WRISE Group launches in Dubai

Singapore-based WRISE Group has officially launched WRISE Middle East, a subsidiary office based in Dubai. This office is specifically designed to cater to the operational requirements of high-net-worth individuals and their family offices in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the broader Middle East region. The establishment of WRISE Middle East follows the acquisition of the Category 3C license in 2022."The UAE is set to see an increase of 24.6% in the number of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) by 2025," said Derrick Tan Chairman, WRISE Group. "With an increasing congregation of the wealthy in this part of the world, we are excited to offer our services, expertise and technology to the ultra-wealthy community to meet their myriad wealth management and estate planning needs."Concurrently, WRISE Group has appointed Dhruba Jyoti(DJ) Sengupta as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of WRISE Middle East. Sengupta, with over 25 years of experience in the financial industry across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, brings valuable expertise. Having held senior wealth management positions at international financial institutions such as Citibank N.A. and serving as the CEO of a family office, he is well-positioned to lead the growth of the Dubai team of client servicing experts and expand WRISE's offerings in these dedicated markets."Dubai has traditionally been a hot spot for UHNWIs in the European and the Mena regions to live and work, so with more of the world's wealthy expected to migrate here, I strongly believe that our depth of investment and wealth management expertise, together with TREX, our highly customisable wealthtech platform, will be key to meeting their modern wealth management demands in this digital age," said DJ Sengupta.

17% YoY increase in transactions, 27% in value

Property Finder, the leading property portal in the MENA region, has revealed its market performance highlights for January 2024, showing a positive start for Dubai’s fast evolving real estate sector. According to Property Finder’s proprietary data, the market witnessed a YoY increase of 17% in recorded sales transactions, over 11,000 compared to 8,712 in January 2023. Building on momentum from 2023, January also showed a significant surge in the value of transactions reaching almost AED 35 billion, marking an increase of 27% compared to the same month last year.      Key data highlights: Apartments vs Villas/Townhouses: 58% of interested property buyers were searching for an apartment, while 42% seeked villas/townhouses. In contrast, 80% of tenants in the rental market were found to be looking for apartments, while 20% were searching for villas/townhouses.  Sales property type Preferences inJanuary 2024Tenants' property type PreferencesJanuary 2024  Furnished vs Unfurnished: Roughly 62.2% of tenants seeking apartments were found to choose furnished properties, while 36.1% were searching for unfurnished options. In contrast, tenants who are able to afford villa/townhouse rentals revealed the opposite, with about 57% seeking unfurnished units and 42% looking for furnished options. Sizeable units in demand: Approximately 36% tenants searched for one bedroom units, 31% for two-bedroom apartments and 22% for studios. For villas/townhouses, 43% tenants were looking for three-bedroom units, 34% seeked four bedroom or larger options. As for ownership, 33% were seeking one-bedroom units, 36% searched for two-bedroom apartments and 14% for studios. Regarding Villas/Townhouses, 40% were primarily looking for three-bedroom units, while 44% were searching for four-bedroom or larger options. Ownership vs rental choices: Top areas searched to own apartments were Dubai Marina, Downtown Dubai, Jumeirah Village Circle, Business Bay, and Palm Jumeirah. Dubai Hills Estate, Arabian Ranches, Palm Jumeirah, Al Furjan and Damac Hills were the most desired areas to own villas/townhouses. Leading areas for rentals were Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Village Circle, Downtown Dubai, Business Bay and Deira. Dubai Hills Estate, Al Barsha, Damac Hills 2, Jumeirah and Umm Suqeim were popular when it came to searches to rent villas/townhouses. Support from existing market: Existing property transactions revealed a YoY increase of approximately 8% in volume, with over 5,000 transactions. The value of these transactions surged by 31% YoY, touching AED 21 billion, compared to AED 15.7 billion in January 2023. Growing demand for off-plan: Off-plan showed more demand, with a YoY increase of approximately 25% in volume and 6,000 recorded transactions. Values experienced a surge of around 21% YoY, reaching roughly AED 15 billion, compared to AED 12.2 billion in January 2023. Cherif Sleiman, Chief Revenue Officer at Property Finder, said: “We are delighted to see January build on the great momentum from last year, revealing positive scope for sustained successes in 2024. It’s interesting to see off-plan gain further traction, promising demand for new projects. As a leading proptech portal, we continue to keep our eyes on evolving consumer choices, with an aim to empower our partners and property seekers to make more informed decisions within this thriving real estate landscape. ”All the latest information for January’s top listings and communities are available on Data Guru by Property Finder that can be accessed at or on the Property Finder app, available for download on Google Play and Apple Store.

Gerety Talks with last year's UAE Agency of the Year. Tuesday, February 6th

Gerety Talks with Joe Abou-Khaled, Atiya Zaidi and Ali Rez from Impact BBDO. In 2023 they were awarded with UAE Agency of the year.Agency & Production Company of the year by country is chosen by the local juries from the portfolio cut and requires a single film no longer than five minutes in length and includes up to three pieces of work from the past 12 months. Impact BBDO were awarded for their portfolio Cut entry that included the following spots: Election’s Edition for AnNahar Newspaper; Schoolgirls Newscasters for EBM and Despair no More for TENA.Ali RezChief Creative Officer MENAPImpact BBDO GroupNamed Creative Person of the Year twice by Campaign magazine, Ali Rez is the most awarded creative leader in the Middle East, and currently leads creative output for the IMPACT BBDO Group across the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan region. Rez’s work has been instrumental in Impact BBDO being named the No.2 Agency In The World on the WARC report, while winning 29 different Agency of the Year accolades in 2022 and 2023 for bringing tremendous business success and creative excellence to the Group, and positive impact to social causes.Rez has won more than 900 international accolades in his career spanning four continents over 20 years, which include Grands Prix at all the major shows including Cannes Lions, Clio, OneShow, Loeries, Effies – awards which have led him to be ranked No.1 ECD in MENA and APAC on several creative rankings. In 2023, he was the first jury president ever at Cannes Lions to represent the Middle East.Moving from California, Rez currently lives in Dubai, where he is an avid mountain biker. Besides lecturing at Oxford University, Rez has exhibited at Tate UK, spoken at Tedx, and has traveled to 139 countries.Joe Abou-KhaledIMPACT BBDORegional Executive Creative Director - MENABorn, raised and based in Beirut, Joe leads a big chunk of the agency business in the Levant, the GCC and Africa. He has a diverse work background covering fully integrated multilingual campaigns across the MENA region.With more than 20 years’ experience at BBDO, he has won awards across most categories and major festivals, including 3 Grand Prix at Cannes Lions in the last 4 years.Today, Joe is ranked #1 ECD in MENA by the One Show 2023 Global Rankings and #14 in the world by the Drum World Creative Rankings 2023.Atiya ZaidiChief Executive Officer/Chief Creative OfficerBBDO PakistanAtiya is a creative who loves to create. She has over 20 years of experience in the advertising industry working on an array of local and international brands. Winner of the first ever Glass Lion at Cannes Lions 2023, for Pakistan, she is also the first Pakistani woman to be selected for Cannes Lions See it Be it program, D&AD’s Rare creative program and also the Pitch magazines’ 100 Superwomen list 2019. She also wrote a film which is available on Netflix.

Haltia.AI pioneers research into real-time knowledge capture with LLMs

In a significant advancement for AI technology, Haltia.AI, a dynamic AI startup based in the UAE, has published a pioneering research paper titled "Prompt-Time Symbolic Knowledge Capture with Large Language Models" on . This achievement distinguishes Haltia.AI as the only fully private entity in the UAE to advance the field of AI through published research, an endeavor typically reserved for larger, more established corporations.In this latest research endeavor, Haltia.AI's team sought to push the boundaries of Large Language Models (LLMs), vital tools in transforming human-machine interactions. Despite their proficiency in conversation, LLMs have shown limitations in learning from user-provided data. This study addresses the LLMs' challenge in assimilating knowledge beyond their training, particularly in capturing aspects of users’ personal lives and interactions.To address this, the team, led by Dr. Tolga Çöplü and comprising Arto Bendiken, Andrii Skomorokhov, Eduard Bateiko, Stephen Cobb, and Joshua J. Bouw, developed three fundamental methods to enhance LLMs' ability to capture symbolic knowledge from user inputs. This approach aims to pave the way for more sophisticated, adaptive, and personalized AI applications, driving AI systems that can engage in dialogue and learn in a manner more congruent with human interactions.The research introduces innovative methods for equipping LLMs with the ability to directly capture knowledge from user prompts. It thoroughly explores zero-shot prompting, few-shot prompting, and fine-tuning methodologies, assessing their efficacy in knowledge assimilation, a feature previously lacking in LLM applications.The paper delves into the generation of prompt-to-triple (P2T) knowledge structures, examining methods to extract and structure user-provided information. This advancement promises to create more adaptive, personalized user experiences and significantly contributes to the AI and machine learning fields. The team's focus on knowledge graphs is crucial due to their clear structures and capacity for factual reasoning.Reflecting on the research's impact, lead author Dr. Çöplü stated, "Our research marks a new chapter in AI's interaction and learning capabilities. By concentrating on prompt-driven symbolic knowledge capture, we are setting the stage for AIs that are not only conversational but also truly understand and learn from human input. This publication exemplifies our dedication to pioneering AI research and underscores our unique position as an innovator in the UAE's tech ecosystem."This publication represents a significant stride for Haltia.AI in advancing AI technology. It showcases the startup's capacity to contribute valuable insights to AI research, rivaling global tech giants, and sets the stage for future innovations in personal AIs and other real-world AI applications.The full research paper is accessible on, with the accompanying code and datasets available on GitHub . This open-source approach highlights Haltia.AI's commitment to collaborative innovation and the democratization of AI research.

Arab Youth Center launches 3rd Arab Youth Podcast training programme

The Arab Youth Center (AYC) has launched the third edition of the Arab Youth Podcast training programme. The programme aims to empower talented youth from various Arab countries with the skills of preparing audio digital content that touches the priorities of young people, support human development paths, economies and knowledge societies in the Arab region using the latest tools and technologies.The new edition of the programme is organised by the centre in cooperation with leading institutions in the Arabic content industry, including the international platforms Sawt, Content, Molham Plus, Anghami, the knowledge application Wajeez and Sky News Arabia Academy.The third edition of the Arab Youth Podcast training programme will welcome participants aged between 15-35 who are interested in podcasting, designing, planning, implementing and producing creative audio content in Arabic.Moza Al Hinai, Director of Strategic Research at AYC, said: "Through this programme, we seek to improve audio content, contribute to the production of high-quality Arabic youth audio channels, enhance the skills of Arab youth in the field of audio colouring, and provide young people with the basic and advanced skills necessary to launch their own audio platforms with the support of specialists and experts in the field of podcasts from the programme's partners, in addition to their participation in training courses and workshops in the field of podcasting and podcasting industry, in addition to direct advisory sessions between Young, experts and inspirers in the world of podcasts.”The programme includes specialised courses in podcast production, audio recording and audio colouring, in addition to podcast montage and marketing workshops, and the top 20 finalists will have an intensive training stage. This includes hours of technical consultations with experts in the field to develop ideas, improve the work plan, and answer questions, within direct sessions on developing business plans, developing technical production, and creating publishing and marketing plans. The training takes place in two stages - the first of which 100 men and women participate to present podcast episodes at the end, from which the programme committee chooses the best 20 episodes, to qualify their owners for the second phase. The second phase includes training sessions, ending with the selection of the winning projects to honour the top three.

evision and Disney Star announce content partnership

Evision, the UAE's entertainment streaming service, and Disney Star, Indian media and entertainment company, have joined forces in a strategic partnership. The goal is to provide viewers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with access to an exceptional content library, solidifying evision as the ultimate destination for entertainment in the region.This partnership unlocks a diverse world of content, starting with an extensive channel portfolio from Disney Star. Popular linear channels such as Star Plus HD, Asianet Middle East, Star Gold and Star Vijay will be accessible to UAE subscribers on elife and Switch TV. Subsequently, these channels will also be available on evision’s OTT streaming platform, STARZ ON, across the GCC region. Disney Star’s linear channels will be available on Asiana packages in the UAE and MENA region.This collaboration will also provide viewers with access to the most popular on-demand content, including the latest premium originals and an extensive library from the Hotstar Specials catalogue specifically tailored for South Asian audiences in the MENA region.This collaboration transcends mere content expansion; it ushers in a revolutionary entertainment destination destined to captivate audiences across the region with licensing rights for Advertising-based Video on Demand (AVOD) and Free Ad-Supported Streaming Television (FAST) channels offered throughout MENA.Olivier Bramly, CEO, evision, said: “The strategic alliance with Disney Star expands our premium content and enhances the entertainment destination for audiences across MENA. This collaboration reaffirms our commitment to delivering the best in TV entertainment. evision enables the audiences across multiple platforms and services to experience the best of South Asian entertainment and Sports.”“We are thrilled to further extend the reach of our compelling and multi-lingual content portfolio in the MENA region through an enhanced collaboration with evision. The MENA region has shown great interest in our series and format shows, broadcasted on our leading TV channels across languages. In addition to our much-loved channel offerings, we are excited to introduce our most sought-after Hotstar Specials to viewers in the region. This collaboration with evision reflects our ongoing commitment to engaging with our audience and represents a significant stride in that direction,” said Gurjeev Singh Kapoor, Head – Distribution & International, India, Disney Star.With this landmark partnership, evision and Disney Star mark a new era in MENA's entertainment landscape. Viewers can look forward to a universe of stories, all from the comfort of wherever they prefer to relax and enjoy content.This strategic collaboration signifies a defining moment in evision's journey, solidifying its position as a pioneer in delivering world-class entertainment to MENA. Together, we embark on a thrilling narrative, one that promises to enthrall audiences and rewrite the entertainment landscape.

