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E-commerce venture Noon expands operations to Egypt

Digital marketplace founded by entrepreneur Mohamed Alabbar launches services to Egypt after success in the UAE and Saudi Arabia

Noon, the e-commerce venture operating in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday announced its expansion into Egypt.

The digital marketplace, brought to life by entrepreneur Mohamed Alabbar in a joint venture with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and a group of prominent Gulf investors with an initial capital outlay of $1 billion, has made Egypt its third regional market.

In a statement, Noon said it promises to bring customers in Egypt more choice, affordability and convenience across a wide range of products including electronics, fashion, beauty, baby, home and kitchen, as well as free, fast delivery and free returns.

It added that customers in Egypt can order from the beta version of noon.com.

Noon Egypt is based in Smart Village, Cairo’s technology and innovation led business district, and the team on ground is currently in the testing phases prior to the official launch.

The e-commerce platform also has a fully operational customer fulfilment centrein Greater Cairo’s Abu Rawash area, with plans to include five additional centres.

E-commerce is still relatively new in Egypt, and noon has the opportunity to help shape a digital marketplace perfect for the country with this beta launch. We’re so excited to start building strong relationships with the local retail community and customers, supporting Egypt’s growth and entry into e-commerce,” said Alabbar, founder of noon.

He said a vast amount of Egypt’s retailers have zero or limited online presence, adding that Noon will also be looking to recruit Egyptian talent to join the local team.


Eni wins rights for two onshore exploration blocks in Egypt

Cairo: Italian oil and gas major Eni has bagged rights for two onshore exploration blocks - South East Siwa and West Sherbean in Egypt through two separate bidding rounds, according to sources.

Eni won the South East Siwa block, all on its own, after prevailing in the EGPC 2018 competitive bid round.

Spread over an area of 3,013km2, the onshore block is located in the Western Desert near the company’s SW Melehia Concession, where two commercial oil discoveries have been made. Preparations are underway for the development plans of the two discoveries.

The second exploration block won by Eni is the West Sherbean block, which is in a 50:50 consortium with BP. Eni will be the operator of the block, which has been won during the EGAS 2018 competitive bid round.

Located in Nile Delta, the West Sherbean block is immediately southwest of the new Nile Delta concession awarded to the company in August 2018, which contains the producing Nooros field. Source: Al Mal


Mercedes Benz decides to resume assembling vehicles in Egypt

Cairo: Mercedes Benz has decided to resume assembling vehicles in Egypt in collaboration with a local partner. The Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Small Industries will form a technical task force to follow up on the project’s execution.

Egyptian Ambassador to Germany Badr Abdel Aty stated that Mercedes is mulling establishing a factory for automotive feeding industries in Egypt as part of its plan to expand investments in the country.

President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Egypt Thomas Zorn praised the attention the Egyptian government is giving the automotive industry, as well as its encouragement of international companies to operate in the Egyptian market. Zorn affirmed that the new policies adopted by the government have contributed to clarifying the vision of international automotive producers.

Earlier in January, a ministerial committee in charge of settling investment disputes resolved a dispute worth LE 700 million on the value of vehicles between the Customs Authority and a Mercedes Benz importer.

In his meeting with Member of the Divisional board and Head of the Production Department at Mercedes-Benz Markus Schäfer, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi raised the matter of establishing a partnership with the company to manufacture self-driving cars to be used in the cities that are currently under construction, particularly as the New Administrative Capital. The president added that he looked forward to cooperate in manufacturing different models of electric vehicles.

Secretary General of the Egyptian Automobile Manufacturers Association (EAMA) Khaled Said stated that Mercedes customers represent 7% of the local automotive market.

Chairman of the Industrial Committee in Parliament Farag Amer suggested that Mercedes’ decision would attract more investments, particularly to the SCzone.

Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority Mohab Mamish said in a press conference held in September 2017 that 96,000 square meters had been allocated for Mercedes Benz in SCzone to establish an assembly plant and an automotive feeding industries factory.

Mercedes Benz ranks 13th on the Forbes list of most valuable brands in 2018, with sales hitting $116.9 billion worldwide. The brand value is $34.4 billion, and the company hires 167,921 employees at current.

The company exited the Egyptian market in April 2015 and issued a statement pointing out that the the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was the main reason because tariffs were gradually decreasing until they hit zero.

