Customs union is a measured step forward



The Gulf Cooperation Council's decision to push towards a customs union by 2015 is a welcome development, one which shows just the right amount of ambition - if it can be achieved.

The tendency has been to think big before starting small. The proposed GCC monetary union, while still backed by four member states, has stalled since the UAE joined Oman in opting out for the time being. But a common trade policy is possible, and would liberate the dynamism of free markets from the shackles of tariffs and quotas. That would benefit all GCC member states, and not the least the UAE.

A decade ago, there was optimism that new World Trade Organisation talks would lead to a comprehensive trade accord for all 153 WTO members. That effort suffocated under the weight of rival interests and complex exceptions. In light of this week's GCC news, there's a sad irony in the fact that those WTO talks are known as the "Doha round", after Qatar's capital where the first of the meetings were held.

A narrowly focused GCC customs union, on the other hand, would help to unify a market for just six countries that have overlapping interests and backgrounds.

In recent months, the GCC has shown increasing signs of unity, in foreign policy matters at least. Just as important, if not more, would be an economic bloc that could combine the countries' economic power to speak with one voice on trade matters as well.

To be sure, the road to a customs union is long and convoluted, as the early history of what is now the European Union reveals.

It's hard enough to standardise tariffs, but a customs union could also involve, to name a few issues, cross-border trade in legal services, banking and insurance - all tricky to engineer. Consumer-protection rules, existing trade accords with outside states, cultural policy and disparate regulations all must be reviewed and harmonised.

And there can be some losers as economic friction is reduced. Special interests will fight to retain their privileges. Untrained workers and inefficient firms may be at risk; in some cases transitional remedies may be required.

So negotiators will have to get busy if they are to meet the target date of January 1, 2015.

But the effort is well worth making.Economies of scale, efficiency of production, political stability, the spread of best practices, the growth of regional champion companies - all these are encouraged by freer trade. Knocking down protectionist barriers means building up prosperity.

COMPANY PROFILE

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

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

The specs

Engine: 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6

Power: 540hp at 6,500rpm

Torque: 600Nm at 2,500rpm

Transmission: Eight-speed auto

Kerb weight: 1580kg

Price: From Dh750k

On sale: via special order

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

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
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.

World Cup final

Who: France v Croatia
When: Sunday, July 15, 7pm (UAE)
TV: Game will be shown live on BeIN Sports for viewers in the Mena region

The Year Earth Changed

Directed by:Tom Beard

Narrated by: Sir David Attenborough

Stars: 4

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

Bridgerton season three - part one

Directors: Various

Starring: Nicola Coughlan, Luke Newton, Jonathan Bailey

Rating: 3/5

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

HEADLINE HERE
  • I would recommend writing out the text in the body
  • And then copy into this box
  • It can be as long as you link
  • But I recommend you use the bullet point function (see red square)
  • Or try to keep the word count down
  • Be wary of other embeds lengthy fact boxes could crash into
  • That's about it
Aston martin DBX specs

Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8

Transmission: nine-speed automatic

Power: 542bhp

Torque: 700Nm

Top speed: 291kph

Price: Dh848,000

On sale: Q2, 2020
 

Inside Out 2

Director: Kelsey Mann

Starring: Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Ayo Edebiri

Rating: 4.5/5

WHAT MACRO FACTORS ARE IMPACTING META TECH MARKETS?

• Looming global slowdown and recession in key economies

• Russia-Ukraine war

• Interest rate hikes and the rising cost of debt servicing

• Oil price volatility

• Persisting inflationary pressures

• Exchange rate fluctuations

• Shortage of labour/skills

• A resurgence of Covid?

Race card:

6.30pm: Maiden; Dh165,000; 2,000m

7.05pm: Handicap; Dh165,000; 2,200m

7.40pm: Conditions; Dh240,000; 1,600m

8.15pm: Handicap; Dh190,000; 2,000m

8.50pm: The Garhoud Sprint Listed; Dh265,000; 1,200m

9.25pm: Handicap; Dh170,000; 1,600m

10pm: Handicap; Dh190,000; 1,400m

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

Full Party in the Park line-up

2pm – Andreah

3pm – Supernovas

4.30pm – The Boxtones

5.30pm – Lighthouse Family

7pm – Step On DJs

8pm – Richard Ashcroft

9.30pm – Chris Wright

10pm – Fatboy Slim

11pm – Hollaphonic

 

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

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

Rating: 4.5/5

It’ll be summer in the city as car show tries to move with the times

If 2008 was the year that rocked Detroit, 2019 will be when Motor City gives its annual car extravaganza a revamp that aims to move with the times.

A major change is that this week's North American International Auto Show will be the last to be held in January, after which the event will switch to June.

The new date, organisers said, will allow exhibitors to move vehicles and activities outside the Cobo Center's halls and into other city venues, unencumbered by cold January weather, exemplified this week by snow and ice.

In a market in which trends can easily be outpaced beyond one event, the need to do so was probably exacerbated by the decision of Germany's big three carmakers – BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi – to skip the auto show this year.

The show has long allowed car enthusiasts to sit behind the wheel of the latest models at the start of the calendar year but a more fluid car market in an online world has made sales less seasonal.

Similarly, everyday technology seems to be catching up on those whose job it is to get behind microphones and try and tempt the visiting public into making a purchase.

Although sparkly announcers clasp iPads and outline the technical gadgetry hidden beneath bonnets, people's obsession with their own smartphones often appeared to offer a more tempting distraction.

“It's maddening,” said one such worker at Nissan's stand.

The absence of some pizzazz, as well as top marques, was also noted by patrons.

“It looks like there are a few less cars this year,” one annual attendee said of this year's exhibitors.

“I can't help but think it's easier to stay at home than to brave the snow and come here.”

Empires of the Steppes: A History of the Nomadic Tribes Who Shaped Civilization

Author: Kenneth W Harl
Publisher:
Hanover Square Press
Pages:
576

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

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

Vikram Vedha

Directors: Gayatri, Pushkar

Stars: Hrithik Roshan, Saif Ali Khan, Radhika Apte

Rating: 3.5/5

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

Cultural fiesta

What: The Al Burda Festival
When: November 14 (from 10am)
Where: Warehouse421,  Abu Dhabi
The Al Burda Festival is a celebration of Islamic art and culture, featuring talks, performances and exhibitions. Organised by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, this one-day event opens with a session on the future of Islamic art. With this in mind, it is followed by a number of workshops and “masterclass” sessions in everything from calligraphy and typography to geometry and the origins of Islamic design. There will also be discussions on subjects including ‘Who is the Audience for Islamic Art?’ and ‘New Markets for Islamic Design.’ A live performance from Kuwaiti guitarist Yousif Yaseen should be one of the highlights of the day. 

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5