Cathay Pacific Air Dubbing Dubai Hub

Cathay Pacific Airlines. Photo courtesy Aero Icarus.

The Hong Kong-based airline, Cathay Pacific, has designated Dubai as its official hub for all passenger and cargo air traffic throughout the Middle East. The airline said that the decision was part of its overall “renewed focus” strategy.

Beginning on September 1 Jonathan Ng will be the country manager for Cathay Pacific in the Middle East. Previously Ng was the company’s country manager for Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Regional sales head and marketing manager for the Middle East will be filled by Nikhil Kilpady, transferring from the UAE and Oman.

The airlines routes include two flights per day from Dubai to Hong Kong, and once a day service from Bahrain to Hong Kong. There is also a daily flight from Dubai and Bahrain and back. Cathay Pacific no longer services Riyadh since last March. The airline also used to have service to Doha, Jeddah and Abu Dhabi.

The airline announced it had its first annual revenue loss since the global economic crisis of 2008. It said increased competition from mainland Chinese carriers is hurting their bottom line. The company has about 33,700 employees across the world, as of March. The company recently had to remove 600 jobs from its roster in response to the difficult economic times.

Pac Brands’ Bonds Moving to Middle East

 Bond's ads (taken for General Display Co.)

Bond’s ads (taken for General Display Co.)

The popular Australian underwear brand, Bonds, is making plans to enter the Middle Eastern marketplace. Pacific Brands, owner of Bonds, announced that it is hoping to open 20 stores around the Middle East all dedicated to the 100-year-old label.

The move is part of a greater push by Pacific Brands to expand the range of the groups clothing globally. The company has signed a licensing agreement to open stores in shopping centers, although the exact locations have not yet been released.
The first store should be open for business before the end of 2016.

The news of the expansion comes as Pac Brands returns to profitability after two years of not paying dividends to its shareholders. The company has been struggling for the past few years, and the positive announcements are indications that the company has made great headway towards success.

David Bortolussi, CEO, explained that the new, improved performance of Pac Brands came after the company sold off its non-core brands such as Hard Yakka and Volley shoes. This allowed the company to focus more efficiently on higher growth in the underwear and linen markets.

“Our change in strategy in the past 18 months to exit the underperforming businesses to focus on the higher quality part of our portfolio is delivering,” said Bortolussi.

China Pledges Humanitarian Aid to Middle East

Xi Jinping. Photo by Antilong

Xi Jinping. Photo by Antilong

As the crisis in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East continues, the plight of refugees and others worsens. China, whose president, Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit in Britain next week, promised additional humanitarian assistance to the embattled Middle East.
The Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Wang Chao announced that China is carefully following the developments in the region, and is ready to add significantly to the 375 million yuan ($54.9 million) it has already given to the region.

Wang explained that the aid will help the refugees flowing out of the countries in conflict as well as reduce their numbers. He also said that President Xi will discuss with his British counterparts a variety of issues of concern to both sides. In the past the countries have cooperated on critical issues such as the Ebola epidemic, the Iran nuclear threat and the trouble in the South Sudan.

“China-Britain relations have surpassed the bilateral scope and adopted strategic significance and global influence,” Wang said.

Wang added that China and Britain will continue to cooperate on issues like world economic growth, global security, and the reform of global governance.

Malaysian Company Bioalpha Heading to Middle East

Datura stramonium

Datura stramonium: Herbal treatment for asthma

Managing director of Bioalpha Holdings Bhd announced that the health supplements company will be soon entering the Middle East market by mid-2015.

Bioalpha was listed for the first time on the Ace market of Bursa Malaysia on Tuesday. Hon Tian Kok, the managing director, announced after the company started trading that Bioalpha had signed a memorandum of understanding last year with the Fatima Group of the United Arab Emirates. The Fatima Group has more than 20 hypermarkets all over the UAE. With this much penetration they will be able to act as the distributor for Bioalpha’s products all over the country.

“We are now in the midst of registering our herbal products with the relevant department in Dubai and once approved, exports to the UAE will begin. Since Malaysia is seen as the global halal hub, we feel it is right for us to exploit this position and are currently working hand-in-hand with the government,” Hon said.

Bioalpha’s IPO offered 100 million new ordinary shares to the public at an issue price of 20 sen per share. The company’s market capitalization is estimated to be about RM 9.7 million.

The company manufactures health supplement products including processed herbs, functional foods, formulated ingredients, herbal and non-herbal supplements.

Four ME Banks Offer Loan to Indian Jet Airways

Jet Airways-photo by BriYYZ

Jet Airways-photo by BriYYZ

Four Middle East banks have joined together as a syndicate to offer a $150 million loan to India-based Jet Airways. The four banks in the consortium include: Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC, Commercial Bank International PJSC, Ahli United Bank B.S.C and Arab Banking Corporation B.S.C.

Jet Airways CEO Cramer Bell explained:

“It is time to re-energize and re-establish ourselves as the country’s leading full-service airline. We will continue to build on this strong foundation as part of our three-year turnaround plan. This syndicated loan facility will be instrumental in underpinning the airline on this progressive path.”

Prior to the $150 million loan agreement the Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways PJSC and Jet Air joined forces when Etihad invested in Jet Airways with a 24 percent equity stake and 50.1 percent share in Jet Privilege Limited.

“The partnership between the two airlines will be mutually beneficial across multiple areas including network growth, operational synergies, revenue enhancement and cost optimization,” the company said.