Landvault appoints Mohamed Khalifa as the VP of Metaverse

Landvault, a leading virtual experience developer, has announced the appointment of Mohamed Khalifa as the Vice President of Metaverse, to further fuel the company's Middle East expansion. Khalifa’s experience encompasses serving as CTO for blockchain and game studios, at the intersection of technology, gaming, and decentralized systems. His commitment to remaining at the forefront of technological advancements is evident through his exploration of emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), the broader scope of the metaverse and its digital economy. Notable experiences include contributions to Dubai Expo 2020 Metaverse Expo, PUBG, Avatar 2, Sensorium Galaxy Metaverse with Carl Cox, Arab Hope Makers Dubai Game Fi, Nor Platform, and its C9 Games.Landvault, renowned for constructing immersive, virtual experiences for major brands and organizations like Abu Dhabi Government, Mastercard, Standard Chartered, and Hershey, continues to pioneer technological advancements in the GCC region. Following its expansion into the UAE earlier in 2023, the company is substantially investing in the region - collaborating with local governments, real estate firms, and other undisclosed projects slated for reveal in Q1 and Q2 2024. Mohamed Khalifa's role will include crafting top-tier metaverse-engineered experiences that seamlessly blend technology with user-friendly accessibility. Khalifa is dedicated to creating enjoyable and easily accessible experiences, eliminating the need for third-party installations. His commitment extends to developing internal and external tools that empower users to integrate and shape their metaverse experiences."Exploring the vast landscape of the metaverse and the ever-evolving realm of technology has become a captivating journey for me. I'm eager to collaborate with Landvault due to the unparalleled experiences they have in the pipeline. Their commitment to interoperability aligns with my advocacy, allowing seamless movement of characters and assets across diverse virtual worlds. I've always emphasized this in my lectures, illustrating how, through platforms like Landvault's Matera Protocol, an individual in a remote village can sell art globally by tokenizing and minting it as an NFT in a metaverse art gallery," said Khalifa. “Khalifa's interest in the metaverse and technology is fueled by a passion for innovation and a strategic vision, and we look forward to the innovative advancements and transformative experiences that will arise from his leadership in the metaverse space,” said Samuel Huber, CEO of Landvault.

Apparel Group opens five stores at Al Reem Mall

Apparel Group has announced the opening of five iconic stores at Al Reem Mall: Skechers, Nine West, La Vie en Rose, Birkenstock, and Aldo Accessories. This expansion represents Apparel Group's dedication to diversifying the region's retail offerings and enhancing the shopping experience for its customers.Apparel Group's selection of brands for the Al Reem Mall encapsulates a wide array of styles and preferences:Skechers offers innovative and comfortable footwear suitable for all ages.Nine West brings its latest collection, blending contemporary fashion with timeless elegance.La Vie en Rose introduces a luxurious touch to the mall, showcasing premium fashion apparel.Birkenstock presents its sustainable and comfortable footwear range, emphasizing quality and design.Aldo Accessories completes this diverse portfolio with its chic and modern accessories.Neeraj Teckchandani, CEO of Apparel Group, said: "Our initiative at Al Reem Mall is just the beginning of our ambitious strategy. By unveiling these first 5 stores, we're not only setting a strong foundation but also aligning with the broader economic goals of the UAE. This expansion reflects our commitment to supporting the government's vision for a diversified, sustainable economy, and it's a testament to our belief in the region's potential. As we continue to open the remaining 29 stores and plan further expansions this year, we remain dedicated to being a driving force in retail, significantly contributing to the economic and cultural fabric of the region."Apparel Group’s expansion at Al Reem Mall is the beginning of a comprehensive strategy to elevate the shopping experience across the region. The Group is set to continue its growth trajectory, with plans to open additional stores, bringing new brands and unique shopping experiences to customers throughout the year.

AVIA appoints new Board Chair and Adds two new Board Directors

A new chairman of the board of directors of the Asia Video Industry Association (AVIA) has been appointed and two new directors have joined the board. Phil Hardman, Senior Vice President and General Manager of BBC Studios Asia, has been appointed as the new chairman following Clément Schwebig stepping down. Schwebig was previously President and Managing Director of Warner Bros. Discovery for India, Southeast Asia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea, before moving on to be President, Western Europe & Africa.Also joining the AVIA board this year are Emily Yri, Vice President, International Marketing, PubMatic, and Shonali Bedi, Head of Strategy, Partnerships & Insights, APAC, Warner Bros. Discovery.Louis Boswell, CEO of AVIA, commented, “The board of AVIA and I would like to extend our sincere gratitude to Clément Schwebig who chaired the Board for the last three years, taking over in the middle of a pandemic and helping steer the association to safety through those difficult times. He was a strong and vocal advocate for the industry. The board and I are now looking forward to working with new Chairman – Phil Hardman, to help guide AVIA through what are clearly challenging times. Phil also has an energy and passion for the industry, and I am sure will make a significant contribution to developing the next chapter in the AVIA story.”Phil Hardman added, “AVIA stands at the intersection of the diverse challenges and opportunities in the media industry across Asia bringing much needed insight, thought leadership and regulatory & anti-piracy initiatives that benefit its members. BBC Studios has been a long-term Patron Member of the association, and I am honoured to become chairman of AVIA at such an exciting and innovative time. I look forward to working closely with our board members and the AVIA leadership to help AVIA guide the industry through a time of such transformational change.”With the two new additions to the board, AVIA now has four female board directors, or one third of the board.

BBC Kids launches in the Middle East

BBC Studios has announced its agreement with MBC GROUP to launch BBC Kids content on the world’s leading Arabic streaming platform, Shahid from 8 February 2024.The collaboration will bring BBC Studios' exceptional children’s content to a wider audience in the Middle East, providing families and children aged 0-12 with digital access to a diverse range of inspiring, entertaining and educational shows. With a commitment to delivering content that sparks imagination and creativity, BBC Kids aims to enrich the viewing experience for children and parents alike. This launch makes the Middle East the sixth market to introduce the BBC Kids brand following previous launches in Australia (April 2021), US (January 2022), Taiwan (July 2022), South Africa (September 2022) and most recently in India, where it has been available to audiences on Prime Video Channels since July 2023.Curated to offer dedicated sections aimed at pre-school children and older children, BBC Kids will offer 200 hours of premium programming, fully dubbed into the Arabic language, in a safe environment. New series available on the SVOD service for pre-schoolers include JoJo and Gran Gran, and several titles from children’s favourite Andy’s Adventures collection. Older viewers will enjoy tracking down the most deadly animals on the planet in Deadly 60 and following best young bakers competing in Junior Bake Off.In addition to the launch of BBC Kids, BAFTA and International Emmy® award-winning pre-school animation Hey Duggee (Series 1-3) will make its free-to-air debut across the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and North Africa through children’s channel MBC3. Created and written by Grant Orchard, Senior Director of Studio AKA, Duggee is a big loveable dog who inspires pre-school children to be energetic, explore and problem solve. Each episode starts with Duggee welcoming the Squirrels to discover new things about the world around them. Bringing smiles, laughter and hugs along the way, the Squirrels enjoy every moment on their amazing adventures in the care of huggable Duggee who has A-woof for every occasion! Hey Duggee is a Studio AKA production with CBeebies and BBC Studios."We are excited to bring BBC Kids to Shahid allowing our critically acclaimed content to connect with a broader audience and enhance the entertainment experience for kids and families in the Middle East. The inclusion of Hey Duggee on MBC3 channel strengthens our commitment to providing exceptional content that teaches valuable lessons in a fun and accessible way, and is accessible both in digital and linear – said Andrea Raman, Director, Business Development for Nordics, MENA, Turkey at BBC StudiosTareq Al-Ibrahim, Director of Content at Shahid, added: “Shahid’s exciting kids’ library stands out thanks to the richness of its educational and entertaining content, while also ensuring a trusted and safe viewing experience for families across the Arab world. Today, with the launch of BBC Kids, we are bringing more globally renowned and award-winning content to the Middle East and North Africa through Shahid and MBC GROUP’s channels.”He continued: “We’re excited to add a plethora of titles online, bringing over 200 hours of new kids’ content to Shahid. We’re always looking to add the best value and experiences for our important young viewers!”BBC Kids is an ad-free video destination available to Shahid subscribers. All programming features Arabic dubbing. The new digital proposition complements the youngest audience's experience in the Middle East, adding to the CBeebies Pre-school linear channel already available in the region since 2016.

Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle unveils Poltrona Frau

Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle, a pioneering leader in lifestyle retail across the GCC, today announced the grand opening of Poltrona Frau the 112-year-old luxury Italian furniture brand, at Mall of the Emirates. The milestone marks the brand’s second store in Dubai and the first mall-based store worldwide.Following the successful debut of the newly designed showroom in Jumeirah, the iconic Poltrona Frau brand now graces a line-up of high-end luxury names in the UAE’s premier shopping destination. Since partnering with Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle in January 2023, Poltrona Frau has seen around a 30% growth in the UAE, with revenue expected to double this year. The local brand success is largely attributed to effective designer collaborations, strategic partnerships, and operational enhancements including the significant reduction in stock order fulfillment, streamlined from three months to just a few days.Fahed Ghanim, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle, said:"Introducing Poltrona Frau's first-ever mall store worldwide is about more than just expanding our offerings, it's a strategic move to enhance the luxury living and shopping experience for our customers.”"Mall of the Emirates perfectly aligns with Poltrona Frau's ethos of offering a unique blend of luxury and sophistication, resonating seamlessly with the discerning tastes of customers who frequent the destination. We're not merely showcasing a brand, we're creating an immersive destination for luxury furniture design enthusiasts. This store is an opportunity for visitors to delve into the essence of Italian craftsmanship and design, a celebration of sophistication and comfort that defines Poltrona Frau's enduring legacy." The new 500 sqm store at Mall of the Emirates features an immersive layout designed by AMDL CIRCLE for Poltrona Frau, and includes distinct rooms, an exhibition path to engage customers and material, and object libraries. The store design incorporates recurring structural elements to create versatile settings with a neutral palette, extensively using wood on floors and ceilings, reminiscent of traditional Italian lacunari.This dynamic layout creates a fluid and flexible environment that encourages interaction, and serves as a source of inspiration, drawing influences from the hotel industry, fashion retail and industrial spaces.The store showcases a curated selection of Poltrona Frau’s most renowned collections, including the 2023 Beautilities range, which introduces everyday accessories for well-being such as The Pet Collection, Games Collection, and Fitness Collection, enhancing the brand’s commitment to holistic living. The Infinitamente sculptural table, a masterpiece by Roberto Lazzeroni is also available in-store. As a limited edition piece, the table is a testament to the ongoing artistic exploration of marble, boasting intricate workmanship and a unique visual appearance.Nicola Coropulis, Chief Executive Officer of Poltrona Frau, said:“This new store marks a significant milestone for Poltrona Frau as we expand our partnership with Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle and extend our footprint and craftsmanship excellence to a broader audience. The decision to open our inaugural mall store in the heart of Dubai is a testament to the seamless synergy between the refined preferences of the region's customers and the timeless allure of Poltrona Frau's luxury furniture.”Renowned architect and designer, Roberto Palomba joined Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle and Poltrona Frau leadership for the store’s ribbon-cutting ceremony on 1 February. Known for contributing to Poltrona Frau’s legacy, Palomba’s signature pieces took centre stage at the opening, providing guests a glimpse into the seamless fusion of artistry and functionality, and the elegance and innovation synonymous with Poltrona Frau. His creations for Poltrona Frau include the soft, rounded, and welcoming Happy Jack sofa, his latest design for the brand; the iconic Let It Be, inspired by the famous Beatles song; and the Get Back Sofa & Come Together Sofa currently displayed in the store.

Sela and adidas announce strategic partnership

Sela, a leading live events and experiences company, and adidas, a global leader in the sporting goods industry, have proudly unveiled a ground-breaking partnership focused on strategic collaborations and joint developments.This milestone agreement, driven by brand synergies and a shared vision for mutual growth, marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for both organisations.The partnership is global, but with a strong focus on activations in Saudi Arabia with both parties keen to explore tactical initiatives to develop new youth programmes, using shared experience and expertise across sport and lifestyle to make a positive impact. Sela, who are also a primary sponsor of Newcastle United, will explore opportunities across retail and brand activation with adidas, as well as consider broader areas such as sponsorships, events, grassroots programmes and collaborative content.Key principles of the partnership include:Strategic CollaborationsThe partnership between Sela and adidas is a strategic alliance built on the foundation of shared values, innovation, and a commitment to excellence. Both companies recognise the tremendous potential for growth by leveraging their respective strengths to co-create products and experiences that will resonate with consumers globally.Strong Values for GrowthSela and adidas are united by a common commitment to innovation and excellence. This partnership is rooted in the belief that combining their experience can enhance the competitive edge of both organisations and set new standards for industry collaboration.Shared Interest in Youth Programmes with Focus on Sport and Lifestyle:Beyond the business realm, both partners recognise the transformative power of sports and lifestyle in shaping the lives of young individuals.This collaboration will see the joint development of initiatives aimed at empowering youth, promoting inclusivity, and encouraging healthy, active lifestyles. By aligning their efforts, Sela and adidas aim to make a meaningful impact on the communities they serve.Commenting on the partnership, Ibrahim Mohtaseb, SVP at Sela, stated: "We are thrilled to embark on this strategic journey with adidas, a global leader whose commitment to excellence mirrors our own. By combining our strengths and focusing on mutual growth, we are confident that this partnership will not only redefine industry standards but also create innovative solutions that resonate with consumers worldwide and within Saudi Arabia."Bilal Fares, General Manager, adidas EMC said: added: "This partnership is a testament to the shared values and vision of Sela and adidas. Together, we aim to set new benchmarks for collaboration and deliver products and experiences that reflect the best of both brands.”

