On Your Side: Reduced Ramadan hours for all; it's the law



Our company has been following a "reduced working hours during Ramadan" policy since it was set up some six years ago. But the new head of HR has decided that any non-fasting employee should work regular hours and only those who are fasting get to leave earlier. This has not gone down well with the rest of the people because we do not get paid overtime for the additional working hours. What is the legal situation? A lot of companies do not work reduced hours, but if that is against the law, can the company be penalised or forced to comply? - JG Dubai

Article 65 of UAE Labour Law states: "During the month of Ramadan, normal working hours shall be reduced by two hours." Because the company is breaking the law by not offering shorter working hours to everyone, you can report it to the Ministry of Labour, which should investigate, insist the law be enforced and, in some cases, fine companies. The Ministry of Labour's help line number is 800 665.

***

In March, I paid a bill for A$45,589.54 using my Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) Visa credit card. When I received an SMS confirming the payment, I was shocked by the amount debited, which was about Dh5,200 more than I had expected. I immediately phoned ADCB's customer service to ask why I had been charged considerably more than I had expected based on the exchange rate at that time. I was advised that the applicable Visa exchange rate on the day was far worse than generally quoted and that the transaction was subject to a 2.99 per cent charge because it was in a foreign currency as per ADCB's terms and conditions. I asked the ADCB phone-banking consultant if there was any way this transaction could be reversed. I was advised that the only way to do this was by contacting the beneficiary and asking them to cancel the transaction. I then enquired if there was anything I should be aware of if I went ahead and reversed the payment. I was assured that I would get a complete refund. On this basis, I contacted the beneficiary and they agreed to reverse the transaction. To my complete disbelief, I discovered that I had been credited with A$45,589.54, which was at an even lower exchange rate, an amount of Dh165,945. My enquiries with ADCB and the beneficiary have shown that the initial payment was "received" and then "returned". The beneficiary should not have accepted the original payment in order for the exact same amount to be returned, but I had not been made aware of this. At my request and given the misleading advice, ADCB refunded the 2.99 per cent fee, but I am still out of pocket Dh8,207 in exchange-rate losses. I made an initial mistake and wanted to rectify it and relied on the advice of an ADCB phone consultant to do this, but their advice left me with this loss. ADCB advised me further that they cannot assist with exchange rates because this is regulated by Visa. I contacted Visa, but it said it couldn't resolve the issue without the co-operation of the issuer bank because the bank is the one that pays the money back. Can you contact ADCB on my behalf to see if they will give me a refund? SRH, Abu Dhabi

I passed the query on to senior staff at ADCB. It took some time to investigate the matter, but we have the best possible outcome. The bank is not really at fault because there is a difference between a cancelled transaction and one that is returned, as well as some of the fees being due to Visa's costs. But as a gesture of goodwill, ADCB has agreed to refund all of SRH's losses. A bank spokesman said: "Our customers are important to us and to enable problem solving for them, we have a service quality unit that handles all customers' issues and complaints. Regarding this case mentioned, please note that an investigation into the customer complaint indicates that the bank representatives have provided accurate information to her during all her interactions with the bank. We would also like to inform you that we have been in constant touch with the customer and have taken some exceptional steps to resolve the issue to her satisfaction."

* * * *

Credit Shield warning

It has come to my attention that a number of banks have been writing to their credit-card customers to advise them that they are adding Credit Shield to their account. This is a form of insurance designed to repay the balance, or cover monthly payments if the card holder is made redundant, is unable to work due to illness, or dies. The detail, however, is in the small print and each plan varies, so the specifics must be checked to ensure that you will actually be covered. The cost varies between companies and the cover provided and is usually between 0.6 per cent and 1 per cent of the outstanding balance. The issue here is that banks are adding this to cards automatically and simply informing customers by letter that this has been done, without a clear opt-out facility. Due to the vagaries of the country's postal system, some customers will probably not receive written advice and the first they will know about it is via an extra payment on their bill. The letters I have seen are not clearly worded, so I would suggest that all cardholders who do not require this cover contact their card providers to ensure they are not being charged for something they do not want. Banks should be giving customers the opportunity to opt in, not forcing them to take action to opt out. I consider this to be poor practice from the banks, especially because there are major legal cases for similar actions ongoing in other countries, which are costing banks millions of dirhams in compensation.

On Your Side is written by Keren Bobker, an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write to her at keren@holbornassets.com with queries for this column or for advice on any other financial planning matter.

