Fashion Icon Rihanna Makes Power Move

As the year 2023 draws to a close, Madame Tussauds Hong Kong continues to make waves with exciting announcements. Following the addition of wax figures of international Canadian singer Justin Bieber and renowned Australian actor Chris Hemsworth, today Madame Tussauds Hong Kong proudly welcomes another international superstar - the globally acclaimed singer Rihanna.

Renowned powerhouse vocalist and the queen of versatility, Rihanna, has now debuted in the Fashion Zone of Madame Tussauds Hong Kong with her stunning new wax figure. Dressed in an orange-toned ensemble, she exudes a sophisticated retro hip-hop vibe. The figure showcases the intricate details of Rihanna's silhouette, with her confident and captivating gaze, she exudes both self-assurance and sensuality, embodying a sophisticated and elegant fashion style.

Since her debut at the age of 17, Rihanna has achieved numerous accolades in the music industry, including multiple Grammy Awards, American Music Awards, and Billboard Music Awards. With over a hundred million fans worldwide, she has captured the hearts of many. Beyond her musical achievements, Rihanna has demonstrated a unique sense of fashion and frequently graces the covers of top fashion magazines worldwide. Additionally, she has shown impressive business acumen by launching her own cosmetics brand and securing a place on the global wealth rankings. Rihanna is also passionate about addressing global social issues. She uses her platform to advocate for marginalized communities and has earned respect and recognition for her social influence and charitable endeavours.

Mr. Wade Chang, the General Manager of Midway Hong Kong, Merlin Entertainments, said, "Rihanna is an incredibly captivating artist, and through the introduction of her wax figure, we aim to convey her spirit of constant breakthroughs and unwavering determination. We hope that every guest visiting Madame Tussauds Hong Kong will create unforgettable memories from their experience."

Rihanna's brand-new wax figure has made its debut in the Fashion Zone of Madame Tussauds Hong Kong, joining the recently added international heartthrobs Justin Bieber and Chris Hemsworth. Alongside them are more well-known global figures within the attraction, such as Miss Universe Catriona Gray, Jackson Yee, Z. Tao and Jackson Wang, among others. Together, they bring an extra sparkle to the upcoming festive season, hoping to accompany everyone in celebrating a unique and memorable Christmas.

New Convention Wins and Strong Line-up

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has applauded the city's convention business following a raft of new convention wins in 2023. I&T, medical, financial services, and education planning professionals have all chosen Hong Kong, solidifying the city's position as a preferred destination for academic exchanges and industry advancement.

Mr Kenneth Wong, General Manager, MICE & Cruise of HKTB, said, "The growing demand is providing a welcome stimulus for Hong Kong's economy. Thanks to Hong Kong's leading status across various industries and tremendous opportunities brought by the Greater Bay Area (GBA), we are delighted that Hong Kong further strengthens its status as the World's Meeting Place and remains a top choice among convention organisers."

Convention wins reinforce Hong Kong as I&T hub

One of this year's major wins is the EDGE Global AI & Web3 Investment Summit 2023 under the I&T sector. The inaugural edition of this event will be hosted in September 2023 in Hong Kong, and is expected to bring in 10,000 visitors. This major win followed the city's recent hosting of a number of Web3 events, including FOMO Asia Genesis Conference and WOW Summit 2023, which marked its entry to Asia Pacific.

Mr Ander Tsui, organiser of EDGE Global AI & Web3 Investment Summit 2023, Co-Chairman of Hong Kong Blockchain Association, Chairman of EDGE Summit Committee and Founder of VertexLabs said, "Hong Kong is simply a world-class stage for Web3 and artificial intelligence events and beyond. Not only does it draw global venture capitals, investment institutions, and enthusiasts from across the globe, but it also serves as the perfect gateway to the dynamic GBA. We look forward to seeing our high-octane event debut in Hong Kong."

Another major win – the Insurtech Insights Asia 2023 Conference, which will take place in December 2023 with an expected attendance of 3,000 – highlights the city's strong fundamentals, international business connections, as well as government support in the insurance, insurtech and I&T sectors.

Mr Kristoffer Lundberg, CEO Insurtech Insights and Mr Hung W. Wong, President Asia, Insurtech Insights said, "We are thrilled to be building the largest pan-Asia insurance and insurtech conference in Hong Kong to gather insurance executives, entrepreneurs, and investors by providing knowledge, inspiration and network. We are extremely grateful for the tremendous support from the Hong Kong governmental organisations."

