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Reform momentum of Oman’s new ruler faces headwind of COVID-19 reality

Reform momentum of Oman’s new ruler faces headwind of COVID-19 reality

By Davide Barbuscia, Aziz El Yaakoubi and Lisa Barrington



a person wearing a hat: FILE PHOTO: Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said gives a speech after being sworn in, in Muscat


© Reuters/STRINGER
FILE PHOTO: Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said gives a speech after being sworn in, in Muscat

DUBAI (Reuters) – Oman’s ruler has moved to overhaul the Gulf Arab state’s creaking finances since taking power this year but the coronavirus crisis is likely to delay deeper reforms needed to shore up the economy at a time of low oil prices.

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Oman piled up debt at breakneck speed in the past few years, while plans to diversify the small oil producer’s economy and introduce sensitive tax and subsidies reform dragged under Sultan Qaboos who died in January after half a century in power.

New ruler Sultan Haitham has shaken up the government and state entities, and this week approved introducing value-added-tax in April in a sign to investors – ahead of an international bond sale – that he is open to reforms in a country that saw Arab Spring-like protests in 2011.

“This government has to take the tough decisions,” World Bank Gulf country director Issam Abousleiman said.

“If they don’t do anything over the next 3-4 years, and if the situation stays the same on the revenues and expenditures side, they will be forced to do it all at once, risking social backlash,” he said.

The 2011 protests over unemployment, corruption and political reform subsided after Qaboos sacked the government, created thousands of jobs and gave money to the unemployed.

Haitham cannot afford such largesse, and COVID-19 may limit his scope to diversify the oil-dependent economy and put it on a sustainable financial path, analysts and economists said.

A drop in revenue due to lower oil prices has prompted Oman to reduce spending, with major cuts in the first half of the year including investment expenditure.

The hydrocarbon

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CEO’s of Spotify, Disney, NexTech AR, and Snap Discuss Augmented Reality, Streaming, and the New Mega-Trends Driving Entertainment Business

CEO’s of Spotify, Disney, NexTech AR, and Snap Discuss Augmented Reality, Streaming, and the New Mega-Trends Driving Entertainment Business

NEW YORK, Oct. 13, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Wall Street Reporter, the trusted name in financial news since 1843, has published reports on the latest comments and insights from leaders at: Snap (NYSE: SNAP) NexTech AR Solutions (OTC: NEXCF) (CSE: NTAR) The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS), and Spotify (NYSE: SPOT).

The entertainment industry is undergoing a sea change, as new technologies upend traditional revenue and distribution models. While streaming gets even bigger, new Augmented Reality and hologram formats are emerging as “the next big thing”. Wall Street Reporter highlights the latest comments from industry thought leaders:

Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP) CEO Evan Spiegel: “Overlaying New Experiences on World Through Augmented Reality”

“…We are working hard to overlay new computing experiences on the world through augmented reality. And the Snap Partner Summit showcased some of our latest AR products, including Local Lenses that allow people to share augmented reality experiences together overlaid on their neighborhood cityscape, and SnapML, which empowers members of our community to bring their machine learning models directly into Lenses on Snapchat. This enabled Gucci to leverage Wannaby’s foot-tracking technology to help people try on their latest sneakers in Snapchat, and even buy them directly within the Lens. These sorts of augmented reality experiences are especially powerful in the post-COVID retail environment, where brands are investing more in virtual try-on….”

“Our community grew by 17% year-over-year, with 238 million people using Snapchat every day on average in the quarter. This continues our recent momentum in daily active user growth, with the last three quarters seeing our highest year-over-year growth rates since 2017….Adoption of our AR platform is also accelerating, with the number of people playing with Lenses every day growing by 37% year-over-year….While these uncertain times have impacted many businesses in different

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With 2019-20 Season Over, NBA Must Now Confront Tough Financial Reality Ahead

With 2019-20 Season Over, NBA Must Now Confront Tough Financial Reality Ahead

The longest season in NBA history ended Sunday night with the Los Angeles Lakers defeating the Miami Heat, 106-93, to win their 17th championship in franchise history.

