European Stocks Close Higher

European stock indices closed higher on Wednesday, with a jump in shares of sectors sensitive to interest rates, such as real estate, and expectations of a decline in inflation in the United States.

The European Stoxx 600 index rose by 1.2 percent at the close, achieving the largest percentage jump in one day since last January, after it had continued to decline over the past three sessions.

The real estate sector led the gains of the main sectors on the index, with an increase of 2.7 percent, and shares of technology companies rose by 2.4 percent, while shares of European automakers fell by about one percent.

The French CAC 40 index rose by one percent, after recording sharp declines in the previous two sessions, after French President Emmanuel Macron called last Sunday for early legislative elections in his country.

Source: Qatar News Agency

The General Authority of the Palestine Investment Fund holds its regular meeting


Ramallah – Together – The Palestine Investment Fund held its annual regular general assembly meeting at the Millennium Hotel in Ramallah, headed by Mr. Iyad Judeh, Chairman of the Board of Directors, and in the presence of members of the Board of Directors, members of the General Assembly, Mr. Fadi Al Dweik, Director General, in addition to Mr. Tariq Rabaya. Registrar of Companies at the Ministry of National Economy, and Mr. Hazem Sababa, Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers Palestine, the external auditing firm.

Mr. Judeh explained in his report to the members of the General Assembly that, despite the brutal aggression against our people, the Fund continues to implement a group of vital projects, in the sectors of renewable energy, health, industry, small projects, and other sectors, and it succeeded during the year. The past has achieved a number of achievements at the project level, and the continuation of work on them, in addition to building New partnerships with local and regional entities.

In his report
, Mr. Judeh reviewed a number of achievements that had a tangible impact on the ground, at the level of existing projects and investments, or those under implementation, and the most prominent of these achievements are:

Rabieh Feed Factory

The start of commercial production was announced at the Rabieh Feed Factory located in Beit Ula in Hebron Governorate yesterday, which is considered a national achievement for the Fund and its partners in the Palestine Industrial Investment Company. Note that the factory had begun trial production at the beginning of the year 2024. The factory’s production capacity is 40 thousand tons annually, and it aims to reduce imports, enhance local products, and rely on national production as an alternative to imported ones.

Solar energy program on school roofs:

By the end of 2023, the Fund has succeeded in installing solar energy systems on the rooftops of 270 schools, and 220 of them have already been operated, which constitutes the result of a partnership that the Fund is prou
d of with the Ministry of Education, the Jerusalem Governorate Electricity Company, and the Electricity Distribution Company. Al-Shamal and Hebron Electricity Company, which resulted in the implementation of this national project, whose economic effects are reflected in reducing the annual electricity bill for schools by an average of 3 million shekels. In addition to the environmental and educational impact.

‘Noor Ramoun’ solar power station

: As part of our projects in the solar energy sector, and through partnership with the Jerusalem Governorate Electricity Company, the Fund completed during the past year the installation work and operation of ‘Noor Ramoun’ station in Ramallah and Al-Bireh Governorate. The station’s production capacity is 4.2 megawatts, so that the Jerusalem Governorate Electricity Company will benefit from the electrical energy that is produced for 25 years. The station is considered a continuation of the Noor Palestine Solar Energy Program, and the result of a partnership with the Jer
usalem Governorate Electricity Company.

“Noor Al-Shamal” solar power station.

All civil and mechanical works have been completed at the Nour Al-Shamal solar power station near the town of Beit Lid in Tulkarm Governorate. The production capacity of the station is 5.2 megawatts, on an area of ??55 dunums. The station will begin operating during this year 2024. This project is part of As part of the Fund’s efforts with the Northern Electricity Distribution Company to establish solar energy projects whose total capacity will reach 20 megawatts.

Cement Mill:

During the year 2023, most of the infrastructure for the cement mill project was completed. It is a partnership between Sanad Company and Issa Khoury Group for Mining and Construction Industries. The estimated cost of the project is about 85 million dollars. The project development work has reached advanced stages, and most of it has been installed. Equipment and machinery.

