A police officer walks to his patrol car at a security checkpoint near the entrance to Los Angeles International Airport.
A police officer walks to his patrol car at a security checkpoint near the entrance to Los Angeles International Airport.

LA airport courts Gulf airlines



As the Gulf's long-haul airlines face growing resistance to expansion into Canadian and European destinations, they are being welcomed with open arms at a major US airport keen to boost passenger traffic. Officials from Los Angeles visited Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha this week to assure the big three Gulf long-haul specialists - Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways - that they could serve the Southern California gateway airport profitably.

"We think there is a great synergy and a lot of possibility for growth for the Gulf carriers," said Gina Marie Lindsey, the executive director of Los Angeles World Airports. "There is room for all three." In 2008, Emirates opened the first non-stop, direct services between the Middle East and Los Angeles with a service three times a week. Citing heavy demand, the airline soon offered daily services. It is expected to start a twice-daily service within weeks.

The carrier has been working with Boeing to operate its largest capacity 777 aircraft, the 300ER, on the route. This would allow it to fly an additional 75 to 100 passengers on each flight as well as a full load of cargo, compared with the aircraft it currently uses, the 200LR. Los Angeles International Airport officials touted the airport's catchment area of 20 million residents and an investment programme worth US$6.4 billion (Dh23.5bn) including 1 million square feet of new terminal space, opening in 2012.

One of the airport's selling points is the diversity of Los Angeles. There are an estimated 450,000 travellers flying between India and Los Angeles each year, in addition to 100,000 to and from Iran and 180,000 to Vietnam. In addition to marketing the airport for Etihad and Qatar Airways to add daily services, airport officials are also working to convince Emirates of the potential to utilise the Airbus A380 double-decker aircraft on the route.

This week, the UAE Government took the rare public step of declaring its disappointment with the Canadian government after five years of fruitless talks to expand the number of flights by Etihad and Emirates. Meanwhile, the head of Air France called on fellow European airlines and governments to develop a strategy to counter the perceived threat posed by the Gulf carriers, which have been able to grow market share in the eastern and western long-haul markets, through a combination of newer aircraft and updated passenger cabins, shorter transit times and luxury lounges.

Paul Griffiths, the chief executive of Dubai Airports, yesterday sought to deflect criticism that the emirate's aviation industry was growing due to unfair advantages such as state support. "The only thing Dubai is guilty of is providing an environment that actually supports aviation. Most governments around the world treat aviation as a pariah, choking its growth with costly, misdirected regulation," he said. In contrast to many countries, the US, like the UAE, has an "open skies" policy that allows unlimited flights by foreign airlines, as long as airport slots are available. This is also the case in the UK, where Gulf airlines have expanded rapidly.

Last week, Andrew Crawley, the director of sales and marketing at British Airways, said his airline did not get involved in lobbying the government against new competition. "The government is very much aligned to a free market approach," he said during a visit to the UAE. "There is no protectionism whatsoever - it's a free-for-all in the UK and anyone can come and go." igale@thenational.ae

The Woman King

Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood

Stars: Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu, Sheila Atim, Lashana Lynch, John Boyega 

Rating: 3/5

The specs

Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 620hp from 5,750-7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm from 3,000-5,750rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh1.05 million ($286,000)

ANATOMY OF A FALL

Director: Justine Triet

Starring: Sandra Huller, Swann Arlaud, Milo Machado-Graner

Rating: 5/5

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat 

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

The essentials

What: Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

When: Friday until March 9

Where: All main sessions are held in the InterContinental Dubai Festival City

Price: Sessions range from free entry to Dh125 tickets, with the exception of special events.

Hot Tip: If waiting for your book to be signed looks like it will be timeconsuming, ask the festival’s bookstore if they have pre-signed copies of the book you’re looking for. They should have a bunch from some of the festival’s biggest guest authors.

Information: www.emirateslitfest.com
 

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

‘White Elephant’

Director: Jesse V Johnson
Stars: Michael Rooker, Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Olga Kurylenko
Rating: 3/5

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Growdash
Started: July 2022
Founders: Sean Trevaskis and Enver Sorkun
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Restaurant technology
Funding so far: $750,000
Investors: Flat6Labs, Plus VC, Judah VC, TPN Investments and angel investors, including former Talabat chief executive Abdulhamid Alomar, and entrepreneur Zeid Husban

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

RESULT

Manchester United 1 Brighton and Hove Albion 0
Man United: Dunk (66' og)

Man of the Match: Shane Duffy (Brighton)

The Last White Man

Author: Mohsin Hamid 

192 pages 

Published by: Hamish Hamilton (UK), Riverhead Books (US)

Release date: out now in the US, August 11 (UK)

JOKE'S ON YOU

Google wasn't new to busting out April Fool's jokes: before the Gmail "prank", it tricked users with mind-reading MentalPlex responses and said well-fed pigeons were running its search engine operations .

In subsequent years, they announced home internet services through your toilet with its "patented GFlush system", made us believe the Moon's surface was made of cheese and unveiled a dating service in which they called founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page "Stanford PhD wannabes ".

But Gmail was all too real, purportedly inspired by one – a single – Google user complaining about the "poor quality of existing email services" and born "millions of M&Ms later".

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

Champions parade (UAE timings)

7pm Gates open

8pm Deansgate stage showing starts

9pm Parade starts at Manchester Cathedral

9.45pm Parade ends at Peter Street

10pm City players on stage

11pm event ends

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets

Directed by: Craig Gillespie

Starring: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry

4/5

Juliet, Naked
Dir: Jesse Peretz
Starring: Chris O'Dowd, Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke​​​​​​​
​​​​​​​Two stars