$1 billion project of Dubai’s Largest Indoor Theme Park

Of all the achievements that Dubai could claim to have realised since or after the formation of the United Arab Emirates, is this semi-loony $1 billion project of Dubai’s Largest Indoor Theme Park that is not really such a loony one.  It may however seem so at first glance but at a closer look, the city has dramatically changed since dredging of what is called its “creek”, that is a finger of the Gulf sea water coming into the desert shore land.  What followed after that is a succession of more and more amazing developments as decidedly helped by the unprecedentedly ginormous inflow of petrodollars and the accompanying expatriates to service them. 

It would be interesting to follow up on the current Qatar crisis as intimated in our Qatar crisis impacts on the rest of the MENA region and its direct effect on such a project.

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Of all the achievements that Dubai could claim to have realised since or after the formation of the United Arab Emirates, is this semi-loony $1 billion project of Dubai’s Largest Indoor Theme Park that is not really such a loony one.  It may however seem so at first glance but at a closer look, the city has dramatically changed since dredging of what is called its “creek”, that is a finger of the Gulf sea water coming into the desert shore land.  What followed after that is a succession of more and more amazing developments as decidedly helped by the unprecedentedly ginormous inflow of petrodollars and the accompanying expatriates to service them. 
It would be interesting to follow up on the current Qatar crisis as intimated in our Qatar crisis impacts on the rest of the MENA region and its direct effect on such a project.
We feature this article of India Times written by Anjali Bisaria and published on July 8, 2017. 

Dubai’s Largest Indoor Theme Park Costs $1 Billion & Is As Big As 28 American Football Fields

When it comes to building the world’s ‘firsts’ buildings, hotels, or artificial islands, trust Dubai to be ahead of the game, all the damn time!

For Dubai is now home to the globe’s first largest indoor theme park – IMG Worlds of Adventure. Sprawled across 1.5 million square feet with a capacity to hold 30,000 visitors at a time, the $1 billion theme park threw open its doors on August 31, 2016, reports The Independent.  

IMG WORLDS OF ADVENTURE

The size of the theme park equals 28 American football fields which also houses a 12-screen cinema complex with IMAX screen. Its opulence is Dubai’s yet another promise of becoming the country’s entertainment capital.

And by 2019, IMG Worlds of Adventures is expected to see a rise in its revenues by 78% to $837 million!

IMG WORLDS OF ADVENTURE

The park is divided into four zones – MARVEL, Cartoon Network, Lost Valley – Dinosaur Adventure, and IMG Boulevard. There are 22 rides and attractions including the Velociraptor roller-coaster that speeds up to 100 km/h in 2.5 seconds.

IMG WORLDS OF ADVENTURE

IMG WORLDS OF ADVENTURE

Apart from this, visitors can check out 25 shops and 28 restaurants and bars with prices soaring through the sky. Imagine buying a pen worth 115,000 dirhams, i.e., $31,300!

A land that also sees soaring temperatures, this indoor theme park is both a respite and a delight.

 ANJALI BISARIA

JULY 08, 2017

Qatar crisis impacts on the rest of the MENA region

The “Qatar vs GCC + Egypt” crisis carries on at not only the expense of Qatar but to also all concerned such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.  We elaborated on this last aspect in our Latest Diplomatic Crisis impacts Dubai City http://www.mena-forum.com/36806-2/ where we anticipated significant losses for Dubai, Riyadh and Manama alike.  Life carrying on unabated, there must surely be drawbacks for everyone during and after this semi-political upheaval between the parties.  The impacts of the Qatar crisis on the rest of the MENA region have yet to be measured and accounted for. 

Following is a Chatham House conference of Qatar’ Foreign Affairs Minister’s response to the 13 points demand of Saudi Arabia and its allies.

The “Qatar vs GCC + Egypt” crisis carries on at not only the expense of Qatar but to also all concerned such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.  We elaborated on this last aspect in our Latest Diplomatic Crisis impacts Dubai City  where we anticipated significant losses for Dubai, Riyadh and Manama alike.  Life carrying on unabated, there must surely be drawbacks for everyone during and after this semi-political upheaval between the parties.  The Qatar crisis impacts on the rest of the MENA region have yet to be measured and accounted for. 
Following is a Chatham House conference of Qatar’ Foreign Affairs Minister’s response to the 13 points demand of Saudi Arabia and its allies.