Historic Maiden Flight Takes Omanis to Tehran

Oman Air’s Inaugural Flight to Tehran

Oman Air is now offering a brand new route directly from Muscat to the Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran. Upon conclusion of the first flight, which took place on September 1st, the passengers were greeted by Oman’s ambassador to Iran and Iran’s ambassador to Oman, after each of them was presented with a symbolic rose. In the presence of other dignitaries a cake-cutting ceremony was held at the airport.

In addition the Omanis were welcomed by Captain Hamid Reza Pahlevani, Deputy Minister of Roads and Housing and Head of Civil Aviation; Morteza Dehghan IKA, Director General of Airport, and other officials.

Wayne Pearce, Oman Air’s chief executive officer, offered these comments on the occasion:

“We are delighted to have welcomed passengers to today’s inaugural flights of Oman Air’s new daily service between Muscat and Tehran. This new route, the 42nd within our ever-growing network, links two of the world’s great cities and offers travelers between the two capitals the opportunity to experience Oman Air’s unique passenger experience and to discover why Oman Air has attracted so many international awards.

“We are grateful that the Omani Ambassador to Iran and the Iranian Ambassador to Oman were able to join us in celebrating the launch of this new service and we look forward to it soon becoming one of Oman Air’s most successful routes.”

The new service will utilize Oman Air’s newest plane, the Embraer E175 regional jet, which will offer 11 business class seats and 60 in economy class. The new service instituted by Oman Air comes directly on the heels of their recognition at this summer’s World Airline Awards where the airline won “World’s Best Business Class Airline Seat” and place in the top-ten of eight other categories, including “Best Airline Service Staff in the Middle East.”

Oman Air Adding Daily Flight to Tehran

Oman Air Adding Flights to Tehran

Beginning on September 1st Oman’s national air carrier, Oman Air, will begin servicing the Iranian capital of Tehran with a daily flight from Muscat. There were will be two departure times: 2am three days per week; and 9:30am four days per week. Return flights will also be offered in two time slots; 6:10am three days; and 12:40pm on four days.

Wayne Pearce, CEO of Oman Air announced the new flight, saying,

"We are extremely pleased to be launching our new service between Muscat and Tehran and to be offering customers the opportunity to travel aboard our outstanding Embraer 175 regional jets. Tehran offers visitors the opportunity to gain insights into not only Iran's unique culture, but also its rich and ancient history.  Furthermore, Tehran is a major business hub and we anticipate strong demand from both business and leisure passengers.”

Omani and Korean Leaders Meet to Discuss Aquaculture Development in Oman

South Korean Minister of Food and Agriculture Suh Kyu-yong

In order to boost foreign investment in Oman’s burgeoning fisheries industry, His Excellency Dr Fuad bin Ja’afar al Sajwani, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries met with the South Korean Minister of Food and Agriculture Suh Kyu-yong along with representatives from several South Korean companies.

Last Friday’s meeting is part of an overall effort by the Sultanate’s government to attract international companies into Oman to develop the fisheries industry by providing a supportive climate for businesses to take hold in Oman, especially those with previous success in processing, ports-of-entry management and fish farming industries, such as South Korea.

Sajwani said that, "The meeting discussed promotion of relations between the two countries in the fisheries sector through reviewing available investment opportunities and facilities provided to investors in this field, especially in the new fishing port in Duqm and other establishments in industrial zones."

His Excellency Dr Hamed bin Said al Awfi, the undersecretary of fisheries said that the development of “aquaculture” is a key ingredient in diversifying the Omani economy away from its present enormous dependence on oil and gas.

Awfi said that, "The world will need 40 million tons of additional fish by 2025, which will drive the need to develop aquaculture."

Taameer Investment and Shaza Hotels Sign Agreement

Salalah is the Capital of Dhofar in Southern Oman

Suleiman bin Masoud al Harthi, the CEO of Taameer Investment, and Simon Coombs, CEO of Shaza Hotels signed a “Resort Management Contract” and a “Hospitality Management Contract” during the Arab Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai which was recently held. The contracts stipulate that Shaza Hotels will manage the Dhofar Beach Resort, a major tourism project which Taameer Investment developed in the Dhofar Governorate.

The intention of Taameer is to create a five-star exclusive resort with a 300 room capacity and international standards of luxury. Included will be hotel apartments and world-class restaurants.

Taameer has already signed contracts with several other international consultants to design and implement swimming pools, landscaping and building and room interiors.

Also present at the signing were Omani senior tourism executives headed by Maitha al Mahrouqia, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism.

Al Harthi said that, “The signing ceremony would be followed by various activities and preparations for the start of the construction while the inauguration of Dhofar Beach Resort is planned for September 2012.”

Economic Forum for 2012 Begins in Muscat

Sunday marked the opening day of the third annual Oman Economic Forum. Sponsored and organized by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Economy and Business Group, an expected attendance of 500 participants is expected.

The advisor to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry Mehsin Al-Blooshi said that the forum was expecting representatives from the investing, business, oil, energy, commerce and other industries, with such leaders as former British Premier Tony Blair and former Lebanese leader Fouad Al Sanyoura also participating.

Among the many issues that will be discussed and explored during the forum are plans for the development of new projects and infrastructure, and private sector projects. They will also explore ways to increase investment opportunities in the energy, alternative energy and water sectors and developing ports and free trade zones, according to Al-Blooshi.