GulfNews Business

GulfNews Business

US fines Boeing $6.6m over regulatory lapses

Aviation|: Washington: The US aviation oversight agency announced Thursday it fined Boeing a total of $6.6 million (Dh24.24 million), for a series of lapses in the manufacturer’s regulatory and safety obligations. Most of the penalties were imposed for failing to live up to a 2015 deal to “improve and prioritize regulatory compliance.” “Boeing failed to meet all of its obligations under the settlement agreement,” Federal Aviation Administration head Steve Dickson said. “I have reiterated to Boeing’s leadership time and again that the company must prioritize safety and regulatory compliance, and that the FAA will always put safety first in all its decisions,” Dickson said in the statement. Though the amount was small for the global aerospace giant, it was the latest in a steady stream of negative news about Boeing, after its two deadly crashes of the 737 MAX — which has only just returned to the skies — and a recent scare involving a 777, although that was attributed to the Pratt & Whitney engine. Of the total fines, $5.4 million stem from deferred penalties under the terms of the 2015 agreement because Boeing missed some of its improvement targets, and because some company managers did not sufficiently prioritize compliance with FAA regulations, the regulator said. Boeing previously paid $12 million in civil penalties in that case. The company also will pay $1.21 million to settle two enforcement cases in which management “exerted undue pressure or interfered with” an internal quality-control, including “in relation to an aircraft airworthiness inspection,” the FAA said. Boeing said in a statement: “We are strengthening our work processes and operations to ensure we hold ourselves accountable to the highest standards of safety and quality.” The FAA itself has been the subject of intense scrutiny, especially in its handling of the MAX certification in the wake of the tragic accidents that killed 346 people and led to the aircraft being grounded worldwide for 20 months. The FAA came in for fresh criticism over its handling of the MAX in a report released Wednesday night by the Transportation Department’s inspector general that found “weaknesses” in the certification process. The report also said FAA engineers “continue to face challenges in balancing certification and oversight responsibilities” in dealing with Boeing.

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Would you pay $125 to join them on Clubhouse, this elitist app?

Dubai: You probably heard about Clubhouse and feel like you’ve been left out of the club. If you haven't yet, well, it’s the latest social networking craze in town. The platform has an air of elitism: Clubhouse is an invitation-only audio-chat. And it’s currently available only on iPhones. It’s less than a year old. But clubhouse’s unique proposition of audio-only social networking has sent people scampering for invitations. Some adjectives used by users to describe it: “Fascinating”, “incredible”, “mind-blowing”. The platform has been depicted as the “Netflix of talk”, or the “Zoom of podcasts”. The app is barely one year old (launched in April 2020). But its popularity has gone through the roof in the last few months. Here's what we know so far: What’s all the big buzz about Clubhouse? Who are the founders? Paul Davison and Rohan Seth. The legal entity behind Clubhouse is Alpha Exploration Co. SPC LLC, based in Oakland, California. Rohan Seth (left) and Paul Davison, co-founders of Clubhouse. Image Credit: Screengrab Can I download it? Yes. However, it’s only available on iOS at the moment (iPhones). Anyone who has the ability to download the app can go into the App Store and download Clubhouse. How do I get access to the app? As of the moment, it’s only an invite-only social media platform. It means that to access the app, you should be invited by someone who is already on there. To actually access the features of the app, you must receive a Clubhouse invite from somebody already on there. Should I download Clubhouse even if I don’t have an invite? It’s strongly recommended that you do, because even you don’t get an invite, you can already download the app and reserve your username (these days, usernames have become precious real estate on the social media platforms) Why is it still an invite-only app? According to media reports, Clubhouse owners still don’t have the infrastructure in place to currently support a public release that would potentially lead to millions of people following the the platform. That’s why they’re keeping it by-invitation only, slowly spreading the word organically to different communities. So clearly, the invite-only strategy is working. What makes it unique? It’s quite unlike any other social media — it is entirely audio-based. So, as an audio-only social media platform, there are no pictures, and no videos either. It is entirely audio-based. Meaning that you can communicate with people one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-one. You can either talk to or listen to people on the platform. How is it different from Facebook, Twitter or Zoom? It is a social networking platform that’s unlike anyone has done before. It’s a bit like Zoom, in terms of permissions. The person who sent the invite (created the room) would give the guests the permission to speak. But people in the room can say whatever they want. But unlike Zoom, it is audio only. Upside: you don’t have to look your Sunday best on the screen for the meeting. You can jump in, or leave, anytime. But unlike Twitter or Facebook, Clubhouse is not moderated. A surprise chat between tech billionaire Elon Musk and Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev on Clubhouse propel the app to the top of the startup charts and sparked a scramble for invitations to the exclusive, by-invitation-only service. Image Credit: Reuters If it's just audio-only app, why is every going gaga over it? Celebrities and high-profile venture capitalists started promoting it in May, when Clubhouse was still in beta (test stage). That’s how it started grabbing increasing attention. As mentioned earlier, the app requires an invite in order to join. Public figures on Clubhouse include Ai Weiwei, Lindsay Lohan and Roger Stone. Robinhood founder Vlad Tenev is also on it. And so are Arab stars like Mona Kattan, Saudi women’s wear designer Awra Al Banawi, Lebanese actress Razane Jammal, lifestyle influencer Lana El-Sagely. With Clubhouse, think of a live podcast where anyone can participate in — even as everyone else uses other apps simultaneously. Clubhouse feeds the desire to be heard, without the need to be seen. There’s no fear of drawing the ire of others for leaving your camera off (no camera is involved in Clubhouse). While platforms like Zoom and Tiktok have dominated our locked down world, Clubhouse is seen just as an added layer, which many social media savvy people don’t want to miss out on. Specifically, what’s the experience like? Just imagine an audio-only platform. Clubhouse has been described as a number of many things : Clubhouse has been described as a number of many things: ■ Part-talkback radio ■ Part-Conference call ■ Part-Houseparty. ■ Audio-chat allows users to listen to conversations and discussions – and speak too. ■ It’s almost like tuning in to a live podcast. So, isn’t it like a podcast? It depends on your podcast preferences. Also, all the people are talking on their iPhones. They don't see each other, so it’s like listening on a phone call. Why is Elon Musk on Clubhouse? It’s his right. And, like everybody else on the app, he probably got invited by someone else, who had been invited earlier by another, and so on. Early this month, it was reported that Elon's banter with Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev over the short-squeeze on the trading app has triggered a stampede for Clubhouse app. It was initially limited to a small community, mainly consisting of venture capitalists. ■ On February 1, 2021, it was in the news when Tesla founder Elon Musk hosted an audio-chat on Clubhouse with Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev. The event maxed out the app conversation room limits and was live-streamed to YouTube. This took Clubhouse to the top of the startup charts and sparked a scramble for invitations. ■ On February 14, 20201, Clubhouse was in the news again when Musk sent this Tweet out, apparently directed to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Until then, Clubhouse was an outlier app, obscure and unknown to many. Some call it the “Elon Effect”, which also happened to Bitcoin. Is it true the Clubhouse invitations are now for sale? The the rate vary widely, we found one e-Bay ad entry whcih offers Clubhouse invite from $125. Another one goes for for $15, and still another for $19.99. The add states: “Clubhouse Invite READY to be texted to you App Invitation (GUARANTEED). Invite texted to you - please include your phone number in notes at payment.” [Disclaimer: We cannot guarantee the authenticity of these offers.] How much money does clubhouse make? Zero. Zilch. Nada. (For now) It still doesn’t have an Android app (*as you read this on February 25, 2021) It’s still an invite-only iOS app. What's the force behind its flourishing? Most people around the world still endure lockdowns, where relationships are lived in a virtual world. In that world, apps like Zoom and Tiktok have flourished. Now, it’s Clubhouse’s turn. Ppeople continue to search for ways to connect while remaining isolated from one another. There are several factors that help boost its massive popularity: Good timing with the launch amid a pandemic Ability to meet 5,000+ people, socially distanced, but talking about a specific topic Invite-only format (which has drawn Silicon Valley insiders), who treated the app like a “safe space" to speak to their followers. Growth strategies deployed by start-up founders to drive downloads and hook users Good timing with the launch amid a pandemic (ability to meet 5,000+ people, socially distanced, but talking about a specific topic). “It’s either dead by July (2020) or it’s something big.” Josh Felser, co-founder of venture firm Freestyle and an early Clubhouse user in May 2020 In May 2020, when it had only 1,500 users, the app was valued at nearly $100 million. On January 21, 2021, it had 2 million users, with a market valuation estimated at $1 billion. Can I join? Only if you are invited. You can’t just download the app (available only on the Apple store at present) and create an account. You have to be invited by an existing member. Existing users only have two invites available at first. What do I do when I join? ■ You can select topics of interest so that the app will recommend conversation “rooms” or individuals you may want to follow. Once in, it is like a conference call with some people on the call talking, and most listening in. ■ Once the conversation is over, the room is closed and the live audio-chats disappear. How many users does it have? At the beginning of the February, Clubhouse had 2 million users. It is now valued at $1 billion, and is considered a “Unicorn” startup — like AirBnb, Uber and SpaceX. 5,000 number of people who can simultaneously join a Clubhouse chat room, which can then also be livestreamed on Youtube How many people can be in a conversation? The current limit is 5,000 people per Clubhouse room. What’s unique, however, is that users in a room can live-stream on YouTube as was done during the Musk interview. Is there an Android equivalent for this? Not yet. But it is reportedly being worked on. Is anyone else planning to compete with Clubhouse? Facebook is building an audio chat product similar to Clubhouse, New York Times reported, quoting people with knowledge of the matter. What's  next for Clubhouse? It remains to be seen. There's talk about other possibilities: Members of parliament holding a session/debate on important legislation. Live classes. Live concerts. Live events. Small community meetings. Corporate board meetings. Possibly with millions of people listening in via a Youtube link. Would you pay to be on Clubhouse?

