Hajj flights from Israel to Saudi Arabia on the cards; Egypt and Saudi Arabia announce deals worth $7.7 billion; Saudi Arabia issues tough penalties for food violations during Hajj; UK’s Halal Food Company launches new lines at Sainsbury’s supermarkets; Careem acquires UAE’s MUNCH:ON; Philippines and Bangladesh keen to bolster trade ties.
Hajj flights from Israel to Saudi Arabia on the cards
Ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia in July, discussions are underway to create a deal to allow Palestinians to “fly directly” to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj and Umrah, reported the Financial Times. The US is also involved in discussions to allow Israeli overflights of the kingdom and to transfer the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir from Egypt to Saudi Arabia.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia announce deals worth $7.7 billion
During a visit to Egypt by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 14 deals worth $7.7 billion were announced, including renewable energy, petroleum, food and fintech, reported Reuters. A $150 million deal was inked to develop a pharmaceutical city in Saudi Arabia by Egypt's Pharco Pharmaceuticals. The kingdom’s Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) has also started to disperse a $3 billion credit facility extension with Egypt to finance food and energy imports, Reuters reported.
Saudi Arabia issues tough penalties for food violations during Hajj
Saudi Arabia has issued new penalties to those that offer harmful foods to Hajj pilgrims, including up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to SR10 million, reported Gulf News. Restrictions include harmful, adulterated or haram foods. Riyadh has permitted 1 million pilgrims to perform Hajj this year, down from 2.5 million prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
UK’s Halal Food Company launches new lines at Sainsbury’s supermarkets
The Halal Food Company has launched five new lines of read-made meals and snacks at 140 stores of retailer Sainsbury’s. Some 4.2 million people follow a halal diet in the UK, reported Kam City.
“We are delighted to announce the launch of five certified, premium prepared chilled meals to the UK retail market, through our partnership with Sainsbury’s. Our range is produced in our Grade A BRC kitchens in Ireland and we look forward to launching further products in the months ahead,” said Gary Docherty, Managing Director of Halal Food Company.
Careem acquires UAE’s MUNCH:ON
Careem, a leading multi-service platform in the Middle East, has acquired app MUNCH:ON in the UAE. Founded in 2016, MUNCH:ON is a subscription-based food delivery platform which connects customers to meals at a discount by tapping into under-utilised kitchen capacity and using scheduling, bundling and routing software. The solution drives massive efficiencies for restaurants and cloud kitchens and has built scale in the corporate lunch segment, according to a press release. MUNCH:ON will stop daily operations and the offering will be rebuilt on the Careem app. In the UAE, the Careem Super App offers more than a dozen services including ride-hailing, food and grocery delivery, micro-mobility, payments, and partner services including car rental, home cleaning and PCR testing. Careem Food serves millions of customers with access to over 18,000 restaurants in eight core cities across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar.
Philippines and Bangladesh keen to bolster trade ties
The Philippines and Bangladesh, which have had diplomatic ties for 50 years, are keen to bolster trade in food and pharmaceuticals. The Bangladesh Embassy Counsellor Sayma Razzaki said that pharmaceutical was a particular area in which the country could bolster exports to Philippines, with 97% of production currently for the domestic market and the rest exported to some 100 countries.
Bangladesh Ambassador to Manila F.M. Borhan Uddin said the countries should “explore opportunities in healthcare services, medical equipment, information technology, garments, shipbuilding, and tourism among others,” reported the PNA. In 2021, bilateral trade was $110 million, up on $75 million prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.