Qatar Launches Work on Tunnel Project

Qatar's public works authority Ashghal has begun work on the QR920 million (US$251 million) Mesaimeer Pump Station and Outfall Tunnel project, aimed at providing a sustainable solution to discharge surface and storm water.

It is the second phase of the Mesaimeer Surface and Ground Water Drainage Tunnel Project, which will provide a sustainable solution for the discharge of surface and storm water, said a statement from Ashghal.

The project is being implemented by a joint venture between Hamad Bin Khalid Contracting Company and PORR Qatar Construction Company, while the project management services is being handled by Mott Macdonald.

A leading engineering, management and development consultancy, Mott Macdonald is overseeing the design, implementation and operation of the project.

The scope of work includes construction of pumping station at the end of Mesaimeer Tunnel south of Hamad International Airport besides 10 pumps and auxiliary facilities. The project also includes the construction of a 10-km-long tunnel with a 3.7 m diameter.

Dr Saad bin Ahmad Al Muhannadi, the president of Ashghal, said on completion, it will pump water from Mesaimeer Tunnel to the new outfall tunnel operating at a capacity of 19.7 cu m per second.

The project is designed to ensure the preservation of the marine environment, as the water, which will be pumped complies with the environmental assessment standards, and it is discharged 10 km off-shore to reduce the effect on the marine environment, stated Dr Al Muhannadi.

The project is scheduled to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2021, with a maintenance and operation period of three years, he added.


UAE, US Conclude Civil Aviation Discussions

The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority welcomed the announcement on civil aviation in Washington that strongly reaffirmed and maintained all the provisions of the 2002 bilateral Air Transport Agreement between the UAE and the US.

The understanding confirmed at a meeting between the Foreign Ministers of both countries reinforced the principles of Open Skies that advance competition and allow airlines to freely add or adjust services to best serve travelers.

Commenting from Washington after his meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan thanked the secretary for working to achieve understandings on civil aviation and noted: "Aviation is at the center of a UAE-US trade and commercial relationship that generates enormous benefits for both countries. The announcement confirms business as usual by validating all of the rights and benefits -- including 'Fifth Freedom' services -- of the 2002 Air Transport Agreement between the two countries. UAE and US airlines will continue to have complete commercial flexibility to add or adjust service to meet travelers needs."

"We are pleased that the discussions with the US have come to an end. They confirmed what was clear from the very beginning – that the UAE's international airlines have operated in complete compliance with the 2002 Agreement," said UAE minister of economy and chairman of General Civil Aviation Authority, Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori. "Importantly, there is no freeze on or any change to operating rights. The UAE's international airlines can plan and begin new service, including Fifth Freedom flights, without limits and consistent with the 2002 Agreement."

"UAE airlines are among the world's best. Their success has been achieved through innovation, a differentiated approach to service, and a geographic advantage at the center of the globe's fastest growing demand for air service," continued the minister. "Our airlines will continue to grow and expand to connect travelers from and to the Middle East with the US, Europe, Asia, Australia and beyond."

UAE airlines currently serve 12 US gateways with 131 flights a week. These flights generate tens of billions of dollars into the US and UAE economies, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs in both countries. The US has a US$15 billion trade surplus with the UAE, largely driven by sales of Boeing aircraft with GE engines to UAE airlines, and the UAE also invests hundreds of billions of dollars into the US.


Oman Air Opens Reservation for Moscow Service

Oman Air, the national carrier of Oman, has opened reservation for its planned service to Russia announced by the airline earlier this year. Oman Air will begin its new daily flight from Muscat to the Russian capital of Moscow on October 28. The new route will follow the launch of new routes to Istanbul and Casablanca in June and July respectively.

The new daily service to Moscow Domodedovo Airport will be operated by a Boeing 737 MAX 8 with an estimated flight time of 5 hours and 55 minutes, offering 12 seats in Business Class and 150 in Economy. Flight WY181 will depart Muscat daily at 14.00, arriving in Moscow at 18.55 local time. And the return flight WY182 will depart Moscow at 00.55, arriving into the award-winning new passenger terminal at Muscat International Airport, at 07.35.