GulfNews Business

Volvo and Geely call off merger

China's Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. and its Swedish affiliate Volvo Cars will collaborate more closely on electric and self-driving vehicles while putting off earlier plans to merge. The manufacturers will preserve their separate corporate structures while cooperating more closely on powertrains, electrification and autonomous-driving technology, according to a joint statement. While they'll no longer pursue a combination as announced in February of last year, new listings could be on the table. "The deeper collaboration will enable existing stakeholders and potential new investors in Volvo Cars and Geely Auto to value their respective standalone strategies, performance, financial exposure and returns,” the companies said Wednesday. "We will also have the opportunity to explore capital market options." Billionaire Li Shufu has been forging ties with a vast array of companies as Geely pushes to stay abreast of the two great shifts hitting the industry: electrification and automation. In less than a month earlier this year, Geely agreed to collaboration pacts with search-engine heavyweight Baidu Inc., Apple Inc.'s Taiwanese manufacturing partner Foxconn Technology Group and Tencent Holdings Ltd. Li has long championed partnerships and consolidation as ways for automakers to pool resources for costly initiatives including self-driving cars. In the course of building a global carmaking empire over three decades, he's become Daimler AG's largest shareholder and snapped up Volvo in 2010. He's also amassed stakes in European legacy brands such as Lotus as well as Malaysia's Proton. Earlier this week, Geely announced it plans to set up a new unit for smart-car development. Volvo sounded out investors about a potential listing in 2018, but early feedback indicated a lower-than-expected valuation and the company tabled the idea.

GulfNews Business

9 top immigration and citizenship by investment consultants in the UAE

Business|: Bayat Legal Services . Image Credit: Supplied Key services Business immigration and economic citizenship specialists, the Bayat Group offers meaningful advice and benefits to businesspersons on complex immigration and citizenship laws and process applications for citizenship, residency and migration. Registration and accreditation Member of the Canadian Bar Association Key programmes Process applications for citizenship for the Caribbean nations, including Antigua & Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica, St Lucia, and St Kitts & Nevis and more, Malta, Turkey and Cyprus. It also processes applications for residency to Portugal, Greece, Bulgaria and Spain and migration to Canada, Australia, the UK and US. Contact details 04 355 4646 Bayatgroup.com Y-Axis . Image Credit: Supplied Key services Immigration representation for permanent residency, business visas, tourist and visit visas, telephone consultations, rejected visa applications, administrative appeals tribunal assistance, free counselling Years of service 21 years Specialisation Immigration, visas, career counselling Registration and accreditation IELTS testing venue with the British Council British Council IELTS registration centre Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) Member of Migration Institutes of Australia (MIA) Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) Powered By Salesforce.com; 3CX Contact details 04 248 3900; Y-axis.ae WWICS . Image Credit: Supplied Key services WWICS offers comprehensive services in the area of skilled, student, business immigration along with residency/citizenship by investment programmes. Registration and accreditation WWICS is a global, fully-licensed legal firm with an expert panel that comprises ICCRC members, MARA agents, immigration practitioners,financial advisory and investment consulting entities. Key programmes Residency/citizenship by investment programmes, permanent residency visa, business investment immigration, study visa, tourist visa and work permit Contact details 04 4434247; Wwicsgroup.com 111 Immigration . Image Credit: Supplied Key services Citizenship, residence, and immigration by investment Registration and accreditation 111 Immigration is specialised law firm, which is well recognized by several governments and officials. Key programmes Any programme related to citizenship, residence and immigration by investment laws is its specialty. Contact details  04 3851115; 111immigration.com Guide Consultants . Image Credit: Supplied Key services Consultancy and marketing services for clients pursuing citizenship and residency by investment through national CBI programmes. Registration and accreditation Guide is a licensed and authorised agent in all five Caribbean nations: Grenada, St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, The Commonwealth of Dominica, and Saint Kitts and Nevis Key programmes Citizenship and Residency by Investment Programmes Contact details 04 385 8850; Guideconsultants.com Step Global . Image Credit: Supplied Key Services Step Global specialises in US and Canadian immigration with a focus on investment and entrepreneur programmes. Registration and Accreditation Step Global is registered as a Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC) company. Its Managing Director, Preeya Malik, is a US-licensed lawyer with a Canadian background. Key Programmes US EB-5 Immigrant Investor Programme US L-1 Visa US E-2 Investor Visa Canada Immigrant Investor Programme Canada Provincial Entrepreneur Programme Quebec Immigrant Investor Programme Contact Details 04 770 7825 Stepglobalgroup.com Al Kherdaji Intenational Legal Consultants . Image Credit: Supplied Key services Investment-related legal services, economic migration, private wealth legal counseling, and business immigration Registration and accreditation Licensed legal services providers by RAK International Corporate Centre (RAKICC), accredited legal consultants by several international organisations and arbitration centers, and recognised economic migration legal consultants by many countries’ Citizenship by Investment units. Key programmes Citizenship by Investment: Saint Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, Vanuatu, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Montenegro, Malta and Turke Residency by Investment: Malta, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Ireland Business immigration: USA, UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, South East Asian countries Contact details 050 5751948; Ailc.legal; Chamconsultingltd.com Vazir Group . Image Credit: Supplied Key services Faster timeframes to process applications; exclusive, unique and personalised programmes in GCC; financial support; dedicated customer manager, and end to end services Registration and accreditation Vazir Group is a registered and accredited UAE immigration consultant Key programmes Canada: Entrepreneur Permanent Residency, Owner Operator, Provincial Immigration, Boosting Point, Foreign Worker programme — work permit, Foreign Work Permit programme (i.t.), Nurse/Caregiver Direct PR, Nurse/Caregiver Work Permit, Truck Driver Work Permit, Skilled Worker programme, and Fast-track programme The Caribbean: Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica Greece: Golden Visa Programme Turkey: Citizenship by Investment Program Greece + Turkey: Turkish passport and Greece Golden Visa programme Portugal: Golden Visa Programme Contact details  04 243 8581, Vazirgroup.com Cosmos Immigration . Image Credit: Supplied Key services Immigration advice, appeal for refused visa, business planning and forecasting layout, visa application, education assessment for Canada and USA, Skill assessment for Australia, and licensing support for professional occupations specifically healthcare and engineering sectors. Registration and accreditation Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), Migration Agents Registration Authority in Australia (MARA), Immigration Advisers Authority in New Zealand (IAA), and a proud partners of IDP – Global for IELTS Achievements Cosmos has the maximum visa success ratio, 100 per cent accuracy in documentation for visa application, and 100 per cent successful outcome for student visa application Key programmes Permanent residency, study permit, business immigrant visa, investment programme, visit visa, Canada Super visa, self-employed visa, start-up visa, spouse/dependent visa,and returning resident visa. Contact details 04 357 7796 Cosmosimmigration.com

