Leejam Sports achieves record-breaking profits & membership growth in Q3 2023

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Leejam Sports Company, the largest operator of fitness centers in the Middle East and North Africa, achievedrecord-breaking results in terms of revenue and net profits in Q3 2023, with SAR 348 million and SAR 92 million, respectively. This represents a year-on-year increase of 32% and 35%, compared to Q3 2022. These results follow the strong performance and record profits Leejam reported in the first half of the year, where the exceptional performance in Q3 contributed to the results for the first nine months of 2023, reaching SAR 927 million in revenue, an increase of 27%, and SAR 227 million in net profit, a rise of 51% compared to the same period in 2022, reaching a total of 448,000 by the end of September 2023, marking the highest figures ever recorded for both the male and female sectors.In this context, Mr. Adnan Al-Khalaf, CEO of Leejam Sports Company, stated, "Leejam Sports has maintained consistent profit growth throughout 2023, setting record levels across all financial indicators during Q3, which culminates in continued exceptional performance since the beginning of the year. Much of this strong and continuous performance is attributed to the company's product quality, diverse services, integrated strategy for attracting members from all segments, and its commitment to enhancing the customer journey and enriching their experience. The opening of 11 new centers since the end of September 2022 demonstrates the company's dedication to expanding access to a variety of sports activities, contributing to building a vibrant community that promotes health, happiness, and activity in all areas it serves."Profits Across SectorsMale Centers: Segment revenues for the current year's Q3 and the first nine months reached SAR 263 million and SAR 696 million, with an increase of 33% and 27%, respectively. The number of male members reached 348,000 by the end of Q3, a historical high.Female Centers: Segment revenues for the current year's Q3 and the first nine months reached SAR 84 million and SAR 224 million, with an increase of 31% and 31%, respectively. The number of female members reached 100,000 by the end of Q3, a historical high.Corporate Sector: The growth in corporate segment revenues is partly attributed to the improved onboarding experience for sector members through easy, seamless, and multi-channel digital services.Leejam's Formula for Maintaining Profitability Amid Escalating CostsLeejam's operating profits saw significant growth in Q3 and the first nine months of the year, despite increased sales and marketing expenses, general and administrative costs, including expenses related to hiring and investments in new technologies. The company's profits before accounting for depreciation, amortization, interest, zakat, and taxes increased by 34% and 32% during Q3 and the first nine months of the year, amounting to SAR 191 million and SAR 481 million, respectively, driven by higher operating profits. Additionally, the company also recorded its highest-ever deferred revenue balance, propelled by increased subscription sales during the successful promotional campaign for Saudi National Day in September 2023. Membership and subscription revenues showed growth during Q3, reaching SAR 305 million, a 30% increase compared to Q3 2022. This increase can be attributed to the continuous and comprehensive improvement of customer experiences across all membership categories.Leejam's Expansion and Development StrategyWhen discussing Leejam Sports' strategy for growth and advancement, Adnan Al-Khalaf expressed, "At Leejam Sports, we focus on a clear strategy with two main tracks. First, we aim to grow and develop our existing clubs, renovating them and increasing their membership through the 'Your Club is Changing' project, which has already seen 40 clubs developed and is ongoing. The second track involves Leejam's announcement to expand with more than 100 additional clubs”.Commenting on the expansion plans of Leejam Sports Clubs, Adnan Al-Khalaf said during his interview with Al-Arabiya channel: “After opening 11 branches in the third quarter of this year, we are continuing with the expansion plans as we aim to reach 250 club by 2025 in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. We also expect during the current and next quarter to achieve the highest rate of openings for our clubs, whether for women or men". Pointing out that more financial data in addition to the company’s new strategy will be disclosed as part of the "Leejam Day" conference scheduled for November 6, 2023.Personal TrainingThe increase in membership numbers has boosted demand for personal training services, leading to a 37 million and 100 million SAR increase in sector revenues during the current year's Q3 and the first nine months, respectively. This is a result of the company's investment in training programs, whether in swimming, group exercises, or specialized exercises such as boxing, cycling, and other scientifically designed high-quality training sessions to provide a better experience for customers. The enhancements introduced on our digital platform dedicated to members in 2023 have facilitated members' experiences in purchasing, payments, reservations, and logging their sessions, significantly improving the quality of personal training services. Furthermore, enhancing the digitization of member experiences and their interaction with personal trainers through our electronic platform has allowed better utilization of personal trainers' capabilities, offering more opportunities to boost their activity and generate higher profits for both them and the company.

