GFH acquires Big Sky Asset Management

GFH Financial Group (“GFH” of the “Group”) today announced it has completed the acquisition of a majority stake in Big Sky Asset Management (“Big Sky”), a US-based real estate asset manager focused on the attractive and defensive healthcare segment.This transaction further expands GFH’s presence in the US and builds on its thematic focus on attractive and defensive markets. It follows the earlier acquisition in May 2022 of US-based SQ Asset Management, a leading specialist in student housing in prime US states and cities.With the acquisitions of Big Sky, GFH has established a strong foothold in the growing, defensive healthcare market, making the Group one of the early pioneers in the region to penetrate this segment. Big Sky brings more than 20 years of experience in investing and managing healthcare assets in the US, with more than US$2 billion in cumulative transaction value and 130 in medical facilities.“We are looking forward to this partnership with an established and well positioned expert such as Big Sky, and believe it gives GFH a unique approach to the market by bringing together our regional expertise with Big Sky’s extensive know-how in the US healthcare market. This partnership will further strength our real estate offering and allow us to introduce unique and attractive products to our investors,” said Mr. Nael Mustafa, Co-Chief Investment Officer at GFH.“This acquisition is instrumental to the future growth of GFH by giving us strong management teams that are able to execute our growth strategy and give us a local presence, which in today’s market is a key ingredient to success. Big Sky’s strong track record further complements our strong performance in the US markets and boosts our market know how.”Big Sky has strong capabilities in sourcing, acquiring and managing healthcare assets with a specialized focus on medical clinics and life sciences real estate. The company seeks premier medical facilities where it can directly add value through active and enhanced asset management.Big Sky is being led by the Founder and CEO, Jason L. Signor, who brings an extensive track record of investing in the healthcare real estate sector, and is supported by a strong management team across the US. Mr. Signor has successfully grown a predecessor real estate company to become of the largest healthcare real estate platforms in the US. Following the transaction, the company will be owned by GFH alongside the founders.Mr. Nael Mustafa added, “We are looking forward to collaborating with Jason and his team to grow the platform and find unique ways of generating value across the spectrum of healthcare. The platform will be instrumental in providing institutional quality real estate to the top hospital groups and doctors in the US. We believe the healthcare real estate sector through Big Sky will present attractive returns for our investors.”“GFH has completed acquisitions of two medical clinics portfolios through a joint venture with Big Sky that is valued in excess of $800 million as part of our investment strategy of acquiring portfolios of stabilized assets supported by strong market fundamentals and operating growth. We are strong believers in the healthcare market which is positioned for steady, resilient growth following the shift in outpatient services and subsequent demand for quality medical clinics assets.”Mr. Jason L. Signor, CEO of Big Sky, said, “Having GFH as a strong partner will enable Big Sky to further offer unique investment opportunities to investors in the US and the GCC. Big Sky is well positioned to grow its AUM and become one of the largest healthcare real estate investors by combining our market capabilities with GFH’s strong global access.”

Cristiano Ronaldo presented by Al Nassr after transfer

Cristiano Ronaldo was officially presented by Al Nassr as the Saudi Arabian club’s superstar new signing on Tuesday, Associated Press (AP) reported.The former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus forward signed a two-and-a-half-year contract to play in the Saudi Pro League in one of the most surprising transfers in the sport's history.“I'm so proud to make this big decision in my life. In Europe my work is done. I won everything and played for the most important clubs in Europe. This is a new challenge,” Ronaldo said at a news conference.The soccer great, who has won five Ballon d'Or awards for the best player in the world and five Champions League titles, will play outside of Europe for the first time in his storied career.Ronaldo was set to be presented to fans later at the 25,000 capacity Mrsool Park in Riyadh, which will become his new home after agreeing a deal reportedly worth up to $200 million a year, making him the highest paid soccer player in history.

Top 5 trends that will shape the media and advertising industry in 2023

2023 calls for a period when firms sharpen their attention on marketing and advertising trends to make an impression as consumers grow more cautious about which brands they spend their time on.Dubai-born and based, Nested VFX, a post-production and visual effects studio, shares its projections in the marketing and advertising sector for the upcoming year:Trend 1: Back to basics and traditional advertisingPost-Covid, a trend to go back to producing high-end quality commercials and shows started to take shape in the region, and, based on Nested VFX's predictions, we can anticipate this trend to take complete form in 2023. Long gone are both masks (hopefully), cutting corners, and production budgets.Brands today understand that they now face a brighter and more informed audience that cheap promotional videos cannot sway. In order to get their focus and, ultimately, their loyalty, brands need to give their audience a compelling story without insulting their intelligence. This trend will see its full potential only when a seasoned production partner and creative team work together for a brand.Trend 2: AI-generated content, copyright ambiguities, and stockAI-generated content is taking steam, but there are still many copyright ambiguities surrounding them. Any media creator or advertiser should be wary of using them if they are serious about monetizing their content or promoting their brands.In 2023, it is projected that brands and creators will increasingly opt for soundtracks and footage production to make videos stand out, as opposed to using stock footage and library music, a trend that took charge during the early days of the pandemic.Trend 3: Customize, customize, customize!One trend that the studio is personally rooting for in 2023 is for brands to choose the route to customization. Just before the new year, Nested VFX worked on a global telecommunication brand campaign where they delivered a different video for each social media platform, carefully divided into awareness, consideration, sales conversion, and call-to-action. A route popular within the western markets but yet to take shape in the MENA region.2022, witnessed how taking a master video, cutting it down to shorter bits, and roughly fitting a video shot for horizontal displays into the various new formats is proving ineffective and - we dare say - harmful for brands. Each platform demands a different narrative and needs videos curated explicitly for its intended format.Each medium calls for a different approach these days. It might have a higher upfront cost, but if it is carefully customized content for each, the rewards down the line will be far greater."We are dealing with an audience that is moving quickly, and if you can't keep them entertained, you will be replaced with just one click. With the ever-changing media and advertising industries, brands are in a do-or-die situation in which thinking outside the box is no longer an option but a necessity. To survive in this game of survival, the brand must understand where the world is going and stay one step ahead of the bandwagon," said Samer Asfour, CEO and managing partner of Nested VFX.Trend 4: Away from social mediaTaking a look at what is happening with Twitter and Meta's latest earning reviews, it is anticipated that international brands and their regional branches, as well as studios and content creators, will slowly steer away from social media in the upcoming year and start investing in free-to-air TV and platform ads through Shahid, YouTube and the ad-supported tier of Netflix to name a few.The region can also anticipate a lot more product placement and sponsored content videos being brewed for in the coming year.Trend 5: HDR- Expecting a colorful high for 2023Although a little wishful thinking, the studio is optimistic that broadcasters and brands will grasp the opportunity to use the full video mastering tools and take a step towards creating their media in a High Dynamic Range rather than the status-quo Standard Definition.The west might be heading into a recession that will affect all industries, including the media and advertising ones. However, the region, especially the Gulf, proved resilient and is indeed growing fast. Agencies and production houses alike in the region are confident and excited about the year to come and the opportunities coming with it.

‘Uber Travel’ launches in Egypt

Uber has launched its latest innovative travel feature in Egypt, Smart Itineraries. Once riders link their Uber profiles with their Google account by clicking on ‘Travel’ in the app, the feature displays upcoming travel plans and allows users to reserve an Uber to and from specific locations based on hotel and flight bookings, making the travel experience even more seamless. Smart Itineraries is part of the Uber Travel Suite of Offerings globally, with a range of features expected to launch in the region soon. Norhen Ali, Uber’s Head of Communications for MENA, said: “Uber Travel forms an integral part of Uber’s vision to make movement and local and international travel more seamless. We’re excited to introduce Smart Itineraries to the MENA region, as an enhanced offering to help ease the stress of travel, and we will continue to expand our services to accommodate increasing travel needs through the power of our technology.”In line with Uber’s constant efforts to create more affordable rides for riders and drive more demand for drivers to support their earnings, Uber will return 10% back in Uber Cash every time riders book a Reserve ride with Uber Travel, which means they can plan ahead and earn Uber Cash. Smart Itineraries is part of the Uber Travel Suite of Offerings globally, with a range of features expected to launch in the region soon. Once riders connect their Google account, Uber will do the rest, organizing all reservation needs in one place for stress-free travel.How to use Uber TravelOpen the Uber app and tap “Travel” followed by “Get Started” then “Sign in” with your Google accountOpt-in to give Uber-AwardWallet permission access your bookings Check the permissions box to continue. You will soon see all your upcoming trips appear right in the Uber appWith a vision to provide a variety of products available for every traveller’s need, the feature is the latest innovation in Uber’s product portfolio, following the expansion of Uber Reserve last year in Egypt.

Dubai Duty Free annual sales reach Dhs6.339bln ($1.74bln) in 2022

Dubai Duty Free ushered in the new year by announcing annual sales of Dhs6.339 billion (US$1.74 billion) in 2022, representing a 78% increase over the previous year.A sign that the operation was on track for a strong recovery after two challenging years was evident in August, when it recorded a 104% increase in sales for the first eight months of the year, when sales reached US$1.06 billion.December sales were further fueled by Dubai Duty Free’s 39th anniversary celebrations when the operation offered a 25% discount from the 18th - 20th December, which resulted in a shopping spree of Dhs107.3 million (US$29.4 million) during the 72-hour period.Reflecting on the year at Dubai Duty Free, Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman & CEO, said: “We are thrilled to announce such a positive year as travel returns, during which the operation went from strength to strength. I would like to thank our Chairman, H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, for his ongoing support and I join him in thanking our great team of staff, our suppliers and of course our customers, who are fundamental to our continued growth and success.”The operation recorded over 17.3 million sales transactions throughout the year, or an average of 46,912 sales transactions per day, while a staggering 47.302 million units of merchandise were sold.With sales of Dhs1.134 billion (US$310.66 million), Perfume, which contributed 18% of total sales retained its position as the top selling category. It was followed by Liquor, Gold, Cigarettes & Tobacco, and Electronics. Sales of Liquor reached Dhs1.021 billion (US$279.84 million) and accounted for 16% of the total annual sales. Meanwhile, Gold recorded sales of Dhs629.292 million (US$172.41 million) and contributed 10% towards total revenue. Cigarettes & Tobacco came in fourth place with sales amounting to Dhs562.347 million (US$154.07 million) and accounted for 9% of total revenue while Electronics came in fifth place with sales of Dhs502.201 million (US$137.59 million) and accounted for 8% of total annual sales.Online sales accounted for 2.54% of the overall sales tally for 2022 and reached Dhs161.200 million (US$44.16 million).Sales in Departures across the operation totaled Dhs5.57 billion (US$1.53 billion) representing 88% of total annual sales, while Arrivals sales totaled Dhs573.385 million (US$157.092 million), representing 9% of total annual sales.Meanwhile, in line with the growth of the operation, rehiring and recruitment continued with the total employee count now standing 4,663. Throughout the year, the operation received a total of 19 awards, including its 21st consecutive Business Traveller Middle East Award for "Best Airport for Duty Free Shopping in the Middle East", the Gulf Business “Retail Company of the Year” award and the sixteenth consecutive Global Traveler Award for "Best Duty-Free Shopping in the World.”. Colm McLoughlin was also the recipient of two personal awards including being honoured with the inaugural Middle East & Africa Duty Free Association (MEADFA) Lifetime Achievement Award and being named the "Most Inspiring Leader - Retail (UAE)" at the Global Brand Awards.Looking ahead, Dubai Duty Free will continue to maintain its busy events and promotional calendar which includes the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships to be staged at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium from the 19th February – 4th March.