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Pandemic spurs demand for global migration

Business|: The era of Covid-19 upended life as we know it, with no sector left unaltered. In the case of immigration, the pandemic gave people all over the world the opportunity to pause for a while and analyse their lives — and in many cases this led to wanting a better life overseas in a safe country with benefits such as free healthcare and education. One interesting side effect of the health crisis has been that countries have had the chance to shine — or not — in the eyes of a particularly engaged global audience. Three of the biggest winners were Australia, New Zealand and Canada, who all showed great care for their citizens while managing to incur only minimal impact to everyday life. For New Zealand, migration has long been the chief driver for the population of the isolated island nation, which increased by half a million people in the past six years alone. The country’s profile received a massive boost last year as it drew global praise for its handling of Covid-19, which resulted in a very low death rate. But it is Canada that remains arguably the most popular migrant destination for expats living in the Middle East, says Sara Alam, Service Manager, Cosmos Immigration. Canada is the top destination for young students who are seeking affordable and safe education. Sara Alam, Service Manager, Cosmos Immigration “Each year thousands choose Canada as a dream country to seek citizenship,” she says. “It is also the top destination for young students who are seeking affordable and safe education.” Alam, however, cautions that students who are currently preparing to apply for a Canadian study visa should consider policy changes due to travel restrictions. Right now, travellers arriving to Canada by air – aside from a few exceptions – are required to take a Covid-19 molecular test prior to exiting the airport, and another test towards the end of their 14-day quarantine period at their own cost. They will also be required to reserve, prior to their departure for Canada, a three-night stay at a government authorised hotel at their own cost while they await the results of their test. Yet, despite the pandemic, Canada is on track to shatter its Express Entry record. The Canadian government has taken a welcoming approach towards immigrants during these challenging times, which is a positive sign for skilled professionals considering relocation options, says Alam. It is essential to be well informed and consult with someone who listens to you and advises correctly based on your current circumstances and future goals – not just someone who urges you to choose the supposedly easier option. Karun Luthra, Migration Consultant, Vazir Group On the other hand, Australia has designed its migration plans to achieve a range of economic and social outcomes – mainly to fill skill shortages in the labour market. Karun Luthra, Migration Consultant at Vazir Group, urges those seeking greener pastures in another land to conduct proper research and approach experts for advice before even starting the application process for another country. “It is essential to be well informed and consult with someone who listens to you and advises correctly based on your current circumstances and future goals – not just someone who urges you to choose the supposedly easier option.”

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Helping bring Kosher certification to the UAE

Business|: STAR-K Kosher Certification, a not-for-profit agency, is one of the most trusted kosher certification organizations in the world. With offices throughout the US, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, India, Israel, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and now in the UAE, STAR-K certifies plants in about 100 countries. The agency is internationally renowned for its extensive research on the complexities of food science and modern technology, as they apply to the laws of kosher, putting it on the cutting edge of the ever-growing multi-billion-dollar kosher food industry. It is also one of the foremost experts in the field of kosher pharmaceuticals, nutritional supplements, and medications. Dr Avrom Pollak, has been the President of STAR-K for over 30 years. He commented on the new found UAE interest in Kosher. "STAR-K Kosher Certification has provided kosher supervision for over fifty years,"he Said. "Over the years, we have gained the reputation of providing prompt friendly service with the help of our team of experts including technical staff, a network of rabbinic Kashrus administrators, food scientists and field supervisors. It is important, especially now, in light of the Israel-UAE peace agreement, to make entities in the food industry aware of the value of kosher-certified products not only for the Jewish community here, but also for anyone looking for healthy and halal-compliant options." Since the Abraham Accords were signed between the UAE and Israel in September, the government and local businesses in the UAE have worked to make the country more accessible to Jewish visitors and residents with approvals and preparations for the building of more synagogues in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, among other actions. Tens of thousands of Israelis have already visited the country since the agreement was signed. Star-K has attended Gulfood since 2014 and is honored to be part of the official educational rollout to help Industry in the U.A.E. achieve high level, international Kosher certification. During the Gulf good Innovation Summit February 23, 2021, we interviewed the Star-K Kosher ambassador in Dubai, Mr. Amin Kazi also popularly known as AK said Star-K is registered with the Dubai Municipality Food Watch & EMSA. In addition DP World, Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with STAR-K Kosher Certification to educate its partners in the food and agricultural commodities sector about kosher certification, aiding them to get certified as kosher. According to Elli Kriel, Founder, Ellie’s Kosher Kitchen, which is certified by Star-K said that she has been doing this for the past 2 years on account of a personal requirement to maintain the kosher in the UAE. She now has two complaint kitchens - one in Dubai and another in Abu Dhabi. "This need came when people heard that there was a kosher provider and people started reaching out to me for kosher foods. This also developed into a service and I was providing to the community and other people around the UAE and those who were travelling in. I have to give credit to Star-K for giving me the international platform and launching me internationally at New Jersey,” she added. Rabbi Joel Weinberger, Regional Director, Star - K, spoke about the growing Kosher Sector of the UAE Food Industry, mainly on account of the fact that there are diverse nationalities in the UAE. “I have been attending Gulf Food for over 7 years. I am privileged to see from the beginning what is happening here in Dubai as far as the kosher is concerned our business is primarily focussed on the factory side of the equation ie the end products. Things like baklava, dates and many other products are made here. We look forward to developing here in the UAE and in the greater Gulf areas similar businesses that we have done in India. We are differentiating that kosher is done on many levels,” he pointed out.

