QFC Signs Pact with FI to Propel Startup Business Environment in Qatar

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Founder Institute (FI), an American business incubator, entrepreneur training and startup launch program, aimed at propelling the startup business environment in Qatar.

The MoU records the intention of both parties to pursue areas of mutual collaboration, keeping in mind the QFC’s target sectors, which include digital, technology, financial services, and professional business services.

FI startups that are licensed by the QFC can benefit from 100% ownership, a robust legal infrastructure, and a dedicated client affairs team to support their business needs.

Established in 2009, FI is a pre-seed accelerator comprising a global network of entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, and ecosystem leaders, with local chapters in over 200 cities and more than 90 countries.

The MoU was signed by Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida, chief executive, QFC Authority, and Andrew Crawford, Head of Finance, FI.

"The country actively encourages and supports entrepreneurship and the acceptance of smaller enterprises in keeping with its sustainable development goals. This agreement further strengthens QFC’s commitment to support the national economy and to leverage potential opportunities for growth," al-Jaida said.

Through the exchange of information and business best-practices, this MoU would provide structural support to not only promote and nurture startups but also to help businesses thrive in a dynamic environment, he added.

"The FI helps early-stage entrepreneurs get to traction and funding through a structured process. Together, with this agreement we will be better positioned to support entrepreneurs in Qatar so that they are able to thrive in today's economy," said Crawford.

The QFC is an onshore jurisdiction that allows registered companies to enjoy competitive benefits, such as up to 100% foreign ownership, 100% repatriation of profits, 10% corporate tax on locally sourced profits, and an extensive double taxation avoidance treaty network with over 80 countries, a legal environment based on English common law and the right to trade in any currency. 


Qatari Holding Launches Metaserra JV with Turkey's Doludizgin

Qatar’s Al Faisal Holding has announced the establishment of new subsidiary Metaserra, a joint venture with Turkey's Doludizgin, which will engage in film production and advertising and offer services to digital platforms.

The JV agreement was signed at a media event in Doha on Sunday, attended by Al Faisal Holding Chairman HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani and officials from the Turkish Embassy in Doha. Sheikh Khaled bin Faisal al-Thani, Al Faisal Holding board member said the joint venture is planning to have a state-of-the-art production facility in Doha. “We are also working closely with our team in Turkey; hopefully we will become one of the major global players in the field over the next five years.”

“In order to stay relevant you have to be strong in the booming media segment. Media right now is a booming market; it is something we want to get into (as Al Faisal Holding). Sheikh Khaled said, “Metaserra would take up movie shooting to TV shows in multiple languages all the way to social media; we will be in a broad variety of the media market. Anything regarding the media, we can take care of. ”

Asked how Metaserra would tap into the talent pool, Sheikh Khaled said, “Here we have the Qatar Foundation and other prominent universities. We have young individuals graduating from these universities. We are looking to bring them into our team. We are looking to expand from the Qatar market into the global stage.” Metaserra will offer production services to cinema, television, and digital platforms, as well as for films, series, commercials, and documentaries.

These services will cover several areas including screenplay and scriptwriting, set design, visual and special effects, production design, and music and soundtracks. Metaserra will also organize exhibitions, conferences, workshops, academic courses, festivals, and competitions related to cinematography and the general production and distribution of film and TV. In addition, further expertise will be offered on the commercial aspects of the industry, including the development and leasing of studios as well as the buying, selling and renting of equipment central to the production processes.

Earlier addressing the press conference, Sheikh Khaled said, “I am pleased to announce our partnership with Doludizgin, which will result in the addition of a new and innovative business to the diverse range of services we offer at Al Faisal Holding. “This partnership will allow us to enter new sector adopting the latest innovative technologies used in the media industry, an area of growing importance. We are pleased to be one of the contributors to the development of this industry locally through and the establishment of Metaserra is in line with this strategy.”

Koray Demir, film director, and CEO of Doludizgin added, “It is a great honor for us that Al Faisal Holding is our launch pad to the Qatari market, as one of the most solid pillars in this country, and we look at our strategic partnership with it as a valuable opportunity that allows us to put our expertise and capabilities to forge together a new success story. Today Metaserra is here to open the doors of a new world toward a new digital revolution. “A new era has begun for solution partners who can look beyond the type of stereotypical media production we are accustomed to. We have always wanted to be part of Qatar’s market and Mena's promising future. The rising Qatari market is a shining star in the Middle East, and we will do our best to make this star shine on new horizons. We will make our ambition a solid sail that contributes to achieving the desired aspirations of a boat we filled with goals and promising projects.” 


