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Intellectual Property Frauds across Arabia Worth $50 Billion

Intellectual property (IP) fraud across the Arab world is estimated to run at $50 billion annually, a report said. IP theft, the illegal pirating of business software, DVDs, music CDs and computer games is posing an increasing threat for legitimate business in Arab countries, the Noozz.com report said.

However, it said steps are now being taken by organisations such as the Arab League to start to combat what has become a serious problem.

Arab League Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Affairs Dr Muhammad bin Ibrahim Al-Tuwaijri earlier this month described the problem as an “epidemic”.

In many countries across the region, well over half the software in use is believed to be counterfeit, the Noozz report said.

According to the organisation representing the world’s commercial software industry, the Business Software Alliance (BSA), software piracy rates in 2006 reached 84 per cent in Algeria, 79 per cent in Tunisia, 73 per cent in Lebanon, 66 per cent in Morocco, 63 per cent in Egypt and 61 per cent in Jordan.

In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, the rates stood at 64 per cent for Kuwait, 62 per cent for Oman, 60 per cent for Bahrain, 58 per cent for Qatar, and 52 per cent for Saudi Arabia.

Only the United Arab Emirates (UAE), at 35 per cent, came in at the average global piracy rate for business software, and is the only Arab country in a world list of top 20 countries with the lowest piracy rates for 2006.

But even in the UAE, the value of counterfeited products across-the-board – from cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and tobacco to automobile spare parts – in 2006 was, according to a recently released KPMG study, estimated to run almost to $700 million, and to have cost the country around $1.7 billion in lost non-oil GDP, $110 million in lost tax revenue, and some 31,000 lost job opportunities, it said.

In a world in which legitimate businesses are estimated to be losing up to $700 billion annually to IP piracy and counterfeiting, IP rights and protection literally represent foreign concepts in the Arab world, and the problem of piracy and counterfeiting is a pressing one among Arab countries, the Noozz report said.

In an effort to inform and educate Arab businesses, consumers and right holders about IP rights and protection and the damage that piracy and counterfeiting can cause, the Arab League – the Egypt-based umbrella policy-making body serving the interests of Arab countries – is, in association with the Saudi Arabian-based consumer and brand protection organisation Hemaya Universal, sponsoring Arab World Protect 2008: The first Arab Consumer and Brand Protection Forum, in Jeddah in October.

The forum aims to make progress in the following areas of IP in the Arab world:

• Understanding the extent of the problem in the Arab world

• Raising awareness of the economic ramifications, social costs, and health and safety risks to consumers

• Developing suitable strategies to combat the problem

• Enhancing cooperation and coordination across the region and between the various agencies trying to combat the problem

• Promoting better legislation and enforcement across the Arab world and inside specific markets

• Identifying resources available to combat the problem in each country and empowering and building their respective capacities in cooperation with international, regional and national agencies

• Organising capacity building and institutional strengthening programs in cooperation with leading brand owners, international agencies, national governments and the private sector – TradeArabia News Service

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Knowledge Economic City Saudi Arabia Partners to Train Entrepreneurs

Knowledge Economic City Al Madinah (KEC) and Microsoft have formed a strategic partnership to train and nurture entrepreneurs. The main highlights of the partnership include establishing a Microsoft academy to train Saudis on the basic utilisation of technology. Complementing the academy will be a Microsoft library with IT books, trial software and other learning material.

The agreement will also drive the formation of incubators to provide young entrepreneurs with an encouraging environment to establish healthy and promising businesses and thrive within a knowledge economy.

KEC Al Madinah is the new base for knowledge-based industries and spreading knowledge,” KEC chief executive officer Tahir Bawazir told reporters at the press conference on the occasion of the signing of the agreement.

The accord was signed by Bawazir on behalf of KEC and Dr Khaled Al Dhaher, general manager for Microsoft in Saudi Arabia.

“The important thing about today’s announcement is really the beginning of a very strategic collaboration to bring the value of leading edge technology to the region”, said KEC chief technology officer Mohammed Shah.

