Fortnightly, 27 June 2018

Fortnightly, 27 June 2018

June 27, 2018


27 June 2018
14 Tammuz 5778
12 Shawwal 1439




1.1  U.S. Investor Visa for Israelis Soon to Become Reality
1.2  Egged To Lay Off 3,100 As Part Of Government Subsidy Deal
1.3  U.S. Senate Approves $500 Million for Israel’s Missile Defense Program
1.4  Non-Religious Israelis Can Now Ask for Shabbat Days Off


2.1  First Quarter Housing Starts Drop to Lowest Level Since 2012
2.2  Aero Vodochody and IAI Pitch Renovated L-159 for OA-X Demand
2.3  IAI Wins $150 Million Contract for National SIGINT & EW for a European Customer
2.4  Stanley Black & Decker Partners with Humavox, a Wireless Charging Startup Based in Israel
2.5  RADCOM Wins TMC Award for NFV Innovation
2.6  Germany Approves Heron TP Purchase
2.7  Namaste Closes Acquisition of 10% Equity Share of Israeli-Based Cannabis Producer Cannbit
2.8  Twiggle Named a 2018 Gartner Cool Vendor in Digital Commerce
2.9  TriEye Raises $3 Million
2.10  Prifender Raises $5 Million
2.11  Approvals Reached in Elbit Systems’ Acquisition of IMI Systems
2.12  Japan’s Daiso to Open 3 Stores in Israel Next Month
2.13  TinyTap Raises $5 Million
2.14  Foresight Raises $5.5 Million from Leading Israeli Institutional Investor Via Private Placement
2.15  XM Cyber Recognized as “Technology Pioneer” by World Economic Forum
2.16  WalkMe Acquires DeepUI as AI Becomes Mission Critical for Digital Adoption
2.17  IntSights Cyber Intelligence Closes Series C Funding Round
2.18  Royal Bank of Canada and Ben Gurion University Enter into Cyber Security Partnership


3.1  Red Wing Shoe Company Announces Opening of First Store in Bahrain
3.2  DP World Agrees on Plan to Expand Canada Port Terminal
3.3  noon Strikes Again, But This Time, Globally!
3.4  Egyptians Drank More Coffee so Far This Year Than in All of 2017
3.5  Greece’s Coffee Industry Grows Despite Financial Crisis


4.1  With No Domestic Recycling, Kurdistan Exports Plastic & Cardboard Waste
4.2  Ministry of Finance Pays EGP 1.5 Billion to Install Energy-Conserving Street Lights


5.1  Lebanon’s Average Inflation Stood at 5.7% in May 2018
5.2  Lebanon’s Balance of Payments Registered a $754.74 Million Deficit in April 2018
5.3  Lebanese Tourism Activity Recorded a Slower Yearly Rise in May 2018
5.4  Lebanon’s Industrial Exports Increased by 5.4% in March 2018
5.5  Number of Total Registered New Cars in Lebanon Down by 7.27% in May 2018
5.6  Amman Withdraws Tax Bill, Saying Reforms are Vital
5.7  Amman Approves Measures to Rationalize Government Spending
5.8  Merkel Pledges $100 Million Loan for Troubled Jordan
5.9  Jordan’s Trade Deficit in First Third Falls by 5%

♦♦Arabian Gulf

5.10  Kuwait Receives Boeing F-18 Software Updates
5.11  UAE & Russia Sign Deal to Send First Emirati into Space
5.12  Saudi Prices Rise by 2.8% So Far in 2018 as VAT Makes Impact
5.13  Saudi Women Driving Set to Boost Economy More Than Aramco IPO

♦♦North Africa

5.14  First Meeting of Egypt’s New Cabinet Discusses Government’s Future Plans
5.15  Egypt’s Exports to the US Increase by 105.5% in 2017
5.16  Morocco’s HCP Justifies Increase of Fuel Prices Given International Oil Market Price Changes


6.1  Turkey’s Unemployment Rate Falls to 10.1% in March
6.2  Erdogan Says Turkey to Build Third Nuclear Power Plant
6.3  Cyprus’ Unemployment Rate Increases to 10.7% in First Quarter
6.4  Cypriot Economy Employs 4% More Workers in First Quarter
6.5  Greek, Cypriot & Israeli Defense Ministers Look to Increase Cooperation
6.6  Greece ‘Turning a Page’ As Eurozone Declares Crisis Over
6.7  Greek Jobless Rate Steady at 21.2% in First Quarter



7.1  Fast of 17th of Tammuz, Observed on 1 July, Begins the “Three Weeks” Mourning Period


7.2  Iraq’s Supreme Court Confirms Election Re-Count
7.3  Abu Dhabi Approves Plan for New Public-Private Schools
7.4  Dubai Private Schools Earn Over $2 Billion in Tuition Revenue
7.5  Electoral Council Says Erdogan Wins Absolute Majority in Initial Returns
7.6  Greek Prime Minister Wears Tie in Sartorial Relief Over Bailout End
7.7  Macedonia Changes Name in Attempt to End Bitter Dispute with Greece
7.8  Macedonia Name Dispute Cuts Greek Government Majority in Parliament


8.1  6Degrees “Computer Mouse for Amputees”
8.2  Intercure Becomes Tenth TASE Medical Cannabis Company
8.3  OWC Completes Development of Next Generation Orally-Disintegrating Tablet
8.4  Together Wins $75 Million Canadian Cannabis Deal
8.5  Leviticus Cardio Successful Animal Trial Demonstrating Wireless Power to Jarvik 2000
8.6  DreaMed Diabetes Granted FDA Authorization to Market Advisor Pro
8.7  BlueWind Medical Receives FDA Approval for RENOVA iStim Implantable Tibial Nerve Neuromodulator
8.8  BiondVax Receives €6 Million Tranche Disbursement from the EIB
8.9  MedAware & Allscripts Enhance Patient Safety in New Era of Meaningful Interoperability
8.10  CE Mark and Health Canada Issue Regulatory Approvals for Datum Dental’s OSSIX Bone
8.11  Arcuro Medical Receives FDA Regulatory Clearance
8.12  Rootella BR Becomes First Mycorrhizal Inoculant Registered for Commercial Use in Brazil
8.13  Galmed Pharmaceuticals Announces Pricing of Public Offering of Ordinary Shares
8.14  Cannassure Receives Permit to Start Growing Medical Cannabis Indoors
8.15  Elbit Systems’ Spin-Off Beyeonics Raises $11.5 Million
8.16  CollPlant Receives R&D Project Approval from IIA to Advance its Collagen-based BioInk


9.1  Israeli Partnership Develops Rampage Stand-Off Missile
9.2  Elbit Systems Launches SigmaCell: A Real-Time Active Cellular Intelligence System
9.3  Ride Vision Gives Motorcycles 360° Predictive Vision
9.4  Orbit Salutes Israel’s Technion on the Inauguration of its First Satellite Ground Station
9.5  ECI’s Muse Multivendor NMS Simplifies Operations in Multivendor Networks
9.6  vHive Releases AI-based Automatic Workflow for High-Precision Drone Data
9.7  BlueBird Aero Systems Unveils ThunderB Cargo Variant
9.8  My Size QSize Mobile Measurement Solution for Quality Control in Apparel Manufacturing
9.9  ST Engineering & SafeRide Strategic Partnership to Protect Vehicles from Cyberattack
9.10  Valens Introduces Long-Range PCIe Connectivity in Vehicles
9.11  ERM Completes Vehicle Anti-Ransomware Solution
9.12  NanoLock’s Security & Management Platform Sets New Standard for IoT Security Solutions
9.13  InfiniBand to Connect World’s Top Arm-Based Supercomputer at Sandia National Laboratory
9.14  c2a Security Announces Latest Auto-Cybersecurity Technology at Cyber Week Israel 2018
9.15  prooV Expands Strategic Partnership With Deloitte
9.16  U.S. Bank Selects Sapiens DECISION for Home Mortgage
9.17  DRACOON and Safe-T Cooperate to Vanquish Unwanted Data Access
9.18  CyberArk Launches New Privileged Access Security as a Service Offering
9.19  Vayyar Imaging Recognizeded as Technology Pioneer by World Economic Forum
9.20  Israeli Technology will Enhance Situational Awareness in Urban Warfare


10.1  Israel’s CPI Rises by 0.5% During May


11.1  ISRAEL: The Public’s Financial Assets Portfolio in the First Quarter of 2018
11.2  LEBANON: IMF Executive Board Concludes Article IV Consultation with Lebanon
11.3  LEBANON: Moody’s Says Credit Profile Reflects Its Very Large Public Debt Burden
11.4  JORDAN: Razzaz’s Rough Road
11.5  SAUDI ARABIA: Saudi Crown Prince & Putin Boost Energy Cooperation in Moscow Meeting
11.6  NORTH AFRICA: Moscow’s Maghreb Moment
11.7  TUNISIA: The Tunisian Startup Act
11.8  TURKEY: As Dollar Rises, Turkey’s Tourism Income Suffers


1.1  U.S. Investor Visa for Israelis Soon to Become Reality

Israelis will soon be able to obtain E-2 Investor Visas for the United States after the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee on 18 June finalized the statutes needed for the implementation of a bilateral agreement signed by both countries a year ago.  The bilateral agreement will allow citizens from each country to obtain work visas in the other country.

The U.S. E-2 Investor Visa, unlike other U.S. work visas, is issued to applicants who can prove they can fund a new business in the United States and that the new investment would create local jobs.  Enabling Israelis to obtain such visas will make it easier for Israeli startups, diamond dealers, venture capital firms and real estate agencies to operate in the United States.  Until now, Israelis who wanted to work in the U.S. have had to go through many more hurdles because of the stringent criteria for other visa categories, such as having to show exceptional skills and expertise, demonstrate unique achievements, or prove they already have commercial ties with U.S. entities.

For its part, Israel agreed to create the B-5 visa, a new category for American investors seeking to set up businesses in Israel.  This will allow American investors to stay in Israel for longer than with other work visas (over 63 months).  It will also allow the spouses of such investors to receive a general work permit in Israel.  The bilateral Treaty Investor agreement was adopted by the Israeli cabinet in 2017, but its implementation was delayed until Israel could finalize the statutes associated with the new B-5 visa.  (Various 19.06)

Back to Table of Contents

1.2  Egged To Lay Off 3,100 As Part Of Government Subsidy Deal

Following lengthy negotiations, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Finance, and the Egged bus cooperative have approved a new agreement for the operation of Egged’s public transportation routes.  Transportation sector sources say that the agreement includes subsidies amounting to NIS 1 billion a year over 10 years.  Egged will streamline and become a commercial company, while the Ministry of Transport will put all of its routes up for tenders by 2030 and 3,100 of Egged’s members will retire.  The new agreement provides Egged, whose business has not been profitable in recent years, with a new economic horizon.  Unlike Egged’s previous agreement, the new agreement makes payment of subsidies to Egged contingent on actual bus rides and incentives for carrying passengers.

The purpose of putting all of Egged’s routes up for auction is to reduce the company’s current 35% market share in public transportation.  The plan is to auction off 35% of Egged’s routes next year; in some areas where Egged is active, auctions for the routes will be published in the coming months in which all of the public transportation companies can participate: Superbus, Kavim, Dan, Metropoline, etc.

Most of the routes in the auctions are in large cities.  In Jerusalem, for example, 50% of the public transportation routes will be put up for auction in the coming months – 80 routes carrying 60 million passengers a year.  More auctions will be published in 2020 for operating dozens of service lines, including in the suburbs of Rishon LeZion and Haifa. Auctions will be published later for operating Egged’s service routes in Holon, Haifa, Hadera, the Negev and the Galilee.

As part of the agreement, Egged undertook to implement major streamlining, including structural change and recruitment of a private investor.  At the end of the agreement period, Egged will be able to operate under competitive conditions.  As part of its preparation for full competition, money will be allocated for the retirement of 1,300 of Egged’s 1,500 members and 1,800 of its 2,400 first-generation employees on the stipulated terms.  In addition to employee retirement and preparation for competition, Egged, currently a cooperative, will become a commercial company and will have to maintain an acceptable level of service on the routes being put up for auction.  Egged’s bus fleet will be renewed by 2021 in order to meet the auction requirements (a maximum bus age of 10 years, compared with 15 years at present).  The company will procure 150 electric buses and take additional measures.  Egged currently operates 2,950 buses and carries 900,000 passengers daily on urban and interurban routes.  (Globes 14.06)

Back to Table of Contents

1.3  U.S. Senate Approves $500 Million for Israel’s Missile Defense Program

The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act passed by the US Senate on 18 June allocated $500 million for Israeli missile programs and $50 million for a joint US-Israeli program for combating the tunnels threat.  This is the first time that military aid to Israel has been determined under the memorandum of understanding between Israel and the US governing the US aid package for ten years from 2019.  Israel will receive $3.8 billion annually in total – $3.3 billion for financing military procurement and $500 million for the rocket and missile defense programs Iron Dome, Arrow 2, Arrow 3, and David’s Sling (Magic Wand).

In practice, Israel will receive less for the missiles program but more for procurement.  In the 2018 fiscal year, Israel received $705.8 million for the missiles program and $3.1 billion for military procurement.  The memorandum of understanding provides that Israel may not submit a request to Congress to expand aid for the missiles program (the “plus-up” process) as it has up to now.  The new law extends by five years the validity of the law on storing US weapons in emergency stores in Israel and calls for the setting up of a joint body to determine the quantity and type of smart ammunition that Israel needs in its confrontation with Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations.  (Globes 19.06)

Back to Table of Contents

1.4  Non-Religious Israelis Can Now Ask for Shabbat Days Off

The Knesset approved an amendment to a Sabbath law that will allow Israeli employees to request not to work on Shabbat even if they are not religiously observant.  The Work and Rest Hours Law previously required employees of any religion to prove that they were religiously observant in order to take off work for their day of rest.  The new legislation was passed unanimously on 22 June by the Knesset.

The sponsors said that some observe the tradition of Shabbat, such as a Friday night dinner, without observing the letter of religious law and should be allowed a break from work.  Those employed in jobs that involve public health or safety still cannot refuse to work on the Sabbath, whether religious or not religious.  (JTA 20.06)

Back to Table of Contents


2.1  First Quarter Housing Starts Drop to Lowest Level Since 2012

On 19 June, the Central Bureau of Statistics announced that housing starts in Israel dropped by 14.6% in Q1/18 from Q4/17 and 34% from Q1/17.  This housing starts trend, which has been declining for an entire year (including revisions of the data), accelerated in Q1/18.

The drop in housing starts comes as no surprise, particularly in view of the fact that the buyer fixed price plan is having a greater effect on the housing market than its effect on housing prices.  The reason is that all of the state land tenders have been marketed through the government program for almost three years, causing a considerable number of large, medium-sized and small companies to withdraw from the market.  Concurrently, a considerable number of contractors see the investors’ negative sentiment, the downtrend in housing prices and the substantial drop in housing purchases by overseas residents.

The decline in housing starts also indicates that licensing and construction procedures in the buyer fixed price plan are taking a long time.  The government project has already yielded over 50,000 discount apartments in tenders closed and purchased by contractors, but actual construction has begun on only a small number of them.  The local authorities are not always eager to grant building permits, and actual construction of quite a few projects has yet to begin.

Housing completion figures are still rising at the annual level.  To the extent that the number of deals in the market remains low, this could push housing prices further down, especially in places where the buyer fixed price plan is pushing ahead in large volumes and is affecting the surrounding market.  At the same time, the figures for Q1/18 show a clear fall in this aspect, in addition to the figures for active construction.  This could be a result of the prolonging of construction processes, but also from the prolonging of sale processes in projects resulting in slower progress in construction itself.  (Globes 19.06)

Back to Table of Contents

2.2  Aero Vodochody and IAI Pitch Renovated L-159 for OA-X Demand

Czech’s Aero Vodochody and its new partner Israel Aerospace Industries are making a late bid to be selected for the US Air Force’s OA-X close air support program with an advanced version of the L-159 they say could be ready for delivery from 2020.  The two companies also say that – if chosen for the roughly 350-aircraft requirement – they would consider setting up a production line and supply chain for the Honeywell F124-GA-100-powered jet trainer in the USA.  Although OA-X funding has not yet been agreed, the Czech firm expects the Pentagon to announce formal competition shortly.

The USAF has already invited Textron Aviation and Sierra Nevada/Embraer to take part in an evaluation exercise this summer with their Beechcraft AT-6 and A-29 Super Tucano, respectively.  Aero Vodochody and IAI’s Lahav division announced in April that they are to collaborate on a version of the L-159 that will see the jet trainer equipped with a new, “fourth-generation” avionics suite and “other solutions”, believed to be weapons integration systems.  The current variant already features IAI equipment, including an Elta Systems radar and optional datalink.

The company restarted low-volume production of the L-159 in 2016 after cancelling the program in the mid-1990s when its sole customer – the Czech Republic – furloughed most of its fleet of 72 aircraft.  However, after a successful decade-long effort to sell the surplus types to the Iraqi air force – which has used them in its campaign against so-called Islamic State insurgents – and US adversary training specialist Draken International, Aero Vodochody has built two additional aircraft.

The partnership with IAI could also potentially include the smaller L-39NG: a re-engined version of its venerable Albatros jet trainer that Aero Vodochody hopes to fly by November and have operational by the first quarter of 2020.  The “new generation” L-39 already includes a Williams International FJ44-4M power plant and Genesys Aerosystems glass cockpit.  The Czech company secured its first customer, Senegal, earlier this year, with a deal for four armed examples.  (Flight International 12.06)

Back to Table of Contents

2.3  IAI Wins $150 Million Contract for National SIGINT & EW for a European Customer

IAI- ELTA Systems was recently awarded a prestigious contract for the modernization and upgrade of a national level ground based SIGINT and EW system for a European customer.  The contract is valued in excess of $150 million and includes numerous fixed sites and mobile systems, which will be based on ELTA’s advanced ELI-6063 integrated SIGINT and EW systems, with subcontractors from several leading European defense companies.

The modernized system will provide a dual civilian and military ground and Air Situational Picture (ASP) as well as an enhanced military Electronic Order of Battle (EOB) picture, for both the tactical and strategic echelons of the customer’s Army and Air force.

ELI-6063 is an advanced fixed and mobile ground-based integrated EW system for Communication and for Non-Communication SIGINT.  The system detects, monitors, analyses, locates, records and jams enemy communications and radars.  The ELI-6063 delivers a continuous and dynamic real-time flow of COMINT and ELINT-derived intelligence data, to supported units.  The SIGINT data is also used by the system’s Command and Control Centers to direct system jamming stations for jamming selected targets.

IAI is a world leader in both the defense and commercial markets, delivering state-of-the-art technologies and systems in all domains: air, space, land, sea, cyber, homeland security and ISR. Drawing on over 60 years’ experience developing and supplying innovative, cutting-edge systems for customers around the world, IAI tailors optimized solutions that respond to the unique security challenges facing each customer.  (IAI 13.06)

Back to Table of Contents

2.4  Stanley Black & Decker Partners with Humavox, a Wireless Charging Startup Based in Israel

Stanley Black & Decker, a world-leading provider of tools and storage, commercial electronic security, and engineered fastening systems announced its investment in Humavox.  The partnership will enable Humavox to bring wireless charging to a broad array of products and technologies, while enabling efficient and uninterrupted usage of battery power.  As part of this strategic partnership, Stanley Black & Decker is the lead investor in Humavox’s current funding round.  This cooperation signals a significant step in Humavox’s progression into the commercial and industrial space.  This partnership will help Humavox make wireless charging more feasible and more readily available.

The strategic partnership is led by Stanley Ventures, a division of Stanley Black & Decker. Humavox is paving the way for widespread 3D wireless charging. With Humavox technology, everyday objects can turn into “hidden chargers,” including anything from car cup holders and gym bags, and more. The company’s technology uses near-field radio frequency (RF) charging to transform any of such “storage instrument/device/object” into a charger, so that users can keep using their portable electronics fully powered.

Kfar Saba’s Humavox is an innovative developer of groundbreaking technology in the field of wireless power.  With its ETERNA platform, Humavox uses near-field radio frequency (RF) technology, and provides users with a simple and intuitive charging experience (“drop & charge”).  The technology can be implemented in the smallest of devices, such as hearables, wearables and IoT devices.  (Stanley Black & Decker 12.06)

Back to Table of Contents

2.5  RADCOM Wins TMC Award for NFV Innovation

RADCOM was awarded TMC’s 2018 INTERNET TELEPHONY NFV Innovation Award.  TMC, a global integrated media company, presented this award for RADCOM’s innovation in its RADCOM Network Intelligence portfolio consisting of RADCOM Service Assurance, RADCOM Network Visibility and RADCOM Network Insights.

TMC recognized RADCOM for their innovative, cloud-native technology that provides operators a solution to assure their end-to-end services as they migrate to NFV, a critical stepping stone for launching 5G.  This award demonstrates RADCOM’s continued leadership in providing operators a dynamic solution that fully integrates with the operators’ cloud platform to automatically adapt in real-time to network changes and ensure a high customer experience.  RADCOM Network Intelligence is deployed at some of the leading telecom operators and enables full network visibility from virtual tapping point to network insights.

With years of virtualization experience in the telecom market, RADCOM continues to develop and deploy carrier-grade solutions on large-scale NFV networks, thus ensuring that operators have a 5G-ready network intelligence solution that continually evolves with NFV standards.

