Lebanon hikes fuel prices to shore up forex reserves

Motorbike drivers and cars wait to get fuel at a gas station in Beirut. (Reuters)
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Updated 29 June 2021

Lebanon hikes fuel prices to shore up forex reserves

  • Fuel importers blamed the crisis on a delay by the central bank in opening credit lines to fund fuel imports due to depletion of foreign currency reserves

BEIRUT: Lebanon hiked fuel prices by more than 30 percent Tuesday as it reduced subsidies that have eaten away at the central bank’s foreign currency reserves amid a painful economic crisis.
Petrol and diesel prices went up sharply, according to a revised price list published by the official National News Agency (NNA), in a week when a steep currency devaluation sparked angry street protests.
The sharp fuel price rises came as Lebanon, a small country of six million people, grapples with an economic crisis branded by the World Bank as one of the world’s worst since the mid-19th century.
The Lebanese pound — which has been pegged to the dollar at 1,507 since 1997 — sold for more than 17,000 to the greenback on the black market this week, a record low.
The price of 20 liters of 95-octane petrol shot up nearly 16,000 Lebanese pounds ($10.6 at the official rate) to reach 61,000 pounds ($40.6), according to NNA.
The price of the same amount of 98-octane petrol climbed by 16,300 pounds ($10.8) to reach nearly 63,000 pounds ($42).
Meanwhile, the price of diesel reached 46,100 pounds ($30.7), up from 33,300 pounds ($22.2).
The new prices came after weeks of long queues at petrol stations that had started rationing gasoline and diesel fuel amid shortages.
Fuel importers blamed the crisis on a delay by the central bank in opening credit lines to fund fuel imports due to depletion of foreign currency reserves.
For their part, Lebanese officials said smuggling to Syria and stockpiling by fuel distributors had contributed to shortages.
The central bank used to fund 85 percent of fuel imports at the official exchange rate of 1,507 Lebanese pounds to the dollar while importers fund the rest of the cost at the street rate.
But the government last week authorized the funding of fuel imports at the weaker exchange rate of 3,900 Lebanese pounds to the dollar instead of the official peg to ease the crisis.
The central bank Monday said it would open credit lines for fuel imports based on the new exchange rate in compliance with the government’s decision.
Following the central bank announcement, the energy ministry said that fuel tankers docked in Lebanese waters had started offloading fuel shipments that would boost supply in the coming days.
Fadi Abu Shakra of the union of fuel distributors told NNA on Tuesday that six tankers had started offloading shipments and they would soon be distributed to gas stations across the country.

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Giordano launches internship program in Saudi Arabia

Updated 16 September 2021

Giordano launches internship program in Saudi Arabia

Giordano Saudi Arabia recently rolled out its new internship program, in conjunction with the Jeddah Chapter of the Entrepreneur Organization.
The innovative internship program has been tailor-made for the Saudi market, offering participants a full range of site visits and tours, followed by work experience in both Giordano’s retail stores and in their preferred functional departments at the company’s regional headquarters. Participants will attend sessions on sales and marketing and visual merchandising, culminating with a final assessment and the issuance of a completion certificate.
Ahmedullah Abdul Hadi, chief operating officer of Giordano Saudi Arabia, said: “The Giordano KSA internship program is completely bespoke. We have taken elements from the Fast-Track Management Scheme operated by Giordano’s global headquarters, which has successfully produced a number of young senior executives, and injected our own local expertise and knowledge, culminating in a truly unique experience for participants.”
He added: “Our aim is to maximize the interaction between the company and the participants, striking a balance between conveying our core values while allowing the interns to make decisions about their participation early on, with a view to identifying potential talent for long-term development.”
The Entrepreneur Organization is a global, peer-to-peer network of more than 4,000 influential business owners with 198 chapters in 61 countries. Founded in 1987, the EO enables leading entrepreneurs to learn and grow, with a view to creating greater success in business and beyond. The Jeddah Chapter of the organization was founded in 2004, and currently has 26 members, representing more than 16,000 employees.
Established in 1981, Giordano is an international retailer of men’s, women’s and children’s apparel. It now operates around 2,100 stores and counters in Greater China, South Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia, India and the GCC.


