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Sarah Townsend

Commissioning Editor

Sarah is a UK-based award-winning business journalist, who lived and worked in the UAE at The National newspaper and Arabian Business from 2015 to 2019. She was editor of property news website Place North West in Manchester before joining AGBI and continues to focus on alternative investment topics such as real estate, education and healthcare, as well as on economics, business law and policy, startups and more

Sarah Townsend
Taaleem has doubled its investment in edtech over the past five years but says it is selective with its use

Mena reaches for tech to upgrade results in education

Demand for education technology, or edtech, is growing in the Middle East and North Africa as countries seek to bolster learning to drive economic growth.  However, experts warned against excessive use of technology in classrooms, saying it could affect the attainment of basic skills such as reading and writing.  Examples of edtech include interactive whiteboards, […]

Kuwait real estate licence city aerial shot

Real estate broker licence numbers in Kuwait rise by 17%

Almost 230 new licences were issued to land and property sales agents in Kuwait in 2023, bringing the total to 1,594 by the end of December, a 17 percent rise on 2022. Kuwait’s property sector is hoping that a new law allowing foreigners to buy will lead to increased business opportunities. A total of 228 […]

Arada project Syria

Sharjah developer launches Syria home-building campaign

The Sharjah developer Arada has launched its third annual Ramadan charity campaign, pledging to build homes for displaced families in Syria.  For every house sold at Arada’s real estate developments during the holy month, the company will build a home for a Syrian family affected by recent conflict and the February 2023 earthquakes. The “Home […]

Muscat waterfront. Oman's budget surplus was down to an 'increase in government investments', said the state news agency

Oman posts $220m budget surplus in January 

Oman’s budget surplus reached nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in January, helped by public income from state investments, according to its state-owned news agency.  The surplus was OR85 million ($220 million) by the end of January, down just over 40 percent on the OR145 million surplus registered in the same month of 2023, […]

As part of his March budget, the UK's Jeremy Hunt announced plans to abolish the country's 200-year-old non-dom tax status

UK’s non-dom shake-up to attract high earners to Gulf

There is likely to be an influx of expats and returning nationals to the Gulf as a result of the UK’s abolition of non-domicile tax status from April 2025, experts told AGBI. ‘Non-doms’ live in the UK but claim to have a permanent residence in another country, so they do not pay tax on overseas […]

Souq Waqif in Doha. Qatar's total business activity increased at the fastest rate in three months in February

Qatar’s non-oil companies optimistic despite higher costs

Higher output and strong demand for goods and services helped Qatar’s non-oil private sector to record a faster improvement in business conditions in February than in the previous month, a survey shows. The latest Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) survey by Qatar Financial Centre and S&P Global registered 51 in February, up from 50.4 in January.   […]

Etihad crew catered to 14 million passengers in 2023, resulting in a 31 percent rise in passenger revenue to AED16.6 billion women cabin crew Etihad airline smiling

Etihad posts soaring net profit and anticipates IPO 

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways grew its net profit more than fivefold to AED525 million ($143 million) in 2023, helped by a 40 percent increase in passengers and AED20.3 billion ($5.5 billion) of revenues. The emirate’s state-owned airline gave staff a heads-up about its 2023 financial performance in an internal memo sent on January 25, AGBI […]

Abu Dhabi's Offset8 is investing in Indonesia to fund biochar, which is made from burning agricultural waste and used for carbon sequestration

Asset manager Offset8 invests in Indonesia carbon project

Asset manager Offset8 Capital, which specialises in financing climate mitigation projects, has facilitated an undisclosed early-stage investment in a waste management scheme in Indonesia.  The project, run by Singapore-based sustainable waste management company Sawa EcoSolutions and its Indonesian operating arm Legasi Alam Indonesia, is expected to generate around $50 million of carbon credits over the […]

A tourist with an arabian foal at Alhazm stud, Khubash, Saudi Arabia. 106m tourists visited the kingdom last year

Saudi Arabia hits tourism target seven years early

More than 106 million tourists visited Saudi Arabia last year, surpassing the kingdom’s 2030 target and prompting it to set a new goal of welcoming 150 million annual visitors by the end of the decade, according to the Ministry of Tourism. Achieving the milestone target of the Vision 2030 economic roadmap seven years early cements […]

'International partnerships are crucial,' says Anne-Marie Mountifield, chair of The Solent Cluster

UK’s Solent Cluster courts Gulf for green investment

The Solent Cluster, a network of 114 companies with interests on the English south coast, is considering working with Gulf companies to deliver $15 billion of green investment.  The group is prioritising decarbonisation and among its proposals are a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) plant for which Dubai’s national carrier Emirates and other airlines could become […]

