DUBAI: Getting into a prestigious Ivy League university is no easy task.
According to the latest figures, California’s Stanford University was especially picky, with a 2019 acceptance rate of just 4 percent. Columbia and Harvard followed with 5 percent, while Princeton and Yale were slightly easier with 6 percent of applicants getting offers.
The race to get these coveted places is also getting harder as the number of applicants has gone up and universities have become even stricter. Dubai-based Crimson Education has reported a surge in clients looking for help to gain access to institutions in the US, as well as into Oxford and Cambridge.
“The number of students who joined Crimson Education in the region over the past six months was 200 percent up from the same period the previous year,” Soraya Beheshti, regional director for the Middle East and Africa at Crimson Education, told Arab News. “The company had a big push to hire new strategists in order to meet the surging demand. Crimson grew 250 percent from 2019 to 2020 and is projected to grow more than 150 percent this year.”
The demand makes sense.
A 2015 report from the US Department of Education found that the average salary of Ivy League graduates a decade after they finished university was $70,000 a year, compared to the average salary for non-Ivy League graduates of $34,000.
Companies like Crimson Education coach students on how to improve their chances of being one of the few who receive an offer letter, and Behesti said the acceptance rate among their clients was three times the global average.
There are also a number of trends which has seen demand for such services skyrocket in recent years.
“The number of students who applied early to Ivy League colleges skyrocketed in 2020, although the acceptance rate reached record lows,” Beheshti added. “Applications to Columbia and Harvard’s early rounds increased from the previous year by 49 percent and 57 percent, respectively. Applying early to their top-choice university usually gives students an advantage but last year, the early round acceptance rate was closer to that of the regular round, with Harvard admitting just 7.4 percent of early applicants, from 13.9 percent in the previous year.”
Students have started enrolling for help earlier because of the increased competition, and Beheshti said Crimson had seen a rise in demand from clients as young as nine.
“When we work with students from a young age, our sessions and objectives are not focused on universities per se, but building really strong foundations, developing a growth mindset, cultivating good study habits, learning entrepreneurial thinking and even developing core skills such as coding, debate or languages.”
Demand can differ from country to country, with those in the UAE preferring British institutions, while Saudi students show a preference for US ones, especially Columbia, Harvard and Yale.
Having the right aptitude is good, but money also really counts. Crimson said that studying at an Ivy League university cost between $30,000 and $45,000 per year, although between 40 and 60 percent of students received some form of financial aid.
“For GCC students, governments offer attractive scholarships — but usually only for students who gain admission to the top 100 universities. We have worked with Emirati and Saudi students of all abilities, from A-grade academics to students struggling at school, to ensure their admission to the top 100 schools through academic tutoring, admissions support and extra-curricular coaching, thereby allowing them to receive government scholarships,” Beheshti said.
Gulf student demand for Ivy League varsity coaches surges
Gulf student demand for Ivy League varsity coaches surges
- Companies like Crimson Education coach students on how to improve their chances of being one of the few who receive an offer letter
- Demand can differ from country to country, with those in the UAE preferring British institutions
DUBAI: Getting into a prestigious Ivy League university is no easy task.
Abu Dhabi Mubadala invested record amount in 2020, eyes aluminum IPO
“We’ve invested more in 2020 than we have ever done in any one year prior to that,” Khaldoon Khalifa Al-Mubarak told a virtual event organized by Bahrain’s Investcorp.
Mubarak did not disclose the figure, but his comments signalled Mubadala’s investments will exceed the $18.5 billion in 2019 and $19.1 billion in 2018.
He said Emirates Global Aluminium, which is owned by Mubadala and Investment Corp. of Dubai, is well placed for an initial public offering.
“This company is now a very mature business, a very well-placed business for growth. It’s cost base is in the lowest quartile...it’s a great business,” he said.
A plan to list EGA was delayed in 2018. Mubarak said Mubadala paused for 6-8 weeks in March 2020, using the time to understand the ramifications of the pandemic.
“We supercharged our monetization when it came to the sectors in the headwinds and we kept investing in the sectors in the tailwinds, building new partnerships and really focusing on life sciences, as an example, technology, mobility, digital infrastructure,” he said.
Mubadala, which manages $232 billion, invested $853 million in the retail division of India’s Reliance Industries in October after paying $1.2 billion for a 1.85% stake in Reliance’s digital unit, Jio Platform in June.
“We have invested more in India in 2020 than the previous 19 years combined, that gives you an indication of how serious we are about investing in India,” Mubarak said, noting Mudabala had been underweight in terms of its exposure to the country in the past.
He confirmed Mubadala’s team is looking at the pipelines business of Saudi Aramco but had yet to decide whether to invest, nor had it taken a view on the listing of Santa Clara-based semi-conductor producer Globalfoundries.
Mubarak said future risks include inflation, another pandemic, the trade rift between the United States and China, as well as a global correction and economic slowdown.