Dr Al Dhaher said: “At Microsoft, we have always believed that one of the most important aspects of technology is its potential to help create social and economic opportunities. This strategic partnership with KEC will help propel local scientific and technological innovation as new ideas create new businesses and new jobs, improve productivity, and enhance human welfare. Building local capacity for innovation and entrepreneurship is essential for people of Saudi Arabia to participate in the success of a knowledge economy.”

“With the help of Microsoft, one of the world’s leading software solutions providers, KEC will become a new hub where future innovators will be able to develop their ideas, grow, and become tomorrow’s scientists and technology leaders of the Islamic world,” said Bawazir.

The Microsoft Academy will provide access to Microsoft’s experts and a network of partners they will be able to bring to operate the academy.

“As for the incubators, young Saudis who have an entrepreneurial spirit, who are excited by research and development and who have a passion for using technology as a business base, now have the sky as the limit. Even those who are already in business would be able to participate in incubator and research and development because every business wants to continuously innovate to stay competitive,” Bawazir said.–via TradeArabia News Service

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Noor Islamic Bank and Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Est. for Young Business Leaders sign MoU

Noor Islamic Bank PJSC ('Noor'), today announced it has entered into an agreement with Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders (SME) to build on mutual expertise and foster the growth of small and medium sized enterprises in the region.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), articulating cooperation between the two entities, was signed by Hussain Al Qemzi, Group CEO of Noor Islamic Bank, and Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of SME.

Under the agreement, Noor Islamic Bank will be granted preferred financial services provider status by SME to provide its members with specific Islamic finance solutions, including access to Shari'ah-compliant working capital and cash flow management, business analysis on specific industry segments, strategic and operational support, as well as reviewing and validating assumptions for business plans.

In exchange, SME will facilitate Noor Islamic Bank to identify vendors and organise training workshops and seminars. It will also help Noor review and validate assumptions for business plans to drive the growth of small and medium sized enterprises in the region. Both organisations will provide multi dimensional levels of consultancy and advisory services bureau function to the targeted SME audience.

Hussain Al Qemzi said: 'This partnership will encourage young business leaders aspiring to enter the highly competitive private sector. The preferential Islamic financial services offered by Noor Islamic Bank to SME member companies will help minimise the overheads and operational costs of members' start up companies, and eventually empower national entrepreneurs.'

Abdul Baset Al Janahi said: 'SME was established to promote and encourage the national entrepreneurial spirit by serving as a catalyst to economic growth. The agreement with Noor Islamic underlines our efforts to achieve this goal by empowering small and start up companies through collaboration with leading national organizations.'

Noor Islamic Bank has a dedicated SME banking unit that has forged several alliances with key governmental and private sector organisations to create products and services focused on the specific needs of small and medium businesses.

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CO2 Capture System - Future Energy Business Opportunities.

An Australian-based company has acquired the Asia-Pacific rights to the world's most advanced carbon capture and storage system. EESTech Inc., which is based in Brisbane, Australia and is publicly traded on the US Bulletin Board, has secured the rights to HTC Purenergy's world leading CO2 capture management technologies for the Australasian region.

The system, called the Purenergy CO2 Capture System (CCS), is the worlds first pre engineered, modular CO2 capture system, which can be retrofitted onto existing power plants or any large industrial greenhouse gas emitter.

EESTech has a complementary technology in its Hybrid Coal Gas Turbine (HCGT) system that can produce electricity using waste coal dust, and fugitive vented methane.

The company has secured electricity supply agreements in China with contract revenue potential of over $100 million for each installed system.

The HCGT and the Purenergy CCS can be integrated to become the world's first stand-alone hybrid CO2 capture system that is non-disruptive to industrial emitters plant. The integrated package will allow coal facilities to utilize products such as low grade waste coal and fugitive methane from coal mines to efficiently generate the necessary steam and electricity and electricity for the C02 capture process.

EESTech's preliminary analysis indicates that the successful integration of the HCGT process with HTCs CCS system could reduce the cost of C02 capture by up to 40 percent.