Saudi Sabic's Q1 Revenue, Net Profit Surges

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic), one of the world's biggest petrochemicals firms, has registered solid growth for the first quarter, netting a revenue of SR52.64 billion (US$14.04 billion), representing an increase of 3% compared to the previous quarter and a 40% increase year-on-year.

Announcing its earnings for the three-month period ended March 31, 2022, Sabic said the net income too witnessed solid growth, hitting SR6.47 billion (US$1.73 billion), compared to SR4.97 billion (US$1.32 billion) in the previous quarter and up 33% over SR4.86 billion (US$1.3 billion) in the first quarter of 2021.

During the first three months, Sabic continued to drive greater sustainability and innovation across the global chemicals industry. It recently introduced a new bio-based and ISSC+ certified LNP Elcrin copolymer to help the consumer electronics industry achieve net-zero carbon emission goals.

On the financial performance, Vice Chairman and CEO Yousef Al Benyan said it was robust, building further on last quarter’s good results. "Our financial performance this quarter was driven by several factors, including higher product prices, our diversified portfolio and our strong, global presence," stated Al Benyan.

"As we move forward, we will realize our global growth strategy by capturing competitive feedstock resources and expanding our global presence. In doing so, we will also commit to strengthening our financial position, maintaining our operational resilience, and meeting our Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) requirements," he added.

Among the major developments this quarter, Sabic announced the successful start-up of the Gulf Coast Growth Ventures (GCGV) world scale manufacturing facility in San Patricio County, Texas.

It also completed its purchase of Clariant’s 50% share in Scientific Design, a leading catalysts producer and licensor of high-performance process technologies. This will unlock new growth potential for SABIC by strengthening and complementing the high-performance capabilities of its Specialties business.

In the reporting period, five innovative technologies created by Sabic were named among the winners of the annual Edison Awards, which honor the world’s most innovative new products, services and business leaders. The awards in four different categories reflect SABIC’s diverse range of innovative solutions.

Sabic's commitment to adopting the highest Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Standards was also recognized during the first quarter of 2022, with the company claiming the “Best ESG” Award at the Saudi Capital Market Awards 2021.


Egypt’s Unemployment Rate Dips

Egypt’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.2% in the first quarter, down from 7.4% in the previous quarter, the country’s state statistics agency CAPMAS said on Sunday.


Saudi Aramco Gets Shareholders' Nod to Increase Capital

Saudi Aramco shareholders approved the company's capital increase to SR75 billion (US$20 billion) from SR60 billion (US$16 billion).

The oil giant will issue bonus shares to capitalize SR15 billion (US$4 billion) from its retained earnings, according to a bourse filing.

Aramco seeks to maximize total shareholder return through the distribution of sustainable and progressive dividends, underlying growth in free cash flow and investing in available strategic opportunities to create long-term value, it said in a statement.

The company also beat analyst forecasts with a US$40 billion profit, its highest quarterly since listing in 2019, as its profit has surged 82%.


Saudi Sabic Launches Resin Made with Ocean-Bound Plastic Waste

Sabic, a global leader in the chemical industry, has launched LNP Elcrin WF0061BiQ resin, a novel material that uses ocean-bound polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles as a feed stream for chemical upcycling into polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) resin.

Ocean-bound plastic is mismanaged waste that originates within 30 miles (50 km) of the coast and is likely to end up in the ocean. The new grade is the latest addition to Sabic’s extensive portfolio of chemically upcycled LNP Elcrin iQ materials, which help support circularity while serving as potential drop-in replacements for virgin PBT resins. LNP Elcrin WF0061BiQ resin is a candidate for consumer electronics applications such as fan housings in computers and automotive seating, as well as electrical connectors and enclosures.

“We’re continually expanding our LNP Elcrin iQ portfolio – and the PET waste streams used to produce these materials – to help divert more plastic from the oceans while helping our customers incorporate recycled materials in their products, achieve their carbon neutrality goals and meet consumer demands for greater sustainability,” said Sanjay Mishra, GM Technology & Footprint, Specialties, Sabic.

“Within the next decade, we anticipate upcycling 10 billion plastic bottles into higher-performing, durable materials that deliver enhanced value to customers. Sabic is committed to working with the plastics supply chain to find new solutions to address urgent environmental issues such as reducing ocean-bound plastic waste and achieving net zero carbon emissions.”

