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Bahrain can be like the Hong Kong of the Middle East, commerce minister says

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Bahrain is well positioned to benefit from an expected trade boost brought about by the liberalization and economic growth of Saudi Arabia, the country’s minister for industry, commerce and tourism told CNBC Thursday.

“The opening up and liberalization of Saudi Arabia is something good for the whole region not just Bahrain. Saudi is the largest market, it’s the largest population, it has the largest disposable income in the region, and by having a more liberal and accessible Saudi Arabia we all stand to benefit from that,” Zayed Al Zayani told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble.

“If you look at China opening up it didn’t hurt Hong Kong, Hong Kong flourished because of that and China flourished as well,” he said.

Asked whether it was Bahrain’s goal to be like the Hong Kong of the Middle East, Al Zayani said: “I think so, I think this is a great opportunity for us to be like that.”

The liberalization and economic strategy of Saudi Arabia with its Vision 2030, taking place under the aegis of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was a “win-win” situation for Bahrain, Al Zayani said, with the small kingdom well positioned to export throughout the region and beyond.

“We already have a large industrial base in Bahrain that’s predominantly orientated to Saudi Arabia and the rest of the region. All those that started as a regional manufacturing base are now expanding even further to North Africa, Southeast Asia, East Africa and exporting out of Bahrain. It’s great for us as it creates employment, it creates investment, it creates export value and it links us to our neighboring countries.”

Bahrain is only a short journey away from most of the major capitals in the Gulf, Al Zayani noted. “By air and by road we’re only four hours away from Riyadh, four hours away from Kuwait and we have an excellent logistics network.”

Speaking to CNBC from Bahrain’s Gateway Gulf Investment Forum in Manama on Thursday, the minister said the inaugural event had been a success.

“We set out to launch Bahrain as an investment hub, and we’ve had an excellent presence from our neighboring countries, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait specifically, and huge interest from the rest of the world. There’s been a lot of dialogue and a lot opportunity created,” he said.

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SoftBank Vision Fund losing Jeff Housenbold, who led DoorDash deal

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Jeff Housenbold, managing partner at SoftBank’s Vision Fund

SoftBank

SoftBank’s Jeff Housenbold, who led the Vision Fund’s investments in companies including DoorDash, OpenDoor and Wag, is leaving the firm later this year.

SoftBank shook up the Silicon Valley investment world with the first Vision Fund in 2017, ultimately raising $100 billion, funded in large part by the Public Investment Fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Japanese company had been targeting an even bigger amount for Vision Fund 2 but scaled it way back last year after many of its high-priced investments hit snags.

In a memo sent internally on Friday and viewed by CNBC, Vision Fund head Rajeev Misra said that Housenbold is departing to “run his own business.” Housenbold has been with the Vision Fund during its ups and downs, leading some of the most high-profile deals with mixed results.

“As many of you know, Jeff was my first hire and over the last three and a half years he successfully led our investments in 17 companies across Fund 1 and Fund 2, including DoorDash (DASH), Opendoor (OPEN), Compass, Rappi, Alto, and Memphis Meats,” Misra wrote in the memo.

Axios previously reported on his departure. Housenbold confirmed the move on Twitter.

Housenbold, who was previously CEO of Shutterfly, had a strong end to 2020, with DoorDash’s IPO and Opendoor’s public market debut through a special purpose acquisition company. SoftBank’s stake in food delivery app DoorDash has jumped to $12 billion, with the stock rallying since its IPO, and its stake in real estate company OpenDoor is about $2 billion, according to FactSet.

He also had some losers. In 2018, he led a $300 million investment in dog-walking app Wag before selling the Vision Fund’s stake back to the company less than two years later as the business struggled. Also in 2018, the Vision Fund put $240 million into e-commerce start-up Brandless, with Housenbold taking a board seat. Early last year, the company shut down and was later recapitalized.

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signing a memorandum of understanding between Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and the SoftBank Vision Fund.

Tom DiChristopher | CNBC

Housenbold spoke to CNBC in March of 2020 as the SoftBank was dealing with the fallout of the WeWork catastrophe and Uber’s struggles while also preparing for a slowdown caused by the pandemic. He was among the executives at the firm considering its “Plan Bs.”  

“If the markets go into a prolonged slump of 12 to 24 months and there’s not access to public markets, we’ll have to look at raising additional capital at the company level,” Housenbold said at the time. “There’s debt, there’s equity players, there’s mergers and acquisitions.”

Misra said in the memo that Housenbold will stay with the Vision Fund for six months, and then serve as a senior adviser to Misra and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. 

— CNBC’s Alex Sherman contributed to this report

WATCH: Softbank Vision Fund managing partner on Opendoor SPAC

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release of fourth quarter, full-year 2020 GDP

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Employees working on a dry-type transformer production line at an electrical production factory in Haian, in eastern China’s Jiangsu province on Jan. 4, 2021.

Stringer | AFP | Getty Images

BEIJING — China reported GDP rose 2.3% last year as the world struggled to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Chinese consumers remained reluctant to spend, as retail sales contracted 3.9% for the year. Retail sales for the fourth quarter rose 4.6% from a year ago.

Gross domestic product grew by 6.5% in the fourth quarter from a year ago.

