Members of the negotiating team celebrate after reaching an agreement on Iran's nuclear programme. Joe Klamar / AP
Members of the negotiating team celebrate after reaching an agreement on Iran's nuclear programme. Joe Klamar / AP

For the Arab world, the Vienna agreement is a ‘tough moment’



The deal reached on Tuesday between Iran and six major powers to restrict Tehran’s nuclear capability in return for sanctions relief has dominated the Arabic language press.

In the Jordanian daily Addustour, Oraib Al Rantawi said the first impression of US president Barack Obama and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, as they announced their respective “achievements” in Vienna was to think one had inflicted a crushing defeat on the other.

When each side described the deal as “good” and “historic” and that “this is the deal that we wanted”, the two presidents were in fact addressing their opponents at home.

Expecting heated debates in Congress, Mr Obama said he would veto any attempts to block it and warned that the alternatives were catastrophic. Mr Rouhani warned his opponents against telling lies to deal a blow to the Iranians’ aspirations for a looming prosperity.

He said the Vienna agreement has granted each president what he needed to sell the deal.

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the accord was a “win-win agreement” but was also realistic when he said that the deal was not the best for either party, but it has secured each side’s minimum goals.

President Obama said that Iran was an intelligent rival, which is perhaps what Tehran has been trying to prove during the 12-year standoff.

Mr Al Rantawi described Mr Zarif’s impressive skills in negotiating as an equal with the major powers, showing steadfastness and intelligence – skills that the writer said were sadly lacking in the Arab world.

In the London-based daily Al Hayat, Ghassan Charbel said the Arabs have no reason to be surprised a deal was reached because it was clear both sides were willing to clinch it.

President Obama has been longing for a deal since he became president and Iran did not want to miss the Obama opportunity.

A third man indirectly helped them reach a deal: Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, he said.

ISIL’s rise in Syria and Iraq boosted US-Iran talks and forced Tehran and its proxies to wage an existential war, one that will be paramount to getting the agreement through the US Congress.

While media outlets lauded the agreement as “historic”, Israel seemed to be bracing itself for the Congressional battle and slammed the accord as a “historic mistake”.

A careful examination of the deal shows neither side can claim a “resounding victory” or a “surrender deal”. The agreement showed lessons had been learnt from the past and the importance of mutual concessions.

Iran’s supreme leader came to the conclusion that the “death to America” chants will not alleviate people’s sufferings from the sanctions and that Iran cannot become a normal state in the international fold without US consent.

For his part, Mr Obama, in his efforts to normalise relations with long-time adversaries such as Cuba and Iran, made sure he offered Iran a chance for negotiations as a way to lift the sanctions.

With this deal, Iran won recognition that it is practically capable of producing a nuclear bomb, but like Germany, Japan and Brazil, it is refraining from doing so, Mr Charbel wrote.

He noted that the negotiations occurred without the direct participation of Iran’s neighbours – namely Turkey and GCC countries – in contrast to the nuclear talks with North Korea which were attended by China, Japan, and South Korea.

For countries of this region, Iran’s regional policies are a headache that is more pressing than its nuclear ambitions, but the reverse is true for the major world powers.

If the countries of this region want to avoid the bad aspects of the nuclear deal, the three heavyweights – Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey – must work together.

The London-based Al Quds Al Arabi’s editorial said the news of the deal being agreed was a “tough moment” for Arab countries.

The first implication of the new agreement is that Iran achieved strategic deterrence without having to make a nuclear bomb or import ballistic missiles.

Second, the US has practically abandoned the Arab countries as strategic allies because it decided to make a deal with a country it accuses of supporting terror.

This gave Iran privileges in the region in exchange for preventing Arab countries from catching up to it, thus keeping them in need of US protection.

The third implication is that Iran must display political responsibility in line with its new regional status, instead of boasting the number of Arab capitals under its control.

This will mean it has to extend its hand to its Arab and Islamic neighbours to bridge the huge gap between them.

Translated by Abdelhafid Ezzouitni

aezzouitni@thenational.ae

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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 RESULTS

5pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 1,400m

Winner: Alnawar, Connor Beasley (jockey), Helal Al Alawi (trainer)

5.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 1,400m

Winner: Raniah, Noel Garbutt, Ernst Oertel

6pm: Handicap (PA) Dh90,000 2,200m

Winner: Saarookh, Richard Mullen, Ana Mendez

6.30pm: Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown (PA) Rated Conditions Dh125,000 1,600m

Winner: RB Torch, Tadhg O’Shea, Eric Lemartinel

7pm: Al Wathba Stallions Cup Handicap Dh70,000 1,600m

Winner: MH Wari, Antonio Fresu, Elise Jeane

7.30pm: Handicap Dh90,000 1,600m

Winner: Mailshot, Royston Ffrench, Salem bin Ghadayer

 

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

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.

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

TERMINAL HIGH ALTITUDE AREA DEFENCE (THAAD)

What is THAAD?

It is considered to be the US's most superior missile defence system.

Production:

It was created in 2008.

Speed:

THAAD missiles can travel at over Mach 8, so fast that it is hypersonic.

Abilities:

THAAD is designed to take out  ballistic missiles as they are on their downward trajectory towards their target, otherwise known as the "terminal phase".

Purpose:

To protect high-value strategic sites, such as airfields or population centres.

Range:

THAAD can target projectiles inside and outside the Earth's atmosphere, at an altitude of 150 kilometres above the Earth's surface.

Creators:

Lockheed Martin was originally granted the contract to develop the system in 1992. Defence company Raytheon sub-contracts to develop other major parts of the system, such as ground-based radar.

UAE and THAAD:

In 2011, the UAE became the first country outside of the US to buy two THAAD missile defence systems. It then stationed them in 2016, becoming the first Gulf country to do so.

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Abu Dhabi World Pro 2019 remaining schedule:

Wednesday April 24: Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, 11am-6pm

Thursday April 25:  Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, 11am-5pm

Friday April 26: Finals, 3-6pm

Saturday April 27: Awards ceremony, 4pm and 8pm

The Laughing Apple

Yusuf/Cat Stevens

(Verve Decca Crossover)

The specs

Engine: 4-cylinder 2.0L TSI
Transmission: Dual clutch 7-speed
Power: 320HP / 235kW
Torque: 400Nm
Price: from $49,709
On sale: now

LIKELY TEAMS

South Africa
Faf du Plessis (captain), Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Quinton de Kock (wkt), Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Lungi Ngidi.

India (from)
Virat Kohli (captain), Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik (wkt), Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah.

The specs

Engine: 3.8-litre, twin-turbo V8

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

Power: 582bhp

Torque: 730Nm

Price: Dh649,000

On sale: now 

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

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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Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Company profile

Company: POPC
Started: 2022
Founders: Amna Aijaz, Haroon Tahir and Arafat Ali Khan
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: art and e-commerce
Funds raised: undisclosed amount raised through Waverider Entertainment

Spare

Profile

Company name: Spare

Started: March 2018

Co-founders: Dalal Alrayes and Saurabh Shah

Based: UAE

Sector: FinTech

Investment: Own savings. Going for first round of fund-raising in March 2019

What went into the film

25 visual effects (VFX) studios

2,150 VFX shots in a film with 2,500 shots

1,000 VFX artists

3,000 technicians

10 Concept artists, 25 3D designers

New sound technology, named 4D SRL

 

TWISTERS

Director:+Lee+Isaac+Chung

Starring:+Glen+Powell,+Daisy+Edgar-Jones,+Anthony+Ramos

Rating:+2.5/5