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A full-scale medical R&D eco-system can be created in the UAE

Analysis|: The pharmaceutical industry is at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 - and this emphasises the growing need for greater research and development in the Arab world. The West leads the way in medical innovation. Most of the top pharmaceutical or medical technology patents are held by US or European conglomerates. The biggest pharma companies too - Pfizer, Roche, Merck and Novartis - are American or European. These are achievements the Middle East can emulate. Pfizer, Moderna, Sinopharm and AstraZeneca have put science in the global spotlight. As vaccines are rolled out globally – with the UAE among the world’s leading countries for per capita vaccine administration – many of us can see light at the end of the tunnel. We are turning a corner in the fight against this pandemic… but we cannot let up. Read More World cannot be fixated on IP rights when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines UAE online shoppers are finally dropping their cash-on-delivery preference Framework was there That it took less than a year to vaccinate the first person after the virus’ genetic sequence was made public will go down as a historic moment for pharmaceutical innovation. But the success of medical progress can be attributed to the infrastructure, robust regulations and maturity of nations such as the US and the UK. Such ecosystems, however, are not built in silos. They are the result of years of strategic cooperation and interdependence, involving a plethora of stakeholders. It takes many hands to create a successful medical ecosystem and you need policymakers, regulators, manufacturers, entrepreneurs, disrupters and major decision-makers all pulling in the same direction. Such progress is further supported by a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and an emphasis on education, training and development. Future proofing The UAE has greatly accelerated its efforts to establish itself as a world-class medical and pharmaceutical hub. Our leadership has taken big steps to encourage science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education among younger generations, and equip them with future-proof skills necessary to face challenges. Plans such as the UAE Vision 2021, Centennial 2071, the Dubai Industrial Strategy, and the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy have been implemented to further develop our knowledge-based economy. The government has also issued laws to streamline the process of registering intellectual property and patents. Channelling resources Additionally, the UAE’s medical industry has increased investment in clinical trials and manufacturing – most recently, Phase III clinical trials of a Russian adenovirus-based vaccine commenced in the UAE. We’re also leveraging our strong bilateral relationship with China for an inactivated vaccine trial conducted by Sinopharm, the Abu Dhabi Government and artificial intelligence company G42 Healthcare. Figures also show that the UAE’s healthcare infrastructure is steadily evolving and growing to become an increasingly competitive destination for investment and innovation. Recently, it was found that the UAE ranks highest among GCC countries in medical tourism. Committing more Moreover, investments in the region’s healthcare sector are expected to be worth $89 billion by 2022, representing an overall increase of nearly 50 per cent from 2013, according to a report by KPMG. This represents the strong investment potential in the UAE’s health and pharma infrastructure, driven by the momentous impact of the coronavirus pandemic. It also points to the growing role the Arab world can play in medical innovation. Cluster approach Our business district boosts the development of this ecosystem and the national effort towards science. Three R&D centres for top global manufacturers are under construction in Dubai Science Park – India’s Himalaya Drug Company; paints and powder coatings giant Jotun Group; and Firmenich, the world’s largest privately-owned fragrance and flavour company. These firms are highlighting the UAE's growing capabilities as an R&D hub by choosing Dubai as a base for their cutting-edge research. In addition, French medical giant Sebia – the world’s leading provider of advanced medical equipment for in-vitro diagnostic testing – opened its first GCC office in our community, while Alliance Global installed a high-end Next Generation Sequencing system platform at Igenomix earlier this year. These show that the UAE is certainly making strides on its journey to become a global capital for medical research and development. However, this process could be greatly expedited through increased collaboration, and by leveraging key strengths where they exist – such as increasing cooperation with public and private universities for tailored STEM education and research; maximising partnerships with public and private hospitals; attracting investments from and facilitating alliances between local and international pharmaceutical companies; and boosting international relations for greater knowledge and talent-sharing initiatives. With time, and continued investment in cross-collaboration, I am confident we will see the UAE establish itself on the global map as a centre for medicine, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and innovation. - Marwan Abdulaziz Janahi, Managing Director, Dubai Science Park.

GulfNews Business

Google threatens to cut off Search for users in Australia

Markets|Technology|: California: Google threatened to disable its search engine in Australia if it's forced to pay local publishers for news, a dramatic escalation of a months-long standoff with the government. A proposed law, intended to compensate publishers for the value their stories generate for the company, is "unworkable," Mel Silva, managing director for Australia and New Zealand, told a parliamentary hearing Friday. She specifically opposed the requirement that Google pay media companies for displaying snippets of articles in search results. The threat is Google's most potent yet as the digital giant tries to stem a flow of regulatory action worldwide, but such a radical step would hand an entire developed market to rivals. At least 94 per cent of online searches in Australia go through the Alphabet Inc. unit, according to the local competition regulator. Read More Spanish AI firm picks up 'angel' investments from Sharjah initiative TikTok owner ByteDance launches Douyin Pay, an e-payment service Not caving in "We don't respond to threats," Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday. "Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. That's done in our parliament. It's done by our government. And that's how things work here in Australia." Facebook Inc., the only other company targeted by the legislation, also opposes the law. The social media platform reiterated at Friday's hearing it's considering blocking Australians from sharing news on Facebook if the law is pushed through. The legislation is designed to support a local media industry, including Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., that has struggled to adapt to the digital economy. Google's tougher stance drew rebukes from lawmakers at the hearing, with Senator Andrew Bragg accusing the tech giant of trying to blackmail Australians and policymakers. "If this version of the code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia," Silva told a panel of senators. She described the law as an "untenable financial and operational precedent." Been amenable elsewhere But the California-based company has adapted to similar requests in other countries without cutting off search. Google stopped showing news results from European publishers on search results for French users last year after local regulators urged it to pay for content, and then on Thursday the firm said it reached a deal to pay media publishers in the country. In 2014, it shuttered Google News in Spain following new copyright legislation. 'Control and Power' Google is behaving like a corporate bully, said Johan Lidberg, an associate professor at Melbourne's Monash University who specializes in media and journalism. "It's about control and power," he said. "They're signaling to other regulators they'll have a fight on their hands if they do this." Silva proposed Google's News Showcase, where the company pays select media outlets to display curated content, as an alternative to the Australian legislation. Since the service isn't available in Australia, Senator Bragg said it was impossible to assess its value to the local market. "All we've got today is your threats and your blackmail," he told Silva.

GulfNews Business

Don't be shocked if Bitcoin now drops to $20,000

Markets|: Hong Kong: Bitcoin slumped below $30,000 on Friday, extending a retreat from an all-time high set just two weeks ago and stoking fresh questions about the sustainability of the cryptocurrency boom. The digital coin slid as much as 7.7 per cent to about $28,818 in Asian trading before steadying just above $30,000. Commentators have cautioned that a sustained drop below the latter level could presage further losses. The largest cryptocurrency is on course for one of its worst weeks since the pandemic roiled financial markets in March 2020. "This level looks very vulnerable and a break below it is bad news in the near-term for Bitcoin and cryptos in general," Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda Europe, wrote in a note . "I wouldn't be surprised to see a test of $20,000 before too long." Read More Buy in Bitcoin and cash out is trending with Dubai property Massive blackouts have hit Iran: The government is blaming bitcoin mining Mainstream aspirations Bitcoin's surge to a record of almost $42,000 on January 8 embodied the embrace of risk in financial markets awash with stimulus. Some argue Bitcoin is also becoming a more mainstream investment with a role to play in hedging risks such as dollar weakness and faster inflation. Others see little more than speculative mania since the digital coin has more than tripled in the past year. Pinpointing who is mainly responsible for the Bitcoin rally is one of the many crypto mysteries - Bitcoin funds, momentum chasers, billionaires, day traders, companies and even institutional investors have all been cited. For instance, Grayscale Investments, which is behind a popular Bitcoin trust, saw total inflows of more than $3 billion across its products in the fourth quarter. This week, BlackRock Inc. dipped its toe into the crypto universe for the first time, saying cash-settled Bitcoin futures are among assets that two funds were permitted to buy. Yellen's not keen Recent comments by Janet Yellen may be among the reasons for this week's Bitcoin swoon, said Jehan Chu, managing partner with blockchain advisory firm Kenetic Capital in Hong Kong. In her Senate confirmation hearing, Yellen noted crypotcurrency as an area of concern for terrorist and criminal financing. Describing such fears as "unfounded", Chu said a "natural correction" is underway and that profit taking won't "reverse the unprecedented assimilation of Bitcoin into Wall Street's DNA, leading to $100,000 levels this year." Some strategists are more skeptical. For instance, UBS Global Wealth Management recently warned that there's nothing stopping a wipeout in big-name digital currencies eventually amid regulatory threats and central bank-issued competitors.