New report: Global social media users pass 5 billion milestone

 Meltwater, a global leader in media, social and consumer intelligence, and We Are Social, the socially-led creative agency, have released Digital 2024, their latest annual report on social media and digital trends worldwide.In a year full of digital milestones, Digital 2024 shows that active social media user identities* have passed the 5 billion mark (5.04 billion), equivalent to 62.3 percent of the world’s population. The global total increased by 266 million over the past year - an annual growth of 5.6 percent.The typical social media user now spends 2 hours and 23 minutes per day on their social platforms of choice, and uses 6.7 platforms each month. TikTok has the highest average time per Android user of any social platform globally, clocking in at an impressive 34 hours per month - equating to more than an hour per day using the platform. In second place is YouTube, with the average user spending just over 28 hours per month on its Android app.In terms of the world’s ‘favorite’ social platform, Instagram has taken the crown from last year’s winner, WhatsApp. Digital 2024 shows that 16.5 percent of internet users between the ages of 16 and 64 consider Instagram their most loved platform, pushing WhatsApp into second place with 16.1 percent.Digital 2024 is a 550+ page report that covers data points from across the entire online ecosystem, from social media to smart devices, gaming to social commerce. Other key highlights from the report include:The typical internet user now spends 6 hours and 40 minutes online each day - up by 3 minutes per day, or 1 percent, year-on-year.Facebook - which celebrates its 20th birthday on 4th February - grew its global ad reach by more than 200 million over the past 12 months, delivering year-on-year growth of 10.5 percent.LinkedIn, Snapchat, WeChat, and Pinterest all reported strong user growth year-on-year.Digital ad spend grew by 10 percent year-on-year, with almost $720 billion spent on digital ads in 2023. Social ad spend increased by 9.3 percent to USD $207 billion, and investment in influencer activities increased by 17 percent.The typical internet user now spends 17 minutes per day less watching TV content than they did this time last year - a decline of 8.2 percent year-on-year.In a rich analysis of TikTok hashtags, Digital 2024 reports that TikToks tagged with #fyp (for your page) have amassed a total of 55½ trillion views - making it the platform’s top hashtag.Alexandra Saab Bjertnæs, Chief Strategy Officer at Meltwater, said: “As social media enters its next chapter with five billion-plus users, understanding usage patterns, engagement, and emerging trends is crucial to helping brands find their unique voice amidst all the online chatter. The rise of TikTok, coupled with Instagram’s ‘favorite’ status and the growth of professional networking platforms like LinkedIn, paints a picture of evolving preferences. With so many platform choices, brands need to really understand where their target audience is going for information—and shape compelling narratives that engage them with unparalleled precision and authenticity.”Nathan McDonald, co-founder and group chief executive at We Are Social commented: “Social media continues to be a vital part of the way we connect with one another, from building communities to researching purchases and everything in between. TikTok’s continued popularity has changed the way that people behave online - social is not somewhere where a broadcast approach works for brands, and the importance of thinking social first has never been more important. It’s encouraging to see strong growth across multiple social platforms, each offering something different, whether that’s Pinterest for social commerce or Facebook for connecting with communities. For marketers, understanding platform nuances - and how to use social media to connect in culturally relevant ways - will be more crucial than ever.”

Ziad Soukkarie joins OMD as Saudi Arabia MD

OMD MENA, the media agency network of Omnicom Media Group, has announced the appointment of Ziad Soukkarie as Managing Director for Saudi Arabia. His mission at OMD will be to cultivate talent, foster team success, enhance client capabilities, and outpace the market in terms of growth.  Soukkarie brings with him over 18 years of industry experience gained in the region, mostly in KSA. Most recently, he was the General Manager of UM KSA. Over the years, Soukkarie has navigated the rapid evolution of the local media market and led the team handling the country’s largest advertiser. He owes his success to his deep understanding of the country’s marketing landscape and the needs of its advertisers.  “Working with Saudi Arabia’s growth momentum and its ambitious vision, Ziad’s experience and proven track record to date bodes well for our next chapter in the Kingdom,” commented Saleh Ghazal, CEO of OMD MENA. “Ziad is ideally placed to help us accelerate our growth, with his grasp of the dynamics and mechanics of the unique Saudi market. I am delighted to have a seasoned and respected leader joining the executive team and confident that we will create an exciting future for our talent, clients and partners.” “I’ve always had the greatest deal of respect for OMD, and I now realise it is because we share the same vision and values. Joining OMD feels like a home coming of sorts, a natural step in my professional journey,” Soukkarie explained. “I am very excited about what’s coming next, and I look forward to meeting, exceeding even, the ambitions of our business partners.”

Saudi Crown Prince unveils Alat: A leap towards global tech hub

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the launch of Alat company, aiming to make Saudi Arabia a global hub for electronics and advanced industries. Alat aims to create 39,000 direct jobs and contribute $9.3 billion to Saudi Arabia's non-oil GDP by 2030. This underscores the company's commitment to fostering economic growth and reducing dependency on oil revenues.Alat will focus on seven key strategic business units, including advanced industries and semiconductors, smart appliances, smart health, smart devices, smart buildings, and next-generation infrastructure. These areas align with global trends in technology and innovation, positioning Alat as a competitive player in the international market.The company plans to establish strategic partnerships with leading international players in manufacturing and technology. These collaborations will not only enhance Alat's capabilities but also contribute to the development of the local and regional economic ecosystem.Alat aims to provide sustainable manufacturing solutions, leveraging clean energy sources to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. By embracing environmentally friendly practices, the company demonstrates its commitment to responsible and sustainable growth.Alat prioritizes innovation, manufacturing, and research and development. By investing in these areas and localizing expertise, the company seeks to drive technological advancement and create job opportunities in the industrial and electronics sectors.The establishment of Alat aligns with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, particularly in diversifying the economy and promoting sustainable growth. By expanding into priority sectors and strengthening local supply chains, Alat contributes to the realization of the vision's objectives.Overall, the launch of Alat represents a significant milestone in Saudi Arabia's journey towards economic diversification and technological advancement. Through job creation, strategic partnerships, and a commitment to sustainability, Alat aims to position the kingdom as a global hub for advanced technological manufacturing

Online abuse puts sports at risk of losing stars – UAOA survey finds

International sporting federations and NGOs have come together in the first ever industry-wide barometer survey to express grave concerns about the harmful effect that online abuse is having on sport and its competitors.Among the headline findings of the survey, undertaken by the United Against Online abuse campaign, was a concern among the 22 sporting federations and NGOs which participated that abuse is driving sports stars from competition.Organisations including FIFA, UCI, ITF, World Athletics, World Netball and the FIA contributed to the new research examining the extent and impact of online abuse.Their responses paint a clear image of a challenging and aggressive social media environment. Three quarters of federations said that sports stars regularly face threats of harm against themselves or their families, with 90% saying that this is likely to lead to them quitting the sport.Respondents also set out their solutions, with 95% saying that social media platforms have a key role to play in tackling the problem, either voluntarily or under obligation.The statistics come in the wake of a spate of high-profile online abuse cases, including those against former England midfielder Eni Aluko, world tennis No.8 Daria Kasatkina, Chelsea forward Lauren James and recently-retired World Cup rugby referee Wayne Barnes. In fact, one of the main triggers for the FIA’s launch of UAOA was the abuse suffered by an FIA female steward from Spain at the time of the Mexican Grand Prix in 2022.Mohammed Ben Sulayem, Founding Partner of UAOA and President of the FIA, said: “Online abuse is a persistent issue within the sporting world. A number of international federations have voiced their concerns via our barometer survey and in regular discussions we have held since the campaign launch in 2022. The survey findings highlight the importance of united anti-abuse efforts across sporting ecosystems and beyond.“As part of the UAOA campaign, the aim of our coalition is to rid our sport of the scourge of online abuse. Together we seek to bring about behavioural and regulatory change to create a safer, more harmonious environment free of abuse, hate speech and harassment. We already have the support of a number of sporting bodies and governments and are in discussions with other stakeholders to grow our support base.”The United Against Online Abuse campaign is leading the way in these efforts. Drawing together international federations, governments (from Albania, Belgium, France, Greece, Malaysia, Slovenia, Spain) and NGOs (including Peace and Sport), the group has carried out extensive research into online abuse and hate speech, alongside its research partner Dublin City University (DCU). The coalition recently onboarded three DCU scholars, who will continue to bolster this research and strengthen industry understanding of the issue.Professor David Hassan, Principal Investigator for the UAOA Research Study, said: “This research provides us with a baseline for our work going forward. Now that we have established the extent of the problem across sporting federations, we are well placed to address this issue and tackle its root causes, alongside other researchers, governments, and campaign groups.“In conversations with IFs like the IOC and FIFA, there is a common desire to gain a better understanding of the cause and effect of online abuse. That is one of the main goals of our research scholarship programme in collaboration with DCU. The findings of that research will inform our strategic approach going forward.”Coalition members have been united in their desire to join forces to rid sport of online abuse. Several members reiterated that commitment in their responses to the UAOA barometer survey.Dame Liz Nicholl, DBE, President of World Netball, said: "At World Netball, our vision is to make netball a sport that is open to all, and this stretches to the online space. We want all of the Netball Family to feel included and respected on social media. There is no space for abuse.“It was important for netball to be part of this UAOA initiative, and we look forward to helping to make social media safe for all those within our game; from the fans to our officials, and of course our athletes at every level.”Jorge Viegas, President of the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), said: the global governing body of motorcycle racing, said: “The FIM is proud to be an UAOA partner and to be part of this initial step so that we can gauge and analyse the findings in order that we can better protect our riders and motorcycling sport in general from online abuse.“By co-operating and collaborating with other sporting federations, our united approach is one of the best ways to limit this kind of abuse. From the results of the survey, we can now look to strengthen certain areas and ensure that we focus our efforts for the next part of this important process.” Boban Totovski, General Secretary of the International Esports Federation said: “The International Esports Federation is built on respect, not rage. Whether you're a pro player or a weekend warrior, let's spread positive vibes and make Esports a community, not a battleground. Level up your sportsmanship, not your toxicity. Remember, the real victory is respect, not burning books. Let's make Esports a place where everyone feels welcome.”

CARMA announces acquisition of mmi Analytics

CARMA today announced it has acquired mmi Analytics (mmi), a media communication and eTail measurement platform for beauty, fashion, and lifestyle brands. This strategic acquisition marks a significant step in CARMA’s commitment to expanding its full-service offerings and strengthening its position in these key vertical markets.The acquisition brings together CARMA’s global reach, technology, and comprehensive services with mmi Analytics’ deep expertise and established presence in the beauty, fashion, and Lifestyle sectors. It will enable the optimisation of the customer journey by building targeted brand strategies and evaluation methodologies across retail media, influencer communities, and traditional media networks around the world.mmi, headquartered in London, will operate as a brand within the CARMA group and be supported by CARMA’s global scale and award-winning client service, technology, and expertise. With 22 offices worldwide, CARMA’s acquisition will enable mmi to double down on its regional strength in the sectors while supporting clients in dynamic global markets.Mazen Nahawi, CEO of CARMA said: “I am delighted to welcome mmi to the Carma family. The beauty and luxury goods sector is an exciting category. It is robust, innovative, and fast-moving and is growing double-digit across our strategic markets in the Middle East and Asia. Acquiring mmi means that we can now further optimise beauty clients’ digital communications strategies on a global basis.”Christian Eckley, CEO of mmi Analytics said: “This acquisition is great news for our team and our clients. It provides us with superior media insights technology, service, and capabilities while enabling mmi to enhance and scale its offering as part of a truly global organisation.”

