In a strategic move to spur more investment, Bahrain, known as the Arabian Gulf’s most petite oil producer, recently granted golden licences to five companies that have committed over $1.4 billion to extensive investment projects within the kingdom.

This initiative is a part of Bahrain’s larger strategy to shift its economic focus from oil and promote business expansion. The past few years have seen Bahrain rolling out several plans to foster growth. In 2021, a significant economic reform plan was set in motion, pledging around $30 billion towards pivotal projects intended to fuel post-pandemic growth, heighten job opportunities for locals, and magnetise foreign direct investments.

Following this ambitious plan, the government proposed cost-saving measures with an end goal of generating over 20,000 jobs for its citizens by the upcoming year. The efficacy of these efforts is evident. Bahrain’s economy bolstered by 4.9% the previous year, marking the most commendable growth rate since 2013, predominantly driven by the country’s non-oil sectors.

Initiated in April, the golden licence scheme extends a host of benefits to both local and international corporations. These perks range from priority in land allocation for investments and expedited access to governmental services like building permit approvals to financial support avenues through the Bahrain Development Bank and the labour fund, Tamkeen.

Furthermore, beneficiaries can anticipate an enhanced collaboration with diverse governmental departments, a dedicated account manager courtesy of Bahrain’s Economic Development Board, and a potential revision of standing laws or regulations as deemed necessary.

The principal objective behind this enticing scheme is clear: to pull in investments from both domestic and international shores, thereby facilitating economic progression and local job creation.

To qualify for this golden ticket, companies must either propose major investment initiatives that promise to introduce more than 500 jobs within Bahrain or commit to an investment exceeding $50 million. The pioneer beneficiaries of this scheme comprise notable names such as Citi, Eagle Hills Diyar, Infracorp, Saudi Telecom, and the Whampoa Group, all of which have been greenlit by the government to initiate or enhance their operations within the kingdom.

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Oman has nearly doubled the duration of paid maternity leave in a series of sweeping reforms put forth by the nation’s government.

Previously, women could enjoy up to 50 days of paid maternity leave, a figure which has now been revised to 98 days.

Additionally, the reforms herald the introduction of seven days’ paid paternity leave, a benefit that was non-existent in the past.

In a significant move, non-Muslim workers are now entitled to 14 days of paid bereavement leave if their husband passes away.

These reforms have been met with widespread approval from both employers and workers.

Mohammed Al Rahbi, employed in the oil and gas sector, commented on the positive implications, stating, “The new rights for employees, including those not from Oman, mark a tremendous stride towards achieving a balanced work-life dynamic.”

Moreover, the modified law now permits employees to avail study leaves for exams.

Mohammed Al Farsi, a legal associate at Decree, a firm dedicated to providing a comprehensive English database of Omani royal decrees and laws, remarked, “The current Labour Law has been crafted to protect workers’ rights while simultaneously offering an encouraging milieu for businesses.”

Mr Al Farsi pointed out that these laws were a rejuvenation of the 2003 legislation, encompassing subjects like contracts, wages, working hours, and penalties.

He further noted, “Distinct aspects of the new Labour Law could radically transform Oman’s employment scenario.”

A significant update in the Labour Law enables companies to end contracts with Omani employees who are not performing up to the mark.

Fatma Al Balushi, an Omani business proprietor, voiced her endorsement for this amendment. She opined that it would propel companies to uphold superior standards in their workforce.

Echoing her sentiment, Mr Al Rahbi expressed optimism about the potential prospects these changes could usher in for Oman’s job sector. He concluded, “The government’s commitment to fostering a just and inclusive working milieu is evident through these reforms.”

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In a bid to invigorate its economy, Oman‘s Sultan Haitham has decreed the establishment of the Khazaen Economic City, complete with two free economic zones, as confirmed by the Oman News Agency on Monday. Located within the South Al Batina Governorate, the new city will be administered by the Public Authority for Special Economic Zones and Free Zones.

These pioneering initiatives will come to life under the management of Oman Logistics Company, tasked with operating both Khazaen Economic City and its two embedded free zones. The responsibility for developing these economic areas falls to the Khazaen Economic City Company.

This ambitious move comes as Oman intensifies its economic diversification strategy, buoyed by favourable oil prices, prudent fiscal reforms, and the containment of inflation, as reported by the International Monetary Fund last month.

Despite anticipating a budget deficit of 1.3 billion rials in 2023, accounting for 3% of its economy, Oman enjoyed a surplus of 1.14 billion rials the previous year, according to the nation’s Ministry of Finance.

To galvanise the country’s economic rebound from the COVID-19-induced slowdown, Oman launched a three-year fiscal stability programme last October. This scheme is designed to spur the Sultanate’s financial sector and facilitate national economic recovery.

Further bolstering its economy, Oman has recently signed several agreements with its Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) counterparts. These include a $3 billion railway project linking the Sultanate with the United Arab Emirates and a $320 million infrastructure development endeavour, backed by the Saudi Fund for Development.

Oman’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by international observers. In April, Fitch Ratings revised its outlook for the country from stable to positive, maintaining its “BB” rating. The agency cited a surge in oil revenue and a reduction in public debt as key contributors to this positive trajectory, reflecting the government’s commitment to fiscal consolidation.

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A masterpiece in marble and pink sandstone, Abu Dhabi‘s first traditional Hindu temple will open its doors for prayers on 10th February after four years of tireless effort by artisans from both India and the UAE.

