The 2016 Images RetailME Awards, which recognise Middle East’s best retailers, were presented at a gala ceremony held at the Conrad hotel Dubai, UAE.
The awards recognise excellence across a range of retail categories, turning the spotlight on the best performing retailers in the region and benchmarking best practices in this vibrant industry. The awards ceremony is among the most important dates in the Middle East Retail calendar.
Among the winners in 39 different categories were Fawaz Alhokair named Middle East Retailer of the Year; Jumbo Electronics in the Consumer Electronics category; Virgin Megastore in the Leisure category; Carrefour in the Hypermarket category; Chalhoub Group’s Level Shoes for Luxury; Apparel Group’s Club Apparel for its CRM initiatives; BinSina (Alphamed Pharmacy) under Pharmacy & Healthcare category; Homes R Us in the Home & Housewares category; Paul Café under Food Service (Casual Dining); Eataly for Fine Dining and Rising Star Retailer; and Shamiana under QSR, to name a few.
The RetailME Awards gala evening was presented by a leading media personality and anchor from India Mitali Mukherjee. A known voice in the Dubai music scene, Layla Kardan set the mood to the gala evening with her soulful and sultry voice.
Amitabh Taneja, chairman of the Images Group, said: “We thank every member of our jury for sparing the time and effort to evaluate the submissions and compile the results.
In order to make the judging process for the awards more competitive and transparent, the awards categories were segregated into self-nomination and industry nominated jury awards. Under the self-nomination category, retailers were free to nominate themselves in any of the eight categories – marketing campaign, social media campaign, retail launch, store design, online retailer, store manager, CRM initiatives and responsible retailer.
Their submissions were evaluated and judged by a jury comprising Mohammad Alawi, CEO of Red Sea Markets Co, Saudi Arabia; Roy Higgs, president of US- based Roy Higgs International; Alex Andarakis, founder & managing director of Dubai-based Andarakis Advisory Services, Dubai; Davide Padoa, CEO of UK-based Design International; and Maha Zeibak, principal of Vis a Vis Retail.
For the industry-nominated jury awards, the group conducted a survey covering more than 50 of the top regional shopping malls to short-list the best performing retailers at their malls and elsewhere. The names emerging from the survey were subsequently vetted by a panel of veterans and experts from the shopping centre industry that included Khalid S Al Jasser, CEO, Arabian Centres, Saudi Arabia; Brad Merchant, director, retail asset management at Aldar Properties, Abu Dhabi; Mohamed Galal, chairman, TSM, Egypt; Mazen Qandeel, leasing director, Hamat Properties Company, Saudi Arabia; Christian Wistrom, general manager – leasing, GLA Management Company; and Andrew Williamson, director, head MENA retail.
The process helped nominate more than 250 of the top-performing brands under 29 categories.
Italy's ENI gas platform Angela in the Adriatic sea off Lido di Dante near Ravenna. Oil majors are expected to boost production over the next few years. Alberto Pizzoli / AFP
Majors set to boost output by almost 10 per cent to 2018 with expected rise in prices likely to lead to improved cash flow and more generous dividends.
Despite the drop in crude prices, huge spending cuts and thousands of job losses – the world’s top oil and gas companies are set to produce more than for some time.
While top oil companies struggle with slumping revenues following a more than halving of prices since mid-2014 after years of spectacular growth, their production has persistently grown as projects sanctioned earlier in the decade come on line.
Overall production at the world’s seven biggest oil and gas companies is set to rise by about 9 per cent between 2015 and 2018, according to analysts’ estimates.
With an expected recovery in prices, the increased production should boost cash flow and secure generous dividend payouts, which had forced companies to double borrowing throughout the downturn.
“There are a lot of projects coming on stream over the next three years that will support cash flow and ultimately dividend,” said the Barclays analyst Lydia Rainforth.
And despite a drop in new project approvals, companies have throughout the downturn cleared a number of mammoth undertakings such as Statoil’s Johan Sverdrup oilfield off Norway and Eni’s Zohr gas development off the Egyptian coast.
Others opted to acquire new production, such as Royal Dutch Shell, which bought its smaller rival BG Group for US$54 billion this year, and ExxonMobil through investments in Papua New Guinea and Mozambique.
Shell is expected to see the strongest growth among its peers over the next two years at 8 per cent, according to BMO Capital Markets.
Production is unlikely to drop after 2020, and could post modest growth as companies continue to bring projects onstream, albeit at a slower pace, said the BMO analyst Brendan Warn.
The French oil major Total, for example, plans to clear three major projects by 2018 – the Libra offshore oilfield in Brazil, the Uganda onshore project and the Papua LNG project – that will begin production after 2020.
“We won’t see 5 to 10 per cent growth that we’ve seen from companies in recent years. It will be closer to 1 or 2 per cent,” Mr Warn said.
Capital spending, or capex, for the sector is set to drop from a record $220bn in 2013 to around $140bn in 2017 before modestly recovering, according to Barclays.
But companies have learnt to do more with the money after slashing expenditure and tens of thousands of jobs, while the cost of services such as rig hiring dropped sharply throughout the downturn.
