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ECONOMY

MONDAY 21 AUGUST 2017,

SAUDI GAZETTE

10

MyUS launches

competition during

Eid Al-Adha feast

GCC long-term prospects

bright with over $2trn of

active projects in pipeline

DUBAI —

After witnessing a

significant spike in sales during

Eid Al-Adha in 2016, interna-

tional shipping company MyUS

is launching a local competition

to capitalize on sales during this

year’s Islamic holiday. The move

also aims to attract new members

in the region and encourage the

further use of its service among

existing members all over the

Gulf.

During the six weeks prior to

Eid Al-Adha last year, the top US

stores shopped online from the

region included Nordstrom, An-

astasia Beverly Hills, Ralph Lau-

ren, Kyle Cosmetics, Walmart,

Gap, ASOS, Eastbay, and H&M.

Clothing, electronics, cosmetic,

toys, kitchenware and jewelry

were among the most popular

items shopped for online during

this period.

To celebrate Eid Al-Adha,

MyUS is giving one lucky person

the chance to win an all-inclusive

trip for two to Dubai. New mem-

bers that sign up to MyUS before

August 31, 2017 will receive one

entry in the draw, while people

who ship with MyUS before the

date will receive 10 entries in the

drawwith every MyUS shipment.

The competition will be open to

people in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait,

Oman, Bahrain and Egypt. One

lucky person will be selected

randomly and receive the grand

prize, which includes two round-

trip flight tickets to Dubai and

accommodation for five days at a

4-star hotel, worth up to $2,000.

MyUS is also encouraging people

to share the competition details

with family and friends on social

media.

Ramesh Bulusu, MyUS CEO,

said: “In celebration of Eid Al-

Adha, we are pleased to be giv-

ing members in the region the

chance to win an all-inclusive

four-day trip to Dubai. Through

this competition, we aim to at-

tract new members, and encour-

age the further use of our US

shipping service among people

all over the Gulf. We also just

want to have some fun and give

away a great trip to celebrate the

holiday.”

“Online shopping is gaining

more and more popularity in

the region, and this competition

is an exciting opportunity for

members to not only shop from

their favorite online stores in the

US, but also stand the chance of

winning a luxurious trip to Dubai

upon joining MyUS and using

our shipping services,” he added.

Market researchers report

that revenue generated via e-

commerce during 2017 currently

amounts to $5,471 million, with

an expected annual growth rate

of more than 12%, resulting in

a total market volume of $8,642

million by 2021. The e-commerce

market’s largest segment is fash-

ion, with a cumulative market

volume of $1,679 million in 2017.

User penetration currently sits

at 50.4percent in 2017, and is ex-

pected to witness an increase to

70.7 percent by 2021. The average

revenue generated per user cur-

rently amounts to $472.

Once selected, the lucky win-

ner of the trip to Dubai will be

notified by email, and the prize

must be redeemed before May

30, 2018. The winning member

will be required to provided his

or her preferred dates of travel,

the name of the accompanying

traveler and the city of origin, be-

fore September 27, 2017. In order

to redeem the grand prize, the

winner must be over the age of

18, or must have turned 18 by the

1st of September 2017. US citi-

zens, in addition to employees of

MyUS along with their immedi-

ate families, will be ineligible to

win the prize.

MyUS offers a cost-effective

and streamlined shipping pro-

cess to over 400,000 members in

200 countries all over the world.

— SG

DUBAI —

The GCC projects

market had a muted perfor-

mance in the first half of 2017,

but is expected to perform bet-

ter in the second six months of

the year as the region’s econo-

mies continue to adjust to lower

oil prices.

According to the latest data

from MEED Projects, the re-

gion’s leading projects tracking

and analysis service, just $56bn

worth of contracts were award-

ed in the first six months of 2017

compared with $69bn worth of

deals over the same period in

2016, a 19% fall.

With the exception of Saudi

Arabia, every country in the

region experienced lower con-

tract award values year-on-year,

with the most marked falls seen

in Kuwait (46%) and Bahrain

(84%). Even Dubai, which has

hitherto been the most robust

and active of the GCC projects

markets, experienced a slight

dip between the two periods.

The prognosis for the second

half of 2017 is brighter, however.

Based on its tracker’s pipeline

of projects under bidding in

addition to contracts already

awarded in July and August,

MEED Projects forecasts a to-

tal of just $61bn to be let in the

second half of this year, a signifi-

cant improvement on the first

six months.

