Sharjah, Edinburgh to boost ties in culture and investment

SHARJAH, Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Department of Government Relations (DGR) in Sharjah, and Simon Penney, UK Trade Commissioner for the Middle East and Consul-General in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, have discussed ways to expand trade, investment, and cultural cooperation between Sharjah and Edinburgh, capital of Scotland in the UK.

Al Qasimi emphasised that Edinburgh, the second-most populous city in Scotland, drives its international reputation and economic success from its unique identity as a cultural, heritage, and tourism destination. He also reinforced Sharjah’s keenness in strengthening cultural and economic ties with Edinburgh, and host joint events that highlight the rich history of the Scottish capital.

During the meeting, Al Qasimi highlighted DGR’s role in implementing Sharjah’s goals of building a knowledge-based community and economy that meets the aspirations of the emirate’s citizens and residents. This strategy is achieved through cooperation with global cities that have a vibrant and thriving cultural history.

He also shed light on the trade and economic opportunities available for investors to expand their portfolios from Sharjah.

The DGR Chairman affirmed the emirate’s reputation as a trade and investment gateway in the region, its focus on diversified economic sectors, and the advanced infrastructure that are serving as primary drivers in attracting European investments in the region.

Penney, in turn, hailed the strong bonds of friendship and economic ties between Sharjah and the UK across various sectors. He also underlined UK’s keenness in boosting and advancing its cultural, economic, and investment relationships with Sharjah.

Source: Emirates News Agency

ADNOC Distribution announces 631 million net profit in Q1

ABU DHABI, ADNOC Distribution on Monday reported its first-quarter 2021 financial results, recording an underlying EBITDA of AED740 million with a net profit of AED631 million for the quarter, while cash flow generation remained strong with a free cash flow of AED835 million.

In the first quarter of 2021, ADNOC Distribution delivered a strong financial performance, with EBITDA of AED817 million, and a net profit of AED631 million, driven by an improvement in margins, and OPEX efficiencies made in the quarter, the company said in a statement on Monday.

The company’s retail fuel business posted strong operational performance, with retail fuel gross profit growing by 12.6 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, led by higher margins.

Throughout the first quarter of 2021, ADNOC Distribution’s operational expenditure (excluding depreciation) decreased by 6.5 percent compared to the same quarter last year as part of the company’s drive to enhance operational efficiencies. Reduction in operating costs was achieved despite growth in the company’s retail network and were driven by management initiatives to optimise OPEX across business units.

ADNOC Distribution maintains a strong financial position, with a robust balance sheet at the end of the first quarter of 2021. The company remains well-positioned to expand both its domestic and international portfolio in line with its smart growth strategy. As of 31st March, 2021, the company’s liquidity was at AED5.1 billion in the form of AED 2.3 billion in cash and cash equivalents and AED2.8 billion in an unutilised credit facility.

During the first quarter of 2021, ADNOC Distribution continued to deliver on its smart growth strategy, to bring modern, digitally-enabled fuel retail convenience to customers domestically and internationally, with the opening of four new stations in the UAE. Of the four stations, two were ‘ADNOC On the go’ neighbourhood stations, designed to provide increased customer convenience and meet the needs of previously underserved locations.

The company intends to accelerate delivery momentum and remains on track to meet its guidance to open a total of 70 to 80 new stations across the UAE and KSA by year-end, of which 30-35 are expected to be opened in the UAE.

To provide a modern, digital experience to customers and to support the company’s ambitious non-fuel retail strategy, a total of 14 ADNOC Oasis convenience stores were refurbished throughout the first quarter. With increased customer-centric initiatives, the average gross basket size increased by 2.2 percent as of 31st March, 2021, as compared to the same period in 2020.

In addition to its growth in the UAE, the company remains well-positioned to harness international growth opportunities, particularly in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, building on three definitive agreements signed in 2020 and 2021 to acquire a total of 35 stations, which will bring its total network in the country to 37 stations.

Ahmed Al Shamsi, Acting Chief Executive Officer of ADNOC Distribution, said, “Throughout the first quarter of 2021, we made a significant achievement through the vaccination of 100 percent of our frontline employees, and I am extremely proud of their dedication to always upholding the highest standards of HSE.

“In addition, we have continued to build on our success in 2020, to record a strong financial performance. This has provided the company with ample liquidity to pursue future growth opportunities, be they organic or inorganic in domestic and international markets.”

The company continues its drive to enhance its customer offering through ADNOC Rewards – the UAE’s first customer loyalty programme from a fuel provider – and the launch of its partnership with Etisalat Smiles, which allows members of both platforms to cross-exchange points and maximize benefits.

A total of 27 new partners were added to the Reward programme in Q1, offering members even more deals and discounts from some of the UAE’s leisure and entertainment brands.

During its General Assembly meeting on 16th March 2021, ADNOC Distribution shareholders approved a 2020 dividend of AED2.57 billion (20.57 fils per share, growth of 7.5 percent compared to 2019).

The company’s robust and continued growth has enabled the setting of a progressive dividend policy, with an AED2.57 billion dividend for 2021 and a minimum of AED2.57 billion dividend for 2022 (compared to the minimum of 75 percent of distributable profits as per previous policy), providing visible payback to shareholders until April 2023.

