlighted the importance<br />

of events in attracting visitors to the<br />

capital city, emphasising the diverse<br />

range of year-round events available.<br />

While enjoying the fee waiver, organisers<br />

must adhere to regulations by<br />

securing event licences through the<br />

Abu Dhabi Events Licencing System<br />

and complying with financial reporting<br />

requirements. These initiatives align<br />

with efforts to enhance Abu Dhabi’s<br />

tourism and events industry.<br />

UAE, Russia, Saudi Arabia Boost Indian Engineering<br />

Goods Exports<br />

Despite an overall decline in goods<br />

exports, engineering goods<br />

exports from India witnessed<br />

a 1.23% year-on-year growth, reaching<br />

$98.03B in April-February 2023-24. Notably,<br />

there was a significant increase<br />

in exports to Russia, the UAE, and<br />

Australia. However, exports to key<br />

markets like the US and China saw<br />

a decline during the eleven months,<br />

according to an analysis by EEPC<br />

India. In February <strong>2024</strong> alone, engineering<br />

exports surged by 15.9%, hitting<br />

$9.94B, marking the highest growth<br />

rate for fiscal year 2023-24. Although<br />

exports to the US decreased by 7% to<br />

$15.95B, it remained the top destination.<br />

Meanwhile, engineering exports<br />

to the UAE soared by 16%, reaching<br />

$5.22B, making it the second-largest<br />

The fee waiver for commercial<br />

licences on Al Reem Island until<br />

October 31, as announced by the<br />

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM),<br />

represents a significant boon for businesses,<br />

particularly those in the non-financial<br />

and retail sectors. This move,<br />

formulated following extensive focus<br />

group sessions aimed at understanding<br />

the unique needs and hurdles faced by<br />

local enterprises, underscores ADGM’s<br />

unwavering dedication to bolstering<br />

Abu Dhabi’s economic framework.<br />

market for India, followed by Saudi<br />

Arabia with a 75% spike to $4.62B in<br />

April-February 2023-24.<br />

Abu Dhabi Waives Commercial Licence Fees for<br />

Select Businesses<br />

Hamad Sayah Al Mazrouei, ADGM<br />

Registration Authority’s CEO, reiterated<br />

the pivotal role of this initiative in<br />

ensuring a seamless transition for businesses<br />

migrating from the Abu Dhabi<br />

Department of Economic Development<br />

(ADDED) to ADGM. With the elimination<br />

of licensing fees, ADGM seeks to<br />

empower businesses to operate within<br />

its jurisdiction with efficiency, thereby<br />

aligning with its broader mission of<br />

nurturing the growth and prosperity<br />

of local ventures.<br />

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

Dubai Plans IPO for UAE Builder ALEC Engineering<br />

UAE’s renowned construction<br />

firm, ALEC Engineering & Contracting,<br />

is reportedly contemplating<br />

an initial public offering (IPO)<br />

and subsequent listing on the stock<br />

market, marking a potential milestone<br />

in its trajectory. Bloomberg’s sources<br />

familiar with the matter revealed that<br />

discussions regarding this strategic<br />

move have been initiated by the statebacked<br />

Investment Corporation of Dubai<br />

(ICD), the entity overseeing ALEC. As<br />

part of ICD’s extensive portfolio, ALEC<br />

could soon join the ranks of Dubai’s<br />

companies venturing into the public<br />

market domain. While key details, including<br />

the magnitude and timing of<br />

the offering, remain undisclosed, the<br />

deliberations within ICD are ongoing.<br />

Notably, ALEC was acquired by ICD<br />

from the Al Jaber Group in 2017 and<br />

has garnered a reputation for delivering<br />

exemplary projects across various<br />

sectors, including hospitality, leisure,<br />

retail, airports, and residential, and<br />

commercial developments, as highlighted<br />

on its website.<br />

UAE’s E& Proposes<br />

New Incremental<br />

Dividend Policy<br />

The board of directors of e&,<br />

formerly known as Etisalat has<br />

introduced a comprehensive<br />

new dividend policy aimed at enhancing<br />

shareholder value and stability.<br />

This proposed policy outlines a “progressive”<br />

dividend per share (DPS)<br />

structure, coupled with a firm commitment<br />

to maintaining a minimum<br />

DPS of AED 0.80 ($0.2) through the<br />

years leading up to 2026. As part of<br />

this initiative, e& plans to implement<br />

incremental increases of AED 0.03 (3<br />

fils) per share annually for the fiscal<br />

years <strong>2024</strong>, 2025, and 2026, resulting in<br />

anticipated DPS figures of AED 0.83,<br />

AED 0.86, and AED 0.89, respectively.<br />

Furthermore, the company pledges<br />

to uphold a minimum DPS of 80 fils<br />

(AED 0.80) throughout this policy.<br />

This proposal is subject to shareholder<br />

approval at an upcoming meeting. The<br />

announcement comes on the heels of<br />

e&’s recent financial report, which<br />

showcased a 3% increase in net profit<br />

for the full year 2023, amounting to<br />

AED 10.3B.<br />

32% of SMEs Attracted by Dubai Chamber in<br />

2023 from Middle East & Eurasia<br />

In 2023, Dubai International Chamber,<br />

a part of Dubai Chambers, attracted<br />

32% of SMEs from the Middle East<br />

and Eurasia, with Asia and Australia<br />

Saudi Arabia’s leading steel pipes manufacturer,<br />

East Pipes, has clinched a<br />

lucrative contract worth SAR 230M<br />

($61.3M) with the kingdom’s foremost<br />

desalinated water producer, Saline Water<br />

Conversion Corporation (SWCC). The<br />

contract, spanning 2.5 years, entails the<br />

manufacturing and supply of steel pipes<br />

to SWCC, as disclosed on the Saudi Stock<br />

Exchange (Tadawul) on Monday. SWCC,<br />

boasting a colossal production capacity<br />

of 11.5 million cubic metres per day, holds<br />

the prestigious title of the world’s largest<br />

producer of desalinated water. East Pipes<br />

anticipates the contract’s financial impact<br />

to be reflected in its forthcoming financial<br />

statements. SWCC, a vital government<br />

close behind at 29%. This influx underscores<br />

Dubai’s role as a global trade and<br />

investment hub. The chamber’s network<br />

of international offices facilitated the<br />

attraction of SMEs from diverse markets.<br />

Latin America and Europe contributed<br />

26%, while African markets represented<br />

13%. Notably, 17% of these SMEs operated<br />

in trade and logistics, with 13% in IT,<br />

focusing on areas like AI and blockchain.<br />

Food and agriculture comprised 10%, followed<br />

by healthcare/pharmaceuticals at<br />

9%. Financial services, real estate, retail,<br />

fashion, travel, hospitality, and tourism<br />

contributed significantly. Mohammad<br />

Ali Rashed Lootah, President and CEO<br />

of Dubai Chambers, highlighted Dubai’s<br />

appeal for high-value investments, crediting<br />

its leadership, business environment,<br />

legislation, and investment opportunities.<br />

Saudi’s East Pipes Secures $61M Deal with SWCC,<br />

Desalinated Water Supplier<br />

entity tasked with water supply across<br />

the kingdom, operates a vast network<br />

comprising over 33 desalination plants<br />

and 139 purification facilities nationwide.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 25

Cover Story<br />

OVER<br />

S<br />

Breaking Norms:<br />

Impactful Startups that Redefined Industries<br />

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

Introducing this month’s cover story featuring a lineup<br />

of the most impactful startups, carefully curated based on<br />

their innovation, remarkable growth, substantial funding,<br />

and significant social impact. Each of these startups has<br />

received no less than USD 35 million in funding, demonstrating<br />

investor confidence in their potential to drive<br />

change and disrupt industries. It’s important to note that<br />

these startups are organised alphabetically, with none given<br />

a rank, emphasising their equal importance in shaping the<br />

entrepreneurial landscape.<br />

In the selection process, priority was given to startups<br />

that have demonstrated innovation in their respective<br />

fields and made tangible contributions to society through<br />

their products, services, or initiatives. While revenue is<br />

often a crucial factor in evaluating a startup’s success,<br />

the focus was placed on other criteria due to a lack of<br />

available information.<br />

From fintech to proptech, healthtech to immersive entertainment,<br />

these startups are at the forefront of driving<br />

change and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in<br />

the startup ecosystem.<br />

TORY<br />

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

Cover Story<br />

Breaking Norms:<br />

Impactful Startups that Redefined Industries<br />

Talal Bayaa<br />

Chief Executive Officer<br />

Bayzat<br />

Leading Bayzat is Talal Bayaa, who serves as the<br />

CEO and co-founder, driving forward an innovative<br />

approach to insurance and HR solutions. Established<br />

in April 2013, Bayzat has emerged as a groundbreaking<br />

technology startup in the UAE, offering businesses access<br />

to cutting-edge insurance and HR platforms. Notably,<br />

Bayzat became the first one-stop-shop providing real-time<br />

comparisons of health insurance rates in the UAE, marking<br />

a significant milestone in the industry’s evolution.<br />

The startup’s innovative approach attracted the attention<br />

of investors early on, securing support from the<br />

UAE finance ministry fund. Furthermore, Bayzat has seen<br />

substantial funding, with a $25 million Series C round<br />

led by DisruptAD alongside Ischyros New York, pushing<br />

its total raised capital beyond $60 million. This strong<br />

financial backing underscores the confidence investors<br />

have in Bayzat’s potential to disrupt and revolutionise the<br />

insurance and HR sectors.<br />

Bayzat’s growth trajectory has been nothing short of<br />

remarkable, boasting over 100% annual growth and expanding<br />

its workforce to nearly 350 employees across the GCC<br />

region. Its client portfolio includes renowned companies<br />

such as Deliveroo, Zomato, Saudi Icon, Grant Thornton,<br />

Eyewa, and The Giving Movement. The platform’s online<br />

HRMS solution witnesses more than 2 million employee<br />

logins per month, a testament to its widespread adoption<br />

and utility in the market.<br />

Beyond its commercial success, Bayzat is deeply committed<br />

to social impact. Recently, the company unveiled<br />

plans to launch a wellness hub mobile app targeting Saudi<br />

Arabia’s workforce, aiming to enhance employee well-being<br />

and productivity. This initiative reflects Bayzat’s dedication<br />

to leveraging technology for positive social change and<br />

community development.<br />

Through Bayzat’s comprehensive suite of services, employers<br />

can empower their workforce with a wide range of<br />

benefits, including health coverage, mental health support,<br />

fitness challenges, and access to an online pharmacy. By<br />

prioritising employee well-being and streamlining insurance<br />

and HR processes, Bayzat continues to solidify its<br />

position as a transformative force in the UAE’s startup<br />

landscape, poised to shape the future of insurance and<br />

HR solutions in the region and beyond.<br />

Bayzat’s innovative solutions, coupled with its estimated<br />

revenue of around $63 million, underscore its position as<br />

an impactful startup poised to revolutionise the insurance<br />

and HR sectors in the UAE and beyond. With a rapidly<br />

growing workforce and a track record of exponential<br />

growth, Bayzat is reshaping the landscape of insurance<br />

and HR services, setting new standards for efficiency and<br />

effectiveness. Its commitment to technological advancement<br />

and customer-centric approach solidifies its status as<br />

a frontrunner in the industry, driving meaningful change<br />

and empowerment in workplaces across the region.<br />

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

Cover Story<br />

Breaking Norms:<br />

Impactful Startups that Redefined Industries<br />

Ola Doudin<br />

CEO and Co-Founder<br />

Bit Oasis<br />

Leading BitOasis is Ola Doudin, the co-founder, and<br />

CEO, championing a vision of accessible and secure<br />

cryptocurrency services. Established in 2015 and<br />

headquartered in the UAE, BitOasis has emerged as one<br />

of the largest and most trusted cryptocurrency platforms<br />

in the MENA region. It stands out as a hub of innovation,<br />

actively promoting cryptocurrency adoption among newcomers<br />

and seasoned traders alike.<br />

BitOasis prides itself on offering a secure and regulated<br />

infrastructure for cryptocurrency trading, catering to retail<br />

and institutional clients alike. With a diverse portfolio of<br />

over sixty digital assets, the platform provides users with<br />

the opportunity to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrency using<br />

local currencies such as the UAE Dirham and Saudi Riyal.<br />

Operating across fourteen countries, including the UAE,<br />

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt, BitOasis has established<br />

itself as a leading player in the region’s cryptocurrency<br />

ecosystem. Its suite of products, ranging from Lite to<br />

VIP accounts, caters to the diverse needs of its growing<br />

user base.<br />

BitOasis offers a suite of products designed to meet<br />

the diverse needs of its expanding user base. The Lite<br />

account provides a user-friendly interface and basic features<br />

tailored for beginners venturing into cryptocurrency<br />

trading. For experienced traders, the Pro account offers<br />

advanced tools and functionalities to facilitate seamless<br />

transactions. High-net-worth individuals and institutional<br />

clients can benefit from the VIP account, which provides<br />

exclusive benefits, personalised services, and priority<br />

support.<br />

BitOasis also caters to high-volume traders through<br />

its OTC desk, offering solutions outside public exchanges.<br />

Additionally, the platform provides API access for<br />

developers and institutional clients, enabling effortless<br />

integration of cryptocurrency trading functionalities into<br />

external platforms and applications.<br />

The startup’s journey has been marked by significant milestones<br />

and achievements. In 2022, BitOasis made headlines<br />

with a trade volume exceeding $4 billion, underscoring its<br />

growing influence in the global cryptocurrency market.<br />

Furthermore, a strategic partnership with Mastercard<br />

paved the way for the launch of crypto card programs,<br />

enabling smooth cryptocurrency transactions at points<br />

of sale and across e-commerce platforms in the region.<br />

In 2023, BitOasis achieved another milestone by obtaining<br />

the first broker-dealer minimum viable product operational<br />

licence from Dubai’s crypto regulator, reaffirming its<br />

commitment to regulatory compliance and transparency.<br />

Beyond financial success, BitOasis is dedicated to<br />

driving social impact in the region. Through partnerships<br />

with entities like MBC Group, it has launched crypto educational<br />

initiatives aimed at promoting awareness and<br />

understanding of cryptocurrencies across the MENA region.<br />

As it continues to expand its offerings and reach, BitOasis<br />

remains steadfast in its mission to make cryptocurrency<br />

accessible, secure, and impactful for all.<br />

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

Cover Story<br />

Breaking Norms:<br />

Impactful Startups that Redefined Industries<br />

Mudassir Sheikha<br />

CEO and Co-Founder<br />

Careem<br />

Founded in 2012 by Mudassir Sheikha, Abdulla<br />

Elyas, and Magnus Olsson, Careem has become<br />

synonymous with innovation and convenience in<br />

the greater Middle East. The company’s mission to build<br />

‘the everything app,’ simplifying daily tasks such as transportation,<br />

food delivery, grocery shopping, and payments,<br />

underscores Careem’s commitment to enhancing lives and<br />

inspiring through innovation, leaving an indelible mark<br />

since its inception.<br />

Careem’s impact is evident in its numbers: it has created<br />

earnings opportunities for over 2.5 million Captains and<br />

improved the lives of more than 50 million customers.<br />

Operating in over 70 cities across 10 countries, from<br />

Morocco to Pakistan, Careem has established itself as a<br />

cornerstone of everyday life in the region.<br />

In 2019, Careem’s journey took a significant turn when<br />

it was acquired by Uber for USD 3.1 billion, solidifying its<br />

status as the largest unicorn in the Middle East and opening<br />

doors for startups in the region. This acquisition not<br />

only injected fresh talent into Careem but also provided<br />

access to new growth opportunities.<br />

With the recent $400 million investment from global<br />

technology investor e&, Careem is poised to explore<br />

synergies and scale its Super App across key markets.<br />

This strategic partnership, combined with Uber’s backing,<br />

positions Careem to lead in category-defining verticals<br />

and further expand its offerings.<br />

In a bid to enhance financial inclusion, Careem Pay, the<br />

digital wallet and fintech platform within the Careem Super<br />

App, has expanded its international remittance services,<br />

including ‘Faster Payments’ to the United Kingdom for<br />

UAE residents.<br />

Beyond business success, Careem remains committed<br />

to social impact and sustainability. The introduction of the<br />

‘Right Click’ brand signifies a new era of conscious giving,<br />

integrating evolved donation features across Careem’s<br />

services. Additionally, Careem’s eco-friendly car rides in<br />

Dubai have offset more than 200 tonnes of CO2e since<br />

its launch, underscoring its dedication to environmental<br />

sustainability.<br />

With a revenue of $336.1 million, Careem continues<br />

to innovate and expand its reach, remaining steadfast in<br />

its mission to simplify lives, empower communities, and<br />

drive positive change across the Middle East and beyond.<br />

Careem’s multifaceted approach to financial inclusion,<br />

social impact, and environmental sustainability,<br />

combined with its significant revenue growth, solidifies<br />

its status as a profoundly impactful startup, poised to<br />

continue leading positive change across the Middle East<br />

and beyond, inspiring innovation and transformation in<br />

the global landscape.<br />

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

Cover Story<br />

Breaking Norms:<br />

Impactful Startups that Redefined Industries<br />

Vilhelm Hedberg<br />

Ekar<br />

Founder<br />

Founded in 2016 by Vilhelm Hedberg, ekar is a UAEbased<br />

pioneer in personal mobility systems. The<br />

platform offers convenient access to a comprehensive<br />

network of carshare and subscription leasing vehicles,<br />

alongside other innovative mobility solutions such as<br />

peer-to-peer rentals. With a presence across nine cities<br />

in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, ekar boasts a fleet of 3,000<br />

vehicles serving over 350,000 users, with an impressive<br />

1.75 million bookings facilitated by November 2022.<br />

One of the standout features of ekar is its commitment<br />

to customer satisfaction and convenience. With no deposit<br />

required for car rental, users can quickly access vehicles<br />

and hit the road without any hassle. The platform also<br />

provides 24/7 roadside assistance, ensuring peace of mind<br />

for users wherever their journey takes them. All ekars are<br />

meticulously maintained to ensure maximum comfort and<br />

safety, with transparent pricing and convenient booking<br />

options further enhancing the user experience.<br />

In September 2023, ekar introduced contactless vehicle<br />

rentals in Saudi Arabia, marking a significant milestone<br />

in its expansion efforts. The launch of this feature underscores<br />

ekar’s dedication to leveraging technology to<br />

enhance convenience and safety for its users. Additionally,<br />

in 2021, ekar pioneered a car subscription service in Saudi<br />

Arabia, offering users flexible and hassle-free mobility<br />

solutions tailored to their needs.<br />

Utilising cutting-edge AI technology, ekar effectively<br />

manages vehicle locations and availability, optimising the<br />

user experience by minimising the distance customers<br />

need to travel to access a car. Moreover, the platform<br />

has collaborated with industry-leading companies such<br />

as Talabat, ENBD, ADCB, Saudi Aramco, Etihad Airways,<br />

and Emirates Airlines, as well as prominent car rental<br />

and leasing companies in the GCC, further solidifying its<br />

position as a key player in the region’s mobility sector.<br />

ekar has garnered substantial funding, totalling $45<br />

million, underscoring investor confidence in its innovative<br />

approach to personal mobility solutions. This financial<br />

backing has enabled the startup to expand its operations,<br />

enhance its technological infrastructure, and solidify its<br />

presence in the UAE’s competitive market.<br />

As an impactful startup in the UAE, ekar’s disruptive<br />

model has revolutionised how individuals access transportation,<br />

offering convenient and affordable options while<br />

addressing the evolving needs of modern urban lifestyles.<br />

With its commitment to seamless mobility experiences<br />

and forward-thinking initiatives, ekar continues to drive<br />

positive change in the transportation sector, shaping the<br />

future of urban mobility in the region.<br />

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

Cover Story<br />

Breaking Norms:<br />

Impactful Startups that Redefined Industries<br />

Jad Antoun<br />

CEO and Co-Founder<br />

Huspy<br />

Huspy, a prop-tech startup founded in 2020 by Jad<br />

Antoun and Khalid Ashmawy, has quickly emerged<br />

as a prominent player in the UAE’s real estate<br />

landscape. Through its innovative platform, Huspy offers<br />

a smooth and comprehensive solution for individuals<br />

looking to purchase homes.<br />

With a vast network of over 1,400 agents and 250 agencies<br />

across the UAE, Huspy has successfully streamlined the<br />

home buying process, from property search to financing<br />

and closing deals. This extensive network, combined with<br />

Huspy’s user-friendly interface and advanced technology,<br />

has contributed to its rapid growth and widespread<br />

adoption among home buyers.<br />

In November 2023, Huspy achieved a significant milestone<br />

by processing a record-breaking more than AED 1 billion<br />

in mortgages. This accomplishment not only highlights the<br />

platform’s robust performance but also underscores its<br />

pivotal role in facilitating home ownership for thousands<br />

of individuals in the UAE. Furthermore, Huspy’s commitment<br />

to affordability and accessibility was reaffirmed in<br />

March <strong>2024</strong> with the announcement of mortgages below<br />

the UAE EIBOR rate. By offering competitive rates as low<br />

as 3.85% over a fixed 3-year term, Huspy is empowering<br />

more people to realise their dreams of owning a home.<br />

Beyond its financial achievements, Huspy is driven<br />

by a broader mission to revolutionise the home-buying<br />

experience. By leveraging technology and industry expertise,<br />

the startup aims to eliminate the traditional complexities<br />

and inefficiencies associated with real estate<br />

transactions. Through its transparent pricing, convenient<br />

booking options, and 24/7 customer support, Huspy is reshaping<br />

the way people perceive and engage with the real<br />

estate market. With a focus on simplicity, transparency,<br />

and customer satisfaction, Huspy is not just a proptech<br />

platform but a catalyst for positive change in the UAE’s<br />

real estate industry.<br />

Huspy’s remarkable journey, backed by $45 million<br />

in funding, underscores its position as a transformative<br />

force in the UAE’s real estate sector. With its innovative<br />

solutions, record-breaking achievements, and commitment<br />

to affordability and accessibility, Huspy is not only reshaping<br />

the home-buying experience but also paving the way<br />

for a more inclusive and equitable housing market in the<br />

UAE. With each milestone achieved, Huspy reaffirms its<br />

commitment to empowering individuals and democratising<br />

homeownership opportunities for all segments of society.<br />

Its relentless pursuit of excellence and its focus on leveraging<br />

technology to streamline the property acquisition<br />

process have set new benchmarks within the industry.<br />

As it continues to expand its reach and impact, Huspy<br />

remains steadfast in its mission to empower individuals<br />

and make the dream of homeownership a reality for all.<br />

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

Cover Story<br />

Breaking Norms:<br />

Impactful Startups that Redefined Industries<br />

Mohamad Ballout<br />

CEO and Co-Founder<br />

Kitopi<br />

In January 2018, Mohamad Ballout, alongside his partners<br />

Saman Darkan, Bader Ataya, and Andy Arenas,<br />

embarked on a mission to revolutionise the culinary<br />

world. Their collective vision, Kitopi, emerged not just<br />

as a startup but as a pioneering force in food technology.<br />

Today, it holds the title of the world’s premier managed<br />

cloud kitchen platform, a testament to the founders’ visionary<br />

leadership and dedication to excellence.<br />

In <strong>May</strong> 2022, Kitopi expanded its Series C round by<br />

securing an additional $300 million, resulting in a total<br />

round size of $715 million. This milestone propelled Kitopi’s<br />

post-investment valuation to $1.55 billion, firmly<br />

establishing it as a unicorn.<br />

Kitopi’s journey to global recognition has been marked<br />

by innovation, adaptability, and a firm dedication to<br />

creating impact. By leveraging cutting-edge proprietary<br />

technology, the company revolutionised kitchen operations,<br />

effectively managing multiple brands in a single space.<br />

This innovation streamlined processes and facilitated<br />

direct consumer delivery, reshaping the conventional<br />

culinary landscape.<br />

Recognising the struggles of F&B businesses, the company<br />

diversified its investments, evolving into a tech-powered<br />

multi-brand restaurant. Today, Kitopi’s reach spans eight<br />

countries, with over 200 locations across 12 cities, offering<br />

a diverse portfolio of 100+ brands.<br />

The foundational success of Kitop lies in its commitment<br />

to innovation, epitomised by the Smart Kitchen Operating<br />

System (SKOS). This suite of proprietary applications<br />

optimises kitchen operations in real time, setting new<br />

standards for culinary excellence.<br />

Yet, Kitopi’s impact extends far beyond commercial<br />

success. The company’s dedication to social responsibility<br />

is evident in its strategic partnerships and sustainability<br />

initiatives. Collaborations with industry leaders like Careem<br />

and Fresh on Table demonstrate its commitment to<br />

driving positive change.<br />

In a partnership with Careem, Kitopi empowered customers<br />

by offering them a chance to win rent coverage for<br />

a year, easing financial burdens and fostering community<br />

well-being. Furthermore, its collaboration with Fresh on<br />

Table, an agritech platform for local ingredients, not only<br />

promotes sustainability but also contributes to reducing<br />

CO2 emissions, marking a significant milestone in environmental<br />

stewardship.<br />

As Kitopi continues to reach new heights, its influence<br />

transcends borders, bridging cultural and geographical<br />

divides. With an impressive annual revenue of $106.8M<br />

in 2023, the company’s success speaks volumes about<br />

its impact.<br />

As it continues to redefine the culinary landscape, one<br />

kitchen at a time, Kitopi’s journey serves as an inspiration<br />

for aspiring entrepreneurs and changemakers worldwide.<br />

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

Cover Story<br />

Breaking Norms:<br />

Impactful Startups that Redefined Industries<br />

Omar Onsi<br />

CEO and Founder<br />

NymCard<br />

Established in 2017 by Omar Onsi, NymCard has<br />

swiftly emerged as a leading Banking-as-a-Service<br />

(BaaS) platform, facilitating seamless card<br />

issuance for fintechs, SMEs, and banks across the UAE,<br />

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan.<br />

With over 300 fintech partners leveraging its platform,<br />

NymCard’s impact is evident in its recent fundraising<br />

success, totalling $35 million, including a significant $22.5<br />

million round in June 2022. Certified by Mastercard as a<br />

principal issuer in the UAE, NymCard boasts high-profile<br />

clients like Samsung, Verity, and Pluto, showcasing its<br />

credibility and market influence.<br />

NymCard’s comprehensive tech stack, featuring over<br />

150 APIs, empowers businesses to launch diverse payment<br />

solutions effortlessly, from prepaid cards to multi-currency<br />

offerings and Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) solutions. Its<br />

