Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mercator says “Bienvenido” to Aeroméxico

DUBAI, U.A.E., 22nd September 2010 – Mercator, a Dubai-based global leader in business technology solutions for the airline and transportation industry, has spread its wings further across the globe this month, implementing its loyalty solutions CRIS (Customer Relationship Information System) and CASA (Customer Affairs and Service Audit) in Latin America with Aeroméxico.

Aeroméxico and its subsidiary, Aeroméxico Connect, together operate more than 500 daily flights. Mercator’s CRIS solution will be used worldwide to manage Club Premier, Aeromexico's award winning loyalty programme, as well as its Club Premier Corporativo and Salon Premier schemes.  Introduced in 1992, Club Premier was the first Frequent Flyer Programme to be introduced in Latin America and it now has more than two million members.

Mercator’s CRIS product will optimise the airline’s loyalty services and enhance the overall customer experience.  It will also reduce costs and improve communications with customers. In addition, the CASA solution will allow Aeroméxico to raise customer loyalty as the airline becomes more customer focussed and creates rewards to ensure their continued business with the airline. The migration of Aeroméxico’s loyalty system to Mercator's solution is part of its continuous improvement strategy to provide high quality products and services.

After the recent contract signing in Mexico City by Patrick Naef, Head of Mercator and Ricardo Sanchez Baker, CFO, Aeroméxico, Patrick said: “This partnership is very significant for us, as Aeroméxico is our launch customer for both our CRIS and CASA products in Latin America. We really want to help airlines differentiate themselves from the competition and respond to the needs of their own customers by empowering them with a complete view of the customer.”

Jeremy Rabe, Director of Club Premier, Aeroméxico said: “We are always looking for ways to provide a superior customer experience at every touch point.  Having a state-of-the-art loyalty solution is one of many steps we are taking towards this goal. The implementation of CRIS will allow us to enhance our customer knowledge, implement more frequent promotions and increase our speed in handling customer requests.”

CRIS, created and developed by Mercator’s dedicated team in Dubai, has been designed to effectively manage customer relationship and frequent flier programmes in a single integrated system. The loyalty solution is versatile and flexible and can also be used for non-aviation businesses. Recently the solution was implemented at Etisalat, the U.A.E.’s largest telecommunications provider. 

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About Mercator
Mercator is a global provider of business technology solutions, serving over 100 customers across five continents. Mercator’s products include passenger and airport solutions, airline financial management, cargo and logistics, business process outsourcing, IT consulting and systems integration as well as customer relationship management and loyalty. From its Dubai base Mercator also provides the Emirates Group with the full range of business technologies it requires. Mercator employs over 1,500 business technology professionals and has an increasing number of partnerships with leading IT software, hardware and systems development organisations.

About Grupo Aeroméxico
Grupo Aeroméxico is comprised of four different affiliates: Aeroméxico, Mexico's largest transcontinental airline, Aeroméxico Connect, charter airline Aeroméxico Travel and EMA, the Group's airline maintenance company. Its fleet includes 777, 767, 737, and MD80 aircraft and next generation Embraer 145 and 190 aircraft. Grupo Aeroméxico operates its main hub out of Terminal 2 at the Mexico City International Airport. The Group operates over 500 daily flights to different destinations in Mexico, the United States, Central and South America, and Europe and Asia.

Aeroméxico is a founding member of SkyTeam, the global airline alliance partnering 13 members which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. SkyTeam offers its passengers mileage accrual and redemption benefits, global flights and connections with one single check-in process for the entire flight. The alliance serves its more than 393 million annual passengers through its worldwide system that includes more than 13,000 daily flights to 884 destinations in 169 countries.


