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Friday, April 26, 2019

Barwa Bank and ibq complete legal merger

  • Combined entity’s total assets are valued at more than QAR 80 billion
  • Operational integration to be completed by Q4:2019
  • The first merger between banks in Qatar’s history
  • The combined entity to operate under the “Barwa Bank” name

Barwa Bank has announced the official completion of its legal merger with International Bank of Qatar (ibq). The merger, which brings two of Qatar’s leading and most dynamic financial players under one roof, will establish a powerhouse Shariah compliant financial institution in both local and regional markets, backed by robust liquidity and solvency levels.

Under the first banks merger in Qatar’s history, this solid financial position will enable Barwa Bank Group to significantly contribute to the local economy, and hold both clout and capital in scaling and project financing developmental initiatives aligning with the Qatar National Vision 2030.

The combined entity’s total assets are valued at more than QAR 80 billion, and its shareholders and customers equity base, a robust baseline, will enable both operational scale and the modernization of its products and services development in keeping pace with customers’ and shareholders’ growing expectations.

The merger will reshape the financial sector in Qatar by capitalizing on both banks’ complementary strengths and offerings in servicing wholesale, private and retail clients, as well as on their diversified capital markets activities – that is in addition to wealth and asset management portfolios.

Barwa Bank will provide both banks customers with a diversified suite of products and services for all clientele needs, abiding by strict quality control and assurance, and powered by the latest in banking technologies and innovations. The combined entity will operate across both bank’s current network of existing branches where staff will be providing Shariah compliant services to customers.

The merger announcement follows the initial agreement signing between both banks in the mid of 2018, which culminated a rigorous series of approvals by both the Qatar Central Bank and other regulatory authorities, as well as by shareholders.

Commenting on the merger, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammad Bin Hamad Bin Jassim Al Thani, Chairman and Managing Director of Barwa Bank, said:

“To say that we are proud to have completed the first banks merger in Qatar’s history would be an understatement. This merger, and the solid partnership we have found in ibq, is a momentous milestone for the local banking sector, regional mergers and acquisitions landscape, and Shariah compliant banking industry.

As we usher in our next stage of growth as a consolidated, leading Shariah compliant financial institution in Qatar and beyond, we remain deep-rooted in the local market, and committed to the empowerment of corporates and individuals in Qatar across our clientele spectrum. Equally, we will invest our collective resources, technologies, and human capital into this partnership’s role to move forward the national economy, businesses and people with pace and purpose.

On this occasion, I wish to express on behalf of the Board of Directors our sincere thanks to His Highness the Emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, whose vision and measured leadership have ensured continued prosperity for the State of Qatar.  Likewise, we extend our thanks to His Excellency the Governor of the Qatar Central Bank, Sheikh Abdullah bin Saoud Al-Thani and to His Excellency Mr. Ali bin Ahmed Al-Kuwari Minister of Commerce and Industry for their continued support and guidance through this first banks merger in Qatar.  We would like to also thank His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Al Thani, Deputy Governor of the Qatar Central Bank and all the entities involved.”“I would also like to express collective thanks to all our shareholders for their counsel and encouragement, to our clients and customers for their trust and loyalty, and to both banks management and staff for their hard work, professionalism and ongoing commitment into completing this landmark transaction seamlessly.”

Commenting on this major milestone, Mr. Khalid Al-Subeai, Barwa Bank’s Chief Executive Officer said:

“We are proud to complete this merger and we are aiming towards an accomplished integration before year end. It is not merely the sheer operational scale and robust financial standing of this consolidated venture, but rather, the combined power of both banks competitive edge and capabilities, that will fuel our next growth stage. We are confident in that this merger will multiply our efforts and push our innovative capabilities into growing our suite of products and services, and our customers and shareholders base”.

“It is with immense pride in our people, in our shareholders, and in our deep-rooted partnership with ibq that we celebrate, today, Qatar’s first ever bank merger. It takes a great deal of collaboration, responsibility, synergy, and manpower to complete a landmark transaction of this magnitude. This is a national, Qatari milestone that would have been impossible without the dedication and determination of all those who have contributed to its success, be it directly or indirectly.”

From his side, Mr. Omar Bouhadiba, Managing Director at ibq, said:

“We are proud to be part of the first bank merger in Qatar. It is no small feat to have brought together two of Qatar’s ambitious financial institutions under one consolidated entity. We are confident that the combined entity will play an integral role in reshaping our industry at a domestic market level and is also well poised to seize the many opportunities and positive challenges that lay ahead for our industry, market, and region”.

