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Elizabeth II’s Funeral Draws Leaders to UK Amid Pageantry, Hymns - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 19, 2022

BY  Emily Ashton and Libby CherryBloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- The evocative bugle call of the “Last Post” echoed around a hushed Westminster Abbey as Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral drew to a close -- a poignant mark of remembrance and gratitude for the UK’s longest-serving monarch.

After four extraordinary days in which hundreds of thousands of people queued for miles to pay tribute to the Queen at her lying-in-state in London’s Westminster Hall, Monday’s funeral and subsequent journey to her final resting place in Windsor were the last public moments for a woman who dutifully reigned over her country for 70 years.

Global leaders and dignitaries from US President Joe Biden to Emperor Naruhito of Japan were among 2,000 guests who gathered in the abbey for the historic funeral, described by government officials as the biggest international event the UK has held in decades, possibly ever. 

In Pictures: The Historic Life and Reign of Queen Elizabeth II 

Millions of people across Britain watched the hour-long event on television or on big screens in public spaces, as many businesses closed for an official public holiday to allow workers to remember Elizabeth, the only monarch most have ever known. Crowds thronged the streets of central London and the route to Windsor Castle to catch a glimpse of the Queen’s coffin, draped with the Royal Standard.

The Queen’s death on Sept. 8 ushered in an era of uncertainty for the UK, coming just two days after her appointment of a new prime minister, Liz Truss. Politics came to an abrupt halt just hours after Truss announced a sweeping package to help people facing a cost-of-living crisis that is likely to define her premiership.

On Monday though, such questions were swept aside as global attentions focused on Elizabeth’s final farewell -- Britain’s first state funeral since the death of wartime leader Winston Churchill in 1965.

Westminster Abbey was packed not only with heads of state and European royalty, but representatives of charitable causes the Queen supported and members of the public who helped with the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Past Premiers

French President Emmanuel Macron, Israel’s Isaac Herzog, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and Canada’s Justin Trudeau were among the foreign leaders present. A host of former UK prime ministers were also in attendance, including Boris Johnson, Tony Blair and John Major.

Charles Becomes King as Face of the United Kingdom Changes 

Delivering the sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby described Elizabeth as “joyful, present to so many, touching a multitude of lives.” He recalled her pledge at the age of 21 to dedicate her life to serving the people of the UK and the Commonwealth. “Rarely has such a promise been so well kept,” he said. “Few leaders receive the outpouring of love that we have seen.”

As Elizabeth’s coffin was carried into the abbey on the shoulders of soldiers from the Queen’s Company Grenadier Guards, the Sentences were sung by the choir. These lines of scripture set to music have been used at every state funeral since the early 18th century. 

Elizabeth’s son, King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla immediately followed the coffin, with members of their family close behind, including Prince William, heir to the throne, his wife Princess Catherine, and their nine-year-old son George and seven-year-old daughter Charlotte.

During the service, Truss read a lesson from the Gospel of John. That was followed by the hymn “The Lord’s my Shepherd”, a personal favorite of the Queen which was sung at her wedding in 1947 to Philip Mountbatten.

Silence

The abbey fell into a two-minute silence after the echoing notes of the “Last Post”. Guests then joined to sing the national anthem “God Save The King” before hearing a lament from the Queen’s personal piper.

UK in Mourning Faces Hard Times Without Comfort of Its Queen

Then began a solemn procession from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch, with Charles leading royal family members behind the gun carriage as Big Ben tolled at one-minute intervals.

https://t.co/3XDoK7N7a0 pic.twitter.com/OvQRNFAtwr

— Bloomberg UK (@BloombergUK) September 19, 2022

 

Crowds had lined Constitution Hill and the border of Hyde Park since the early hours of the morning, buttoned up against the cold and with the odd Union flag fluttering in the wind. The mood was somber, with the music of the procession overlaid by shouts as soldiers were called to attention and by the periodic thud of ceremonial gunshot.