Abu Dhabi, UAE. 22nd September 2010: Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and HSBC, the world’s local bank, have entered into a five-year partnership which sees the bank become title sponsor of Abu Dhabi’s flagship PGA European Tour event – the first international title sponsorship of an Abu Dhabi sporting event.
The partnership means the tournament, which next runs January 20-23 at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, will now be known as the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and its 2011 prize fund rises to US $2.7 million - a US $500,000 increase - making it the richest purse of the Tour’s Desert Swing.
ADTA, which initiated the championship in 2006, is also committed to hosting the most impressive playing field yet and is optimistic of attracting at least five of the world’s Top Ten players and to mounting its most expansive spectator offering of improved facilities and attractions in its championship village.
“This partnership ushers in a new era for the championship and golf in Abu Dhabi,” said His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman, ADTA. “It is in many ways a coming of age for the championship and for Abu Dhabi’s ambitions as a credible golfing destination.
“This is a coming together of two organisations which share considerable synergies. Both have a diverse and inclusive culture and an uncompromising commitment to ethical and sustainable business practices taking responsibility for the social and environmental impact of their operations.  Both also have an abiding commitment to community engagement. It is a meeting of minds in which we see a world of potential.”
The first player to confirm for the upcoming Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship is reigning champion and two-time winner Martin Kaymer, also the current US PGA Championship title holder and world number five. Kaymer of Germany, who clinched his debut European Tour win in the UAE capital more than two years ago, first lifted Abu Dhabi’s coveted Falcon trophy in 2008 and repeated his success in 2010.
ADTA is optimistic Kaymer will defend his title against a stellar field of champions. Already confirmed are world number three, Lee Westwood, and two-time Abu Dhabi Champion, Paul Casey. Others from the world’s elite are currently being firmed up and ADTA will announce major additions to what it expects to be the event’s most competitive field to date.
ADTA’s championship ambitions have been matched by 26-year-old Kaymer who says he’s eager to return to Abu Dhabi Golf Club’s stunning Par 72 National Course and mount a bid to become the first golfer to clinch a hat-trick of Falcon trophy wins.
Abu Dhabi is very special to me as it is where I won my first title. I enjoy everything about it, from the beautiful weather to the amazing hospitality and facilities. Having seen the field, I certainly have my work cut out for me in defending the title,” said Kaymer, who makes his Ryder Cup debut next month.
“It is great news that HSBC is joining ADTA as the bank is a great investor in world golf and its events are always first-class in every aspect. They will fit perfectly with this prestigious tournament.
This year has been amazing for me. First I regained my title at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and then I won my first Major and qualified for the European Ryder Cup team. I am already looking forward to defending my title in January.”
Westwood, winner of over 30 international tournaments, has earmarked Abu Dhabi’s Falcon trophy as the next addition to his already burgeoning silverware collection.
“Everything about the event is quality and the players are treated like royalty throughout the week. With the great weather and quality facilities it is the ideal place to start the season. I think HSBC is a great addition as it will bring experience of running the World Golf Championship-HSBC Champions to an already world-class championship. I think the field will be stronger than ever as a result of this new partnership,” said Westwood.
“Having had so much time off this year with my calf injury, I will be looking to kick my 2011 season off well. A win at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship would be the perfect start to my season.”
Paul Casey, the current world number seven, believes the partnership will be a major boost for golf in the emirate.
“In the ADTA and HSBC we have two wonderful supporters of world golf who are both very forward thinking in their implementation making their tournaments stand out above the rest.  I think they will be an amazing combination,” said Casey.
The new Abu Dhabi partnership builds on HSBC’s burgeoning portfolio of world-class golfing tournament sponsorships. The Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship is the bank’s first golfing title partnership in the Middle East.  
The move also further underlines HSBC’s commitment to ‘Championing Golf Worldwide’ as it looks to build on its junior, amateur and professional programmes in more than 25 countries including the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai and the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore.
“ADTA has been very generous in welcoming us as the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship’s title sponsor. Golf is a very important part of HSBC’s marketing programme and the Middle East is a key region to the bank’s business. We have seen significant growth of our business and brand through our global golf sponsorship programme in recent years and we feel ADTA has established a top-tier event of the highest quality that fits extremely well with our brand,” said Simon Cooper, Deputy Chairman and CEO, Middle East and North Africa, HSBC.
Looking to attract the championship’s biggest ever spectator turnout, ADTA has promised a substantially expanded championship village with more attractions, restaurants, cafes and competitions.
“Our determination to build both the championship’s playing field and the spectator offering is a clear signal of our intention to consolidate Abu Dhabi’s mounting credentials as a golfing and leisure destination of distinction,” said His Excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi, ADTA’s Director General and Chairman of the Championship Committee.
“This emirate’s golfing facilities have expanded significantly over the past year with Abu Dhabi now boasting three world-class, championship-ready facilities. The championship takes Abu Dhabi’s name to a world of golfers who are able to book golfing vacations through the increasing number of international and local tour operators who are packaging the sport here. Championship visitors will this year find a significantly enhanced leisure offering with more golf courses, mega attractions including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and stunning new resorts.
“The tie-up with HSBC will also take news of the championship to the bank’s impressive network of 8,000 offices in 87 countries, 220,000 shareholders in 119 countries and over 110 million customers worldwide – a compelling reach.”
The latest championship developments have received an enthusiastic response from the European Tour.
George O’Grady CBE, the Tour’s Chief Executive, said: “This championship has quickly established itself as an extremely popular event on The European Tour international schedule, with our members continuing to enjoy outstanding hospitality and a superb, challenging golf course. HSBC is a strong long-term partner of both the Tour and IMG, and we are delighted that it has signed a five-year agreement to title-sponsor the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. The increased prize fund of $2,700,000 in 2011 will provide a solid platform to launch a run of four exceptional weeks in the Gulf next January.”

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship is backed by a high-profile sponsorship line-up that also includes Etihad Airways, Al Naboodah, Emirates Palace hotel, Etisalat, Airbus, Xerox, CNN and Rolex.
More information can be found on the tournament’s new website 


Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau’s (SLTPB) Middle East office reported an enormous surge of Arab travellers as Middle East Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka rose by an unprecedented 102 per cent in the first six months of 2010 compared to the same period last year, according to statistics compiled by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

“Regardless of apprehensions of an unsteady global economy, Middle East’s discerning travellers are spending time and money on travel and Sri Lanka has been one of the preferred destinations of choice with a meteoric rise in tourists during H1 2010,” observed Ms Heba Al Mansoori, Middle East Director of SLTPB.

"We have just closed in on the results of the first six months of 2010 and we're up 102% as compared to H1 2009," Ms Al Mansoori said. "While 2009 was when the recovery process started, with the end of three decades of war, the rebound has been robust and rapid and the recovery is being driven and led by the Middle East with strong growth from key markets including the UAE up by 209%, Saudi Arabia up by 96% and Kuwait up by 50%."

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is resilient and the government is sparing no efforts to revitalize the tourism industry as they recognize that tourism has a key role to play in the country’s economic recovery and stability.

“Our outlook remains positive for the rest of the year as we have successfully built a relationship of trust with both regional consumers and the travel trade and will continue to reap benefits with the gradually improving economic situation,” Ms Al Mansoori stated.