Mercedes entered the Egyptian market in 1996 through a partnership that gave rise to The Egyptian German Automotive Company (EGA). The goal of the venture with Sami Saad Investments was to assemble Mercedes Benz vehicles in Egypt and export to other countries.

According to a statement by Mercedes Benz, the company secures 1,000 direct and indirect jobs in the country. The statement added that talks with the president covered infrastructure projects with the government. The company offered to provide its services pertinent to electric transportation, electric cars, and self-driving cars in the New Administrative Capital, and the smart cities under construction. The statement indicated that negotiations on those projects’ details are underway.

In December, Mercedes Benz had to cut the prices of its vehicles exported to China and manufactured in the United States due to the rise in tariffs. The decision is valid until March 21 and applicable to four models with discounts ranging between 36,000 yuan ($5,220) and 135,000 yuan ($19,286), according to Reuters.

Egypt is the third largest trade partner to Germany in the Middle East. In his meeting with the president in Cairo this month, the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier expressed his happiness for launching a project to establish the German International University for Applied Sciences in the New Capital. The university will encompass a coalition of top 10 German universities in the field.

The minister was chairing a delegation consisting of parliamentarians, and representatives of top German firms. Altmaier praised the growth of Egyptian-German economic and trade ties, particularly in the energy sector. Source: Egypt Today


Egypt court cancels ban on Dubai's Careem, Uber

Two ride-hailing companies have been expanding their services in Egypt, a nation of more than 96 million

Egypt’s supreme administrative court ruled that Uber Technologies Inc and ride-sharing rival Careem Networks can continue operating in the most populous Arab nation, canceling a lower court ruling to halt their activities.

The court’s decision was reported by the state Middle East News Agency on Saturday. A ban on the companies’ operations had been temporarily suspended last year pending the higher court ruling.

The original case was filed by local taxi drivers who accused San Francisco-based Uber and United Arab Emirates-based Careem of violating Egyptian traffic laws by using private vehicles for commercial purposes. It follows legal challenges Uber has faced in countries around the world.

Uber’s licence was revoked last year in London, though a judge later granted a probationary reprieve. The European Union’s top court ruled in December that the business must be regulated as a transportation service.

The two ride-hailing companies have been expanding their services in Egypt, a nation of more than 96 million where public transport can barely keep pace with demand and streets are choked with traffic.


Honeywell seals Egypt smart city infrastructure deal

Honeywell, a global technology company, has signed an agreement with Egypt’s Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD) to deploy its state-of-the-art public safety and security infrastructure at the country's new administrative capital.

The new capital, one of the world’s largest smart city projects, is coming up at a location 45 km east of Cairo. To be built in three phases, the new capital will expand to cover more than 700 sq km when fully completed.

Honeywell said, as per the deal, it will deploy city-wide security and surveillance systems in the first phase of development, in collaboration with its partner MTI, to integrate security systems across the capital into a single point of control, known as an Integrated Command and Control Centre (ICCC).

"Honeywell is at the forefront of deploying smart city infrastructure, driving the industry forward with innovative connected technologies that improve the safety, security, and energy efficiency of urban areas around the world,” stated Khaled Hashem, the president for Egypt and Libya at Honeywell, after signing the deal with General Mohamed Abd Allatief, the general manager of ACUD.

“We believe that a smart city is a safe city, and are proud to be collaborating with ACUD and MTI on this vital critical infrastructure project, which will ultimately lead to a smarter, safer, and more prosperous Egypt," he stated in the presence of Deputy Head of Information Systems Department (ISD) General Hesham Shendy and US Chief of Mission and Chargé d'Affaires Thomas H Goldberger.

"ACUD is leading Egypt’s most ambitious development project to date, and is firmly committed to leveraging innovation and cutting-edge technology to deliver a smart city based on the principles of safety, security, productivity and sustainability," stated General Ahmed Zaki Abdeen, the chairman.

“The new administrative capital will redefine smart living and enable a competitive and diversified economy in line with the national development objectives outlined by Egypt Vision 2030. This significant agreement with Honeywell and MTI takes us one step closer to making this vision a reality,” noted Abdeen.

The ICCC will integrate advanced Internet of Things (IoT) software and hardware solutions onto one common platform for a holistic city view that provides unified public safety services, coordinating security response units, city police and medical dispatch.

