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.


Ishraq Hospitality opens Holiday Inn Dubai Al-Maktoum Airport

Updated 06 October 2021

Ishraq Hospitality opens Holiday Inn Dubai Al-Maktoum Airport

Ishraq Hospitality, a division of the Mohammad and Obaid Al-Mulla Group, announced the launch of its newest upscale hotel in the new part of Dubai located next to the Expo Dubai 2020 site.

Holiday Inn Dubai Al-Maktoum Airport comes in line with the company’s expansion plans in the region and is adjacent to another successful property owned by the company — Staybridge Suites Dubai Al-Maktoum Airport — which comprises a total of 606 rooms.

The hotel also enjoys a strategic location as it is in proximity to Expo Dubai 2020, next to Al-Maktoum International Airport and top attractions such as Dubai Park and Resorts.

Touted to become a leading business destination, Holiday Inn Dubai Al-Maktoum Airport offers a 300-pax pillarless ballroom, boardroom with daylight, meeting rooms, business center and a co-working environment.

It also caters to the needs of families and leisure guests as it provides a perfect destination to escape the city hustle for a staycation with more than 600 rooms and apartments. Kids under 12 years can eat and stay for free. The hotel has a large 24/7 gym, spa, hair salon, yoga studio, pool lounge, and the South Central lounge, kitchen and terrace.

Chady Kanaan, general manager of Holiday Inn Dubai Al-Maktoum Airport and Staybridge Suites Dubai Al-Maktoum Airport, added: “Now that we have our two hotels open and running, we are looking forward to receiving our esteemed guests in our new properties right in the heart of this new business hub. And with the offerings we have, we are confident that we will be the hotels of choice for family and business travelers alike.”

Alexander Suski, acting CEO of Ishraq Hospitality, said: “Given our success and legacy in Dubai and the rest of the UAE and GCC, it was only natural for us to expand our presence in the region and especially in the Dubai South area as it comes in line with the futuristic visions of Dubai for Expo Dubai 2020 as well as Al-Maktoum airport for the longer term.”

When it comes to dining and entertainment, the hotel offers international cuisine selection, and a signature lounge and terrace concept that welcomes all neighbors at the South Central.

V-Line Group’s digitization drive boosts localization

Updated 03 October 2021

V-Line Group’s digitization drive boosts localization

RIYADH: The e-commerce platform of V-Line Group, a global leader in supply chain solutions, has come a long way in boosting localization while working closely with Saudi Arabia within the framework of Saudi Vision 2030. “This achievement required an incredible amount of effort, time and sustained innovation for us to reach a point where we are today,” said Detlef Daues, founder and chairman of V-Line Group, speaking on the occasion of the German National Day.
“Saudi Arabia made us who we are today and granted us opportunities to grow. We are proud that we can give back something to the country, the companies, and the people, with our knowledge and global network, thus strongly supporting Vision 2030,” he added.
Daues recalled the company’s genesis, saying that V-Line, a provider of maintenance, repair and operations solutions and services, started its business in 1979, supplying spare parts to desalination plants in the Kingdom.
“Today, for more than 40 years, V-Line is still strongly connected to Saudi Arabia, not only having its main clients like SABIC, SWCC, SEC, Maaden, PetroRabigh, and Tasnee here, but also an entity headquartered in Jubail, with a full trading license to be available on-site and transfer more supply chain knowledge to Saudi Arabia,” said the chairman. “V-Line Middle East fully commits and aligns itself with the goals of Vision 2030,” he added.
Daues further said: “We support clients to localize their business by identifying the local value proposition and benefit from job creation and expertise transfer to quality improvement. We employ Saudi nationals, among them many Saudi women, and train them.”
“Every employee is given a chance to participate in the employee exchange program between the global V-Line entities to provide opportunities for Saudis to acquire knowledge and skills,” said Hasnain Jamil, chief executive officer of V-Line Middle East. “These are some of the examples of how we can implement Vision 2030 in our daily business life,” he added.
Another milestone that V-Line achieved in local content creation was the commitment as an international strategic partner in SABIC’s NUSANED program. In this context, V-Line acts as an ambassador or facilitator to attract foreign manufacturers to invest in the Saudi market, promotes local manufacturing, identifies local demand and the possibility for scaling manufacturing in the Kingdom besides supporting small and medium-sized Saudi companies to increase their export.
Now, V-Line is intensifying its efforts for localization by intertwining them with the opportunities of digitization. “V-Marketplace,” an e-commerce platform that V-Line launched with its technology partner Codasol Technologies, offers an extensive variety of spare parts for different industry sectors.
“What makes the platform special is that it not only digitizes spare parts procurement and sourcing, it also opens up new channels for local exports,” said Jamil.
“With the platform, we can connect Saudi companies and their product catalogs with global partners,” he said, adding that V-Line is currently looking to extend their network with partners in the Kingdom with an aim to offer more and more localized content, both to their established clients as well as through the platform. He further said: “We are always happy to exchange with potential partners to create synergies, with one goal, to help our customers fulfill their mission.”
V-Line Europe GmbH, a global provider of industrial supply chain services, provides innovative and ingenious solutions with the mission to help customers fulfill their goals using data science and value chains. V-Line is harnessing the potential of digital technology to efficiently manage sourcing and supply. Today, V-Line Europe, headquartered near Hannover in Germany, offers end-to-end supply chain solutions in 20 different countries, primarily in the Middle East, through its Saudi Arabia subsidiary, and also via its customer service centers in other GCC countries, the US, Mexico and Brazil.
V-Line sourcing and procurement centers in Germany, the US, China, Japan and Korea offer industrial plants in all its markets an integrated set of services tailored to lowering their total cost of ownership for their foreign maintenance, repair, and operations spare parts while meeting the highest global standards of supply performance. Its tailor-made portfolio of procurement services facilitates the spare parts flow from order until delivery.

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.


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.