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German developer starts work on Egypt solar project

Germany-based project developer, investor and acting EPC contractor ib vogt has begun the construction of a portfolio of three solar power plants with a joint total capacity of 166.5 MWp, at Benban in Aswan Governorate of Egypt.

The contract was awarded under the second round of Egypt’s Feed-in Tariff (FiT) programme. These are the first plants to begin construction in this round.

The project, being developed by ib vogt in partnership with Infinity Solar, Phoenix Energy and BPE Partners, achieved financial close at the end of October.

Construction on two of the solar power plants kicked off in January, while the work on the third plant is set to begin later this month, said the German company in its statement.

The three projects extend over a total area of 270 hectares, on which approximately 500,000 solar modules will be mounted on horizontal tracking systems, it added.

When the projects get completed early next year, over 400,000 MWh of electricity will be produced annually – enough to supply 55,000 homes and save 178,000 ton of CO2 emissions per annum.

Once connected to the grid, the solar power generated by these installations will be supplied to the state-owned Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) on the basis of a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA).

Anton Milner, the managing director of ib vogt, said: "Following the successful construction and energisation of our 64 MWp Round 1 project in Egypt we are pleased to announce the commencement of the build-out of our next three plants in this series and are proud that these are the first of the Round Two projects."

"We, together with our local partners, have demonstrated our strong capabilities to manage the complex issues in building these projects in Egypt, incorporating all stakeholders, local community and local specific requirements to deliver the projects," he stated.

According to him, the debt financing amounting to $146 million was secured for these projects.

"For the BSEP 50 and MMID 30 installations financing has been provided by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Dutch Development Bank and the Green Climate Fund. The International Finance Corporation, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the CDC Group provided the financing for the Phoenix 50 project.

Including the operational Round One project, ib vogt's overall portfolio within the Benban solar development complex will rise to 230.6 MWp, said the top official.

"At 1.8 GWp this solar power complex, located 650 km south of Cairo in the Aswan Governorate near the village of Benban, will be one of the world’s largest solar complexes and is a crucial part of Egypt’s plan to meet 20 per cent of its electricity demand through renewable energies by 2022," he added.- TradeArabia News Service


Oman to build new port in Sur

Omani authorities have begun a feasibility study for the construction of a new port near Sur Industrial Estate in the sultanate, said a report.

The study will be ready by the first half of the current year, reported Times of Oman, citing a report by the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE).

Plans are afoot to establish a total of 24 projects, which include four new factories that have entered production phase, stated the report released on the eve of Oman’s Industry Day celebrations, it stated.

Further, a one-kilometre road was paved in cooperation with Khalid bin Ahmed and Sons in Sur. The total leasable area within the industrial estate is estimated at 23.66 million sq m, of which 6.72 million sq m are actually leased, said the report.

An investment tender was announced for a sewage plant in Sur Industrial Estate, and the project is expected to be awarded this month.

The consultancy project for design and supervision of the planning and infrastructure services of the estate has also been announced, and the project is expected to be awarded before the end of the first quarter of 2018, said the report.

A number of investment opportunities have been raised and they would be announced during the first half of 2018, it added.


Oman inaugurates giant solar plant to boost oilfield ops

Petroleum Development Oman says Miraah solar plant will be among the world's largest when completed

Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) and GlassPoint Solar, have announced the inauguration of the giant Miraah solar plant in the sultanate.

Miraah, located at the Amal oilfield in the south of the sultanate, will be among the world’s largest solar projects when completed.

Four blocks of the plant have now been constructed, a statement said.

Salim bin Nasser Al Aufi, Undersecretary of Oman’s Ministry of Oil and Gas said: “Deploying solar on Oman’s oilfields to reduce the industry’s natural gas consumption has a significant and lasting economic benefit for the sultanate.

“The project, which stands to be among the largest solar projects in the world, has contributed to developing local Omani talent in the renewable energy field and created job opportunities for local companies.”

Miraah’s construction has progressed on schedule. The first four blocks were commissioned successfully and the facility is now in daily operation delivering steam to the Amal oilfield. The four blocks have a total capacity of over 100 MWt and will deliver 660 tonnes of steam per day, providing significant gas savings, the statement said.

