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Al Islami Foods, Alf Yad launch VC Fund for Franchise-entrepreneurs.

Al Islami Foods and Alf Yad, a Dubai based venture capital fund for young Arab entrepreneurs announced their strategic collaboration at a press conference held yesterday. Alf Yad will raise and deploy Dh100 million to promising Arab entrepreneurs across the region. Al Islami Foods and Alf Yad will establish a strong business-base for young Arab entrepreneurs, offering franchise opportunities that encourage them to get into the halal food industry and initiating food-business ventures.

Initially, Alf Yad will support Al Islami with the introduction of a business franchise for fast foods the Al Islami Cart - a business franchise for fast foods primarily distributed in major Co-Op supermarkets, high traffic mall outlets as well as the Global Village and university campuses.

Saleh Abdullah Lootah, Chief Executive Officer of Al Islami Foods, commented: "Young entrepreneurs are the foundations of a sound economy; Al Islami's commitment to reinforce a healthy and safe marketplace is the cornerstone of the company's strategy and is in line with our vision, which seeks to build a strong and sustainable nation."

Commenting on the new venture, Shehab Gargash, the Chief Executive Officer of Daman Investments, the manager of the fund, said: "We are extremely pleased to collaborate with Al Islami Foods in this first entrepreneurial venture which fits all the Alf Yad criteria as a venture capital fund targeting young entrepreneurs. The Al Islami Cart project is a perfect first step for young business people seeking to start a self owned franchise." Addressing the Press conference, Saleh Lootah emphasised the importance of involving young business talent in their efforts to promote the greater interests of society and consumers.

"In our drive to encourage the use of innovative business concepts, such as the Al Islami Cart, we are determined to inspire self-reliance in the young people of our community. We are pleased that Al Islami Foods and Alf Yad have taken the lead in spreading awareness among todayentrepreneurs about the chance to support a programme that is good for society as a whole and also offers lucrative returns on their investments." Lootah said. According to year 2005 figures of Cairo-based Arab Labour Organisation, the total number of the unemployed in the Arab world is 16 million.

It is estimated to be increased to 25 million by 2010 and 80 million in 2020, with 60 per cent of the unemployed aging from 15 to 24. The GCC population will shoot up to 40 million by 2010, the highest ratio in the world. The labour force will reach to 21 million. Every one per cent of the unemployed will cause aggregate loss of 2.5 per cent in the GDP, which equals $115 billion. Keeping in mind this trend, Al Islami and Alf Yad will later announce a consolidated plan to reach the untapped human capital and the unemployed through franchising opportunities such as Al Islami Cart. (via Khaleej Times)

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Dubai Poised to Sustain 11pc GDP Growth

Dubai's real gross domestic product (GDP), which surged to a record Dh198 billion in 2007, is predicted to sustain an average growth rate of 11 per cent for the next eight years. The main driver of this remarkable growth - outpacing the average growth rate forecast for the GCC - will be the non-oil sector, growing at a spectacular pace.

According to Hisham Abdullah Al Shirawi, Second Vice-Chairman, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the key sectors fuelling the growth include tourism, retail, infrastructure, knowledge industry, transportation, logistics, manufacturing, professional and government services. He said Dubai's GDP growth was higher than other Gulf countries and major global economies even in 2005. After growing at an average of around 8.5 per cent in 2003, 5.9 per cent in 2004, 6.8 per cent in 2005, and 6 per cent in 2006, GCC's GDP growth averaged at 5.0 per cent in 2007. In 2020, the nominal GDP of GCC is projected to soar three-fold from $773 billion to roughly $2.3 trillion in 2020 at an average oil price of $70 per barrel, according to McKinsey & Company Middle East.

In contrast, the overall real GDP of the UAE is poised to record a slower growth rate of 6.4 per cent in 2008 and 6.1 per cent in 2009 compared to an eight per cent surge in 2007, economists said. However, nominal GDP -measured on the basis of current prices - will record almost the same growth trend as in 2007 at 15.7 per cent. Economists forecast that UAE's nominal GDP will hit Dh805 billion and Dh960 billion in 2008- respectively up 6.4 per cent and 6.1 per cent in real terms and 15.7 per cent and 19.1 per cent in nominal terms.

Al Shirawi said Dubai's non-oil foreign trade that surged 33 per cent to $185 billion in 2007 from $139 billion in 2006, also was poised for a sustained growth. In a presentation about Dubai's remarkable growth at a two-day business convention yesterday, he highlighted Dubai's ambitious economic targets under the strategic plan 2015.