The new LNP Elcrin WF0061BiQ grade, a glass fiber-reinforced PBT material, features non-brominated, non-chlorinated flame retardancy meeting the UL94 V0 standard at 0.8mm and F1 rating. It also delivers excellent heat resistance, toughness and stiffness, and high flow well-suited for molding thin-wall applications for outdoor environments such as electrical equipment enclosures.

All LNP Elcrin iQ materials can serve as possible drop-in replacements for conventional PBT to help manufacturers increase the sustainability of end products. Sabic’s proprietary upcycling technology, which involves the repolymerization of ocean-bound PET into PBT, delivers virgin-like performance properties. This process surpasses mechanical recycling in quality and consistency.

“According to an internal life cycle analysis conducted in accordance with ISO 14040/14044 protocols, LNP Elcrin WF0061BiQ compound can offer potential reductions of up to 14% in carbon footprint and up to 25% in cumulative energy demand, when compared to the virgin PBT compound reinforced with glass fiber,” said Darpan Parikh, Americas Customer Fulfillment Leader, Specialties, Sabic.

“By replacing virgin material with our resins, customers can help reduce environmental impacts by reusing plastic waste and eliminating halogenated additives.”

In addition to Sabic’s new LNP Elcrin WF0061BiQ resin, based on ocean-bound PET bottles, the company has introduced many different and innovative grades to the LNP Elcrin iQ portfolio, including glass- and mineral-reinforced products and flame-retardant formulations.

For example, Sabic’s new LNP Elcrin WF006XXPiQ and LNP Elcrin WF0061XPiQ compounds incorporate pre-consumer recycled glass fiber diverted from the waste stream of industrial processes. The use of recycled glass fiber further enhances the circularity of these upcycled PBT materials. The diversity of these formulations enables LNP Elcrin iQ resins to be considered for applications beyond electrical and electronics components, such as automotive exterior parts, healthcare applications and personal care products.

Sabic is not only creating sustainable materials but also regularly formulating new resins and compounds using environmentally responsible and safer chemistries, such as non-brominated/non-chlorinated flame retardants.

According to the GreenScreen for Safe Chemicals benchmark rating, which was created by the non-profit organization Clean Production Action (CPA), these Sabic materials, and others in development, are, or will be, recognized with a score of 3 or higher, out of 4. Benchmark 3 is a relatively better result compared to that of average products and indicates only a slight concern.


Gen Z Omani Micro-Manufacturers Chip in Well

At the heart of Oman Vision 2040 is manufacturing, representing 9.5% of GDP, employing over 200,000 people and exporting to more than 130 countries.

The power of automation and the dropping of the costs of tools are altering the landscape of how things get made in Oman. In fact, the micro-manufacturing sector is part of a much larger creative economy that represents 3% of global GDP, creating around 30 million jobs and generating over US$2 trillion in revenue.

This will be the topic of discussion at Wednesday evening’s Tejarah Talks at the Civil Aviation Authority in Al Hail North. From car batteries, cables, footwear, ceramic tiles, sanitary ware to luxury fragrances, the products manufactured in the sultanate are incredibly diverse.

New Life

Breathing new life into the sector is the growth of Gen Z managed micro-manufacturers - small Omani businesses typically employing fewer than 10 people that are catering to a specialized market, one generally neglected or forgotten by larger companies. They are often innovative twists on old ideas, completely new innovations or throwbacks to lost ways of doing things.

According to Maymuna Al Adawi of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Investment Promotion (MoCIIP) and Tejarah Talks organizer, though small in size, many of these micro-manufacturers are becoming an economic force to be reckoned with. A revolution in manufacturing is coming.

“Micro-manufacturing is nothing new,” explained Al Adawi, “but what we’re seeing is its resurgence, from women’s fashion to precision engineering, where innovation in design is creating products that meet the needs of today’s sophisticated, eco-conscious Omani consumer.”

New breed

This new breed of creative Omani micro-manufacturers includes artists, builders, programmers, engineers, bakers and graphic designers, all specializing in custom products, small quantities and fast turnaround – making everything from high-end fashion, organic cosmetics, to frankincense infused chocolate. “These are creative people that just want to design and make cool things. They want to make stuff and they want to do that personally,” emphasized Al Adawi.

