Digital Payment

Mastercard New Payments Index 2022: UAE Consumers Embrace Digital Payments

Digital Payment

88% of consumers in the UAE have used at least one emerging payment method in the last year, with usage expected to increase further

IT Software

One in Five MEA Employees Would Prefer Better Software Over More Vacation Time, Freshworks Report

IT Software

Freshworks Inc. ,a software company empowering the people who power business, today released the findings of a report, which found IT professionals in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) spend nearly a full work day each week (an average of 7 hours and 53 minutes) dealing with bloatware – unwanted, overly complicated SaaS add-ons and features that hinders productivity and causes frustration at work. This has consequently had an impact on their productivity (51%), decreased their motivation (31%) and made them want to resign (23%). 

Freshworks’ new, State of Workplace Technology: Bloatware – the difference between love and hate for workplace tech, report explores more than 2,000 global IT professionals’ interactions with workplace technology. In it, 40% of MEA respondents report that most of the software their work provides doesn’t help them do their job better, while over half (54%) say their company pays for software products their IT teams never use – indicating that organizations are currently spending significant amounts on unnecessary overheads.  


IT Pros Want More of Less

Despite widespread innovation and a societal movement toward simple, easy-to-use apps, the new research reveals that bloatware is a persistent and pernicious problem for organizations. MEA IT professionals report that they have an average of 7.5 different applications available for use on their work computer, but only actively use half of them meaning that half are simply a distraction that lowers overall system performance. Almost every IT professional (91%) says their company could benefit from reducing overall software contracts, stating benefits that include increased productivity (56%), cost savings (50%) and more enjoyable work (25%).

“It’s clear Middle East users prioritise functionality over features as unnecessarily complex software can be a bane rather than a boon. For businesses, investing in overcomplicated technologies has a threefold negative effect – the costs sunk into implementing the solution, the impact on employee satisfaction, and the subsequent loss of productivity,” Manish Mishra – Head, Middle East & Africa, Freshworks.

“Legacy SaaS providers may have had good intentions by offering more add-ons and features, but the era of complexity has backfired and is bogging down businesses’ ability to deliver,” said Prasad Ramakrishnan, CIO of Freshworks. “As we approach a possible slowdown in the economy, the C-suite is re-examining their tech stack to prioritize solutions that deliver maximum productivity, not complexity and burnout. Bloatware needs to go.”

However, gaining the necessary understanding of user preferences will require a culture shift that encourages employees to share their experiences and frustrations. Currently, despite costly and frustrating issues with software, three quarters (75%) of MEA IT pros have hesitations about sharing feedback on their software. Why? One in four don’t want to be seen as a complainer and say their company has a history of ignoring feedback (24%), while 18% don’t believe they’ll be listened to.


Frustrating Software Hurts Motivation and Performance

Almost unanimously, IT pros hate their company software. 84% of MEA IT pros said they have frustrations with their company’s software, with the leading reasons being: it slows down their work (36%), it lacks flexibility (33%) and it requires multiple programs to do their job effectively (28%). But more worrying is that bad software also hurts work performance and morale. Notable findings include:

●    Contributes to the Great Resignation. Nearly a quarter of MEA IT workers (23%) say being forced to use outdated legacy software makes them want to quit their job. 
●    Hurts mental health. The large majority (87%) of MEA IT pros are burnt out and nearly half (49%) say they are the most burnt out they’ve ever been in their career. They see bloated software as part of the problem, with 25% reporting that easier-to-use software would help reduce their burnout.
●    Better software can be part of the solution. MEA IT professionals say that easier-to-use software (45%) and software that reduces workload (36%) would help reduce burnout.


IT Pros Will Give Up a Lot for Better Software

In the MEA region, fifty-seven percent of IT pros say they hate using outdated legacy software that isn’t easy to use. Many hate the software so much that they are willing to give up benefits, vacation days (47%), more parental leave (36%), and more sick/wellness days (35%).

“In an increasingly digital world, business and IT heads need to pay careful attention to the usability, performance, and intuitiveness of their digital platforms. Those that get this right will have their pick of their industry’s top talent as workers gravitate towards organizations that place an emphasis on delivering exceptional digital experiences,” Mishra concluded.

Freshworks recently released Part 1 of its State of Workplace Technology series titled, Workplace technology: The new battleground for the war on talent, productivity & reputation. It found that businesses globally face a potential workplace crisis due to inadequate technology – which damages employee productivity, mental health and the ability to retain talent – as an overwhelming 91% of employees report being frustrated due to inadequate workplace technology. Meanwhile, 71% of business leaders acknowledge that employees will consider looking for a new employer if their current job does not provide access to the tools, technology or information they need to do their jobs well. 