Burger King's Whopper Island ad takes aim at McDonald's in playful rivalry

Burger King's latest campaign, created by DM9 Brazil, has stirred up attention by inviting people to participate in renaming an island to "Whopper Island." The island in question currently shares its name with Burger King's famous rival, McDonald's, adding an extra layer of wit to the marketing initiative.The campaign, launched through a mockumentary-style ad and user-interaction campaign, cleverly plays on the rivalry between the two fast-food giants while engaging the audience in an interactive way. By encouraging people to join the movement and interact with the campaign online, Burger King Brazil is leveraging the power of user-generated content and social media to amplify its message.The call to action for viewers to join the online movement by using the hashtag #IlhaWhopper and leaving comments on Google Maps not only engages consumers but also generates buzz and virality around the campaign. Offering Whopper discount vouchers as incentives further incentivizes participation and helps spread the message even further.This approach not only generates buzz and excitement around the brand but also fosters a sense of community and participation among consumers. By tapping into humor and creativity, Burger King Brazil continues to demonstrate its innovative and playful approach to marketing, further solidifying its position as a bold and attention-grabbing brand in the competitive fast-food industry.<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Celebrate Chinese New Year on Hudayriyat Island

Bring your friends and family to welcome the Year of the Dragon with amazing Chinese-themed shows and activities at Marsana on Hudayriyat Island, Abu Dhabi’s premier leisure and sports hub developed by Modon. Keep an eye out for the stilt walker and dragon show that will be roaming around the vibrant venue against the backdrop of beautifully decorated sets and breathtaking waterfront views. Take a seat to enjoy the drummer duo show, the dragon dance, the traditional umbrellas dance, and the kung fu show that will be happening throughout the evening. And if you stay until the end, you get to watch all the performers come together to put on a spectacular final show. For a hands-on experience, you can try various artistic activities, such as fan painting and kids’ artwork. Location:    Entertainment area at Marsana, Hudayriyat IslandDate:          Saturday, February 10, 2024 Timings:     Roaming Dragon Show:                                 4pm – 4:30pm                   Traditional Umbrellas Dance:                          4:30pm – 5pm                     Roaming Stilt Walker + Kung Fu Show:           5pm – 5:30pm                    Drummer Duo Show with Dragon Dance:          5:30pm – 6pm Traditional Umbrellas Dance:                          6:40pm – 7pm         Dragon Dance:                                               7pm – 7:15pm Roaming Stilt Walker + Kung Fu Show:           7:15pm – 7:40pm          Drummer Duo Show with Dragon Dance:          8pm – 8:30pm Roaming Dragon Show:                                 8:30pm – 9pm          Final Show Featuring All Performers:              9:00pm – 9.15pm                       Entrance fees: No Entry Fee

YouTube's 'Hekayat YouTube' series engages Saudi youth and decision-makers

There has been an exciting initiative by YouTube to engage with the youth in Saudi Arabia through their flagship series Hekayat YouTube. The special edition of Hekayat YouTube focuses on Saudi youth, aiming to create a platform for dialogue between decision-makers and Gen-Z in the Kingdom.The series brings together top Saudi YouTube creators and influential public figures from Saudi Arabia to discuss various topics such as the future of jobs, artificial intelligence, wellbeing and quality of life, the creator economy, and sports.Diverse Saudi creators from various fields including lifestyle, health, technology, and investment are participating in the series. Some of the notable creators and contributors mentioned are Beeko, Faisal Alsaif, Sukkari Life, and Faris Alturki. Additionally, influential members from the public and private sectors in Saudi Arabia are participating, such as representatives from the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence, the Quality of Life Program, and private sector leaders.Tarek Amin, YouTube’s Director in MENA, highlighted the importance of the vibrant creator community in Saudi Arabia and how YouTube serves as a reflection of what's top of mind for Saudi youth. The initiative aims to provide a platform for creators to engage with decision-makers and share their experiences.With 63% of Saudis under the age of 30, YouTube's reach in Saudi Arabia is significant. YouTube data indicates that the platform reached over 20 million people in Saudi Arabia over the age of 18 in December 2022, with the average person watching over 55 minutes of YouTube per day in June 2022.The series consists of five episodes and is available on YouTube Arabia’s YouTube channel, participating creator’s channels, and major podcast platforms such as Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anghami, and Deezer.The first episode, titled "Play it Forward with YouTube," premiered on January 31 on Ana Beeko’s YouTube channel, YouTube Arabia’s YouTube Channel, and major podcast platforms. Subsequent episodes will be released weekly.This initiative seems well-designed to engage with Saudi youth through content that resonates with their interests and concerns, while also providing them with a platform to interact with decision-makers

Oliver Wyman appoints new Wellbeing lead, extends paid maternity leave

Oliver Wyman, a global management consulting firm and a business of Marsh McLennan, has extended its maternity leave and has also appointed a Wellbeing Lead for across its India, Middle East, and Africa (IMEA) region. The Wellbeing Lead is a new role for the company that is designed to promote health and happiness among employees and bolster retention. Meanwhile, the increase in parental leave now means all new parents in the IMEA region are eligible for six months of paid maternity leave, or eight weeks of paid paternity leave. This change ensures consistency across the entire region, bringing the maternity leave offering in line with what was already available in India. The policy applies to offices in the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Qatar, and India.Additionally, returning mothers will be offered an additional eight paid days off in the first eight weeks after they return. Employees returning from maternity leave will also be given the option to take a 12-month ‘no-travel guarantee’ to help with a smooth transition back to work, while new fathers will be offered flexibility regarding travel arrangements.Meanwhile, many of Oliver Wyman’s newly renovated offices, such as its Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Doha offices, also feature multi-purpose wellness and nursing rooms to help new mothers with their return to the workplace. Overall, Oliver Wyman is designing its offices to suit the adjusting needs of today’s hybrid workforce – with ample collaboration areas and breakout rooms, for instance.The company has also implemented a program called BOOST 2.0, which aims to provide support to employees before, during, and after their parental leave to ease the transition to parenthood while supporting their career. A key element of the program is that the support continues into the later stages of parenting – it offers regular check-ins for parents, a buddy system for support, trainings, workshops, and more.The newly appointed Wellbeing Lead, Clare McDonald, will be responsible for managing the wellbeing of employees across the IMEA region. McDonald joined Oliver Wyman in 2013 and has worked across the company’s Talent Management function for the past 10 years – she will combine this essential experience with her qualifications in mental health, first aid, personal training, yoga, and nutrition coaching. McDonald will act as the company’s central point of contact for Wellbeing across Oliver Wyman IMEA, and her focus will be on employee support and engagement, data collection and analysis, and designing programs to enhance employee wellbeing.“To drive progress in human capital acquisition and retention, companies must go beyond traditional compensation models and foster safe, equitable, and healthy work environments. People are at the heart of what we do at Oliver Wyman and the wellbeing of our employees and providing everyone with support along their personal journey is a key part of our value proposition. We are thrilled to have Clare take on this new role, the first of its kind in our business, and we know she will approach it with a lot of passion, as well as support from leadership. Leading with heart isn't just the right thing to do, it's also good for business,” said Isabell Stobwasser, Director of Talent for the IMEA Region.“Drawing upon my own health journey, I hope to support and inspire my Oliver Wyman colleagues to thrive – physically, mentally and emotionally, both inside and outside of work,” said Clare McDonald, the new Wellbeing Lead. “Management consulting is a demanding industry, and prioritizing wellbeing is a challenge that needs to be looked at holistically.”Oliver Wyman has made significant investments globally in support of its Talent Value Proposition initiative, an internal program aimed at increasing employee satisfaction and retention. The pillars of this proposition encompass various initiatives, including an exchange program, MBA study support, and a Golden Passport program that provides consultants and specialists with opportunities to work across multiple regions. Additionally, the company also places strong emphasis on its Employee Resource Groups, which serve as spaces for employees to connect, foster allyship, and receive support. These include Women at Oliver Wyman and Family Life at Oliver Wyman.

Emirates Post Group unveils new brand identity ‘7X’ for future

Emirates Post Group Company (EPG) has unveiled its new brand identity - 7X - during an exclusive event at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai. The unveiling marks a strategic leap for the Group, positioning it as a front-runner in the ever-evolving landscape of global trade, transport, and logistics.The name 7X is symbolic, representing the connectivity of the seven emirates to the seven continents and across the seven seas, marking a commitment to enabling a world in motion. This strategic shift aligns seamlessly with the Group’s ambitious five-year strategy - which prioritises operational excellence, digital transformation, customer-centricity, cultivation of strategic partnerships, and promotion of sustainable growth.With entities like Emirates Post, FINTX, and EDC under its umbrella, 7X seeks to achieve a robust return on investments across all projects. The new strategy places innovation at its core, incubating a network of trade, transport, and logistics solutions for an efficient, dynamic, and future-ready ecosystem. It is aimed at propelling growth by establishing a resilient business model that represents the group's strategy pillars: Protect, Transform and Expand.Badr Salim Sultan Al-Olama, Chairman of 7X, said: “With the launch of our Group’s new strategy and identity, we aim to connect and enable a world in motion, deriving our vision from the global stature enjoyed by the UAE and its pivotal role as a connecting the world. This achievement underscores our pioneering endeavours to support the national economy and solidifies our position as a driving force dedicated to empowering, connecting, accelerating, and sustaining the growth of trade, transport, and logistics. in addition to uphold the highest standards of excellence.”The new strategy is geared towards further strengthening the company’s global footprint and fostering a positive influence on the communities served by 7X. The brand seeks to further enhance its contribution to the UAE’s vision of smart communities through a global network that leverages technology and collaborative efforts for enhanced efficiency in global operations.In addition, the strategy sets new standards for quality, speed, reliability, and transparency in postal and express delivery. It responds to changing consumer demands by combining Courier, Express, and Parcel (CEP) services with fintech solutions, revolutionising the industry.Commenting on the launch of the new identity and its transformation strategy, Abdulla Mohammed Alashram, Group CEO of 7X, stated, "In this historic step, we embark on a new chapter under the '7X' brand, signifying our unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional customer experiences and enriching their value. Our rich legacy and growing experience in the UAE and the region have always been pillars of our socio-economic evolution, in line with the national vision for digitization, e-commerce, logistics, and financial integration. We pledge to continue our technological and sustainable investments, affirming our environmental responsibility and dedication to innovation that aligns with market dynamics."Alashram, added, "Our new strategy aims to reinforce our core operations and enhance their stability while focusing on achieving operational excellence through improved efficiency and productivity. This strategy not only highlights the expansion and diversification of our portfolio but also reflects our resolve to drive innovation in an ever-evolving sector."By embracing innovation and sustainable practices, the Group envisions not only economic growth but also a contribution to environmental responsibility and social well-being. Through strategic partnerships and continuous investment in digitalization, 7X is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping a more interconnected, resilient, and inclusive global trade and logistics landscape.

Karcher Center makes debut in Muscat

 The first Karcher Center in Oman was inaugurated at Ghala Industrial Area in Muscat on Wednesday, 31 January 2024.The official ribbon-cutting ceremony was conducted in the presence of a number of Omani dignitaries and German officials, including His Excellency Dirk Lölke, German Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman, Ms. Sousann El-Faksch, Head of Oman German Industry & Commerce Office (AHK). Also in attendance were senior executives, Christian May, Deputy CEO & Chief Sales Officer, Alfred Kärcher SE & Co. KG, and Joe Lahoud, Regional President, Karcher - Middle East Region.“Karcher is a family-owned enterprise with a heritage of 89 years in business. We firmly believe in values and relationships that stand the test of time,” said Joe Lahoud. “Our customers in Oman share much of the same values, and we are confident that the Karcher Center Muscat will send a clear signal of our commitment to work together to meet their needs.”Over the last 50 years, Karcher has built a loyal client-base for its household and professional cleaning equipment across 14 countries in the Middle East. Oman is expected to be an important market for Karcher’s ambitions for expansion in the region.“The Karcher Center at Ghala will not only offer a comprehensive one-stop shop for innovative, high-quality products, it will also be a vital distribution and logistics hub for our dealers and retail partners across the Sultanate,” explained Joe Lahoud. “Moreover, we have a full-fledged service center manned by highly trained Karcher technicians, and equipped to provide best-in-class after-sales support to our Omani customers.”Karcher is a renowned brand in cleaning technology with a presence in 80 countries, a multinational team of 15,000+ professionals, a portfolio of 3000+ products and accessories, and a network of 50,000+ service centers worldwide.The company's diverse product portfolio includes high-pressure cleaners, vacuum cleaners, steam cleaners, air purifiers, municipality sweepers, scrubber driers, vehicle washing bays, dry ice blasters, watering systems, and drinking water dispensers.

Aunindo Sen joins Publicis Middle East as Executive Creative Director

Aunindo (Auni) Sen, an industry veteran with 16 years of experience working with some of the world’s leading brands and largest agencies, has joined Publicis Middle East, part of Publicis Groupe ME, as Executive Creative Director. He will co-lead the creative department together with Tuki Ghiassi, Executive Creative Director.Auni is rejoining Publicis Groupe ME after two years, having previously worked with Leo Burnett ME as Senior Creative Director. Familiar with the Groupe’s relentless focus on excellence, in his new role as Executive Creative Director, he will help drive best-in-class work for the agency’s enviable roster of brands as well as support the growth of the agency’s portfolio across verticals. As part of this, he will also join in on the agency’s objective of transforming into one of the most attractive talent propositions in the region.Previously, Auni has worked with the likes of BBDO, FP7McCann and JWT across the GCC and Asia leading award-winning regional and global campaigns for multinational brands such as Ferrero, Coca-Cola, Mars, Nestlé CPW, Unilever, Dettol, United Nations and more. He has over 150+ regional and international awards under his belt including Cannes Lions, Dubai Lynx, MENA Effies, D&AD and Adfest, and won the first Glass Lion at Cannes for MENA. He also recently served on the Cannes Lions jury, and was ranked as one of the world’s best copywriters in The Big Won report.Commenting on his appointment, Auni said: “Publicis Middle East is not just an Agency. It’s the name that represents an entire Groupe that has transformed communications globally. As the namesake Agency of the Groupe, we have our work cut out for us. But this is something I can safely say, is the part of the job that I relish the most. With the talent-first focus of Publicis Groupe ME and its Leadership, we are absolutely primed to not only mirror its reputation but to take it to a new level.”Nathalie Gevresse, CEO of Publicis Communications UAE, said:“We’re thrilled to welcome Auni back to the Groupe. His return underscores our commitment to attracting and nurturing top talent, setting the stage for an exciting new chapter of growth, creative excellence, and innovation for Publicis Middle East.”

