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Gulf Financial Insider

Contents January 2021 Issue 187

18 28 Simply unparalleled online presence that connects region’s most inspired communities.

08 14 16 18 22 26 28 32 34

2020 in Review Emerging Technology Trends How Important is it to get Vaccinated against COVID-19? Driving Innovation - stc Bahrain A Survival Guide for Investors with Cash Artificial Intelligence and The Rise of Neobanks Drive Defines Us - Porshce Mercedes-Benz Unveils MBUX Hyperscreen New Rolls-Royce Ghost - Official Debut in Bahrain


Knowledge is power

Publisher & Editor in Chief

Nicholas C. Cooksey

Editorial

Angela Acosta

Editorial Contributors

Hugh Haskell-Thomas

Nicholas Cortes Bill Daly

Sales & Business Development

Charlie Cooksey

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Layout Designs

Dhanraj S

Here's last month’s most 'Liked' #BestInBahrain picture posted to our social media.

Admin & Finance

Nikesh Pola

Photography

Angelo Jose A

Comment...

Distribution Mohammed Yousif Aramex Al Ayam For advertising contact Charlie Cooksey +973 3652 0004 charlie@gulf-insider.com

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Remembering HRH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa www.Gulf-InsIder.com

49th National Day SpeCial eDitioN DEcEmBEr 2020 | ISSUE 186

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Celebrating Bahrain’s

A Tribute to One of the World’s Longest Serving Prime Ministers OctOBEr - NOvEmBEr 2020 | ISSUE 185

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Leading Through Crisis

How industry leaders in Bahrain are dealing with the COVID-19 crisis

JAnUAry 2021 | ISSUE 187

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Gulf Insider speaks to Manfred Bräunl, CEO of Porsche, Middle East and Africa FZE

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Cover Image: Srinivas.S @srini.pixels

Founding President, American University of Bahrain

AUgUSt - SEptEmBEr 2020 | ISSUE 184

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Dr. Susan E. Saxton

Drive Defines Us

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Review 2020

2020 in Review Top Stories from the Past Year

The year 2020 has been like no other. It has transformed the lives of almost each and everyone of us to an extent we could have never imagined before. For many, this year will go down as one of the darkest in living memory. But amid the mayhem sparked by the pandemic, there are also pieces of good news that brought a bit of cheer. Here are the stories that have made the headlines last year‌

January Oman & Bahrain: Hundreds of cancelled flights Oman Air has announced that it has cancelled over 700 flights for the month of January 2020. The carrier has axed all Boeing 737 MAX flights following the decision by the Sultanate’s Public Authority for Civil Aviation to ground all planes until safety issues are addressed by aircraft makers Boeing. In Bahrain, at least 15 flights have been cancelled including Etihad, Emirates and Fly Dubai, as well as Gulf Air. This was caused by the tensions that emerged in Iraq.

Waiting time reduction on Saudi-Bahrain Causeway The King Fahad Causeway Authority (KFCA) announced that necessary procedures will be taken to facilitate the crossing of passengers across the causeway during the mid-year vacation.

Snow in Saudi Parts of Saudi Arabia were blanketed by snow, especially in the northwestern regions such as the Dahr Mountains. The meteorology office urged residents to keep warm and avoid venturing to isolated places.

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Gulf Insider January 2021


Review 2020

February Saudi & Bahrain: Extreme temperature drops Bahrain recorded the lowest temperature of 8.2 degrees Celsius with a real feel of one degree. Sources added that the real feeling of one degree, recorded in the robotic monitoring station located in Sitra, in some areas of Bahrain was due to strong winds. In Saudi, temperatures reached zero degree and below. The freezing conditions affected the Northern Border Region, Al-Jouf, Tabuk, Hail, and Qassim region.

Bahrain: Expats terminated from Education Ministry No expatriates have been hired by the Ministry of Education in the past two years, it is learnt. According to ministry sources, the ministry stopped the recruitment of expatriates to increase the recruitment of Bahrainis.

Bahrain: More flights suspended The number of incoming regional flights in Bahrain has been reduced and all flights from Dubai and Sharjah have been suspended.

March Gold price reduced Gold prices had recently dropped $25 dollars in the global commodity markets to be in the $1,555 plus an ounce range.

Bahrain: Commercial outlets closed All commercial outlets were closed from the 26th of March until 9th of April as part of the measures taken to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Government covered salaries of Bahraini employees A total of 100,000 Bahraini private sector employees, registered with the Social Insurance Organisation, had their April, May, and June salaries covered by the economic stimulus package at a cost of BD 215 million.

Gulf Insider January 2021

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Review 2020

April Bahrain considered bill to pay private sector salaries A draft-law concerning paying the salaries of all privatesector employees for three months (April, May and June 2020) was considered in April.

Saudi: First batch of Filipinos repatriated The first flight carrying Filipino expats left Saudi Arabia for the Philippines on 21st April. This initiative was aimed mainly to facilitate the return of those expats whose contracts with their employers have come to an end.

Only essential businesss remain open in Bahrain Groceries, hypermarkets, supermarkets and other food stores remained open from 7AM to 7PM. Also included in this list are bakeries, medical establishments, financial institutions, mobile repair and other telecommunication outlets and garages.

May Dubai Airports ready to welcome passengers Dubai Airports confirmed its readiness to support the resumption of scheduled operations. They also required travelers to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and arrive at the airport four hours before their flight to allow time for additional security measures.

UK COVID-19 vaccine results could be available soon Results from the UK’s first human trial of a COVID-19 vaccine could be available as soon as June.

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Gulf Insider January 2021


Review 2020

July King Fahd Causeway reopened Saudi Arabia said that its citizens in Bahrain can return to the Kingdom via the King Fahd Causeway without a prearranged permit.

Direct sale of India repatriation tickets started Indian expats who have registered with the Indian missions in the UAE secured seats on the Vande Bharat mission on a first-come-first-serve basis.

UAE-India flights resumed Flights from India to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah resumed from 31st July, Air India Express announced.

August Kuwait resumed flights to 20 countries June Emirates announced 50 additional destinations Emirates airline announced its network expansion of 50 destinations in June as more and more countries have eased travel restrictions.

UAE announced full reopening of borders

The airlines operating at Kuwait International Airport resumed its commercial flights to 20 countries worldwide. The airlines started operating flights to the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Ethiopia, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Iran, Nepal, Switzerland, Germany, Azerbaijan and other destinations.

Saudi opened land borders Saudi citizens and their nonSaudi family members as well as accompanying domestic workers who are currently in neighbouring countries are allowed to return to the Kingdom through land ports.

UAE authorities announced its preparations to fully reopen the country’s borders after months of shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gulf Insider January 2021

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Review 2020

September Indians can return to Bahrain The Air Bubble arrangement between India and Bahrain has been operationalized to facilitate travel between the two countries. Both Indian and Bahraini national carriers were permitted to operate a specified number of flights.

120,000-year-old human footprints discovered in Saudi Saudi Arabia announced the discovery of 120,000-year-old footprints of humans and predators in the northern region of Tabuk.