Some had chosen to camp overnight on the Mall to claim the best viewing spots. Kate Knowles, a nurse from Nottingham, came with her sister Sally Waddington, from York. They camped out near Parliament Square on Sunday evening to stake out a spot nearby for the funeral.

“Something that was very special was that all through the night we could see the lights coming through the windows of Westminster Hall,” where the Queen was lying in state, said Knowles. 

Janine Michael, 43, who works in education, had sat on a blanket on the edge of Hyde Park with her partner and teenage children since 6 a.m, having driven from the New Forest in Hampshire, southern England.

Windsor Service

“When we heard the news a couple of weeks ago, I just felt I wanted to come up to London to be here,” Michael said. “It’s a historic event, and something the children will be able to look back on.”

The Queen’s coffin was transferred to the state hearse at Wellington Arch before traveling by road to Windsor Castle. The band played the national anthem as it pulled away, to cries, cheers and clapping from onlookers.

A committal service, attended by 800 people including some of the Queen’s household staff and foreign dignitaries, was held later on Monday in St George’s Chapel at Windsor.

Just before the final hymn, the imperial state crown, the orb and scepter were moved from the Queen’s coffin to the altar -- signifying the separation from Elizabeth of her so-called instruments of state for the last time. 

The Lord Chamberlain, an official appointed by the monarch, then broke his “wand of office” and placed it on her coffin -- a ceremonial tradition bringing her reign to an end.

Later in the evening, her family will attend a private interment service where the Queen will be placed next to her husband, Philip, in the King George VI Memorial Chapel. Described by Elizabeth as her “strength and stay,” the Duke of Edinburgh died in April 2021, aged 99. 

No date has been set for the coronation of Charles, the eldest of Elizabeth’s four children, who became king automatically at his mother’s death. At 73, he is the oldest person to accede to the throne in British history. 

(Updates throughout with details of final procession to Windsor)

How to Immigrate to Canada from Nigeria - CIC

SEPTEMBER 20, 2022

  • Over 42,000 Canadians of Nigerian descent call Canada home, and this number continues to grow.
  • Nigerians are Canada’s fourth largest source country of immigrants.

In 2021, over 15,000 Nigerians were granted permanent residency in Canada.

Canada is a popular destination choice for Nigerians because of the various economic opportunities and sectors the country offers to Nigerian professionals, such as the oil and gas sector, the informational and communication technology sector, the health sector and other science and engineering related fields. Therefore, it is not surprising to learn that most Nigerians come to Canada as skilled workers under the economic class.

Nigerians are usually well qualified for Canadian immigration programs due to reasons such as high English proficiency, education level and work experience. Two popular options for Nigerians to immigrate to Canada are the Federal Skilled Worker Program and the Provincial Nominee Program.

Federal Skilled Worker Program

The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) may be a good option for you if you are an overseas Nigerian immigration candidate. The FSWP allows candidates with work experience and no connection to Canada or job offer to apply for permanent residence.

In order to be eligible for the FSWP, candidates must be able to use their foreign work experience, education, language skills and other human capital factors to become established in Canada. In particular, candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • One year of continuous full-time or equivalent paid work experience in the past 10 years in a skilled occupation classified under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill level 0, A or B;
  • Validated language ability equivalent to Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 in English or French across all abilities (reading, writing, listening, and speaking); and
  • Canadian educational credential (certificate, diploma, or degree) or foreign credential and Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report.
  • Score at least 67 points on IRCC’s six immigration selection factors.
  • Prove that you have enough money for you and your family to settle in Canada.

The FSWP is one of three programs managed under Express Entry, which is the Canadian governments application management system. Once you know you are eligible for the FSWP, you may upload your Express Entry Profile onto Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) website.

Candidates will then receive a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score based on factors such as age, education, work experience, language ability and more. Every two weeks, IRCC sends out invitations to apply for permanent residency for the highest scoring candidates in the pool.

