ArabBrains http://arabbrains.com MENA Education Innovation Technology Investment Networking Events News Social Media Blogs Tue, 21 Apr 2015 06:00:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Is it necessary to teach poor kids to code? http://arabbrains.com/2015/04/21/is-it-necessary-to-teach-poor-kids-to-code/ http://arabbrains.com/2015/04/21/is-it-necessary-to-teach-poor-kids-to-code/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 06:00:08 +0000 http://arabbrains.com/?p=13640 Copyright: Dieter Telemans/Panos

Copyright: Dieter Telemans/Panos

By SciDev.Net – Joshua Howgego

Idit Harel got something of a hostile reception when she announced to a room full of social entrepreneurs that it is necessary to teach kids in poor countries to code. “Coding is the new writing,” she said.

The response was indignant from most of the entrepreneurs assembled yesterday for a session on technology in education at the Skoll World Forum in Oxford, United Kingdom. You’re suggesting that, for the poorest kids who can’t even read, we should be prioritising teaching them how to code? was the sentiment of many.

I, for one, couldn’t believe Harel, who runs an education firm called Globaloria, would equate coding with writing. But when I asked her about it later on, she told me she had meant what she said. And after a chat over coffee later, she had me just about convinced she was right — although I might disagree over a few semantic points.

“People assume that you have to have the 3Rs [reading, writing and arithmetic] before you get to what I call the 3Xs: exploration, exchange and expression,” Harel said. “But that’s not the case.”

Harel said she knew this through her experience with Globaloria, which she founded. The firm gets children to play computer games before showing them how to begin modifying the game — for example changing the colours on their character — using computer code. Often the kids can’t read well, if at all, Harel explained, but they get engrossed in tinkering with the game world and, in the process, they begin to pick up more traditional literacy, too.

It sounded incredible to me that kids could do this without being able to read, but Harel has a bundle of evaluations that she claims prove the approach works.

Globaloria operates in poor communities in the United States where many kids are illiterate. Several of the entrepreneurs at the Skoll World Forum pointed out the difference between this setting and much of the developing world, where laptops and internet connections are absent. Harel later admitted she did not think her approach could be used in the poorest countries, but insisted there are many nations where it could and should be applied.

Felipe Spath, a Colombian entrepreneur who attended the session, agreed. Spath co-founded Th1nk, an organisation that provides educational technology in rural areas of his country. He explained that many poor children have access to laptops and quickly learn how to use them without much traditional education.

A delegate from Tanzania said she had shown a number of girls in her locality how to open and start up a laptop. Within five days, these children were able to comment on news articles online, she told the forum.

This, Harel told me, is the point. When children gain basic computer literacy they can read and comment on articles and understand that someone might actually reply to them. And it’s not such a grand leap from this to starting up a blog or building an online campaign that enables them to make their opinions heard. Without these skills developing world kids are confined to an adulthood shut out of online discussions, Harel said.

It sounds compelling, but it was at this point that I started wondering how far Harel’s vision tallies with her “coding is the new writing” marshalling call.

If you want to be able to write, you need to understand a whole language. But if you just want to be able to make your voice heard online, you arguably only need to understand a few principles and tricks of coding — say how to embed media content in your personal blog or switch its fonts.

When I put this to Harel she agreed. It’s not about being a coding expert but rather understanding enough so that you can participate, she told me.

So was it perhaps semantic differences that prompted the hostile reception she received from the entrepreneurs? If so that’s a shame. The insight that the ‘3Rs’ don’t necessarily have to come before the ‘3Xs’ is a fascinating one — and probably something the development community should start thinking about.

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UAE attends International SPACE Symposium In Colorado for First Time http://arabbrains.com/2015/04/20/uae-attends-international-space-symposium-in-colorado-for-first-time/ http://arabbrains.com/2015/04/20/uae-attends-international-space-symposium-in-colorado-for-first-time/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 09:47:30 +0000 http://arabbrains.com/?p=13636 .

