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Gulfood 2021: Egyptian snack brands keep thriving on sweet nostalgia

Retail|: Dubai: Molto chocolate-filled croissants, Lambada wafers, Freska bars and Temmy’s cornflakes are just a few of the snacking essentials Egyptians grew up on.. “One of my favourite things to do when I go back is to go to a koshk (a street vendor) to buy some candy,” Samia Khalifa, an Egyptian living in Dubai, said. These household names are produced in Egypt and principally targeted at the domestic market. They tend to take inspiration from US snacks, for example, with the Egyptian cookie brand ‘Borio’ inspired by Oreo, and the chips brand ‘Days’ inspired by - you guessed it - Lays. However, Egyptian companies are also producing their own unique snacks as well, to offer more affordable options rather than the pricey imports. One of the most loved is Molto, a bag of mini stuffed croissants. Breaking into the UAE market has not been easy for some of the all-time favourite snack brands from Egypt. Those that have are often sold at select stores only. Image Credit: Supplied No stopping for COVID-19 So much so the company that owns it, Edita, was launching new products and flavours even during the pandemic, and generating an instant response from those with a sugar craving. “ On whether Edita plans to launch Molto in the UAE, a company spokesperson at Gulfood 2021 gave a firm ‘No’. And which would cause any amount of heartburn for Egyptian expats. Nevertheless, Egyptians can find some of their favourite candies at select supermarkets in the UAE And Snacks like Lambada Wafers and Droo cakes can be purchased at just the one store in the UAE - Al Khebra Al Raidah Hypermarket in Sharjah. Super niche Hany El Masary, a partner at the company told Gulf News that they are hoping to expand the range of Egyptian produced goods in the UAE. “We get Egyptians visiting from all over the UAE, so they can get their hands on nostalgia snacks as well as other food,” he said. Some are having trouble penetrating the market. Senyorita Group, the food company that creates Lion, Windows and Days chips, are struggling to enter the market as the competition in the UAE is already so high. “I myself grew up eating Lion and Days chips, but the one that is most widespread in Egypt is Windows,” said Nada Mohammed, a representative at Senyorita Group. “We have been trying to enter the UAE market for years, but Lays is such a dominant force, that it has been really difficult. “I think the one that could stand out the most is Windows, as it is more unique.” (The brand is named after the shape of the chip itself, a square shape with lines down the middle.) There are around 400,000 Egyptian expats in the UAE. To give them a feel of home, there are the Egyptian restaurants, coffee shops (Ahawy) and a multitude of koshari spots. Plus the music and movies. Now, only if Egyptians could have more of their favourite snacks from the past.

GulfNews Business

Personal finances could always do with a 'deep cleaning'

Analysis|: Since last year, we’ve been fortunate with having more time and space to think, reflect… and clean up. While some measures may seem extreme, that deep cleaning gave us a sense of control. For many, their finances took a toll, and as salaries were revised, this created a financial mess. Pandemic or not, deep cleaning your finances is an essential task because you are aware where you stand. Doing so on a regular basis can make life easier, and your financial journey a lot more comfortable. If you don’t know that extra Dh100 that crept into your phone bill, it’s time to start thinking and asking questions. Here are four ways to deep clean your finances and the benefits it will bring: Read More Travel and tourism workers endured biggest wage cuts, longer furloughs during COVID-19 GameStop mania exposes SEC's failure as regulator Stay informed If you have a problem remembering what you spent, then it is a problem. With Apple Pay and Google Pay and most leading banks offering online payments, it’s been easier to track spending. If a diary and a pen is what works for you, then create a finance journal and fill it up at the end of the day (or week). No matter how small the amount is, if you think you haven’t spent it, it’s good to ask questions and follow up. Clean the 'waste bin' Dusting and cleaning your budget will surely reveal some spending patterns. Now, it’s time to identify areas in your budget to make adjustments. The strategy will must work with your lifestyle and goals in mind. Plan to clean up debt Once you have figured out how much you owe and how much you’re paying in interest, create a debt repayment plan based on your budget. Next you will want to look for ways to either increase your payments or reduce your interest rates in order to pay off the debt quicker. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, sit with an advisor or even ask your family for their opinion. Increase income Especially during the pandemic, we saw a rise in online trading. People finally took the effort to learn about the stock market. While it is a full time job, it can be done remotely. Online trading requires you to learn, observe and make planned decisions. You should never believe that it is a game of luck. - Ali Hasan is CEO of Evest.

