e& selects Oracle Cloud to shape the UAE’s digital future

Dubai:  Oracle has announced that e&, one of the world’s leading technology and investment groups is scaling its cloud footprint to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) Dedicated Region to support its business expansion and modernize the business applications. Under an agreement signed at the Oracle CloudWorld Tour in Abu Dhabi, the technology group will also explore migrating its global HR functions to Oracle Fusion Cloud Human Capital Management (HCM). With a 47 year legacy e& is a multinational technology and investment group serving 163 million customers in 16 countries across the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. OCI Dedicated Region brings the opportunity to use OCI’s public cloud benefits, services, and applications in e&’s data center that manages its core IT and network systems. This provides e& with a dedicated cloud platform to modernize, manage and automate critical OSS and BSS applications as part of a multi-year cloud transformation program. In addition, Oracle Cloud HCM will help e& to simplify HR processes, improve the employee experience, and deliver enhanced workforce insights.“e& is transforming its business to support our customers in a new world defined by digitalization and hyper-connectivity. As we we continue to grow, we need to consolidate and simplify our technology infrastructure to make us more agile and adaptable, and this is where our collaboration with Oracle comes in,” said Khalid Murshed,Chief Technology & Information Officer, etisalat by e&. “OCI Dedicated Region enables us to bring Oracle’s entire portfolio of public cloud services into our own data centers while keeping full control of our data governance, giving us the operational agility and scalability we require to support the rapid growth and diversification of our business.”With OCI Dedicated Region, e& will have access to Oracle’s 100 plus cloud services on-premise to accelerate innovation across ArtificaI Intelligence (AI) and to support and scale its existing services. In addition, e& will be able to retain full control of its data and applications to help it address the UAE’s security, regulatory and data residency requirements while reducing operational costs. The collaboration is part of a long-term initiative by e& to consolidate the technology infrastructure that underpins its business and operational systems into a shared, open-standard platform designed to support its growing digital services portfolio, including new services around Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G.“OCI Dedicated Region provides OCI services in a self-contained, independent cloud region in a physical location of the customer's choosing. e& can scale applications and services quickly while retaining control of their data to help meet data residency requirements,” said Nick Redshaw, senior vice president, Technology, Middle East and Africa, Oracle. “Oracle installs, operates and supports OCI Dedicated Regions in the same way we support OCI public cloud regions worldwide. This unique capability enables e& to lift and shift legacy workloads to the cloud at their own pace, increase the pace of innovation and lower costs.“With Oracle Cloud HCM, e& will be able to connect human resource processes —and people —across the organisation and create a truly connected community where people feel valued and heard”, said Leopoldo Boado Lama, senior vice president – Business Applications , ECEMEA, Oracle. “The implementation will also help e& align business strategy with the human resource function, reduce compliance risk, and deploy the workforce with greater control through a fully integrated solution that links time, labor, and leave management with payroll, financial, and personnel data.”Oracle Cloud HCM will provide e& with an HCM system that connects processes across the employee lifecycle, including recruiting, workforce management, and payroll services, helping to improve decision-making and reduce operational costs. With infused AI, digital assistants, and hundreds of new capabilities added each quarter, Oracle Cloud HCM will also help e& to keep up with the latest technology advancements and HR best practices.Oracle Advanced Customer Services (ACS) will manage the Oracle OCI Dedicated Region implementation.

Union Coop launches discount campaign for May

Dubai: Dubai-based popular consumer cooperative, ‘Union Coop’ announced the launch of its much-awaited discount campaign for the month of ‘May’ covering selected food and non-food products, all of whose prices have been reduced and fixed to counter inflation.  The promotion includes discounts of up to 60%, as part of its regular promotion calendar directed towards delighting consumers, meeting their expectations by providing high-quality products at competitive prices and reducing their burden.Union Coop indicated that it launches promotional campaigns at regular intervals (Weekly & Monthly) to delight consumers, noting that the cooperative allocated multiple diverse campaigns in May, with varying discounts on basic consumer products and commodities, available in all cooperative branches spread across Dubai.The retailer added that these campaigns were launched since the beginning of this month, including the ‘Fixed Price’ campaign to stop inflation, wherein the consumers can benefit by either visiting any branch physically or through the smart app depending on their preferred mode of shopping.Among the products included in the offers are vegetables, fruits, juices, water, dairy, meat, sweets, spices, rice, oil, etc., as part of a carefully crafted promotion plan in the interest of the consumer, and within the cooperative’s proactive initiatives in providing various options to consumers for an exceptional shopping experience.

