Category Archives: News

Saudi Bin Ladin Group cuts 100,000 jobs

It has been recently filtered that the major Saudi Arabian construction company, Saudi Bin Ladin Group, has issued 77,000 final exit visas meaning it had terminated 77,000 foreign workers.

Rumors further says that the group is planning to lay off up to 17,000 Saudi nationals, bringing the total number of job cuts to almost 100,000, representing almost half of its workforce.

Contacted by a local newspaper the construction giant replied that “adjusting the size of our manpower is a normal routine especially whenever projects are completed or near completion. Most of the released jobs had initially been recruited for contracted projects with specific time frames and deliverables” as reported by news agency Reuters.

As a matter of fact, Binladin has been under pressure since September last year, when it was suspended from receiving new state contracts after one of its cranes collapsed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque during a dust storm, killing 107 people.

In addition, the company is suffering from low oil prices that have led to government spending cuts to curb a record budget deficit.

As reported by ArabianBusiness, rumors say that Saudi Binladin group owe local and international banks a total of about 30 billion USD.

Get UAE work visa from home – coming soon

In a recent meeting, Mr. Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, revealed that soon foreign workers will be able to get their UAE working visa from their home country.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MOHRE) have indeed started making necessary arrangements to enable workers to sign job offers back home and process their work visa and related entry visa at any Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation offshore service centers available in their country.

The new procedure will have several beneficial outcomes as explained by the Minister himself.

“Such cooperation and partnership between both ministries ensures a transparent contractual relation between employers and workers which prevents any attempt to replace any job offers upon the arrival of the worker to the UAE, especially since the first measures required to recruit workers from abroad shall be supervised by the UAE government through the Foreign Affairs and international cooperation Ministry,” Mr. Ghobash said as also reported by KhaleejTimes.

He added: “The fulfillment of the initial contractual agreements within such service centers, according to the newly launched decrees which began earlier this year, has a beneficial outcome on the employers as well, especially since informing the workers about their job offers and its annexes then ensuring getting a signature on the job offer to complete the transaction, falls under the direct responsibility of the employer.”

The Ministry is going to open visa issuing centers abroad according to a plan based on three phases as follows.

UAE work visa phases

The number of overseas offices will be increased from time to time and the start of the third phase is expected to be at end-2016 beginning 2017.

The local newspaper further reports the words of Ahmed Saeed Al Dhahiri, Assistant Undersecretary for Consular Affairs at the Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ministry who said:

“Such centers has a major milestone effect, it will reduce fraud or identity theft cases by verifying the attendee via the passport, in addition to reducing the spread of infectious diseases into the UAE, avoid deportation and medical quarantine costs post the medical examinations which could be done at these centers, also prevent the arrival of foreigners that had already been sentenced to deportation and finally confirm the identity of the person arriving to the UAE through a clear high-quality facial image and an eye-scan done at the center”.

For the other Countries not mentioned in the article, the visa system remains unaltered.

Breaking news: UFO in Dubai!

A woman residing in Dubai claims to have seen a UFO (unidentified flying object) flying over Burj Khalifa while collecting something through what appears to be a light beam.

She was driving on Al Khail Road when she took a photo of the well known Burj Khalifa just to release few seconds later that she was able to frame the at the moment ongoing extra terrestrial activity.

“I’m sure it’s a UFO. If you look at the shape of the object and the beam that’s shooting down, you can tell it’s a spaceship. They probably have visited us before many times but they have the ability to be visible or become invisible when they wish” she told at 7DAYS, a local daily.

UFO in Dubai

“aliens were looking to study the human race” the witness said to 7DAYS journalist.

 Even though the witness is sure to have proved what NASA has been trying to cover for decades, Mr. Hasan Ahmad Al Hariri, CEO of the Dubai Astronomy Group, said that a lighting glitch probably occurred because of a lamppost and the speed of the car as the picture was taken.

Hariri said: “It’s very obvious that the appearance of the light near the Burj Khalifa appeared because of a light pole and the fast speed the car was moving at.”

Who is right? The scientist or the witness?