Oman issued new dress code People entering malls in Muscat wearing sleeveless shirts and shorts are to face fines of up to OMR 300, and jail terms of up to three months, as part of new rules drawn up for people to dress modestly while in public.

October Saudi airlines: Huge demand from stranded expats A large number of expats in the Indian subcontinent wished to return to Saudi Arabia, as the Kingdom resumed its international flights to 20 cities.

Gulf Air introduced new ‘Boutique Fares’ Gulf Air has introduced a new pricing concept of its airfares to make it easier and clearer to its passengers regarding what’s included in each price bracket.

November Bahrain mourned death of Prime Minister Bahrain’s Prime Minister, Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, passed away in a hospital Mayo Clinic, USA on 11th November.

Abu Dhabi set new world record Mina Plaza Towers has been declared the world’s ‘tallest building to be demolished using explosives’ (controlled demolition). Modon Properties, which carried out the project, set a new Guinness World Record with the safe and successful demolition.

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Gulf Insider January 2021


Review 2020

A glance of Gulf Insider’s 2020 issues Bahrain Bd2 | KSA sr20 | Kuwait Kd1.75 | Oman ro2 | Qatar Qr20 | UAE dHs20

Bahrain Bd2 | KSA sr20 | Kuwait Kd1.75 | Oman ro2 | Qatar Qr20 | UAE dHs20

The multi-award winning Arabian Magazine

Bahrain Bd2 | KSA sr20 | Kuwait Kd1.75 | Oman ro2 | Qatar Qr20 | UAE dHs20

The multi-award winning Arabian Magazine

Bahrain Bd2 | KSA sr20 | Kuwait Kd1.75 | Oman ro2 | Qatar Qr20 | UAE dHs20

The multi-award winning Arabian Magazine

The multi-award winning Arabian Magazine

KEEP DISTANCE | STAY SAFE

January

www.Gulf-InsIder.com

FEBrUAry 2020 | ISSUE 180

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MArch 2020 | ISSUE 181

february

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april - may

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the multi-award winning Arabian magazine

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APRIL-MAY 2020 | ISSUE 182

March

Bahrain Bd2 | KSA sr20 | Kuwait Kd1.75 | Oman ro2 | Qatar Qr20 | UAE dHs20

The multi-award winning Arabian Magazine

Complimentary Copy

Benefit from Cashless Payments

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JAnUAry 2020 | ISSUE 179

Gulf Insider speaks to some of the leading businesswomen in Bahrain

Complimentary Copy

Women in Business 2020

Winners

of the Bahrain Award for entrepreneurship Fourth edition - 2019

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the multi-award winning Arabian magazine

The multi-award winning Arabian magazine

Leading Through Crisis

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JUne - july

AUgUSt - SEptEmBEr 2020 | ISSUE 184

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august - september

Celebrating Bahrain’s Complimentary Copy

Founding President, American University of Bahrain

Complimentary Copy

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June-July 2020 | ISSUE 183

Remembering HRH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa

Dr. Susan E. Saxton

As traditional education gives way to virtual learning

A Tribute to One of the World’s Longest Serving Prime Ministers OctOBEr - NOvEmBEr 2020 | ISSUE 185

www.Gulf-InsIder.com

october - november

49th National Day

Complimentary Copy

How industry leaders in Bahrain are dealing with the COVID-19 crisis

Learning to Learn

SpeCial eDitioN DEcEmBEr 2020 | ISSUE 186

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december

December Vaccine rollouts As the year drew to a close, governments are on the cusp of inoculating millions, starting with the elderly, medics and the most vulnerable before moving into mass campaigns presented as the only ticket back to a normal life. In December, Britain became the first Western country to approve a vaccine for general use and roll out the inoculation developed in the BioNTech lab in cooperation with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. Bahrain then announced that the country will initiate a vaccination campaign against COVID-19 for free. In the same month, Saudi Arabia officially banned child marriages under 18.

Bahraini ministry announced plans to replace expats by 2024 Bahrain’s Ministry of Works and Municipality Affairs plans to replace its foreign employees with citizens by 2024. Around 446 foreigners are currently working at the ministry, accounting for some 17 per cent of its overall workforce. Gulf Insider January 2021

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Money & Business

Emerging Technology Trends As start the year, we shall go through the the latest reports on technology trends that we should watch in 2021.

E

merging technologies as well as other young technologies have led the way businesses have taken to advance and implement their digital transformation throughout the decades. The ones that follow, are some of the trends that will shape the way we work and live next year and beyond. Those of us who have been following industry analysis trends for over a decade know the importance of staying tuned with what is happening in all spheres of technology.

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Gulf Insider January 2021

Blockchain It’s taken a long time for blockchain to shift centre stage, but as people increasingly trust algorithms, which it’s based on, its time has come. Decentralised finance will continue to grow over the next few years because of the increased demand for online financial products, but it will need to continually address the balance between decentralisation, security and scalability. Increasingly, government bodies are leveraging blockchain for their activities, moving from incredulity to embracing

the technology. With this, we’re going to see regulation surrounding blockchain become ever more pronounced.

Rising demand for ethical AI In the past, firms that adopted machine learning and other Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies paid little heed to their ethical impact. Today, however, values-based consumers and employees expect companies to adopt AI in a responsible fashion. Over the next few years, firms will deliberately choose to do business with partners that commit to data ethics


Money & Business

and adopt data handling practices that reflect their own values as well as their customers’ values.

Recasting of automation roadmaps Covid-19 is changing firms’ automation agendas rapidly toward back-office processes and business resilience. Intelligent automation will represent the infusion of robotic and digital process automation with pragmatic AI and lowcode tools. These technologies will help businesses become more efficient

important geographic regions while retaining centralized technology management benefits. Zero Trust security will help clients navigate this shift.

Driving innovation everywhere using cloud-native technologies Emerging cloud-native technologies, born from open source and incubated in public clouds, drive fast innovation --and in more locations than just the public cloud. From 2021 and over the next five years, cloud-native technologies such as container platforms and serverless computing will herald a new era of distributed enterprise software--from cloud providers, edge providers, and software vendors alike.

Shifting cloud strategies toward the edge Interest in edge computing has been historically tied to the Internet of Things (IoT). In 2020, innovations in next-generation communications, cloud-native technologies, and edge computing architectures have come together to create breakthroughs in cloud-to-edge integration. Over the next three to five years, firms will shift their cloud strategy to include more edge services from more vendors, challenging public cloud vendor market dominance.

Employee experience: Remote work will permanently increase

Covid-19 is changing firms’ automation agendas rapidly toward backoffice processes and business resilience.

and resilient while expanding their operations.

Moving toward hyperlocal business operations In the next decade, large enterprises will improve their ability to operate hyperlocally, with regional mid-size businesses growing and expanding to new geographies. Organizations will need to design architectures that can strategically distribute customer engagement and business operations systems to

Employee experience in 2021 will be defined by long-term remote work and crisis management. Success will pretty much depend on the strength of an organization’s employee experience (EX) strategy as well as technology investments. Remote work will permanently increase to 300 percent of prepandemic levels. Fewer than one-third of companies conduct employee experience surveys at least quarterly, and only slightly more have a voiceof-the-employee program --both of which are foundational for employee experience initiatives. Gulf Insider January 2021

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Travel

How important is it to get

vaccinated against COVID-19? Why is getting vaccinated against COVID-19 important to the travel industry?