Tel Aviv’s RADCOM is the leading expert in cloud-native Network Intelligence for telecom operators transitioning to SDN/NFV.  Providing a critical first step in an operator’s NFV transformation, RADCOM’s Network Intelligence delivers end-to-end network visibility from virtual tapping point to network insights.  Comprised of RADCOM Service Assurance (MaveriQ), RADCOM Network Visibility and RADCOM Network Insights, RADCOM’s Network Intelligence portfolio provides operators with complete visibility across their virtual and hybrid networks.  (RADCOM 13.06)

Back to Table of Contents

2.6  Germany Approves Heron TP Purchase

Germany’s parliament on 13 June approved a €1 billion ($1.17 billion) deal to lease Heron TP unmanned air vehicles manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries.  The approval puts an end to a long-running saga that has seen protests from rival bidders and politicians opposed to the acquisition of the potentially-armed UAVs.  Airbus Defence & Space will receive €720 million from the deal and will lease seven UAVs from IAI.  Five will be able to carry munitions, while the other two will be used for training purposes.

The Heron TP will allow the German army to carry out long endurance intelligence-gathering missions.  The leased capability will eventually be replaced by the tri-national European MALE development in the mid-2020s.  A German court last year rejected a protest against the Heron TP selection by rival bidder General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.  ( 13.06)

Back to Table of Contents

2.7  Namaste Closes Acquisition of 10% Equity Share of Israeli-Based Cannabis Producer Cannbit

Vancouver’s Namaste Technologies announced that further to its 18 January 2018 letter of intent, that the company agreed to acquire 10% of the issued share capital of Israeli licensed producer of medical cannabis, Cannbit for NIS 2,500,000 or approximately C$908,000, which includes a combination of both cash and shares.  Subsequently, Cannbit has also signed a binding agreement to complete a merger with a company listed on the Tel Aviv stock exchange, whereby Cannbit will retain 85% ownership of the combined public entity, the Company believes that its investment will be immediately accretive in nature based on the valuation metrics of the transaction which consequently valued Cannbit significantly higher than what Namaste acquired its 10% equity stake for.  In anticipation of closing this transaction, Namaste has established a supply arrangement with Cannbit to export cannabis to the Canadian market (subject to approval by Health Canada and the Israeli government), and will also engage with Cannbit to expand the Company’s Israeli-based vaporizer sales platform.

Namaste remains focused on establishing domestic and international supply arrangements and investments that will secure supply channels of high-quality medical cannabis for the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Cannmart.

Neot Hakikar’s Cannbit is focused on growing high-quality medical-grade cannabis with advanced technology and agriculture platform while utilizing the best human resources to produce the highest level of quality available that will effectively treat a wide range of illnesses.  The Israeli government is expected to approve the export of medical cannabis and Cannbit intends to become Israel’s leading exporter for medical cannabis to legal jurisdictions around the globe.  Cannbit’s cultivation is carried out in a sophisticated greenhouse that provides ideal conditions for a variety of cannabis strains.  Cannbit’s management is comprised of a group of industry professionals in relevant disciplines.  (Namaste Technologies 18.06)

Back to Table of Contents

2.8  Twiggle Named a 2018 Gartner Cool Vendor in Digital Commerce

Twiggle has been named a 2018 Gartner Cool Vendor in Cool Vendors in the Digital Commerce.  Twiggle uses natural language understanding and machine learning to help retailers take a giant step away from keyword search towards effective natural language search.  The company’s game-changing technology automatically converts product listings into structured, semantic representations by mapping both structured and unstructured product data to a proprietary rich ontology especially built to represent the world of consumer products.  Twiggle does the same with customer queries — mapping raw textual (or verbal) input to their proprietary ontology.  The result — search engines speak the same language as customers, making search more natural — even conversational.

Tel Aviv’s Twiggle has created the first knowledge-based search solution for ecommerce – redefining what it means to deliver relevance and recall in ecommerce search.  Some of the world’s largest retailers are using Twiggle’s API to add a natural language layer to their existing search engines and understand what their customers want when they want it – increasing conversion by an average of over 8%.  Twiggle is backed by some of the world’s leading investors, including Alibaba, Naspers, Yahoo! Japan, State of Mind Ventures, MizMaa Ventures and Korea Investment Partners.  (Twiggle 14.06)

Back to Table of Contents

2.9  TriEye Raises $3 Million

Israeli startup TriEye has announced the completion of a $3 million seed round led by Grove Ventures.  Following the investment Grove Ventures managing partner Dov Moran has become chairman of TriEye. The company will use the funds to expand development of its systems, hire more employees and strengthen its global presence.

Netanya’s TriEye has developed a revolutionary visual sensory solution based on short-wave infra-red (SWIR) that has far-reaching implications for several industries including self-driving cars.  The system provides an efficient sensory solution for difficult driving conditions including darkness, rain, mist and dust.  The company says that SWIR based cameras allow much higher reliability and precision compared with other sensory solutions but are not used in vehicles because of their high cost.

TriEye has developed SWIR sensors to provide autonomous cars heightened visual capabilities in restricted visual conditions at significantly reduced cost.  The technology was developed after many years of research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  (Globes 19.06)

Back to Table of Contents

2.10  Prifender Raises $5 Million

Israeli artificial intelligence (AI) identity-aware technology developer Prifender announced that it has raised $5 million in a seed round led by Firstime VC, with participation from Shaked Ventures and iAngels.  The funding will be used to fuel global expansion and accelerate platform development, leveraging both AI and traditional techniques to optimize functionality.

Prifender has created a fully automated, enterprise-ready data privacy platform that discovers and maps personal information across all networks, delivering clear visibility and addressing one of the most significant challenges enterprises are facing today.  Prifender’s platform offers self-service identity mapping with the ability to associate each identity with its relevant privacy obligations, enabling organizations to easily manage and demonstrate accountability and compliance.  Prifender’s platform has been deployed in leading global enterprises across technology, retail and financial services.  (Globes 19.06)

Back to Table of Contents

2.11  Approvals Reached in Elbit Systems’ Acquisition of IMI Systems

Elbit Systems announced that the agreements reached between Elbit Systems and the Israeli Government for the acquisition of IMI Systems were approved by the Committee for the Tender of the Sale of State Shares and by the Board of Directors of the Company.  The purchase price will be approximately $495 million, with an additional payment of approximately $27 million contingent upon IMI meeting certain performance goals.  Completion of the transaction is subject to the signing of the relevant documents and the receipt of the remaining applicable governmental approvals, including the approval of the Head of the Israeli Antitrust Authority.

Haifa’s Elbit Systems is an international high technology company engaged in a wide range of defense, homeland security and commercial programs throughout the world.  The Company, which includes Elbit Systems and its subsidiaries, operates in the areas of aerospace, land and naval systems, command, control, communications, computers, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR), unmanned aircraft systems, advanced electro-optics, electro-optic space systems, EW suites, signal intelligence systems, data links and communications systems, radios and cyber-based systems.

Ramat HaSharon’s IMI Systems is a globally recognized defense systems house, specializing in the development and manufacturing of comprehensive combat-proven solutions and technologies for the land, air, naval and cyber and homeland security (HLS) requirements of the modern battlefield.  More than 8 decades of experience in the defense market bestow IMI Systems’ reputation as a preferred and highly appreciated defense systems manufacturer in the areas of various precision munitions, Combat mobility, survivability and protection systems, armor solutions and HLS and Crisis management.  (Elbit 19.06)

Back to Table of Contents

2.12  Japan’s Daiso to Open 3 Stores in Israel Next Month

Japanese retail giant Daiso will shortly open its first stores in Israel.  The stores will feature a variety of accessories and home products at a uniform NIS 10 price for all items.  Three stores with 500 square meters each will be opened in the first stage.  Daiso is trying its luck in a place where quite a few players offering a uniform cheap price have failed in the long term.  For example, retailers like Cofix, Super Cofix, and Good Pharm have already added more expensive products in Israel to increase their diversity and pay their challenging rents.  The chain’s uniform price in Japan is 100 Japanese yen – only NIS 3.30 per product.  In order to adjust to the local market, however, the chain decided on a strategy of a higher uniform price that would enable the chain to also open stores in shopping malls with high rents.  Behind the Daiso’s arrival in Israel is the Union group through Match Retail, managed by H&M and COS franchise holder Amihay Kilstein. The group is also the official importer in Israel for Toyota and Lexus.

Daiso will offer 30,000 of the 100,000 items designed for the company worldwide.  The first three stores will be opened in July in Ashdod, Ra’anana and Rishon LeZion.  Locations in shopping malls in Tel Aviv are conspicuously absent, but the chain’s CEO promises that branches will also be opened there later on.

Another retail chain, Miniso, is likely to come to Israel in strategic cooperation with Azrieli Group, with the first store being opened in the Azrieli mall in Tel Aviv.  It appears that Daiso’s strategy of a uniform and cheap price is likely to prefer malls in which the rent is lower.  Stores are likely to open later on streets outside shopping malls.  (Globes 20.06)

Back to Table of Contents

2.13  TinyTap Raises $5 Million

TinyTap has closed a $5 million funding round led by Aleph venture capital fund and with the participation of previous investors, including Inimiti, Radiant and ReInvent.  Based in Tel Aviv, the company was founded in 2012 and has raised $8 million to date including the latest financing round.  The funding will be used to launch learning plans in Mandarin, Arabic, and Spanish as well as to promote the company’s partnership with Oxford University Press to start a learning plan for English language learners.

TinyTap enables educators to create custom material for their classes seamlessly.  They may also share their games with other TinyTap users for free or sell their content as part of the Premium subscription in the TinyTap marketplace. Thus, the games become available for learners from all around the world.  TinyTap is not just an educational tool for teachers to use in the classroom.  It also provides a second source of income thanks to TinyTap’s original “Parents pay Teachers” business model.  The revenue from the premium subscriptions is shared with the game creators, the payout based on user engagement.  Since 2017, the company has distributed over $100,000 to teachers and plans to triple this amount by the end of 2018.  (TinyTap 19.06)

Back to Table of Contents

2.14  Foresight Raises $5.5 Million from Leading Israeli Institutional Investor Via Private Placement

Foresight Autonomous Holdings has entered into private placement agreements with Harel Insurance, a leading Israeli institutional investor.  Following the closing of the private placement, Harel Insurance will hold an aggregate of approximately 8.15% of Foresight’s issued share capital.  Pursuant to the terms of the private placement, which totaled $5.5 million, Foresight, subject to customary closing conditions, will issue 9,756,097 ordinary shares at a price per share of approximately $0.56 per ordinary share, or $2.81 per ADS.  In addition, Foresight agreed to issue warrants to purchase 9,756,097 ordinary shares at an exercise price of $0.80 per share (approximately $4 per ADS), exercisable for a period of 24 months.

This private placement was priced at a minimum discount compared to the market price. The issued ordinary shares will be restricted for a period of six months under Israeli securities laws.

Ness Ziona’s Foresight Autonomous Holdings, founded in 2015, is a technology company engaged in the design, development and commercialization of stereo/quad-camera vision systems and V2X cellular-based solutions for the automotive industry.  Foresight’s vision systems are based on 3D video analysis, advanced algorithms for image processing and sensor fusion.  (Foresight 21.06)

Back to Table of Contents

2.15  XM Cyber Recognized as “Technology Pioneer” by World Economic Forum

XM Cyber was selected among hundreds of candidates to be recognized as one of the World Economic Forum’s “Technology Pioneers”.  The Technology Pioneers community consists of early-stage companies from around the world that are involved in the design, development and deployment of new technologies and innovations, and are poised to have a significant impact on business and society.

XM Cyber’s platform, HaXM, continuously exposes attack vectors that sneak under the radar of existing protective measures, tracing them from breach point to any organizational critical asset.  This continuous loop of automated red teaming is augmented with ongoing and prioritized actionable remediation of security gaps.  In effect, HaXM operates as an automated purple team that fluidly combines red and blue teams’ processes to ensure that organizations are always one step ahead of the hacker.

Herzliya’s XM Cyber provides the first fully automated APT Simulation Platform to continuously expose all attack vectors, above and below the surface, from breach point to any organizational critical asset.  This continuous loop of automated red teaming is completed by ongoing and prioritized actionable remediation of security gaps.  In effect, HaXM by XM Cyber operates as an automated purple team that fluidly combines red team and blue team processes to ensure that organizations are always one step ahead of the hacker.  (XM Cyber 21.06)

Back to Table of Contents

2.16  WalkMe Acquires DeepUI as AI Becomes Mission Critical for Digital Adoption

San Francisco’s WalkMe, the leading Digital Adoption Platform and one of the fastest-growing software companies globally, has acquired DeepUI.  DeepUI accelerates the adoption of any digital process by leveraging the aggregated data and insights crowdsourced from thousands of users around the globe.  DeepUI’s algorithms can anticipate individual users’ needs, automatically create customized step-by-step guidance and complete tasks in the quickest and most efficient way possible.  This will save organizations countless hours of time in building, maintaining and managing instructions, workflows, or other engagement processes for users on any platform.

Founded in 2014, DeepUI‘s co-founders have over 35 years’ combined experience in the design and development of advanced algorithmic systems.  The DeepUI team will join WalkMe to help automate virtually every facet of the digital user experience, ensuring technology return on investment while continuing to improve employee productivity.  (WalkMe 20.05)

Back to Table of Contents

2.17  IntSights Cyber Intelligence Closes Series C Funding Round

IntSights Cyber Intelligence announced a Series C funding round.  Led by Tola Capital, the $17 million Series C round will fuel IntSights ability to deliver data-mining algorithms that provide threat reconnaissance of enterprise customers’ presence on the deep and dark web.  Additionally, the funds will be applied to drive expansion into new global markets including the Asian Pacific, Middle Eastern and South American theaters.  Tola joins existing investors Glilot Capital Partners, Blackstone, Blumberg Capital, Wipro, and ClearSky Security and brings the total capital raised by IntSights to date to $40 million.

Launched in 2015, Tel Aviv’s IntSights Cyber Intelligence emerged on the market as one of the first threat intelligence platforms to aggregate threat intel and enable enterprises to take action based on that tailored reconnaissance and analysis.  IntSights’ Enterprise Threat Intelligence and Mitigation Platform was recently recognized by Forrester Research in its “New Tech: Digital Risk Protection, Q2 2018” report for its digital risk reconnaissance capability.

The IntSights Enterprise Threat Intelligence and Mitigation Platform utilizes unique cyber reconnaissance capabilities and patented big data-mining algorithms to continuously scan the surface, deep and dark web to deliver actionable, contextual reconnaissance about potential threats targeting a customers’ industry, their operational assets and processes, employees, and digital footprint.  (IntSights 25.06)

Back to Table of Contents

2.18  Royal Bank of Canada and Ben Gurion University Enter into Cyber Security Partnership

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and BGN Technologies, the technology transfer company of Ben-Gurion University (BGU) in Israel, announced that RBC is investing $2 million into research at BGU’s Cyber-Security Research Center.  The funding will support the development of adversarial artificial intelligence (AI), including machine learning-based cyber mitigation techniques.  This research collaboration will aim to further develop protection methods to strengthen and evaluate the resilience of current AI and machine learning techniques, while limiting their vulnerability to threats and tampering.  The research areas will be developed in collaboration with the Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering, at the Ben-Gurion University Cyber Security Research Center.

Beer Sheva’s BGN Technologies is the technology transfer company of Ben-Gurion University, Israel.  BGN Technologies brings technological innovations from the lab to the market and fosters research collaborations and entrepreneurship among researchers and students.  To date, BGN Technologies has established over 100 startup companies in the fields of biotech, hi-tech and cleantech and has initiated leading technology hubs, incubators, and accelerators.  Over the past decade, BGN Technologies has focused on creating long-term partnerships with multinational corporations such as Deutsche Telekom, Dell-EMC, PayPal and Lockheed Martin, securing value and growth for Ben-Gurion University as well as the Negev region.  (RBC 26.06)

Back to Table of Contents


3.1  Red Wing Shoe Company Announces Opening of First Store in Bahrain

Minnesota’s Red Wing Shoe Company announced the opening of its first Red Wing Store in Bahrain.  Red Wing has been a committed member of the Middle East energy industry for 50 years as a leading provider of safety footwear and personal protective equipment (PPE).  This retail expansion brings Red Wing’s customized shopping experience to Bahrain and increases its ability to provide its customers with absolute protection, comfort and durability worldwide.  In the Bahrain Red Wing Store, customers will find Red Wing’s full head-to-toe personal PPE offering including purpose-built footwear that meets or exceeds safety standards such as EN ISO and ASTM, flame resistant work wear, safety glasses, gloves and other PPE accessories.  The new store will create several new employment opportunities and is a result of Red Wing’s collaboration with Kooheji Industrial Safety, a Red Wing partner for 20 years and Bahrain’s leading PPE distributor with over 50 years trading history.  At the store, visitors will enter an industrial work-themed atmosphere that provides comfort for customers and connects them with the core principals of Red Wing Shoe Company – safety, performance and service.  An area of the store will be exclusively devoted to the government owned Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) and its employees, a Red Wing customer.

In addition to its new store in Bahrain, Red Wing recently opened its second store in Dubai, and has a longstanding office and distribution center in the United Arab Emirates.  (Red Wing 26.06)

Back to Table of Contents

3.2  DP World Agrees on Plan to Expand Canada Port Terminal

Canada’s Port of Prince Rupert and DP World have agreed on terms of a project development plan that outlines the next phase of expansion for the DP World Prince Rupert Fairview Container Terminal.  The phase 2B expansion will increase annual throughput capacity at Canada’s second largest container terminal to 1.8 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) when complete in 2022.  The Fairview phase 2B project follows the 2017 completion of Fairview phase 2A, which increased the terminal capacity by 500,000 TEUs to its current capacity of 1.35 million TEUs.  Construction on phase 2B will begin in mid-2019.  There will be an initial gradual release of capacity to 1.6 million TEUs, in 2020 following the completed expansion of the container yard to the south.  The phase 2B project will also expand on-dock rail capacity with the addition of 6,680 feet of working track, for a total of 24,680 feet of on-dock rail by 2022.  (AB 20.06)

Back to Table of Contents

3.3  noon Strikes Again, But This Time, Globally!

noon is bringing the global marketplace of eBay closer to customers in the region with a new path-breaking partnership.  noon’s partnership with eBay will give customers in the region the opportunity to buy top selling products from the US and other parts of the world with ease and convenience.  noon will fulfil all eBay orders made on noon and deliver it directly to the customers’ doorstep.

noon powered by eBay will be available from the second half of 2018 in the UAE and KSA, on its dedicated app, and via mobile and desktop.  eBay products purchased via noon and shipped from overseas can also be easily returned to noon with a full refund option, based on terms and conditions.   noon and eBay will also explore joint opportunities in marketing, know-how and best practices sharing to leverage the strong growth of online shopping in the region.

noon is currently operating in Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. prior to expanding across the region.  noon’s partnership with eBay follows fellow regional e-commerce player, Souq, offer its regional customers the opportunity to shop on Amazon thanks to its acquisition by Amazon in March 2017.  (arabnet 12.06)

Back to Table of Contents

3.4  Egyptians Drank More Coffee so Far This Year than in All of 2017

Egyptians have drunk 45,000 tons of coffee in the first half of 2018, compared to 40,000 tons over the entire year of 2017, according to a report by the coffee division at Cairo’s Chamber of Commerce.  The report also indicated a 10% increase in the rate of coffee imports.  Some 70% of Egypt’s coffee imports come from Indonesia where coffee beans are more affordable, but of high quality.  One ton of coffee beans in Egypt can cost from $3,500 to $5,000 on the international market, depending on the species.  Egypt imports all of its coffee, as the country’s climate is not suited for cultivating the crop.  (Ahram Online 18.06)

Back to Table of Contents

3.5  Greece’s Coffee Industry Grows Despite Financial Crisis

Greece’s coffee industry is rapidly expanding, with the number of coffee lovers growing, according to latest figures from the International Coffee Organization (ICO).  Among the world’s 20 biggest coffee drinkers, Greece ranked 17th with 5.4 of annual coffee consumption per capita, data from the ICO showed.  For the last eight consecutive years, most of the enterprises involved in the coffee industry have succeeded in developing against all the odds due to the financial crisis.  Within the last five years more than 50 new coffee chains have entered the Greek market, even though not all of them managed to survive.  Coffee appears to be one of the last affordable daily “luxuries” for the consumers, so further growth is expected.

Revenue in the coffee segment amounts to €966 million in 2018, while the market is expected to grow annually by 2.6% during the period between 2018 and 2021, according to latest figures.  Businesses specializing in takeaway coffee flourished, with new chains appearing and most witnessing dynamic growth in numbers and revenues.  Convenience, one of the primary factors regarding consumption, created an ideal context for the booming of takeaway consumption.

In Greece, coffee shops served instant coffee, Ibrik coffee and the local iced coffee called frappe until the 1990’s.  Following the Italian tradition, espresso and cappuccino later entered the Greek coffee culture.  From the mid-2000’s, more and more people became familiar with specialty coffee, which seems to give a new dynamic to the field.  There is a rapidly growing number of specialized importers and roasters of fine beans.  The major countries that Greece imports from are Latin America’s countries like Brazil and Colombia, as well as African countries like Kenya and Ethiopia.  (Xinhua 24.06)

Back to Table of Contents


4.1  With No Domestic Recycling, Kurdistan Exports Plastic & Cardboard Waste

The Kurdistan Region sells thousands of tons of plastic and cardboard waste to Turkish companies who recycle it and sell the products back in Kurdistan.  Over the past two years, the KRG had issued 42 licenses to export 431,000 tons of waste plastic and cardboard.  Due to the lack of recycling companies, for several years Kurdistan has allowed the exportation of cardboard and plastic to Turkey.