modular approach offers unparalleled flexibility, allowing<br />

customisation to meet unique business needs. The<br />

platform’s integration simplicity via flexible APIs and<br />

webhooks streamline the adoption process, whether for<br />

businesses or consumers, driving innovation and growth<br />

across various sectors.<br />

In addition to its core offerings, NymCard’s strategic<br />

acquisitions and partnerships underscore its commitment<br />

to innovation and market expansion. The recent acquisition<br />

of Spotii, a buy now pay later startup, enhances NymCard’s<br />

product portfolio, offering clients credit-on-demand<br />

solutions. Collaborations with CWallet and participation<br />

in Visa’s Ready to Launch program further solidify Nym-<br />

Card’s position as a leader in payment solutions across<br />

the MENA region.<br />

As the only MENA-based provider regulated by the<br />

Central Bank of the UAE and a principal member of both<br />

Visa and Mastercard, NymCard continues to empower<br />

businesses of all sizes to launch cutting-edge payment<br />

products swiftly. Its dedication to innovation and strategic<br />

partnerships underscores NymCard’s pivotal role<br />

in driving financial inclusion and digital transformation<br />

in the region.<br />

With its aligned infrastructure, strategic partnerships,<br />

and customer-centric approach, NymCard is poised to<br />

continue revolutionising the banking and payments industry,<br />

driving economic growth and fostering financial<br />

inclusion across the Middle East and beyond.<br />

NymCards commitment to financial inclusion makes it<br />

an impactful startup, poised to drive positive change and<br />

transform the banking and payments landscape across<br />

the MENA region and beyond. By leveraging innovative<br />

solutions and embracing diversity, NymCards is redefining<br />

accessibility to financial services, empowering individuals,<br />

and fostering economic growth.<br />

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

Cover Story<br />

Breaking Norms:<br />

Impactful Startups that Redefined Industries<br />

Sky Kurtz<br />

Founder and CEO<br />

Pure Harvest<br />

Founded in 2017 by Sky Kurtz, Mahmoud Adi, and<br />

Robert Kupstas, Pure Harvest Farms is at the forefront<br />

of sustainable agriculture, designing, building,<br />

and operating controlled-environment agriculture (CEA)<br />

solutions to produce fruits and vegetables. In June 2022,<br />

the company secured a significant milestone with $180.5<br />

million in convertible funding, led by Metric Capital<br />

Partners, IMM Investment Corp, and the Olayan Group.<br />

Operating in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, with expansion<br />

projects underway in Kuwait and Singapore, Pure<br />

Harvest Farms has formed strategic alliances to expand<br />

its footprint. Notably, the company partnered with the Al<br />

Dahra Group, increasing its total operating capacity to<br />

over 22 hectares. Pure Harvest Farms supplies retailers<br />

like Carrefour, Spinney’s, and Waitrose, as well as hotels<br />

and restaurants including the Four Seasons and the Hilton<br />

Group. Plans for further expansion across the GCC,<br />

Southeast Asia, and the Far East are underway.<br />

In a move to enhance its presence in Saudi Arabia,<br />

Pure Harvest Farms acquired Red Sea’s CEA production<br />

facility, enhancing its farm footprint and market reach.<br />

Moreover, the company has prioritised sustainability by<br />

adopting Honeywell technology for its farming operations.<br />

This ultra-low-global-warming-potential (LGWP) solution<br />

reduces CO2 emissions and increases energy efficiency,<br />

aligning with Pure Harvest Farms’ commitment to environmentally<br />

responsible practices.<br />

In addition, Pure Harvest Farms has collaborated with<br />

Nadec in Saudi Arabia to develop more than 27 hectares<br />

of production capacity. This partnership is expected to<br />

provide consumers in Saudi Arabia with a diverse range<br />

of locally sourced and sustainably grown fresh produce<br />

throughout the year. The inaugural facility in Saudi Arabia,<br />

managed by Pure Harvest Smart Farms, yields over<br />

5 million kilograms annually, showcasing the remarkable<br />

potential of tech-enabled agribusinesses to support the<br />

Kingdom’s food security goals with consistent year-round<br />

production.<br />

Through a collaborative effort with Al Dahra Agriculture<br />

and PlanTFarm, Pure Harvest Farms is spearheading an<br />

impactful initiative aimed at revolutionising the agricultural<br />

landscape. By introducing an innovative, low-cost<br />

vertical farming solution for animal feed production,<br />

the project promises not only to enhance agricultural<br />

sustainability but also to address pressing environmental<br />

concerns. Research and development trials conducted<br />

in Korea have yielded promising results, showcasing a<br />

potential reduction of up to 95% in water usage compared<br />

to conventional methods. Additionally, the initiative offers<br />

significant nutritional advantages over imported feeds,<br />

contributing to improved livestock health and well-being.<br />

With a total funding of $387 million until 2022, Pure<br />

Harvest Farms continues to lead the way in sustainable<br />

agriculture, leveraging technology and strategic partnerships<br />

to drive positive impact in the UAE’s farming<br />

industry and beyond<br />

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

Cover Story<br />

Breaking Norms:<br />

Impactful Startups that Redefined Industries<br />

Hosam Arab<br />

Co-Founder and CEO<br />

Tabby<br />

Established in 2019 in the UAE by Hosam Arab and<br />

Daniil Barkalov, Tabby has swiftly emerged as a<br />

leading player in the buy now pay later (BNPL)<br />

fintech space, boasting an annualised transaction volume<br />

exceeding $6 billion. With a mission to reduce reliance on<br />

cash payments and reshape consumer behaviour, Tabby<br />

has forged strategic partnerships with industry giants<br />

like Visa and the Majid Al Futtaim Group, facilitating a<br />

significant shift towards online transactions among both<br />

merchants and customers.<br />

Tabby’s innovative approach empowers users to shop,<br />

earn, and save with financial freedom, transforming their<br />

relationship with money. With over 11 million users, Tabby<br />

enables individuals to maintain control over their spending<br />

while maximising their financial resources.<br />

The platform’s appeal extends to both global brands and<br />

small businesses, with over 40,000 merchants leveraging<br />

Tabby’s technology to accelerate growth and cultivate loyal<br />

customer bases. Notable partners include SHEIN, Amazon,<br />

Adidas, IKEA, H&M, Samsung, and Noon. Operating in<br />

Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Kuwait, Tabby has been valued<br />

at $1.5 billion in its most recent funding round, attracting<br />

investments from prominent firms such as Wellington<br />

Management, STV, Mubadala Investment Capital, PayPal<br />

Ventures, Arbor Ventures, and Bluepool.<br />

In response to evolving consumer preferences, Tabby<br />

recently introduced Tabby+, a subscription service offering<br />

flexible payment options to shoppers using the Tabby Card.<br />

Unlike traditional credit cards with high APRs, Tabby+<br />

operates on a transparent pricing model, charging a flat<br />

fee of AED 49 per month, with the first month free for new<br />

users. Customers opting out of Tabby+ can continue to<br />

enjoy free in-store purchases within the partner network,<br />

accessible via the Tabby app.<br />

Regarding funding, Tabby has secured substantial investments,<br />

including $200 million in Series D equity financing,<br />

valuing the company at $1.5 billion. Additionally, Tabby<br />

obtained up to $700 million in receivables securitisation<br />

from J.P. Morgan, marking the largest asset-backed facility<br />

secured by a fintech company in the MENA region.<br />

The company further expanded its debt facility to $350<br />

million through a new financing round led by Partners<br />

for Growth (PFG), Atalaya Capital Management, and<br />

CoVenture, underscoring investor confidence in Tabby’s<br />

growth trajectory and market potential.<br />

Tabby’s transformative approach to retail finance,<br />

coupled with its substantial funding and rapid expansion,<br />

solidifies its position as a highly impactful startup in the<br />

UAE, positioned to revolutionise the way consumers<br />

shop, businesses grow, and financial transactions are<br />

conducted in the region.<br />

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

Cover Story<br />

Breaking Norms:<br />

Impactful Startups that Redefined Industries<br />

Khaled Zaatarah<br />

Co-Founder<br />

Vuz<br />

Founded in 2017 by Khaled Zaatarah, Vuz (formerly<br />

known as 360VUZ) is an immersive social video mobile<br />

app, offering users an unparalleled experience<br />

in the realms of Extended Reality (XR) and the metaverse.<br />

With its innovative platform, Vuz enables users to stream<br />

and immerse themselves in a diverse range of content,<br />

including entertainment, creators, sports segments, and<br />

XR, VR, and AR experiences.<br />

With an extensive library surpassing 20,000 hours of<br />

exclusive content, Vuz has captured widespread acclaim,<br />

amassing over a billion screen views on its extended<br />

reality platform.<br />

At the core of Vuz’s mission is a dedication to building<br />

a hyperconnected product that not only entertains but<br />

also empowers and transports users into new realms of<br />

possibility. By removing barriers to immersive experiences<br />

and technology, Vuz aims to democratise access to cutting-edge<br />

technology, providing users with the power to<br />

explore, create, and engage with content on their terms.<br />

Through its platform, users have the freedom to choose<br />

what to see, when to see it, and how to see it, unlocking<br />

new dimensions of entertainment and connectivity.<br />

Vuz has strategically leveraged partnerships to expand<br />

its immersive experiences and reach. In February 2023, the<br />

app forged a significant collaboration with MBC GROUP,<br />

the largest media company in the Middle East and North<br />

Africa (MENA). This partnership aimed to enrich Vuz’s<br />

video library and XR experiences, enhancing its offering<br />

to users across the region. Such alliances bolster Vuz’s<br />

position as a leading immersive content platform, providing<br />

users with unparalleled access to a diverse range of<br />

high-quality content.<br />

Moreover, in December 2023, Vuz announced a groundbreaking<br />

partnership with LALIGA, the premier Spanish<br />

football league, marking another milestone in its journey.<br />

As the exclusive official immersive content partner of<br />

LALIGA in the MENA region for the next three years, Vuz<br />

offers football fans an unmatched and interactive experience.<br />

This collaboration underscores Vuz’s commitment<br />

to delivering innovative and engaging content, bringing<br />

fans closer to their favourite sports like never before.<br />

In addition to its partnerships, Vuz’s introduction of Vuz<br />

on the App Store for Apple Vision Pro further solidifies its<br />

foothold in the immersive technology space. By making its<br />

app available on Apple’s advanced platform, Vuz expands<br />

its reach to a broader audience of users seeking immersive<br />

experiences. This move highlights Vuz’s dedication<br />

to embracing cutting-edge technology and platforms to<br />

enhance user engagement and satisfaction.<br />

The company’s commitment to excellence has earned<br />

it accolades such as the “Top Media Company” Award,<br />

recognising its contribution to the immersive content<br />

landscape. Set to revolutionise the immersive entertainment<br />

landscape, Vuz harnesses innovative partnerships,<br />

cutting-edge VR technology, and a steadfast commitment<br />

to delivering high-quality content, making it a driving<br />

force in shaping the future of digital experiences globally.<br />

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

Nothing Ear<br />

Nothing, a London-based tech<br />

company, has introduced two<br />

new AI-enabled wireless earbuds:<br />

the Nothing Ear and Nothing Ear (a).<br />

These earbuds integrate with the latest<br />

technology offerings, including the<br />

innovative Nothing OS and ChatGPT.<br />

With the Nothing OS installed on<br />

compatible devices, users can effortlessly<br />

access advanced features such<br />

as “pinch-to-speak” directly from the<br />

earbuds, connecting to the world’s most<br />

popular consumer AI tool.<br />

Nothing Ear wireless earbuds offer<br />

a compelling blend of design, comfort,<br />

and functionality. Designed with versatility<br />

in mind, these earbuds come with<br />

three sizes of ear tips to accommodate<br />

various ear sizes, ensuring a snug fit<br />

for most users. The medium-sized ear<br />

tips, which come pre-installed, are<br />

suitable for average ear sizes, providing<br />

a comfortable and secure fit.<br />

Despite sporting a slightly less powerful<br />

chipset compared to its counterpart, the<br />

Nothing Ear maintains an impressive<br />

level of noise cancelling, along with<br />

high-quality sound reproduction. The<br />

custom 11-mm dynamic driver delivers<br />

crisp, clear, and dynamic audio performance<br />

across various genres, with<br />

a neutral sound signature that allows<br />

for an authentic listening experience.<br />

One noteworthy feature of the Nothing<br />

Ear is its advanced touch controls,<br />

which allow for intuitive operation<br />

through simple squeezes on the stem of<br />

the earbuds. This feature adds convenience,<br />

enabling users to easily control<br />

playback and toggle transparency mode<br />

for quick environmental awareness.<br />

Setting up the Nothing Ear is a hassle-free<br />

process, akin to the simplicity<br />

of AirPods. Upon opening the case, the<br />

earbuds swiftly pair with compatible<br />

devices, facilitating seamless connectivity.<br />

Additionally, the accompanying<br />

Nothing app enhances functionality<br />

by offering EQ settings and other<br />

advanced features for personalised<br />

audio experiences.<br />

In terms of noise reduction, Nothing<br />

Ear excels in attenuating ambient<br />

sounds, providing an immersive listening<br />

environment even in noisy surroundings<br />

such as gyms or bustling streets.<br />

Moreover, Nothing Ear prioritises<br />

comfort and durability, featuring a dual<br />

chamber design with improved airflow<br />

for clearer sound reproduction. The<br />

inclusion of Clear Voice Technology<br />

and a redesigned talk mic ensures<br />

optimal call quality, minimising background<br />

noise and wind interference<br />

for seamless communication.<br />

With its ergonomic design, advanced<br />

features, and reliable performance, the<br />

Nothing Ear stands as a competitive<br />

option in the wireless earbuds market.<br />

Whether for everyday listening or travel,<br />

these earbuds offer a compelling<br />

balance of comfort, functionality, and<br />

audio quality, making them a worthy<br />

consideration for discerning consumers.<br />

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

Wheels<br />

Lexus RZ450e<br />

The <strong>2024</strong> Lexus RZ marks a<br />

significant departure for the<br />

luxury brand, being its first foray<br />

into the world of electric vehicles (EVs).<br />

Upholding the signature comfort and<br />

refinement that Lexus is renowned<br />

for, the RZ introduces an electrifying<br />

twist to the brand’s lineup, offering a<br />

plush driving experience coupled with<br />

eco-conscious technology.<br />

Available in two variants, the RZ300e<br />

and the RZ450e, the lineup presents<br />

options catering to various preferences<br />

and driving needs. The RZ450e boasts a<br />

dual-motor setup delivering 308 horses<br />

to all four wheels, ensuring spirited<br />

acceleration and enhanced traction.<br />

Inside the RZ, a blend of sophistication<br />

and simplicity greets occupants,<br />

with premium materials adorning<br />

the cabin and a focus on intuitive<br />

technology integration. The centrepiece<br />

is a generous 14.0-inch touchscreen<br />

display, offering seamless access to<br />

infotainment features and connectivity<br />

options. While the interior exudes<br />

luxury and spaciousness, the removal<br />

of traditional buttons and switches<br />

in favour of centralised controls may<br />

take some getting used to for drivers<br />

accustomed to a more conventional<br />

layout.<br />

40 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Performance-wise, the RZ delivers<br />

respectable acceleration, though it may<br />

not match the adrenaline-inducing feats<br />

of some competitors. With the RZ450e<br />

reaching 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, it offers<br />

a balance of power and efficiency, albeit<br />

with a range that falls short compared<br />

to some rivals in the luxury EV segment.<br />

Speaking of range, this is where the<br />

RZ faces some challenges. Despite<br />

Lexus’s efforts, the real-world driving<br />

range of the RZ450e, especially with the<br />

larger wheels, may leave some potential<br />

buyers wanting more, particularly for<br />

long-distance travel.<br />

Safety and driver-assistance features<br />

abound in the RZ, reflecting Lexus’s<br />

commitment to occupant protection<br />

and peace of mind. From adaptive<br />

cruise control to automated emergency<br />

braking, the RZ comes equipped with a<br />

comprehensive suite of advanced safety<br />

technologies, ensuring confidenceinspiring<br />

performance on the road.<br />

In terms of pricing, the RZ presents<br />

a competitive offering in the luxury EV<br />

segment, with starting prices ranging<br />

from $55,150 to $65,580 depending on<br />

trim and options. Despite its relatively<br />

higher starting price compared to<br />

some rivals, the RZ positions itself as<br />

a compelling choice for those seeking<br />

the luxury, comfort, and environmental<br />

consciousness synonymous with the<br />

Lexus brand.<br />

As Lexus embarks on its electric<br />

journey with the RZ, it represents a<br />

bold step forward in the evolution of<br />

luxury mobility, marrying traditional<br />

elegance with sustainable innovation.<br />

While facing challenges in range and<br />

performance, the RZ embodies Lexus’s<br />

commitment to delivering exceptional<br />

driving experiences while embracing<br />

the electrified future.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 41

Energy News<br />

Positive Zero, Tamimi Energy Partner for Saudi Clean Energy Growth<br />

Positive Zero, a key provider of<br />

decentralised energy solutions<br />

in the GCC, and Tamimi Energy,<br />

a prominent player in integrated and<br />

sustainable energy services in Saudi<br />

Arabia, have forged a strategic alliance.<br />

Their collaboration aims to spearhead<br />

the development and execution of<br />

solar power projects throughout the<br />

kingdom. The partnership, formalised<br />

through a signed agreement between<br />

SirajPower, Positive Zero’s distributed<br />

power generation arm, and Energy<br />

Equipment Rental Company (ENERCO),<br />

a leading power solutions provider<br />

under Tamimi Energy, sets a flexible<br />

framework for leveraging each other’s<br />

expertise in solar project development.<br />

By combining their diverse capabilities,<br />

the two entities seek to accelerate the<br />

expansion of Saudi Arabia’s clean energy<br />

market. SirajPower and ENERCO<br />

will deploy human resources, equipment,<br />

technology, and other essential<br />

resources to drive the success of joint<br />

commercial and industrial solar power<br />

initiatives nationwide.<br />

TAQA and JERA Partner<br />

to Build Power Plant<br />

for Saudi Aramco<br />

Abu Dhabi National Energy Company,<br />

known as TAQA, and Japan’s<br />

JERA have inked a deal with a<br />

Saudi Aramco joint venture to construct<br />

a power and steam generation facility in<br />

Saudi Arabia. Set to go online in 2027,<br />

the plant will deliver 475 megawatts<br />

of power and 452 tonnes per hour of<br />

steam to the upcoming $11B Amiral<br />

petrochemical complex in Jubail, Eastern<br />

Province. The complex, featuring one<br />

of the GCC’s largest mixed-load steam<br />

crackers, is intricately linked with the<br />

existing Saudi Aramco Total Refining<br />

and Petrochemical (Satorp) refinery in<br />

Jubail, operated jointly with France’s<br />

TotalEnergies. TAQA’s CEO, Farid Al<br />

Awlaqi, emphasised the project’s role<br />

in reducing carbon emissions and supporting<br />

Satorp’s decarbonisation agenda,<br />

positioning it as a cornerstone of TAQA’s<br />

growth strategy and 2030 objectives.<br />

UAE and South Korea Forge Energy and<br />

Investment Alliances<br />

During the esteemed Investopia<br />

<strong>2024</strong> event hosted in Abu Dhabi,<br />

the United Arab Emirates (UAE)<br />

and the Republic of South Korea solidified<br />

their enduring partnership with<br />

the signing of two groundbreaking<br />

memorandums of understanding<br />

(MOUs). These significant agreements<br />

serve as a testament to the unwavering<br />

commitment of both nations to deepen<br />

collaboration across a spectrum of vital<br />

sectors, including energy, investment,<br />

and burgeoning industries. The signing<br />

of these MOUs represents a pivotal<br />

milestone in the bilateral relationship,<br />

laying the foundation for strengthened<br />

cooperation and mutual prosperity in<br />

key areas of economic development.<br />

At Investopia <strong>2024</strong>, these landmark<br />

signings symbolise the united vision<br />

shared by the UAE and South Korea,<br />

as they endeavour to cultivate greater<br />

synergy and seize opportunities for<br />

advancement and innovation on the<br />

global stage.<br />

DEWA Shareholders Approve $844.1M Dividends<br />

for H2-23<br />

The general assembly of Dubai<br />

Electricity and Water Authority<br />

(DEWA) has given its resounding<br />

approval for the disbursement of<br />

AED 3.10B, which translates to an<br />

allocation of 6.20 fils per share, for<br />

the second half (H2) of 2023. This<br />

significant decision, ratified during the<br />

assembly meeting, is poised to benefit<br />

eligible shareholders who can anticipate<br />

receiving their dividends in April<br />

<strong>2024</strong>, following the details outlined in<br />

a recent bourse filing. In addition to<br />

this substantial announcement, DE-<br />

WA’s shareholders have also formally<br />

endorsed the allocation of AED 3.10B<br />

in interim cash dividends for H1-2023,<br />

which were successfully distributed on<br />

10 August 2023. Furthermore, demonstrating<br />

foresight and confidence in<br />

the organisation’s future performance,<br />

shareholders have conferred authority<br />

upon DEWA’s board to execute a cash<br />

dividend of AED 3.10B for H1-24, expected<br />

to materialise in October <strong>2024</strong>.<br />

42 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

QatarEnergy Inks Time Charter Deals with Nakilat for 25 LNG Vessels<br />

Qatar Energy has finalised<br />

time-charter party (TCP) agreements<br />

with Qatar Gas Transport<br />

Company Limited (Nakilat) for the<br />

operation of 25 conventional-size<br />

LNG vessels, marking a significant<br />

milestone in QatarEnergy’s ambitious<br />

LNG Fleet Expansion Program. The<br />

agreements, signed by His Excellency<br />

Mr Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, the Minister<br />

of State for Energy Affairs and CEO of<br />

QatarEnergy, alongside Mr Abdullah<br />

Al Sulaiti, CEO of Nakilat, solidify the<br />

partnership in a special ceremony held<br />

at QatarEnergy’s headquarters in Doha.<br />

Seventeen of the vessels are under<br />

construction at Hyundai Heavy Industries<br />

(HHI) shipyards in South Korea,<br />

with the remaining eight at Hanwha<br />

Ocean shipyards. This move underscores<br />

QatarEnergy’s commitment to<br />

sustainable energy development and<br />

further strengthens Nakilat’s position<br />

as a leading LNG shipping and maritime<br />

company, contributing significantly to<br />

Qatar’s national economy.<br />

DEWA Stresses Commitment to Reliable Energy<br />

and Water Services<br />

DEWA, Dubai’s Electricity and Water<br />

Authority, remains steadfast<br />

in its mission to deliver dependable<br />

energy and water services, ensuring<br />

the well-being of all Dubai residents.<br />

This commitment aligns with Goal 6<br />

of the UN Sustainable Development<br />

Goals 2030, focusing on universal<br />

access to clean water and sanitation.<br />

With an advanced infrastructure, DEWA<br />

meets the growing demand for energy<br />

in Dubai, projected to rise by 6.3% in<br />

2023. Notably, DEWA’s performance<br />

surpasses major utilities in Europe<br />

and the USA, boasting minimal line<br />

losses and the world’s lowest electricity<br />

Customer Minutes Lost (CML) per year.<br />

Through pioneering projects like the<br />

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar<br />

Park and energy storage initiatives,<br />

DEWA continues to lead in renewable<br />

energy integration and infrastructure<br />

development, ensuring Dubai’s energy<br />

security and sustainability.<br />

Solomon Islands National University and UAE<br />

Explore Clean Energy Collaboration<br />

The Solomon Islands National<br />

University (SINU) is embarking<br />

on a journey towards sustainable<br />

development through collaborative<br />

efforts with the United Arab Emirates<br />

(UAE). Recently, SINU’s Vice Chancellor,<br />

Professor Transform Aqorau, and<br />

executive management met with His<br />

Excellency Omar Shehadeh, the Envoy<br />

of the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs,<br />

at the SINU Kukum Campus. Central to<br />

the discussion was the exploration of<br />

potential collaborations, with a strong<br />

focus on sustainable development and<br />

clean energy initiatives. Professor<br />

Aqorau proposed the establishment<br />

of a Center for Clean Energy at SINU,<br />

aiming to pioneer research, education,<br />

and partnerships in clean energy technologies.<br />

The envisioned centre will<br />

focus on renewable energy sources<br />

like solar, wind, hydro, and biomass,<br />

tailored to address the unique environmental<br />

and societal needs of the<br />

Solomon Islands, paving the way for<br />

sustainable energy solutions.<br />

ACWA Power Signs<br />

$800M Desalination<br />

Deal with Senegal<br />

ACWA Power, a prominent utility<br />

developer based in Saudi Arabia,<br />

has embarked on a transformative<br />

endeavour with Senegal, solidifying<br />

its commitment to advancing sustainable<br />

water infrastructure. The SAR 3B<br />

($800M) agreement represents a pivotal<br />

milestone in the collaborative efforts<br />

between the two nations. Under the<br />

terms of the deal, ACWA Power, partially<br />

backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign<br />

wealth fund, the Public Investment<br />

Fund (PIF), has inked a water purchase<br />

agreement with Senegal’s Ministry of<br />

Water and Sanitation and Société Nationale<br />

des Eaux du Senegal (SONES).<br />

This landmark pact paves the way for<br />

the construction of the Grande Côte<br />

seawater desalination plant in Dakar,<br />

boasting an impressive daily capacity of<br />

400,000 cubic metres. Spearheaded by<br />

ACWA Power, this ambitious initiative<br />

underscores the company’s unwavering<br />

commitment to driving sustainable<br />

development and addressing critical<br />

water challenges in the region.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 43