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UAE Space Agency, Thuraya , Yahsat and EIAST educate industry leaders on developments of UAE space sector

Abu Dhabi, UAE: UAE space industry leaders addressed international peers at the 31st Space Symposium in Colorado, USA, last week. Heads of the UAE Space Agency, Thuraya , Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat) and the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) gave an overview on the developments of the space sector in the UAE and the impact it is having on the nation’s economic growth and strategy for the future

Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency, outlined the Agency’s objectives and progress. He noted that the Agency is working on raising space awareness in the UAE and on encouraging the brightest and best talent to work in the space sector. This focus on education will cover both universities as well as STEM education at high school level, and will be an important part of the Agency’s human capital development initiatives in the country.

Dr. Al Ahbabi explained why the UAE space agency is working with international organizations on cooperation within the space industry and how this will help build solid relationships with global space players. The Director General emphasized the fact that the space sector will contribute to economic diversification and sustainable growth in the UAE.

Attendees to the forum were also introduced to the UAE Mars project, and its mission to be an international project from the UAE to deliver new scientific contributions to humanity. The project received great support from all those present .

As a federal government entity, the UAE Space Agency plans to encourage the advancement of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that work in the space and satellite sector in the UAE. This task will play a key part in the Agency’s commitment to innovation and technology. The UAE panel discussion also shed light on bilateral US-UAE relations and increasing trade between the two countries.

Samer Halawi, CEO of Thuraya , provided a summary of the company’s successful transformation and industry leading performance over the last four years. He described how Thuraya leads innovation within the satellite industry with products like SatSleeve, and how it creates new market segments and distribution channels. He also referred to the success of new products in 2014, including handsets and maritime terminals, and how the market has responded positively to these new products. Finally, Halawi introduced the company’s Young Innovation Internship Program which was launched in 2014 with the aim to encourage young Emirati men and women to pursue careers in the satellite industry.

Panellists noted that the space sector will expand the UAE’s human capital through knowledge transfers from international partners, as well as increasing national capabilities and knowledge about space exploration and distant planets.

Dr. Al Ahbabi commented: “The UAE space sector contributes significantly to the development of our nation and I’m honored to be able to communicate the advantages that this industry is bringing and our strategy moving forward. The UAE Space Agency is committed to coordinating and regulating the space sector, as well working closely with key space stakeholders on enhancing the industry in the future. We are delighted to be able to tell the story of the UAE and for the international space community to see our mission and vision.”

Samer Halawi, said, “We are proud to be participating alongside the UAE’s expanding space and satellite industry during the 31st Space Symposium. Thuraya was the first satellite operator to be founded in the UAE and has since welcomed not only the addition of two home-grown satellite operators, Dubai-sat and Yahsat , but also the UAE Space Agency. We are proud to support the UAE’s mission to be a center for space and satellite excellence.”

Yahsat shared its success story as a UAE company providing customised satellite solutions for government as well as the commercial sector in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Central and South West Asia. Speakers from Yahsat highlighted how the company is now in the top 10 satellite companies in the world in terms of revenue– connecting 600 million people across more than 140 countries.

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Australia strengthens its relationship with Kuwait http://arabbrains.com/2015/04/20/australia-strengthens-its-relationship-with-kuwait/ http://arabbrains.com/2015/04/20/australia-strengthens-its-relationship-with-kuwait/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 06:15:49 +0000 http://arabbrains.com/?p=13630 .

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Australia’s exports to Kuwait have grown almost 16% year-on-year

The Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) has launched the third edition of its annual campaign in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region to promote the bilateral trade, investment and cultural ties that exists between Australia and the GCC. The program’s activities will extend to Kuwait, UAE and Saudi Arabia. Australia already boasts AUD 12bn trade with the GCC, which is comparable to India, and the Gulf Cooperation Council states are its 13th largest trading partner.

The Australian Minister for Trade and Investment, The Hon. Andrew Robb AO MP, is visiting the region to participate in the Australia Unlimited MENA (AU MENA) program and meet senior Ministers in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE to seek resumption of negotiations for a free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council.