The Crisis in the Gulf: Qatar Responds

The foreign minister of Qatar outlined his country’s position and response to the accusations made and diplomatic measures taken against Doha by a number of countries including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

https://youtu.be/8ksR1C8B2HA

05 July 2017

HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, Minister of Foreign Affairs, State of Qatar
Chair: Dr Robin Niblett CMG, Director, Chatham House

Overview

The foreign minister of Qatar outlined his country’s position and response to the accusations made and diplomatic measures taken against Doha by a number of countries including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

More information at The Crisis in the Gulf: Qatar Responds

The Crisis in the Gulf: Qatar Responds The foreign minister of Qatar outlined his country’s position and response to the accusations made and diplomatic measures taken against Doha by a number of countries including Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Play 0:00 / 1:09:37 Fullscreen Mute Share 05 July 2017 HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, Minister of Foreign Affairs, State of Qatar Chair: Dr Robin Niblett CMG, Director, Chatham House 01:09:37 Overview The foreign minister of Qatar outlined his country’s position and response to the accusations made and diplomatic measures taken against Doha by a number of countries including Saudi Arabia and the UAE. More information at The Crisis in the Gulf: Qatar Responds

Libya, a country that has known nothing but unrest

The MENA region is yet again under horrendous pressures not only within the usual northern part of the Middle East and lately in the Gulf area but still in that part of the North African desert. This story is about Libya, a country that has known nothing but unrest and upheaval since its forced change of regime in 2011. More recently a UN report informed that the UAE violated Libya’s arms embargo by secretly supplying the concerned in this article.  Would this have any bearing with the outcome as proposed in this article? 

Would also this liberation mean reunification and a unique and central authority over the country? Only time can tell but one thing is sure in that all countries surrounding Libya would sight with relief if this is achieved.

The MENA region is yet again under horrendous pressures not only within the usual northern part of the Middle East and lately in the Gulf area but still in that part of the North African desert. This story is about Libya, a country that has known nothing but unrest and upheaval since its forced change of regime in 2011. More recently a UN report informed that the UAE violated Libya’s arms embargo by secretly supplying the concerned in this article.  Would this have any bearing with the outcome as proposed in this article?
Would also this liberation mean reunification and a unique and central authority over the country? Only time can tell but one thing is sure in that all countries surrounding Libya would sight with relief if this is achieved.
Would this be accounted for in the Qatar blockade resolution? In any case, here is the BBC’s story.

Libya eastern commander Haftar declares Benghazi ‘liberated’

From the section Africa

The image above is of  REUTERS — Benghazi saw fierce clashes between the LNA and Islamist militants this week


The head of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) has said his forces “liberated” the eastern Benghazi city after years of fighting with Islamists.

Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar said the city now enters a new era of “security, peace and reconciliation”.

If confirmed, victory would mark a major advance for the one-time commander in the army of late strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

The LNA is not recognised by Libya’s UN-backed government in Tripoli.

Libya’s unrest since the 2011 ousting of Gaddafi saw extremist organisations, including so-called Islamic State, gain a foothold in the country.

In a televised speech on Wednesday, Field Marshal Haftar said that “after a continuous struggle against terrorism and its agents that lasted more than three years… we announce to you the liberation of Benghazi”.

Image copyright REUTERS – – – – Khalifa Haftar has backing from some foreign powers

His announcement comes after bloody battles this week in Benghazi’s Sabri district in which dozens of LNA fighters and various local Islamist militants died.

Pictures posted on social media sites showed some civilians in Benghazi and other parts of the country celebrating the end of a bitter conflict that left large parts of the country’s second city in ruins and displaced thousands of people in recent years.

But Field Marshal Haftar also has many political and armed opponents in Libya. He does not recognise the government in Tripoli, and instead backs the authorities in the east. Opponents accuse the commander, who has backing from some foreign powers, of trying to impose autocratic rule in Libya.

