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National Ambulance to manage emergency services at Abu Dhabi airports

Tourism|: Dubai: Abu Dhabi Airports has signed an agreement with National Ambulance to provide emergency medical services across all their airports. The services commenced earlier this month at Abu Dhabi International Airport, Al Bateen Executive Airport and Al Ain International Airport. As part of the agreement, 70 medical and support staff are present on site to support the airports and customers in the instance of any medical emergencies. This comes as an important step to expand National Ambulance’s services and partnerships with organisations across the public and private sectors in Abu Dhabi. The emergency medical teams will consist of Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) with the support of its Ambulance Communications Centre. “Our collaboration with National Ambulance comes as part of our efforts to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of our customers, staff, and stakeholders, which is our main priority,” said Shareef Hashim Al Hashmi, CEO at Abu Dhabi Airports. National Ambulance also provides emergency medical services for communities across Abu Dhabi, which include Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Special Olympics UAE, as well as other public events and businesses. “Following months of diligent preparation, National Ambulance is at full readiness to provide the necessary emergency medical service to all of Abu Dhabi’s airports - the airports are vital to the health of Abu Dhabi’s economy and a gateway to Abu Dhabi’s capital,” said Ahmed Al Hajeri, CEO of National Ambulance.

GulfNews Business

For the Lebanese, there is no bottom to its currency slide

Markets|Mena|: Beirut: Lebanon's currency hit a new low against the dollar on the black market Monday, continuing its freefall in a country gripped by political deadlock, an economic crisis and increasing shortages. The pound, officially pegged at 1,507 to the US dollar since 1997, was selling for 15,400-15,500 to the greenback on the black market, several moneychangers said. After hovering around 15,000 to the dollar in mid-March, the unofficial exchange rate dropped to between 12,000 and 13,000 later that month before soaring back up in recent days. The latest plunge means the pound has lost more than 90 per cent of its value on the informal market since October 2019, in what the World Bank has called one of the worst financial crunches worldwide since the mid-19th century. Lebanon has been without a fully functioning government for 10 months since the last one-stepped down after a deadly port explosion in Beirut last summer. Politicians from all sides have failed to agree on a line-up for a new cabinet even as foreign currency cash reserves plummet, causing fuel, electricity and medicine shortages. Never ending In recent days, frustrated drivers have waited for hours in long car queues outside petrol stations to fill up their tanks. Pharmacies went on strike on Friday and Saturday in protest at the central bank allegedly failing to provide them with dollars as a preferable exchange rate so they could continue working. Electricity cuts have increased in length as the state struggles to secure enough fuel to operate power stations. People earning salaries in Lebanese pounds have seen their purchasing power drastically reduced as they battle to keep up with price hikes. The country, where more than half the population now live in poverty, is in desperate need of financial aid but the international community has conditioned any such assistance on the formation of a new government to launch sweeping reforms.

GulfNews Business

Palazzo Versace Dubai becomes first luxury hotel in Gulf to offer ‘buy now pay later’

Tourism|: Dubai: The ‘buy now, pay later’ option for consumers has entered the luxury hotel space as well. Palazzo Versace Dubai has laid claim to be the first in luxury hotel region to introduce the option on all experiences, including stays and F&B to spas and banquets. Guests can now book with a ‘no interest, no cost, no catch’ policy. An emerging trend in the retail industry, buy now, pay later services provide access to more economical spenders by allowing them to pay in multiple, interest-free instalments. Guests who want to purchase experiences at Palazzo Versace Dubai can now use the fintech platform Spotii to pay in four convenient installments instead of paying the full amount upfront, paying 25 per cent upfront with any debit or credit card. The remaining is split over three equal instalments and automatically paid in the future. The service is completely free of charge for customers. Customers can pay for their experiences on-demand in four interest-free instalments by scanning a QR code placed in the hotel’s restaurants, spa, salon and reception areas. Guests can sign up to the service by downloading the Spotii app, filling out their profile and bank details. Once signed up, customers can simply scan the QR code on the spot and the first instalment will be deducted immediately, making bookings as seamless as ever. “We are already seeing travel open up further and believe BNPL can provide consumers a way to make the most of their luxury vacation while sticking to their budgets,” said Ziyaad Ahmed, COO of Spotii. “This is the first partnership of its kind and Spotii is thrilled to be partnering with the incomparable Palazzo Versace Dubai to make all of its luxury services more accessible to its customers.” BNPL in tourism The partnership will open up a range of new possibilities for frugal travellers, making previously unattainable luxury experiences available to a broader audience. Already proven a game-changer in the retail industry, the BNPL service is now taking on the hospitality world by reducing the difficulty of making full payments in one go. The service also guarantees to offer the hospitality business a significant boost, all the while attracting a new pool of valuable customers to maintain a steady stream of guests year-round.