By 2024, the target is to admit 110,000 permanent residents through Express Entry. Therefore, Express Entry may be the most attractive and fastest option for economic class candidates to be granted Canadian permanent residency.

Provincial Nominee Program

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is another great option for Nigerian immigration candidates. The majority of the Canadian provinces and territories administer the PNP, which allows each province and territory to design their own immigration pathways based on their own economic and demographic needs. Through the PNP, provinces and territories nominate skilled worker candidates for immigration to their respective jurisdictions.

Nigerian immigration candidates may be able to apply to come to Canada directly through a PNP, provided they meet the eligibility criteria. They may also enter the Express Entry pool and be invited to apply for nomination by a province that will select candidates from the federal pool. If they are nominated through Express Entry, they will receive an additional 600 CRS points, which means they are effectively guaranteed to receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence in an upcoming Express Entry draw.

© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Visit CanadaVisa.com to discover your Canadian immigration options.

South Africa Facing Risk of Unprecedented Level of Power Outages - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 20, 2022

BY  Renee BonorchisBloomberg News

(Bloomberg) --

South Africa is facing a risk of an unprecedented level of blackouts this week after units at two of its coal-fired power plants broke down.

Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. earlier on Sunday began cutting 6,000 megawatts from the national grid, in what it calls Stage 6 power cuts, after generation units tripped at the Kusile and Kriel power stations. That’s sufficient energy to supply almost 4 million South African homes. The nation is now at risk of breaching Stage 6, the utility’s Chief Executive Officer Andre De Ruyter said at a briefing on Sunday when asked if the situation might worsen. 

Eskom started withdrawing 6,000 megawatts from the grid in June. That was the first time since 2019. 

The ongoing blackouts -- the worst year on record -- were a major contributor to the economy’s 0.7% contraction in the second quarter. Severe outages are a hazard to workers in deep-level mines and hurts manufacturing across Africa’s most-industrialized nation. Eskom also poses a significant risk to public finances, with the government guaranteeing as much as 350 billion rand ($19.9 billion) of its debt.

Eskom is struggling to meet electricity demand because its old and poorly maintained power stations continually break down. The nation has been subjected to rolling blackouts since 2008. Eskom has had to resort to outages for eight straight months this year. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced steps in July to encourage private power generation to supplement supply from renewable sources. Eskom plans to procure about 1,000 megawatts of power on Monday from private power producers, De Ruyter said at the briefing.

New York City Will Get Cameras in All Subway Cars to Fight Crime - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 20, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- New York will install surveillance cameras in its more than 6,400 subway train cars in a push to crack down on crime underground, Governor Kathy Hochul said Tuesday.

There will be two cameras per train car, Hochul said. The installation of the cameras will be funded by the US Department of Homeland Security and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a state agency that runs New York City’s subways, buses and commuter rail lines, she said. The MTA plans to install about 200 cameras per month, with completion expected by 2025. 

The MTA is working to strengthen its security measures following a number of high-profile incidents that have left commuters on edge. A mass shooting in April inside a subway train in Brooklyn left at least 23 people injured. And in January, 40-year-old Deloitte employee Michelle Go was pushed to her death by a stranger in front of an R train from the subway platform in Times Square. 

“You think Big Brother is watching you on the subways? You’re absolutely right,” Hochul said Tuesday during a press briefing in Queens. “Smile, you’re on camera.”

The transit agency has already been installing hidden cameras on cars as part of a pilot program to test the technology and how it can better help solve transit crime. Janno Lieber, the MTA’s chief executive officer, said that the placement of cameras on the train cars is an extension of a program that has brought 10,000 cameras to train yards, turnstiles and platforms.

Taking Pictures

“We’re going to have pictures of you, and the NYPD is going to find you,” Lieber said. “You will be caught.”

Even with the added security on platforms, the MTA’s surveillance system at three subway stations failed to transmit video feed after the April 12 mass shooting. A problem with the fan unit was preventing video from transmitting, according to the MTA. New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he wanted the MTA to review its surveillance system.