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HUAWEI nova 12 Series<br />

Huawei’s latest announcement of<br />

the HUAWEI nova 12 Series has<br />

garnered attention from both<br />

tech enthusiasts and fashion-forward<br />

individuals. With its sleek design and<br />

advanced technology, the nova 12 Series<br />

aims to offer a refreshed smartphone<br />

experience.<br />

The hallmark of the nova series has<br />

always been its commitment to ultra-slim<br />

design and stylish aesthetics, and the<br />

HUAWEI nova 12 Series continues this<br />

tradition with finesse. With a razor-thin<br />

profile and the iconic Star Orbit Ring<br />

design, these smartphones exude<br />

elegance and sophistication, making<br />

them a statement accessory for the<br />

modern individual.<br />

The nova 12 Series places a strong<br />

emphasis on innovation, especially in<br />

the area of selfie technology. Leading the<br />

lineup, the HUAWEI nova 12s features<br />

a remarkable 60MP Ultra-Wide Selfie<br />

Camera, enabling users to capture<br />

high-quality selfies with exceptional<br />

clarity and detail. Supported by a flexible<br />

rear camera system, consisting of<br />

a 50MP Ultra Vision main Camera and<br />

an 8MP Wide Angle Macro Camera,<br />

the nova 12s ensures that every photo<br />

taken is of top-notch quality.<br />

Moreover, Huawei has placed significant<br />

emphasis on battery life and<br />

charging capabilities. The nova 12<br />

Series is equipped with the powerful<br />

66W HUAWEI SuperCharge Turbo 2.0,<br />

ensuring swift charging times and enduring<br />

battery performance. Whether<br />

users are travelling or in need of a fast<br />

recharge, these smartphones provide<br />

unmatched charging efficiency and<br />

sustained battery longevity, seamlessly<br />

adapting to their dynamic lifestyles.<br />

Revolutionising the user experience<br />

is the new EMUI 14, which offers enhanced<br />

security, personalisation, and<br />

efficiency. With features like Live View<br />

and customisable Lock Screen Themes,<br />

EMUI 14 allows users to tailor their<br />

smartphone experience to suit their<br />

unique preferences and style.<br />

In addition to its impressive features,<br />

Huawei offers comprehensive device<br />

protection through HUAWEI Care+,<br />

ensuring peace of mind for users. From<br />

Accidental Damage Protection to Free<br />

Lifetime Software Support, Huawei<br />

goes above and beyond to ensure that<br />

your device remains in top condition.<br />

Overall, the HUAWEI nova 12 Series<br />

represents a bold leap forward<br />

in smartphone innovation, combining<br />

style, performance, and innovation to<br />

deliver an unparalleled user experience.<br />

Whether you’re a fashion enthusiast, a<br />

tech aficionado, or someone who simply<br />

appreciates quality craftsmanship,<br />

the nova 12 Series is sure to impress.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 45

Merger and Acquisition News<br />

AstraZeneca Acquires Fusion to Advance Cancer Cure Efforts<br />

AstraZeneca, a prominent pharmaceutical<br />

company with a significant<br />

presence in the UAE, has finalised<br />

its acquisition of Fusion Pharmaceuticals,<br />

a Canada-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical<br />

firm. Under the agreement,<br />

AstraZeneca’s subsidiary will purchase<br />

all outstanding shares of Fusion at $21<br />

per share in cash at closing, along with<br />

a contingent value right of $3 per share<br />

upon the achievement of a specified<br />

regulatory milestone. The upfront cash<br />

portion of approximately $2B represents<br />

a substantial premium to Fusion’s market<br />

price, signalling AstraZeneca’s commitment<br />

to advancing cancer treatment.<br />

With Fusion’s expertise in developing<br />

next-generation radioconjugates (RCs),<br />

AstraZeneca aims to revolutionise cancer<br />

therapy by offering more targeted<br />

alternatives to traditional regimens<br />

like chemotherapy and radiotherapy,<br />

reinforcing its dedication to transforming<br />

patient outcomes in oncology.<br />

Ruder Finn Acquires<br />

UAE-Founded Agency<br />

Atteline<br />

Leading global communications<br />

agency, Ruder Finn, has announced<br />

the acquisition of Atteline, a UAEfounded<br />

agency based in Dubai, which<br />

will serve as Ruder Finn’s new hub in<br />

the Middle East. This move aligns with<br />

Ruder Finn’s strategy of expanding its<br />

global footprint, particularly in healthcare,<br />

enterprise technology, reputation<br />

management, crisis communications,<br />

and digital ventures. Atteline, founded<br />

in 2016 by Sophie Simpson, brings<br />

extensive experience in publishing and<br />

communications to the table. Sophie<br />

will collaborate closely with Kathy<br />

Bloomgarden, Ruder Finn’s Global CEO,<br />

and Atul Sharma, who oversees Ruder<br />

Finn’s Middle East Region. By establishing<br />

a hub in Dubai, Ruder Finn aims to meet<br />

the increasing demand for public relations,<br />

marketing communications, digital, and<br />

corporate reputation services in the<br />

region, leveraging Atteline’s cultural<br />

insights and digital expertise to enhance<br />

client relationships and support global<br />

growth initiatives.<br />

Gulf Tamin Acquires 13.85% Stake in Bahrain’s<br />

Arab Insurance Group<br />

Gulf Tamin Ltd, led by Lepercq,<br />

de Neuflize & Co and Callaway<br />

Capital Management LLC, has<br />

acquired a notable 13.85% stake in Arab<br />

Insurance Group (ARIG). Advised by<br />

SICO BSC (c), Trowers & Hamlins,<br />

and Zu’bi and Partners, Gulf Tamin<br />

Ltd has completed this significant purchase<br />

with international shareholders.<br />

Wissam Haddad, Head of Investment<br />

Banking and Real Estate at SICO,<br />

expressed enthusiasm for the collaboration,<br />

emphasising the successful<br />

acquisition of ARIG’s shares. Daniel<br />

Freifeld, Director of Gulf Tamin Ltd,<br />

voiced optimism about the investment,<br />

highlighting plans to revitalise ARIG’s<br />

underwriting business in Bahrain<br />

and beyond. This acquisition marks<br />

a strategic move for Gulf Tamin Ltd,<br />

positioning them to play a key role<br />

in reshaping ARIG’s operations and<br />

presence in the insurance sector.<br />

UAE’s Capital Markets and M&A Forum <strong>2024</strong><br />

Successfully Concluded<br />

The Capital Markets & M&A Forum<br />

<strong>2024</strong>, hosted by ARC Group, concluded<br />

as a pivotal event, bringing<br />

together over 120 industry leaders to<br />

delve into insightful discussions on financial<br />

innovation and regional growth.<br />

Held at the prestigious Waldorf Astoria<br />

DIFC, Dubai, UAE, the forum served as<br />

a platform for unveiling a transformative<br />

partnership between ARC Group, M/HQ,<br />

and Re/think UAE, signifying a significant<br />

milestone in shaping the future of the<br />

industry. Highlighting the event was a<br />

compelling keynote address by H.E. Dr.<br />

Ahmed Abdulrahman Albanna, emphasising<br />

the UAE’s remarkable economic progress<br />

and diversification efforts. Through<br />

collaborative exploration of key financial<br />

topics, the forum emerged as a catalyst<br />

for fostering innovation and driving the<br />

evolution of the financial landscape in<br />

the dynamic Middle East region.<br />

46 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Sovereign Funds Dominate 86% of Middle East Deal Value<br />

Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs)<br />

are wielding significant influence<br />

in Middle Eastern dealmaking,<br />

accounting for over 85% of total deal<br />

value according to experts from Bain<br />

& Company. Tom De Waele, Grégory<br />

Garnier, Riccardo Molinari, and Elif<br />

Koc highlight how SWFs are reshaping<br />

the region’s economic landscape,<br />

particularly through diversification<br />

away from hydrocarbons and aggressive<br />

investments in Asia. Despite a slight<br />

dip in deal volume and value in 2023,<br />

SWFs, either directly or through portfolio<br />

ADQ Invests in Plenary<br />

Group with Stake<br />

Acquisition<br />

Abu Dhabi’s ADQ and Australia’s<br />

Plenary Group announced a<br />

collaboration to enhance public<br />

and social infrastructure development<br />

through strategic investments. ADQ is<br />

set to acquire a 49% stake in Plenary,<br />

including shares held by Canadian<br />

pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement<br />

du Québec, which will maintain<br />

its investment in Plenary’s Australian<br />

assets and remain a major shareholder<br />

in its Americas business. The infusion<br />

of capital from ADQ will fuel Plenary’s<br />

expansion plans across Australia,<br />

the Middle East, Asia, the UK, and<br />

Europe. Additionally, the partnership<br />

will establish a co-investment platform<br />

targeting public and social infrastructure<br />

opportunities in high-growth<br />

regions like the GCC, Middle East, and<br />

Central Asia. This move underscores<br />

ADQ’s commitment to infrastructure<br />

investment, aiming to drive economic<br />

growth locally and globally.<br />

companies, remained the driving force<br />

behind deal activity, representing 86%<br />

of total deal value. These deals serve<br />

various strategic objectives, including<br />

sector consolidation such as Saudi<br />

Arabia’s Public Investment Fund’s<br />

acquisition of AlRajhi Steel and Hadeed,<br />

and strengthening regional ties like<br />

Mubadala’s investment in Shein and<br />

Qatar Investment Authority’s stake in<br />

Reliance Retail Ventures, underscoring<br />

their pivotal role in shaping the region’s<br />

economic future and fostering global<br />

partnerships for sustainable growth.<br />

AESG Acquires UK-Based SGW to Enhance<br />

Building Security Consulting in Middle East<br />

AESG, a prominent consultancy,<br />

engineering, and advisory firm<br />

originating from the UAE, has<br />

expanded its reach with the acquisition<br />

of SGW, a respected Safety and<br />

Security Consultancy with a global<br />

presence. This strategic move not only<br />

enriches AESG’s suite of services but<br />

also heralds the launch of its Security<br />

Consultancy service line. Saeed Al<br />

Abbar, AESG’s CEO, emphasises the<br />

company’s remarkable journey from<br />

a UAE-based entity to a global player<br />

spanning the Middle East, Europe, and<br />

APAC. Al Abbar highlights the alignment<br />

of SGW’s exceptional portfolio<br />

and commitment to excellence with<br />

AESG’s ethos. Simon Whitehouse,<br />

SGW’s founder, brings his wealth of<br />

experience, industry certifications,<br />

and leadership to AESG as the Director<br />

of Security Consultancy, promising to<br />

enhance the firm’s offerings and serve<br />

its global clientele effectively.<br />

Ducab Metals Boosts Global Presence with GIC<br />

Magnet Acquisition<br />

Ducab Metals Business (DMB),<br />

a top supplier of copper and<br />

aluminium solutions, has acquired<br />

GIC Magnet, a move aimed at<br />

broadening its product range and global<br />

footprint. This strategic step signifies<br />

DMB’s dedication to innovation, sustainability,<br />

and industry leadership.<br />

By integrating GIC Magnet’s expertise,<br />

DMB anticipates unlocking new growth<br />

avenues, catering to diverse industry<br />

verticals, and enhancing value for<br />

customers and stakeholders. Mohamed<br />

Al Ahmedi, CEO of Ducab Metals<br />

Business, highlights the acquisition’s<br />

role in expanding the downstream<br />

product offering and diversifying<br />

market presence globally. With a projected<br />

sustainable revenue growth of<br />

$40.5M, DMB aims to meet evolving<br />

market demands while prioritising<br />

eco-friendly solutions. This strategic<br />

move reinforces the commitment to<br />

innovation, sustainability, and delivering<br />

quality solutions to customers<br />

worldwide.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 47

Wheels<br />

Honda Prelude<br />

Honda Prelude, a name resonating<br />

with nostalgia and sporting<br />

heritage, is set to make a<br />

triumphant return to Honda’s lineup,<br />

embodying the essence of a 21stcentury<br />

coupe with a sleek design and<br />

hybrid powertrain. Once a symbol of<br />

performance and style, the Prelude<br />

is poised to reclaim its throne in the<br />

hearts of enthusiasts, promising a blend<br />

of efficiency and driving excitement.<br />

Scheduled for a debut in the 2026<br />

model year, the Prelude marks a new<br />

chapter for Honda, filling the void left<br />

by the departure of coupe variants in<br />

the Civic and Accord lineup. While<br />

exact details on its release date remain<br />

elusive, anticipation runs high as<br />

enthusiasts eagerly await its arrival.<br />

In terms of pricing, the Prelude<br />

is positioned competitively, with an<br />

estimated starting price of around<br />

$31,000 for the base Sport trim, rising<br />

to approximately $38,000 for the fully<br />

loaded Sport Touring variant. Although<br />

trim levels and pricing details are<br />

speculative at this point, the Prelude<br />

is expected to offer a compelling value<br />

proposition in the affordable sports<br />

car segment, challenging contenders<br />

like the Toyota GR86 and the Mazda<br />

MX-5 Miata.<br />

48 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Prelude is set to adopt a hybrid<br />

powertrain, drawing inspiration from<br />

Honda’s existing lineup, including<br />

models such as the CR-V, Accord, and<br />

the forthcoming 2025 Civic hybrid.<br />

While specific powertrain details are<br />

scarce, it’s anticipated to feature a<br />

variant of the hybrid system found in its<br />

stablemates. The Accord’s hybrid setup,<br />

for instance, yields 204 horsepower<br />

from its 2.0-litre four-cylinder gasoline<br />

engine, suggesting the potential for<br />

spirited performance in the Prelude.<br />

Traditionally front-wheel drive,<br />

the Prelude is expected to adhere<br />

to its heritage, delivering power<br />

to the front wheels for a dynamic<br />

driving experience. However, there’s<br />

speculation about the possibility of<br />

an all-wheel-drive option, hinting<br />

at even greater agility and traction.<br />

Regrettably, manual transmission, a<br />

hallmark of past Prelude models, is<br />

unlikely to make a return, signalling<br />

a shift towards modern transmission<br />

technologies.<br />

As details continue to emerge, the<br />

resurrection of the Honda Prelude<br />

represents not just a revival of a beloved<br />

nameplate, but a reinvigoration of<br />

the spirit of driving enjoyment and<br />

innovation. With its sleek design, hybrid<br />

powertrain, and promise of a fun-filled<br />

driving experience, the Prelude stands<br />

ready to captivate a new generation of<br />

enthusiasts while reigniting the passion<br />

of loyal fans.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 49

Real Estate News<br />

Wellness Homes Launch in Dubai’s Al Barari<br />

Luxury Market<br />

La Maison Amal, a newly unveiled<br />

wellness-centric luxury residential<br />

development in Dubai’s<br />

prestigious Al Barari district, promises<br />

a seamless fusion of opulence and<br />

serenity. Maria Morris, CEO of Maria<br />

Morris Real Estate, underscores the<br />

project’s response to the evolving<br />

preferences of ultra-high net worth<br />

individuals (UHNWIs) for holistic luxury<br />

experiences post-pandemic. With a<br />

focus on wellness and health-conscious<br />

living, every aspect of La Maison Amal<br />

reflects a new pinnacle in ultra-luxury<br />

living. The residences feature a topfloor<br />

gym with panoramic views and<br />

a meticulously designed wellness zone<br />

by Potenza Wellness, offering advanced<br />

treatments and amenities like Exercise<br />

With Oxygen Therapy (EWOT)<br />

and infrared saunas. Furthermore,<br />

the integration of fine art, overseen<br />

by Art Director Coco Valdez, elevates<br />

the project’s exclusivity, catering to<br />

discerning buyers seeking an elevated<br />

lifestyle.<br />

Arada Completed New Homes in Sharjah’s<br />

Aljada Megaproject<br />

Arada has completed the first<br />

phase of residences in the Naseej<br />

District of Aljada, Sharjah’s<br />

expansive megaproject. Spanning 24<br />

million square feet, Aljada encompasses<br />

a blend of residential, retail, hospitality,<br />

and commercial spaces amidst lush<br />

greenery. The Tiraz buildings, comprising<br />

920 homes, offer proximity to<br />

cultural venues, shops, and the iconic<br />

Il Teatro performance theatre, designed<br />

by renowned architect Tadao Ando.<br />

Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, Arada’s CEO, expressed<br />

excitement in welcoming the<br />

inaugural families to Naseej District,<br />

envisioning it as a vibrant hub within<br />

Aljada. These residences, featuring<br />

various-sized flats overlooking courtyards<br />

and interconnected by landscaped<br />

parks, boast smart technology and<br />

access to amenities like gyms, pools,<br />

playgrounds, and BBQ areas. With over<br />

7,500 homes now completed, Aljada<br />

continues to shape into a thriving<br />

community, with the Tiraz blocks<br />

constructed by Kuwaiti contractor<br />

Mohammad Abdulmohsen Al-Kharafi<br />

& Sons contributing significantly to<br />

its development.<br />

Saudi Real Estate Thrives in ‘Golden Era’ with<br />

Vision 2030 Momentum<br />

Riyadh and Saudi Arabia’s real<br />

estate sector are experiencing<br />

a golden age of development<br />

fuelled by the transformative initiatives<br />

of Vision 2030. It highlights the surge<br />

in housing projects and monumental<br />

endeavours like NEOM, bolstered by<br />

significant government investments.<br />

Launched in 2016 by Crown Prince<br />

Mohammed Bin Salman, Vision 2030<br />

aims to diversify the economy, foster<br />

innovation, and enhance opportunities,<br />

evident in the Kingdom’s evolving<br />

skyline and bustling cities. Riyadh’s<br />

landscape is evolving rapidly with<br />

new commercial hubs and residential<br />

complexes, a trend set to accelerate with<br />

upcoming events like Expo 2030 and<br />

the 2034 FIFA <strong>World</strong> Cup. Digitisation<br />

initiatives streamline interactions with<br />

the government, while mega-projects<br />

like NEOM exemplify Saudi Arabia’s<br />

global ambitions with sustainable urban<br />

innovations.<br />

Almal Investments<br />

Redefines Dubai and<br />

RAK Real Estate<br />

Almal Investments, a prominent<br />

Dubai-based investment and<br />

development firm specialising<br />

in hospitality and residential ventures,<br />

continues to shape the UAE’s real<br />

estate scene. With a rich international<br />

background, the company is expanding<br />

its footprint in the region, boasting<br />

remarkable projects like La Mer Island<br />

in Dubai and Al Marjan Island in Ras Al<br />

Khaimah. Established in 2022, Almal<br />

Investments aims to deliver upscale<br />

properties tailored for discerning clientele,<br />

focusing on enduring value and<br />

attractive investor returns. Notably,<br />

their Harrisoni La Mer Villas in Dubai<br />

garnered acclaim, winning the prestigious<br />

‘Private Villa Project of the Year’<br />

award. The company’s forthcoming luxury<br />

hotel in Ras Al Khaimah’s Al Marjan<br />

Island underscores its commitment to<br />

refinement, supported by a significant<br />

investment and a partnership with a<br />

globally renowned hotel operator.<br />

Dubai Investments<br />

Announces $81.7M<br />

Violet Tower in JVC<br />

Dubai Investments has unveiled<br />

plans for a 287-unit residential<br />

tower spanning 27 floors in Jumeirah<br />

Village Circle. The investment<br />

firm, listed on the Dubai Financial<br />

Market, will invest AED 300M into<br />

the project, overseen by Dubai Investments<br />

Real Estate, its property arm.<br />

Violet Tower, a residential complex<br />

featuring G+4P+27 floors, will be<br />

located in one of Dubai’s most desirable<br />

neighbourhoods and will offer<br />

studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom<br />

layouts. Alongside the 287 units, the<br />

tower will boast amenities such as a<br />

swimming pool, gym, and children’s<br />

play area. Construction of the tower<br />

is set to commence in <strong>2024</strong>. Obaid Mohammed<br />

Al Salami, Dubai Investments<br />

Real Estate’s General Manager, noted:<br />

“Recognising the surge in demand for<br />

upscale residential projects in JVC,<br />

Dubai Investments acknowledges<br />

the trend towards owned properties<br />

harmonising luxury and practicality,<br />

epitomised by Violet Tower.”<br />

50 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Gllit Launches Innovative<br />