T

he latest developments about coronavirus vaccines have given everyone optimism in an otherwise dismal time. At the end of last year, hope returned to the world, including hope for restarting travel as countries began approving several vaccines. But what does this mean for the travel industry and how important is it to get vaccinated against the virus? Just recently, we spoke to Dadabhai Travel’s Director, Adnan Gilitwala to gain some insights on this matter. The damage caused by the spread of COVID-19 has been immense not just in the travel industry but also the global economy. Travel is crucial to everyone’s livelihoods around the world which is why it is imperative that people get vaccinated for the sake of both their personal and professional survival. “Scientifically, it has been proven

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Gulf Insider January 2021

Scientifically, it has been proven countless times that vaccines are the most effective form of prevention against disease. countless times that vaccines are the most effective form of prevention against disease, therefore the urgency for more people to get vaccinated has never been higher. The only way we see the travel industry recovering and being able to help other industries do the same is when enough people around

the world are declared safe to move around without restrictions”, Adnan said. However, the availability of vaccines is not enough to influence the demand for travel as people have to willingly get vaccinated and show airlines, hotels, other companies, and governments around the world that they take their health seriously enough for conventional travel to resume to pre COVID-19 levels. “The goal is eradicating the virus and making it feasible for the world to open up again; as things stand, the only realistic way that will happen is if enough people become immune to COVID-19 through vaccination”, Adnan commented.

Don’t wait, vaccinate When asked about what travel agencies should aim for in the immediate present, Adnan answered that agencies need to focus on


Travel

supporting the drive to vaccinate as many people as possible: “If agencies are able to collectively share the same mission of supporting the government’s efforts, they will make a huge difference in preventing further losses to the travel industry and all the other industries associated with it, and also play a significant role in making the world safer to explore”. With that said, Adnan shared that Dadabhai Travel is fully committed to doing their part in supporting Bahrain’s

Although the coronavirus vaccine is now available in Bahrain, a number of people are still concerned about getting jabbed. It is worth noting that all available COVID-19 vaccines in Bahrain are safe and have been authorized by the National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA).

Here are some important things you need to know:

We believe that the success of any campaign is dependent on the alignment of both the public and private sectors.

National Vaccination Campaign, like any other campaigns of the government. The leading travel agency has heavily encouraged the members of their organization to register themselves and their families for the vaccination. “We believe that the success of any campaign is dependent on the alignment of both the public and private sectors, and continue to advocate the same whenever we can as no campaign would be initiated without considering the safety, efficacy, and benefit to the country and its people as a whole. We are confident that our government is acting in our best interests to prevent more harm to the people and the economy of Bahrain, and get us back on the path towards growth and sustainability. As such, we are all obligated to do our part for our country”, he commented.

• All vaccines available in Bahrain (Pfizer and Sinopharm) have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19. • Two doses are needed for the Sinopharm and Pfizer vaccine. A second shot will be scheduled 21 days after your first shot. • Side effects may be experienced by some people after vaccination. This is a normal sign that your body is building protection. • Getting vaccinated will protect people around you, particularly people with higher risks of being infected. • COVID-19 vaccines are one of the many tools to help us stop this pandemic.

How can you get vaccinated in Bahrain? • You can register for vaccination through MOH’s website or your BeAware app. • The registration process allows you to select the health center at which you prefer to be vaccinated and the type of vaccine you wish to receive. • Once you have completed the registration process, you will be contacted to confirm the date and time of your vaccination appointment.

Gulf Insider January 2021

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Money & Business

Driving Innovation stc Bahrain continues to drive the Kingdom’s digital transformation forward.

A Eng. Nezar Banabeela, stc Bahrain CEO

journey towards digitalization is not new. Digital always had its natural advantages of being efficient, agile, productive, user and customer centric. It’s just that our current realities have brought it into sharper focus and accelerated adoption as digital took off. As a world-class digital enabler, stc Bahrain have been at the forefront of driving forward Bahrain’s digital transformation in line with the Kingdom’s economic vision 2030. As Bahrain gears up to adopt new and emerging technologies, they are fully invested in bolstering Bahrain’s digital landscape and its economic and social development. “Driving innovation with new revolutionary technologies, creating a sustainable future for the local community, developing new talent, and building telecom’s future is the foundation of everything we do”, said Eng. Nezar Banabeela CEO of stc Bahrain.

stc Bahrain have been at the forefront of driving forward Bahrain’s digital transformation in line with the Kingdom’s economic vision 2030. 18

Gulf Insider January 2021


Money & Business

Safety and protection of people and the wider community in partnership with stakeholders and government entities have been the biggest priority at stc Bahrain. The company had exceedingly worked to the past year, fulfilling its responsibility to help entire Bahrain stay connected amid the virus outbreak. “We adopted business continuity measures across our various customer service functions, business operations, including HR, Finance, IT, and

Safety and protection of people and the wider community in partnership with stakeholders and government entities have been the biggest priority at stc Bahrain.

communications, to closely monitor business status. We have a strong business preparedness framework that monitors the ongoing situation. It undertook robust yet flexible and innovative approaches to thrive in these exceptional times”, Eng. Banabeela stated.

Apart from encouraging remote work and adjusting their operations, stc Bahrain ramped their innovative digital platforms and services to alleviate the impact of the pandemic on our customers and on stc BH itself. This included investing in the latest cutting-edge technology for 5G home broadband network across the Kingdom. Furthermore, stc Bahrain have demonstrated their readiness and immediate support to our customers

during the pandemic with the introduction of stc Fiber broadband and stc Tajer enhanced products and services. They have also expanded the portfolio of stc Protect with the introduction of roadside service and home assistance services. As more and more citizens become tech-savvy digital natives and the community transitions towards digital maturity, business owners have an increasing need to provide efficient digital services. Thus, stc Bahrain will continue catering to the evolving customers’ needs. “We’ll continue pushing the boundaries of technology and innovation to usher in a new digital way of life and enhance the connectivity and Bahrain’s infrastructure”, Eng. Banabeela shared. Gulf Insider January 2021

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People & Culture

New Year, the Elite way! Start the new year with Elite Hospitality Group’s offers on dining and staycation. Elite Resort & Spa Breath taking sea view suites will lighten you and your family’s senses. The Elite Resort & Spa will be a family treat for a great start of the year with special winter promotion in one-bedroom suite for 2 persons with special rate of BD 33 net per room per night with breakfast, special VIP amenities and free late check out. Enjoy an array of offers for the whole family during the weekend at Al Naseem pool side with a special menu of BD 10 net per person with soft beverages. Guests will also benefit from the special discounts on all of the hotel’s restaurants and room service menu.