Istishari Cancer Hospital

Construction work has made significant progress in Isti
shari Cancer Hospital during the year 2023, and it is expected to begin operation during the third quarter of this year 2024, with a capacity of 170 beds as a first phase. The hospital is being established through our partners in the Arab Specialized Medical Complex Company, and aims to diagnose and treat all types of cancerous tumors. The hospital will contribute to covering a large portion of the needs of cancer patients in Palestine, to be a source of health services currently available in this field, in addition to hospitals that provide their services in this field, such as: (An-Najah National University Hospital and Al-Mutala’ Hospital).

The Development Impact Bonds Program

was able to achieve positive results for the benefit of Palestinian youth seeking training and job opportunities, as 1,300 male and female trainees were trained until the end of the year 2023, within nine training programs aimed at raising their competencies in specializations that the market urgently needs at the present time, in
addition to To employ more than 600 male and female employees, in various fields including nursing, medicine, public safety, teacher preparation, the construction sector, the field of quality control, professional training and operation for the furniture sector, various administrative fields, and information technology.

The Fund invests in this program alongside a number of international institutions such as: the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Dutch Development Bank, and the Chilean-Palestinian Investment Fund. The Fund is participating in launching this program as the first development impact bond specialized in developing skills and employment for Palestinian youth through the ‘Finance to Create Job Opportunities’ project, designed by Social Finance UK and implemented by Development Alternatives (DAI) for the benefit of the Ministry of Finance and funded by the World Bank.

‘Ibda’ program for financing small projects.

In the small and medium enterprises sector, the ‘Ibda’ program co
ntinued to achieve its goals by providing loans to productive projects with the aim of developing them and improving their productivity, as the number of projects benefiting from the program until the end of the year 2023 reached more than 4,120 projects that received loans. Which contributed to providing more than 9,590 job opportunities.

Gaza Financing Program

With the aim of supporting and empowering small and medium enterprises in the Gaza Strip, the Fund launched the Gaza Financing Program by providing participatory grants for these projects. The program is implemented through the Global Communities Foundation (GC), so that the grants contribute to the implementation of the expansion plans of the beneficiary projects and the development of their activities. To increase its productivity and provide job opportunities for the residents of the Strip, grants worth $250,000 have been provided until the end of the year 2023, in various fields, whether industrial, agricultural, commercial, and others.

In the
wake of the aggression and war on the Gaza Strip, the Fund studied and adapted multiple possibilities and partnerships with the aim of reshaping the program and implementing a number of initiatives that meet the possible and feasible portion of the large emergency needs left by the ongoing war against our people, by fully employing the amount allocated to the program for this purpose. Accordingly, work has been underway since the beginning of the current year 2024 to implement a number of initiatives, including providing support through grants to a number of small and micro enterprises in the Gaza Strip that were damaged by the war, with the aim of restoring them to work, and joining the ‘Rise Palestine’ initiative, while other initiatives are being studied. Others will be announced in due course. Since the beginning of the war and aggression, the Fund has also focused on supporting community initiatives within the social responsibility program that aims to provide humanitarian support in the Strip, including
providing emergency assistance to the displaced in the beloved Gaza Strip.

Jerusalem Green Energy Grant Program

The Fund has always paid exceptional attention to the city of Jerusalem, and has been keen to implement projects and programs that contribute to activating its economy and working to provide job opportunities for our people in the city. In this context, the Fund is implementing, in partnership with the European Union, the Jerusalem Green Energy and Sustainability Grant Program to finance Small and medium enterprises, co-financed with the European Union and amounting to 2.4 million euros.

The program aims to provide grants to Jerusalemite projects operating in various sectors, which demonstrate their ability to use financing in a way that serves their commercial interests on the one hand, and focus on using environmentally friendly equipment and machinery, or expanding the production of renewable energy.

The program provided funding grants to about 15 Jerusalemite projects, and the projects recei
ving funding varied and revolved around environmentally friendly ideas, such as: installing solar panels to reduce electricity consumption and using these amounts to employ Jerusalemite youth, or purchasing environmentally friendly equipment and other projects related to recycling.

Mr. Judeh indicated in his report to the members of the General Assembly that during the year 2023, the Fund achieved net profits after taxes amounting to $14.5 million, while the total amount transferred as profits to the treasury amounted to $14.5 million The state from its founding until the end of the year 2023 is about $1.1 billion.