9 billion dirhams, the contribution of sport

The year 2022 was distinguished as the year of sport in UAE and the entire world, as it witnessed strong return to the organization of all championships and full return of the public & fans to enjoy watching sports competitions at the stadiums & pitches. In Dubai, 2022 was marked as the year of boosting the status of sport in society movement and the year of attracting more local & international events and championships, which have attained remarkable development in terms of names of participants, variety of sports and the huge numbers of fans.  The photos of the participation of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al- Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai & Chairman of the Executive Council, in the Dubai Fitness Challenge at Sheikh Zayed Road in the heart of Dubai, accompanied by more than 193,000 participants, has presented an excellent model on the status of Dubai and its continuous development to attain several unprecedented records regarding the increase of the level of awareness with the importance of sport & the numbers of participants, based on the proper governmental policy to support the exercise of sport & to provide top-level facilities along with the availability of competent & well-experienced staff who are qualified enough to host & organize the biggest international championships & forums. Sport supports Economy through Increase of Numbers of Events, Companies & Staff: A report, prepared by Dubai Sports Council through an international house of expertise, has unveiled that the contribution of sport to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Emirate of Dubai has attained an annual increase of more than Dhs 9 billion with a contribution rate of 2.3% of Dubai's GDP. The sports sector provides 105 job opportunities, as a result of the great & continuous sports development in the fields of the organization of sports events / sports industry / increase of the numbers of participants & fans of multi-nationalities in events & championships / development of sports tourism. The year 2022 has witnessed a significant increase in the numbers of various annual sports events, comprised more than 103 international events and championships, top of which are: the World Padel Championship, the biggest of its kind in the history of this world competition / Dubai World Golf Championship, the biggest of its kind in terms of tours, numbers of participants and valuable prizes / the World Tennis League, which has essentially been launched from Dubai and its first edition was held with participation of elite of world prominent male & female players in the presence of more than 42 thousand fans at Coca Cola Arena and it was watched by millions of followers via 125 world TV channels / two tours of the world beach volleyball championship / the 11th Emirates Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup / Dubai Super Cup, which took place at Al-Maktoum Stadium in Al-Nasr Club with participation of Liverpool & Arsenal from England, AC Milan of Italy and Lyon of France and in the presence of more than 50 thousand fans along with millions of followers via world TV channels.  The year of 2022 witnessed increase in the numbers of registered companies which are specialized in the field of the organization of sports events & training camps, i.e. increase to 700 companies. The numbers of various sports academies have increased to 400 academies, while the numbers of gym centers & specialized physical fitness centers increased to 400 for each. Numbers of clubs in Dubai raised to 100 clubs  Increase of International Training Camps: The year 2022 witnessed a significant increase in the numbers of training camps, which were held in the Emirate of Dubai throughout the year by clubs, national teams and Olympic & sports champions. In this regard, the Emirate hosted more than 120 international training camps, held at "Hamdan Sports Complex", Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex and the stadiums & pitches of many of Dubai clubs & resorts, which are all well-equipped as per top international standards and they have therefore become as annual favorite destinations for several world clubs & national teams to organize training camps. Sports Championships & Tourism: The year of 2022 also witnessed increase in the numbers of athletes & fans of multi-nationalities who arrived in Dubai from the different continents of the world. In this respect, various championships & events were held with participation of the more than 31 thousand athletes and in the presence of 713 thousand spectators & fans of multi-nationalities, most of them arrived from overseas. 165 local events were held with participation of 1.77 million persons from 200 nationalities and in the presence of 220 thousand fans, which represents an important addition to the sports tourism sector. The Emirate of Dubai witnessed the organization of 12 sports conferences & exhibitions, top of which are the 17th Dubai International Sports Conference and the Globe Soccer Award, which were held in prestigious presence of top world football stars. This event witnessed the historical reconciliation between Mohammed Salah & Sergio Ramos. 58 women events were organized, with a percentage of more than one event per week. Respective bodies organized 31 esports competitions, taking into account that the esport is witnessing remarkable development & distinguished participation of world athletes & corporates from overseas.  Sports Events at Dubai’s Landmarks: Dubai Sports Council was keen to organize 62 various sports events and rounds of international championships for professional & amateur athletes during 2022 at the eminent tourist landmarks of Dubai, among which are: Al Marmoom Reserve, Jumeirah and Hatta, Continuous Development for the Work’s Rules & Regulations: Dubai Sports Council continued its efforts during 2022 to develop rules and regulations to keep conforming to the latest developments in the country and the entire world. In this regard, the 2nd version of “Hamdan Bin Mohammed Order of Merit for Sports Education Schools” has been launched, while updating was made for the 9th version of the Sports Excellence Model 2020/2023 to honor clubs and football companies which attain excellence & achievements, based on financial competence, besides focusing on individual medals for juniors & talents.Dubai Sports Council has also continued its qualifying programs for technical & administrative staff working in Dubai. The Annual Forum for Dubai Clubs’ Coaches was organized with participation of more than 100 coaches from the different football categories. DSC is keen to provide opportunities for local coaches of first teams & reserve teams in Dubai clubs to attend the trainings of Milan Club in Dubai in order to be acquainted with the training styles, adopted by this ancient club aiming to enrich their coaching experiences & knowledge. In management field, DSC provided opportunities for CEOs and several employees of various administrative scopes in Dubai clubs to attend the eminent lecture on the inspirational management, creating of strong teams and successful competition system, which was presented at the Council’s premises by Mr. David Dean, one of the former prominent contributors in Arsenal Club and who is considered as the mastermind of the launch of the Premier League in 1992.

Hyatt appoints Stuart Deeson as Vice President Operations for MEA

Hyatt has announced Stuart Deeson as Vice President of Operations for the Middle East and Africa (MEA).In his new role, Deeson is responsible for Hyatt’s operating hotels across the region, with a current portfolio of more than 30 properties across 7 brands, including Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Alila, Andaz, Hyatt Centric, Hyatt Place and Hyatt House.Deeson began his hospitality career at the age of 16 in the family country house hotel business, before joining the Hyatt family in 1995 and gaining extensive knowledge of Asia and the Middle East markets over nearly three decades. He started his journey with the company as Business Development Manager at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, and got promoted two years later to Director of Business Development at Hyatt Regency Xian in China. In 1999, Deeson was appointed the hotel’s Director of Rooms and successfully climbed the career ladder to his first Executive Assistant Manager (EAM) position in 2000, at Grand Hyatt Seoul in Korea. Continuing his journey across Asia, Deeson moved to Japan in 2002 to join the pre-opening team of Grand Hyatt Tokyo as EAM, Rooms. Three years later, he took on his first General Manager (GM) role at Hyatt Regency Johor Bahru in Malaysia, before making the exciting move to the Middle East as GM of Park Hyatt Dubai in 2010. Deeson moved to the UAE capital in 2014 and held GM positions at Park Hyatt and Grand Hyatt properties before taking on his former role as Area Vice President and General Manager of Andaz Capital Gate Abu Dhabi.A passionate hotelier from the get-go, Deeson studied at the University of Surrey, Guildford in the United Kingdom, completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel and Catering Management. He will be based at Hyatt’s regional office in Dubai and work closely with his sub-regional teams to further enhance the company’s operational excellence and success in the Middle East & Africa.Srdjan Milekovic, Senior Vice President Operations – Europe, Africa and Middle East, Hyatt, said, “I am delighted that Stuart has stepped into this new role. With his deep knowledge and experience across the Middle East and Africa, I know he will deliver great value for our colleagues, owners and guests, and successfully drive Hyatt’s purpose forward in the region.”

The ADJD raises awareness of the dangers of cybercrime for society

The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD), in collaboration with “Majalis” Abu Dhabi at the Citizens and Community Affairs Office of the Presidential Court, held an awareness-raising lecture on "Cybercrime and its Dangers to Society", as part of its efforts to promote legal awareness among the components of society, in order to ensure their protection and to prevent them from the dangers conveyed by crimes involving the use of modern technologies and social media.The lecture, which was deliverd at Al Manhal Majlis in Abu Dhabi, is part of the "Majalisna" initiative launched by the ADJD, in implementation of the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Presidential Court, and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, to promote the dissemination of legal culture among the components of society to support the maintenance of security and stability.The lecture, given by Dr. Abdulla Hamad Al Mansouri, Chief Prosecutor, addressed the nature and definition of cybercrime, the dangers of cyber-extortion and the sanctions provided by the law in this regard. The lecturer also focused on the causes and factors that lead members of society to become victims of cyber-extortionists, and provided in this regard a set of practical examples based on cases handled by the Public Prosecution.Dr. Al Mansouri also discussed the risks associated with the misuse of social media networks and the liability on the part of users in accordance with the provisions of Federal Decree-Law No. 34 of 2021 on Combating Rumours and Cybercrime.The Chief Prosecutor insisted on the most important restrictions and controls to which people should pay attention when surfing the Internet, in order to ensure the safe use of all kinds of information technology means, to avoid any attempt to endanger people's safety or to make them victims, or to refrain from anything that could lead them to commit acts that might expose them to legal liability.

Yas Plaza Hotels announces new Director of Entertainment

 Yas Plaza Hotels is stepping up its dynamic music offerings with seasoned radio veteran Steve Johnston taking the helm as Director of Entertainment.Steve has had over 30 years of experience working in radio all over the world; as an accomplished DJ, he has entertained music aficionados from the UK, Middle East, SE Asia and even the Falkland Islands. He currently co-owns two English language radio stations based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.He also has extensive experience with the radio industry in the UAE. He was part of the team that set up the first English language commercial pop radio station in the UAE, Chaneel4FMAjman, in 1997, which has just celebrated its 25th year. Back in 2007, he also helped put together Emirates Radio 1 and Emirates Radio 2 through Emirates Media in Abu Dhabi as well as the UAE’s first rock radio station - Rock FM - in Fujairah. He has even entertained British troops DJing for them in Cyprus, Falkland Islands and Iraq.On his appointment as Director of Entertainment for Yas Island Plaza, Steve shared, “I am really excited to be back home in the UAE and looking forward to meeting old and new friends in my new role.”As the UAE continues its growth as a global entertainment destination, Yas Plaza Hotels is mixing it up and offering fresh and exciting music experiences for both local and foreign guests.“We at Yas Plaza Hotels have always been committed to providing world-class leisure and entertainment offerings as part of our overall hotel experience. Steve brings in decades of experience in the music industry and is very in tune with what both our local and global guests are looking for - and we can’t wait to hear it!” said Fredrik Reinisch, Managing Director at Yas Plaza Hotels.

Water parks tap into digital transformation to offer innovative & fun experience

Not wanting to be left out in the era of digitization when intelligent automation rules the roost, the water parks sector has been exploring new technologies to improve its operations.Organizations all over the world are looking to create touchless experiences to streamline operations to reduce costs and pain points, which makes countries like Saudi Arabia double the size of its economy to $1.6 trillion, adding an additional $293 billion by 2030, according to a new study by Automation Anywhere.WhiteWater, the world’s largest supplier of water parks and services, has expanded beyond the world of attractions with a software arm called Vantage, which was awarded the 2022 International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Impact Award for its ability to simplify the entrance process for guests and operators. Vantage enables guests to obtain their water park passes from the comfort of their homes, eliminating long entrance lines at the turnstile.Jeremy Gray, VP of Business Development at WhiteWater, said: “The implementation of technology in the entertainment space not only helps create a safer experience for guests but gives park operators more insight into the overall guest experience, enabling them to leverage that to make more money.”He added: “Knowledge is power. With technology comes access to data points that can provide suggestions on how best guests can enjoy the park by helping to improve services and their overall experience. At times, it could be just about putting an additional ice cream cart during a month of higher demand or deploying more staff to an area that is overloaded and lagging in its orders during the lunch rush.”Miral, a UAE-based creator of immersive destinations and experiences, began to integrate the facial recognition technology on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi with FacePass, enabling guests to access the park and process transactions through digital identification. This has not only saved time, but has also enhanced guests’ safety and well-being, thanks to the touchless interaction.Digital Transformation is a key pillar of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and will continue to be an area of growth within the country. According to the International Trade Administration, the Saudi information and communications technology (ICT) market is valued at over $32.1 billion and is the largest in the Middle East and North Africa region. With access to international connectivity through the Red Sea and the Gulf, and with the potential to serve the European, Asian, and African markets, the country is well positioned for rapid economic growth.A recent YouGov survey showed that for 96 percent of businesses in Saudi Arabia, customer experience is a top priority. This is because a great customer experience breeds loyalty and boosts happiness. Technology can assist this by creating an added layer of personalization to pleasantly surprise and wow visitors. At WhiteWater water parks, for example, by using Vantage’s technology, guests are able to play their favorite songs while enjoying their preferred rides at the venue.It can also be implemented to help prevent more than one guest from being at an attraction at the same time with its “tap in” feature, which is used to get the stoplight to change color and get the go-ahead to ride.Jeremy added: “Saudi Arabia has a unique opportunity to create the most advanced water parks in the world. Because the country is working to build these projects from scratch, there is an opportunity to build technology from the very beginning to make the water parks easier and safer to run.”As the Miral example illustrated, ticketing is only a small part of the picture. Versatile technologies have triggered a deluge of creative and operational advancements in water parks, offering operators and designers new options for improving guest experiences as well as safety. With Vantage, parents can use the technology to their benefit and work to put parameters on which rides their children can use, ultimately limiting access to scary rides that might not be appropriate for young children.

Hilton Beirut Metropolitan Palace announces its reopening

 Hilton Beirut Metropolitan Palace announces its reopening on Friday, December 30, 2022.The Jewel of Beirut, Hilton Beirut Metropolitan Palace will open its doors yet again offering a unique taste of luxury in the heart of Beirut. Opening on 30th December 2022, the hotel offers 185 luxurious rooms including 20 elegantly appointed suites, a variety of food and beverage selections all-day at the Summer Place and hotel's lobby lounge Tea Garden.Situated in the heart of Sin El Fil, this hotel boasts of magnificent views of the city from all the rooms. Hilton Beirut Metropolitan Palace has nine function rooms for 2,800 guests, including six multi-purpose meetings rooms practically located on one floor, a 24-hour business center and a dedicated Meetings Manager.In addition to this Hilton Beirut Metropolitan Palace Hotel provides guests with personalized services and advanced facilities including complimentary WiFi, a 24-hour business center, fitness center and outdoor pool. All designed to make every stay unforgettable.With its location only 15 minutes from Beirut International Airport, and Beirut City Center only a five-minute drive away from the hotel with an abundance of historical tourist sites in its vicinity, this hotel is an ideal base for exploring the charming Lebanese capital and the country's main attractions.Hilton Beirut Metropolitan Palace is part of Hilton Honors®, the award-winning guest loyalty program for Hilton’s 18 world-class brands. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose nearly any combination of Points and money to book a stay, an exclusive member discount that can’t be found anywhere else and free standard WiFi.For more information or to make reservations, please visit HiltonBeirutMetropolitanPalace or call +961 1 496 666.

