NL/30.04.2018

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CRIF GULF WEEKLY INSIGHTS


Country Risk Update
Saudi Arabia
Risk Indicator – DB3c
Risk Level – Slight
Ratings Trend – Stable

Dun & Bradstreet upgrades its rating outlook for Saudi Arabia due to several factors, including oil price strength, a new bankruptcy law and easing political tensions. Longer-term growth will be driven by government reforms under its Vision 2030, which aims to reduce its dependence on oil export revenues and boost the private sector.

Market Overview

Saudi Arabian Digital Media Firm Telfaz11 Raises $9 Million From Investors
Movie theaters may have recently returned to Saudi Arabia, but some investors are banking that the country won’t lose its voracious appetite for online videos, which thrived during the decades-long ban on cinemas.This week Saudi Technology Ventures and VentureSouq injected $9 million into Riyadh-based Telfaz11, a digital media company founded in 2011 that helps produce and distribute Arabic video content. It’s what’s known as a Multi-Channel Network, or MCN, which is an organization that offers a variety of services to YouTubers, such as assistance with content creation, advertising and cross-promotion, usually in exchange for a percentage of revenues generated by videos.Telfaz11 is far from the only player looking to capitalize on the space—there’s also UTURN, an entertainment company founded in 2010 in Jeddah that raised $1o million from Beirut’s Leap Ventures about two years ago. 

Dubai Hospitality Startup MaisonPrive Secures $4 Million Investment
MaisonPrive, a Dubai hospitality startup that rents luxury apartments and properties to travelers, says it has raised $4 million from an undisclosed private strategic investor.It would be the first investment secured by the company, which was formed in 2017 by Rami Shamaa and Paul Mallee, who say MaisonPrive is fully-licensed to operate under U.A.E. law.​Similar to Airbnb, but marketing itself as luxury-oriented, MaisonPrive caters to business travels and tourists looking for short-term rentals in Dubai. The company manages a portfolio of properties on behalf of owners, and offers services such as check-in and check-out, concierge, cleaning and 24/7 support. None of the properties it manages are the personal residences of the owners.​ MaisonPrive’s technology platform creates professional listings across booking sites such as Airbnb and Booking.com.​

Saudi Aramco Appoints First Woman To Its Board As IPO Looms Closer
Saudi Arabia’s energy firm Saudi Aramco has appointed a woman to its board for the first time even as the company looks to list its shares in the international market either this year or next. Aramco said that it appointed Lynn Laverty Elsenhans, along with five others to the company’s board. Other members include the kingdom’s Minister of Finance Mohammed A. Al-Jadaan, Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammed M. Al-Tuwaijri, former Chevron Philips Chemical Co. LP President & CEO Peter L. Cella and chairman of Dow Chemical Company Andrew N. Liveris.Elsenhans was ranked as one of Forbes Most Powerful Women while she helmed Sunoco. She left the Philadelphia-based firm in 2012 and joined GlaxoSmithKline as a non -executive director. She has been serving as a director of Baker Hughes since July 2017.

Billionaire B.R. Shetty Launches New Financial Firms Holding Company Finablr
Abu Dhabi-based billionaire and owner of  UAE Exchange B.R. Shetty has formed a new holding company called Finablr, consolidating all his financial services firms under one company. The new company will leverage the strengths of its brands across financial services sector UAE Exchange, Travelex, Xpress Money and Remit2India. Finablr will have more than 18,000 employees handling more than 150 million customer transactions annually. It will have a direct presence in 45 countries and has a network reach across 165 countries. The new company will be incorporated in the U.K.Finablr has also set up an incubator Innovation Hubs or i-Hubs that will identify disruptive trends and provide solutions for them. The holding company’s investment arm will continue to carry out acquisitions within the financial services sector.

