Banking shares help key Saudi index edge up 0.2 percent

Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All-Share Index extended gains from the previous session to close 0.2 percent up. Al-Rajhi Bank gained 0.7 percent. (Reuters)
Updated 23 October 2019

Banking shares help key Saudi index edge up 0.2 percent

  • Property shares weigh on Egypt; other Gulf markets mixed

Most Gulf stock markets moved marginally amid falling oil prices on Wednesday, while Egypt’s blue-chip index declined, led by property shares.

DUBAI: Oil prices slipped toward $59 a barrel on data showing a bigger-than-expected rise in US crude stocks, while the prospect of deeper output cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies offered support.

Saudi Arabia’s index extended gains from the previous session to close 0.2 percent up. Al-Rajhi Bank gained 0.7 percent, while Alinma Bank rose a further 1.3 percent.     

On Tuesday, Alinma reported a rise in third-quarter profit to SR713 million ($190.10 million) compared to 637 million a year earlier.    

However, gains were capped by losses in petrochemical stocks.

Sahara International Petrochemical (Sipchem) slid 2.8 percent following a more than 38 percent plunge in third-quarter net profit.

The petrochemical maker said it was due to a decrease in selling prices for most of the products.

Egypt’s blue-chip index decreased 0.5 percent, with most stocks on the index falling. Property stock Talaat Mostafa lost 1.7 percent and El-Sewedy Electric was down 1.5 percent. Among other stocks, developer Madinet Nasr also decreased 1.9 percent. 

Egypt’s nonoil private sector contracted for the second consecutive month in September, according to the IHS Markit Egypt Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI).     

In Dubai, the index closed 0.3 percent down with Emaar Properties shedding 1.1 percent and Dubai Islamic Bank  falling 0.6 percent. 

The Abu Dhabi Index added 0.3 percent, extending gains for a third straight session, with First Abu Dhabi Bank and Aldar Properties gaining 0.4 percent and 1.8 percent respectively. 

Qatar’s index dipped 0.2 percent, extending losses for a fifth straight session, as Qatar Fuel declined 1.6 percent and Mesaieed Petrochemical ended 2.2 percent lower.

But Commercial Bank edged up 0.2 percent after it reported a rise in nine-month profit to QR1.50 billion ($412.09 million) compared to QR1.35 billion a year earlier.


A Jordan startup delivers eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning

Updated 05 December 2019

A Jordan startup delivers eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning

  • Products used by WashyWash are non-carcinogenic and environmentally neutral
  • Amman-based laundry service aims to relocate to a larger facility in mid-2020

AMMAN: A persistent sinus problem prompted a Jordanian entrepreneur to launch an eco-friendly dry-cleaning service that could help end the widespread use of a dangerous chemical.

“Dry cleaning” is somewhat of a misnomer because it is not really dry. It is true that no water is involved in the process, but the main cleaning agent is perchloroethylene (PERC), a chemical that experts consider likely to cause cancer, as well as brain and nervous system damage.

Kamel Almani, 33, knew little of these dangers when he began suffering from sinus irritation while working as regional sales director at Eon Aligner, a medical equipment startup he co-founded.

The problem would disappear when he went on vacation, so he assumed it was stress related.

However, when Mazen Darwish, a chemical engineer, revealed he wanted to start an eco-laundry and warned about toxic chemicals used in conventional dry cleaning, Almani had an epiphany.

“He began to tell me how PERC affects the respiratory system, and I suddenly realized that it was the suits I wore for work — and which I would get dry cleaned — that were the cause of my sinus problems,” said Almani, co-founder of Amman-based WashyWash.

“That was the eureka moment. We immediately wanted to launch the business.”

WashyWash began operations in early 2018 with five staff, including the three co-founders: Almani, Darwish and Kayed Qunibi. The business now has 19 employees and became cash flow-positive in July this year.

“We’re very happy to achieve that in under two years,” Almani said.

The service uses EcoClean products that are certified as toxin-free, are biodegradable and cause no air, water or soil pollution.

Customers place orders through an app built in-house by the company’s technology team.

WashyWash collects customers’ dirty clothes, and cleans, irons and returns them. Services range from the standard wash-and-fold to specialized dry cleaning for garments and cleaning of carpets, curtains, duvets and leather goods.

“For wet cleaning, we use environmentally friendly detergents that are biodegradable, so the wastewater doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals,” Almani said.

For dry cleaning, WashyWash uses a modified hydrocarbon manufactured by Germany’s Seitz, whose product is non-carcinogenic and environmentally neutral.

A specialized company collects the waste and disposes of it safely.

The company has big ambitions, planning to expand its domestic operations and go international. Its Amman site can process about 1,000 items daily, but WashyWash will relocate to larger premises in mid-2020, which should treble its capacity.

“We’ve built a front-end app, a back-end system and a driver app along with a full facility management system. We plan to franchise that and have received interest from many countries,” Almani said.

“People visiting Amman used our service, loved it, and wanted an opportunity to launch in their countries.”

WashyWash has received financial backing from angel investors and is targeting major European cities initially.

“An eco-friendly, on-demand dry-cleaning app isn’t available worldwide, so good markets might be London, Paris or Frankfurt,” Almani said.

 

• The Middle East Exchange is one of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Global Initiatives that was launched to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai in the field of humanitarian
and global development, to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region. The initiative offers the press a series of articles on issues affecting Arab societies.