($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham) (Reporting by Saeed Azhar and Alexander Cornwell; editing by Jason Neely, Kirsten Donovan)
Saudi Arabia issued 117 permits for entertainment activities in 2020
- Tarfeeh enables investors and companies operating in the sector to request licenses and permits for recreational activities and events
RIYADH: The National Committee for Digital Transformation announced on Monday it has officially chosen the online portal “Tarfeeh” to organize and develop the Kingdom’s entertainment sector.
Tarfeeh was chosen from more than 800 potential platforms under consideration, according to a report by the Saudi News Agency.
Established by the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), Tarfeeh enables investors and companies operating in the sector to request licenses and permits for recreational activities and events, and to apply for accreditation certificates for specialized activities in the entertainment sector.
Using the portal, the GEA in 2020 issued 117 permits for entertainment activities, 219 licenses for operating entertainment facilities, and 398 permits for live shows in restaurants and cafes, despite the restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The portal also enabled 188 investors to obtain a license to manage and develop artistic and entertainment talents.
The number of restaurants and cafes registered in the portal in order to obtain permits for live performances was more than 410.
Oil ‘supercycle’ not on the cards: Energy experts
- Key triggers needed to push crude over $100 per barrel still missing: Report
DUBAI: Oil is unlikely to hit $100 per barrel on a sustainable basis in the near future, according to experts at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies (OIES), a prestigious UK-based think tank.
In a report prepared by Bassam Fattouh and Andreas Economou of the OIES, the likelihood of an imminent oil “supercycle” — suggested by some commodities analysts — is downplayed because of the absence of key factors that might spark a surge in the price of crude.
“Some key triggers of an oil supercycle, such as an inelastic supply in the face of rampant demand and lack of spare capacity and refining constraints, which could push prices to $100 a barrel and keep them at those high levels, are still missing,” they argue.
Rather, oil will trade in a range of $59-$69 per barrel until the end of 2022, the authors said. “Sentiment could push prices beyond these boundaries, but they are not likely to be sustainable. For prices to reach anywhere close to $100/b, we need to consider other shocks,” they added.
The idea of a “supercycle” in oil and other commodities has gained traction in recent months, as the price of crude has recovered from the historic lows of last year’s pandemic collapse and some oil companies slashed investment in new fields.
Analysts at JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs — two of the biggest banks in the world — have suggested that the global market is on the brink of a run that could see oil top $100 per barrel.
But the Oxford experts, in their latest Oil Monthly report, conclude that this is unlikely. “While oil market dynamics and prices have markedly improved, the degree of uncertainty surrounding the outlook remains high. Following a challenging year, OPEC+ policy choices will keep dictating market outcomes, but the recent oil price rebound does not yet signal the start of the next oil supercycle,” they said.
The experts added that while April 2020 was “the bleakest month in the history of oil markets” with prices averaging $23 per barrel, the price has rebounded to above $60 as demand recovered, stocks were drawn down and OPEC+, the producers’ alliance led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, has kept a tight lid on supplies.
“This impressive recovery occurred despite wide uncertainty surrounding oil demand and the fact that it has yet to fully recover to its pre-pandemic level. Although the dominant expectation is for oil demand to rebound strongly in the second half of 2021 as countries lift restrictions and the global economic recovery accelerates, the uncertainty over the timing and pace of the rebound remains high,” the authors added.
The Oxford analysis provides support for the continued caution expressed by Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, who recently said he would not believe evidence of a recovery in demand “until I see it.”
OPEC+ policy is singled out as one of the main factors behind the recovery in crude prices, the Oxford experts said, noting a “more flexible and more effective OPEC+ in dealing with the adverse shock of COVID-19 and in influencing market expectations and shaping sentiment.”
They added: “Although it has become increasingly difficult to predict OPEC+’s next move, this unpredictability is part of a deliberate policy and has had the effect of increasing the market impact of OPEC+ decisions. At a more fundamental level, it shows a more assertive role for OPEC+ in dictating the pace of market rebalancing.”
Some analysts have forecast that higher oil prices will lead to a return of US shale supply, which was hammered by the pandemic lockdowns in America. But the Oxford analysis does not see this on the immediate horizon. “There is an emerging consensus that US shale growth will be rather limited or even decline in 2021,” the authors said.
The risk of Iranian oil flooding the market in the event of a deal between Tehran and Washington on nuclear policy is also overstated, the authors added. “Even if the Iran nuclear deal is revived, the export increase from current levels will be moderate,” they said.
Saudi food industry market leader ‘performed exceptionally’ despite pandemic
- Almunajem Foods has expanded its agreement with Brazil-based JBS, the world’s leading chicken and beef producer
RIYADH: Almunajem Foods, one of Saudi Arabia’s largest private food companies, has reported a successful 2020 and is maintaining a positive outlook for 2021, despite the coronavirus pandemic continuing to affect the economy on a global scale.
The company, which has more than 70 years of experience in the Saudi food market, serves more than 22,000 customer outlets including retail, food services and wholesale channels. Their expertise lies in importation, marketing and the distribution of frozen, chilled and dry foodstuffs.
Almunajem operates 14 branches, 12 of which are equipped with temperature-controlled warehouses. They also work with more than 60 suppliers, and brands under the company’s umbrella include household names such as Coopoliva olives, President dairy products and their own in-house brand, Dari.