Unprotected Entry Into the Metaverse Brings Accrued Cyber Risks


IT and cybersecurity experts concerned that most brands are rushing to establish their presence without a proper cybersecurity strategy

Enterprises that are considering joining the metaverse bandwagon have been put on high alert against imminent cyberattacks that could expose their valuable data to crippling cyberattacks, data exfiltration and breaches.

As brands get increasingly engulfed in the metaverse, largely driven by the exciting opportunities that this relatively new digital concept presents, IT and cybersecurity experts are seriously concerned that most of them are rushing to establish their presence without a proper cybersecurity strategy.

Metaverse, an attempt to create an immersive virtual world that combines augmented and virtual reality, includes economic and social spaces where users from anywhere in the world can enjoy a wide range of content and experiences.

This, according to cybersecurity experts, also significantly exposes individual internet users and brands that are playing in that space to a plethora of risks that could lead to a surge in cases of account hacking and tampering, phishing and assets theft.

“Metaverse is an exciting and futuristic concept that is creating enormous opportunities for enterprises as well as innovators. However, enterprises that are considering operating in that space should also be weary of the imminent cyber threats that come with new innovation. As soon as digital property in the 3D universe, for instance, becomes of value, cases of account hacking, theft, ransomware and phishing will also increase significantly. Partly to blame will be the lack of a solid cyber protection strategy to safeguard private and confidential information from potential attackers,” said Candid Wüest, VP of Cyber Protection Research at Acronis.

According to the Acronis Cyber Protection Week Global Report 2022, cybercriminals are exploiting the IT complexity to launch catastrophic cyberattacks. With most users still not fully aware of the magnitude of the cyber threats they are facing in the wake of increased metaverse adoption, daily data theft (credit card, identity, passwords, etc.), malware, phishing attacks are likey to increase by 200% by 2024 due to unpreparedness or lack of a cyber protection master plan.  


Main risks

Device security remains high on the cyber protection priority list as platform and device hacking is widely expected to soar as the metaverse uptake also skyrockets. Threats and breaches to devices is likely to worsen and could subsequently also have actual terminal consequences in the physical world.

“For individual users of Metaverse, hacking of metaverse-enabled devices like specific headsets, for instance, can cause seizures, if someone is epileptic. It can also hurt their vision or hearing at least temporarily as well as expose their physical location, and more,” noted Candid Wüest. Metaverse will not have entirely new security issues as it will have the similar issues as the gaming industry. The explosive popularity of gaming, which is arguably the biggest segment of the entertainment industry, with over three billion regular participants, paints a picture of just how lucrative the metaverse can become for cybercriminals based on the number of users it can attract.


Data regulation

The lack of data collection and usage regulation has also emerged as a possible enabler of cyber threats within the virtual reality platform. This, IT security experts warn, could create a myriad of loopholes that cybercriminals could exploit to infiltrate private networks and gain unrestricted access to sensitive data from enterprises and individuals.

With regulation lacking, cybercrime could become the fastest-growing type of crime currently valued at ​​US$1-2 trillion and growing at a faster rate. However, despite the commitment by social media giant Meta that it will invest US$50 million in external research that will primarily focus on privacy and security in the metaverse – including a partnership with the National University of Singapore, to investigate data use – more still needs to be done, especially by enterprises to secure their data.

These safeguard measures include a comprehensive artificial intelligence and machine learning-driven cyber protection strategy combined with vulnerability assessment and penetration testing. Other effective security measures include blockchain technology to identify users; tokens assigned by an organization and use of biometrics in a headset to confirm user identity.


Metaverse warfare

While the concept of a virtual world was developed primarily for social platforms to help them boost engagement, the immersive multi-dimension will also create more opportunities for complex cyber attacks.

“Metaverse for information warfare is now emerging as a real threat that could be used to spread malicious information. Issues such as deep fake news will be more convincing in metaverse, news coverage will get more “gruesome”, and sports and entertainment will feel more real. Emotions will run high – which in theory a weakness used by threat actors, including politically motivated ones,” noted Candid Wüest.

UAE Architecture

Ceramic Tiles, Bioclimatic Architecture in the Construction, Design Industry Can Drive ROI by More Than 1000%

UAE Architecture

Rising global warming rates point toward the need for sustainable architecture and materials in the building industries which accounts for 40% of global emissions in the world

The region’s growing popularity for high-rise buildings and expansive infrastructure development has been on sharp focus for mounting pressure on its energy dependency to power its amenities. This, according to key stakeholders in the construction and interior design industry, is reversing the slowing down of the region’s goal to reverse the adverse effects of climate change.

High-rise buildings consume nearly 80% of all energy produced in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) every year. Apart from massive energy consumption, these buildings add another hole to the country’s sustainability plans on the back of sky-rocketing maintenance costs, design and infrastructure needs that are extremely energy-intensive.

