Month: May 2011

Arab Achievement Awards Decisions Made

The Second Arab Investment Summit in Abu Dhabi just took place, giving out Arab Achievements Awards to recognize companies and projects that have shown exceptional performance. Bahrain Financial Harbour (BFH) was proud to be named the “Best Mixed-Use Development Project” with its $3 billion financial community landmark.

Judging the Competition

The awards are judged by property developers and equity financiers from around the Middle East. Lina Mubarak, the BFH public relations and corporate communications manager, collected the award from Obaid Al Shaikh Al Noaimi and Juma Mohammed Al Kait, assistant under-secretary, Foreign Trade Ministry.

The BFH managing director Dr. Omar Al Mardi said,

“We are delighted to have won the Arab Achievement Award in this category and feel proud to have contributed to the development of Bahrain as well as the Middle East. This prestigious award is a reflection of our hard work and determination that serves as symbol for our kingdom’s vision and inspiration for the future. Despite the crisis faced in the country recently, BFH regained a sense of normality in their operation and business was back on track almost immediately.”

Dr. Al Mardi added that, even in the time of unrest and political upheaval that we’ve had now, 65% of the office space has been leased at the financial center.

BFH’s Important Role

Dr. Al Mardi added that, “As the financial hub of Bahrain, BFH plays an important role in developing the kingdom’s economy and attracting foreign direct investments which have propelled Bahrain’s ‘business friendly’ image internationally.”

BHF actually covers 380,000 square meters of waterfront property with office space, luxury private accommodations and a five-star hotel. It also has retail space and leisure and entertainment facilities.

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Dubai Benefiting from Middle East Unrest

The Middle East unrest has certainly had its influence on the hotel industry in the region.  Between February 1, 2011 and April 5, Egypt lost a reported $1.8b in revenues due to a lack of visitors.  Jordan similarly lost a reported $70m due to unrest.

As Elie Younes, vice president for business development Middle East & Africa, at Rezidor Hotel Group said, “In ten years time, believe me, we’ll probably once again face this kind of recession. With regard to this crisis, there has been a recovery, but I don’t think confidence is there yet.”

The Benefit in Dubai

However, while most countries in the region have seen a decrease in hotel revenue due to the unrest, one country is actually benefiting from it – Dubai.  The emirate actually had a spike in visitors since it has been viewed as a safe and quiet location in comparison to its many neighbors.

As Marc-Francoise Dardenne, CEO Emaar Hospitality Group and Emaar Hotels & Resorts explained, “In the first quarter we had over 87% occupancy in all our hotels, so we unfortunately benefitted from all of the issues in the various places of the Middle East. A lot of business has come our way.”

Ease of Opening Hotels

As a result, Dubai is seeing a sharp increase in hotel building.  Part of the reason for this is that it’s quite easy to open a new hotel in the area, according to David Vely, SVP, Middle East North Africa Development for MGM Hospitality.

While some investors say they are worried that the new supply is going to flood the market, others see it only as a benefit.  Vely said, “I am not worried about the supply. India and China provide an enormous potential customer base for hotels in the region. With the emergence of the middle class and the huge amount of people in these countries who now have the purchasing power to travel, you cannot build hotels fast enough to accommodate people who want to come here if you develop the proper product.”

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Conspiracy Theories Abound With the Pakistan ISI

The website some say is Pakistan’s own conspiracy site is fueling an ISI subdivision based on search results.  Interesting that Abida Ali, founder of the site never explains how they actually get these “vital pieces of info.” No credentials are given.

While I focused most of my work in bending Google’s cache and retrieving it from the hard drives in our possession, some of my team decided lookinto server prints o figure how much of this online behavior was masked to both the ISI and CIA.  We located a few foreign servers and one was located in Argentina.  My assumption and as I told the editors of Investments Argentina that it is a known fact amongst many hackers that Argentina and other South American countries offer great opportunities for hosting. Let’s face it business is booming.

Anti-terror agencies would do their best to not only look at the on the ground locations of terrorist hideouts and bases, but their virtual imprints as well.

Quoted from article on MyWebSearch Logs by Abida Ali at Investments Argentina

The key issue I have is whether or not this is true.  Listen if its true, its not a surprise, organization have been monitoring suspiscious web activities for a while. and this would include Google search results.  If it is hyper inflated fiction well then Abida Ali and MyWebSearch Logs should be taken as entertainment.

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The Fire and Rescue Middle East 2011 Coming to Abu Dhabi

A new exhibition will be coming to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) in Abu Dhabi this year from October 31st to November 2nd 2011. This is the regions first dedicated exhibition and conference on fire, rescue and emergency response. It’s called the Fire and Rescue Middle East 2011.