In China, EESTech with their Hybrid Coal and Gas Turbine
(HCGT) systems has signed model power purchase and fuel supply agreements. These agreements have a contract revenue potential of over $100 million for each installed system.

Graeme Lynch Chief Operating Officer of EESTech Inc., believes that the carbon capture technology will position EESTech Inc as a leader in the industry.

"This acquisition will position EESTech Inc. as a leader in this fast-growing marketplace and as a provider of clean coal and carbon capture technologies that are economically and environmentally sustainable," Mr Lynch said.

The Purenergy CCS will capture carbon dioxide from the flue gas exhaust of power plants and large industrial emitters, the captured carbon dioxide will then be used for carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery or be stored underground, he said.

This system will be pre-engineered, pre built and modularly constructed and because of its modular design, will be able to be manufactured, shipped and erected at the emitter sites around the world at a much lower cost than other systems that have to be custom built on site.

Solutions like the Purenergy CCS, when installed in scale on one 750 megawatt power plant, will capture the carbon dioxide equivalent of two million cars and trucks, Mr Lynch added.

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UAE Advertising Industry Expands

The fast-expanding advertising industry, led by the UAE's economic boom, has experienced an average of 22 per cent growth for the past decade, officials say, reported Gulf News. Outdoor advertising grew at the fastest pace, while print advertising came second and advertisements on television came third, according to Abdul Rehman Falaknaz, president of Falak Holding and international expo consultants. The region's largest signage and outdoor publicity exhibition, Sign and Graphics 2008, brought together companies from North America, Europe, MENA region and South East Asia, and 63 UAE-based companies. (ameinfo.com) end post

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ME's "Energy Bank" Planned

Gulf Finance House has announced that it is setting up the first Shariah compliant bank focused on the investment, financing and service needs of the energy sector. The bank, with a planned paid-up capital of $750m, has received 'in principal' approval from the Central Bank of Bahrain. (ameinfo.com) end post

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UAE - Qatar Causeway

UAE-Qatar causeway will be the begining of new economic era. It will give boost to businesses of both the counteries. Qatari economy will get a definite boost coupled with a tough competition from UAE more specialized companies having access to their markets. A local media website had the following to say about the causeways costs and plans:

"A proposed causeway linking Abu Dhabi with Doha in Qatar may cost about $13bn, reported Meed, citing a consultant that could be involved in the project. Mohammad Ali, regional adviser with Denmark's Cowi, said the the latest design would link the two cities via a 65 kilometre bridge across the Gulf. Cowi is likely to be involved in the project as a consultant. It is already involved in a project to build a causeway between Qatar and Bahrain." (ameinfo.com)

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Data Boom Forecast in Middle East

The Middle East is on the verge of a data boom and most regional organisations are not prepared to face it, according to a study by IDC, an independent analyst group. Software investment in the Middle East remains strong, IDC has said, but only leads to the generation of more data which, in turn, must be backed-up and retrieved for immediate reference in the region’s fast moving organisations.

Oil and gas conglomerates, retail, banks, governments, and telcos are all investing significantly in software applications to manage their growing customer base.

“Application data growth, hardware proliferation, dispersed management tools, and organisational change and development have combined to fuel the need for regional organisations to better control data and storage infrastructure,” said Vinay Nair, Senior Analyst, Software Research, IDC Middle East and Africa.

“Losing control of data has a two-fold impact on Middle East organisations: risk and cost. IDC recommends that organisations plan intelligently for future storage needs by putting in place a clear strategy,” added Nair.

CommVault provides innovative data protection capabilities for backup and recovery of data using disk-to-disk and disk-to-disk-to-tape.

CommVault Galaxy Backup & Recovery, for enterprise protection and CommVault Galaxy Express Backup & Recovery, for small- and medium-business (SMB) protection, are perfectly suited to meets the storage demands of Middle East companies, the company said.

