Emax Expanding Its Presence in GCC and UAE Countries

Neelesh Bhatnagar, CEO of Emax

Neelesh Bhatnagar, chief executive officer of Emax, announced that the consumer electronics retailer is planning on opening ten more stores throughout the Gulf Cooperation Council states employing an additional 500 people by the end of 2012.

Bhatnagar said that Emax already has stores in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain. The only GCC country where there is no Emax yet is Kuwait, but according to Bhatnagar they are just looking for the right opportunity to open there as well.

"Currently, we have 32 stores in the GCC and by the end of the year we'll have 40 to 42 stores,” Bhatnagar said. "Four will be opened in the UAE and the rest mainly in Saudi Arabia."

The plan is to employ about 200 more workers at the four new outlets in the UAE.

"In the UAE, we have now nine stores. We opened two recently – one in Dubai Mall and one in Fujairah City Centre. We are expecting to open another four – if not more – in UAE this year – one each in Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah and two in Dubai. We are constantly looking for space, for example in existing malls we don't have stores like Deira City Centre and Ibn Battuta Mall. We have been talking to landlords and leasing people; in case something comes up there those will be incremental," the Emax CEO added.

Muscat Duty Free Renews Contract with Pure Gold Jewelers

Muscat Duty Free announced its decision to renew their contract with Pure Gold Jewelers and to make them the exclusive outlet for retail jewelry at the Muscat International Airport. The endorsement comes after Pure Gold Jewelers completed three consecutive years of phenomenal growth at Muscat Duty Free, growing by 53 percent since launching operations in 2009.

Karim Merchant, CEO of Pure Gold Jewelers

Karim Merchant, the CEO and Managing Director of Pure Gold Jewelers responded to the renewed agreement with Muscat Duty Free:

“We are honored by the confidence and trust the Muscat Duty Free management has placed in us and we truly appreciate their decision to renew our agreement. Oman’s push into tourism will definitely see a phenomenal increase in passenger traffic through the Muscat International Airport and we are well placed to meet the resulting demand. The agreement is in line with our Chairman’s vision to be the exclusive retailer for gold and jewelery in the major duty frees in this region and eventually all over the world.”

In addition Merchant said, “With the support of the Muscat Duty Free management team we intend to double our business at the Muscat Duty Free in the next three years.”

Growth of traffic through Muscat International Airport has shown significant gains over the last year, with an 18 percent increase in total passenger traffic in January 2012 over the same period one year ago, in 2011.

The general manager of Muscat Duty Free, Tom Byrne commented:

“We consider Pure Gold Jewelers as one of our long-term business partners and are very pleased to have the brand on board as part of our product offers. Being the only gold and diamond jewelry outlet operating at Muscat International Airport , I am sure our customers will see a tremendous value in this partnership with Pure Gold Jewelers. Following the renovation in 2011, Muscat Duty Free has seen a very positive response from our customers and we believe that our partnership with a prestigious brand like Pure Gold Jewelers will continue to add to this success.”

Malabar Gold Embarking on Major Global Expansion

Jewelry from Malabar Gold

One of the fastest growing outlets for jewelry in the Middle East, Malabar Gold, announced that it will soon be investing about $700 million to expand its operations so that it will be able to increase its annual sales to three times what they are today.

MP Ahamed, the chairman of the India-based Malabar Group, said on Sunday that this move will make the company the largest jewelry chain in the world, and the number one jewelry brand.

The ambitious plan includes eventually having 220 stores globally, up from 64 today. The hope, according to Ahamed, is that Malabar will employ 15,000 people, up from 6,000 at present. In what will be the third major expansion in the twenty years since the founding of the company, Malabar Gold is rebranding to “Malabar Gold & Diamonds,” looking forward to an increased effort in selling diamond jewelry. The company’s logo was also changed to appeal to a more diverse clientele base and give the company a more updated look and feel.

The company’s new motto is “Celebrate the Beauty of Life.” According to Ahamed, the new motto, the re-branding, and the expansion is all designed to achieve one major goal; to raise the international profile of the group.

"We are undertaking this change to help propel our brand to greater heights and to better serve our discerning customers," commented Ahamed.

Oman Releases First Manufacturing Catalogue

Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry

The Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry held a ceremony in which the chairman of the OCCI, Khalil bin Abdullah Al Khonji was presented with the first copy of the first edition of the Omani Products Catalogue, a publication of the OCCI.

Produced by OmanAd in Conjunction with the OOCI

Ali Abdullah Al Kasbi, the managing director of OmanAd handed the catalogue to Al Khonji at the headquarters of the OCCI in Ruwi. OmanAd was responsible for the production and marketing of the new publication, which is available not only in book form but also as a CD for use on computer.