EHS launches transformative project

 The Emirates Health Services (EHS) has announced the launch of a Metaverse-based Virtual Telemedicine Solution using 3D virtual reality technology.The launch is part of transformative projects which leverage advanced technology and promote smart services such as remote health solutions and telemedicine.Through the project, EHS aims to deliver virtual medical consultation services supported by advanced technologies. This first-of-its-kind technology enables members of society to access e-services via smart devices, thus scaling up service to reach broader segments of individuals and enhance the customer experience. Through the new virtual channel, patients can effortlessly access psychiatric consultation services, family health promotion clinics, and customer happiness centres.Dr. Yousif Mohammed Al-Serkal, EHS Director-General, said it is the first global healthcare provider to apply Metaverse technology to provide advanced services and promote sustainable health development goals by adopting best practices that leverage AI, IoT and Blockchain technologies.“This aims to strengthen governance, clinical review services, and research, promote global ethical standards and best practices, and enhance the sector’s competitiveness to world-class levels. The above aligns with our strategy of future-proofing our services against emerging challenges.”He added, “Our transformative projects aimed at promoting innovation, investing in national healthcare capacities, and continuing to keep abreast of the rapid global developments and changes in the sector by using the latest global medical devices and AI-based treatments and service automation.”The new initiative aims to promote telemedicine practices in virtual clinics and provide consultation services and medications through robotic pharmacies. It also focuses on increasing customer satisfaction and boosting patients’ confidence by delivering excellent outpatient services and updating service channels.The project will provide psychiatric consultation services for different age groups in addition to accessing the Customer Happiness Centre and family-centred health promotion services. The project complements the goal of EHS to be at the forefront in applying Metaverse technology and equipment-free services.Metaverse provides a 3D interactive space that allows customers to engage with healthcare professionals through a secure link using their devices equipped with a camera, microphone, and speakers. This way, patients need not purchase equipment such as headphones or controllers. Doctors can assess conditions, discuss treatment plans, and provide treatment and other clinical services.

Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr Football Club agree terms to sign Cristiano Ronaldo

Al Nassr Football Club, one of the most successful clubs in Saudi Arabia and Asia, and the current leaders of the Saudi Pro League (Roshn Saudi League) has agreed terms to sign Cristiano Ronaldo. The five-time Ballon D’or winner of Portugal will join on a 2.5 year contract. Ronaldo, one of the most successful footballers of all time, is set to undergo a medical at Mrsool Park, the modern home to Al Nassr, before completing formalities and being revealed to fans in the club’s yellow and blue colours in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh in coming days.Al Nassr, coached by Rudi Garcia, will enter a new year with their iconic new signing at the top of the league as they seek to claim their 18th Professional league title, having last won the league in 2019. Known for the passion of the club’s adoring fans, Al Nassr, which means victory in Arabic, has won 45 trophies in their celebrated history, with the progressive club now looking to add further to their success in the men’s and women’s game.During a record-breaking career so far, Cristiano Ronaldo has won five UEFA Champions League titles, four FIFA Club World Cups, seven league titles in England, Spain and Italy, and the UEFA European Championship and the UEFA Nations Cup for his native Portugal. He is the first player in history to have won league titles in England, Spain and Italy.Having won leagues titles and broken goalscoring records across Europe, Cristiano is ready for Asia and a new challenge by adding a league title in Saudi Arabia to his list of on-pitch achievements as well as aiming to help Al Nassr win their first ever AFC Asian Champions League.Loved and respected by hundreds of millions across the globe, this transformational partnership will combine one of the world’s most celebrated footballers with one of the most exciting sports nations in the world.Cristiano Ronaldo said: “I am excited to experience a new football league in a different country. The vision of what Al Nassr are doing and developing in Saudi Arabia both in terms of men’s and women’s football is very inspiring. We can see from Saudi Arabia’s recent performance at the World Cup that this is a country with big football ambitions and a lot of potential. I am fortunate that I have won everything I set out to win in European football and feel now that this is the right moment to share my experience in Asia. I am looking forward to joining my new teammates and together with them help the Club to achieve success.”Al Nassr Football Club President Musalli Almuammar said: “This is more than history in the making. This is a signing that will not only inspire our club to achieve even greater success but inspire our league, our nation and future generations, boys and girls to be the best version of themselves. He is a special footballer and a special person whose impact is felt far beyond football. Cristiano is joining a club with big ambitions, a competitive club amongst the very best in Asia and will be welcomed to a country that is making massive progress on and off the pitch with opportunities for all. But first and foremost, we can’t wait to see him in the number 7 shirt of Al Nassr doing what he does best, scoring goals, winning titles and bringing joy to those who love the beautiful game.”Al Nassr have always been known for breaking boundaries with the Ronaldo signing the latest pioneering move. The club was the first to ever represent Saudi Arabia in a global competition when they featured in the inaugural FIFA Club World Cup in 2000 in Brazil and first Asian club to play in four different continents, Asia, Africa, South America and Europe. Al Nassr also sits proudly at the top of the inaugural Women’s Premier League and is seeking a unique national domestic double.As the number one sport in the country, football has continued to gain prominence and momentum in recent years especially following the recent victory for the national team over Argentina in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, with the entire squad based in Saudi Arabia.The country has a population of 35 million with two thirds under 35 years old. Literally over 80% of the entire population play, attend or follow. Over 10% of the country play football. Over 2.6m under 30 play football. 65% of individuals aged between 15-19 that play sport, play football. And over 1 million fans attend the professional men’s league, the Roshn Saudi League every season.Cristiano’s move to a young country and region like Saudi Arabia and the Middle East represents a perfect fit to progress his impact as an all-round role model and inspire the nation's youth to lead healthy and active lifestyles.

MBZUAI brings together global AI experts in Abu Dhabi

Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), will hold its first AI Quorum of 2023 on January 3-6, with more than 200 AI experts confirmed to join. The four-day event is focused on challenges and opportunities related to deep neural networks (DNN), which are key in helping computers have the resources and space they need to answer complex questions and solve larger problems; they are used in various AI applications, such as chatbots.The event will take place at W Abu Dhabi Hotel on Yas Island, and will be streamed online and open for the public to register. It will consist of talks and workshops headed by more than 20 faculty members from top universities around the world, including UC Berkeley, Oxford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Washington, in addition to AI experts from top companies including Google and META.“In our first week of 2023, we are bringing together leaders in the fields of deep neural networks, deep learning, and data science to share ideas and expertise with the aim of overcoming some of the barriers that have held deep learning back from reaching its true potential,” said Professor Eric Xing, MBZUAI President and University Professor. “The high number of world-class speakers and attendees confirmed to attend the AI Quorum underscores the university’s ability to bring experts together to discuss the issues that matter within the field of AI, including the development of new solutions in fraud detection, gene mapping, and fake news.”Experts in fields including machine learning, applied mathematics, signal processing, and optimization will share recent progress and foster collaborations on the mathematical foundations of deep learning. They will also discuss the strength of deep neural networks in processing and learning from low-dimensional data, which is common in fields that deal with large numbers of observations and variables.The discussion will look at how deep learning, which is commonly beset by problems relating to data efficiency, could make better use of low-dimensional data to learn and solve problems. This could help develop vastly superior machine learning solutions capable of tackling challenges in a range of industries, including financial services, healthcare, and media.Launched in 2022 by MBZUAI, The AI Quorum is a winter series of gatherings designed to stimulate cutting-edge AI research with leading scientists and share an understanding of the discipline as a force for good. The series is strategic and high-level by design. The AI Quorum is focused on curiosity, collaboration, authenticity, and the pursuit of excellence – it is a coming together of the brightest minds to set the research agenda and to imagine both what AI could accomplish and how it might get there.

Sharjah gears up to host region’s first Footgolf tournament

Footgolf, a sport combining football and golf, is set to take center stage at Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club for the ‘Sharjah International Footgolf Tournament’ from 12 to 14 January 2023. The Professional Footgolf tournament will take place at Sharjah’s world-class country club, with some of the world’s best players traveling to the Emirate from across the globe to participate. The event will bring together over 140 players from more than 20 different nationalities to take on the challenging course. Organised by Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Authority (SCTDA) in partnership with Sharjah Sports Council and Professional Footgolf Tour, The Sharjah International Footgolf Tournament will host the world’s top footgolf players, with both men and women competing for cash purses over a two-day competition, utilising an 18-hole, stroke-play format. The tournament will consist of four players per group, teeing off every six minutes. Players will compete across two days, vying for more than $40,000 in total prize money. The event is also open to amateur footgolf players based in UAE with a prize fund of $1,500 up for grabs, with these players also eligible for the overall fund. While Footgolf tournaments have taken place all over the world to date, the Sharjah International Footgolf Tournament will be the first of its kind within the GCC.“We’re thrilled to be bringing the region’s first footgolf tournament to Sharjah. We have a line-up of world-class footgolf players flying in from all over the world, and we’re excited to show them the beauty of the UAE and everything Sharjah has to offer” said Dan Ferretti, Co-Chairman of Professional Footgolf Tour. “While there are some immaculate golf courses across the UAE, to date there have been no true footgolf courses built, and so not everyone is familiar with the sport. We’re hoping to change that with the launch of Professional Footgolf Tour events across the region, that will ultimately leave a legacy for players of all ages and skill levels to experience the sport and get themselves playing in one of our elite events.”Combining golf and football, footgolf has become a global phenomenon in recent years. Requiring little equipment, skilled players utilise precision and foot control to kick the football into specially designed large holes on an eighteen-hole course. Footgolf can be played on a regular golf course and is one of the fastest-growing sports in golf communities. Footgolf uses a regulation size five football, and a hole big enough to accommodate one. Unlike regular golf, if a shot goes astray, players can detect the ball easily and play moves on swiftly. However, like regular golf, there are hazards — and the difference often comes down to putting.Following the two-day tournament, a family friendly footgolf course will be installed at Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club. The club will have tee times on sale for this course to enable families, friends, and workmates to experience the game first-hand, creating a legacy for the sport in the Emirate. HE Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of SCTDA, said: “The Sharjah International Footgolf Tournament further emphasises the efforts being made in Sharjah to enhance Sharjah’s position as a premier tourist destination. We are delighted to be welcoming professional footgolf players from all over the world to Sharjah next month, and we look forward to inviting these players to enjoy the Emirate’s rich history, geography, nature, culture, heritage, archaeology, and arts.”The SCTDA continues to launch various initiatives to support the activities of the tourism sector in Sharjah, which include strengthening its partnerships with the private and public sector as well as local and international entities to enhance the overall tourism experience within the Emirate.The competition venue at Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club offers a premier one-stop venue for a vast range of recreational facilities both indoor and outdoor. Located only five minutes from Sharjah Airport and 20 minutes from Dubai Airport, it provides a convenient location for both local and international competitors and participants.Registration is now open with limited spaces available for UAE citizens and residents to sign up to participate in the Sharjah International Footgolf Tournament. Entry fee is AED 370 per player. For more information or to sign up to participate, visit

Dubai Chamber of Commerce launches Cloud Computing Business Group

Dubai Chamber of Commerce, one of the three chambers operating under Dubai Chambers, has announced the launch of the Cloud Computing Business Group, connecting companies within the sector to encourage productive dialogue on ways to propel and embed cloud computing services across the various business industries in Dubai.Commenting on the launch, Maha AlGargawi, Executive Director of Business Advocacy at Dubai Chambers said, “As one of the most future-ready nations in the world, a cloud-powered advanced digital infrastructure is essential to support Dubai’s goals of fully integrating digital technology into all government operations and plans. The setting up of the cloud computing business group is a pillar of this infrastructure as it will encourage transparent conversations between its members, supporting the sector in advocating beneficial policy changes that will in turn enhance its competitiveness.”One of the business group’s founding members, Miguel Villalonga, CEO of e& enterprise Cloud, added, “The formation of this business group comes at the right time as cloud computing has become integral to businesses and the overall Dubai economy ecosystem. It will serve as a platform for fruitful discussions between stakeholders in the sector. Such collaboration enables leveraging expertise while aiming to enhance cloud computing landscape in the UAE. It resonates with our efforts to be the leading digital enabler for cloud solutions.”Sharing similar sentiments, Omid Mahboubi, Founder of MENA Cloud Alliance and co-founder of the Cloud Computing Business Group, said, “I am pleased to be part of the establishment of this business group and look forward to constructive dialogues with peer members on ways and means we can support businesses in the cloud computing sector. This business group will be a catalyst for driving adoption of cloud computing in various organisations across the board.”The adoption of cloud technologies has allowed businesses in Dubai to become more agile, flexible, and efficient, helping to drive innovation and competitiveness within the local economy. The UAE has consistently outperformed 15 other countries in the Middle East and North Africa region as the most cloud competitive economy. SMEs and start-ups in the UAE are expected to gain a total of $17.1 billion (AED 62.6 billion) in economic benefits from hyperscale cloud computing between 2022 and 2030, equivalent to 2.3% of the UAE's GDP in 2021.The new Cloud Computing Business Group will focus on promoting the development of cloud computing companies, raising the profile of Dubai’s cloud services sector in the international business community. By providing a forum that facilitates mutual dialogue between the sector stakeholders and government entities, the business group will address policy matters related to the industry, amongst others.Dubai has a thriving and growing cloud computing industry, with a number of well-established international companies and local start-ups providing a range of cloud-based services. Cloud computing has become increasingly important to the economy of Dubai in recent years and the launch of the business group comes at a prime and opportune time for the sector.The new business group is part of the chamber’s plans to increase the number of business groups that represent economic sectors and activities in Dubai. They act as representatives and reliable advocates for their respective business sectors and play a crucial role in recommending policy changes to improve a sector’s competitiveness and attractiveness while promoting international best practices and supporting economic growth. Dubai Chamber of Commerce plans to increase the number of economic sectors and activities represented by business groups to 100 by March 2023.