GulfNews Business

Etisalat lists 1b euro bond issue on Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange

Markets|: Dubai: The UAE telecom giant Etisalat has listed its 1 billion euro bonds (Dh4.45 billion) on Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX). The issue was more than six times oversubscribed, with demand from local and international investors. This “has provided Etisalat Group with an opportunity to diversify our sources of capital while taking advantage of the improved cost of funding," said Hatem Dowidar, CEO of Etisalat Group. "Listing on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange improves flexibility and transparency for Etisalat Group and investors in the debt capital markets.” The listing comes on the heels of Abu Dhabi Ports’ $1 billion listing earlier this month and the one in April of a 1.1 billion euro bonds issued by Mamoura Diversified Global Holding, a fully owned entity by Mubadala Investment Company. More listings planned Increasing the number of listings on the exchange is a target of the ‘ADX One’ strategy, launched earlier this year with a goal to double market capitalisation over the next three years. First Abu Dhabi Bank acted as a listing agent for Etisalat’s euro bonds. This year, ADX is expecting a total of more than 10 listings and the launch of a derivatives market is scheduled for the fourth quarter. “Issuers have become increasingly drawn to the ADX because of the investments we have made in products and services over the past year to meet their requirement - this is reflected in the record market capitalisation ADX reached in first quarter,” said Saeed Hamad Obaid Al Dhaheri, CEO of ADX. When will the bonds mature? Etisalat Group’s 500 million euro 7-year notes mature on May 17, 2028 and carry a 0.375 per cent coupon, while the 12-year 500-million-euro tranche matures on May 17, 2033 and carries a 0.875 per cent coupon. The senior unsecured notes were issued under Etisalat’s Euro Medium Term Note Programme and are rated AA- by S&P and Aa3 by Moody’s. Interest rates will be paid out to bondholders annually on 17 May. Trading on the rise Equity trading on ADX has increased notably this year, as the exchange’s market capitalization increased 25 per cent during the first quarter to a record Dh936 billion. In the first three months, total traded value of stocks bought and sold increased five-fold year on year to Dh107.8 billion and the benchmark ADX index advanced 17.2 per cent. Meanwhile, buying and selling by institutional investors increased significantly to Dh92.6 billion in value, from Dh14.6 billion, while trading by retail investors more than doubled to Dh15.1 billion.

GulfNews Business

Dubai marine firm Stanford continues turnaround with $45m from National Bank of Fujairah

Banking|: Dubai: The Dubai based Stanford Marine Group has charted further progress in its turnaround plan, by securing $45 million from National Bank of Fujairah. The marine company has also brought in a new board of directors. These follow early this year’s rescue act by Shuaa Capital, which acquired the Dh1.13 billion that Stanford was burdened with. The new bank financing is structured as a bilateral facility for a period of around five years. It will be used to support Stanford’s expansion possibilities in the offshore support vessel sector as well as “optimize capital structure”. Shuaa's debt buyout In January, Shuaa completed a discounted debt buyout of Stanford Marine Group's Dh1.13 billion debt, resulting in a successful outcome for all parties involved, including the participating banks. This strengthened SMG's liquidity position and helped all lenders exit with a cash recovery. Following the debt buyout, SMG was "significantly deleveraged with a strong balance sheet and a right-sized business poised for growth". The restructuring transaction also helped retain more than 1,800 jobs and nearly $20 million worth of annual exports of vessels (Made in UAE) manufactured at the Grandweld shipyard's facility in Dubai Maritime City. “We understand SMG's business model and recognize the company's potential to support the UAE's ambitions to become a shipping hub in the region,” said Vince Cook, CEO of National Bank of Fujairah. This transaction is a testament to the strong relationship we have with both SMG and SHUAA and aligns with our strong focus on the shipping and offshore support vessel sector.”