Today, small batch Omani manufacturers do not need large factories. Instead, they require compact, micro-manufacturing facilities tailored to small, flexible production runs like those offered by Muscat’s Innovation Factory and the Makers Oman Centre.

Micro manufacturing

“A few years ago, two guys with laptops described an Internet start-up. Now it describes a micro-manufacturing firm,” says Al Adawi. Organized by MoCIIP in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Sports & Youth, Oman Business Forum, HSBC and Sohar Port & Freezone the 7:30 pm Wednesday May 18 Tejarah Talks panel includes Dr Adham Al Said, Founder, The Firm; Cinzia Farisè, CEO, Oman Cables; Nadia Al Zakwani, Managing Director, Endemage; Eng Hilal Al Shibli, General Manager, Makers Oman Centre; and Firas Al Balushi, CEO, Innovation Factory.


Iranian Trade Delegation to Visit Oman Soon

Director-General of the Arab and African Department of the Trade Development Organization of Iran (TPO) Farzad Piltan said on Sunday that ahead of the Iranian President’s Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to Oman, a high-level trade-marketing delegation of Iranian economic and trade activists will travel to Muscat on Monday. Attending the Iran-Oman trade meeting and negotiating with the Omani trade parties and reviewing the Omani market, as well as identifying the barriers and operational problems of developing trade relations between the two countries are on the agenda of the delegation, he added. - Kayhan


PIF Launces Saudi Coffee Co.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund announced the launch of Saudi Coffee Co., aimed at turning Saudi coffee beans into a global product, PIF said in a statement.

In the statement the Public Investment Fund revealed that the company intends to invest SR1.2 billion (US$320 million) in the next 10 years.

The statement added that the launch of Saudi Coffee Co. will play a crucial role in developing sustainable coffee production in the southern Jazan region, home to the world-famous Coffea Arabica.

“The launch of the Saudi Coffee Company aligns with PIF’s strategy, which focuses on developing and enabling 13 promising sectors, including food and agriculture, as part of broader efforts to diversify sources of income for the local economy,” the statement added.

The launch of the Saudi Coffee Co. comes at a time when Saudi Arabia is showing considerable growth in the coffee market.

Citing a Euromonitor International report, PIF revealed that coffee consumption in Saudi Arabia grew by approximately 4% a year between 2016 and 2021 and is forecast to increase by a further 5% per annum up to 2026, reaching an expected annual consumption of 28,700 tons.


Direct Container Shipping Lines Launched from Iran Chabahar to India, UAE

Three direct container shipping lines have been launched from Iran’s southeastern Chabahar Port to Nhava Sheva and Kandla ports in India as well as Jebel Ali Port in United Arab Emirate, the portal of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) reported. Iran and India had previously launched shipping lines between Chabahar and the Indian ports of Mumbai, and Mundra.
The first shipping route between the two countries was put into operation in 2017 between Iran’s Chabahar port and Mumbai.

In January 2019, Iran and India inaugurated the second direct shipping route which passes through Mumbai, Mundra, Kandla, Chabahar, and finally Bandar Abbas in southern Iran. India is using the mentioned shipping routes to transit goods to Afghanistan and Persian Gulf nations as well as the countries in Central Asia. Through Chabahar port India can bypass Pakistan and transport goods to Afghanistan and Central Asia, while Afghanistan can get linked to India via sea. Iran has awarded India the project for installing and operating modern loading and unloading equipment including mobile harbor cranes in Shahid Beheshti Port in Chabahar. The strategic Chabahar port in southeastern Iran is the only ocean port on the Mokran coast and it has a special place in the country's economic affairs. Back in September 2021, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called on Central Asian countries to benefit from Chabahar Port capacities for expanding their trade in the region. - Tehran Times


Armenian Minister Hails Iran’s ‘Astonishing’ Progress in Energy Sector

Armenia’s minister of territorial administration and infrastructures visiting Iran Oil Show 2022 here on Sunday described the country’s progress in the energy sector as “astonishing”. Accompanied by Managing Director of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Mohsen Khojestehmehr, Gnel Sanosyan paid a visit to the 26th International Oil, Gas, Refining and Petrochemical Exhibition. “What I saw at this big event stunned me,” said the visiting minister, adding, “Iran’s governmental and private sectors’ equipment and capabilities in both oil and gas industries impressed me.” The top Armenia official also praised Iran’s progress made inside and outside the country, expressing hope that the relations between Yerevan and Tehran will be further deepened. Khojastehmehr, for his part, said the two countries have boosted their economic cooperation, particularly in the gas, electricity, and other energy sectors.