The direct flight will be the only non-stop operation between Oman and Russia, benefitting both business and leisure travelers, in addition to offering seamless connections via Oman Air hub, Muscat International Airport to destinations across the globe. The captivating city of Moscow boasts a rich history that still mesmerizes many visitors to Russia's capital. The sprawling city of Moscow is a mixture of historical and contemporary sights.

Next month, Oman Air will also receive the first of its three 787-9 Dreamliner on order, which features a three-class configuration. The carrier unveiled the new First Class Mini Suite of its Dreamliner 787-9 fleet on the opening day of the Arabian Travel Market 2018.


Qatar's QC Attends Arab Chambers of Commerce Meeting

Qatar Chamber of Commerce (QC) took part in the 127th session of the General Union of Arab Chambers held during May 9-10 in Algeria.

The Qatari delegation was led by Chairman of Qatar Chamber H E Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani.

Delegations from 14 Arab countries participated in the meeting which highlighted many issues including activating trade among members, issuing a unified import certificate and providing a data base for laborers in Arab countries.

It also discussed mechanisms of activating electronic trade in the Arab world.

During the session, attendees agreed on a proposal presented by Qatar Chamber for the establishment of executives committee at the union. They agreed that both Qatar Chamber and Oman chamber would draft its statute, aims and work mechanisms.

On the sidelines of the meeting, the Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia reviewed enhancing cooperation ties during a meeting with representatives of Arab chambers.

The meeting also discussed ways of activating the role of the Arab-foreign chamber in light of the recommendations issued during its recent meeting held last month in Brazil.


Oman Crude Price for July Delivery Announced

The Oman crude for the July delivery was traded for US$75.41 on Tuesday in the Dubai Mercantile Exchange, an increase of US$1.61 from the previous day.

Globally, oil prices have soared past three-year highs, OPEC’s deal has cut millions of barrels of inventory worldwide and investors are betting in record numbers that prices could rocket past US$80 and even hit US$90 a barrel this year.

But physical markets for oil shipments tell a different story. Spot crude prices are at their steepest discounts to futures prices in years due to weak demand from refiners in China and a backlog of cargoes in Europe. Sellers are struggling to find buyers for West African, Russian and Kazakh cargoes, while pipeline bottlenecks trap supply in west Texas and Canada.

The divergence is notable because traditionally, physical markets are viewed as a better gauge of short-term fundamentals. Crude traders who peddle cargoes to refineries worldwide say speculators are on shaky ground as they drive futures markets above US$70 a barrel, their highest levels for three-and-a-half years, on concerns about tighter supply from Venezuela and the potential impact of US sanctions on supply from Iran.

Investors have piled millions of dollars in record wagers in the options market, betting on a further rally on the back of rising geopolitical tensions, particularly in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, and the global decline in supply.

“Over the next few weeks, we should start to see markets globally clean up, but if that doesn’t happen, I think we could be in trouble.”

LCOc1, the benchmark on which two-thirds of the world’s oil is priced, has surpassed US$78 a barrel, the highest since November 2014. US crude futures CLc1 hit a high just short of US$72. Inventories in the developed world are now just 9 million barrels above the five-year average, down from 340 million barrels above the average in January 2017, after supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers, including Russia.


Shell Oman Expands CIS Project with Mubashir

Shell Oman has recently signed an agreement with International Live Solutions (Mubashir), a tech-savvy Omani SME to expand its Customer Interface Screens (CIS) project across its network of service stations.

Mubashir will take this project to the next level with advanced state-of-the-art technology and features, a statement said.

This agreement comes into effect three years after the initial launch of CIS with comprehensive market research, testing, analysis and taking into consideration customers’ feedback.

The CIS enables customers to enjoy high definition Shell and third-party communications from the convenience of their vehicles as they refuel. In addition to transaction details, this also provides audio visual information in looped sequences that include safety messages and services available at the station, as well as third party marketing content.

Khalid Hashil Al Awaisi, retail country manager at Shell Oman said: “This project puts customers at the center of our agenda. We work with our partners to offer innovative products and services from Shell that improve the customer experience and engage them. Contributing to sustainable development remains integral to the way we do business. Therefore, to create In-Country-Value, we look forward to working with Mubashir, an award-winning Omani SME, who is our technology and media partner for this pioneering project.”

