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10

Saudi Gazette, Saturday, March 25, 2017

Economy

IN BRIEF

N

E

W

S

Direction Tour marks a year

M

ARKING one year this

month, the Direction

Knowledge and Cultural

Exchange Tour program has trav-

eled for more than ten tours to six

different countries.

Direction Tour is one of Spe-

cial Direction’s corporate social

responsibility programs, which

aims for a call for peace, knowl-

edge sharing, cultural exchange,

youth empowerment, and devel-

opment and capacity building.

Dr. Shadi Khawandanah,

chairman of the board of Special

Direction, said that since March

2016, they visited Switzerland,

Italy, France, Germany, South Ko-

rea and Lebanon and were privy

to explore various topics that

are close to home — from crisis

management to innovation and

technology to volunteering. They

targeted 26 cities, and occupied

1001 hotel room nights.

With over 10,000 applications

flooding in from 88 different cities

across 29 countries, two hundred

individuals have participated, 18

of which are Al-Majlis mem-

bers. The intellectual value of

Direction Tour is gained not only

through the shared platform of

the meticulously selected, bright

participants, but more so from the

knowledge meetings and cultural

visits; 401 and 278 in total, re-

spectively.

Extending their conscience to

the environment, Direction calcu-

lated the CO2 footprint of all its

participants’ flights after each tour

and offset the emissions through

supporting forestation projects, i.e.

3,680 hours in total, 3.312 million

kilometers. Moreover, it organized

two green tours, which adopted

green transportation, of which

1,014 kilometers were on foot.

Due to these cohesive efforts

in social responsibility, the Direc-

tion Tour program received over

40 commemorations and two

distinguished awards in 2016: the

King Khaled Award for Com-

petitive Responsibility awarded

by Custodian of the Two Holy

Mosques King Salman, and the

European University Corporate

Social Responsibility Award,

awarded by the former Swiss

President Adolf Ogi.

— SG

LONDON

Deutsche Bank picks new London HQ

Germany’s Deutsche Bank revealed Friday that it has picked a site for

its new British headquarters, highlighting its commitment to London

despite looming Brexit. The lender has entered into exclusive talks with

British property developer Land Securities over a 25-year lease, starting

in 2023, for a building under construction in London’s City finance

district at 21 Moorfields, near Moorgate tube. “Deutsche Bank Friday

announced plans to move to a new London headquarters in 2023,” said

UK chief executive Garth Ritchie in an internal memo. “Staff are due to

begin transferring to the building from the second half of 2023, subject

to an agreement to lease being reached and planning consents being

obtained.” The bank’s commitment to London will bring some comfort

to British politicians and business leaders who are concerned that the

City’s cherished status as a global financial center will be diminished

by Brexit. “The move underlines the bank’s commitment to the City of

London and the importance it attaches to being an employer of choice

in the capital,” Ritchie wrote. “It will advance the bank’s strategic goals

of increasing efficiency, reducing complexity and strengthening links

between the business divisions and infrastructure functions.”

— AFP

COLOMBO

Lanka raises rates as growth slows

Sri Lanka raised its key interest rate by 25 basis points Friday as

inflation spiked and foreign reserves fell, compounding problems caused

by slowing economic growth. The Central Bank of Sri Lanka said it raised

the benchmark lending rate from 8.5 percent to 8.75 percent as year-

on-year inflation increased to 8.2 percent last month, sharply up from

6.5 percent in January. Sri Lanka enjoyed blistering economic growth

rates averaging more than 8.0 percent for two years after a prolonged

civil war ended in 2009. But growth has been slowing ever since, hitting

4.4 percent last year, according to central bank data. Foreign reserves

fell to $5.6 billion at the end of February compared to $6.0 billion in

December 2016. A drought gripping parts of the island and unfavorable

external conditions were hurting the economy, the bank said. Last June,

the government received a $1.5 billion bailout from the IMF after facing

a balance of payments crisis. Earlier this month, the IMF said Sri Lanka’s

current account remained stable, but the financial account weakened

with the resumption of capital outflows.

— AFP

FRANKFURT

London as financial lifeline in doubt

For companies in the European Union, London is the chief gateway to

finance. Rerouting the financial lines that run through London will be

complex, experts say. London dominates wholesale banking in Europe,

a 5.8 trillion euro ($6.2 trillion) industry that includes financing for

companies from big multinationals to family-owned firms that are the

backbone of Germany’s economy. London is also the first port of call

for companies, such as Italian lender UniCredit, selling shares or raising

debt. This is because many fund managers and asset managers have

a base in Britain. Experts expect EU firms and banks gradually to

reduce their reliance on London. Governments in France and Germany

want to establish alternatives to London in Paris and Frankfurt. Over

time, some of London’s wholesale funding will move to other centers in

Europe. Thinktank Bruegel predicts that London’s share of this market

will eventually shrink from 90 percent to 60 percent. If mismanaged,

however, the migration could raise the cost of funding for European

companies, the thinktank said. Bruegel’s Dirk Schoenmaker said that

if wholesale funding operations are spread across several locations

that could lift costs by between 6 billion and 12 billion euros each

year because of the expense of using multiple financial centers. That

is equivalent to up to 0.1 percent of the remaining 27 EU countries’

economic output.