Strong convention line-up in 2023

This year, the city is already recording an exciting calendar of conventions, in which the medical sector has taken the lion's share, including the 44th Asia Pacific Dental Congress 2023 in June and the 16th Asia Pacific Heart Rhythm Society Scientific Session, in conjunction with CardioRhythm, in September 2023.

Dr Nelson Wong, Hong Kong Convention Ambassador, President of the Asia Pacific Dental Federation and President of the Hong Kong Dental Association said, "The 44th Asia Pacific Dental Congress 2023 was a great success with the dedicated support from the HKTB. We are proud to play a part and strive for excellence in making Hong Kong a premier destination for international dental congresses."

Hong Kong Convention Ambassador programme expands to Mainland China

Leveraging the extensive network and influential power of the business leaders in Hong Kong, the HKTB introduced the Hong Kong Convention Ambassador (HKCA) programme back in 2020. Since then, industry leaders have led some 40 events to Hong Kong. This year the HKTB appointed 140 industry leaders from Hong Kong and Mainland China, which marks the HKCA programme expansion to Mainland China for the very first time.

Mr Kenneth Wong said "The formulation of the ambassador programme gives Hong Kong an edge in securing world-class conventions. We are very grateful for the support from local leaders, as well as our mainland counterparts. With close collaboration, we can showcase Hong Kong's unique role as a super-connector and a MICE hub of the GBA to capture boundless opportunities for business events."

With HKTB's continuous strategic bidding efforts and the well-developed and growing alliance of HKCA, Hong Kong is set to attract more world-class conventions, making it the first choice as the place to meet.

Retail Market in Gradual 1H Recovery

Global real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield today published its Hong Kong Property Markets Review and Outlook 1H 2023 report. Hong Kong's regular economic activity levels have gradually resumed as the city fully reopened its border, supporting a recovery of tourist spending in the retail market. Total retail sales reached $171.9 billion in the first five months of the year, up 21.0% y-o-y. However, the office leasing market has yet to see a notable rebound, with negative absorption continuing into Q2. The overall office availability rate rose slightly to 17.3%, further weighing on rental levels. In the residential market, buyers have become more hesitant to enter transactions given the higher interest rates, leading to a 13% q-o-q decline in the number of transactions in Q2. Home prices also started to fluctuate towards the end of the quarter.

Office Market — Net Absorption Still Negative in Q2 as Corporates Remain Cautious

Overall business sentiment strengthened after Hong Kong fully reopened its border, although the return of cross-border activity to normalcy did not alleviate companies' caution amid an uncertain global economic outlook. The office leasing market has not yet seen a significant rebound, while leasing activity by mainland enterprises in Hong Kong has yet to meet expectations. Hong Kong's Grade A office market recorded net absorption of -172,700 sq ft in Q2, mainly due to downsizing by multinational companies during the quarter, notably in Greater Tsimshatsui and Greater Central. However, this is an improvement from the -248,200 sq ft recorded in Q1. The overall availability rate has slightly increased from 17.1% in Q1 to 17.3% in Q2, in turn exerting further downwards pressure on Grade A office rents, which fell by 2.1% q-o-q and 3.6% YTD, with the most notable drop observed in Hong Kong East.

John Siu, Managing Director, Head of Project and Occupier Services, Hong Kong, Cushman & Wakefieldstated: "In terms of new leasing transactions, the share of new transactions by area across business sectors was distributed more evenly in Q2. While the banking and finance sector still accounts for the largest share of newly leased space (25%), the medical/health/beauty, consumer products/manufacturing, and insurance sectors have each contributed more than 10%. The increase in demand for medical/health/beauty and insurance services from mainland visitors since the border reopening has driven up office space requirements from these sectors. Looking ahead to 2H, several large new office buildings are expected to be completed, and this, added to the existing high office availability, has hindered the rebound in office rents. Overall office rents are expected to further adjust in 2H, with a forecast of a 5-7% decline for 2023. With the recent signs of improving Sino-U.S. relations, it is expected that the gradual return of the economy and cross-border activities will support business confidence and expansion plans, which could aid the office market to recover."