MTA officials have said boosting ridership is the central issue for the transit agency as it faces a potential $2 billion budget deficit in 2026. People have embraced a hybrid work schedule that keeps them at home part of the week, while others have avoided the subway system because of crime.

The MTA, the largest US mass-transit provider, may not regain 100% of pre-pandemic ridership until about 2035. Subways carried 3.7 million New Yorkers on Sept. 14, the highest since early 2020. 

(Updates with details and context throughout)

Airline tickets could become even more expensive, aviation execs warn - CNBC

SEPTEMBER 22, 2022

KEY POINTS

  • Air tickets may become more expensive — thanks to the lack of refining capacity and the financial state of airlines, said William Walsh, the director-general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
  • Walsh added that while consumers are paying higher ticket prices, airlines are not necessarily making a profit.
  • But another factor could contribute to even higher ticket prices — Russia’s announcement of a military mobilization, said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker.

Air tickets may become more expensive — thanks to the lack of refining capacity and the financial state of airlines, said William Walsh, the director-general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The decline in refining capacity during the pandemic, and higher jet fuel prices caused by the increase in demand for fuel are “of concern” to the airline industry, Walsh told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble on Wednesday.

U.S. refining capacity dropped by 5.4% in 2022 since it peaked in 2019 — the lowest in eight years. The dip came in the wake of refinery closures and conversions to produce more renewable fuels.

Walsh added that while consumers are paying higher ticket prices, airlines are not necessarily making a profit.

“And given the financial state of many airlines ... It’s not that airlines are making money, [they] are just passing on a cost that they can’t absorb themselves, and that they can’t avoid,” he said.

Airline ticket prices have spiked by 25% in the past year — the biggest annual jump since 1989. In April alone, airfares surged 18.6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Russia-Ukraine war

But another factor could contribute to even higher ticket prices — Russia’s announcement of a military mobilization, said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced a partial military mobilization in Russia, placing the country’s people and economy on a wartime footing as Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine continues.

Al Baker told CNBC that China’s Covid policies are the “smallest of [his] worries,” and that the airlines’ greatest concern is the escalation of the Russia-Ukraine war.

“For me, the biggest worry is the conflict spreading, which [will then] fuel inflation, putting more pressure on the supply chain,” he added. “The net result will be less passengers in my aeroplane.”

“It also worries me … the [instability] of the oil price, which I don’t want to pass to the passengers, which will then discourage them from travelling.”

Oil prices jumped by more than 2% after Putin’s announcement, following concerns of an escalation of the war in Ukraine and squeezing oil and gas supplies.

Nevertheless, Al Baker maintained that Qatar will continue flying to Russia as long as it is operationally safe to do so.

“We will continue to fly to Russia, we will continue to serve the people ... We are not a political institution. We are an industry that serves the common people.”

Hopes for affordable sustainable fuel

Al Baker called for more investments in alternative fuel, and that Qatar Airlines is “ready to invest in sustainable aviation fuel” on the condition that it is “reasonably priced.”

“I have no issue [paying] a bit more, but they cannot pay four or five times the price of a normal F-gas.” F-gas, also known as fluorinated gases are man-made gases applied in various industrial uses.

“If we are pushed to do that, you as a passenger are going to pay for it,” he said.

Walsh echoed his hopes of seeing more investment in the production of sustainable aviation fuel rather than traditional refineries, citing environmental concerns.

Last year, IATA set a goal for the global air transport industry to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Sustainable aviation fuels do represent the best option that the industry has to achieve our target of net zero by 2050.”

Airlines Record 93 Bird Strikes In 6 Months - DAILY TRUST

SEPTEMBER 22, 2022

The Nigerian aviation industry has recorded 93 bird strike incidents in the first half of 2022 with 54 of the incidents happening at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.

Incidents of bird strikes have become a recurring decimal in airline operations.