PayTabs to collaborate with the largest dedicated Fintech Hub in the Middle East and Africa
As key officials from the Bahrain Economic Development Board and the Fintech Consortium kicked off the launch of Bahrain Fintech Bay on 21 February 2018, PayTabs, the one-stop payment solutions firm announced it would be one of the principal founders of the glitzy new Bahrain Fintech Bay.
Housed at the swanky Arcapita building in Manama, Bahrain Fintech Bay promises to be the Middle East’s most dynamic and diverse fintech network. Its’ objective is to be recognized as a complete ecosystem that will drive forward the Fintech industry in the Middle East.Bahrain Fintech Bay comprises of state of the art facilities, co-working spaces, communal areas, workstations, hot desks, and a variety of other shared infrastructure, making it the ideal hub for local and international corporate innovation labs and FinTech start-ups to base themselves in.

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Business Events this Week In UAE

AACE International Conference
Roda Al Murooj Rotana Downtown Dubai
01 May 2018 To 02 May 2018
 
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CRIF GULF DWC LLC · 48 BURJ GATE, DOWNTOWN BURJ AREA, SHEIKH ZAYED ROAD · Dubai · United Arab Emirates

NL/23.04.2018

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CRIF GULF WEEKLY INSIGHTS


Country Risk Update – Kuwait
Risk Indicator – DB4b
Risk Level – Moderate
Ratings Trend – Stable

Business opportunities in Kuwait should increase as the government targets a more diverse economy with its national development plan.A pending resolution of the Divided Zone dispute with Saudi Arabia will boost it’s oil production capacity. Despite its oil wealth, Kuwait’s bureaucracy and combative politics make it a difficult place to do business.

Market Overview

Egypt-Based SWVL Raises $8 Million In Series A Funding
Swvl, the Egyptian app-based mass transit system, announced a $8 million Series A that was led by regional venture fund BECO Capital, Africa-based investor DiGAME and global VC fund Silicon Badia. Other VC firms Raed Ventures, Arzan VC, Oman Technology Fund, and chairman of EDventure Holdings Esther Dyson, also participated in the round. The round comes as both primary and secondary.“The $8 million round is the biggest round of funding for a tech start up in Egypt and one of the biggest rounds in the Middle East,” said Mostafa Kandil, co-founder and CEO of Swvl. “With the funding, Swvl will solidify its position in Egypt and establish the company as a global leader in the affordable smart mobility space, offering fixed routes for a fixed flat fare at prices that are up to 80% cheaper than on-demand ride-hailing services.​“We’re trying to build our own version of public transportation, that’s smarter basically,” said the 25-year old Kandil who earned a spot on Forbes Middle East’s 30 under 30 ranking earlier this year, along with Swvl co-founders Mahmoud Nouh and Ahmed Sabbah. Forbes Middle East has also ranked Swvl at the15th position in 50 startups to watch in the Arab world.

Abu Dhabi fund agrees $30m loan to support Mali housing programme
Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), the national entity for development aid, has extended a concessionary loan of AED110 million ($30 million) to the Government of Mali to support its national social housing programme.In a bid to meet the surging housing demand in Mali and improve the overall standard of living and well-being of the Malian people, the social housing programme seeks to modernise civil and housing services in the country as part of the government’s efforts to achieve sustainable development.Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, director general of ADFD, and Dr Boubou Cisse, Malian Minister of Economy and Finance, ratified the loan agreement.Mali’s national social housing programme mandates the construction of 50,000 housing units across all major cities and regions of the country, including Kayes, Koulikoro, Bamako, Sikasso, Ségou, Timbuktu, Gao, Kidal, Ménaka and Taoudenni.

China’s ICBC Becomes Lead Arranger For $1.5 Billion Loan For Dubai’s Thermos-Solar Project
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has been mandated as lead arranger for a $1.5 billion senior loan to finance the construction of a Dubai-based thermo-solar power project, which is the largest thermo-solar power plant in the world. ICBC, Bank of China and Agricultural Bank of China will play a key role in the financing of the project, providing almost 80% of senior debt. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and the Saudi Company ACWA Power, in collaboration with Shanghai Electric, will build the 700 MW CSP project in Dubai. The project, which has an investment worth $3.87 billion, is in the fourth phase of the Mohamed bin Rashid Solar Park. The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) agreement with Shanghai Electric Generation Group (SEGC) for the DEWA project in Dubai was signed on April 15 at a ceremony in China.