AU MENA has adopted an overarching theme of innovation for the 2015 event, because Australia’s innovative approach and expertise meets the region’s future needs in areas of sustainability, economic diversification, and human capital. There are three core strands to AU MENA 2015, including the ministerial mission, which has bilateral trade, sovereign wealth funds and furthering the FTA discussions on the agenda; the CEO mission, which will include 16 senior executives from Australia’s leading business organisations and universities accompanying the minister and the trade missions, which are focusing on sustainable urban development, education and vocational training, and healthcare.

The trade relationship between Kuwait and Australia is substantial with exports to Kuwait growing 15.9%* growth year-on-year to mid-2014, with strong potential for further expansion in the energy sector, information technology, education, agribusiness, advanced manufacturing and tourism. Kuwait is also a major market for Australian dairy and food products and passenger motor vehicles. There is also significant Kuwaiti investment in Australia; the total of all Kuwait investments are estimated to be around AUD 12 bn, including real estate, hotels, banking and a liquid natural gas project. There is considerable scope for Australia to develop further the bilateral commercial relationship and support Kuwait in its long-term development plans to develop around USD116 bn worth of infrastructure and development projects.

Australia Unlimited MENA 2015 is supported by strategic partner – Dubai Land Department, platinum sponsors – Qantas and Government of Victoria, and gold sponsors – Navitas, Dubai Airport Freezone, and One & Only Resorts.

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VIVA empowers Small and Medium Enterprises with’Business-in-a-Box’ http://arabbrains.com/2015/04/20/viva-empowers-small-and-medium-enterprises-withbusiness-in-a-box/ http://arabbrains.com/2015/04/20/viva-empowers-small-and-medium-enterprises-withbusiness-in-a-box/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 04:44:28 +0000 http://arabbrains.com/?p=13633 .

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Manama – VIVA Bahrain has introduced a new portfolio of comprehensive telecom solutions catered for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Kingdom of Bahrain. As part of its latest offering, VIVA has created an innovative leading-edge solution for SMEsthrough its all-in-one communication package, VIVA ‘Business-in-a-Box’.

Mr. Saad Odeh, VIVA Bahrain Chief Wholesale and Enterprise Officer, said: “SMEs constitute the largest market segment of Bahrain’s economy. At VIVA , we recognize the relevance of SMEs to the economy and work continuously to support this dynamic sector by developing telecom solutions that match their growing needs”.

VIVA Business-in-a-Box combines our best products and services into one streamlinedpackage and one convenient bill and equips businesseswith everything they need to get theirtelecommunications set-up, from getting the best value and services, to having the bestnetwork.”

VIVA Business-in-a-Box offers SMEs a freebroadbandrouter, shared unlimited data, free shared mobile minutes to other local networks, unlimited VIVA to VIVA calls and SMS, a fixed line with special number, and the best LTE broadband connection.

Moreover, VIVA ‘Business-in-a-Box’ also offers businesses with data add-ons that are customizable. Additionally, businesses will also have the flexibility withthe latest smartphones including iPhone 6, Samsung GALAXY Note 4 and much more.

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Imagine Cup 2015 to broaden prospects through innovation http://arabbrains.com/2015/04/17/imagine-cup-2015-to-broaden-prospects-through-innovation/ http://arabbrains.com/2015/04/17/imagine-cup-2015-to-broaden-prospects-through-innovation/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 12:15:54 +0000 http://arabbrains.com/?p=13628 .

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Microsoft launches Imagine Cup 2015 – the most prestigious technology competition in the world, bringing innovators from across the globe to one platform. The UAE local final to be held on the 22 April 2015 at Higher Colleges of Technology ( HCT ), Abu Dhabi.