Fiona Moon, CommVault marketing director, said: “Data growth in the Middle East is progressing faster than most emerging markets, and we believe that this trend will continue. IDC’s view that the region is on the verge of a data boom fully supports our existing position that regional organizations should be moving now to establish a clearly defined storage investment policy the places crucial importance on leading-edge back-up and recovery technologies.” – TradeArabia News Service

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Yemen Embraces Micro-Finance Banking

The cabinet approved on Tuesday law of smaller funding bank presented by Central Bank of Yemen and directed referring it to Ministry of Legal Affairs for completing measures needed for its approval, reported Saba. The law aims at providing legal cover for establishing smaller funding banks in Yemen for they will be in charge of providing banking services to families, small handicraftsmen, small and smaller projects in urban and rural sectors. (via ameinfo.com)

Such a move would prove very useful for supporting and sprouting SMEs and small entrepreneurs. This is not a noel idea but has been seen working wonders in Bangladesh and other counteries. Microfinance is the way forward for under-developed and developing counteries to achieve economic growth and sustainability.
end post

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American Co's IPO Big News for DIFX

'This is one of a chain of IPOs from the US that we have lined up for the DIFX,' said group chief executive officer of co-lead managers Daman, Shehab Gargash. 'All the companies have been specially selected by us for the quality of their management and business models. We want to be ahead of the business cycle in promoting promising companies and not late like in the dot-com days.'

Nanodynamics will become the first of these companies when its shares are listed on the DIFX next week. The IPO has been via a placing with half the shares going to US institutions led by Fidelity, and the balance to regional institutions and high net worth investors.

The 9,100,000 shares have been priced at $11 and Daman forecasts a $30 target price in 12-18 months, and expects a lively aftermarket when retail investors can buy the stock for the first time next week.

Interestingly Nanodynamics, a New York based firm dedicated diversified technology and manufacturing using nanotechnology, has chosen the DIFX for its IPO over a listing on the giant Nasdaq stock market. Why has it done this?

'The main clients for this technology are not in the US, and we value the technology of the DIFX platform,' explained co-lead manager Global Crown Capital CEO Rani Jarkas speaking on behalf of Nanodynamics. 'We are convinced this will be an important and beneficial listing for the DIFX which represents a good play on Asia and the Middle East'.

In other words, Nanodynamics is likely to secure a better shareholder base and higher market capitalization through a listing in Dubai. And in a sense this is nothing different from Citi going to Abu Dhabi recently to seek new capital. Going where the money is makes good sense, especially in unstable global capital markets.

A buy?
Will Nanodynamics stock prove a good buy for local punters? Daman has a strong reputation to protect in Dubai and is unlikely to be promoting a dog. Indeed, Nanodynamics is an acknowledged leader in its field of alternative technology with half of its 150 staff being scientists or holding PhDs.

But this is a loss-making company with no profit track record. Revenues are forecast to rise from $40m this year to $80m in 2009 and $180m in 2010 with a $1.38 per share profit. But profits are not anticipated before 2009.

After the IPO the market capitalisation of Nanodynamics, with around a third of its shares in free float, will be $475m. Some might argue that this is quite a market capitalisation for a company at such an early stage of its life, with 'negative profits' as the stock broker jargon puts it.

However, if such firms get a good reception on the DIFX then it looks like there are going to be a stream of listings crossing the Atlantic and heading to Dubai. (via ameinfo.com)


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India Demands Minimun Wages for GCC Workforce

India is demanding a minimum wage of BD100 ($265) a month for all unskilled workers in Bahrain, and plans to stop workers from leaving for the Gulf country unless they have contracts attested by the Indian Embassy, reported Gulf Daily News. The minimum wage legislation will come into effect on March 1, and will apply to workers already in Bahrain when their current contracts expire. The Indian government is fixing minimum wages for each Gulf country according to the local cost of living. (via ameinfo.com)
A very commendable step that will eventually lead towards stabalizing the force of flow across borders. It will be more interesting to see when developing counteries start implimenting reasonable minimun salary standards back home, such a step would catapult their internal growth.

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