It added that once complete, the one gigawatt installation will consist of 36 blocks built in a sequence, which allows PDO to benefit from solar steam now and gradually ramp-up production over time to meet the Amal oilfield’s steam demand. The project is on track to deliver an additional eight blocks in early 2019.

“This is a very proud day for PDO and our partners GlassPoint Solar. Miraah provides a simple yet innovative solution that allows us to develop our heavy oil, while at the same time reducing energy consumption and costs,” said PDO managing director Raoul Restucci.

Unlike solar panels that generate electricity, GlassPoint’s solution uses large mirrors to concentrate sunlight and boil oilfield water directly into steam. The steam is used for the extraction of viscous or heavy oil as an alternative to steam generated from natural gas.


Saudi Arabia plans opera house in Jeddah

Saudi Arabia’s first opera house will open in Jeddah, Ahmed Al-Khatib, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), has been quoted as saying.

He was speaking during the launch of the 2018 entertainment calendar at the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh, an Arab News report said.

He said the Saudi General Culture Authority will handle the establishment of the new opera house.


Jeddah Sea Festival starts

A Flyboard rider carries the banner of Saudi Arabian Maritime Sports Federation during the inauguration of the eight-day Jeddah Sea Festival at the Corniche on Saturday. The event provides special activities for people with special needs, orphans and the elderly as part of “Be a Role Model” campaign initiative by Makkah Emir Prince Khaled Al-Faisal. The activities include sea sport competitions, theater, environment awareness activities and tourism. Various Jeddah resorts will host these activities. — SPA


Dubai Police unveils the ‘Smart Dog’

Dubai — Dubai Police have introduced a ‘Smart Dog’ which aims to keep UAE homes secure.

The current model of the robotic K9 was unveiled to public eyes during the Innovation month exhibition in Dubai.

Weighing around 35 Kg, the dog-like machine features a 360-degree Wi-Fi camera for all-round surveillance. Through this, the dog can transmit clips directly to the owner or the police.

Living up to its pup name, the dog, which alerts its owner when necessary, also has speech recognition allowing it to understand various instructions. The ‘Smart Dog’ can also sit, stand, walk for some distance and perform a hand shake.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Chief Executive Officer of Innovation Kingdom, the company building the device with Dubai Police, Abdulsalam Al-Hammadi sees the robot in UAE homes and across all embassies to maintain security throughout the country.

Hammadi said that another project is in the works where they are developing a ‘smart dog’ that can run, identify illegal substances and catch criminals. — Al Arabiya English


WATCH: Dubai Expo 2020 pavilions begin to rise from the desert

pavilions planned for Expo 2020 Dubai are seen rising from the desert sand in the latest sneak peak of the construction site released by Dubai Media Office on Saturday.

The 55-second video shows a birds-eye view of the development building up to Expo 2020 and juxtaposes the construction to date with artistic renderings of what the World Expo pavilions will look like when completed.

“We’re at the centre of something extraordinary,” reads the text on screen over images of Al Wasl Plaza, which lies at the heart of the 4.38-square-kilometre site. The plaza will feature a dome made up of intricate steelwork provided by Cimolai Rimond Middle East General Contracting over a lush green public square. “Preparing a meeting point for millions.”

The roads for Route 2020 - at 15km extension of the Dubai Metro to the site - are shown to be taking shape linking the structures for the Mobility and Sustainability pavilions.

Expo 2020 Dubai is where “nations and people will collaborate,” the video narrates, “and together we’ll help shape a better future.”

More than 180 countries are expected to take part in the Expo 2020 Dubai. It will be the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East and North Africa.


Dubai registers $22.3bn real estate projects in 2017

Dubai Land Department (DLD) said 2017 was a year full of activity for the emirate's real estate market, with a total of 90 projects completed and 150 projects worth Dh82 billion ($22.3 billion) registered during the year.

The spurt in the market activity was mainly due to the department's flexible procedures and keenness to strengthen co-operation and co-ordination with real estate developers, thus establishing a safe and transparent market environment, reported state news agency Wam.

There had been an optimistic mood in the market since the beginning of 2018, stated the report, citing a top official.

