Grand scale demolition and development in Jeddah
One of the things you get to see in the GCC is the Infrastructure development on such a grand scale, but not often demolition on such a grand scale.
In Jeddah, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has taken over and is demolishing much of the Al Balad area. As well as 64 other unplanned communities and slums in lower Jeddah, totalling 214 million square metres and pushing over half million residents to move different areas as it flattens these areas.
The speed at which the “rubbing out” is happening is amazing, even being in Jeddah for a few days I notice big swathes demolished by the time I leave.
The plan is to preserve the UNESCO areas and redevelop other areas, like Souq Wagif in Doha.
UAE shifts to Monday to Friday lunchtime work week
In the UAE, from January, we started a Monday to Friday lunchtime working week in line with most of the trading markets. Nearly all companies have shifted to the new work week. If you are lucky enough to work in the government in Sharjah, they have adopted the 4 day working week with a Friday - Sunday weekend.
These type of changes in the UAE show the competitive nature to capture companies’ regional headquarters between UAE and KSA and I am sure that there will be more to come as the UAE looks to stay one step ahead of KSA who is wanting to capture the expat market for the Saudi giga projects.
But working for a Sunday - Thursday company in KSA creates a bit of blur as to when the actual weekend is! Last week when I went to Riyadh on a Sunday morning, the flight was full, like Pre-Covid days with the PWC / McKinsey Sunday - Wednesday commuters. So, whilst some of have relocated to KSA, there are still many travelling back and forth.
UAE hiring of Women train and bus drivers
If your commute is on the Haramain Railway in the Makkah region or on a bus in Dubai, there is the positive hiring now of Women train drivers in KSA and women bus drivers in Dubai as part of the evolving region.
UAE development, currency swap and IPO news
The UAE is keeping one step ahead in the region with Ras Al Khaimah announcing it will be the first Emirate to its open a 1,000 room resort with a “gaming area” with Wynn’s from Las Vegas in opening in 2026.
The UAE recently announced the intent to do a currency swap of approximately USD$5b with the Turkish government, as well as a USD$10 billion fund to develop business with Turkey. A resurgence in the relationship between Turkey and the UAE is being seen, with a focus on developing greater trade between the two countries.
The Dubai Government recently announced to list via IPO some of the government assets with Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) already with its prospectus in the market and Salik (the tolls road technology) being the next one to be released.
Meeting with the Hon. Damien O’Connor
It was great to meet with Hon Damien O Connor, the Minister of Trade at a recent NZTE event at the New Zealand Expo2020 pavilion. It was great talk to a Minister who seems to understand the opportunity and the changes going on in the region from his visit to KSA and UAE and hopefully this will see greater support coming from this government for companies who want to come and grow the region.
Hard border between Abu Dhabi and Dubai lifted
Finally, a few weeks ago the hard border between Abu Dhabi and Dubai was lifted for access to the Capital. That, along with the removal the requirement for face masks outdoors and the airport being back to normal business levels, post pandemic life is well underway as the UAE seems to be staying around a reported 350 cases per day. Which, considering the complete openness of the country is very low.