The control centre will also connect video feeds from more than 6,000 IP cameras over a futureproof wireless network, and run sophisticated video analytics to monitor crowds and traffic congestion, detect incidents of theft, observe suspicious people or objects, and trigger automated alarms in emergency situations.

The agreement reinforces Honeywell’s commitment to developing smart cities in Egypt, and enabling effective skills and knowledge transfer in line with the goals of Egypt Vision 2030.

The company’s diverse hardware and software solutions promote greater safety, security and energy efficiency for cities and buildings, and drive operational efficiencies by leveraging data analytics and cloud technologies.

Operating from Cairo, Honeywell works with some of Egypt’s key government and private sector entities in the fields of smart cities, building automation, oil and gas, refining and petrochemicals, defence, aviation, infrastructure development, logistics, security and fire safety.

The company has been present in Egypt for more than 50 years, and is committed to providing the best talent and technologies to support development across Egypt’s major industries.- TradeArabia News Service


Saudi Arabia launches $589m airport expansion work

The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca) has officially launched work on two international terminals at the King Khalid International Airport at an investment of SR2.21 billion ($589 million).

This is part of the Riyadh Development Projects, which was launched by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud last week.

Gaca said the scope of work includes preparation of the two terminals (3 and 4) and the expansion of the corridor connecting the two buildings to turn into a passengers check-in area. This also include all electrical and mechanical systems, as well as special systems.

The project will also see 14 new travel gates and 80 check-in counters being set up besides 30 counters for departure and 48 counters for passport control. Furthermore, the terminals will have a baggage claim area with eight 658-m-long conveyer belts.

In addition, the terminal also include a commercial space and first and business class lounges, that will come up over a 10,400-sq-m area, said the statement from Gaca. The average number of workers at the project is 650 workers.

Once the project gets completed, the airport will be able to accommodate 11 million passengers annually.- TradeArabia News Service


Visa enables Apple Pay in Saudi Arabia

Visa, a world leader in digital payments, has enabled Apple Pay to its Saudi-based cardholders, which allows them to make easy, quick and secure purchases using their iPhone and Apple Watch in stores that accept contactless payments.

Visa cardholders can also make payments with Apple Pay in-app or on the web.

Apple Pay will allow Visa cardholders across the Kingdom to make payments using their Apple devices while ensuring that their financial details are private and secure. Security and privacy are at the core of Apple Pay.

When you use a credit or debit card with Apple Pay, the actual card numbers are not stored on the device, nor on Apple servers. Instead, a unique Device Account Number is assigned, encrypted and securely stored in the Secure Element on your device. Each transaction is authorized with a one-time unique dynamic security code.

According to “Contactless & ‘the Pays’: the catalyst for digital payments growth,” research by Visa Consulting and Analytics, millennials account for 40 per cent of the Kingdom’s population, with smartphone penetration levels reaching nearly 74 per cent overall. There is an overall desire to try new solutions, with 80 per cent of respondents stating that they have performed a contactless transaction and were open to do so again.

Ali Bailoun, Visa’s general manager for Saudi Arabia, said: “Mobile payments are becoming an ever-present part of consumers’ lives. In today’s world, people expect speed and convenience without security being compromised — an approach that Visa embodies.

“As a country filled with tech-savvy, mobile-first consumers, we are delighted to work with Saudi Payments and our bank partners to help bring Apple Pay to Visa cardholders here, making their payments experience easier, faster and more secure than ever before. This launch also aligns with one of the goals of Vision 2030 of creating a cashless society, and we enthusiastically welcome Apple Pay to the market and are excited to help Saudi Arabia usher in this new era of payments.”

Ziad Al Yousef, managing director of Saudi Payments, said: “We are pleased to bring Apple Pay to the Kingdom to help drive the continuing evolution of Saudi Arabia’s payments landscape. This technology offers consumers a hassle-free and unique contactless payment experience, making it an attractive option for Saudi consumers looking for quick and secure ways to pay. It represents an important step forward in the realization of the ambitious goals set by the Financial Sector Development Program to achieve the kingdom's vision 2030 cashless society targets.”

How to use Apple Pay:

Apple Pay is easy to set up and users will continue to receive all of the rewards and benefits offered by their Visa credit and debit cards in stores. Apple Pay works with iPhone 6 and later, iPhone SE and Apple Watch.