Microsoft is once again opening its doors for young innovators to rise and shine through its premier technology competition. Currently in its thirteenth year, Imagine Cup, a cornerstone of the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative is a global student technology program and competition. It provides an opportunity for student technologists, developers and aspiring entrepreneurs from all academic backgrounds to collaborate, develop a technology application, create a business plan and gain a keen understanding of what is needed to bring a concept to market. In Imagine Cup, the brightest young minds join together to exemplify the power of student innovation.

The UAE local final will take place on the 22 April 2015 at Higher Colleges of Technology ( HCT ), Abu Dhabi. The top six finalists are teams from Ajman University of science and technology (AUST), University of Wollongong Dubai (UOWD), Khalifa University, Herriot Watt and BITS-Pilani. These will showcase their innovative projects to the Microsoft judging panel, and a winner will be announced amongst them. Three finalist teams will be chosen, each per competition category, and out of these, one will be awarded as a “top team”. All the three finalist teams will travel to Bahrain to represent the UAE at the Pan Arab Finals taking place from May 31st to June 3rd.

This year’s Imagine Cup will continue featuring the three main competitions – Innovation, Games and World Citizenship. The cash prize awards will also stay the same from last year’s competition in each category – first place receives $50,000; second place receives $10,000; and third place receives $5,000. The challenges are: Pitch Video Challenge requires students to record a three to five minute video with the team to pitch their project. Project Blueprint Challenge requires students to dig deep into their thinking and deliver a written project proposal covering the end-users, requirements, scenarios and business model.

User Experience Challenge is aimed at encouraging teams to focus on transformative user experiences. The teams will have to show the user flow, wireframes and a visual target for how the software will look on screen.

This year the challenges are better aligned to the three major competition themes of Games, Innovation, and World Citizenship with the introduction of Paths. The three SDL contests – the Pitch Video Challenge, the Project Blueprint Challenge, and the User Experience Challenge – now have rules and submission requirements tailored to each competition theme.

Michael Mansour, Head of Apps and Innovation, Microsoft Gulf said “The future of technology is heavily premised on stirring innovation. Through Imagine Cup, Microsoft continues to encourage young students to utilize their imagination and creativity for innovative technological advancements that can further address real-world issues. Imagine Cup compliments Microsoft’s commitment to create social and economic opportunity through programs and products that can transform education, foster local innovation, drive future prosperity and enable jobs and opportunities within UAE and worldwide.”

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World-Renowned Festival of Media MENA Awards Launches in Dubai http://arabbrains.com/2015/04/17/world-renowned-festival-of-media-mena-awards-launches-in-dubai/ http://arabbrains.com/2015/04/17/world-renowned-festival-of-media-mena-awards-launches-in-dubai/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 11:29:58 +0000 http://arabbrains.com/?p=13625 Alexandre Hawari

Alexandre Hawari, Co CEO of Mediaquest

Highly regarded programme celebrates the best in media and marketing thinking  

The highly popular and hugely anticipated Festival of MENA Awards 2015 takes place in Dubai on April 15 at the Music Hall, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. The prestigious event – celebrates the very best in media thinking from across the MENA region, attracting prominent leaders from international and pan-regional advertisers, media agencies and media owners.

Unlike any other event of its kind, the Festival of Media MENA brings to the global industry a cutting-edge conference, an exhibition for vendors and technologists to promote initiatives to agencies and clients; as well as a variety of networking and thought leadership opportunities.

This year influential speakers include the likes of CEO’s and directors from leading entities across the digital, advertising, and media industries in the MENA region. Through the thought-provoking keynote speeches event attendees can gain a stronger understanding of critical and insightful issues affecting the regional marketing landscape. The Festival of Media MENA Awards 2015 is the number one platform to positively assess and further develop the success of creative campaigns, influential marketing initiatives, as well as ways to inspire the next generation of artistic marketing leaders.

Alexandre Hawari, Co CEO of Mediaquest stated: “We are extremely excited to be launching the Festival of Media MENA in Dubai. We have some exceptionally talented and remarkable agency entries this year and our guest speakers have some intriguing and compelling insights to share with marketing industry professionals.”