Samer Mohamad discusses Yasmina: Yango's breakthrough AI Assistant in MENA

In this exclusive interview with Samer Mohamad, Yasmina Regional Director for MENA at Yango, Adgully delves into the remarkable unveiling of Yasmina, Yango's most human-like AI assistant, at GITEX 2023. This cutting-edge technology promises to redefine the AI landscape, offering users an experience like never before. Mohamad sheds light on the intent and innovation behind Yasmina, highlighting the seamless fusion of AI intelligence with cultural nuances. He says that Yango's mission is to not just provide information but enhance the human experience in a profound way. Read more to understand how Yasmina combines cutting-edge technology with a deep understanding of Middle Eastern culture. Excerpts:Can you tell us more about Yango's most human-like AI assistant unveiled at GITEX 2023 and what sets it apart from other AI assistants in the market?What makes Yasmina unique is the intent and the technology behind Yasmina. Our mission at Yango was to merge AI intelligence with cultural awareness.Yasmina's technological foundation consists of natural language understanding, speech recognition, and speech synthesis. To build the speech recognition component of Yasmina, we worked with hundreds of people from Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, and more. This wide variety of voices, spanning various ages and genders, empowered Yasmina to recognize diverse speech nuances and dialects.Our intent is to continuously evolve Yasmina, so it becomes a part of the social and cultural environment and contributes to improving the quality of life for people locally.Yasmina helps people make informed decisions, use precious resources like time more wisely and run their homes, offices, and lives better. Lending a helping hand to parents, Yasmina is capable of recognizing if the user is a child and activates age-appropriate content and language for children. In short, Yasmina helps people enjoy a higher quality of life — exactly what we wanted to achieve at Yango.How do you see the Middle East market responding to this new AI assistant, particularly in terms of its "Khaleeji personality"?The Middle East has one of the oldest heritages in the world and the governments and communities have successfully retained their unique identities, cultures and values while making remarkable progress in business and development. The people are very tech-savvy, well aware of the potential of technology and at the same time rooted in their culture and traditions.Yango has invested considerably in understanding the preferences and needs of the people of this region, and we have used all our research and people’s engagement to build the unique personality of Yasmina.The feedback that we received from early adopters was all very positive; people simply loved Yasmina and found the assistant to be funny and human-like. The name for the voice assistant was also carefully selected via popular vote.Yasmina is still learning, so we would like to invite people from the UAE to sign up for public beta testing at We would love to learn more from them about their interaction with Yasmina and make the assistant even more local.Given your role as Yasmina Regional Director for MENA at Yango, what are the specific challenges and opportunities you anticipate when introducing this AI assistant in the Middle East?Our biggest and most significant challenge from the stage of conceptualizing has been to understand how we can add value to the rich and diverse society of the Middle East with our product while staying true to the mission of merging AI intelligence with cultural awareness.We have invested significantly in understanding the countries, rich heritage, and aspirations of the people and using these insights to build our unique offering - the most human-like AI assistant.Another opportunity for us was to go GLOCAL – think global and work local.We involved a large number of regional content professionals who brought local understanding and awareness to us. They perfected thousands of dialogues, which were then used to fine-tune the assistant's model and train Yasmina to speak fluently and