Saudi foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir addreses a press conference in Manama on July 30, 2017 after a meeting of the four countries boycotting Qatar to decide their next steps. Hamad I Mohammed / Reuters
Saudi foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir addreses a press conference in Manama on July 30, 2017 after a meeting of the four countries boycotting Qatar to decide their next steps. Hamad I Mohammed / ReuteShow more

Saudi Arabia says Qatari statements on Haj are a 'declaration of war'



Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Sunday that Qatar’s calls to “internationalise” the management of holy sites in Mecca and Medina was a declaration of war.

"Qatar's request to internationalise the holy sites is something we consider an aggressive act and a declaration of war against Saudi Arabia,” Adel Al Jubeir told Al Arabiya.

“Saudi Arabia reserves the right to respond to any party working in the field of internationalisation of the holy sites."

Mr Al Jubeir appeared to be referring to a statement on Saturday by Qatar’s National Human Rights Commission which said Qataris had been told by Saudi Haj authorities that they could only enter the kingdom through designated airports and must fly from Doha, restrictions it termed a “violation of international laws”.

The Qatari body did not appear to directly call for international management of the holy sites, as Iran’s supreme leader did last year after a dispute over Haj visas for pilgrims. But suggestions by Qatari media or other figures about the “internationalisation” of Haj management are highly inflammatory, not only for Riyadh but Saudi citizens as well.

“Such things are usually said by the Iranians and whoever speaks this way is following the Iranian example,” Bahrain’s foreign minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said in Manama after a meeting of the four countries isolating Qatar over what they say is its support for terrorist groups and extremism. “This is not acceptable.”

____________________

Read more:

____________________

Speaking after the talks by the four foreign ministers, Mr Al Jubeir said the kingdom “welcomes all Muslims from around the world who visit the country for their pilgrimage”.

He said the Qatari statement “aims to sway people’s attention from the core issue at the heart of this crisis — its support and funding of terrorism, and a rhetoric that aims to spread hatred and sedition and its interference in the internal affairs of other countries — it is politicising Haj and that is not acceptable.”

The meeting in Manama was the second held by the quartet this month and was aimed at agreeing on what next steps to take after Doha’s rejection of their initial demands.

At a joint press conference held after the talks, the quartet officials said that they are ready to negotiate with Qatar, but only over the implementation of their original 13 demands and the six broader principles that many observers believed had replaced the specific demands to allow for more diplomatic flexibility.

The 13 demands on Doha include dropping its support for Islamist groups, closing the Turkish military base on its soil and shutting down media outlets it finances.

“When we are talking about dialogue, the six principles and 13 demands presented by the quartet are not subject to negotiation, there should be no negotiation when it comes to countering terrorism,” Mr Al Jubeir said at the press conference.

The quartet did not, however, announce any additional economic isolation measures to increase pressure on Doha.

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said that “there are several measures that we can take towards Qatar …  within the frame of international law”. UAE officials have said they will not take steps that force international companies to choose where they do business in the GCC, and with such measures off the table it is unclear what additional economic levers would be used.

“We did our best for those measures not to affect the Qatari people, however, and unfortunately, some of these measures did impact the Qatari people,” Sheikh Abdullah said. “The responsibility here lies with the Qatari government. The Qatari government can simply evolve in its Arab environment. But it must make a choice for the sake of its people and their future.”

The UAE’s ambassador to Washington Yousef Al Otaiba said last week that the the crisis between the GCC members was fundamentally about two conflicting visions for the region, with the quartet favouring strong, secular states, and Doha backing Islamist parties and militias.

The uncompromising stance on the demands reiterated by the officials in Bahrain is in line with a string of recent statements that have doused any optimism over Kuwait-led mediation efforts backed heavily by US involvement, while at the same time not escalating further.

Speaking on a US current affairs programme, Mr Al Otaiba said last week that Qatar has “every right to come back tomorrow and say we reject these demands and we don’t want to negotiate. And we are then within our rights to say we don’t want to have a relationship with you.”

The willingness to let the “cold war” situation between Qatar and its three GCC neighbours continue has raised the possibility that the new normal could last indefinitely, and Qatar may face de facto suspension from the bloc.

"We want our six countries to remain cohesive members of the GCC," Sheikh Khalid said. "But, we do not want to see any country interfering on others’ affairs or having a negative impact on other countries."

Profile

Co-founders of the company: Vilhelm Hedberg and Ravi Bhusari

Launch year: In 2016 ekar launched and signed an agreement with Etihad Airways in Abu Dhabi. In January 2017 ekar launched in Dubai in a partnership with the RTA.

Number of employees: Over 50

Financing stage: Series B currently being finalised

Investors: Series A - Audacia Capital 

Sector of operation: Transport

From Europe to the Middle East, economic success brings wealth - and lifestyle diseases

A rise in obesity figures and the need for more public spending is a familiar trend in the developing world as western lifestyles are adopted.

One in five deaths around the world is now caused by bad diet, with obesity the fastest growing global risk. A high body mass index is also the top cause of metabolic diseases relating to death and disability in Kuwait, Qatar and Oman – and second on the list in Bahrain.

In Britain, heart disease, lung cancer and Alzheimer’s remain among the leading causes of death, and people there are spending more time suffering from health problems.

The UK is expected to spend $421.4 billion on healthcare by 2040, up from $239.3 billion in 2014.

And development assistance for health is talking about the financial aid given to governments to support social, environmental development of developing countries.

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

THE DETAILS

Director: Milan Jhaveri
Producer: Emmay Entertainment and T-Series
Cast: John Abraham, Manoj Bajpayee
Rating: 2/5

Key changes

Commission caps

For life insurance products with a savings component, Peter Hodgins of Clyde & Co said different caps apply to the saving and protection elements:

• For the saving component, a cap of 4.5 per cent of the annualised premium per year (which may not exceed 90 per cent of the annualised premium over the policy term). 