Raif Mohamed Al Harthy, chief executive officer at Mubashir said: “Three years into this amazing journey and based on customer’s feedback, we are now fully convinced that CIS is one of the most innovative out-of-home platforms for third party marketing and communication.”

“The CIS has been adopted by many advertisers and entities to reach out to their clientele and the public 24/7. The smart system gives our clients control by scheduling their campaigns and brings their ads and messages to life with sound and videos. Mubashir will continue adding smart, dynamic and innovative features to enhance the experience for the advertiser and customer,” he added.


Petronas & Saudi Aramco Launch Corporate Identity for JV

Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas), the national oil company of Malaysia and Saudi Aramco have launched “PRefChem”, the corporate identity for their joint ventures in the Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC) in Pengerang, Johor, Malaysia.

Pengerang Refining Company Sdn Bhd (PRefChem Refining) and Pengerang Petrochemical Company Sdn Bhd (PRefChem Petrochemical) both will be collectively known as “PRefChem”.

Petronas and Saudi Aramco had earlier in March concluded the share purchase agreement for equal ownership and participation in the operations of the refinery, cracker and selected petrochemical facilities in the PIC.

To mark the occasion, a ceremony was held at PIC which also saw the unveiling of PRefChem’s logo. Present were Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin, president & group chief executive officer of Petronas; Amin H Nasser, president & chief executive officer of Saudi Aramco; Datuk Md Arif Mahmood, executive vice president Downstream of Petronas, as well as Dr Colin Wong Hee Huing, who are respectively the chairman and chief executive officer of the two companies.

Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee said: “This integrated partnership marks a visionary move by two professionally-run national oil companies where both are able to leverage on each other’s strengths and share technical capabilities as well as experiences for mutual benefit. I am proud that we are amongst the pioneer of national oil companies partnering with one another to ensure better positioning for both organizations in an increasingly competitive market.”

“Most importantly, this partnership was built on a shared vision and shared values that align a number of priorities for both parties including – upholding the ‘amanah’ or trust that both organizations have in contributing to our respective nations and its people,” he added.

Amin Nasser said: “Today marks an important milestone for this giga joint venture project, which is an integral part of Saudi Aramco’s refining and fuels marketing and chemicals business strategies and will help in strengthening the company’s growth position in Southeast Asia through crude supply and world-scale downstream operations.”

“This venture also closely aligns with our downstream strategy to invest in a global refining and petrochemicals system of world-scale manufacturing complexes in key regions with participated refining capacity of eight to 10 million barrels per day by 2030.

“We are committed to help enhance the area’s prosperity and look forward to this new stage of cooperation with our valued partner Petronas. Malaysia provides a great opportunity for Saudi Aramco’s downstream portfolio expansion in Asia and PRefChem’s strategic location in Pengerang will clearly position the country as a prolific regional energy hub, at the same time serve to enhance energy security in the Asia-Pacific region,” he added.

At the event, PRefChem also celebrated a major milestone with the mechanical completion of Package 2 comprising the Crude Distillation Unit (CDU). The mechanical completion certificate was presented to Sun Lili, president of Sinopec Engineering, by Datuk Md Arif Mahmood, witnessed by Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee and Nasser.

Dr Colin Wong said that the circular movement of the logo represents collaboration, precision and bonding between Petronas and Saudi Aramco, while the blue and green colours portray PRefChem as a vibrant, dynamic and environmentally friendly company.

The refinery complex and cracker is now 96.54% complete while the petrochemical facilities has achieved 84.8% completion.

Apart from the refinery, cracker and the petrochemical facilities, PIC also includes the development of associated facilities, namely a co-generation plant, an LNG re-gasification terminal, a raw water supply plant, a deep water terminal, and air separation unit, as well as centralized and shared utility facilities.


Bahrain's Investcorp to Enter German Dental Sector

Bahrain-based Investcorp, a leading global provider and manager of alternative investments, has announced that it has established a platform to enter the highly fragmented German dental sector.

