Samsung to unveil ‘innovative devices,’ hints at two new phones

Samsung’s first foldable phone, which folds horizontally, was launched in September after delays caused by screen problems. (AFP)
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Updated 05 January 2020

Samsung to unveil ‘innovative devices,’ hints at two new phones

SEOUL: Samsung Electronics said on Sunday that it will introduce new, innovative devices in San Francisco on Feb. 11, with the electronics giant widely expected to unveil its new foldable phone and a new version of its flagship S model.

The move comes as the world’s top smartphone maker seeks to maintain its lead in the foldable phone and 5G phone markets, with rivals plotting a catch-up in the nascent, but growing segments.

“Samsung Electronics will unveil new, innovative devices that will shape the next decade of mobile experiences,” the South Korean firm said at an invitation letter. It said the event at 11 a.m. Pacific time will be live-streamed.

In a teaser image, Samsung hinted at two phones – one shaped like a square and another with a rectangular form.

In October, Samsung Electronics unveiled its new foldable phone concept that folds vertically like an old flip phone. Its first foldable phone, which folds horizontally, was launched in September after delays caused by screen problems.

Samsung Electronics has traditionally unveiled new versions of its flagship Galaxy S phones ahead of the Mobile World Congress which takes places in February.

A Samsung spokeswoman declined to comment on which models it will be unveiled at the upcoming event.

Gulf electricity interconnection project saves members $3bn

Updated 21 January 2022

Gulf electricity interconnection project saves members $3bn

RIYADH: Gulf countries have saved $3 billion since the establishment of the Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Authority in 2019, it said.

Savings have come from a reduced need for new generation plants, thus lower operating and maintenance expenses, and reduced carbon emissions, SPA reported.

The Authority has agreed an action plan for the establishment of a joint electrical interconnection project with the Egyptian Electricity Transmission and Jordan’s National Electric Power Co., it said.

In a two-day meeting, the parties agreed on preparing a business case to explain the benefits of electrical connection and to complete the required procedures, SPA reported.

Twitter offers NFT profile pics; Bitcoin falls below $40,000: Crypto moves

Updated 21 January 2022

Twitter offers NFT profile pics; Bitcoin falls below $40,000: Crypto moves

LONDON: Twitter’s premium users can display non-fungible tokens in new hexagonal profile pictures, as the social media giant embraces the growing craze of digital collectibles known as NFTs.

Currently, the feature is only available to Twitter Blue subscribers on Apple’s iOS platform, allowing them to link their accounts with crypto wallets where they keep their NFTs.

To distinguish them from regular profile pictures, NFTs are displayed in hexagons that, when clicked, display details about them including ownership.

Last year, Twitter — founded by Jack Dorsey — began allowing users to send and receive bitcoin. Dorsey quit as Twitter CEO in November to focus on another company he founded, Square, which has since changed its name to Block, a reflection of Dorsey’s desire to further embrace blockchain and Web3 technologies.

Sales of NFTs reached about $25 billion in 2021, according to data from DappRadar, but growth is believed to have slowed toward the end of the year.

The most-traded cryptocurrencies experienced another day of selling on Friday as Bitcoin slumped almost 9 percent to $38,464.90 as of 1:07 p.m. in London. Ethereum declined 11 percent to $2,794 and Solana lost 14 percent to $118.

Bitcoin was trading above $67,000 as recently as November.

“Crypto markets have been sitting on a critical support level for some time,” Stack Funds told CoinDesk. “Macro market weakness is causing a sell-off in risk assets. Further continuation of this sentiment will likely see BTC trade in the mid ‘30s.”

Risk assets are being hurt by expectations of at least three interest-rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve this year as it looks to counter accelerating inflation.

The selloff in cryptocurrencies has not deterred the new mayor of New York City Eric Adams, who said he plans to convert his first paycheck this week into bitcoin and Ethereum.

“New York is the center of the world, and we want it to be the center of cryptocurrency and other financial innovations,” Adams said in a statement. “Being on the forefront of such innovation will help us create jobs, improve our economy, and continue to be a magnet for talent from all over the globe.”

Mobily prepares major announcements for LEAP22 tech conference

Updated 21 January 2022

Mobily prepares major announcements for LEAP22 tech conference

RIYADH: Etihad Etisalat, known as Mobily, said it will launch a range of innovative and disruptive digital solutions during LEAP22, the technology event scheduled for Riyadh in February.

Mobily’s announcements will be in the area of the Internet of things, artificial intelligence, smart cities, smart health care systems and others, it said in a statement.