With its legal completion made official, the next phase of the merger will focally roll out the operational consolidation of both banks into one Shariah compliant institution, slated for finalization in the last quarter of this year. Meanwhile Barwa Bank and ibq will operate as a unified entity.

Upon the operational completion of the merger, which is slated before end of this year, a press release will be circulated to the media, and a press conference will be held for all stakeholders to disclose more detail around the bank’s future plans and pipeline projects.

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Ministry of Health and Prevention hosts the 3rd Emirates International Conference on Falsified and Substandard Medical Products

The 3rd Emirates International Conference on Falsified and Substandard Medical Products will kick off today (Wednesday, April 24, 2019) at the InterContinental Dubai Festival City hotel.

The two-day event is organized by the Public Health Policy and Licensing sector under the patronage of HE Abdul Rahman Bin Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, from April 24 to 25.

The conference will be attended by a wide range of federal and local health authorities as well as many delegates from the GCC, Middle East, Europe and America in addition to representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations (UN) and European and American drug regulatory organizations.

The annual sales of falsified drugs worldwide are estimated to reach US$85 billion. The World Health Organization believes that 10% of medicines in the developing countries’ pharmaceutical markets are fake.

Trading of falsified medicines is classified as an organized crime due to deliberately targeting patients, and is the first crime against patients in all countries of the world.

Falsified medicines are usually forged copies of innovative or generic drugs, they can be copies of prescription or over the counter medicines and are sold for treating all kinds of diseases including but not limited to chronic diseases, erectile dysfunction, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

According to INTERPOL 2014 reports, more than 1.2 million people worldwide die each year due to falsified and substandard medicines, which has become a highly lucrative business, making it increasingly attractive to criminal networks.

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flydubai launches flights to Sochi in Russia

flydubai becomes the first UAE based airline to offer direct flights to Sochi

Dubai-based flydubai today has announced the start of flights to Sochi, Russia. Flights between Dubai and Sochi will operate twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, starting from 07 June 2019. flydubai will be the first carrier to offer direct flights on this route from the UAE and the GCC.

Commenting on the occasion, Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer of flydubai, said: “Russia is an important market for flydubai and we are pleased to announce the new direct flights to Sochi which will support the growing flow of travel, trade and tourism between the two countries. We remain committed to opening up previously underserved markets and to providing more travel options to fly to Dubai and beyond through one of the world’s busiest travel hubs.”

flydubai has been operating to the Russian market since 2010 and offers passengers from the UAE and the combined flydubai and Emirates network, easier access to Moscow and other major Russian cities like Yekaterinburg.

Jeyhun Efendi, Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations and E-commerce at flydubai, added: “We are confident that our high quality and reliable service and the convenience of these direct flights, together with the recent changes in visa requirements for Russians and UAE nationals visiting both countries, will make this resort city located on Russia’s Black Sea Coast a popular choice for passengers.”

Sochi is one of the major touristic hubs in Russia located on the Black Sea, popular for its beaches, forests and Caucasus Mountains, as well as for hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics and being home to some of the best facilities for winter sports. Earlier this year, authorities of the UAE and the Russian Federation announced a visa-free regime between the countries for the respective passport holders for the first 90 days upon the arrival.

Asiet Zhukova, Vice President of Tour Operator Group WOWSOCHI, said: “The new flydubai service offers travellers from the UAE and around the world a more convenient option to reach Sochi and get a chance to explore this year long popular destination in Russia. We are happy to be collaborating with flydubai to start the new service and we are sure this will contribute to the further growth of tourism flows to Sochi.”

Business Class passengers enjoy a comfortable spacious seat, a choice of meals from an internationally-inspired menu, a generous checked baggage allowance and fast track through immigration and security. They also are offered a complimentary access to In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) system, offering over 1,000 hours of entertainment and more than 150 films available in Russian on HD touchscreens. Passengers in Economy are offered comfortable RECARO seats and can purchase an extra-legroom seat and light snacks (or preorder hot meals prior to the flight) and access to In-Flight entertainment.

Emirates will codeshare on this route and for bookings under the codeshare Emirates passengers will receive complimentary meals and the Emirates checked baggage allowance on flights operated by flydubai in Business and Economy class.  The partnership between flydubai and Emirates announced in 2017 has expanded to meet increasing demand as passengers realise the benefits, such as access to an expanded global network, the convenience of travelling on a single ticket with seamless point to point baggage handling, the alignment of the frequent flyer programme and a smooth transfer during transit in Dubai.

flydubai operates flights to over 90 destinations in 47 countries, including popular routes among Russian travellers, such as Dubai (UAE), Kathmandu (Nepal) and Zanzibar (Tanzania).