Uber appoints Hachem as GM to lead UAE and Levant

Uber has announced the appointment of Pia El Hachem as the General Manager at Uber across the UAE, Jordan, and Lebanon. In her new role, Hachem will be leading Uber’s strategy, operations, policy, and business development, while overseeing the company’s end-to-end business.Hachem has been at Uber since 2018 as the Strategy & Planning Lead for the Mena region and later expanded her scope to the Sub-Saharan Africa region. In her previous roles at Uber, Hachem contributed to developing the strategy and business plans for the MEA region, and most recently, setting priorities and growing the business in various markets.“It is an honour for me to take on this new role at Uber, building on my tenure developing the business,” said Hachem. “I am looking forward to leading the Uber business with a focus on our efforts towards achieving our sustainable mobility goals, expanding our product portfolio to meet local needs, as well as, and of course, growing our ride sharing business across all 3 countries.”Strategist and leader“Through her years of experience and previous roles at Uber, Pia has proven to be an exemplary strategist and leader, perfectly suited for her new role as GM of UAE and Levant,” said Frans Hiemstra, Director and General Manager of Uber Middle East & Africa. He added: “I'm looking forward to Pia elevating our offerings and advancing the Uber business in these strategic markets, as she takes on this new responsibility.”Prior to joining Uber, Hachem was a management consultant at Strategy&, where she worked closely with clients across different industries on developing and implementing strategies in the Middle East and South-East Asia.

Deira Enrichment Project unveils exciting DSF line up

 Deira Enrichment Project (DEP), the modern vibrant mixed-use community developed for Dubai’s residents and tourists to live, work and play, and home to the Dubai Gold Souk Extension (DGSE) raises the 2022 Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) momentum with its amazing all-new ‘Shop & Win’ raffle promotion.Kicking off along with DSF all the way until 29 January 2023, residents and visitors to Dubai can look forward to exciting and unique offerings from hundreds of retail outlets including jewellery stores, perfumeries, clothing and footwear retailers, and pharmacies, as well as numerous restaurants and cafes located throughout the 1,181,025 square foot development.To spread the cheer, DEP is offering up to AED 250,000 in giveaways to shoppers who make a purchase between AED 50 - AED 1000 during the DSF season. Shoppers spending AED 50 or more at participating stores and cafes have a chance to win travel and dining vouchers worth up to AED 50,000 in the Fun Win category, whereas all those spending AED 1000 or more at jewellery, electronics or perfume outlets will have the opportunity to walk away with two Nissan Kicks as well as jewellery vouchers worth AED 50,000 as part of the Big Wins category.Speaking enthusiastically of the offers, Lachlan Gyde, Executive Director, Asset Management of Ithra Dubai said: “Deira has always been the destination for shopping where bargains await the intrepid shopper and these retail businesses have always been recognised as an integral part of the vibrant and ever-changing Dubai scene. Through our ongoing contribution and commitment to Deira we are building a community around the innovative, engaging, and diverse offerings we have introduced into DEP that will create unforgettable and distinct experiences that leave customers coming back for more.”He added: “With this raffle, we look forward to encouraging Dubai’s residents and visitors to explore and discover the large variety of businesses that Deira Enrichment Project houses.”The Deira Retail District notably comprises the Dubai Gold Souk Extension, Sherina Plaza, Osha Plaza, One Deira, Shamma Plaza and Moza Plaza, among others. For the convenience of shoppers, ample parking spaces have been allotted through multi-storey car parks as well as other parking facilities throughout the project. DEP is connected to two metro stations and an integrated Transport Hub, giving visitors a wide variety of transportation options to choose from.

Azizi Developments appoints new Chief Facilities Executive and Senior Advisor

 Azizi Developments, a leading private real estate developer in the UAE, has appointed a new Chief Facilities Executive and Senior Advisor, Dr. Mahmoud Reza Taheri, to lead its Facility Management & Commercials, DLP and Security Services.Dr. Mahmoud, a veteran in the industry, has over thirty years of experience in management and operations, and has a proven track record in effectively leading high-performing teams, developing and streamlining processes, and implementing avantgarde systems to boost efficiency and optimise productivity.Dr. Mahmoud has served as Deputy Special Envoy as well as Head of Missions along with other key positions in the specialised agencies of the United Nations. Dr. Mahmoud has also taught as a university professor, and holds two PhD degrees in social communication sciences and international relations. Moreover, he has served as CEO of Azizi Investments from 2007-2012. Dr Mahmoud is an expert in facility management. Hired to help Azizi’s projects reach their fullest potential, he will be overseeing those who operate and maintain Azizi’s completed projects.Commenting on the appointment, Mr Farhad Azizi, CEO of Azizi Developments, said: “Dr. Mahmoud is an exceptional executive with vast experience. His management and operations knowledge is well suited for the position we’ve entrusted him with. He will play a crucial role in driving our strategy and adding long-term value to the progression of our organisation. We are committed to enhancing the lifestyles of our residents through our now even more proficient facility management department and our long-standing partnership with VCM.”

SimpliFi accelerates disruption in digital payments

SimpliFi, the leading Cards as a Service (CaaS) platform in MENAP, empowers organizations to drive new revenue streams, manage costs and streamline business operations, with the introduction of Multi-Currency cards across the region. With businesses moving to digital channels and borders increasingly becoming less relevant, the ability to pay and get paid globally in local currencies is becoming a necessity. By providing the ability to create and issue Multi-Currency cards, SimpliFi is helping businesses create unique and relevant payments experiences to solve their pain points.SimpliFi Multi-Currency lets businesses issue cards in multiple currencies to match their spend with in-depth insights into how their cash flow movement is being managed across currencies while reducing exchange losses and administrative costs. Founder and CEO of SimpliFi, Ali Sattar says, “Cross-border spending is increasing rapidly and will continue to do so; this is an opportunity to accelerate access to efficient, reliable cross-border payments. Multi-Currency cards offer consumers, freelancers, and businesses better payment experiences by providing more choice, convenience, operational efficiencies, and savings. At SimpliFi, we aim to be the driving force that supports businesses to supplement their revenue streams, while having more control over foreign exchange costs. This truly is the future of payments.”SimpliFi Multi-Currency offers businesses the opportunity to generate additional revenues through foreign exchange while reducing the complexities related to administration and operational costs. It also allows companies to boost their bottom line and benefit from unique payment experiences, and forecast spending in matching currencies.SimpliFi offers single cards with Multi-Currency options, where the cardholder can move funds across various supported currency pockets, or multiple cards each with a single currency.Key use cases include: Corporate ExpenseMake supplier or subscription payments in billed currencies with control over FX rates.Personal Finance ManagementOffer users the option to have funds saved in multiple currencies, whether in single currency cards or multi-currency pockets.Business/Personal TravelMove money ahead of trips by easily and cost-effectively converting funds into different currencies to spend while travelling.Freelance WorkProvide users with a solution to collect money in their choice of currency.SimpliFi, the leading CaaS platform, currently offers 8 currencies with multi-currency cards available in the US Dollar (USD), UAE Dirham (AED), Saudi Riyal (SAR), Bahraini Dinar (BHD), Kuwaiti Dinar (KWD), Omani Rial (OMR), Qatari Riyal (QTR), Jordanian Dinar (JOD).

Samsung Electronics announces ‘New Year. New You. Smart Start.’ packages

To celebrate the New Year and allow customers to get a head start on their New Year’s goals, Samsung Electronics announces ‘New Year, New You, Smart Start’ exclusive offers for their wide range of connected products to encourage consumers to shop smart this year. Samsung’s devices and technological innovation enable consumers to convert surroundings according to individual needs with efficiency, productivity and comfort, allowing more time for what really matters.Samsung’s solutions have the SmartThings* functionality built-in for a level of interconnectivity that is virtually unrivalled across electronics. The innovation offered to consumers has revolutionised the convenience around televisions, mobiles and home appliances empowering consumers to connect their devices under one platform, providing connectivity and device management opportunities that streamline living.Mohammed Al Azzawe, Marketing Director, MENA Regional HQ at Samsung Electronics, said: “New Year is a time to create new set of resolutions that resolve around wellness and self-improvement. Therefore, we take it upon ourselves as technology leaders to encourage our valued consumers to upgrade to smarter homes and foster a dynamic ecosystem through our exclusive bundle packages.Samsung's latest products transform homes into operationally connected ecosystems, redefining the true meaning of smarter living. These best-in-the-market, contemporary electronics perform together to improve active wellness, family interaction, work from home, and cater to the varied uses of the entire household, simplifying consumers’ everyday life.Samsung is laying on exclusive offers, packages and not-to-be-missed flash sales for customers to make the transition into 2023 with a smarter, connected home. The price reductions will be on select Samsung products, ranging from mobile phones and home appliances to TVs and home-entertainment devices. To shop smarter this year, discover amazing offers on SmartThings ready-devices on Samsung’s eStore: what everyone is wishing for this New Year with Samsung! To download the SmartThings app, visit

NGN reveals its new logo reflecting company’s growth and expansion

NGN International, the security services provider and systems integrator headquartered in the Kingdom of Bahrain, announced the launch of its new logo and identity, reflecting the company's continuous growth, renewal, diversity of fields and future aspirations.The new design of the company's identity presents its core values and philosophy of work in a simple, clear and easy-to-understand manner. It portrays the harmony of its elements, additionally, its prominent triple dimension look indicates the implications of advanced technical fields and modern applications of the ICT field.Mr. Yaqoob Al Awadhi, CEO of NGN International, said: "With the introduction of this new logo, we aim to keep up with the significant advancements we have made to our work in recent years, as well as our expansion from the Kingdom of Bahrain to various regional and international markets. We also wanted to present ourselves to our clients in a modern way that would help them recognise the high-quality standards of the services we offer them.""It took a while to create the new logo until we arrived with this refreshed and outlandish design that depicts the rapidly advancing modern technologies. We were also eager to engage our workforce in this project to strengthen their feelings of belonging and loyalty and to ensure that they are once again part of the company's journey towards growth and expansion.”The objective of the new design of the company's identity, according to Mr. Al Awadhi, is to show the depth and extent of the business. It also suggests that the company roams the globe to offer the best services that satisfy its clients' needs. As the new identity comes to give another dimension and a profound revelation to the ambitious new strategy of the company in the next stage, this is also a new shift that affirms the company's keenness to connect and keep pace with global advancements.Mr. Al Awadhi indicated that the new identity also reflects the development witnessed by "NGN Training Center”, and its efforts in the field of upskilling and reskilling national cadres in different areas of emerging technologies.

The Spinneys Dubai 92 cycle challenge is returning to DIS in 2023

The Spinney’s Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge, in partnership with Dubai Sports Council, continues to shatter records and bring in amateur and professional cyclists from around the world. Early next year, the Outride edition of the 32 Km race is set to return, a shorter course ride allowing families and new cyclists to join in the fun alongside the main race on 19th February 2023. As one of the region’s premium sporting events and UCI Gran Fondo World Series 2023 qualifier, the Spinney’s Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge is joined by American Express Middle East (AEME) as the Official Payment Partner of the event.The Main event and Outride races will be held at the iconic Dubai International Stadium. Participants and attendees can expect an exciting post-event race village brimming with fun activities and hospitality experiences, suitable for the entire family.Stewart Howison, Race Director for the Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge, said: “We are delighted to have American Express Middle East as our Official Payment Partner and excited to be back at Dubai International Stadium. We cannot wait to welcome all the fans, family, and friends to this spectacular event. We also encourage the non-cycling enthusiasts to visit as the post-event race village, which will be offering exciting activities for guests to participate in.”Saud Swar, Chief Business Officer of American Express Middle East, said: “We recognize the incredible effort by the organizers and the Dubai Sports Council in their journey to becoming one of the region’s most anticipated cycling events. We are pleased to strengthen our support to Spinney’s Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge over the years by becoming this season’s Official Payment Partner. This partnership is in line with our Sustainability commitment to foster well-being in the communities we operate.”As the Aster Pharmacy BIG 5 competition passed its halfway point with Build-Up Ride 3, Borja Sanz, and Michelle Lindqvist emerged as the owners of the coveted yellow jerseys following their strong start to the season. In the newly introduced Vet’s category for this season, Si Cox and Claire Martin will wear the blue leaders’ jerseys going into the final Build-Up Ride of the season, taking place on 22nd January 2023.The Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge have not forgotten about the younger crowd. Young cyclist enthusiasts can look forward to the Junior Rides launching early in January 2023. These rides are untimed and are solely designed for the enjoyment of children between the ages of 2-12. The Junior Rides are set to take place at the Dubai International Stadium on 18th February 2023, a day before the main event.Cyclists from around the world will visit Dubai to participate in the main event on Sunday 19th February 2023. The 92km race will draw in competitive cyclists as they look to qualify for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championship, which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland next year. With flatter terrain and a cooler climate, Dubai’s track provides a unique opportunity for riders to perform well and make the top 20%. Once again, a qualifying race for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships 2023, the Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge continues to leverage its appeal and leave a mark on the global sporting stage.Riders looking for the perfect fit for the main event can purchase the official Spinney’s Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge apparel. From the balanced sport fit cut event jersey by Ciovita and breathable UV Sun Sleeves to limited-edition Versus cycling socks with moisture-wicking technology, the 2023 merchandise was created for cyclists, by cyclists and is available to pre order at www.cyclechallenge.aeHeld in partnership with Dubai Sports Council, Spinneys and Dubai 92, The Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge is one of the Middle East’s premium sporting races, regularly attracting thousands of riders from all over the world.