Plastic and cardboard from industrial sources is collected and sold to traders who export the recyclable materials. The KRG charges small license and customs fees on the materials.  Small amounts of plastic are recycled by Kurdish companies to make household items like pipes and bags.  (Rudaw 15.06)

Back to Table of Contents

4.2  Ministry of Finance Pays EGP 1.5 Billion to Install Energy-Conserving Street Lights

Egypt’s Ministry of Finance announced that a disbursement of EGP 1.5 billion will finance the first and second phases of a plan to install new energy-conserving street lights to replace the current ones in Egypt’s streets.  The ministry added that the Ministries of Local Development and Electricity cooperated with the Arab Organization for Industrialization to install 2.5 million street lights and 64,000 controlling units, which in total will cost EGP 2 billion, to accurately measure the amount of energy used in general lighting.  The ministry also pointed out that the project is implemented according to specific schedule and funds, and 25% of the costs of each stage are paid as down payment at the beginning of the work and then 55% are paid in monthly payments at the delivery.  The remaining 20% are paid immediately after the installation, examination and receipt.  The project aims to reduce public spending, save the energy consumption used in lighting the streets and provide the lighting suitable for the safety of pedestrians and cars in the streets.  (Al-Masry Al-Youm 17.06)

Back to Table of Contents


5.1  Lebanon’s Average Inflation Stood at 5.7% in May 2018

According to the Central Administration of Statistics (CAS), consumer prices in Lebanon went up by 5.7% in the first five months of 2018 since the average Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose from 99.32 by May 2017 to 105 by May this year.  Consumer prices actually rose across all sub-categories, which is most likely linked to the recent hike in taxes that went into effect in January 2018, with the most prominent one being the rise in the Value Added Tax (VAT).  The basket of food and non-alcoholic beverages, which holds a share of 20.6% of the CPI, saw its average prices grow by a yearly 4.2% over the period.  The recovering oil prices were mostly responsible for the rise in both Housing and other Utilities sub-category (28.4% of the CPI) and the transportation sub-category (13.1% of the CPI) as they respectively increased by 5.6% and 6.8% y-o-y.  Average prices of Health (7.7% of the CPI) and Education (6.6% of the CPI) sub-indices also added respective 6.8% and 4.0% y-o-y over the first five months of 2018.  However, the higher increases over the period were recorded in the average prices of clothing and footwear and Recreation, amusement, and culture that surged by yearly levels of 16.3% and 7.3%, respectively.  (CAS 21.06)

Back to Table of Contents

5.2  Lebanon’s Balance of Payments Registered a $754.74 Million Deficit in April 2018

According to the Central Bank of Lebanon, Lebanon’s Balance of Payments (BoP) witnessed a deficit of $754.74M by April 2018 as compared to the $233.9M surplus recorded during the same period in 2017.  Specifically, the Net Foreign Assets (NFA) of BDL rose by $1.16B while that of commercial banks slipped by $1.92B by April 2018.  Moreover, the BoP recorded a monthly deficit of $556.5M in April 2018 alone, down from $355.4M in the previous month.  In fact, the NFAs of BDL displayed a monthly downturn of $271.8 M, while the commercial banks’ NFAs dropped by $284.7M in April 2018.  (BLOM 18.06)

Back to Table of Contents

5.3  Lebanese Tourism Activity Recorded a Slower Yearly Rise in May 2018

According to the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism, the number of tourist arrivals increased by a marginal 1.02% by May 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.  The increase was partly hampered by the elections held in May 2018, which made the number of tourists decrease by a yearly 7.65% in May alone.

European tourists, who constituted 35.90% of total tourists, have increased by a yearly 12.25% to 235,684 travelers by May 2018.  The number of French and German visitors increased by an annual 17.07% and 11.60%, to 62,886 and 30,382 tourists, respectively.  As all European tourists registered annual increases in their numbers, tourists from Sweden and Turkey also saw their numbers rise by 11.50% and 8.84%, respectively.  In addition, the number of visitors from Arab countries, representing 30.14% of the total, decreased by an annual 13% to 197,829 visitors.

In fact, the shocking resignation of Prime Minister Hariri in November 2017 has partially influenced the decline in the number of Arab incomers in general, and Saudis in particular.  The number of tourists coming from Saudi Arabia registered a downtick of 30.73% by May 2018 compared to the same period in 2017 to reach 16,874 tourists.  Visitors from the UAE and Iraq also slipped by a yearly 39.26% and 18.69%, respectively, and reached 512 and 82,761 tourists respectively by May 2018.

As for American tourists, who composed 15.60% of total tourist arrivals, their number also rose by an annual 8.56% to 102,445 visitors by May 2018.  This rise is mainly attributed to the yearly growth recorded in the number of visitors from Brazil, which increased by 27.53% to reach 7,920 visitors by May 2018.  It’s worth noting that the number of tourists coming from Brazil increased by 72.8% from March 2018 to May 2018, which could be due to both Easter vacation and the occurrence of the Lebanese elections (knowing that a considerable portion of Lebanese immigrants resides in Brazil).  Similarly, the number of visitors from the US and Canada increased by 8.52% and 5.23% respectively by May 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.  (BLOM 19.06)

Back to Table of Contents

5.4  Lebanon’s Industrial Exports Increased by 5.4% in March 2018

According to the Ministry of Industry, the total value of industrial exports increased by 5.4% by March 2018 (during Q1/18) compared to the same period of the year 2017.  The total value of industrial exports rose from $596.6 million in the months of January to March 2017 to $633.9 million by March 2018.  In terms of imports, the total import value of industrial machinery and equipment increased by 36.9% by March 2018 to $71 million compared to $51.8 million during the same period in 2017.  In March 2018, total industrial exports stood at $238.4 million, a 6.5% yearly rise.

The main exported products were prepared foodstuffs and tobacco with a total of $45.6 million, up from $42.53 million in March 2017.  Saudi Arabia was on top of the importers’ list of this product with an import value of $5.2 million.  The exports of Base metals and articles of base metal increased from $30.45 million in March 2017 to $43.12 million in March 2018, scoring a significant 41.6% increase.  Exports of this category are mainly towards Turkey (29.82%) and Spain (13.46%).  Meanwhile, the exports of machinery and electrical equipment decreased from $43.20 million in March 2017 to $40.55 million during the same month of 2018.  Exports of this category are mainly towards Iraq (18.73%) and the United Arab Emirates (8.94%).

The total import value of industrial machinery and equipment in March 2018 reached about $28.2 million compared to $20.2 million in March 2017, a 39.5% yearly increase.  The Ministry of Industry’s statement depicts that, in March 2018, imports of machines for food industry, ranked first in this division, with a total value of $3.4 million and Italy topped the list of countries exporting this product to Lebanon with exports’ value at $1.3 million.  Moreover, the imports of machines for rubber and plastics industry followed with a total value of $2.8 million.  Germany was the leading exporter of this product with an export value of $1.3 million.  (LMoI 17.06)

Back to Table of Contents

5.5  Number of Total Registered New Cars in Lebanon Down by 7.27% in May 2018

According to the Association of Lebanese Car Importers (AIA), the number of newly registered commercial and passenger cars recorded a 7.27% annual drop to settle at 13,931 cars by May 2018.  The breakdown of the AIA’s statistics revealed that the number of newly registered passenger cars dropped by 5.71% year-on-year (y-o-y) to settle at 13,047 cars.  Moreover, the number of newly registered commercial vehicles contracted by a yearly 25.46% to 884 cars.

In terms of brands, Kia grasped the lion’s share of the market as its sales amounted to 16.82% of total newly registered passenger cars.  Hyundai and Toyota followed with the respective stakes 13.83% and 13.09% of newly registered passenger cars.  Nissan came next with 10.55% of the passenger cars.  (AIA 17.06)

Back to Table of Contents

5.6  Amman Withdraws Tax Bill, Saying Reforms are Vital

Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz has decided to withdraw the 2018 income tax law from the Lower House.  The decision was announced following the first meeting of the new Cabinet on 14 June, during which the Council of Ministers discussed all the aspects of the draft law and comments of the various sectors on it.  The decision is in line with the Royal directives contained in the Letter of Designation, which stressed the need for a comprehensive review of the tax system and the tax burden in an integrated manner, away from imposing indirect and unfair consumer taxes.  The bill has triggered nationwide protests that led to the resignation of Hani Mulki’s government.

During the meeting, the prime minister said public interest necessitates the withdrawal of the income tax draft law for several reasons, foremost of which was that the draft law did not receive deep discussions despite its importance, adding that the draft law should be studied within the framework of the total tax burden, in addition to focusing on tax evasion.  In the same context, the prime minister stressed Jordan’s commitment to the financial reform program and the continuation of economic reforms, taking into account the social and economic impact of any related legislation, and stressed the need for these reforms in a bid to achieve the necessary growth to boost the resilience of the national economy.  (JT 15.06)

Back to Table of Contents

5.7  Amman Approves Measures to Rationalize Government Spending

During a recent session chaired by Prime Minister Omar Razzaz, the Jordanian cabinet approved a series of measures to rationalize and control government spending.  The cabinet decided not to purchase vehicles except in necessary cases and after obtaining the prior approval of the prime minister in accordance with recommendation of the committee on government vehicles.  The cabinet stressed that the public vehicles should not be used except for official work, and that one car should be allocated to each minister, anyone in his rank, each administrative governor, a senior employee and those of their ilk.  It also called for commitment not to change furniture or buy new furniture unless it was necessary and after obtaining the prior approval of the prime minister.  (Petra 24.05)

Back to Table of Contents

5.8  Merkel Pledges $100 Million Loan for Troubled Jordan

On 21 June, German Chancellor Merkel promised a $100 million loan to troubled Jordan, where mass protests over austerity measures forced the prime minister to resign earlier this month.  Merkel visited the kingdom amid an escalating domestic row over migration.  The chancellor said Germany will provide the $100 million loan in addition to bilateral aid which amounts to about €384 million ($442 million) this year.  She said she hopes the additional funds will help Jordan carry out economic reforms sought by the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF is seeking such reforms to lower Jordan’s public debt-to-GDP ratio, which has risen to about 96%, in part because of the continued economic fallout from Syria’s civil war and other regional crises.  In recent years, international donors have tried to shift from humanitarian to development aid, particularly in Jordan, hoping to encourage refugees to remain in the Middle East.  The program, meant to create jobs for 200,000 Syrian refugees, has had partial success.  (AP 21.06)

Back to Table of Contents

5.9  Jordan’s Trade Deficit in First Third Falls by 5%

Jordan’s trade deficit was down by 5% in the first four months of the year, buoyed by a 4% increase in national exports and a 2.5% drop in imports.  Statistics showed that the gross value of exports in the first third of the year reached JOD660 million with a 2.3% rise compared with the same period in the previous year.  Gross value of national exports reached JOD1.33 billion with a 4% rise.  The re-exported gross value stood at JOD289 million in the first third of the year with a 5% decrease, compared to the same period of 2017.  As for imports, they stood at JOD 4.59 billion with a 2.5% decrease.  (Petra 26.06)

Back to Table of Contents

►►Arabian Gulf

5.10  Kuwait Receives Boeing F-18 Software Updates

The government of Kuwait will receive software updates for its fleet of Super Hornet fighter aircraft as part of a US foreign military sale.  As part of the an indefinite contract action with a not-to-exceed value of $179 million, Boeing will provide the system configuration set H12K for the Kuwait Air Force configured F/A-18E/F Aircraft software development.  The Boeing F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet are twin-engine, carrier-capable, multirole fighter aircraft variants based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet.  At present, Super Hornets that can compete against contemporary designs, albeit with some drawbacks.  The F/A-18 platform is currently receiving a general upgrade to its electronics, performance and stealth as means of extending its service life to 2030 and beyond.  Work will be performed in St. Louis, Missouri, and is expected to be completed in September 2022.  (DoD 18.06)

Back to Table of Contents

5.11  UAE & Russia Sign Deal to Send First Emirati into Space

The UAE and Russia have signed an agreement to send the first Emirati astronaut to space to participate in scientific research as part of the Russian space mission to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz-MS spacecraft.  Sheikh Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said that sending the first Emirati astronaut to space will herald the beginning of a new era for the UAE.  His comments follow the deal between the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos).  He also said that the agreement supports the objectives of the UAE Centennial 2071 which focuses on the development of futuristic sciences across various sectors including innovation, space, engineering and medicine.  The agreement also provides an impetus for advancing the UAE’s future space ambitions which include building the first inhabitable human settlement in Mars as part of the 2117 Mars project, he noted.

Four candidates will be selected from the 95 shortlisted applicants (of which 75 are males and 20 females) aged between 23-48 years, as part of the UAE space program announced in April 2017.  The agreement was signed on the sidelines of UNISPACE +50, a symposium and high-level meeting of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), being held in Vienna.  (AB 21.06)

Back to Table of Contents

5.12  Saudi Prices Rise by 2.8% So Far in 2018 as VAT Makes Impact

Prices in Saudi Arabia have risen by 2.8% year-on-year so far in 2018 due to the introduction of VAT and utility and fuel price reform, according to Jadwa Investment.  Citing the latest General Authority for Statistics (GaStat) inflation release for April, prices rose by 2.6% year-on-year in the month.  Jadwa said food and beverages prices rose by 5.7% year-on-year in April, but declined by 0.9% month-on-month for the second time in a row.  Housing and utilities prices rose slightly by 0.5% in April year-on-year, despite a spike in fuel prices in January, Jadwa noted, adding that housing rents, which have been showing negative growth rates since July 2017, weighed on this segment.  The research also said that after a decline in January, annual growth in point of sale retail sales have rebounded, with the average year-to-date rise of 13%, compared to 7% in the same period last year.

Despite the fact that this year saw the implementation of VAT, Jadwa said it still expects to see higher inflation rates in Ramadan.  Earlier this week, Capital Economics said the Saudi economy pulled out of recession in the first quarter of 2018 thanks to oil price rises.  Capital Economics said the oil-dependent Saudi economy grew by 1.5% in the first quarter, after having contracted by 0.7% in 2017.  (Various 18.06)

Back to Table of Contents

5.13  Saudi Women Driving Set to Boost Economy More Than Aramco IPO

Allowing Saudi women to drive could help the kingdom reap as much income as selling shares in Saudi Aramco.  The move, which went into effect on 24 June, could add as much as $90 billion to economic output by 2030, with the benefits extending beyond that date, according to Bloomberg Economics.  Selling as much as 5% stake in Saudi Arabian Oil Co. – at the most optimistic valuation – could generate about $100 billion.

Saudi Arabia ended its status as the last country on earth to prohibit women from taking to the wheel.  A handful of women drove through the still-packed streets of the capital early Sunday while others drove in convoys around Riyadh neighborhoods in celebration of the ban’s end.  The decision would enable women to work without having to incur the cost of a driver or taxis.

Ending the ban is one of the most socially-consequential reforms implemented by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  It’s also a key part of his plan to veer the economy from its reliance on oil.  The participation of women in Saudi Arabia’s labor market is poor.  With only 20% of women in Saudi Arabia economically active, the country even lags behind its neighbors in the Gulf, where participation averaged 42% in 2016.  Adding 1% to the Saudi participation rate every year might add about 70,000 more women a year to the labor market.  (Various 24.06)

Back to Table of Contents

►►North Africa

5.14  First Meeting of Egypt’s New Cabinet Discusses Government’s Future Plans

On 20 June, Egypt’s newly-appointed cabinet reviewed during their first meeting the letter of the presidential mandate for the new government.  The presidential mandate included three axes, the first is to protect the Egyptian national security by preserving the achievements of the previous phase and confronting the challenges that aim at influencing the ability of the state to improve its conditions and complete its development plans at various levels.  Secondly, is about improving the standard of living of the Egyptian people and taking into account the rights of the poorest and marginalized groups, by activating the role of the government to control markets and prices.  Thirdly, focuses on completing economic development by assigning the government to achieve an economic growth rate of about 7% annually, and reducing the budget deficit, taking into account the priority of reducing inflation and unemployment, as well as doubling industrial and agricultural economic development by addressing all the problems related to factories.

On 14 June, Egypt’s new cabinet was sworn in before President Al-Sisi days after appointing Madbouly, as the new prime minister, succeeding Sherif Ismail who has resigned early this month.  The new cabinet has the highest rate of women ministers ever by eight ministers.  (Al Ahram 20.06)

Back to Table of Contents

5.15  Egypt’s Exports to the US Increase by 105.5% in 2017

The value of Egyptian exports to United States reached EGP 23.6b in 2017, accounting for 5.1% of Egypt’s exports to the world.  This is up from EGP 11.5b in 2016, marking an increase of 105.5%, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) on 20 June.

According to the CAPMAS, exports of garments came in first place with 51% of the total exports to the US, reaching EGP 12b in 2017, compared to EGP 6.4b in 2016, with an increase of 88.8%.  The value of Egyptian imports from the United States reached EGP 69.1b in 2017 and represent 5.9% of Egypt’s imports from the world, compared to EGP 38.1b in 2016, an increase of 81.4 %.  Imports of boilers, machinery, devices, mechanical tools, and their parts came at first rank as it reached 12.9% of the total imports from USA, reaching EGP 8.9b in 2017, compared to EGP 5.6b in 2016, with an increase of 58.3%.  The US investments in Egypt reached EGP 79.9m in 2017, compared to EGP 27.02m in 2016, marking san increase of 195.7%.  (CAPMAS 20.06)

Back to Table of Contents

5.16  Morocco’s HCP Justifies Increase of Fuel Prices Given International Oil Market Price Changes

Following several rounds of tension on the prices of fuel in Morocco, the High Commissioner for Planning (HCP) has recognized that fuel prices increased by 9.1% since their deregulation in 2016.  Moroccans supporting the major boycott which started on April 20 have heavily criticized gasoline prices, especially those of Afriquia gas, owned by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Akhannouch.  HCP justified the increase of gasoline prices due to the impact of international oil price changes.  HCP said that fuel prices continued to rise, reaching MAD 10 per liter at the end of May 2018, compared to MAD 7 at the beginning of 2017.  According to HCP, fuel distributors in the Moroccan market source 100% of their fuel from the international market, and importers tend to increase their purchases when prices fall and reduce them when prices rise again.

HCP claimed that fuel prices depend on the dollar exchange rate and the cost of importers, distributors, storage and commercial margins.  HCP added that the changes in imported refined prices are passed on to internal pump prices, with a lag of about 15 days.  The institution said price fluctuations for refined products do not exactly affect the prices at the pump.  The high commissioner further explained that operators in the gasoline sector claimed that of what customers pay at the pump 50% goes to the gasoline, 35% to taxes, and 15% to commercial margins.

Morocco deregulated fuel prices in December 2015, which saved the government MAD 35 billion each year that it previously spent subsidizing fuel and redirected the savings to social sectors and disadvantaged people.  The increase of prices angered consumers, who urged the government to intervene.  (MWN 19.06)

Back to Table of Contents


6.1  Turkey’s Unemployment Rate Falls to 10.1% in March

Turkey’s unemployment rate stood at 10.1% in March, falling 1.6% on a yearly basis, but it remained in double digits, official data has shown.  The unemployment rate was 10.6% in February.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.9% in March with a 0.1% increase, according to data from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TUIK), which was released on 18 June.  In the same period, the non-agricultural unemployment rate occurred as 11.9% with a 1.8% decrease, TUIK said.  The number of unemployed persons aged 15 and over—3.2 million last March—decreased 432,000 year-on-year.

The number of employed people rose by 1 million to nearly 10.3 million in the same period, pushing the employment rate up to 47.1% with a 1% annual increase, the institute added.  Breaking down employment by sector, 17.7% of people are employed in agriculture, 19.7% in industry, 7.3% in construction, and 55.3% in services, according to TUIK data.  Official data showed that the labor force participation rate (LFPR) was 52.4%—a 0.2-percentage point increase year-on-year—while the number of people in the labor force reached 31.7 million—up 578,000.  The male LFPR stood at 71.8%—down 0.1%—while the female rate was 33.4%—up 0.5% on a yearly basis.  Meanwhile, the rate of unregistered employment – people working without social security related to their principal occupation – stood at 32.4%, a drop of 0.7% year-on-year, TUIK added.  (TUIK 18.06)

Back to Table of Contents

6.2  Erdogan Says Turkey to Build Third Nuclear Power Plant

Turkey’s president said June 18 that the country will build a third nuclear power plant.  During a live question-and-answer social media broadcast with Turkish youths, President Erdogan said Turkey would build its own nuclear power plant after the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, to be built by Russia.  Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin launched the construction of the Akkuyu plant at a ceremony in Ankara in early April.  The Akkuyu plant, located in southern Mersin province, will boast four reactors, each with a capacity of 1,200 MW and will be built by the Russian state nuclear energy agency Rosatom.  (Various 19.06)

Back to Table of Contents

6.3  Cyprus’ Unemployment Rate Increases to 10.7% in First Quarter

Cyprus’ unemployment rate in the first quarter of the year rose to 10.7%, from 10.1% the previous quarter, revising previous estimates upwards, a likely sign the economy is slowing.  Compared to the first quarter of 2017 –when the percentage of people out of work was 13.5%– the number of jobless fell by 10,952 to 46,468, Cystat said.  The number of unemployed people rose in the first quarter by 3,355 compared to October to December.  The unemployment rates announced by Eurostat for January, February, and March were 9.9%, 9.4%, and 9% respectively, or a three-month average of 9.4%.  The total labor force in the first quarter was 432,566, up from 423,794 the previous year, and 427,264 in the last three months of 2017.