GulfNews Business

Indian newspapers ask Google to pay publishers 85% of ad revenues

Business|India|: Dubai: India’s largest media body - representing more than 1,000 newspapers with 71 million copies in circulation in 19 languages - has asked Google to share at least 85 per cent of the digital giant’s advertising revenue with publishers. The demand from the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) came on Thursday in a letter written by its president L. Adimoolam to Google India vice-president and country head Sanjay Gupta. Noting that Indian publishers continued to invest heavily to support “quality journalism with credible news, current affairs, analysis, information and entertainment”, Adimoolam said that the proprietary content generated out of this expensive and rigorous process ultimately provided Google its credibility and authenticity in India. Clear lack of transparency However, in return, Indian media publishers were facing a very opaque advertising system, as they were unable to get details of Google’s advertising value chain, he said. “The Society insisted that Google should increase the publisher share of advertising revenue to 85 per cent, and also ensure more transparency in the revenue reports provided to publishers by Google,” the INS said in a statement made available to Gulf News. “The society has demanded Google should pay for news generated by the newspapers which employ thousands of journalists on the ground, at considerable expense, for gathering and verifying information.” The letter was sent on the same day that Australia’s parliament passed a law to make Google and Facebook pay media companies for content on their platforms. Countries like the UK and Canada are also mulling similar laws. “In the dialogue we are having with Google for the past three months, we are trying to figure out an appropriate monetisation model that would work out in favour of both parties,” Mohit Jain, vice-president of INS, told Gulf News in a phone interview from Mumbai. “Over time, if this approach does not work out, some publishers are also looking at working with the government for legislative support on the same.” Australian government has shown the way in taking on digital media giants and have them pay for part of the content they place on their platforms. Image Credit: Reuters Fast paced growth According to a FICCI-EY 2020 report, India’s digital news readership has grown to more than 300 million users and the country remains the world’s fastest-growing advertising market. Ad revenues of Facebook and Google in India rose to $1.58 billion in FY19, with the two companies garnering nearly 70 per cent market share of India’s online advertising space. According to Dentsu Aegis, India’s online ad spend is expected to reach $3.87 billion by 2022. But beleaguered Indian media companies have seen major layoffs and shut down of operations since the pandemic-triggered lockdown last year, and are now looking up to the government to enact legislation similar to Australia to make Google and Facebook share ad revenues. “It is also noted that Google has recently agreed to better compensate and pay publishers in France, the European Union and notably in Australia,” the INS said. “However, newspaper publishers [in India] are seeing their share of the advertising pie shrinking in the digital space, even as Google is taking a giant share of advertising spends,” the society said. India's news publishing industry is at a critical juncture. While digital readership has shot up significantly, there is limited gains on the revenue side for the content creators. Image Credit: AFP

GulfNews Business

British Airways' owner offers no forecasts as 2020 operating loss soars to $9b

Aviation|: London: British Airways parent IAG SA posted a 7.43 billion-euro ($9 billion) operating loss in 2020 and said it can't provide an outlook as the coronavirus pandemic continues to batter air travel. The group's first loss in almost a decade included exceptional charges of 3 billion euros against plane retirements, restructuring and fuel-hedging measures. CEO Luis Gallego said an international commitment to digital health passes and wider COVID-19 testing is required to reopen travel, on top of moves already being explored in countries including the UK. "Getting people traveling again will require a clear roadmap for unwinding current restrictions when the time is right," he said. Read More Outlook for airlines deteriorating in 2021: IATA Global airline body IATA plans COVID travel pass for end of March Strain on finances IAG has had to cut jobs, borrow money and sell stock to stay afloat, with BA particularly hard because of its reliance on a trans-Atlantic market that's still virtually closed. Short-haul specialists such as EasyJet are counting on a quicker rebound as the UK's vaccine roll-out helps spur leisure bookings. Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA separately reported a 16.63 billion kroner ($1.95 billion) loss in the fourth quarter, including impairment costs related to aircraft purchases. The Scandinavian carrier is restructuring under an examinership process in an Irish court and will offer a detailed plan next week. The company has said it plans to raise new equity in late March or early April, and focus on regional flights after turning away from the low-cost, long-haul business that put price pressure on major carriers like British Airways IAG attempted to purchase Norwegian Air in 2018, but dropped the plan after its bids were rejected and losses mounted at the smaller company.

GulfNews Business

UAE's zero-tolerance on money laundering is netting results

Banking|: The actions by the UAE Central Bank to fine 11 banks Dh45.76 million is a strong signal that as a financial services regulator, the UAE is working on areas of improvement identified by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). One of the key issues identified in the FATF Mutual Evaluation Report issued in April 2020 was for there to be more dissuasive enforcement actions by authorities. The sanctions against the 11 banks is only one such in a series of actions. The Central Bank imposed sanctions on two exchange houses for weak anti-money laundering (AML) and combatting financing of terrorism (CFT) compliance measures, issuing fines of Dh500,000 and Dh950,000 in October last. Read More UAE Executive Office to combat money laundering, terrorism funding UAE: An exchange house was fined Dh504,000 by the Central Bank of UAE Crackdowns On February 10, another exchange house was fined Dh504,000 for weak AML and CFT compliance frameworks. These come in the wake of the establishment of the Executive Office of Anti Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism. The UAE Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) – the UAE’s federal securities and capital market sector regulator – has issued administrative fines to entities it regulates for AML-compliance shortfalls. These are really a step in the right direction and comes when other parts of the UAE Government conducted their own action to combat financial crimes. Last year saw the Ministry of Justice temporarily suspended 200 law firm licenses for AML failures, resulting in fines of Dh100,000 each on seven law firms that were unable to rectify identified failures adequately. The UAE Ministry of Economy also announced in November that it had established a dedicated AML Department. Recently, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department announced the Abu Dhabi Criminal Courts had sentenced a former chairman of a government-owned company as well as its CEO to 15 years’ imprisonment for money laundering. It was accompanied by an order to pay Dh501,000 as compensation to the companies they represented, return Dh8 billion public funds that were misappropriated, and for the expatriate CEO to be deported after serving his sentence. No leeway for offenders The judgement is the latest in a string of recent money laundering cases, with criminal sentences also being announced in November and December last. Following the establishment of specialized AML Courts in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain and Ajman through various resolutions, it is clear the UAE judicial and law enforcement agencies are working to crack down on those looking to abuse the financial and economic opportunities. Dubai was ranked in eight place as a financial centre in the Global Financial Centre Index in September 2019. And the UAE is a major financial, logistics, business and legal hub for the Middle East and a gateway to several regions. The latest actions are a real testimony to the UAE Government’s commitment to tackle financial crime and AML/CFT risks and to protect the gateway opportunities the UAE offers from criminal activity. - Samir Safar-Aly is Senior Associate at Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla.