Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (back-R) and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin (back-L) applaud as Egypt's electricity and renewable energy minister, Mohamed Shaker (R), shakes hands with Alexei Likkhachev, the director general of Russia's Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom, after signing a bilateral agreement in Cairo on December 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El Sisi, right, and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, left, applaud as Egypt's electricity and renewable energy minister, Mohamed Shaker, right, shakes hands withShow more

Sisi and Putin strengthen bonds with nuclear plant deal



Russian president Vladimir Putin arrived in Cairo Monday with expectations that flights from Moscow carrying tourists would soon to follow his summit with president Abdel Fattah El Sisi — which together with deals for a nuclear power plant and expanded defence cooperation, bring Russo-Egyptian ties to their warmest level since the early 1970s.

As crucial as Russian support is for Mr El Sisi’s economic and security agenda, officials here are most cheered by the increasing alignment with Moscow on core Middle East issues at a moment of consternation and confusion in Egypt’s relations with Washington and US president Donald Trump.

“The co-operation is not only about weapons, it’s also about what's going on in the region,” said Egyptian air force commander Hisham El Halaby. “We’ve cooperated on Syria and now the Jerusalem embassy announcement by the US is a golden opportunity for Russia to have a more effective role in Middle East peace efforts.”

While Russia recognised West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in April, Moscow has insisted that its embassy could not move there until successful two-state talks resulted in a Palestinian capital for an Arab state in the eastern part of the city.

“The United States is unfair, dishonest, and obviously siding with Israel,” said Mr El Halaby, reflecting the continuing anger over President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The continuing diplomatic fallout over the decision announced on Wednesday includes the revocation of invitations extended to US vice president Mike Pence by Egypt’s top Muslim and Christian clerics and emergency meetings and phone calls between Mr El Sisi, Jordan’s King Abdullah and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr Abbas, who has longstanding ties with the Russian leadership, met Mr El Sisi on Monday as regional efforts intensified against the US move and with the public in Cairo supporting both a new emphasis on the Palestinian cause and reinvigorated ties with Russia.

“This helps Egypt to gain its position back as heart and defender of the Middle East,” said Kamal Soliman, a 28-year-old general practitioner. “Countries in the region have lost faith in the USA and Putin is now stepping in with a nuclear reactor and arms deals. Russia’s influence is growing.”

Dr Soliman’s view is reflected in statements issued by Mr El Sisi’s aides.

“There is now a convergence of views between Russia and Egypt on several regional issues, especially the situation in Syria and Libya,” said spokesman Bassam Rady. "Egypt and Russia are in agreement on the rejection of US president Donald Trump's decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.”

The US and European and Asian countries all bid to build the nuclear facility and winning the deal is a commercial coup for government-owned Rosatom as well as a political triumph for Mr Putin.

The Dabaa nuclear power plant, to be built on the Mediterranean coast, about 130km north-west of Cairo, will have four reactors producing 1,200 megawatts each to feed Egypt’s energy-starved industrial and commercial consumers. The deal follows an announcement in October that Russian state petroleum firm Rosneft would acquire a 30 per cent stake in the development of Egypt’s Zohr field, the largest gas field in the Mediterranean Sea, from the Italian company Eni.

But a resumption of Russian tourist flights is what would really boost the Egyptian economy.

Before the 2011 Arab Spring, tourism made up 13 per cent of Egypt’s gross national product, bringing in nearly US$20 billion (Dh72bn) a year, according to government figures.

Moscow halted civilian air traffic to Egypt in 2015 after ISIL claimed the 2015 bombing of a Russian Metrojet flight flying out from the Red Sea resort Sharm El Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board. Russians were the largest group of foreign tourists, with Red Sea destinations receiving up to 3 million per year.

Egypt has been tightening security at its airports to meet Russian demands. Mr Putin praised the efforts but stopped short of giving the all-clear, according to an Egyptian presidency statement. Ironically, the enhanced measures at Cairo airport won approval recently from the American Transport Security Administration.

The statement said the two countries would also explore setting up a Russian industrial zone in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, as well as logistics area for Egyptian exports to Russia. However, bilateral trade is relatively low compared to the EU, US and China, the "really significant players in the region", said Mona Khalil, executive director of the Russian-Egyptian Business Council.