The unemployment rate among youths was 25.7%, up from 22.9% the previous quarter but lower than the 26.7% in the first three months of 2017, Cystat said, adding that the unemployment rate among men was 10.3% in the first three months of 2018 and 11.2% among women.  (Cystat 22.06)

Back to Table of Contents

6.4  Cypriot Economy Employs 4% More Workers in First Quarter

The number of Cypriots employed in the first quarter of the year rose by 4%, to 391,701, compared to January to March last year.  The number of employees was 343,101 and the number of self-employed was 48,600, Cystat said in a statement.  The largest increase in employment was in construction, administrative and support services, art and entertainment, hospitality, and real estate management.  The actual number of hours worked in the economy in the first quarter rose to 175.9m after rising an annual 3.9%, Cystat said.  (Cystat 14.06)

Back to Table of Contents

6.5  Greek, Cypriot & Israeli Defense Ministers Look to Increase Cooperation

The defense ministers of Cyprus, Greece and Israel said on 22 June that they look forward to further developing and enhancing trilateral Defense collaboration.  After the second Trilateral Defense Meeting held in Larnaca, the ministers of the three countries issued a joint statement saying that Cyprus, Greece and Israel share a close and intimate relationship which stems from geographic proximity, common values and shared perspectives.  It added that the three are looking look forward to further developing and enhancing trilateral Defense collaboration “for the mutual benefit of our countries in spheres of military cooperation, maritime counter-terrorism collaboration, defense-industrial cooperation and strategic consultations.”

Cypriot Defense Minister Angelides held a meeting with his Greek and Israeli counterparts, Panos Kammenos and Avigdor Lieberman, at the Larnaca Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC).  Following the meeting of the ministers, talks took place between the delegations of the three countries on regional security, and ways of further enhancing their trilateral relations as regards military cooperation and joint exercises.

Kammenos said that all three of them agree that there is an urgent need for even closer co-operation between the armed forces of the three countries to increase awareness, strengthen their deterrent capabilities and develop Defense capabilities adapted to new threats.  Lieberman said that, in recent years, the three countries have had very close relationships in a very warm atmosphere.  He said that the three countries have good relations governed by common values and principles as democratic states, adding that they also have common problems, challenges and threats.  Following the conference, the three ministers met with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.  (Various 22.06)

Back to Table of Contents

6.6  Greece ‘Turning a Page’ As Eurozone Declares Crisis Over

On 22 June, the Greek government said the country was “turning a page” after Eurozone ministers declared its crisis over as they granted Athens debt relief under a bailout exit strategy.  The Eurozone ministers’ agreement comes nearly a decade after Athens stunned the world with out-of-control spending, sparking three bailouts and a near collapse of the euro single currency.  Following the Eurozone ministers’ declaration of the hard-fought agreement, Greece is slated to leave its third financial rescue since 2010 on 20 August.

The deal was expected to be an easy one, but last-minute resistance by Germany — Greece’s long bailout nemesis and biggest creditor — dragged the talks on for six hours.  The ministers agreed to extend maturities by 10 years on major parts of its total debt obligations, a mountain that has reached 180% of the economy — almost double the country’s annual economic output.  They also agreed to disburse €15 billion ($17.5 billion) to ease Greece’s exit from its rescue program.  This would leave Greece with a hefty €24 billion safety cushion, officials said.

Optimism is tempered by Greece’s remaining fiscal obligations, which will demand serious discipline, observers say.  Under pressure from its creditors Greece has already agreed to slash pensions again in 2019, and reduce the tax-free income threshold for millions of people in 2020.  Further cuts will be made to maintain the 3.5% surplus, if necessary.  (Various 22.06)

Back to Table of Contents

6.7  Greek Jobless Rate Steady at 21.2% in First Quarter

Greece’s jobless rate stayed unchanged at 21.2% in January-to-March from Q4/17, data from the country’s statistics service ELSTAT showed on 14 June.  About 68.4% of Greece’s 1.001 million jobless are long-term unemployed, meaning they have been out of work for at least 12 months, the figures showed.  Greece’s highest unemployment rate was recorded in Q1/14, when joblessness hit 27.8%.  Athens has already published monthly unemployment figures through March, which differ from quarterly data because they are based on different samples and are seasonally adjusted.  March unemployment stood at 20.1%.  Quarterly figures are not seasonally adjusted.

Greece’s economy grew for a fifth straight quarter in January-March and at a faster pace than in the previous quarter, driven by stronger exports.  (ELSTAT 14.06)

Back to Table of Contents



7.1  Fast of 17th of Tammuz, Observed on 1 July, Begins the “Three Weeks” Mourning Period

The Jewish fast day of the 17th of Tammuz will be observed this year from sunup to sundown on Sunday, 1 July.  The fast day itself commemorates five tragedies:  1. Moses descended from meeting God and receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai, saw the Jews celebrating with the Golden Calf and broke the two tablets God had given him.  2. The daily sacrificial offering, which had been brought regularly in the Temple in Jerusalem, was halted during the Babylonian siege before the Temple was destroyed.  3. The Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem, prior to destroying the second Temple in 70 CE.  4. A Greek or Roman official named Apostemos held a public burning of the Torah.  5. Idols were set up in the Temple itself; it is not clear what year this happened.  The 17th of Tammuz is the second of the four fasts commemorating the destruction of the Temple and the Jewish exile.

In later years this day continued to be a dark one for Jews.  In 1391, more than 4,000 Jews were killed in Toledo and Jaen, Spain and in 1559 the Jewish Quarter of Prague was burned and looted.  The Kovno ghetto was liquidated on this day in 1944 and in 1970 Libya ordered the confiscation of Jewish property.

The 17th of Tammuz also marks the beginning of the “Three Weeks,” which ends with the fast of the 9th of Av.  Some customs of mourning, which commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem, are observed from the start of the Three Weeks.  Jewish mourning customs restricts the extent to which one may take a haircut, shave or listen to music, though communities and individuals vary their levels of observance of these customs.  No Jewish marriages or other major celebrations are allowed during the Three Weeks, since the joy of such an event would conflict with the expected mood of mourning during this time.  The Three Weeks can be thought of as having a variety of increasing levels of mourning.  Some restrictions begin on the 17th of Tammuz, some from the beginning of the month of Av, and some only come into effect the week in which Tisha B’Av occurs.

Back to Table of Contents


7.2  Iraq’s Supreme Court Confirms Election Re-Count

Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court has upheld a law mandating a nationwide recount of the votes from May’s parliamentary election, which had been ordered following claims from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that there had been serious violations.  The court has also ruled that the cancellation of votes from people overseas, the displaced, and Peshmerga was unconstitutional.  Earlier this month, Iraq’s top judicial authority, the Supreme Judicial Council, took over the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), replacing the local heads in each of the provinces with judges.  Last month’s elections saw a low turnout, and an unexpected victory for Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr.  (Various 21.06)

Back to Table of Contents

7.3  Abu Dhabi Approves Plan for New Public-Private Schools

The Abu Dhabi Executive Committee announced its approval of a proposal to establish new schools, in partnership with the private sector, with annual fees ranging between AED20,000 – 30,000 ($5,444 – $8,167).  More details about the new public-private partnership on education will be announced in the coming weeks and a pilot project for the new model will be launched in the next school year.  Officials said the new model for schools in Abu Dhabi is expected to contribute to “raising education capacity, with very reasonable expenses for citizens and residents”.

Recently, neighboring Dubai announced a freeze on all private school fees for 2018-2019, “in order to reduce the financial burden on parents”.  Earlier, Abu Dhabi announced a $13.6 billion plan covering 10 initiatives that will look to create 10,000 jobs as well as boost the competitiveness of SMEs on the local and regional levels over the next five years.  (AB 13.06)

Back to Table of Contents

7.4  Dubai Private Schools Earn Over $2 Billion in Tuition Revenue

Dubai’s private schools earned AED 7.5 billion ($2.04 billion) in revenue from tuition fees in the 2017 and 2018 academic year, an AED 700 million ($190 million) increase from the previous year, according to new statistics from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).  In 2016-2017, Dubai private schools reported generating AED 6.8 billion ($1.85 billion) in revenue, compared to AED 6.1 billion ($1.66 billion) in 2015-2016, AED 5.3 billion ($1.44 billion) in 2014-2015 and AED 4.7 billion ($1.28 billion) in 2013-2014.

The KHDA noted that 53% of students pay less than AED 20,000 in tuition fees.  The figure is 4.5% less from the percentage reported last year.  The report also found that the average school fee in Dubai is AED 26,865 ($7,311), not taking into account discounts.  A number of schools, such as King’s School Nad Al Sheba, GEMS World Academy and Repton school charge in excess of AED 100,000 ($27,224) a year.  The most expensive school in Dubai is considered the recently opened North London Collegiate School, which charges fees of between AED 83,000 ($22,596) and AED 130,000 ($35,391).

According to KHDA, in the current academic year there are in 281,432 students enrolled in 194 private schools, with 11 new schools having opened from the previous academic year.  The number of students enrolled represents a 2.9% growth in enrollment, and represents a capacity utilization rate (CUR) of 85% of the 330,000 school seats available in Dubai.

Of the 182 nationalities represented in the Dubai private school sector, Indian nationals were found to form the largest portion of the student body, with 95,368 students.  Indians were followed by Emiratis (30,747), Pakistanis (22,603), Egyptians (15,357) and Britons (13,329).  The KHDA report also found that there was been a 4.84% increase in enrolment into higher education institutions, with 30,375 enrolled in 32 free zone universities.  Of the students, the vast majority – 59.3% – are enrolled in business programs, which also accounted for 53% of the year’s 7,227 graduates from free zone universities.  (AB 25.06)

Back to Table of Contents

7.5  Electoral Council Says Erdogan Wins Absolute Majority in Initial Returns

On 26 June, Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) released the initial results of Sunday’s presidential and parliamentary elections, announcing that President Erdogan had received 52.59% of the votes.  According to the YSK figures, a total of 59,367,497 Turkish citizens cast their votes in Turkey and diplomatic missions and custom gates outside the country.  A total of 1,053,362 votes were invalid, the YSK said.

President Erdogan managed to win an absolute majority with 26,329,920 people voting for him while his closest contender and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Muharrem Ince garnered 15,340,295 votes with 30.64%.

In the parliamentary elections, the AK Party won 41.85% of the votes with 20,980,956 people casting their ballots for the party.  The Main opposition CHP received 22.48% while the HDP, MHP and IP won 11.7, 10.9 and 9.89% of the votes respectively.  The YSK said the release of formal results will be pushed back to 5 July.  The results were initially scheduled to be confirmed on 29 June, but were pushed back because Erdogan’s simple majority means there won’t be a second round runoff vote.  (DAILY SABAH 26.06)

Back to Table of Contents

7.6  Greek Prime Minister Wears Tie in Sartorial Relief Over Bailout End

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has donned a tie, for the first time in more than three years in office, to celebrate the debt relief deal agreed by the country’s creditors.  Tsipras sported the burgundy tie with a white shirt and blue suit during a speech on 22 June to lawmakers from his left-led coalition government in Athens.  The left-wing politician had said at the beginning of his first term in office that he would only wear a tie when Greece had settled its debt problems.  Over the following three years, he received many ties as tongue-in-cheek jokes from his foreign colleagues.  In his speech, Tsipras hailed the deal in Luxembourg as a landmark decision that will make Greece “a normal country” once again.  (Kathimerini 22.06)

Back to Table of Contents

7.7  Macedonia Changes Name in Attempt to End Bitter Dispute with Greece

On 17 June, after almost three decades, one of the most intractable Balkan disputes has ended on the banks of a lake as Greece and Macedonia signed an accord formally heralding a new era of peace.  The prime ministers of the neighboring states declared that the bitter dispute over Macedonia’s name was finally over – despite scattered protests on both sides of the frontier.  Once ratified, the pact will see the small Balkan nation being renamed the Republic of North Macedonia.

To get to this point has not been easy – and challenges posed by nationalist hardliners could yet scupper the deal.  But the significance of a day, as heavy in symbolism as historic import, was lost on neither.  From the moment its neighbor proclaimed independence as the Republic of Macedonia following the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991, Greece has believed its chosen name and symbols conveyed ill-disguised territorial claims against its own province of Macedonia.

Maps depicting the landlocked state’s borders extending to the strategic port city of Thessaloniki, Greek Macedonia’s capital, have helped stoke fears.  So, too, has the appropriation of ancient Greek figures.  The erection of a gargantuan statue of the warrior king Alexander the Great in Skopje’s central square fueled further claims of cultural theft.  In 1994, as the confrontational rhetoric deepened, Athens imposed a trade embargo against its neighbor, saying the Slavic state’s policies posed “a real and present danger to Greece”.

The pact opens the way to Macedonia joining NATO and beginning EU accession talks.  Previously, such moves have been blocked by Athens and triggered growing western security concerns in a region that has become increasingly susceptible to Russian influence.  By agreeing to rename itself the Republic of North Macedonia the country will replace an interim accord under which it joined the UN 23 years ago as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  The agreement means Skopje will need to make more than 150 changes to its constitution before Greece brings the pact before its own parliament for ratification – a task replete with challenges for Zaev, who like Tsipras has taken a progressive view on the issue, and faces considerable opposition from nationalists.  Macedonia’s president, Gjorge Ivanov, has refused to support the deal, presaging a stormy few months ahead.  (Various 17.06)

Back to Table of Contents

7.8  Macedonia Name Dispute Cuts Greek Government Majority in Parliament

Greek Prime Minister Tsipras was left with a wafer-thin majority in parliament on 26 June after a lawmaker from his fragile left-right coalition quit over an agreement with neighboring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to resolve a dispute over its name.  Greece and FYROM just signed a pact to rename the latter North Macedonia, in an attempt to end the decades-old dispute that has prevented FYROM from joining the European Union and NATO.

This move has fueled a storm of protest on both sides of the border; FYROM President Gjorge Ivanov refused to sign the accord ratified by his country’s parliament, calling it ‘criminal’.  In northern Greece, protesters clashed with police.

Lawmaker George Lazaridis of the junior coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL) resigned. the second member of parliament to abandon the right-wing party this month, bringing the government’s majority down to just 152 seats out of 300 in parliament.  It is the slimmest majority for Tsipras since he won an election in 2015.  He is trailing opinion polls, suffering the brunt of voter discontent with economic reforms under international bailouts the crisis-hit country has required since 2010.

Government Spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said the resignation of Lazaridis would not dislodge the government, which has just concluded a debt relief package with Greece’s creditors.  Its full term in office expires in late 2019.

Greeks have long resented use of the name Macedonia by their northern neighbor, saying it implies territorial claims over a Greek province which shares the name, and an attempt to hijack Greek history.  ANEL lawmakers have consistently opposed any deal which would include the word “Macedonia” in the former Yugoslav republic’s name.  (Reuters 26.06)

Back to Table of Contents


8.1  6Degrees “Computer Mouse for Amputees”

6Degrees is developing a unique algorithm that will be embedded within a line of products; the first of which is Crescent, an assistive technology/ life-style band that allows people who experience hand dexterity loss to reconnect with their smart devices (phone computer or tablet).

The company’s patented hands-free controller, Crescent, can be utilized to operate any smart device, including smartphones, tablets, and PCs. Crescent has deep applicability in the fields of AR/VR, defense, and assistive technologies.  Because no two people are alike, Crescent “listens” to each user’s motion and adapts to their unique abilities and needs.  6Degrees’ first target market includes the 300 million individuals worldwide who have lost full use of their hands due to amputation, Parkinson’s disease and stroke-related paralysis.  Crescent is embedded with an innovative learning algorithm that allows people with disabilities to use their devices without limitations.

Jerusalem’s was established in 2015.  The idea for the unique mouse sprang from a class a founder took when she studied industrial design at the Pratt Institute in New York in 2010 – 2013.  One of her professors was a dominant-hand amputee who lost his hand in an accident, and used a hook prosthetic to alternate between a regular mouse and a keyboard.  (JLMBioCity 28.05)

Back to Table of Contents

8.2  Intercure Becomes Tenth TASE Medical Cannabis Company

InterCure has become the 10th medical cannabis company to be listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) this year.  The company signed an agreement to invest NIS 8.2 million in one of the eight veteran companies possessing a license to produce and cannabis and market it in Israel.  InterCure will receive 40% of the ordinary shares and 50% of the preferred shares in the veteran company in return for its investment.

InterCure did not disclose with which grower it made the agreement.  All of the companies currently growing cannabis obtained their license a decade ago when growing medical cannabis in Israel was first permitted and have been supplying the demand in Israel ever since.  Meanwhile, none of them has contracted an agreement with an Israeli TASE-listed company except for Breath of Life (BOL) Pharma, which is in a process of mutual due diligence with Amir Marketing & Investments in Agriculture for a $27 million investment.  This agreement makes Intercure the first TASE-listed company to invest in a concern that already has revenue from cannabis.  At the same time, the Israeli cannabis market is limited and like the other medical cannabis companies, the company with which InterCure has reached agreement is waiting for approval for exporting cannabis from Israel.  This approval is being delayed for reasons that are not completely clear.

Meanwhile, the Israeli cannabis reform designed to bring new players into this market was recently completed.  The new reform distinguishes between growing, processing and distribution of the material.  Some of the original growers have already contracted with processing and distribution concerns and are planning to distribute their products via the pharmaceutical chains as required under the reform.  Some are still selling directly to their existing customers, a practice that is due to stopped.  Some of them, such as BOL Pharma, have also set up processing and distribution activity.  InterCure hinted that the company with which it made an agreement had processing and distribution capabilities and was one of the strongest and leading companies among the eight companies in the field.

InterCure is a medical holding company with two existing activities: it holds 17.3% of Regenera, which develops drugs for treatment of non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) and is likely to develop additional product for the attractive market of preventing nerve degeneration.  (Globes 24.06)

Back to Table of Contents

8.3  OWC Completes Development of Next Generation Orally-Disintegrating Tablet

OWC Pharmaceutical Research Corp. has completed the pre-clinical development of its next generation, orally-disintegrating tablet containing cannabis extract with specific amounts of the cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).  The tablet is targeted at different indications and will be available in various ratios of THC to CBD and various doses of these actives.

The tablet will be indicated as a substitute for patients being treated with medical cannabis by smoking.  Key indications will include chronic pain syndromes and Fibromyalgia, inter alia.  Key advantages of this delivery form over smoking medical cannabis are metered and controlled dosage, fast and effective absorption (disintegration time of the tablet is less than 2 minutes) and ease of use with no hazardous smoke inhalation or adverse environmental effects or issues of passive smoking.  The ability to manufacture a tablet under strict quality control and quality assurance standards is intrinsic to this dosage form and to the establishment of strict clinical standards.  OWC has received Institutional Review Board (“IRB”) approval (both national Israeli and Sourasky Medical Center IRBs) and plans to initiate a safety clinical trial in Q3/18.

OWC Pharmaceutical Research Corp., through its wholly-owned Israeli subsidiary, Ramat Gan’s One World Cannabis (collectively OWC), conducts medical research and clinical trials to develop cannabis-based pharmaceuticals and treatments for conditions including multiple myeloma, psoriasis, fibromyalgia, PTSD and migraines.  OWCP is also developing unique delivery systems for the effective delivery and dosage of medical cannabis.  All OWCP research is conducted at leading Israeli hospitals and scientific institutions and led by internationally renowned investigators.  (OWC 13.06)

Back to Table of Contents

8.4  Together Wins $75 Million Canadian Cannabis Deal

Globus Pharma, controlled by Together Startup Network, an agreement to supply cannabis to a Canadian company whose name was not disclosed.  The company announced last April that it had signed an MoU for this agreement, which has now become a binding agreement.  The agreement contains a commitment to buy a minimum quantity of 5 tons of cannabis inflorescence or 500 kilograms of cannabis oil from Together during 2019 and 20 tons of cannabis inflorescence or two tons of cannabis oil in 2020.  According to the minimum prices set, ($3 per gram of inflorescence and $30 per gram of oil), Together’s minimum revenue from the agreement will be $15 million in 2019 and $60 million in 2020 and every subsequent year until 2023.

The contract contains a mechanism for linking the price per gram to the Canadian company’s volume of revenue.  Globus Pharma believes that it will be able to sell the Canadian company larger quantities than the minimum at higher than the minimum price, resulting in higher revenue.  In its announcement, Globus Pharma said that the maximum revenue from the agreement would be $150 million for each year of activity.

The Canadian company has a license to import cannabis into Canada and also imports and exports cannabis in its own right.  It is likely that its interest in Israel is due to the relatively low price at which Globus Pharma is agreeing to supply the cannabis and the wish to ensure a supply of raw material in case of a shortage.  There is currently no authorization for exporting cannabis from Israel.  Globus Pharma said it was likely to produce its product in Africa, where it is in the midst of establishing a farm and greenhouses.