Divided opinion – analysis by Rana Jawad, BBC North Africa correspondent

Benghazi’s conflict over the last three years at times appeared to have no end in sight, and – as it grew – so too did the Field Marshal Haftar’s political and military ambitions.

This is a significant gain for him, and a city that has been aching for respite from the war. Opinions over the conflict in Benghazi are largely divided; many will be celebrating what they see as a war brought to their doorstep by Islamist militias at a time when political actors in Libya barely acknowledged there was a problem there, despite the near daily bombings and killings in the city.

Others view it as a product of a man who was power-hungry and lumped up all of his enemies under the banner of “Islamist terrorists” to pave the way for a future political role through the might of the gun. His short address dedicated to the people of Libya had an unusually reconciliatory tone, but it is not one that will ease worries over what his, or his opponents’ next move might be.

In Libya today, a military victory in one battlefield often opens the door to conflict in others.

Read more :

 

Latest Diplomatic Crisis impacts Dubai City

The Gulf countries plunging into their latest diplomatic crisis impacts Dubai city. This crisis by all accounts would definitely have some bearing on that city that tied its future to that of being a centre for the whole and detail retail trade not only for the GCC countries. It is and by far the main point of convergence of all world imports destined for Qatar. All goods whether from Europe, the Americas and / or the Asian sub-continents would automatically transit by Dubai’s Jebel Ali. Up to now that is. The analytics of such blockade of Qatar will shortly be available if however these were not to be willfully distorted for those obvious reasons. We will dwell here on oil and gas related exports that also but only in part pass through some GCC ports before leaving the Gulf.
Meanwhile what are the consequences of the above mentioned blockade of Qatar on Dubai? For instance on its ports and airports. What about its banking system. Could we take the proposed article as some sort of an answer? Although it is that of an expert, we believe that the Qatar boycott has not been factored in yet and if that were to be, it could not affect Dubai but possibly the whole of the Gulf countries . . . .

The Gulf countries plunging into their latest diplomatic crisis impacts Dubai city. This crisis would by all accounts and definitely have some bearing on that city that tied its future to that of being a centre for the whole and detail retail trade not only for the GCC countries but for the whole region.  It is and by far the main point of convergence of all world imports destined for Qatar.  All goods whether from Europe, the Americas and / or the Asian sub-continents would automatically transit by Dubai’s Jebel Ali.  Up to now that is.  The analytics of such blockade of Qatar will shortly be available if however these were not to be willfully distorted for those obvious reasons. We will not dwell here on oil and gas related exports that also but only in part pass through some GCC ports before leaving the Gulf.
Meanwhile what are the consequences of the above mentioned blockade of Qatar on Dubai?  For instance on its ports and airports.  What about its banking system.  Could we take the proposed article as some sort of an answer?  Although it is that of an expert, we believe that the Qatar boycott has not been factored in yet and if that were to be, it could not only affect Dubai but possibly the whole of the Gulf countries.

Dubai’s retail sector faces short-term hiccups as rents fall

Landlords offer tenant-friendly terms to retain them, says JLL.

Dubai’s retail sector will continue to face challenges in the short-term, but long term prospects are bright, according to JLL.

In its latest Dubai real estate report, the global consultancy said the sector witnessed single digit rent declines in the second quarter of the year, confirming the fact that the market remained under pressure.

“While the short-term picture for retail in Dubai is challenging due to the slowdown in the rate of economic growth and the strength of the US dollar, the medium to longer-term picture remains more positive,” it said.

Given the high supply, landlords continued to adopt approaches to leasing that are favourable to tenants, in order to retain them, JLL said.

According to the report, only one neighbourhood retail mall was completed in Jumeirah Islands, adding 2,800 square meter (sqm) of gross leasing area (GLA). Nearly 220,000 sqm of GLA is currently under construction that is expected to be completed by year-end, with The Pointe on Palm Jumeirah and Marsa Al Seef in Al Hamriya expected to contribute more than 50 percent of the total.  Dubailand will add nearly 40,000 sqm of GLA which is scheduled to be finished in the second half.