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Gulfood 2021: Italian food brands hit on Plan B to win back UAE base after COVID-19

Retail|: Dubai: Italian food brands and exporters are working on a Plan B – get their niche offerings into UAE’s supermarkets. Or get the truffles, cheese and specialty foods on online platforms. They will need to because the UAE’s fine dining restaurants have been cutting down on their orders from Italy, or worse look at other options, after COVID-19 played havoc with supplies. Plus, there weren’t that many turning up at these high-end restaurants. “Restaurants had been one of the biggest channels of promotion for Italian products because their chefs are the amplifiers of the cuisine,” said Dr Amedeo Scarpa, Italian Trade Commissioner to the UAE. “But these days, we notice many supermarkets are increasing their space for premium products...this is where we want to be.” Italian Ravioli Image Credit: Supplied Reinventing Supermarket operators are reinventing themselves, going big on fresh and, in many cases, creating choices for the more exotic foodstuffs on top of the generic ones. It’s the same whether at your nearest Waitrose store or home-grown supermarket chain. This is where a shipped from Italy can be such a draw with shoppers. The trade commissioner’s goal is to improve the chances of having more Italian-made products in the UAE, whether as a ‘private label’ or ‘Italian’. “What we do is produce everything the Italian way - Italian processes, Italian certifications but the label would be the private supermarket label,” Scarpa said. “Or there’s the option for supermarkets to opt for the Italian label, which would then come from the producer/supplier.” The Italian Trade Agency is currently facilitating the majority of supply to Spinneys and the Waitrose locations it operates in the UAE. “So, if supermarkets prefer to show their private label, we can do it,” he added “And if they want to show the Italian label, we can do it.” As long as the products show, Italian farmers and exporters’ interests get a boost. The Italian Trade Agency also have an eye on Lulu yypermarket. “Although the demographic is more of a South Asian customer base, who tend to also prefer eating their own cuisine, we still try and stock the shelves of their more western expat dwelling locations,” Dr. Scarpa said. All that was needed was sprinkle salt and get it done on the net. For Nusr-Et, it meant having his own label. Image Credit: Supplied Salt bae in your kitchen An internet-created sensation, Nusr-Et is known for sprinkling salt over medium-rare steaks. “Nusr-Et currently owns restaurants in 12 countries right now,” said Burcin Ozdaryal, Director of Chef Seasons, a gourmet sauce and seasonings company based in Turkey. “We approached him and said that we are the most experienced company to package and market his salt, spices and rubs.” As a result, Chef Seasons can reach a much wider fan base with Salt-Bae products. “We spent six months creating this range for him. We started with flavoured salt seasonings. “With time, we are going to expand the line with steak marinades, steak sauces, seasonings. We are trying to penetrate the supermarkets in Dubai. “The goal is to get into the major retailers - the Carrefours the Lulus, the Spinneys.” Chef Seasons is currently the global supplier of Dominos Pizza, Little Caesars Pizza, Subway, Starbucks and other multinational restaurant chains. With Nusr-Et - who has 52 million followers on Instagram - it will most likely be an easy feat getting his products on shelves. Gourmet retail Valrhona, the French premium chocolate manufacturer has, for the longest time, been a major supplier to. These days leading pastry chefs rely on the artisan quality chocolate brand for their creations. “If you ever see chocolate cake or a fondant on the menu, it is most likely Valrhona chocolate,” said Zeyneb Larabi, a spokesperson for the brand. “And if it isn’t, it will be most likely be Belgian chocolate.” The French chocolate brand has been regularly hosting workshops for pastry chefs, who are loyal to the Valrhona brand, on how to improve their techniques, discover new products and recipes. “A huge portion of what we do is supply to restaurants, train chefs on how to properly utilise our products in their creations and continue to innovate with new flavours. The other portion of what we do is focus on retail.” Some specialty labels prefer going with the premium channels, such as Jones the Grocer or Les Gastronomes. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM Valrhona’s retail venues are certainly more on the premium side. A 1 kilo of chocolate is priced at approximately Dh90, while the average bar of chocolate starts from Dh20. They still only sell their products in higher-end gourmet markets like Jones the Grocer or Les Gastronomes. “We don’t have a plan to supply to regular supermarkets. We sell at gourmet markets or online,” Larabi explained. During Gulfood, Valrhona launched a new vegan chocolate, Amatika 46 per cent, which the company considers a milestone. “This is the first time in the history that a Vegan Grand cru was created with single Madagascar origins,” Larabi said.

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UAE’s Foreign Exchange and Remittance Group announces new office bearers

Business|: The Foreign Exchange and Remittance Group (FERG), a non-profit organization comprising of companies engaged in the business of money exchange and remittances in the UAE, announced its new office bearers that were selected by committee members during the group’s first committee meeting of the year held at the Pullman Dubai Downtown on Sunday. Adeeb Ahamed, Vice-Chairman, FERG Image Credit: Supplied The newly elected office bearers are as follows: Chairman: Mr. Mohamed Ali Al Ansari Vice chairman: Mr. Adeeb Ahamed Secretary: Mr. Rajiv Raipancholia Treasurer: Mr. Antony Jos Joint treasurer: Mr. Imad Ul Malik Advisory board member: Mr. Osama Al Rahma Rajiv Raipancholia, Secretary, FERG Image Credit: Supplied FERG’s committee members was elected in November 2020 and announced during the Annual General Meeting (AGM). The committee members include Al Ansari Exchange, Al Fardan Exchange, Al Ghurair Exchange, Al Razouki International Exchange, Al Rostamani International Exchange, Joy Alukkas Exchange, Index Exchange, LuLu International Exchange, Orient Exchange, Redha Al Ansari Exchange and Wallstreet Exchange. Antony Jose, Treasurer, FERG Image Credit: Supplied The newly elected committee members will play a key role in liaising with regulators and law enforcements on behalf of FERG members. They will also contribute to the growth and expansion of the Group along with the foreign exchange and remittance industry in the UAE. Imad Ul Malik, Joint Treasurer, FERG Image Credit: Supplied FERG has frequently taken up concerns and recommendations that have led to favourable policy amendments by various authorities in the UAE. FERG’s role in working alongside its members and the authorities were instrumental in gaining government approvals and allowing exchange houses to continue its business during the COVID-19 lockdown last year. Osama Al Rahma, Advisory Board Member, FERG Image Credit: Supplied As the representative of exchange houses in the UAE, FERG has also continuously worked to enhance learning and development initiatives to maintain the highest standards of security and compliance in the industry, which has in turn helped deter money laundering and other dubious financial transactions. The Group has carefully designed training modules, to train staff of member organisations at different levels across departments to better equip them to safeguard the interests of customers and other stakeholders.

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Businesses must continue to place tech at centre of post-COVID-19 revival