Apart from massive energy use, buildings and construction are responsible for 40% of total carbon emissions in the world, and with the Gulf region being surrounded by this industry, it is essential that these industries are focused upon even as the region moves closer to its vision of achieving net zero-emission by 2050.


The urgent need to redevelop

Over the past few years, the Gulf region has been witnessing a massive boom in the construction and design sector. This, according to Tile of Spain – the official umbrella brand that represents the Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturers Association (ASCER), calls for an urgent need to adopt sustainable practices within this industry, especially in the use of ceramics.

Mott MacDonald conducted a study across the GCC region to explore how carbon emissions from buildings could be reduced. The research studies the impact of adding insulation, and external insulation finishing to improve energy consumption and significantly reduce carbon emission.

“Remodeling and using sustainable building material is an urgent cry of the hour, as global warming rates across the globe keep on rising. One of the most effective and sustainable building materials has always been ceramic, as these are 100% natural and environmentally friendly. Ceramic tiles, bricks and blocks can withstand the most adverse climate effects and can resist heat up to 1,500 degrees Celsius, which makes them most suitable for use in ventilated facades. Ceramic slabs and panels can also help reduce 154 to 229 Mt CO2-eq. This places bioclimatic architecture at the heart of sustainable design and construction,” noted Mr. Vicente Nomdedeu, president and chairman, ASCER – Tile of Spain.


Bioclimatic architecture: the absolute need for Gulf countries

Bioclimatic architecture focuses on the design and construction of buildings taking environmental conditions into consideration and using them to benefit building users. It promises to provide maximum comfort while using the least amount of resources, as climatic and environmental factors are taken into consideration to reduce cost by using environmental factors in your favor.

Tile of Spain, a pioneering brand, has taken on the task of promoting and establishing bioclimatic architecture around the world during this crucial hour, when the global climate is taking a massive hit.


Main features of Bioclimatic architecture

Tile of Spain’s move to encourage the use of Bioclimatic architecture is largely expected to jolt the industry and reignite the stakeholders’ sustainable construction and design commitment. The use of Bioclimatic architecture will expose the industry to numerous benefits including saving energy, reducing air conditioner costs, and improving health and wellness.

“The Spanish ceramic tiles are developed using a technology that allows rainwater harvesting reuse as part of international certification in green building. In view of society’s increased awareness and sensitivity to living and working in healthier and more sustainable spaces, there is a growing demand for and supply of spaces with green building certifications. This makes ceramic tiles the go-to sustainable building and design solution for modern living and working spaces,” added Mr. Nomdedeu.

Digital Graph

Six Trends to Watch for MENA-Based Family Offices

Digital Graph

Apex Group experts recently spoke at the Cross Border Wealth Management Conference in Dubai where much discussion focused on family offices in the region and the current challenges (and opportunities) they face.


1. Traditional banks are no longer the answer

Contrary to popular belief, wealthy family offices in the region are finding it increasingly difficult to open bank accounts, particularly with traditional banks. There are several reasons for this, including PEP status and the distinctive low volume but high value nature of family office transactions. Perhaps most pertinently, banks may be less willing to pay the higher compliance costs associated with family office onboarding.

The global pandemic has changed our relationship with technology, with many now expecting the ease and efficiency they experience as retail banking customers, to be replicated by their business banking provider.

As a result, more family office businesses are looking to so-called “neobanks” – exclusively digital banking platforms – which can provide a more nimble and flexible service and with lower compliance associated fees and costs.


2. Foundations are beginning to outpace Trusts

Throughout the Middle East, foundations are significantly growing in popularity with increasing numbers being established in the market.

While trusts remain the predominant vehicle, many consider foundations to be a more compatible solution, owing to their discreet independent legal structure and better asset protection. Likewise, there is a growing sense that trusts are not fully Sharia compliant and should be used with caution.

The direction of travel suggests that more family offices will soon be considering and reviewing their trust structures and should explore the option of a foundation, which may provide greater flexibility and futureproofing.

These are complex and relatively new structures, however, so family offices consider seeking expert professional advice to help identify foundations that operate in line with a family’s needs.


3. SPVs no longer fit for purpose

Many family offices in the region have traditionally adopted Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) to hold assets and investments.

However, as more of these vehicles are accumulated, they become increasingly difficult to preside over, given the complexities of their individual structures and the myriad service providers involved. These factors can make it difficult for family offices to react appropriately when circumstances change, such as regulations or tax events, for example.

Cell companies offer a good alternative to SPVs. These vehicles are protected and independent, with each unique cell governed by an English Common Law TopCo structure, which provides increased efficiencies and opportunity.


