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European Investment Bank outgoing chief warns against funding Ukraine weapons

The head of the European Investment Bank (EIB) has warned his soon-to-be-announced successor that bowing to pressure from some EU capitals to fund weapons for Ukraine would put the bank on the “wrong track”.

Werner Hoyer will step down from the EU’s powerful lending arm at the end of December after 12 years turning the EIB into one of the world’s largest providers of climate finance.

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Its balance sheet runs over a half trillion euros and its next head, tipped to be either Spain’s Finance Minister Nadia Calvino or Denmark’s EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager, will face a raft of challenges.

The EIB will be expected to play a key role in the rebuild effort in Ukraine. Some politicians though, including from France and Germany, have raised the idea it provide defense industry funding to also help Ukraine on the battlefield.

The EU has bankrolled weapons to Ukraine to the tune of billions of dollars. But Hoyer said the EIB’s involvement would be a fundamental change that could harm its image and credibility.

“Some of our partners in the capital markets, they have now inhaled, internalized, ESG thinking,” Hoyer told Reuters in an interview, referring to environmental, social and corporate governance issues.

“If we use their money to buy ammunition, we’re on the wrong track,” he added. “It will be controversial. I don’t envy my successor.”

Back in 2014, after the annexation of Crimea by Russia, the EIB stopped funding projects in Russia and redirected the money toward Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Hoyer’s replacement – the full shortlist consists of five candidates – will also lead the EIB’s influential role in Europe’s transition towards a more digitized, net-zero-carbon economy.

“It’s fascinating and encouraging, after 12 years, what kind of level of candidate is being presented for my succession,” Hoyer said. “We have five countries presenting excellent candidates. It’s quite amazing. I’m proud of that.”


Hoyer also singled out a renewed relationship between the EIB and Latin America, calling it a “new beginning” and pointing to recent high-level meetings in Colombia and Spain.

The EIB is also part of a fresh European push to curb deforestation in the Amazon. In May, it opened its first office in Brazil. It is a top issuer of “green” and “sustainable” bonds.

Hoyer, who was in a high-level global climate group selected by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said there had to be more advantages to the countries where it lends.

“We are still stuck sometimes in an old donor-recipient thinking, and don’t really ask the question ‘what’s in it for the developing country?’“

On Wednesday, Bolivian president Luis Arce said he was open to working with European companies as he taps the world’s largest lithium reserves – but wants industrialization alongside the metal’s extraction.

One sore spot of climate finance is it imposes caps on resource extraction upon developing countries, something the now-developed economies did not face.

Hoyer said this divide could be bridged if climate, innovation and development were thought of as “one package” while there needed to be something like a quality-check system to prevent “greenwashing” where supposed environmental benefits of projects are dubious.

“It works only if the investors, who entrust us their money by purchasing green bonds, can be reassured.”

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Almarai signs an MoU with the Authority of People with Disabilities to train and employ them.

Almarai Company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Authority of People with
Disabilities to train, qualify and employ persons with disabilities. This came on the sidelines of
the First International Labor Market Conference, organized by the Ministry of Human Resources
and Social Development on December 13 – 14, 2023, at the King Abdulaziz Convention Center
in Riyadh.

The memorandum was signed by the Chief Human Resources Officer of Almarai Company,
Fahad Mohammed Aldrees, and the CEO of the Authority of People with Disabilities, Dr.
Hisham bin Muhammad Al-Haidari.

“This agreement comes within the framework of the company’s social responsibility program, as
Almarai employs more than 500 people with disabilities, which is one of the most suitable work
environments for them.” Fahad Aldrees said. Pointing out that Almarai has the “Silent Line”,
which is one of its production lines that is designated for people with hearing disabilities.

It is worth mentioning that Almarai supports over 300 charity organizations annually across the
kingdom that operate in the field of community development.