The dividend policy for the years thereafter remains unchanged at a dividend equal to at least 75 percent of distributable profits. The approved dividend policy amendment recognises the company’s strong financial position at the end of 2020 and confidence in its growth prospects and cash-flow generation ability going forward.

Despite current market conditions, ADNOC Distribution remains confident and steadfast in the delivery of its strategic commitments and sustainable returns for its shareholders.

Source: Emirates News Agency

UAE announces 1,507 new COVID-19 cases, 1,476 recoveries, 2 deaths in last 24 hours

ABU DHABI, The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) announced that it conducted 142,603 additional COVID-19 tests over the past 24 hours, using state-of-the-art medical testing equipment.

In a statement on Monday, the Ministry stressed its aim to continue expanding the scope of testing nationwide to facilitate the early detection of coronavirus cases and carry out the necessary treatment.

As part of its intensified testing campaign, MoHAP announced 1,507 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of recorded cases in the UAE to 537,524.

According to the Ministry, the infected individuals are from various nationalities, are in a stable condition, and receiving the necessary care.

MoHAP also announced two deaths due to COVID-19 complications, bringing the total number of deaths in the country to 1,615.

The Ministry expressed its sincere condolences to the family of the deceased and wished COVID-19 patients a speedy and full recovery. It called on all members of the society to cooperate with health authorities, adhere to the instructions and physical distance to ensure the health and safety of all.

MoHAP also noted that an additional 1,476 individuals had fully recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries to 517,805.

Source: Emirates News Agency

UAE stocks gain AED9.3 bn in market cap Thursday

ABU DHABI, UAE financial markets on Thursday posted decent gains of about AED9.3 bn in market cap, driven by the realty and banking blue chips amid increased transactions that hit around AED1.44 billion.

The upbeat sentiments saw Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) closing higher around 0.59 pct at 6,152 pts and Dubai’s main stocks index edging up 0.51 pct to 2,663 pts.

In the ADX, where 3179 deals were struck worth AED1.34 bn, the International Holding Company (IHC) continued its upward streak, closing high at AED94 amid AED453 million in transactions. Etisalat followed suit and rose to AED21.46 and ADNOC Distribution to AED4.74 amid trades of AED141 million. Aldar edged up to AED3.56 after AED260 million in deals.

In Dubai Financial Market, Emaar Malls closed favourably at AED1.93; Dubai Islamic Bank, AED4.50; and Emirates NBD to AED12.45 A total of 1725 deals were conducted worth around AED103 million at DFM.

Source: Emirates News Agency

International Holding Company to list three subsidiaries on ADX Second Market in Q2’21

ABU DHABI, Three subsidiaries of Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX)-listed International Holding Company (IHC) will be listed on the exchange’s Second Market commencing in Q2 2021. The listing will create an attractive opportunity for current and new investors to take part in the growth of the companies, as well as benefitting IHC as a result of increased profile raising and higher visibility from these companies.

Emirates Stallion Group is one of IHC’s subsidiaries and has a diversified portfolio of businesses across engineering and construction, development and management of real estate and public realms and associated services. Ever since its inception in 2006, ESG has grown rapidly becoming the region’s only all-encompassing real estate partner. ESG is home to 5 fully owned subsidiaries, 90+ operational sites, 12 marketplace presence and 4 associates and joint ventures. The subsidiaries include Century Real Estate, Royal Development Company, Abu Dhabi Land General Contracting, Gulf Dunes Landscaping and Agricultural services and RAPM Architect Project Management. The company has assets of AED 394 million as of the end of 2020 and over 1000 employees.

One of the three companies to list is Al Seer Marine, a leading marine organisation in the Arabian maritime region, with an all-encompassing portfolio of products and services. The company engages in multiple marine sectors such as high-tech boatbuilding, unmanned systems development and manufacturing, Al Seer Marine Training Institute (ASMTI) for product training, maintenance and support services, supply logistics, 24×7 yacht management and project management. Founded in 2002, Al Seer Marine has assets of AED717.8 million as at the end of 2020.

Syed Basar Shueb, CEO and Managing Director of IHC, said: “IHC has continued to grow becoming the second-biggest company by value on the Abu Dhabi Securities exchange. We will continue to enrich our diversified portfolio with strong companies that are in line with our growth strategy and goals. We believe in local product and many of our fastest growing companies are homegrown in the UAE. Emirates Stallion Group and Al Seer Marine are ambitious companies that have continued to expand in recent years. Listing on ADX’ Second Market, will offer investors an outstanding opportunity to participate in these well-established companies’ success journey.”

These listings will follow the three successful listings that IHC completed in 2020 of Palm Sports, Easylease and Zee Stores on ADX’s second market.