4. The Saudi family office is evolving

Saudi Arabia is a hotbed of fiscal development, and the needs of its constituents are changing.

With the increase in tools and investment vehicles available, Saudi families are beginning to explore new methods of managing family finances, such as trusts, foundations and, in some cases, appointing professional fund managers to run private funds.

There is a greater emphasis on diversifying investments and with the financial community becoming more closely acquainted with Sharia Law, and with several Sharia-compliant investments having come to markets, families are keen to embrace a more modern approach to financial planning.


5. UAE corporate tax headwinds

Proposed UAE corporate tax laws, and the potential issues that private wealth management may face as a result, was a recurring theme at the Dubai conference.

The UAE Federal Tax Authorities have recently released a consultation paper which provides a glimpse into how the jurisdiction plans to implement corporate taxes. Key issues to consider over the 3–5-year execution period include repapering, jurisdiction shopping and capital structure changes, with a new 9% federal corporate tax coming into effect from June 1st 2023.

Family offices need to be abreast of these changes and understand the alternative services available that may help mitigate such challenges.


6. Succession planning has come to the fore

There is a slow migration from Sharia-based family wealth planning, which is raising significant succession planning and asset protection questions and has led to a spate of very public succession planning disputes in the Middle East. This has focused minds across the family office space in the region on how critical it is to get their succession planning and preparations right.

Disputes of this nature can be lengthy and draining. These conversations can be uncomfortable, but it is worthwhile taking time to design and implement a succession plan that suits all parties and to avoid engaging in taxing disputes within the courts.

It should be noted that while having a will in place is a positive starting point, this alone does not constitute succession planning for a family office. It is important for family office leaders to engage with a trusted financial advisor well in advance, in order to alleviate any uncertainty and better protect your assets for the next generation.

Production Company

Best Film Production Company 2022 – Abu Dhabi

Production Company

With deeply ingrained values of respect, creativity, and boldness, Al Kalema Productions is one of the most well-renowned and well-respected production companies in the Middle East. Having made a name for itself both within its region and in the international market, this company sets itself apart with its creative integrity and team spirit, creating each piece of film and media with an unparalleled passion that pushes the envelope of what is possible in modern cinematography.

A United Arab Emirates company with an international pedigree, Al Kalema Productions has managed to gain accreditation across a wide cross section of heavy hitters in its market. With an office in the United States, partnerships all over the world, and the title of the most prominent independent production house in the MENA region, Al Kalema Productions boasts an in-house roster of talent that has secured its place at the top. From producers to directors, screenwriters, camera operators, video editors, animators, and sound mixers, its team are well-educated, well-trained, and enthusiastic, each with their own individual artistic flair that breathes life into any project.

Nominally, with one of the largest in-house production inventories in the country at its fingertips, Al Kalema Productions puts some of the greatest innovations in film to use. By putting this equipment in the hands of the people who can make the best use of it – its team – it is able to create some of the most beautiful and well executed artistry made possible by the medium of film. Thus, it appreciates its clients, stakeholders, and audience, each of whom put their faith in its creative and logistical acumen at every stage of the process, and who appreciate its proven ability to deliver the best results on a reliable basis.

Furthermore, this company is one that admires nature. By capturing the natural beauty of landscapes and people, it hopes to bring an audience a greater appreciation of the world they live in by showing them it through a variety of different perspectives, both in terms of character and creative context. In this manner, it lets its products speak for itself, the message it shares being one of ambition and diligence; with each film it creates, it gets one step closer to its goal of making the United Arab Emirates a media hub not just for the Middle East, but for the entire world.

From development to post-production, Al Kalema Productions provides a well-fleshed out and comprehensive pipeline that will take a project from start to finish. Always paying attention to the details as well as remaining cognizant of the bigger picture, its diverse and dynamic team are experts in finding the synergy between ideas, pulling them together to form a beautiful tapestry of world-class media, infused with a variety of opinions and experiences. Fundamentally, this infusion of such a myriad of different viewpoints into a work ensures that each project leaves as the best version of itself it can be, a version that is respectful to all and meets a client’s vision.

Critically, in the past, this attitude to film making has allowed it to create some of the best works in major events, film, TV production, and even marketing campaigns for high-end clientele. Further to this, with an upcoming pivot towards VFX, it promises that its distinctive style will only be developing further as it moves forward towards the bright future that its surely in store. Moreover, this future will be built atop the deeply integral principles and values that Al Kalema Productions has infused into the very foundation of the business.

These values speak to opening the door for new creatives, to delivering new content and pushing the envelope when it comes to what is possible for film, media, and visual content creation. Its expert team work hard to listen to the client at every turn, incorporating their voice, ideas, and commentary into the media itself so that the final product is truly reflective of what the customer wanted; moreover, when it receives feedback, this is something it addresses with the utmost seriousness. Crucially, when it receives a review from its clients – no matter the issues raised – it will always seek to try and analyse and learn from the comments, concerns, and critiques.