Adgully ME in conversation with Alex Malouf

Today, we're honored to have Alex Malouf as our guest, a renowned figure in the Middle East region, especially in the realm of corporate communications. Alex has been recognized for his groundbreaking work, being named the first communications innovator in the MEA region by the Holmes Report, and acknowledged as a Rising Star and future Chief Communications & Marketing Officer by PRovoke Media.As a PRCA MENA board member and a seasoned communication veteran with two decades of experience in the region, Alex brings a wealth of insights to the table. In this exclusive conversation, he'll shed light on his journey in corporate communications in the MENA region, emphasizing his efforts in promoting sustainability within the sector. Given the growing awareness and emphasis on environmental and social issues, Alex's perspective is invaluable.What sets this discussion apart is the opportunity to delve into Alex's lesser-known journalistic background. Many may not be aware of his magazine venture from a decade ago, and we're eager to hear him share insights from that experience.Without further ado, let's dive into our conversation with Alex Malouf, where he'll provide firsthand insights into his remarkable career and the evolving landscape of corporate communications in the Middle East.<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share" allowfullscreen></iframe>

DORITOS launches first international brand platform, 'For the Bold in Everyone'

Doritos is debuting the brand's first-ever unified international creative campaign and brand platform, 'For the Bold in Everyone', strategically redefining the meaning of "bold" and inspiring people to be triangles in a world of circles. A daring call to shatter stereotypes in unexpected and humorous ways, the witty new platform is inspired by the universal human truth that sometimes people hide parts of themselves to fit in. The brand wants to encourage people to rethink their personal biases and embrace their own edges and passions. DORITOS® Launches First International Brand Platform, ‘For the Bold in Everyone’ "Doritos has always been synonymous with 'bold,' but we know it's time to redefine and evolve it's meaning to continue to drive relevance with new generations" says Fernando Kahane, Head of Global Marketing for Doritos. "Today's consumers want brands that believe in something. 'For the Bold in Everyone' aims to strike the right balance between having a point of view and delivering entertaining and humorous content that is true to the brand and the snack category as a whole." 'For The Bold in Everyone' makes its international premiere this year with a trio of unexpected and fun spots all created by Goodby Silverstein & Partners and directed by BAFTA Award-winning director Gary Freedman. The commercials showcase how a single brand idea can be flexible, telling emotional and personal stories, as well as functional to support potential brand renovations or new product launches. From challenging viewers to rethink their assumptions to celebrating the unique flavour and iconic crunch of Doritos, each commercial is unified by the overarching goal of embracing boldness in all its facets.Doritos' new campaign will run throughout 2024 and is spearheaded by a global film about a grandmother who, at first glance, is getting her license renewed, but unexpectedly reveals she is a woman who defies societal pre-conceptions and fulfils her dream of driving a Monster Truck – all told by her supportive grandson who accompanies her every step of the way on this journey full of tenderness, adrenaline, and unexpected twists."This was such a ridiculously fun idea! Funny, cinematic, absurd, and soulful all at the same time," says director Gary Freedman."This campaign is a great example of how humour can help communicate a strong message in an accessible way without losing its essence; the campaign is intended to elevate the brand on an international level and give it an expanded perspective, one that introduces a new brand philosophy," said Margaret Johnson, CCO of Goodby Silverstein & Partners, the agency behind the campaign.The campaign in the UK also includes social and digital advertising, created by Sips & Bites, PepsiCo's in-house creative agency, which features real stories from the UK and around the world, applauding those who embrace all their edges and passions. This includes Chloe Kelly, a female footballer who delivered a more powerful shot than any recorded in the top England men's football tournament 22/23¹; Pete & Bas – Britain's oldest Grime MCs; Dan Mancina, a blind professional skateboarder and Colette Zacca, the 'Dancing Granny' who took the 2019 Notting Hill Carnival by storm.Globally, 'For the Bold in Everyone' is a key priority for the future of the brand. As well as running in the UK, the campaign will launch in Australia and other European markets such as Spain and the Netherlands in Q1, with roll-out plans across Latin America and other key international markets throughout 2024 - marking the first of many stories to be told in an enduring international brand platform to drive a distinctive and consistent brand narrative over the coming years.

Dopay names Ahmed Nassef as Chief Operating Officer and GM

dopay, a leading fintech and payment solutions company in Egypt, announces the appointment of Ahmed Nassef as its new Chief Operating Officer (COO) and General Manager. This announcement was made during an exclusive roundtable event, highlighting the company's commitment to instant digital payroll for companies and financial inclusion for Egypt’s millions of unbanked workers.In addressing the challenges within Egypt's financial landscape, dopay – licensed as a banking agent by the Central Bank of Egypt – is committed to transforming the country's financial sector. Leveraging an advanced cashless payroll and payments solution, dopay makes it much easier for companies to pay their employees, freelancers, and contractors by quickly replacing high-risk and cumbersome cash payments to these workers with fast and secure digital payments.Further, dopay can deliver pre-paid cards to these workers within days, who can then use any ATM in Egypt to access their salaries, and they can also use them to shop at any point-of-sale merchant that accepts MasterCard.Ahmed Nassef brings a wealth of experience, which he amassed during his 20-year tenure in the tech scale-ups and startup business growth in several countries across the region. He played an important role in expanding access to the Internet and Arabic digital content as part of his previous roles leading and as Yahoo!’s chief executive for the Middle East and Africa region. With this appointment, he now takes on the challenge of giving access to the digital financial system to millions of Egyptian employees and workers who currently still use cash as their primary transactional method. Expressing his enthusiasm about joining dopay Egypt, Ahmed Nassef, COO and General Manager, said: "I am truly honored and excited to be part of such an important and impactful fintech company. dopay's mission resonates deeply with me — to empower and provide essential financial services to millions of unbanked Egyptian employees and workers. Egyptian workers deserve access to the financial mainstream, and we are dedicated to offering them world-class financial accessibility, starting with our dopay prepaid card."As a seasoned business leader with a long track record in the region’s technology and startup sector, Nassef will oversee all operations of the company, including sales and marketing, collaboration with businesses and financial partners, customer onboarding, support, and logistics, plus the company's people and culture strategy.

GoDaddy launches courses to empower aspiring Saudi entrepreneurs

In a move to empower the entrepreneurial spirit in Saudi Arabia, GoDaddy Inc., the company that empowers entrepreneurs around the world, has launched two educational courses in partnership with Monsha’at Academy, strategically designed to empower emerging entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia.These courses are designed to help entrepreneurs looking to establish and grow their online businesses, providing essential skills and insights tailored to the evolving digital landscape. By focusing on practical knowledge and applications, these courses offer a distinct advantage, enabling entrepreneurs to effectively launch, manage, and succeed in their online endeavors.The curriculum includes comprehensive courses such as "Start your business online and create a website" and "Start Selling online and eCommerce." These courses, offered free in support of GoDaddy's mission to empower entrepreneurs globally, cover a range of essential topics for building a robust online presence and a flourishing e-commerce platform. The content spans from the basics of online presence and website development to advanced strategies for e-commerce and customer engagement.Selina Bieber, Vice President of International Markets at GoDaddy, commented on the courses' success, highlighting their role in entrepreneurial development. She noted the courses' effectiveness in equipping entrepreneurs with essential digital skills, crucial for navigating today's dynamic market landscape. This initiative by GoDaddy underscores their commitment to fostering growth and adaptability among small and medium-sized enterprises, continually supporting their online journey towards innovation and success.The "Start your business online and create a website" course, available online through Monshaat Academy's e-learning Library, offers a comprehensive and flexible learning experience. This course provides an in-depth understanding of establishing an online presence, covering everything from the basics of digital presence to practical use of GoDaddy's website builder in Arabic. Designed for adaptability, students can progress at their own pace, pausing and resuming as needed. Each of the five lessons culminates in unit exams, which can be attempted up to three times for mastery. The final exam, following the same format, ensures a thorough grasp of the essential skills for effective website planning, design, and engagement.The "Start Selling online and eCommerce" course is designed to help entrepreneurs navigate the world of e-commerce. It covers various aspects of online selling, from understanding e-commerce business models to creating an e-store with GoDaddy and exploring e-commerce customer service. This course offering is particularly timely, given the Monshaat Q1 2023 report's emphasis on the rising trend of e-commerce in the region, with a notable increase in online business registrations.These courses are a part of GoDaddy’s broader mission to support the digital transformation goals of Saudi Arabia’s '2030 Vision', contributing to the development of a digitally savvy entrepreneurial community. With SMEs constituting 99.5% of the total businesses in the Kingdom, the impact of these educational initiatives is substantial.For more detailed information on GoDaddy’s range of training courses and the extensive resources available for budding and established entrepreneurs, please visit

Sunfeast YiPPee! & Bingo! now sponsors for Argentina's National Football Team

In an exciting move that is certain to delight football fans in India, Bingo! and Sunfeast YiPPee! from ITC Ltd., have joined hands with the Argentine Football Association (AFA), as their Official Regional Sponsor. The World Champion Argentina Football team enjoys huge fan following in India. The admiration for the team and game is significantly growing especially among the young audience. YiPPee! and Bingo! as youth-oriented brands, are all about fun, excitement, being playful, which beautifully resonates with the spirit of AFA. As part of this strategic partnership, YiPPee! and Bingo! will harness the rich legacy of AFA to engage with consumers through a series of unique initiatives. Participants will have the chance to win match tickets, meet and greet team players, branded merchandise, memorabilia and much more. Further, through this association the brands aim to deepen their reach and offer unparalleled experience that celebrates the shared adoration for the sport. Celebrating the partnership, the respective brands today unveiled exclusive packs featuring star players like Lionel Messi, Ángel Di María, Julián Álvarez and Emiliano Martínez, merchandise and memorabilia at an event held at ITC Sonar. Commenting on the exciting association, Suresh Chand, Vice president & Head of Marketing, Snacks, Noodles & Pasta, ITC Foods, said, “As brands, we are constantly pursuing innovative ways to connect with our audience. Our partnership with World Champion Argentina, is a testament to our continuous efforts to delight our consumers by offering them memorable experiences. Through this collaboration, we aim to elevate the fan experience and deepen our connection with consumers, offering them unique opportunities to immerse themselves in their beloved sport.”Echoing the excitement, Mr. Leandro Petersen, Chief Commercial and Marketing Officer of the Argentine Football Association said, “We are thrilled to welcome Bingo! and YiPPee! as our Regional Sponsor in India. Football possesses the power to transcend borders and cultures, and we are confident that this collaboration will not only amplify the love for the sport in India, but also create unforgettable experiences for fans. Together, we look forward to crafting cherished memories for fans across India."YiPPee! also launched a unique G.O.A.T (Greatest Offer of All Time) promo, where participants will have to sign up for the contest and share their YiPPee! happy moment with the Argentina football players to receive personalized digital memorabilia and compete to win original autographed jerseys and several other AFA branded merchandize. So, get ready to witness the electrifying fusion of football and snacking as Bingo! YiPPee! and AFA take the field together.

Emirates launches luxurious business class loungewear

From 1 February onwards, Emirates is launching an innovatively designed, complimentary inflight loungewear set for Business Class customers including a relaxed cowl neck top and drawstring pants, comfortable slippers, and a matching eye mask. The luxurious loungewear is designed to be the ideal ‘flight fit’ - perfect for sleeping in, but also suitable to wear for a social drink at the A380 onboard lounge, or as a casual outfit that takes you from aircraft to arrivals in style.Emirates’ Business Class Loungewear is composed of a super soft premium modal material, which customers find lightweight and breathable. Designed to reflect contemporary athleisure trends, the cozy fabric is in a relaxing shade of light blue, available in two sizes. The botanic fibres and jersey knit style means the loungewear has an elegant drape that flatters various body types, ensuring soft and stretchy comfort above the clouds. Presented in a complementary drawstring pouch, each set contains an adjustable loungewear top and pants, a pair of warm slippers and an eye mask.Emirates Business Class customers will be offered the loungewear set upon boarding so they can change at their leisure and maximise comfort for the full duration of the flight. On flights of 9 hours or more, Business Class customers will receive the full set with loungewear top and pants, slippers and eye mask, while on flights that have a duration of 2 hours and 30 minutes, customers will receive complimentary slippers and eye mask sets.The launch of Business Class Loungewear forms part of Emirates’ ongoing investment into elevating customer experience, ensuring customers in all classes ‘fly better’. Recent investments have included a huge retrofit project of 120 aircraft with upgraded cabin interiors, creative new menus and new high-quality ingredients, exclusive champagne partnerships, a new hospitality programme for Emirates cabin crew, live TV onboard amidst a vast library of inflight entertainment, complimentary Wi-Fi attainable for all customers, luxurious amenity kits and a world-class wine list. The multimillion dollar investment into Business Class loungewear has been in development for more than a year, designed in-house by the Emirates team to be best-in-class for comfort, style and reusability. During the trial period on routes to and from New York and Boston, customers shared highly positive feedback on the loungewear, with sets being taken home by customers to be worn again.