Analysis|: Is the new normal still new? I don’t think so. Even though there are still lockdowns in several countries, these are also no longer ‘new’ restrictions. It is tried, tested and one of the most effective ways to reduce spread of COVID-19. What’s new is the technology that is invented and upgraded in times of crisis, and not just utilizing the already available solutions that might not be as effective as the ones introduced specially to meet current and evolving requirements. The pandemic has given an opportunity to businesses to innovate since consumers are apprehensive, and reluctant to make shopping trips and return to office buildings. Consumer behaviors towards purchases have changed to not only placing online orders and preferring digital payments, but also towards the technology used by retailers to store products. Attention to detail As per the recent Emerson survey, 80 per cent of respondents in the UAE are paying high attention to whether the fresh food is properly kept at safe temperatures during transportation and storage, which has indeed pressured retailers to adapt to changing consumption patterns. This has given an opportunity to technology providers to introduce connected technologies that assist in the supply of fresh food and build trust for retailers in the long run. The recent surveys have also shown that 60 per cent of shoppers are afraid of grocery shopping, with 73 per cent making fewer trips to physical stores. Returning to office is also causing unease among some people, as 66 per cent report feeling uncomfortable after the outbreak. However, it is important for the government to open up the economy and get businesses back on track to avoid any impact on their sustainability. No other way Within a few weeks of lockdowns, small, medium and large enterprises started noticing the impact of slowdown on their business. To escape these circumstances, offices have to open up while adhering to the highest safety standards and ensuring all rules are followed. One big advantage we have is the adequate technological resources. The optimum use of new technologies is necessary, as well as updates to sanitation protocols and interior architecture to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Smart security technologies have been, and will continue to play an essential role in helping organizations minimize the spread, while ensuring business continuity. Companies started responding by developing technologies, such as our automated production lines for making protective face masks. Think smart All new health regulations can be taken into consideration by equipping video security cameras, which can detect elevated skin temperatures with AI-driven image analysis capabilities to the existing security and IoT infrastructure itself. In difficult times, innovations like the video analytics algorithms become an important asset as open security camera platforms promise new opportunities. Businesses can easily add functionalities to their video security cameras by securely installing apps that meet varying needs. The flexibility to go beyond their basic functionality, gives business customers a quick and simple way to customize security solutions. This can help organizations detect whether or not an individual is wearing a face mask or other personal protective equipment (PPE) through facial detection algorithms, which also helps with contact tracing due to the access control combined with video analytics and rich metadata. Cost savings The use of technologies like these even helps in reducing costs; in turn organizations can make efficient use of available resources for other aspects. An open security camera platform has emerged to be one of the most important part of the smart city IoT solutions. Overall, open camera platforms help the world imagine a future where saving lives, ensuring business continuity, and initiating new business opportunities will arrive simply from a software update. We all know that the future is online. And we have come a long way in the last decade, but this is just the beginning. COVID-19 has given businesses an opportunity to innovate and efficiently and effectively develop and implement low-cost IoT solutions for business continuity. Technological benefits should always be towards keeping people safe, minimizing contact, increasing efficiency, reducing costs, and ensuring highest security of the consumers using strong encryption and certificates on the device - and in the cloud.  With the UAE being listed amongst the top 10 countries in the global COVID-19 safety rankings just after three months of the World Health Organization declaring it a pandemic, it goes on to prove technologies like these are already put to use for quite some time now. Do you still think we are living a new normal? We are rapidly evolving; and this time, technology has proven to be of great help to our frontline workers and will positively support us overcome these difficult circumstances. Per Johansson, General Manager, Robert Bosch Middle East Image Credit: Supplied - Per Johansson is General Manager at Robert Bosch Middle East.

GulfNews Business

Air Arabia, India's SpiceJet could add more routes from Ras Al Khaimah

Aviation|: Dubai: There will be more flights and routes operated by budget airline Air Arabia and India’s SpiceJet from Ras Al Khaimah International. The airport, which resumed taking in flights in October last, is banking on such deals to boost connectivity as the emirate attempts to position itself as a major tourist hub within the UAE. Currently, SpiceJet passengers travelling from RAK International to Delhi can fly to multiple destinations through the carrier’s domestic service, including Bengaluru, Chennai, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Kannur and Kozhikode. The low-cost carrier also operates direct flights between UAE and seven Indian cities. And there could be even more. “We expect even more Indian destinations to be added to SpiceJet’s direct service from Ras Al Khaimah within the coming months and years,” said Sanjay Khanna, CEO of RAK International Airport. Air Arabia, another major carrier operating from RAK, is planning to add more destinations from there, said Khanna. “With these additions from the various carriers, we fully anticipate reaching our pre-COVID-19 level passenger throughput by the end of 2021,” he added. Read More Returning residents can soon arrive at this UAE airport without prior approval Bahrain's Gulf Air could soon launch flights to Ras Al Khaimah Airport India factor RAK Airport’s tilt towards India is not all that hard to explain. The country is one of UAE’s largest aviation markets and even against the backdrop of the pandemic, more than 4 million passengers flew from Dubai to Indian cities in 2020. “At present, India represents our largest market for travellers and RAK Airport aims to enhance the links between nearly 3.5 million Indian nationals living in the UAE,” said Khanna. SpiceJet deal In 2019, RAK Airport signed an agreement with India’s SpiceJet that established the emirate as a regional hub for the airline. “Our relationship grew through a joint initiative that saw us working together to repatriate workers and travellers from across the UAE at the height of the pandemic,” said Khanna. “These humanitarian flights showed us the potential for a stronger commercial partnership.” Demand pattern “RAK Airport is progressively returning to pre-COVID-19 levels of activity, although this could change at any moment,” said Khanna. “The coronavirus situation remains dynamic and difficult to predict, with reports of new strains creating uncertainty about the need for tighter restrictions.” Although it is not easy to make any predictions regarding passenger numbers, there seems to be enough demand to go ahead with expansion plans, said the airport head. “Demand is definitely there at the present - and it is this that encouraged us to establish our partnerships with Air Arabia, SpiceJet, Gulf Air, Scat Airlines and charter operators at the close of last year,” said Khanna. RAK International Airport is progressively returning to pre-COVID-19 levels of activity, although this could change at any moment Sanjay Khanna of RAK International Airport Tourism boost Khanna expects the upcoming Expo to result in a “significant uptick” in passenger numbers. “Ras Al Khaimah has an ambitious growth strategy based on diversification to include a greater focus on tourism,” said Khanna. “Economists have predicted a significant bounce as result of the pandemic finally drawing to a close. We envisage a huge array of opportunities as the travel sector opens up again.”

GulfNews Business

UAE businesses can no longer get by thinking short-term options

Retail|Analysis|: One is constantly impressed with the long-term approach of the leaders of the Emirates. In 2010, Vision 2021 was released and now we are looking at the UAE Centennial 2071 Vision. The country always looks far ahead... and strives to achieve these objectives. Contrast this with the way business is generally done here. One of its defining characteristics has always been short-termism. Whether retail or other businesses, the approach has always been to focus on what is happening now, this month, or the next. A plan for one year ahead was perhaps the limit to which people would look. This was a surprise to me when as a newbie here in the late 80’s, the boss’s would say, "I want a campaign and plan tomorrow for such and such a product...". Or "We have thousand pieces in the warehouse and they must be cleared in this month..." Read More Gulfood 2021: For UAE's food brands, online portals are next battleground after supermarket shelves Still stuck on knee-jerk One wondered why we did not work to sell these items over the six months when they were sitting in the stores? Even though many retailers have got organized, short-term - and knee-jerk - business practices seem to be par for the course for many. In the last 12 months of the pandemic, business perspectives have been compressed to the extreme. As one astute businessman analyzed, profit as an indicator of success went out of the window. And businesses were consumed with ensuring organizational survival. Suddenly, cash was critical and conserving it, or maintaining its inflow became the real task for managements. Staying afloat But now with a year of the downturn, most businesses have more or less faced the worst times. Many who could not manage it have already closed down... or are close to it. The agile and innovative, or those who had the financial muscle, seem to have navigated through the storm and are still afloat. Continuing with the ocean analogy, this does not mean that the tide has changed. However, it does seem the survivors have learnt how to swim and are able to see some land on the horizon. So what are some tips to consider? Speed will be key Maintain an agile posture. Be flexible and ready to change. Find opportunities which use your organizations strengths. For example, consider the wedding dress specialist who made a quick shift when the wedding market crashed to create a highly successful business in understated luxury clothes for middle-aged women. Plan your stocks carefully. This is a tricky one. Today, many companies err on the side of caution and ending up understocked for the little business that they have. At the same time, with the on-again, off-again markets due to the virus appearing and disappearing, many customers are still not comfortable visiting stores or restaurants. Or are being very sparing in their spending. So stocks have to be controlled and yet be available. No goods, no sale. Go careful on promotions Do not depend on promotions. For many retailers, big promotional periods like the DSF and Chinese New Year came and went without much of a ripple. With over 160 official promotion days in the annual retail calendar, there is a high level of sale fatigue. Even big red windows do not have much pull for now. Planning your business, especially buying, based on promotions is extremely dangerous. If the promotion does not fly, unsold merchandise quickly accumulate in warehouses and creating its own set of pressures on the team and the cashflow. Profile build Increase your digital profile. Since many customers are not frequenting stores with the earlier intensity it is very easy for retailers to be out of sight and mind. For stores or brands that are joining the ecommerce bandwagon, the primary challenge is getting people to visit their online store or indeed, to even know of its existence. A consistent, well-thought out online marketing strategy reminds customers of your presence and products. And reassures loyal customers of your attention and care. So, your digital marketing needs to be innovative, clutter cutting, and the media spend carefully planned. On the face of it, digital marketing does not look expensive. However, if the ads are boring or me-too, and the media plan not well-crafted, the money disappears without a trace. You can also relook at traditional above the line tools, such as outdoor and radio. Many deals may be available for takers. Long haul Keep an eye on the long game. In the pressure to manage immediate challenges, do not forget the longer perspective. In current times, long-term could be as little as six months, or it could be more. As the situation develops be ready to pivot quickly, gearing up or down as the situation demands. Remember that long-term survival and success will greatly depend on your ability to hold on to your loyal customers. Find ways to appeal to them and their needs, keep them close to you and show them that you care. When the market begins to turn, you would want to build on the customer base that you have had all this time, rather than rebuild your numbers from a much lower level. - Ajai Kumar Dayal is a columnist on retail, ecommerce and marketing. He can be contacted on twitter @ajaitwit.