Generative AI and sustainability are driving investment in the tourism tech

Dubai: Generative artificial intelligence (AI) and environmental, social and governance (ESG) activities are attracting the highest levels of investment in travel technology at present, according to innovation specialist, Plug and Play. Experts from the Silicon Valley-headquartered firm shared a range of insights into the latest investment trends on the Travel Tech Stage at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2023, which will conclude today at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).Speaking on the third day of the show, innovation specialists explored how travel startups are being affected by macroeconomic headwinds and fears of a global recession as part of the ‘Investment Trends Leading Travel Tech’ session.Kristie Choi, Early Stage Tech Investor at Plug and Play, noted that venture capital (VC) investment witnessed a “dramatic pullback” in the second half of 2022, a trend that continued into Q1 2023. “While this looks pretty scary, there are still billions of dollars of dry powder out there to be gained,” she told attendees. “Travel tech round dynamics tend to follow similar patterns as the wider tech market, and we are seeing an increased focus on profitability and cash efficiency in this segment.”Choi said that the travel sector was leading the curve in terms of generative AI investment and adoption. This technology is being leveraged to enhance the customer experience by facilitating trip planning, automating refunds and back-office processes, and supporting content creation. ESG is also a major focus for the travel technology sector, she explained, with sustained investments in transparent data reporting and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) serving to bolster the growth of responsible tourism. The influencer economy, meanwhile, is “driving business away” from online travel agencies (OTAs), according to Choi, as companies look to attract the Gen Z market by integrating direct booking into the channels of content creators.Following Choi’s presentation, Mike Sung, Director, Partner Success – Travel & Hospitality at Plug and Play, joined Natalie Seatter, Chief Product Officer at OAG on the ATM Travel Tech Stage for a conversation about travel technology investment trends.Speaking on the growing importance of artificial intelligence to the tourism industry, Sung noted: “It’s going to be very interesting to see how generative AI is leveraged, especially among travel suppliers in the metaverse. There’s a lot of experimentation happening in the metaverse, and for generative AI, it’s not just about text. It’s also about audio, video and graphics. I think this technology is going to ramp up the velocity of [Web3] solutions, especially for travel and hospitality.”Commenting on the need for investment in data transparency, Seatter said: “The big elephant in the room is the large cloud-based data warehouses [the industry] is using to power platforms. It’s either really hard to understand the carbon-emission cost of these platforms or no one wants to tell you how big it is – or maybe it’s a bit of both. I think that’s certainly one of our challenges.”The day-three session followed the ‘Plug and Play: Sustainable Tech – Startups Pitch Battle’ on day two of ATM 2023, which saw six new ventures compete for a range of industry support and data. Sustainable commercial food waste solutions company, Winnow, beat off stiff competition from CarbonClick, Eilago, Hotelverse, OACIS Middle East Limited LLC and Thrust Carbon to be crowned this year’s winner.The 30th edition of ATM is taking place as part of Arabian Travel Week (1-10 May 2023), a festival of events dedicated to enabling industry professionals from all over the world to collaborate and capitalise on market opportunities through exhibitions, conferences, breakfast briefings, awards, product launches and networking events.Those attending ATM 2023 in person can get involved in the conversation online by using the hashtag #ATMDubai when posting on social media channels.ATM 2023 is being held in conjunction with Dubai World Trade Centre, and its strategic partners include Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) as the Destination Partner, Emirates as the Official Airline Partner, IHG Hotels & Resorts as the Official Hotel Partner, and Al Rais Travel as the Official DMC Partner.

BuzzAR and Cypher Capital announce new AI-Web3 metaverse project, ‘Space’

Dubai:  Singapore and Saudi Arabia-based AI avatar company BuzzAR has announced its partnership with Cypher Capital, a leading venture capital firm in the Middle East, to create disruptive AI+LBS Web3 location-based game projects. The partnership will allow the companies to leverage proprietary generative AI technologies on its Metaport, a portal that turns human faces to avatars in real-time, to create a decentralized social graph. With leading retail holdings, hospitality partners, and tourism government collaborations in Singapore and Saudi Arabia, BuzzAR is poised to reshape the gaming landscape.On the announcement, Founder of BuzzAR, Bell Beh, commented: "We are delighted to be partnering with Cypher Capital to propel BuzzAR’s LBS Metaverse project, Project ‘DSpace’. Our goal is to provide an integrated Metaverse solution tailored to the unique needs and aspirations of these countries, and we believe that our collaboration with Cypher Capital is the perfect opportunity to do so."She added, “In support of Saudi Arabia's national tourism strategy and other regional strategic plans, Project DSpace will provide an immersive and culturally diverse Metaverse solution that is expected to bring merchants and users together in a revolutionary new way.”Bill Qian, Chairman of Cypher Capital Group: the lead investor on ‘DSpace’ said: “We are thrilled to support this ground-breaking joint initiative by BuzzAR and some of our gaming portfolios. As the lead investor in this project, we believe that 'DSpace' has the potential to revolutionize the gaming industry and pave the way for new opportunities in the AI+LBS Web3 Metaverse. I am more confident than ever before that our commitment to creating an immersive and culturally diverse Metaverse will not only bolster tourism and economic growth in the Middle East but also foster global connectivity and collaboration. We stand at the forefront of this exciting new era, and I eagerly anticipate the transformative impact Dspace will have on our world."