Just recently, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) disclosed that all the airlines lost $60 million (N34.5 billion at N575 to a dollar at the time) due to bird strikes suffered by their aircraft in 2021, saying the trend was on the increase.

At a workshop organised by the Search and Rescue Mission of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) on Wednesday in Lagos, the Head, Bird/Wildlife Hazard Control, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Mr Azike Edozie, said the prevalence of bird strike in the industry posed threat to safe flight operations. 

Daily Trust further reports that the workshop was held simultaneously in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Abuja to gather information on how to collectively tackle bird strikes across the nation’s airports.

He said, “My record shows that we have had at least 93 bird strike incidents in all our airports between January this year and June. And out of this number, 54 happened in MMIA alone, which represents about 70 per cent of the total occurrences.

“We all have to proffer a solution to this menace, and I do hope we have a lasting solution to it because everyone, especially the airlines, are losing money. The operators are working, everybody is working. We need to do more to arrest the situation.”

Head of Unit, Bird Control at FAAN, MMIA, Lagos, Mr Adetunji Adetutu, in his presentation, said the problem of bird strike was not peculiar to Nigeria, disclosing that it was a global phenomenon, noting that no airline was immune from it.

Adetutu blamed some pilots for being in a hurry to depart and violate the instructions of Air Traffic Controllers (ATC).

He disclosed that 98 per cent of bird strike incidents occurred when taking off and landing.

He said the authorities would consider issuing a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) to sensitise them on the time of the year they should experience increased bird strikes.

The Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator, NAMA, Mr Olanrewaju Iwalaye, said it was necessary for all stakeholders to collaborate towards curbing the incidents.

Bleaker economy could sour airline industry's bet on cargo planes - REUTERS

SEPTEMBER 22, 2022

By Jamie Freed

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The airline industry's record-breaking scramble to convert older passenger jets to freighters during the travel-starved years of the coronavirus pandemic threatens to bring a glut of cargo space as a dimming global economic picture hits demand.

Analysts say aircraft lessors, who helped drive a tripling in annual conversions since 2019, now face not only fallout from falling rates for cargo and freighter leases, but could get stuck with excess freighters or be forced to cancel conversions.

"This surge in conversions has raised some concerns about a bubble," said Chris Seymour, the head of market analysis for aviation advisory group Ascend by Cirium, who fears there could be a slowdown by the middle of the decade.

AirAsia, Air Canada, Qantas Airways and Vietnam Airlines are among the carriers adding freighters to their fleets in their bids to diversify sources of revenue.

But cargo rates have fallen nearly 40% from December's record, with shipping giant FedEx Corp saying a global demand slowdown is set to worsen after an acceleration at the end of August, clouding the peak year-end shipping season.

The rapid economic downturn and growing pessimism are a swift reversal from pandemic expectations, when falling aircraft values, combined with a surge in cargo demand, drove lessors and airlines to give used planes new life as dedicated freighters.

A record 192 such conversions are forecast this year, up from 122 last year, itself a record, and 64 in 2019, and will climb higher still to 221 next year, based on current orders, according to data from Cirium.

Firms such as Singapore Technologies (ST) Engineering, Swire Pacific's Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company (HAECO) and planemaker Boeing Co added passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion capabilities to take up spare capacity at maintenance hangars after many passenger planes were grounded.

P2F converters are struggling to keep up with the surge in demand as they expand capacity amid a tight labour market, rising costs and supply chain snarls in the wake of China's on-again, off-again lockdowns.

"We are fully booked until around 2026," said Jeffrey Lam, president of commercial aerospace for ST Engineering. "So, really, for new customers that are coming in now to book slots, they have to book in late 2026 or 2027."

Lessors such as AerCap Holdings NV, BBAM and Aero Capital Solutions (ACS) have piled in, even, in some cases, booking speculative conversion slots before signing up airline customers.