Online shopping in-app and on websites accepting Apple Pay is simple with Touch ID, or just double-click the side button and authenticate with a glance with Face ID. There’s no need to manually fill out lengthy account forms or repeatedly type in shipping and billing information with Apple Pay. When paying for goods and services in-app or on Safari, Apple Pay works with iPhone 6 and later, iPhone SE, iPad Pro, iPad (5th generation and later), iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 3 and later, a statement said.

You can also use Apple Pay in Safari on any Mac introduced in or after 2012 running macOS Sierra and confirm the payment with iPhone 6 or later or Apple Watch, or with Touch ID on the new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, it added. – TradeArabia News Service


Testing on Hyperloop system just weeks away

Testing on the first full-scale Hyperloop system which has the capacity to transport passengers at the speed of sound is just weeks away.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies is one of the international companies bidding to become the first to bring a working high-speed passenger system to the mass market.

The UAE is likely to be among the first countries to benefit from the high-speed innovation with the potential to reduce travel times between emirates to just minutes.

As construction on the company's 320-metre test track nears completion in Toulouse, France, project scientists hope to begin operational testing in April.

“Our system in Toulouse will be the only system to be fully insured and safety certified by leading global agencies,” said Hyperloop TT chairman and co-founder Bibop Gresta, who has offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

“We look forward to sharing our future developments there as we make further progress.”

Hyperloop TT and rival company Virgin Hyperloop One are each planning to unveil versions of the technology in the UAE in time for Expo 2020 Dubai.

The US Pavilion at the world fair is expected to feature a similar working model of the Virgin Hyperloop One system as the centrepiece of its future of mobility exhibition.

The company plans to open a test track of its own, with a 15-kilometre route planned to run from Balewadi to Gahunje in India.

Hyperloop TT is also wrapping up a comprehensive feasibility study for a track in the Great Lakes region of the US, connecting Cleveland and Chicago.

Toulouse will be the staging ground for the company’s first commercial projects planned for Abu Dhabi and China.

The technology uses electromagnetic levitation of passenger capsules that move through a vacuum tube at speeds approaching 1,230kph.

Various routes have been considered to connect Dubai and Abu Dhabi by both companies, for cargo and passengers.

Hyperloop TT’s passenger capsule, Quintero One, was unveiled in southern Spain in October, before being transported to France for testing.

The latest round of safety tests involve depressurisation of the tubular track using a vacuum pump system.

“In Toulouse, we have taken the time to design and build a truly commercially viable system,” said Hyperloop TT’s chief executive and co-founder Dirk Ahlborn.

“As we get ready for testing, we are proud to share our most recent milestones at our research and development centre in Europe’s ‘aerospace valley’, which will serve as our staging ground for our efforts worldwide.”


RTA simplifies services for SMS payment of parking fees

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has simplified the services for the payment of the parking fees through text messages.

The enhanced services enable users to pay the parking fee directly without the need to register for the service.

It applies to vehicles registered in all emirates as well as GCC countries.

The service involves sending alerts to customers intending to use the service to confirm their intention to continue with the buying of the e-parking tickets when requests are made during public holidays.

“These services are aimed to simplify the payment of parking fees via SMS without requiring vehicles registered in other emirates or GCC countries to register for the service,” said Maitha bin Adai, CEO of Traffic and Roads Agency, RTA.

“Notifying customers requesting the service during public holidays enhances the transparency in dealing with clients by confirming their interest to proceed with the buying of the e-ticket.

"The customer who sends an SMS for buying a parking ticket during a public holiday will be notified through the system that the parking is free to use during the holiday. Accordingly, the customer will be prompted to confirm his or her intention of buying an e-parking ticket that will be valid after the end of the public holiday,” she explained.


Apply for Nol Plus on mobile

Dubai: Signing up for the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) Nol Plus loyalty programme has got easier as the RTA added the service to its mobile app on Tuesday.

The programme entitles Nol cardholders to earn points, which can be used in payment for public transport fares together with fees for paid parking zones, entering public parks and Etihad Museum along with purchases from retail outlets.

There are two types of Nol cards, silver and blue, and the loyalty programme covers both. However, the personalised blue cardholders will earn one point per dirham spent via Nol card, while the non-personalised silver card holders will earn one point per two dirhams spent.

