Dog rescue centre needs more help in its bigger new location



DUBAI // A dog rescue centre is appealing for more volunteers ahead of its move to a bigger location in November. Unless more volunteers stepped forward, K9 Friends would not be able to increase the number of abandoned pets it cared for when it moved to its new site, said Jackie Radcliffe, who works with the organisation. Ms Radcliffe said while the building was almost complete and the group was excited to be moving to a larger area, "we would like to up the scale [of pets cared for] but we can't do so with the same number of volunteers.

"We have more space, so at least the animals will only be two to a kennel rather than three as it is now, and we will have separate puppy and quarantine blocks, but what we really need now are more volunteers." The Dubai-based organisation, which was established in 1987, also has a wish list of items, including computers and desks, that it hopes will be donated by the public for use at the new location. K9 Friends was on the verge of being evicted from its home when the Dubai Government intervened, extending the organisation's lease for another year.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, donated the land for the new rescue centre. It will be three times the size of the current premises, which shelters about 90 dogs. K9 Friends is also preparing to launch a public awareness campaign aimed at encouraging dog owners to clean up after their pets when taking them out for walks. The move follows a decision by the Jumeirah Beach Residences (JBR) to evict all dogs from its premises.

Ms Radcliffe said: "We have spoken to JBR and the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the problem stemmed from the fact that owners were apparently not cleaning up after their pets. "We are hoping, following Ramadan, to launch a media campaign aimed at encouraging pet owners to take responsibility for their animals and protecting the health of the community." @Email:loatway@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.”

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