He said the hospitality industry is expecting a real boom with its target of 100,000 rooms for 15 million visitors by the year 2015. Currently, there are 324 hotels, 33,731 rooms with occupancy rate of more than 85pc throughout the year as a total of seven million people used Dubai hotels in 2007 compared to 1.9m in 1996. Geared up for the air traffic boom is Dubai International Airport, which handled an average of 725 flights per day compared to 650 flights in 2006, reflecting a 10 per cent growth during 2007. Connected to 205 destinations through a network of 120

international airlines, the airport serviced 34 million passengers in 2007 thus recording a 19 per cent rise and is expecting 40 million passengers this year.

In 2007, Dubai's non-oil exports surged a record 43 per cent in 2007 to Dh167.9 billion from Dh117.4 billion on the back of a remarkable increase in trade with Iran, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The jump in total exports, including re-exports, underscored the buoyant economic growth of the emirate. Dubai's exports have been growing by an average of more than 28 per cent annually during the past five years. In 2006, Dubai's non-oil foreign trade grew 9.15 per cent to Dh523.5 billion compared with Dh479.6 billion in 2005 - the highest non-oil trade in the Arabian Gulf. Dubai's non-oil foreign trade represents about 80 per cent of the UAE's total trade. Dubai's imports have also increased by 15.5 per cent, from Dh190.4 billion in 2005 to Dh219.8 billion in 2006. (via Khaleej Times)

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Firms listed in Bahrain post $1billion Profit

Local public shareholding companies listed on Bahrain Stock Exchange have achieved a net profit of BD1 billion ($2.65 billion) last year, it has been revealed.

They posted net profits of BD1,004.5 million compared with BD774.3 million the previous year, recording a growth of 29.7 per cent. And the value of cash dividends was BD404.5 million compared with BD350.8 million in 2006.

Data released by the exchange indicated that all sectors achieved positive growth in net profits with the exception of the industrial sector. The investment sector achieved the highest profit of BD540.3 million, capturing 53.8pc of the total. It was followed by the commercial banks sector with BD259.4 million, representing 25.8pc of the total.

Next came the services sector with BD162 million, making up 16.1pc of the total profit. They were followed by insurance capturing 2.4pc, hotels and tourism 1.7pc and the industrial sector 0.18pc.

From a different perspective, the hotels and tourism sector was ranked first with a growth of 64pc, the highest among all sectors. It was followed by the services sector with a growth rate of 31.6pc, commercial banks 30.1pc, investment 29.6pc, and finally the insurance sector with an increase of 5.36pc.

The industrial sector's net profit, however, declined by 0.2pc. - TradeArabia News Service

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Firms listed in Bahrain post $1billion Profit

Local public shareholding companies listed on Bahrain Stock Exchange have achieved a net profit of BD1 billion ($2.65 billion) last year, it has been revealed.

They posted net profits of BD1,004.5 million compared with BD774.3 million the previous year, recording a growth of 29.7 per cent. And the value of cash dividends was BD404.5 million compared with BD350.8 million in 2006.

Data released by the exchange indicated that all sectors achieved positive growth in net profits with the exception of the industrial sector. The investment sector achieved the highest profit of BD540.3 million, capturing 53.8pc of the total. It was followed by the commercial banks sector with BD259.4 million, representing 25.8pc of the total.

Next came the services sector with BD162 million, making up 16.1pc of the total profit. They were followed by insurance capturing 2.4pc, hotels and tourism 1.7pc and the industrial sector 0.18pc.

From a different perspective, the hotels and tourism sector was ranked first with a growth of 64pc, the highest among all sectors. It was followed by the services sector with a growth rate of 31.6pc, commercial banks 30.1pc, investment 29.6pc, and finally the insurance sector with an increase of 5.36pc.

The industrial sector's net profit, however, declined by 0.2pc. - TradeArabia News Service

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Omniyat CEO Named Young Global Leader

The President and CEO of Omniyat Holdings and Omniyat Properties Mehdi Amjad has been named by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as ‘Young Global Leader 2008’.

Omniyat Holdings and Omniyat Properties are two of the most prominent companies on the vibrant real estate market of the UAE.

A selection committee comprising the world’s top media leaders and chaired by Queen Rania of Jordan, selected 30-year-old Amjad, who presides over businesses generating $1.5 billion of sales and more than 500 staff throughout the GCC region, for his outstanding technical and managerial achievements in accelerating Omniyat’s rise as a major private developer with a unique focus on smart and intelligent buildings.

“The World Economic Forum recognises and acknowledges the top young leaders from around the world for their professional accomplishments, commitment to society, and potential contribution to shaping the future,” said WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab.

