Friday, 14th August 2015
Note: News U Wish to Read is a daily press review compiled and only covers articles published in the press, in the UAE, India and world around. Its purpose is to keep us informed of important news items which we all wish to not miss. Enjoy reading the below news items and links. More sections will come as it takes shape and interest. Your response to this initiative is highly appreciated.
Saudi Arabia may go broke before the us oil industry buckles
If the oil futures market is correct, Saudi Arabia will start running into trouble within two years. It will be in existential crisis by the end of the decade. The contract price of US crude oil for delivery in December 2020 is currently $62.05, implying a drastic change in the economic landscape for the Middle East and the petro-rentier states. The Saudis took a huge gamble last November when they stopped supporting prices and opted instead to flood the market and drive out rivals, boosting their own output to 10.6m barrels a day (b/d) into the teeth of the downturn. Bank of America says OPEC is now “effectively dissolved”. The cartel might as well shut down its offices in Vienna to save money.
Published: 5th August 2015
Egypt to seek bids for solar and wind-power projects
Egypt will begin accepting bids for 500 megawatts of renewable energy projects this month. The government yesterday said it would open the tenders for the three projects – two solar and one wind – as it tries to achieve its target of using renewable energy for 20 per cent of its energy needs in five years’ time. One investor involved in the first round of solar photovoltaic (PV) tenders said the first phase of the government’s feed-in tariff programme, a subsidy scheme, had yet to be concluded, and none of the 1,800MW PV projects the government had awarded had reached financial close. Financial close occurs when all the project and financing agreements have been signed and all the contractual conditions have been met. “The timing for these new tenders is premature because the serious companies are already involved and want to get across the finish line before they take a bigger chunk out of the market,” said the investor, adding that his company would not be interested until its existing projects have closed financially.
Published: 12th August 2015
No plans for Opec emergency meeting to tackle slump in oil prices
Opec has no plans for an emergency meeting to respond to the slump in prices, according to delegates from the group, while members have discussed the possibility amid a persistent oversupply of crude. Four delegates from the Opec, which controls about 40 per cent of world oil supplies, said they were not aware of any plan for an emergency meeting, asking not to be identified because discussions are private. Some members have discussed holding a meeting before the scheduled December 4 gathering, the Algerian official news agency reported citing energy minister Salah Khebri. Oil has slumped more than 25 per cent since this year’s peak in June amid signs the global surplus will be prolonged. US inventories remain more than 90 million barrels above the five- year seasonal average. Societe Generale and JPMorgan Chase & Co cut their price forecasts on weaker demand growth and oversupply. “We support an emergency meeting of Opec,” Nagi Elmagrabi, chairman of Libya’s state-run National Oil Corp, said by phone Monday. “Global supply should be reduced in order to lift prices.” Political strife cut Libya’s output to about 400,000 barrels a day, compared with 1.6 million barrels a day before the 2011 rebellion that ended Muammar Qaddafi’s 42-year rule, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Algeria produces 1.1 million barrels a day.
Published: 10th August 2015
Solar deals are hot, but investors fret
A string of deals involving rooftop solar companies has shown both the appeal and potential of the business — and limits to investor enthusiasm.
SunRun, the San Francisco-based solar financing pioneer, raised $250 million (Dh918 million) in an initial public offering Wednesday, but shares fell 13 per cent. Late last month SunEdison bought the rooftop installer Vivint Solar for $2.2 billion, but SunEdison shares have fallen 28 per cent since. Still, SunRun was able to raise the amount it had hoped to, and the price for Vivint was high, signalling to analysts that despite the recent bumps, rooftop solar remains promising. “One [rooftop solar company] priced in the middle of its range and another sold for $2.2 billion. Things are very good in residential solar,” said Shayle Kann, an analyst at GTM Research.
Published: 6th August 2015
Air India’s additional baggage scheme for students
National carrier Air India on Monday said it has rolled out an additional baggage scheme for students travelling to the US, UK, Europe and Canada for higher studies for a limited period. Under the scheme, Maharaja Scholars, student travellers would be allowed to carry an extra piece of luggage weighing up to 23kg, in addition to the current check-in baggage allowance of one piece of luggage for the UK and Europe, or two pieces of luggage for destinations in the US and Canada, Air India said in a release. Maharaja Scholars offer is available for students travelling from India to international destinations on a valid student/student exchange visa, it said.