BMW iJack: Transforming Google Maps charging stations into BMW showrooms

The BMW iJack campaign, developed by Serviceplan Middle East in collaboration with BMW Middle East, has been unveiled across various social media platforms and YouTube. The campaign creatively utilized Google Maps' charging station listings by integrating BMW electric cars into the photos, effectively transforming the platform into a virtual showroom for BMW's electric range.The strategy behind the campaign stemmed from the recognition that potential electric vehicle buyers in the UAE primarily rely on public charging stations for their charging needs. By photobombing these listings with BMW electric cars, the campaign not only captured attention but also ensured that whenever someone searched for the nearest charging station, they encountered a BMW electric vehicle.This innovative approach demonstrated that effective marketing doesn't always require substantial budgets; rather, it's about understanding the audience and devising smart strategies. André Couto, the Creative Director at Serviceplan Middle East, highlighted the importance of identifying audience behavior and executing the campaign efficiently over an extended period.Karim Mroueh, BMW Group Business Director at Serviceplan Middle East, emphasized the campaign's alignment with BMW's ethos of innovation and constant visibility. By repurposing Google Maps' photos as virtual showcases for BMW electric cars, the campaign showcased the brand's cutting-edge approach and creativity.

Mitgo Group Launches Takefluence: Revolutionary Creators & Brands Collaboration

Mitgo Group, a global tech company focused on delivering innovative marketing solutions and promoting entrepreneurship, announces the launch of Takefluence, a platform connecting content creators and social media enthusiasts with brands in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The launch of Takefluence will allow Mitgo Group to strengthen its position in the MENA influencer marketing industry, which experts estimate at more than $1 billion. The significance of the content economy is on the rise in the MENA market, supported by the announcement of a Dh150 million fund by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, to empower content creators and influencers. Sheikh Mohammed's commitment to establishing a permanent headquarters for influencers in Dubai further reinforces Takefluence's strategic position in line with the region's dedication to fostering influencer marketing industry growth. The platform aims to attract 1-3 million users within the next 1-2 years.Industry reports also project a surge in influencer ad spending at an annual rate of 10.04% from 2023 to 2027. Moreover, there is a global dominant trend of partnering with micro and nano influencers and creator affiliate partnerships which are the main focus of Takefluence. Such partnerships are proven to be up to 4-5x more effective than mega-influencers campaigns. So, the Takefluence strategic entry aligns perfectly with this upward trajectory of the influencer market in the MENA region.Takefluence is set to create a dynamic ecosystem where content creators seamlessly discover and connect with leading brands, earning from campaigns, enjoying savings while shopping online or offline. The platform distinguishes itself by offering content creators a streamlined process, from receiving promo codes to participating in brand campaigns, coupled with quick withdrawal options, hybrid earnings, an Ambassador program, and a diverse range of brand choices and promotions. For brands, Takefluence introduces a brand-formance approach, incorporating Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) and Hybrid campaigns. This approach includes pay-per-post, pay-per-reach, fixed, gifting and branding campaigns based on reach, all facilitated through content creators and user-generated content.Takefluence has already secured partnerships with 150+ brands including Noon, Namshi, YallaHub, Truegamers, Lifemost, ToysBrand, Geardoor, GetOutfit, The Luxury Closet, NiceOne, SharafDG, etc. The company is set to onboard and help any offline and online brands, malls, event organizers, marketplace brands, sellers and even individuals like emerging artists who can immediately benefit from engaging their audience and customers to create or amplify content.Archie Rudyuk, CEO of Takefluence:"As we venture into the MENA market, the growth potential is immense. The region's vibrant landscape and the unique blend of creators and brands create an exciting opportunity for Takefluence. We already witnessed a surge of interest in Takefluence from creators and local brands. They sign up for an annual partnership, launch their ambassador programs with us, and start getting first results."Alexander Bachmann, CEO of Mitgo Group:"We believe in Takefluence's vision and its potential to reshape social commerce in the MENA region. The team's dedication and innovative approach align with our values at Mitgo Group. This strategic collaboration is poised to make a significant impact on the influencer marketing landscape."Mitgo Group is committed to contributing to the evolution of social commerce, empowering, and fostering meaningful connections between content creators and brands in the MENA region.

WPP unveils strategic focus on AI to drive growth and margins

WPP, a major agency holding company, has outlined a comprehensive strategy to drive growth and enhance margins, with a particular emphasis on leveraging opportunities in AI. WPP aims to save £125 million through network consolidation and another £175 million through efficiency improvements. It is undergoing restructuring, incurring a £125 million hit, which might involve job losses.WPP plans to invest significantly in AI, with an annual cash injection of £250m into proprietary technology.This investment aims to capitalize on the transformative potential of AI in the industry. CEO Mark Read emphasized that AI is viewed as an opportunity rather than a threat and highlighted the belief that AI will complement human creativity rather than replace it.Moreover, WPP is actively developing AI tools designed to augment its workforce rather than replace jobs. Chief Technology Officer Stephan Pretorius explained that these tools are intended to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of WPP's work, particularly in areas such as content creation and media performance. WPP aims to unlock the full potential of creative transformation to drive growth and build world-class, market-leading brands. This involves streamlining its agency brands and simplifying its operating model. Recent efforts include merging and simplifying agency brands such as Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R to create streamlined entities like VML.WPP's strategy reflects a proactive approach to adapting to industry changes, particularly the growing significance of AI, while also aiming to enhance operational efficiency and drive growth. The company's investments in AI and efforts to streamline its operations underscore its commitment to remaining competitive in a rapidly evolving landscape. Despite challenges, such as a decline in stock value over the past year, WPP appears focused on positioning itself for future success.

Amazon Prime ad tier to generate $2bn ad revenue in 2024: Omdia

Following the debut of Amazon’s ad-supported Prime Video service this week, new and exclusive analysis from Omdia reveals the streaming platform is set to generate more than $2bn in incremental ad revenue in 2024, its launch year. This will be in addition to revenue already generated by the sale of advertising slots during live sports broadcasts on the service.Amazon Prime has successfully built a strong subscriber base of over 200 million due to the range of services it offers, including an extensive shopping range, free shipping, music, and cloud services. These services allow Amazon to remain competitive and continue to attract and retain customers.The main difference between Amazon Prime’s advertising strategy compared to other players such as Netflix is the subscription model. Amazon will place all current users into the ad-supported tier of its service, giving subscribers the option to pay extra to view without advertising. Netflix users all begin in the non-ad-supported tier and have the option to pay less for a service that incorporates advertising.Commenting on Amazon Prime’s entry into the ad-supported video market, Matthew Bailey, Omdia Principal Analyst said: “The forecasted global revenue of over $2bn for Amazon's ad-supported Prime Video tier in 2024 indicates considerable growth potential for the streaming platform and reflects Amazon's efforts to diversify its revenue streams beyond subscription fees. “A significant factor contributing to Amazon's success will be their capability to provide closed-loop attribution and the inherent advantage of having all their users ad-addressable by default. Amazon has already experimented with directly shoppable ad formats, and this would enhance their ability to monetize their platform even more.”Omdia's research also considers the introduction of new services by Amazon's ad-supported Prime Video, including shoppable TV. This feature allows viewers to directly purchase products they see in shows or movies, creating a new avenue for e-commerce within the streaming platform.Concluding, Bailey said “Omdia expects more partnerships between prominent retailers, broadcasters, and online video platform owners as they look to compete with Amazon. These will range from data-sharing partnerships to enable commerce-led video advertising measurement and targeting through to direct retailer integration with video services.”

Spotify elevates Rahul Balyan as Head of Market Strategy & Operations for SAMEA

Rahul Balyan has been elevated to Head of Market Strategy & Operations for South Asia, Middle East and Africa (SAMEA) at Spotify. He was earlier the Head of Music for India.As Head of Market Strategy & Operations, Balyan has an exciting opportunity to make a significant impact in diverse and dynamic regions.As he steps into this position, he will have the chance to shape Spotify's presence and strategy in South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, which are all regions with immense potential for growth and cultural richness.Rahul Balyan has a rich experience of more than a decade in the field of music. He has been with Spotify since three years and prior to joining his present organistaion , he was with Radio Mirchi, where he worked for almost a decadeGiven Spotify's global reach and influence in the music and entertainment industry, his work will undoubtedly have a far-reaching impact on both the company and the millions of users in the SAMEA region who rely on Spotify for their music and audio streaming needs.

Media City Qatar enters into an agreement with QFC to boost media ecosystem

Media City Qatar (MCQ), established to attract and regulate investment opportunities to support the media ecosystem in Qatar, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Qatar Financial Centre Authority (QFCA), the legal and tax arm of the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), a leading onshore financial and business center in the region. The MoU aims to facilitate the establishment of media companies in Qatar.Under the agreement, the QFC will register media companies pre-approved by MCQ, which will be licensed by both the QFC and MCQ. Registration and Licensing details will be recorded on the QFC platform. This partnership enables licensed companies to conduct business in Qatar according to MCQ’s permitted activities. The QFC will facilitate all necessary governmental procedures and tax-related processes in accordance with the legal framework and regulations of Qatar. Meanwhile, MCQ will diligently oversee the companies’ compliance with the applicable regulations for media entities in Qatar.Furthermore, the two parties will collaborate to promote each other’s programmes and activities and evaluate opportunities for mutually beneficial projects toward developing the media sector in Qatar.Expressing his enthusiasm about the MoU, His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani, Chairman, MCQ, said, “This strategic partnership will empower Media City to attract and license media companies, further enriching Qatar’s vibrant media ecosystem. We extend our gratitude to the QFC Chairman and Minister of Commerce and Industry, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Bin Qassim Al-Abdullah Al-Thani, for facilitating the signing of this pivotal memorandum of understanding, which sets the stage for driving growth in the media industry and contributing to Qatar’s economic diversification. We look forward to achieving Media City Qatar's vision as an attractive destination for local, regional, and international media businesses and initiatives across various scales.”Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, Chief Executive Officer, QFC, underscored the importance of the MoU, stating, "We are thrilled about this partnership with Media City, which marks a significant step in fostering media growth in Qatar. Through this collaboration, we aim to streamline processes and provide a conducive environment for media companies to thrive in the country. Together with MCQ, we are poised to unlock exciting opportunities and drive innovation in the sector.”This partnership between the QFC and MCQ signifies a shared commitment to regulatory compliance, operational excellence, and fostering growth in the media sector.

Marilyn Monroe’s wax figure brings vintage Hollywood glamour to Dubai

This February, Madame Tussauds Dubai, located on Bluewaters, will unveil its latest global joining the ever-growing list of glamourous celebrities - the wax figure of Marilyn Monroe. To celebrate the launch of the icon’s figure, which is just in time for the month of love with Valentine’s Day, Madame Tussauds is offering special discounts and offerings to visitors and tourists alike.Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926, she was an iconic American actress, model, and singer, renowned for portraying comic ‘blonde bombshell’ characters. Marilyn rose to fame as one of the most popular actresses of the 1950s, with her signature glamourous style. She was a top-billed actress for just a decade, but her films grossed an impressive $200 million by 1962. Marilyn Monroe’s influence as a major popular culture icon continues today, more than half a century later.Marilyn Monroe’s figure is styled in the shimmering red sequin dress from the 1953 film ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’. While her beauty look quickly evolved as her career took off, Marilyn Monroe continued to experiment with her hair and makeup, wearing her iconic curls in a variety of styles. She also proved the versatility of her glamorous look by wearing a full face of makeup for every occasion, from an on-screen appearance to a casual party at home. Her figure can be seen in her signature look: blonde curled hair, red lips and full lashes.She joins the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Jennifer Lawrence and Tom Cruise in the Film Zone, one of the six themed areas of Madame Tussauds Dubai, the other zones being: Leaders & Royals, Fashion, Bollywood, Sports and the A-List Music Party.Exclusively during the month of February, visitors (groups of up to four adults) to the star-studded attraction can enjoy a special 20 per cent discount by mentioning “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” at the entrance and can cast their hand in wax for just AED25, reduced from AED40.Perfect for a Galentine’s Day outing with friends or an alternative Valentine’s Day celebration with a loved one, there are many reasons to plan a visit to Madame Tussaud Dubai this month. Pose with Marilyn Monroe’s figure, explore interactive experiences, and marvel at the fantastic selection of lifelike wax figures. “We’re so excited to celebrate the February ‘Month of Love’ with Marilyn Monroe’s figure adding that vintage Hollywood style and glamour to our vibrant Film Zone,” said Sanaz Kollsrud, General Manager of Madame Tussauds Dubai.Notes:Opening hours:Sunday – Thursday 12pm – 8pm (last entry 7:45pm)Friday, Saturday & Public Holidays 11am - 9pm (last entry 8:45pm)Ramadan hours: 3pm to 10pm dailyStandard Admission Ticket prices:Adults (11+) AED150Children (3-11) AED125Under 3s- free of chargeExclusive Fame Experience Ticket prices:VIP Tour Adults (11+) AED305VIP Tour Children (3-11) AED240UAE Resident Ticket prices:Adults (11+) AED115Children (3-11) AED90Under 3s- free of chargeFriend & Family Ticket prices:Four Adults (11+) AED480Two Adults & 2 Children (3-11) AED440Under 3s- free of charge

ChatGPT accused of data breach by Italian authority

OpenAI's AI chatbot ChatGPT is back in the hot seat in Europe, this time facing renewed data privacy concerns from Italy's Garante data protection authority. After temporarily banning ChatGPT in 2023 over alleged EU privacy violations, Garante's investigation has uncovered further potential breaches, according to a statement on Monday.While details of the specific concerns remain undisclosed, they likely center around data collection and user consent practices during training of the AI algorithms. OpenAI, backed by tech giant Microsoft, maintains its practices comply with EU regulations and emphasizes efforts to minimize personal data usage. OpenAI has 30 days to respond to Garante's claims and defend its practices.This renewed scrutiny makes Italy the first European country to raise red flags about ChatGPT twice, highlighting the growing regulatory focus on AI and its potential privacy implications. The EU, a leader in data protection, has already taken steps towards regulating AI through its 2018 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the recent provisional agreement on AI frameworks. Under GDPR, violators can face hefty fines of up to 4% of their global turnover.The investigation and potential consequences for OpenAI serve as a cautionary tale for developers of AI systems. Balancing innovation with responsible data handling is crucial to navigate the increasingly complex regulatory landscape in Europe and beyond. Transparency, user control, and minimizing data collection remain key principles for AI developers aiming to avoid regulatory hurdles and build trust with users.