GulfNews Business

Emails asking for Dh10 on online order delivery could be next big cyber threat

Retail|: Dubai: Cyber criminals are setting their sights lower these days. And that makes it even more dangerous when it comes to your data. Instead of emails that talk about millions of dollars left for you by some government official in Africa, today’s data—seeking communications come from delivery companies or local customs or postal entities. These messages will talk about the need to pay a “surcharge” of, say, Dh10, for delivery of your latest online order. The mails will always have a link – and made to look as “original” as is possible – for the token amount to be paid. That’s where the trouble starts… Because of the innocuous amounts mention and because these days it’s highly likely that some package or the other has been ordered, the risk of letting cyber hackers know all critical banking info is higher. Which is why mention of a Dh10 payment carries with it greater dangers than the promise of millions being sent to your back account… Read More Cyber attackers leaked COVID-19 vaccine data after EU hack WhatsApp delays data sharing change after backlash All too late “Before the user understands what is going on, it is usually too late because some damage has been already done,” says Efi Dahan, Managing Director at the payment services company PayPal for Central and Eastern Europe and Israel. The most common attack that internet users are likely to experience is phishing – about 90 per cent of all cyberattacks’ attempts are based on impersonating other entities. These could be delivery couriers, payment methods, e-stores or traditional stores. It’s all in the timing and how receptive the recipients are to the message. According to PayPal, the cyber hacks will “state there’s an incredible opportunity which needs to be taken advantage of very quickly (i.e., a sale or a discount), or highlight that there is some sort of danger which needs to be fixed quickly (i.e., to prevent your account from being blocked).” Or an online order that can only be delivered on payment of a small sum… As has been clear by now, the pandemic did set off a surge in sophisticated data attacks delivered direct-to-home computers and gadgets. “The most common attack that internet users are likely to experience is phishing – about 90 per cent of all cyberattacks’ attempts are based on impersonating other entities,” according to PayPal. This is a known fact of digital life… and still needs repeating. Because, even with all the warnings out there, someone or the other falls victim. Bare minimum According to PayPal, If the user is unsure about the authenticity of an email, “they might want to avoid clicking links in the message and instead of that, log in to their account directly from their browser or check in with the customer support. “Pay attention also to typos, punctuation, or weird grammar – usually, official messages from the company will not contain such omissions.” To be doubly sure, just pick up the phone and make that call. Too good to be true More users are getting “targeted” ads in social media “showcasing unique products or highlighting discounts”. “It is often difficult for sellers to understand whether they can trust a particular e-store, especially if it’s located abroad,” said Dahan. “In such cases, the user could look up reviews of the store to see what other buyers think about it. “It is also helpful to take a look at the return policy and check the quality of its customer support. Payment methods that are available in the e-shop are also a good indicator of its trustworthiness. For example, if the user pays with PayPal and there is something wrong with the product or – worse – it never arrives at all, it is easy to dispute the unsuccessful purchase and receive the money back.” The long and the short of all this – Do not make an immediate click to anything that reaches your inbox. If what you see is too good to be true, chances are they are…