Published: 11th August 2015
Politics & Economy
Sensex likely to treble your money in 10 years; can top Mount 100K
The S&P BSE Sensex is likely to sweep past 100,000 in the next 10 years, led by sustained incremental growth in corporate earnings, experts say. “The visibility of sustained corporate earnings growth is far higher in India vis-a vis other developed markets as economy picks pace,” Jimeet Modi, CEO, SAMCO Securities, says. If the government expects India to become a $5 trillion economy in 10-12 years, it would translate into a big surge in domestic equity markets as well. Analysts advise investors to stay put in equities to ride the momentum on the upside. The index has remained more or less flat in the year 2015, weighed down by global as well as local factors. But experts feel that the uptrend remains intact, and investors should stay put in equities. Investors would be thrilled to know that the S&P BSE Sensex has returned nearly 600 per cent in the last 15 years. If an investor plans to invest Rs 10,00,000 in the index at current levels, the money could swell Rs 30,00,000 in 10 years.
Published: 13th August 2015
Foodstuff costs shoot up in UAE after fuel price hike
Prices of foodstuff have gone up considerably across the country after fuel prices were hiked earlier this month. A top Ministry of Economy official, however, denied any rise in prices. In fish markets – especially in Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah – prices have shot up, with one piece of barracuda fish costing Dh65, as opposed to the usual Dh35. A 45-kg box of sheri fish (spangled emperor) is going for Dh1,200 as opposed to the usual Dh400; while safi (rabbitfish) is sold for Dh65 per kilo as compared to Dh35-Dh40. Prices of jash and kover fishes have gone up from Dh25 per kilo to Dh35.
Published: 13th August 2015
China devalues yuan again, sending shock waves and mixed signals
Following Tuesday’s 1.9 % devaluation of its currency, China lowered its “daily fix” of the yuan to 6.3306 per US dollar, a further decline of 1.6%. The yuan is allowed to trade at plus or minus 2 percent around this midpoint. Wednesday’s move pushed the yuan down by another 1.4 percent to 6.4151 in onshore markets. Markets have been rife with rumours about China wanting to exacerbate a currency war. Wednesday’s move comes after Ma Jun, Central bank economist said via the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party that Tuesday’s 1.9% devaluation of the yuan by China should be seen as a one-off move to enhance the currency’s market orientation, and should not be read as the beginning of a devaluation trend. The People’s Bank of China (PBoC), on Tuesday had lowered the yuan’s ‘daily fix’ by 1.9%, sending ripples across the globe, both in terms of exchange rate and market movements and in terms of discussion and speculation about China’s motives for the decision. Mr Jun’s comment should allay some fears of the United States, which reacted cautiously to China’s move on Tuesday. “While it is too early to judge the full implications of the change…China has indicated that the changes announced today are another step in its move to a more market-determined exchange rate,” Reuters quoted a U.S Treasury official as saying on Tuesday. However, Wednesday’s second devaluation will not allay those fears and is likely to bolster the view that this is the beginning of a sustained devaluation.
Published: 13th August 2015
PM Narendra Modi eyes UAE’s $800 billion sovereign fund to boost infrastructure spending
Narendra Modi, whose foreign visits over the past year was aimed at attracting much needed foreign investment to boost the economy, would try to lure a share from $800-billion sovereign fund of the UAE for infrastructural needs as well as give momentum to Bilateral Investment Protection Agreements (BIPA) that has not functioned to its potential to attract investments. Buoyed by the oil economy, UAE sovereign wealth fund is estimated at over $800 billion and Modi would like to attract part of this fund, imperative for the country’s infrastructural needs estimated at one trillion dollars, officials hinted. Currently, the UAE investments in India are estimated to be $8 billion of which around $3.01 billion is in the form of foreign direct investment, while the rest is portfolio investment. UAE’s investments in India are concentrated mainly in five sectors: construction development (15.52%), power (13.09%), metallurgical industries (9.90%), services (9.58%), and IT (4.90%) sectors.
Published: 13th August 2015
Energy, bilateral trade to be on top of Modi’s agenda
Energy sector and increase in bilateral trade is likely to be on the agenda of Narendra Modi as he begins his two-day visit to the UAE from August 16. The bilateral trade between the two countries stands at $60 billion (Dh220 billion) for the year 2014-15. India is the largest trading partner for the UAE with over $28 billion in non-oil trade. Though there is not much direct investment by India into the UAE energy sector, it might try to increase its presence, Robin Mills, Head of Consulting at Manaar Energy in Dubai said. He said the UAE renewable energy sector is a potential area due to the expansion of Indian solar power companies. According to Mills, Indian infrastructure, ports and energy are all priority sectors requiring investment, where the UAE may seek to be involved. “The Indian gas production and power generation are possible areas for companies such as Mubadala, International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) and Taqa,” he said. According to details furnished by the Indian Embassy, Abu Dhabi’s National Petroleum Construction Company has won a major engineering and construction contract to build offshore platforms from India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) valued a Dh550 million.