Sidra Capital acquires Countryside PLC HQ in UK

Updated 15 September 2021

Sidra Capital acquires Countryside PLC HQ in UK

Sidra Capital, a GCC-based Shariah-compliant asset manager, has announced the completion of its acquisition of a freehold Countryside House HQ in the M25 submarket of Brentwood, UK. The transaction is valued at £19 million ($26.2 million).

The acquired property is fully let to Countryside PLC, a FTSE 250 company, on an unbroken 15-year lease and is undergoing a comprehensive £8 million refurbishment to transform the property into a state-of-the-art, future-proofed HQ building with excellent environmental credentials.

The Grade A office building is located in an established southeast submarket and benefits from excellent transport links to Central London and the rest of the UK. The three floors of office space comprise 38,878 square feet and the building provides 165 parking spaces, offering an excellent parking ratio of 1:1235 square feet, while enhancing an already extremely attractive working environment.

Commenting on the transaction, Hani Baothman, chairman of Sidra Capital, said: “We are pleased to have completed the acquisition of this exceptional HQ building whose value is enhanced by the long let to a strong tenant in an attractive M25 location.

HIGHLIGHT

The acquired property is fully let to Countryside PLC, a FTSE 250 company, on an unbroken 15-year lease and is undergoing a comprehensive £8 million refurbishment.

This demonstrates not only our commitment to the UK market but also to our belief that modern fit-for-purpose office buildings in strong locations will remain attractive to both tenants and investors. The transaction confirms our commitment to providing investors with attractive high-yielding investment opportunities in global mature markets that fulfill their investment objectives and aspirations.”

The transaction bolsters Sidra Capital’s real estate investment strategy in the UK, which is buoyed by the prospect of economic growth and renewed investor sentiment as the UK GDP returns to pre-COVID levels.

“An easing of COVID-19 restrictions has served to rebuild investor confidence, which in turn brought liquidity and positive sentiment back to the market,” Baothman added.
Founded in 2009 and headquartered in Saudi Arabia — with offices in Jeddah, Riyadh and London, Sidra Capital is a Shariah-compliant asset manager that specializes in income-generating real estate and private finance.
 


Huawei to empower KFU students with digital skills

Updated 01 September 2021

Huawei to empower KFU students with digital skills

Huawei, a global provider of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices, and King Faisal University have signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance local digital skills in Saudi Arabia through Huawei’s ICT Academy Program. The agreement aims to provide the university with advanced technologies to nurture and empower university students.
The MoU was signed by Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz Al-Ohali, president of King Faisal University, and Eric Yang, CEO of Huawei Tech Investment Saudi Arabia, in the presence of Dr. Meqbel bin Mishari Aleidan, vice president for studies, development and community engagement; Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz Aldhafer, assistant of head of innovation and business development sector; Dr. Adel Sharar Aldalbahi, dean of College of Engineering and supervisor of industrial relations and technology transfer, as well as senior executives and staff from both parties.
Developing ICT skills is vital for realizing Saudi Vision 2030, which has digital transformation as a key pillar. While the Kingdom has made tremendous progress in developing its ICT skills base, its ambitious digital-first development program requires an enhanced ICT talent ecosystem.
Al-Ohali said: “The appetite for advanced technologies among the young local talents in Saudi Arabia is very high. Therefore, we are confident the collaboration with a leading technology company such as Huawei will be a great success. Having a partner that provides global expertise is key to realizing the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. This collaboration reflects our commitment to preparing the future generation to play a key role in the country’s transformation journey.”
CEO Yang said: “Huawei is proud to partner with a leading university such as King Faisal as part of our continuous efforts to support universities in the Kingdom and cultivate ICT talent that meets industry requirements, providing a high-quality talent for industry development. By deepening the cooperation with Saudi universities and enterprises, we can promote industry development and innovate talent development models based on enterprise requirements.”
Aliedan, meanwhile, said: “As a major ICT vendor, Huawei will introduce our students to the latest technologies that are relevant for the marketplace. This will, in turn, help our nation advance its development objectives and digital transformation requirements. We look forward to many more years of cooperation with Huawei as we jointly work together to advance the ICT sector in the Kingdom.”
Launched in 2013, the Huawei ICT Academy helps universities cultivate ICT talent that meets industry requirements, providing high-quality workforce for the sector’s development. As a leading global ICT solutions provider, Huawei advocates for an open, shared ICT talent ecosystem that benefits all parties. Through this initiative, Huawei builds a talent supply chain covering the entire process of learning, certification, and employment — by deepening the cooperation mechanism between universities and enterprises, aiming to promote industry development, and innovate talent development models based on enterprise requirements.