The General Assembly discussed the Fund’s Board of Directors’ report for the year 2023, listened to the Fund’s auditor’s report for the financial year ending on 12/31/2023, and approved the Fund’s final accounts.

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Judeh thanked the political leadership, represented by His Excellency President Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, for his guidance and s
upport for the Fund and its strategic projects, and to His Excellency Dr. Muhammad Mustafa for his period of leadership of the Fund over the past years, which witnessed many achievements despite the challenges. As well as to the partner institutions from the Palestinian private sector, Arab and international institutions, which contributed to the success of the Fund’s projects and programs in various sectors, and to the members of the Board of Directors, the General Authority, the Executive Management and all the Fund’s employees for their tireless work to achieve the goals and mission of the Fund, and to work to consolidate the spirit of cooperation and collaboration. To make the Fund’s journey successful, on the path to establishing our independent Palestinian state with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

It is noteworthy that the General Authority of the Fund consists of a number of legal persons, including members of the Board of Directors, and the personalities of the General Authority are diverse as rep
resentatives of various sectors and specializations. Such as public and private institutions and civil society, who in turn represent the shareholder. The General Assembly meets periodically every year in the presence of the Registrar of Companies, and the members of the General Assembly are appointed by decision of the President of the State of Palestine in accordance with the statute.

Source: Maan News Agency

QSE Index Rises 32.43 Points at Start of Trading

Doha: The general index of Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE) rose 32.43 points, or 0.34%, at the beginning of trading on Wednesday, reaching 9,664 points, compared to yesterday’s closing.

The QSE general index was supported by a rise in five sectors: Telecoms by 0.73%; Consumer Goods and Services sectors by 0.60%; Banks and Financial Services by 0.53%; Industrials by 0.23%; and Insurance by 0.16%. On the other hand, the index saw a decline in Real Estate by 0.08%; and Transportations by 0.37%.

At 10:00 am, QSE registered trading of 34.029 million shares in 2,709 transactions valued QR 74.693 million.

Source: Qatar News Agency

Statistics: A sharp decline in building permits


Ramallah – Ma’an – The Central Bureau of Statistics reported a decrease in the number of licenses issued in Palestine during the first quarter of 2024 by 20% compared to the fourth quarter of 2023.

The statistics stated in a statement issued today, Wednesday, that no building permits were issued in the Gaza Strip during the same period, while the West Bank witnessed a decline of 20%, and the number of permits issued in Palestine recorded a decrease of 36% compared to the corresponding quarter of the year. 2023, as the number of new building permits decreased by 20% compared to the fourth quarter of 2023, and decreased by 45% compared to the corresponding quarter of 2023.

He pointed out that the number of building permits issued for residential and non-residential buildings reached 1,624 permits during the first quarter of 2024, including 900 new building permits.

The “Statistics” indicated that the total area of ??buildings (residential and non-residential) amounted to 902 thousand square meters, of which
713 thousand square meters are the area of ??new buildings and 189 thousand square meters are the area of ??existing buildings.

The number of licensed residential units reached 3,556 residential units with an area of ??612 thousand square metres, including 2,719 new residential units with an area of ??473 thousand square metres, and 837 existing residential units with a total area of ??139 thousand square metres.

The number of new residential units recorded a decrease of 14% during the first quarter of 2024 compared to the fourth quarter of 2023, and by 29% compared to the corresponding quarter of 2023.

Source: Maan News Agency

EU Announces Tariff Increase on Chinese EVs

The European Union announced Wednesday an increase in customs duties on imports of Chinese electric cars to about 38 percent, up from 10 percent currently.

The European Commission explained in a statement that these initial tariffs have been notified to the various companies concerned and the Chinese authorities, and that these initial tariffs will begin to be applied as of July 4, provided that an agreement is reached with China regarding providing support to local car manufacturers, which Europe considers illegal support.

China for its part expressed his regret over the European decision, saying that it contradicts the principles of the market economy and the rules of international trade, and that it undermines economic and trade cooperation between China and the European Union (EU).

Source: Qatar News Agency

Abu Dhabi’s top research centres to boost food and water innovation


AgriFood Growth and Water Abundance (AGWA), Abu Dhabi’s new food and water cluster, is joining forces with five of the UAE capital’s leading universities and technology enablers to bolster innovation, talent development and advanced research, with the aim of tackling food shortages and water security globally.