According to the RTA, 27,000 commuters have signed up for the loyalty programme since its launch in October last year.


Families go on aquatic adventure at Sharjah Aquarium Carnival

Hundreds of families were transported to a water wonderland as the fourth annual Sharjah Aquarium Carnival got underway on Thursday.

The aquatic extravaganza, which aims to entertain while educating the public about the importance of protecting marine life, plays host to a wide variety of workshops, stage shows and acrobatic displays.

The free festival, which runs until March 2 and is this year titled "Sharks and Waves", is being held at Sharjah Aquarium and also features shadow plays involving different types of sharks and contests to be enjoyed by all ages.

There is an important message delivered, with one show featuring performers demonstrating how littering impacts on sea life.

Children also gathered on the stage to take part in a shark dance with life-size models of different sea creatures.

The carnival has already proved a hit with visitors.

“This is my first time here although I’m a resident of UAE from years back, this is an outstanding opportunity that teaches and entertain our kids free of charge,” said Basma Saeed, an Egyptian mother of two.

“This is going to stick into the minds of adults and children and I know that my kids would know from now on how important it is to save our oceans and seas.”

Rashid Al Shamsi, curator of the Sharjah Aquarium, which is operated by Sharjah Museums Authority, said the annual event celebrates the diversity of marine life and highlights how vital it is that humankind fights to safeguard it.

“The carnival is part of the Sharjah Museums Authority’s Because We Care campaign, which aims to raise awareness about aquatic life and marine ecosystem among community members, mainly children,” said Mr Al Shamsi.

He said that the Because We Care initiative also conducts regular sea cleanups during which volunteers from Sharjah Aquarium, Emirates Diving Centre, and other groups dive and fish out tons of rubbish from the waters.

“The last two cleanup activities took place last month and earlier this month in Khor Fakkan and Souq Al Jubail in Sharjah,” he said.

He said Sharjah Aquarium established a dedicated reserve to protect marine life such as the endangered blacktip reef sharks back in 2009.

The first ever blacktip reef shark was born at the aquarium in Sharjah a year later.

Sharjah Aquarium covers a vast area comprised of two floors boasting 20 aquariums filled with 1.8 million litres of water.

The Sharjah Aquarium Carnival is free to attend and runs from 6pm to 10pm daily.


Dubai's ambulance service rolls out first eco-friendly, electric bike

Dubai's ambulance service is out to save the environment as well as lives - after rolling out its first eco-friendly electric motorcycle.

Dubai Corporation of Ambulance Services has unveiled the Zero DS, which produces no heat, vibration or fumes.

The ambulance service said the emergency vehicle will be used for rapid intervention and immediate response situations.

The newest addition to the emergency services' fleet will initially be stationed in Zabeel, a post by the ambulance service on its Instagram account said.

“The launch of the electric rapid intervention unit is inline with the company's ongoing efforts to adopt new technologies to enhance its services and to implement sustainable development principles,” the post said.

"The project conforms with standard specifications, be it in the design of classrooms, multipurpose halls, or the provision of an appropriate and attractive educational environment to cater to the needs of future generations," he stated. https://www.thenational.ae/uae/health/dubai-s-ambulance-service-rolls-out-first-eco-friendly-electric-bike-1.828816

Dubai deploys robots to clean metro stations

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has embarked on using robots to clean metro stations as part of efforts to introduce new techniques driven by artificial intelligence technology.

The step is in line with RTA’s efforts to support the UAE Artificial Intelligence Strategy and realise RTA’s first strategic goal (Smart Dubai).

“The use of robots in cleaning Dubai Metro stations is an experimental step considered the first of its kind worldwide in using such technology to clean metro stations. Once the success of the trial is verified, the technology will be deployed in other stations,” said Mohammed Hasan Al Amiri, director of Rail Maintenance, Roads and Transport Authority.

“This robot is designed to international standards, and is highly effective and efficient in reducing the amount of water used in cleaning, and providing a great level of sterilising. It can also be pre-set to perform automated cleaning patterns of floors, without human intervention except for limited and simple steps such as adding water and programming. The programming can be reset to enable the robot to clean floorings of complex designs.