Using cannabis is legal in Canada only by medical prescription.  The Canadian Senate has just passed a law legalizing cannabis, but this law has not yet been finally approved because the government must approve several controversial clauses in the law.  The consensus is that the law will be approved by the end of the year, but just as in the case of cannabis exports from Israel, nothing is certain before final approval.  (Globes 14.06)

Back to Table of Contents

8.5  Leviticus Cardio Successful Animal Trial Demonstrating Wireless Power Using Jarvik 2000

Leviticus Cardio announced the successful animal implantation of the world’s first Hybrid Wireless Fully Implanted Ventricular Assisted System or “Hybrid FILVAS.”  The new cardio device, designed for human patients with chronic heart conditions requiring an implanted heart pump, can be powered wirelessly or with back-up power through a conventional driveline exiting the patient.  Leviticus, which has previously announced other successful wireless LVAD animal trials, conducted this trial with the Jarvik 2000.

Leviticus invented the versatile transcutaneous Coplanar Energy Transfer (“CET”) system, which permits LVADs to be powered wirelessly.  Presently, LVADs are powered by a driveline exiting the patient’s body.  That driveline restricts patient lifestyle and can cause lethal infections.  Leviticus’s CET technology has been developed to solve that problem.

New York based Jarvik Heart is an early LVAD innovator that provides LVADs in key medical markets globally.  Jarvik heart pumps are highly regarded for their technical excellence, small size, and unique behind the ear cranial pedestal based drive line, which has been shown to result in fewer infections.

Tel Aviv’s Leviticus Cardio, backed by the Israeli Innovation Authority (IIA) and venture capital investors in Israel, Europe and the United States, is widely respected as the innovator of wireless power for LVADs, a multi-billion-dollar medical device category that has long relied on powerlines that typically enter the patient’s chest or abdomen.  The company was founded in 2008 dedicated to improving the clinical outcome for patients implanted with a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) for impaired cardiac function.  (Leviticus Cardio 18.06)

Back to Table of Contents

8.6  DreaMed Diabetes Granted FDA Authorization to Market Advisor Pro

DreaMed Diabetes announced that the U.S. FDA has granted a De Novo request for DreaMed Advisor Pro, an artificial intelligence (AI)-based diabetes treatment decision support software.  Advisor Pro is indicated to assist healthcare providers in the management of people with type 1 diabetes who use insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM).  DreaMed Advisor Pro is a cloud-based digital solution generating insulin delivery recommendations by analyzing information from CGM, self-monitoring blood glucose (SMBG) and insulin pump data.  Applying event-driven adaptive learning, Advisor Pro refines its understanding for each individual and sends recommendations to the healthcare provider on how to optimize a patient’s insulin pump settings for basal rate, carbohydrate ratio (CR) and correction factor (CF).

Two years ago, in anticipation of the FDA review, DreaMed and Glooko, the leader in diabetes data management, signed an agreement that enables Advisor Pro to be integrated into the Glooko diabetes data management platform.

This is the second regulatory approval for Advisor Pro this year, having received the EU CE Mark in February 2018.  In addition, DreaMed received CE Mark for its artificial pancreas technology in 2015, Glucositter, which was licensed by global health technology leader Medtronic Diabetes.

Petah Tikva’s DreaMed spun out of Schneider Children’s Medical Center in 2014, following seven years developing its artificial pancreas technology.  Since then, DreaMed Diabetes develops solutions and personalized decision support solutions for the optimization of insulin therapy for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.  Investors in the company include Medtronic Diabetes, Norma Investments and OurCrowd.  (DreaMed Diabetes 18.06)

Back to Table of Contents

8.7  BlueWind Medical Receives FDA Approval for RENOVA iStim Implantable Tibial Nerve Neuromodulator

BlueWind Medical announced that the US FDA has approved the company’s pivotal study design for its RENOVA iStim system to support its marketing application in the US.  RENOVA iStim is an innovative, battery-less, leadless, miniature, implantable Tibial Nerve Neuromodulation System, for the management of overactive bladder (OAB), including urinary urge incontinence and symptoms of urgency-frequency.

The OASIS pivotal trial (OverActive bladder Stimulation System study) is designed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of BlueWind’s RENOVA iStim Tibial Stimulation System for the treatment of urinary urgency incontinence in patients who have failed or could not tolerate more conservative treatments.  The endpoints of the OASIS pivotal study are similar to those published in clinical literature for urinary dysfunction.  Study analysis will be focused, among other things, on the proportion of responders to tibial therapy at six months post-implant based on reduction in urinary urgency incontinence episodes from the patient’s baseline diary.  Safety and durability of the effect will be assessed 12 months post implantation.

BlueWind Medical expects patient enrollment to commence in early 2019, with an overall target of 250 patients to be implanted with RENOVA iStim at up to 25 medical centers, in several European countries, including the UK, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

Herzliya’s BlueWind Medical was founded in 2010 by the premier Israeli innovation and investment company Rainbow Medical.  BlueWind is developing a platform technology of miniature wireless neuro-stimulators that can be placed in minimally invasive procedures and treat multiple indications.  By putting patients’ needs first, BlueWind is creating a versatile and effective platform that will transform Neuromodulation as we know it.  (BlueWind Medical 15.06)

Back to Table of Contents

8.8  BiondVax Receives €6 Million Tranche Disbursement from the EIB

BiondVax Pharmaceuticals announced the receipt of a €6 million disbursement from the European Investment Bank (EIB).  These funds are the first tranche of the previously announced €20 million co-financing agreement signed in June 2017.  The EIB-BiondVax non-dilutive co-financing agreement, signed in June 2017, is structured as a zero-percent fixed interest loan, available for up to 36 months from the date of signing with a variable remuneration based on royalties of net sales of M-001 following commercialization.  Funds will be advanced in three tranches.  The tranches are available up to 12, 24, and 36 months following the date of the agreement, and are dependent on achievement of certain specified milestones.  The tranches are repayable five years after each drawdown. BiondVax retains the option to repay the loan and repurchase the royalties at any time.

Ness Ziona’s BiondVax is an advanced clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing a universal flu vaccine.  The vaccine candidate, called M-001, is designed to provide multi-season protection against current and future, seasonal and pandemic influenza virus strains.  BiondVax’s proprietary technology utilizes a unique combination of conserved and common influenza virus peptides, activating both arms of the immune system for a cross-protecting and long-lasting effect. In a total of 6 completed Phase 1/2 and Phase 2 human clinical trials, covering 698 participants, the vaccine has been shown to be safe, well-tolerated, and immunogenic.  (BiondVax 19.06)

Back to Table of Contents

8.9  MedAware & Allscripts Enhance Patient Safety in New Era of Meaningful Interoperability

MedAware is working with Chicago’s Allscripts Healthcare Solutions to provide a safer prescribing and medication management environment to Allscripts’ customers.  The partnership will offer point of care interventions to providers, care coordinators and their patients over the advanced dbMotion solution.  With a history of introducing innovative healthcare and data-driven solutions, implementing MedAware’s advanced machine learning-enabled decision support and patient safety solutions will further Allscripts’ commitment to leveraging data and technology to provide better patient care.

In order to provide actionable insights at the point of care and after the script was already filled, MedAware monitors patients’ clinical records to detect medication-related risks, evolving adverse drug events (ADEs), and to identify patient-specific risk of opioid dependency with unprecedented accuracy.  As a result, in live clinical settings, providers mostly choose to revise their prescriptions when they are notified of such risks from MedAware.  This level of success is achieved by using the company’s patented medication monitoring technology that leverages machine-learning algorithms and outlier detection mechanisms to identify adverse drug events and flag potentially life-threatening prescriptions that are in conflict with the profile of the patient, physician, or institution.

Ra’anana’s MedAware is transforming patient safety and saving lives through AI-empowered clinical decision support solutions. Each year, millions are affected or fatally harmed by adverse drug events (ADEs) and erroneous prescription-related medication errors.  By continuously mining data gathered via millions of electronic health records, MedAware’s software accurately flags potentially life-threatening medications that are in conflict with the profiles of the patient, physician or institution.  (MedAware 19.06)

Back to Table of Contents

8.10  CE Mark and Health Canada Issue Regulatory Approvals for Datum Dental’s OSSIX Bone

Datum Dental announced major regulatory clearances for OSSIX Bone with CE Mark in Europe and Health Canada approval.  Powered by the company’s patented clinically proven GLYMATRIX core technology, OSSIX Bone received FDA clearance in July 2017 and was launched commercially during Q3/17 in the USA.

This is a significant milestone.  The full GLYMATRIX-based OSSIX line – OSSIX Plus, OSSIX Volumax, and now OSSIX Bone – is available to clinicians across Europe and North America, and other key regions.  OSSIX Bone is a mineralized collagen sponge with unique ossifying characteristics and texture that enable simplified dental procedures in challenging cases as well as routine care.  Unlike alternatives on the market including allograft/xenograft materials, OSSIX Bone promotes true bone with no remnants, no migration of material – offering a viable, naturally derived solution for clinicians.

Lod’s Datum Dental, a subsidiary of Datum Biotech, provides innovative dental regeneration products to support and enhance the future of implantology and oral care.  The company markets its products for dental professionals through its extensive global network of over 20 partners worldwide.  The company uses its patented GLYMATRIX core technology, a sugar cross-linking collagen biomaterial, for guided bone regeneration (GBR) and guided tissue regeneration (GTR); the technology is clinically proven in over a hundred scientific publications.  Powered by GLYMATRIX, the OSSIX product family has enabled clinicians in hundreds of thousands of procedures spanning almost two decades to safely provide predictable, long-term results to their patients.  (Datum Dental 18.06)

Back to Table of Contents

8.11  Arcuro Medical Receives FDA Regulatory Clearance

Arcuro Medical, a portfolio company of The Trendlines Group, received regulatory clearance from the US FDA for its SuperBall meniscus repair system.  Meniscus tears are a common occurrence in many population groups: professional athletes, people who engage in daily sport activities, the ageing population, and people predisposed to cartilage problems.

Misgav’s Arcuro has developed an all-suture meniscus repair system that preserves knee functionality and is secure, reliable, and effective.  Arcuro completed an extensive and very successful series of pre-clinical studies in the US and Israel.  The Company believes that with its easy-to-use system, an all-suture implant, with no knot in the joint space, more surgeons will confidently choose to repair the meniscus instead of removing it.  As a result, Arcuro expects to convert a significant portion of the meniscus removal procedures performed annually to repair procedures.

Arcuro submitted a patent at national phase in China, Israel, the United States, and Europe.  The patent in the United States was recently granted.  (Arcuro 18.06)

Back to Table of Contents

8.12  Rootella BR Becomes First Mycorrhizal Inoculant Registered for Commercial Use in Brazil

Groundwork BioAg and Brazil’s NovaTero announced that Rootella BR mycorrhizal inoculant has achieved commercial registration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA) for application as a seed treatment on soybean and corn.  NovaTero has started selling this product in Brazil under the name Rootella BR.

Efficacy trials on corn and soybean were conducted on six sites across Brazil, under varied climatic conditions and on numerous soil types.  Three levels of phosphorus fertilizer were tested, including commercial standard for each site.  Rootella BR performed exceptionally well, increasing yields above 11% in each and every treatment – on both crops, under all fertilization regimes and in all sites.  Most yield improvements were considered statistically significant, and Rootella BR’s impact was typically higher under reduced phosphorus rates.  Yields of untreated crops were normal for the season, i.e. 4-8 t/ha for corn, and 2-4 t/ha for soybean, depending on the site and conditions.

Moshav Mazor’s Groundwork BioAg produces cost-effective mycorrhizal inoculants for commercial agriculture.  Natural mycorrhizal fungi improve soil nutrient uptake in 90% of all plant species.  When applied to agriculture, mycorrhizal inoculants increase crop yields, especially under stress conditions.  Growers can also reduce fertilizer application rates, notably phosphorus.  Groundwork BioAg’s uniquely vigorous and highly concentrated Rootella products have demonstrated impressive field trial results in several major crops, such as corn, soybean, tomato, pepper, onion and potato.  Rootella inoculants are currently registered and sold in several territories (including the US) and are suitable for organic farming.  (Groundwork BioAg 18.06)

Back to Table of Contents

8.13  Galmed Pharmaceuticals Announces Pricing of Public Offering of Ordinary Shares

Galmed Pharmaceuticals announced that it has priced its previously announced underwritten public offering of 5,000,000 ordinary shares, at a public offering price of $15.00 per share.  The gross proceeds to Galmed, before deducting the underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses will be $75 million.   In addition, Galmed granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 750,000 ordinary shares at the public offering price, less the underwriting discounts and commissions.  Galmed intends to use the net proceeds from the offering for (i) continued development of Aramchol, (ii) development of new programs, (iii) business development activities, and (iv) general corporate purposes.

Tel Aviv’s Galmed is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of Aramchol, a first in class, novel, once-daily, oral therapy for the treatment of NASH for variable populations. Galmed has recently announced top-line results of its ARREST Study, a multicenter, randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled Phase IIb clinical study designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of Aramchol in subjects with NASH, who are overweight or obese, and who are pre-diabetic or type-II-diabetic.  (Galmed Pharmaceuticals 19.06)

Back to Table of Contents

8.14  Cannassure Receives Permit to Start Growing Medical Cannabis Indoors

The Israeli Medical Cannabis Agency (IMCA) has granted the Solbar Group with initial permits to cultivate and establish a fully controlled, indoor cultivation facility.  The designated building is an existing facility on the Cannassure site, in Ashdod and is approximately 4000 square meters in size.  The building, owned by parent company- Solbar, was once used for the production of isolated soy proteins for the food industry and is fully secured.  The company will newly outfit the building to create a state-of-the art, fully controlled, growing facility for producing large scale, consistent, top-quality medical grade cannabis.

Cannassure believes that growing cannabis in a controlled indoor space will lead to faster production, higher quality and more consistent yields, by better controlling the growing environment and factors such as light, CO2, humidity and so forth.  Indoor cannabis cultivation is a resource-intensive process. Cannassure will offset these high costs by connecting to Solbar’s infrastructure and benefiting from low cost electricity supplied by Israel’s largest, private electricity producer and by powering most of its operation with low-cost natural gas.

Ashdod’s CannAssure was founded in order to address an unmet need in the medical cannabis market- the supply of superior safety profile cannabis extracts and their derivatives.  Their soon to be launched products offer fully labelled, consistent, and standardized cannabis extracts and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs).  CannAssure is built upon the vast experience of Solbar Food Technologies.  For over 50 years Solbar has perfected the science of extractions from botanical sources and developed APIs for the nutraceutical industry.  As a global manufacturer, Solbar has developed high-scale production capabilities as well as advanced process engineering knowhow and operates an extensive distribution network.  (Cannassure 20.06)

Back to Table of Contents

8.15  Elbit Systems’ Spin-Off Beyeonics Raises $11.5 Million

Elbit Systems announced that its Beyeonics Surgical subsidiary concluded a first round of funding raising a $11.5 million investment from leading investment groups including an international corporation.  Beyeonics develops innovative surgeon-centered visualization technologies that improves the surgeon’s efficiency and substantially enhances patient safety and surgical outcomes.  Beyeonics’ first clinically tested system – Clarity Bionic Visualization Platform – has a proven track record of providing surgeons with Augmented/Virtual Reality vision capabilities that replace surgical microscopes while allowing real-time integration of an unlimited amount of data.  The Clarity platform is comprised of a Transparent Head Wearable Display that utilizes unique Elbit Systems’ displays technology, 3D Ultra-Resolution remote sensing cameras, and a Processing Core that leverages Elbit Systems’ image processing know-how as well as fusion and analytical tools to enable zero latency integration of information from multiple digital sources.  Undergoing clinical trials since 2016 the Clarity platform has been successfully tested in more than 20 ophthalmic surgeries both at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and at Retinal Consultants of Arizona.

Beyeonics Surgical technologies began operating in 2012, led by a team of Elbit Systems senior engineers with a mission to revolutionize the visualization and information presented during surgery.  Future products include visualization systems for other surgical applications as well as solutions for spine surgery, minimal invasive procedures, robotic surgery and use in cardiovascular catheterization labs.

Haifa’s Elbit Systems is an international high technology company engaged in a wide range of defense, homeland security and commercial programs throughout the world.  The Company, which includes Elbit Systems and its subsidiaries, operates in the areas of aerospace, land and naval systems, command, control, communications, computers, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR), unmanned aircraft systems, advanced electro-optics, electro-optic space systems, EW suites, signal intelligence systems, data links and communications systems, radios and cyber-based systems.  (Elbit 13.06)

Back to Table of Contents

8.16  CollPlant Receives R&D Project Approval from IIA to Advance its Collagen-based BioInk

CollPlant received grant approval from the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) to finance continued development of the Company’s proprietary rhCollagen-based formulations intended for use as BioInk for the 3D printing of tissues and life savings organs.  The total approved project budget is approximately $1.2 million, of which the Israel Innovation Authority will finance 30%, subject to certain conditions.  The terms of the grant require, among other things, CollPlant to pay royalties to the IIA on future sales of any technology developed with these funds, up to the full grant amount.

The Israel Innovation Authority, formerly known as the Office of the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Economy (& MATIMOP), is an independent and impartial public entity that operates for the benefit of the Israeli innovation ecosystem and Israeli economy, as a whole. Its role is to nurture and develop Israeli innovation resources, while creating and strengthening the infrastructure and framework needed to support the entire knowledge industry.

Ness Ziona’s CollPlant is a regenerative medicine company focused on 3D bioprinting of tissues and organs, developing and commercializing tissue repair products for orthobiologics, and advanced wound care markets.  The Company’s products are based on its rhCollagen (recombinant human collagen) that is produced with its proprietary plant-based genetic engineering technology.  CollPlant’s products address indications for diverse fields of organ and tissue repair and are ushering in a new era in regenerative medicine.  (CollPlant 26.06)

Back to Table of Contents


9.1  Israeli Partnership Develops Rampage Stand-Off Missile

IMI Systems (formerly Israel Military Industries) and Israel Aerospace Industries have jointly developed a new long-range precision strike weapon suitable for use during stand-off-range attacks.  Named Rampage, the supersonic weapon is 4.7m (15.4ft) long and has a total weight of 570kg (1,250lb).  Its rocket and warhead performance and navigation suite enable the design to be deployed against high-value, well-protected targets with utmost precision.  Suitable for carriage by a broad range of aircraft types, including the Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter, the Rampage missile will be released from outside an area protected by air-defense systems.  Potential targets include command and control sites, communication facilities, air bases, maintenance centers and critical infrastructure.  (IAI 11.06)

Back to Table of Contents

9.2  Elbit Systems Launches SigmaCell: A Real-Time Active Cellular Intelligence System

Elbit Systems is introducing SigmaCell, a real-time active cellular intelligence system that neutralizes cellular communications of terrorists and criminals.  Based on Elbit Systems’ Signal Intelligence expertise, SigmaCell was designed to detect, identify, intercept and expose details of target cellular devices and their precise location.  Covering the entire cellular spectrum (gsm, umts and lte) Sigmacell captures hundreds of devices simultaneously and can be remotely operated via a web based user interface.  Either portable or stationary, SigmaCell can be effectively utilized in a variety of environments and operational scenarios such as thwarting terrorist and criminal activity, detecting and preventing Cellular usage in prisons, protecting borders and checkpoints, rescuing survivors in catastrophes and protecting sensitive facilities.

Haifa’s Elbit Systems is an international high technology company engaged in a wide range of defense, homeland security and commercial programs throughout the world.  The Company, which includes Elbit Systems and its subsidiaries, operates in the areas of aerospace, land and naval systems, command, control, communications, computers, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR), unmanned aircraft systems, advanced electro-optics, electro-optic space systems, EW suites, signal intelligence systems, data links and communications systems, radios and cyber-based systems.  (Elbit 11.06)

Back to Table of Contents

9.3  Ride Vision Gives Motorcycles 360° Predictive Vision

Ride Vision introduced the world’s first Collision Aversion Technology giving any motorcycle 360° Predictive Vision.  Backing for this technology bringing unprecedented protection and control for motorcycle riders was led by YL Ventures with seed $2.5 million in funding.

Ride Vision has overcome the technological, cost and size limitations preventing ADAS life-saving solutions for motorcycles until now.  Ride Vision’s CAT – Collision Aversion Technology is a fusion of a neural network based deep learning platform and computer vision that enables an accurate, affordable, life-saving solution for any motorcycle, without the need for complex hardware or expensive cameras.  CAT sensors detect threats beyond the rider’s sight, predict risk and highlight the relevant threat for the rider, all in 100s milliseconds – one-tenth of a second.  This life-saving technology for the new and experienced rider provides almost instant 360° collision protection without distracting the rider’s focus.

Herzliya’s Ride Vision was created by technologists by day, motorbike riders by road, to give any motorcycle Predictive Vision.  Ride Vision’s computer vision and neural network based CAT – Collision Aversion Technology leverages standard hardware and cameras to sense, predict and warn riders of threats on the road.  Ride Vision can be incorporated into any new or traded motorbikes of any price range.

YL Ventures funds & supports brilliant Israeli tech entrepreneurs from seed to lead.  Based in Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv, YL Ventures manages $135 million across three funds focused on seed-stage, deep-technology B2B companies in the fields of cybersecurity, enterprise software and automotive technologies.  (Ride Vision 14.06)

Back to Table of Contents

9.4  Orbit Salutes Israel’s Technion on the Inauguration of its First Satellite Ground Station

Orbit Communications Systems saluted Haifa’s Technion Institute of Technology on the inauguration of its first satellite ground station.  The Technion’s Adelis ground station was completed by Orbit in a turnkey project integrating a 3.7-meter S-band Gaia 100 terminal with tower-mounted VHF and UHF antennas.