Flight Details

flydubai will operate flights FZ985/986 between Dubai International Terminal 2 (DXB) and Sochi International Airport on Mondays and Fridays.

Flight Number Route Departure Time Arrival Time
FZ985/ EK2286 DXB-AER 0:55 3:50
FZ986/ EK2287 AER-DXB 5:10 10:00

Flights can be booked from flydubai’s website (flydubai.com), its Customer Centre in Russia 8 800 555 2833, flydubai Travel Shops or through travel partners.

For the full timetable and fares, please visit: https://www.flydubai.com/en/plan/timetable

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Ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor launches its annual charity campaign in Lebanon

Prior to the holy month of Ramadan, Founding Chairman of Al Habtoor Group, Emirati businessman Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor launched a charity campaign in Lebanon, distributing more than 10,000 food packages to all the needy across Lebanon from North to South. These packages were extended to families from different religions. Aid agencies, relief organizations and non-government organizations, mainly the Lebanese Red Cross, were part of the campaign.

“I extend my best wishes to the Lebanese people with the holy month of Ramadan, as we ask God Almighty to restore this blessed month to Lebanon with security, stability, good and blessings. I thank all those who contributed to the success of this initiative, which would not have borne fruit without the cooperation of the various parties concerned, the heavenly religions call upon us to help the less fortunate people of us to spread the message of love to as many people as possible”, said Mr. Khalaf Al Habtoor. “This campaign is intended for those who think the world has forgotten them, so I am happy to reassure them that they will not be alone in this holy month,” concluded Al Habtoor.

Al Habtoor has made significant contributions to charitable and humanitarian work in various fields. These contributions include Harar Hospital in Akkar, Lebanon, the Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor Medical Simulation Center at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Academic Medical Center, and the Leadership Center at the Illinois College in the United States, a US $ 2.8 million to the “they cried for help and we heeded their call” campaign launched by the UAE Red Crescent to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, and many others, based on his belief in the right to live a dignified and peaceful life without discrimination through giving and participating. This Ramadan campaign is not the first of its kind, and Al Habtoor has given generous gifts to create institutions that contribute to human growth.

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Ministry of Health & Prevention Marks World Malaria Day

  • Hussein Al rand: Governmental efforts to prevent the prevalence of malaria due to the efficiency of the preventive healthcare system
  • Upgrading Traveler Health Clinics to provide more health education and medications for travelers to malaria-endemic countries

Under the theme “Zero Malaria Starts with Me”, the Ministry of Health and Prevention organized recently an event at Radisson Blu Resort, Sharjah, to shed light on the UAE’s effective strategy to prevent and control the spread of communicable diseases in the society.

The event was held in conjunction with the World Malaria Day, which falls on 25 April, and on the twelfth anniversary of declaring the UAE is free of malaria, according to “WHO”.

Held under the presence of H.E. Dr. Hussein Abdel-Rahman Al-Rand, Undersecretary of the Ministry’s Health Assistant Sector, Health Centers and Clinics, the event was attended by Ibrahim Obaid Al Naboodah, Director of the National Center for Malaria Vector Control along with Departmental Directors and representatives of various health authorities and municipalities.

No Malaria Cases Since 1997

At the outset of the event, the sponsors, who effectively contributed to bolstering MoHAP’s efforts to eradicate malaria, have been honored.

Then, Dr. Hussein Al Rand gave a speech, in which, he commended the UAE’s accomplishment as one of the first countries in Eastern Mediterranean Region to be officially declared free of malaria in accordance with WHO.

“The UAE has been declared a malaria-free country since 2007, considering that no malaria cases have been recorded since 1997,” said Al Rand.

He pointed to the efforts exerted by MoHAP and various health authorities to prevent the prevalence of malaria. Al Rand added: “We have a robust malaria surveillance program to detect and treat cases as well as the detection and control of insects in cooperation with neighboring countries.”

“World Malaria Day is an occasion to highlight the need to pursue efforts and increase the commitment to the prevention and control of the disease as well as raise awareness among individuals on avoiding the infection,” said Al Rand.

He explained that the WHO’s African Region is suffering under the burden of almost 90% of the global malaria burden. The matter that causes severe damage to the health systems and reduces productivity, as well as undermines Africa’s economic growth.