It thrives by receiving and responding sensitively to constructive criticism, using it to construct the pillars that will allow it to reach greater heights of success. Although – due to changes in its industry and in the world at large – it has had to change elements of its processes or ways of working time and again, its core value of listening to and valuing customer feedback has remained ever-consistent. This, its other values of fostering new ideas, and pushing for further innovation, has created a company that will never rest on its laurels, instead dedication itself to always finding out how it can be better, create something more hard hitting, or reach new audiences.

Its independent feature films, documentaries, and TV shows have therefore become examples of some of the best of modern film making. Able to create both Hollywood style movies and regional Arab content, its corporate videos, TV commercials, and promotional content isn’t restrained by borders; indeed, it is able to create content that appeals to the global market, with a history of taking initiative in the production of its own content. By not waiting for the market to come to it, it creates the new content that will satisfy the market’s hankerings for the uncharted and unexplored, developing a reputation for originality, pizzaz, and a singularly prestigious flair.

Stylistically, its relentlessly ambitious and front-running ability to develop the latest and greatest hits is made possible through its incredible team. Each of them is talented, dedicated, and hardworking, with an ethos of family that follows them throughout their career right from day one. No matter the department, each person will find themselves fully ingrained in the business as an integral part of the greater whole, an indispensable element of the production process with their own highly valued talents, passions, and experience. The energy and ambition of these people is what has put wings on the feet of Al Kalema Productions’s success.

Having developed a project called ‘people of determination’, a three-part TV mini-series and drama, with a crew of people with special needs and disabilities from all over the world, this series has been made by the people it is about, allowing Al Kalema Productions to tell the stories of people who are seldom seen in media. It looks forward to developing many projects like this going forward, and is excited to see where it can takes its clients – and its industry – in the future.

For further information, please visit 

Solar Car

Solar Electric Vehicle Leader Lightyear Enters Agreement With Sharjah Innovation Park

Solar Car

Europe’s Ambitious Solar Electric Vehicle (SEV) Company Explores Opportunities to Become Anchor Tenant of SRTI Park   

Jumeirah Resort

Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts Dining Destinations Recognised In Gault&Millau Guide 2022

Jumeirah Resort

Ten signature Jumeirah restaurants included in the prestigious Gault&Millau UAE 2022 guide, with the highest number of toques awarded to Burj Al Arab Jumeirah’s Al Muntaha

Dubai Homebuyer

25% of Dubai Homebuyers Seek Living Spaces That Bolster Mental Health

Dubai Homebuyer

A quarter of homebuyers in Dubai are on the hunt for living spaces that provide mental health benefits, according to real estate brokerage Union Square House (USH).

Living spaces and amenities that bolster mental health include spa-inspired bathrooms, freestanding bathtubs, meditation corners, indoor plants and fixtures, outdoor spaces, layouts that let in more natural light and fit-for-purpose residential communities.

Developers and facilities management firms play a key role through the upkeep of common areas, which represent essential convening venues for the community to celebrate gatherings and engage in fun activities.

According to a recent study about work-life balance conducted by mobile tech company Kisi, Dubai residents are among the most overworked in the world. As a result, stress levels among residents tend to be higher, and therefore finding a healing place in a home becomes a necessity.

Gaurav Aidasani, Founder & Managing Director, Union Square House, said: “The last two years have been tough on all of us. Apart from work-related challenges, our living spaces may have a direct impact on our mental health. In the wake of the pandemic, the correlation between a home and stress levels can’t be overlooked.”

Homebuyers in Dubai are increasingly pursuing thoughtful layouts and wellness-focused designs. Over the past couple of years, a new form of demand for living spaces that aim to enhance positive emotions and reduce depression emerged. Developers are now taking note of this trend to optimize living space for health and mental wellness.

“Finding the right home to ease the mental health burden extends beyond the living space itself. Homebuyers need to find the right community first. Many of us envisage owning a home in a friendly, serene community with parks, play areas, gyms and pools. Being part of a lively neighbourhood has moved up the homebuyer’s agenda thanks to a prevailing work-from-home lifestyle calling for greener communities where people can spend their times joyfully,” Gaurav continued.

“However, singles or couples may prefer living in the bustling city centre. Therefore, it is important to pick a community that suits you based on what a perfect home personally means to you. You must live in a community where you feel a sense of belonging,” Gaurav concluded.

When identifying the right community, homebuyers should also consider ease of access. Some communities in Dubai suffer from traffic congestion. Time spent coming in and going out of a residence can have an impact on mental health.