Technion’s Adelis SAMSON is a satellite mission led by the Asher Space Research Institute at the Technion, in collaboration with Israeli industry.  The mission, which includes three nano-satellites built according to the CubeSat standard, aims to demonstrate a long-term, autonomous cluster flight of multiple satellites, and determine the position of a cooperative terrestrial emitter, based on the difference of signal arrival times.  Orbit’s Gaia 100 ground station is a small-footprint, high-performance series of remote-sensing ground stations for real-time data capture from LEO or MEO satellites.

Netanya’s Orbit Communications Systems is wholly-focused on precision tracking-based communications – in the areas of satcom, telemetry and remote sensing – and provides an innovative solution for airborne audio management.  With certification by defense, government and commercial agencies, they deliver tailor-made, turnkey solutions at sea, on land and in the air.  (Orbit Communication Systems 13.06)

Back to Table of Contents

9.5  ECI’s Muse Multivendor NMS Simplifies Operations in Multivendor Networks

ECI announced the availability of its Muse multivendor network management module of its Elastic Services Platform to aid in simplifying operations in multivendor environments.  With Muse multivendor NMS, customers can onboard, provision and manage network elements from different vendors, simply and easily, all from a single-seat, network management system.

The Muse multivendor NMS module provides complete end-to-end visibility and control of network elements and even provides a centralized management system for network elements that do not currently have their own management systems deployed.  Devices can be managed directly under the module or elements can be managed under ECI’s LightSOFT network management system.  With the multivendor NMS, management of resources is made simple with an advanced ergonomically designed GUI (graphical user interface) and on-screen tools which accelerate operational activities.  Integrated network assurance allows operators to rapidly identify network failures and initiate the correct actions the first time, to maintain maximized service continuity and availability.

Petah Tikva’s ECI is a global provider of ELASTIC network solutions to CSPs, critical infrastructures as well as data center operators. Along with its long-standing, industry-proven packet-optical transport, ECI offers a variety of SDN/NFV applications, end-to-end network management, a comprehensive cybersecurity solution, and a range of professional services. ECI’s ELASTIC solutions ensure open, future-proof, and secure communications. With ECI, customers have the luxury of choosing a network that can be tailor-made to their needs today while being flexible enough to evolve with the changing needs of tomorrow.  (ECI 13.06)

Back to Table of Contents

9.6  vHive Releases AI-based Automatic Workflow for High-Precision Drone Data

vHive announced the availability of a fully automated workflow for high-accuracy data products.  vHive currently provides solutions to companies in a variety of industries ranging from telecom towers, to rail, bridges and civil engineering.  In many cases vHive customers require high accuracy data products, including high relative-accuracy (intrinsic to a map or model) and absolute-accuracy (geographic location).  This typically required the use of expensive total stations or RTK devices operated by experienced surveyors.  These results can now be achieved by using self-locating ground control points and vHive’s AI analysis engine.  vHive’s automated ground control point workflow is already being used on hundreds of sites, generating excellent results for vHive customers.

Herzliya’s vHive is the developer of cloud-based AI that enables enterprises to operate autonomous drone hives for the acquisition, management and processing of field data.  vHive’s Mission AI uniquely enables organizations in a variety of industries such as infrastructure, telecom, rail and civil engineering to scale their drone operations.  (vHive 12.06)

Back to Table of Contents

9.7  BlueBird Aero Systems Unveils ThunderB Cargo Variant

Israel’s BlueBird Aero Systems has displayed a cargo variant of its ThunderB tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at the Eurosatory 2018 defense exhibition in Paris.  The new variant can carry a cargo payload of up to 4 kg in two capsules that can be fitted under the platform’s wings, a company official told Jane’s.  Once transported to its destination, the cargo is then dropped using an electro-mechanical mechanism, landing with a “high degree of accuracy” at the intended drop site, he added.  The cargo capsules can also be fitted with a parachute to prevent the payload from being damaged.

Kadima’s Bluebird Aero Systems (established in 2002), a dominant player in the Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) industry, specializes in the design, development and production of Micro, Mini and tactical UAS and peripheral equipment, and delivers exceptional, unprecedented combat proven solutions to meet the challenges of the Military, HLS and civilian UAS markets.  Bluebird’s solutions are specially designed to deal with those contemporary challenges.  With a wide spectrum of UAS platforms, all operating from a unified, intuitive and advanced Ground Control Station, Bluebird’s rapidly deployed UAS, cost-effectively and reliably perform all kinds of missions, in severe weather and without terrain limitations.  (Jane’s 15.06)

Back to Table of Contents

9.8  My Size QSize Mobile Measurement Solution for Quality Control in Apparel Manufacturing

My Size announced its plans to launch QSize, a mobile measurement solution for retailers to ensure quality control throughout the apparel manufacturing process.  The current process for quality control within apparel manufacturing includes measurement of each garment by hand, followed by manual entry of such measurement into the manufacturer’s back office system, creating a significant possibility for human error.  My Size’s QSize will enable a retailer to fully automate its quality control process by utilizing a mobile-based measurement and data logging system.

To use QSize, the user will first scan the apparel’s barcode utilizing their mobile device, and is then shown a graphic illustration of how to measure the garment.  The user will then measure the garment with a few easy movements of the mobile device, and the data is then accurately and automatically uploaded into the retailer’s back office system each and every time.

Airport City’s My Size has developed a unique measurement technology based on sophisticated algorithms and cutting-edge technology with broad applications including the apparel, e-commerce, DIY, shipping and parcel delivery industries.  This proprietary technology is driven by several algorithms which are able to calculate and record measurements in a variety of novel ways.  (My Size 19.06)

Back to Table of Contents

9.9  ST Engineering & SafeRide Strategic Partnership to Protect Vehicles from Cyberattack

Singapore’s ST Engineering, a global technology, defense and engineering group, and SafeRide Technologies announced a strategic partnership that will integrate SafeRide’s software cybersecurity suite, vSentry with ST Engineering’s Connected Electric Vehicles and Autonomous Vehicles (AV) platforms.  This on-board cybersecurity capability will integrate with ST Engineering’s in-house cybersecurity capabilities such as wireless connectivity and software applications to provide a robust solution to diagnose and eliminate potential cyber vulnerabilities of the Group’s connected and autonomous vehicles.

SafeRide’s vSentry is a multidisciplinary cybersecurity solution that combines a multi-layer deterministic, zero false-positive, security engine with a unique Artificial Intelligence (AI) based anomaly uncovering and response engine for future-proof protection against known and unknown threats and anomalies.  Offering multiple layers of protection, the holistic security suite protects the vehicle connectivity channels, connected application software and the in-vehicle network, to enable safety and protection of digital assets.

Tel Aviv’s SafeRide offers a vehicle cyber security solution, targeted at commercial fleets and private vehicles, which enables vehicle safety, and protection of personal data & privacy, trade secrets, vendor reputation, business operations, intellectual property and human lives.  (ST Engineering 19.06)

Back to Table of Contents

9.10  Valens Introduces Long-Range PCIe Connectivity in Vehicles

Valens, the developer of HDBaseT technology for in-vehicle connectivity, is announcing today the launch of its PCIe Module, an evaluation platform to demonstrate the long-distance transmission of PCIe data over an HDBaseT Automotive link. HDBaseT Automotive’s ability to extend PCIe signals simplifies complex in-vehicle architectures by optimizing resource sharing of ECUs (Electronic Control Units), communication devices, SSDs (Solid-State Drives), and more.

HDBaseT Automotive enables symmetric tunneling of data, with native networking capabilities over a single unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable for up to 15 meters (50 feet).  A key application for the PCIe Module are smart antennas and telematics, as HDBaseT Automotive can connect the numerous antennas on top of a car to an ECU located in a more environmentally-friendly location than the roof, with only unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cables.  The PCIe Module is also able to converge other interfaces over the same cable (such as I2S, UART, side-band signals, etc.), as part of the telematics unit.

Hod HaSharon’s Valens Automotive, a division of Valens, was established in 2014 to deliver the world’s most advanced in-vehicle connectivity chipset technology to the automotive world.  Valens’ HDBaseT Automotive chip technology enables unparalleled in-vehicle connectivity, converging audio & video, Ethernet, USB, controls and power over a single cable.  Valens’ patented HDBaseT technology is used by the world’s largest audio/video component manufacturers, enabling the highest quality of connectivity without the limitations of legacy infrastructure.  Valens, a private company headquartered in Israel, continues to push the boundaries of wired connectivity everywhere.  (ValensAuto 19.06)

Back to Table of Contents

9.11  ERM Completes Vehicle Anti-Ransomware Solution

ERM Advanced Telematics has completed development of an integrated hardware-software product that protects vehicles against ransomware and other cyberattacks.  The solution, called eCyber, is suited for both OEMs and the aftermarket.  The eCyber technology, for which ERM has already registered a patent in Israel, is due to be available in Q4/18 for all of the company’s customers and partners in 68 countries worldwide.  ERM’s eCyber’s uniqueness is that it can be installed in a vehicle by authorized parties, such as vehicle importers and fleet managers in the aftermarket stage – after the vehicle left the factory, as well as by the OEM itself during the manufacturing process.

The eCyber, is installed between the vehicle’s external communications device and the vehicle’s CAN Bus (Controller Area Network Bus).  The eCyber performs as a secure gateway for outside communications to the CAN Bus, allowing only communications with predefined and known parameters and values to go through.  At the same time, it immediately blocks any unrecognized communications to and from the CAN Bus.  In this way, no malicious digital communications can disrupt the functioning of the vehicle.  The eCyber, which is installed in the vehicle, is a combined hardware and software solution in a single compact box.

Rishon LeZion’s ERM Advanced Telematics is an electronics company focused on the design, development and manufacture of innovative vehicle security and GPS tracking solutions.  Based on cutting-edge technology and developed by our brilliant teams, our product portfolio includes state-of-the-art security and tracking devices, enabling greater protection and better management of vehicles, fleets and valuable assets.  ERM Telematics is a subsidiary of the Ituran Group, which is one of the leading providers of advanced tracking and protection services for vehicles and drivers.  Ituran specializes in theft prevention, vehicle recovery, fleet management and driver behavior.  (Globes 21.06)

Back to Table of Contents

9.12  NanoLock’s Security & Management Platform Sets New Standard for IoT Security Solutions

NanoLock Security unveiled the industry’s most comprehensive lightweight, unbreakable security and management platform purpose-built for the Internet of Things (IoT) and Connected Devices ecosystem.  NanoLock’s technology addresses the market’s most pressing need to provision, protect, manage and securely update connected and IoT devices from the production line until its end-of-life and from the embedded layer out to the cloud.  NanoLock’s CPU and OS agnostic approach ensures all connected and IoT devices are protected as well as the cloud managing those devices, regardless of available processor power, energy consumption and even if the CPU is inevitably hacked.  The NanoLock platform guarantees device-to-cloud integrity and mutual protection during regular operations and firmware-over-the-air (FOTA) updates, from the production line and through and after the device’s end of life.

NanoLock’s patent-protected approach works by preventing overwriting, modification, manipulation, erasure and ransomware attacks on firmware, boot images, system parameters and critical applications in connected and IoT devices.  The company’s low-cost layered offering delivers a combination of cyber and cyber-physical protection, securing devices from the embedded layer out to the cloud.

Nitzanei Oz’s NanoLock Security was founded in 2016 by seasoned industry executives and formed around the founders’ and senior management’s deep understanding of how to manage and secure the new generation of connected and IoT devices.  The company provides the industry’s only lightweight, unbreakable, low-cost security and management solution for connected and IoT devices.  Using virtually zero computing or power resources, NanoLock Security protects firmware and sensitive information stored on connected and IoT devices, preventing attacks ranging from ransomware to malicious manipulation of stored code.  (NanoLock Security 20.06)

Back to Table of Contents

9.13  InfiniBand to Connect World’s Top Arm-Based Supercomputer at Sandia National Laboratory

Mellanox Technologies announced that InfiniBand will accelerate the world’s top Arm-based supercomputer to be deployed in Sandia National Laboratory in H2/18.  The Astra supercomputer will include nearly 2600 nodes, and will leverage InfiniBand In-Network Computing acceleration engines to provide leading applications performance and scalability.  Astra is the first system in a series of the Vanguard program of advanced architecture platforms, supporting the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) missions.

The need to analyze growing amounts of data, to support complex simulations, to overcome performance bottlenecks and to create intelligent data algorithms requires the ability to manage and carry out computational operations on the data as it is being transferred by the data center interconnect.  Mellanox InfiniBand solutions incorporate the In-Network Computing technology that performs data algorithms within the network devices, delivering ten times higher performance and enabling the era of “data-centric” data centers.

Yokneam’s Mellanox Technologies is a leading supplier of end-to-end InfiniBand and Ethernet smart interconnect solutions and services for servers and storage.  Mellanox interconnect solutions increase data center efficiency by providing the highest throughput and lowest latency, delivering data faster to applications and unlocking system performance capability.  (Mellanox 19.06)

Back to Table of Contents

9.14  c2a Security Announces Latest Auto-Cybersecurity Technology at Cyber Week Israel 2018

c2a Security announced its newly released AutoArmor solution focused on protecting on board auto testing functionalities from cyber-attacks at Israel’s Cyber Week Security & Risk Management Summit in June.  AutoArmor, a revolutionary and comprehensive automotive cybersecurity solution for connected vehicles, adds key infrastructure to the c2a Solution Suite.  Through the SoBT functionality, the solution discovers all the ECUs in the vehicle, aggregates diagnostics and anomalies from these ECUs, and performs mitigation according to OEM policy.  AutoArmor works seamlessly in conjunction with the security monitor SecMon, which detects anomalies on the network and sub-networks, securing the infrastructure in real time.  SoBT is delivered by default with an application firewall to make certain that sent messages are valid, and rejects those messages if they are not.

The key pain-point of the next generation vehicles (connected and autonomous cars) is the networks’ safety and security.  href=””>c2a Security has developed a revolutionary safety and security layer for the next generation vehicle starting from the chip level, with a unique, easy to implement and low-cost solution to protect connected cars from malicious attacks.  These solutions include patented firewall type functionality into the car network, multi-network anomaly detection, microprocessor protection and diagnostics over IP infrastructure.  (c2a Security 20.06)

Back to Table of Contents

9.15  prooV Expands Strategic Partnership With Deloitte

prooV has expanded its strategic partnership with Deloitte.  prooV’s platform will serve as the testing arm to power Deloitte’s Innovation Tech Terminal labs’ umbrella of services including consulting, testing, and integration.  Deloitte launched the Innovation Tech Terminal (ITT) in 2016 to support global enterprises looking to discover innovative ideas, technologies, and capabilities outside their own walls.

prooV previously announced that its Red Cloud would power Deloitte’s Innovation Tech Terminal’s Cyber Labs to enable companies to execute PoCs quickly and assess new technologies against cyber threats before implementation.

Tel Aviv’s prooV is the first PoC-as-a-Service platform that brings together global enterprises and startups/independent software vendors to discover, connect, execute and evaluate Proof-of-Concepts (PoCs) through remote, secure and data-rich testing environments.  Founded by serial entrepreneurs who recognized the inefficiencies in the modern PoC process, prooV offers a radical new approach to testing, tracking and analyzing vendor solutions, accelerating the journey from RFP to PoC.  (prooV 20.06)

Back to Table of Contents

9.16  US Bank Selects Sapiens DECISION for Home Mortgage

Sapiens International Corporation announced that U.S. Bank, the fifth-largest commercial bank in the United States, has selected Sapiens DECISION Manager, a business decision management solution, as a strategic component of its modernized mortgage platform.  The Sapiens DECISION solution will enable the bank to quickly and cost effectively deliver solutions to its mortgage customers.

Sapiens DECISION has revolutionized businesses’ ability to envision, model, test and deploy applications and solutions in significantly less time, at lower costs, and with complete confidence.  A number of the world’s leading financial institutions are using Sapiens DECISION to author, manage and automate their operational, policy and regulatory decisions.  An integrated solution designed to leverage, enhance and augment existing technology, DECISION drives consistency and reusability to ensure that the operational decisions that impact performance are accurately and consistently adhered to – minimizing risk, rework and resource requirements.

Holon’s Sapiens International Corporation is a leading global provider of software solutions for the insurance industry, with a 30-year track record of delivering to more than 400 organizations.  The company offers software platforms, solutions and services, including a full digital suite, to satisfy the needs of property and casualty/general insurers, and life, pension and annuity providers.  Sapiens also services the reinsurance, workers’ compensation, financial and compliance, and decision management markets.  (Sapiens 20.06)

Back to Table of Contents

9.17  DRACOON and Safe-T Cooperate to Vanquish Unwanted Data Access

DRACOON, an enterprise file sharing expert and leader in the German-speaking market, has announced its cooperation with Safe-T to reduce attacks on business-critical services and data from finance, healthcare, government, and other highly-regulated industries.  This cooperation represents significant added value for the companies and users of both solutions.  Safe-T and DRACOON attach great importance to the security of stored data. The combination of the systems makes unintentional data access almost impossible.

Safe-T masks data, hiding applications and services from hostile, unauthorized access. Sensitive data, applications, services and networks remain virtually invisible.  DRACOON versions all stored data. If a Trojan attack occurs, all data can be recovered immediately from the Recycle Bin.  The fine-grained authorization concept also specifies which users are granted access rights to which data.  In addition, the reporting tool and audit log record all data movements seamlessly.

Herzliya’s Safe-T, a wholly owned subsidiary of Safe-T Group, is a provider of software-defined access solutions to reduce attacks on mission-critical services and sensitive corporate data.  Safe-T solves the data access challenge. Its patented, multi-layer software-defined access solution masks data at the network perimeter, keeping information assets safe and limiting access only to authorized and intended entities, on premises or in the cloud.  (Safe-T 19.06)

Back to Table of Contents

9.18  CyberArk Launches New Privileged Access Security as a Service Offering

CyberArk announced the availability of CyberArk Privilege Cloud, a new privileged access security as a service offering.  With flexible subscription-based pricing, CyberArk Privilege Cloud provides a simplified path to securely store, rotate and isolate credentials, monitor sessions, and quickly deliver measurable risk reduction to the business.  While the market for privileged access security solutions is today driven primarily by on- premises deployments, CyberArk can now offer organizations a flexible alternative to scale their privileged access security programs as their business grows without having to manage underlying infrastructure.  With CyberArk Privilege Cloud and CyberArk Endpoint Privilege Manager, CyberArk now offers customers a comprehensive solution for reducing privileged credential-related risk in an as a service model for resources on-premises and in the cloud.

Petah Tikva’s CyberArk is the global leader in privileged access security, a critical layer of IT security to protect data, infrastructure and assets across the enterprise, in the cloud and throughout the DevOps pipeline.  CyberArk delivers the industry’s most complete solution to reduce risk created by privileged credentials and secrets.  The company is trusted by the world’s leading organizations, including more than 50% of the Fortune 100, to protect against external attackers and malicious insiders.  (CyberArk 22.06)

Back to Table of Contents

9.19  Vayyar Imaging Recognized as Technology Pioneer by World Economic Forum

Vayyar Imaging was selected among hundreds of candidates as one of the World Economic Forum’s “technology pioneers.”  Vayyar recently launched the world’s most advanced System on a Chip (SOC) for mmWave 3D imaging, which integrates more antennas than ever before (72 transmitters and 72 receivers) to offer a longer range and higher quality image of everything happening around you in real-time.

The World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers community are early-stage companies from around the world that are involved in the design, development and deployment of new technologies and innovations, and are poised to have a significant impact on business and society.

Tel Aviv’s Vayyar Imaging is the global leader for imaging and sensing with its cutting edge 3D imaging sensor technology.  Vayyar’s exclusive sensors quickly and easily look into objects or any defined volume and detect even the slightest anomalies and movements to bring highly sophisticated imaging capabilities to many industries.  Utilizing a state-of-the-art embedded chip and advanced imaging algorithms, Vayyar’s mission is to help people worldwide improve their health, safety and quality of life using mobile, low-cost, and safe 3D imaging sensors.  (Vayyar Imaging 21.06)

Back to Table of Contents

9.20  Israeli Technology will Enhance Situational Awareness in Urban Warfare

In urban areas, where the force team faces hidden threats, there is a need to have a complete picture even with closed hatches.  A situational awareness system designed for use by combat teams in closed-hatched vehicles in hostile environments has been sported recently.

The OCTOPUS 360 was developed by Petah Tikva’s Computech International (CTI), a company specializing in advanced, unique military IT and communication solutions for the harshest conditions.  The software provides a complete, 360-degree, in-motion visual solution to the soldiers in the armored combat vehicle, performing real-time stitching of video generated by cameras and advanced sensors.  The system supports multiple monitors to create a full-view, real-world picture and has Picture-in-Picture capabilities which display real-time data from various sensors, telemetry streams, markers and graphics sources. It also supports different camera formats and sources, including HD-SDI, GigE Vision, HDMI, IP stream and more.