Dr. Al Rand said that MoHAP pays great attention to upgrade Travel Health Clinics to include vaccinations for various infectious diseases to citizens and residents. It will also offer health education and preventive medicines for malaria to people who are traveling to malaria-endemic countries.

Diverse Lectures

Eng. Mohamed Al Marzouki, Director of Pest Control Projects Department at Tadweer, spoke about the expertise of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in managing disease vector and the latest developments in monitoring and combatting mosquito.

While Dr. Nabil Al Marhoumi, Public Health Consultant, MoHAP, tackled the importance of keeping the UAE as a malaria-free country, as well as the challenges and opportunities confronting this matter.

Dr. Ahmed Lotfy Sobhy, Communicable Diseases Consultant, Al Qassimi Hospital, showcased the recent developments and new prospects for malaria diagnosis and vaccines.

For his part, Prof. Norbert Nowotny, Professor of Virology, Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, highlighted mosquito-borne diseases.

While Dr. Ahmed Hegazy, Consultant Gastroenterologist, Al Qassimi Hospital, revealed the latest developments of antimalarial drug resistance and treatment methods.

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Experiences and Challenges of Saudi Women Abroad

How Saudi women can contribute to the successful achievement of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030

On the 16th of April, the prestigious George Washington University in Washington D.C., USA saw visitors enter its premises to attend the newest forum dedicated to honoring the journey and accomplishments of Saudi Arabian women. The inaugural edition of The AboutHer Global Forum (AGF) entitled “Saudi Women On The Road To Vision 2030” comprised a series of talks designed to highlight leading Saudi women from various sectors at the forefront of the country’s advancement and progress, specifically focusing on their efforts within the Kingdom and beyond in ensuring Saudi Arabia’s successful transformation by the year 2030.

The event saw a full house of attendees from within the university and visitors from outside the institution. The evening kicked off with a keynote speech by Editor-in-Chief of Sayidaty and Arrajol magazines, Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi, who talked about Saud Arabia’s recent efforts at becoming a fully-inclusive society, one where every citizen has a role to play in the country’s greater vision, and one where Saudi Arabian women are driving growth, leading change, and inspiring the nation. He also discussed the importance of a platform like AGF.

“AGF has been envisioned as an annual platform through which Saudi Arabia’s most innovative, inspirational, and outstanding women at the forefront of our ongoing transformation are highlighted and honored […] This new journey we have chosen to embark on can only be possible when we first and foremost support the visions, talents, efforts, and improved rights of all women in the Kingdom,” he said.

Al-Harthi’s speech was then followed by two panel sessions, the first one entitled “Inspiring Beyond Borders: Perspectives From Saudi Women Across The Globe” and the second one titled “Change From Within: Perspectives From Saudi Women On The Ground.” Moderating the discussions was Dr. Reem Daffa, Vice President and Executive Director at the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC).

Each panel session featured a stellar lineup of speakers including: Farah AlSofyani, a public speaker on women’s empowerment and a holder of an MS in Biotechnology and Drug Discovery at John Hopkins University; Lama AlHawas, a cancer researcher at Georgetown University, Hesa AlYahya, a women’s empowerment advocate and student of political science and economics; Liz Feld, President of The Suzanne Wright Foundation and former Director of News Information at ABC News; Safa Turkustani, a spokesperson for Saudi women in the US; and William F. B. O’Reilly, political columnist for Newsday and current board member at the William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale.

Over the course of the evening, panellists covered a range of pertinent topics, from the role Saudi women can play today in moving the Kingdom forward to the proliferation of stereotypes about Saudi Arabian women in Western media and how Saudi women and the country as a whole are trying to present a more honest, accurate picture in response. AlHawas elaborated on the latter topic, particularly on how Saudi Arabian women are rising above the overall unconstructiveness and instead focusing on a greater objective, saying, “Western media should focus on the reality and successes of Saudi women. We are happy to contribute to this role abroad through our education and achievements. We do not do this for ourselves but for future generations.”

Panellists also discussed the importance of not only having a state that today is striving to support the empowerment of women to become changemakers and leaders but also the importance of Saudi women working to empower each other as well. Speakers highlighted the need to empower oneself through knowledge and skill acquisition, as well as the importance of pursuing formal education and of networking with other inspiring women. Speakers like AlSofyani also discussed other pertinent issues that can contribute to the successful achievement of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, such as the importance of collecting data in the Kingdom to develop local industries and better people’s lives.