Factoring in proximity of a home to key facilities is also important. Short distances to points of interest such as schools, hospitals, retail outlets, leisure facilities, beauty centres and restaurants can make life easier, hence reducing stress levels.

In 2021, USH achieved AED 3 billion in real estate transactions, expanded its customer-base from six to 30 nationalities, saw a threefold growth in business performance and a twofold growth in team members. The real estate brokerage also focused on new markets, capitalizing on demand for luxury homes from European, American and Canadian customers.

USH has recently claimed the number one spot as the most awarded real estate agency in Dubai. The company has received the “Top Real Estate Agency” award from Emaar Properties for the past 10 years in a row, Dubai Properties (seven consecutive years), Meraas Properties (two consecutive years), Majid Al Futtaim (No.1 Performing Partner 2021), District One Meydan (No.1 Agency 2021), Nakheel (No.2 Agency 2021), RERA (2021), Dubai Holding (2021), and DAMAC Properties (2021).

Emirates Transport

Emirates Transport and China’s NEV Investment Establish a Joint Venture

Emirates Transport

On May 24th 2022, during the Electric Vehicle Innovation Summit (EVIS), Emirates Transport and NEV Investment have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center to officially establish a Joint Venture for the development, construction, marketing, operation, and management of the New Energy Vehicle Project in the UAE.

The Joint Venture is a product byway of the acceleration of the New Energy Vehicles Project in the UAE, which has four key components: trading, infrastructure, research, and development, as well as manufacturing.

The project was initiated to pave the way to produce electrics in the UAE. The project is in alignment with the Make it in the Emirates drive and Operation 300bn, the UAE’s industrial strategy aiming to increase the contribution of the manufacturing industry to the economic output of the country, while also being expected to create employment opportunities and provide a strong boost to local SMEs.

Emirates Transport and NEV Investment have jointly attended the Electric Vehicle Innovation Summit (EVIS) as an exhibitor, with BYD Han (TBC) and Henrey Mini Tiger as the key New Energy Vehicles for the debut of Chinese New Energy Vehicles to the UAE.

During the event, Emirates Transport, along with NEV Investment networked across the value chains and exploited new opportunities at the intersection of EV technologies with influential EV-related institutions, companies, and government officials from around the world at the EVIS booth. Discussions surrounding not only New Energy Vehicles but also NEV Infrastructure components such as fast charging stations, aftersales service and spare parts logistics centers establishment, IoT, electrical cables, and more were actualized.

EVIS is the launchpad for NEV Investment and potential Chinese New Energy Vehicles which can be introduced to the UAE. The UAE’s NEV Future is optimistic, and this is the first step to a long-term sustainable partnership between the UAE and China as the two countries have a shared goal in raising NEV Industrial innovation.

Emirates Transport is a public joint stock company established in 1981 and now operates under the umbrella of the Emirates Investment Authority.

Despite making its name in the field of school transport, ET achieved significant investment growth and service diversification over its 40-year history. Today, the company can offer its customers, both establishments and individuals, an array of services including, but not limited to transport, vehicle leasing and auto maintenance.

NEV Investment LLC is a New Energy Vehicle investment company among strategic international investors and stakeholders in UAE, aiming to establish a comprehensive New Energy Vehicle ecosystem in the UAE and MENA region, through the introduction of Chinese New Energy Vehicles including trading, R&D, infrastructure, and manufacturing.

Faryal Tawakul, Acting CEO of Emirates Transport, stated that the company was proud to be part of this exciting development in the UAE’s automotive and transport industries. She said: “Emirates Transport has been a leader in the transport industry in the UAE for over four decades and as an industry leader it’s fitting that we are now at the forefront of this new dawn of electric vehicles.

“We are proud to share this journey with our partners from the private and public sectors and we look forward to playing a vital role in ensuring the UAE is again a leading light, both regionally and at the international level, when it comes to new technology”, added Tawakul.

Leo, chairman of NEV Investment, expressed his delight at the official premiere of Chinese New Energy Vehicles at EVIS and the event on a whole. He said: “As the UAE continues to make significant progress towards becoming a global leader in the renewable energy sector, we are delighted to be a key player in creating future industries by leveraging existing Chinese NEV technologies and introducing them to the local as well as regional markets, jointly with Emirates Transport.


Sharjah Tourism Highlights Progress in Major Tourism Projects and Future Plans for a Sustainable Tourism Industry


The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) has unveiled the latest developments taking place in the Emirate of Sharjah’s tourism projects and future plans at a press conference it held on day two of Arab Travel Market (ATM) 2022, taking place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from May 9 to 12.

ATM aims to shed light on the future of the global travel and tourism industry, in addition to exploring ways to address existing challenges and capitalise on available opportunities.