Charlie Crowe, Chairman and editor-in-chief of C Squared added: “I created the Festival of Media concept back in 2007, to establish a platform that encourages talent to compete in the creative marketing fields and enable the MENA region to be recognised globally for its outstanding contribution to the fields of marketing, advertising and digital. I am extremely excited to see what this year offers in terms of industry research, insights and creative communication campaigns.”

The MENA advertising and marketing industries are growing at a substantial rate. According to leading research firm Strategy& (formerly known as Booz & Company), the MENA advertising market is expected to enjoy a 6 percent consumer advertising growth rate from 2014 to 2019, from $5.6 billion to $7.6 billion compared with 4.4 percent for the global advertising market. Additionally, digital is expected to account for one-fifth of the MENA advertising market by 2019.

The key speakers contributing to the Festival of Media MENA 2015 include OMD, Millenial Media, SMG Mena, Cheil Worldwide, Unruly, SAP Middle East & Africa, Media Blends and Publimatic.

The Festival of Media MENA Awards 2015 will be judged by a senior panel of media agencies and advertisers and are open to everyone involved in advertising. The programme showcases creativity and innovation that is at the very heart of media communications.

 

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Nobel Museum attracts high profile visitors, delegations from government entities, school and university students http://arabbrains.com/2015/04/17/nobel-museum-attracts-high-profile-visitors-delegations-from-government-entities-school-and-university-students/ http://arabbrains.com/2015/04/17/nobel-museum-attracts-high-profile-visitors-delegations-from-government-entities-school-and-university-students/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 08:53:24 +0000 http://arabbrains.com/?p=13621 .

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Nobel Museum’s travelling exhibition in Dubai organised by Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF) for the first time in the Middle East under the slogan ‘Ideas Changing the World’, has attracted a large number of visitors, including senior officials and delegates from local and federal government entities, professionals, journalists and school and university students, since it opened last month. It is expected to generate more interest in the coming days before it concludes on April 30.

Among the key visitors, the exhibition received during the last week H.E. Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy Chairman of the Dubai Police and General Security. It also received a delegation from Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for World Peace as well as Brigadier-General Ahmed Khalfan Al Mansouri, the Secretary-General of the award. A delegation from the Ministry of Environment and Water headed by H.E. Saif Mohammed Al-Shara, Assistant Undersecretary for Agricultural and Livestock Affairs, also visited the exhibition.

H.E. Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim commented on the importance of Dubai hosting for Nobel Museum exhibition stating: “The museum offers a major platform for the transfer of knowledge in the Arab region. It has helped bring us closer to the innovations and discoveries that have helped improve the lives of millions of people.”

H.E. Dahi Khalfan Tamim added: “Certainly, the Nobel Museum initiative will become a source of inspiration for the sons and daughters of the UAE to achieve greater innovation and creativity. It will enable them to keep pace with the aspirations and plans of our government to promote the concept of innovation in all areas to build a knowledge based society.”

Brigadier-General Ahmed Khalfan Al Mansouri said the event offers an ideal opportunity to see up in close detail the prestigious Nobel Prize and get to know more about its winners. It is also a vital link in the exchange of cultures and access to knowledge from around the world, which is of focal importance to the UAE. Mansouri commended the efficient organisation of the exhibition, and the way information has been provided for the visitors.

The Nobel Museum exhibition at the Burj Khalifa annex in Downtown Dubai, next to the Armani Hotel, is open to visitors daily from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm except on Fridays. The event includes a number of activities most notably the specialised workshops led by specialists from the Nobel Museum, which shed light on the concepts of creativity and innovation that have helped improve the lives of people in all areas.