Led by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) and Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), AGWA is set to become a global hub for novel food and ingredients, as well as for technologies that increase access to water resources and enable their efficient utilisation. ADIO has brought together the expertise and resources of the Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC), the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority Lab (ADIA Lab), Khalifa University, the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU), and Hub71 to collaborate on fostering innovation and sustainable solutions within the food and water sectors.

The research centres will play a defining role in uncovering breakthroughs and advancements relate
d to the future of food and water. This will drive progress in areas like the development of alternative proteins, functional ingredients, algae, farming, and reverse osmosis membranes.

The innovative AGWA cluster has been meticulously designed to support local suppliers and exporters alike, serving as a platform for the maximisation of commercial opportunities. The cluster aims to meet increasing global demand, alleviate pressures on agricultural systems, address shifting dietary patterns, capitalise on technological advancements, and support global food security, ensuring a reliable and resilient supply chain for food and water.

The five Abu Dhabi research-led organisations will work closely with other AGWA companies to support the development of cutting-edge solutions and technologies, nurture talent and expertise essential for driving innovation and growth, and provide insights into emerging trends that affect market demands and challenges related to food and water.

Badr Al-Olama, Director General of A
DIO, said, ‘The depth of Abu Dhabi’s innovation ecosystem is a key strength offered to any company that seeks to join AGWA. This agreement brings together an array of specialist expertise from six world-class institutions, enabling cluster companies to innovate and lead the drive for food security and water abundance.’

Dr. Horst Simon, Director of ADIA Lab, said, ‘ADIA Lab was created to tackle some of society’s most pressing issues through the study of data and computational sciences. The AGWA Cluster will foster collaboration between experts from various fields, working together to find solutions to a global and vitally important issue: food and water scarcity. We look forward to drawing on our network of leading scientists, supporting cutting-edge research projects and hosting knowledge-sharing events to play our part in the success of AGWA.’

Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice President, Khalifa University, said, ‘We are delighted to collaborate with key government, regulatory, and industry stake
holders and leading research institutions to contribute to the AgriFood Growth and Water Abundance (AGWA) cluster, a vital initiative for tackling the global challenges of food and water security. Khalifa University’s diverse research and enterprise-oriented endeavors align with the directives of the UAE leadership. Our innovations focus on converting agricultural waste into sustainable resources, advanced water treatment solutions, climate-smart agriculture, and scientific breakthroughs that draw inspiration from the adaptability of the UAE’s unique desert environment. By combining our novel findings and technologies relevant for agriculture and food security, and developing precipitation enhancement techniques to replenish water resources, we can create the necessary momentum for a more resilient future for the UAE.’

Ahmad Ali Alwan, CEO of Hub71, said, “Food and water security has been an important theme for Abu Dhabi and the UAE. Innovative technologies will play a significant role in developing sustai
nable food and water systems, essential for a resilient future. Abu Dhabi’s pioneering initiatives in establishing this new cluster will foster collaboration and drive the development of transformative technologies in this sector.”

Shahab Issa Abu Shahab, Director General at ATRC, said, “AGWA marks a significant step for Abu Dhabi in addressing global food and water challenges. ATRC is proud to be a part of this initiative and we look forward to supporting the development of cutting-edge technologies that will ensure a sustainable food and water supply for a growing global population.”

The partners will establish a comprehensive framework to facilitate research and development activities. This framework will efficiently bring new products, processes, and services to market, while supporting companies to integrate into global value chains and enabling their transition to high-value activities. Additionally, the partnerships will provide continuous learning opportunities to enhance the skills of Abu Dhabi’s w
orkforce.

Abu Dhabi is home to more than 24,000 farms, of which 50% are in the Al Ain region. The AGWA cluster builds on this strong traditional farming base in Abu Dhabi, and the UAE capital’s leadership in advanced food and water production methods.

AGWA taps into a mega AED 77.4 trillion industry with immense potential for economic growth and job creation. By 2045, AGWA is expected to contribute AED 90 billion in incremental GDP to Abu Dhabi’s economy, create 62,000 new jobs, and attract AED 128 billion in investments.

Source: Emirates News Agency