Elite Seef Residence & Hotel Elite Seef Residence & Hotel will embrace your world with a warm relaxed home away from home. The hotel is offering spacious suites with one and two bed rooms which make it a perfect choice for corporate long term visitors. The suites are fitted with fully equipped kitchenette along with living room and dining area which creates an 20

Gulf Insider January 2021

ideal accommodation for short or long term stay guests, with complimentary Wi-Fi services and breakfast buffet with additional 20% discount on room services and laundry. Special promotion will be offered on all suite types till end of April 2021. Guest can also explore a variety of open sky roofed nights. Unwind and relax under the stars at Captain Jack’s outdoor area by the pool side starting from 8 PM till 2 AM. Enjoy ladies’ night every Wednesday till Friday with three free coupons on drinks.

Elite Grande Hotel The special winter promotion at Elite Grande Hotel is extended! Stay in a one-bedroom suite with a special rate of BD 30 net per night including breakfast for two persons. This includes VIP amenities and free late check out. There is also a discount on room service menu with 25% off on every order from 12 PM till 12 AM. H20 pool side restaurant offers Happy Hours every night from 1 PM till 8 PM. ‘Fabulous Night’ can also be enjoyed with promotions on a variety of selected cocktails and drinks.

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Money & Business

A survival guide for

investors with cash By Diego Wuergler is Head of Investment Advisory at Julius Baer.

A

re you missing out? On average, cash represents 1/3 of the typical investor’s portfolio. It’s not too late to buy, and you should still buy at today’s level. Buying today is not difficult to do, but find out how you can avoid a few mistakes. Most of us trust what we are told. Since COVID-19, we have been constantly informed that we are in the worst crisis ever and that life will

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Gulf Insider January 2021

Don’t judge your success in a matter of days/weeks (as only luck matters here) but in terms of years.

never be the same again. Studies have quantified the immense damage. On a daily basis, we are being confronted with stories of human tragedies.

What should investors still sitting on cash (and having missed the boat) do today? Is it too late to buy? No, it is not too late. In my view, you should still buy at today’s level. Or maybe the best wording is ‘accumulate’


Money & Business

(e.g. buy in stages). But continuing to keep cash should not be a strategy, otherwise it means you continue to suffer a mathematical loss after taking into account inflation (and eventually taxes). Buying today is not difficult to do, but it’s crucial to avoid a few mistakes:

Mistake 1: Having too short a time horizon Don’t judge your success in a matter

hitting an all-time high as a buy signal, so don’t be surprised if the S&P500 will follow the same path.

Mistake 3: Having an “all or nothing” approach If you hold 30% of your portfolio in cash today, nobody should force you to invest everything in one shot. But you can start by investing 5%, then reassess, then repeat. It is about managing your risks through a staggered approach. Should the market fall, you still will have 25% cash to invest at better levels. If the market continues rising, at least you benefit from that. Most importantly, you will need to continue to invest at even higher prices than today. Why? We are in a secular bull trend that started in May 2013. If history is to offer any guidance, we may still have 10 years of rising markets - the two previous secular bull markets happened from 1950-1966 and 1982-2000 – and, in my opinion, it would be a shame to miss out.

Mistake 4: Waiting for a 5-10% correction before buying

Diego Wuergler

The markets and real economy are not the same. What happens in the real economy is not systematically reflected in the stock market.

of days/weeks (as only luck matters here) but in terms of years. For any trade, no time horizon should be shorter than 1 year. Longer time horizons allow you to put things into perspective.

Mistake 2: Fearing an all-time high For whatever reason, most people get scared when the market reaches an all-time high, and (wrongly) assume that a correction is around the corner. In reality, hitting a new high is a sign of particularly strong momentum and most of the time the market continues to rise afterwards (+8.3% after 12 months, on average). Technical analysis considers

This only looks good on paper. In practice, it never works. This is because if buying when the market rises is difficult (“the market is too high”), buying when the market falls is almost impossible (“it’s the beginning of a crash – the market will collapse”). The issue here is that financial channels (newspapers, TV, internet, analysts) make their living by explaining why the market is correcting, and even if there is nothing new, they will find ways to scare investors (implying more potential downsides) so that you will never buy at the bottom. The narrative about what’s going on systematically worsens with any correction, and your stance becomes “let’s wait for the dust to settle” or “let’s remain on the sidelines for a while”. Obviously, the market anticipates everything, and once the narrative has improved the market will already have rebounded. The problem is that the market is always expensive: financial statistics show that the market is more expensive 90% of the time. Gulf Insider January 2021

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Money & Business

Mistake 5: Confusing the markets and the real economy The markets and real economy are not the same. What happens in the real economy is not systematically reflected in the stock market.

Mistake 6: Undervaluing the action of central banks and governments

It is not a question of ‘this time is different’. It is just mathematics, pure and simple.

Central banks, and especially the Fed, have been extremely proactive at cutting rates and creating new liquidity (quantitative easing), but they get a lot of criticism in terms of impact on the real economy. In addition, governments have been quick to support their economies. Combined, these define the Modern Monetary Theory (MMT).

Mistake 7: Not buying when the market is expensive It is a fact that the market is expensive. But the problem is that the market is always expensive: financial statistics show that the market is more expensive 90% of the time. It is not a question of ‘this time is different’. It is just mathematics, pure and simple.

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Alternatively, waiting for the market to be cheap, means that you might wait for a very long time. Think about mistake 4: when the market gets cheap, it is because it is crashing and nobody wants to buy.

How to position yourself? So how should investors position themselves in these turbulent times? I’d like to conclude with three final recommendations: 1. Focus on secular trends (IT, healthcare, industrials). Even if your timing is wrong, you can still sleep well at night because these companies will not run out of business. 2. European equities underperform as these indices are full of banks, energy, and carmakers. In the long-term, they will continue to underperform. 3. Growth style remains superior to value style for the time being. This may change the day the first vaccine against Covid-19 is approved, but we are not there yet.


News Roundup

AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines to be available in Saudi

Bahrain has 3rd highest rate of vaccinations per 100 individuals worldwide

Saudi Arabia will offer its citizens and residents the AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines, in addition to the PfizerBioNTech vaccine in the near future. The move is part of the Kingdom’s efforts to stem the COVID-19 pandemic and return to normal life. The Ministry of Health on Monday announced that it has approved the two new vaccines, and hence Saudi citizens and residents can opt for the AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines. Moderna vaccine is characterized by its easy shipping and long-term storage conditions, the ministry said.

Bahrain has the third-highest rate of vaccinations per 100 individuals in the world, reportedly 8.28, according to Bloomberg Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker. Israel came in the first place, vaccinating 24.24 per 100 individuals and UAE in second place with 15.5. Bahrain also became the first country in the world to allow COVID-19 vaccine appointments via a mobile app BeAware. All citizens and foreign residents are able to schedule their free vaccination via that smartphone application, which was launched at the beginning of the pandemic as the country’s COVID-19 contact tracing offering.