As its initial investment, Investcorp has acquired Privatzahnarztklinik Schloss Schellenstein GmbH (PSS), one of the leading centers for implantology and dental surgery, which attracts both domestic and international patients and is based in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

PSS employs around 40 people including dentists, dental nurses and technicians and is led by Professor Dr Fouad Khoury. The deal follows Investcorp’s recent acquisition of Acura Kliniken, a licensed hospital in Albstadt, Germany.

Following the acquisition of PSS, the platform intends to make further investments in the highly-fragmented German dental market as part of a wider consolidation strategy. With a 30-year track record of building and growing quality businesses, a key tenet of the strategy is a commitment by Investcorp to fund future investment in accessible and quality care delivered across the dental market across Germany.

Mohammed Al-Shroogi, Investcorp’s co-CEO, said, “We are very excited about this platform investment in Germany which is one of our core markets in Europe. Having followed the development of the retail healthcare sector for a number of years, we believe now is the right time to invest in this sector in Germany.”

“We are excited about the potential to build a sizeable dental business in Germany through a buy-and-build strategy and our acquisitions of PSS and Acura Kliniken are ideal starting points to launch this initiative. We look forward to partnering with further dental practices, both large and small, in the coming months,” he added.


Nakheel to Open Dubai Waterfront Project in Q4

Nakheel, a world-leading developer, said work on The Pointe, its Dh800 million (US$217 million) waterfront dining and entertainment destination coming up on Palm Jumeirah, is nearing completion.

Managed by Nakheel Malls, the retail arm of the top Emirati developer, The Pointe features unique concepts from around the globe with over 100 dining and retail outlets on offer. The 1.4-million-sq-ft project will open towards the end of this year, said the company in a statement.

Its centerpiece will be a spectacular fountain to mesmerize visitors with stunning shows that can be viewed from The Pointe’s wide range of waterfront dining spots, it added.

Speaking to media at an exclusive preview event at The Pointe, Chairman Ali Rashid Lootah said: "We are moving ever closer to opening one of the most eagerly-awaited destinations in Dubai. The Pointe is an iconic, must-see attraction offering remarkable lifestyle experiences for residents and tourists."

"Inspired by the heritage and culture of the Emirates, it will be a stunning, vibrant and unique addition to Dubai’s dining, retail and entertainment scene," he added.

Located 5km out to sea at the tip of the island, across the bay from Atlantis The Palm, The Pointe enjoys cool sea breezes and stunning views.

It is also home to a 1.5-km promenade – a destination in itself for residents and tourists to unwind at one of Dubai’s most iconic locations, or snap the perfect holiday pictures against a stunning backdrop, said the statement from Nakheel.

There is also a cinema, children’s play area, supermarket, gyms, beauty salons and unique gifting concepts, as well as a car park for 1,600 vehicles, it added.


EU Pledges Steps to Salvage Iran Oil Shipments Within Weeks

The European Union set out to identify “practical solutions” for salvaging the Iran nuclear accord within weeks, as the bloc strives to contain the fallout from President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the plug from the landmark deal.

Technical experts from both sides were commissioned to find ways to maintain oil shipments and to protect European companies doing business with Iran, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters in Brussels late on Tuesday (15 May). The experts will also propose ways to avert disruptions in air, sea and land transport from and to Iran and keep channels open for “effective banking transactions.”

The list of goals amounts to a European refusal to accept that Trump’s decision last week to withdraw from the 2015 deal will spell its demise, underscoring a growing rift between the traditional allies. While members of the Trump administration have advised European companies to stop doing business with Iran now, Mogherini said the European aim was “maintaining and deepening economic relations with Iran.”

“If we want to save this deal, which is not an easy exercise, we know that the sooner we do it then the easier it will be,” Mogherini said after meeting the foreign ministers of the UK, France, Germany and Iran in Brussels. Both the EU and Iran have vowed to keep implementing the deal, despite the threat of US sanctions after Trump’s decision to withdraw.

EU leaders will debate their reaction over a dinner meeting in Sofia on Wednesday, while the bloc’s executive arm will discuss the technical preparations in a meeting also on Wednesday. Mogherini raised the possibility of instituting a so-called blocking statute, which would protect European companies from any US sanctions.

She didn’t specify which measures could be put in place to bypass US sanctions, and protect European companies from potential punitive actions, repeating on several occasions that the technical details will be presented in a matter of weeks. - Bloomberg