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Victorian education showcased at IECHE http://arabbrains.com/2015/04/16/victorian-education-showcased-at-ieche/ http://arabbrains.com/2015/04/16/victorian-education-showcased-at-ieche/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 07:44:45 +0000 http://arabbrains.com/?p=13618  

The Hon Andrew Robb, Australian Minister for Trade and Investment

The Hon Andrew Robb, Australian Minister for Trade and Investment

Australian state brings largest ever delegation for annual education conference 

The Hon Andrew Robb, Australian Minister for Trade and Investment, today visited Victoria’s Study Melbourne stand at the International Exhibition & Conference on Higher Education (IECHE) in Riyadh. He was greeted by John Butler, Commissioner for Victoria in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey and Mr Nabil Mohammed A. Al Saleh, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Australia, along with representatives from Victoria’s leading education institutes.

Also in attendance were Dr. Ralph King, Australian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Gerard Seeber, Consul General & Senior Trade Commissioner, Australian Trade Commission and Mark Morley, Senior Trade Commissioner (Saudi Arabia), Australian Trade Commission.

The Australian state of Victoria has brought its largest ever delegation for the conference, which attracts over 450 institutions from around the world for three days at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Victoria last year saw just over 3,000 enrolments from Saudi Arabian students looking to study in Melbourne, which was a 21 percent increase on the previous year.

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QNB Launches the Chinese “Clearing Hub in Qatar http://arabbrains.com/2015/04/16/qnb-launches-the-chinese-clearing-hub-in-qatar/ http://arabbrains.com/2015/04/16/qnb-launches-the-chinese-clearing-hub-in-qatar/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 05:55:30 +0000 http://arabbrains.com/?p=13610 .

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An important development in its Asian Continent Expansion Strategy

QNB , “One of the World’s Strongest Banks”, has given its full support and will further explore potential opportunities arising from the establishment of the first Middle East “Clearing Hub” for Chinese Currency launched in Doha. The Qatar Central Bank ( QCB ) initiative was celebrated yesterday at an official opening ceremony attended by dignitaries drawn from across Qatar’s Banking Sector. QNB was a Platinum Sponsor of the prestigious occasion.

The Regional Clearing Hub concept was one of the key provisions of the financial agreements signed between The State of Qatar and The People’s Republic of China following discussions held between the two countries in November 2014.

With the Clearing Hub now opened, QNB Group hopes to play a significant future role in assisting Middle Eastern and African clients with respect to their Renminbi requirements. This is derived from its strong South East Asian presence and its ability to conduct specialist business transactions across the areas of currency clearing, trade finance, asset and wealth management and treasury services.

Commenting on the significance of the new Clearing Hub initiative with China, Noor Al Noaimi, Acting GM Treasury said: “As the biggest bank in Qatar, QNB is fully aligned and supportive of this QCB led initiative. The creation of the first official Middle East and Africa based Clearing Hub for Renminbi will serve client needs and place Doha at the heart of Middle East-China trade. It will provide a significant “East-West” corridor for those clients and businesses who wish to transact in RMB currency and do business in one of the largest economies in the world. As the only Qatari Bank based in China, we believe that QNB is well placed to commercially benefit from this direct clearing infrastructure and provide future value and benefit for a growing number of clients who have an international perspective.

As part of our growing Asian expansion plans and aspirations, QNB ‘s network of operations will now take on the role of extending intermediary services in the field of investment and trade with Middle East companies that are looking to establish their business in China or looking to invest in Asia. In addition, QNB will also act as intermediary with Chinese and Asian companies that are looking to expand into the growing Middle East and Africa markets and facilitate investment activities”.

The QNB Group approach and support for the Regional Clearing Hub concept revolves around the twin pillars of robust financial performance and prudent international expansion.

QNB Group enjoys one of the highest Financial Services Credit Ratings in the MENA Region. In a recent upgrade by internationally renowned Fitch Ratings to AA- (from the previous A+), their comprehensive Report singled out QNB as “The Flagship Bank” in the Qatar Banking Industry with its impressive market performance and strong public and private sector business relationships.

At the heart of this strong QNB credit ratings story is a robust and growing financial performance. In addition, QNB confirmed its position as “One of the Top 50 World’s Safest Banks” in The Global Finance Annual Survey 2014. However, the QNB Group ‘s continuous strong financial performance is both complemented and supported by an expanding international presence.