Saudi Arabia to launch drive-in cinemas in Riyadh Riyadh Mayoralty will soon launch a new cinematic experience to movie lovers of the capital city with the launching of drive-in cinemas titled “Flash of Riyadh.” The drive-in cinema will be screening three Arabic and

international cinemas on a daily basis. For each show, the mayoralty is arranging the space for more than 150 cars wherein the occupants can enjoy the magic of movies on a big screen from the comfort and safety of their car. All the arrangements will be in place in line with the coronavirus precautionary measures and preventive protocols, including wearing masks and keeping social distance and the area will be sterilized at the end of every show. The mayoralty said that the show is being arranged in a way taking into account the privacy of the viewers, by enabling them to listen to the sound effects by simply tuning into a designated radio frequency for the movie audio to be streamed straight into their cars. In addition to this, there will be dedicated area for food trucks to provide services to movie fans through electronic applications without the need to get off their vehicles. The mayoralty said in a statement on its Twitter account that there will be multiple mechanisms for booking tickets for various segments of the society.

Gulf Insider January 2021

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Money & Business

Artificial Intelligence and

The Rise of Neobanks

Gartner estimates say 80% of traditional banks as we know it will die over the next decade.

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ust recently, I spoke at the ePayment seminar and touched upon that Bahrain has been a pioneer in banking and technology for decades. However, it’s time now to accept that virtual banks or what is known as ‘neobanks’ are on the verge of competing with traditional and legacy banks. Several banks are investing on digital transformation journey but perhaps this hybrid model is not good enough to repulse neobanks. Artificial Intelligence and neobanks are creating a new model with some features illustrated below: Credit decisions: Credit scoring was one of the earliest applications of analytics. Today, with AI, more sophisticated rules can be developed which address the sparse data problems by factoring in alternate and behavioral data such as smart phone usage and payment behavior. Risk Management: Probably the 26

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single most important function in banks today; as assessing real-time risk becomes a key ingredient to avoid losses, both financial and reputational. With AI, apart from the quantitative data, unstructured data systems can be assessed for risk management. A specific use case within is has been Fraud Management where triggers can be created when seemingly contradictory spending patterns are observed. Trading has been another area touched by AI. Trading was anyway decision making in mere fractions of seconds. With AI, one can manage entire portfolios by identifying stock price movement trends from both unstructured and structured data sources. Personalized banking and advice: From chatbots that can manage customer queries to robo advisors that can plan wealth management goals to customized plans for savings and

expense management; AI is enabling banking to be reimagined from the users’ perspective and not from the way the bank has been organized by product groups like loans and cards. According to MarketforceLive, three out of five banks already use chatbots for customer service, allowing many simple queries to be resolved without having to speak with a human agent. Neobanks and banking as a service are emerging as a new alternative where third parties such as developers, Fintechs and nonFintechs can develop financial services without starting from scratch. It enables these third parties to connect with the core banking systems through APIs. Since they don’t need to maintain physical branches and staff, neobanks can afford to focus on the customer experience. They may have slick-looking mobile apps and typically offer more favorable rates to their customers than traditional banks. It is important to note that due to their status outside the mainstream banking industry, neobanks may not be fully covered by consumer protection laws.

Dr. Jassim Haji is the president of Artificial Intelligence Group in Bahrain. He is an expert and researcher in technology and digital transformation. He is also the author of four books in technology and AI.


News Roundup

UAE: Kids ‘likely’ to get Sinopharm jab if ongoing trials prove safe Sinopharm’s Covid-19 vaccines are ‘likely’ to be offered to children in the UAE if ongoing trials in China show positive results. Currently, the vaccine is administered only to those who are 18 years old and older. Dr Nawal Al Kaabi, chairperson of the National Covid-19 Clinical Management Committee, said the existing norms would be reviewed if favourable data is received. “Once further research is conducted and additional data is made available, we will reassess the validity of the vaccine for those under the age of 18,” said Dr Nawal, the principal investigator of Phase III Clinical Trial. When asked if the vaccine could be given to those aged 15 and above, Dr Nawal clarified: “At this stage, we only recommend those over the age of 18 take the vaccine.”

Jubail aims to build first Saudimade car by 2022 The Royal Commission in Jubail started developing the infrastructure required for attracting three global automakers, expecting the first Saudi-made car in 2022. The move comes in coordination with South Korea’s SsangYong Motor Co. through setting up a car assembly center. Engineering designs are in advanced stages, AlZahrani said. The study conducted by the Royal Commission eyes to attract almost SR40 billion ($10.67 billion) direct investments to the automotive industry by 2040, Al-Zahrani added, noting that this sector will contribute SR80 billion to the Saudi Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provide 27,000 direct jobs. The Kingdom’s auto complex is part of the strategic industrial plan, as Jubail Industrial City and Ras Al-Khair Industrial City provide no less than 90 percent of the raw materials used in direct automobile manufacturing, he concluded.

Kuwait mandates education degree accreditation for work permit renewal Kuwaiti authorities have said that accreditation of expatriates’ education degrees is necessary for renewing their work permits. The condition was announced by the Public Authority of Manpower that urged employers to apply via its electronic portal Ashal (Easier) for having their employees’ degrees accredited. According to the arrangement, employers are required to apply with an original copy of the degree for the accreditation process. The government agency has exempted the expatriate engineers whose degrees have been accredited by the Kuwaiti Society of Engineers. Kuwait has recently set new controls to regulate its labour market amid the global coronavirus pandemic. Likewise, several state institutions in Kuwait have disclosed plans to limit hiring foreigners, prioritising Kuwaitis’ employment as part of efforts to redress a demographic balance in the country. Gulf Insider January 2021

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Car Bahrain

Manfred Bräunl

Drive Defines Us Gulf Insider met with Manfred Bräunl, CEO of Porsche Middle East and Africa FZE

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Car Bahrain

Following the lockdown in the second quarter, which unsurprisingly affected our business, we had the best third quarter results over a 5-year period.

What would you say have been the most significant moments and milestones for Porsche throughout the Middle East in 2020?

It has been a year unlike any other, but I’m pleased to say we’ve dealt with it head on.

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020 has been a difficult year for a lot of industries, automotive included. How has Porsche dealt with the issues regionally and what effect, if any, has it had on the business?

It has been a year unlike any other, but I’m pleased to say we’ve dealt with it head on. Naturally, the safety and well-being of our employees was at the forefront of our decision-making. Thanks to flexible business plans, fast support measures, creative ideas and above all, the great support of our Porsche partners across the region, we can be proud of what we achieved. We started the year off well and reported a 5-per cent growth in new car deliveries in the first quarter of 2020.

Despite COVID-19 presenting a challenge on a scale which we have never seen before, we took big steps throughout the year that will continue to impact our operations positively in the years to come. What I found most inspiring is how hard my entire team worked to overcome the challenges. Rather than taking the easy way out, we’ve turned them into opportunities by finding innovative ways to significantly accelerate the implementation of digital technologies across the business. We were not only the first region amongst all Porsche subsidiaries in the world to introduce an online sales platform at our Dubai importer, but also very exciting projects like the virtual customer consultation.