E& enterprise to acquire a majority stake in Beehive

Dubai: e& enterprise, part of e&, announced the signing of a binding agreement to acquire a majority stake in Beehive, MENA’s leading peer-to-peer digital platform to tap into opportunities in the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) lending market.Beehive, founded in 2014, leads the crowdfunding platform space in the UAE, with operations in KSA and Oman. It connects creditworthy SMEs seeking finance with investors, both private and institutional, offering conventional as well as Sharia compliant loans. The company recently reached the milestone of facilitating over AED 1.5 billion worth of loans.With this acquisition, e& enterprise will be able to provide an innovative lending solution to address the $250 billion SME credit gap1 across the GCC region combining its strong brand positioning with a Fintech platform. This also marks the next step in e& enterprise’s expansion as the move demonstrates its commitment of opening new avenues of growth across the UAE and in the region, while enabling Beehive to scale its business and expand its offerings.The acquisition is in-line with UAE’s National Agenda for Entrepreneurship which aims to establish the country to become an entrepreneurial nation by 2031.Salvador Anglada, CEO, e& enterprise commented: “The acquisition of Beehive’s digital lending platform marks the second step in e& enterprise’s journey in the Fintech space, after the launch of UAE Trade Connect in 2021. SMEs are important drivers of the economy and there is a need more than ever to support their unique financing needs. With Beehive, we have the right technological innovation to accelerate on our agenda in the UAE and beyond.”Craig Moore, Beehive’s Founder & CEO added “This strategic alignment presents a huge opportunity to increase and accelerate financing to SMEs across the region. The market leading brand, reach and vision of e& and e& enterprise allows Beehive to drive more innovation and collaboration into the market. As one of the very first regional Fintech’s, this is a validation of the Beehive team’s incredible effort over the last 9 years and reflects the vibrancy and success of the UAE’s start up ecosystem.”Traditional lending to SME’s is paper-intensive and relies on collateral and guarantees. Fintechs and alternative lenders have recently stepped into this space introducing advancements such as one-time KYC, fast onboarding, and use of data-driven credit scoring. The regulatory structure is also evolving rapidly in the region, fostering a conducive environment for both liquidity providers and borrowers.

MBC Media Solutions, Saudi Tourism Authority sign partnership

Riyadh: MBC Media Solutions (MMS), the commercial arm of MBC Group, has announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.The agreement aims to develop and produce high quality Saudi tourism content and promote it in the Gulf and the Arab world by broadcasting it across MBC Group’s ecosystem & beyond, including TV, radio, digital, social media, Shahid VoD platform, Al Arabiya News Network and the Saudi Sports Company’s digital & linear channels.The MoU was signed by Ahmed Al Sahhaf, CEO of MMS, and Raad AlKhanbashi, VP of Marketing and Communications, MEA Markets, STA. The signing ceremony took place at the Saudi Pavilion at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.Through this partnership, STA seeks to promote tourism destinations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and attract visitors and tourists regionally and globally by producing innovative, high-quality content to connect with MBC audiences with the help of MMS's expertise in content creation and advertising.Commenting on the partnership, Ahmed Al Sahhaf, CEO of MMS, said: "We are proud to be partnering with STA to promote tourism in the Kingdom. With this collaboration, we renew our commitment to employing our industry expertise and innovative solutions to showcase Saudi Arabia’s diverse tourist destinations.”While Abdulkarim Aldarwish, STA's President of Middle East & Africa Markets added: “This agreement confirms our belief in the role of high-quality content in introducing and promoting tourism in the Kingdom, and reflects our keenness in STA to partner with leading media organizations such as MBC Group & MMS to produce high-quality promotional and informational content and enhance its reach to the Arab audience.”

HBKU’s CSE holds panel discussion on chatbots’ ethical implications

Doha: Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s (HBKU) College of Science and Engineering (CSE) hosted a special panel discussion inviting locally based experts to outline chatbots’ impact on society and debate the ethical implications of their usage.Titled “Life in the Post-Chatbot World: From ELIZA to ChatGPT” and moderated by Dr. Aiman Erbad, Associate Professor, CSE, the panel featured HBKU faculty including Dr. David Yang, Assistant Professor, CSE, and Dr. Jens Schneider, Assistant Professor, CSE, and Dr. Wajdi Zaghouani, Assistant Professor, HBKU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Dr. Ghanem Al-Sulaiti, Scientist, HBKU’s Qatar Computing and Research Institute, and Dr. Mahjoob Zweiri, Professor and Director of Gulf Studies Center, Qatar University also joined in the discussion.The panel detailed the history of chatbots from the development of Eliza, the world's first chatbot, in the 1960s to the recent release of ChatGPT by OpenAI, and how they have grown to become a ubiquitous part of modern life used for everything from knowledge retrieval to entertainment. The participants then exchanged perspectives on the ethical implications of chatbots, focusing on contemporary issues including intellectual property and creativity.“Chatbots are extremely powerful tools that can generate well-researched essays on any conceivable topic at lightning speed, but this is only made possible by training these AI-powered platforms on huge archives of original work produced by human researchers. We must take care to safeguard their intellectual property and also consider how we can utilize these chatbots ethically in academic or even creative settings,” said Dr. Mounir Hamdi, Founding Dean, CSE.HBKU’s CSE engages and leads in research disciplines of national and global importance. Its diverse faculty work collectively, pursuing high-impact research in areas exceedingly critical for national and global progression.