UAE gov’t revenues top $1bn via e-Dirham in Q1
Federal government revenue collected through the e-Dirham reached more than AED4 billion ($1.09 billion) in the first quarter of 2018, up 82 percent compared to the year-earlier period. The increase confirms e-Dirham’s growing popularity in the cashless payment industry for government services, a statement said. It added that the number of e-Dirham cards issued in Q1 exceeded 3.3 million while the number of transaction receipts reached more than 3.5 million over the same period. Saeed Rashid Al Yateem, Assistant Under-Secretary of Resources and Budget Sector at the Ministry of Finance, emphasised the ministry’s commitment to continuously upgrade the e-Dirham system.The average speed of processing any transaction through the e-Dirham system is just 1.02 seconds, while the average speed of processing a transaction through point of sale devices is 1.1 seconds.

Chinese firms plan $1bn investment in Abu Dhabi free zone
Fifteen Chinese companies have signed agreements to invest in Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa Port Free Trade Zone (KPFTZ), totalling $1 billion in value.The huge investment follows an agreement between Abu Dhabi Ports and the Jiangsu Provincial Overseas Cooperation and Investment Company Limited (JOCIC) .​Under the terms of the agreement, China-UAE Industrial Capacity Cooperation (Jiangsu) Construction Management Co Ltd, a UAE company established by JOCIC, would occupy and develop approximately 2.2 sq km of the free trade zone for companies from the Chinese province of Jiangsu.This area, now dubbed as the China-UAE Industrial Capacity Cooperation Industrial Park, is part of the KPFTZ and is expandable to reach 12.2 sq km, a statement said.

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Business Events this Week In UAE

AACE International Conference
Roda Al Murooj Rotana Downtown Dubai
01 May 2018 To 02 May 2018
 
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CRIF GULF DWC LLC · 48 BURJ GATE, DOWNTOWN BURJ AREA, SHEIKH ZAYED ROAD · Dubai · United Arab Emirates

NL/16.04.2018

 

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CRIF GULF WEEKLY INSIGHTS

 

Country Risk Update – Baharain
Risk Indicator – DB5b
Risk Level – High

Ratings Trend – Deteriorating

Although Baharain’s domestic market is small, it has a sizeable component that is highly affluent. Saudi Arabia’s strong support for Bahrain provides a backstop to the economy in the event of a crisis, such as reserves depletion.The EU includes Bahrain on a blacklist of 17 tax havens, although the Ministry of Finance is planning actions to address some regulatory concerns.

Market Overview

Dubai’s Real Estate Deals Touched $15.7 Billion In Q1 2018
Investors poured in about $15.7 billion into Dubai’s property sector in the first three months of 2018, data from Dubai Land Department shows.However, the figure was down by 25% from the same period last year. Emiratis continued to be the biggest investors in local property as they invested funds worth $1.1 billion across 1,587 transactions. Indians were the biggest foreign investors with 1,550 transactions worth $817 million.“Achieving almost AED58 billion ($15.7 billion)in transactions shows strong momentum in the real estate sector for Q1, and we expect this to raise the Q2 transaction index and continue to rally before the end of the year,” said Sultan Butti bin Mejren, Director-General of DLD. “Analysts and experts predict an upsurge as we enter 2019 with unprecedented strength, as many strategic infrastructure projects are due to be completed in Dubai in preparation for Expo 2020,” he added.​