GulfNews Business

Dubai's hotels are back to hiring mode, but with extreme caution

Tourism|: Dubai: Hotel operators in the UAE are hiring again, boosted by strong occupancy levels generated in December and which have sustained into the initial weeks of this month. Even with lockdowns and travel restrictions being extended in some of the key overseas markets, the local hospitality sector seems confident that the worst of the pandemic created hit is behind it. While visitor numbers are nowhere close to levels seen in 2019, operators seem optimistic that the period up to March will somewhat make up for an abysmal 2020. At least optimistic enough to hire new staff after the industry, as per some estimates, shed a third of its jobs last year. “The measures the UAE has put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus have allowed the economy to remain open even as lockdowns have been re-imposed in Europe, the UK, parts of Asia and the US, making it an attractive destination for those still willing and able to travel,” said Khatija Haque, Chief Economist at EmiratesNBD Research, in an industry report earlier this month. This return to hiring is being confirmed by multiple industry sources as well as listings made on job portals. Read More What entertainment activities have stopped in Dubai and why UAE-Qatar ties: Reopening of borders to benefit UAE and GCC economies Customer facing roles Marriott in Dubai Marina is looking for waiters, bartenders and a hostess, as per the property’s Linkedin posting. The roles will include key responsibilities such as providing professional services to guests, having strong service and beverage skills, and promoting hotel facilities. The mid-market brand Premier Inn is searching for a receptionist for its hotel in Dubai. According to the company’s post on LinkedIn, the right candidate should have at least a year’s worth of experience in the same role, apart from having a high school diploma and knowledge of English and Arabic. Visitor numbers to Dubai were at 1.1 million between July and November, according to some estimates. The year-end holiday season helped push occupancy rates across UAE hotels well past the 50 per cent mark. These gains are helping with the return of jobs as well. During the worst of the pandemic months, hotels sent all non-essential staff on furlough or even went in for outright job cuts. Language matters One of Dubai’s most famous hospitality names – Kempinski – is on the lookout for a front-office staffer for its Palm Jumeirah property. The candidate must have at least one- to two years of experience in a similar role, at a - preferably - luxury 5-star chain along with “excellent” communication skills in English as well as Russian. Further up the chain For those with slightly different skillsets, the roles available are diverse. The Shangri-La Group is in need of a marketing communications manager at its Abu Dhabi hotel. The appropriate candidate for should have minimum two years of experience in communications or marketing with a five-star hotel. Holding a degree in marketing, communications or business administration will definitely help along with expertise in food and beverage marketing, media and promotions. UAE’s hotels are in hiring mode again as the months-long holiday season keeps occupancy rates high by bringing in tourists from different parts of the world. There’s good news for those passionate about crunching numbers. Hilton Abu Dhabi wants an assistant revenue manager who will be responsible for analyzing and presenting financial data that will help senior executive teams make well-informed decisions. The normalising of relations with Israel allowed direct flights to commence between the UAE and Israel in December and an estimated 50,000 Israeli tourists have reportedly visited since Khatija Haque, Chief Economist at EmiratesNBD Research Critical phase How hotels fare in the first three months will be decisive in ensuring job creation actually takes place. The industry is closely monitoring travel patterns to gauge where the next guests are likely to come from. More delays to a return to normalcy in one part of the world will have its ripples here as well. And on jobs in the industry…

GulfNews Business

Sriwijaya Air crash: Indonesia probing whether faulty system contributed to crash

Asia|Aviation|: JAKARTA: Indonesia's air accident investigator is probing whether a problem with the autothrottle system, that controls engine power automatically, contributed to the Sriwijaya Air crash on Jan. 9 that killed all 62 people on board, an official said on Friday. National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) investigator Nurcayho Utomo said a problem with the Boeing 737-500's autothrottle system was reported after a flight a few days earlier. "There was a report of malfunction on the autothrottle a couple of days before to the technician in the maintenance log, but we do not know what kind of problem," he told Reuters. "If we find the CVR (cockpit voice recorder) we can hear the discussion between the pilots, what they talked about and we will know what is the problem." It remains unclear whether a problem with the autothrottle system contributed to the crash, Utomo said, adding he could not recall any other issues raised in the maintenance log. It is acceptable for a plane to fly with an autothrottle system that is not working because pilots can control it manually instead, he said. Sriwijaya said he was unable to comment on technical matters involving the investigation before an official statement was made by KNKT. A preliminary report is expected to be issued within 30 days of the crash, in line with international standards. The plane's flight data recorder (FDR) has been recovered and read by investigators but an underwater search for the CVR's memory unit at the crash site in the Java Sea is continuing. Citing sources close to the investigation, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Thursday reported the FDR data showed the autothrottle system was not operating properly on one of the plane's engines as it climbed on departure from Jakarta. Instead of shutting off the system, the FDR indicated the pilots tried to get the stuck throttle to function, the WSJ said. That could create significant differences in power between engines, making the jet harder to control. Ends search for victims, debris Authorities on Thursday ended the search for remaining victims and debris from a Sriwijaya Air jet that nosedived into the Java Sea, killing all 62 people on board. Transportation minister Budi Karya Sumadi said retrieval operations have ended after nearly two weeks, but that a limited search for the missing memory unit from the cockpit voice recorder will continue. The memory unit apparently broke away from other parts of the voice recorder during the crash. Divers retrieved its battered casing and cover last week near the location where the flight data recorder was recovered three days after the accident. The Boeing 737-500 jet crashed on Jan. 9, minutes after taking off from Jakarta, the capital. Searchers have recovered plane parts and human remains from an area between Lancang and Laki islands in the Thousand Island chain just north of Jakarta. "After much consideration, we have to close the search and rescue operation today,'' Sumadi told reporters. "However, we are committed to continue efforts to find the cockpit voice recorder." The government will provide a ship to take relatives to the crash site for a memorial ceremony on Friday morning, Sumadi said. So far, 43 victims have been identified from more than 300 body bags containing human remains sent to the National Police's disaster victim identification unit.