Heinz launches global ad 'The Wait' celebrating consumers' 'Irrational Love'

The latest marketing ad from Heinz, titled "The Wait," marks a significant effort in the company's global marketing strategy, emphasizing consumers' deep affection for its products.The promotional ad highlights the phenomenon of consumers patiently waiting for Heinz condiments, such as ketchup, before starting their meals. This behavior, identified as an expression of "irrational love" for Heinz products, forms the core theme of the campaign.George Buneder, CMO for Hispanic markets at The Kraft Heinz Company, explained that the campaign draws inspiration from real consumer behavior, portraying waiting for Heinz condiments as an act of love. The absence of the Heinz Tomato Ketchup Bottle in the ad is highlighted as a distinctive feature, making Heinz the central figure even in its absence.The campaign was developed by the Chilean agency 1984, with Carat handling paid media and Zeno Group managing North American PR. It includes 15-second spots showcasing the titular wait faced by condiment-less diners. Additionally, the media strategy employs a contextual out-of-home approach, utilizing digital placements in areas where consumers typically wait, such as office lobbies, elevators, and street furniture."The Wait" campaign follows Heinz's earlier global brand platform, "It Has To Be Heinz," launched in June 2023. Previous campaigns under this platform have featured viral stars promoting limited-time sauces and have taken a stand against excessively spicy foods. Notably, Heinz introduced a limited-edition sauce called “Ketchup and Seemingly Ranch,” inspired by a viral tweet referencing Taylor Swift's condiment choice at a Kansas City Chiefs football game.<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Sandstone Media unveils its vision for PR excellence in the UAE

Sandstone Media, a trailblazing integrated PR, communications, and media solutions agency, announced its official launch in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). With a unique vision centered around PR excellence, Sandstone Media aims to redefine brand connections and elevate narratives for businesses across the region.Established by visionary luminary Anand Rai, Sandstone Media is set to redefine the PR landscape through the seamless integration of traditional and digital strategies. This launch marks a strategic initiative aimed at delivering innovative and comprehensive communication solutions to businesses in the UAE.“Our focus is on creating meaningful connections between brands and audiences. At Sandstone Media, we believe in the art of storytelling, and our mission is to craft narratives that not only resonate but also elevate brands to new heights," said, Anand Rai, Founder & Managing Partner, Sandstone Media.Sandstone Media offers a comprehensive range of services, adopting a holistic approach to strategic PR integration that combines both traditional and digital strategies for maximum impact. Specializing in crafting compelling narratives aligned with business goals, the team captivates target audiences. Through media amplification, Sandstone leverages diverse channels to significantly enhance brand visibility and tell impactful stories. Embracing digital innovation, the company stays at the forefront of technology to augment online presence and engage audiences effectively. Additionally, Sandstone is committed to crisis resilience, proactively managing challenges to safeguard brand reputation and ensure resilience in the face of adversity.

Media World signs landmark deal valued over AED 100mln

Media World, a leading multi-platform media group, has announced the signing of a monumental agreement with RSG Group of Companies (RSG Group) to acquire and operate the largest outdoor high-resolution digital screen in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The long-term deal was finalised with a value exceeding AED 100 million. Strategically located alongside Dubai’s renowned Sheikh Zayed Road, the digital outdoor screen will take centre stage on the opulent Fairmont Dubai Skyline, luxury five-star hotel and branded residences project by RSG Group. The milestone deal not only marks the beginning of Media World’s partnership with RSG Group, but also a significant leap into the realm of Digital Out of Home (DOOH) advertising for the media industry in the region.Spanning an area of 1,750 square meters and encapsulating over 16 million pixels, the new digital screen, is poised to captivate audiences with its high-resolution display and dynamic content, offering advertisers an unparalleled platform to showcase their brands.Expressing enthusiasm for this transformative venture, Mr. Amer Ahrari, Chairman of Media World, said, “We are delighted to sign with RSG Group and acquire a prominent project such as the Fairmont Dubai Skyline, luxury five-star hotel and branded residences digital outdoor screen. As we continually seek new premium opportunities in the region, commencing our venture into Digital Out of Home media in this location marks an excellent beginning for us. Our partnership with RSG Group is a testament to our pioneering vision to push the boundaries of advertising technology and creating unparalleled experiences for brands and audiences alike. The acquisition marks the beginning of our journey into Digital Out of Home media, and we have ambitious plans for substantial investment and extensive growth in this domain.”Raj Sahni (Abu Sabah), Founder & Chairman, RSG Group of Companies, said, "We are delighted to join forces with Media World for the inclusion of this new LED screen into their multi-platform portfolio. The implementation of this project, featuring the largest high-resolution screen in the MENA region requires adept management, and we could not think of a more ideal choice than Media World. I have complete confidence in Media World to elevate this into the most coveted and premium advertising space in the city. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to fulfil my long-standing ambition to create an iconic project on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai.”éal-middle-east

Independent company secures marketing partnership with L’Oréal Middle East

Following the successful partnership on various brands and projects in the region over the past three years, Acquisit is expanding its collaboration with global beauty leader L’Oréal in the GCC, Levant and Morocco across a spectrum of DtoC brands. This underscores Acquisit’s prowess in driving impactful growth for digital industry leaders on a global scale."We are thrilled to once again be chosen as L'Oréal Middle East's preferred partner for their digital marketing requirements," said Edouard Daou, Co-founder of Acquisit. "This affirms our commitment to excellence and our ability to foster transformative growth through innovative marketing strategies."L'Oréal Middle East was in search of a marketing partner who could not only meet but exceed expectations. Acquisit's proven record of success and its profound understanding of the beauty and cosmetics industry reaffirmed their position, as the ideal choice, once again."We are thrilled to continue expanding our collaboration with Acquisit," said Olfa Messaoudi, Chief Digital and Marketing Officer at L'Oréal Middle East. "This partnership strengthens our shared commitment to excellence, creativity, and unlocking unparalleled dimensions of success in the dynamic landscape of the beauty industry. We look forward to Acquisit’s support in propelling our brands to new heights.”

Shaker Group expands B2C footprint with new store in Riyadh

Shaker Group, a leading air conditioner and home appliance distributor in the kingdom, has just amplified its B2C push with the grand opening of its seventh store in Riyadh. This expansion marks a key milestone in their strategic retail growth plan, promising an unparalleled shopping experience to local communities.Located in the bustling Al Thumama Road area, within easy reach of Qortuba Gate and Sedra by Roshn residential compounds, the spacious 380-square-meter store offers a curated selection of home appliances and electronics. From established brands catering to diverse budgets to products tailored to evolving local needs, this new outlet ensures something for everyone.Stepping into the store is like stepping into the future. Sleek design and interactive displays redefine the shopping experience, making it engaging, convenient, and immersive for a tech-savvy generation. Shaker's commitment to customer-centricity shines through in every detail, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable journey.This exciting expansion reflects the company's dedication to enhancing the shopping experience for its customers, said CEO Mohammed Ibrahim Abunayyan. To celebrate the grand opening, Shaker Group is offering special deals: free installation for the first 100 LG air conditioners, complimentary gifts, and a one-year extended warranty on purchases made within the first month.Abunayyan added that the comany is constantly exploring innovative ways to connect with the shifting trends and preferences of its consumers, and this new store is a perfect example of these efforts. With plans for further expansion, Shaker Group is poised to continue its reign as a pioneer in the Saudi Arabian retail landscape, always innovating and exceeding customer expectations.(Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay)

Luxury French perfume Maison Origine selects Dubai for global launch

Luxury French perfume Maison Origine has chosen Dubai for its highly anticipated global launch through BinSulaiman Group (OBS). Recognising Dubai's unique blend of rich cultural heritage and ultramodern cosmopolitan flair, Maison Origine believes the city embodies the essence of its new fragrance. Home to the world's most opulent architecture, exotic bazaars, and a populace with discerning tastes, Dubai stands as an emblem of elegance, making it the ideal backdrop for introducing Maison Origine’s olfactory masterpieces to the world.Born in the city of love, Paris, and firmly rooted in its French heritage of perfumery, Maison Origine seeks to capture love’s capricious nature that everyone in the world yearns to experience. Tender, fiery, and sensational, Maison Origine embodies the mystery of love in each fragrance. Ranging from classic to contemporary, every scent tells a story and pays homage to the magnificence of the past and the grandeur of the present.In a strategic move to amplify its presence across global markets, Maison Origine has partnered with BinSulaiman Group - OBS, recently awarded the fastest growing company of the year 2023, as its exclusive global distribution partner. This decision stems from BinSulaiman Group - OBS's unparalleled expertise in navigating diverse markets, its robust distribution networks, and its history of successfully launching global luxury and artisanal fragrance brands to a diverse range of consumer audiences. What sets BinSulaiman Group - OBS apart is not only its expansive reach, but also its meticulous attention to preserving brand integrity. Their unique ability to tailor marketing strategies for different cultures, combined with their proficiency in supply chain optimization, has solidified their reputation as a distributor par excellence. For Maison Origine, this partnership marks the beginning of a symbiotic relationship poised to elevate its global standing and cater to the discerning needs of luxury consumers worldwide.“BinSulaiman Group - OBS is committed to nurturing the development of luxury, artistic and contemporary brands through selected distribution channels such as Scentitude. It gives us great pride to be chosen as the exclusive Global distributor for Maison Origine. Maison Origine’s is now available in all of our Scentitude boutiques and our online store ahead of its official launch with other luxury retailers in the region.” explained Abdulla Darwish, Group Chief Executive Officer, BinSulaiman Group - OBS.Maison Origine’s representative said: “It gives us great pleasure to choose Dubai as the destination city for the global launch of Maison Origine with BinSulaiman Group - OBS. We chose this city because it has become a center for luxury, and we wanted to share our fragrances with the people here who share our joie de vivre. We invite everyone to discover our new collection and start an olfactory journey full of powerful yet delicate scents that make up the collection.”Maison Origine invites fragrance connoisseurs on a luxurious sensory journey, each masterful blend is an ode to different facets of love and transports you to the diverse and luminous Arrondissements of Paris.

Novus Aviation Capital appoints Cyrille Picard as Senior VP

Novus Aviation Capital has appointed Cyrille Picard as Senior Vice President, marking an expansion to its commercial team. His role will be primarily focused on supporting Novus Aviation Capital's customers in Middle East and Africa and based out of the Novus Dubai office.Bringing over two decades of rich experience in the aviation sector, Cyrille joins Novus following a notable tenure at Airbus. Most recently as Sales Director for the Middle East and Africa where he led several successful commercial aircraft campaigns. Additionally, Cyrille has a background in marketing, having served as a Marketing Director, and he also gained valuable experience as an aircraft customer support engineer while at Airbus.Commenting on his appointment, Hani Kuzbari, Co-CEO of Novus, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Cyrille to our team. His deep experience, combined with his proven track record in the aviation sector, makes him a valuable asset to Novus. His appointment is a key part of our strategy to fortify our commercial team and enhance our market presence.”Expressing his enthusiasm, Cyrille Picard stated: “Joining Novus Aviation Capital is a thrilling new chapter in my career. I am deeply honored to be part of a company that has established itself as a leader in the industry. My goal is to contribute to the continued growth and success of Novus, leveraging my experience and passion for the aviation sector to drive innovative solutions for our customers and foster strong relationships.”