Retail Market — High Street Rents Improve as Vacancy Rates Further Decline, yet Larger Retail Brands Remain Wait-and-See

Hong Kong's retail market has been gradually recovering thanks to the resumption of tourist spending. Total retail sales from January to May totaled HK$171.9 billion, recording a significant y-o-y increase of 21.0% due to the lower base last year. Among retail sectors, Jewellery & Watches, Fashion & Accessories and Medicines & Cosmetics, popular product categories among tourists, continued to outperform, with y-o-y growth rates of 76.6%, 54.0% and 37.4%, respectively. The overall high street vacancy rate continued to trend downwards across submarkets, with an average vacancy rate of approximately 9%, the lowest in the past three years. As for high street retail rents, all districts recorded low single-digit q-o-q growth in Q2, bringing an average rise of approximately 5% for 1H 2023. Central district saw the strongest increase of 7.1%, supported by both high-end tourists and local consumption. In addition, F&B rents continued to rise steadily, with 1H 2023 growth of 5% to 6% across different districts.

Kevin Lam, Executive Director, Head of Retail Services, Agency & Management, Hong Kong, Cushman & Wakefield stated, "Since the border reopened, drug stores and pharmacies have been the predominant driving force of new leasing activities in the core districts. The spending pattern of mainlanders has changed from "shopping-centric" to more "experience-based" tourism, which has paused the expansion plans of some high-end retailers and large brand chains. Although there have been some recent leasing transactions for luxury brands, most of them are for relocation and consolidation purposes, hence making it difficult to foresee a significant rebound of rental growth in the short term. As well, we have seen that following the border reopening, the travel outflow of locals is greater than the inflow of tourists to Hong Kong, which could diminish some local consumption power. As a result, the retail market during the Labor Day and the Buddha's Birthday holiday periods was not as active as hoped-for. Therefore, we are conservative on the rental projection for 2H this year, depending on tourist arrival numbers in the first summer vacation period since the onset of the pandemic."

Residential Market — High Interest Rates Slow Buying Sentiment, Housing Prices Expected to Rise From 3% to 7% for 2023

The housing market witnessed an initial recovery in prices and transaction volume following the border reopening in February. However, the subsequent interest rate hikes in May, coupled with global stock market volatility, have dampened potential buyers' appetites towards the later-half of Q2.

Around 12,200 residential transactions were recorded in Q2, down 13% q-o-q and down 18% y-o-y. Developers have continued to actively launch new projects at the market rate, further thinning purchasing power in the secondary market. Primary market housing transactions accounted for around 24% of total residential transactions between January and May.

According to the latest government data, overall residential prices turned negative in May after rising for the previous four months, dropping 0.7% m-o-m. However, the first five months still recorded a cumulative increase of 4.9%. According to Cushman & Wakefield's latest data on popular housing estates price levels, some have declined in the past two months and hence have offset some of the Q1 gains. The price level in City One Shatin, representing the mass market, was down by 3.0% q-o-q in Q2 (1H 2023 up 16.4%); Taikoo Shing, in the middle market, was down 3.9% q-o-q (1H 2023 up 6.9%); while Residence Bel-Air, representing the luxury market bracket, dropped 1.1% q-o-q (1H 2023 up 4.2%).

Rosanna Tang, Executive Director, Head of Research, Hong Kong, Cushman & Wakefield, said: "Although the market believes that interest rates may peak in 2H, the consensus is that the high interest rate environment will persist for quite some time. In addition, the recent stock market volatility, geopolitical instability, and slow recovery of the global economy, has contributed to a more cautious buying sentiment and hence dampened the recovery process of residential transactions and prices. We expect developers to continue to actively launch their new projects in the 2H period, mostly of units at less than HK$10 million, with attractive pricing and packages, while transactions in the secondary market may remain relatively slow. In 2023, overall residential property prices are expected to rise by 3% to 7% for the year, while total residential transactions are expected to rise by 10% to 15% y-o-y to around 50,000 units."

Inspiring the Younger Generation to Pursue Their Dreams as Scientists

The Future Science Awards Foundation has announced that the "2023 Future Science Prize" Award Ceremony and an array of events under "2023 Future Science Prize Week" will be held in Hong Kong in October this year.

This is the first time the world-class annual science event is held in Hong Kong. A series of activities will be held to build a global platform for scientific exchange, to generate enthusiasm for science in the community, and to inject impetus into Hong Kong's science and innovation development.