Apart from the Middle East, regions that proved to be a major source market for Sri Lanka and recorded growth in H1 2010 included North America (up by 70%), Western Europe (up by 45%), Eastern Europe (up by 22%), Africa (up by 18%), East Asia (up by 44%), South Asia (up by 53%) and Australasia (up by 44%).

While commenting on SLTPB’s Middle East marketing drive, Ms. Al Mansoori said, “We have had to adapt to the changing needs of the consumers and capitalize on trends such as late booking, increasing use of the internet to look and book by increasing Sri Lanka’s presence in the web domain regionally.”

Ms. Al Mansoori noted that in the Middle East in particular, travelling closer and for shorter periods of time and demanding value for money, seem to have been accentuated during the post crisis period. “The regional outbound market is evolving and inescapably requires changes as we need to know and understand consumers better to be able to market to them,” she said.

SLTPB opened its office in Dubai in May 2008 to maximize the opportunities emerging throughout the Middle East while strengthening support for the travel trade in the region. Since then the Dubai office has co-ordinated all of Sri Lanka’s tourism promotional activities in the Arab markets including exhibition participation, marketing visits, presentations and road shows, brochure distribution, public relations, as well as familiarization visits to the island for influential business and travel journalists. The office also functions as the preliminary contact point and enquiry processing centre for travel trade companies and tourists in the region.

Sri Lanka is now on the threshold of developing to its full potential as a prime tourism destination with diverse offerings for members of the whole family whether it is beaches, shopping, visits to wildlife reserves, relaxing at a spa, or simply enjoying the cuisine.

BPG Group celebrates 30 year anniversary at its 17th annual workshop

UAE, Dubai, 23rd September, 2010: BPG Group (BatesPanGulf), one of the larger marketing solutions groups in the Middle East, celebrated 30 years success at the Company’s 17th annual workshop held at The Yas Hotel off the Yas Marina F1 Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

The Group announcement by Mr. Avi Bhojani, Group CEO of BPG, unveiled the future direction for the BPG Group. The quality driven strategy will see BPG differentiate itself in the market by offering marketing solutions to its clients, with a vision to become the most trusted solutions provider in the region.

Over three days, the workshop brought side-by-side eminent industry professionals and BPG Group’s 220 team members and associates from 11 different countries. Joined by BPG Group Chairman Mr. Abdulla Majed Al Ghurair and prominent industry speakers including, Mr. John O’Keeffe, Worldwide Creative Director of WPP, Mr. Paul Bell, CEO of Bell Pottinger Group, Mr. Toby Hoare, CEO, JWT Europe, CEO, Team HSBC for WPP and BPG Board Member, Mr. Kelly Clark, Global CEO of Maxus Worldwide, Mr. Kenny Powar CEO Blue Interactive, Mr. Ozgur Aksugur, Global COO, Blue Interactive, Singapore, and Mr. Christian Schroeder, CEO of Lambie-Nairn.
Held between September 15th and 17th, 2010, the 17th annual workshop, themed ‘BPG Pitstop 2010’ enabled BPG team members, to come together to learn, immerse in workshop challenges and reconnect. One of the most thought provoking challenges issued was the syndicated case study, where after just 30 hours, groups of team members, from cross functional disciplines and across geographies, were tasked to conceptualise, research, brand and pitch an integrated solutions plan to an eminent jury including Mr. Ahmed Al Hashmi, Chief Commercial Officer, India, Etisalat, Mr. Eric Kerboriou, Marketing Director, Nawras, Oman, Mr. Mikkel Vinter, CEO & Founder Friendi Group, Mr. Kenny Powar CEO Blue Interactive and Mr. Christian Schroeder, CEO of Lambie-Nairn.      

Talking about the BPG Group vision for the future and the off-site challenges, Mr. Avi Bhojani, Group CEO of BPG commented; “The last 30 years has been an important journey for the BPG Group. Consciously adapting our offering to meet the changing market as enabled BPG to differentiate itself and remain a head of the times. If you don’t know what the problem is, you don’t know what the solution is. That’s why at ‘BPG Pitstop 2010’ we announced the move away from services to providing marketing solutions for our clients. I genuinely did not think that we could raise the bar higher following last years event, but the BPG team proved me wrong. I am extremely proud of our BPG team members. Through the accomplishments, commitment and passion of our people BPG has reached this milestone and come together in a workshop in a truly outstanding way. I am continuously grateful for the many years of support and guidance by Mr. Addulla Majed Al Ghurair, Chairman of the BPG Group, and his unwavering commitment to the BPG Group.”      

In his speech, Mr. Paul Bell, chief executive of the Bell Pottinger Group, spoke of the strong working partnership between Bell Pottinger and the BPG Group and said, “The trust that has developed between BPG and Bell Pottinger in the course of our six and a half year relationship is remarkable." Mr. Bell also noted that the technology revolution had transferred enormous power to consumers and voters, and put individuals at the centre of communication. This had introduced major changes in the way opinion is formed, and that among communications disciplines, public relations and digital content generation had come strongly to the foreground in reputation management.

Speaking at the offsite, Mr. Toby Hoare said: “I am always happy to return to BPG. The vision, leadership, team and professionalism of the group have never waivered in 30 years, and, although I have my day job at JWT and managing Team HSBC for WPP, returning to BPG is always a valuable and insightful pleasure.”   

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Heir to the rich watchmaking heritage of Baume & Mercier, this collection pays tribute to the traditional expertise and the spirit of innovation of which William Baume remains the symbolic guardian.