QNB Group is both the leading Financial Institution and the Number 1 Banking Brand by value in The Middle East and Africa. It currently operates in more than 27 countries across 3 Continents (Asia, Africa and Europe) and has a strong presence in South East Asia. QNB Group ‘s growing network of locations in the region include: Indonesia, China, Singapore, Vietnam and India. At the heart of the QNB Group business proposition in Asia is the promotion and stimulation of developing “East-West” flows of trade between and the continent. The recent opening of a new QNB Vietnam Office in Ho Chi Minh City was further evidence of the Group’s commitment to growing its network of locations in key markets around the world.

This growth in the International Network provides commercial investment opportunities both into respective markets by QNB and through respective income streams back into the domestic Qatar market. This flow of trade is particularly relevant for QNB ‘s current “push” into the markets of South East Asia and Africa and is in alignment with QNB ‘s vision to be a MEA Icon by 2017.

In line with this objective, QNB Group acquired a 19.4% stake in Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, a leading pan-African bank with presence in 36 countries across the African continent in 2014. This strategic partnership is another fundamental step in QNB ‘s international expansion plans and provides a commercial platform for the business to develop its core strengths and product offerings to a growing client base within The State of Qatar and internationally.

All of the above combines to make QNB a first port of call for Clients or interested parties with Chinese Direct Clearing or settlement requirements to work with “The biggest bank in The Middle East and North Africa”. Importantly, the establishment of the new Regional Clearing Hub is further testament to the success and growing influence of Qatar’s position within International Financial Markets.

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Australia strengthens its relationship with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia http://arabbrains.com/2015/04/16/australia-strengthens-its-relationship-with-the-kingdom-of-saudi-arabia/ http://arabbrains.com/2015/04/16/australia-strengthens-its-relationship-with-the-kingdom-of-saudi-arabia/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 04:15:28 +0000 http://arabbrains.com/?p=13614 .

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Australia’s exports to Saudi Arabia have grown 13.7% year-on-year

The Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) has launched the third edition of its annual campaign in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region to promote the bilateral trade, investment and cultural ties that exists between Australia and the GCC. The program’s activities will extend to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE. Australia already boasts AUD 12bn trade with the GCC, which is comparable to India, and the Gulf Cooperation Council states are its 13th largest trading partner.

For the second consecutive year, the Australian Minister for Trade and Investment, The Hon. Andrew Robb AO MP, is visiting the region to participate in the Australia Unlimited MENA program and meet with senior Ministers in the in the UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to continue to seek support for relaunching negotiations for a free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council.

AU MENA has adopted an overarching theme of innovation for the 2015 event. Australia’s innovative approach and expertise meets the GCC region’s future needs in areas of sustainability, economic diversification, and human capital. There are three core strands to AU MENA 2015, including the ministerial mission, which has bilateral trade, sovereign wealth funds and furthering the FTA discussions on the agenda; the CEO mission, which will include 16 senior executives from Australia’s leading business organizations and universities accompanying the minister and the trade missions, which are focusing on sustainable urban development, education and vocational training, and healthcare.

In 2013 to 2014, Australia’s merchandise exports to Saudi Arabia totaled AUD 2,244 m with passenger motor vehicles as the top commodity export, with other major exports including barley, beef and wheat. Education is one of the most significant industry sectors, and on 15th April at The International Exhibition & Conference on Higher Education (IECHE), there is an Australian Pavillion representing 29 Australian universities. In 2014, there were more than 10,100 Saudi enrolments in Australian educational institutions, which is the largest body of students from the Middle East region, most of whom are part of the King Abdullah Scholarship Programme.

Vocational education and training is also a growing sector, with both Box Hill Institute and Central Queensland University with an ongoing presence in Saudi Arabia. Australia Unlimited MENA 2015 is supported by strategic partner – Dubai Land Department, platinum sponsors – Qantas and the State Government of Victoria, and gold sponsors – Navitas, Dubai Airport Freezone, and One & Only Resorts.

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