VICE Media Group appoints Rafael Lavor as Head of Strategy

Rafael Lavor has been appointed as the new Head of Strategy at VICE Media Group, emphasizing the company's dedication to fostering innovation and delivering cutting-edge content to its global audience.With over 18 years of experience, Lavor has developed expertise in creative strategy, in-depth qualitative research, consumer studies, service innovation, digital communication, and brand management and development.His extensive portfolio includes work with local innovation consultancies and global creative agencies, contributing to the success of brands such as du, NEOM, Nissan, KFC, Peugeot, Nokia, Mastercard, Smirnoff, Volkswagen, Ford, Chevrolet, Embraer, Stella Artois, Tang, Uber, Deezer, Amazon, McVitie’s, Hilton, Abu Dhabi Investment Office, and more.Lavor's leadership on various teams and projects has garnered recognition at prestigious marketing awards such as the Brazil Effies, LATAM Effies, and MENA Effies. Tarek Khalil, Managing Director of MEA for VICE, expresses enthusiasm about Lavor's addition to the team, citing his extensive regional experience and ability to tackle complex brand challenges. Khalil is confident that Lavor's leadership will contribute to the creation of even more impactful content for VICE's clients and audiences across the Middle East and Africa.

Sharjah adopts new logo and identity

Sharjah has adopted a new logo and identity, which reflects all its visual and cultural components, expressing its cultural and artistic heritage.On Sunday, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah and Chairman of the Sharjah Media Council, attended the launch ceremony at Al Noor Island. Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qasimi said: “The new identity represents a reflection of the wise and insightful vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, which made Sharjah a pioneering emirate with a global stature. The launch of the new identity embodies the spirit of the emirate and its ability to provide more in all fields, and provide the best services and incentives that support the continuous growth towards which Sharjah is heading."He also indicated that the new identity was developed according to the identification of the strengths and distinctive features of Sharjah, as well as its attractiveness for tourism, living, working, studying, and investing. It represents an open invitation to the world to explore the richness and diversity that Sharjah possesses, along with its tremendous opportunities and potential. It also provides a wide range of promising prospects across various cultural, educational, economic, social, and entertainment sectors.The Deputy Ruler of Sharjah toured the Noor Island, reviewing artistic displays that express the meanings and significance of the new identity of Sharjah. This identity was derived from the rich history of Sharjah and its distinctive features in various artistic, architectural, cultural, and other fields. It reflects Sharjah's progress towards the future with a proactive mindset based on knowledge, information, and technology.The new identity emphasizes the essential strengths of Sharjah, which are represented by its cultural, entertainment, and economic assets that distinguish the emirate. Through this identity, Sharjah seeks to solidify its position as a premier destination for living, tourism, and investment through a range of diverse initiatives and experiences.Sharjah is renowned for its urban development, rich cultural legacy, historical accomplishments, and expressions, as well as for having made a significant contribution to the advancement of industry and environmental sustainability in the United Arab Emirates. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) named Sharjah the 2019 World Book Capital, among numerous other accolades and international recognitions. The emirate is also home to a large number of museums, art galleries, and cultural institutions that represent the region's authenticity, history, arts, and customs.

beIN MEDIA GROUP secures Riyadh Season Cup media rights

beIN MEDIA GROUP (‘beIN’), the global sports and entertainment broadcaster, and its flagship sports channel beIN SPORTS, announced securing the media rights in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Türkiye, France, and Asia Pacific to the star-studded Riyadh Season Cup, the three-team exhibition tournament set to feature Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr, and Saudi Pro League leaders Al Hilal.All three matches will be broadcast live in MENA on beIN SPORTS’ free to air channel in Arabic, beIN SPORTS 1 ENGLISH in English, and in Ultra HD on beIN 4K. Al Hilal prolific scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic will face Messi’s Inter Miami at tonight’s (29 January) tournament opener; Messi and Ronaldo are expected to go head-to-head on Thursday, 1 February. One week later, on 8 February, Al Hilal will then face Al-Nassr, whom they lead by seven points at the top of Saudi’s domestic league.In MENA, beIN’s studio coverage for tonight’s opening match starts at 20.30 MECCA, with kick-off scheduled for 21.00 MECCA at the Kingdom Arena in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. As well as Messi, David Beckham-owned Inter Miami have a host of other star names, including former Barcelona trio Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba. Al Hilal meanwhile invested heavily last summer, securing the likes of Portugal’s Ruben Neves, Serbian pair Aleksander Mitrovic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, and Yassine Bounou, the heroic Moroccan goalkeeper who shone at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.Thursday’s face-off between Miami and Al-Nassr is being billed as “The Last Dance” and will pit the two greatest players of the modern era against each other for, possibly, the last time in their professional careers. Messi, 36, and Ronaldo, who will turn 39 four days later on 5 February, between them share 13 Ballon D’or awards. They last faced each other a year ago in the inaugural Riyadh Season Cup when Al-Nassr slipped to a 5-4 defeat to Messi’s former club Paris Saint-Germain.Portuguese Ronaldo, who is expected to recover from a slight calf injury to lead Al-Nassr out at the Kingdom Arena, scored 54 goals in 59 games in 2023 to finish the year as the world’s top goal scorer. Al-Nassr have other star players in their squad, including the likes of Senegalese striker Sadio Mane, Spanish defender Aymeric Laporte, and Croatian midfielder Marcelo Brozovic.

Vision for luxury: Gian Paolo's eyewear legacy in Dubai

Gian Paolo, Co-Founder of Vision Industry and Managing Director of Optitalia Group, recently shared insights with Adgully Middle East in an engaging interview. With a rich family history deeply rooted in the eyewear industry spanning several years, Paolo believes that eyewear is ingrained in his family's DNA.Vision Industry, under Paolo's leadership, stands as the epitome of innovation, design, and health in the eyewear sector. The establishment boasts an in-house eye clinic and laboratory, guaranteeing top-notch checkups and fittings. The care provided is akin to that of an eye hospital, emphasizing the commitment to ensuring the utmost well-being of their clientele.Can you provide a brief overview of your professional journey, leading up to your current role as Co-founder of Vision Industry and Managing Director of Optitalia Group?My professional journey in the eyewear industry began with the establishment of my first eyewear brand, Bacaro, in Venice in 2003. This venture fueled my passion for innovation, prompting me to expand into new territories. In 2005, I set up an Optical Chain, Italia Optique, in Cameroon, marking a significant international chapter in my career. The turning point came in 2007 when I joined Optitalia Group in Dubai, a leading eyewear distribution company. In my role as Managing Director, I spearheaded the setup of the retail division, culminating in the creation of VISION INDUSTRY, a pioneering concept store launched in Mall of the Emirates.What inspired you to start Vision Industry in Dubai?The inspiration to launch VISION INDUSTRY in Dubai stems from the city's dynamic and diverse retail landscape, coupled with its global reputation as a premier shopping destination. I envisioned a revolutionary eyewear experience that would not only redefine industry standards but also resonate with the discerning tastes of Dubai's cosmopolitan population. VISION INDUSTRY represents the fusion of customization, innovation, and a curated collection of luxury brands, tailored to the unique preferences of Dubai's diverse consumer base.Can you share some key challenges you have faced in the retail and direct channels of the eyewear industry and how you navigated through them?Navigating the complexities of the eyewear industry presented challenges in striking the right balance between customization and mass appeal. The introduction of the Design Lab at VISION INDUSTRY addressed this challenge by providing customers with a personalized eyewear journey, ensuring exclusivity while maintaining a curated collection of over 60 luxury brands. This strategic approach enabled us to navigate through the intricacies of retail and direct channels, creating a harmonious blend of accessibility and exclusivity.In the rapidly evolving eyewear industry, how do you stay abreast of market trends and ensure that Vision Industry remains competitive?Staying ahead of market trends requires a multifaceted approach, combining continuous market research, global exposure, and the strategic leverage of technology. VISION INDUSTRY remains competitive by embracing innovation, exemplified by our Design Lab that pioneers complete eyewear customization. Furthermore, our commitment to offering exclusive brands, including Celine, Bugatti, and others, positions us at the forefront of emerging trends, ensuring sustained competitiveness in the dynamic eyewear industry.What emerging trends do you see shaping the future of retail and direct channels in the eyewear sector?The future of eyewear is defined by experiential retail, customization, and sustainability. VISION INDUSTRY is at the forefront of these trends, with the Design Lab offering an immersive and personalized eyewear experience. Customers actively participate in creating bespoke eyewear, aligning with the growing demand for unique and sustainable products. The incorporation of a sustainable corner featuring glasses made from recyclable materials further underscores our commitment to environmental consciousness.How does Vision Industry prioritize and enhance the customer experience, both in retail stores and through direct channels?Customer experience is central to VISION INDUSTRY's ethos. The Design Lab at our retail store offers a personalized journey, allowing customers to actively participate in the creation of bespoke eyewear. Our comprehensive eye exams, conducted by licensed optometrists, ensure optimal eye health. The extensive range of eyewear brands, from sport to luxury, caters to diverse preferences, creating a seamless and enjoyable customer experience both in-store and online.How has technology played a role in the development and growth of Vision Industry?Technology plays a pivotal role in our growth trajectory. The Design Lab utilizes cutting-edge technology to enable customers to customize their eyewear, from material selection to frame shape and intricate design elements. Additionally, our online presence facilitates seamless bookings for the Design Lab experience, ensuring accessibility and convenience for our customers. Embracing technology allows us to provide an innovative and efficient eyewear experience, setting VISION INDUSTRY apart in the industry.What have been the trends in eye luxury retail over the years? What are your views about experiential retail and how is it helping the brands? How will the future of luxury retail shape?The evolution of eye luxury retail has witnessed a shift towards personalization and experiential elements. Exemplified by the Design Lab, experiential retail allows customers to actively participate in creating bespoke eyewear, fostering a deeper connection with the brand. Looking ahead, the future of luxury retail is poised to further embrace tailored experiences and sustainable practices. The emphasis on unique and immersive brand experiences will shape a more conscious and personalized luxury retail landscape, reflecting the evolving preferences and expectations of discerning consumers.

Xelement welcomes Diogo Borges as Executive Creative Director

Xelement, a leading full-service media agency, has appointed Diogo Borges as its Executive Creative Director. This strategic addition comes at a pivotal moment for the agency, hot on the heels of their recent success in winning Gold at the MENA Effie Awards.Boasting an impressive 22 years of creative experience, Borges brings a wealth of expertise to his new role. His illustrious career is underscored by numerous accolades, including prestigious awards from Cannes, D&AD, One Show, and Clio.Borges, in his LinkedIn account, writes: “Super excited to share that I kicked off a new gig with XELEMENT as ECD last week, leading a talented and skilled team. There's so much to explore about Saudi's fast-growing economy, but I can already tell that creativity and innovation are going to be a big player in its awesome future. Feeling lucky to be part of this amazing team that, just not share the same ambition and vision, but has been at the forefront of it for the past 10 years.” Borges' extensive international background, coupled with a nuanced understanding of the local market, positions Xelement to create even more impactful narratives. While the agency's recent triumph at the MENA Effie Awards serves as a noteworthy milestone, Borges' appointment signals a broader ambition to shape compelling narratives that resonate deeply with audiences.Amro Aboonoq, CEO of Xelement, expressed his enthusiasm for Borges joining the team, stating, “Diogo’s arrival at XELEMENT signifies a significant step towards elevating the success stories we craft. His global outlook, complemented by our established track record, sets the stage for our collective aspirations and achievements.”As a full-service media agency, Xelement offers a comprehensive suite of services, including creative endeavors, strategic marketing, branding, media buying, and consultancy. With Borges at the helm of creative direction, the agency is poised to deliver innovative and impactful campaigns that leave a lasting impression on clients and consumers alike.

OSN and AFAC announce winners of Writers Room, elevating Arab storytelling

OSN and the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) recently disclosed the recipients of the ‘Writers’ Room’ mentorship programme, which aims to cultivate compelling narratives within the Arab region. The initiative received an impressive 276 submissions during its open call, indicating substantial interest and engagement.The esteemed jury, comprising Writer Yam Machahdi, Director Hicham Lasri, Director Amin Dora, and Director Mariam Abou Ouf, undertook the challenging task of evaluating the entries to identify the most promising projects. From this competitive pool, six exceptional projects and their creators emerged victorious. The winning entries encompass a diverse range of themes and voices:• The Day of Your Meeting by Rida Benazzouza• The Art of Surviving by Tamer Mohammad Abdulhamid and Noha Hassan Hussien• Polaroid by Basant Ghonimy• Men Home La Hon (Plan B) by Marie-Louise Elia, Julien Kobersy, and Jean-Claude Boulos• Dyouf by Saleh Saadi• How to find love in 10 steps (Guide for Single Men) by Mostafa Youssef and Fatma Abed.The Writers Room program, initiated last year, aims to nurture these projects until they develop into fully-fledged limited series. This entails providing mentorship support, follow-up, and input from specialists and experts throughout the development process. The program seeks to establish a framework for series-writing in the region utilizing the writers' room method, fostering peer-to-peer learning, and encouraging participation in the creative process.Rolla Karam, Senior Vice President of Content Acquisition & Arabic Channels at OSN, emphasized the company's commitment to supporting local storytelling and nurturing emerging writers. Rima Mismar, Executive Director of the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, highlighted the initiative's goal of fostering a nurturing environment for emerging talents and bridging gaps in series development.The winning projects will undergo further development and potential distribution, with three residencies planned for February, May, and July 2024. These residencies will be led by Writers’ Room mentors Bassem Breche and Maha El Wazir. Additionally, winners will benefit from OSN’s right to a first look at their projects and the possibility of further development beyond the residency program.