Ultra-thin watches have always been synonymous with superior elegance and extreme technical sophistication. Baume & Mercier began to specialize in ultra-thin watches from 1920 onwards, and in 1965 the brand caused a sensation with the thinnest self-winding calendar watch of its era.

Baume & Mercier is now offering a special expression of its expertise in this field with this unique William Baume Ultra-Thin model. It differs from the previous version by three special features. The WB-UT002 movement manufactured by Valfleurier for Baume & Mercier is even more efficient, endowed with a power reserve amounting to 60 hours compared with 40 hours for the previous model. The watch is also 0.4 mm thicker while nonetheless remaining ultra-thin with a 6.2 mm profile. The case-back is now open to reveal the mechanical hand-wound movement, admirably adorned with “Côtes de Genève” on the mainplate and bridges, along with blued steel screws.

This special edition retains its silvered dial with “Vieux Panier” guilloché décor, its elegant javelin-shaped hands and its hand-stitched chestnut brown strap. Its XL 41 mm case is crafted in 18K red gold. Limited, numbered. 


Parisian luxury fashion house SAINT HONORE announced the launch of stylish accessories, the perfect companion for any gentleman. Designed and crafted with the same attention to detail as our timepieces, SAINT HONORE pens and cufflinks are the expression of true refined elegance.

Since 1885, SAINT HONORE has been reknowned as a trendy watchmaker synonymous with the world-famous “Paris-style”, and have created collections of unrivalled design. From Paris to New York, and Tokyo to Dubai, the brand’s exceptional watchmaking expertise exerts an irresistible attraction on those who love contemporary pieces.

Backed by “Swiss-made” quality, a unique spirit, high-status materials and bold finishes, SAINT HONORE offers watches, jewellery and accessories that reflect and interpret today’s desires.

Today SAINT HONORE is a truly global brand with a presence in more than 50 countries and is a fast growing style icon and creative force to reckon with. With two production houses utilizing centuries old traditions and expertise and blending it with modern design trends to create a contemporary collection designed to meet the tastes of discerning audiences worldwide. SAINT HONORE’s Tourbillon 1885 range has firmly established the brand’s credibility and technical virtuosity amongst the elite of watchmakers.


While there are a variety of challenging exercises to stimulate the whole brain, the jigsaw puzzle remains, by far, one of the most intriguing mental exercises that helps in improving memory function as well as other brain functions that need stimulation.

Luxury French Jewellery manufacturer AKILLIS has taken the world of jewellery outside its comfort zone by designing retro puzzles and reintroducing them as pieces of exquisite jewellery breaking away from the floral designs and patterns that have been a hallmark of women’s jewellery for decades.

“The AKILLIS philosophy is about setting new standards and revitalizing an ancient and conservative establishment by introducing new design concepts using quality materials, unique style and innovative design,” observed Caroline Gaspard, CEO of AKILLIS.

She noted that with the new AKILLIS Puzzle collection is fashioned with a classic touch yet adds a flare of edginess fitting for a 21st century trendsetter. “The brand is taking fine jewellery into a new era, where sophistication and luxury blend effortlessly with fun, freedom, authenticity and inimitability,” Ms Gaspard added.

AKILLIS’ puzzle range is designed to fit clients’ distinctive lifestyles and all material chosen are hand-selecting and meet the stringent demands of the highest quality gold, diamonds and gemstones for every piece created.

Fine jewellery by AKILLIS offers a fresh take on jewellery designs and breaks free from the conventional and archaic moulds, and is inspired by the luxurious shapes of the present and future era, and infused with the contemporary, electric edge that is brought to life by Ms Gaspard. AKILLIS’s pieces are stunning and artistic, an instant favourite of the effortlessly chic modern woman.

Each and every piece of jewellery is made in France, and is crafted by talented Parisian artisans and the jewellery is a bold, yet elegant, display of beauty. AKILLIS designs are comfortable to wear, following the curves of the body like a second skin. Their lightness is only equalled by their majesty and acute attention is paid to minor details. 

MENA Lags in Online Shopping

Just three in ten Internet users in the Middle East and North Africa purchase goods and services online according to a new survey published by online research company Effective Measure and Spot On Public Relations. The survey of almost 7,000 Internet users across the MENA region shows that the GCC leads with some 43% of Internet users buying products or services online. However, overall the region lags behind other markets when it comes to online shopping, particularly when compared with developed markets such as the United Kingdom, where some 62% of all Internet users shop online.

“There is undoubtedly enormous potential for growth in the MENA online retail sector, as well as an immediate opportunity for targeted marketing to effectively reach the significant audience that’s already actively buying online,” said Brendon Ogilvy,  Vice President, digital insight at  Effective Measures. “Despite the fact that the overall level of online shopping activity is low, at 32% of Internet users, that still represents a market of more than 20 million online shoppers across the Arab world. The new survey report provides some useful insights for brands in the region investing in online marketing or considering consumer e-commerce initiatives.”

Whilst the survey shows many similarities between the habits of female and male buyers online, female shoppers are more likely to buy clothes and accessories, while men are more likely to buy electronics. In general, men are also more likely to shop online, with those between 30-50 years of age being the most active shoppers. In the GCC, top buys online during June, July and August 2010 include airline tickets (31%), hotel reservation and tourism services (15%), books (15%), computer software (14%) and clothing, accessories and shows (12%). 8% of respondents bought music, while 10% bought videos/DVDs and games.