“The robot has several sensors and sonar receiver capable of shifting between spaces, detecting barriers and accordingly avoid a collision. These laser-powered sensors along with the sonar cover a 360-degree circle. It has a 90-litre water tank, and measures 135x90x128 cm in size, rendering it fit for use in public areas without causing inconvenience to station visitors. The RTA always seeks to harness the latest technology for serving the public and public facilities,” he added. – TradeArabia News Service


Deyaar, Millennium open new hotel in Business Bay

Millennium Hotels and Resorts (Middle East and Africa) has joined hands with UAE-based Deyaar Development to open its 40th property, the Millennium Atria Business Bay, which will serve a growing hospitality and tourism sector.

Developed by Deyaar Development, the Millennium Atria Business Bay features well-designed studios, one-, two- and three -bedroom units, penthouses, as well as duplex apartments designed by YOO Studio, the internationally-acclaimed interior design company founded by John Hitchcox and Philippe Starck.

The 30-storey Millennium Atria Business Bay hotel apartment tower will be managed by Millennium Hotels and Resorts MEA and is the first property in Deyaar’s hospitality portfolio.

One of the fastest growing hotel management companies in the region, Millennium Hotels (MEA) said the first phase of the opening will cover 156 apartments out of the hotel’s total 347 units.

Other hotel serviced apartment facilities, such as the Laguna Restaurant, Grab and Go, Podium Terrace and Kids Club, the fitness centre and the infinity pool on 25th floor will be available for guests during their stay, it stated.

Guests can avail of special opening rates which include breakfast for two adults or a free room upgrade, and complimentary access to the health club and the pool, it added.

Kevork Deldelian, the chief operating officer of Millennium Hotels and Resorts (MEA), said: "The opening of the Millennium Atria Business Bay reflects our strong and long-term commitment to the UAE’s hospitality sector, where we are expanding our footprint very fast."

"We are proud to see Deyaar’s first hospitality project commence its operations," Selim El Zein, the assistant VP (Hospitality).

“This opening shows commitment to our vision to diversify our real estate portfolio, as well as the returns for our investors, to complement the value-added services Deyaar offers. Millennium Atria Business Bay will be a landmark in Dubai’s strong hospitality sector,” he added.

Christian Palacin, the general manager of the Millennium Atria Business Bay, said: "Business Bay is a very popular place for people to live and work and our property enjoys the ideal location for business as well as for leisure clients."

"Millennium Atria Business Bay offers the largest apartments in the area with a unique design and all the modern technology. Besides, its opening could not have come at a more appropriate time – ready to serve the increased number of tourists ahead of the Expo 2020," he noted.- TradeArabia News Service


The first S Hotel officially opens in Dubai

The first S Hotel in the Middle East celebrated its grand opening in Dubai on February 20, with VIP guests and media gracing the grand ceremony.

A stylish and elegant retreat for modern travellers, The S Hotel Al Barsha is centrally located at the heart of the new lifestyle hub of the city – the Dubai Science Park in Al Barsha.

"We are pleased to launch The S Hotel Al Barsha, a new gem in Dubai’s growing travel and tourism scene," said Shailesh Grover, general manager of The S Hotel Al Barsha. "We offer local residents, hotel guests and tourists a premium accommodation combining connectivity and convenience. We want them to treat our hotel as their own home during their stay.”

“Our target market would be travellers and tourists from GCC & Middle East, Southeast Asia, Far East Asia, Europe and Latin America. We also plan to target other evolving markets who visit the UAE often for business or pleasure," Grover added.

The five-star property offers its guests a calming and relaxing ambience through its personalised service where Middle Eastern charm meets with superb hospitality.

Featuring 246 spacious and well-equipped rooms, 12 stunning suites, three distinctly themed restaurants and a world-class spa, The S Hotel Al Barsha ups the ante in the hospitality industry in Dubai.

Marwan Abdulaziz Janahi, managing director of Dubai Science Park (DSP), said: “As Dubai Science Park continues to expand, we are pleased to welcome the first S Hotel to the region. The launch of The S Hotel Al Barsha assists in diversifying our offerings within our community as professionals continue to work and live on the premises. Our Science community supports the introduction of this hotel, which will be crucial in supporting our residents with options provided for events, dining and community initiatives. We are happy that DSP is a partner of choice and look forward to the success of the hotel.”