• On the protection component, there is a cap  of 10 per cent of the annualised premium per year (which may not exceed 160 per cent of the annualised premium over the policy term).

• Indemnity commission, the amount of commission that can be advanced to a product salesperson, can be 50 per cent of the annualised premium for the first year or 50 per cent of the total commissions on the policy calculated. 

• The remaining commission after deduction of the indemnity commission is paid equally over the premium payment term.

• For pure protection products, which only offer a life insurance component, the maximum commission will be 10 per cent of the annualised premium multiplied by the length of the policy in years.

Disclosure

Customers must now be provided with a full illustration of the product they are buying to ensure they understand the potential returns on savings products as well as the effects of any charges. There is also a “free-look” period of 30 days, where insurers must provide a full refund if the buyer wishes to cancel the policy.

“The illustration should provide for at least two scenarios to illustrate the performance of the product,” said Mr Hodgins. “All illustrations are required to be signed by the customer.”

Another illustration must outline surrender charges to ensure they understand the costs of exiting a fixed-term product early.

Illustrations must also be kept updatedand insurers must provide information on the top five investment funds available annually, including at least five years' performance data.

“This may be segregated based on the risk appetite of the customer (in which case, the top five funds for each segment must be provided),” said Mr Hodgins.

Product providers must also disclose the ratio of protection benefit to savings benefits. If a protection benefit ratio is less than 10 per cent "the product must carry a warning stating that it has limited or no protection benefit" Mr Hodgins added.

How to avoid getting scammed
  • Never click on links provided via app or SMS, even if they seem to come from authorised senders at first glance
  • Always double-check the authenticity of websites
  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) for all your working and personal services
  • Only use official links published by the respective entity
  • Double-check the web addresses to reduce exposure to fake sites created with domain names containing spelling errors

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.”

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.

'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse Of Madness'

Director: Sam Raimi

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Michael Stuhlbarg and Rachel McAdams

Rating: 3/5

The biog

DOB: March 13, 1987
Place of birth: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia but lived in Virginia in the US and raised in Lebanon
School: ACS in Lebanon
University: BSA in Graphic Design at the American University of Beirut
MSA in Design Entrepreneurship at the School of Visual Arts in New York City
Nationality: Lebanese
Status: Single
Favourite thing to do: I really enjoy cycling, I was a participant in Cycling for Gaza for the second time this year

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Civil War

Director: Alex Garland 

Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Cailee Spaeny, Wagner Moura, Nick Offerman

Rating: 4/5

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

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

MEDIEVIL (1998)

Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5

The Laughing Apple

Yusuf/Cat Stevens

(Verve Decca Crossover)

Sustainable Development Goals

1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere

2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation

10. Reduce inequality within and among countries

11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its effects

14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development

How Filipinos in the UAE invest

A recent survey of 10,000 Filipino expatriates in the UAE found that 82 per cent have plans to invest, primarily in property. This is significantly higher than the 2014 poll showing only two out of 10 Filipinos planned to invest.

Fifty-five percent said they plan to invest in property, according to the poll conducted by the New Perspective Media Group, organiser of the Philippine Property and Investment Exhibition. Acquiring a franchised business or starting up a small business was preferred by 25 per cent and 15 per cent said they will invest in mutual funds. The rest said they are keen to invest in insurance (3 per cent) and gold (2 per cent).

Of the 5,500 respondents who preferred property as their primary investment, 54 per cent said they plan to make the purchase within the next year. Manila was the top location, preferred by 53 per cent.

if you go

The flights
Emirates flies to Delhi with fares starting from around Dh760 return, while Etihad fares cost about Dh783 return. From Delhi, there are connecting flights to Lucknow. 
Where to stay
It is advisable to stay in Lucknow and make a day trip to Kannauj. A stay at the Lebua Lucknow hotel, a traditional Lucknowi mansion, is recommended. Prices start from Dh300 per night (excluding taxes). 

The specs: 2018 Peugeot 5008

Price, base / as tested: Dh99,900 / Dh134,900

Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Power: 165hp @ 6,000rpm

Torque: 240Nm @ 1,400rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 5.8L / 100km

'Cheb Khaled'

Artist: Khaled
Label: Believe
Rating: 4/5

Company profile

Date started: December 24, 2018

Founders: Omer Gurel, chief executive and co-founder and Edebali Sener, co-founder and chief technology officer

Based: Dubai Media City

Number of employees: 42 (34 in Dubai and a tech team of eight in Ankara, Turkey)

Sector: ConsumerTech and FinTech

Cashflow: Almost $1 million a year

Funding: Series A funding of $2.5m with Series B plans for May 2020

About Proto21

Date started: May 2018
Founder: Pir Arkam
Based: Dubai
Sector: Additive manufacturing (aka, 3D printing)
Staff: 18
Funding: Invested, supported and partnered by Joseph Group

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl, 48V hybrid

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

Power: 325bhp

Torque: 450Nm

Price: Dh359,000

On sale: now

Ain Issa camp:
  • Established in 2016
  • Houses 13,309 people, 2,092 families, 62 per cent children
  • Of the adult population, 49 per cent men, 51 per cent women (not including foreigners annexe)
  • Most from Deir Ezzor and Raqqa
  • 950 foreigners linked to ISIS and their families
  • NGO Blumont runs camp management for the UN
  • One of the nine official (UN recognised) camps in the region
THE SPECS

Engine: 2.4-litre four-cylinder
Power: 210hp
Torque: 320Nm
Price: Starting from Dh89,900
On sale: Now