1,000 Emirati students enroll in career readiness program

Updated 01 September 2021

1,000 Emirati students enroll in career readiness program

Zayed University and the Abdulla Al-Ghurair Foundation for Education have successfully marked the first year of their partnership, following a memorandum of understanding between the two entities to support Emirati youth along their education and early employment journeys.
Within a year, the partnership produced exceptional results with the flagship initiative. Zayed University student engagement in the Al-Ghurair Young Thinkers Program (YTP), an online education and career readiness platform provided by AGFE, recorded a strong response, registering more than 1,000 Emirati students.
The three-year agreement to formalize the partnership between the two entities and integrate YTP — which offers career exploration tools, professional and soft skills courses, and education and career information — targets 6,000 student enrollments by 2023.
Noura bint Mohammed Al-Kaabi, minister of culture and youth, president of Zayed University, said: “The impressive results, achieved in the very first year of our partnership with AGFE highlight the value-add that the private sector can bring to academia, especially in mentoring young Emirati talent for future careers. With academic programs and extracurricular activities aligned to enhance student skills and prepare them for future jobs, the partnership adds further value in our goal to empower the next generation of talented Emirati professionals.”
Abdul Aziz Al-Ghurair, chairman of the board of trustees of AGFE, said: “We entered into our partnership with Zayed University at a critical time, when the higher education sector and job opportunities for young Emiratis were affected by the pandemic. It was important to build strategic collaborations to create ecosystems of success for youth and their communities. Our goal was to create multiple programs to upskill youth and support faculty, taking into consideration our new reality. We are delighted with the success of the program in the very first year, and we are on an accelerated course to achieving our ambitious targets. We believe that empowering our youth is vital when it comes to realizing the development goals set by our leadership.”


ALJ Motors celebrates Toyota Corolla sales milestone

Updated 31 August 2021

ALJ Motors celebrates Toyota Corolla sales milestone

Further strengthening the 55-year legacy of one of its best-selling vehicles, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors, the authorized distributor of Toyota in Saudi Arabia, has announced that the iconic Toyota Corolla has surpassed sales of 50 million units worldwide.

The milestone reflects the enduring appeal of the Corolla, which is known the world over for its low operating costs, quality engineering, reliable, trouble-free driving experience and uncompromising comfort.

Munir Khoja, managing director, marketing communication, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors, said: “It’s no surprise that the iconic Toyota Corolla has reached yet another milestone. We would like to thank our loyal guests for placing their unwavering trust in Toyota and Abdul Latif Jameel Motors, and for helping achieve this great feat. Since its launch in Japan over half-a-century ago, the Corolla’s upstanding reputation for quality, comfort and efficiency has seen it command the world’s roads in its own dignified, modest way.

“Selling more than 50 million vehicles worldwide is a testament to the enduring appeal of the comfort, reliability and drivability of the Toyota Corolla. And we invite our guests to join us on the next stage of the Toyota Corolla’s legendary journey to fuel our aspirations, as we continue introducing the best-in-class vehicles to Saudi Arabia.”

HIGHLIGHT

Toyota Corolla’s hybrid model offers the lowest fuel consumption value in its category at 27.6 km/L, enabling customers to contribute to a greener future.

The Toyota Corolla series has continued to evolve and remains a highly popular choice among drivers of Saudi Arabia. New advanced features and functions have been introduced to suit the expectations of customers, while inheriting the original model’s core DNA reliability and usability from the very first generation.

Exemplifying Abdul Latif Jameel Motors and Toyota’s continuous commitment to providing environmentally friendly vehicles is the addition of a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) model, which combines two power sources consisting of a petrol engine and two electric motors.

The hybrid model offers the lowest fuel consumption value in its category at 27.6 km/L, enabling customers to contribute to a greener future while enjoying the increased driving satisfaction provided by its advanced technologies.

The HEV model offers exceptional cabin quietness and smooth acceleration, especially when accelerating from a stand-still.