Analysing the tepid response to Netflix’s AVOD version

Is Netflix’s ad-supported offering a dud? While it is too early to come to that conclusion, the much-touted ad tier, launched in 12 countries in November, isn’t eliciting encouraging response from the audience, at least in the US. The basic ad plan has garnered only 9% of new subscribers in the US in November, according to subscription analytics firm Antenna. Netflix has rebuffed Antenna’s data with its spokesperson telling The Wall Street Journal that it is still “very early days for our ad-supported tier and we’re pleased with its launch and engagement, as well as the eagerness of advertisers to partner with Netflix”.The advertisers, however, aren’t as eager as the streamer claims. Netflix has reportedly returned money to advertisers after it fell “short of ad-supported viewership guarantees made to advertisers,” according to Digiday. The report, quoting five agency executives, says that Netflix has “only delivered roughly 80% of the expected audience”.“They can’t deliver. They don’t have enough inventory to deliver. So they’re literally giving the money back,” said one of the agency executives, who blamed the streamer for the lack of a big marketing push to promote the ad-supported tier and attract subscribers.Yes, Netflix was in a hurry to launch the ad-supported version, as it faced the toughest of times since its launch. The first six months of 2022 saw the streaming giant laying off 450 employees on two different occasions. The streaming company’s share price fell almost 20% after it lost, during the first quarter, 200,000 subscribers worldwide, especially in markets like the US, fuelled to a great extent by increasing competition from rivals like Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, Paramount+, etc. (The target for the year was 2.5 million new subscribers.) The tough conditions prompted the streamer to resort to measures like imposing a ban on account-sharing, and launching an ad-supported tier, which the company has shunned for long.For the ad-supported tier, Netflix tied up with Microsoft to sell its ad slots, and signed with BARB (the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board) and Integral Ad Science and DoubleVerify for the purpose of measurement.According to reports, the streamer was selling its slot at a price of around £50 for every 1,000 viewers reached; that is double the rate charged by streaming services owned by Channel 4 or ITV. Some of the brands that joined were L’Oréal and the world’s biggest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, which owns popular names like Budweiser. But there is neither independently assessed audience data nor the option to target specific demographics. Well, analysts feel that, going forward, brands will demand sophisticated and advanced targeting capabilities from Netflix. And there are no popular titles such as ‘Peaky Blinders’ on the ad-supported platform. Licensing restriction was the reason cited by Netflix COO Greg Peters for this. He said that only 5% to 10% of Netflix’s total catalogue would not be currently available in the ad-supported tier.Too early?Meanwhile, industry observers say that it is too early to arrive at a conclusion that Netflix ad tier is a failure.Netflix is always known for its subscriber-based plans and providing the best of the experience to its viewers, says Faqhrul Husaini, Producer and Co-founder, Smiley Films. “Now this is the early stage of their AVOD roll-out; yes, it has not got the desired results, but we will have to wait for another 2-3 years before making up our minds about it. It will be more clear when they will expand AVOD-based plans in more markets. I think as SVOD has failed to get any streaming giant in a profitable position and economical situation is getting worse, so AVOD is going to be the main revenue generation system for all the streamers, but SVOD will be there for premium customers who prefer experience over money,” he adds.It’s still early days for the ad tier and we’ve yet to hear from Netflix, says analyst Paolo Pescatore. Therefore, he adds, we can expect some guidance during the next quarterly earnings call.“Let’s not forget the calendar fourth quarter tends to be a good one in terms of subscriber growth due to seasonality. This has been a good quarter of programming with ‘The Crown’, and of course, the Harry & Meghan documentary. Netflix will hope that the huge anticipation for the show will lead to sign-ups. The streamer is not dead. The show will reinforce its market-leading position as an indispensable streamer in people’s homes,” he says.According to him, the show is a blockbuster in its own right that will draw attention among users who have not already subscribed to the streamer. “Unquestionably, this ensures that Netflix ends the year in a far stronger position, building on blockbuster third quarter, with normal service having been restored. This is in stark contrast to the first half of the year. Significantly, this excludes the move into advertising, which will help broaden its base, business model and much more.”Rosy future for AVODAnalysts feel ad-based tiers, or the hybrid model, will catch up in the days ahead. According to a forecast by Bloomberg Intelligence report, Netflix’s ad-based subscription plan has the potential to boost revenue and user growth. “Longer term ads are expected to reboot user growth and while cannibalisation is the single biggest worry, robust ad average revenue per user should help to reaccelerate sales,” say Bloomberg Intelligence senior media analyst Geetha Ranganathan and senior associate analyst Kevin Near.Going forward, we can expect a hybrid model to take precedence, according to a research report by Digital TV Research.The report says that only 24% of Netflix’s total subscribers (which is 63 million) will pay for a hybrid AVOD-SVOD tier by 2028.Simon Murray, Principal Analyst at Digital TV Research, feels that the majority of Netflix’s SVOD-only subscribers will remain on these plans, despite the cheap availability of AVOD-SVOD tier. “The hybrid tier will appeal most to developing countries where disposable incomes are lower. The hybrid tier will also be attractive to new subscribers that do not have legacy SVOD-only subscriptions,” he says.Globally, ad-supported tiers will drive SVOD subscriptions to increase by $428 million between 2022 and 2028 to reach $1.76 billion, according to the Digital TV Research. A hybrid SVOD-AVOD model, led by giants like Netflix, Disney+, Warner Bros. Discovery, etc. will drive growth.According to Murray, Netflix will provide its hybrid AVOD-SVOD tier in 85 countries by 2028, followed by Disney+ in 91 countries, and HBO in 55 and Paramount+ in 56. The research firm estimates that these four platforms will have a combined 372 million hybrid AVOD-SVOD subscribers in the next five years.Given that Disney+ subscribers in most markets are expected to convert automatically to the hybrid AVOD-SVOD tier, Digital TV Research predicts that the platform will have 206 million subs to this tier by 2028 – or 88% of its total.

Dubai property market set to hit new peak in 2023

Dubai real estate market will continue its upward trajectory in 2023 as the property prices and the annual rent are expected to increase further amid rising demand and interest from high net worth individuals (HNWIs) and foreign investors, according to the Zoom Property Insights.The latest data from Zoom Property Insights forecasts that Dubai property prices are expected to increase up to 20 per cent increase on average and the luxury segment will continue to dominate with 13.5 per cent year-on-year growth in 2023.Ata Shobeiry, CEO of Zoom Property, echoes the sentiment that the property market will continue its upward momentum on the back of strong demand from end-users and foreign and local investors.“The Dubai property market has cemented its position as a leading real estate destination, with 2022 proving to be a remarkable year (so far) for the sector. It is expected to end on a strong note, paving the way for an even stronger 2023,” he said."I believe popular communities, such as Palm Jumeirah, Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina, JBR, etc., will continue attracting buyers and investors in the next year as well,” Shobeiry said.High-end properties on the riseReferring to a recent report by Knight Frank, the Zoom Property Insights said the high-end properties in Dubai will have another remarkable year, with an anticipated 13.5 per cent increase in prices next year. This is the highest increase among the top 25 foreign destinations.Miami ranks 2nd with an expected 5 per cent increase in prices while Los Angeles, Paris, and New York are other prominent names on the list.Top areas expected to remain popular in 2023Data obtained from the Zoom Property Insights indicates that Palm Jumeirah witnessed the highest price increase of 5 per cent in the apartment sector in recent times. It was followed by MBR City, Meydan City, and Living Legends. All these communities recorded a 4.7 per cent increase in the average property prices.For villas, the highest growth of 4.6 per cent was recorded in Emirates Hills. Mudon (4.1 per cent), Jumeriah Village Circle (3.9 per cent), and MBR City (3.1 per cent) remained other prominent areas.For rental apartments, The Old Town, Dubailand Residence Complex, Green Community (DIP), and Downtown Dubai showed the most promising figures of 4.9 per cent, 4.6 per cent, 4.5 per cent, and 4.4 per cent, respectively.The Sustainable City (4.9 per cent), DAMAC Hills (Akoya) (4.8 per cent), The Villa (4.8 per cent), and Reem (4.7 per cent) remained the popular choices for renting villas.Besides the aforementioned areas Jumeriah, JBR, Arabian Ranches, and Dubai Marina are expected to drive the property market in 2023.“Dubai's position as a leading tourist destination, reformed policies by the government, relaxation in visa rules, and an expat-friendly environment; it’s a combination of all these factors that have helped to make Dubai property market a roaring success. I believe they will continue to contribute to the sector’s success in 2023 as well,” Shobeiry concluded.

ZBC to boost trade volume and business relations with Dubai

 Dubai Chamber of Commerce has supported the establishment of the Zimbabwean Business Council with a main objective of promoting commercial interests of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwean business in Dubai. The business council also aims to promote Zimbabwean owned UAE registered companies as well as their goods and services in the UAE.The launch of the Zimbabwean Business Council is in line with the chamber’s plans to establish new country-specific business councils and expand their roles to boost Dubai’s foreign trade and promote cross-border business opportunities for member companies.“We aim to create new channels of economic cooperation between business communities in the emirate and promising markets around the world. Covering markets of strategic importance to Dubai, business councils provide the right platforms for businesses in the UAE and abroad to connect, collaborate and build mutually beneficial partnerships. These councils will support us as we further expand our presence across Africa, Latin America and the Middle East and attract more companies and investment from these regions,” said Maha AlGargawi, Executive Director of Business Advocacy at Dubai Chambers.Commenting on the establishment of the new business council, Rungano Innocent Nyaude, one of the founding members of the council said, “The Zimbabwean Business Council in the UAE looks to play a pivotal role in growing the Dubai-Zimbabwe business relations by bringing together Zimbabwean businesses operating in Dubai, building an ecosystem of coordination and networking which will in turn build further trade corridors between the UAE and Zimbabwe. The UAE is Zimbabwe’s second largest export destination market and through coordination with stakeholders, it is our mission to play a part in strengthening the trade relations between the two countries and grow the business footprint of Zimbabweans in the UAE.”Bilateral trade between UAE and Zimbabwe witnessed strong growth between 2019 to 2021. UAE imports from Zimbabwe reached US$ 2.3 billion in 2021 compared to US$ 1.5 billion in 2020 and US$ 904 million in 2019, while UAE exports to Zimbabwe accounted at US$ 209 million in 2021. Main products of trade between the two countries are precious stones and metals. The new business council will further strengthen burgeoning trade relations between Zimbabwean companies and the business community with other companies in the UAE, contributing to an increase in trade volume between the two countries.The establishment of the Zimbabwean Business Council is a collaborative effort in improving the ease of doing business in Dubai in addition to creating a supportive, enabling and world-class business environment in the emirate.

GFH’s ratings upgraded by S&P to ‘B’ on resilient business

GFH Financial Group B.S.C (“GFH” or “the Group”) today announced that S&P Global Ratings raised its long-term issuer credit rating to ‘B’ from ‘B-‘, Outlook Stable. At the same time, the agency also raised the credit ratings on sukuk issued by GFH Sukuk Company Ltd to ‘B’ from ‘B-‘.The Group’s ratings upgrade is said to reflect GFH's strong business and financial performance. The report noted that GFH’s revenue has proved resilient over the 2020-2022 period as well as noting that return on equity has improved to 8.6% over the first nine months of 2022. Despite pressure on the Group’s treasury activities from rising interest rates, the report also cited GFH’s ability to have delivered good investment banking revenue, building on its real estate specialization in Europe and the U.S. and steady commercial banking performance after a restructuring in 2020. The stable outlook, according to S&P, reflects its view that GFH can reduce its exposure to real estate assets while maintaining moderate capitalisation over the next 12-18 months.S&P went on to highlight that the macroeconomic environment will continue to support GFH's activities. The report expects that oil prices will remain high through 2023-2024, which would support abundant liquidity in the Gulf Cooperation Council region. In turn, this is expected to keep demand for alternative investments elevated, support commercial banking, and likely keep regional money markets relatively stable despite higher interest rates.The steady divestment of GFH’s real estate activities was also a contributing factor to the ratings upgrade. Following the spinoff of Infracorp, S&P noted that the Group has successfully reduced its exposure to real estate.Commenting, Mr. Salem Patel, Chief Investment Officer, Debt and Capital Markets at GFH, said, “We’re pleased to announce S&P’s upgraded ratings for the Group and ongoing market recognition of the strength of GFH’s business and the steps we have taken to further enhance our results and financial position. Despite challenging market conditions, our performance across each of our core business lines has remained resilient, enabling us to deliver solid returns for the Group, our shareholders and investors. We will continue to build on this momentum and strong demand for our unique and well-diversified investments.”

DXB expected to welcome around 2 million passengers over holiday season

Dubai International (DXB) will remain exceptionally busy over the remainder of the holiday season and well into the New Year, with nearly 2 million passengers expected to pass through DXB.The operator urged passengers to plan their trips to and through the airport and follow simple travel tips to ensure a smooth airport experience.DXB’s average daily passenger numbers have risen almost back to pre-pandemic levels on the back of strong recovery throughout 2022, making this latest seasonal peak one of busiest since 2019. Over the next eight days starting 27th December, nearly 2 million passengers are expected to pass through DXB, with average daily traffic reaching as many as 245,000 passengers. 2nd January is expected to be the busiest day with traffic exceeding 257,000 passengers.December has been exceptionally busy for DXB due to a combination of factors including the seasonal influx of visitors, the recently concluded World Cup football event in Doha, and the strength of Dubai’s position as one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.Dubai Airports is working closely with airlines, control authorities, and commercial and service partners to ensure a smooth airport experience for arriving and departing passengers. The operator has urged travellers to follow a few simple tips to beat the holiday rush:- For those travelling with families, children over the age of 12 can use Smart Gates to speed up the passport control process.- The roads to the airport could get busy during peak times. It’s best to plan some extra time to get to and through the airport.- Travellers flying out of Terminal 1 should arrive at the airport no earlier than 3 hours before departure.- Use online and self-service options wherever available to get off to a smooth start to your journey.- Those travelling from Terminal 3 can use Emirate's convenient early and self-service check-in facilities.- Weighing luggage at home, checking documents in advance, and being prepared for security checks can save a lot of time at the airport.- Use the Dubai Metro to get to and from the airport. Dubai Metro, which has stations at DXB’s Terminal 1 and Terminal 3, will be operational round the clock from 31st December, 2022, to 1st January, 2023.- Friends and families are advised to use the airport’s designated car parks or valet service to receive their guests in comfort as access to the arrival forecourt in Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 are limited to public transport and other authorised vehicles.

