An aerial view shows the massive damage done to Beirut port's grain silos (C) and the area around it on August 5, 2020, one day after a mega-blast tore through the harbour in the heart of the Lebanese capital with the force of an earthquake, killing more than 100 people and injuring over 4,000. Rescuers searched for survivors in Beirut in the morning after a cataclysmic explosion at the port sowed devastation across entire neighbourhoods, killing more than 100 people, wounding thousands and plunging Lebanon deeper into crisis. / AFP / -
The damage done to Beirut port's grain silos and the area around it, after a mega-blast tore through the harbour in the heart of the Lebanese capital, killing more than 100 people and injuring over 4,

The world stands in solidarity with Beirut



With reference to Beirut live: At least 100 dead and 4,000 injured in Lebanon blast (August 4): that explosion was massive. It almost looked like a nuke. Peace to you all in Lebanon. We send prayers from Canada.

Pete Leclair, Toronto, Canada

I feel sorry for this country and its people that have gone through so much suffering.

Ali Kaaliie, Cape Town, South Africa

This is my beloved city.

Chantal Chaftary Abi Assal, Abu Dhabi 

Pray for us and please look to help our devastated country and people.

Nada Awad Rizkallah, Beirut, Lebanon

The videos of that mushroom cloud are horrific. Lebanon and the people of Lebanon desperately need a break from this agony.

Grace Boutros Janho, Dubai

Sending prayers and good wishes from Pakistan. We stand in solidarity with the people of Lebanon.
Hafiz Muhammad Ali, Islamabad, Pakistan

The whole world is fighting to contain the spread of coronavirus and this explosion has added to the sufferings of the country.

Ramachandran Nair, Muscat, Oman

I have never seen anything like that explosion in my life and I hope never to see it again. My heart breaks for Lebanon.

Trina Mole, Florida, US

Schools are right to give parents the option 

With reference to Gillian Duncan's report Coronavirus: Abu Dhabi to keep distance learning as an option after calls from parents (August 4): this option is a good thing. If parents would like to go for blended learning, they have that option too. I am happy to have the choice because my daughter has a weak immune system and I don't like the idea of having the children wear masks for too long.

Nisha Subramanian, Abu Dhabi

Have parents who want to continue to teach their children from home had them out of class since March? And will they keep them at home until all restrictions are lifted?

I agree those with medical conditions should continue with distance learning and teach from home, but others should go back. 

Fatma Shabanova, Abu Dhabi

The new Barakah power plant is a milestone

I write to you in reference to Barakah signals a new era of nuclear power in the Middle East (August 3): The National editorial rightly pointed out that this project not only heralds a new era but will also provide employment across sectors. The UAE has created a revolution over the decades and this project is one more milestone in its journey.

K Ragavan, Bengaluru, India

Meatless Days
Sara Suleri, with an introduction by Kamila Shamsie
​​​​​​​Penguin 

THE DETAILS

Deadpool 2

Dir: David Leitch

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Justin Dennison, Zazie Beetz

Four stars

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

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

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 Secret Kingdom

Director: Matt Drummond

Stars: Alyla Browne, Alice Parkinson, Sam Everingham

Rating: 3/5

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

Directed by: Shaka King

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield, Jesse Plemons

Four stars

SPECS: Polestar 3

Engine: Long-range dual motor with 400V battery
Power: 360kW / 483bhp
Torque: 840Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 628km
0-100km/h: 4.7sec
Top speed: 210kph
Price: From Dh360,000
On sale: September

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends


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