The system offers real-time recording and off-line playback for debriefing and simulation. VR or AR glasses can be connected to improve user experience, and multiple display modes are available to support users with different operational requirements.  OCTOPUS 360 comes with real-time object detection and marking with dynamic tracking, compression and image transmission which enable remote monitoring.   (iHLS 20.06)

Back to Table of Contents


10.1  Israel’s CPI Rises by 0.5% During May

Israel’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 0.5% in May to 101.2 points, the Central Bureau of Statistics announced on 15 June.  The CPI excluding energy also rose by 0.5% last month.  The index excluding fresh produce rose by 0.3%, and the index excluding housing rose by 0.7%.  There were notable rises in the prices of fresh produce (9.7%), clothing and footwear (7.1%), and culture and entertainment (1.1%). Food prices fell 0.6%.  The CPI has risen 0.8% during the year to date. In the twelve months to the end of May, it rose 0.5%.  Seasonally adjusted, the rise in the CPI in May was 0.3%. Trend figures for the period February-May 2018 show an annual rate of inflation of 1.5%.  (CBS 15.06)

Back to Table of Contents


11.1  ISRAEL:  The Public’s Financial Assets Portfolio in the First Quarter of 2018

The Bank of Israel announced on 17 June that during the first quarter of 2018, the value of the Israeli public’s financial assets portfolio increased by about NIS 28.7 billion (0.8%), to about NIS 3.65 trillion at the end of the quarter.

1. The Total Assets Portfolio

In the first quarter of 2018, the value of the public’s financial assets portfolio increased by about NIS 28.7 billion (0.8%), to about NIS 3.65 trillion.  The increase in the portfolio value in the first quarter derived mainly from increases the balance of investments abroad (NIS 23.5 billion, 4.8%) and in the government and corporate bonds components (NIS 15.3 billion, 1.4%).   The public’s financial assets portfolio relative to GDP remained unchanged during the quarter, at about 286.5%, because the asset portfolio grew at the same rate as GDP (0.8% in current prices).

Asset portfolio composition: From the beginning of 2018, these was an increase of about 0.7% in the share of foreign currency assets and an increase of 0.5% in the share of foreign assets, the result of a combination of net investments abroad and the depreciation of the shekel, which raised the shekel value of the portfolio.  These increases was partly offset by price declines on foreign stock exchanges.

2. The Securities Portfolio, by Main Components

 Shares in Israel:  In the first quarter of 2018, the balance of shares held in Israel by the public declined by about NIS 12.2 billion (2.4%), to about NIS 501.9 billion at the end of March.  The decline was mostly the result of price declines on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and net realizations.

Bonds:  In the first quarter of 2018, the value of the balance of tradable corporate bonds in Israel increased by about NIS 6.7 billion (2%), to about NIS 335.9 billion at the end of March, the result of net investments that were partly offset by price declines.  The balance of government bonds (tradable and non-tradable) increased by about NIS 9.7 billion (1.3%).  The balance of makam was essentially unchanged.

 Cash and deposits:  The value of the cash and deposits components increased in the first quarter by only about NIS 1.9 billion (0.2%).  This is a measured increase compared to the growth rate that was typical of the previous two years, against the background of a seasonal decline in the volume of deposits.

3. The Assets Portfolio Abroad

During the first quarter of 2018, the value of the portfolio held abroad by Israelis increased by about NIS 23.5 billion (4.8%) to about NIS 512 billion at the end of March, which accounts for about 14% of the total asset portfolio:

The value of shares held abroad increased by about NIS 12 billion (3.8%), to about NIS 317 billion at the end of the quarter.  The increase was a result of a combination of net investments and the depreciation, which increased the shekel value of the portfolio.  It was partly offset by price declines on foreign markets.

The value of deposits in foreign banks increased during the first quarter by about NIS 2.2 billion, mainly as a result of net deposits, to about NIS 9.7 billion at the end of the quarter.

The value of the tradable bonds (corporate and government) portfolio abroad increased by about NIS 10 billion (5.5%) to about NIS 186 billion at the end of the quarter. The increase was mainly the result of the appreication of the shekel vis-à-vis the dollar, which increased the shekel value of the balance, and net investments. These effects were partly offset by price declines.

Source: Bank of Israel

4. The Portfolio Managed by Institutional Investors

The value of the asset portfolio managed by institutional investors increased in the first quarter of 2018 by about 1% (NIS 17 billion), lower than the 2.2% average quarterly growth rate of the past two years, to about NIS 1.6 trillion at the end of the quarter. The increase was a result of increases in the balance of investments abroad (NIS 18 billion, 5.8%) and the government bonds component (NIS 8.7 billion, 1.3%), which were partly offset by declines in cash and deposits (NIS 10.5 billion, 8.5%) and shares in Israel (NIS 8.9 billion, 5.4%).

 The portfolio managed by institutional investors as a share of the public’s total assets portfolio was essentially unchanged, at about 44.3% at the end of March.

 In the first quarter of 2018, institutional investors’ rate of exposure to foreign assets increased slightly by about 0.6%age points to about 26.3% of the portfolio at the end of quarter. The increase in exposure to foreign assets was reflected in all institutional investment segments, while the most significant increase was concentrated in the new pension funds, which increased their exposure by 1% to about 31.5%.

During the first quarter of 2018, exposure to foreign currency (including shekel/forex derivatives) declined slightly, to about 15.9% at the end of the quarter, following a steady increase in the previous two quarters.  The balance of exposure to foreign currency in shekel terms increased at a slower pace than the increase in total investment assets.  The increase in the balance of exposure was mainly the result of the depreciation of the shekel vis-à-vis the dollar (1.4%), which increased the shekel value of the portfolio.  The increase was partly offset by a decline in the prices of securities on foreign markets, and by net realizations of assets denominated in and indexed to foreign currency (0.8 billion): Investments of about $3.2 billion in assets denominated in and indexed to foreign currency were more than offset by the net sale of foreign exchange through derivative financial instruments totaling about $3.9 billion.

5. The Portfolio Managed by Mutual Funds

The value of the portfolio managed by Israeli mutual funds was about NIS 243 billion at the end of the first quarter of 2018, about 6.7% of the public’s total asset portfolio.

In the first quarter of 2018, there were net deposits (surplus of deposits over redemptions, net of dividends), totaling about NIS 2.1 billion, lower than the average of the previous four quarters.  The net deposits were mostly offset by the decline in asset prices, such that the value of mutual fund balances remained virtually unchanged in the first quarter (compared with the previous quarter).

A breakdown of mutual funds by specialization indicates that in the first quarter, net deposits were concentrated in government bond funds (NIS 1.4 billion, 4.6%), and in bonds specializing in shares abroad (NIS 1.3 billion, 9.1%).  In contrast, there were net withdrawals from funds specializing in unindexed bonds in Israel (NIS 0.8 billion, 4.5%), and from unindexed money market funds (NIS 0.4 billion, 3.1%).

Back to Table of Contents

11.2  LEBANON:  IMF Executive Board Concludes Article IV Consultation with Lebanon

On 11 May 2018, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation with Lebanon.

Lebanon’s economic growth remains low, estimated at about 1-1.5% in 2017 and 2018.  The traditional drivers of growth in Lebanon are subdued with real estate and construction weak and a strong rebound is unlikely soon.  Going forward, under current policies growth is projected to gradually increase towards 3% over the medium term. Inflation spiked to 5% in 2017 as the cost of oil imports rose and U.S. dollar weakened.

The headline fiscal balance posted an improvement in 2017 to a deficit of 7.3% of GDP, partly due to one-off revenues from taxing higher bank profits arising from Banque du Liban’s (BdL) financial operations undertaken in 2016.  Parliament approved the 2017 budget in October 2017 and the 2018 budget in March 2018, these being the first approved budgets in 12 years.  IMF staff projects that the 2018 fiscal deficit will increase relative to 2017 and will contribute to a further increase in the already high public debt, which was over 150% of GDP at the end of last year.

Deposit inflows, which finance Lebanon’s twin deficits, slowed down in 2017 mostly due to some limited outflows during the November 2017 political crisis.  The BdL has increased interest rates through its monetary and financial operations, especially on local currency products, to support inflows and arrest dollarization.

The upside potential for growth is significant. Early resolution of the conflict in Syria would benefit Lebanon.  The outcome of the recent CEDRE investment conference, where international organizations and donors supported the government’s Capital Investment Program (CIP), represents an opportunity for growth-enhancing reforms and investment. But large vulnerabilities and downside risks remain, stemming from regional political developments as well as domestic events that might affect deposit flows.

Executive Board Assessment

Executive Directors agreed with the thrust of the staff appraisal.  They noted that the economic situation in Lebanon continues to be difficult with high public debt, twin deficits, and tightening financial conditions. Spillovers from the conflict in Syria, including large numbers of refugees, have affected growth and strained public infrastructure and services.  Directors commended the authorities for their generous efforts in hosting refugees and agreed that Lebanon needs continued international support to address this challenge.  They encouraged the authorities to use the current political momentum and financial pledges secured at the recent investment conference to undertake ambitious policies and reforms to tackle internal and external imbalances, improve investor confidence, and raise growth prospects.

Directors stressed that an immediate and substantial fiscal adjustment is essential to improve debt sustainability, which will require strong and sustained political commitment.  They noted that a well-defined fiscal strategy, including a combination of revenue and spending measures, amounting to about 5% of GDP is ambitious but necessary over medium term to stabilize public debt and place it on a declining path.  In this regard, they recommended increasing VAT rates, gradually eliminating electricity subsidies, and restraining public wages.  Directors emphasized the need to strengthen public investment management to ensure successful implementation of the authorities’ Capital Investment Program.  They welcomed the authorities’ request for a public investment management assessment (PIMA) from the Fund, and encouraged expeditious efforts to address the weaknesses identified in the PIMA before increasing public investment.

Directors commended the Banque Du Liban (BdL) for its critical role in attracting deposit inflows and effectively managing the difficult situation.  They emphasized that the BdL should take a long-term view in its policymaking and return to more conventional monetary policy tools.  They encouraged BdL to raise interest rates as necessary while being vigilant of debt dynamics.

Directors emphasized the need to reduce financial sector vulnerabilities by strengthening buffers and taking steps to address rising credit risks.  They also stressed the importance of strengthening the crisis management and AML/CFT frameworks in line with the 2016 FSAP recommendations which are based on the stricter 2012 FATF standards.

Directors encouraged the authorities to push forward the necessary structural reforms to remove growth bottlenecks and help external rebalancing.  These reforms should include, in particular, the implementation of fundamental reforms in the electricity sector, including a gradual elimination of costly subsidies and expansion of production capacity, while minimizing the impact on the vulnerable population.  Directors also encouraged the authorities to redouble their efforts to improve governance and reduce corruption, and called for further improvements to the statistical system.

It is expected that the next Article IV consultation with Lebanon will be held on the standard 12 month cycle.  (IMF 21.06)

Back to Table of Contents

11.3  LEBANON: Moody’s Says Credit Profile Reflects Its Very Large Public Debt Burden

Lebanon’s credit profile (B3 stable) reflects challenges stemming from its very large public debt burden, which is among the largest of all the sovereigns that Moody’s rates, Moody’s Investors Service said in an annual report on 22 June.  The research is an update to the markets and does not constitute a rating action.

“Lebanon’s interest-to-revenue ratio of 42.9% is the highest of all sovereigns we rate,” said Elisa Parisi-Capone, a Moody’s Vice President — Senior Analyst and co-author of the report.  “Combined with an average term to maturity of about five years, this underscores the sovereign’s very high sensitivity to further interest rate rises.”

Lebanon’s low economic strength score incorporates the country’s moderate per capita income levels, its subdued growth prospects, small size and vulnerability to external shocks.  Lebanon’s growth trend has been deeply affected by the deterioration in the regional economic and political environment.

After growth of about 1.9% in 2017, Moody’s forecasts that the economy will expand by 2.5% in 2018 and 3% in 2019.  This is based on expectations of greater economic policy coordination, the winding down of the open conflict in Syria and the expected implementation of the CEDRE investor conference commitments.  Lebanon’s low institutional strength reflects the country’s weak government effectiveness according to the Worldwide Governance Indicators.  However, its record of debt service under difficult conditions provides some support to its institutional strength.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri has pledged to reduce the fiscal deficit by one percentage point of GDP over the next five years in return for investment project disbursements under the CEDRE conference, which garnered commitments worth over $11 billion for the next five years.  The pace of implementation of these policy reforms by the incoming government that will once again be led by Saad Hariri as prime minister, will allow Moody’s to assess government effectiveness going forward.

Lebanon’s public finance metrics are characterized by a very high debt burden and large fiscal deficits, which are a key credit challenge.

In Moody’s central scenario, the very high debt-to-GDP ratio of 142.1% continues to increase despite our forecast of consistent primary surpluses in response to the interest – growth differential.  While its credit profile is supported by resilient bank deposits that fund the government’s financing needs, the reliance on external partners for security, economic, and financial support exposes the country to various sources of event risk.

Lebanon’s credit strength include a resilient bank deposit base, supported by remittances and cross-border transfers from the Lebanese diaspora abroad.  The sovereign has also established a history of full and timely debt repayment despite severe economic and political turmoil domestically or in the region.

The stable outlook takes into account Lebanon’s significant foreign exchange buffers, which have proven resilient to political turmoil in recent years.  Moody’s would downgrade Lebanon’s rating in case of a sustained easing in deposit inflows, which suggested a heightened risk of a balance of payments crisis and which threatened the banking sector’s ability to continue to finance the government.  Conversely, Moody’s would upgrade Lebanon’s rating if fiscal reforms were to result in a stabilization – followed by a durable reversal – in the debt trajectory.  (Moody’s 22.06)

Back to Table of Contents

11.4  JORDAN:  Razzaz’s Rough Road

Kirk H. Sowell posted in Sada on 19 June that like Hani al-Mulki, Omar al-Razzaz comes into office with a mandate to address economic issues that are beyond the Jordanian government’s ability to resolve.

On 5 June, one day after King Abdullah II had accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Hani al-Mulki, Omar al-Razzaz was designated as Jordan’s new prime minister, and the cabinet was formed by royal decree on 15 June.  Razzaz comes into office under the most inauspicious of circumstances: having run in no election and having no popular mandate, Razzaz, the outgoing government’s minister of education, will be taking over for a prime minister who was driven from office after several days of sustained protests that were more intense than those of 2011.  In particular, Razzaz faces the challenge of stopping recent deterioration in the state’s fiscal condition, yet the protests against Mulki were driven precisely by his austerity measures aimed at slowing Jordan’s fiscal collapse.

When Mulki came into office in mid-2016, Jordan was headed toward insolvency, with the debt-to-GDP ratio increasing at a pace of about 5% per year, reaching over 93% of GDP.  Mulki successfully pulled Jordan out of the freefall, reducing the increase in the debt-to-GDP ratio to one% per year by restraining spending growth while dramatically increasing revenues and cutting electricity subsidies.  Meanwhile Jordan’s already weak economy grew weaker.  Growth between 2014 and 2016 was already anemic at 2.8% and slowed to just 2% in 2016 – Mulki’s last budget year – and 2.1% during 2017 even despite a significant upswing in tourism that year.

The recent protests, which began on 30 May, were directly prompted by the government’s introduction of a new income tax law, but also included demands to reverse reductions in electricity, fuel and bread subsidies.  The proposed changes to the income tax law itself are hardly radical; Jordan is traditionally a lightly-taxed country, and the most recent amendment would have reduced the minimum income at which individuals can be taxed from JOD 12,000 ($16,910) to JOD 8,000 ($11,280) per year, and for families from JOD 24,000 ($33,780) per year to JOD 16,000 ($22,520).  Protests also targeted recent changes in the bread subsidy, but this subsidy has not been abolished, as some reports inaccurately claim.  Instead, market prices have increased and Jordanian citizens will receive direct compensation to avoid subsidizing consumption by foreigners.  Only citizens with incomes over JOD 1,500 ($2,110) per month, which is three times the average income, are excluded from the subsidy.

The protests passed peacefully but were so intense in the capital and elsewhere in the country that it became impractical for Mulki to continue in office.  Even before Razzaz’s appointment, King Abdullah rescinded the most recent price increases on electricity and fuel on 1 June, and Razzaz’s first act as prime minister-designate was to declare that he would withdraw the new tax bill and conduct a round of negotiations on its provisions – though neither has he promised not to reintroduce it in some form.

So far Razzaz has spoken with a conciliatory voice, conscious of the example of his predecessor.  Mulki was widely criticized for a February interview in which he vigorously defended his record but declared in seeming indifference to popular opinion, “I do not seek popularity” – and indeed was shown in a poll in April to be the most unpopular head of government since Jordan began modern polling, with an approval rating of just 31%.  Razzaz, by contrast, met with party leaders on 11 June and praised the civility and aspirations of Jordanian protesters and the necessity of dialogue going forward, though noted after his cabinet was formed on 14 June that in the face of the suffering of ordinary Jordanians the government had hard choices to make.

Unfortunately, the most recent monthly report by the Ministry of Finance shows that Jordan’s fiscal condition is deteriorating at an ever faster rate.  According to the report, which covers through April, spending during the first four months of 2018 increased by JOD 255 million ($359 million), while domestically generated revenues (i.e. not counting foreign aid) increased by only JOD 24.3 million ($34.2 million).  More directly relevant to the new tax law, revenues from customs and fees increased by JOD 32.8 million ($46.2 million) but were offset by a decline of JOD 8.5 million ($12.0 million) in tax revenue.  This creates a net increase in deficit spending of JOD 231 million ($325 million) that has already increased the debt-to-GDP ratio from 95.3% to 96.4% in just four months.

Assuming this pattern continues throughout the year, this would add roughly JOD 700 million ($985 million) to Jordan’s debt, causing the debt-to-GDP ratio to increase by 3% instead of 1%.  Although spending increased JOD 358.4 million ($504.5 million) during the first four months, the report emphasizes that this was partly due to the government making an entire year’s social welfare payment of JOD 155 million ($218 million) at once, and the figures above take this into account.  These figures also do not take into account the impact of the 1 June cancellation of the planned cuts to electricity subsidies, which should increase spending, or increases in foreign aid, which would decrease it.

Seemingly just in time, a new aid package from Arab Gulf states has been put together to help Jordan.  The 11 June Mecca Summit between the monarchies of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Jordan agreed upon a five-year, $2.5-billion aid package.  It included four categories (in unspecified amounts for each): a deposit in the Jordanian Central Bank to reinforce currency reserves, guarantees of World Bank loans, annual budget support and funding through existing infrastructural investment funds.  This was naturally accompanied by copious amounts of praise in domestic and pan-Arab media for the monarchs’ concern for Jordan.

Yet this aid package will not have as large an impact as expected.  Two of the articles, the promises to the Central Bank and investment funds, are contingent on future decisions by these monarchies, which could withdraw their deposits at any time, giving them leverage over Jordan.  More World Bank loans, even at lower rates, are only of value if they replace current high-interest loans and are used effectively.

The key element, budget support, will be just a portion of this $500 million-per-year package.  For context, a $5 billion GCC aid program spread over five years from 2013 to 2017 left no measurable impact on Jordanian employment.  Jawad al-Anani, a former Jordanian deputy prime minister, has suggested that the Mecca Summit’s budget support will be no more than $200 million per year, not even enough to cover Jordan’s deficit spending in the first four months of 2018.  For example, assuming the debt-to-GDP ratio would otherwise continue to grow 3% per year over five years, by the end of 2022 this external budget support would see the ratio rise to 107% of GDP instead of 110% of GDP.1

Qatar, perhaps to avoid appearing left out, sent Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani to meet with King Abdullah on 13 June.  The Qatari offer includes no grant assistance, but contains instead a promise to spend $500 million on investment projects and offer 10,000 unspecified job opportunities for Jordanians in Doha.  As with project investment promises from other states, this commitment could have some tangible benefit, or turn out to be nothing at all if Qataris later decide not to invest.

Like Mulki, Razzaz has a mandate coming into office to address problems that are beyond the government’s ability to resolve.  Jordan has long since passed the point at which it can ensure its own solvency through policy decisions it controls.  Razzaz’s writings on rentiers and past work as head of the Jordan Strategy Forum show he has thought a lot about the task at hand.  Yet with just two years left on this parliamentary term and no popular base, at best he will be able to begin structural reforms to build a new socio-economic model – and be dependent on the monarchy to do so.  Otherwise the Razzaz government will only be remembered as another government that got by on aid while passing on even greater problems to its successor.

Kirk H. Sowell is the proprietor of Utica Risk Services, a Middle East-focused risk consultancy.  (Sada 19.06)

Back to Table of Contents

11.5  SAUDI ARABIA:  Saudi Crown Prince & Putin Boost Energy Cooperation in Moscow Meeting

Nikolay Kozhanov noted on 17 June in Al-Monitor that the recent meeting between the Russian president and the Saudi crown prince appears to have moved the two countries closer to a grand bilateral energy deal.

On 14 June, the meeting of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as the talks between their energy ministers, Khalid al-Falih and Alexander Novak, brought important results.  On the one hand, Moscow and Riyadh seemed to finalize their joint position regarding the future of the Vienna agreement, in which OPEC countries agreed to reduce their production of oil.  On the other hand, Russia and Saudi Arabia declared their readiness to form a coalition that would be determining the future of the global oil and gas market.  This is a serious declaration, as the two countries still have a lot of differences they need to overcome.