The 450 companies operating at Dubai Science Park include AstraZeneca, and the free zone plans to add 200,000 sq ft of lab and office space

Dubai Science Park reveals expansion plans

Dubai’s biotechnology free zone is adding 60 percent more offices, laboratories and warehouses over the next few years to cater for an influx of new companies, its senior vice-president told AGBI.  Dubai Science Park, part of Dubai-listed Tecom Group, is planning an expansion of 200,000 sq ft of additional storage and logistics facilities at the […]

Cop28 president Sultan Al Jaber and Cop28 director general Majid Al Suwaidi at the Closing Plenary session

UAE climate fund aims to mobilise $250bn by 2030

Altérra, a $30 billion climate-focused fund set up by the UAE and asset managers BlackRock, TPG and Brookfield, aims to catalyse the investment of $250 billion of private capital by 2030, its chief executive said.  “The vision for Altérra was borne out of the Cop28 agenda for how to make climate finance more available, accessible […]

The Emirates Bustanica facility produces 1 million kg of leafy greens a year

Emirates’ catering arm buys out Bustanica vertical farm 

Emirates Flight Catering, the airline’s catering arm, has bought out US-based Crop One’s interest in the Bustanica hydroponic farm in Dubai, making it a fully UAE-owned business.   The farm opened in July 2022 as a joint venture between Emirates Flight Catering and Crop One called Emirates Crop One. The airline catering company says the 330,000 […]


ADGM predicts fresh wave of green finance companies

Abu Dhabi Global Market has a “strong pipeline” of green and sustainable finance companies due to open in the free zone this year as the sector expands and matures, a senior ADGM official has told AGBI. “There are a number of asset managers and others establishing themselves here that are green and climate transition-focused,” said […]

The ADGM plans to extend its anti-greenwashing regulations to banking, insurance and other finance sectors

Finance free zone takes action against greenwashing

A clampdown on greenwashing by “bad actors” trying to enter the fast-growing sustainable finance industry is underway in the UAE financial free zone Abu Dhabi Global Market.  Greenwashing is the use of deceptive marketing by companies to persuade investors and the public that their products, aims and policies are environmentally friendly.  “The challenge is [creating] […]

The majority of Moscow's tourism is from internal visitors but it is hoping the UAE and wider Gulf can change that

Moscow courts UAE to bump up inbound tourism

Moscow aims to double the number of annual visitors from the UAE this year, to expand its international tourist base amid headwinds such as the war with Ukraine.  Bulat Nurmukhanov, head of the International Cooperation Division at Moscow City Tourism Committee (MCTC), told AGBI that while the Russian capital’s domestic tourism has broadly recovered since […]

shared rental Dubai apartment

Hope at last for Dubai expats seeking a shared rental home

Shared rental accommodation for expats in Dubai, something previously difficult to offer because of rules against subletting, is being developed by a company called Co-Living Legends, working with developers and landlords. Co-Living Legends was set up in 2021 to help female expats find house-share rental options in Dubai.  House sharing is well established in markets […]

Gulf companies are increasingly considering trucking as a freight option because of disruption to Red Sea shipping routes

Gulf turns to trucking to bypass Red Sea unrest

The Gulf trucking industry is preparing for a surge in business as companies seek alternatives to shipping goods while Red Sea risks persist. Trukker, a UAE-based app that is touted as the Middle East’s Uber for land freight, told AGBI that enquiries from clients interested in using its truck booking and other freight forwarding services […]

Silkhaus offers short-term rentals in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and has plans for Saudi Arabia

Rental platform Silkhaus plans new Saudi home

Silkhaus, a property technology platform specialising in short-term rentals, plans to launch in Riyadh after more than doubling its revenues last year and completing a pre-series A financing round this month. The size of the round, with San Francisco-based Partners for Growth, was not disclosed.  Silkhaus launched in Dubai in 2021 and entered Abu Dhabi […]

An Emirates SkyCargo plane being loaded. The airline reported 11% growth in H1 2023 – before the Red Sea disruption

Air cargo demand rises after Red Sea shipping disruption

Middle East airlines posted an 18.3 percent annual increase in air cargo demand in December, in line with strong global growth attributed to Red Sea disruption.  Global demand for air cargo was up 10.8 percent compared with December 2022 – the strongest performance in two years, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).  The […]

Hive Coliv co-living

Millennial ‘co-living’ concept gains momentum in Gulf

The appetite for “co-living”, a form of communal housing that offers private rooms and shared spaces, is on the rise in the GCC, and more investors are entering the sector.  Co-living as a sub-segment of residential property has gained in popularity in markets such as the UK and the US, as developers seek to provide […]