Added to the January-June

numbers, the forecast for the

year as whole for the GCC is

therefore $117bn, roughly equiva-

lent to value of contracts award-

ed in 2016. On a country level,

the UAE, led by the Dubai real

estate and transport sectors, re-

mains the largest single market

with about $38bn worth of con-

tract awards. It is followed by

Saudi Arabia at close to $36bn,

and then Kuwait at $16.8bn.

“Although market perfor-

mance year to date has been

sluggish, there have been signs

of a pick-up in activity,” says

Ed James, Director of Content

& Analysis at MEED Projects.

“The award of more than $5bn

worth of EPC contracts on the

new Duqm refinery in Oman at

Ramesh Bulusu

Investors anticipate Saudi equity market bonanza

MANAMA –

The Saudi equity

market is set for a boost as it

heads for possible inclusion in

MSCI’s influential emerging mar-

ket index in 2018. “In the mean-

time, active investors could reap

early gains as corporate earnings

should start increasing this year,”

said Shakeel Sarwar, Head of As-

set Management at SICO BSC.

“The market has moved side-

ways in the first half of 2017 after

the spectacular 30% rally late

last year. However, the latter part

of the second half could again

be an interesting period for the

market. The key catalysts for an-

other rally are going to be FTSE

and MSCI related developments.

With FTSE set to announce its

country classification review in

September, market participants

estimate that it can result in regu-

lar inflows from September on-

wards. MSCI upgrade is expected

next year but positive news flow

on this front will keep coming

and sustain the interest of active

fund managers in the market.

Large caps which are expected

to be the biggest beneficiaries of

such flows are trading at attrac-

tive multiples and should do well

in general versus the overall mar-

ket going forward.

Corporate earnings should

start recovering during the sec-

ond half of the year, supported

by better oil prices and on-going

economic reforms,” he added.

SICO expects many stocks to

benefit from cyclical trends and

further structural reform efforts,

including:

• Broad recovery in earnings

after two to three years of de-

cline, dividend increases as cor-

porate cash flows improve;

• Further easing of foreign in-

vestor rules by the Capital Mar-

ket Authority;

• Initial public offering in

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest

oil producer.

SICO Kingdom Equity Fund

invests exclusively in Saudi equi-

ties. Against the Tadawul return

of 3% during the first six months

of 2017, the fund has returned 7.6%

during the same period including

a cash dividend of 5%. The fund

has posted returns of over 55%

in the last 5 years compared to a

modest 10% return for Tadawul

during this period.

This is due to a focus by SICO

to invest in companies that are ex-

pected to benefit from economic

reforms, rising interest rates and

changing regulatory landscape.

With consumption relatively

subdued, we are looking at well-

managed companies that will

benefit directly from a more di-

verse, more open economy as

the Kingdom moves away from

its reliance on petroleum,” says

Sarwar.

“Falling oil prices were tough

on the domestic economy over

the last three years. Astute firms

have cut costs and gained market

share. There are also selective

opportunities in the survivors –

the best-run telco and consumer

stocks. A round of banking merg-

ers should benefit investors too.”

On the macro front, as a re-

sult of increase in oil prices and

structural reforms undertaken

by the government, the macro-

economic numbers for 2017 are

already looking much better than

those of 2016. Further improve-

ment in the next couple of years

as the pace of economic reforms

increases.

“The Listing of Aramco and

implementation of VAT and oth-

er taxation and subsidy removal

measures will be some of the key

milestones which the market will

be following very closely over the

next couple of years. These re-

forms and measures will not only

improve the financial flexibility

of the government but would also

ensure that going forward like in

the developed world, capital mar-

kets are used more efficiently in

the efficient allocation of capital.

Growth and development of capi-

tal markets will remain one of the

key priorities of the government,”

added Sarwar.

— SG

Shakeel Sarwar

Islamic economy’s coexistence with traditional systems probed

By Abdulla Mohammed Al

Awar

CEO, Dubai Islamic Econ-

omy Development Centre

S

INCE the launch of the

Dubai: Capital of Islamic

Economy initiative back in

2013, we have realized that the

biggest challenge to the mandate

has nothing to do with the nature

of the Islamic economy or its

ability to achieve the fundamen-

tal goal of economy in general –

enhancing living standards. The

real challenge lies in confronting

the culture that stems from the

conventional economic experi-

ence with all its achievements

and failures.

Economic concepts driving

the dynamics of the global mar-

kets have undergone a significant

shift over the past three decades.

They have shaped the onset of

monopolies and evolved into

patterns that no one attempts

to change or even dares to criti-

cize, effectively preventing the

emergence of a new economic

direction. From a point where its

benefits were up for discussion,

the free market economy became

so ingrained in the global culture

that the debate came to a conclu-

sion before it even began.