RAK Digital Assets Oasis appoints James Bernard as Chief Commercial Officer

Dubai: RAK Digital Assets Oasis (RAK DAO), the world's first free zone solely dedicated to digital assets, emerging technologies, and web3, has announced the appointment of James Bernard as Chief Commercial Officer.James is responsible for all commercial activities, the implementation of business strategies and the development of partnerships, supporting entrepreneurs, innovators, and businesses across new and emerging tech sectors, digital assets, and web3, metaverse, AI, NFT, DApp, AI, blockchain, tokenization as well as many others. He will be heavily involved in the development of RAK Digital Assets Oasis as a transformative free zone of the future, working closely with multiple partners and stakeholders to maximise opportunities for innovation and to support the rapid expansion of Ras Al Khaimah as both a regional and global digital asset hub.James brings with him two decades of successfully developing free zone ecosystems, as well as pivotal tech-centric knowledge and experience. Making his mark on the blockchain landscape in 2015 as a founding member of the Global Blockchain Council in Dubai, and leading DMCC’s Crypto strategy, developing early proof of concepts for various Web 3.0-powered ventures including Diamond Track and Trace, and property leasing applications, while also launching crypto asset licenses and making significant contributions to regional regulatory environment.Commenting on James’ appointment, Dr. Sameer Al Ansari, CEO of RAK Digital Assets Oasis, said: “James brings with him a wealth of experience across the web3, digital assets and future tech landscape, enabling us to develop truly ground-breaking, strategically positioned models to support these sectors and tap into the growing global tech-enabled markets. We aim to open our doors to the companies of the future in the second quarter of 2023 and at such a crucial point in our emergence as innovation-enablers, we have no doubt that James’ formidable knowledge and experience will help us reach our ambitious targets.”James Bernard, CCO of RAK Digital Assets Oasis, said: “I am thrilled to be part of RAK Digital Assets Oasis. With our forward-leaning approach to maximising opportunities in disruptive technologies, the freezone is committed to supporting, empowering, and partnering with global leaders, entrepreneurial talent and innovators, building transformative solutions and creating impact.”RAK Digital Assets Oasis is a purpose-built, true innovation-enabling free zone for innovators and businesses across the digital assets and web3 sectors.RAK Digital Assets Oasis will open for applications in the second quarter of 2023.

INDEX Conferences to probe technology’s impact on design & retail leadership

Dubai: The impact of technology on the transformation of the architecture, design and retail sectors will be explored in two mainline conferences taking place at INDEX 2023, in Dubai next month – the ultimate meeting place for the interior design and fit-out industries.The show’s Design Talks and Retail Leadership Forum will gather experts who are driving the future of the sectors where AI, the Metaverse, data analytics and e-commerce are transforming every facet of the industries, including talent nurturing and recruitment, logistics, design processes, customer engagement, and inventory management.“Our conferences are essential to all working in industries which face operational and supply changes which could ultimately lead to business success or failure,” commented Elaine O’Connell, Vice President Design & Leisure of dmg events, the organisers of INDEX which will run at the Dubai World Trade Centre from May 23-25. “INDEX will host a series of open and lively discussions where delegates can absorb inspiring insights from the industries’ most prominent movers and shakers, including renowned regional architects, creative thinkers, and leading retail operators.”The INDEX Design Talks, sponsored by Geberit, Cosentino, Presto, and Kohler, will touch on the transformative impact of technology as sector trendsetter Firas Alsahin, Co-Founder and Design Director at 4space, will address essential issues including ‘The Revolution Impact of AI on the Architecture and Interior Design Process."Artificial intelligence is transforming the way we approach design, from enhancing our creativity to revolutionizing the way we construct and inhabit our physical and digital spaces. As we explore the potential of AI and the metaverse, we have the opportunity to create a new era of design that is both more efficient and more visionary" said Alsahin.Also on the agenda will be scrutiny of the design industry’s role in assisting the attainment of sustainability goals. It’s an issue that, Esra Lemmens, Founder of The Esra Lemmens Agency and Chairperson of Design Talks, says is vital to the industry’s own survival and reputation.“Design for Environment—it’s exactly as it sounds. Architects and designers are designing new products with greater responsibility keeping the environment in mind. The process starts with simply asking questions, lots of questions. What renewable materials could designers use in this project? How can they avoid creating a lot of waste? How can we reduce the carbon footprint, how can we do better and make sure our planet sustains for the generations to come?“Throughout the Middle East, nations have been laying out their net zero and sustainability goals, and it is up to all in the design sector to respond responsibly. Designers have to pose important questions, including how they can ensure their products perform well without exhausting resources and that those products can stand the test of time in terms of both functionality and aesthetics,” commented, Esra Lemmens.The Talks will also feature dedicated sessions investigating ways of inspiring young Emirati talent in the design sector and present the work of the Top 10 projects of the INDEX student competition, which saw young talent win internships with the region’s leading design houses.New to INDEX this year, is the Stones and Surfaces Summit. Sponsored by Asian Paints Berger and tailor made to discover the vital role of stones, surfaces and paints in contemporary design and architecture. The Summit will focus on key topics including - Pros and Cons of Laminate Flooring vs Luxury Vinyl Tiles, Stone and Surface Applications in Interior Design, Trends in Surface Design and more.Meanwhile, the Retail Leadership Forum will bring into focus current consumer trends, logistics strategies, and procurement techniques to help industry go-getters improve their business tactics and boost profitability. The Forum will see the biggest industry names join in discussions around furniture trends and retail design for furniture stores, the role of digital marketing and e-commerce in enhancing sales and the customer experience, as well as long-term customer loyalty.“The retail industry is at a crossroads when it is facing key challenges of staff recruitment and retention, shifting consumer behaviour, rising data security threats, and the blurring of lines between physical and digital online shopping,” explained keynote speaker Dr. Ali Hammoud, CEO, Midas Furniture “The Retail leadership Forum will give delegates the opportunity to gain insights which will enable them to better navigate these issues to ensure the sector is capable of transforming challenges into opportunities.”