Published: 13th August 2015
Half of remittances from UAE go to India
Nearly half of annual individual overseas money transfers from the UAE are towards India. In 2014, individual remittances from the UAE to India — the largest receiver of remittances in the world — rose to between $12 billion and $15 billion. This figure is not inclusive of export earnings, foreign direct investment and foreign institutional investments, according to Sudhir Kumar Shetty, president of the UAE Exchange. The UAE is the host to 2.65 million Indian migrants. In the UAE, which is home for over 200 nationalities, mainly eight countries — India, Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Yemen — together accounted for $26.607 billion of the total remittance of $29.25 billion. Remittances from Kuwait and Qatar were $12 billion and $9.5 billion respectively, while smaller transfers were made out of Oman and Bahrain, a report said. Around 25 million expatriates live in the GCC states — almost equal to the native population. India received $70.39 billion in remittances from across the world in 2014. That is ahead of China, which got $64.14 billion, and more than all the remittances received by the Philippines, Mexico and Pakistan combined. The Philippines ($28 billion) came third, followed by Mexico ($25 billion) and France ($25 billion).
Published: 13th August 2015
Community, Environment & Society
Indian prime minister’s visit to renew UAE-India bonds
The Indian community in the UAE expects the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to strengthen the age old historical, social, cultural ties between the two countries. From as early as the 13th century AD, the seaports in the Gulf from Aden to Dubai were popular trade spots for seafaring businessman from the Indian states of Sindh and Saurashtra. They traveled and lived at these ports trading in textiles, spices, rice, pearls and precious stones and livestock among other things. Arab dhows got the teak wood from India and the pearl divers sold pearls to Indian jewellers in exchange for food, textiles and other goods before cash transactions became the normal practice. Veteran spokesperson of the Indian community in Dubai, Bharat Bhai Shah who came to Dubai in the early seventies said: “Those days all traders of the coastal areas of Gujarat — Saurashtra, Porbandar and other places, travelled to the Gulf countries. Aden in Yemen and Dubai were popular. It was easier for traders from northern India to pick up Arabic as many Persian words are included in the colloquial Hindi language. Even Ibn Battuta, the ancient Arab traveller has mentioned meeting Indian traders during his travels. I can see these old ties being renewed after three decades of drought,” said Shah who came to Aden as early as 1948 as an Indian houseboy and worked his way up to become a successful Indian businessmen in Saudi Arabia and finally in the UAE.
Published: 13th August 2015.
Dubai launches world’s first breeding programme for endangered sand tiger sharks
An ambitious new breeding project has been launched as an “insurance policy” to protect the future of the threatened sand tiger shark. In a world first, Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo has initiated an assisted breeding programme for the species, of which there are only 1,500 estimated to remain in the wild. The long-term project will develop technology that could eventually be used to artificially inseminate various species of sharks. “Artificial insemination has already been used on brown-banded bamboo sharks with a pup successfully born from an egg,” said Paul Hamilton, general manager and aquarium curator. “But this is the first time the technique is going to be applied to sand tiger sharks, which give birth to pups in the womb, so it’s a real world first.” The groundwork on the science has been done at Sea Life in Melbourne, Australia, and Dr Jon Daly, who is involved with that nine-year research, will lead the project in Dubai as a research consultant. A full-time research vet will also be on hand to support the project at Dubai Aquarium.
Published: 12th August 2015.
Innovation ‘holds the key to our progress’, says Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid
Innovation is the driver of progress, and governments and businesses that fail to innovate will go backwards, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid warned on Wednesday. The Vice President and Ruler of Dubai was launching National Innovation Week, which will take place from November 22 to 28. Sheikh Mohammed urged all public, private and academic entities to participate and called on the public to get involved through social media by brainstorming inventive ideas and projects that will establish the week as the most important destination for innovative and creative thinkers. “Innovation today is not an option but a necessity, not a general culture but business style. Governments and companies that do not renew or innovate lose competitiveness and control. They are bound to regress,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “We have doubled our investments in innovation and in the equipment, training and education of expert national cadres, because keeping pace with the world around us requires innovative resources and an environment that is supportive of innovation.” Innovation Week is expected to be a launchpad for the announcement of leading public and private sector initiatives as it hosts government, research, academic and school events and activities. It will also include workshops, seminars and creative laboratories meant to spark new ideas and re-evaluate established inventions achieved throughout 2015, which has been named as the Year of Innovation.