“It will come as no surprise to many that the GCC has the most advanced online commerce market, but the survey shows some much needed perspective for online marketers in the region,” said Spot On PR managing director Carrington Malin. “While GCC leads the region’s online buying with four in ten Internet users buying online at least once a month, only two in ten Internet users buy online in the Levant and North Africa. There are also some clear differences in products and services purchased from region to region.”

The Effective Measure | Spot On PR survey was carried out in September 2010.  The survey was conducted online via the Effective Measure survey technology (active across more than 100 websites in MENA). Total sample size was n=6998

Consumer Prices Up 3.59% in August; SCAD: Abu Dhabi Inflation for the Year to August at 2.67%

Statistics Center – Abu Dhabi (SCAD) released yesterday its Monthly Report of the Consumer Price Index for the month of August 2010, using the price data of 2007 as the base year. The bulletin reports CPI data according to the types and levels households’ of welfare.

According to the report, the average rise in consumer prices for the first eight months of 2010 was 2.67%, compared to the same period of 2009. This is evident from the advance in the CPI for the period January-August 2010 to 118.29 points, up from 115.22 points over the same period of 2009.

As the report reveals, the percentage monthly year-over-year rise in the CPI for August 2010 was 3.59%, as the index advanced from 115.75 points in August 2009 to 119.91 points in August 2010.

Meanwhile the percentage month-to-month rise in the CPI for August 2010 compared to July 2010 was 0.81%, as the index increased from 118. 95 points in July 2010 to 119.91 points in August 2010.

Analyzed by it impact at the household welfare levels, the 2.67% surge in consumer prices during the first eight months of 2010 compared with the same period in 2009 has led to an increase of 2.02% in consumer prices for households of the bottom welfare quintile. Over the same period, consumer prices grew by 2.51% for households of top quintile and by 2.92% for the upper middle welfare quintile, the largest increase among the five welfare levels.

The report also illustrates that that overall 2.67% rise in the year-over-year in consumer prices for the first eight months of 2010 has pushed up consumer prices for national households by 2.13%, compared to 3.51% for non-national households and 1.81% for collective households.

As SCAD’s report elaborates, average consumer prices for the first eight months of 2010 increased by 2.67% compared to the same period of the year 2009, as seen from the rise in the CPI for the first eight months of 2010 to 118.29 points, up from 115.22 points for the same period of 2009. This rise in the prices reflects the net change in the consumer basket prices (i.e. the outcome of upward and downward movement) during the two periods compared.

As SCAD clarifies, an increase in the CPI does not necessarily imply higher prices for all the goods and services that make up the consumer basket, nor does it mean that all goods and services have increased by the same percentage (2.67%); for there are goods and services whose prices have risen at rates above the overall rate (2.67%) and others whose rate of increase was below the general average. There are also goods and services whose prices have fallen. However, the net change or the combined outcome of these changes (upward and downward movements) in the prices of the consumer basket during the first eight months of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009 produced an overall increase in prices by (2.67%).

The report displays the relative changes in the prices of the major expenditure groups and the percentage contribution of each group to the overall change during the first seven months of 2010 compared with the same period in 2009.

SCAD’s report reveals that the "housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels" group remained the largest contributor to the overall increase in prices during the first eight months of 2010, having accounted for 70.4% of that increase. This contribution resulted from a surge of 4.9% in the prices of this group and due the group’s sizable weight, which constitutes 37.9% of the total weight of all expenditure groups. The main cause underlying the increase in the average price of this group was a rise of 5.5% in house rents, which make up 87.7% of the total weight of the group.

The second largest contributor to the rise in consumer prices during the first seven months of 2010 compared with the same period in 2009 was the "Food and non-alcoholic beverages group", which accounted for 30.2% of the rise in the index, due to increases in the prices of most of the subgroups falling under this group, namely “sugar, jam, honey, chocolate and confectionery", which surged 35.4%, while “meat” prices grew by 11.2%, “vegetables” by 9.1%, “fish and seafood” by 4.7%, “foods not elsewhere classified” by 3.8%, , "coffee, tea and cocoa" by 2.7% and “fruits” by 1.8%.

The next highest contributor to the overall year-over-year increase in the CPI over the first eight months of 2010 was the "food and non-alcoholic beverages group", which accounted for 31.2% of the rise in the index, due to increases in the prices of most of the subgroups falling under this group, namely “sugar, jam, honey, chocolate and confectionery", which surged 33.73%, while “meat” prices grew by 11.6%, “vegetables” by 9.5%, “fish and seafood” by 4.8%, “foods not elsewhere classified” by 4.4% and "coffee, tea and cocoa" and “fruits” by 2.7% each. On the hand the prices of the “bread and cereals” subgroup declined by 8.1%, “oils and fats” by 5.9%, “milk, cheese and eggs” by 1.3% and “mineral waters, soft drinks, fruit and vegetable juices” by 0.5%.
The “Education” group accounted for 21.0% of overall increase occurring during the first eight months of 2010 compared to the same period of 2009, while the “transport” group contributed 13.1% to the year-over year rise in consumer prices for the periods compared, as a result of an increase of 3.8% in its component subgroups, namely, the “transport services” subgroup which advanced 4.0% and the “operation of personal transport equipment” subgroup, whose prices grew by 1.5% due to a rise in the “spare parts and accessories of personal transport equipment” by 8.0%, in addition to an increase of 4.2% in the prices of the group “other services related to personal transport equipment”.