Dubai to ring in the New Year with dazzling fireworks

Dubai is all set to welcome the New Year with dazzling fireworks displays in 30 locations across the city, headline concerts featuring superstars, a stellar entertainment line-up, family-friendly activities and spectacular drone shows. Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) and Dubai Calendar, the official guide for events in the city, have joined hands to provide a round-up of the best celebrations that make the city one of the world’s best destinations to ring in 2023.Spectacular fireworks displaysEpic fireworks shows will take place throughout the city at a number of popular hotels, tourist destinations and public spaces. As the clock strikes midnight, the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, will present an awe-inspiring spectacle. In addition to this, an array of other well-known Dubai landmarks will be exhibiting their own displays to mark the occasion, including The Dubai Frame, Bluewaters, The Beach, JBR and Burj Al Arab.Celebrations taking place in over 30 picturesque locations throughout Dubai include a breath-taking show at Atlantis, The Palm. The city’s golf courses will also be popular destinations to enjoy New Year’s Eve festivities. Jumeirah Golf Estates Golf & Country Club, Emirates Golf Club, Montgomerie Golf Club Dubai, Arabian Ranches Golf Club and Topgolf Dubai will be hosting a number of activities, parties and fireworks displays.The New Year celebrations being held in the city are among the key #DubaiDestinations experiences that residents and visitors can enjoy amidst the wonderful winter weather.Dubai’s sandy beaches will also be part of the action, with iconic beachside destinations such as Palm West Beach and Club Vista Mare offering opportunities to partake in the seasonal festivities. Similarly, a host of Dubai’s best resorts will be hosting their own fireworks displays, events and parties to mark the coming of 2023. These include Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai, One&Only Royal Mirage, JA Beach Hotel - Jebel Ali, Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort, One&Only The Palm, Sofitel Dubai The Palm, Palazzo Versace Dubai, Park Hyatt Dubai, Bulgari Resort Dubai and Four Seasons Resort Dubai, Jumeirah Beach.Families can choose from a number of destinations to enjoy colourful exhibitions and seasonal extravaganzas: Dubai Creek, Al Seef, Global Village, Dubai Parks and Resorts, Dubai Festival City Mall and Town Square by Nshama. Alternatively, families and groups of all ages can opt for a unique desert experience to ring in the New Year at the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Al Khayma Desert Camp.Drone showsVisitors and residents can also look forward to the DSF Drones Light Show at Bluewaters and The Beach, JBR, with shows at 8.00 PM and 11.00 PM. The free-to-watch performances involve hundreds of drones entertaining crowds with spectacular lights and displaying patterns and messages in the night-sky. Diners can pitch up for a front row seat at the multitude of restaurants in the area.Also lighting up the city is the Dubai Lights exhibition, with stunning artistic light installations from leading artists in this media on display at City Walk 2, The Pointe Nakheel Mall, and Dubai Design District.Celebrity concertsOne of Australia’s most famous singers of all time, Kylie Minogue, is set to headline a concert at Atlantis, The Palm during the final hours of 2022. The theme for this year’s gala is A Night with the Stars and, apart from Minogue’s performance, the resort will provide a front-row seat to watch one of Dubai’s biggest fireworks displays as the clock strikes midnight. Multi-award-winning artist, Enrique Iglesias, will perform live at the trendy beach-side spot, Naamos on 31 December. The celebrated singer will be joined by the well-known Cuban reggaeton duo Gente De Zona.The biggest names from the Sudanese entertainment industry will be performing a musical extravaganza on 31 December featuring pop music queen Nada Al-Qalaa, hitmaker Taha Suliman and Maghrebi pop band MarSimba.New Year’s Eve at Burj Al Arab will provide visitors with a Michelin-starred dining experience and performances of ballads like Samba Belogo Motylka, Prityagenia Bolshe Net and Heaven by award-winning artist Valery Meladze. At the stroke of midnight, visitors can step out on the terrace for a panoramic view of the dazzling fireworks.The legendary Russian boy band Ivanushki International will be putting on a live act of their top tracks like Zolotye Oblaka and Beznadega Tochka Ru. New Year revellers can also head to The Theatre Dubai for the Big Art Festival’s exclusive gala dinner and festivities for the entire family.The night will also see performances by Nigerian-Swedish artist Dr. Alban, Danish pop star Tomas Nevergreen, Dutch band Ten Sharp, Russian stand-up comedian Artur Pirozhkov, Illusionist Graf Voronin and TV presenter Pavel Volya. Visitors can also groove to DJ Zamir's party hits and children can stay engaged with interactive games and activities.Unique experiencesAt Dubai Opera, one of the city’s most iconic entertainment venues, a Disco till Dawn-themed celebration will unfold with performances from internationally-acclaimed dancing duo Jasmine & Aaron of Britain's Got Talent. At the stroke of midnight, guests will be ushered outside to the promenade to witness the legendary Burj Khalifa fireworks.For more information, please visit and

Khaleeji Commercial Bank introduces payment service via “Samsung Wallet”

Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain: Khaleeji Commercial Bank (KHCB), one of the leading Islamic banks in the Kingdom of Bahrain, has recently introduced a payment service via “Samsung Wallet” to its Credit and Debit Card Holders. This new service ensures high security and privacy, as well as provides a swift and seamless payment option for users of Samsung smart devices. Moreover, this step comes in line with the Bank’s continuous pursuit of creativity and innovation through building the foundations of digital transformation and applying the latest in financial technology.Commenting on this occasion, Mr. Osama Ali Nasr, Chief Technology Officer, stated: “This payment service via “Samsung Wallet” is a convenient and simple way to pay via mobile phone using Samsung smart devices. This service provides a quick and easy payment experience, as it adds a high level of security to clients’ payment information by relying on advanced coding technology. This service will allow the bank's clients to make secure and fast purchases, enabling them to make payments by simply swiping their Samsung smart device over POS terminals or while shopping online, creating a fast and secure shopping experience.”Explaining further, Mr. Osama added: “We are delighted to introduce the payment service via “Samsung Wallet” to our valued clients, as it reflects our keenness to take proactive steps towards providing the latest technologies, while ensuring the highest levels of user data protection. The addition of this new service comes in line with the bank's constant endeavours to develop our banking experience to valued clients, as well as achieve their aspirations to obtain a wide range of innovative banking products and services.”KHCB is a leading Islamic bank that strives to achieve clients' aspirations through an Islamic banking model that offers a comprehensive range of high quality Shari'a-complaint banking services and investment opportunities to individuals and companies.

UAE Cybersecurity Council warns against cyber attacks during NY celebrations

- The UAE Cybersecurity Council has warned all public and private institutions, as well as individuals, of the risk of cyber attacks, especially during the New Year celebrations and the holiday season.The council highlighted the need for all authorities and institutions to activate their cyber defence systems and raise the security awareness of individuals about cyber attacks, as well as cooperate with relevant authorities to share relevant information proactively.It also noted that hacking tools have now become easier to use, enabling hackers to take advantage of the holiday season, especially with the increasing dependence on digital services.The council warned of all types of cyber attacks against vital sectors, stressing the importance of adopting cybersecurity policies and protection mechanisms, as well as raising the awareness of public and private institutions and individuals, which will play a key role in protecting the community against malicious cyber attacks.The council then pointed out that many countries have witnessed the rapid digital transformation in services and daily transactions, which has increased the risks posed by cyber attacks against various sectors, including electricity, gas and water.

The BIBF hosts annual insurance market dialogue

 The Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF) hosted its annual Insurance Market Dialogue at its headquarters in Bahrain Bay, bringing together C-Level executives, training and technical managers of leading Insurance companies in Bahrain to discuss the latest trends and requirements in training and development for the Insurance sector.The annual forum kicked off with an overview of the BIBF's major programmes and strategic directions for the coming year and introduced its latest initiatives in partnership with international organisations and awarding bodies. The forum also highlighted the institute’s noteworthy achievements and the effective role it plays in meeting the training needs of the insurance sector.In addition, the forum focused on direct dialogue with representatives of the insurance sector, in order to ensure that programmes and initiatives are in line with the sector’s needs, which contributes to the development of qualified insurance professionals and enhances the role of the sector in achieving the objectives of the economic vision and enhances its contribution to the GDP.On this occasion, Director of the BIBF, Dr. Ahmed Al-Shaikh, stated, "The BIBF has more than 40 years of experience in the field of training and development, and is working to continuously launch new programmes in partnership with international training bodies, to meet the growing needs in the insurance sector in line with its requirements locally and regionally."On her part, Head of Insurance Centre at the BIBF Ms. Manal Mashkoor, said,” "The BIBF is committed to its primary responsibility of providing the best training programmes for the insurance sector in Bahrain, as we believe that the way to do so is based on maintaining a close connection with the insurance sector based on the sector needs and developing training programmes in cooperation with renowned international partners. The outcomes of this dialogue will play a major role in setting the priorities and plans with regard to the insurance programmes provided at the BIBF."

Bigo Live brings the Arab world together to celebrate regional achievements

 Bigo Live, a leading social livestreaming platform, has provided an ideal platform for football supporters to showcase their skills and share their enthusiasm for the sport since the start of the World Cup this year. The platform featured a variety of unique activities designed to engage football players and fans and encourage them to produce and share original content with other users who share similar interests on Bigo Live’s ‘Community’ feature. The World Cup communities have provided daily football highlights compilations and enabled fans to come together to share their experiences and support for their favourite teams or players. As a result, over 200,000 users on Bigo Live joined regional teams’ communities to share the spirit of football and celebrate the achievements of each country including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Morocco, and Tunisia during the World Cup. Most notably, Morocco’s astounding achievements this World Cup will go down in history as it became the first Arab team to reach the semi-finals and compete against France. The Atlas Lions’ victories during the tournament brought joy to Arabs all over the world, with thousands across the MENA region celebrating online on Bigo Live. As Morocco stunned World Cup favourites Portugal in the quarter-finals of the tournament this year, the number of posts on the Morocco team community increased by roughly 43% in just a week on the platform. Broadcasters on Bigo Live were encouraged to use their creativity to make their videos stand out while forming real-time connections with their viewers in order to diversify content and give users a special glimpse into the football spectacle. Bigo Live enhanced the platform's multi-guest room feature to enable the creation of chat rooms for up to 500 people to share their enthusiasm for the global event in real time, fostering more positive interactions and allow fans to gather and participate in football discussions. Bigo Live recorded the largest peak in conversations on December 6, 2022, during the Morocco vs. Spain match, which garnered great interest from the region. Having a strong regional presence, Bigo Live strives to create diverse and compelling content that appeals to local communities. In this effort, the company continues to invest in enhancing user experiences for Arab audiences throughout the MENA region. Accordingly, the platform is preferred by Arabic football fans as they find it easier to access, allows them to follow their passion, interact with their favourite broadcasters, and allows them to participate in the region's expanding football communities in their own local language. Bigo Live invited well-known footballing personalities such as Mohammed Awaad (Bigo ID: mohammedawaad) and Naseem Kora (Bigo ID: sportcafe) to provide in-depth match analysis and discuss football strategies during their live streams of the games in order to highlight the platform's support for regional creators and content. Football fans delighted in engaging with the personalities in real time and answering football trivia questions while learning more about their expertise thanks to the platform's highly interactive nature of the platform. “The performance of national teams from the Arab region during this year’s World Cup have been absolutely phenomenal. Football is known for its ability to bring people from across the world together and football fans from Arab World are some of the most passionate in the world. We are delighted to bring the football community together to celebrate this truly unique World Cup on Bigo Live,” said a spokesperson from Bigo Live. “Our users on Bigo Live are encouraged to exchange ideas and interact with people of similar interests from around the world. Morocco’s historic victory will certainly be remembered for ages and be regarded as a showcase of the Arab region’s great football talents. Through the passion of football, we are confident that users of Bigo Live will continue to showcase their talents, share their enthusiasms and inspire each other through real-time interactions while streaming.”In order to give football fans a more immersive experience, Bigo Live's most recent update also allowed users to dress up their personalized 3D avatars with sportswear supporting the regional teams under the platform's Virtual Live feature, in addition with two new exclusive football backgrounds while going live. During the duration of the World Cup, the number of users that tried on football jerseys for live streaming accounted for one-third of the users using male avatars via virtual live.Bigo Live empowers users across the MENA region with various tools to manage and host captivating and enriching live streams. Users are encouraged by the diverse meaningful and engaging content available and display of creativity through which broadcasters share their skills and talents on Bigo Live to build and nurture meaningful connections with millions across the world.