Property Search Platform<br />

in Dubai<br />

Dubai - based proptech startup<br />

Gllit has introduced a groundbreaking<br />

end-to-end property<br />

search platform, eliminating costly<br />

commission fees for buyers, sellers, and<br />

landlords. This pioneering move positions<br />

Gllit as the first Dubai-based firm<br />

to offer a commission-free model for real<br />

estate transactions in the emirate. In a<br />

market often plagued by hidden fees,<br />

Gllit directly connects home buyers<br />

and tenants with property sellers and<br />

landlords, effectively reducing financial<br />

burdens by eliminating commission<br />

costs entirely. Co-founders Arijit Sen<br />

and Smriti Tripathi emphasise the platform’s<br />

aim of empowering consumers,<br />

providing them with unprecedented<br />

choices and fostering transparent interactions.<br />

Gllit’s innovative approach<br />

not only streamlines transactions but<br />

also builds a community where users<br />

can engage in genuine conversations,<br />

establish meaningful connections, and<br />

secure the best deals directly from<br />

property owners.<br />

Zayed Housing Programme: 4,334 Housing<br />

Decisions Issued in 2023<br />

The Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme<br />

reported issuing 4,334<br />

decisions in 2023, amounting<br />

to AED 3.34B, including 3,015 housing<br />

finance decisions valued at AED<br />

2,380,551,000 and 1,025 housing grants<br />

totalling AED 682,300,000. Mohammed<br />

Al Mansoori, Director-General,<br />

highlighted that active loan decisions<br />

reached AED 17.502B, constituting<br />

90.6%, with closed loan files accounting<br />

for 9.4%. Established in 1999, the Programme<br />

remains dedicated to enhancing<br />

citizens’ well-being through sustainable<br />

housing solutions. Al Mansoori attributed<br />

the Programme’s achievements<br />

to the forward-thinking vision<br />

of wise leadership, noting significant<br />

advancements that have positively<br />

impacted thousands of individuals.<br />

He stated, “Over 91% of citizens now<br />

own residences, one of the highest<br />

rates globally. The Programme has<br />

significantly reduced the time required<br />

for citizens to obtain housing support<br />

decisions, from 4.42 years in 2017 to<br />

1.07 years in 2023.”<br />

Amali Properties Unveils Luxurious Haven: Amali<br />

Island in The <strong>World</strong> Islands<br />

Introducing Amali Island by Amali<br />

Properties, a luxurious enclave<br />

nestled within the <strong>World</strong> Islands,<br />

offering exclusive 5-7 bedroom villas<br />

with private beach access and breathtaking<br />

views of the Dubai skyline.<br />

Crafted by renowned architectural<br />

firm ELASTIC, with interiors by Hirsch<br />

Bedner Associates and SquareM, each<br />

villa promises a blend of opulence and<br />

tranquillity across its 1,200,000 square<br />

feet waterfront expanse. With 24 villas<br />

ranging from 11,108 to 33,497 square<br />

feet, residents will enjoy panoramic<br />

vistas of Dubai’s iconic landmarks.<br />

Choose from four villa styles - Avatea,<br />

Aria, Aurora, and Amorino - each featuring<br />

two distinctive designs: Grande<br />

and Minima. Residents will indulge in<br />

unparalleled amenities including water<br />

sports facilities, a luxury boat garage,<br />

a cinema, a sauna, and a spa, ensuring<br />

an unmatched lifestyle experience on<br />

Amali Island.<br />

Huspy Introduces Mortgages Below UAE EIBOR Rate<br />

Dubai-based real estate startup<br />

Huspy has unveiled new mortgages<br />

in the UAE with rates<br />

dipping below 4 per cent, undercutting<br />

the prevailing Emirates Interbank<br />

Offered Rate (EIBOR) benchmark.<br />

Offering its lowest rate of 3.85 per cent<br />

exclusively during Ramadan, Huspy<br />

presents competitive rates of 3.94<br />

per cent and 3.99 per cent for fixed<br />

terms of 2 and 3 years, respectively.<br />

Prospective homeowners can easily<br />

apply through Huspy’s platform, submitting<br />

documents for a complimentary<br />

cost analysis. With Huspy’s “Brokers<br />

Portal,” brokers can streamline the application<br />

process for clients, accessing<br />

exclusive deals and reducing waiting<br />

times. Customers stand to benefit from<br />

partner banks’ offerings, including<br />

zero processing and valuation fees,<br />

and some may qualify for a 50 per cent<br />

cashback on their first month’s salary.<br />

Moreover, early repayment options<br />

without penalties and opportunities<br />

for existing homeowners to refinance<br />

at competitive variable rates further<br />

enhance Huspy’s appeal.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 51

Interview<br />

Exploring the Future of<br />

Immersive Technologies:<br />

In conversation with Lara Daoud<br />

52 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

In an exclusive interview with <strong>Finance</strong> <strong>World</strong> Magazine, Lara Daoud, Founder<br />

& Managing Partner of EUMENA Events, provides an in-depth look into the<br />

upcoming MetaGate Summit, shedding light on its groundbreaking nature<br />

and the opportunities it presents for the future of immersive technologies in the<br />

Middle East. She discusses the summit’s aim to showcase the real-life impact<br />

of immersive technologies across various sectors, from healthcare to fintech,<br />

education, and beyond.<br />

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

Q. What personal motivations and<br />

factors drove you to pursue a career<br />

in event management, considering<br />

its demanding nature as a 24/7 job?<br />

The journey into event management<br />

has been deeply rooted in my passion<br />

for creating meaningful connections<br />

and fostering impactful experiences.<br />

From an early age, I found joy in bringing<br />

people together and orchestrating<br />

moments that resonate long after the<br />

event concludes. This innate drive to<br />

connect individuals and businesses led<br />

me to delve into the dynamic world of<br />

event management, where each day<br />

presents new challenges and opportunities<br />

to craft memorable experiences.<br />

Despite the demanding nature of<br />

the industry, characterised by its 24/7<br />

demands and inherent stress, I discovered<br />

an undeniable fulfilment in the<br />

process. The thrill of conceptualising<br />

an event, meticulously planning every<br />

detail, and witnessing it come to life is<br />

incredibly rewarding. It’s a testament<br />

to the hard work and dedication of my<br />

team and to the transformative power<br />

of events in bridging gaps, fostering<br />

collaborations, and creating win-win<br />

scenarios for all stakeholders involved.<br />

This passion and drive eventually<br />

fuelled my decision to transition from a<br />

secure job to founding EUMENA Events.<br />

I saw an opportunity to channel my<br />

enthusiasm for events into a platform<br />

that not only celebrates creativity and<br />

innovation but also serves as a catalyst<br />

for meaningful connections and<br />

business growth.<br />

Q. What do you consider to be the<br />

most rewarding aspect of your role<br />

as CEO of Eumena Events?<br />

The most rewarding aspect is knowing<br />

that EUMENA Events plays a pivotal<br />

role in creating impactful moments,<br />

fostering collaborations, and leaving<br />

a positive legacy in the realm of event<br />

management. From conceptualisation to<br />

execution, seeing our meticulous planning<br />

come to life and create memorable<br />

experiences for clients and attendees is<br />

immensely gratifying. Moreover, as a<br />

leader, I find great reward in nurturing<br />

and empowering my team; seeing them<br />

grow both professionally and personally,<br />

and witnessing their dedication<br />

translate into exceptional outcomes,<br />

is truly satisfying. Together, we strive<br />

to push boundaries, innovate, and set<br />

new standards of excellence in the<br />

events industry.<br />

Q. How do you ensure that your<br />

events effectively align with the<br />

business objectives of your clients?<br />

We employ a strategic and collaborative<br />

approach that begins with a deep<br />

understanding of our clients’ goals,<br />

values, and target audience. We start<br />

by conducting thorough consultations<br />

to tailor every aspect of the event to<br />

align seamlessly with their business<br />

objectives, whether it’s brand visibility,<br />

lead generation, networking, or<br />

product launches.<br />

Throughout the planning and execution<br />

phases, we maintain open communication<br />

with our clients, seeking feedback<br />

and making necessary adjustments to<br />

ensure alignment with their evolving<br />

objectives. Post-event evaluations and<br />

analyses further validate the success of<br />

our approach, enabling us to continually<br />

refine our strategies for future events.<br />

Our commitment to strategic alignment,<br />

collaboration, and data-driven<br />

insights enables us to deliver events that<br />

not only meet but exceed our clients’<br />

expectations, contributing significantly<br />

to their overall business success.<br />

Q. With your experience in organising<br />

events, how do you foresee the<br />

growth of events like the MetaGate<br />

summit in the Middle East?<br />

MetaGate Summit which is organised<br />

by EUMENA Events along with<br />

our Saudi partner ETISAL, and in collaboration<br />

with our stakeholders and<br />

association partners, is a groundbreaking<br />

event that showcases the real-life<br />

impact of immersive technologies on<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 53

Interview<br />

our day-to-day lives.<br />

At MetaGate, we aim to highlight<br />

the value of these technologies for<br />

businesses and individuals while fostering<br />

collaboration and innovation<br />

across various sectors. For instance,<br />

our summit will feature a live surgery<br />

demonstration on our conference stage,<br />

where doctors from Italy will perform<br />

surgery in a hospital in KSA using robotics<br />

and immersive technologies.<br />

This demonstration serves to showcase<br />

the transformative impact of immersive<br />

technologies on the healthcare<br />

sector, illustrating their potential in<br />

revolutionising healthcare delivery.<br />

Beyond healthcare, our event will<br />

delve into the immersive technologies’<br />

impact across diverse industries such<br />

as the industrial metaverse, fintech,<br />

telecom, education, training, retail, and<br />

more. Each sector will be explored in<br />

depth, demonstrating how immersive<br />

technologies are reshaping processes,<br />

enhancing user experiences, and driving<br />

forward-thinking solutions.<br />

Given the Middle East’s enthusiasm<br />

for innovation, digital transformation,<br />

and investment in cutting-edge technologies,<br />

events like MetaGate Summit<br />

are poised for substantial growth in the<br />

region. The summit’s comprehensive<br />

coverage of immersive technologies<br />

and its real-life applications across<br />

industries make it a compelling platform<br />

for knowledge exchange, collaboration,<br />

and business opportunities.<br />

In summary, the MetaGate Summit<br />

embodies the future of events in the<br />

Middle East, offering a unique blend<br />

of visionary insights, immersive experiences,<br />

and tangible impacts across<br />

sectors—an evolution that I believe<br />

will resonate deeply with businesses<br />

and individuals in the region.<br />

Q. Can you describe the opportunities<br />

that the MetaGate summit<br />

provides for startup participation<br />

and engagement?<br />

MetaGate Summit presents a wealth of<br />

opportunities for startup participation<br />

and engagement. One of the standout<br />

features of the summit is the InnovateXcelerate<br />

Startup competition, aligning<br />

perfectly with our vision to provide a<br />

thriving platform for entrepreneurs and<br />

showcase the next wave of metaverse<br />

innovators.<br />

Powered by our Startup Enabler, Tuwaiq<br />

Academy, who recently launched<br />

the first Metaverse Academy in the<br />

MENA region in partnership with Meta,<br />

and who actively supports startups<br />

with resources and an environment<br />

conducive to success, oversees the<br />

competition’s mechanics, from registration<br />

to mentoring, judging, and<br />

winners’ selection.<br />

The competition offers startups a<br />

unique opportunity to pitch live for<br />

awards and potential partnerships to<br />

an expert jury comprising investors and<br />

executives, and serves as a launchpad<br />

for emerging startups, providing them<br />

with valuable exposure, networking<br />

opportunities, and potential funding<br />

or collaboration avenues.<br />

Q. What resources or support does<br />

MetaGate offer to startups looking<br />

to showcase their innovations and<br />

ideas during the summit?<br />

One of our key initiatives is the creation<br />

of a dedicated startup area within<br />

the exhibition feature of MetaGate<br />

Summit, where startups showcase their<br />

products, connect with industry leaders,<br />

investors, and potential partners,<br />

and gain valuable visibility within the<br />

event’s diverse audience.<br />

We are also offering an affordable<br />

package tailored specifically for startup<br />

companies, to provide them with the<br />

tools and platform they need to succeed,<br />

grow their networks, and secure<br />

potential partnerships or investments.<br />

Q. From your perspective, what<br />

role do startups play in shaping the<br />

future of the metaverse industry,<br />

and how does MetaGate empower<br />

them to do so?<br />

As catalysts for change and innovation,<br />

startups bring fresh perspectives<br />

and drive forward-thinking solutions<br />

that push the boundaries of what’s<br />

possible in the metaverse.<br />

At MetaGate, we are committed to<br />

advancing the evolution of the metaverse<br />

ecosystem. Recognising the pivotal<br />

role of startups, we empower them by<br />

providing essential tools, platforms, and<br />

opportunities for growth and innovation.<br />

Through our dedicated startup area,<br />

networking events, and the InnovateXcelerate<br />

Startup competition, we<br />

offer startups a unique platform to<br />

showcase their innovations, connect<br />

with industry leaders, and access valuable<br />

resources. We invite startups to<br />

seize this opportunity by booking their<br />

space today and taking advantage of<br />

our special startup package!<br />

54 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Funding and Investment<br />

source: pexels.com<br />

Startups in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region raised $88.7 million across 37 deals.<br />

Startup Funding 101:<br />

Understanding Different<br />

Sources of Capital and<br />

How to Secure Investment<br />

From bootstrapping to venture capital, startup<br />

funding encompasses various sources and<br />

strategies crucial for driving success.<br />

Securing capital is a vital aspect of startup<br />

success, encompassing a diverse array<br />

of sources and strategies. From bootstrapping<br />

to venture capital, navigating<br />

this landscape requires a nuanced understanding.<br />

In this guide, we explore<br />

the fundamentals of startup funding,<br />

providing entrepreneurs with a roadmap<br />

to navigate the labyrinth of capital<br />

acquisition. From grassroots approaches<br />

to high-stakes investments, we delve<br />

into each funding source’s advantages,<br />

challenges, and suitability for different<br />

stages of the startup journey. The goal<br />

of this guide is to demystify the process,<br />

empowering entrepreneurs by providing<br />

them with the knowledge, resources, and<br />

tools necessary to succeed in driving innovation<br />

forward.<br />

56 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

When it comes to financing a<br />

startup, entrepreneurs typically<br />

have two primary options: equity<br />

financing and debt financing.<br />

Equity financing involves the sale of<br />

shares in exchange for capital, i.e., the<br />

sale of partial ownership in exchange for<br />

cash. Debt financing, on the other hand,<br />

is the act of raising capital by borrowing<br />

funds at an interest from a lender or<br />

bank, to be repaid at a future date. This<br />

method preserves ownership. What type<br />

of financing is best for your venture<br />

depends on a number of factors- such as<br />

the age and model of the business, the<br />

nature of the product/service, competitive<br />

scenario and leadership.<br />

Let us examine the various sources of<br />

securing capital:<br />

Bootstrapping/Self-financing<br />

Bootstrapping in startup terminology<br />

refers to the practice of starting and<br />

growing a business using personal finances,<br />

revenue generated by the business itself<br />

(customer-funded stage), or any other<br />

available resources without relying on<br />

external funding from investors or loans.<br />

Essentially, a company is scaled using<br />

limited financial resources and a focus<br />

on self-sustainability.<br />

Under this model, founders invest<br />

and reinvest their personal funds and<br />

current cash flow respectively, often<br />

taking no monetary compensation (sweat<br />

equity) and prioritising lean operations.<br />

A bootstrapped venture typically comes<br />

with financial freedom and full ownership<br />

for its founders, but often at the cost of<br />

slower growth, limited industry connections<br />

and resources.<br />

Apple and Microsoft are examples of<br />

companies that started out bootstrapping<br />

their early operations.<br />

Investments from Close Network<br />

(Friends and Family)<br />

Startups find it advantageous to secure<br />

funding by identifying potential investors<br />

amongst their close contacts. It often takes<br />

place on a less formal, high-trust basis with<br />

a repayment program structured around<br />

partial ownership (equity) or debt, which<br />

may be interest-free. Friends and family<br />

funding typically takes place at the early<br />

(seed) stage or may serve as a bailout<br />

option for startups in financial trouble.<br />

Even amongst close ones, it is important<br />

to have repayment terms and investment<br />

structure legally ratified and available to<br />

all parties to avoid potential disputes.<br />

Founders must also consider the downside<br />

of borrowing from friends and family<br />

as against an institutional investor, as<br />

the latter is better positioned to absorb<br />

potential losses against a wide investment<br />

portfolio.<br />

Angel Investors<br />

Angel investors are affluent, high-networth<br />

individuals who provide capital<br />

to startups in exchange for ownership<br />

equity or convertible debt (debt which<br />

may be converted to equity in the future).<br />

They typically invest in early-stage or<br />

seed-stage companies, offering not only<br />

financial support but also mentorship,<br />

expertise, and valuable networking<br />

opportunities. Angel investors play a<br />

crucial role in funding startups, especially<br />

when traditional sources of financing may<br />

Startup funding:<br />

a puzzle of<br />

opportunities<br />

from personal<br />

investments to<br />

venture capital.”<br />

be unavailable or limited. Examples of<br />

angel investors include individuals such<br />

as Peter Thiel, who famously provided<br />

early funding for Facebook or Reid<br />

Hoffman, an early investor in LinkedIn.<br />

Venture Capital<br />

Venture capital (VC) is a type of private<br />

equity financing provided to startups and<br />

early-stage companies that have high<br />

growth potential. Venture capitalists invest<br />

capital in exchange for an ownership stake<br />

in the company, typically in the form of<br />

equity. Unlike traditional loans, venture<br />

capital investments are not repaid with<br />

interest but rather through the eventual<br />

sale of the company or through an initial<br />

public offering (IPO).<br />

Sources of venture capital are venture<br />

capital funds, investment banks and<br />

wealthy individuals. They employ<br />

experienced investors and industry<br />

experts to identify promising investment<br />

opportunities, conduct due diligence, and<br />

provide strategic guidance to portfolio<br />

companies. Examples of VC Firms are<br />

Sequoia Capital and Accel.<br />

Venture Capital vs Angel Investors:<br />

What is the difference?<br />

Angel investors and venture capitalists<br />

(VCs) are both sources of funding for<br />

startups but differ in investment stage,<br />

size, involvement, and risk tolerance.<br />

Angel investors typically invest smaller<br />

amounts in early-stage startups, offering<br />

mentorship and hands-on support,<br />

while VCs invest larger sums in more<br />

mature companies, taking a strategic<br />

approach with less direct involvement.<br />

Angel investors use personal funds and<br />

have higher risk tolerance, whereas VCs<br />

manage institutional funds and are more<br />

risk-averse. Both are crucial for startup<br />

growth, providing capital and guidance,<br />

but serve different stages and needs<br />

within the startup ecosystem.<br />

Private Equity Funds<br />

Private equity investors- typified<br />

by firms such as Blackstone and Bain<br />

Capital- are different from venture<br />

capitalists, who typically provide cash<br />

infusions to young startups and hope<br />

for a 10x return. Private equity funds<br />

represent collective investments by<br />

ultra-HNIs, typically inaccessible to<br />

individual investors. Managed by private<br />

equity firms, these funds deploy capital<br />

on behalf of investors, often acquiring<br />

majority ownership in companies. Working<br />

closely with company leadership, private<br />

equity firms aim to enhance the value of<br />

these businesses, known as portfolio<br />

companies, with the intention of selling<br />

them at a profit in the future.<br />

Private equity investors aim to generate<br />

returns for their investors by improving<br />

the performance and value of their<br />

portfolio companies through operational<br />

improvements, strategic initiatives, and<br />

financial restructuring. They may also<br />

exit their investments through initial<br />

public offerings (IPOs), mergers and<br />

acquisitions (M&A), or secondary sales<br />

to other investors.<br />

To conclude, the modern-day start-up<br />

ecosystem is thriving with a plethora<br />

of avenues to secure investment for<br />

innovation, but it is important to select<br />

the right route tailored to the specific<br />

needs and goals of each company.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 57

Funding and Investment News<br />

Saudi and UAE Intensify<br />

Africa Investments Amid<br />

Rising Competition<br />

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are engaged<br />

in a strategic race for influence<br />

and commerce across Africa. The<br />

UAE has solidified its global standing,<br />

emerging as Africa’s fourth-largest<br />

investor following China, the EU, and<br />

the US. Over the period from 2012 to<br />

2022, the Gulf Cooperation Council<br />

(GCC) nations collectively injected<br />

approximately $101.9B in foreign<br />

direct investment into Africa, with<br />

Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria, and<br />

South Africa reaping the most benefits.<br />

Notably, the UAE led the pack<br />

with investments totalling $59.4B, as<br />

highlighted in Knight Frank’s 2023/24<br />

Africa Horizons report. Saudi Arabia<br />

followed with $25.6B, trailed by Qatar,<br />

Kuwait, and Bahrain. While maintaining<br />

its traditional rivalry with Abu Dhabi,<br />

Riyadh is notably prioritising its African<br />

investments, underscoring an evolving<br />

dynamic in the region.<br />

UAE and Kenya Ink<br />

Investment Deal for<br />

Digital Infrastructure<br />

and AI Projects<br />

The UAE Ministry of Investment<br />

and Kenya’s Ministry of Information,<br />

Communications, and the<br />

Digital Economy have formalised an<br />

Investment Memorandum, outlining<br />

collaboration in digitalization and<br />

technology. This pact aims to delve<br />

into investments concerning digital<br />

infrastructure, artificial intelligence<br />

(AI) services, and potentially, the<br />

development of data centre projects<br />

with a capacity of up to 1,000 megawatts.<br />

Notably, the memorandum also<br />

emphasises assessing the potential of<br />

advancing Large Language Models in<br />

the AI domain. Signed by Mohamed<br />

Hassan Alsuwaidi, UAE’s Minister of<br />

Investment, and Eliud Owalo, Kenya’s<br />

Cabinet Secretary at the Ministry of<br />

Information, Communications, and<br />

the Digital Economy, the agreement<br />

underscores Kenya’s robust digital<br />

economy growth, particularly in the<br />

ICT sector, which has expanded by 23<br />

per cent annually over the past decade.<br />

UAE Tech Start-ups Optimistic About Enhanced<br />

Funding in <strong>2024</strong><br />

Tech start-up companies in the UAE<br />

are poised for a more favourable<br />

growth environment in <strong>2024</strong>, with<br />

increased funding opportunities anticipated<br />

by investors. The UAE’s commitment<br />

to fostering a conducive business<br />

landscape, bolstered by governmental<br />

support and a vibrant entrepreneurial<br />

community, sets the stage for accelerated<br />

development. Ranking second<br />

in the Middle East and 28th globally<br />

for start-up support, according to the<br />

Global Start-up Ecosystem Index, the<br />

UAE demonstrates its commitment to<br />

nurturing innovative ventures. Despite<br />

cautious investor sentiment, evidenced<br />

by data from Lucidity Insights, the UAE<br />

led fundraising in the MENA region in<br />

January. Experts note a rapid expansion<br />

in the venture capital market, driven<br />

by diverse investment interests and<br />

government initiatives supporting<br />

entrepreneurs and innovators.<br />

Mubadala Ventures Into Indian Education Sector<br />

with Avanse Investment<br />

Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment<br />

Co. has ventured into India’s<br />

financial landscape with its<br />

maiden investment in Avanse Financial<br />

Services, a move facilitated through its<br />

affiliate Alpha Investment Company<br />

LLC. Joining Mubadala in the funding<br />

round is Avendus PE Investment Advisors<br />

Private Ltd, through its fund<br />

Avendus Future Leaders Fund II, collectively<br />

raising 10 billion Indian rupees<br />

($120M). This strategic investment<br />

marks Mubadala’s initial foray into<br />

India’s financial services domain and<br />

aligns with its broader objective to<br />

amplify its presence in Asia by 2030, as<br />

outlined in the fund’s statement. While<br />

the exact size of Mubadala’s investment<br />

remains undisclosed, the infusion of<br />

funds is earmarked to bolster Avanse’s<br />

position in education financing, emphasising<br />

enhanced customer experiences<br />

and sustained profitable growth.<br />

UAE Explores Investments in Europe’s Nuclear<br />

Energy Sector<br />

The United Arab Emirates (UAE)<br />

is contemplating investments in<br />

Europe’s nuclear energy sector,<br />

engaging with various European nations<br />

to assess potential collaboration<br />

opportunities, as per Reuters sources.<br />

The UAE’s state-owned Emirates<br />

Nuclear Energy Company (ENEC) is<br />

exploring the prospect of acquiring<br />

minority stakes in European power assets,<br />

including those in Britain. ENEC<br />

envisions expanding its international<br />

presence while refraining from operational<br />

management, focusing solely on<br />

minority ownership. This move aligns<br />

with the UAE’s strategy to diversify<br />

its economy away from fossil fuels,<br />

leveraging its oil-rich resources. For<br />

Britain, such investments could provide<br />

vital support for projects like the<br />

Sizewell C nuclear endeavour, which<br />

has garnered substantial investments<br />

totalling $25B. ENEC, in its pursuit<br />

of international growth, is actively<br />

seeking collaboration opportunities in<br />

civil nuclear projects and clean energy<br />

technologies.<br />

58 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Funding and Investment News<br />