GulfNews Business

UAE's Jumbo Group rides COVID-19-created consumer wave to come up trumps

Dubai: If you thought all businesses in the UAE were only thinking doom-and-gloom during the pandemic months, you sure haven’t met Arvind Agrawal. “No, we did not hit the panic button,” said the CEO of Jumbo Group, one of the UAE’s legacy electronics retailer and wholesaler. “Unlike many other businesses that cut salaries, dramatically dropped people, shut down locations, we did not do any of that. What we did was take a measured approach. “We looked to the East, at China, to come to a reasonable conclusion on how the local and regional markets would react once the full weight of COVID-19 became apparent. Because the East was ahead of the curve with their lockdown and control measures, as well as how consumers reacted. “I have to say we forecast quite correctly. We continue to monitor these forecasts - and we certainly didn’t drop our buying.”Arvind Agrawal of Jumbo gives a lowdown on what worked during COVID-19 times... and what could be in store.Irish Eden R. Belleza/Gulf News Change turns favourable That did help… as the market and its consumers switched to work-from-home requirements. Electronics and tech retailers were among the first beneficiaries as demand spiked for smartphones, laptops and tablets, and networking equipment. It didn’t stop there… “There was Increased buying in many categories, and we recognised how the trend, was shaping up,” said Agrawal. “The lockdown phase created its own demand curve for small domestic appliances. It was as if everyone wanted to upgrade their home and kitchen appliances… and not just their tech needs. With no one going out, it made sense to pick up air fryers, coffee machines…. and even light vacuum cleaners. “We were never into home appliances in a big way – and so, we were picking up new distribution contracts with niche brands and bringing them to this market at the first opportunity. “Musical instruments - moms were happy to buy these to keep the kids engaged. It was another category that really took off.” Thinking outside of the box... Sure, there was demand for TVs and all things to do with tech gadgets. But 2020 and its special circumstances also set off unprecedented demand for specialty home appliances, and Jumbo cashed in on that. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive Been through it all The Jumbo Group is no stranger to market cycles – and in knowing how to emerge out of the downtimes. It was launched by Manu Chhabria, one of the sharpest minds in the UAE’s corporate world and who created quite a stir with some daring takeover moves that shook up India’s business world in the mid-1980s. (There are those who insist that a month watching Chhabria at work is worth a year’s class in business administration.) It’s been three years since Agrawal joined the company, which is still very much a family-driven enterprise after Chhabria’s death in April 2002. “We started on the group-wide digital transformation in the middle of 2019 – after COVID-19, we expedited that,” the CEO said. “We completely transformed our services business, meant for enterprise clients and consumers both. “So, when the market opened, we were really organised to take advantage of pent up demand.” Arvind Agrawal: "If you look at what happened during WFH, the first category to go up was mobile computing and print. After that networking and TV - people started investing in a second TV..." Image Credit: Antonin Kelian Kallouche/Gulf News Scaling the charts There was quite a lot of that, much in the same way that Chinese shoppers responded after the first easing of controls on movements and commercial activity. Through the second-half of last year, major promotions launched by UAE retailers – offline and online – did click, according to market feedback. Again, the gains were led by tech brands and appliances meant for home. 1974 - Jumbo became one of the first tech companies to start its retail and distribution business. 1975 - Launches Sony in the UAE through an exclusive partnership. 1980 - Iconic Jumbo House building is launched in Bur Dubai as group headquarters, which included the first large-format retail store. 2001 - Sets up an Enterprise Systems business to deliver ICT solutions and services to the corporate sector. 2005 - Opens the largest electronics store in UAE at Mall of the Emirates, covering 27,000 square feet. 2017 - Opens a franchise store at Dubai Mall for the fabled premium appliances brand Dyson. 2019 - Signs MoU with Dubai SME to strengthen 3DmManufacturing operations. Adding to portfolio This is where Jumbo’s plan to acquire new global brands – many of them niche and in the premium space – hit the sweet spots. “With distribution deals, we can add brands, we can add geographies,” said Agrawal. “The competition had cashflow issues. High-end brands that were with weak local groups were happy to come to us. This helped strengthen our portfolio significantly last year. “We spent strategizing during the lockdown period and five or six scenarios were painted out. But all through this time, we focussed on financial performance. We are a cash-rich company. “In retail, we were gaining market share. Our profitability from retail operations is significantly up – and it’s been up over the last three years. “Once the market opened up, we were the only tech retailer to announce curb-side pickup in April-May itself. We had express delivery within four hours.” Already there Jumbo has had an online presence for years… and it’s a point that Agrawal makes with quite some emphasis. “It’s absolutely wrong to think we got into online recently,” he says, with just a touch of exasperation. “Jumbo was the first to go online in the market – yes, that’s right. We launched online in 2001, and it was catering to the wholesale business. That’s way before anyone else, and well before Amazon got here. “Then, in 2015, Jumbo made a huge investment on online operations. I joined in 2017, and at that time, we significantly started investing. Even before the pandemic, we were doubling our online business year-on-year. “Some of the other retailers are copying us, even down to any spelling mistakes we have on our online site. Ecommerce was nearly 12 per cent of the business before the pandemic, which is healthy. Since COVID-19, it has become 16 per cent. That’s still significant.” After COVID-19 But will strategies that clicked in 2020 still have a shelf-life once COVID-19 uncertainties ebb? “Sure, we are not taking anything for granted. – but I don’t think it will ever go back to where it was in full,” said Agrawal. “Habits picked up from the work-from-home phase will continue. “As for Jumbo, everything is running in double-digits …”

GulfNews Business

Vazir Group offers solutions for all your immigration and second citizenship needs