The NIOC CEO added that Iran is determined to promote its economic cooperation, especially in the energy sector, with Armenia, and export its fuel, gas, petrochemical products, refining know-how, and technical services to the neighboring country. He expressed hope that Sanosyan’s visit to Iran will provide the two sides with an opportunity to expand their cooperation. Iran Oil Show 2022 kicked off at Tehran’s Permanent Fairground on Friday and will run through May 16. The four-day exhibition is hosting 1,200 Iranian and 44 foreign companies or their agents.
Apart from domestic participants representing Iran, foreign companies are from Italy, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Switzerland, Germany, Ukraine, South Africa, and Belgium. - Shana



Iran’s Vice Presidency for Science & Technology Supports Knowledge-Based Oil Companies

Vice President for Science and Technology Sorena Sattari said his department has close cooperation with the Oil Ministry in supporting knowledge-based companies active in the oil and gas industry, Shana reported. Speaking to the press on the sidelines of the 26th International Oil, Gas, Refining and Petrochemical Exhibition of Iran (Iran Oil Show 2022), Sattari underlined the positive role of the oil industry in the growth and development of knowledge-based companies, saying: "The role of the oil industry in the development of knowledge-based companies is serious, and fortunately we have close cooperation with the Oil Ministry in this regard." The official praised the oil exhibition as a platform for showcasing the capabilities of the country’s oil industry and emphasized the strong presence of knowledge-based companies in this year’s exhibition. The 26th International Oil, Gas, Refining and Petrochemical Exhibition of Iran kicked off at Tehran Permanent International Fairgrounds on May 13. - Tehran Times



Reliance on Iran Domestic Potentials Can Neutralize Sanctions

The head of the Institute for International Energy Studies (IIES), Mohammad Sadegh Jokar, emphasized the need to market making in different countries, saying relying on domestic capabilities can help make sanctions ineffective. Speaking at a press conference held on the sidelines of the third day of the 26th International Oil, Gas, Refining and Petrochemical Exhibition, also called Iran Oil Show, Jokar described the IIES as the think tank of Iran Ministry of Petroleum, saying his institute mainly focuses on the megaproject of ‘developing an operational strategy to avert the return of sanctions’ and also investigates other issues.

Highlighting the institute’s role due to increasing developments, he said: “In the thirteenth administration, there is a close relationship between the IIES and oil industry, the most important of which is with the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) and we also try to cooperate with other sectors of the oil industry.” The country’s energy strategy portfolio was developed in the Iranian year 1395, but it has yet to complete, he said, adding, “a strategy needs to include three principles: a measurable operational goal, pursuing how to implement it, and means to achieve it over a certain time.”
On Iran’s strategy for cooperation with the Russians in the current situation, he said: “We believe we have no permanent friend or enemy and national interests are a priority. We also believe that we can cooperate with the Russians. We are rivals for some issues but cooperating in others, and there are conflicts of interest in some other areas.

Referring to Russia’s role in gas supply to Europe, he said Europe gas market is not strategic for Iran and high transmission costs need to be paid. Russia has to supply gas from other countries to fulfill its export commitments in the future. Based on the production and consumption, Iran can purchase Russian gas and transmit it to increase its role in gas trade, he stated. A strategic market is a market where our exports volume accounts for a significant percentage of total energy imports, he said, adding: “Studies show that gas consumption growth in Europe has been less than 0.5% in the last 10 years and will also experience a declining trend in the next 10 years.”

Maintaining Iraq market and entering Pakistan market is still possible despite sanctions, he added, saying: “Pakistan market has been already identified accurately and Iran’s rivals are defined.”
Regarding the world energy model of Iran (IWEM), he said the IWEM is about global energy outlook which was first designed in the Institute for International Energy Studies and we tried to complete it.

According to this model, Iran will have a outlook for demand, supply and price growth in various energy fields, the same as what is applied in the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and such organizations, he said: “this model focuses on oil in its first version and has been able to forecast different regional and global oil supply-demand scenarios.” This model is important as it can help policymakers and decision-makers with oil exports and choose target markets, that what the demand for oil and what the price outlook are, he noted.