TAWAL looks to the future of smart city innovation with FTTT and CaaS

TAWAL, the leading integrated ICT infrastructure provider in the Kingdom, has launched Fiber To The Tower (FTTT) and Coverage as a Service (CaaS) as new products developed by Commercial Portfolio Department of the Commercial Sector and adding them to TAWAL’s innovative products portfolio. Supporting the increased data traffic and high-density demand of 5G networks and IoT functions, the new offering will enable service providers to deliver next-generation networks and technologies and powering the future of smart city innovations.The FTTT solution, which will come in two models — the “FTTT Links Model” and “Fiber Facility Access Model” — has been launched to empower the people, communities, and entities that TAWAL supports. It will do so by connecting existing fiber infrastructure within the provider’s sites to their core network. This will help increasing efficiency and lowering costs. It will also provide added reliability and access to more advanced capabilities utilizing higher bandwidth. The launch of the FTTT proposition marks the latest step taken by TAWAL to accelerate the Kingdom’s roll-out of current and future technologies. It bolsters the provider’s offerings and underlines its commitment to enhancing the connectivity of its network of towers across the country.While Coverage as a Service (CaaS), which is a supplementary product that TAWAL provides on top of Lite Built-to-Suit and In-Building Solution products, through which, TAWAL provides a full-fledged telecom infrastructure solution to end clients, that includes passive and active equipment, in partnership with mobile network operators.  This solution will assist mobile network operators in providing mobile coverage to TAWAL’s end clients in remote or temporary areas by bridging the gap between them through this add-on service by providing the necessary business facilitation for Mobile Network Operators to provide and operate their active equipment on TAWAL’s infrastructure. These characteristics make this solution ideal for a wide range of clients, including under-development mega projects, hotels, farms, and industrial sites.CaaS also aims to extend the coverage by easing the financial barriers for the MNOs for a widened network while the risk is minimal, reduce capital investments by facilitating telecom equipment costs which can be directed to high-priority investments, optimize operational costs through end-customer subsidies, attract new customers at minimal customer acquisition costs and ensure an enhanced customer experience by improving network coverage.Abdulrahman Al Moaiqel, Chief Commercial Officer, TAWAL, said, “As the Kingdom’s leading integrated ICT infrastructure provider and the first tower company in Saudi Arabia, TAWAL is fully committed to pioneering advanced offerings that promote efficiency and effectiveness. We are delighted to unveil a suite of inventive, new solutions that will empower Mobile Network Operators, businesses, and government sector to do just that.”The leading integrated ICT infrastructure provider in the Kingdom and first tower company in Saudi Arabia, TAWAL has long been committed to empowering Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), businesses and government authorities to operate more efficiently and effectively. As part of this mission, the provider continues to innovate new products that will play a key role in the development of the Kingdom’s smart cities.

BeIN sports announces record-breaking cumulative viewership

 beIN MEDIA GROUP (“beIN”) is marking a World Cup victory of its own by revealing record viewership figures for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. beIN recorded more than 5.4 billion cumulative views throughout the month-long tournament on its flagship channel beIN SPORTS across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and 1.1 billion views on its official social media channels.The highly anticipated final match that ended with Argentina becoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ winners with a 4-2 victory on penalties against France, was watched by a staggering 242.8 million viewers on beIN SPORTS’ free-to-air channel. This figure equates to 68%, more than two-thirds, of the MENA’s total adult population and, when analysed per country, results show viewership was particularly strong in Qatar where 93% of the adult population tuned in. In Morocco 91% of adults watched, followed by Lebanon (89%), Algeria (79%), and Egypt (72%). Meanwhile, on its official YouTube channel, the final match drew in a cumulative viewership of 25 million with viewership peaking at 4.44 million during the penalty shootouts.The overall viewership across beIN’s 24-country coverage area across MENA for all matches is a 135% increase compared with the Qatar-based network’s broadcast of the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018™. The final of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ attracted 88 million more viewers on beIN SPORTS than the final of FIFA World Cup Russia 2018™. Average TV viewership per match throughout the tournament saw a significant rise in 2022 reaching 80.6 million, compared to that of 36.2 million for 2018’s coverage.Mohammad Al-Subaie, CEO of beIN – MENA, said: “It’s incredibly special for us that the first World Cup in the Middle East has broken regional viewership records with more than 5.4 billion cumulative views across the month-long tournament. This is evidence of the appetite for football and similar tournaments across the Arab World and we are honoured to have been the exclusive rights holder. We are excited to be preparing for many more extensive broadcasts as we continue to inspire, educate, and entertain viewers across MENA.”This year’s tournament – the first held in the Middle East – featured four teams from the Arab World: hosts Qatar, neighboring Saudi Arabia, and North African duo Tunisia and Morocco. Morocco’s Atlas Lions went the deepest, recording landmark victories over Spain and Portugal in the knock-out stages to become the first Arab – and first African – nation to reach a World Cup semi-final.The figures from beIN, the exclusive FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ broadcast rights holder across 24 countries in MENA, show that aside from the final, the semi-final game that saw Morocco lose out on a spot in the final to France, earned record viewership of 186.1 million on beIN SPORTS. That equates to 52% per cent of the adult population in MENA and Iran tuning in for the match. These figures also show that 99% of the adult population of Morocco watched the African nation’s historic match live on beIN SPORTS; 82% of the adult population in Qatar watched the match on beIN SPORTS, 78% in Algeria, 75% in Tunisia, 67% in Lebanon and 63% in KSA.The semi-final decider between Argentina and Croatia, drew in 166.3 million viewers across the region. The semi-final figures represent an increase on the quarter-finals where 151.8 million viewers tuned in to see Morocco’s Youssef En-Nesyri’s towering header eliminate a Portuguese team replete with global superstars including Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, and Ruben Dias.beIN’s social media also posted record numbers with online video views reaching 1.1 billion compared to 121 million in 2018, and an even more impressive 5.5 billion impressions resulting in 400 million interactions (not including SnapChat), compared with 235 million impressions in 2018 that resulted in 40 million interactions.As the Official Broadcast Partner, beIN SPORTS played a central role in showcasing the historic tournament. Offering audiences premium broadcast, analysis, and commentary of each game across its seven channels in four languages, beIN SPORTS’ viewing figures for the month-long tournament underlines the unprecedented appetite of football fans in the region for this historic first staging in the Arab World.

NGN Majlis: Losses from ransomware cost Gulf corporations millions of dollars

NGN International, the security services provider and systems integrator, hosted the fourth and final session of its ‘majlis’ ransomware awareness seminars on the 8th of December at the Arab International Cybersecurity Conference and Exhibition (AICS).The seminar discussed how ransomware infiltrates computer systems and encrypts data to blackmail the victim, and can extend to more than just data breaches for organizations. The speakers made it clear that ransomware attacks can cost companies millions of dollars and result in longer-term losses, particularly when they have an adverse impact on the company's reputation and reliability. Ransomware assaults have shown to be a continual threat to cybersecurity, whether it's major healthcare, retail, or insurance firms.The ransomware awareness session featured many distinguished panellists who represented NGN’s key partners including Mohamad Hashem, Head of Enterprise – KSA & Bahrain at Kaspersky; Mesut Mert, Software Engineer at Veritas; Rami Kayyali, CTO of The Kernal; Mohamed Abdel Kader, Information Security, Manager at Micro Focus; Anas Shunnag, Regional Manager for Sales Engineering at Forcepoint; and Sammy Elyan MSc CISSP, from the Cyber Security Business Development team at Fortinet. The session was moderated by Esmail Jobran, NGN International’s Director of Sales and Marketing and featured the insights of Ilya Leonov, NGN International’s CTO and Yaqoob Al Awadhi, CEO of the NGN Group.Mr Al Awadhi reflected on the success of the four-part ransomware series and on NGN’s participation at AICS saying; “NGN is very proud to have put on such a successful series of majlis which have provided such crucial insights into the threats posed by ransomware. The panellists who spoke at the fourth session imparted some invaluable advice concerning ransomware best practices which will have helped the audience develop their knowledge of this particularly complex form of cyberattack.”“NGN’s participation at the first ever Arab International Cybersecurity Summit has been a resounding success and has enabled us to share our extensive knowledge of forms of cybercrime, network with delegates and develop relationships with other organisations. Our pavilion was the largest at the conference and we were delighted with the engagement of conference attendees who wished to learn more about our services.” Concluded Mr Al Awadhi.A series of four NGN-hosted seminars on ransomware risks and defenses came to a close with the fourth NGN Ransomware Seminar. It fits into the company's framework of NGN's beliefs in its role in spreading awareness about the risks of cyberattacks and is a part of its social responsibility.

Dubai Chamber of Commerce launches Fintech & Payments Business Group

Dubai Chamber of Commerce, one of the three chambers operating under Dubai Chambers has announced the launch of a new Fintech & Payments Business Group aimed at bringing together companies of all sizes within the fintech and payments sector to encourage collegial dialogue, advocate policy change and promote the emirate as a highly competitive global commercial centre.The launch of the new business group is part of the chamber’s plans to increase the number of business groups that represent economic sectors and activities in Dubai, ensuring all industries and economic activities are represented to boost their competitiveness and drive Dubai’s sustainable development.The new Fintech and Payments Business Group will be instrumental in supporting Dubai companies and providing members with key insights and analysis on trends across the fintech ecosystem to leverage policy and regulatory change recommendations and benefit from new financial technology advancements.Commenting on the launch of the business group, Maha AlGargawi, Executive Director of Business Advocacy at Dubai Chambers, said: “Business groups are in important component in creating a supportive, enabling and world-class business environment in Dubai. Through continued transparent discussions, the business group will be able to support essential policy changes that will facilitate and improve the ease of doing business in Dubai and cement the emirate’s position as a dynamic and global business hub.“The new FinTech and Payments Business Group is a great addition to our network of business groups, and we believe it will play a pivotal role in supporting members and the emirate’s private sector to drive FinTech growth and serve as a platform to leverage the vast opportunities in this vital sector.”The Fintech and Payments Business Group will focus on ways to adopt the highest standards in providing businesses financial services and payment solutions.Business groups are reliable advocates for their respective sectors and play a crucial role in recommending policy changes to improve a sector’s competitiveness and attractiveness while promoting international best practices and supporting economic growth. Dubai Chamber of Commerce plans to increase the number of economic sectors and activities represented by business groups to 100 by March 2023.

Stc Bahrain awarded 'Most Innovative Digital Solutions Brand'

stc Bahrain, a world-class digital enabler, has been awarded as the “Most Innovative Digital Solutions Brand” at the Global Brand Magazine’s 10th annual Global Brands Awards in Dubai. The award was presented to stc Bahrain for its role at the forefront of driving forward Bahrain’s digital transformation in line with the Kingdom’s Economic Vision 2030. Since its entry into the market, stc Bahrain has been instrumental in revolutionizing the digital landscape by investing heavily in the Kingdom’s digital infrastructure. stc Bahrain has expanded its offerings into new digital areas such as fintech, insuretech, gaming and more to help position the Kingdom as an advanced tech hub in the region.Eng. Nezar Banabeela, CEO of stc Bahrain, commented: “We are honored to receive this prestigious award in recognition of our efforts to advance the Kingdom’s digital transformation journey by introducing new innovative tech solutions to the market and grow our expanding portfolio. The award is a token of our dedication to diversify our offerings, enable the digital economy, and position Bahrain as a digital hub in the region. We hope to continue to work with stakeholders and government partners to advance the Kingdom’s digital offerings.”stc Bahrain received the recognition due to its continuously expanding portfolio that enables new innovative solutions in the Kingdom. We provide a multitude of innovative services such as converged Home offerings (Broadband, Content, Connectivity), fintech solutions through stc Pay a platform that provides on-the-go payment solutions offering several digital money opportunities and expanding its usage through collaboration with banks, remittance companies, financial services providers, and big merchants, in addition to Insuretech services through stc protect with motor insurance, extended warranty to travel insurance and roadside and home assistance is introduced, Gaming and more.Within the past year, stc Bahrain made advancements in the cloud services sector by partnering with Radian Arc to deploy a new point of presence in Bahrain to enhance the Kingdom’s cloud services in the region. Our business fintech solutions have evolved to include stc Tajer and Fleet management and more. Earlier this month, stc Bahrain partnered with Microsoft and cloud solutions provider Crayon to offer Microsoft services to its business customers. stc Bahrain also launched the Kingdom’s first standalone 5G network in partnership with Huawei and launched a dedicated International Network Operations Centre (iNOC), enabling stc to manage wholesale partners’ needs with improved efficiency, quality and SLAs t guarantee shortened response times. Earlier this year, stc Bahrain invested heavily to set up the region’s first data center in collaboration with the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications.

Ooredoo business and Cisco hold a workshop on the latest SMB solutions

Ooredoo business, the trusted technology partner for all business solutions, in collaboration with Cisco held an interactive workshop to shed light on the latest trends and practices related to SMB solutions and how to benefit from them. The workshop was held in Regency Hotel in presence of Ooredoo business customers.These workshops comes as part of Ooredoo’s business efforts to assist it’s small and medium enterprise customers to increase their awareness and knowledge which will contribute to achieving the company goals and lead to building loyalty and trust from their customers. During the workshop, attendees were able to ask questions and exchange their knowledge across.Commenting on this workshop, Sulaiman AlHumoud, Director, Enterprise Planning & Demand at Ooredoo Kuwait, said: “The partnership between Ooredoo and Cisco provides our customers with networking solutions, Internet of Things (IoT), data center, cloud and computing, and security solutions to meet the needs of businesses in Kuwait market”. He added, “We at Ooredoo business will continue on organizing such effective workshops for our customers to enable them achieve their goals in the market”.It is worth mentioning that Ooredoo business has achieved recently the “Security Partner of the Year” award from Cisco which indicates that Ooredoo Kuwait is providing the best and distinguished solutions to protect its customer’s information.