naturally.Could you elaborate on how this AI assistant's "intellectual smartness" and "cultural awareness" will enhance user interactions and experiences?What sets Yasmina apart from other assistants is the ability to maintain engaging, fun, and consistent dialogues that feel like you are talking to a real person. Yasmina’s ability to engage in a human-like conversation is based on a proprietary large language model that was thoroughly fine-tuned with the help of hundreds of content professionals, who edited and perfected Yasmina’s dialogues. Yasmina recognizes if the user is male or female, understands the major Arabic dialects, speaks Khaleeji fluently, and will soon be able to both speak and understand English.On a more practical level, Yasmina works as a smart home center: you can ask Yasmina to adjust the room temperature, turn on the vacuum, or dim the lights. More than just an app on your phone, Yasmina can be built into other apps and smart home devices, including smart speakers.In your view, how does this AI assistant change the perception of AI from being a tool for providing information to becoming a valuable addition to our human experience?Yasmina is built as a technology enabler weaving Artificial Intelligence into the lives of people to enhance the quality of their life. For us, Artificial Intelligence is a tool that enriches the human experience in our daily lives, homes, offices, and social and cultural interactions. AI will be much closer to the people, for example, transforming homes into smart homes that can “think” of the likes and preferences of the homeowner; smart assistants helping professionals to manage their busy lives and entertain and educate their kids; and tools to enhance efficiency and convenience.As a licensed Project Management Professional (PMP), how do you plan to manage and oversee the expansion and deployment of this AI assistant across the MENA region? What strategies are you implementing to build relationships between clients and stakeholders in the MENA region, especially in the context of this new AI assistant?Yango is all about Bridging Innovations and Enriching Communities Globally.Our mission is to bring global innovations to local communities, fostering connections and enhancing everyday living experiences. As the Yasmina Regional Director for MENA, I carry the legacy of Yango and our people-first approach in my work.Our strategic decision was to launch Yasmina at GITEX 2023 which attracts MENA stakeholders, and build a stronger presence in the UAE, the most remarkable hub of innovation and technology today.Yango's educational journey is an interesting blend of technical knowledge and business dynamics. How do these experiences contribute to your approach to the regional launch of the human-like AI assistant ?Yango aspires to provide local communities with choice when it comes to deciding which products to use — global or local ones.We will follow our regular route: offer consumers to beta-test our product and then choose the best version of Yasmina together. Add great sound quality and CMF to the mix and you have an advanced AI product that’s also your best buddy at home.We are continuously refining Yasmina and we want to enhance the assistant’s fluency, creativity, and versatility.Can you provide insights into user feedback and initial reactions to the launch of this AI assistant at GITEX 2023, and how Yango plans to iterate and improve based on this feedback?As for any business that creates a new product, our biggest challenge (which is also our biggest opportunity) is to build value for the people of the UAE and the Middle East. Understanding user experiences and feedback is not only vital, but central to our design approach; hence we have opened the first public beta testing of Yasmina for our community across the region at yasmina.yango.comInitial reactions from GITEX visitors were very inspiring. We saw users enjoy their interactions with Yasmina and bring back friends to test the new assistant.But our team is working hard on the beta testing, and we really look forward to shaping the assistant into its best version while revealing it to thousands of early adopters in the region..