“2017 is the sweet spot for integrated companies. It took two to three years to adjust to the drop in oil prices, and a lot of the efficiencies introduced in recent years will roll into 2017, when projects kick in and free cash flow will improve,” Mr Rainforth said.
The resilience is mostly due to new gas projects coming on stream as companies shift towards the less polluting hydrocarbon that is expected increasingly to displace oil demand in coming decades.
The slower pace of project development after a decade of rapid growth that was accompanied by soaring costs will help companies, Mr Warn said.
“That is much more sustainable for a major that will reduce the number of large capex projects.”
Jack Matar, the chairman of the Canadian Business Council in Abu Dhabi, believes Emirati women are getting to somewhere and getting the country to another level. Delores Johnson / The National
The chairman of the Canadian Business Council says his country is known for its technological prowess. This is valuable to the rapidly changing UAE economy as Emirati entrepreneurs start to push beyond government positions.
Jack Matar, the chairman of the Canadian Business Council in Abu Dhabi, is in the middle of his two-year term. He has served as chairman twice before and decided to run again last year. The 230 members of the council work in many different industries across the UAE, such as services, food, hospitality and finance.
How do you see the current situation regarding the economy of the UAE?
In the Canadian business community, we have full confidence in the measures taken in different sectors of the economy. I guess the oil price will soon stabilise. Of course there is a question mark [about the number of new projects launched by the government next year], but I have to be optimistic and it has to be better than 2016 because the economy will have to stabilise. And when the business community gets accustomed to [the low oil price environment], then things will go back to normal.
How long do Canadian companies take to decide to open in the UAE?
Usually and strategically, between the decision of moving and opening, it takes between six months and one year, because they come and they study and after one year, a lot of companies decide not to stay. They test the water, they have a partnership, they study … The Canadians are not fortune hunters. They would like to come for a stable market because they have a lot to offer like high technology. They are not trying to start from zero. Canadian companies are coming with an added value to the local economy.
So the oil price falling last year had a strong effect on the number of newcomers settling here?
A little bit, not a lot. From Canada, the companies that decide to come here are in sectors such as technology, instrumentation, things that have nothing to do with oil. Canada is well-known for its new technology.
Do Canadian companies already here have a plan B to pull out from the UAE?
Plan B is there for everybody. There is nobody who works without plan B, or even plan C. Canadian companies are here to stay. I am getting calls from Canadians who left the country, left Abu Dhabi, and they are trying to come back and work for any salary because life in Abu Dhabi is much easier than living in Canada.
In what way?
Salaries, ease of life, no taxes. It is an easy environment. The weather is the most important factor. Canadian weather is hard – we have six months of freezing cold and snow. It goes down to minus 35C, average is minus 10C and 0C is spring. So when they have sun here for 330 days per year, that’s why Canadians love the weather here.
What are the opportunities for Canadian companies with regards to the economic diversification of the UAE?
Canadians are not into [oil and gas] exploration, but they have the technology for all other industries – what we call the control systems, electronics, software … once the economy is diversified, obviously the UAE wants to improve its own industries and take them to the next level and the next. They will require such technology, and Canadians have got it.
How do members of your business council find the UAE’s process of Emiratisation?
We feel that it is the right of the country to train its citizens and employ them. The UAE is not for foreigners, it is for the Emiratis, so we are guests. [Emirati candidates have the right] skills but experience is the problem. But one thing about the Emiratis: they are very fast to learn. They want to work.
You will find people ages 26 to 27 years old with two or three years of experience, and once appointed in senior positions they are doing excellent jobs. Emiratis have a lot of options – in the government they get high salary and fewer hours and less stress, in the oil companies more or less the same, but now they are pushing more. In the private sector it is harder for Emiratis – we work long hours. The pay is good but it is not like oil companies or government, so they need to accept less.
What do you see when Emirati women join the workforce?
I have all my respect for the local women because apparently they are now dominating most of the government offices – they are all women in the traffic department, labour department … they are efficient and they are very helpful. This is as a result of the graduate rate at universities. I believe Emirati women are getting to somewhere and getting the country to another level.
So you think they are the future?
Is there any partnership between Canadian businesswomen and Emirati businesswomen?
On a very limited scale. Also, not so many Canadian women are in businesses here. There are women working at institutions. The management of the Higher Colleges of Technology is Canadian and there are a lot of Emirati students going to Canada. You see a lot of Emiratis in Montreal and Toronto.
Where do you see Emirati women flourishing in the post-oil period?
They will be everywhere, but first government, oil and gas, and eventually they will go in the private sector. I see a good future for them; an excellent future because they are willing to work, some of them have started their own businesses.
Do you organise any event regarding women?
No, except for the International Women’s Day.
Do you see an effect on Emiratis studying in Canada?
Of course. Studies have an effect. Students go young to university for undergraduate studies; the personality of the student is moulded towards this new culture they adopt, so when they come for business they will want to continue with the same mentality and the same people.
More than a dozen Canadian business executives have volunteered for the Membership and Sponsorship Committee since the first call for volunteers went out on Tuesday, 14 June 2016. The members have been discussing various items of relevance to sponsors and members, covering the complete sponsorship and membership cycles through the delivery of benefits to sponsors and members.
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