"There is a strong demand from developers to deposit the 20 per cent escrow of the total value of future projects they intend to launch, as it enhances investor confidence in real estate development projects," observed Sultan Butti bin Mejren, the director-general of DLD.

"There is strong co-ordination among all relevant government institutions including Dubai Land Department, as well as between developers and various parties in the market, to establish confidence among investors and achieve the highest degree of transparency in Dubai’s real estate market," he stated.

"All agreed, and applicable procedures in the market provide reassurance to both developers and investors," said bin Mejren.

"They also work to limit transgressions among all parties and prevent the emergence of any negative activities to protect the Dubai's real estate market, especially as it has gained wide international fame by focusing on protecting the rights of all," he noted.

"This has attracted investors from all over the world, establishing Dubai as the preferred place to live, work and visit," he added.


Jaleel to set up cash and carry FMCG store in Dubai

Jaleel Holdings, one of the UAE’s largest fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) wholesalers, will construct a cash-and-carry facility within the Dubai Wholesale City (DWSC), the region’s largest fully integrated wholesale hub, at an investment of Dh100 million ($27.2 million).

Spanning an area of 300,000 sq ft, the premises will include a fully integrated state-of-the-art direct sale warehouse accommodating more than 250 employees, as well as a flagship store, storage and cooling facilities and manpower accommodation in the DWSC labour villages, it stated.

The agreement was signed on the sidelines of DWSC’s participation in Gulfood 2018, in the presence of Abdulla Belhoul, the chief executive of Dubai Wholesale City, Saud Abu Al Shawareb, the chief operating officer of Dubai Industrial Park, Sameer Mohammad, the managing director of Jaleel Holdings, and other senior management officials.

Welcoming Jaleel Holdings to Dubai Wholesale City, Belhoul said: "The wholesale hub offers comprehensive, modern and well-integrated infrastructure and facilities that optimizes the production and distribution of products."

"We remain committed to accelerating the development of the trade and manufacturing sectors in Dubai and the wider UAE, and helping our business partners build and grow their businesses," he stated.

"We are confident that their new facility will benefit from DWSC’s strategic location and superior infrastructure to enhance their position in the market and contribute to their growth story," he added.

On the partnership, Sameer Mohammed said the new facility will help the company to expand regional presence and strengthen its status as a pioneer in food trading.

"Today, especially in light of the strong competition in the UAE market, every entity is keen to achieve excellence and efficiency in production, distribution, and transportation in order to keep up with the development goals and targets of the country. In this regard, a fully-integrated destination such as Dubai Wholesale City supports the aspirations of business operators and investors with its offering of smart solutions and superior infrastructure," noted Mohammed.

"Jaleel Holdings is already one of the largest FMCG wholesale companies in the region, with a number of locations across the UAE. This new location at DWCS will become our biggest facility, he added.- TradeArabia News Service


Kuwait set to launch $72bn projects by 2019-end

Kuwait is set to launch 20 major development projects worth KD21.7 billion ($71.6 billion), including a railway network project and waste management plant, as part of its 2018-2019 development plan, said a report.

Of these projects, Kuwait's massive hydrocarbons sector has the lion's share with a value of KD11.9 billion, accounting for nearly 55 per cent of the total, reported local Arabic language daily Al Nahar.

The oil sector's projects include the multi-billion-dollar Al-Zour refinery in South Kuwait, the clean fuels project which involves upgrading Kuwait's two main refineries, and a large petrochemical complex near Al Zour refinery, stated the report, citing a government report.

The transport sector is the second largest beneficiary with five projects with a combined value of KD4.49 billion, including Kuwait's international airport expansion, it said.

Four projects in the plan are joint public-private ventures sponsored by the Kuwait Authority for Partnership Projects including a rail network project, Al Jahra labour city and Kabd solid waste management plant, it added.


Bahrain completes vital road project

Bahraini authorities have completed a key link to the Northern Town project, which involved the construction of a 1.2-km-long road with four lanes on each direction, connecting Janabiya-Budaiya Interchange to the new town.

The scope of work included the development of a road leading to the Northern Town and which consists of eight lanes, said a statement from the Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning.