Confluent’s Fred Crehan on revolutionizing AI with the real-time data streaming

In this exclusive interview with Adgully, Fred Crehan, Area Vice President for Emerging Markets at Confluent, delves into the transformative role of real-time data in the Middle East region. Crehan provides insights into the unique challenges and opportunities facing Confluent in this dynamic market, the impact of their real-time AI initiative, and the strategic partnerships that are poised to reshape the technological landscape. He also discusses Confluent's role in empowering Middle Eastern businesses with the data management and analytics capabilities required for modern AI applications and highlights emerging trends in the AI domain. He reiterates the importance of data streaming as a “prerequisite to the success of AI endeavours.” With its data streaming for AI initiative, Confluent aims to help organisations quickly build and scale next-generation AI applications “with a shared source of real-time truth for all operational and analytical data, no matter where it lives.” Excerpts:Can you tell us about your role as the Area Vice President for Emerging Markets at Confluent and how it pertains to the Middle East region?As the Area Vice President, Emerging Markets, I lead Confluent’s business and strategy across the Middle East, and Israel. My role has direct responsibility for sales and I also oversee key field-facing functions like solution engineering, professional services, customer success, and channel teams in the region.As I look to grow Confluent’s regional footprint, I am focused on helping organisations recognise that unlocking the full potential of real-time data will empower them to pioneer compelling digital services for the discerning modern consumer. This is especially relevant in the context of the Middle East. As businesses in the region compete in the digital era, gains in efficiency are made possible by data-backed decision-making. The insight unlocked by the analysis of real-time data from across the enterprise will also help deliver a differentiating edge to businesses, which will be essential to their competitiveness. This calls for enterprises to create a central nervous system that sets their data in motion. The continuous collection and delivery of data across the digital enterprise underpins all digital initiatives, be it the modernisation of IT, adoption of AI, utilization of analytics, or migration to the cloud. For this reason, event streaming platforms are rapidly becoming a must-have component in the IT infrastructures of modern enterprises, and this is a trend that is only set to accelerate in the year ahead.What are the unique challenges and opportunities you've encountered while leading Confluent's efforts in the Middle East market?I helped establish Confluent’s local presence in the Middle East with the opening of our regional headquarters in Dubai in May 2022. While It’s fair to say that the last 16+ months have been challenging for the software industry in general, Confluent has been at the heart of emerging trends like AI, ML and digital transformation. As a result, a lot of data is being generated and utilized. There is also increasing pressure on businesses given the macroeconomic environment to be more efficient, and those factors combined really drives the need for more solutions based on real-time data streaming.Confluent has announced an initiative to accelerate the development of real-time AI applications. How do you see this initiative impacting the tech landscape in the Middle East?Data streaming is a prerequisite to the success of AI endeavours. Continuously enriched, trustworthy data streams are vital when creating next-gen AI applications, because in order to be accurate and effective, these need to be fed with rich, real-time data. With our data streaming for AI initiative, we aim to help organisations quickly build and scale next-generation AI applications with a shared source of real-time truth for all operational and analytical data, no matter where it lives.This has tremendous potential to positively impact the region as AI is set to drive the bottom-line of both regional governments and businesses. A recent PwC report predicts that the Middle East will accrue 2% of the total global benefits of AI in 2030, equivalent to US$320 billion. In Saudi Arabia alone, AI is expected to contribute over US$135.2 billion in 2030 to the economy, equivalent to 12.4% of the country’s GDP.Can you elaborate on the partnerships with MongoDB, Pinecone, Rockset, Weaviate, and Zilliz. How these partnerships might benefit businesses in the Middle East region?As revealed in our recently announced news on data streaming for AI, we are expanding our partnerships with leading companies in the AI and vector database space, including MongoDB, Pinecone, Rockset, Weaviate, and Zilliz. These partnerships will allow companies to unlock the full potential of AI with the freshest contextual data from across their business.Could you share specific examples or use cases where Confluent's partnerships with Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure have made a tangible impact on businesses in the Middle East?Through our partnership with Microsoft, Confluent Cloud, our fully managed, cloud-native service for connecting and processing data, wherever it is needed, is now available to our customers in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar through MicrosoftAzure and AWS data centers. With Confluent Cloud being locally hosted, we bring peerless, reliable data streaming to our regional customers and empower them in their digital transformation initiatives in an increasingly hybrid and multi-cloud