JLL said Dubai undoubtedly is the leading retail location in the Gulf region, with 3.39 million sqm of retail malls, ahead of other major cities such as Abu Dhabi (2.62 million sqm), Jeddah (1.21 million sqm) and Riyadh (1.17 million sqm). On an international scale, Dubai has approximately twice as much retail space per capita as London, indicating its reputation as a major international retail hub.

The consultancy said delays may occur given the soft market conditions.

“The pressure to complete and hand over projects is expected to intensify in the coming two years, in anticipation of the potential boost to retail spending around Expo 2020,” the consultancy said.

The retail sector, JLL said, continues to evolve, with retail brands and centres merging both online and offline experiences as lines between bricks and mortar and online retailers blur.

In the second quarter, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry said it expected e-commerce to account for 10 percent of Dubai’s total retail trade in the near future.

 

 

Saudisation means limiting all expatriates’ employment

Saudi Arabia unlike all its partners within the GCC and for many in the world would have been a terrible country, were it not for it to have been sitting on one of the world’s largest reserves of fossil oil.  Moreover and, according to western common knowledge, it sponsors a strong feeling-filled version of Islam that is conducive to all sorts of redicalisation.  And it denies its citizens whether nationals and / or resident expatriates many basic rights.  Here is a good example in an article written by Ahmed Al-Arfaj of Al-Madina published on Saudi Gazette of July 2, 2017.  It is about that other aspect of the country where a Saudisation means limiting all expatriates’ employment is being proposed.  Expatriates accounted in 2014 for little less than 33% of the country’s 30 million inhabitants.

Qatar’s standoff with its neighbours is turning sour by the hour as the ultimatum of a month has elapsed.  An extra 48 hours was granted though but it is believed would not alter anything in the blockaded country’s stance.

Meanwhile, it’s no secret for anyone that the oil and gas markets are at a critical turning point.  Shale gas of the US has completely disrupted the dynamic in the market, brought prices crashing down.  Natural Gas of Qatar as a palliative and / or a cleaner substitute would presumably anchor those prices at a level that would prevent any up movement.

Saudi Arabia unlike all its partners within the GCC and for many in the world would have been a terrible country, were it not for it to have been sitting on one of the world’s largest reserves of fossil oil.  Moreover and, according to western common knowledge, it sponsors a strong feeling-filled version of Islam that is conducive to all sorts of redicalisation.  And it denies its citizens whether nationals and / or resident expatriates many basic rights.  Here is a good example in an article written by Ahmed Al-Arfaj of Al-Madina published on Saudi Gazette of July 2, 2017.  It is about that other aspect of the country where a Saudisation means limiting all expatriates’ employment is being proposed.  Expatriates accounted in 2014 for little less than 33% of the country’s 30 million inhabitants.

Qatar’s standoff with its neighbours is turning sour by the hour as the ultimatum of a month has elapsed.  An extra 48 hours was granted though but it is believed would not alter anything in the blockaded country’s stance.
Meanwhile, it’s no secret for anyone that the oil and gas markets are at a critical turning point.  Shale gas of the US has completely disrupted the dynamic in the market, brought prices crashing down.  Natural Gas of Qatar as a palliative and / or a cleaner substitute would presumably anchor those prices at a level that would prevent any up movement.

Limiting the years of employment for expats

THE situation of foreigners coming to work in the Gulf countries needs an in-depth study. They come and reside in the region physically but their hearts and minds always remain attached to their homeland.

I feel pity and compassion for these expatriates. They are not citizens who contribute to building a country that they feel belong to, but they do not await the day of departure or long for the joy of returning to their homeland.

Let me think aloud with you about who would come to work in the Gulf countries in 2018 and beyond. Why don’t we limit the employment contracts of foreign workers to only four years, not renewable under any circumstance.

If we do that we will have a range of benefits. The foremost among them is to provide opportunity for the greatest number of people to come and gain from working in our country. Another advantage of this is that the foreign worker does not get disconnected from his or her own country for a long period and become like a dove that lost the ability to fly and couldn’t master the crow’s walk. This has turned the foreign worker into an angry person. He feels incapable of building the future of his homeland and he feels alienated in a community to which he does not belong.