Abu Dhabi Fund for Development Pledges AED 216B for Global Sustainability<br />

In 2023, the Abu Dhabi Fund for<br />

Development (ADFD) reported substantial<br />

achievements, surpassing<br />

AED 216B in cumulative development<br />

and investment financing. This significant<br />

milestone played a pivotal role<br />

in advancing economic and social development<br />

initiatives globally. ADFD’s<br />

annual report highlighted AED 120.5B<br />

in total development financing by December<br />

2023, comprising AED 66B in<br />

concessionary loans and AED 54.5B<br />

in government grants, benefiting 106<br />

countries. Moreover, the Fund supported<br />

Emirati companies’ international<br />

expansion through the Abu Dhabi<br />

Exports Office, allocating AED 3.2B<br />

from 2020 to 2023. Additionally, ADFD<br />

invested AED 12.6B across various sectors<br />

and countries, deposited AED 78B<br />

with Central Banks, and allocated AED<br />

5.3B to bolster investment activities.<br />

Avenues <strong>World</strong> Plans $25M Pre-IPO Funding for<br />

UAE Expansion<br />

UAE-based fintech firm Avenues<br />

<strong>World</strong> FZ LLC is embarking<br />

on a pre-IPO funding round to<br />

raise $25M, offering up to 25% of its<br />

equity. The move aims to fuel expansion<br />

plans within the UAE’s digital payment<br />

sector, particularly for its payment<br />

brand, CCAvenue.ae. The funds will<br />

drive merchant acquisition efforts and<br />

the introduction of advanced payment<br />

solutions in the UAE market. Avenues<br />

<strong>World</strong> FZ LLC, a subsidiary of Vavian<br />

International Ltd, has enlisted SAFA<br />

Capital as its bankers for fundraising,<br />

with a pre-IPO term sheet signed with<br />

select investors. The UAE-based Vavian<br />

International Ltd is a wholly-owned<br />

subsidiary of India-based AI-powered<br />

fintech company, Infibeam Avenues<br />

Ltd. Arun Jeevaraj, Vice President of<br />

CCAvenue.ae’s business and operations<br />

in UAE and Saudi Arabia, highlighted<br />

that the fundraising initiative aims to<br />

enhance technical capabilities.<br />

Dubai’s Wind Rises Secures $1M Pre-Seed<br />

Funding for Sailing Startup<br />

Dubai-based sailing club startup,<br />

Wind Rises, has secured<br />

$1M in pre-seed funding from<br />

angel investors, signalling a strong endorsement<br />

for its eco-friendly leisure<br />

venture. The funds will be utilised to<br />

expand the fleet, enhance services,<br />

offer lessons, organise local races,<br />

and foster community growth. Wind<br />

Rises plans to establish a second<br />

location in the UAE with a focus on<br />

sustainability. Currently boasting<br />

a fleet of 10 keelboats, the startup<br />

emphasises emission-free sailing experiences.<br />

Co-founder Max Pinigin<br />

envisions Wind Rises as more than a<br />

sailing venture, but a community hub<br />

offering diverse opportunities for<br />

skill development and networking.<br />

Pinigin underscores the company’s<br />

commitment to shaping a sustainable<br />

yachting landscape in the MENA region,<br />

with services ranging from sailing<br />

experiences to corporate team-building<br />

events on the water.<br />

Fortis, UAE Fintech,<br />

Secures $20M in Series<br />

A Funding for Expansion<br />

Dubai-based retail tech and fintech<br />

solutions firm, Fortis, has successfully<br />

raised $20M in Series<br />

A funding to drive its expansion and<br />

establish new collaborations. Led by<br />

Opportunity Venture (Asia), a limited<br />

partnership fund based in Hong Kong,<br />

this investment marks a significant<br />

milestone for Fortis. Alberto Caruso,<br />

CEO and Founder of Fortis Digital<br />

Solutions expressed excitement over<br />

the funding, emphasizing its potential<br />

to accelerate growth and enhance value<br />

delivery across the MENA region. The<br />

raised capital will be directed towards<br />

developing Customer-Centric Services,<br />

prioritizing UX/UI design, and fostering<br />

partnerships with banks, payment systems,<br />

and B2B services. Additionally,<br />

Fortis aims to strengthen its omnichannel<br />

capabilities, expand its presence in<br />

MENA, and recruit new talent.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 59

Digital Assets<br />

Source. alexablockchain.com<br />

RAK DAO has issued over 100 licences to global companies, with India leading at 15% of total licences.<br />

Beyond Dubai:<br />

RAK DAO’s Rise as<br />

a Hub for Digital<br />

Entrepreneurs<br />

RAK Digital Assets Oasis represents more than<br />

just a free zone; it’s a gateway to a world of<br />

opportunity and innovation in the digital asset and<br />

cryptocurrency market.<br />

The digital asset landscape of the United<br />

Arab Emirates is continuously expanding<br />

and poised to attract significant foreign<br />

direct investments in the future. The<br />

country has consistently made strides<br />

to compete on the global stage of digital<br />

assets, with Dubai leading the charge.<br />

However, in October 2023, Ras al Khaimah,<br />

one of the seven emirates, announced the<br />

establishment of Ras al Khaimah Digital<br />

Assets Oasis, also known as RAK DAO,<br />

marking the first of its kind free zone<br />

dedicated to virtual asset companies.<br />

From its strategic location in Ras Al<br />

Khaimah to its comprehensive regulatory<br />

framework and strategic partnerships,<br />

this article illuminates the key highlights<br />

and transformative impact of the RAK<br />

Digital Assets Oasis Free Zone.<br />

60 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

The RAK Digital Assets Oasis Free<br />

Zone, established by the government<br />

of Ras al Khaimah, offers a<br />

conducive environment for companies<br />

operating with minimal restrictions in<br />

the virtual assets sector, making it an<br />

ideal destination for entrepreneurs and<br />

businesses of all sizes.<br />

With the launch of RAK Digital Assets<br />

Oasis, a dedicated free zone for digital<br />

assets and cryptocurrencies, there has<br />

never been a more opportune moment to<br />

establish a company in the UAE.<br />

Situated in Ras Al Khaimah, the RAK<br />

Digital Assets Oasis Free Zone is the UAE’s<br />

inaugural free zone tailored specifically<br />

to meet the requirements of companies<br />

and entrepreneurs engaged in digital<br />

assets and cryptocurrencies. It caters<br />

to service providers in emerging sectors<br />

such as the metaverse, blockchain, utility<br />

tokens, virtual asset wallets, NFTs,<br />

DAOs, DApps, and other Web3-related<br />

businesses.<br />

Strategic Advantages<br />

RAK Digital Assets Oasis offers a<br />

plethora of benefits tailored to facilitate<br />

growth and innovation:<br />

100% Foreign Ownership:<br />

Embrace full control over your enterprise’s<br />

destiny with complete foreign<br />

ownership.<br />

100% Repatriation of<br />

Profits and Capital:<br />

Enjoy the flexibility of repatriating<br />

profits and capital without constraints.<br />

0% Corporate and<br />

Personal Income Tax:<br />

Navigate your business journey without<br />

the burden of corporate or personal<br />

income taxes, fostering a conducive<br />

environment for growth.<br />

Positioned amidst the UAE’s strategic<br />

location, RAK Digital Assets Oasis<br />

leverages world-class infrastructure<br />

and a supportive business ecosystem.<br />

These elements combine to create an<br />

unparalleled environment for companies<br />

seeking to enter the digital asset and<br />

cryptocurrency market. In a market<br />

characterised by rapid evolution and<br />

boundless potential, RAK Digital Assets<br />

Oasis offers a competitive edge. By<br />

establishing your business within this<br />

innovative free zone, you gain access to<br />

a wealth of opportunities and resources<br />

to propel your venture forward.<br />

RAK Digital Assets Oasis prioritises<br />

regulatory compliance, ensuring that<br />

businesses operate within the bounds<br />

of the law. By adhering to stringent<br />

regulations, companies build trust with<br />

customers and stakeholders, fostering<br />

long-term success.<br />

Moreover, the free zone is dedicated<br />

to fostering innovation through strategic<br />

partnerships with leading universities and<br />

research institutions. This commitment<br />

to innovation positions RAK Digital Assets<br />

Oasis as a hub for groundbreaking<br />

research and development in the digital<br />

asset space.<br />

DAO Hive stands as<br />

a testament to our<br />

vision of creating<br />

a dynamic<br />

ecosystem where<br />

pioneering<br />

ideas converge<br />

and businesses<br />

thrive.”<br />

Dr. Sameer Al Ansari, CEO of RAK DAO<br />

A Haven for Investors<br />

RAK Digital Assets Oasis isn’t just for<br />

businesses—it’s an attractive destination<br />

for individual investors as well. Explore<br />

a range of investment opportunities,<br />

including ICOs and STOs, backed by a<br />

comprehensive regulatory framework<br />

for added peace of mind.<br />

Streamlined Process:<br />

Registering Your Company in RAK DAO<br />

Registering a virtual assets business in<br />

RAK DAO involves a highly streamlined<br />

process designed to facilitate ease and<br />

efficiency. While navigating these steps<br />

may pose challenges for foreign investors<br />

new to the UAE, enlisting the support of<br />

business setup consultants in RAK can<br />

simplify the process significantly. Here’s<br />

a breakdown of the key steps for setting<br />

up a company in RAK DAO:<br />

1. Choose the Business Type<br />

Select the appropriate business type<br />

from the following options available in<br />

RAK DAO:<br />

• Freelance Permit<br />

• Remote Company<br />

• Standard Company<br />

2. Submit the Application & Documents<br />

Initiate the registration process by<br />

submitting the required application and<br />

documents. Timely submission of all<br />

necessary documents is crucial for expediting<br />

the RAK DAO licensing process.<br />

3. Receive Business Licence<br />

Upon successful completion of the<br />

registration process and approval of<br />

your application, you will receive your<br />

business licence, granting you the legal<br />

authority to operate within RAK DAO.<br />

Types of Companies in RAK DAO<br />

RAK DAO accommodates various<br />

types of companies tailored to meet<br />

diverse business needs, including Freelance<br />

Permits, Remote Companies, and<br />

Standard Companies.<br />

Documents Required for<br />

RAK DAO License<br />

Ensure compliance with the RAK DAO<br />

authority by submitting all necessary<br />

documents. Here’s a glimpse of the essential<br />

documents required for company<br />

incorporation:<br />

For Corporate Shareholders:<br />

Certificate of Registration, Incumbency<br />

certificate, Valid trade licence, Memorandum<br />

and Articles of Association, Board/<br />

Shareholders resolution.<br />

For Individual Shareholders:<br />

Valid passport copy, Copy of residence<br />

visa (for UAE residents), Copy of Emirates<br />

ID, Business plan, Power of Attorney<br />

(if applicable), and Proof of address (if<br />

applicable).<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 61

Digital Assets<br />

Registering your business in RAK<br />

DAO unlocks several benefits for crypto<br />

investors, including:<br />

• Access to 170 activities designed<br />

for virtual & digital assets.<br />

• Comprehensive visa services.<br />

• Assistance in accessing key banks<br />

through RAK DAO partners.<br />

• Incubation and funding opportunities.<br />

• Networking opportunities with Web3<br />

companies, investors, and potential<br />

partners.<br />

• <strong>World</strong>-class infrastructure and easy<br />

connectivity.<br />

• Transparent legislation and simple<br />

licensing procedures.<br />

Entrepreneurial Renaissance:<br />

RAK DAO’s Impact on the Digital<br />

Economy<br />

Since its inception in October 2023,<br />

RAK DAO has been driving innovation<br />

in Ras Al Khaimah’s virtual asset landscape.<br />

In March, it unveiled DAO Hive,<br />

an innovative business centre poised to<br />

transform the entrepreneurial ecosystem.<br />

Offering flexible membership packages<br />

and state-of-the-art amenities, DAO Hive<br />

fosters collaboration and networking,<br />

reflecting RAK DAO’s commitment to<br />

empowering global businesses.<br />

Furthermore, RAK DAO has strategically<br />

partnered to support startups<br />

in the virtual asset business sector. In<br />

January 2023, it forged a significant<br />

alliance with Conflux, aiming to yield<br />

substantial benefits. This collaboration<br />

between Conflux Network and RAK<br />

DAO is poised to advance and expand<br />

blockchain technology, leveraging the<br />

strategic location of RAK DAO and the<br />

technical prowess of Conflux Network.<br />

The partnership will nurture talent and<br />

provide educational resources, contributing<br />

to the cultivation of a knowledgeable<br />

and skilled workforce in the blockchain<br />

sector. It will also unlock enriched business<br />

prospects for regional businesses<br />

and startups to explore and integrate<br />

blockchain technologies, invigorating<br />

the digital economy.<br />

In February <strong>2024</strong>, RAK DAO and<br />

Blocklogica Labs teamed up to drive<br />

innovation in the Web3 landscape. This<br />

strategic partnership merges RAK DAO’s<br />

pioneering Free Zone, renowned as a<br />

global hub for digital asset innovation,<br />

with Blocklogica Labs’ expertise. Together,<br />

they aim to empower forward-thinking<br />

enterprises within the blockchain space.<br />

By enhancing opportunities for businesses<br />

and startups in the dynamic blockchain<br />

sector, this collaboration paves the way<br />

for revolutionary advancements in the<br />

Web3 landscape.<br />

Moreover, in March, the Ras Al Khaimah<br />

Digital Asset Oasis (RAK DAO) made<br />

headlines with the announcement of a<br />

strategic Memorandum of Understanding<br />

(MoU) signing with Tencent Cloud, aimed<br />

at exploring avenues for mutual growth.<br />

The initial focus of the deal revolves<br />

around fostering the growth of startups<br />

registered at RAK DAO.<br />

As part of the memorandum, plans<br />

are underway for the establishment of a<br />

Tencent Cloud training centre within RAK<br />

DAO, dedicated to skill development and<br />

education. Additionally, the agreement<br />

encompasses internship opportunities<br />

for companies licensed in RAK DAO<br />

and its partners within the Tencent<br />

Cloud ecosystem, further solidifying<br />

the commitment to nurturing talent and<br />

fostering innovation within the digital<br />

asset landscape.<br />

As RAK DAO continues its journey, it<br />

stands at the forefront of revolutionising<br />

the digital economy. Its efforts promise<br />

transformative change and present new<br />

opportunities for businesses and startups<br />

to thrive in this dynamic landscape.<br />

Source. pbs.twimg.com<br />

62 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

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Register Today<br />

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19-21<br />

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

Accra International<br />

Conference Centre<br />

Accra, Ghana<br />

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Healthcare News<br />

UAE Unveils Health Insurance Scheme for Employee Well-being<br />

The newly introduced mandatory<br />

health insurance scheme in the<br />

UAE aims to enhance employers’<br />

ability to attract and retain top talent<br />

while also fostering improved productivity<br />

and reduced turnover rates among<br />

employees. However, it is anticipated<br />

to raise operational costs for many<br />

employers. Effective from January 1,<br />

2025, all UAE employers must provide<br />

and cover the health insurance expenses<br />

for their employees, including domestic<br />

workers, during residency visa issuance<br />

or renewal. Myra Bennett, principal<br />

consultant at Genie Recruitment, noted<br />

that such insurance coverage offers<br />

employees peace of mind, potentially<br />

alleviating financial burdens and<br />

enhancing satisfaction, productivity,<br />

and retention rates. Additionally, to<br />

remain competitive, employers can<br />

explore implementing various other<br />

benefits such as schooling, flexible<br />

work arrangements, duvet days, and<br />

bonuses to attract top talent.<br />

Daman Offers<br />

International Health<br />

Insurance Packages in<br />

UAE<br />

The National Health Insurance<br />

Company-Daman, a part of Pure-<br />

Health, has teamed up with<br />

AXA - Global Healthcare to introduce<br />

enhanced International Private Medical<br />

Insurance (IPMI) for its members. Under<br />

this partnership, Daman’s customers<br />

with international coverage plans will<br />

gain access to new global coverage<br />

plans, tapping into AXA’s extensive<br />

select network of 1.9 million healthcare<br />

providers worldwide. Administered<br />

locally by Daman and supported internationally<br />

by AXA - Global Healthcare,<br />

the new Global Healthcare Plan offers<br />

round-the-clock access to a team specialised<br />

in claims handling and AXA’s<br />

Virtual Care services. Members can<br />

conveniently manage their benefits<br />

through the Daman Mobile app. Khaled<br />

Ateeq Aldhaheri, CEO of Daman, expressed<br />

excitement about expanding<br />

their global health insurance offering,<br />

emphasising Daman’s commitment to<br />

meeting clients’ evolving needs.<br />

ADGM Academy Forms Three Healthcare<br />

Partnerships to Empower National Cadres<br />

The Abu Dhabi Global Market Academy<br />

(ADGMA), the educational<br />

arm of the Abu Dhabi Global<br />

Market (ADGM), has inked Memoranda<br />

of Understanding (MoUs) with Burjeel<br />

Holdings, NMC Assetco Limited, and<br />

Aster DM Healthcare. These collaborations<br />

are geared towards advancing<br />

initiatives aligned with the healthcare<br />

sector outlined in the UAE National<br />

Agenda, fostering an environment conducive<br />

to empowering Emirati talents.<br />

ADGMA’s strategic alliances with key<br />

players in the healthcare domain underscore<br />

its commitment to nurturing<br />

a knowledge-driven ecosystem. The<br />

agreements entail the co-development<br />

Mubadala Investment Company<br />

has finalised an agreement to<br />

purchase KELIX bio, a speciality<br />

pharmaceutical firm specialising in<br />

complex generics distribution across<br />

emerging markets. This acquisition<br />

is poised to fortify the UAE’s life sciences<br />

landscape, elevating its global<br />

standing while fostering economic diversification.<br />

Established in November<br />

2020, KELIX bio has expanded rapidly<br />

internationally, acquiring manufacturing<br />

entities in India, Egypt, Malta, and<br />

Morocco. Their portfolio spans oral<br />

and injectable formulations across<br />

various therapeutic domains, including<br />

of training programs and educational<br />

courses tailored to meet the evolving<br />

demands of the sector while bolstering<br />

the skill set of Emirati nationals.<br />

Through dedicated courses and initiatives,<br />

ADGMA aims to facilitate the<br />

recruitment, training, and retention<br />

of local talents, further contributing<br />

to the growth and sustainability of<br />

the healthcare workforce in the UAE.<br />

Mubadala Acquires KELIX bio, Boosting UAE’s<br />

Life Sciences<br />

diabetes, oncology, cardiology, and<br />

central nervous systems. With KELIX<br />

bio’s expertise and Mubadala’s strategic<br />

vision, this venture aligns with the<br />

UAE’s ambition to excel in the global life<br />

sciences arena. Dr. Bakheet Al Katheeri,<br />

CEO of Mubadala’s UAE Investments<br />

Platform, heralded this partnership as<br />

a pivotal step in advancing Mubadala’s<br />

presence in the life sciences domain.<br />

64 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Fujairah Hospital: First ‘Patient Safety Friendly’ Public Facility<br />

Fujairah Hospital, part of Emirates<br />

Health Services, has earned the<br />

prestigious “Patient Safety Friendly<br />

Hospital” designation from the <strong>World</strong><br />

Health Organisation, in collaboration<br />

with the Ministry of Health and Prevention<br />

in the UAE. As the first public<br />

hospital to achieve this recognition,<br />

Fujairah Hospital demonstrates its commitment<br />

to excellence in patient care.<br />

This milestone reflects the dedication of<br />

its administrative, medical, and nursing<br />

staff to implementing international standards<br />

in patient safety. The achievement<br />

underscores Fujairah Hospital’s position<br />

as a leader in providing cutting-edge<br />

medical services. The rigorous evaluation<br />

process involved a comprehensive<br />

three-day assessment focusing on standardised<br />

safety practices, collaboration<br />

among stakeholders, and the reduction<br />

of healthcare costs. This recognition<br />

reinforces Fujairah Hospital’s mission<br />

to maintain the highest standards of<br />

quality and safety while delivering innovative<br />

healthcare services.<br />

Response Plus<br />

Holding’s 2023 Net<br />

Profit Surges by 68%<br />

Response Plus Holding PJSC, the<br />

leading pre-hospital care and<br />

emergency medical services<br />

provider in the UAE and Saudi Arabia,<br />

reported a remarkable 68% surge in net<br />

profit for the period ending December<br />

31, 2023, reaching AED 49.39M compared<br />

to AED 29.31M in the previous<br />

year. The group’s revenue also saw<br />

growth, climbing to AED 345.36M from<br />

AED 320.86M, while equity increased<br />

to AED 230.04M from AED 222.9M<br />

during the same period. Earnings per<br />

share (EPS) experienced a notable<br />

increase to AED 0.25 in 2023 from<br />

AED 0.15 in the previous year. Omran<br />

Al Khoori, Chairman of Response Plus<br />

Holding, expressed confidence in the<br />

company’s diversified operations and<br />

strategic partnerships, positioning it<br />

for continued growth in the region<br />

and beyond. Dr. Rohil Raghavan, CEO,<br />

emphasised the group’s commitment to<br />

excellence and operational efficiency,<br />

setting the stage for a strong growth<br />

trajectory in the coming years.<br />

Pharmatrade Launches Logistics Centre in<br />

KEZAD, UAE<br />

KEZAD Group and UAE-based<br />

Pharmatrade have announced<br />

Pharmatrade’s new Abu Dhabi<br />

Logistics Centre. The facility aims to<br />

bolster the storage and distribution<br />

of pharmaceutical and medical device<br />

products, catering to the UAE’s<br />

healthcare sector. Pharmatrade’s steady<br />

growth since establishing its Dubai Investment<br />

Park 1 Logistics Centre over<br />

13 years ago spurred the investment in<br />

this new centre within KEZAD. Located<br />

in KEZAD Logistics Park Phase 5, the<br />

centre offers temperature-controlled,<br />

Grade A industrial warehouse facilities.<br />

Mohamed Al Khadar Al Ahmed, from<br />

Khalifa Economic Zones Abu Dhabi<br />

(KEZAD) Group, praised Pharmatrade’s<br />

trusted reputation and emphasised<br />

AmplifAI Health, headquartered in<br />

Saudi Arabia, and Toronto-based<br />

Healthspan Digital Inc. join forces<br />

to merge AI thermal hyperspectral tech<br />

with longevity protocols, poised to transform<br />

vascular age management. Vascular<br />

ageing, linked with chronic diseases,<br />

poses a global health challenge. Understanding<br />

its mechanisms fuels hope for<br />

enhanced interventions and outcomes.<br />

Integrating AI with thermal imaging offers<br />

insights into age-related vascular changes,<br />

enabling personalised interventions.<br />

Medical thermography, cost-effective and<br />

non-invasive, holds promise for assessing<br />

vascular health. Leveraging AI-driven<br />

analysis facilitates early detection and<br />

proactive interventions. This collaboration<br />

marks a significant stride in combating<br />

the strategic advantage of KEZAD’s<br />

infrastructure. Konstantinos Petridis,<br />

Managing Partner of Pharmatrade<br />

LLC, highlighted the centre’s role in<br />

expanding geographical coverage, rapid<br />

delivery, and enhancing competitiveness,<br />

leveraging KEZAD’s integrated<br />

transportation and logistics network.<br />

AmplifAI Health & Healthspan Digital Introduce<br />

AI Vascular Age Analysis<br />

age-related health issues, benefiting<br />

populations globally. Together, these<br />

companies pioneer innovative solutions,<br />

aiming to enhance lives worldwide by<br />

addressing vascular ageing challenges.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 65

