Gulf In Focus

Bahrain approves Pfizer covid vaccine for children aged 5-11

Gulf state Bahrain has approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use for children aged between 5 and 11 years, the government media office said on Tuesday. The decision came after a study involving 3,100 children aged between 5 and 11 who were administered with the vaccine found it to be 90.7percent effective in that age group, said the statement, citing the National Health Regulatory Authority. None of the children involved in the study showed severe side effects, it said. Bahrain will be supplied with doses from the manufacturer for the 5-11 age group from the start of 2022, it said.

Expo 2020 lifts UAE’s non-oil business growth

UAE non-oil firms enjoyed a marked increase in new business during October, driven by rising spending and tourism amid the opening of the Expo 2020, according to the IHS Markit’s UAE Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI). Output levels rose at the strongest rate for more than two years, while confidence regarding future activity improved markedly. “The Expo 2020 finally began in the UAE at the start of October and brought a highly welcome upsurge in growth across the non-oil private sector. The increases in both output and new business were sharp and the most marked since July 2019,” said David Owen, Economist at IHS Markit.

Sharjah chamber discuss enhancing economic, investment cooperation with Kazakhstan

The Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) has discussed with Kazakhstan prospects of enhancing economic cooperation, developing trade relations and mutual investment. During a meeting held recently at Expo 2020 Dubai, Abdullah Sultan Al Owais, Chairman of the SCCI, explored with Malika Bekturova, Deputy Mayor of the Nur-Sultan city, avenues of cooperation and spoke about possible partnerships between the business communities and investors of both countries. Both sides also discussed ways of benefiting from promising investment opportunities available in the two countries, especially in the tourism, industry and infrastructure sectors. The meeting was held on the sidelines of the chamber’s participation in the “Nur-Sultan Investment and Tourism Forum” organised by Invest in Nur-Sultan office in Kazakhstan’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

UAE 2021 salaries steady with business offering up to 25pc bonuses, survey finds

Salaries in the UAE remain steady this year, with some businesses offering bonuses of up to 25 percent for their top performers, according to Robert Half’s 2021 Salary Guide. Employees mostly request incentives that support their development and performance while working from home, according to the recruitment consultancy. The most requested benefits include work-from-home policy, childcare support and subsidised training support, the study revealed. In the UAE, multinationals are happy to enable remote working but some SMEs are resisting, which is putting off potential candidates for whom it is a priority perk, the recruiter said. Half of all employees in the UAE expect to move to a new job over the next 12 months, with salary the No 1 reason to switch jobs in 2021, according to a January survey by global recruitment agency Hays.

Oman plans first satellite launch next year

Oman’s first satellite will be launched into Earth’s lower orbit by the end of 2022. The CubeSat technology-based satellite is the result of a collaboration between Oman’s TUATARA, a business solutions provider, ETCO, an international emerging technology company, and Poland’s SatRevolution a satellite manufacturer and space service company. All three are working with Oman’s Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology (MTCIT). The agreement between the organisations was signed at the International Astronautical Congress, which was held from 25 to 29 October in Dubai. According to the Times of Oman, besides the launch of the satellite itself, a five-year collaboration between the parties will include designing and manufacturing a complete satellite imaging receiving and transmission infrastructure based on CubeSat technology.

Archaeologists in Saudi Arabia excavate forgotten kingdoms

Amid the arid desert and mountains of Al Ula in northwest Saudi Arabia, archaeologists are working to excavate the remnants of the ancient and long-forgotten kingdoms of Dadan and Lihyan. Al Ula, a flagship tourist destination since it opened in 2019, is known chiefly for the majestic tombs of Madain Saleh, a 2,000-year-old city carved into rocks by the Nabateans, the pre-Islamic Arab people who also built Petra in neighbouring Jordan. A team of French and Saudi archaeologists is now focused on excavating five nearby sites related to the Dadanite and Lihyanite civilisations, important regional powers that flourished 2,000 years ago.

Kuwaiti conglomerate explores stake sale in starbucks franchise

Kuwaiti conglomerate Alshaya Group is considering selling a minority stake in its Starbucks Corp. franchise that extends from the Gulf region to Russia, according to people familiar with the matter.

Family-run Alshaya is working with JPMorgan Chase & Co. on a potential transaction, the people said, asking not to be named because the information is private.

No final decision has been made and the owners could still decide against pursuing any deal, they said.

A spokesperson for the Kuwait-headquartered company declined to comment on any specifics but said “we constantly look at potential strategic initiatives across the business, in line with Alshaya’s continued strong performance.” JPMorgan declined to comment.

Raising cash through a private placement would help Alshaya move past a period of unprecedented disruption that saw the retail and food industry suffer from lockdowns during the global pandemic. While the sector has rebounded this year thanks in part to a shift to e-commerce and growing delivery sales, economic concerns remain a drag on consumer spending.

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