Maddict appoints Steven Sidawi as COO

Dubai: Maddict, the cutting-edge mobile marketing platform and location data technology, has recently appointed Steven Sidawi as their new Chief Operating Officer in Dubai. With a diverse background of over 15 years of experience in various areas such as media partners, data and analytics, digital technologies and customer experience, across agencies such as Publicis, UM and Choueiri Group, Sidawi brings a wealth of expertise to the role.Steven is an experienced Digital, CRM, Technology & CX Lead with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing, advertising, and technology industries. With a strong technical knowledge, Steven is able to drive innovation and tech-related projects. His skills in marketing management, digital transformation, sales, start-ups, and leadership make him a valuable asset to any team.Maddict's CEO, Maud Moawad, said that Steven Sidawi will work in tandem with the company's teams to come up with and implement the strategies that back its updated mission and commitment towards the Personal data protection laws (PDPL), which came into effect in KSA and the UAE.The UAE federal decree law regarding the protection of personal data was issued in 2021 and will be enforced in 2022. The laws are considered crucial for better alignment with international data privacy laws such as GDPR and CCPA, among others. Maddict will be staying ahead of the curve in terms of data protection laws and leveraging the latest technology to deliver outstanding results for their partners.

Customer experience platform TOTAL CX launched in Bahrain

Dubai: Manama, Bahrain: TOTAL CX, a new player in the local customer service sector, was launched today at an event held exclusively for Bahrain’s media representatives.TOTAL CX caters to businesses of all sizes including the private and public sector, such as government entities, financial sector, telecoms, logistical carriers, restaurant, and delivery services, among many others that require customer contact services. The complex basket of products and services includes multilingual support around the clock, such as call centre, Chat Bot, WhatsApp, complaint handling and more.Built on a strong platform, TOTAL CX has evolved from the oldest established customer call centre in Bahrain, Batelco Contact Centre, which dates back to the early 1970’s. Over the past 50 years, the centre has transformed into one of the most recognised in the Kingdom of Bahrain, responding to an average of 1200 enquiries daily.TOTAL CX Chairman Faisal Al Jalahma speaking during the launch event said, “We are delighted to introduce TOTAL CX with a vision to be the partner of choice for best-in-class customer services for businesses in the region and beyond. We have been providing unmatched support to customers in Bahrain for decades, and we look forward to sharing our years of experience with other companies.”“With a strong platform of human resources, and over 97% Bahrainisation in place, the establishment of TOTAL CX will also support the Kingdom’s job creation drive as a continuous flow of new hires will join the team to support the growing requirements of the centre.”“SME’s and large enterprises can depend on us to deliver a delightful experience to their customers with passion and professionalism,” Mr. Al Jalahma added.Maitham Abdulla, CEO of TOTAL CX and COO of Batelco said, “Supported by knowledge, know-how and the latest digital systems, TOTAL CX has all the credentials needed to attend to the customer service requirements of all industries. Our growing team of multi-skilled and multilingual agents are fully trained and ready to respond through a number of channels including phone, chat bot, social media and emails.”“In a very competitive marketplace for all industries, having superior customer services in place is crucial and can give a company the edge over its competitors.”“Located in a 2000 square metre premises, with over 200 staff currently, TOTAL CX is ready to support all industries and we are already in discussions with several companies, with plans to onboard a number of them soon,” Mr. Abdulla added.