Business|: Vazir Group specialises in assisting individual and family migration. With 11 current active programmes for Canada, divided in immigration by skills and immigration by investment, the company is recognised as the region’s leading immigration advisors for Canada. Immigration by skills is a process where you can immigrate based on your education level, wealth, connection with the country, language fluency, existing job offer, or others. “At Vazir Group, we offer various programmes based especially on your work skills and experience. We offer the perfect solutions for nurses, truck drivers, and food industry and IT professionals,” says Vrinda Gupta, Brand Custodian, Vazir Group. Just launched in 2021, Vazir’s Group Boosting Points Programme fits the needs of all candidates applying for the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points but missing some points to be elected. This programme is for all candidates, who have received a minimum of 428+ points in the CRS score, have at least a bachelor’s degree and the IELTS certification with a score of 7 or more. “When it comes to immigration by investment, we offer two different programmes for Canada: Entrepreneur PR and Owner Operator programme. Both are for the main applicant and their family and represent the prefect solution for immigrating anywhere in Canada with a secured business.” “No matter what programme you choose, Canada is known for its high standard of living combined with the quality of life, great educational and health systems, unemployment insurance, pension plans, child care benefits, no tax on global income, the right to reside, and the possibility for a Canadian passport. These are all excellent benefits for you and your family,” says Gupta. “Our team of experts is backed by years of experience that give you the most current and essential information you need to make an informed decision about the immigration process. We aim to provide a promising future to our clients in their desired location of immigration,” adds Gupta. If Canada is not your chosen country, Vazir Group also offers citizenship and residency for the Caribbean, Greece, Portugal, Malta and Turkey. There has never been a better time to act than now with Vazir Group.