These economic mechanisms

have become desirable to the

public even though they have

failed to ‘walk the talk’. In spite

of being the most affected by the

financial crises, the common man

was the first one to come to the

defense of the system, whether

driven by the hope that one day

he will benefit from the accumu-

lation of wealth, or by the habit of

going with the flow and accepting

what is perceived as preferable to

any untested option. This flawed

logic stems from the questionable

culture created by the prevailing

conventional economy.

The Islamic economy is an in-

tegrated and interrelated system

that shares many of its principles

– such as justice, sustainability

and the advancement of the hu-

man race – with the conventional

economy. Moreover, they both

work towards common goals –

to reduce debt, poverty and un-

employment, boost growth, and

bridge gaps between countries

and social segments.

However similar the two

economic systems are in their

proclaimed objectives and their

perception of a better world, the

differences remain twofold: the

way of achieving these goals and

the way of ensuring they are not

compromised.

To understand the unique ap-

proach of the Islamic economy to

each of these aspects, we must

answer the question raised in the

headline of this piece: Can the Is-

lamic economy coexist with tra-

ditional economic systems? Does

it have what it takes to build an

ecosystem that incorporates all

economic sectors in mutual syn-

ergy?

There is no reason why it

should not. The Islamic economy

views the workforce not as cre-

ator of the elite’s wealth but as a

producer of its own wealth and

its ultimate beneficiary. Through

valuing labor and human effort

above the other two elements of

the economic equation – resourc-

es and wealth, the system increas-

es the purchasing power of wages

and helps eradicate poverty.

Furthermore, the Islamic

economy provides a solid foun-

dation for a nation’s economic

development. The system clearly

defines the relationship between

the public and private sector in

terms of activity and ownership,

as well as the roles of the state

and its legislative bodies in guid-

ing the economy towards achiev-

ing its goals. Distinctly outlining

the rights and responsibilities

of the private sector within the

framework of the state’s policies,

the Islamic economy draws on

the concept commonly known as

’responsible freedom’.

To ensure real economic

growth, the Islamic economic

system prioritizes the produc-

tion of tangible assets, basic com-

modities, services and tools that

improve people’s lives ahead of

luxury goods that drain natural

resources for temporary purpos-

es, such as quick gains. It gives

priority to physical capital over

financial capital, to real produc-

tion over trading that accumu-

lates liquidity without any added

material value.

In addition, the Islamic econ-

omy bases the criteria for mea-

suring its outcomes on the value

they add to the social develop-

ment process through supporting

health care, education, infrastruc-

ture, arts and culture, as well as

reducing disparities between so-

cial segments.

Yet another difference be-

tween the Islamic economy and

conventional economy is their

approach towards achieving and

safeguarding development. The

former considers sharing re-

sources, equitable distribution

of products and services, and

the dignity of the workforce as a

source of wealth and an engine of

growth.

Most importantly, at the core

of the Islamic economy is a firm

code of ethics based on Shariah

law that must not be compro-

mised. Any attempt to disregard

it might become a prelude to suc-

cessive crises that could easily

jeopardize the social security of

individuals as well as the wider

community.

While entrenched in legis-

lation, the Islamic economy is

wide open to new methods that

can help it thrive. It encourages

innovation and scientific break-

throughs as the means to achieve

its ultimate goals, as long as they

uphold the moral foundations of

the system.

In a nutshell, the Islamic econ-

omy is perfectly compatible with

conventional economy. Far from

posing a threat to the system as

we know it, the Islamic economy

supplements it, improves certain

aspects and provides a different

perspective without taking over.

the beginning of August, plus a

raft of new project announce-

ments in Dubai, and the gradual

re-emergence of activity in Saudi

Arabia have provided a degree of

impetus that points to a strength-

ening market.

“There’s no doubt that the

past two years have been tough

for the projects supply chain

as government spending has

slowed,” adds James. “But with

construction companies now

more efficient, the private sec-

tor more active and the number

of PPP projects growing by the

week, there is cause for opti-

mism.

“Longer term, there is even

more reason to be hopeful. Cur-

rently, there are over $2 trillion

of known active projects in the

pipeline across the GCC accord-

ing to MEED Projects data. The

majority of these are infrastruc-

ture schemes that are essential

to the future prosperity of the re-

gion, job creation and economic

diversification. While inevitably

not all will come to fruition, we

can be confident that there is still

a large amount of work to come

regardless of the oil price.”

— SG