Bloomberg has no interest in acquiring Dow Jones or Washington Post

 Bloomberg L.P. has no interest in acquiring either Dow Jones or the Washington Post, a Bloomberg L.P. spokesman said in a tweet today."There have been no conversations with anyone or either organization about an acquisition," spokesman Ty Trippet said in the tweet, which was retweeted by billionaire owner Michael Bloomberg, according to Reuters.News website Axios reported on Friday that Bloomberg was interested in acquiring either Wall Street Journal parent company Dow Jones from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, or the Washington Post from's Jeff Bezos, citing a source familiar with Bloomberg's thinking.On Friday, citing sources, Reuters reported Michael Bloomberg had expressed a desire to own a big-name newspaper over the years but had not reached out to Murdoch to discuss a possible purchase of Dow Jones and its flagship paper the Journal.A spokesperson for the Washington Post, which Bezos bought in 2013 for $250 million, said on Friday it was not for sale.Antitrust experts agreed the merger of Bloomberg and Dow Jones business news divisions would draw the scrutiny of U.S. regulators, especially as the Biden administration has taken a more muscular approach to enforcing antitrust laws.Reuters, part of Thomson Reuters Corp, competes with Dow Jones and Bloomberg News, a unit of Bloomberg L.P., a provider of financial news.

Cloudflare publishes top internet trends for 2022

“Cloudflare has built one of the world’s largest networks that offers a unique view of Internet traffic and online activity around the world,” said Matthew Prince, co-founder and CEO of Cloudflare. “The world continues to rely on the Internet, and we are humbled to have been able to do our part to keep the world connected through protests, conflicts, and natural disasters in 2022. It’s a privilege to help build a better, more transparent and more informed Internet.”This data comes from Cloudflare Radar, a free tool that lets anyone view global trends and insights across the Internet. Radar is powered by data from Cloudflare’s global network (one of the world’s largest, spanning 275+ cities in 100+ countries), and aggregated and anonymized data from Cloudflare’s public DNS Resolver, widely used as a fast and private way to browse the Internet.

Emaar malls rings in the festive season with a host of incredible experiences

Dubai Mall, Dubai Hills Mall, and Dubai Marina Mall are ringing in the 2022 festive season and 28th edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival with breathtaking festive illuminations, unbelievable deals, and fantastic promotions starting 15 December 2022.For this joyous season, Emaar has decked up the malls with illuminating décor ensuring to spread the festive cheer. Visitors strolling through Dubai Mall can expect to be awed by the beauty of lights and dazzling decorations spread out across various levels and locations. Witness the sparkling ornaments hanging from the ceilings along every corridor to the grand, elegantly shimmering chandelier in the Fashion Dome.Shoppers can also snap a selfie with Rudolph, who can be spotted at the iconic Dubai Mall Waterfall – a perfect backdrop for a family photograph. Also located along the promenade is a life-sized ornament, perfectly wrapped in season’s colours and surrounded by stars to encapsulate the most magical time of the year.Guests at Souk Al Bahar will be welcomed through a beautifully adorned entryway brought to life by illuminated snowflakes, lights, and more, creating the most ideal photo moment. Pedestrians and drivers passing through Downtown Dubai can revel in an array of stars, ornaments, leaping reindeers, golden stags and sparkling dandelions, all adorning the streets of the heart of Dubai.At Dubai Hills Mall, visitors looking for an impromptu festive-themed photoshoot can capture a picture right under the cluster of glimmering trees, a magnificent set-up of an Instagram-worthy festive tree, giant baubles which you can sit inside of, and an unmissable 7 feet tall reindeer decked up in golden lights.Shoppers can also head over to Dubai Marina Mall, where the scene is set with magnificently ornated trees located in the Dome Atrium and along the promenade.This year, Emaar Malls have also raised the bar with an even more incredible retail experience than last year as Dubai Shopping Festival, the most anticipated shopping event of the year, returns to its three leading lifestyle destinations, Dubai Mall, Dubai Hills Mall, and Dubai Marina Mall.From 15 December to 29 January, guests at Emaar Malls can enjoy an incredible range of purchases with unbelievable discounts across beauty, fashion, technology, home brands, and many more product ranges. Shoppers looking for the perfect gifts this season can take advantage of these promotions and purchase terrific presents for their friends and family.Adding to the incredible lineup of unmissable benefits available for shoppers this festive season, Shop Now, Pay Later, Emaar Mall’s iconic partnership programme with Emirates NBD, valid until 31 December.Whether it’s purchasing the latest fashion trends, dining at one of the esteemed restaurants, or exploring one of many entertainment attractions located in any of the malls, Emirates NBD U by Emaar card holders can enjoy three to six-month interest-free instalments on all purchases above AED 500.

42 Abu Dhabi celebrates year of empowering coders

42 Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital’s innovative and disruptive coding school that offers a unique peer-to-peer, gamified learning methodology, celebrated its first anniversary.The School highlighted its remarkable achievements in empowering learners to shape the digital future of Abu Dhabi by making coding education accessible to people from all walks of life.Since its launch in October 2021, 42 Abu Dhabi has enrolled 340 students, including 100 UAE national students. With flexibility being a key pillar of 42 Abu Dhabi’s learning methodology, the School is open 24 hours a day, giving students ownership of their learning journey through its peer-to-peer model.42 Abu Dhabi collaborated with leading organisations and companies across different industries and sectors to identify and develop opportunities which contribute to its success.This year, 358 job and internship opportunities were offered to 42 Abu Dhabi students, including 109 sponsorships for the UAE national students as a result of the successful network of partners that the school has built.Dr. Ahmed Al Shoaibi, Acting Executive Director-Higher Education Sector at Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) said: “One year ago, we launched 42 Abu Dhabi under Abu Dhabi’s Ghadan 21 accelerator programme to complement the emirate’s world-class educational ecosystem, and introduce the school’s unique learning methodology to the emirate education ecosystem. Today we mark a new milestone of making coding education accessible to people from all walks of life”.“In one year, we have made impressive strides toward realizing Abu Dhabi’s strategic vision to create a diverse and inclusive educational experience that empowers a future-ready generation of lifelong learners who can lead our future knowledge-based economy. 42 Abu Dhabi has seen huge demand, boasting impressive enrollment figures. We have also developed a strong strategic partner network that continues to play a vital role in supporting our objectives in developing our school as Abu Dhabi’s talent incubator, enabling us to foster a culture of entrepreneurship and develop the Emirate’s education sector”, he added.Marcos Muller Habig, Acting CEO of 42 Abu Dhabi, said: “Today, we reflect on 42 Abu Dhabi's journey in successfully being an agent of change. We will continue to break the limits of traditional learning by implementing our peer-to-peer model, where we enable our students to acquire coding skills through our project-based, gamified independent learning methodology. This is coupled with our unwavering efforts to bring 42 Abu Dhabi future coders together through engaging events that build on the 21st century skills required to decode their potential, opening the door to infinite possibilities and making significant contributions to realising the vision of Abu Dhabi”.“Our successful journey over the past year emphasises 42 Abu Dhabi’s influential role in fostering a digitally aware and driven generation of coders who are technically skilled and push the limits of digital innovation. This year, we achieved our target of providing sponsorships for every UAE national student in 42 Abu Dhabi. In the upcoming year, we will work on expanding our partners’ network to ensure that we continue to provide sponsorships and stipends for every UAE national that joins our school,” he added.The anniversary celebration was attended by 42 Abu Dhabi’s students and staff.During the event, 42 Abu Dhabi organised digital activations to engage attendees and foster interactions between the students, including a Motion Vending game, Digital Caricaturist, 360 Photo Booth and a Scavenger hunt.Students were encouraged to reflect the school’s pride and success by highlighting their favourite aspects of 42 Abu Dhabi on a dedicated wall, which also included 45 selected quotes from their peers. This served as an inspiration for the event’s attendees and enhanced the sense of belonging among the 42 Abu Dhabi community.42 Abu Dhabi honoured the students who have gone the extra mile to develop their skills and excel over the past year, as well as its exceptional staff. In addition, the school recognized the winner of the 42Art competition, which was established ahead of the event to empower 42 Abu Dhabi’s students to showcase their artistic talents and skills by creating and submitting digital art pieces.42 Abu Dhabi is an innovative and disruptive coding school, launched in 2020 as an initiative of the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) and Abu Dhabi’s Ghadan 21 accelerator programme, which aims to drive Abu Dhabi’s ongoing development through multi-faceted investments in business, innovation and people.

Take trip down memory lane with DSF’s newest event Dubai 80s

A unique pop-up event organised as part of the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) is inviting people to experience a nostalgic recreation of Dubai in the 80s.A new addition to the DSF, organised by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), the 10-day event, held at the Last Exit Al Khawaneej, transports visitors into a visual representation of Dubai in the 80’s and early 90s.The event is one of a series of attractions and experiences featured in the #DubaiDestinations winter campaign.The Dubai 80s event aims to capture the moment in time when Dubai was on the cusp of pivotal change.Apart from being a defining era globally, the 80s were a decade that raised Dubai and the UAE’s profile on the international map. It was a time when the country embarked on a transformative journey that made it a leading global city.Dubai 80s will explore the defining era of the city’s past, with vintage photo galleries showing pictures of Dubai before its transformation into a global metropolis, photo booths, shows, anime and live performances, old-school gaming arcades, and classic cars, all offering a blast from the past.“The event is an attempt to create a heart-warming experience of life in the decade that was a turning point in Dubai’s history. Dubai 80s invites visitors to look back and reflect on a decade in which the seeds of our current prosperity and growth were sown. Looking back, especially at the 80s and early 90s, is fascinating as this was such a transformational era for Dubai,” said Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment."Dubai developed rapidly within the span of just a few years. The creation of the city’s modern skyline, its huge festivals, and its remarkable growth as a tourist destination all started from the 80s, which is why we wanted to highlight this specific era.”On arrival at the pop-up event, visitors will take a giant leap back in time, strolling through a main entrance with a vintage Emirati house that gives them the experience of entering an 80’s neighbourhood, redolent with spices and old music in the air.Visitors will come face-to-face with memorabilia, including 90s cell phones, swatch watches, Gameboys, old encyclopedias and floppy disks, vintage televisions and retro cassette players, gadgets that defined a generation.Guests can explore a vintage photo gallery display for a trip down memory lane, with snapshots from local artists depicting Dubai in all its past glory before its emergence as the futuristic city of today.Visitors can also retrace their childhood memories and explore comic books and cartoons that defined a generation before Marvel and DC Comics moved to the big screen. Revisiting a time when Dubai had its own superhero fanbase, visitors have the chance to re-experience their favourite comic book heroes and watch screenings of anime and animated clips from popular movies.They will also get the opportunity to explore the Gaming Arcade, built as a nostalgic 90s themed arcade with vintage arcade machines, featuring all-time favourite games such as Tetris, Mario Kart, Space Invaders, and many more. A display of classic cars will bring back memories of the automobiles of yesteryear. Visitors will also get the chance to win a host of daily prizes."This is so much more than a pop-up concept, but a whole heart-warming experience,” he added. "There is something that will resonate with everyone, from Emiratis to residents who have lived here for years," explained Al Khaja.Dubai 80s will take place at the Last Exit Al Khawaneej from 23rd December to 8th January from 4.00 pm to 11.00 pm, with free access to everyone.The 28th edition of Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), which runs until 29th January 2023, features shopping attractions, innovative events, world-class entertainment and life-changing prizes.Featuring the ultimate retail therapy from a wide range of home-grown and global brands as well as live concerts, outdoors markets, pop-up dining and more.

Dubai hosts a regional convening on Artificial Intelligence and healthcare

The Jameel Clinic, the epicentre of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), hosted yesterday a one-day conference titled ‘AI Cures MENASA: Clinical AI and data solutions for health’, in partnership with the UAE Artificial Intelligence Office, Community Jameel, and Wellcome. Held at the Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai, the conference was attended by H.E. Omar Sultan Al Olama, UAE Minister for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications.The conference brought together pioneers in AI and health from the Jameel Clinic, including MacArthur ‘genius grant’ Fellows Professor Regina Barzilay and Professor Dina Katabi, Dr Adam Yala and Dr Shrooq Alsenan, a Jameel Clinic research fellow from Saudi Arabia, together with representatives from major hospitals and public health agencies across the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia (MENASA) region. The conference marks the first international venture of ‘AI Cures’, the Jameel Clinic’s platform for collaboration that launched in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.Fady Jameel, vice chairman of Community Jameel, said: “We are excited to be able to help bring together such an inspiring gathering of scientists, policymakers, public health officials and hospital leaders at the Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai. The work of the Jameel Clinic has the potential to transform healthcare for millions of people around the world, and we are excited to see the Jameel Clinic AI Hospital Network expanding in the MENASA region and rolling out clinical AI tools around the world for equitable impact for all.”Professor Regina Barzilay, AI faculty lead at the Jameel Clinic, said: “Ensuring that the cutting-edge clinical AI research being done at MIT can be utilised in diverse clinical settings is critical to our mission at the Jameel Clinic. We look forward to combining the expertise of Jameel Clinic researchers with the expertise of local clinicians and public health officials in the MENASA region to maximise the impact of clinical AI tools on patient lives.”Tariq Khokhar, head of data for science & health at Wellcome, said: “AI tools have an exciting role to play in transforming healthcare for patients around the world and advancing health research. But first, researchers, policymakers, clinicians and healthcare managers must work together to test them in diverse settings rigorously, so we know they work for different people and under different circumstances. This will ensure they’re safe for everyone and maximise their potentially life-saving potential.”