Exhibition Excitement

During the event, businesses will be able to showcase the latest in firefighting, rescue and emergency equipment to industry leaders and influencers. Neil Wallington, the former senior British Chief Fire Officer and the Past International President of the Institution of Fire Engineers and Founding Editor of Fire Middle East Magazine said, “The Fire and Rescue event is the first of its kind in the region. It will showcase a whole spectrum of building fire protection technology, both active and passive, along with the latest fire fighting and technical rescue vehicles, and a host of equipment, strategies and training. It will provide detailed information to professionals attending both the exhibition and the conference on all that is critical to the Middle East in protecting against fire and dealing with a range of emergency incidents.”

Economy of Fire Rescue and More

Deloitte Middle East, in a recent report, stated that the UAE has $958 billion of total construction projects in the area and that this is expected to grow at a rate of 9.6% between 2010 and 2014. Saudi Arabia also has $634 billion worth of planned projects.

Speakers, Displays and More

The Fire and Rescue conference will include a large number of high-profile regional and global speakers who have vast knowledge and experience in dealing with disaster relief. Christopher Hudson, the Managing Director of Clarion Events Middle East said, “Fire and Rescue Middle East is the ideal event for professionals in the fire, rescue and emergency response sectors to acquaint themselves with the various latest equipment and strategies to combat man-made and natural emergencies and disasters that can threaten life and property.”

On display will be fire technology, environmental protection measures, first-aid equipment, control-station technology, equipment for fire stations and workshops, building protection and much more.

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From Oman to the North Pole

Certainly, making the trek to the North Pole is no small feat. Now, a new documentary film shows how one explorer from Oman – Nabil “Nabs” Al Busaidi has hit a new record. As the first Arab to walk to the North Pole, Al Busaidi created a new record, and has now had a documentary created for him.

The Arab Who Took on the Artic

Titled “The Arab Who Took on the Arctic,” the film is 44 minutes long and chronicles Al Busaidi’s experience trekking to the North Pole with a team. The film was just screened at City Cinema Shatti in Oman on Saturday and the film is now also available for purchase by TV broadcasters, according to Arabian Business.

After screening the film, Nabil said, “The director made the expedition more like a story, with a storyline of hardship, redemption and triumph at the end. I guess it was like that, but it didn’t feel like a Hollywood film script at the time.” He continued to tell Arabian Business that, “It’s a pretty good feeling to have a documentary made about me. And to have done something significant enough to warrant a documentary.”

Conquering the North Pole

The film chronicles the treacherous expedition for the 39 year old and his companions as they walked more than 650 kilometers to reach the North Pole with 50 kilograms of equipment and temperatures as cold as -40 degrees.

Footage shows, when he planted the Omani flag at the North Pole, that he said, “My name is Nabil Al Busaidi, I am the son of Riadh and Salma Al Busaidi, and I am calling from the North Pole.”

Since his trip, Nabs has raised between $100,000 to $200,000 for charity. He wants to send an important message to youth in the Middle East that ambition should propel you to do what you want to achieve.

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Middle East Economic Optimism

Although the Middle East is quite unstable politically at the moment, the business optimism in the region remains high. According to a survey for the Business Optimism Index for the second quarter released by The National Commercial Bank and Dun & Bradstreet South Asia Middle East Ltd., business optimism remains very positive.

Looking Up in the Middle East

Conducted in March, the survey found positive results. The Saudi Arabia hydrocarbon sector is optimistic, with the overall BOI composite score at 50 for Q2, rather than the 49 it was at from Q1. The BOI for selling prices is 53 in Q2, rather than the 48 in Q1.

At a press conference on Saturday, Said Al-Shaikh, a senior vice president and group chief economist at the NCB said, “The BOI survey results broadly reflect the newly announced fiscal package by King Abdullah, which is amounting SR500 billion, as the impact on the wider economy is likely to be substantial, especially on the non-hydrocarbon sector. Saudi companies expect business conditions to improve further in the near term, as all the indices reflected increases.”

Housing Help

He discussed the housing market, saying that it should improve in another two years as the spending package has put an emphasis on housing. As he said, “The recently announced spending package will help resolve the bottleneck in the housing market by 2013-14.” In addition, Saudi Arabia will have a 5.8% GDP growth with the expected rise in oil production.

In response to the survey, the CFO of D&B, Phil Strange, said: “Business optimism levels in Saudi Arabia remain very positive. All sectors recorded improvement in Q2 from already elevated levels of optimism with the exception of trade and hospitality, which saw a small fall albeit still remaining in very positive territory. The spike in oil prices and the governments’ increasing stimulation of the nonoil sector are causing the business community to remain extremely bullish in their outlook.”

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