On cooperation with Latin American countries, he highlighted market making and said, “exporting technical and engineering services, selling raw materials and exporting energy in Latin American market can put on agenda, and the administration is trying to interact fairly and logically with private sector players. The 26th International Oil, Gas, Refining and Petrochemical Exhibition opened on Friday (May 13) at Tehran International Permanent Fairground and will run to Monday (May 16). - Shana



Knowledge-Based Firms Play Major Role in Developing Iran Petchem Processes: NPC

The managing director of Iran’s National Petrochemical Company (NPC) said knowledge-based companies play a leading role in developing complicated petrochemical processes and creating the added value.

Morteza ShahMirzaei made the remarks on the sidelines of the 26th International Oil, Gas, Refining and Petrochemical Exhibition. He pointed to the “valuable products” of the petrochemical industry and said, “The oil industry and particularly the petrochemical industry, as a dynamic industry and driving force of the country’s economy, are the symbols of this year’s motto 'Production: Knowledge-Based and Job-Creating' designated by Leader."

NPC's head added that the petrochemical industry is producing gas and liquid feeds in an effort to complete the value chain and prevent the sales of raw materials.

Shifting to the strong presence of knowledge-based companies alongside petrochemical holdings in this year’s exhibition dubbed Iran Oil Show 2022, ShahMirzaei continued, “The exhibition provides investors and knowledge-based companies with a golden opportunity to promote their cooperation and complete the value chain.”

The estimates, he said, indicate that the global demand for petrochemical products will rise by nearly 4.5% annually while the demand for oil products is on the wane.

Putting the demand of the market into consideration, NPC's CEO concluded that Iran is required to move toward developing the petrochemical industry and creating the added value.

ShahMirzaei expressed his satisfaction with the desirable development of the petrochemical industry and predicted, “Based on the plans, the annual production capacity of the country’s petrochemical industry will soar to 200 million tons within the next 10 years from the current 90 million tons and play a key role in generating hard currency amid the sanctions.”

Increasing Production

Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Javad Owji is convinced that the country can increase its oil and gas production in the current year by using knowledge-based companies. “Today, we are witnessing the presence of Iranian knowledge-based firms that have put their latest products on display,” said the minister after the exhibition kicked off.

He underlined that knowledge-based firms and highly skilled experts have the capacity to greatly help the oil and gas sectors boost their production in hydrocarbon fields. “We have to pay special attention to knowledge-based firms and develop their activities in the oil industry,” he stressed. - Shana


Oman Concludes Successful Trade Mission to India

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Investment Promotion (MoCIIP) wrapped up a successful trade and investment mission to India on Friday.

Led by H E Qais al Yousef, Minister of Commerce, Industry & Investment Promotion and accompanied by over 40 high-profile Omani organisations the delegation visited New Delhi and Mumbai to develop new business opportunities and strengthen investment and trade ties in manufacturing, healthcare, renewables and tourism sectors.

After an intensive series of trade and investment focused meetings with Indian ministers and leading industrialists earlier in the week, on Thursday H E Yousef held talks with senior officials at Invest in India and Niti Aayog, the Indian government’s public policy think tank. He then went on to deliver opening remarks at the 10th Oman-India Joint Business Council meeting at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI).

Commenting on the important commercial relationship between Oman and India, H E Yousef remarked, “As Oman’s economy moves forward under the wise guidance of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik and given the new opportunities already opened up by Oman Vision 2040 we are seeing a growing number of Indian SMEs and investors looking to leverage Oman’s strategic location and world-class transport infrastructure to enter the GCC and African markets. This is borne out by the recent trade and investment figures, but we cannot take this ongoing interest for granted. We are fully committed to encouraging new and impactful collaborations in health, renewables, tourism and manufacturing, sectors where our nations have complementary capabilities.”

Highlighting the growth potential for Oman-made goods in India, the minister noted, “The 172% increase in our 2021 non-oil exports to India demonstrates the appetite for Omani products with Indian consumers. From discussions held during this trip it is clear this is very much the tip of the iceberg in terms of demand, particularly given the growth of India’s middle class. The prize is substantial. On our return, my team and I will be engaging with Omani exporters to encourage them to seize the opportunities and capitalise on the wealth of possibilities presented by the Indian market given that by 2050 it will be the world’s third-largest importer, following China and the Unites States.”

Today, Indian businesses are operating in multiple industries across every region of Oman with an estimated investment of US$7.5bn. Trade and investment flows between India and Oman have remained on a positive trajectory despite the pandemic. This can be seen in the 94.8% increase in the number of Indian businesses registering with MoCIIP’s Invest Easy portal, up from 450 in 2019 to 877 in 2021.

