Zones set up to boost the remoter regions



Saudi Arabia hopes to bring economic development to remote regions that have been left out of the kingdom's petroleum-fuelled growth with newly exploited mineral resources.

Population centres in the north and south of the kingdom that have until now mainly fed off agriculture, tourism and military bases are set to benefit from special economic zones, where some national laws are relaxed to encourage business growth.

"What you're doing now is more to give it a kick-start with mineral work," said Azzam Shalabi, the president of the government's National Industrial Clusters Development Programme, which is trying to woo investors.

The government's aim of relying on foreign investors to fund that development is a departure from its strategy at the coastal cities of Yanbu and Jubail, where it injected billions of riyals into infrastructure.

Three of the new industrial centres - Tabuk and Duba to the north and Jazan to the south - are set to host mines or processing facilities for titanium, copper and other mineral wealth.

"Of course, these cities are located in less developed regions," said Amr al Dabbagh, the chairman of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (Sagia), a government entity that has put 214 billion riyals (Dh209.58bn) into development of residential and commercial centres.

Four economic zones are under construction near existing towns and an additional 12 are being planned.

One site north of Jeddah, King Abdullah Economic City, is being developed by the UAE company Emaar, and Sagia hopes it will attract up to US$27bn (Dh99.17bn) in investment and create about a million jobs.

In the next five years Mr al Dabbagh hopes that incentives such as tax credits for foreign companies will persuade investors to build factories, lay out transportation and launch a knowledge-based economy.

The economic zones are aimed at providing jobs for a now-teenage population band that is to enter the workforce in the next five to 10 years.

But to enable development, the government needs to create a venture-capital vehicle and a dedicated infrastructure developer, such as the royal commission that laid the foundations for Yanbu and Jubail, Mr Shalabi said.

"The private sector cannot fund the development if they don't have the income," he added. "It becomes the chicken-and-egg situation. To have the people pay the rent, you have to develop the infrastructure."

Some foreign investors say the kingdom needs to make it easier to secure funding from Saudi banks, many of which require special guarantees to minimise risk.

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Started: 2016

Founders: Hussein Nasser Eddin, Laila Akel, Tayeb Akel 

Based: Ramallah, Palestine

Sector: Technology, Security

# of staff: 13

Investment: $745,000

Investors: Palestine’s Ibtikar Fund, Abu Dhabi’s Gothams and angel investors

Getting there and where to stay

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The Radisson Blu Hotel Nice offers a western location right on Promenade des Anglais with rooms overlooking the Bay of Angels. Stays are priced from €101 ($114), including taxes.

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Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Coming soon

Torno Subito by Massimo Bottura

When the W Dubai – The Palm hotel opens at the end of this year, one of the highlights will be Massimo Bottura’s new restaurant, Torno Subito, which promises “to take guests on a journey back to 1960s Italy”. It is the three Michelinstarred chef’s first venture in Dubai and should be every bit as ambitious as you would expect from the man whose restaurant in Italy, Osteria Francescana, was crowned number one in this year’s list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Akira Back Dubai

Another exciting opening at the W Dubai – The Palm hotel is South Korean chef Akira Back’s new restaurant, which will continue to showcase some of the finest Asian food in the world. Back, whose Seoul restaurant, Dosa, won a Michelin star last year, describes his menu as,  “an innovative Japanese cuisine prepared with a Korean accent”.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

The highly experimental chef, whose dishes are as much about spectacle as taste, opens his first restaurant in Dubai next year. Housed at The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal will feature contemporary twists on recipes that date back to the 1300s, including goats’ milk cheesecake. Always remember with a Blumenthal dish: nothing is quite as it seems. 

'Will of the People'

Artist: Muse
Label: Warner
Rating: 2.5/5

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The Details

Kabir Singh

Produced by: Cinestaan Studios, T-Series

Directed by: Sandeep Reddy Vanga

Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Kiara Advani, Suresh Oberoi, Soham Majumdar, Arjun Pahwa

Rating: 2.5/5 

I Care A Lot

Directed by: J Blakeson

Starring: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage

3/5 stars

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COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Lamsa

Founder: Badr Ward

Launched: 2014

Employees: 60

Based: Abu Dhabi

Sector: EdTech

Funding to date: $15 million

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

Dhadak

Director: Shashank Khaitan

Starring: Janhvi Kapoor, Ishaan Khattar, Ashutosh Rana

Stars: 3

FIGHT CARD

Sara El Bakkali v Anisha Kadka (Lightweight, female)
Mohammed Adil Al Debi v Moaz Abdelgawad (Bantamweight)
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Marlon Ribeiro v Mehdi Oubahammou (Welterweight)
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Is it worth it? We put cheesecake frap to the test.

The verdict from the nutritionists is damning. But does a cheesecake frappuccino taste good enough to merit the indulgence?

My advice is to only go there if you have unusually sweet tooth. I like my puddings, but this was a bit much even for me. The first hit is a winner, but it's downhill, slowly, from there. Each sip is a little less satisfying than the last, and maybe it was just all that sugar, but it isn't long before the rush is replaced by a creeping remorse. And half of the thing is still left.

The caramel version is far superior to the blueberry, too. If someone put a full caramel cheesecake through a liquidiser and scooped out the contents, it would probably taste something like this. Blueberry, on the other hand, has more of an artificial taste. It's like someone has tried to invent this drink in a lab, and while early results were promising, they're still in the testing phase. It isn't terrible, but something isn't quite right either.

So if you want an experience, go for a small, and opt for the caramel. But if you want a cheesecake, it's probably more satisfying, and not quite as unhealthy, to just order the real thing.

 

 

THE SPECS

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Company profile

Name: Fruitful Day

Founders: Marie-Christine Luijckx, Lyla Dalal AlRawi, Lindsey Fournie

Based: Dubai, UAE

Founded: 2015

Number of employees: 30

Sector: F&B

Funding so far: Dh3 million

Future funding plans: None at present

Future markets: Saudi Arabia, potentially Kuwait and other GCC countries

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Transmission: eight-speed automatic

Power: 523hp

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Coming 2 America

Directed by: Craig Brewer

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones

3/5 stars

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

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Company name: Mozn

Started: 2017

Founders: Mohammed Alhussein, Khaled Al Ghoneim, Abdullah Alsaeed and Malik Alyousef

Based: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Industry: FinTech

Funding: $10 million

Investors: Raed Ventures, Shorooq Partners, VentureSouq, Sukna Ventures and others

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Director: Fernando Meirelles

Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce 

Four out of five stars