Held at the Sharjah Pavilion at ATM 2022, the press conference brought together His Excellency Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of SCTDA; Her Excellency Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, Chairperson of the Environment and Protected Areas Authority in Sharjah (EPAA); H.E. Ali Salem Al Midfa, Chairman of the Sharjah International Airport Authority, and Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), along with officials from various government entities and representatives of local and international media outlets.

Speaking at the conference, H.E. Al Midfa said: “In line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to advance the emirate’s position as a prominent family tourism destination on the global tourism map, the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority works closely and continuously with its strategic partners in the government and private sectors to implement projects and initiatives that allow the emirate to offer innovative, one-of-a-kind and diverse tourism experiences to visitors from around the world.”

“Our leadership’s constant support paved the way for Sharjah to make immense progress in recent years in terms of major tourism projects across cities and villages in the emirate, including major infrastructure projects to connect the Heart of Sharjah to the Central and Eastern regions,” H.E. Al Midfa continued. “The emirate’s strategic location is an added value for its tourism sector, playing a key role in the development of the tourism industry and its diversity, and offering an array of experiences to meet all interests and cater to every age group. The emirate boasts world-class tourism capacities, offering an annual agenda full of events, exhibitions, and major festivals – all of which work together to meet the aspirations of visitors from all categories.”

The SCTDA Chairman explained that Sharjah has significantly developed its hotel sector to include more than 100 facilities with over 10,000 rooms and apartments. “These include beach hotels, city-centre hotels, and other facilities with more of an authentic Emirati feel, in addition to hotels in the Central Region in Mleiha and Al Badayer, which offer unique accommodation experiences, away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, where guests can immerse themselves in natural landscapes from mountains to sand dunes,” he said.

“Over the course of the past few years, the emirate made tremendous efforts towards developing the eco-tourism sector to offer exceptional experiences to all visitors. The various destinations offer a range of experiences for adventure lovers, as well as those looking to go camping, visit parks, and do water, desert, or mountain activities, in addition to experiences catering to lovers of heritage, arts, history, and archaeology,” H.E. noted. “The Emirate of Sharjah supports development plans that are designed to ensure the sustainability of its key sectors, including tourism – one of the pillars of the national economy.”

The total number of guests in hotel establishments in the Emirate of Sharjah during the first quarter of 2022 exceeded 350,000, marking a growth rate of 26% compared to the same period last year. The UAE ranked as the first source market for hotel establishment guests in Q1 2022, followed by India, Russia, and Oman, respectively, underlining Sharjah’s appeal to both tourists and visitors from around the UAE.

For her part, EPAA Chairperson H.E. Hana Saif Al Suwaidi shed light on the Sharjah Safari project – the largest safari outside the African continent, which includes 12 different environments representing Africa’s terrain and the animals and birds that live there. “Sharjah Safari places the Emirate of Sharjah and the UAE at the forefront of attractive destinations for nature and wildlife tourists, and contributes to promoting various other sectors, from aviation to hospitality,” H.E. said.

“During its participation at ATM, the EPAA will meet with representatives of tourism and hotel companies to organise visits to Sharjah Safari, in addition to discussing ways to cooperate with the authorities concerned with eco-tourism to set up joint events and programmes that serve the emirate’s vision for both tourism and the environment,” H.E. Al Suwaidi asserted.

Meanwhile, H.E. Ali Salim Al Midfa, Chairman of the Sharjah Airport Authority, said: “Our participation in the Arabian Travel Market 2022 reiterates Sharjah Airport’s commitment to strengthening communication with its international counterparts from the aviation sector. We are also utilising this opportunity to seek potential partnerships that would result in mutual growth, and further enhance the distinguished position that Sharjah Airport currently enjoys as one of the most prominent airports in the region.”

“The exhibition will serve as a platform for us to showcase the services and facilities we provide to our partners in the tourism and travel sectors,” H.E. Al Midfa added. “We also look forward to highlighting the services and smart solution features that we have recently launched, in addition to demonstrating the quality of our safety standards and operational efficiency, which has been enhanced to provide customers and travellers with a more comfortable experience. We take this opportunity to reaffirm our dedication to enhancing Sharjah’s image and maintaining the emirate’s lead as a distinguished financial and cultural hub for tourism investment in the Middle East.”

Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer, Acting CEO of Shurooq, lauded the unparalleled efforts of SCTDA and its collaboration with other public entities to continue developing Sharjah’s tourism sector and create new opportunities to elevate its position as a leading hub for experiential travel. He also asserted that SCTDA’s objectives are perfectly aligned with Shurooq’s belief that this complementarity of roles established by different entities entrusted with Sharjah’s sustainable development is a key accelerator of development.