While bilateral trade also witnessed robust growth increasing from US$5.4bn in 2020-21 to US$9.9bn in 2021-2022, an impressive annual growth of 82.6%.


Sohar Freezone Drives Growth with New Incentives for Tenants

Sohar Freezone has introduced new incentives to help businesses start trading with the world immediately. Until the end of 2022, Sohar Freezone’s new and renewing tenants can purchase a General Trade Licenses (GTLs) for one, two or three years at up to 50% of the usual cost, according to a press statement. Sohar Freezone is also offering a complete working solution for companies looking to relocate to the complex through its commercial office partner, Corporate Parks, which offers a reduction of between 30%-45% in office rental rates for up to three years.

The new offers are designed to encourage investments in Sohar Freezone across all sectors and provide the spark for existing businesses to take the next step in their development. Companies can enjoy all of the benefits of working and trading in the Freezone with added flexibility and greater cost-efficiency. Sohar Port and Freezone is one of the fastest-growing complexes of its kind in the world. Located at the crossroads of East and West, the complex offers unrivalled access to key markets in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, as well as across the Middle East through well-connected modern highways. Sohar Freezone offers sector-specific zones and clusters, and integrated, bespoke logistics solutions across the value chain, with warehousing and cold storage facilities available. The Freezone is connected to Sohar Port through a bonded transport corridor and is reachable within 14 minutes, ensuring goods reach their destination in optimal condition.

Omar al Mahrizi, CEO of Sohar Freezone and deputy CEO of Sohar Port, said, “Sohar Port and Freezone is committed to supporting the growth of new and existing business throughout the complex and by offering reduced rates on GTLs and office space, we are introducing another incentive for companies to join or expand their operations within the rapidly-expanding Freezone. We also cater to the rising demand for hybrid working environments by offering cost-efficient office space within close proximity to a wide range of local and international clients for the times when face-to-face meetings are essential. Being based in Sohar offers a wealth of advantages to companies, including access to raw materials, a world class port and exceptional transport links to key markets.” With competitive rates starting from one to three years, the companies can register for a Sohar Freezone GTL electronically from anywhere in the world and secure all required permits through the on-site one-stop shop. Investors also enjoy 0% personal income tax, 0% import and re-export duties and a corporate tax holiday of up to 25 years.

Sohar Freezone’s partnership with Corporate Parks allows businesses access to meeting room space when required, high speed internet and utilities for a single annual fee. Options start from a one-year to three years, including a reduction of 45% on the normal rate offered.


Emirates Global Aluminum Achieves New Tech Milestone

Emirates Global Aluminum (EGA) has announced that the company has successfully started up DX+ Ultra reduction cell technology with a modified lining at 500kA, the first time this amperage has been achieved in the Middle East.

In aluminum smelting, increasing amperage offers the potential to increase aluminum production, reducing the cost per tonne of building new reduction cells and improving the productivity of existing ones. The challenge is to maintain heat and magnetic stability within the reduction cell as amperage increases.

The 500kA milestone was achieved in EGA's Eagle research and development section in Jebel Ali.

It is part of feasibility work to prepare for the potential upgrade of 458 reduction cells at EGA's potline 3 in Al Taweelah, which has 444 DX+ and 14 DX+ Ultra pots.

Pushing amperage to 500 kA is expected to boost production by 5% compared to the current maximum operating amperage in EGA.

DX+ Ultra is EGA's latest fully-industrialised technology. In addition to potline 3 at Al Taweelah, DX+ Ultra was licensed to Aluminum Bahrain to construct the Bahraini company's potline 6 expansion project, which began production in 2018.

On the key achievement, CEO Abdulnasser bin Kalban said: "Reaching 500kA for the first time is a great achievement, and I congratulate our Research & Development team, who are continuously improving the performance of our proprietary smelting technologies as we strive towards being a technology pathfinder for our industry in the decades ahead."

"In addition to supporting production creep in Al Taweelah, this work also contributes to the ongoing development of our next-generation technology, which promises a further step-change in performance both for EGA and our technology customers," he stated.

EGA has developed its aluminum smelting technology in the UAE for more than 25 years. EGA has used its technology for every smelter expansion since the 1990s and has retrofitted all its older production lines.

The Emirati group has agreements with companies from Indonesia to Colombia, leading to further international licensing of EGA technology.


FSL Boosts Regional Presence with New Kuwait Office

Food Specialities Limited (FSL), an innovative ingredient solutions provider to the food and beverage (F&B) industry, said it is all set to open its new branch office in Kuwait.