Now comes the hard part for the NBA. With the coronavirus pandemic showing no signs of disappearing anytime soon, the league must begin planning for its 2020-21 season amid unprecedented uncertainty.

The NBA sets its salary cap each year based on the projected basketball-related income for that season. That tends to be a relatively straightforward calculation, as the league can plan to have a full 82-game regular season and four-round postseason with fans in attendance.

However, the 2020-21 season will likely be the exception to that rule.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently told CNN’s Bob Costas that the league hopes to play “a standard, 82-game season and playoffs” next year. He added that the “goal would be to play games in home arenas in front of fans,” although he noted “there’s still a lot that we need to learn in terms of rapid testing, for example.”

That could have a dramatic impact on next year’s salary cap, creating a potentially massive headache for the NBA and National Basketball Players Association in upcoming negotiations.

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Augmented Reality is Intruding Automotive Market

Augmented Reality is Intruding Automotive Market

Augmented Reality

A few years ago, using display in automobile was considered a luxury reserved only for high-end vehicles. But today, the rapid development in the automotive industry has made AR displays a mandatory in most automotive designs.

Recently, the use of Augmented Reality (AR) technology to enhance the gaming graphics has taken centre stage. However, heads-up displays (HUDs) are the latest innovation in the driver assistance systems. Beyond the large monitors used for in-console navigation, control and rear-seat DVD systems, the most exciting advancements in HUD is extending to any transparent display that presents data without requiring the user to look away from the usual field of view.

HUD system lets the driver to focus on the road while at the same time having a hold over vehicle information such as speed, warning signals and indicator arrows on the windshield. It fills the gap that the driver requires to put on the road at an instrument panel on the dashboard. Engineers believe that incorporating augmented reality and head-up displays (HUD) will make roads safer. Ultimately, as an added benefit, the technology will also help drivers trust in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicle (AV) technology.

The automotive HUD market is estimated to be at US$866 million in 2020 and is predicted to reach US$3,372 million by 2025 with a CAGR of 31.3% during the forecast period.

 

What is AR head-up display (HUD)?

Augmented reality (AR) HUD display is a projector that visualizes ADAS and driving information from driver’s view. It is the latest advanced driver assistance system projecting real-time data to enable drivers to stay focused on roads for their convenience and passenger’s safety. The data seen in the windshield consists of warning signals, speed, navigation displayed directly on the screen. AR HUD enables vehicles to communicate more information

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The reality TV President won’t miss the next debate, no matter what he says now

The reality TV President won’t miss the next debate, no matter what he says now

If President Trump really does boycott next week’s presidential debate, he will be giving up a chance to speak in front of 60 to 70 million people.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: U.S. President Donald Trump participates in the first presidential debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio.


© Win McNamee/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump participates in the first presidential debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio.

So, given the president’s television fixation and his intense focus on ratings, there are 60 to 70 million reasons to believe that he will backtrack from his current position.

Trump said on Thursday morning, in his first interview since his hospitalization for a coronavirus infection, that “I am not going to do a virtual debate.”

Specifically, he objected to the Commission on Presidential Debates’ decision to turn the scheduled October 15 debate into a remote broadcast, with Trump and Joe Biden participating from separate studios.

Biden’s campaign immediately said he agreed to the new structure, but the Trump campaign said they’ll “do a rally instead.”

If Trump’s camp follows through and holds a rally on October 15, it will likely only be televised by a couple of pro-Trump TV channels. He will essentially only be speaking to his base.

The formal debates, on the other hand, are shown by all the major broadcasters and cable channels in America, along with countless websites.

Video: Biden: We can’t go back. We can do so much better (CNN)

Biden: We can’t go back. We can do so much better

UP NEXT

UP NEXT

The first debate between Trump and Biden was watched by more than 73 million viewers last week.

The second debate of the campaign cycle is usually somewhat lower rated than the first, but in 2016 more than 66 million people watched the second debate

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