Published: 5th August 2015
Facebook plans new ad strategy for India
Facebook is trying to lure skeptical advertisers in India with features such as free email support for questions about advertising and advice on increasing sales in a bid to boost revenue from its second biggest market. Facebook has 132 million users in India, trailing only the 193 million in the United States, according to the company, and the country is critical for the Menlo Park, California, social network’s global expansion. But so far, the payoff has been small: Facebook earns 15 cents per user in India every quarter, compared to the $7 to $8 it makes on each US user, according to analysts. Facebook does not break out its revenues in India, but Neil Shah, an analyst at Counterpoint Research, a Hong Kong-based technology consulting firm, estimates it brings in $15 million a quarter, far behind the $350 million he estimates Google earns there per quarter. Google, which set up in India in 2004, has been in the Indian market six years longer than Facebook, and its search ads are more familiar to advertisers there than the display ads Facebook offers. The business-boosting features, described to Reuters by company executives and Indian business people, are aimed at advertisers such as Mohit Khattar, managing director at online grocery company Godrej Nature’s Basket, one of the roughly 60 to 65 million small- and medium-sized businesses in the country.
Published: 13th August 2015
National Digital Library on the cards
At a time when the Government of India is pushing for a ‘Digital India’, the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IIT-KGP) is in the midst of developing the National Digital Library (NDL) which will help students access all digitised educational content on a common platform. The content required to build the NDL will be derived from the libraries of educational institutions from across the nation. The main aim of the project is to create a knowledge base for students belonging to all ages, explained Partha Pratim Das, joint project investigator and professor at the computer science and engineering department. “Every educational institution has its own content which is available exclusively for its own students and staff. Our aim is to digitise such content and bring it under an umbrella, thereby, making it accessible for students all over the country. We have started off by integrating content which is already digitised by universities and are streamlining it to a common platform,” Prof. Das said.
Published: 8th August 2015
Sports – Campaign PASS
Campaign PASS (Promote All Sports Simultaneously) is an initiative started through my blog to promote all sports(other than cricket – which gets lot of attention) and sports personnel associated to give them more exposure.
It is all in the mind
One day in 2006, Ian McDonald came across a story on blind chess players in a newspaper. As a sports sociologist and filmmaker the idea of blind people playing the game intrigued him. He asked his wife Geetha and a couple of chess players about it but they had no idea. He kept the clipping in his wallet and it stayed with him for two years. “In 2008 I met Charudutta Jadhav, a former star player and head of All India Chess Federation for The Blind. It opened a new world for McDonald. Charu took him to the national championship in Mumbai and what he saw was an “amazing underexposed but thriving community of blind chess players.” McDonald went back to his wife and thus started the journey of Algorithms, a stirring independent feature length documentary that simplifies the game of complex calculations into a lyrical celebration of indomitable spirit. The film also evokes a strange sense of humour when Darpan asks a foreign player about the level of his vision loss and when he says that he is 100 percent blind with just a little perception of light, Darpan feels elated and expresses a sense of solidarity.
“We are very conscious while interacting with blind people. We avoid phrases like ‘see you later’ but having spent three years in the blind world I realise that it is a routine matter for them. In fact, often, their conversation starts with the level of blindness and the players who are 100 percent blind have a sense of pride.”
At the end of the day, McDonald admits, he is a white English speaking man and had to seek the help of his producer wife Geetha, who has a journalistic background, to get the families open up. In a scene Darpan’s mother walks out of the frame while talking about the days when Darpan suffered from a rare syndrome which resulted in his skin peeling off. “It was the first time that the parents opened up about it after a long time. We decided not to follow her or question her even as the father continued to narrate the experience. We didn’t want to pity them or sensationalise the experience.” On a personal level, the film made the filmmaker question the whole idea of disability. “After the day’s play I used to follow the players into their hotel rooms for the post mortem. They would start chatting and I would stop them to draw the curtains to get the right light. One day Charu said, ‘it is your problem, your disability we want to discuss.’ It made me realise that disability is a very relative word,” sums up McDonald.
Published: 12th August 2015
Hope you enjoyed reading the above news items and links. More sections will come as it take shape and interest. Your response to this initiative is highly appreciated.
Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi
14th August 2015