Among the main groups that slowed down consumer prices during the first eight months of 2010 compared to the same period of 2009 was the "clothing and footwear," group, which detracted 28.2% from the overall rise in consumer prices. The prices of this group retreated by 7.2% as a result of a drop in the prices of the “clothing” and “footwear” subgroups by 5.7% and 22.7%, respectively during the period specified. The “communications” group detracted 14.1% from the overall increase in consumer prices during the period under review, owing to a drop of 5.6% in the prices of this group, due a decline of in the price of the “telephone and telefax equipment” and the “telephone and telefax services” subgroups by 13.53% and 5.7%, respectively.

Drawing a year-over-year comparison of August price levels, SCAD’s monthly report finds that average consumer prices advanced 3.59% in August 2010 compared to August 2009, as the CPI accelerated to 119.91 points in August 2010, up from 115.75 points in August 2009, reflecting the net price movements during the two months under comparison.

According to the report, The largest rise in prices during August 2010 compared to August 2009 was in the “education” group which advanced 20.1%, followed by the “transport” group, which surged 8.4%, the “food and non-alcoholic beverages” group, which rose 8.1%. On the other hand, the “clothing and footwear” group retreated by 8.4% and the communication group by 0.2% due to a decline of 9.6% in the prices of “mail services” and a fall of 19.9% in the prices of “telephone and telefax equipment”.

SCAD’s reports reveals a rise of 0.81% in the CPI for August 2010 compared to July 2010, as the CPI advanced from 118.95 points in July 2010 to 119.91 points in August 2010.

The key expenditure groups that showed observable increases during the month of August 2010 compared to July 2010 include the “communication” group, which surged by 12.6%, and the "food and non-alcoholic beverages" group, whose prices grew 1.3%, due to rises in some of its subgroups, namely “vegetables” by 8.7% and “meat” by 3.0%.

Despite the overall 0.81% rise the consumer price index for August 2010 compared to July 2010, the prices of the “clothing and footwear” group” and those of the “miscellaneous goods and services” group retreated by 1.6% and 0.4%, respectively, while other groups generally remained unchanged when their price levels for August 2010 are compared with those of July 2010.

Elaborating on the impact of the CPI movement on different welfare levels, the report shows that the rise in consumer prices during the first eight months of 2010 by 2.67% above their levels over the same period in 2009 resulted in a surge of 2.02% in consumer prices for households of the bottom welfare quintile for the same period of comparison. The corresponding rise for other welfare levels was 2.51% for households of the top quintile and 2.92% for the upper middle quintile, which experienced the largest increase among the five welfare levels.

The corresponding rises produced by the overall 3.59% increase in consumer prices during the month of August 2010 compared to August 2009 were 3.59% for the bottom welfare level, 3.11% for the top welfare level and 3.88% for the upper middle welfare quintile.
The report also details the impact on different welfare levels produced by the 0.81% increase in consumer prices during the month of August 2010 compared to July 2010, which implied a rise of 1.72% in consumer prices for the bottom quintile, but affected the lower middle, the middle and upper middle welfare quintiles as a rises of 1.18%, 0.92% and 0.80% in consumer prices for the said welfare levels. The corresponding rise for the top quintiles, however, was 0.53%, i.e. the uppermost level felt the rise the least, while the lowest welfare quintile was the hit the hardest.

Analyzed by impact according to household type, the overall 3.59% rise in consumer prices during August 2010 as compared to August 2009 resulted a surge of 3.48% in August 2010 consumer prices for national households, compared to corresponding rises of 3.83% and 3.09% for non-national and collective households, respectively.

Finally, a break down by household type of the 0.81% rise in consumer prices for August 2010 compared with July 2010 reveals an increase of 0.73% in consumer prices for the national households segment, while the corresponding rises for non-national and collective households were 0.64% and 1.99%, respectively.

The consumer price Index (CPI) is one of the critically important inputs for the purposes of planning and research in various disciplines. Statistics centers and agencies in different countries consistently compile these indices, which depend on the prices of a basket of goods and services consumed by the household sector. The figures thus calculated constitute a time series that provides a measure of changes in the cost of living over time.
In preparing its CPI reports, Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi follows the methodologies adopted internationally in this field.

SCAD’s Price Indices Section has recently developed the computing of the CPI so that it is compiled according to households’ types and levels of welfare. As for the welfare level approach, the population is divided into five segments (quintiles) representing five levels of welfare, based on average per capita annual expenditure. Each quintile reflects the consumption pattern represented by that quintile. In regard to the household type approach, the population is divided into three types of households as set out in the results of the Household Income and Expenditure Survey (2007-2008), namely, national, non-national and collective households.

To represent all regions of the Emirate, the selected sample of items included in the Consumer Price Index basket uses actual data from the 2007/2008 household income and expenditure survey. The sample of outlets were selected in such a way as to represent points of purchase for a large base of consumers all over the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, taking into account the geographical distribution of sources within the emirate.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Aware of the market dynamics in Dubai and opportunities available in the Gulf markets, Japanese businessmen showed interest in Dubai Airport Freezone booth at Messe Kobe Exhibition making it a big success with an “ overwhelming” number of inquiries received.

Ibrahim Ahli, Director of Marketing & Corporate Communications, at Dubai Airport Freezone, said “We received an overwhelming number of inquiries during the exhibition that concluded recently. This was the second time that the Freezone has participated in the Messe Kobe exhibition.”

