The UAE will pursue an aggressive timetable to negotiate broad economic agreements with eight countries it wants to deepen trade ties with, hoping it can wrap up some of those talks within a year, its trade minister said on Tuesday.
The Gulf state, already a hub for global trade, this month announced plans to strengthen trade and economic ties with India, the United Kingdom, Turkey and South Korea, among others.
“We really do hope that … at least the first ones are going to be concluded within six months to one year. So we are talking about a very aggressive, quick work and quick negotiations,” Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani Al Zeyoudi said.
He did not identify any country.
The UAE would bilaterally pursue what Al Zeyoudi called comprehensive economic accords with the eight countries on trade, foreign direct investment and sectors like tourism.
The other countries the UAE has said it wants to deepen trade ties with are Ethiopia, Indonesia, Israel and Kenya.
The UAE’s push to bolster its status as the Middle East commercial hub comes after it was hit hard by the pandemic with its economy contracting last year, and as it faces increasing economic competition from Saudi Arabia.
Al Zeyoudi said the UAE was focused on strengthening its own economy and, without naming Saudi Arabia, was not paying attention to what others were doing in region, though added that economic competition between states was natural and healthy.
The renewed focus on the economy also follows a reset of its assertive foreign policy that has seen it take steps to mend strained ties with regional power Turkey and neighbour Qatar.
The UAE wants economic and trade relations with those countries, as well as regional power Iran, Al Zeyoudi said.
Al Zeyoudi, who is in the United States, also said he had discussed US tariffs on UAE aluminium and steel imports with US counterparts and that he hoped the matter would be “sorted.”
Market’s ‘negative’ response to Saudi Building Code is temporary
The recently amended and implemented Saudi Building Code has slowed down the market, but experts and stakeholders see this downturn as a transitory period.
Ali Al-Saif, CEO of Tabuk Cement Co., said the negative impact is temporary and once the sector overcomes teething issues, the new regulations will have a positive impact on the construction sector.
Saudi Arabia’s Commerce Ministry amended the code last Friday to streamline the mechanism governing penalties against violators. It came into effect on Oct. 15, according to the Umm Al-Qura newspaper.
SBC National Committee General Secretary Saad bin Shuail told CNBC Arabia in an interview that the effective implementation of the amended code would guarantee the quality of buildings and construction work.
The SBC is a set of legal, administrative and technical regulations and requirements that specify the minimum construction standard for buildings in the Kingdom to ensure public safety and health.
The codes apply to all construction works in the public and private sectors, whether new buildings — including their design, execution, operation, maintenance and any changes — or existing ones that undergo renovation or expansion work.
Recently, the SBC National Committee announced the establishment of a training academy to offer courses in building code design and the operation of safety solutions to enhance building code conduct in the Kingdom.
The academy’s mandate includes safe design, building code awareness, implementation, and educating people on safety and loss prevention through the building code’s successful implementation.
Bin Shuail said: “The academy is planned to be set up within one year. The Saudi Building Code Committee will establish the SBA in line with the Vision 2030 program.”
Subscription for Egypt’s e-finance IPO closes
The subscription period for the initial public offering of Egypt’s e-finance for Digital and Investments ended on Sunday.
The period started on Oct. 10, with a maximum price of $0.89 per share.
The state-owned company is offering 1.61 percent of its shares to the public, or 25.78 million, in the transaction that is expected to reach 3.6 billion Egyptian pounds ($229 million).
Last week, e-finance raised the percentage of the institutional offering to 23.5 after a strong demand for subscription.
PIF to use oil platforms to attract tourists through ‘THE RIG.’ project
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund on Saturday launched “THE RIG.”, first-of-its-kind tourism destination inspired by offshore oil platforms.
Located in the Arabian Gulf, the project will span a combined area of more than 150,000 square meters, said a statement issued by the sovereign wealth fund.
#PIF announces “THE RIG.” Project.
The world’s first tourism destination inspired by offshore oil platforms.
— Public Investment Fund (@PIF_en) October 16, 2021
“THE RIG.” will feature a number of touristic attractions, including three hotels, world-class restaurants, helipads, and a range of adventurous activities, including extreme sports, the PIF said.
The PIF said to ensure sustainable preservation of the environment, the project will follow global standards and best practices in line with the Kingdom’s efforts to ensure preservation of environment.
The project is in line with PIF’s strategy 2021-2025 to modernize Saudi Arabia’s tourism and entertainment sectors and introduce innovative ideas to boost the number of local, regional and international tourists in the Kingdom.
Entertainment is expected to be a key driver for Saudi economic growth over the next four years.
In addition to the new entertainment centers announced by the PIF, a number of other high-profile projects are underway, including the Qiddiya Entertainment City, The Red Sea Project, AMAALA, AlUla, King Salman Park and Riyadh Sport Boulevard.
The retail and hospitality sectors are expected to benefit from the entertainment boom with total retail space in the capital expected to reach 3.5 million square meters of gross leasable area by 2024. By 2024, Jeddah’s retail market is expected to witness considerable supply growth, reaching over 2 million square meters.
As of 2019, the Kingdom received about 59 million tourist trips and these figures are expected to continue to increase to 100 million tourist trips by 2024.
The Saudi entertainment and amusement sector is forecast to be worth $1.17 billion by 2030 and grow by a massive 47.65 percent per year, according to recent industry report.
The US-based Research and Markets study said that the growth compares with just $23.77 million in 2020.
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