Interview<br />

Investment Strategies, Collaboration,<br />

and Economic Growth<br />

AIM Congress <strong>2024</strong><br />

66 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

In an enlightening discussion with Dawood Al Shezawi, President of AIM<br />

Global Foundation and AIM Congress, he sheds light on the vital significance<br />

of AIM Congress. Organised by the AIM Global Foundation, the event serves<br />

as a platform to unite global leaders, policymakers, investors, entrepreneurs,<br />

and experts, fostering discussions on investment strategies and challenges to<br />

ignite positive transformation and economic growth worldwide.<br />

Q. What is AIM Congress, and what<br />

is its significance in the global<br />

investment landscape?<br />

AIM Congress, organised by the AIM<br />

Global Foundation, stands as a pivotal<br />

event uniting global leaders, policymakers,<br />

investors, entrepreneurs, and experts<br />

to discuss investment strategies and<br />

challenges. Its significance lies in its<br />

role in boosting promotion strategies,<br />

facilitating economic opportunities,<br />

and fostering international economic<br />

relations, ultimately aiming to ignite<br />

positive transformation and economic<br />

growth worldwide.<br />

Q. What makes the AIM Congress<br />

<strong>2024</strong> particularly special or noteworthy<br />

compared to previous editions?<br />

AIM Congress <strong>2024</strong> holds special significance<br />

due to its theme of adapting<br />

to a shifting investment landscape and<br />

harnessing new potential for global<br />

economic development. This year the<br />

event boasts an impressive lineup of<br />

participants, including over 25 government<br />

ministers, 45 city mayors, 12 central<br />

bank governors, 900+ speakers, 450<br />

dialogue sessions, 7 high-level roundtable<br />

meetings, 9 global stock markets,<br />

50+ unicorns, and more than 12,000<br />

delegates representing 175 countries<br />

worldwide, in 27 joint events organised<br />

in cooperation with 304+ international<br />

and global partners.<br />

Q. For attendees planning to participate<br />

in AIM Congress <strong>2024</strong>, what<br />

can they expect in terms of content,<br />

activities, and opportunities?<br />

Attendees can expect a dynamic and<br />

enriching experience at AIM Congress<br />

<strong>2024</strong>, featuring a wide range of content,<br />

activities, and opportunities. From<br />

insightful panel discussions to networking<br />

sessions, the congress provides a<br />

platform to engage with global leaders,<br />

explore investment trends, and forge<br />

meaningful partnerships to drive economic<br />

development.<br />

Q. What is the importance of the<br />

core tracks featured at the AIM<br />

Congress, and how do they contribute<br />

to the overall objectives<br />

of the Congress?<br />

The core tracks at AIM Congress play<br />

a crucial role in addressing various<br />

aspects of investment and economic<br />

development. From focusing on small<br />

and medium-sized enterprises to exploring<br />

innovation and technology, these<br />

tracks facilitate knowledge-sharing,<br />

best practices, and collaboration among<br />

attendees, ultimately contributing to the<br />

congress’s overarching goal of fostering<br />

economic growth and transformation.<br />

Q. How does the AIM Congress<br />

contribute to fostering economic<br />

relations among nations and addressing<br />

global challenges?<br />

AIM Congress serves as a vital platform<br />

for fostering economic relations<br />

among nations by bringing together<br />

global leaders, policymakers, investors,<br />

and entrepreneurs to discuss investment<br />

strategies and opportunities. By<br />

facilitating dialogue and collaboration,<br />

AIM Congress helps countries identify<br />

common challenges and explore solutions<br />

that promote economic growth<br />

and development on a global scale.<br />

Q. In what ways does AIM Congress<br />

support small and medium-sized<br />

enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs,<br />

particularly through the SMEs<br />

Track - Entrepreneurs Investment<br />

Summit?<br />

The SMEs Track - Entrepreneurs<br />

Investment Summit at AIM Congress<br />

provides a dedicated platform for SMEs<br />

and entrepreneurs to access investment<br />

opportunities and resources. Through<br />

fireside chats, panel sessions, and networking<br />

events, AIM Congress offers<br />

valuable insights, best practices, and<br />

connections to help SMEs thrive and<br />

expand. This initiative aims to stimulate<br />

entrepreneurship, foster innovation,<br />

and unlock the potential of SMEs in<br />

driving economic growth.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 67

Corporate Results<br />

National Bank of Umm Al<br />

Qaiwain (NBQ)<br />

Q1’24 Net Profit: AED<br />

175.73M<br />

In the first quarter of <strong>2024</strong>, the National<br />

Bank of Umm Al Qaiwain (NBQ) reported<br />

an unaudited consolidated net<br />

profit after tax of AED 175.73M, marking<br />

an increase from AED 139.15M in the<br />

same quarter of the previous year. This<br />

growth was driven by a surge in interest<br />

income, which rose to AED 229.78M<br />

from AED 165.79M. Basic and diluted<br />

earnings per share (EPS) also saw an<br />

uptick, reaching AED 0.09 compared to<br />

AED 0.07 in the corresponding period<br />

of the previous year. Additionally, the<br />

bank’s total assets increased to AED<br />

14.82B, with customers’ deposits rising<br />

to AED 8.85B.<br />

ADNOC Gas<br />

Q4’23 Net Profit: AED 4,963M<br />

ADNOC Gas plc and its subsidiaries,<br />

collectively known as “ADNOC Gas,”<br />

a leading integrated gas processing<br />

company, unveiled its consolidated<br />

financial results for Q4 2023 and FY<br />

2023. The company reported a robust<br />

performance in Q4 2023, driven<br />

by substantial volume growth and<br />

a favourable pricing environment.<br />

Revenue for Q4 2023 increased by 7%<br />

year-on-year to approximately AED<br />

23,153M, with processed volumes<br />

reaching 912 Trillion British Thermal<br />

Units (TBTU), a 5% increase from the<br />

previous year. Consequently, Q4 2023<br />

EBITDA surged by 15% year-on-year<br />

to approximately AED 8,119M, and net<br />

profit for the quarter rose by 24% yearon-year<br />

to approximately AED 4,936M,<br />

as compared to the net profit of AED<br />

3,983.87M of the previous year. ADNOC<br />

Gas attributed its strong performance<br />

to efficiency improvements and a higher<br />

proportion of higher-margin liquids.<br />

FY 2023 net income amounted to approximately<br />

AED 17,337M, surpassing<br />

market expectations.<br />

Aldar Properties<br />

Q4’23 Net Profit: AED 1.4B<br />

Aldar Properties, headquartered in<br />

Abu Dhabi, demonstrated impressive<br />

financial performance in the fourth<br />

quarter, with a 38.9% increase in net<br />

profit, totalling AED 1.4B ($381M), as<br />

compared to net profit of AED 1.007B.<br />

This growth was fuelled by a substantial<br />

40% rise in revenue, reaching AED 4.4B.<br />

Surpassing analyst estimates, the company’s<br />

profit exceeded expectations,<br />

standing in contrast to the anticipated<br />

AED 805M. Throughout 2023, Aldar<br />

experienced a significant 40% surge in<br />

net profit, reaching AED 4.4B, driven<br />

by robust full-year sales amounting to<br />

AED 27.9B and strategic international<br />

expansions. Aldar underlined its solid<br />

liquidity position, boasting AED 2.9B<br />

in free cash and AED 7.5B in untapped<br />

credit facilities.<br />

Emirates NBD<br />

Q1’24 Net Profit: AED 6.7B<br />

In the first quarter of <strong>2024</strong>, Emirates<br />

NBD experienced a remarkable 67 per<br />

cent surge in profit, reaching a record<br />

AED 6.7B ($1.82B) as compared to a<br />

net profit of AED 4B in the previous<br />

year. This surge was fueled by robust<br />

regional growth, increased transaction<br />

volumes, and substantial impaired loan<br />

recoveries. The bank’s asset base surpassed<br />

AED 900B ($245B), with retail<br />

and corporate lending both achieving<br />

significant milestones. Notably, the<br />

bank expanded its presence in Saudi<br />

Arabia and refreshed its Egyptian franchise.<br />

Deposit franchises saw notable<br />

growth, with an AED 26B ($7.08B)<br />

increase, largely driven by low-cost<br />

current and savings accounts. Loan<br />

growth also saw an uptick, particularly<br />

in retail and corporate sectors,<br />

contributing to a 3 per cent increase<br />

in total income, reaching AED 10.7B<br />

($2.75B).<br />

ADNOC Logistics &<br />

Services<br />

Q4’23 Net Profit: AED 2,277M<br />

ADNOC Logistics and Services plc<br />

(ADNOC L&S) (ADX symbol ADNOCLS<br />

/ ISIN AEE01268A239), a global energy<br />

maritime logistics leader, announced<br />

its Q4 and full-year 2023 financial<br />

results. The company delivered a<br />

net profit of AED 2,277M for the full<br />

year, marking a remarkable 138%<br />

year-on-year increase from AED 959M<br />

in 2022. Revenues for 2023 reached<br />

AED 10,118M, indicating a substantial<br />

41% surge over 2022. EBITDA saw<br />

a notable 93% year-on-year increase<br />

to AED 3,217M, with an expanded<br />

margin of 32%, driven by growth in<br />

the Integrated Logistics segment and<br />

strong performance in Shipping and<br />

Marine Services. The integrated logistics<br />

segment saw a notable 88% rise<br />

in revenues, reaching Dh6.39 billion.<br />

This increase was primarily driven<br />

by sustained growth in revenue and<br />

margins across core business lines.<br />


Q1’24 Net Profit: AED 574.2M<br />

RAKBANK has announced a remarkable<br />

quarterly net profit after tax of AED<br />

574.2M ($156.3M), marking a 27.5 per<br />

cent growth (39.7 per cent on a pre-tax<br />

basis) driven by sustained momentum<br />

on both sides of the balance sheet in Q1.<br />

The Net Interest Income reached AED<br />

879.5M, up 11.5 per cent year-on-year<br />

(YoY), complemented by a robust fee<br />

income of AED 294.9M, marking a 9.6<br />

per cent YoY increase. Raheel Ahmed,<br />

Group CEO, expressed satisfaction<br />

with the progress of their strategic<br />

transformation towards becoming the<br />

‘digital bank with a human touch.’ He<br />

highlighted the crossing of AED10B<br />

in corporate loans and advances, with<br />

Wholesale Banking now constituting<br />

28 per cent of income and 40 per cent<br />

of profit before tax.<br />

68 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Sharjah Islamic Bank<br />

Q1’24 Net Profit: AED 285.4M<br />

Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB) reported a<br />

significant 22.5% increase in net profit<br />

before tax, reaching AED 285.4M for the<br />

first quarter of <strong>2024</strong>, compared to AED<br />

233.1M for the same period last year.<br />

After-tax net profit amounted to AED<br />

259.7M, marking an 11.4% increase. This<br />

growth is attributed to the bank’s robust<br />

core performance and customer-centric<br />

approach, along with the introduction of<br />

high-profit customised products. Total<br />

income from financing and investment<br />

products surged by 23.5% to AED 858.1M,<br />

while net fees, commissions, and other<br />

income rose by 20.4% to AED 136.7M.<br />

Despite a marginal increase in general<br />

and administrative expenses, the bank<br />

improved its cost-to-income ratio.<br />

Additionally, SIB bolstered provisions in<br />

response to ongoing operational risks,<br />

with total assets reaching AED 70.1B,<br />

reflecting a 6.4% increase from the yearend<br />

2023.<br />

Presight AI Holding PLC<br />

Q4’23 Net Profit: AED 300.6M<br />

Presight AI Holding PLC (“Presight”,<br />

ADX: PRESIGHT) has disclosed its<br />

financial year 2023 (FY2023) outcomes,<br />

showcasing sturdy and consistent<br />

revenue growth, with revenues surging<br />

by 14.7 per cent (AED 228.6M) to AED<br />

1,780.6M compared to FY2022. Concurrently,<br />

the net profit escalated by 5.1%<br />

(AED 27.6M), reaching AED 570.6M<br />

in FY2023 compared to AED 543.0M<br />

in FY2022, with a net profit margin of<br />

32.0% in FY2023. The company attributed<br />

the financial success to significant<br />

domestic project deployments, notably<br />

in the final quarter of the year, which<br />

propelled Q4 ‘23 revenues by AED<br />

713.5M, marking a 23.3% increase over<br />

Q4’22. Despite a marginal 0.4% increase<br />

in Q4’23 net profit over Q4’22, with net<br />

profit reaching AED 300.6M, the Q4’23<br />

net profit margin stood at 42.1%.<br />

AD Ports Group<br />

FY’23 Net Profit: AED 1.36B<br />

AD Ports Group has reported a robust<br />

operational and financial performance<br />

for 2023, with revenue more than<br />

doubling year-on-year (YoY) to AED 11.7<br />

billion, as compared to AED 0.545B. The<br />

group’s preliminary financial results for<br />

the 12 months ending 31st December<br />

2023 highlight strong operational and<br />

financial performance. Revenue soared<br />

by 112% YoY to AED 11.68B, with a<br />

105% YoY increase to AED 3.57B in<br />

Q4 2023. EBITDA rose by 23% YoY to<br />

AED 2.67B in 2023, while the EBITDA<br />

margin stood at 22.8%. Profit Before<br />

Tax reached AED 1.41B in 2023, and<br />

Total Net Profit reached AED 1.36B.<br />

The revenue growth was driven by<br />

various clusters, including Maritime &<br />

Shipping, Ports, Logistics, and Digital,<br />

as well as mergers and acquisitions<br />

(M&A) effects.<br />

Saudi Advanced Industries<br />

Company (SAIC)<br />

Q1’24 Net Profit: USD 28.98M<br />

In the first quarter of <strong>2024</strong>, Saudi Advanced<br />

Industries Company (SAIC)<br />

experienced a remarkable surge in its<br />

financial performance, with its net profit<br />

witnessing an exponential increase of<br />

392.61% year-on-year, soaring to USD<br />

28.98M from USD 5.88M recorded in<br />

the same period the previous year.<br />

This impressive growth was mirrored<br />

in its revenues, which skyrocketed by<br />

385.13% year-on-year. The earnings per<br />

share (EPS) for the quarter stood at SAR<br />

1.84, marking a substantial rise from SAR<br />

0.37 in the corresponding period of the<br />

previous year. Additionally, on a quarter-on-quarter<br />

basis, SAIC’s net profit<br />

surged by 201.24%, while revenues saw<br />

a significant increase of 129.26%.<br />

Qatar Islamic Bank<br />

Q1’24 Net Profit: USD<br />

262.32M<br />

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB), Qatar’s leading<br />

Islamic Bank, reported a net profit<br />

attributable to shareholders of USD<br />

262.32M for the three months ending<br />

on March 31, <strong>2024</strong>, marking a growth<br />

of 5.5% over the same period in 2023.<br />

The bank’s total assets as of March 31,<br />

<strong>2024</strong>, stood up by 1.5% compared to<br />

December 31, 2023, and 7.7% compared<br />

to March 31, 2023, primarily driven by<br />

financing and investing activities. Financing<br />

assets grew by 1.9% compared<br />

to December 2023, while investment<br />

securities reflected a growth of 1.5%.<br />

Total income for the period surged by<br />

17%, with net income from financing<br />

and investing activities registering a<br />

robust growth of 19%. Efficient cost<br />

containment led to a reduction in the<br />

cost-to-income ratio to 17.8%, the lowest<br />

in the Qatari banking sector.<br />

Gulf Navigation Holding<br />

PJSC (“GULFNAV”)<br />

Q4’23 Net Profit: AED 21M<br />

Gulf Navigation Holding PJSC (GULF-<br />

NAV), a maritime and shipping company<br />

listed on the Dubai Financial Market,<br />

disclosed its annual audited financial<br />

results for 2023, marking a significant<br />

turnaround with a net profit of AED<br />

21M, compared to a net loss of AED<br />

7.6M in 2022. Key highlights include a<br />

gross profit of AED 9.6M driven by the<br />

chartering business, with total assets<br />

reaching AED 1B and shareholders’<br />

equity rising by 42% to AED 596M. Although<br />

gross revenues from operations<br />

decreased by 23%, other revenue and<br />

income surged by 64%, attributed to<br />

resource management and restructuring<br />

efforts. Operating costs were reduced<br />

by 18% and financing costs by 32%,<br />

reflecting the company’s improved<br />

financial and operational performance<br />

under the strategic direction of His<br />

Highness Sheikh Theyab bin Tahnoon.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 69

Sports as a Business<br />

Source: pexels.com<br />

The UAE leads globally with 89% of its population actively engaged in sports.<br />

UAE’s Sporting<br />

Revolution: Unveiling<br />

the Blueprint for<br />

Global Domination<br />

The UAE’s strategic use of sports has forged a<br />

lasting legacy, driving economic diversification,<br />

and global visibility in the sports business arena.<br />

Since its inception in 1971, the UAE’s<br />

leadership has made fostering the sports<br />

sector a cornerstone of national development.<br />

This unwavering commitment<br />

encompasses not only the establishment<br />

and nurturing of sports clubs but also<br />

broader social development initiatives.<br />

These endeavors have propelled the UAE<br />

onto the global stage as a preeminent<br />

hub for sports events, investments, and<br />

commercial ventures. With strategic foresight,<br />

visionary leadership, and substantial<br />

investments, the nation has harnessed the<br />

power of sports as a driver for economic<br />

expansion and international recognition.<br />

Central to this transformation is a deliberate<br />

governmental strategy aimed at<br />

leveraging sports to catalyze economic<br />

diversification.<br />

70 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

The country recognised the potential<br />

of sports as a means of entertainment<br />

and physical well-being and as a<br />

lucrative sector with vast opportunities for<br />

revenue generation and global exposure.<br />

A pivotal event in the UAE’s sports<br />

trajectory occurred with the inauguration<br />

of Dubai Sports City, a vast multi-purpose<br />

complex dedicated to cultivating a<br />

diverse array of sports disciplines such<br />

as cricket, football, golf, and beyond.<br />

Spearheaded by the Dubai government,<br />

this ambitious undertaking underscored<br />

the nation’s dedication to cultivating a<br />

thriving sports ecosystem. Not only did<br />

it furnish cutting-edge infrastructure, but<br />

it also served as a catalyst for attracting<br />

prestigious global sports events and fostering<br />

investment opportunities.<br />

The UAE’s strategic location, coupled<br />

with its world-class infrastructure and<br />

state-of-the-art facilities, has drawn<br />

major international sporting events to<br />

its shores. From Formula 1 racing and<br />

golf championships to prestigious tennis<br />

tournaments and cricket leagues, the<br />

country has positioned itself as a coveted<br />

destination for hosting high-profile sports<br />

events. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Dubai<br />

Tennis Championships, and the Dubai<br />

<strong>World</strong> Cup are among the marquee events<br />

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

on the global sports calendar.<br />

The UAE has also established free<br />

zone sports cities like Zayed Sports City<br />

in Abu Dhabi, Hamdan Sports Complex,<br />

Dubai Sports City, and Dubai Motor City.<br />

These areas integrate sports facilities,<br />

residential spaces, and commercial areas.<br />

Zayed Sports City offers diverse practice<br />

facilities, while Hamdan Sports Complex<br />

features advanced swimming pools and a<br />

15,000-seat stadium with solar-powered<br />

outdoor lights. Dubai Sports City hosts<br />

the Dubai International Stadium, and<br />

Dubai Motor City caters to motorsports<br />

enthusiasts with the Dubai Autodrome<br />

and an F1 circuit. These developments<br />

showcase the UAE’s commitment to<br />

creating comprehensive sports hubs.<br />

Moreover, visionary leaders and influential<br />

personalities in the UAE have<br />

played a pivotal role in shaping the sports<br />

landscape and attracting investments.<br />

Individuals like Sheikh Mohammed bin<br />

Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President<br />

and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Sheikh<br />

Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, owner<br />

of Manchester City Football Club, have<br />

been instrumental in not only promoting<br />

sports but also investing significantly in<br />

various sporting ventures. Their vision<br />

and commitment to developing sports<br />

have contributed to the country’s ascent<br />

in the global sports business realm.<br />

Complementing these efforts in February<br />

2023, H.H. Sheikh Mansoor bin<br />

Mohammed Al Maktoum, Chairman of<br />

the Dubai Sports Council, Directed an<br />

important meeting approving a transformative<br />

2023-2033 strategy for sports<br />

sector advancement. Stressing alignment<br />

with sustainability goals and echoing<br />

President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al<br />

Nahyan’s commitment to a sustainable<br />

future, Sheikh Mansoor indicated a vision<br />

aiming to double the sports sector’s GDP<br />

contribution, arrange 3,000 annual events,<br />

and attract 1,000 international training<br />

camps. This strategic blueprint stands<br />

as a testament to the UAE’s dedication<br />

to sports sector growth while embracing<br />

sustainability and global excellence.<br />

Beyond hosting events, the UAE<br />

has strategically ventured into sports<br />

investments and acquisitions, marking<br />

its presence in the international sports<br />

market. Investments in football clubs<br />

across Europe, including Manchester City<br />

and Paris Saint-Germain, have not only<br />

elevated the country’s profile but have<br />

also opened doors for collaborations and<br />

business synergies in the sports industry.<br />

The UAE’s strategic vision to boost<br />

the sports industry also includes tax-free<br />

zones offering businesses 100% ownership,<br />

exemption from import/export duties,<br />

and no personal income tax. These benefits<br />

significantly cut operational costs,<br />

making the UAE an appealing hub for<br />

sports businesses looking for financial<br />

advantages and operational flexibility.<br />

Furthermore, the UAE’s forward-thinking<br />

approach extends beyond traditional<br />

sports to embrace emerging trends, such<br />

as esports. Recognising the growing<br />

popularity and commercial potential<br />

of esports, the country has embraced<br />

this digital domain, hosting esports<br />

tournaments and establishing dedicated<br />

arenas, positioning itself as a hub for both<br />

traditional and digital sports.<br />

The success of the UAE’s sports empire<br />

can also be attributed to its commitment<br />

to grassroots development. Initiatives<br />

promoting youth sports participation,<br />

academies nurturing talent, and sports<br />

education programs have laid the foundation<br />

for a sustainable sports ecosystem.<br />

These efforts not only foster local talent<br />

UAE’s sports<br />

strategy<br />

propels global<br />

prominence,<br />

exemplified by<br />

transformative<br />

projects like<br />

Dubai Sports<br />

City.”<br />

but also attract international partnerships<br />

and collaborations aimed at talent<br />

exchange and development.<br />

In addition to economic dividends, the<br />

UAE’s sports endeavours have contributed<br />

to its soft power and global image. By<br />

hosting international events and attracting<br />

sporting icons from around the world, the<br />

country has enhanced its brand visibility<br />

and positioned itself as a global player<br />

in the sports business landscape.<br />

However, this meteoric rise in the<br />

sports business realm hasn’t been without<br />

challenges. Competition from other<br />

global sports markets, evolving consumer<br />

preferences, and the need for continuous<br />

innovation pose ongoing hurdles.<br />

Yet, the UAE’s adaptability, resilience,<br />

and willingness to embrace change<br />

have positioned it as a dynamic player<br />

capable of navigating these challenges<br />

and sustaining its growth trajectory in<br />

the sports business domain.<br />

As the country continues to innovate<br />

and expand its sports empire, its influence<br />

on the global stage is set to endure,<br />

leaving an indelible mark on the business<br />

of sports.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 71

Sports News<br />

Abu Dhabi’s Sporting Hub: Challenge Tour Double-header<br />

Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the<br />

United Arab Emirates, expanded<br />

its influence in the global sporting<br />

arena with two weeks of exciting events.<br />

The Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting, and<br />

Golf Club debuted as the host venue<br />

for the Abu Dhabi Challenge from April<br />

18-21, followed by the UAE Challenge<br />

at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club from<br />

April 25-28. Supported by the Abu Dhabi<br />

Sports Council, these prestigious golf<br />

tournaments showcased some of the<br />

Baseball United Rebrands<br />

ME Franchises for Market<br />

Share<br />

Baseball United, the pioneering<br />

professional baseball league<br />

for the Middle East and Indian<br />

Subcontinent, is broadening its reach<br />

with the expansion of its UAE-based<br />

franchises. The Dubai Wolves will now<br />

be known as the Arabia Wolves, and<br />

the Abu Dhabi Falcons will adopt the<br />

name Mid East Falcons, reflecting their<br />

extended territories. While retaining<br />

their original colours and emblems,<br />

the clubs will update their letter marks<br />

and word marks to integrate the new<br />

Arabia and Mid East designations.<br />

Kash Shaikh, Chairman, CEO, and<br />

Co-Founder of Baseball United, expressed<br />

excitement about the growing<br />

fanbase, noting that approximately 7<br />

per cent of the GCC population are<br />

now baseball enthusiasts, totalling<br />

nearly five million fans across the<br />

Arabian Peninsula. This move aims to<br />

resonate with fans across all six GCC<br />

countries, fostering a sense of local<br />

pride and identity within the league.<br />

Additionally, Baseball United plans to<br />

further expand its presence with three<br />

new franchises in Saudi Arabia, setting<br />

the stage for an exciting inaugural<br />

season slated for winter 2025.<br />

globe’s up-and-coming talents as they<br />

competed in the captivating ambience<br />

of the desert sun. These events contributed<br />

to Abu Dhabi’s reputation<br />

as a prominent global sporting hub,<br />

complementing its esteemed roster<br />

of events such as Formula 1, the UFC<br />

308 fight night, and the Abu Dhabi<br />

Championship in November, reinforcing<br />

its status as a premier destination for<br />

sporting excellence and entertainment.<br />

Dubai <strong>World</strong> Cup: Costs to Sustain Champion<br />

Horse Unveiled<br />

The Dubai <strong>World</strong> Cup, renowned<br />

for its impressive $30.5B prize<br />

pool, stands as a pinnacle event<br />

in global horse racing, luring elite<br />

competitors, trainers, and owners<br />

worldwide to Meydan Racecourse.<br />

Owning a contender capable of vying for<br />

victory at this esteemed event demands<br />

substantial financial commitment.<br />

Prices for top-tier racehorses vary<br />

widely, often reaching millions of dollars,<br />

factoring in lineage, performance<br />

history, and future potential. Acquiring<br />

such assets may involve auction bids<br />

or private transactions, with costs<br />

sometimes exceeding tens of millions,<br />

exemplified by record-setting sales like<br />

Hound & Hound’s $70M acquisition in<br />

2000. Maintaining these prized equine<br />

In a challenging day for UAE cricket,<br />

Kuwait, led by former UAE Academy<br />

Coach Qasim Ali, triumphed in<br />

the ACC Premier Cup held in Muscat,<br />

marking a significant transition for Ali.<br />

Despite initial victories against Kuwait<br />

and Bahrain, the UAE faced defeat<br />

against Oman, highlighting their vulnerabilities.<br />

In a rain-shortened match<br />

of 15 overs per side, Oman secured a<br />

convincing nine-wicket win with over<br />

two overs to spare. Meanwhile, at the<br />

Oman Cricket Academy, Qasim Ali,<br />

formerly pivotal in grooming UAE’s<br />

young talent, guided Kuwait to success.<br />

This shift marks Ali’s departure<br />

from his role as head coach at the ICC<br />

Academy in Dubai to leading Kuwait’s<br />

athletes within Dubai’s lavish stables<br />

incurs significant monthly expenses,<br />

covering stable fees, bedding, feed, and<br />

attentive care, with deluxe facilities<br />

commanding thousands monthly. For<br />

those intrigued by the world of elite<br />

horse racing, tours offered by the<br />

Meydan Hotel provide a glimpse into<br />

the daily routines of these remarkable<br />

athletes.<br />

Former UAE Academy Coach Qasim Ali Leads<br />

Kuwait to Victory in ACC Premier Cup<br />

cricketing endeavours, showcasing his<br />

influence beyond UAE borders.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 73