Announcing Shurooq’s two new luxury hospitality projects, namely, Najd Al Meqsar Retreat and The Serai Wing, Bait Khalid bin Ibrahim, Al Qaseer added: “These projects offer residents and travellers more choices in the ways they wish to explore Sharjah and complement the other eco- and heritage-inspired hospitality projects developed by Shurooq in the emirate. Through these new undertakings, we reiterate our commitment to enhancing Sharjah’s tourist landscape, encouraging diversified investments through local and global partnerships, and developing projects all across Sharjah as part of an inclusive, community-focused development plan, in line with the directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.”

The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority is heading the Sharjah Pavilion at Arabian Travel Market 2022, bringing together 24 entities from the emirate: seven government departments and 17 private entities from tourism, travel, and hospitality sectors. The Authority aims to shed light on its achievements in driving growth and development in the tourism sector in the Emirate of Sharjah in the post-pandemic period, raising awareness of the tourism services and products it provides, in collaboration with its strategic partners, to build a sustainable tourism sector.

Solar Panels

Saudi Arabia Takes Rapid Steps to Export Solar Panels Worldwide

Solar Panels

Desert Technologies’ Chief Commercial Officer Eng. Majid Refae confirmed that Saudi Arabia is offering several programs that support Saudi manufacturers and facilitate the export of solar panels to all countries of the world.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Refae revealed that the Kingdom has set its priorities for green energy generation and is driving the sector’s companies and institutions towards achieving key goals while expanding and developing their businesses in the next stage.

On exporting solar panels, Refae said it was vital as it helps in increasing and creating more job opportunities in the Kingdom and contributes to growing Saudi Arabia’s GDP.

He reminded that the export of national products is one of the most important axes of Saudi Arabia’s national transformation plan, Kingdom Vision 2030.

In coordination with the Saudi Energy Ministry, Desert Technologies has plans to provide the needs of the Kingdom’s market. This includes building solar power plants with capacities greater than 2 megawatts for citizens and major consumers inside their facilities and homes.

Any surplus would be exported to the public electricity network in 2022.


Exporting Solar Panels:

The Kingdom has taken great strides in exporting solar panels through several programs that support Saudi manufacturers, such as the Saudi Export-Import Bank, the Saudi Development Fund, the National Companies Leadership Program.

“We, as a specialized company, have had the privilege of cooperating with the National Companies Leadership Program and the Import-Export Bank in signing agreements to export solar panels to Europe, Africa and the US,” Refae told Asharq Al-Awsat.


Positive Returns:

Besides generating more job opportunities for the Kingdom’s youth, exporting solar panels also contributes to growing Saudi Arabia’s GDP by focusing on export activity, which is one of the main objectives of Kingdom Vision 2030.

Moreover, the manufacture and export of solar panels helps advance the Saudi Green Initiative which brings together environmental protection, energy transformation and sustainability programs to work towards a green future.

Desert Technologies, the first Saudi factory and company to export solar panels, has been keen on being one of the main contributors to renewable energy projects, stressed Refae.

The company has developed a production line to manufacture solar panels with an accumulated capacity. This will contribute to making Desert Technologies one of the most important national factories for solar panels in the region.


Energy Ministry:

“Our plan is compatible with the Energy Ministry and works to provide the Kingdom’s market needs of solar energy products,” said Refae, noting that the Saudi market is one of the largest Arab markets in need of solar products.

“The residential sector in the Kingdom constitutes more than 50% of the market size,” noted Refae, adding that the demand is increasing with the rise of new cities such as Neom.

“We are working to contribute to the realization of plans aimed at expanding the use of solar energy at the commercial and residential levels,” affirmed Refae.


Saudi Made:

Refae pointed out that the “Saudi Made” program is a milestone for all Saudi manufacturers, as it reflects the ability of the Saudi product to compete with high quality.

“Saudi Made” builds a cooperative society linking several companies, whereby adequate support is provided to the public and private sectors. It also contributes to making the Kingdom’s goods and services a preferred and prominent option at the local and global levels.


Exporting Outside the Kingdom:

On foreign projects, Refae added that Desert Technologies had expanded its participation in the framework of supporting the “Saudi Made” program and increasing the volume of Saudi non-oil exports.

Its activities reached Greece, where it is currently supplying solar panels for renewable energy projects on one of the Greek islands with a capacity of 11 megawatts.

“The company has signed a commercial agreement with a US company to export solar panels to its projects in the US,” revealed Refae.

The deal puts Desert Technologies in a leading position in the US market and enhances its position in the field of producing and exporting solar panels at the international level.

And in April, Desert Technologies signed an agreement with the Swiss/German Group meeco to export its solar panels to Germany to implement several projects in the city of Lambsheim. Reaching out to new markets that hadn’t been reached before.