"As aircraft age and airlines think about asset changes, the lessor community has a more vital role or a greater stake in this base of transactions," said Mike Doellefeld, the vice president of Boeing Global Services' commercial programmes.

AerCap declined to comment, while BBAM and ACS did not respond to requests for comment.

Even though some airlines have eagerly snapped up freighters, prompted by the strong e-commerce market and the slow return of passenger flights with cargo belly capacity in some regions, analysts wonder how long that trend will last.

"Particularly in the narrowbody segment, I think the effect is going to be that lease rates are going to drop," said Frederic Horst, managing director of Sydney-based freight consultancy Trade and Transport Group.

"Lessors may be stuck with converted planes."

Lessors face greater risk than converters, which can fill their hangars with other maintenance work as passenger demand rebounds, Horst added.

For its part, HAECO is trying to avoid being overexposed to P2F conversions from lessors, said Richard Kendall, its chief operating officer, who saw a drop-off in freighter demand in a couple of years.

"We don't want to see the bubble burst and be caught with broken commitments that we can't then backfill," he added on the sidelines of the MRO Asia-Pacific conference in Singapore.

(Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Taiwan plans to end quarantine requirement for arrivals - THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SEPTEMBER 22, 2022

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan is considering an end to its quarantine requirement for all arrivals in mid-October, the Central Epidemic Command Center said Thursday.

The island has been one of the few places in the world that has held on to a quarantine for all arrivals throughout the course of the pandemic. In recent months, it has steadily reduced the previously 2-week-long quarantine.

Officials with the CECC in charge of the pandemic response announced they were planning to end quarantine and change it to seven days of self-health monitoring. But the change is dependent on the pandemic situation in Taiwan over the next week.

The expected date for the end of quarantine is Oct. 13.

Taiwan announced that starting Sept. 12, citizens from Canada, the U.S. and countries in Europe that previously had visa-free arrival could once again visit Taiwan without visas.

Under the new scheme, arrivals are still required to stay in a place that has one separate bathroom per person, and will be provided rapid tests upon arrival.

Currently, arrivals are allowed to quarantine at home, and have to do so for three days starting after the day they arrive. They must then follow up with four days of self-health management, which means they should continue to monitor their temperature and not go to restaurants.

Elsewhere, local media has also reported that Hong Kong has plans to end mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals in October, although authorities have yet to officially announce such measures.

The city, which once had among the longest quarantines in the world at 21 days, has relaxed its measures and currently requires travelers to isolate in a hotel for three days. Hong Kong leader John Lee has repeatedly stressed the need to balance controlling the spread of COVID-19 while reducing travel inconvenience.

China, which has a different quarantine requirement than Hong Kong, still requires 10 days of quarantine for arrivals.

___

AP video journalist Johnson Lai in Taipei and AP writer Zen Soo in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

Huizhong Wu, The Associated Press

Dubai is the world’s resurgent entrepot - THE ECONOMIST

SEPTEMBER 23, 2022

An influx of Russians shows how the emirate gains by playing all sides


Summer is sleepy in Dubai, a time when locals and rich expats flee for cooler climes. For the emirate’s property brokers, though, this one was anything but languid. Viewings were a race: show up a few hours late and that sea-view apartment may already be spoken for. One spent whole afternoons camped out in the lobbies of fancy buildings, with showings every half-hour. The United Arab Emirates (uae), a seven-member federation that includes Dubai, is forecast to add 4,000 new millionaire residents this year, more than any other country. That is welcome news for a property market which contributes 8% of gdp—if not for brokers who want to be on a beach.

These are heady times for the Middle East’s energy exporters. The Saudi economy is projected to grow by 7.6%, among the world’s fastest rates. Smaller Gulf states will have windfalls to pay down debt and top up sovereign-wealth funds. Even dysfunctional countries like Iraq should run surpluses. But the uae, and Dubai in particular, does not only benefit from high energy prices. It also gains from the sanctions and geopolitical disruptions that helped send those prices soaring. The city’s stockmarket has risen by 9% this year, compared with a 2% lift in Riyadh.

Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, Dubai was in a stronger position to grow as a financial hub with giant, established rivals struggling. Hong Kong grows less attractive as it falls further into China’s orbit. It has also suffered from covid-19 restrictions. Meanwhile, London has lost some of its shine since Brexit—and no longer welcomes Russian capital. Dubai is the last financial hub where just about anyone can do business with just about anyone else.

This is most obviously visible in the city’s property market. Russians bought more than twice as many homes in Dubai in the first half of 2022 as they did in the whole of last year. Betterhomes, a property firm, says they were the fourth-largest group of buyers, up from ninth place in 2021. Banking restrictions are no obstacle: one real-estate broker is said to have installed an atm in its office to facilitate cash transactions. Scores of Russian yachts are anchored in Emirati marinas, while oligarchs’ private jets loiter at a previously little-used airport south of Dubai.

Firms, both local and multinational, are shifting their operations. Banks like Goldman Sachs and Bank of America have moved employees from Moscow to Dubai. Commodity firms are considering a move from Switzerland, which has joined eu sanctions on Russia. In Fujairah, on the east coast of the uae, local companies are piling into the arbitrage business. They can buy Russian oil at a steep discount, refine it, then sell the finished products at market-price. All of this is made possible by the uae’s neutral stance on the war. Although a longtime Western ally, it has declined to join Western-led sanctions on Russia.

Dubai is not the only bolthole available. Some Russians have decamped to Turkey; the country’s attractiveness is limited, however, by a crashing currency and surging inflation. The uae offers no such worries. Its currency, the dirham, is pegged to the dollar and has not budged since 1997. Public debt is a manageable 32% of gdp; inflation is expected to peak at less than 4%. The banking system is trustworthy and well-capitalised. The income-tax rate is a hard-to-beat 0%. Scorching weather might be a shock, but Dubai offers all the amenities Russian émigrés would expect: designer brands in malls, renowned chefs in hotels, luxury homes with domestic help. Diners at a new restaurant in the financial district can order a baked potato stuffed with caviar for a mere 2,610 dirhams ($710).

These attractions have already lured business from elsewhere. Dubai has made itself a financial hub that serves not just the Middle East but Asian and African markets. Indian businessmen, for example, find much to like. They enjoy tax breaks and better schools and hospitals. Lawyers can fly over in just three hours for international deals, a much shorter trip than to London or Singapore. Sovereign-wealth funds are a big source of cash for private-equity and venture-capital firms. One Indian bigwig says that half his friends in south Mumbai have bought flats in Dubai.

Along with licit business there is the dodgier sort, too, from Irish mobsters to Iranian traders looking to circumvent sanctions. Establishments that cater to the rich, like a penthouse lounge on an artificial island in the Gulf, can have a bar-scene-from-Star-Wars vibe, albeit with $100 Wagyu steaks, $1,600 bottles of Cristal and less jaunty music. The illicit gold trade alone was once estimated to be worth around $4bn a year (though the government has taken some steps to clean it up).

Double-edged sword

Dubai’s freewheeling political economy can cause tension. For much of the past decade it was Abu Dhabi, the uae’s less commercial capital, which set the tone on foreign policy. The Arab spring of 2010-11, and the chaos it unleashed, put the country on a war footing. The uae joined the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen in 2015, and sent arms to an aspiring dictator in Libya. It also pushed for the embargo of Qatar in 2017, which saw four Arab states cut trade and travel ties with the irksome emirate.

Some of this was bad for business. Qataris used to buy lots of property in Dubai, either as an investment or as a second home in a more libertine city. The blockade cut them out of the property market. Earlier this year the Houthis in Yemen launched several rounds of missiles and drones at Abu Dhabi, a worrying event in a country that depends on a reputation for stability.