“Russian business in general is still passive to cross local borders and is hesitant to work abroad due to historical reasons of course —  private sector in that country is only 25 years old,” she said.

Jeff Buckley: From Hallelujah To The Last Goodbye
By Dave Lory with Jim Irvin

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

'Worse than a prison sentence'

Marie Byrne, a counsellor who volunteers at the UAE government's mental health crisis helpline, said the ordeal the crew had been through would take time to overcome.

“It was worse than a prison sentence, where at least someone can deal with a set amount of time incarcerated," she said.

“They were living in perpetual mystery as to how their futures would pan out, and what that would be.

“Because of coronavirus, the world is very different now to the one they left, that will also have an impact.

“It will not fully register until they are on dry land. Some have not seen their young children grow up while others will have to rebuild relationships.

“It will be a challenge mentally, and to find other work to support their families as they have been out of circulation for so long. Hopefully they will get the care they need when they get home.”

The specs

Engine: 3.5-litre, twin-turbo V6
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Power: 410hp
Torque: 495Nm
Price: starts from Dh495,000 (Dh610,000 for the F-Sport launch edition tested)
On sale: now

FIXTURES

All times UAE (+4 GMT)

Saturday
Fiorentina v Torino (8pm)
Hellas Verona v Roma (10.45pm)

Sunday
Parma v Napoli (2.30pm)
Genoa v Crotone (5pm)
Sassuolo v Cagliari (8pm)
Juventus v Sampdoria (10.45pm)

Monday
AC Milan v Bologna (10.45om)

Playing September 30

Benevento v Inter Milan (8pm)
Udinese v Spezia (8pm)
Lazio v Atalanta (10.45pm)

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.”

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

Non-oil trade

Non-oil trade between the UAE and Japan grew by 34 per cent over the past two years, according to data from the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre. 

In 10 years, it has reached a total of Dh524.4 billion. 

Cars topped the list of the top five commodities re-exported to Japan in 2022, with a value of Dh1.3 billion. 

Jewellery and ornaments amounted to Dh150 million while precious metal scraps amounted to Dh105 million. 

Raw aluminium was ranked first among the top five commodities exported to Japan. 

Top of the list of commodities imported from Japan in 2022 was cars, with a value of Dh20.08 billion.

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

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

All The Light We Cannot See

Creator: Steven Knight

Stars: Mark Ruffalo, Hugh Laurie, Aria Mia Loberti

Rating: 1/5 

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation 2 to 5
Rating: 5/5

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)

How to wear a kandura

Dos

  • Wear the right fabric for the right season and occasion 
  • Always ask for the dress code if you don’t know
  • Wear a white kandura, white ghutra / shemagh (headwear) and black shoes for work 
  • Wear 100 per cent cotton under the kandura as most fabrics are polyester

Don’ts 

  • Wear hamdania for work, always wear a ghutra and agal 
  • Buy a kandura only based on how it feels; ask questions about the fabric and understand what you are buying
ALRAWABI SCHOOL FOR GIRLS

Creator: Tima Shomali

Starring: Tara Abboud, Kira Yaghnam, Tara Atalla

Rating: 4/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

SPEC SHEET: APPLE M3 MACBOOK AIR (13")

Processor: Apple M3, 8-core CPU, up to 10-core CPU, 16-core Neural Engine

Display: 13.6-inch Liquid Retina, 2560 x 1664, 224ppi, 500 nits, True Tone, wide colour

Memory: 8/16/24GB

Storage: 256/512GB / 1/2TB

I/O: Thunderbolt 3/USB-4 (2), 3.5mm audio, Touch ID

Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3

Battery: 52.6Wh lithium-polymer, up to 18 hours, MagSafe charging

Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD

Video: Support for Apple ProRes, HDR with Dolby Vision, HDR10

Audio: 4-speaker system, wide stereo, support for Dolby Atmos, Spatial Audio and dynamic head tracking (with AirPods)

Colours: Midnight, silver, space grey, starlight

In the box: MacBook Air, 30W/35W dual-port/70w power adapter, USB-C-to-MagSafe cable, 2 Apple stickers

Price: From Dh4,599

The Intruder

Director: Deon Taylor

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Michael Ealy, Meagan Good

One star

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

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).
Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).