Economists expected China to have been the only major economy to grow last year, and predicted GDP expanded by just over 2%.

Covid-19 first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. In an effort to control the virus, Chinese authorities shut down more than half the country, and the economy contracted by 6.8% in the first three months of 2020.

However, China returned to growth by the second quarter. Economists polled by Reuters predicted GDP would increase 6.1% in the fourth quarter, faster than the 4.9% pace of the prior quarter.

China’s GDP growth figure this year will come off a lowered base.

In late December, the National Bureau of Statistics lowered China’s official growth rate for 2019 to 6.0%, versus the previously reported 6.1%. The cut primarily occurred in manufacturing, as factories dealt with new U.S. tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods.

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How to use your iPhone’s health-tracking features

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Apple announces new app for health studies.

Suorce: Apple

Apple‘s main selling point for the Apple Watch is tracking your health, including activity, sleep and certain medical conditions.

But it’s not the only Apple product that can help you get in shape and stay healthy. The humble iPhone has plenty of health-tracking features as well.

You might already know that you can track your steps, for example. But the Health app built-into your iPhone can do a lot more, like tracking how long you practice mindfulness through third-party apps, determining how long you spent in bed, your walking speed and more.

Here are some examples of how the iPhone can help you get healthy:

Track your steps on iPhone

Apple

The Health app can automatically track the number of steps you take in a day. It can also track the number of stairs climbed and total distance you’ve traveled.

To do that:

  • Open Settings on your iPhone.
  • Tap Privacy.
  • Tap Motion & Fitness.
  • Turn on “Fitness Tracking.”

View your steps and other metrics:

  • Open Health.
  • Tap “Browse” on the bottom-right.
    Choose “Activity.”

Apple Health on iPhone

Apple

Apple doesn’t have its own meditation app, unless you count some of the exercises in its Fitness+ subscription service, which has mindful cooldown and yoga workouts. But, it can keep track of the time you spend meditating in third-party apps like Calm or Headspace. If you install those apps you’ll get a prompt to save information to Apple Health and, once you do, you can keep track of how long you meditate each day over time inside the app.

You need an Apple Watch to track your sleep, but the iPhone can keep track of how long you’re in bed, and save that information.

It’s not a great analysis of your sleep but you can get an idea of your sleep patterns and if you pick up your iPhone at night. You can turn this on by selecting “options” under the “Full Schedule & Options” menu.

The iPhone also has a “wind down” feature which automatically puts your iPhone in Do Not Disturb Mode and dims the screen. Once in that mode, you can set shortcuts on your lock screen to access meditation apps, a reading app like Kindle or Apple Books and more. I use it every night so my iPhone doesn’t disturb me when I sleep.

Here’s how to turn it on:

  • Open the Health app on your iPhone.
  • Tap Browse on the bottom-right.
  • Choose Sleep.
  • Enter in the time you typically go to bed and wake up.
  • Select “Full Schedule & Options” under “Your Schedule.”
  • Under “Wind Down” select how long prior to bed you want Wind Down to begin.
  • Select Shortcuts you want your iPhone to display on the lock screen, like Headspace or Kindle.

Cycle tracking on iPhone

Apple

For women, the iPhone can track menstrual cycles and predict your next period and fertile windows. You can also keep a log of your period flow level, any symptoms you might have that you want to share with your doctor and more. It also can factor in things that might affect your fertility window, like pregnancy or contraception.

Here’s how to set it up:

  • Open the Health app on your iPhone.
  • Tap Browse on the bottom-right.
  • Choose Cycle Tracking.
  • Tap “Get Started.”

Headphone Audio Levels

Apple

A feature called “Headphone Audio Levels” can keep track of how loud your headphone audio is and will let you know if you’ve listened to music too loud over the recommended limit. Listening to music at over 90 dB over four hours per week, for example, would trigger that alert.

Here’s how to set it up:

  • Open the Health app on your iPhone.
  • Tap Browse on the bottom-right.
  • Tap Hearing.
  • Choose Headphone audio levels.

Apple Health Recordss

Apple

You can keep track of the health records from your doctor visits if your physician’s office supports integration with Apple Health. This lets you see all sorts of information, including immunizations, blood test results, past medical procedures and more.

See if your doctor’s office integrates with Apple Health

  • Tap your profile picture.
  • Tap Health Records under Features.
  • Tap “Add Account”
  • Search for your hospital, network or doctor’s location.
  • Select your provider.
  • Tap “Connect to Account.”
  • Log-in to your doctor’s portal and allow it to access Apple Health.

Apple also has a “health checklist” built into iOS 14, which came out in September 2020.

Health Checklist will help create a medical ID on your phone that you or someone else can show to first responders. It’s got vital information such as whether or not you’re an organ donor, the type of blood you have, allergies and reactions, medicine you’re taking, your height and weight and more. You enter in this data yourself, so you don’t have to include any of it if you don’t want to.

The health checklist can also help you set up the Emergency SOS, a feature on your iPhone that will automatically call emergency services if you tap the side button of the phone 5 times in rapid succession. If you press and hold the button, it will also send a message to any contacts you add in Emergency SOS. I have my immediate family members set up in mine, for example.

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