It is aimed at linking Northern Town to the roads network of the kingdom, where the internal roads are to be implemented by the Housing Ministry, while the main roads surrounding Northern Town, all entrances and exits will be implemented by the Works Ministry, it stated.

The first and main link to Northern Town from the western side is seen as a vital project, as it will connect the new town to Janabiya and Budaiya Interchange, said the statement.

Announcing the project completion, Minister of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Essam bin Abdulla Khalaf said the work involved the construction of a 1.2-km-long road with 4 lanes on each direction.

"The road included a 135-m-long bridge above the marine channel, therefore providing a smooth traffic flow and increasing the road capacity," he stated.

The scope of work also included installation of safety barriers, pedestrian barriers, signage, lighting, implementing stormwater drainage channels, extending sewerage and treated water lines besides providing special tracks on both sides of the highway for other service networks like water, electricity and telecommunications, and afforestation works.

According to him, the western entrance to the Northern Tower has the capacity to accommodate 16,000 vehicles per hour daily; which is around 30 per cent of the population in the area.

"This aims to cope with the present population and serve the completed housing units. Fifteen housing units are expected to be constructed, which calls for the construction of new entrances to the area," explained Al Khalaf.

The Works Ministry is presently following up the technical issues related to the construction of the Eastern access to Northern Town, in collaboration with the Ministry of Housing. The eastern entrance will soon link Saar roundabout to Northern Town.

The project comprises expansion of Avenue 36 to a dual road with four lanes, revamping all intersections along the road and connecting it to the western entrance of North Town.

The ministry is also preparing the detailed designs for the expansion of Budaiya Highway to three lanes and replacing the roundabout with traffic signals and constructing a service road along the highway to increase safety levels, said Al Khalaf.

Detailed designs for expanding Janabiya Highway into three lanes are also underway, in addition to revamping Jasra Interchange to create a signal-free interchange, he added.

Last year, the ministry completed Phase One of Jasra Interchange Revamp Project and is presently working on the implementation of second phase of the project.

In addition, the detailed designs for the expansion of Sheikh Isa bin Salman Highway into four and five lanes are under way. Phase One is expected to commence in the third quarter of this year, said the ministry in its statement.

Once work on the Northern Town is completed, it is vital that all entrances to the town are completed, it added.- TradeArabia News Service


No plans to create national-only jobs: Bahraini labour official

Oman and Saudi have placed restrictions on expat employment in certain economic sectors to reduce local unemployment rates

Approximately 60,000 university graduates are looking for employment according to the Ministry, and the government has pledged to create 25,000 jobs for its nationals by May this year.

Bahrain will not echo decisions by Saudi Arabia to limit expat employment and reserve jobs or professions for nationals only, an official with its labour affairs ministry has said.

Speaking with Bahrani daily, Al Ayam, the country’s Undersecretary for Labour and Social Development Affairs, Sabah Al Dossary, said that the Bahraini economy depended on competitiveness in its labour market to drive employment.

Bahrain’s training programme for nationals was created “to enable them to compete with foreign workers… and make Bahraini workers the best choice for companies and institutions,” he was quoted to say.

There is an accepted disparity between Bahraini and foreign workers, but if Bahraini employees become threatened and there is dominance and control of foreigners, there will be a different look and treatment in this matter,” he added.

A number of countries in the Gulf have introduced regulations reserving professions or employment in various sectors to counter growing resentment as high rates of youth unemployment among nationals continue to prevail.

In January, Oman temporarily suspended issuing expats work permits for six months in 87 job categories including human resources, information technology, healthcare, and sales after youths voiced anger at the country’s Ministry of Manpower, demanding incentives or employment.

Approximately 60,000 university graduates are looking for employment according to the Ministry, and the government has pledged to create 25,000 jobs for its nationals by May this year.

Saudi Arabia, a country with over 20 million nationals, roughly half of whom are under 25, has a youth unemployment rate that hovered close to 33 percent in the third quarter of 2017, according to statistics from the country’s General Authority of Statistics.

In January, it also introduced new regulations restricting expats from working in the retail of twelve economic sectors as a way to boost unemployment.

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