Dubai to host the inaugural edition of Global Chess League

Dubai: Global Chess League (GCL), a joint venture between FIDE and Tech Mahindra, announced Dubai as the venue for the inaugural edition today at a press conference in the presence of key dignitaries such as Dr. Aman Puri, Consul General of India, Dubai, Viswanathan Anand, five-time world chess champion, and Deputy President, FIDE, CP Gurnani, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Tech Mahindra, Parag Shah, EVP & Head, Mahindra Accelo and Member, Global Chess League Board, and Jagdish Mitra, Chairperson, Global Chess League Board, in the Gulf city.The world's largest and first franchise-based chess league will be held in Dubai in association with Dubai Sports Council, the league's Host Partner.Talking about hosting the inaugural edition of Global Chess League, His Excellency Saeed Hareb, Secretary General, Dubai Sports Council, said, "Hosting the Global Chess League is a momentous occasion for us. FIDE and Tech Mahindra's vision for the league will truly bring the sport of chess to a new audience and help existing fans relate to the sport more than ever before. Global Chess League is a first-of-its-kind tournament with a team vs team format that will bring together the best chess players from across the world, representing major countries and providing a unique experience to chess fans globally. We look forward to welcoming champions from across the world to Dubai, the growing sports capital.” The Global Chess League will draw the world's attention to a new chess format and create an ecosystem for the sport, providing a platform for champions worldwide to showcase the potential of chess. Viswanathan Anand, five-time world chess champion, and Deputy President, FIDE, said, “Dubai has been attracting various sporting events. The World Chess Championship in Dubai in 2021 during the Dubai Expo was a big success. Similarly, I believe the Global Chess League will mark a new beginning in fan experience. Its unique team format will contribute to the growth and development of chess. The league aims to revolutionize the game by having established and emerging talent play together on the same team. All players, including men, women, and juniors, would contribute equally to their team's success. I look forward to a fantastic inaugural season.”The first edition of the Global Chess League, set to take place from June 21 to July 2, 2023, will feature six teams with six players each, including a minimum of two female players and one icon player per team. The six teams will compete in a round-robin format where each team will play 10 matches. The FIDE President, Arkady Dvorkovich, said, "We are excited to announce our partnership with Dubai Sports Council to host the inaugural edition of Global Chess League in Dubai. This city has established itself as a world-class events destination, and among many other major sporting events, it has hosted the FIDE World Championship Match 2021, which was a great success. Thanks to this experience, we couldn’t think of a better partner to deliver a memorable first edition of the Global Chess League.”Each match will feature six boards that will be played simultaneously. The top two teams will qualify for the final on July 2, 2023, and be crowned the World Champion Franchise Team.Jagdish Mitra, Chairperson, Global Chess League Board, said, “Dubai has emerged as a major global sports and business destination in the last decade. Its significant role in bolstering the UAE's digital economy and strengthening its position as a global knowledge hub is noteworthy. This makes Dubai an ideal location for hosting the inaugural edition of a tournament like the Global Chess League. We believe that our partnership with Dubai Sports Council, the official sports governing body of the Government of Dubai, is a major step forward in further strengthening our ties with the country. We look forward to hosting a successful league in Dubai and ushering in a new era for the sport.”The league will also set the standards for technological innovations in the sport of chess as FIDE and Tech Mahindra are exploring innovative ways to promote the game through interactive technology-enabled platforms by leveraging next-generation technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality, among others.

Astra Tech partners with Etihad Airways to launch flight bookings on Botim

Dubai: Astra Tech (Astra), a leading consumer technology holding group based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a partnership with Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, that will enable customers to book flights through BOTIM, the MENA region’s leading VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) solution, which was recently relaunched as an Ultra app. The partnership was signed today at the Arabian Travel Market, between Etihad CEO Antonoaldo Neves and Astra Tech’s Founder, Abdallah Abu Sheikh.With this partnership, Astra Tech and Etihad are providing customers with a fresh and hassle-free approach to booking flights. Through the BOTIM GPT module developed by Astra Tech, flights and other travel-related services are integrated into the Botim app, offering a convenient and innovative way for customers to book Etihad flights.The partnership aims to enhance the travel experience for customers by focusing on promotions and financing solutions, underscoring the companies' steadfast commitment to delivering innovative and customer-focused solutions that meet the evolving needs of today's travelers. Working together, Etihad and Astra Tech will provide customers with a comprehensive and integrated travel experience that simplifies the process of booking flights and accessing other travel-related services. The integration of flights into the Botim app enables customers to enjoy a more convenient and all-inclusive travel experience, making it easier than ever before to plan their travels.Antonoaldo Neves, CEO of Etihad Airways, said: “Etihad is excited about this new partnership with Astra Tech, as it provides a unique opportunity to launch flight bookings on Botim, a communications platform that families and friends use to stay connected. By integrating flight bookings into the application, Etihad becomes a part of the conversation, making it convenient for guests to book flights without leaving the platform. Additionally, the integration of new payment options, including installment plans, simplifies the booking process for customers. Etihad is committed to staying at the forefront of the constantly evolving digital landscape by exploring and adopting innovative solutions, such as GPT-enabled flight bookings, to deliver the best possible experiences to its guests.”Abdallah Abu Sheikh, Astra Tech’s Founder and Botim’s CEO, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Etihad Airways to bring this innovative solution to our customers. This partnership will allow us to offer a never-seen-before feature to BOTIM users. We are revolutionizing the way people will book flights by making it as easy as asking a question. This represents our ability to connect people, not only virtually but physically, all around the world using the latest technology in artificial intelligence.”Earlier in the week, Astra Tech (Astra), announced the launch of Botim 3.0, The platform is now an all-inclusive digital platform for its users by combining fintech, e-commerce, GPT, and communications into a single user experience. Botim is a powerful digital tool meant to ease every user's life through access to services such as Botim Money for peer-to-peer transactions and international transfers, Botim Stores with access to 100,000+ stores including, and advanced video services such as tutoring and telemedicine later this year. Botim 3.0 is available to users around the world, providing the world’s only seamless and open access to communicate and transact to and from the MENA region.