Confirming the temple’s inauguration, The National reports that a series of prayer ceremonies, part of a ‘festival of harmony’, will commence from 10 February 2024, leading up to the temple’s public opening for worship on 18 February.

Drawing individuals of various faiths and nationalities, the impressive white marble and pink sandstone edifice in Abu Dhabi’s Abu Mureikha area has already become a significant landmark. Over 2,000 craftsmen have been working diligently in India’s Rajasthan state, carving exquisite pillars and columns for this first-ever hand-sculpted Hindu temple in the Middle East.

On site in Abu Dhabi, the temple’s main prayer hall and ground level are nearly complete, with plans to erect towering shikhars, or spires, symbolic of each Emirati state, on the second level.

As per the schedule of inaugural prayer services, the 6pm ceremony on 10 February will exclusively welcome contributors to the temple’s construction. The following day, a 10am service will host prayers for couples who have supported the building project. A restricted prayer session for Hindu deities will take place on 14 February, from 8am to noon, catering solely to invited guests.

The temple doors will then open to the public for a two-hour dedication ceremony on 15 February, starting at 6pm. From 18 February onwards, the temple will be open for public worship.

President Sheikh Mohamed gifted the 5.4-hectare site to the Indian community in 2015. Supervised by the Baps Swaminarayan Sanstha, the temple’s construction welcomes all faiths and nationalities. The organisation has overseen the creation of roughly 1,200 temples globally.

In homage to ancient Hindu shrines, the temple has been constructed without the use of steel, iron, or reinforced concrete, instead opting for a layered compression technique involving granite, pink sandstone, and marble.

The completed temple, standing 32-metres high, will be adorned with over 200 intricate pillars and intricate exterior carvings depicting the lives of deities, promoting peace. A total of 20,000 tonnes of stone, including 5,500 tonnes of white marble and 14,500 tonnes of pink sandstone, have been used in the construction.

A temple spokesperson declared that Abu Dhabi would host “the biggest celebration of togetherness – the festival of harmony” on the temple’s website, The celebration aims to highlight timeless art, borderless culture, and ageless values, marking the inauguration of this spiritual oasis for global harmony.

The temple, situated just off the main E11 Sheikh Zayed motorway connecting Abu Dhabi and Dubai, will feature an array of facilities. These include two parks, a community hall, a visitors’ centre, an amphitheatre, a food court, and welcoming areas, all crafted with a focus on fostering unity and harmony. Additionally, channels replicating three Indian rivers and seating areas overlooking the temple structure are being constructed.

In the buzzing metropolis of Dubai, the name Mohamed Alabbar has become synonymous with opulence and innovation. As the Chairman of Emaar Properties, Alabbar’s influence in the real estate sector is monumental. However, one question remains a subject of intrigue: What is Mohamed Alabbar net worth?

A towering success: Emaar Properties and the Burj Khalifa

An emblematic figure in the Middle Eastern business sphere, Mohamed Alabbar’s net worth can largely be attributed to Emaar Properties. The real estate giant is known for its lavish projects, the most iconic of which is the Burj Khalifa. Soaring into the skies, this architectural marvel is a symbol of Dubai’s ambition and innovation.

Contrary to some misleading information, Mohamed Alabbar does not own the Burj Khalifa; it is owned by Emaar Properties, the company he chairs. The skyscraper undoubtedly generates substantial revenue, but this does not entirely translate into personal income for Alabbar, as profits are shared among shareholders.

The tapestry of business ventures

Emaar Properties is not the only string in Alabbar’s bow. He is also at the helm of Eagle Hills Properties and is associated with Africa Middle East Resources, RSH, and the investment fund Capital City Partners. These companies, with their diverse portfolios in real estate development, mining, fashion distribution, and investment, contribute significantly to Mohamed Alabbar’s net worth.

A man of remarkable intellectual prowess, Alabbar holds a doctorate in economic sciences and has received honorary degrees from institutions such as Seattle University and Sun and Moon University in South Korea. His acumen and academic background have been instrumental in his meteoric rise, starting with his early days at the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates.

Weighing the scales: estimating Mohamed Alabbar Net Worth

As of 2022-2023, Mohamed Alabbar’s net worth is estimated to be around $5 billion, while the valuation of the companies under his stewardship exceeds $20 billion. However, it is essential to note that this does not solely constitute Alabbar’s personal wealth.

The global crisis that emerged in 2022 due to geopolitical upheavals may have repercussions on the financial landscape. Emaar Properties has been experiencing an upward trajectory for years. But as the saying goes, ‘the only constant is change’, and it will be worth monitoring the company’s reports in the forthcoming periods.

A keen investor and philanthropist

Alabbar is known to be an astute investor and philanthropist, with an unwavering commitment to supporting various causes. His wealth is continually being funnelled into new projects and charitable endeavours.

It is, therefore, tricky to pinpoint his exact annual income, though some sources speculate it could be up to $1 billion. However, as a man whose finances are perpetually in motion, absolute figures are elusive.

A legacy beyond numbers

While Mohamed Alabbar net worth is an intriguing topic, his legacy transcends monetary value. His contributions to transforming Dubai into a global metropolis and his unrelenting pursuit of new ventures and philanthropy paint the picture of a visionary whose wealth is matched only by his ambition and largesse.

Image Caption: World Economic Forum on Flickr