Within close proximity to prominent business districts, top attractions and the airports, the new hotel is the perfect address for ‘bleisure’ travellers.

Dining options include the Fusion restaurant which excites your palate with dishes from all over the world, prepared in a fascinating interactive kitchen. Guests can choose from the theme of the day, order from a select à la Carte menu, or enjoy the extensive buffet. A soon-to-open Baker & Spice, an award-winning restaurant with locations in Dubai, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia will also offer delectable cuisine.

For busy executives, they can book meeting rooms suitable for a wide variety of events. With more than 3,000-sq-ft total of banqueting space, the hotel’s facilities provide flexibility and room for up to a maximum of 150 guests. The holistic spa and wellness centre offer treatments to re-energise guests. Fitness buffs can keep fit and healthy with a state-of-the-art fitness and wellness centre and a rooftop pool.

A few minutes away from Mall of the Emirates and Dubai’s tourist attractions and business centres such as the Dubai World Trade & Exhibition Centre, the hotel is the ideal base from which to explore all that the city has to offer. The S Hotel Al Barsha provides guests easy access to iconic shopping malls, IMG World, Global Village and business hubs such as JAFZA, Dubai Investments Parks, Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City. - TradeArabia News Service


Bahrain launches consultancy tenders for $2bn metro

Bahrain's Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications has announced the launch of tenders for the appointment of a transaction advisor and consultancy services firm for Phase One of its ambitious Bahrain Metro Project.

The mega project, which is estimated to cost between $1 billion and $2 billion, is likely to be built with private participation, said senior government officials.

The move comes following the completion of a feasibility study for the project, which is in line with the kingdom’s ambitions to attract foreign investment and diversify its economy.

The Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications said the winning firm will be required to provide financial, technical and legal consultancy services to prepare documents for the tender of the design, construction and operation of Phase One of the metro project.

These transaction advisory services will include (but not be limited to) providing support to the ministry in the preparation of documents, tender, evaluation and appointment of the preferred bidder, said the ministry in a tender notification.

Tenders were launched on February 13 and the last date for submitting the bids is May 29.

The Bahrain Metro is part of the kingdom's Public Transport Masterplan 2030, which has recommended the development of 184 km of transit network comprising six lines, according to a recent report in the Arabic daily Al Ayam.

The project is being implemented in four phases. In Phase One, two lines - running 30 km - will be constructed covering 20 stations, said the report, citing a senior ministry official.

The Red Line would connect Bahrain International Airport with the suburban Seef District through the Bahrain Financial Harbour, while the Blue Line would start from the Juffair suburb and go through the Diplomatic Area before ending at Isa Town, revealed the official.

Both lines would meet at a central station at the Bahrain Financial Harbour, he added.

According to him, these driverless trains will be carrying a total of 43,000 passengers every hour. Connected to buses and taxi services, it is aimed at helping reduce the kingdom's traffic congestion and air pollution.

Once all the four phases get completed, the metro is set to cover about 109 km, he added.- TradeArabia News Service


Uber allowed to operate in Oman if it follows rules, says minister

Minister of Transport and Communications Dr. Ahmed Al Futaisi said that Uber and Careem are both welcome in Oman if the government's regulations are followed

Ride-hailing app Uber is allowed to operate in Oman, if it follows regulations governing taxis, according to Minister of Transport and Communications Dr. Ahmed Al Futaisi.

“Uber is welcome to the Sultanate if they agree to operate under the regulations set by the ministry,” he was quoted as saying by the Times of Oman.

“Services such as Uber and Careem can be implemented in yellow taxis only after metres are installed in the vehicles.”

Dr. Al Futaisi added, “We are aware that this is a service that many travellers and tourists look for, but if they are to operate here, they must do so following the country’s ways and not their own.”

Additionally, he addressed concerns from local taxi drivers who had objected to a government ruling that all Muscat taxis will have meters starting in June 2019.

“Oman is a developed country. There is no developed country around the world that does not have meters in their taxis. So why should Oman fall short in this aspect?,” he said.

“We are calling on all taxi owners to completely cooperate with the ministry, just as the ministry cooperated with them as much as possible.”

Careem resumed its services in Oman in October last year, launching a new operation in Muscat in partnership with local operator Marhaba Taxi. Careem initially launched in Muscat in May 2017 on its own, but stopped when it was asked by the Government of Oman to reconsider their operating model and focus first on working with licensed taxis. Prices are in line with regular taxis, with fares starting at OMR1.25.