Sports News<br />

Ambulance Services and DEWA Shine in Nad Al Sheba Wheelchair Basketball<br />

Dubai Corporation for Ambulance<br />

Services and Dubai Electricity<br />

and Water Authority (DEWA)<br />

showcased their prowess in wheelchair<br />

basketball at the 11th Nad Al Sheba<br />

Sports Tournament. In a thrilling match,<br />

Ambulance Services triumphed over<br />

Mai Dubai with a commanding 25-9<br />

victory, while Dubai Courts secured<br />

a crucial 14-10 win against Al Bustan<br />

Centre and Residence. Despite a tough<br />

start against RTA, DEWA rallied back<br />

with an aggressive offensive strategy,<br />

Emirates Arabian Horse<br />

Global Cup <strong>2024</strong> Begins<br />

in Scottsdale, USA<br />

The highly anticipated third round<br />

of the Emirates Arabian Horse<br />

Global Cup and the Breeders<br />

<strong>World</strong> Cup commenced on the 28th of<br />

March in Scottsdale, Arizona, United<br />

States. Under the patronage of His<br />

Highness 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 />

Directors of the Emirates Arabian<br />

Horse Society (EAHS), these prestigious<br />

cups promise an exhilarating<br />

display of equestrian excellence. The<br />

Breeders <strong>World</strong> Cup boasts a lineup<br />

of 117 horses, while the Emirates<br />

Arabian Horse Global Cup features 47<br />

equine contenders from North America,<br />

representing 34 different owners<br />

hailing from the USA, Canada, and<br />

Mexico. This edition marks the inaugural<br />

launch of the Emirates Arabian<br />

Horse Global Cup, a landmark event<br />

conceived under the visionary guidance<br />

of His Highness Sheikh Mansour<br />

bin Zayed and closely overseen by<br />

Sheikh Zayed bin Hamad Al Nahyan,<br />

Vice Chairman of the EAHS Board of<br />

Directors.<br />

clinching a 32-26 victory and keeping<br />

their semi-final hopes alive. Meanwhile,<br />

Dubai Police General Headquarters<br />

staged a comeback with a 30-25 win<br />

over Dubai Municipality in Group A<br />

action. With one round of matches<br />

remaining, the Federal Authority for<br />

Identity and Citizenship leads Group<br />

A, followed closely by Dubai Police<br />

General Headquarters and Dewa, setting<br />

the stage for an intense finish to<br />

the tournament.<br />

Zayed Sports Tournament Ends on High Note<br />

Under the patronage of Sheikh<br />

Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan,<br />

Vice President and Deputy Prime<br />

Minister of the UAE, and Minister of the<br />

Presidential Court of the UAE, the vibrant<br />

culmination of the 27th Zayed Sports<br />

Tournament unfolded in Abu Dhabi.<br />

Brimming with exuberant festivities,<br />

the tournament paid heartfelt homage<br />

to the revered legacy of Sheikh Zayed<br />

Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, drawing in 1780<br />

fervent sports enthusiasts from across<br />

the globe. Spanning a diverse array of<br />

competitions including chess, football,<br />

boxing, padel tennis, gymnastics, and<br />

Petanque, the tournament served as a<br />

beacon of community spirit during the<br />

sacred month of Ramadan. Infusing<br />

the event with cultural depth were the<br />

captivating performances of renowned<br />

Emirati artists. As the jubilant celebrations<br />

reached their zenith, deserving athletes<br />

were adorned with a total of AED 350,000<br />

in prize money.<br />

UAE and Brazilian Athletes Shine in NAS<br />

Tournament Jiu-Jitsu Event<br />

Brazil asserted its dominance emphatically<br />

on the tournament’s<br />

climactic day, adding an impressive<br />

nine gold medals to their tally, complementing<br />

the three triumphs secured by<br />

Thiago Marques (Male Masters 72kg),<br />

Andre Luiz De Almeida (Male Masters<br />

85kg), and Renato Cardoso (Male Masters<br />

100kg) on the previous evening.<br />

Meanwhile, Sharjah Defence Sports Club<br />

celebrated a resounding victory, amassing<br />

a commendable total of 269 points<br />

throughout the exhilarating two-day event,<br />

firmly establishing their supremacy. Al<br />

Ain Jiu-Jitsu Club and Bani Yas Jiu-Jitsu<br />

Club followed closely behind, securing<br />

second and third place, respectively.<br />

Sharjah Defence Sports Club distinguished<br />

themselves with an impressive haul of<br />

ten medals, boasting five gold, one silver,<br />

and four bronze, while Al Ain Jiu-Jitsu<br />

Club achieved remarkable success with<br />

a total of 13 medals, including three gold<br />

and silver each, accompanied by seven<br />

bronze medals.<br />

74 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>


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Tourism<br />

source: pexels.com<br />

Travel market is expected to exceed USD 12 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of more than 7.7%.<br />

Travelling Beyond<br />

Borders: How Startups<br />

are Bridging Gaps in<br />

Global Tourism<br />

Startups are changing the way people travel by<br />

bridging gaps in accessibility, sustainability, and<br />

overall travel experiences.<br />

In a world more connected than ever,<br />

crossing borders can still pose obstacles.<br />

Yet, startups’ innovation and resourcefulness<br />

are breaking down these barriers,<br />

making global tourism increasingly<br />

accessible and enjoyable for travellers<br />

worldwide. From revolutionising accommodation<br />

options to enhancing cultural<br />

immersion, startups are reshaping the<br />

tourism industry and expanding travel<br />

opportunities for all. This article explores<br />

the driving force behind these startups’<br />

growth, their resilience, and the profound<br />

impact they have on making global tourism<br />

more accessible than ever before.<br />

By bridging gaps, fostering inclusivity,<br />

embracing diversity, and promoting accessibility,<br />

startups are transforming the<br />

way people explore the world, one trip<br />

at a time.<br />

76 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Before diving into the innovative<br />

world of travel startups, it’s worth<br />

exploring the diverse motivations<br />

driving their efforts. The various motivations<br />

for doing so could include:-<br />

Huge Potential Market:<br />

Tourism business is large and has<br />

enormous growth potential. The world<br />

has a rich cultural past, various landscapes,<br />

and numerous tourist attractions,<br />

making it an appealing destination for<br />

international visitors.<br />

Technological Advancements:<br />

With the advent of technology and the<br />

internet, travel planning and booking<br />

have become more accessible and convenient<br />

than before. Tourism startups are<br />

embracing technology to develop noble<br />

solutions that make travel planning and<br />

booking easier and more efficient for<br />

consumers.<br />

Low entrance hurdles:<br />

The tourist industry has comparatively<br />

low entrance hurdles when compared to<br />

other industries, making it a profitable<br />

field for startups. Startups in the tourist<br />

industry began small but grew quickly<br />

due to the market’s vast potential.<br />

Changing Consumer Preferences:<br />

Consumers’ preferences are shifting<br />

towards personalised and customised<br />

travel experiences. Startups are capitalising<br />

on this trend by providing bespoke<br />

travel packages and experiences based<br />

on individual tastes.<br />

Virtual guided tours:<br />

We once Googled everything about<br />

a tourist spot before booking a hotel<br />

or planning a trip anywhere . With<br />

technological advancements and the<br />

implementation of AI and augmented<br />

reality, tech-based travel firms are now<br />

assisting us in visiting the location and<br />

getting a firsthand feel for the famous<br />

sites before we arrive.Virtual guided tours<br />

allow travellers to explore their would-be<br />

surroundings before they arrive.<br />

Digitalizing local communities:<br />

New-age travel businesses are bringing<br />

local communities onto digital platforms<br />

and educating them how to use the new<br />

technology. They have greater access to<br />

the global travel sector.<br />

Entrepreneurs have found inventive<br />

solutions to address pain areas in the<br />

travel experience, such as reserving<br />

accommodations and navigating foreign<br />

destinations, thanks to technological<br />

advancements.<br />

Pent-up demand for travel is currently<br />

being satisfied by product innovation,<br />

greater safety measures, and cutting-edge<br />

technology alternatives.<br />

Bridging the gap:<br />

1. Emergence of customised and cheap<br />

luxury road excursions:<br />

Travel companies have revolutionised<br />

service offerings, and instead of daily<br />

room rentals, the majority of hotels<br />

and guesthouses now offer all-inclusive<br />

long-term stays ranging from a week to<br />

a month.<br />

2. Online travel platforms:<br />

Startups such as Airbnb and Booking.<br />

com have transformed how customers<br />

search and book rooms. AirBnB allows us<br />

to travel for less than the cost of a hotel<br />

room. Its exploration-focused brand has<br />

long prospered by allowing customers<br />

to travel anywhere with the press of a<br />

button. They’ve increased that and are<br />

helping to connect these vacations to<br />

real-world activities with their AirBnB<br />

activities service.<br />

3. Language Barriers:<br />

Language limitations can often impede<br />

communication in distant nations. However,<br />

firms like Google Translate and<br />

iTranslate break down these barriers<br />

by offering rapid translation services,<br />

allowing travellers to speak efficiently<br />

with locals and navigate foreign situations<br />

with ease.<br />

4. Transportation Solutions:<br />

Uber and Ola make it easy to move<br />

around without struggling to find a<br />

cab.These ride-sharing systems provide<br />

economical and dependable alternatives<br />

to traditional taxis, allowing visitors to<br />

explore their destination with ease.<br />

Some of the well-known companies in<br />

the tourism industry include:<br />

Hotel Online:<br />

HotelOnline delivers cloud-based<br />

software solutions tailored for hotels.<br />

Their suite includes hotel management<br />

software, a booking engine facilitating<br />

real-time website bookings with integrated<br />

payment gateways, and a channel<br />

manager for overseeing listings on online<br />

distribution channels. Their comprehensive<br />

features span front desk operations<br />

management, POS systems, accounting,<br />

housekeeping management, payments<br />

processing, and beyond. Additionally,<br />

HotelOnline provides customised branded<br />

web development services and managed<br />

customer/guest care support, ensuring<br />

a holistic approach to enhancing hotel<br />

operations and guest experiences.<br />

Holidayme:<br />

Holidayme is an online travel company<br />

that offers a variety of services, including<br />

flight tickets, hotel reservations, and<br />

vacation packages. It was formed in 2000<br />

and has grown to become one of the top<br />

online travel providers.<br />

EZhire Technologies:<br />

Ezhire operates as a self-drive car<br />

rental platform accessible through a mobile<br />

application. Through the app, users<br />

can conveniently select their preferred<br />

vehicle, which will then be delivered and<br />

collected from their specified location.<br />

Whether for short-term or long-term<br />

rentals, users have the flexibility to rent<br />

vehicles as needed. The Ezhire mobile<br />

app caters to both Android and iOS users,<br />

ensuring accessibility across a wide<br />

range of devices.<br />

Airbnb:<br />

Airbnb is a prominent short-term renting<br />

marketplace. It was created in 2008 and<br />

has since spread to over 100,000 places<br />

throughout the globe.<br />

Travelling across borders has never<br />

been simple for many reasons, including<br />

new places, new people, and new<br />

environments, but these start-ups have<br />

taken the initiative to bridge the gap for<br />

our benefit. As we look to the future,<br />

the opportunities for exploration and<br />

discovery are limitless, and startups<br />

will continue to play an important role<br />

in altering how we perceive the world.<br />

Rather than replacing people, their goal<br />

is to push them out the door and provide<br />

new chances.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 77

Pulse 17 AI <strong>2024</strong><br />

Pulse 17 AI <strong>2024</strong> laptop by MSI<br />

represents a significant leap<br />

forward in computing capabilities,<br />

thanks to its integration of cutting-edge<br />

AI technology. With a focus<br />

on delivering exceptional performance<br />

and innovative features, this laptop<br />

offers users a powerful and versatile<br />

computing experience.<br />

At the heart of the Pulse 17 AI <strong>2024</strong><br />

is its impressive display, boasting a<br />

17-inch 2560 x 1600 resolution screen<br />

with a high 240Hz refresh rate and<br />

full DCI-P3 colour gamut coverage.<br />

Whether you’re gaming, working, or<br />

consuming multimedia content, the<br />

visuals are bound to impress with<br />

their clarity, smoothness, and accurate<br />

colour reproduction.<br />

The laptop is powered by an Intel<br />

Core Ultra 9-185H processor, ensuring<br />

swift responsiveness and seamless<br />

multitasking capabilities. Paired with<br />

optional NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 or<br />

RTX 4070 graphics cards, users can<br />

expect fluid gaming experiences and<br />

exceptional graphics performance for<br />

demanding tasks like content creation<br />

and video editing.<br />

Pulse 17 AI <strong>2024</strong> introduces innovative<br />

AI features such as the MSI AI Engine<br />

and MSI AI Artist. The AI Engine optimises<br />

hardware settings based on user<br />

scenarios, enhancing performance for<br />

different usage scenarios like gaming,<br />

productivity, or entertainment. Meanwhile,<br />

MSI AI Artist empowers users to<br />

unleash their creativity with image and<br />

text generation capabilities, opening<br />

up new avenues for exploration and<br />

expression.<br />

In addition to its impressive performance,<br />

the Pulse 17 AI <strong>2024</strong> prioritises<br />

effective cooling solutions to maintain<br />

optimal performance under intense<br />

workloads. MSI’s Cooler Boost technology,<br />

combined with a redesigned heat<br />

pipe system and large dual fans, ensures<br />

efficient heat dissipation, allowing users<br />

to push the laptop to its limits without<br />

compromising performance.<br />

Furthermore, the laptop offers modern<br />

connectivity options with Wi-Fi<br />

6E support and a variety of ports for<br />

seamless peripheral integration. Hi-Res<br />

audio technology delivers rich, immersive<br />

sound quality, complemented by<br />

Nahimic software enhancements for<br />

an enhanced gaming experience. The<br />

inclusion of a customisable RGB backlit<br />

keyboard adds a touch of personalisation<br />

and style to the user experience.<br />

Pulse 17 AI <strong>2024</strong> is a testament to MSI’s<br />

commitment to delivering cutting-edge<br />

technology and exceptional user experiences.<br />

With its blend of powerful<br />

hardware, intelligent AI features, and<br />

thoughtful design elements, this laptop<br />

offers a compelling solution for users<br />

seeking high-performance computing<br />

in a versatile and stylish package.<br />

78 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

MSI Claw<br />

MSI has unveiled its latest innovation<br />

in gaming technology<br />

with the introduction of the<br />

MSI Claw in the Middle East region. This<br />

gaming handheld marks a significant<br />

milestone as the world’s first device<br />

powered by the Intel Core Ultra Processor,<br />

offering gamers an unparalleled<br />

gaming experience on the go.<br />

At the core of the MSI Claw is the<br />

Intel Core Ultra processor, featuring<br />

ARC graphics with up to 8 Xe cores<br />

and advanced XeSS technology. This<br />

powerful combination ensures smooth<br />

gameplay across a variety of AAA titles,<br />

delivering an immersive gaming experience<br />

like never before. The ARCTM<br />

integrated graphics provide twice the<br />

graphical performance of previous<br />

generations, revolutionising integrated<br />

graphics and setting new standards for<br />

gaming handhelds.<br />

MSI’s Claw represents a significant<br />

advancement in handheld gaming.<br />

Powered by Intel Core Ultra processors<br />

and Intel XeSS technology, it enhances<br />

FPS for seamless gameplay, even in<br />

demanding AAA titles.<br />

Integrated with MSI Cooler Boost<br />

Hyperflow technology, the device<br />

features dual fans and heat pipes that<br />

efficiently dissipate heat, ensuring<br />

optimal gaming performance. The intraflow<br />

thermal design further enhances<br />

airflow, keeping internal components<br />

cool during intense gaming sessions.<br />

The Claw boasts a leading-edge<br />

53Whr battery, providing up to 2 hours<br />

of impressive battery life under full<br />

workload, enabling gamers to indulge<br />

in extended gaming sessions. With the<br />

MSI Center M UI, users can easily access<br />

key features and settings, including a<br />

quick game launcher and instant platform<br />

access. Additionally, the Claw supports<br />

the MSI APP Player, expanding gaming<br />

options to include both Windows and<br />

Android mobile games.<br />

Designed with ergonomics in mind,<br />

the Claw offers a comfortable grip for<br />

various hand sizes, enhancing the overall<br />

gaming experience. Its 7-inch Full<br />

HD touchscreen display with a 120 Hz<br />

refresh rate ensures a visually stunning<br />

and responsive gaming environment.<br />

MSI’s Claw sets a new standard for<br />

portable gaming with its advanced technology,<br />

ergonomic design, and powerful<br />

performance features. Available online<br />

and in major retailers across the UAE,<br />

including Virgin Megastore, Sharaf DG,<br />

Geekay, Jumbo, Eros, and Amazon, as<br />

well as Computer Plaza with HyperX Al<br />

Ershad Computer Group. In KSA, it is<br />

exclusively available at Jarir Bookstore.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 79


3rd ICPAC Mediterranean<br />

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

23-24 MAY <strong>2024</strong><br />

Four Seasons Hotel<br />

Limassol, CYPRUS<br />

www.qubevents.com/3rd-icpac-mfs<br />

3 rd Annual<br />

Financial<br />

Innovation<br />

Forum<br />

Payments & Regtech<br />

19 SEPTEMBER <strong>2024</strong><br />




Global News<br />

US Inflation Eases as Consumer Spending Supports Economy<br />

US prices moderated, particularly<br />

in services excluding housing<br />

and energy, keeping the possibility<br />

of a June interest rate cut by the<br />

Federal Reserve viable. The Commerce<br />

Department’s report highlighted a notable<br />

increase in consumer spending,<br />

emphasising the economy’s resilience<br />

despite global challenges. Despite higher<br />

borrowing costs, the US continues to<br />

surpass its peers, buoyed by a robust<br />

labour market. Economist Jeffrey<br />

Roach predicts a continued slowdown<br />

in core services inflation throughout the<br />

year, potentially influencing the Fed’s<br />

decision-making process by June. The<br />

Personal Consumption Expenditures<br />

(PCE) price index rose by 0.3% last<br />

month, while goods prices increased<br />

by 0.5%, mainly due to energy product<br />

costs. Despite moderating price pressures,<br />

inflation remains above the Fed’s<br />

2% target, indicating ongoing economic<br />

dynamics and policy considerations.<br />

Investors Watch Fed Rate Cut and Earnings to<br />

Sustain Market Rally<br />

Following a strong start to the<br />

year for stocks, investors are<br />

cautious about potential challenges<br />

in the second quarter, closely<br />

monitoring whether the Federal Reserve<br />

will implement an anticipated<br />

interest rate cut by June and focusing<br />

on upcoming earnings reports. The<br />

S&P 500 ended the first quarter with a<br />

significant gain, led by tech giants like<br />

Nvidia and Meta Platforms, along with<br />

a resurgence in economically-sensitive<br />

sectors such as energy and industrials.<br />

The sustainability of this rally hinges<br />

on the Fed’s actions, as it assesses inflation<br />

levels and economic resilience.<br />

Market expectations have shifted from<br />

anticipating multiple rate cuts to now<br />

predicting fewer cuts, reflecting growing<br />

confidence in a “soft landing” for the<br />

US economy. However, any deviation<br />

from these expectations could trigger<br />

increased volatility in the market, underscoring<br />

the importance of progress<br />

on the inflation front.<br />

Syngenta Abandons<br />

Multi-Billion Dollar<br />

China IPO Bid<br />

Swiss agrichemicals and seeds<br />

group Syngenta has withdrawn<br />

its multi-billion dollar listing bid<br />

on the Shanghai Stock Exchange amid<br />

recent turbulence in the Chinese equity<br />

market. The proposed IPO, aiming to<br />

value the Chinese-owned firm at up to<br />

$60B, faced repeated delays since its<br />

proposal in 2021 due to unfavourable<br />

market conditions. Syngenta cited the<br />

industry environment and its development<br />

strategy in its decision to withdraw<br />

the IPO application. Syngenta intends<br />

to revisit the listing process, either in<br />

China or elsewhere, when conditions<br />

improve, exploring alternative funding<br />

sources such as exchanges in Hong<br />

Kong, Zurich, or London. This strategic<br />

move coincides with increased scrutiny<br />

from China’s securities watchdog under<br />

new leadership, signalling a cautious<br />

approach to IPOs in the current market<br />

landscape.<br />

Egypt Set to Gain from Increased Intra-Africa Trade<br />

Recent expert reports underscore<br />

Egypt’s potential to thrive<br />

through enhanced implementation<br />

of the African Continental Free<br />

Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement,<br />

providing a beacon of hope amidst<br />

economic challenges. Landry Signé, a<br />

senior fellow at the Brookings Institution<br />

and professor at the Thunderbird<br />

School of Management, highlights<br />

Egypt’s pivotal role and abundant<br />

opportunities for both SMEs and larger<br />

enterprises within the AfCFTA<br />

framework. These reports coincide<br />

with significant financial injections,<br />

including a $7B <strong>World</strong> Bank deal and a<br />

new $5B IMF loan program, fortifying<br />

Egypt’s economic trajectory. Published<br />

by the OECD and tralac, these reports<br />

affirm Egypt’s advantageous position<br />

to leverage and contribute to the progress<br />

of AfCFTA, promising a brighter<br />

economic future for the nation.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 81