GulfNews Business

A class apart

Business|: “We have set up a pro bono service to give back to the community” Sam Bayat, Founder and owner, Bayat Legal Services Is buying property for citizenship of good value? I have always promoted buying a property or a share as a good investment option since this can be sold in the future. Today, an applicant can find lots of secure and good value investments to obtain a residency or citizenship. Caribbean nations and Turkey are good markets to buy a property and apply for citizenship. Travel restrictions during the pandemic have pushed many people to re-evaluate their migration plans and now they want to start the process. Sam Bayat, Founder and owner, Bayat Legal Services Are there any new focus countries that investors are showing interest in to migrate since the outbreak of Covid-19? We have seen a big increase in enquires for all programmes — citizenship by investment (CBI), residency by investment (RBI) and migration. Travel restrictions during the pandemic have pushed many people to re-evaluate their migration plans and now they want to start the process. Canada, Australia and New Zealand are the most sought after destinations for expats living in this region, followed by the European Union’s passive residency programmes or the Golden Visa or RBI and second citizenships programmes. Could you share some details on Bayat Group’s pro bono service? With the intention to serve and truly give back to the community, we have set up a pro bono service to help individuals interested in migrating to Canada as a skilled worker. With prior reservation and subject to certain criteria, people can visit our office, utilise our infrastructure, and take support to fill up the forms and get any questions answered. What are the key benefits that clients get from Bayat Group’s citizenship and residency by investment programmes? While Bayat group represents some citizenship and residency by investment programmes as an official government agent or authorised promoter, we work for all the programmes, either directly or through our partners. Some of the key benefits in hiring us include detailed knowledge of the programmes; unmatched ability to offer advice and guiding a client to choose the right programme; ability to operate within the confines of the law in a creative, lateral and innovative manner in order to achieve the client’s objectives; and practical experience of three decades. “This is the right time to explore opportunities to immigrate” Clint Khan, Director, Y-Axis Covid-19 has created enormous uncertainties in the lives of people. Why do you think this is the time to explore opportunities for immigration? Every crisis is an opportunity, and the Covid-19 crisis is no exception. Lockdowns and travel restrictions imposed by nations across the world to control the spread of the virus saw an exodus of immigrant employees. Now, with the pandemic under control in many countries, they are looking to immigration to fuel post-pandemic economic recovery. There is a need for new skill sets with the rise of new industries. So, this is the right time to explore opportunities to immigrate. Countries like Canada have increased the number of invitations for immigration as compared to past years. We can help prospective immigrants understand the new rules and requirements and help them comply with them. Clint Khan, Director, Y-Axis How could you help people deal with the common challenges associated with migration during the pandemic? With countries imposing travel restrictions and changing immigration rules in order to cope with the pandemic, the immigration process can be daunting for those planning to move to other countries. We can help prospective immigrants understand the new rules and requirements and help them comply with them. We keep them up to date on information that may impact the processing of their visas. For those who are unable to make their first entry due to the restrictions, we can file separate applications for them to extend the deadlines.  What kind of career support can you offer at the moment to help people migrate successfully as well as settle abroad? As an overseas career consultant, we provide the expertise and guidance to help clients connect with the right people, and register them in Canada so that they can connect with as many employers as they want. We keep a tab on in-demand jobs and skills in some of the most popular destinations for immigration and constantly share our know-how with our clients to help them plan their move once they get the visa. We help our clients choose the right opportunities in the country they wish to migrate to, based on their profile and work experience. “We provide tailored immigration pathways with unparalleled confidentiality standards” Syed Jafar Sadiq, General Manager, Cosmos Immigration As a leading consultant in the field of immigration in the UAE, what makes your services truly unique? Our tagline says it all — ‘Cosmos Immigration - Deliver What We Promise.’ We have a long-standing reputation in the market. With a multilingual team of professionals, we provide tailored immigration pathways with unparalleled confidentiality standards. Being an authorised consultant, we have end to end services for all age brackets, including students, skilled working professionals, entrepreneurs and investors. A formal screening of each applicant prior to starting the application process has bagged us a lot of success stories. Being an authorised consultant, we have end to end services for all age brackets, including students, skilled working professionals, entrepreneurs and investors. Syed Jafar Sadiq, General Manager, Cosmos Immigration How could you help prospective immigrants choose the right immigration programme? For skilled professionals and entrepreneurs, there are multiple pathways available to immigrate. Understanding the programme is, however, the key to success. With a growing demand for talent on the move, thousands of skilled workers are opting to migrate to countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Investors are increasingly looking for citizenship by investment progarmmes in the Caribbean countries. Furthermore, for many entrepreneurs, Canada is the logical choice to embark on a new business venture or expand their operations. We, as an authorised consultant, conduct a thorough screening to understand the needs of the candidate and then recommend a suitable pathway for immigration. Could you share a few tips on how to increase scores for Express Entry in Canada? We first identify the weaknesses of an applicant’s profile and then represent an application with utmost accuracy. After lodging the application, we work closely with the applicant and help them enhance their profiles. Partnering with IDP Global, Cosmos has its own IELTS test centre at the premises, which enables our clients to improve their scores in English. Adding appropriate education to your application can also be a major boost to an applicant’s profile. “The popular US EB-5 programme is set to expire on June 30 due to a sunset provision” Preeya Malik, Managing Director, Step Global Is it advisable to opt for a new programme or go with the ones with longer track records? Governments generally do a lot of research prior to launching a citizenship by investment programme in their countries. Instead of looking at the length of time the programme has been around, it’s important to look at factors such as eligibility criteria, safety and types of investments, ease of approvals, benefits of citizenship in that particular country, and documentation required. Instead of looking at the length of time the programme has been around, it’s important to look at factors such as eligibility criteria, safety and types of investments, ease of approvals, benefits of citizenship in that particular country, and documentation required. Preeya Malik, Managing Director, Step Global How could you help prospective immigrants to choose the right immigration or second citizenship programme? When working with clients it is important to consider their future goals, their reasons for immigration as well as the dependants who will be included in the application. By understanding these points, it becomes easier to assess and advice a client on a programme that may be best for them. For example, those who are looking for citizenship for their children for the purposes of future job prospects and schooling often choose Canada or the US over other programmes, while those who are looking for a retirement plan may choose somewhere else. What are the new changes that our readers should be aware of regarding the popular US EB-5 immigrant investor programme? The EB-5 programme has been under scrutiny for many years. This year the programme is set to expire on June 30 due to a sunset provision. Legislature must vote on and approve the EB-5 programme as a standalone bill in order for it to continue unchanged. With many other pressing issues currently in Congress, it is possible that this bill will be overlooked, causing the programme to lapse. If this happens, it could mean that the programme will cease to exist altogether. “We don’t give hope, we provide solutions” Dr Sadir Al Kherdaji, Managing Director, Al Kherdaji International Legal Consultants How unique are Al Kherdaji International’s portfolio of services for citizenship and residency programmes and business migration? All investment migration providers are quite similar in what they offer to their clients. We are also similar to other service providers but not the same. We are an investment-related international legal consultancy firm, affiliated with a distinguished investment migration consultancy service provider — Cham Consulting, specialised in advising corporates and individuals with investment migration services. Drawing upon the depth of practical experience and knowledge accumulated over more than two decades, we can offer meaningful advice and benefits to businesspersons far beyond those available from traditional immigration providers. Drawing upon the depth of practical experience and knowledge accumulated over more than two decades, we can offer meaningful advice and benefits to businesspersons far beyond those available from traditional immigration providers. Dr Sadir Al Kherdaji, Managing Director, Al Kherdaji International Legal Consultants How do you differentiate from the competition? When it comes to legal experience, we guarantee the legality of the process. Applications of our clients are handled by professional lawyers specialised in second citizenship and residency by investment programmes. We are well recognised by several governments and have officials with good reputation and professionalism. We utilise all our strengths to help our clients make the right decision for their future. We have a human-centric approach to consultancy — our advices are based on transparency and honesty. We don’t give hope, we provide solutions, considering the client’s needs, qualification assessment, know-your-customer (KYC) details, and security background check. We have successfully processed over 100 investment migration, citizenship and residency by investment and corporate immigration cases with 100 per cent success rate so far. It can be overwhelming to decide on the appropriate investment programme. How does your company help investors make the right choice? We recognise that no two clients are alike. Therefore, we design individual strategies according to the client’s profile and needs. We strive to operate within the confines of the investment in a creative, lateral and, when appropriate, innovative manner to achieve the client’s objectives. We believe in producing optimum results, rather than settling for acceptable solutions. “Apply for special programmes for skill-based immigration to Canada” Vrinda Gupta, Brand Custodian, Vazir Group The immigration process can be a bit intimidating for many. How does Vazir Group help its clients make the journey seamless? With immigration specialists in our offices in Canada, Dubai, and India, we can assist every individual in achieving their relocation goals with personalised end to end services, professional advice, and complete support throughout the immigration process for them and their family. We provide highly professional services, as well as options for payment in instalments, the possibility to pay using an escrow account and a refund. We provide highly professional services, as well as options for payment in instalments, the possibility to pay using an escrow account and a refund. Vrinda Gupta, Brand Custodian, Vazir Group Could you share some information on Canada’s immigration by investment programme, highlighting how they can benefit prospective applicants? We offer two immigration by investment programmes for Canada. For example, the Entrepreneur PR Programme is based on providing an innovative business idea according to the applicant’s experience and background. We support the applicant with a business plan, if required, and of course with all the immigration process. For any investor, running a business that generates income, no tax on global income, the right to reside, work anywhere in Canada, and the possibility for a Canadian passport, are attractive benefits. Could you share a few tips on how immigrants can succeed in Canada’s job market? Finding a job in Canada can be really challenging. The best way to immigrate to Canada using your skills is by applying for one of the special programmes. For example, all the skilled programmes at Vazir Group are based on a secured job in Canada. That means that we are the one finding the right job for the candidate and taking care of all the immigration process until they get the work permit or PR. “Many countries have introduced plenty of positive changes during the pandemic” Tony Ebraheem, Founder and Lawyer, 111 Immigration Which new countries in your opinion are faring better than others? Demand for citizenship and residency by investment programmes are determined by several factors such as the application process, convenience, safety of the nation and its medical infrastructure. I, however, always say that the relationship between the country and applicant has two main parameters. Countries offering citizenship by investment programmes, must have a track record of providing all required documents, conducting necessary security checks, and establishing the sources of funds invested in the nation. From the applicant’s perspective, the programme must offer significant benefits and have competitive processing cost and reasonable time frame for completing the application process. These are the keys that decide which countries and their programmes are faring better than others. Millennials are primarily looking for three things before investing in a programme: mobility, lifestyle improvement and future security. Tony Ebraheem, Founder and Lawyer, 111 Immigration  How do you see the industry evolving during the pandemic? From lowering the investment requirement and initiating new options dedicated to Covid-19 to accepting scanned certified documents from immigration consultants and allowing investors to virtually take the oath of citizenship, many countries have introduced plenty of positive changes during the pandemic. I also hope several other countries, who are yet to launch citizenship or residence programmes, will consider invest-for-citizenship options to drive economic growth. Could you share some details on millennial preferences for investment migration? Millennials are primarily looking for three things before investing in a programme: mobility, lifestyle improvement and future security. “No one should be limited by their citizenship” Mahdi Mohammed, CEO, Guide Consultants Deciding on the right citizenship programme can be a bit tricky with so many options currently available in the market. How does Guide Consultants help its clients make the journey seamless? The crowded nature of the economic citizenship market can potentially overwhelm clients who don’t know where to start. The key for us is to simplify the process by understanding the client’s needs. At Guide, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to second citizenship. We are keenly aware that each client is unique. What is consistent is our approach, which is grounded in transparency. At Guide, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to second citizenship. We are keenly aware that each client is unique. What is consistent is our approach, which is grounded in transparency. Mahdi Mohammed, CEO, Guide Consultants What are Guide’s key programmes for residency and citizenship by investment? There are no key programmes. It all depends on the individual’s future goals and circumstances. Please share a brief history of the brand, highlighting the group ethos that drives its staff. More than a decade ago, I witnessed first-hand the challenges generated by mobility limitations. In 2016, I established Guide Consultants to respond to these global challenges and safeguard the futures of families. At Guide Consultants, we believe that no one should be limited by their citizenship. On a personal level, it is deeply fulfilling to help people expand their horizons while advancing the economies of participating Caribbean nations. As a leading regional CBI agent, my team is motivated by our commitment to uphold the highest industry standards. “Securing the family’s future is the top priority for applicants” Anwar Karim, Vice President, Global Operation, WWICS In the era of Covid-19, what destinations have been most in demand from Middle East clients? Family comes first and securing their future is the top priority for applicants. Citizenship by investment programmes for Grenada, which provides visa-free travel to more than 140 destinations and E2 visa access to the US, along with St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia, Vanuatu and Montenegro, are in demand. You first need to understand the Canadian recruitment structure as well the work culture, as these are markedly different from other countries in the world. This requires professional help, guidance and support. Anwar Karim, Vice President, Global Operation, WWICS Is it difficult to get a job in Canada after immigration? You first need to understand the Canadian recruitment structure as well the work culture, as these are markedly different from other countries in the world. This requires professional help, guidance and support. We provide placement services for non-regulated occupations, and assist in obtaining required licences for regulated professions. We also help clients in getting transitional jobs until they become eligible to work in their regulated professions. Does WWICS offer any post landing services? Global Placement Services (GPS) is our associate company, which exclusively deals with placement and settlement of our clients. It provides complete assistance in settling our clients in a new country, grooming them for the job market, and finding suitable job opportunities for them after they land in the country.