The Omani Products Catalogue is an indispensable resource for information about Omani manufacturing and production, presented bilingually in Arabic and English.

Eleven Categories

The catalogue lists approximately 100 firms divided into 11 different categories. The categories are as follows: chemicals, electric & electronic equipment, metal products, food & beverages, minerals & metals, non-metallic products, oil & natural gas, paper/plastic & packaging, seafood/fisheries, and textiles & garments.

The catalogue is organized into four sections to enhance its usefulness, and also presents articles about manufacturing in Oman and information about Oman’s economy and industries.

Accurate and Easy to Use

Another section lists the companies alphabetically and includes accurate and the most up-to-date contact information for the companies. Much research was done to present the most accurate possible information.

“We hope that the Omani Products Catalogue will provide a common platform for the Omani manufacturing sector to showcase their multifaceted capabilities to a fast changing world,” said Al Khonji in his opening address.

There will be distribution of the catalogue both nationally and internationally to assure the most widespread possible access. Free copies will be made available by the OCCI in Ruwi.

Forum for Saudi-US Cooperation Opening in Atlanta

The Second Annual U.S. – Saudi Business Opportunities Forum, scheduled to open in Atlanta on Monday, December 5, and last three days, will discuss a variety of cooperative ventures worth an estimated $325 billion. The sectors which will most likely receive the lion’s share of the support are in education, oil, gas, infrastructure, petrochemical industry, transportation, water and electricity and information technologies.

Long-Lasting Partnership

The goals of the forum are many, but high on the agenda will be a desire to forge lasting bonds of cooperation and partnership between leading Saudi and American business executives while exploring the many new opportunities arising in the further development of both countries.

It is expected that there will be at least 1,200 delegates to the forum, including four Saudi Arabian ministers. In addition the head of the King Abdullah City for Nuclear and Renewable Energy will be present and participating in the forum.

“The forum will enable American companies to make use of the huge investment opportunities worth $385 billion offered by the Saudi government’s ambitious development plan in infrastructure, health, education and other projects,”

an official statement commented. The statement added further that there will also be discussions of the prospect of Saudi investments in Georgia, the US state which is hosting the forum.

Potential Cooperation Realized

Minister of Commerce and Industry Abdullah Alireza

One of the Saudi speakers, Commerce and Industry Minister Abdullah Alireza, commented on the renewed motivation to develop strategic US-Saudi partnerships and cooperation. He said that he expects this relationship to continue for many years, saying that “this forum will work to ensure that this great potential is realized.”

“Saudi Arabia is the top market in the region, and potential US exports are forecast to more than double by 2015,” he added.

For more information visit the US-Saudi Business Opportunities Web Site.

Rolls Royce Engines to Power Boeing Dreamliners for Oman Air

Peter Hill CEO of Oman Air

Chief executive officer of Oman Air, Peter Hill announced that his airline has ordered Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines for the half dozen Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft which were recently ordered from Boeing.

First Airline to Use Trent 1000

According to the announcement Oman Air is the first airline in the Middle East to choose this particular engine. Last month the RR Trent 1000 powered the first 787 Dreamliner which was commissioned into service.

CEO Peter Hill said,

“We look forward to further strengthening our relationship with Rolls-Royce through the selection of Trent technology, for next generation aircraft, that offers both efficiency and environmental advantages.

“In line with our expansion plan, which saw us receiving the first two Embraer E175 aircraft this year, we have now confirmed our order for the next phase of our fleet strategy. The 787 Dreamliner achieves new levels of fuel efficiency, a significant portion of that improvement provided by engine technology which also reduces emissions and noise.”

 Service in 2015

Today Trent 700 engines power Airbus A330 aircraft for Oman Air. These planes are supported by a TotalCare long term service agreement with Airbus. The six new Boeing 787 Dreamliners are scheduled to go into service in the year 2015.

Orascom Exploring Construction of Low Cost Housing in Oman

Orascom Development Holdings (ODH) is investigating the possibility of entering into Oman’s affordable housing construction sector. The announcement of this intention was made by Samih Sawiris, the chairman and CEO of the Egyptian investment firm at The Owners Forum Middle East 2011 held in Muscat from October 22nd to 24th, 2011.

OHC Positioned to Enter Market

Mr. Sawiris explained that the growing need for affordable housing in Oman will attract investors into this sector, and Orascom’s subsidiary, Orascom Housing Communities (OHC), is uniquely positioned to enter into this market.

OHC was founded in 2006, and already finished the construction of a township by 2007. Haram City was built about 20km west of Cairo and today is home to about 5,000 families on 8.4 million square meters of land.