Electrification is obviously something Porsche is taking seriously as demonstrated with the launch of the highly anticipated Taycan. What has been the reaction to the car across the region to date? We’ve seen a positive initial reaction from consumers and enthusiasts, Gulf Insider January 2021

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underpinned by a strong order bank. The Taycan is a game changer in the industry with 13 brand-new technical innovations. It’s ideal for everyday driving pleasure in the modern age, featuring all the benefits that come with an electric vehicle, such as high-powered electric performance, instant torque, and multiple accelerations at full power for consistent timing. When you see a passionate 911 Turbo owner behind the wheel of a Taycan for the first time, experiencing the instant power release when they put their foot down, you know the future has arrived. The Taycan is proof that our brand continuously excites with ground-breaking and exciting innovations, offering the best product in each segment.

We’ve already seen some exciting activity around the launch of the Panamera, in particular your campaign for Female Empowerment. Can you tell us more about the campaign and how Porsche are championing workplace diversity in the region? To mark the upcoming regional release of our latest Panamera, we collaborated with some influential and driven females from across the Gulf region for an inspirational campaign. In keeping with the model’s tagline of Drive Defines Us, we present their unique and inspiring stories as leading examples of how highly ambitious women can make significant strides within their line of work. 30

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Quite simply, the new Panamera boasts best-inclass performance, enhanced comfort and chassis management and a sportier visual appearance.

The campaign shines a spotlight on their achievements, with the aim of encouraging other women in the Middle East to pursue careers in maledominated professions. Just recently, we have welcomed two females in senior management roles. Shurooq Zainal has been promoted to Legal & Compliance Director for the MEA Region. She is our first female Emirati in the Director team. With Aileen Fahr, we have secured our first woman in a senior role in the regional Sales Team, looking after our African markets.

The launch of the new Panamera represents a significant milestone in the


Car Bahrain

E-Performance programme, our luxury sports saloon is a trailblazer for electromobility, with three new highperformance hybrid variants available for the first time, each with a significantly increased electric driving range.

Can you tell us about Porsche’s measures within the workplace to combat issues following COVID-19? This year has made us rethink the way we live, work and interconnect with one another. I believe that flexibility and an innovative approach across all areas of business is the only way forward. Manifesting a corporate culture where change is accepted and trusting flexible working systems is equally important. I firmly believe the concept of remote working on a part-time basis is here to stay.

What launches, if any, can Porsche enthusiasts get excited about for 2021? There are many exciting things to look forward to as we look ahead to a busy 2021, most notably the conclusion of the Taycan introduction in our markets. We will also welcome the latest 911 Turbo, new additions to the 718 range and, of course, the latest generation Panamera. We are currently offering the most diverse line-up of sports cars in Porsche’s history, which accommodate to a variety of individual needs and preference.

In your role as regional CEO, what are your key objectives for the near future?

We will continue to strive for further enhancements and innovation around the business, including new and interesting ways to engage with customers.

development of the model. What would you say are the main USPs? Quite simply, the new Panamera boasts best-in-class performance, enhanced comfort and chassis management and a sportier visual appearance. Across the new range, it has performance credentials ranging from 330 to 700 PS. With 630 PS, the new Turbo S is a segment leader with 80 PS more power than the previous flagship Turbo with combustion engine. Fans of the Panamera will certainly enjoy driving it in Sport Plus mode, where the Turbo S accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in just 3.1 seconds. In line with our growing

Our focus is to always put our business partners and customers at the heart of our operations. A certain degree of volatility in the market will remain for the foreseeable future. As a result, regular communication and information exchange with our business partners is more crucial than ever. Good relationship management with our importers is the key to long-term success, as it builds confidence. We will continue to strive for further enhancements and innovation around the business, including new and interesting ways to engage with customers. I’m excited about 2021 and what it has in store for us. Gulf Insider January 2021

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Car Bahrain

Mercedes-Benz unveils

MBUX hyperscreen The big in-car cinema: An assistant for the driver and front passenger who is constantly learning, thanks to artificial intelligence.

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isually impressive, radically easy to operate and extremely eager to learn: the MBUX Hyperscreen is one of the highlights in the EQS. It represents the emotional intelligence of the all-electric upper-class model: The large, curved screen unit stretches almost the entire width from the left to the right A-pillar. In addition to its sheer size, the high-quality, detailloving design also provides a “wow� effect. This aesthetic high-tech look is the emotional dimension of the MBUX Hyperscreen. Added to this is artificial intelligence (AI): With software capable of learning, the display and operating concept adapts completely to its user and makes personalised suggestions for numerous infotainment, comfort and vehicle functions.

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Thanks to the so-called zero layer, the user does not have to scroll through submenus or give voice commands. The most important applications are always offered in a situational and contextual way at the top level in view. In this way, numerous operating steps are taken away from the EQS driver. And not only him: The MBUX Hyperscreen is also an attentive assistant for the passenger. It

receives its own display and operating area. MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) has radically simplified the operation of a Mercedes-Benz. Unveiled in 2018 in the current A-Class, there are now more than 1.8 million MercedesBenz passenger cars equipped with it on the roads worldwide. The Van division is also relying on MBUX. A few


Car Bahrain

months ago the second generation of this learn-capable system debuted in the new S-Class. The next big step now follows in the form of the new EQS and the optionally available MBUX Hyperscreen. “With our MBUX Hyperscreen, a design vision becomes reality” says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer Daimler Group. “We merge technology with design in a fascinating way that offers the customer unprecedented ease of use. We love simplicity, we have reached a new level of MBUX.” “The MBUX Hyperscreen is both the brain and nervous system of the car”,

This aesthetic high-tech look is the emotional dimension of the MBUX Hyperscreen.

says Sajjad Khan, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz AG and CTO. “The MBUX Hyperscreen continually gets to know the customer better and delivers a tailored, personalised infotainment and operating offering before the occupant even has to click or scroll anywhere.”

Interesting facts & figures With the MBUX Hyperscreen, several displays appear to merge seamlessly, resulting in an impressive. 141-centimetre wide and curved screen band. The area that passengers can experience is 2,432.11 cm2.  The large glass cover display is curved three-dimensionally in the moulding process at temperatures of approx. 650°C. This process

allows a distortion-free view of the display unit across the entire width of the vehicle, irrespective of the display cover radius.  To get to the most important applications, the user must scroll through 0 menu levels. That’s why Mercedes-Benz calls this zero layer.  There are a total of 12 actuators beneath the touchscreen for haptic feedback during operation. If the finger touches certain points there, they trigger a tangible vibration in the cover plate.  Two coatings of the cover plate reduce reflections and make

cleaning easier. The curved glass itself consists of particularly scratchresistant aluminium silicate. The safety measures include predetermined breaking points alongside the side outlet openings as well as five holders which can yield in a targeted manner in a crash thanks to their honeycomb structure. 8 CPU cores, 24-gigabyte RAM and 46.4 GB per second RAM memory bandwidth are some of the MBUX technical specifications. With the measurement data of a 1 multifunction camera and also 1 light sensor the brightness of the screen is adapted to the ambient conditions. With up to seven profiles, the display section can be individualised for the front passenger.