Las Vegas-Based Caesars Entertainment Planning Two New Resorts in Dubai
Caesars Entertainment Corporation is betting big on Dubai—the Las Vegas-based casino operator this week announced that it plans to manage two luxury hotels and a beach club in Dubai, after signing a non-binding agreement with Meraas Holdings.The resorts will represent the casino operator’s first non-gaming resorts, as gambling is prohibited in the U.A.E. Caesars’ new resorts will be located at Meraas’ Bluewaters Island development, just off the coast of Dubai on a man-made island. Both resorts are expected to open in late 2018, according to Caesars Entertainment.​The company is famous for operating the iconic Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip. Overall, it runs 47 casinos spread across the U.S. and five other countries. ​

Dubai Goes Smarter As It Embraces Blockchain And AI
Dubai is rapidly transforming into a smart city as it embraces artificial intelligence (AI), adapts new technologies and begins implementing blockchain strategies. Last week, U.A.E.’s Vice President and Prime Minister Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021 that aims to get 50% of government transactions to adopt the blockchain platform over the next three years- a step that will help the government to save around $3 billion, and 398 million printed documents with 77 million work hours annually. “Adaptation to advanced technologies and utilizing them in serving society and enhancing the efficiency of government performance is a firmly established approach adopted by the U.A.E.,” said Shaikh Mohammad.

Saudi Aramco Inks Deal To Build $44 Billion Refinery In India
Saudi Arabia is on an investment roll as it pushes forth with its economic roadmap that aims to diversify the country’s revenue sources. As part of this strategy, Saudi Aramco announced that it will develop a mega refinery, worth $44 billion, in the west coast of India in partnership with a consortium of Indian oil companies. The Kingdom’s state-owned oil firm will jointly invest with The Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOCl), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (BPCL), and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (HPCL) to build the refinery and the petrochemicals complex at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra.The refinery will have a capacity to process about 1.2 million barrels of crude per day but will not be limited to just that. The facility will also produce a range of refined petroleum products including gasoline and diesel while also providing feedstock for the integrated petrochemical complex that will have the capacity to produce about 18 million tons per annum of petrochemical production.

UAE sees 98% VAT compliance but many firms yet to register
About 275,000 companies and individuals have registered to pay value-added tax (VAT) in the 100 days since its implementation on January 1, according to Khalid Ali Al Bustani, the director general of the UAE’s Federal Tax Authority (FTA). Al Bustani added that despite some companies having so far failed to register – either intentionally or accidently – the VAT compliance ratio remained high, at 98.8 percent. “Even though the UAE is new to the tax system, achieving that level of compliance reflects how advanced the UAE is,” he said. “They were ready for the implementation of VAT.” He added that 2,160 VAT applications remain pending and that 14,402 firms were forced to re-submit their applications “due to missing information, or information not submitted correctly” before they can be approved by FTA officials.

Commodity Tracker
Business Events this Week In UAE
SME World Summit 2018
Jumeirah Beach Hotel
17 April 2018
Business Updates
 

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CRIF GULF DWC LLC · 48 BURJ GATE, DOWNTOWN BURJ AREA, SHEIKH ZAYED ROAD · Dubai · United Arab Emirates

NL/09.04.2018

 

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CRIF GULF WEEKLY INSIGHTS

 

Country Risk Update
Saudi Arabia
Risk Indicator – DB3c
Risk Level – Slight

Ratings Trend – Stable

Dun & Bradstreet upgrades its rating outlook for Saudi Arabia due to several factors, including oil price strength, a new bankruptcy law and easing political tensions.Longer-term growth will be driven by government reforms under its Vision 2030, which aims to reduce its dependence on oil export revenues and boost the private sector.

Market Overview

DEWA reveals plans to power UAE’s largest eco-friendly attraction
Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has announced plans to support the development of the Al Marmoom Conservation Reserve with six sustainable development projects.Launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Al Marmoom Conservation Reserve aims to become the UAE’s largest environmental tourist destination that attracts one million visitors annually.The Reserve, which will be a home for the area’s unique plants and animals and local and migratory birds, will feature a total of over 20 projects implemented by nine government organisations.