“LEAP is a turning point in the Kingdom’s journey toward digital transformation, elevating its position at the forefront of global players who develop and empower the latest technologies that shape the future of our world,” said Mobily CEO Eng. Salman Al Badran. “As the Kingdom moves toward enabling a leading digital economy, Mobily seeks to provide individuals and corporates with the tools they need to unlocking opportunities and pursue their ambitions.”

“At Mobily, we persistently contribute to the realization of Vision 2030 through providing advanced telecommunications services and digital solutions that contribute to transforming the Kingdom’s digitalization ambitions into reality, he said.

Leap will be held in Riyadh from Feb. 1 to Feb. 3, 2022.

Saudi Arabia has been embracing technology as a means to loosen the economy’s dependency on hydrocarbons.

In August, $1 billion of initiatives aimed at improving digital skills in the Kingdom were unveiled under the name Launch. Among the targets is an ambition to train one in every 100 Saudis to be programmers, and the creation of 25,000 jobs in data science and AI by 2030.

Saudi Arabia has also attracted the Middle East’s first Apple Developer Academy, which will initially focus on women coders.

LEAP will host 700 start-ups and will feature a host of keynotes, workshops and assemblies on topics from smart cities to space and satellites, health tech, future energy.

The LEAP Forward stage will tackle issues around the most prominent future technologies, including self-driving vehicles and AI, exosuits, nanorobotics, augmented reality, and bionics.

International speakers include Raghu Raghuram, CEO of cloud-computing giant VMware, Börje Ekholm, president and CEO of Ericsson, and Dr. Saket Kumar, chief data scientist for Global Premium Services at Google. Regional speakers include Manar Al-Moneef, regional CEO of GE Renewable Energy, and Ghinwa Baradhi, HSBC’s chief information officer in the Middle East and North Africa.

Altogether 450 speakers and 40,000 visitors are expected at the event.


Capital Economics sees stronger Gulf non-oil growth in 2022 and 2023

Updated 21 January 2022

Capital Economics sees stronger Gulf non-oil growth in 2022 and 2023

RIYADH: Higher oil prices will support looser Gulf fiscal spending for the next two years, with a knock-on effect on non-oil growth in the region, according to Capital Economics.

The economic consultancy updated its oil-price forecasts this week, predicting Brent crude will end 2022 at $70 a barrel and 2023 at $65 a barrel, up from previous forecasts of $60 and $55, respectively. The change was driven by the expectation that Russia and some smaller producers within OPEC+, the alliance of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers, will struggle to meet their production quotas.

That led to an upgrade in Gulf hydrocarbon export revenue prediction of 8 percent and 11 percent for this year and next, respectively, Capital Economics Middle East and North Africa Economist James Swanston wrote in a research note.

“The upshot is that higher oil prices will keep the door for fiscal loosening ajar for longer, which may provide scope for slightly stronger growth in non-oil sectors,” he wrote. “But, as prices head below $70pb in 2023, that door will gradually close.”

For Middle East economies outside the Gulf, continued high oil prices will mean current-account deficits stay wider for longer, the note said. For countries that haven’t scaled back fuel subsidies, fiscal budgets will also remain under pressure.

“This furthers cement our view that, with officials struggling to push through fiscal consolidation, Tunisia will continue along the past to a sovereign default,” Swanston said.


Sukuk issuance to remain flat in 2022, says S&P Global

Updated 21 January 2022

Sukuk issuance to remain flat in 2022, says S&P Global

  • Global sukuk issuance fell marginally to about $147.4 billion from $148.4 billion in 2020

RIYADH: Sukuk issuance volumes will not grow significantly in 2022 as global interest rates rise and funding needs for Gulf economies fall, according to a report from S&P Global Ratings.

Global sukuk issuance fell marginally to about $147.4 billion from $148.4 billion in 2020, S&P said in the report.

Central bank interest rates tend to respond to moves from the US Federal Reserve, particularly those in the Gulf where currencies are pegged to the dollar.

“Amid a tight job market, accelerated inflation readings over the past few months, and increasingly hawkish forward guidance from the US Federal Reserve, we now expect three rate hikes in 2022, with the first expected in May,” the report said.

While sukuk issuance is likely to be subdued this year, the market is likely to grow in the long run, due to the increasing importance of environment and governance factors, it added.

Green and sustainability linked sukuk will continue to attract investors, S&P said. Energy transition policies adopted by Gulf countries as well as fresh fintech solutions will provide new opportunities for sukuk issuers.