The third advantage is that we will put an end to the weapon of grace, which the residents often use if they happen to stay here for 10 or 15 years. We hear the employee repeat on every occasion, “I served you for tens of years.”

These are only some of the advantages. There are many others, but the negative aspects are but a few, such as some people objecting to the idea of terminating the employment contract because of the need to train new workers every four years. This is not a negative in my opinion; it is one positive side of the move because this allows for skill development and breaking the routine while updating both the trainer and trainee at the same time.

I hope no one would take my words for rigidity or racism. All I have offered here is regulatory measures that will preserve the rights of all parties. Such arrangements exist in most advanced countries in order to keep a balance in the relationship between the employer and employee based on a policy of no harm or damage.


Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has started imposing a new fee for expats’ dependents as of July 1 and according to local reports, all residence permits will not be renewed unless this fee is duly paid in advance.
This levy starts at $320 per resident’s dependent a year whereas private sector companies at twice that figure a month for each foreign worker.  This will go on increasing each year feeding the state treasury in a bid to increase state revenues.

With this levy, Saudi Arabia could generate up to $693 million a year, an official has said because according to data from the Saudi’s National Information Centre, the number of registered dependents stands to date at 2,221,551, as reported by the local media.

Despite the government promising assistance to the private sector over the next four years, concerns that investment will be impacted by these costs on businesses are voiced.

More Plastic than Fish in the Sea by 2050

According to The Guardian, there will be “More plastic than fish in the sea by 2050, per Ellen MacArthur who elaborating, adds that “One refuse truck’s-worth of plastic is dumped into the sea every minute, and the situation is getting worse.”

More than a year later on, The Telegraph  published on May 16, 2017 this article on the nocive spread of plastic material debris in its widest range that are the drinking bottle and the shopping bag.  The paper wondered in this article (excerpted below). . .

Why a tiny British island in the Pacific has 38 million pieces of plastic rubbish on its beaches

When researchers travelled to a tiny, uninhabited island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, they were astonished to find an estimated 38 million pieces of trash washed up on the beaches.

Almost all of the garbage they found on Henderson

According to The Guardian, there will be More Plastic than Fish in the Sea by 2050 per Ellen MacArthur who elaborating, adds that “One refuse truck’s-worth of plastic is dumped into the sea every minute, and the situation is getting worse.”
More than a year later on, The Telegraph  published on May 16, 2017 this article on the nocive spread of plastic material debris in its widest range that are the drinking bottle and the shopping bag.  The paper wondered in this article (excerpted below). . .

Why a tiny British island in the Pacific has 38 million pieces of plastic rubbish on its beaches

When researchers travelled to a tiny, uninhabited island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, they were astonished to find an estimated 38 million pieces of trash washed up on the beaches.

Almost all of the garbage they found on Henderson Island was made from plastic. There were toy soldiers, dominos, toothbrushes and hundreds of hardhats of every shape, size and color.

The researchers say the density of trash was the highest recorded anywhere in the world, despite Henderson Island’s extreme remoteness. The island is located about halfway between New Zealand and Chile and is recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Jennifer Lavers, a research scientist at Australia’s University of Tasmania, was lead author of the report, which was published Tuesday in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”  Read more on the original document.
Meanwhile, thousands of miles away from any sea, ocean shore, a man took on the job to re-use some of the freely handed-out and empty water bottles.  This article of Huffington Post Maghreb was published in French on June 27, 2017; a translated excerpt is proposed together with some pictures.

In the Sahara, a refugee built houses from plastic bottles

HuffPost  |  Par Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

Publication: 26/06/2017 16h33 CEST Mis à jour: 27/06/2017 13h13 CEST

In a refugee camp in the Sahara desert, a man makes more sustainable homes in the face of difficult weather conditions. To do this, he uses garbage.

Tateh Lehbib Breica, a Sahrawi refugee living in a camp in Tindouf, Algeria, builds houses for other refugees from plastic bottles filled with sand, as we can see in this video posted on Facebook by the High Commissioner of the United Nations (UNHCR). Read more on the original document.