UAE, Oman forecast to lead Gulf economic growth in 2018
Higher oil prices coupled with improved global economic conditions are expected to support growth momentum of the GCC countries, according to a new report.Seltem Iyigun, Coface economist for Middle East & Turkey, said real GDP growth rates in the GCC are expected to average around 2.3 percent compared to 0.6 percent in 2017.Growth will remain below pre-2014 levels due to volatile energy prices and geopolitical uncertainties, she said.Oil prices averaged $54 a barrel in 2017, up from $46 in 2016, and are expected to average at $57 in 2018.Iyigun said the UAE and Oman are expected to lead growth rates in the Gulf this year with 3.8 percent, followed by Kuwait with 3.1 percent.

Alibaba Files Lawsuit Against Dubai-Based Developers Behind The Cryptocurrency Alibabacoin
China’s Alibaba filed a lawsuit this week against a cryptocurrency under development in Dubai called Alibabacoin, saying its creators intentionally used the Chinese e-commerce giant’s trademarked name in an attempt to raise more than $3.5 million in an initial coin offering (ICO).Alibaba Group filed the lawsuit in a U.S. District Court in New York, stating that the legal action arose from an unlawful scheme to misappropriate the company’s “renowned brand name in order to deceive investors in the U.S. and around the world with a single-minded focus to capitalize on [the] Plaintiff’s reputation for success.”The lawsuit lists a number of defendants associated with the cryptocurrency: the Alibabacoin Foundation (or ABBC Foundation), ABBC Block Chain IT Solutions LLC, Alibabacoin General Trading FZE and Alibabacoin Foundation LLC, as well as Jason Daniel Paul Philip and Hasan Abbas.

Egypt To Launch A New Free Zone In South Sinai
Egypt plans to establish a new economic free zone in the coastal town of Nuweiba in the South Sinai province, as a part of a comprehensive plan aiming to develop Sinai.“The government seeks to pour investment into needy areas, including Sinai and Upper Egypt, to accelerate economic growth” said Sahar Nasr, Egypt’s Minister of Investment and International Cooperation.The new duty-free zone will benefit from investment incentives, such as a three-year 50% tax exemption for projects launched in the free zone, subject to a renewal by the government.Free zones contribute to 24% of Egypt’s exports and provide around a million direct and indirect job opportunities. The new zone will bring the number of local free zones to 11, with Nuweiba and El Minya the only ones to be launched in Egypt since 2005.Egypt’s public free zones attracted $2 billion in FDI in 2016. Total investment in free zones reached $26 billion in 2016, with 1,108 companies contributing around $10 billion to Egypt’s exports.

Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts launch digital ‘eCourts’ platform
Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Courts have launched an “eCourts” platform that allows users to monitor their cases around the clock, file documents and take part in remote court hearings, the entity announced on April 7, 2018.The platform, which was developed in partnership with Microsoft, allows users to initiative, manage and monitor ongoing cases through mobile devices, as well as file documents and receive SMS notifications updating them on their case. Additionally, “electronic evidence bundles” are included at no additional cost. Court hearings can also be conducted through video conferencing technology, accessed through an integrated calendar.

Commodity Tracker
Business Events this Week In UAE
Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) Conference 2018
Dubai World Trade Centre
09 April 2018 to 11 April 2018
Business Updates
 

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CRIF GULF DWC LLC · 48 BURJ GATE, DOWNTOWN BURJ AREA, SHEIKH ZAYED ROAD · Dubai · United Arab Emirates

NL/02.04.2018

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CRIF GULF WEEKLY INSIGHTS


Country Risk Update 
United Arab Emirates
Risk Indicator – DB3c
Risk Level – Slight
Ratings Trend – Stable

The impact of the introduction of VAT in UAE at the start of January had an impact on the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) causing it to slightly slow down. Nevertheless, the index still reflects the strengthening of the non-oil private sector with inflows of new business remaining strong, although firms are now more cautious about growth prospects over the 12 months than they were in January 2018. Confidence remains above the long-term average.