Oman mulls imposing fees on expressways

The ministry is considering imposing the toll on several roads in the Sultanate, but is yet to make a decision

Oman’s Ministry of Transport and Communications is mulling the introduction of a toll system on expressways.

It is currently considering imposing the fees on several roads in the Sultanate, but is yet to make a decision, Dr Ahmed Al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications told Times of Oman.

He said the money received from the fees would be used to maintain and developed roads. Al Futaisi said the system will offer an alternative route to those who do not wish or are unable to pay the fee.

The move is in line with a new policy on road fees to be presented to the Cabinet for discussion, he added.

In January, the Public Transport Agency of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) opened an international bus route between Dubai and Muscat in a bit to boost land transport and ease the mobility of passengers between the two countries.

An agreement was signed in Dubai by Ahmed Bahrozyan, CEO of Public Transport Agency, and Ahmed bin Ali Albulushi CEO, MWASALAT Oman.

Coaches operating on this route will start at Abu Hail Bus Station, and the one-way ticket will cost $15 (AED55), a statement said.


As profit jumps, Woqod is set to build 30 more fuel stations in Qatar this year

Qatar Fuel (Woqod), which has been in charge of operating fuel pumps in the country, has reported a net profit of QR1.16bn for 2018, an increase of 20% compared to 2017’s net profit of QR964m.

The company’s earning per share (EPS) amounted to QR11.7 compared to QR9.7 for the preceding year, reported Qatar Tribune.

The results were announced at the company’s board meeting, chaired by Woqod Chairman Ahmed Seif Al Sulaiti, in Doha.

Woqod CEO Saad Rashid Al Muhannadi said the positive results were a result of measures taken for the enhancement of efficiency and capability in company business activities and operations.

On the back of the strong show, WOQOD is set to build 30 more fuel stations in Qatar this year. Currently, the entity operates around 84 fuel stations across the nation, reported Gulf Times.

Besides building new fuel stations, Woqod has also enhanced the capability and efficiency of stations by increasing the number of dispensers (in stations currently under construction) by 61%.

Woqod is expected to keep adding new dispensers this year and in the coming years in order to reduce congestion and queues of vehicles at fuel stations.

He added that Woqod would not hesitate to build fuel stations at any location and at any time in case of availability of land and the need for the project.

As for Fahes — Woqod’s technical inspection (vehicle inspection) company, he said the company added a permanent facility at Al Shahaniyah along with another temporary centre to its network last year

Currently, there are 12 operating centres in the country including five mobile units. Al Mazrooaa facility will be added in the next few months, and another one at Mowater city will follow at a later stage.


The ‘Bench’ Connection at Aspire Park

A new ingenious feature has cropped up at the Aspire Park in Doha.

Dubbed as ‘smart benches,’ the new high-tech installations at the Park add to its charisma by offering visitors a chance to connect with the bench’s special features. These include charging ports for smart phones coupled with free Wi-Fi access that offers high-speed internet.

The first-of-its kind in Qatar, the initiative takes Aspire Park one step forward in its ambition to become a ‘Smart Park’ as the benches make use of renewable energy and state-of-the-art technology, according to Gulf Times.

The smart benches have been introduced under a joint effort by Aspire Zone Foundation and Doha Technology, a member of the Croatian Technology and Business Association (CTBA).

Produced by the Croatian company, Include, which is a world leader in smart bench innovations, each unit comes equipped with a wireless charger for advanced mobile devices such as Samsung S6 and newer models and iPhone 8 and the following models, embedded under an acrylic glass cover.

The bench also provides LED light at night, increasing visibility around it. With an integrated cooling system, the top of the bench remains cool during hot summer days.

Every 30 minutes, a number of sensors fitted into the magic bench measure humidity, air quality or temperatures, collecting the information on the main controller which then sends them to the main server. The bench has a length of 1.78 metres, and is 1/2 metres high with equal width, according to Qatar Tribune.

“Steora Urban,” the bench model is the world’s first street bench that comprises a built-in 19-inch IPS LCD screen. The screens can be used to broadcast city news, notifications, pictures or providing other information to the public as well as data on the number of users.

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