Gulf Insider January 2021

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Car Bahrain

Rolls-Royce New Rolls-Royce Ghost Makes Its Official Debut in Bahrain

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he new Ghost made its debut on the roads of Bahrain, bringing to life the purest expression of Rolls-Royce. Always looking for innovative ways in which patrons of luxury and brand enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the magical world of Rolls-Royce, media friends and the marque’s clients were invited by Euro Motors - Bahrain to get behind the wheel of the most technologically advanced Rolls-Royce yet, and be the first to experience this minimalist, yet highly complex masterpiece first-hand. The experience took place over six days within the social distancing rules and regulations. The day began with guests being welcomed at the epicentre of luxury, the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Bahrain showroom. Greeted by motoring excellence, a welcome session was held by Fawzi Osta, Rolls-Royce Brand Manager at Euro Motors – Bahrain, introducing invitees to the most technologically advanced car Rolls-Royce has ever produced, New Ghost.

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Car Bahrain

Always looking for innovative ways in which patrons of luxury and brand enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the magical world of Rolls-Royce.

Following the briefing, the drive journey began. As each guest approached their very own New Ghost, immediately captivated by the stillness and modesty of the exterior design and stepped into the beautiful ‘Post-Opulent’ cabin, the marque’s hallmark Magic Carpet Ride began. The sybaritic drive adventure set off from the showroom, gently and elegantly touring the roads of the city. Quiet and authoritative on the scenic drive around the Bahrain Bay area, New Ghost then made its way back to the showroom. Distilling the marque’s pillars into a beautiful minimalist, yet highly complex product, New Ghost is perfection in simplicity.

Full details are available at thenewghost.com EuroMotors Rolls-Royce Show Room +973 1775 4754

Gulf Insider January 2021

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News Roundup

50 countries commit to protect 30% of Earth’s land and sea A coalition of at least 50 countries have committed to protect 30% of the planet, including land and sea, over the decade in efforts to halt species extinction and address climate change issues, during a global summit aimed at protecting the world’s biodiversity. About 30 leaders, government officials and heads of international organizations were participating in the One Planet Summit on Monday, which was being held by videoconference because of the coronavirus pandemic. A 2019 U.N. report on biodiversity showed that human activities are putting nature in more trouble now than at any other time in human history, with extinction looming over 1 million species of plants and animals.

Saudi Arabia to appoint women as court judges soon Saudi Arabia will soon be appointing women as court judges, an official said, in continued social reforms over the past years. Recently, Minister of Justice Walid Al-Samaani issued directives to appoint 100 women notaries for facilitating judicial services for women. The ministry also recently appointed many qualified women in the fields of law, Shariah, sociology, administration, and technology in the ministry for the first time. Justice Ministry has been focusing on female employment within the legal sector as part of its plans to support and empower women, widen their career options, and help them play a bigger role in this sector.

Saudi Arabia expands plans for Red Sea community with car-free city Saudi Arabian officials are planning a car-free city with a million residents as part of a futuristic metropolis on the Red Sea. The city will be part of Neom, a megacity that the kingdom’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, first announced in 2017. The Line, as it’s known, will stretch for 170 kilometers and have neither streets, cars or carbon dioxide emissions, said the crown prince, who noted the improvements in quality of

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life that will be brought by forgoing cars, streets, pollution and traffic jams. “Modern cities are polluted, congested, loud and disconnected from nature, compromising our quality of life,” wrote the developers on Twitter on Monday. “We are redefining urban space for future living, where people come first,” Deutsche press agency (dpa) reported. As planned, Neom will take up 26,500 square kilometers. It is a key part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 program, with which it hopes to pivot away from dependence on oil production and towards other forms of industry and technology. The first construction phase is expected to start in 2025. Initial cost projects are for 500 billion dollars, which are being financed by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. The Line project is expected to provide about 380,000 new jobs. It’s not the first time Saudi Arabia has had ambitions of creating a new city. In 2005, the kingdom announced King Abdullah City, which was supposed to create 1.3 million jobs and serve as home to 2 million. In the end, only one of the six planned component cities was constructed and is currently home to only 10,000 people.


Money & Business

have pioneered in an online showroom (for new and used cars), reduced consumer touch points and made our digital offerings more visible and seamless. Our customer service has been elevated – an example of that would be our car service and repair at home.

What do you think will be the main challenges for the motor industry postCovid? The automotive sector is a very resilient sector. As we move forward, there is a lot of pressure

From a BMW perspective, I think we are ahead of the curve in terms of having that technology on the ground.

Ahead of the Curve Recently, we spoke to David McGoldrick, the General Manager of BMW Group in Bahrain to know more about their plans ahead of the year.

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hat were the greatest challenges BMW, and the motor industry in general, faced in 2020?

The challenges can be defined in two areas: pre-Covid and post-Covid. The pre-Covid challenges were focused on the changes in people’s mobility requirements in the modern world. This includes issues on sustainability and environment as well as the costs associated with the research and development of new

products. Post-Covid, would be the economic impact that affects the supply and demand of cars.

Were you able to resolve these problems? In terms of dealing with Covid, we had to be agile. It’s not something that any of us have encountered before and we at BMW are continuing to react quickly to the circumstances each day posed. We have innovated the way we operate and offered our services. We

on manufacturers to produce more sustainable vehicles that comes at a cost. The research and development needed to keep pace will impact the already reduced margins. Brand importers who have struggled in the past will probably not survive. From a BMW perspective, I think we are ahead of the curve in terms of having that technology on the ground.

What are BMW’s plans for the next three to five years? We will continue to produce amazing cars both aesthetically as well as driving dynamics. BMW is at the forefront of automotive technology – always have been. In line with that, Euro Motors will continue to invest heavily in our premises. We will also ensure that our staff are fully trained and our facilities are equipped to take on the different products BMW decides to bring to the markets now and in the future. Gulf Insider January 2021

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News Roundup

Renovated King Fahd Causeway mosque reopens The new look King Fahd Causeway Mosque has reopened its doors on 13th of January after undergoing BD1.2 million renovation work. The mosque has been revamped and expanded by 60% to accommodate 630 worshipers. The parking lot has also been expanded to have a capacity of 80 cars.

UN: 2020 was one of the hottest three years on record Last year was one of the three hottest years on record, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed. The average global temperature reached 14.9 degrees, which was 1.2 degrees above the levels seen before the industrial revolution in the second half of the 19th century, the UN agency said in Geneva. The averages for 2020, 2019 and 2016 are nearly identical, according to global data that were compiled by European, British, Japanese and US weather agencies. Last year’s heat came despite the occurrence of La Nina, a climate phenomenon over the Pacific that appears every few years and that temporarily cools down global temperatures. “This is a clear indication that the global signal from human-induced climate change is now as powerful as the force of nature,” WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas said in a statement. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres pointed out all regions have been seeing unprecedented weather extremes even at current temperatures. “We are headed for a catastrophic temperature rise of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius this century,” he warned, urging the world to make environmental protection the top priority for this century.

Sultan Haitham appoints Oman’s first Crown Prince Sultan Haitham Bin Tareq of Oman issued a royal decree on 12th January appointing his son, Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham al Said, as the Sultanate’s first Crown Prince, by default. Theyazin currently is Oman’s Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth. The move comes a day after Sultan Haitham issued decree No.6 of 2021 on power transfer and appointment of Crown Prince.

