It’s an interesting thing to go down in history for…having your very own font. Well, for Dubai it has to be better than other topics people discuss. The Dubai Font (a combination of both Latin and Arabic texts) can now be accessed around the world via Microsoft Office 365.
The project – which took 18 months to process – was supervised by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s Crown Prince. He worked with six people from Monotype (an American firm that has made specialty typefaces for large grands such as Vogue). Once completed he instructed government agencies to use it in all official correspondence. Meanwhile, the rest of the world can feel free to use the simple, Arabic/Latin San Serif typeface, since it is available in 23 different languages. Indeed, anyone of the 100 million Microsoft Office 356 software owners will be able to download DubaiFont.com in multiple formats.
As Maktoum (who is also chair of the Dubai Executive Council) said: “The launch of the Dubai Font to the world is a very important step for us as part of our continuous efforts to be ranked first in the digital world. We are confident that this new font and its unique specifications will prove popular among other fonts used online and in smart technologies across the world. I have personally overseen all the stages of the development of this font, from the first design sketches to the execution phase.”
Chief designer, Nadine Chahine added: “It is a mean of expression, it is not the expression itself. “It’s a sans serif with a lot of humanist influence.” Ultimately it has been said to fill a gap in the market of high-quality Arabic fonts.
While the economic is growing in Dubai, attempts are being made at enhancing its “humanitarian” efforts. At the recent AMF (Arab Media Forum), now in its 15th year, Princess Haya Bint Al Hussain (the UAE’s PM’s wife), commented that, “amidst the political and social disturbances, the humanitarian aspect has been marginalized.” This year the theme was “Media for Good,” and the conference – that took place earlier this month – was held at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
Still, despite Dubai’s issues in the social, political, and humanitarian sectors, economically it is thriving. The IMF has said that the region has encountered a distinct decline in in oil prices and actually the political ambience has stabilized somewhat. Indeed, because of this Emirates Airline was able to report a 56 percent increase in net profit due to the lowered fuel bill.
Further the Dubai Association Centre (DAC) – whose membership in the first quarter of 2016 substantially expanded – recently said its total number of issued licenses now stands at 23, representing a 44 percent increase within three months. According to Steen Jakobsen, Dubai Business Events Director, “In Dubai’s transformation into a knowledge economy, the presence of international associations play an important role. Associations drive education, training and research, and they offer a platform for experts and scientists to network and exchange knowledge.” Echoing this sentiment, Atiq Juma Nasib, Senior VP of Commercial Services at Dubai Chamber said that it was “commendable” how the DAC had bolstered Dubai turning it into a “focal point for professional associations.” The UAE he said has the right “geographical location and advanced infrastructure,” which “offer[s] the right foundation for continued growth,” while working in tandem with Dubai’s Strategic Plan 2021.
Now, 2016 has gone through a bit of a stagnation period, but this is just a minor blip and once that is over with, it is likely Dubai will experience more than a 5 percent yearly growth, IMF’s Mission Chief Zeine Zeidane said. There is work to be done with the construction industry that has encountered a shortcoming but with the weakened dollar and strong performance of trading partners like India, the economy is still thriving.
Around 4 percent of economic growth was recorded in Dubai for 2015, according to a recent article in The Khaleej Times by Abdul Basit. Hamad Buamim said that this was bolstered by “trade, tourism and financial services.” He added that economic growth has been aided by the existence of a diversified economy in the UAE, which has substantially reduced the “impact of the global slowdown’s negative effects on its various economic sectors.”
The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry are anticipating that by next year, there will be an increase in the retail sector of the UAE by Dh200 billion. This will mark a progression by an average of 5 percent each year. with this, consumer spending will likely escalate, stabilizing at around 4 percent on average annually, resulting in a total spending of Dh750 billion+ by 2017 in numerous industries. Euromonitor and ATKearney are coming up with numbers that are indicative that the retail sector in the region is “growing faster than the UAE economy as a whole.” This statement was supported by CEO and President of Dubai Chamber, Hamad Buamim who was quoted in a recent article in The Gulf News to have said:
“The UAE stands out as one of the leading retail centres in the region. Retail is an important pillar of Dubai’s economic diversification strategy. The analysis will not only boost the sentiments of the retail sector in the region, but also help raise investor confidence in the market.”
Thus it is hardly a surprise that data from the eighth annual Asdaa Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey, showed that almost 25 percent of youth in the Middle East view the UAE their preferred country of choice of where to live. In terms of stability, safety and the best environment whereby to launch a business, it ranked even higher than America and many European addresses.
Right in the center of Dubai, sits the Il Gazebo Pizza Caffe, which brings a little bit of Italy to Dubai.
Arabian Business recently featured a review of “The 100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40 – Business and Industry.” It is certainly a fascinating list and one worth reviewing. Here is a snapshot of just a few of the choices.
At number 9, they feature Amal Clooney which most people know, today, as George Clooney’s wife. Certainly, she is a powerhouse in her own right as a Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers in the UK. She has been defending high-profile clients in international legal cases for years. She is a lawyer, activist and author with degrees from Oxford University and NYU’s School of Law. Born in Beirut, she emigrated to the UK in 1890 during the Lebanese Civil War.