world.What role do you see AI assistants, like Confluent's AI Assistant, playing in enhancing business processes and decision-making for companies in the Middle East?Our data streaming for AI initiative is demonstrating product innovations that incorporate the latest advances in AI into the platform, with capabilities like a generative AI-powered assistant that helps generate code and answer questions about the data streaming environment.For example, the Confluent AI Assistant turns natural language inputs—like “What was my most expensive environment last month?” or “Give me an API request to produce messages to my orders topic”— into suggestions and accurate code that’s specific to their deployment.With the growth of real-time data and AI applications, how does Confluent plan to support businesses in the Middle East in terms of data management and analytics?We recently announced data streaming for AI, an initiative to empower organisations’ development of real-time AI applications. Real-time, trustworthy data streams are key to building next-gen AI applications and Confluent wants to make it easier for businesses. Modern AI applications require multiple technologies and data from numerous domains to seamlessly come together. We want to help organisations quickly build and scale next-generation AI applications with a shared source of real-time truth for all operational and analytical data, no matter where it lives.Can you provide insights into the specific strategies Confluent is employing to help organisations in the Middle East build a real-time data foundation for modern AI applications? And what are the emerging trends in the AI domain?For businesses to succeed in the new era of AI, they have to avoid the challenges that legacy data-at-rest architectures impose and build the modern AI stack on a foundation of data in motion. We are expanding our ecosystem to include critical AI technologies to help organisations build AI apps faster. This includes plans for fully managed connectors for the modern AI stack, GenAI API calls built into Apache Flink, and an AI Assistant to help companies build faster on Confluent.

Jaganathan Chelliah on Western Digital’s vision and strategies in ME

Jaganathan Chelliah, Senior Director, Marketing, India, Middle East, and TIA, Western Digital, delves into the company’s vision and highlights the innovative marketing strategy adopted to reach varied audience groups. In this interview with Adgully, he highlights how an ingredient brand like Western Digital has successfully landed campaigns that highlight the significance of data storage in today's technological era. Excerpts:Is the Middle East similar to the Indian market or is it way advanced? How do you see that market panning out there?The Middle East market possesses distinctive characteristics that set it apart. Firstly, it boasts a significant retail orientation, featuring a substantial retail presence. This stands in contrast to India, where there's a prevalence of small, family-owned stores alongside organized retail.Secondly, the consumer experience is closely intertwined with hands-on engagement at retail counters. This tactile aspect strongly influences the buying process.Thirdly, infrastructure investments primarily hinge on governmental initiatives. Notably, countries like Saudi Arabia are presently undergoing substantial government-driven infrastructure developments, presenting a noteworthy opportunity.These trends play a pivotal role in shaping our strategic approach to these markets. Additionally, within specific industry sectors, the level of technology adoption is notably higher than in other markets. For instance, the Portable SSD market demonstrates greater capacity preferences, with consumers being more inclined to purchase two and four-terabyte options compared to the typical one and two-terabyte choices in other regions.Furthermore, a significant divergence from other markets lies in the sizable online presence. This aspect is experiencing rapid growth, paralleling trends seen elsewhere.Our approach to the Middle East market closely mirrors our strategies in other markets. We meticulously analyze distinct customer segments and tailor solutions that align with the specific needs of these markets.How has the need for data storage evolution evolved for businesses in India and Middle East markets?The Middle East market boasts a robust consumer-oriented landscape, particularly in terms of premium storage solutions. These solutions cater to a diverse consumer segment, including gamers, content creators, and individuals seeking heightened productivity and personal use. This region's market is notably characterized by a strong emphasis on premium offerings.Furthermore, a significant growth driver for this market is the prevalence of infrastructure projects, particularly prominent in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. These projects generate substantial demand for our enterprise storage solutions and surveillance storage solutions. Remarkably, it's rare to come across locations in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia that lack CCTV solutions. This underscores the high level of adoption for these solutions, which in turn fuels the demand for storage options in these markets.What is the roadmap for future growth for Western Digital in India and the Middle East?The Middle East region holds immense significance as a market for us. We recognize a substantial opportunity to empower both consumers in the retail sector and enterprises. At Western Digital, we are actively exploring every avenue to identify emerging needs and develop precise storage solutions to cater to the Middle East market's demands.