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Central Phuket Shopping Center Prepared Surprises This Christmas & New Year 2024

Central Phuket Shopping Center, the luxury lifestyle landmark o Phuket, invites everyone to celebrate Christmas and New Year 2024 in The Great Celebration 2024 Campaign. Joining hands with global partner ‘The Pokémon Company’, Central Phuket bring over Pokémon, the super cute character popular around the world, for all locals and international fans. The special campaign launch presents a procession of cute ‘Pikachu’ alongside with the giant Christmas tree for the first time in Thailand.
This December, Central Phuket prepared many activities for shoppers when visiting Phuket! Experience the “Surprise of the Day” with free Cotton Candy for our little ones, a sweet and fluffy treat, a special gift from Central Phuket. Bring your kids to enjoy this sweet treat every Saturday and Sunday throughout the month of December. Don’t miss the Christmas Carol that
everyone loves, little Santas spread freshness by singing together in the Christmas Carol activity. Plus, Christmas Live Music, the festival of joy is back! Celebrate Christmas in a luxurious and classy atmosphere, enjoying the music that will bring us joy. Also, there will be Christmas Troop, Santa Claus is coming to town! The Santa troop will spread happiness throughout Central Phuket. Lastly, Cake Workshop, workshop activity with Chef Sebastien’s IRON CHEF Thailand teaching how to make Christmas Vanilla Cake. A special activity for the Christmas season. Moreover, Central Phuket provides special promotion exclusively for international tourists throughout December 23 – January 24 including:

1) Get Free! Tourist welcome discount package valued up to THB 10,000.
2) Receive THB 100 Gift voucher when spending up to THB 2,500 per receipt.
3) Get to buy ‘Happy Holiday Collections’ special price: Pokémon 2-in-1 pillow blanket, tumbler, travel bag set, and keychain. Visit redemption counter for the price.
4) Exclusive for Grab Users get discount code up to 25% off* when traveling to participating Central Shopping Centers.
5) Receive famous Elephant Pants when spending over THB 5,000 in shopping center.
6) Get Free! H&M THB 100 gift voucher when booking any accommodations in Phuket with Agoda. Terms and conditions apply.

Central Phuket is a home of global luxury brands such as Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gucci, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Saint Laurent. Exclusive for this season, Louis Vuitton launches a pop-up store located at Central Phuket. The design is inspired by the story of Damier or Checkerboard, the brand’s signature pattern. This classic pattern was created by Louis
Vuitton and his son Georges Vuitton in 1888 and has always been part of the design of Maison’s iconic items and concepts. Find clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories for men at the Pop-up Store from Louis Vuitton at Central Phuket, 1st floor, from today until 31 March 2024. And with over 500 renowned fashion brands and lifestyle shops ranging from local to international
well-known brands covering all categories, international shoppers will be able to find what they are looking for in Central Phuket.
Central Phuket is located in the heart of one of the world’s most famous beach cities, Phuket and await to welcome both locals and international visitors this holiday. Also, don’t miss one of the most joyful New Year Count Down events in Phuket city at Central Phuket Shopping Center on December 31, 2023.

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Saudi Fund for Development Provides $100 Million Development Loan for the Rogun Hydropower Project

The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) Chief Executive Officer, H.E. Sultan Al-Marshad, signed a new development loan agreement with the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Kahhorzoda Fayziddin Sattor, through which SFD is contributing $100 million USD to fund the Rogun Hydropower Project, a landmark initiative that will enhance energy,
food, and water security, and foster sustainable development in the country. The signing was attended by the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Waleed Al-Reshiadan, and the Ambassador of Tajikistan to Saudi Arabia, H.E. Akram Karimi, alongside other officials from both sides. SFD’s development loan will help contribute towards a more sustainable and equitable food and water future for Tajikistan, while driving the country’s energy transition and climate resilience. The project aims to contribute to the national energy security and will help advance sustainable
development in the Republic of Tajikistan, by providing the renewable electricity supply to meet local demand and expand electricity production domestically and regionally, producing 3600 MW of energy. The loan agreement will also finance the construction of a 335-meter-tall dam, which will enhance irrigation capabilities and bolster agricultural activities across the country. Additionally, the project will improve flood protection through the construction of four hydraulic
tunnels for diversion and drainage. It will also provide clean and drinkable water to people through desalination, and help advance socio-economic development, by creating both direct and indirect jobs.
Importantly, this project also supports the realization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); specifically, SDG 2, Zero Hunger, SDG 6, Clean Water and Sanitation, and SDG 7, Affordable and Clean Energy.
On this occasion, the CEO of SFD, H.E. Sultan Al-Marshad, said: “Today’s signing marks a major milestone in our shared journey towards a more sustainable future. With this landmark development loan, SFD is not just supporting Tajikistan’s energy future, but also its sustainable development and the well-being of its people. The Rogun Hydropower Project is a beacon of
hope for a bright future that is powered by clean, renewable energy. It will propel Tajikistan towards environmental stewardship and prosperity.”

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