Over the last six months, IHC and its subsidiaries announced the pre-launch of the UAE’s first virtual wellness and prevention platform HealthyU, investments in UK-based DNA sequencing firm Oxford Nanopore Technologies, Quantlase Lab and Tamouh Healthcare, which recently developed the concept of Containerized Aid for Respiratory Emergencies (CARE), turning modular containers into fully equipped medical field hospitals such as – Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Field Hospital – which was completed in early March near Darfur, Sudan. IHC and its subsidiaries have also previously announced several new investments. These include a stake in SpaceX, Elon Musk’s aerospace company, a partnership with DAL Group for a significant agricultural development in Sudan; and Multiply’s acquisition of a stake in New York data-driven marketing firm YieldMo.

Source: Emirates News Agency

Expo 2020 Steering Committee urges participants to follow Expo’s lead, join its free vaccination drive to ensure safety

DUBAI, The Expo 2020 Dubai Steering Committee has urged all of Expo’s 200-plus participants to join Expo 2020’s vaccination drive, praising the decision of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, to offer free vaccinations to all official participants and their staff.

During its latest meeting, held on Thursday, the Steering Committee expressed appreciation for His Highness’s offer and urged all official participants to take measures to ensure the safety of their staff and visitors.

The recommendation was made as the Committee, representing the 190-plus participating nations and comprising Commissioner Generals from 34 countries, discussed the robust measures being implemented at Expo 2020 to safeguard all participants, workforce, suppliers, contractors and visitors, reflecting the UAE’s wider efforts against the ongoing global pandemic.

Manuel Salchli, Chair of the Expo 2020 Steering Committee and Commissioner General for Switzerland at Expo 2020, said: “Health and safety is a pivotal part of the planning and operations for all World Expos and the ongoing global pandemic has put this more sharply into focus. It is very important that all official participants should benefit from the UAE’s generous offer to vaccinate their delegations and it is the collective responsibility of all the countries to support this initiative to ensure an enjoyable and safe Expo for all participants.”

The Steering Committee met after the sixth and final International Participants Meeting (IPM), which took place earlier this week. The IPM saw more than 370 senior representatives from 173 countries gather in Dubai to discuss final preparations ahead of the mega-event’s opening on 1 October, and experience first-hand the robust health and safety measures that have already been rolled out.

Manuel Salchli added: “Expo 2020 and the UAE have worked diligently to implement a far-reaching programme of precautionary measures, in close collaboration with the relevant local authorities and following the guidance of the world’s leading medical experts. The UAE should be applauded for bringing 173 participating nations to Dubai for this important meeting, ensuring the safety and well-being of all attendees.”

Dmitri S Kerkentzes, Secretary General, Bureau International des Expositions, said: “More than any other crisis, COVID-19 has shown us that global challenges require an extraordinary common effort. With the UAE consistently demonstrating its commitment to health and global solidarity, we are confident that – through close partnership and determined cooperation – Expo 2020 Dubai will be an inspiring and enlightening event offering safe and meaningful experiences to each and every visitor.

“The successful and safe organisation of the International Participants Meeting this week and the offer of vaccines to all staff and international participants reinforces this strong commitment from the host of the first World Expo in the MEASA region.”

Clayton Kimpton, Commissioner General for New Zealand at Expo 2020, said: “Over the recent IPM, we have heard, and experienced first-hand, how Expo 2020 remains committed to delivering an exceptional – and above all, safe – Expo for everyone, and we commend the organisers and the country’s leadership for their exemplary efforts.

“From the installation of thermal cameras and sanitisation stations across the site, to mandatory face-mask wearing and the implementation of social-distancing regulations, we have been reassured to see the measures that have been put in place and hear how they will continue to be monitored and adjusted, in line with the latest information and guidance from the World Health Organization.”

His Excellency Tony Joudi, Commissioner General for the Bahamas at Expo 2020, said: “We applaud Expo 2020 for their prudent and responsible approach to COVID-19 and the challenges it continues to present for us all. Just as the pandemic requires a unified response, so does the delivery of what we believe will be a truly historic World Expo, and we pledge our continued commitment and support.”

At the beginning of the year, Expo 2020 launched an extensive COVID-19 vaccination drive for all Expo 2020 employees and their households. More widely, the UAE has overseen one of the world’s fastest vaccination programmes, already administering more than 10 million doses since the programme began a few months ago.

Dr Amer Sharif, Head of Dubai’s COVID-19 Command and Control Centre (CCC), said: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, the UAE has followed a clear strategy in managing COVID-19. Dubai’s COVID-19 Command and Control Centre has, since its establishment, developed protocols, guidelines and precautionary measures that are science-based and data-driven. The guiding principle in managing the pandemic has always been to strike a balance between lives and livelihoods.”

Recently, more than 100,000 members of the public enjoyed a preview of Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion and experienced the steps taken to protect visitors and ensure social distancing across the Expo site. These included the mandatory pre-booking of tickets to control capacity and visitor flow; floor markings and signage to encourage social distancing; and designated staff responsible for monitoring and regulating social distancing in all venues. In recognition of this compliance with the relevant safety standards and protocols, the Expo Pavilions Premiere received the Dubai Assured stamp from the Government of Dubai.

From 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, Expo 2020 will bring together people, communities and nations to build bridges, inspire action and deliver real-life solutions to real-life challenges.

Source: Emirates News Agency