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Audi Abu Dhabi and Al Ain launch new ‘myquattro’ loyalty program

Audi customers who own cars for 4 or more years, now benefit from a new ‘myquattro’ loyalty program that includes:

  • Up to 25% discount on parts and labor, and 30% on oil
  • Guaranteed priority service and repair bookings within 24 hours
  • Free annual vehicle health check

Audi Abu Dhabi and Al Ain has launched a comprehensive loyalty program available for all Audi models aged four years or over to satisfy their growing customer base of dedicated owners. The program includes a free annual vehicle health check, discounts on oil, parts and labor and a guaranteed priority booking facility for all service and repair requests within 24 hours.

All customers owning front-wheel drive and quattro models from 2015 or before, are now entitled to join the ‘my quattro’ loyalty program.  As an added benefit, if these older models are sold, the new Audi owner will automatically continue to enjoy the same membership privileges when their registration details are updated within 30 days at Audi Abu Dhabi or Al Ain Service Centre’s.

Jeff Stagg, Head of Aftersales at Audi Abu Dhabi commented, “Customer feedback tells us that our Audi owners are enjoying longer ownership of their Audi models than ever before due to the quality, performance and reliability of the Audi range. In fact, in the last 2 years, the growth of customers owning Audi models of 4 years or more has grown from 39% to 53% of the Audi Abu Dhabi customer base.”

“However, car servicing and maintenance of older models that are out of warranty can be challenging to manage. With customer satisfaction always at the core of our business, we have listened to this feedback and have designed the ‘myquattro’ program specifically to address these concerns and reward our long-term customers.” he added.

To register for the ‘myquattro’ loyalty program and for more information, please visit http://www.audi-abudhabi.com or call 02 5026564 / 03 7131555.

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Former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Ambassador for GEMS World Academy schools

  • GEMS World Academy Dubai students to receive valuable input and advice from statesman
  • Appointment complements existing innovative initiatives at GEMS World Academy, the UAE’s leading IB education school, including its Entrepreneurship Centre – GEMS X, Careers and Counselling Hub, and Student-led Innovation Committee

Ban Ki-moon, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations and co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Center for Global Citizens, has been appointed the official Ambassador for the Model United Nations (MUN) at GEMS World Academy schools, including GEMS World Academy in Dubai. The South Korean statesman will hold the position for the next three years, giving students the unprecedented opportunity to gain valuable insights from one of the world’s most admired leaders.

The UAE’s leading International Baccalaureate (IB) school, GEMS World Academy Dubai hosts the MUN as part of its curriculum. An education simulation activity in which students learn about diplomacy, international relations and the United Nations, MUN is designed to develop students’ skills and shape their worldview. Serving as Ambassador for the MUN, Ban Ki-moon will be invited to open the MUN’s annual conference, where GEMS World Academy Dubai students will be able to participate in simulated sessions of the General Assembly or Security Council and get advice on diplomacy skills and learn about key issues that impact the 21st century.

Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nation and co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Center for Global Citizens, said: “I am delighted to join hands with GEMS Education as the Ambassador for the Model United Nations at GEMS World Academy schools. It is critical that today’s youth take on responsibility for the world we live in from an early educational platform, and it is essential that educators empower students to talk about issues such as the environment and sustainability so that we can limit any adverse effects on our future generations. In partnering with GEMS Education, the UAE’s leading K12 education provider, we can reach a far-reaching audience to instil change for the betterment of humankind.”

Sunny Varkey, Founder and Chairman of GEMS Education, said: “Ban Ki-moon is a true statesman who has impressed the world with his diplomatic skills and his decisive stance on a variety of pressing issues faced by humanity. We are honoured that Ban Ki-moon has graciously accepted to be the official Ambassador for the Model United Nations at our GEMS World Academy schools. With several student-led innovations, GEMS World Academy Dubai has set benchmarks for academic excellence and underlined its position as the leading IB education school in the country. With the generous support of Ban Ki-moon, our students have an unrivalled learning opportunity to take notes from such an inspirational figure. They can develop a stronger understanding of diplomacy and gain a clearer worldview on current issues, helping them become truly global citizens.”

GEMS World Academy Dubai, founded in 2008 as a member of the GEMS Education network of schools, has gone from strength to strength and now welcomes more than 2,000 students from 85 countries every day.

GEMS Education, the largest operator of IB schools, will play a key role in supporting donations to the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens. The centre is an independent, non-profit organisation that focuses on global citizenship, youth and women by implementing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Ban Ki-moon has also agreed to contribute to the Global Education Skills Forum, the annual event in Dubai that brings together leaders from the public, private and social sectors around the world and culminates with the Varkey Foundation’s $1M Global Teacher Prize.