AEG partners with Microsoft and Crayon to revolutionize SWIFT infrastructure

Dubai: Allied Engineering Group (AEG), the largest SWIFT service bureau globally, has announced its collaboration with Microsoft and Crayon to bring tailored and compliant solutions to financial service institutions (FSIs) that are migrating their SWIFT infrastructure to the cloud. Through this partnership, AEG will publish its 10 SWIFT-related proprietary solutions on the Azure Marketplace, extending them as a managed service to FSIs across the Middle East and Africa (MEA)."We believe that this partnership represents the best strategic move for banks, as it addresses the current needs of the banking sector," said Dr. Mohamed Sadek, Group CEO of AEG. "Our tailored solutions on Azure will provide financial service institutions with the flexibility, scalability, and security they need to migrate their SWIFT infrastructure to the cloud while ensuring compliance with SWIFT CSCF regulations and guidelines. By leveraging Azure's advanced capabilities, we are enabling banks to focus on their core objectives and access limitless possibilities for the future."Through this partnership, and leveraging Azure's advanced capabilities, AEG is providing its customers with the freedom to offer their services as a flexible managed service. This, in turn, empowers FSI to expand their reach and optimize their operations, while simultaneously helping AEG expand its presence in the UAE."We are excited to collaborate with Allied Engineering Group and Crayon to provide tailored and compliant solutions for financial service institutions migrating SWIFT infrastructure to the cloud.”, said Naim Yazbeck, General Manager, Microsoft UAE. “By leveraging Azure's secure and scalable platform, we are enabling AEG to offer its customers greater flexibility and cost savings, while maintaining compliance with SWIFT CSCF regulations and guidelines. This relationship is a testament to Microsoft's commitment to supporting the digital transformation of the financial service industry in the UAE and Middle East and Africa at large.""We are proud of our partnership with Microsoft and AEG, which exemplifies the transformative power of combining world-class technology, industry expertise, and strategic vision," said Ziad Rizk, CEO of Crayon Middle East & Africa. "By leveraging our deep Microsoft Cloud knowledge, our robust partner ecosystem, and our extensive market reach, we are committed to supporting AEG's ground-breaking efforts in revolutionizing the SWIFT infrastructure for financial service institutions across the Middle East and Africa. Together, we are pioneering the future of digital finance and cultivating exceptional experiences for organizations and customers alike."The initiative is part of AEG's commitment to providing its customers with compliant, tailored solutions that meet their specific needs. It also marks a significant step towards transforming payments across MEA using Azure solutions.

Glitz and glamour galore at EMIGALA fashion awards 2023

Dubai: Commissioned to recognize and honor Arab and international talent in fashion, designers, artists, influencers, magazines as well as celebrities; the third edition of the EMIGALA Festival was recently concluded amidst much fanfare at the Dubai Festival City. The glamorous evening saw Arab and international celebrities walk the red carpet in stylish ensembles as well as sweep awards for their contribution to the fashion industry.The Festival Bay at the Dubai Festival City Mall came alive with a scintillating awards ceremony that was inaugurated by Dr. Michel Daher (President and Founder of the BIAF, DIAFA, and EMIGALA Festivals). Year after year, the highly-anticipated awards ceremony has made waves for its inimitable style of audience engagement and this year a beautiful tribute to the late international artist Dalida made it even more special. Dalida remains a fashion icon and an inspiration for international fashion houses even today. In the inaugural speech, Dr. Daher expressed the need to encourage the content creation industry to allow knowledge sharing and also praised the initiatives undertaken by Thinksmart Hub, the region’s only creative zone for content creators. A worthy mention of the content creation industry at an international red-carpet event has sparked hope and encouragement for influencers across industries to take up content creation as mainstream.The evening was entertainment in action with an array of live performances and was hosted by actor and TV presenter, Enjy Kiwan. The ‘Star of the Night’ awards were conferred on the famous music artist, Mahmoud Al Turky, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, Mayssa Karaa, Classical Crossover singer-songwriter, Ana Magiar, renowned fashion designer, Tamam Humariff, social media influencer and reality TV star, Farhana Bodi, social media influencer, reality TV star and businesswoman, Safa Siddiqui along with Ahmed Al Sayed.Marie Claire Arabia was honoured as the Fashion Magazine of the Year while Harper’s Bazaar Arabia took home the Fashion Initiative of the Year award for their event hosted every autumn. The elite Legacy Award was decorated on Maison Valentino while Ralph Lauren was honoured as the Luxury Brand of the Year. Giant retailer and distributor of luxury goods, Chalhoub Group was conferred with the Entrepreneurship Legacy Award. Winners like Nawal Zoghby as Fashion Icon of the Year, Sheikha Maitha as Fashion Entrepreneur of the Year, Deema Asadi as Fashion Influencer of the Year, and Noor Stars as Beauty Influencer of the Year received accolades for their creative engagement with their social media audiences.The evening saw stars take center stage as Karen Wazen clinched the Fashion Brand Ambassador of the Year, Tony Ward for Global Haute Couture Designer of the Year, and Abla Fahita was named the Fashion Phenomenon of the Year. Additionally, Dima Ayad was named RTW Designer of the Year, Prada Paradoxe, the Fragrance of the Year, Andrea Brocca as the Emerging Designer of the Year, and Ali Karoui, the Fashion Innovator of the Year. Known to recognize Arab talent globally, the EMIGALA 2023 also honoured Dilan Tatlises as Turkish Artist in fashion, RedOne as Moroccan Artist in Fashion, and Passant Shawky as Egyptian Artist in Fashion.The extravagant event was an evening to remember with brilliant achievers meeting and greeting alongside likeminded creators.