Market Overview

Bahrain’s Biggest Oil Find Since 1932 Dwarfs Reserves
Bahrain, the smallest energy producer in the Persian Gulf, discovered its biggest oil field since it started producing crude in 1932, according to the country’s official news agency.The shale oil and natural gas discovered in a deposit off the island state’s west coast “is understood to dwarf Bahrain’s current reserves,” Bahrain News Agency reported, without giving figures. The country currently pumps about 45,000 barrels of oil a day from its Bahrain Field, and it shares income from a deposit with Saudi Arabia that produces about 300,000 barrels a day, according to figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.​Bahrain discovered the offshore Khaleej Al Bahrain Basin as it seeks to expand output capacity at its wholly owned Bahrain Field to 100,000 barrels a day by the end of the decade. The island kingdom is now bound by the global agreement among major oil producers to limit production to reduce global inventories.​

Abu Dhabi, Greek funds agree new $350m investment platform
Greece’s New Economy Development Fund (Taneo) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company to create a EUR400 million ($350.4 million) co-investment platform. The platform will target compelling investment opportunities found in key sectors of Greece’s economy, a statement said. Under the terms of the MoU, Taneo and Mubadala will each contribute EUR200 million to the platform, which will capitalise on resilient businesses with growth potential across key sectors of Greece’s economy.The two organisations will also share knowledge, further enhancing Greece’s strong diplomatic and trade relations with the UAE.

Nadec Buys Danone’s Saudi Joint Venture
Saudi Arabia’s National Agricultural Development Co., better known as Nadec, has acquired a majority stake in Al Safi Danone (ASD), which is a joint venture between Groupe Danone of France and Saudi based Al Faisaliah Group. Nadec has acquired a 62.2% of ASD and the existing Al Safi Danone shareholders will own the remaining 38.8% in the company.Global law firm Baker McKenzie has acted on behalf of Saudi Arabia’s of Al Faisaliah Group for the sale of their shareThe deal will help consolidate Nadec’s and ASD’s business in the dairy industry in Saudi Arabia by reinforcing their position to create a leading regional dairy and beverage player, and will extend their geographic reach.The acquisition will give Nadec an opportunity to utilize Danone’s global expertise and also increase their scale, both within the kingdom and regionally.

Saudi’s Inclusion In The FTSE Russell EM Index Fails To Buoy Tadawul
Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in the FTSE Russell’s emerging market index failed to move local markets as Tadawul—the local stock market—fell by 0.37% on March 29, 2018.Earlier that day, it was announced that the Kingdom would be upgraded from its previous status as ‘Unspecified’ to emerging markets by March 2019. The move is expected to attract billions of dollars of fresh foreign investment to the Kingdom—ranking it among the 10 largest emerging stock markets.In September 2015, Saudi Arabia was added into the FTSE Russell Watch List soon after the Qualified Foreign Investor (QFI) program was introduced in the Kingdom. The country continued to maintain its status in the Watch List through the FTSE’s 2016 country classification.

UAE banks performing well despite lower profits 
UAE banks are continuing to perform well, albeit with lower levels of profitability, largely the result of costs growing at a faster rate than operating income, according to a new report. Professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal released its latest UAE Banking Pulse covering the final quarter of 2017 said another trend has been an increase in liquidity, as deposits grew at a faster rate than loan advances. The report compares the quarterly data of the 10 largest listed UAE banks – First Abu Dhabi Bank, Emirates NBD, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Mashreq Bank, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Union National Bank, Commercial Bank of Dubai, National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah, and the National Bank of Fujairah.The report said loans and advances for the top 10 banks grew at a significantly slower rate (0.22 percent) than deposits (2.47 percent).

 

Commodity Tracker

Business Events this Week In UAE

Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) Conference 2018
Dubai World Trade Centre
09 April 2018 to 11 April 2018
 
Business Updates


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CRIF GULF DWC LLC · 48 BURJ GATE, DOWNTOWN BURJ AREA, SHEIKH ZAYED ROAD · Dubai · United Arab Emirates