Record rain in the UAE achieved thanks to clouds seeding

If you are wondering why it rained so much this winter in the UAE, the answer might be more surprising of what you can possibly think. According to updates from the National Center of Meteorology & Seismology (NCMS)’s meteorologist and cloud seeding expert Sufian Farrah, as reported by The National, cloud seeding operations might have played a decisive role in this extraordinarily wet winter.

Annual rainfall in the UAE rarely exceeds 120 millimeters whereas the last 9 March 2016 alone we have witnessed a rainfall of 287 millimeters as reported by ArabianBusiness.

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Average weather statistics for Dubai. – Photo credit climateandweather.com

The aim of the 77 cloud seeding missions performed during the first three months of the year was to increase the chance of rain (even though the cloud seeding operation doesn’t necessarily makes it rain) and the quantity of rain falling on the UAE.

This is very important to replenish the water reserves both above ground (dams and channels) and underground,, sustaining the agriculture sector and reducing the overall need of producing sweet water from the sea for daily use.

Basically the clouds are “injected” with salt crystals by mall planes which fly above the clouds. Not all the clouds are targeted since the NCMS cloud seeding programme focuses on mature clouds that have the right configuration to generate rain.

“We covered most of the available clouds in the country, so the rainfall increased. Even if we didn’t carry out any operations it would rain, but the objective of cloud seeding is rain enhancement, and most of the clouds that are subject to seeding will generate rain,” he is quoted saying.

National Center of Meteorology & Seismology regularly publishes interesting videos and photos like the following.

 

Dubai EXPO2020 theme pavilion design competition winners revealed

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Expo Higher Committee, in partnership with leading property developer Emaar Properties, have revealed the winners of one of the world’s most prestigious architectural competitions, to design the theme pavilions for Expo 2020.

The committee sought ideas for the three theme pavilions titled Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability, which form a central part of EXPO 2020’s theme that is Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.

The winning design for the Opportunity Pavilion was submitted by Bjarke Ingels Group, a group of architects, designers, builders and thinkers based in Copenhagen and New York. Their design philosophy reflects a belief that contemporary urban life is a result of the confluence of cultural exchange, global economic trends and communication technologies as it could be read on the Expo 2020 official website.

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Bjarke Ingels Group winning design for Opportunity Pavilion. Photo from Emirates24/7

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Bjarke Ingels Group winning design for Opportunity Pavilion. Photo from Emirates24/7

 

The press release issued by Expo 2020 official website and reported by the major local newspapers, continues saying that Foster + Partners, the internationally renowned practice, based in London, submitted the winning proposal for the Mobility Pavilion. Their design drew on nearly four decades of pioneering designs including Dubai’s The Index building, and the master plan for Masdar City.

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Foster + Partners winning design for Dubai Expo2020 Mobility Pavillion. Photo from ArabianBusiness.com

The winning design for the Sustainability Pavilion, which will become a long term ‘cluster’ centre promoting innovative technologies, was submitted by Grimshaw Architects. The firm designed the Eden project in Cornwall, UK, and is a leader in the field of sustainable architecture.

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Grimshaw Architects winning design for Sustainability Pavillion at Dubai Expo2020. Photo from Emirates24/7

Expo-2020-theme-pavilion sustainability - Grimshaw

Grimshaw Architects winning design for Sustainability Pavillion at Dubai Expo2020. Photo from ArabianBusiness

“Expo 2020 will be a festival of human ingenuity. We hope that the nations and organisations that take part in Expo, and the millions who visit, will explore the power of connections across the spheres of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability”

“Our theme pavilions will play a central role in bringing this to life.”

said HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

Keep updated by visiting the official DUBAI EXPO2020 website.

Revealed: Dubai Metro “Route 2020″extension works to begin soon

It is official, after months of statements, reassurances and postponements, we are finally there. Work on Route 2020, the 15km extension of Dubai Metro’s Red Line, will begin in the next few months, Abdul Mohsin Ibrahim Younus, CEO of RTA’s Rail Agency revealed at Middle East Rail Conference on Tuesday.