“With a dramatically increasing number of Japanese companies in the Freezone, the Japanese market and companies are high in the agenda of the Freezone’s target audience.”
According to statistics compiled by Dubai Airport Freezone, the number of Japanese companies at the Freezone has increased more than 130 percent last year – (2009) compared to 2008.
Ahli said, “Japanese institutional investors are very much aware of the potential of Dubai and the central location of Dubai Airport Freezone and the services and facilities it offers to its investors.”
He added, Asian investors are looking for a haven for their investments and also seek business opportunities in the growing markets of the GCC.

Ahli characterized Japanese companies “As long term clients with the benefit of a potential technology transformation in the region. Exhibitions are strong marketing vehicles in Japan; with results expected later generate results in the short term.”

DM starts work of Ambulance Services Centre Complex

As part of its support for service and health projects, and the attention it pays to achieve strategic integration to ensure the highest standards of services, Dubai Municipality has launched the work of a project of Ambulance Services Center Complex in the Al Warsan III area. The project is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2011.

Fifteen percent of the project, located on the Dubai - Hatta road, has so far been completed. The building, on a land area of 35,557 square metres, is expected to be the most prominent landmark along the highway.

The project consists of five main buildings as well as a helipad and external works of the complex and the parking lots. The total construction area of the project is 12,650 square metres. The first building consists of the administrative offices in the ground floor, in addition to three floors on a total building area of 7,797 square metres.

While the second building has an area of 3,740 square metres and is dedicated to vehicle maintenance workshops and equipment of Ambulance Services Centre. The third building is dedicated to the car wash stands and area of this building is 570 square metres. In addition to this, there is a service building that contains the main electrical transformers, telephone rooms and the main power room as well as an external water tank and a services building at an area of 278 square metres.

The main administrative building consists of the administrative offices for three departments and a multi-purpose hall area that can accommodate 300 people, in addition to a training centre consisting of four halls, each with a capacity to hold 50 people.

The maintenance workshop building consists of a workshop for 14 vehicles and electrical, mechanical and paint workshops and an emergency lounge area. The emergency bus equipping workshop has the capacity of holding three buses at a time. The mezzanine area is used for offices, prayer room and a warehouse for spare parts in addition to a department store for used materials.

The external works include road asphalts and landscaping at an area of 2,572 square metres and external lighting, sewage lines and extensions as well as septic tanks and sedimentation.

In addition to that there will be shaded car parking areas for 166 cars and 15 parking lots for ambulances. The outer wall extends to 300 metres in addition to that there are two gates for the project.

Children's City gears up to host school students in new academic year

The Children's City has lined up a wide array of educational and recreational programmes to receive school students in the new academic year. Children's City, the first edutainment facility in the Middle East, will offer presentations and workshops that serve the new curriculum template for entertainment and education through the special exhibits in the city.

Nila Al Mansouri, Acting Head Children's City said that there are many activities and programmes that develop the talents and creativity of children in a family and entertaining atmosphere.

According to Mansouri several events including a group of workshops and educational weeks related to school curriculum developed by a team of academicians, will be organized.

"The workshops, divided according to different age groups, will be offered to schools with prior booking, and attendance at these workshops will be free and within the price of a ticket to enter the Children's City. There will be presentations in Arabic or English according to demand, and will cover activities related to the curriculum of some important topics in science, nature and arts, as the exploratory visit to these workshops can be interesting and useful experience for students," she said.

The workshops for the age group of 4-6 years include two sessions of the workshop, "The Human Body Week - Story of the Senses" from 10am until 10:45am and from 11am until 11:45am, and will be held at the Information Centre.

The second workshop titled "feelings" will be organized in two sessions starting from April 2011 from 10am until 10:30am, and from 11am until 11:30am. The workshop "balance game" will also in two sessions from 10am until 10:30am, and from 11am until 11:30am. The workshop "float and swim" will be organized from March 2011 from 10am until 10:30am, and from 11am until 11:30am.

The workshops for the age group of 7-11 years will include the "Natural History Week - Workshop on fossils, which will be held in two sessions from 10am until 10:45am and from 11am until 11:45am. The workshop "kitchen chemist" will be organized from 10am until 10:30am, and from 11am until 11:30am. In addition, the workshop "World of Forms" will he 10am until 10:30am, and from 11am until 11:30am.

The workshop "Challenge Balloon Bird Show" will teach the students the scientific background of balloon and the date of discovery of balloon flying, and then making a balloon and using it to challenge the wonderful balloon made by their friends. This activity will also have two sessions from 10am until 10:30am, and from 11am until 11:30am. In addition, the workshop "World of Forms" will also be held 10am until 10:30am, and from 11am until 11:30am.

The Children's City will also hold workshops for the age group of 12-15 years, including "Space Week - fiery rocket show." There will be two shows for this also 10am until 10:45am and from 11am until 11:45am. The workshop "the genetic material show" will be held in two sessions from 10am until 10:30am, and from 11am until 11:30am.

It will also organize a workshop on "Greenhouse gases - a sign of early warning" and the problem of global warming, one of the most important challenges facing us at this time. The workshop will have two sessions from 10am until 10:30am, and from 11am until 11:30am. The workshop on "energy supply" will he held from 10am until 10:30am, and from 11am until 11:30am.