Founded in Dubai in 1986, FSL rapidly expanded across the region with offices and warehousing facilities in multiple locations offering customers timely supply chain management through its integrated delivery systems.

FSL is structured into 3 divisions that serve the entire spectrum of the food and beverage industry; The food ingredients division, the trading division and the HoReCa division.

The opening of FSL’s Kuwait office is in line with the organization’s philosophy to build long-term relationships with customers and maintain its position as the leading player in the Middle East food industry, said the company in a statement.

With the growing population of the nation, FSL Kuwait is set to excel in business growth this year.

The new FSL Kuwait Office will also boast the company's new warehouse, it stated.

FSL Vice President Reji Jose said: "Our new office and warehouse in Kuwait enables us to develop deeper relationships with our customers in this region and to offer our technical, sales, innovation and logistics support to them in a seamless manner."

"It supports our mission to develop long-term partnerships by adding value through service and knowledge in the food industry. The office and warehousing facilities will provide an avenue for our local clients to efficiently manage their inventory, access FSL’s technical services and our stock and sell facilities locally," he added.


Iran's FM Urges Joint Effort with Cuba to Offset US Sanctions

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Saturday called for a joint effort by Iran and Cuba to render US sanctions ineffective.

In a meeting with Cuban Deputy Prime Minister Ricardo Cabrisas in Tehran, Amir-Abdollahian pointed to the wide-ranging US sanctions on Iran and Cuba and stressed the need to draw on each other’s experience in neutralizing them.

The top diplomat described Havana as a “strategic partner” to Iran and said economic joint commissions are a good opportunity for both nations to explore ways to develop economic and trade ties and deepen political cooperation.

He said Iran is determined to sign new memorandums of understanding with Cuba in order to enhance economic and trade cooperation.

Amir-Abdollahian called on the two countries to make every effort to benefit from the economic capacities each has.

Cabrisas hailed Tehran’s unwavering support for Havana in the face of US unilateral sanctions and highlighted the importance of using the economic capacities of the two countries for the benefit of both sides. - Iran Daily


GTC Announces Iran’s Domestic Wheat Purchase

The Government Trading Corporation (GTC) of Iran bought nearly 1.5 million tons of wheat from farmers in the country in the new harvesting season that started early April as authorities hope increased domestic crop could allay concerns about international supplies affected by the war in Ukraine. GTC’s CEO Saeid Rad said that the government is seeking to fast-track payments due to domestic growers to encourage more wheat delivery to government silos until the end of the harvesting season in late July, Press TV reported. Rad said more than IRR 92,710 trillion (~US$229 million) of payments has been made to wheat farmers in recent weeks to settle a bulk of the purchases hat have been carried out in recent weeks. Iran has nearly doubled the guaranteed purchase price for wheat to IRR 115,000 (~US$0.37) per kilogram this harvesting season.

The government hopes the price could lead to increased domestic supplies this year as the country expects lower imports of wheat because of a war between Russia and Ukraine that has affected global supplies of grains. For years, Iran has covered wheat and several other crops in its guaranteed purchase price scheme. However, purchases have declined in recent years because of price issues causing some farmers to switch to other crops or to sell their produce to the middlemen.

A new administrative government that took office in August has vowed it would expand contract farming to major crops to prevent price fluctuations in the market that are caused by lack of balance in supply and demand. Iran’s demand for wheat is expected to reach nearly 15 million tons this year. The country imported around eight million tons of the crop over the calendar year to March with a bulk of the supply coming from Russia. Rad said wheat purchases had started in eight Iranian provinces that are mostly located in south of the country where early harvest of the crop is possible because of the warmer weather. He said the province of Khuzestan on the southwestern border with Iraq had supplied 900,000 ton of wheat to the GTC silos over the past month. - Iran Daily


Iran Agrifood Exports Drop 15%

Iran exported 8.48 million tons of agricultural and food products worth US$5.23 billion in the fiscal 2021-22 (ended March 20), latest data released by the Agricultural Jihad Ministry show. The figures indicate a decline of 4.06% in tonnage and 15.84% in value year-on-year. Pistachio topped the list of exports in terms of value with US$914.43 million. Tomato was the second major agricultural export product in terms of value with US$384.49 million, followed by dates with US$305.23 million, apple with US$278.95 million and watermelon with US$208.58 million. - Financial Tribune