Global News<br />

HSBC Finalises Sale of<br />

Canadian Unit to RBC<br />

HSBC Holdings announced the<br />

completion of the ($9.96B)<br />

sale of its Canadian unit, HSBC<br />

Bank Canada, to Royal Bank of Canada<br />

(RBC) on Thursday. The transaction<br />

is expected to generate an estimated<br />

gain of $4.9B for HSBC in the first<br />

quarter of <strong>2024</strong>. RBC anticipates that<br />

the acquisition, which merges Canada’s<br />

largest and seventh-largest lenders,<br />

will enhance its domestic business<br />

and global standing. RBC confirmed<br />

that HSBC Canada’s branches and<br />

offices will commence operations as<br />

RBC locations starting Monday, April<br />

1. Despite opposition from various<br />

groups, including environmental and<br />

anti-monopoly activists, as well as<br />

conservative voices expressing concerns<br />

over industry concentration and<br />

potential fee increases for consumers,<br />

the merger marks RBC’s largest deal.<br />

Such substantial banking sector transactions<br />

have not been seen in Canada<br />

since the early 1990s.<br />

China’s Growth Sparks<br />

Optimism<br />

Senior officials and executives at the<br />

China Development Forum <strong>2024</strong> in<br />

Beijing expressed optimism about<br />

China’s growth prospects, citing the<br />

country’s commitment to fostering new<br />

quality productive forces and promoting<br />

high-quality development. With China’s<br />

economy on a positive trajectory after<br />

announcing a 5 per cent growth target<br />

for the year, effective macroeconomic<br />

policies, stable production growth,<br />

and sustained demand recovery are<br />

contributing factors. Zheng Shanjie,<br />

Head of the National Development<br />

and Reform Commission, highlighted<br />

that China’s focus on cultivating new<br />

high-quality productive forces fuels its<br />

economic growth and propels global<br />

economic recovery and expansion.<br />

Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director<br />

of the International Monetary Fund,<br />

acknowledged China’s leadership in<br />

artificial intelligence preparedness,<br />

facilitated by its advanced digital<br />

infrastructure. As China continues<br />

its strategic investments and policy<br />

measures, the world looks to the nation<br />

for inspiration.<br />

Guangdong Province Aims to be a Global<br />

Industrial and Sci-Tech Hub<br />

Guangdong Province in China is<br />

ambitiously positioning itself<br />

as a global leader in industrial<br />

and sci-tech innovation, aiming<br />

to foster synergy between industry<br />

and technology while nurturing new<br />

productive forces. With its GDP reaching<br />

(approximately $1.88T) in 2023,<br />

Guangdong has maintained its status<br />

as China’s top-ranking province for the<br />

35th consecutive year. The province<br />

boasts over 18 million business entities,<br />

contributing significantly to the national<br />

economy. Governor Wang Weizhong<br />

outlined plans for <strong>2024</strong>, focusing on<br />

bolstering investment, stimulating<br />

consumption, and stabilising foreign<br />

trade to achieve a targeted 5-percent<br />

economic growth. Notably, Guangdong<br />

witnessed robust growth in industrial<br />

investment and technology upgrading,<br />

with consecutive months of double-digit<br />

expansion. Despite global economic<br />

uncertainties, Guangdong’s economy<br />

showed resilience, evidenced by growth<br />

across various sectors, including industry,<br />

consumption, investment, and<br />

imports/exports.<br />

Wanda Sells 60% Stake in Mall Unit for $8.3B<br />

Private equity firm PAG and a<br />

consortium of investors have<br />

disclosed an $8.3B investment<br />

for a 60% stake in Dalian Wanda’s mall<br />

unit. Dalian Wanda will maintain a 40%<br />

ownership in Newland Commercial<br />

Management, the parent company of<br />

Zhuhai Wanda Commercial Management<br />

Group Co. The group of investors<br />

includes CITIC Capital, the Abu Dhabi<br />

Investment Authority, Mubadala Investment<br />

Company, and Ares Management<br />

Corporation. PAG’s David Wong emphasised<br />

Newland’s competitive edge and<br />

pioneering status, foreseeing consistent<br />

and expanding cash flow for investors.<br />

Newland oversees a portfolio of 496<br />

large shopping malls across China.<br />

This investment pact follows a prior<br />

restructuring framework announced in<br />

December, solidifying the partnership<br />

between PAG and Dalian Wanda Commercial<br />

Management Group.<br />

Japan Expands Visa Program to Tackle Driver Shortage<br />

Japan has expanded its foreign<br />

skilled worker visa program to<br />

alleviate the nation’s driver shortage<br />

by granting longer stays of up<br />

to five years in four new industries,<br />

including road and railway transportation,<br />

forestry, and timber sectors.<br />

This marks the first expansion since<br />

the program’s inception in 2019. With<br />

Japan facing a declining birthrate and<br />

pronounced shortages in transportation<br />

and logistics industries, the move<br />

aims to address these labour gaps,<br />

particularly with the upcoming enforcement<br />

of new limits on driver overtime<br />

hours in April, dubbed the “<strong>2024</strong><br />

problem.” The government plans to<br />

admit up to 820,000 foreigners under<br />

the skilled worker visa in the next<br />

five fiscal years, more than double<br />

the previous estimate. Chief Cabinet<br />

Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi urged<br />

relevant ministers to expedite preparations<br />

for accepting foreign workers<br />

to foster an inclusive society.<br />

82 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

In partnership with<br />

AIR EXPO<br />



19-20-21 NOVEMBER <strong>2024</strong><br />


www.adairexpo.com • info@airexpo.aero

Local News<br />

UAE and Oman Ink AED 129B Multi-Sector Investment Deals<br />

The United Arab Emirates and<br />

Oman have sealed a monumental<br />

AED 129B worth of investment<br />

agreements spanning multiple sectors,<br />

signalling a profound commitment to<br />

bolstering economic collaboration.<br />

Unveiled during the UAE-Oman Business<br />

Forum in Abu Dhabi, attended by Sheikh<br />

Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Managing<br />

Director of the Abu Dhabi Investment<br />

Authority (ADIA), the agreements<br />

encompass several initiatives. Central<br />

to these deals is an AED 117B industrial<br />

and energy megaproject, emphasising<br />

renewable energy endeavours and green<br />

metals production. Beyond energy,<br />

collaborations extend to technologyfocused<br />

funds, rail connectivity projects,<br />

and mutual investment cooperation across<br />

digital infrastructure, food security,<br />

energy, and transport. These agreements,<br />

coinciding with Sultan Haitham bin<br />

Taiq’s state visit to the UAE, are poised<br />

to fortify bilateral relations and foster<br />

socio-economic growth for both nations.<br />

Dubai Launched New<br />

Property Project Every<br />

18 Hours in Q1 <strong>2024</strong><br />

Dubai witnessed a surge in<br />

property project launches<br />

during the first quarter of <strong>2024</strong>,<br />

with both local and foreign developers<br />

aggressively introducing new ventures.<br />

Cavendish Maxwell’s Property Monitor<br />

revealed that in March alone, nearly<br />

30 off-plan projects were launched,<br />

contributing around 10,000 units to the<br />

market. This brought the total for Q1<br />

<strong>2024</strong> to an unprecedented 34,000 units<br />

across 120 projects, averaging a new<br />

launch every 18 hours, as highlighted by<br />

Zhann Jochinke, director of marketing<br />

and research at Cavendish Maxwell.<br />

The robust demand in Dubai’s property<br />

market has prompted developers<br />

to initiate various major projects,<br />

including Emaar Properties’ Heights<br />

Country Club and Grand Club Resort,<br />

Danube Properties’ Diamondz and<br />

Bayz101, Deyaar Development’s tower<br />

in Jebel Ali, and several others by local<br />

and foreign developers.<br />

UAE Job Market Surges: 8% Growth in 3<br />

Months Amid Gulf Employment Boom<br />

The United Arab Emirates led<br />

Gulf job creation with an 8%<br />

surge compared to Q4 2023,<br />

driven by growth in sectors like real<br />

estate, digital, data, and AI, per the<br />

Cooper Fitch Gulf Employment Index.<br />

Real estate saw an 11% uptick, reflecting<br />

the market’s boom. Regionally, real<br />

estate development, design, and sales<br />

jobs grew by 11%. Other GCC countries<br />

contributed to a 6% employment<br />

The UAE’s retail sector is on a<br />

steady growth trajectory, projected<br />

to reach no less than AED<br />

275B ($74.87B) by 2028, with a Compound<br />

Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)<br />

of 3.7%. Mohammad Ali bin Rashed<br />

Lootah, President and CEO of Dubai<br />

Chambers, highlighted that e-commerce<br />

is a significant growth driver,<br />

expected to maintain a double-digit<br />

trajectory, surpassing AED 42B. Lootah<br />

emphasised the importance of bridging<br />

the gap between traditional brickand-mortar<br />

stores and e-commerce,<br />

leveraging opportunities in both sectors.<br />

With the pandemic accelerating<br />

the shift towards hybrid models, the<br />

Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy<br />

is actively facilitating this transition,<br />

extending beyond e-commerce to<br />

sectors like Agri-tech, FinTech, and<br />

telemedicine. Collaborating with local<br />

rise: Saudi Arabia by 5%, Qatar by<br />

3%, Bahrain by 1%, and Kuwait by 4%.<br />

Oman’s job creation remained steady.<br />

In the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the public<br />

sector saw an 8% increase in job<br />

opportunities. Saudi Arabia’s Public<br />

Investment Fund hit $940.26B in assets<br />

under management. Qatar’s tourism industry<br />

rebounded, welcoming 596,000<br />

international visitors in February <strong>2024</strong>,<br />

indicating post-pandemic recovery.<br />

UAE Retail Sector Set to Exceed $75B by 2028<br />

retailers, the Dubai Chambers aims to<br />

enhance omnichannel capabilities and<br />

foster growth across various tech-driven<br />

sectors.<br />

84 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Dubai’s Network<br />

International Granted<br />

SVF Licence by<br />

Central Bank<br />

Network International, a prominent<br />

player in Dubai’s financial<br />

landscape, has achieved<br />

a significant milestone by securing<br />

its stored value facility (SVF) licence<br />

from the esteemed Central Bank of<br />

the UAE. This coveted licence grants<br />

Network International the authority to<br />

issue stored value products, encompassing<br />

various non-cash facilities<br />

that allow customers to pre-pay funds<br />

for future transactions. With this regulatory<br />

approval in place, Network<br />

International is poised to expand its<br />

service portfolio, offering enhanced<br />

payment solutions to its extensive<br />

network of partners and customers.<br />

By enabling prepaid card issuance<br />

and facilitating wallet provisioning<br />

services, Network International aims<br />

to streamline financial transactions<br />

and elevate the overall user experience<br />

within the burgeoning digital<br />

payment ecosystem of the United<br />

Arab Emirates. This accomplishment<br />

underscores Network International’s<br />

unwavering commitment to innovation<br />

and excellence in the realm of financial<br />

technology, firmly solidifying its<br />

position as a leading innovator in the<br />

industry.<br />

UAE Cities Lead Global Smart City Rankings<br />

In the latest IMD Smart City Index<br />

<strong>2024</strong>, the United Arab Emirates<br />

(UAE) showcased significant advancements<br />

in smart city development,<br />

with both Dubai and Abu Dhabi securing<br />

notable positions within the top<br />

20 globally compared to the previous<br />

year. Abu Dhabi ascended three spots<br />

to claim the 10th position, while Dubai<br />

made a remarkable five-place leap,<br />

securing the 12th rank. Notably, Abu<br />

Dhabi and Dubai are the sole representatives<br />

from the Middle East in the<br />

Top 20. Globally, Zurich maintained its<br />

dominance for the fifth consecutive<br />

year, followed by Oslo and Canberra.<br />

Other noteworthy mentions include<br />

Geneva in fourth place and Singapore<br />

in fifth. The IMD Smart City Index,<br />

based on a combination of hard data<br />

and resident surveys from 142 cities<br />

worldwide, underscores how cities<br />

are harnessing technology to enhance<br />

residents’ quality of life.<br />

AD Ports Group Commits $251M Investment in Luanda<br />

Port, Angola<br />

AD Ports Group, based in the<br />

UAE, has secured a 20-year<br />

concession agreement to oversee<br />

operations at Angola’s Luanda<br />

multipurpose port terminal. With plans<br />

to inject $251M into modernising the<br />

terminal, AD Ports aims to enhance<br />

its efficiency and capabilities. The<br />

agreements, signed with Angola-based<br />

logistics and transport firms Unicargas<br />

and Multiparques, can be extended for<br />

an additional decade, as announced by<br />

the Abu Dhabi ADX-listed company.<br />

AD Ports will acquire an 81% stake in<br />

a joint venture to manage the Luanda<br />

terminal, and a 90% stake in another<br />

venture to serve both the facility and<br />

the broader Angolan logistics market.<br />

The investment will facilitate terminal<br />

modernisation and logistics development<br />

from <strong>2024</strong> to 2026, potentially<br />

reaching $379M over the concession<br />

term. The Port of Luanda handles<br />

over 76% of the nation’s container and<br />

general cargo volumes.<br />

Dubai’s Emirates NBD Q1 Net Profit Surges 12%, Beats Estimates<br />

Emirates NBD, Dubai’s largest<br />

lender, announced a robust<br />

performance for Q1 <strong>2024</strong>, with<br />

a net profit of AED 6.72B ($1.82B),<br />

marking a 12% increase from the previous<br />

year. This exceeded analysts’<br />

expectations, as indicated by LSEG<br />

data. The bank attributed this success<br />

to higher income and recoveries<br />

on impaired loans. Total operating<br />

income reached AED 10.66B, driven<br />

by a favourable deposit mix, solid<br />

loan growth, and strong fee and commission<br />

growth across all segments.<br />

Notably, the bank’s asset base expanded<br />

by 5%, surpassing the AED<br />

900B milestone for the first time. With<br />

deposits up 13% year-on-year and gross<br />

loans increasing by 5%, Emirates NBD<br />

remains well-positioned in the market.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 85

Travel<br />

Exploring the Enchanting Destinations<br />

of Saudi Arabia<br />

Saudi Arabia, a nation rich in history and culture, often flies under the radar as a tourist hotspot. However, in recent<br />

years, the Saudi government has taken significant strides to diversify its economy, particularly through tourism. With<br />

tourism investments reaching nearly $13 billion and projected revenues expected to reach $85 billion, the kingdom is<br />

swiftly becoming a magnet for travellers, extending beyond the Holy cities.<br />

Beneath the surface of Saudi Arabia lies a treasure trove of enchanting destinations waiting to be explored. From<br />

ancient ruins steeped in history to modern marvels, the kingdom offers a diverse range of experiences for adventurers,<br />

history buffs, and nature enthusiasts alike. Here we highlight four such destinations that are a must-visit on your next<br />

trip to the kingdom.<br />

Diriyah<br />

Situated on the outskirts of Riyadh,<br />

Diriyah is a UNESCO <strong>World</strong> Heritage<br />

Site and the birthplace of the first<br />

Saudi state. Steeped in rich history,<br />

this ancient city was once the capital<br />

of the Emirate of Diriyah and played<br />

a pivotal role in the formation of the<br />

modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Ad<br />

Diriyah, renowned for its traditional<br />

mud-brick architecture, beckons with<br />

its lively Al Bujairi district, now transformed<br />

into a pedestrian-friendly hub.<br />

Explore its winding alleys adorned with<br />

charming cafes and artisanal shops.<br />

Immerse yourself in history at the<br />

Diriyah Museum, housed in a former<br />

Yanbu<br />

palace, and admire the beautifully restored<br />

Al-Zawihra Mosque. The Wadi<br />

Hanifah Valley offers a tranquil retreat,<br />

where a river flows amidst date palm<br />

trees, creating an idyllic setting for<br />

leisurely picnics, peaceful strolls, and<br />

invigorating cycling adventures. Amid<br />

the recent investments, Saudi Arabia<br />

has announced to build of a version of<br />

the Champs-Elysees and a new retail<br />

project named Zallal in the Bujairi<br />

District of Diriyah. The town continues<br />

to evolve, blending its rich history with<br />

modern developments, promising an<br />

unforgettable experience for visitors<br />

from around the world.<br />

Yanbu emerges as Saudi Arabia’s premier<br />

diving destination, nestled along<br />

the picturesque West Coast. Divided<br />

into three distinct sections—Yanbu<br />

Al Bahr, Yanbu Al Nakhal, and Yanbu<br />

Industrial—the city offers a diverse<br />

array of experiences, each brimming<br />

with its own unique charm. Yanbu Al<br />

Nakhal boasts a rich historical heritage,<br />

once serving as a vital rest stop<br />

for caravans traversing between Saudi<br />

Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, and the Mediterranean<br />

Sea. In the heart of the city<br />

lies Yanbu Al Bahr, a treasure trove of<br />

archaeological wonders. From ancient<br />

mud and stone buildings to centuries-old<br />

sites like Souq Al Layl and the Senussi<br />

Mosque, visitors are transported to a<br />

bygone era. Here, vibrant handicraft<br />

shops, authentic folk restaurants, and<br />

the enchanting flavours of local cuisine<br />

await exploration.<br />

For thrill-seekers, Yanbu Al Bahr<br />

offers an array of water sports, including<br />

water skiing and boat rides. Dive<br />

enthusiasts will be enchanted by the<br />

Red Sea’s azure waters, teeming with<br />

vibrant coral reefs and a kaleidoscope<br />

of marine life, making Yanbu a haven<br />

for underwater adventurers.<br />

86 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Al Ula<br />

Step back in time and uncover the<br />

mysteries of ancient civilisations in<br />

Al Ula, a historical gem nestled in the<br />

heart of the Arabian Peninsula. Home<br />

to the spectacular UNESCO-listed<br />

site of Hegra (Al-Hijr), Al Ula boasts<br />

towering sandstone cliffs, carved<br />

tombs, and well-preserved Nabatean<br />

architecture reminiscent of Petra in<br />

Jordan. From ancient archaeological<br />

sites to breathtaking natural wonders,<br />

AlUla is a testament to Saudi Arabia’s<br />

storied past and promising future. As<br />

the kingdom unveils its millennia-old<br />

treasures, visitors are invited to embark<br />

on a journey through time, exploring<br />

the Nabataean city of Hegra, the ancient<br />

Kingdoms of Dadanite and Lihyanite,<br />

and the charming AlUla Old Town.<br />

In addition to its rich cultural heritage,<br />

the city boasts a selection of<br />

luxurious resorts, offering travellers<br />

the perfect retreat for relaxation during<br />

their visit. Moreover, AlUla caters to<br />

diverse culinary tastes with a myriad<br />

of cafes and restaurants scattered<br />

throughout the area, ensuring visitors<br />

can indulge in a variety of culinary delights.<br />

Experience the allure of AlUla’s<br />

cultural heritage, where every moment<br />

promises an unforgettable experience<br />

amidst breathtaking landscapes and<br />

timeless heritage.<br />

Abha<br />

Perched atop the verdant mountains<br />

of the Asir region, Abha offers a refreshing<br />

escape from the desert heat and<br />

a glimpse into Saudi Arabia’s natural<br />

wonders. Known for its mild climate,<br />

lush valleys, and terraced farms, Abha<br />

is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and<br />

nature lovers. As you navigate through<br />

the mist-shrouded terrain, even in the<br />

warmth of summertime, Abha reveals<br />

its hidden treasures of plains, cliffs,<br />

and rich biodiversity. Delve into the<br />

region’s artistic heritage and discover<br />

the centuries-old tradition of Qatt Al<br />

Aseeri, where vibrant colours extracted<br />

from nature adorn the walls of homes<br />

in a mesmerising display of abstract<br />

artistry—a symbol of the deep connection<br />

between man and place.<br />

In Abha, time seems to stand still as<br />

you wander through the labyrinthine<br />

streets, listening to the echoes of old<br />

tales whispered by ancient houses turned<br />

museums. Here, the past comes alive<br />

as museum owners open their doors to<br />

visitors, offering a taste of traditional<br />

dishes that tantalise the senses and<br />

provide a rich sensory experience.<br />

These mementoes will serve as lasting<br />

reminders of your journey, ensuring<br />

that Abha remains deeply etched in<br />

your memory long after you depart.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 87

Travel News<br />

Dubai’s Salik Plans<br />

Revenue Diversification<br />

Beyond Toll<br />

Dubai’s Salik, the exclusive tollgate<br />

operator, reported robust<br />

financial performance in 2023,<br />

generating 2.1 billion UAE dirhams in<br />

revenue, driven by a notable surge in<br />

toll usage. With over 461 million revenue-generating<br />

trips, marking an 11.7<br />

per cent increase from the previous<br />

year, Ibrahim Al-Haddad, CEO of Salik,<br />

credited Dubai’s enduring appeal as a<br />

tourist and residency destination for<br />

growth. Salik maintained impressive<br />

EBITDA and net income margins of 65.9<br />

per cent and 52.1 per cent respectively.<br />

Looking ahead, the company plans to<br />

diversify its revenue streams beyond<br />

toll usage fees and fines, aiming to explore<br />

ancillary revenue opportunities.<br />

This strategic shift includes recent<br />

collaborations like the partnership with<br />

Emaar Malls for private parking fee<br />

collection at Dubai Mall, demonstrating<br />

Salik’s commitment to innovation and<br />

sustainable growth.<br />

China Southern Airlines Launches Direct Route to<br />

Saudi Arabia<br />

China Southern Airlines celebrated<br />

the inaugural flight of its Beijing<br />

Daxing - Riyadh route, marking<br />

the first direct passenger service between<br />

China and Saudi Arabia by a<br />

Chinese airline. The event, attended by<br />

China Southern’s senior management,<br />

Saudi Air Connectivity Program (ACP)<br />

representatives, Saudi Tourism Authority<br />

members, and industry partners,<br />

highlighted the airline’s commitment<br />

to strengthening ties between the two<br />

countries. Alongside the new route,<br />

China Southern introduced international<br />

connections to Belt and Road Initiative<br />

regions, emphasising the transit services<br />

at Beijing Daxing International Airport<br />

and onboard amenities. Mr. ZHANG<br />

Dongsheng, Deputy Director General of<br />

China Southern’s Commercial Steering<br />

Committee, underscored the route’s<br />

significance in fostering cooperation<br />

in economic, trade, cultural, and tourism<br />

realms, aligning with the Belt and<br />

Road Initiative and Vision 2030 goals.<br />

Saudi Theme Parks: Study Finds 20% of KSA<br />

Residents Favour Theme Parks for Leisure<br />

According to a recent report by<br />

YouGov, visiting theme parks<br />

has become one of the most<br />

popular leisure activities for Saudi<br />

residents, with one in five reporting<br />

they regularly spend their free time at<br />

such attractions. This demand comes<br />

amid a significant transformation in<br />

Saudi Arabia’s entertainment and leisure<br />

sector, reflecting the kingdom’s<br />

broader efforts to improve the quality<br />

of life for residents and boost tourism<br />

in line with the Saudi Vision 2030. The<br />

data reveals a preference for local<br />

theme parks among 59 per cent of respondents,<br />

yet a considerable portion,<br />

60 per cent, are willing to travel far<br />

distances to experience new attractions.<br />

From the surveyed respondents,<br />

on-site dining is an important part of<br />

the theme park experience. Nearly 70<br />

per cent of visitors agreed that theme<br />

parks must have high-quality food<br />

services. Al Baik tops the list as the<br />

preferred restaurant among KSA theme<br />

park visitors, with 61 per cent naming<br />

it as their top dining choice.<br />

Louvre Abu Dhabi Draws<br />

Over 1.2 Million Visitors<br />

in 2023<br />

In 2023, the Louvre Abu Dhabi<br />

welcomed over 1.2 million visitors,<br />

driven by enhanced exhibitions,<br />

increased visits to the Children’s Museum,<br />

and active educational programs.<br />

Outdoor activities and activities on<br />

the premises also boosted footfall.<br />

International visitors accounted for<br />

72 per cent, with key markets including<br />

Russia, India, France, the USA,<br />

China, Germany, Italy, Kazakhstan,<br />

and the UK. UAE residents made up<br />

the remaining 28 per cent. The museum<br />

hosted over 500 officials and<br />

dignitaries, including Heads of State,<br />

ministers, ambassadors, renowned<br />

artists, and celebrities. As of March<br />

19, <strong>2024</strong>, it surpassed 5 million visitors<br />

since its inception, solidifying its<br />

global cultural landmark status. Saood<br />

Abdulaziz Al Hosani, Under-Secretary<br />

of the Department of Culture and<br />

Tourism – Abu Dhabi, emphasised its<br />

role in providing exceptional cultural<br />

experiences and its impact over six<br />

years of operation.<br />

88 www.thefinanceworld.com <strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Saudi Arabia Invests $100M Annually in Tourism Sector Skills Development<br />

At the Manafea Forum in Madinah,<br />

Minister of Tourism Ahmed<br />

Al-Khateeb announced that Saudi<br />

Arabia allocates SR 375M annually to<br />

enhance the skills of Saudis in the<br />

tourism sector, aiming to increase their<br />

rates to 40 per cent, with a target of<br />

50 per cent. Additionally, efforts are<br />

underway to expedite licence issuance,<br />

reducing the current duration from five<br />

days to instant processing. Al-Khateeb<br />

highlighted the sector’s trajectory<br />

towards joining the global top ten by<br />

2030, projecting a contribution of 10<br />

per cent to the economy, up from five<br />

per cent the previous year. Minister of<br />

Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah noted<br />

a historic increase in Umrah pilgrims<br />

in 2023, reaching five million, up 60<br />

per cent from the previous year, while<br />

preparations for the Hajj season were<br />

already underway.<br />

Arabian Travel Market’s Tech Zone Surges with 56%<br />

Year-on-Year Growth<br />

Arabian Travel Market (ATM) <strong>2024</strong>,<br />

hosted at Dubai <strong>World</strong> Trade<br />

Centre (DWTC), will feature<br />

over 100 leading travel technology<br />

companies, marking a 56% increase<br />

in the Travel Tech space compared to<br />

last year. With a 33% rise in exhibitors,<br />

the event reflects the growing demand<br />

for showcasing innovations to a global<br />

audience. Sponsored by Sabre, the<br />

ATM Future Stage will gather over a<br />

hundred expert speakers, presenting<br />

cutting-edge solutions to enhance efficiency<br />

and profitability in travel and<br />

tourism. According to Allied Market<br />

Research, the global travel technology<br />

market is projected to reach $21B by<br />

2032, underscoring the significance<br />

of tech advancements in the industry.<br />

Sessions at the ATM Future Stage will<br />

explore AI implications, traveller-centric<br />

approaches, and leveraging technology<br />

for enhanced journeys.<br />

Qatar Utilises Tourism and ICT to Diversify Economy<br />

Qatar has seen remarkable progress<br />

in its tourism and Information<br />

and Communications<br />

Technology (ICT) sectors following<br />

the successful hosting of the 2022 FIFA<br />

<strong>World</strong> Cup. With a focus on leveraging<br />

the event’s global attention, the Qatari<br />

government has invested heavily in<br />

infrastructure, hospitality, and cultural<br />

attractions, positioning the country as<br />

a top destination for global travellers.<br />

Strategic initiatives, including expanding<br />

Hamad International Airport’s capacity,<br />

developing world-class hotels,<br />

and promoting cultural events, have<br />

driven growth in the tourism sector.<br />

Qatar Tourism reported exceeding 4<br />

million visitors in 2023, attributing<br />

the surge to the positive impact of the<br />

<strong>World</strong> Cup and ongoing promotional<br />

efforts. Saudi Arabia, India, Germany,<br />

the UK, and Kuwait were among the<br />

top visitor countries, with air travel<br />

being the preferred mode of arrival.<br />

Abu Dhabi Extends 10%<br />

Tourism Tax Waiver for<br />

Events<br />

Abu Dhabi has prolonged its tax waiver<br />

initiative for event organisers<br />

as part of its strategy to invigorate<br />

the tourism sector. Until December 31,<br />

<strong>2024</strong>, event organisers will continue to<br />

be exempt from the 10% tourism fee on<br />

ticket sales, announced the Department<br />

of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT<br />

Abu Dhabi). Saleh Mohammed Al Geziry,<br />

Director General of Tourism at DCT Abu<br />

Dhabi, emphasised that extending the tourism<br />

fee waiver aims to accelerate growth<br />

and provide ongoing support to event<br />

partners and organisers, crucial players in<br />

the emirate’s tourism and entertainment<br />

ecosystem. This initiative complements<br />

Abu Dhabi’s array of strategies to bolster<br />

its tourism and events industry, including<br />

reductions in hotel fees and updates to<br />

holiday home policies. In 2022, Abu Dhabi<br />

hosted over 1,200 MICE events, attracting<br />

603,000 visitors, with a target set at 24<br />

million visitors for 2023.<br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2024</strong> www.thefinanceworld.com 89



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