Since 2019, though, the uae has swung back towards the Dubai model. It withdrew troops from Yemen that summer and has cut its role in Libya. The blockade ended last year. This was pragmatism: neither war nor the blockade brought the hoped-for benefits. Thus hard-nosed foreign policy is out and economic diplomacy is in.

Take the sanctions-busting oil trade in Fujairah. Before they started importing Russian crude, firms there helped Iran sell its own oil. The commercial motive was straightforward: arbitrage is easy money. From the government’s perspective, the trade also served a political purpose. The uae was unnerved by an Iranian-sponsored attack in 2019 on Saudi oil facilities, which briefly shut down half the kingdom’s output. Acting as a middleman makes the uae useful to Iran, and perhaps reduces the risk of a similar attack.

In March the Financial Action Task Force, the world’s main anti-money-laundering body, put the uae on its “grey list” of problem countries. The listing has no formal consequences, and bankers say it has not changed the uae’s reputation: anyone doing business there is already aware of the risks. But Emirati officials were upset by their inclusion (and hope to be removed from the list by the end of 2023).

Financial institutions are investigating their newest clients. The government has told them not to deal with Russians who are under Western sanctions. “Banks want to future-proof their compliance,” says one Dubai-based financial analyst. But there are still choices to be made. A Russian with $1m in assets is probably not worth the headache. One with $10m? Maybe.

A more serious worry is running afoul of American sanctions, which would be dreadful for a country with a big financial sector and dollar-linked currency. Yet America does not seem to want to look closely at the uae. Every few months a group from the Treasury department flies out to chide the Emiratis. In June Wally Adeyemo, the deputy secretary, told bankers to be careful with Russian customers. Aside from a few token sanctions on small firms—mostly for dealings with Iran—America has done little more than talk, however. The uae has convinced many Americans that it is an indispensable partner in the region. Forging diplomatic ties with Israel in 2020 was a masterstroke.

This leaves Dubai in an enviable position. Whether or not America and Iran reach a nuclear deal, it can serve as an economic lifeline for Iran, as it has for years. However the war in Ukraine progresses, it can now play much the same role for Russia. Sitting on the sidelines is making Dubai the world’s resurgent entrepot.


Emirates, United Airlines sign partnership agreement - PUNCH

SEPTEMBER 23, 2022

Emirates Airlines and United Airlines have announced a commercial agreement that will enhance each others network and give their customers easier access to many new destinations within the United States and around the world.

Starting November, Emirates’ passengers flying into Chicago, San Francisco, and Houston will be able to easily connect onto United flights to and from nearly 200 cities across the Americas on a single ticket.

At the eight other US airports served by Emirates, Boston, Dallas, LA, Miami, JFK, Orlando, Seattle and Washington DC, both airlines will have an interline arrangement in place.

United will inaugurate a new direct flight between New York/Newark and Dubai starting in March 2023. From there customers will be able to travel on Emirates or its sister airline flydubai to more than 100 cities. Tickets for United’s new Dubai flight are now on sale.

Emirates and United announced their agreement on Thursday at Dulles International Airport, hosted by United CEO, Scott Kirby, and Emirates President, Sir Tim Clark, featuring United and Emirates Boeing 777-300ER aircraft and flight crews from each carrier

  • Clark was quoted in a statement as saying, “Two of the biggest, and best-known airlines in the world are joining hands to fly people better to more places, at a time when travel demand is rebounding with a vengeance.

    “It’s a significant partnership that will unlock tremendous consumer benefit and bring the United Arab Emirates and the United States even closer.

    “We welcome United’s return to Dubai next year, where our hub Dubai essentially becomes a gateway for United to reach Asia, Africa and the Middle East via the combined network of Emirates and flydubai. We look forward to developing our partnership with United for the long term.”

    On his part, Kirby, said, “This agreement unites two iconic, flag carrier airlines who share a common commitment to creating the best customer experience in the skies. United’s new flight to Dubai and our complementary networks will make global travel easier for millions of our customers, helping boost local economies and strengthen cultural ties.

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