Lack of Skills the Biggest Challenge facing GCC Organizations

Dubai, UAE – Sept. 20, 2010 – A new study has shown that a lack of skills is the biggest challenge CIOs in the GCC face, both internally as well as within their partner ecosystem, when it comes to increasing investment in IT security and storage.
Respondents in the Symantec-sponsored IDC Study revealed that skills were also rated the most important consideration when choosing a partner to work with. According to the results, lack of skills was not only an internal challenge, but was also seen as a problem with partners and other solution providers in the region. A common view held by CIOs was that generally vendors had sales offices in the Gulf and lacked suitably skilled staff to advise customers, implement solutions and support users.
The study also showed that spending on IT security by organizations in the GCC remained robust – the study highlighted a distinct increase in IT budgets compared to 2009. The findings also indicated that only critical projects requiring minimum expenditure with minimum risk would get the green light in 2010. The majority of respondents (excluding the government sector) said they had been severely affected by the recession and as such indicated reprioritized efforts, with new initiatives focusing squarely on business value and cost savings.

“The study has identified that  regulatory compliance is also a concern for GCC corporations,” said Ranjit Rajan, research director at IDC MEA. “Over 90% of CIOs have currently invested or are planning to invest in governance, risk and compliance solutions highlighting regulatory compliance as a major driver of security and storage investment.”
According to the study, cloud computing was being considered by 62% of respondents, however concerns around data ownership, security and regulatory compliance together with poor connectivity infrastructure would restrict its uptake over the medium term. “The research has shown that business applications less likely to move to a cloud environment as opposed to web applications that are most likely to be deployed on a public cloud environment,” added Johnny Karam, MENA regional director at Symantec.
The findings of the study, which focused on IT Security and Storage priorities and challenges in the GCC, was conducted by IDC  and sponsored by Symantec Corp. The results were disclosed by Ranjit Rajan, research director at IDC Middle East and Africa (MEA), and Johnny Karam, MENA regional director,at Symantec, at a press conference held today in Dubai.

For further details on this study, please contact or or call +971 4 369 3575.


The double-digit growth of inbound tourism to Sri Lanka has sparked a massive hotel expansion drive by several hotel giants, including refurbishment of existing hotels and major development plans in the pipeline announced Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau’s (SLTPB) Middle East office.

Total hotel expansion and development spending is estimated at AED 18 billion (USD 5 Billion) while projected inbound tourism arrival is expected to cross 2.5 million by 2016.

The boom in tourism is projected in the wake of increased demand for hotel rooms post conflict resolution. All this will help accommodate the exponential increase in tourist arrival expected.

In the Middle East alone, tourism arrivals for the first six months of 2010 reported an enormous surge in the number of Saudi Arabian travellers to Sri Lanka, according to figures compiled by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau’s (SLTPB) Middle East office. “Arrivals rose by an unprecedented 96 per cent in the first six months of 2010 compared to the same period last year,” said Ms. Heba Al Mansoori, Middle East Director of SLTPB based in Dubai. According to recent statistics compiled by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, the total number of travellers from the Middle East region reflected a phenomenal upsurge with arrivals increasing by 102 per cent over the same period.

“Regardless of apprehensions of an unsteady global economy, Middle East’s discerning travellers are spending time and money on travel and Sri Lanka has been one of the preferred destinations of choice with a meteoric rise in tourists during H1 2010,” observed Ms Al Mansoori.

John Keells Holdings (JKH) invested AED 13 million (400 million LKR) to upgrade and rebrand Club Oceanic to Chaaya Blu in Trincomalee. The group has currently undertaken an AED 65.4 million (2 billion LKR) investment on a new 4 star 190-room hotel in the Beruwela area. Coral Gardens in Hikkaduwa, Bentota Beach and Habarana Lodge are all being given a facelift with the total renovation costing up to AED 49 million  (1.6 billion LKR).  The chain also has lands in Ahungalla, Wirawila and Nilaweli, upon which new properties are planned.

Amaya Resorts and Spas development process is to be carried out in 4 stages. This includes to firstly developing the existing properties which is estimated at AED 36.7 million (USD 10 million). Next step would be to develop the available land bank. The identified areas are – Wadduwa at a cost of AED 55 million (USD 15 million), Kalpitiya at a cost of AED 55 million (USD 15 million), Mirissa at a cost of AED 110 million (USD 30 million), Negombo at AED 110 million (USD 30 million). The total investment that is projected for this 2nd stage of development is approximately AED 330.5 million (USD 90 million)

Jetwing is all set to spend AED 23 million (LKR 700 million) on rebranding and refurbishing Blue Oceanic as Jetwing Blue. Besides this the chain will spend approximately AED  16.3 million (Rs. 500 million) at Sea Shell which will be converted to Jetwing Sea and AED  13 million (Rs. 400 million) will be spent at Blue Lagoon. Jetwing Blue and Jetwing Sea are slated to open their doors for business in December this year.

“Given the rapid growth of tourism in Sri Lanka, Jetwing seeks to refurbish its current properties and expand its room stock through new ventures. In respect of refurbishment, Jetwing has made a conscious effort to upgrade all its properties gradually to a 4 -5 star (small luxury) properties. Already the Jetwing Blue & Jetwing Sea is underway! As regards new hotel ventures, Jetwing has planned to occupy ‘white spots’, by locating and developing new similar standard hotels in the East Coast, Yala, Kandy, Jaffna and Colombo, while offering to manage several other properties in the island”, states, Hiran Cooray, Chairman Jetwing Group.

Tourist arrivals have increased to nearly a staggering 48 percent for the month of July alone when compared with June 2009. The first half of 2010 has registered a 48.4 percent increase in inbound tourism when compared to the same period in 2009.