Haram City Near Cairo

Affordable Housing Market

When asked about Orascom’s interest in building luxury or high-end building projects, Sawiris said that in the Sultanate of Oman Orascom is not interested in this sector, especially since they are already involved in tourism construction in Jebel Sifah and Salalah Beach in a joint venture with Muriya.

Sawiris added that,

“The only thing I would be interested in Oman in terms of residential projects is affordable or budget housing. That is our second area of expertise, where we complete towns in this category.”

GlassPoint Places New Vice President Head of Special Projects

A major producer of solar steam generators used in EOR (enhanced oil recovery) announced this week the placing of Glenn Griffith as the new vice-president of Oman Projects.

GlassPoint Solar appointed Griffith to lead their department of project execution in one of the major Gulf State nations, Oman. Griffith comes with over thirty years of experience in the upstream oil industry. He will be handling the GlassPoint solar EOR project with PDO, which will be a joint venture including the oil company giants Shell, Total and Oman.

“Solar EOR is a compelling solution for the global oil industry, and GlassPoint has demonstrated a clear cost advantage over other solutions. No other solar technology has addressed oilfield specific needs. The glasshouse design protects the system from harsh Middle Eastern desert conditions and produces direct steam with unmatched energy density,” stated Griffith.

Carillion Increasing Investment in Middle East

One of Britain’s leading investment firms,  Carillion, has decided to pull back from the lackluster construction market in the United Kingdom and refocus its efforts towards Middle Eastern markets, especially in Oman, Qatar and Abu Dhabi.

Doubling Revenues

Carillion’s latest plan calls for a doubling of its Middle East revenues to £1 billion during the coming five years. It should not be too hard for Carillion to get a piece of the action as the United Arab Emirates begins to develop $1 trillion worth of infrastructure over the next twenty years and Qatar pumping $149 billion into its construction economy in preparation for the 2022 FIFA football World Cup. Carillion has already begun bidding for contracts to construct shopping centers, rail networks, hospitals and schools all throughout the region.

Carillion Building NYU Branch in Abu Dhabi

The British based investment firm already earns quite a sizable portion of its operating profits in Middle East ventures, and is poised to increase considerably in the near future, with about £11.8 billion worth of deals pending. Carillion is already the owner of the contract to build the Abu Dhabi campus of New York University, worth an estimated £650 million.

Middle East Development Heading Full Steam Ahead

Carillion owns 49% of Carillion Alawi in Oman where the Sultanate has discussed plans to invest $10 billion in development of schools and hospitals over the next five years.

This year Carillion expects their revenues from Middle East investments to total about £500 million. Operating margins are expected to decline during the next several years from over 9% to only 6% due to tough competition for contracts.

“We’ve always said it will take two to three years for growth to come through but we now have a strong bid pipeline and if we win our fair share we will deliver double digit growth,” said John McDonough, chief executive for Carillion.

Port of Sohar Home to New Producer of Sulphur-Based Fertilizer

The investment subsidiary of Oman Oil Company, Takamul Investment Company, is joining with CoreSulphur, one of the world’s leading providers of technology, to create a new, major, sulphur bentonite and micronutrient facility near the Port of Sohar in Oman.

New Company Sohar Sulphur Fertilizers

The complex will be owned and operated by these companies along with another Oman-based firm, Awtad Projects and Development.  As a group these businesses have created a new company, Sohar Sulphur Fertilizers LLC, which will be the owner and operator of the facility.

The complex will utilize cutting-edge technologies and will be the first of its kind in Oman. The facility will have its home in close proximity to the Sohar Refinery plant which is part of Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries (ORPIC.)

Feedstock Sulphur Readily Available

The officials on the project explained that the source for feedstock sulphur will be the Sohar Refinery, which is close to where the new facility will be built. The refinery can produce approximately 140 tonnes of molten sulphur every day, a major by-product of the process of refining crude oil.

Last year a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Sohar Refinery and Takamul stating that the sulphur produced by the Sohar Refinery will be dedicated to the Sohar Sulphur Fertilizers LLC. As a consequence of this agreement, the sulphur, which right now is being shipped to other regional and international locations, will permit the additional processing of sulphur into a valuable commodity locally.

International Player in Fast-Growing Market

Kent Lambden, managing director of CoreSulphur, commented on its newly formed partnership with Takamul:

“As the foremost expert in sulphur bentonite and sulphur micronutrient fertilizers, CoreSulphur’s formation of Sohar Sulphur Fertilizer positions us as a fast-growing international player in a high-growth market. Our partnerships with leading firms, such as Takamul and Awtad, highlight our expertise and stance within the industry. We’re extremely pleased to expand into Oman to provide unmatched products to areas that need it most.”