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First and Foremost to launch dynamic and direct, real time link between ME hotels and tour operators at ATM

  • Dubai-based hospitality group aims to provide connectivity between hotel PMS and tour operators’ booking system, through dedicated Centrium XML gateway
  • Arabian Travel Market ideal platform to showcase state-of-the-art solution to region’s travel and tourism sector

Dubai-based hospitality and travel group company First and Foremost Travel Connections, is launching a dynamic B2B hotel booking system at Arabian Travel Market 2019, having recently signed a partnership agreement with UK hotel and travel distribution company Centrium Systems.

“We will market Centrium’s cloud-based software, throughout the Middle East, Indian Ocean, SE Asia and Africa. Through its XML gateway, we can provide direct connectivity between hotels and resorts and contracted blue chip tour operators, many of which feature international brands.

“In addition, we can offer real time availability, instant, dynamic rate adjustment, up-to-date inventory control, along with instant reservation and confirmation,” commented Michael Scully, Managing Director, First and Foremost Hospitality Group.

“The travel industry is a highly fragmented market with an overwhelming number of wholesalers and tour operators, each with their own specifications, policies and procedures. As such it is Centrium’s simplicity and effectiveness that are the keys to its success,” added Scully.

Centrium accommodates a much simpler and most importantly, a cost-effective and time sensitive shortcut to integrate disparate channels, by acting as a single hub or gateway for multiple hotel wholesalers. The gateway requires minimal installation and can also be connected to any existing booking engine or GDS.

“Centrium’s distribution model reaches over 100 tour operators, 6,000 travel agents and through more than 100 direct connections interfaces with major tour operators such as British Airways Holidays, Virgin Holidays and dnata, to name but a few,” said Scully.

With increased visibility and direct connectivity between hotels and tour operators, hotels can offer tour operators an open inventory, giving them access to the hotel’s inventory through their property management system (PMS) to make direct bookings from their allocation or to free-sell through to last available room. At the same time, hotels can make instant rate adjustments, direct to a global market.

The arrangement also promotes a win-win situation for both hotels and tour operators, with an instant and direct reservation and confirmation function, each party can still maintain their own individual client relationship.

“Moreover, the largest tour operators are already contracted into the Centrium system so bookings are made directly with them, not via a third party,” explained Scully.

First and Foremost, will initially target individual hotels, small hotel groups, destination management companies (DMCs), government tourism bodies and hotel associations, secure in the knowledge that the Centrium system has been operating successfully for the last 12 years – mainly between the Caribbean and United Kingdom and now generates over $100 million in annual turnover.

The return especially for smaller independent properties is significant. Many hotels that have already signed-up have experienced increased resort sales of between 15 and 25%.

“Hotels and destinations are selling direct and acting as principles both in a tour operator and agent capacity, which is now trending. 92% of the global hotel stock is now connected and hoteliers want a streamlined solution to distribution and in terms of the bottom line, the less hoteliers and tour operators have to rely on third party distributors, the more likely they are to improve their margins,” said Scully.

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 Gulf Capital Closes Long-Term AED 500 million Revolver Credit Facility

New facility will further boost Gulf Capital’s liquidity and enable it to continue its investment activities across the Middle East

Gulf Capital, one of the largest and most active alternative asset management firms in the Middle East, announced today that it has successfully closed a new long-term AED 500 million syndicated revolving credit facility from its existing lenders. The new four-year facility will boost the Firm’s liquidity and help it maintain its strong investment pace across the Middle East.

Dr Karim El Solh, Chief Executive Officer of Gulf Capital, said: “We are very pleased to be signing this long-term flexible revolver facility which will fully secure our current funding needs. Gulf Capital today is one of the best capitalised investment firms in the region and is evaluating a number of new investment opportunities across the region. We believe there is a unique window today to secure promising investments at attractive valuations in high growth sectors across the Middle East.”

He added: “Gulf Capital has been particularly active over the last 18 months, with the successful closure of seven new and follow-on investments at the portfolio companies’ level across our private equity and private debt platforms. The Firm has been equally productive on the exit side, having secured and closed five exits during the same period. We are looking forward to a productive 2019 as we maintain our investment pace and continue to work on a number of strategic exits over the coming year.”

Mr Wissam Daoud, Chief Financial Officer of Gulf Capital concluded: “Gulf Capital today has a robust balance sheet, and this new flexible line of credit will further enhance the Company’s liquidity and its ability to continue its investment activities across the region.”

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