The Specs

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

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Founder: Hani Abu Ghazaleh
Based: Abu Dhabi, with an office in Montreal
Founded: 2018
Sector: Virtual Reality
Investment raised: $1.2 million, and nearing close of $5 million new funding round
Number of employees: 12

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

Traces of Enayat

Author: Iman Mersal
Publisher: And Other Stories
Pages: 240

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

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

SPEC SHEET: APPLE IPHONE 15 PRO MAX

Display: 6.7" Super Retina XDR OLED, 2796 x 1290, 460ppi, 120Hz, 2000 nits max, HDR, True Tone, P3, always-on

Processor: A17 Pro, 6-core CPU, 6-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine

Memory: 8GB

Capacity: 256/512GB / 1TB

Platform: iOS 17

Main camera: Triple: 48MP main (f/1.78) + 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) + 12MP 5x telephoto (f/2.8); 5x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 10x optical zoom range, digital zoom up to 25x; Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Portrait Lighting

Main camera video: 4K @ 24/25/30/60fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD @ 30fps, slo-mo @ 120/240fps, ProRes (4K) @ 60fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Front camera: 12MP TrueDepth (f/1.9), Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Portrait Lighting; Animoji, Memoji

Front camera video: 4K @ 24/25/30/60fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, slo-mo @ 120/240fps, ProRes (4K) @ 30fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Battery: 4441mAh, up to 29h video, 25h streaming video, 95h audio; fast charge to 50% in 30min (with at least 20W adaptor); MagSafe, Qi wireless charging

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Apple Pay), second-generation Ultra Wideband chip

Biometrics: Face ID

I/O: USB-C

Durability: IP68, water-resistant up to 6m up to 30min; dust/splash-resistant

Cards: Dual eSIM / eSIM + eSIM (US models use eSIMs only)

Colours: Black titanium, blue titanium, natural titanium, white titanium

In the box: iPhone 15 Pro Max, USB-C-to-USB-C woven cable, one Apple sticker

Price: Dh5,099 / Dh5,949 / Dh6,799

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.”

SERIES INFO

Cricket World Cup League Two
Nepal, Oman, United States tri-series
Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu
 
Fixtures
Wednesday February 5, Oman v Nepal
Thursday, February 6, Oman v United States
Saturday, February 8, United States v Nepal
Sunday, February 9, Oman v Nepal
Tuesday, February 11, Oman v United States
Wednesday, February 12, United States v Nepal

Table
The top three sides advance to the 2022 World Cup Qualifier.
The bottom four sides are relegated to the 2022 World Cup playoff

 1 United States 8 6 2 0 0 12 +0.412
2 Scotland 8 4 3 0 1 9 +0.139
3 Namibia 7 4 3 0 0 8 +0.008
4 Oman 6 4 2 0 0 8 -0.139
5 UAE 7 3 3 0 1 7 -0.004
6 Nepal 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
7 PNG 8 0 8 0 0 0 -0.458

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now

360Vuz PROFILE

Date started: January 2017
Founder: Khaled Zaatarah 
Based: Dubai and Los Angeles
Sector: Technology 
Size: 21 employees
Funding: $7 million 
Investors: Shorooq Partners, KBW Ventures, Vision Ventures, Hala Ventures, 500Startups, Plug and Play, Magnus Olsson, Samih Toukan, Jonathan Labin

Wenger's Arsenal reign in numbers

1,228 - games at the helm, ahead of Sunday's Premier League fixture against West Ham United.
704 - wins to date as Arsenal manager.
3 - Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/04.
1,549 - goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger's teams.
10 - major trophies won.
473 - Premier League victories.
7 - FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons.
151 - Premier League losses.
21 - full seasons in charge.
49 - games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004.

SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre 4-cylinder
Power: 101hp
Torque: 135Nm
Transmission: Six-speed auto
Price: From Dh79,900
On sale: Now

MATCH INFO

Serie A

Juventus v Fiorentina, Saturday, 8pm (UAE)

Match is on BeIN Sports

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
The specS: 2018 Toyota Camry

Price: base / as tested: Dh91,000 / Dh114,000

Engine: 3.5-litre V6

Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic

Power: 298hp @ 6,600rpm

Torque: 356Nm @ 4,700rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 7.0L / 100km

MEDIEVIL (1998)

Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5

A QUIET PLACE

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

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

Bahrain GP

Friday qualifying: 7pm (8pm UAE)

Saturday race: 7pm (UAE)

TV: BeIN Sports

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation 2 to 5
Rating: 5/5


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