At number 11 on the list is Ahmad Belhoul, the CEO of Masdar. Dr. Ahmad Belhoul is in charge of one of Abu Dhabi’s most important projects, Masdar City. This is currently under construction outside of the UAE capital and is being called the world’s first sustainable eco-city. The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology is already there, as is the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Belhoul has a BSc from Khalifa University in the UAE, an MSc from the University of Melbourne and a PhD from Sir John Monash University in Australia.
At number 17 is Majid Jafar who runs the region’s oldest privately held energy giant, Crescent Petroleum. In the post Saddam Hussein era, Crescent Petroleum focuses on oil and gas exploration in countries such as Iraq and Egypt. Jafar is the vice chairman of the Crescent Group, the holding company founded by his father, Hamid Jafar. They have interests in in transport, logistics, private equity and property. He is also the vice chairman of the Global Energy Initiative, an NGO based in New York. They focus on sustainable development by trying to tackle issues of climate change and energy poverty around the world. Majid Jafar holds degrees from Cambridge, London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Dubai business around the world is set to encounter a boom. Dubai officials claim that this is a result of the “pro-growth policies” it instigated five years ago. Dubai businessmen met up with around a hundred financial representatives from: Deutsche Bank, Fidelity Investments and Nomura Holdings.
According to Chief Executive of Sovereign Wealth Fund Investment Corp of Dubai, Mohammed al-Shaibani, it was the substantial 2006-8 Dubai investment (which led to a 2009 debt crisis) established the UAE as a major focal point for finance and trade. He hopes to place Dubai business “as one of the world’s main global cities. We are on the right track.”
There was a warning against “excessive growth” though. According to Co-CEO of Deutsche Bank, Juergen Fitschen, it is important to accurately manage the expansion, to ensure a reduction in potential risks.
It seems that there is a general feeling amongst experts that it is anticipated that Dubai business will sustain this advancement. A recent report from the Department of Economic Development showed that Dubai’s GDP will escalate 4.7 percent throughout 2014. As well, the Business Confidence Index (BCI) was at 144.3 points in the 2013 fourth quarter, which is an increase of 8 percent from the 2012 fourth quarter.
The transport authority of Dubai recently approved plans for 20 hybrid Toyota Camrys to be added to the taxi fleet. It is hoped that doing so will mark the first stage in eliminating pollution. According to Executive Director and Chairman of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Mattar Al Tayer, this forms part of a plan to increase the eco-friendliness of Dubai vehicles while reducing overall pollution that their non-eco-friendly counterpart ones create. It is all part of the RTA’s goal to create a “paradigm shift in the infrastructure of mass transit systems with a view to making them environment-friendly and capable of meeting the growing demand for transit means in the emirate.”
There has already been a trial run for this. It indicated that these vehicles were able to cover over 550,000km without encountering failures or significant maintenance issues. As well there has been a 33 percent improvement in fuel efficiency and a 33 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
The United Arab Emirates is currently making great efforts to establish relations with China in: energy (clean and renewable); science; technology and trade. Should it succeed in this endeavor, the next step could very easily be the connecting force between Europe, North Africa and Central Asia.
It was actually the UAE VP and PM, Dubai Ruler, His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who began this train of thought. He pointed out how crucial it is to develop and pursue relations between China and the United Arab Emirates as much as possible. In addition, speaking on behalf of the UAE, he said that from its point of view, this would effectively “widen the scope of its cooperation with the Asian giant.” And of course ultimately, that just makes good business sense.
The UAE leader thereafter added that from a personal standpoint, he had visited China quite a few times and enjoyed what he saw there, culturally and vis-à-vis its economic success. In other words, he could take it as a lesson for his own country. He said, “Dubai is like the ancient Chinese capital of Chang'an, a global cosmopolitan city, where people from 200 countries live and work together. As we today follow the distinguished Chinese experience of development with great interest, we strive to strengthen cooperation between the two countries not only in trade, but also in the fields of science, technology, and clean and renewable energy.”
A telecommunications company in the United Arab Emirates – Etisalat – was recently honored with three awards from the International Business Awards. Better known as the “Stevie’s,” getting even just one of these awards is an extremely prestigious achievement. But to get three is very impressive. Etisalat received awards for: the Best Chairman, Best Customer Care and the Most Innovative Company. Muhammad Omran took the award for Best Chairman (being the company’s chairman). And he certainly deserved it, given the fact that it has been under his leadership that the company’s customer base has escalated from 4 to 140 million since 2004 spanning 18 markets! As well, revenues have increased to $8.7bn within a four year period and between 2005-08 growth-rate increased 25 percent.
The horseracing world has been struck by a tragedy, as one of the most successful horses in the Dubai Godolphin Racing circuit died this week in England. The horse, Rewilding, ridden by Frankie Dettori, suffered the fatal injury while running in the Group One King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
Riding to Victory
Just last month, Rewilding has a famous victory at the exact same racetrack. Now, this loss is a huge blow for the Dubai-based racing operation. First, in March, Rewilding had an amazing runaway victory in the $5m Group One Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan.
Then, the horse won the Prince of Wale’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, doing so by beating the favored So You Think. After that race, Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said that he was “very satisfied” with the horse’s results.
During the race, Dettori was thrown from the horse and he is still in the hospital as a precaution.
As Godolphin said in a statement on its website, “Rewilding, Godolphin’s top older horse this year, was humanely put down after breaking his near fore leg.”