Recent Russian-Saudi negotiations left no doubts that there will definitely be an increase in the oil output of OPEC plus (a group of OPEC and non-OPEC members that in 2016 agreed to limit their oil production in order to stabilize the global oil market).  Moscow and Riyadh agreed on this and see the revision of oil production quotas as inevitable.  However, it is not clear whether Novak and Falih agreed on the exact volume of production increase they will be offering to other members of OPEC plus at their meeting in late June.  Yet it seems that the Saudis gave the green light to Moscow to suggest a higher increase volume than was initially expected.  After his consultations with Falih, Novak said Russia might go for an increase of 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) instead of the initially suggested 1 million bpd.  This move is completely in Russian interests.

On the one hand, the increase of 1.5 million bpd might be enough to compensate for the drop in Venezuela’s and Iran’s oil output as well as the volatility of oil production in Libya, Nigeria and Iraq.  Russia and Saudi Arabia are extremely concerned that the fall of oil output in these countries, as well as unexpected oil production disruption in other parts of the world, might skyrocket prices and destabilize the market.  Thus, in June, Igor Sechin, the head of Russian energy company Rosneft, predicted new oil price hikes caused by US sanctions on Iran.  As opposed to the mid-2000s, when Russian energy corporations were blindly pushing for higher oil prices, now Moscow is much more concerned about the stability of reasonably high oil prices rather than their constant growth that might encourage growth of oil output by rivals, boost development of alternative energy resources and, in the end, shrink demand.

On the other hand, Russia’s intention to increase the oil output of the OPEC-plus group to 1.5 million bpd is in line with the statements by some Russian market analysts interviewed by Al-Monitor.  They said that to keep oil prices in the corridor of $65 – $75 per barrel, which is most desired by Russia, the increase in oil production by 1 million bpd might not be enough.

The biggest question here is why the Saudis gave the green light to Moscow, as they were not keen on decreasing oil prices, but rather keeping them at the current level or a bit higher.  Supposedly, the Saudis do not expect that this increase in OPEC-plus output will cause a substantial downward price trend.  Another factor that could affect the Saudi decision is the kingdom’s concerns regarding the growth of shale oil production in the United States.  At least, the gradual increase in OPEC-plus output and the subsequent decrease of oil prices will boost demand.  As a result, the growth of the shale oil production in the United States will not lead to the substantial shrinking of the OPEC-plus share of the oil market.

Novak and Falih also agreed on the necessity to develop further cooperation aimed at ensuring sustainable development of the global oil market and industry.  This is expected to be achieved in several ways.  First, the two sides will try to preserve OPEC plus as a discussion ground to regulate the oil market beyond 2018.  In other words, Russia and Saudi Arabia will preserve the Vienna agreement with new production quotas until the end of 2018.  They will also try to persuade the participants to remain as OPEC-plus members beyond this date, although the format of this structure will become different.  It seems likely that during the forthcoming meeting the members of OPEC plus will discuss mechanisms that would allow them to immediately react to the problems of the oil market and, if necessary, to interfere in it on a rolling basis.  Thus, OPEC plus might become a forum-like structure that will act on a permanent basis and have practical mechanisms to regulate the oil market.

Novak and Falih voiced another important initiative: They intend to bring non-OPEC-plus members into the discussion on control of the oil market.  It had been strongly rumored that Russia and Saudi Arabia were interested in this; now this speculation has been confirmed.  The question is who the two sides are thinking of bringing into the mix. Might this include US shale oil producers?  Their intentions and production potential are not clear either for Moscow or Riyadh.  The US industry is extremely flexible and can adjust to different market conditions.  As a result, it would be reasonable for Moscow and OPEC plus to establish dialogue with them.

Finally, Russia and Saudi Arabia declared that they are currently working on a bilateral agreement that will oblige them to cooperate to ensure the stability of the global hydrocarbon market and an adequate level of investments in the development of the oil and gas industry.  Interestingly, Moscow and Riyadh are not interested in concentrating their attention solely on oil.  They will also pay a lot of attention to cooperation in the gas sphere.

All in all, Putin’s meeting with Mohammed clearly demonstrated that Moscow and Riyadh intend to work together and that recent rumors about the beginning of the rift in their relations are premature.  Both politicians were satisfied by the outcome of the talks.  During his meeting with Putin, Mohammed even promised to organize the first summit of OPEC-plus leaders in Riyadh to honor Putin.  At the same time, the meeting of Novak and Falih helped advance the development of Russian-Saudi relations in the energy field.  The vague formula expressed by the two ministers that their countries will support investments in the oil-and-gas sector hints that the next step in Russian-Saudi relations might be cooperation on joint gas projects in Russia or the kingdom.

Nikolay Kozhanov is academy associate at the Russia and Eurasia Program, Chatham House, and a visiting lecturer on the political economy of the Middle East at the European University, St. Petersburg. He served as an attaché at the political section of the Russian Embassy in Tehran from 2006 to 2009. After leaving the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kozhanov became an independent political analyst and researcher, including as a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Carnegie Moscow Center.  (Al-Monitor 17.06)

Back to Table of Contents

11.6  NORTH AFRICA:  Moscow’s Maghreb Moment

Dalia Ghanem-Yazbeck and Vasily Kuznetsov posted in Sada on 13 June that for the last decade and a half, Russia has sought to regain influence in North Africa.  To strengthen its presence in a region that more commonly interacts with the United States and the European Union (EU), Moscow has shown an ability to seize opportunities through military cooperation, energy diplomacy and trade.

Cooperation in the military-security sphere is particularly advanced between Russia and North Africa.  Russia has increased its military expenditures in the region, and remains an attractive and affordable supplier of weapons to its countries, most significantly Egypt and Algeria.  Algeria, a longstanding ally of Moscow, is among the top five clients for Russian weapons, with more than 80% of its equipment being supplied by Russia.

In 2006, Moscow and Algeria settled a $4.7 billion debt owed by Algeria to the former Soviet Union.  This allowed Algiers and Moscow to improve their relationship and expand political and economic ties.  The same year, Algeria signed an agreement with Russia for tanks, jet fighters, and a missile system, among other equipment, for a value of $7.5 billion.  By 2016, Algeria accounted for 10% of Russian weapons exports.  Indeed, between 2012 and 2016 there was a 277% increase in the value of all weapons sold to Algeria, making the North African country the world’s fifth largest arms importer, with Russia as its primary supplier.  Two-thirds of the trade between the two countries (which rose from $700 million in 2007 to $4 billion in 2016) involved military material.

Next door in Egypt, military cooperation has also been important.  Since 2014, Egypt has purchased $3.5 billion in Russian military material.  The two sides are currently discussing the delivery of additional equipment.  In 2015, Egypt and Russia established a joint commission for military-technical cooperation, and a year later they conducted joint counterterrorism exercises under the name “Defenders of Friendship – 2016.”  More recently, in 2017, the states signed a preliminary agreement under which Russian military aircraft would be allowed to enter Egypt’s airspace and use its military bases.  If the agreement is concluded, it would be the most substantial deployment of foreign forces in North Africa since the 1970s.

Russia has also been improving its economic relations with the Maghreb countries.  Libya is a case in point.  While Russia had impressive economic cooperation with Libya before 2011, this changed after the uprising there, when all previous contracts were rendered null and void.  Moscow recognized the National Transitional Council in 2016, and began simultaneously working actively with its opponent, Marshal Khalifa Haftar.  In 2016 and 2017, Haftar visited Russia several times, and in January 2017 he was received on the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov.  At the same time, Russian sappers were sent to Cyrenaica at the invitation of the Libyan Cement Company to remove mines from an industrial facility and Moscow helped the government in Tobruk make up for its liquidity deficit by printing money on its behalf.

Russia and Libya seek to expand their economic cooperation.  In 2017, the turnover in trade between the two countries doubled to $135 million, when compared to 2016, driven mainly by the export of Russian grain. In the first quarter of 2018 the list of products expanded, despite a slight reduction in grain shipments (which represent 47% of total Russian exports to Libya).  Also, metals and metal products accounted for one-third of Russian exports, while chemical products accounted for some 10% of exports.

Egypt, in its turn, is one of Russia’s top 20 trading partners globally and the largest importer of Russian agricultural products.  In 2017, total trade between the two countries reached $6.73 billion, and mainly included hydrocarbons, ferrous metals, and cereals.  That same year, half of the wheat imported by Egypt (around 11.2 million tons) came from Russia.  The two countries have also discussed creating a Russian industrial zone in Port Said.  “I see it as a hub. I believe it is a first stage in shaping basic platforms for spreading Russian goods in African countries,” is how Russian Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Georgy Kalamanov described the project.

Russian trade with Morocco is also substantial, with 97% of Moroccan exports to Russia representing food products.  In addition to being Russia’s largest supplier of frozen sardines, Morocco is also a leading supplier of tomatoes and citrus fruits.  In terms of value, the trade between the two states exceeded $3 billion in 2017, though the trade balance is greatly in Russia’s favor.

Russia has also extended its cooperation with North African countries to the energy sector.  The Kremlin has signed several agreements relating to civilian nuclear energy, a way of securing its regional footprint for the long term.  In October 2017, the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) signed a memorandum of understanding on the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes with the Moroccan Ministry of Energy, Mineral Resources and Sustainable Development.  The same month, ROSATOM signed another memorandum of understanding with the Algerian Atomic Energy Commission, and the two countries are planning the construction of a nuclear power station with a pressurized water reactor for 2025.  In November 2015, Russia also signed an agreement for the construction of a nuclear power plant in Egypt, which was complemented in 2017 by a long-term contract for maintenance of the plant.

Finally, tourism is becoming important in Russia’s advance in North Africa.  While Egypt had been a destination for Russian tourists for years, with some 3.1 million tourists visiting in 2014, this changed dramatically after the October 2015 bombing of a Russian airliner by an Islamic State affiliate.  Moscow banned direct flights to Egypt for two and half years, redirecting the flow of its tourists to Tunisia, where their numbers rose to 515,000 in 2017, more than double what they had been in 2014.  Through tourism and its impact on the Tunisian economy, the Kremlin is paving the way for greater Russian influence in the country.

Russia is in the process of greatly diversifying its ties in North Africa.  While energy cooperation remains uncertain due to excessive costs and the time involved in projects, military cooperation is likely to continue.  However, the Kremlin’s sway should not be exaggerated, as North Africa is not a Russian priority.  That said, both the EU and the United States will certainly have to adapt to the Kremlin’s expanded North African presence in the years ahead.  (Sada 13.06)

Back to Table of Contents

11.7  TUNISIA:  The Tunisian Startup Act

Katrin Sold posted in Sada on 26 June that Tunisia’s new Startup Act, the product of a bottom-up-initiative to foster entrepreneurship, is a first step toward establishing the country as a digital hub but will require additional reforms.

On 2 April, the Tunisian parliament unanimously passed a new startup law, part of the government’s broader “Digital Tunisia 2020” strategy to boost socioeconomic development and expand technological infrastructure.  Widely celebrated, the Startup Act is expected to increase the number of startups, especially in the high-tech sector, making innovative entrepreneurship in Tunisia more competitive internationally and potentially increasing economic growth and employment, especially among youth.

With at least seventeen tech hubs and a large number of funding and mentoring programs, Tunisia is one of the more dynamic locations for startups on the African continent.  In November 2017, Tunis was selected as the location for the African Union’s planned Digital African Excellence Center, which will be in charge of training African government officials and private-sector managers in the digital sector.  The broader digital strategy comprises 64 projects, most of which are to be implemented as public-private partnerships.  They include e-government projects, expanding households’ and schools’ digital infrastructure (for example by improving broadband technology), strengthening the e-business sector through such mechanisms as promoting online payment systems, and encouraging foreign businesses to outsource digital services to Tunisia.  Their aim is to strengthen the digital sector as a future cornerstone of the Tunisian economy, which currently largely relies on agriculture and tourism.

However, the lack of an adequate legal and regulatory framework for such initiatives has so far prevented the development of the digital sector in general and entrepreneurship in particular. Therefore, in addition to establishing criteria for defining a startup, the Startup Act calls for reforms to encourage entrepreneurship, provide access to funding, streamline the process of creating and liquidating a business, and promote internationalization.  Among the most notable measures the law introduces are tax exemptions for startups for up to eight years, giving public and private sector employees one year to set up a new business after which they have the right to return to their old jobs, and a state-funded salary for up to three founders per company during the first year of operations.  They all aim to encourage young people with limited financial resources to become entrepreneurs.  Furthermore, the law promotes the internationalization of the sector by making it legal for prospective entrepreneurs to set up a foreign currency account they can use to procure materials and set up branches or invest in companies abroad.

The legislative process for passing the Startup Act is groundbreaking for its unusually participatory nature. In February 2016, a group of 70 entrepreneurs, investors, and representatives of banks and accelerators held an initial brainstorming session.  Together with then-Minister of Technology Noomane Fehri, a task force made up of members of the startup ecosystem formulated a draft law and ensured that the ratification process moved forward even after a ministerial reshuffle in August 2016.  To inform parliament and gain its support for the bill, the task force used social media as well as the new “Parliamentary Academy” – a training module for members of the Tunisian Parliament established in 2016 – to articulate their interests and increase pressure on decision makers.  Within this legislative process, the newly founded interest group TunisianStartups handled public relations, leading to a high degree of favorable media coverage of the Startup Act.

Some of the features of this process can serve as a model for further bottom-up legislative processes to encourage awareness, transparency and stakeholder participation.  In particular, the establishment of an advocacy organization specific to the target group allows more flexible forms of political advocacy beyond the often static structures of two of the large employer and employee organizations, the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) and the Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA).  Moreover, the use of both digital communication channels and direct dialogue with parliamentarians maximizes the visibility of the project and thus the interest of both decision makers and the target group itself.

However, the expansion of the digital sector, in which the Startup Act is only one element of the broader Digital Tunisia 2020 strategy, requires additional important reforms.  From an economic angle, Tunisia will need to reform its foreign exchange policy and e-commerce legislation. In particular, the government’s regulations that limit the convertibility of the dinar into foreign currencies prevents small innovative companies from entering the global market.  Allowing startups to set up a foreign currency account can only be an interim solution.  But monetary and financial policy reforms are more likely to face greater political resistance than a law, such as the Startup Act, limited to a specific target group.

In addition, the education system will require an overhaul. Tunisian schools offer many information technology (IT) and engineering courses, but not adequate training for the digital sector. And many of those with good IT skills are seeking jobs abroad in light of the competitive domestic job market and the still slow growth of the startup sector.  Furthermore, the emergence of an entrepreneurial spirit also requires a supportive social context.  In Tunisia, however, patriarchal and hierarchical structures in the business sector and public administration inhibit the entry of young entrepreneurs who are not yet part of established business networks but who are most likely to bring innovative, often unconventional ideas into the market.  Moreover, laws that restrict civil liberties and an overall investment environment that is rather risk-averse hamper the emergence of a dynamic and creative entrepreneurial milieu.

Finally, the startup scene and the digital sector face heightened expectations.  The small community cannot meet the demands of creating a multitude of new jobs, at least not in the near future.  Even if the sector grows quickly, business activity remains highly concentrated in Tunis and a few other coastal cities, leaving it unable to remedy high youth unemployment in the country’s marginalized southern and interior regions, where programs to promote entrepreneurship in the digital sector are only starting slowly.  The enormous inflow of funds from foreign development organizations focusing on entrepreneurship and startups as a means for development appears to be rather counterproductive.  The high density and low coordination of funding programs distorts the market by keeping some companies afloat and making them more dependent on outside funding than on maintaining a competitive edge.

While groundbreaking—especially for the process of drafting it and gathering support to pass it—the Startup Act can only be a first step toward a flourishing digital economy.  Far-reaching reforms in areas such as monetary and financial policy and the education system will also be necessary.  However, the participatory nature of the legislative process to pass the Startup Act can set new standards for political dialogue and public–private cooperation that can shape the necessary further reform process.

Katrin Sold is researcher and lecturer at the Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies (CNMS) at the Philipps-University of Marburg, Germany.  (Sada 26.06)

Back to Table of Contents

11.8  TURKEY:  As Dollar Rises, Turkey’s Tourism Income Suffers

Mehmet Cetingulec posted on 18 June in Al-Monitor that Turkey’s weak currency means more tourists can afford to travel there, but it doesn’t mean more revenue for the country.

In 2004, when the price of a small bottle of water was a million Turkish liras, the country decided to remove six zeros from Turkish currency.  When the decision was implemented on 3 January 2005, a dollar equaled 1.34 liras.  The idea was to boost the value of the Turkish currency and improve its image.  The lira gained some with the dollar’s global drop in value, and in 2008 a dollar was selling for 1.14 liras.  That year, Turkey hosted almost 31 million tourists, who spent an average of $820 each, for a total of $25.4 billion.

But the value of Turkey’s currency again began sliding, and in 2009, $1 equaled 1.54 liras.  Though the number of tourists rose to 32 million, overall tourism revenue declined to $25.1 billion, as the average tourist spent $783.  In 2010, $1 equaled 1.5 liras.  Though the number of tourists rose to about 33 million, tourism revenue fell to $24.9 billion as tourists spent an average of only $755 each.

For the next three years, parity didn’t vacillate much.  In 2011, $1 equaled 1.67 liras and in 2012, 1.79 liras.  In 2013, $1 equaled 1.9 liras.  With cheap prices, business appeared to be booming.  Per capita spending by tourists went up to $824 in 2013 and $828 in 2014.

But the US dollar, which was selling for 2.18 liras in 2014, jumped to 2.72 liras in 2015.  Correspondingly, the per capita tourism spending that had been $828 in 2014 receded to $756 in 2015.

The crisis with Russia that erupted with Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane in November 2015 severely affected Turkish tourism as Russia imposed an embargo on tourism to Turkey.  Moreover, parity rose to $1 for 3.02 liras.  That rise above the psychological barrier of 3 liras per dollar demoralized the tourism sector, which lowered prices even further in response to the Russian embargo, resulting in a decline of per capita spending to $705 in 2016.

While Turkey had hosted 41.6 million tourists and raked in revenue of $31.4 billion in 2015, in 2016 the number of tourists dropped to 31.4 million and income to $22.1 billion — for a loss of around $9.3 billion compared with the year before.  Overall from 2008 to 2017, the number of tourists rose, but revenue dropped by $3.31 billion because the value of Turkey’s currency crashed by 264%.

In 2017, the Turkish currency suffered another sharp decline, falling to 3.65 liras to the dollar, and per capita tourism spending declined to $681, the lowest level in 16 years.  Though the number of tourists reached 38.6 billion, revenue rose only slightly over 2008’s figure to $26.3 billion.  The US dollar, which meteorically rose to 4.9 liras at one point this year, was selling for 4.54 liras 11 June and 4.71 on 18 June.

Turkey’s tourism operators can’t cope with the situation of high-dollar parity and low revenue.  Bahattin Yucel, a former tourism minister and former president of Travel Agencies Union of Turkey (TURSAB), warned that new bankruptcies could be in the offing for the end of this year.  “Turkey is becoming cheaper for foreigners earning foreign currency,” he said.  But if things continue the way they are, “we should anticipate some very serious failures at the end of the season.  Airlines and some major resorts used serious foreign currency credits.  They are all under severe pressure now.  It is very difficult for these companies to do business in Turkey with this parity level and the tax system,” he said.

Ankara this year is counting on Russians to save Turkey’s tourism. In 2016, because of the crisis over the downing of the Russian jet, only 866,000 Russian tourists came.  When the crisis ended in 2017, that number shot up by 444% to 4.72 million.  Russia now leads the list of countries sending tourists to Turkey, with a 14.55% share.  Germany, which had led that list, is now in second place, with an 11.1% share, or 3.58 million tourists.

This year, Turkey expects 6 million tourists from Russia; however, while that number of tourists looks impressive, the revenue they are generating is not.  Timur Bayindir, president of the Hoteliers Union of Turkey, said Russian tourists who were spending $800 each in 2013 spent $606 each in 2017.

Yucel noted another problem: Higher-income groups of tourists used to come to Turkey, but now the market hosts mostly lower-income tourists.  “Before, our main market was Europe.  It is now Russia. Deterioration in the Russian economy affects the spending of their tourists.  The Russian ruble has lost serious value, with Russians making less and spending less.  Our hoteliers, to utilize their capacity as much as possible and provide required services, are selling at very low rates.  Because the customer profile has shifted to people who earn less, we are offering sale prices in tourism.  Our prices today are even lower than before 2014,” he told Al-Monitor.

As the currency loses value, shopping and especially the service sector become cheaper for foreigners.  During the past 10 years, the Turkish lira has lost 335%.  We have thus painfully learned that just removing zeros doesn’t boost the value of the national currency — nor its image.

Mehmet Cetingulec is a Turkish journalist with 34 years professional experience, including 23 years with the Sabah media group during which he held posts as a correspondent covering the prime minister’s and presidential offices, economy news chief and parliamentary bureau chief.  For nine years, he headed the Ankara bureau of the daily Takvim, where he also wrote a regular column.  He has published two books.  (Al-Monitor 18.06)

Back to Table of Contents


The Fortnightly newsletter is a free service of Atid, EDI. We are a team of economic and trade development consultants, headquartered in Jerusalem, but active throughout the region and beyond. EDI works with an international clientele interested in identifying and researching business opportunities in the region. We also serve as the regional representative offices for a number of U.S. states and bilateral Chambers of Commerce, as well as Invest Hong Kong, the Canadian Province of Ontario and European clients.

EDI’s other services include customized business delegations, partner searches, business development, market feasibility studies and tailored research reports, as well as identification of potential joint ventures for commercial clients.  For more information on how we may better assist you, please visit our Web site at:  http://