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Oman: Banks urged to provide easy payment method The Central Bank of Oman has asked all banks operating in the Sultanate to provide an easy and smooth mechanism for transferring salaries. “The Central Bank of Oman, in cooperation with the Ministries of Finance and Labour, announced that it will require banks operating in the Sultanate to provide an easy and smooth mechanism for transferring salaries and recurring payments through electronic banking services to all government and private agencies and to stop using traditional payment methods that do not meet safety and security standards,” the bank said in a statement.


Car Bahrain

Audi RS Q3 The new Audi RS Q3 Sportback is now available in the Middle East.

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urtain up for the new RS Q3 Sportback in the Middle East. The legendary and multi-award-winning 2.5 liter TFSI engine is the core of the high-performance SUV coupé. In combination with the quattro permanent all-wheel drive, it offers pure driving pleasure. The sport compact coupé offers outstanding performance, athletic design and maximum everyday usability. The RSQ3 Sportback is now available in Audi dealerships in the Middle East.

Athletic: The Exterior The new Audi RS Q3 Sportback is synonymous with strength and outstanding performance. Virtues that are also reflected in the design where it illustrates its unique character through many details. The gloss black Singleframe with its three-dimensional honeycomb structure makes the high performance compact coupé car look even sharper. The rear design also appears very powerful. With the low rear window

and the roof edge spoiler in gloss black with the RS-specific spoiler lip, the RS Q3 Sportback appears even wider and more dynamic. The low-slung roof line culminates in strong, flat sloping D-pillars. The compact high-performance SUV Coupé is fitted with LED headlights as standard. Audi offers matrix LED headlights with RS-specific darkened bezels as an option.

Driver-Oriented: The Interior The athletic exterior design of the RS Q3 Sportback is continued in the spacious interior. The entire cockpit is very much designed with the driver in mind – the air-conditioning control unit, the center console, and the MMI touch display are tilted toward the driver by ten degrees. The RS sport leather steering wheel, flattened at the bottom and including newly designed shift paddles, comes with the new “RS MODE” steering wheel button that allows the driver to control two optional RS modes in the Audi drive select dynamic handling system. The

RS-specific displays open automatically in the Audi virtual cockpit plus, which comes as an option. Sport seats upholstered with black leather/Alcantara with an RS embossing are fitted as standard.

Great Everyday Usability: The Space Concept A driving experience and performance values typical for a sports car combined with all the comfort-related advantages of a compact SUV, made possible by the RS Q3 Sportback: The compact powerhouse is designed as fullfledged five-seater and while being extremely sporty, it also offers great everyday usability thanks to its high level of variability and the large interior. As standard, the rear bench can be moved longitudinally by 130 millimeters in the RS Q3 Sportback, and the inclination of its divided backrest can be adjusted in seven stages. The luggage compartment thus holds 530 liters; with the backrests folded down the figure rises to 1,400 liters. Gulf Insider January 2021

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News Roundup

Oman extends visa-free period for citizens of 103 countries

Oman: Medical examination mandatory for residence card renewal

Citizens from the 103 countries allowed to enter Oman without first booking a visa can now stay in the country for up to 14 days, the Royal Oman Police said. “As part of the efforts to support the tourism sector in the Sultanate, it has been decided to extend the exemption period for the nationals of 103 countries exempted from the entry visa to 14 days as part specific regulations and conditions,” said a statement from the ROP.

A medical examination has become mandatory to obtain residence permits in the Sultanate from January 17, 2021. The Ministry of Health informed the General Administration of Passports and Residence of the Royal Oman Police for the need for medical examination of expatriates before issuing the residency card. “We extend our sincere thanks to you for the important role you play in implementing the procedures related to health controls for the residence of expatriates in the Sultanate because of these controls and their importance to preserve community health security,” it said. “We would like you to direct the concerned persons at the General Administration of Passports and Residence to verify the Ministry of Health’s approval of the medical examination form for the residency procedures,” the Ministry added.

COVID-19 herd immunity unlikely in 2021, says WHO The World Health Organization’s chief scientist warned that even as numerous countries start rolling out vaccination programs to stop COVID-19, herd immunity is highly unlikely this year. At a media briefing on Monday, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said it was critical countries and their populations maintain strict social distancing and other outbreak control measures for the foreseeable future. In recent weeks, Britain, the U.S., France, Canada, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands and others have begun vaccinating millions of their citizens against the coronavirus. Scientists typically estimate that a vaccination rate of about 70 percent is needed for herd immunity, where entire populations are protected against a disease. But some fear that the extremely infectious nature of COVID-19 could require a significantly higher threshold.

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News Roundup

Bahrain ranked first globally in transport and warehousing cost effectiveness The Kingdom of Bahrain has gained a new top ranking for one of its key sectors. The area in Hidd has ranked first globally in the Transport and Warehousing Cost Effectiveness category according to the Transport and Warehousing Cities of the Future ranking, produced by fDi Intelligence – a specialist division of the Financial Times. Bahrain’ strong performance in a sector traditionally dominated by the Asia-Pacific region comes in spite of a global supply chain disruption owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. fDi Intelligence examined a range of data points including the cost of construction permits, fuel prices, electricity prices, and tax rates amongst others. Egypt’s Port Said and Damietta, as well as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, were included in the top 10. Strategically located, Bahrain has earned a reputation as a key regional transport and logistics hub and is fast emerging as a major distribution and fulfilment centre hub.

Bahrain: Mobile units launched to vaccinate the elderly The Ministry of Health launched mobile units to vaccinate the elderly against the Coronavirus. The ministry directs those wishing to take the Coronavirus vaccination to register through the options available.

WhatsApp delays data-sharing change after backlash

WhatsApp postponed a data-sharing change as users concerned about privacy fled the Facebook-owned messaging service and flocked to rivals Telegram and Signal. The smartphone app, a huge hit across the world, canceled its February 8 deadline for accepting an update to its terms concerning sharing data with Facebook, saying it would use the pause to clear up misinformation around privacy and security. “We’ve heard from so many people how much confusion there is around our recent update,” WhatsApp said in a blog post. This update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook.” It said it would instead “go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15.” The update concerns how merchants using WhatsApp to chat with customers can share data with Facebook, which could use the information for targeted ads, according to the social network. “We can’t see your private messages or hear your calls, and neither can Facebook,” WhatsApp said in an earlier blog post. “We don’t keep logs of who everyone is messaging or calling. We can’t see your shared location and neither can Facebook.” Location data along with message contents is encrypted end-to-end, according to WhatsApp. “We’re giving businesses the option to use secure hosting services from Facebook to manage WhatsApp chats with their customers, answer questions, and send helpful information like purchase receipts,” WhatsApp said in a post. “Whether you communicate with a business by phone, email, or WhatsApp, it can see what you’re saying and may use that information for its own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook.” Technology experts note that WhatsApp’s new requirement of its users makes legally binding a policy that has been widely in use since 2016. Facebook aims to monetize WhatsApp by allowing businesses to contact clients via the platform, making it natural for the internet giant to centralize some data on its servers. Gulf Insider January 2021

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