As the first signature event of "2023 Future Science Prize", the "Future Science Prize Laureates' Documentary Screening" was held on June 10 at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) with attendance of Ms Cathy Wu, Initiator of Future Forum and Secretary General of The Future Science Awards Foundation; Professor Mok Ngai-ming, 2022 The Mathematics and Computer Science Prize Laureate, Edmund and Peggy Tse Professor in Mathematics and Chair of Mathematics at HKU; Ms Isabella Wong, Associate Vice-President (China Affairs) of HKU; Professor Anderson Shum, Associate Vice-President (Research and Innovation) of HKU; Mr James Li, Tencent Vice President of Public Affairs and Tencent Foundation Executive Director; and members of the Programme Committee of "2023 Future Science Prize Week" including Professor Yang Tong, Chair Professor of Mathematical Science at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU); and Professor Vivian Yam, Philip Wong Wilson Wong Professor in Chemistry and Energy and Chair Professor of Chemistry at HKU.

Ms Cathy Wu, Secretary General of The Future Science Awards Foundation, said: "There are no borders in the world of science. Over the past eight years, 27 laureates have been awarded the Future Science Prize, whose scientific research and achievements are all rooted from the Greater China region and have enormous international influence and contribution to mankind. The Future Science Prize will announce the laureates' list for 2023 in August, followed by an Award Ceremony at the Hong Kong Palace Museum on 17 October. 2023 Future Science Prize Week will also take place from 14 to 17 October with nearly a hundred top-notch scientists from 9 countries around the world gathering in Hong Kong to exchange views on frontier technology and bringing the latest development in the field of science to Hong Kong with an aim to develop a platform for scientific exchange and cooperation amongst Hong Kong, Greater Bay Area and the international community."

Professor Mok Ngai-ming, 2022 The Mathematics and Computer Science Prize Laureate and Chair of Mathematics of HKU said: "I feel indebted to the Future Science Foundation for their recognition of the value of fundamental research in mathematics towards progress in science, and of my individual global perspective on problem solving in mathematics cross-fertilising ideas from complex analysis, differential geometry, algebraic geometry and number theory. The search for beauty and benevolence that binds truth-seekers in mathematics across generations will continue to enable the flourishing of mathematics and its innumerable applications to scientific development."

Professor Anderson Shum, Associate Vice-President (Research and Innovation) of HKU said: "The Future Science Prize is a major event in the scientific community. With the opportunity to organize it in Hong Kong, young people, researchers and the general public can be exposed to top-notch science. As a top institution renowned internationally for cultivating talents, The University of Hong Kong is committed to co-organising various activities related to the Prize, thus promoting the exchange of international scientific talents, deepening the international community's understanding of the country's scientific development and achievements, and to arouse enthusiasm for science in the Hong Kong community.

The "Future Science Prize Laureates' Documentary Screening" held on HKU campus included documentaries of three laureates of the "Future Science Prize", namely Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, 2021 The Life Science Prize Laureate, and Professor in Infectious Diseases at HKU; Professor Yang Xue-ming, 2022 The Physical Science Prize Laureate and Vice President of Southern University of Science and Technology; and 2022 The Mathematics and Computer Science Prize Laureate Professor Mok Ngai-ming. The documentaries showcased their growth and struggles for their dreams as well as their outstanding achievements in their respective academic fields.

Professor Mok on the occasion shared his views with hundreds of local and Greater Bay Area students, inspiring their passion for science, promoting the spirit of science and encouraging the younger generation to embark their journeys as scientists.

The Future Science Awards Foundation will co-organise the "Asian Young Scientist Fellowship Annual Conference" with HKU in October and 12 laureates of the "Asian Young Scientists Project Fund" in 2023 from top universities in Japan, South Korea, Singapore and China will be invited to attend the Conference to present their research findings. At the same time, approximately 300 young scientists, entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders and educators from Hong Kong, Mainland and other parts of the world will be invited to participate in the Conference, allowing these young elite scientists to discuss how to leverage science in tackling major issues that mankind is currently facing.

Established in 2016, the "Future Science Prize" has been recognised by Nature as "China's Nobel Prize". It is established to reward scientists who have made outstanding scientific achievements in the Mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, enabling the world to know about their great contributions to the scientific community and demonstrating China's spirit and culture of science to the world.

The "Future Science Prize" consists of three categories, namely "The Life Science Prize", "The Physical Science Prize", and "The Mathematics and Computer Science Prize", which are all professionally evaluated by the Scientific Committee composed of 23 outstanding scientists, upholding the principles of fairness, impartiality and trust.