“Work on Route 2020 will begin immediately after we award the tender, which will be within the next few months. The extension will be ready before Expo 2020”

The Route 2020 will pass through Discovery Gardens and Dubai Investment Park on its way to the venue of Expo 2020. Heading from Nakheel Harbour and Tower station, the route serve seven additional stations, 2 of which will be underground as also reported by Dubai Metro website. The newly served communities are inhabited by about 240,000 people and the project will not be only beneficial for those visiting the Expo 2020 area but also for the many residents living in the outskirts of the city. The journey from Dubai Marina area to the site of Expo will take 16 minutes and from Dubai International Airport (DXB) to Expo will take about 1 hour.

But this is not the only news about the metro expansion. The red line is foreseen to be further extended to Dubai World Central – Al Maktoum Airport (DWC) and the green line will increase of almost 21 km from Al Jaddaf Station to Dubai Academic City passing by Ras Al Khor, International City and Silicon Oasis.

According to Mr.Younus, also the Dubai Tram will be extended by 5 km due to its popularity and success. Phase 2 of the Tram will serve iconic landmarks like Burj Al Arab and Madinat Jumeirah.

For those regularly using the Metro, it is evident of its success. Any given time of the day or the night, the metro is busy with people commuting to work or simply going to any of the well known landmarks like Mall of Emirates, Dubai Mall, Gold & Diamond Park and so on. I am personally not really convinced by the performance of the Tram but I noticed that it ranks in the top attractions to see in Dubai in many popular holidays websites.

Featured Image from KhaleejTimes, image in the article from Dubai Metro website.

Construction news: more than 390 billion USD projects ongoing in Dubai

The total value of projects under construction in Dubai equates to $53.6 billion, with a further $337.2 billion in the planning stage.  These are significant amounts of investment for most mature economies, but for an emerging market such as Dubai, they are extraordinary figures which provide evidence of Dubai’s ambition to diversify its economy away from oil-centered revenues. In this way we can summarize the new report “The Dubai Construction Pulse” published by Deloitte and MEED Projects, which analyses the construction market across a range of sectors.

Analyzing the data provided in the report, it is evident that the majority of the construction projects currently ongoing in the Emirate are related to residential and hospitality sectors with a 60% of the total value involved while 65% of the planned projects fall within the mixed use developments, most probably because of the EXPO 2020’s requirements.

Dubai Construction Projects Status

“Despite regional security concerns and wider macro-economic turbulence, Dubai continues at pace with significant project awards in Q1 2016, including the Palm Gateway Towers, Phase II of the Atlantis Resort and Dubai Creek Harbour to name but three”, said Ben Hughes, director at Deloitte Corporate Finance Limited, regulated by the Dubai International Financial Center.

Previously stalled projects have been resurrected, but new project awards have reduced since 2014-2015 as a result of regional economic uncertainty

The conclusions of the report are particularly interesting and are here below summirized.

“The current concerns relating to low oil prices and diminished market sentiment has clearly had a short term impact. Whilst the ongoing geo-political factors equally have profound effects, the fact that many Governments across the region, not least the Government of Dubai, are continuing to spend on infrastructure and other strategic developments suggests that they foresee the oil price issue and political turmoil as a temporary one.

[…] The mere action of building a project and expecting the demand to be there no longer applies, as the fundamental cost basis for these projects remains volatile and competitive. Focusing on factors such as affordability, differentiation and quality are going to be increasingly important factors, and it is hoped that such considerations will ultimately underpin the rationale for conceiving projects.

Simply constructing the tallest or most unique project no longer provides the impact it once did, so diversifying the offer by promoting a world class standard appears to be the mantra moving forwards.

[…] What is interesting is the connectedness of Dubai as an increasingly “smart city”, and […]  Dubai may even mature to the extent that it could surpass some of the more established cities across the world, such as London, Paris or New York, in terms of its level of sophistication and dedication to sustainability, smart city principles and ultimately success in delivering projects that are demand driven and profitable.”

Other than on “The Dubai Construction Pulse” website by Deloitte, the matter has been analyzed and reported by well done articles published on SaudiGazzette and Gulf Construction Online.

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