“We need young global leaders to be a voice for the future in the global thought process and catalysts for initiatives in the global public interest.”

From its inception, Omniyat’s focus has been on developing iconic projects and creating futuristic, innovative and high-tech buildings, transforming people’s expectations of future homes and offices.

Omniyat translates from Arabic as ‘wishes’ and its vision reflects Amjad’s innovation in shaping the company into one of the region’s most respected and successful privately owned premium developers with an international reputation for world-class delivery.

“While I intend to steer Omniyat towards persistently pushing beyond conventional boundaries, this global honour, though personal in nature, belongs to the company as a whole and its dedicated staff,” said Amjad, who was last year named one of the GCC’s top 100 CEOs by CEO Middle East magazine.

Amjad joins a powerful Young Global Leaders community of 245 executives, public figures and intellectuals who are all aged 40 or younger. He has also been invited to join The Forum of Young Global Leaders, a global network of peers formed to significantly impact world affairs and shape the global agenda.

As part of their engagement, Young Global Leaders give their time to task forces to initiate, develop and drive innovative solutions on important, globally oriented issues, including health, education, the environment, global governance and security, and development and poverty. – TradeArabia News Service

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Venture Capital Bank Bahrain Enters Shipping Business

Bahrain-based Venture Capital Bank (VC-B) signed a joint venture agreement with Lemissoler Shipping Group in Cyprus for establishing a $160 million company in shipping sector.

Under the agreement, a shipping company, Lemissoler Maritime Company, will be established in Bahrain with the objective of acquiring, owning and operating a fleet of commercial vessels. The total value of the deal is $166 million and will present a unique investment opportunity in the shipping industry.

Lemissoler Maritime Company has started its operations by initially acquiring five specialised vessels that transport paper products, from the paper mills in Canada to the United State of America and South America, together with their long-term charter agreement.

The company has also identified among others eight container ships; that will be acquired in two phases during 2008 as an "expansion fleet". These vessels will be on long-term charter contracts with companies that are in the league of ten largest container companies worldwide. All of the initial fleet vessels are registered with the Lloyd's Register. via Bahrain Tribune
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Al Tomooh Signs MOU to Futher Support Local Entrepreneurs

Emirates NBD's Al Tomooh Scheme and Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support entrepreneurship throughout the UAE.

Al Tomooh, an Emirates NBD Initiative which provides financial support to arising projects and UAE Nationals willing to establish private commercial projects, will work with the Establishment to offer financing options for both start ups and existing projects and support the development of the country's small and medium enterprises.

"Emirates NBD is the first bank in the region to establish a dedicated Community Services Department and Al Tomooh Scheme one of the most successful projects we have launched. We are pleased to be able to extend our SME expertise to the Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment's members. This move will contribute to further economic growth in the country as more entrepreneurs will be able to succeed in their business endeavours," said HE Ahmed Humaid Al Tayer, Chairman of the Supreme Committee of Al Tomooh.

Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO, Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders, said: "We are delighted a leading financial institution such as Emirates NBD has come forward to acknowledge the responsibility of the banking sector towards encouraging start-up businesses. The bank is leading by example in providing this incentive, and encouraging more UAE national entrepreneurs to look at new avenues for launching their own businesses. The wide range of financing options and related products offered by the bank will help them hone the competitiveness of their businesses and sustain operational viability. Taking cue from Emirates NBD, we are confident more financial institutions will volunteer their strengths to foster the growth of SMEs in the UAE."

"Under the terms of the MoU the Establishment's members will benefit from a number of financial and non financial products provided by Al Tomooh to support the development of SMEs. Among the services provided by Al Tomooh are financing start-up projects up to 90 per cent, financing existing projects up to Dh2,000,000 and granting tenor of 8 years with the first three years exempt from interest and one year grace period" said Sulaiman Al Mazroui, the Executive Member of the Supreme Committee of Al Tomooh.

"The Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders is keen to offer its wide range of enabling services to partners. These include business consultancy, low cost office space, technical and logistical support and world class infrastructure. We are also looking forward to effectively contributing to the success of the Al Tomooh programme's members," Al Janahi added.

The MoU also encompasses the Establishment's Government Procurement Programme which aims to create a market of young local entrepreneurs to act as suppliers while localising government department purchasing and allowing SMEs to compete with more established companies.

Other benefits include the Establishment acting as Guarantor for low cost bank loans ranging from Dh100,000 to Dh3,000,000 and access to entrepreneurs Business Village a commercial business park located in the centre of Dubai providing the ideal incubator for fledgling businesses.

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