 

Video published by WEF (https://youtu.be/gg_BeXeBXV4)

Solar Power Plants for North Africa

After Morocco’s ambitious but almost wholly concretised plan of a vast Solar Power Plant predicted at the time to be a Hard Act for Africa to follow, here is Tunisia coming onto the scene with its rather modest plan so as to reinforce the Solar Power Plants for North Africa

An article of Renewablesnow published this piece of information that was believed worth republishing on this site.

Tunisia sets two deadlines for 210 MW renewable energy tender

June 22 (Renewables Now) – Tunisia’s Ministry for Energy, Mines and Renewable energies has issued a calendar with two deadlines for a tender calling for the supply of 210 MW of electricity generation capacity from wind and solar photovoltaics.

Bidders are expected to submit offers by noon on November 15, 2017, at the latest for 140 MW of the capacity . . . . .

After Morocco’s ambitious but almost wholly concretised plan of a vast Solar Power Plant predicted at the time to be a Hard Act for Africa to follow, here is Tunisia coming onto the scene with its rather modest plan so as to reinforce the Solar Power Plants for North Africa
An article of Renewablesnow published this piece of information that was believed worth republishing on this site.

Tunisia sets two deadlines for 210 MW renewable energy tender

June 22 (Renewables Now) – Tunisia’s Ministry for Energy, Mines and Renewable energies has issued a calendar with two deadlines for a tender calling for the supply of 210 MW of electricity generation capacity from wind and solar photovoltaics.

Bidders are expected to submit offers by noon on November 15, 2017, at the latest for 140 MW of the capacity.

Wind capacity bids will be accepted in two batches. The first batch will seek bids with a total capacity of up to 60 MW and up to 30 MW per project. The second batch will seek smaller bids of up to 10 MW in capacity (up to 5 per project).

Wind bids for up to 70 MW will be tendered by November and another 70 MW will be tendered by August 15, 2018.

In photovoltaics, bids split into two batches as well. Both with a deadline on November 15, 2017. Again, the first batch will gather bids for up to 60 MW in capacity with 10 MW max capacity per project. The second batch will tender up to 10 MW with a 1 MW cap per project.

More information about the tender can be obtained via e-mail to ipper.autorisation@energy-mines.gov.tn .

A couple of months ago, Reuters reported that Algeria as per its Minister of Energy will invite bids to build three solar power plants.

It plans indeed to invite bids for the construction of three photo-voltaic solar power plants with a total capacity of about 4,000 MW.  The bids have yet to be made public; knowing that a new government has just been sworn into office and that any action would presumably take longer than first planned.  The former government said in a statement days before its unpredicted departure that the ministry would issue tenders for the three projects, without giving a specific timeline.

The three plants would help meet Algeria’s domestic demand for power and allow for exports of power to neighbouring countries, a source at the Energy Ministry told Reuters.

Several financial institutions, including the French Agency for Development and the African Bank for Development, have shown interest in funding the project, according to the Energy Ministry, calling it a “multi-billion dollar” project.

Sonatrach, Algeria’s giant state oil and gas firm, would fund about 50 percent of the cost of the three plants, a Sonatrach official said.

Last year, Italy’s ENI signed a deal with SONATRACH to develop renewable projects in Algeria.

U.S. firm General Electric had also shown interest in the solar plants with planned capacity of 4,000 MW, the Energy Ministry sources said.

Hit by a crash in revenues due to lower global oil prices, Algeria has been doubling efforts to increase gas exports after several years of stagnant production. Several new gas fields have come on stream in the past year.

According to Clean Technica, Algeria has set a long-term target to have 13,500 megawatts of solar PV power capacity by 2030. Thus, additional solar power tenders can be expected in the future. The North African country also plans to set up 5,000 megawatts of wind energy and 2,000 megawatts of concentrated solar power capacity by 2030.

Meanwhile, Dutch trains now run entirely on renewable energy these last days whilst Germany broke renewables record with coal and nuclear power responsible for only 15% of its total energy requirements.  And a plan to power Europe via massive solar arrays in the North African desert is more than a mirage but less than a reality reported by Lisa Friedman, ClimateWire on June 20, 2011 on Scientific American .