— Reuters

LONDON

Shell sells Gabon onshore energy assets

Royal Dutch Shell has sold its onshore oil and gas interests in the

central African nation of Gabon for $587 million to private equity firm

Carlyle Group, it said Friday. The Anglo-Dutch energy giant announced

in a statement that it has sold the assets to Carlyle for the equivalent

of 544 million euros in a deal expected to complete in mid-2017.

Carlyle will also take on debt of $285 million as part of the deal. It will

make extra payments up to a maximum of $150 million depending on

production performance and commodity prices. Shell will, however, retain

exploration licenses for two offshore blocks west of Gabon, a company

spokesman added. “Shell is very proud of the strong legacy we have

built in Gabon over the past 55 years,” said Upstream Director Andy

Brown in the statement. “The decision to divest was not taken lightly,

but it is consistent with Shell’s strategy to concentrate our upstream

footprint where we can be most competitive. Shell will continue to pursue

opportunities in Sub Saharan Africa. “Together with recent divestments

in the UK, Gulf of Mexico and Canada, this transaction shows the clear

momentum behind Shell’s $30-billion divestment program, and it helps

us to high-grade and simplify our upstream portfolio following the

acquisition of BG.”

— AFP

Direction participants with the IFRC MENA officials.

Direction participants with the United Nations officials.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman awards Dr. Shadi

Khawandanah the King Khaled Award for Competitive Responsibility.

— Courtesy photos

6.1bn smartphone users worldwide by 2020

I

N the hustle and bustle of

the modern age, smart-

phones have become very

important devices helping

people of different age groups

and backgrounds with their

day-to-day lives. These days, it

is almost impossible to manage

without smartphones.

Unlike its predecessors,

smartphones are not limited to

basic communication as they

have conquered the business

world, becoming a key source of

information, including weather

conditions, and maps naviga-

tion. With their countless appli-

cations as well as features and

uses, smartphones put the world

at the fingertips of users, leading

the digital age.

Smartphones have revo-

lutionized the way people

communicate, opening up new

horizons, and enabling users to

send and receive text messages

and make voice and video calls

on social media networks, such

as Facebook and Twitter. The

idiom “to have the world in the

palm of your hand” perhaps best

describes smartphones. These

multifunctional devices have

cameras with exquisite preci-

sion, and email applications

that users can check without the

need for personal computers.

With the growth of the

telecom industry, the number of

smartphone users has increased

significantly, and by the end of

2017, there will be five billion

smartphone users worldwide.

According to leading Chinese

language Internet search pro-

vider Baidu Inc., smartphone

subscriptions are expected to top

6.1 billion in 2020, compared to

around 1.9 billion in 2013.

Saudi Arabia is ranked third

in the world, with 72.8 per-

cent of population using smart

mobile devices, compared to

23 million smartphone users

worldwide.

“We aim to provide qual-

ity services to satisfy the needs

of our smartphone customers,”

Eddie Jun, president of LG

Electronics Saudi Arabia.

said Eddie Jun, president of

LG Electronics Saudi Arabia.

“We are leaders of technology

development, offering the best

to make the lives of our custom-

ers easier.

“Smartphones today inte-

grate education, entertainment,

and communication. They are

equipped with large screens to

fulfil the needs of Tweeple, as

well as e-book reader applica-

tions, and media streamers. This

requires ongoing development,

ensuring that people enjoy

comfort as they use their smart-

phones for browsing.”

Jun said, “LG advanced

smartphones put all smart tech-

nologies at the disposal of users,

facilitating the use of these

devices in an innovative way.

For example, LG V20 smart-

phone has superior videography

features and exceptional audio

quality that let users capture and

edit amazing moments and share

them on social media networks

with brilliant clarity and preci-

sion. Also, LG V20 enables us-

ers to communicate and interact

with their smart cities, helping

them use smart applications to

order taxis and rent bicycles

to tour cities. People can order

organic and other products

online to enjoy healthy meals at

home.”

Keeping up with devel-

opments in the smartphone

industry is a must. Some smart-

phones use eye motion detection

sensors for Internet browsing,

or air gesture control for image

viewing. Such great technologi-

cal advancements require giving

due consideration to many im-

portant aspects as those devices

have become people’s smart

companions. — SG