Thamer Abanumay, CEO of Almunajem Foods, told Arab News that business was flourishing despite the setbacks posed by the pandemic in 2020 and said the company had managed to minimize interruption of services.
“Our business was put to the test in 2020, but I can confidently say that on all fronts we performed exceptionally. Our operations maintained a high level of resilience despite the obstacles caused by COVID-19. Thanks to our strong logistical abilities, backed by technology, data and tools, we were able to move our products safely and in a timely manner,” he said.
Abanumay predicts significant growth in the food market as a whole over the next few years, and sees many potential opportunities to capitalize on. “The participation of women in the labor force, as well as the rapid growth of the inbound tourism industry in the Kingdom, will have a significant impact on the food consumption and food service industries. We will also focus on increasing our backward integration and produce more products in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
The company has also managed to forge new business deals with international partners, despite the uncertainty plaguing international trade.
The company on Sunday announced an expansion to its longstanding collaboration agreement with Seara, a subsidiary of Brazil-based JBS, the world’s leading chicken and beef producer. The agreement forms part of Almunajem Foods’ diversification strategy to service its business-to-business customer base across the Kingdom and to meet the increase in demand from the food industry.
The agreement includes Almunajem Foods distributing a wide variety of poultry products, including whole chicken grillers, chicken parts and other processed products.
Abanumay told Arab News that demand for poultry in the Kingdom, both for whole griller chickens as well as parts, would likely mean that despite fluctuations in the market there was strong demand for their produce.
The Brazilian Animal Protein Association reported in January that while poultry exports from Brazil had experienced a decline, some of the leading Arab importers “stepped up” their purchases. The figures showed that 35,800 tons of poultry was shipped to Saudi Arabia, up by 2 percent, with revenue climbing 4 percent year-on-year to $58.5 million.
Saudi Arabia was the premier Arab importer of poultry from Brazil in January, with the UAE ranked second. Total global raw and processed poultry exports from Brazil fetched $434.4 million in Jan. 2021, down 17.9 percent from Jan. 2020.
Abanumay said that the company was already making headway on plans to introduce new products to the market in 2021, as well as to bring new suppliers on board over the course of the year.
Pakistan’s central bank says studying feasibility of issuing its own digital currency
- State Bank governor says “comprehensive internal survey” being carried out to learn about trends in other countries
- Global central banks developing digital currencies to modernise financial systems, ward off threat from cryptocurrencies, speed up payments
KARACHI: Pakistan’s central bank is conducting a “comprehensive internal survey” to study the feasibility of launching a digital currency in the country, the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan said on Monday.
Global central banks are looking at developing digital currencies to modernise their financial systems, ward off the threat from cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and speed up domestic and international payments. China is one of the most advanced in its effort, and last month proposed a set of global rules for central bank digital currencies, from how they can be used around the world to highly sensitive issues such as monitoring and information sharing.
“There are many things involved and we are conducting a comprehensive internal study that what are the trends in other central banks,” governor State Bank Dr Reza Baqir said while speaking to journalists at the Pakistan Stock Exchange. “When our study would be completed the outcome will be shared … The experience of other central banks and may be the basis for our considerations.”
In an interview to international media last month, Baqir said introducing a digital currency would boost the government’s efforts at financial inclusion and allow it to make “progress in our fight towards anti-money laundering and towards countering terrorism financing.”
The Bank of Japan began experiments this month to study the feasibility of issuing its own digital currency, joining efforts by other central banks that are aiming to match the innovation in the field achieved by the private sector. The first phase of Japan's experiments, to be carried out until March 2022, will focus on testing the technical feasibility of issuing, distributing and redeeming a central bank digital currency (CBDC).
As digital currencies such as bitcoin gain more traction with mainstream companies and investors, and as private efforts like the Facebook-backed Diem seek approval, the onus is on central banks to accelerate plans to issue digital cash to fend off threats to their control over money.
The People's Bank of China is aiming to become the first major central bank to issue a CBDC, part of its push to internationalise the yuan and reduce dependence on the dollar-dominated global banking system.
The European Central Bank is also exploring the introduction of a digital euro, within the next five years. It’s running into opposition from Germany, though, where the Bundesbank worries that a digital euro could pose risks to banks.
A CBDC that gains wide acceptance in international trade and payments could ultimately erode the dollar’s status as the de facto currency of world trade and undermine US influence, many analysts say.
But cybersecurity experts also warn against threats to security as well as privacy risks.
“It provides opportunities for malicious hackers and cyber crooks to carry out frauds, scams, and theft through phishing and ransomware attacks,” Muhammad Khurram Khan, founder & CEO of the Washington DC-based Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research, told Arab News. “To build a secure, resilient and privacy-preserving ecosystem, the central bank of Pakistan needs to implement strong data security standards, processes, protocols, and technologies to protect against burgeoning cyber risks.”
“One major challenge associated with digital currencies is the consumer's privacy concerns,” Khan added. “Therefore, the central bank has to make sure to protect the rights of users for their privacy while they make transactions.”