TECOM Group ’s q1 2023 net profit grows 34% to AED 255 million

 Dubai: TECOM Group PJSC (DFM: TECOM), (the “Company” or the “Group”), the creator of specialised business districts and vibrant communities, today announced its financial results for its fiscal 2023 first quarter ended 31 March 2023. The Group delivered a strong financial and operational performance, reporting a 6% year-on-year (YoY) increase in revenues to AED 514 million and a 34% YoY increase in net income to AED 255 million.Financial HighlightsAED ‘000sFirst QuarterYoY%(Unless otherwise stated)20232022Revenue513,784485,1116%EBITDA398,805349,43514%EBITDA Margin78%72%6%Net Profit255,133190,26234% Operational HighlightsCommercial and Industrial – As of31 March 202331 March 2022YoY%Occupancy Level87.1%80.6%6.5%Retention Rate95.4%94.6%0.8% Abdulla Belhoul, Chief Executive Officer, TECOM Group, said: “TECOM Group’s solid first quarter results, are not just a testament to the success of our long-term growth strategy, but also a reflection of the underlying business confidence in Dubai and the thriving business ecosystem in the emirate.The sustained growth in our occupancy demonstrates the continued demand for our specialised assets and reaffirms Dubai’s position as a global hub for investment, innovation, and entrepreneurship. We believe we are well positioned to continue to capitalise on the booming real estate market in Dubai.Looking ahead, our outlook for the rest of the year is positive, particularly with the prospect of higher rental rates, continued growth in occupancy and the immense potential that the city offers to businesses of all sizes and from all sectors. We will maintain our focus on maximising value to our shareholders and all our stakeholders.” Q1 2023:- Revenue for the first quarter of 2023 came in at AED 514 million, an increase of 6% YoY that is driven by a significant increase in our commercial and industrial occupancy rates compared to the same period last year.- EBITDA increased 14% to AED 399 million, primarily driven by top line growth and lower operational expenses.- Net profit grew 34% YoY to AED 255 million, underpinned by strong growth in revenues, enhanced operational efficiencies and sustained growth across all business segments.- Funds from operations (FFO) reached AED 359 million, a 44% increase on Q1 2022, due to strong collections and continued high levels of customer retention. Key Operational ActivitiesThrough its provision of business districts, TECOM Group continues to support many industries that drive Dubai’s diversification agenda and economic growth. In Q1 2023, TECOM Group witnessed:- The announcement by AstraZeneca on its intention to move to Dubai Science Park with new sustainable offices ahead of COP28.- The successful launch and first edition of Dubai Fashion Week (DFW), which recorded a 55% increase in RSVP’s compared to the 21st edition of Arab Fashion Week in March 2022. M Normandie French Business School inauguration of its first regional campus at Dubai Knowledge Park- The opening of THRYVE™ factory, the first 100% plant-based meat factory in the Middle East, in Dubai Industrial City.- Silver Line Gate Group (one of the Middle East’s leading suppliers of milk powder) announcement to build an AED 200 million manufacturing facility at Dubai Industrial City in line with Dubai Economic Agenda D33, the UAE food security agenda and Make it in the Emirates.- Al Khayyat Investments breaking ground on its largest fulfilment centre to date in Dubai Industrial City.DividendTECOM Group shareholders approved a dividend payment of AED 200 million, that was paid in April 2023. This follows a AED 200 million pay-out which was distributed in November 2022, taking the total dividend payment for the second half of 2022 (H2) to AED 400 million. As per the dividend policy set out in the IPO prospectus, TECOM Group is committed to paying a total dividend amount of AED 800 million per annum over the first three years of being a listed company. The next dividend payment will be distributed in September 2023, subject to shareholder approval, and will cover the first half of 2023.

DIFC to host the inaugural Dubai FinTech Summit

Dubai: Dubai is set to host the first-ever Dubai FinTech Summit on May 8 and 9 under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, First Deputy Ruler of Dubai, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the UAE. The Summit will be organised by Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading international financial hub in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA) region. The event will take place at Madinat Jumeirah and will bring together over 5,000 global FinTech C-suite executives and technology experts to discuss the latest innovations and challenges in the sector. The global FinTech sector is rapidly growing and is predicted to be valued at $305 billion globally by 2025, according to Research and Markets, an intelligence and market analysis firm. In the MEASA region, the industry is expected to double in value from $135.9 billion in 2021 to $266.9 billion in 2027, according to the 2022 report by DIFC FinTech Hive. The Dubai FinTech Summit will offer a unique platform for startups, investors, and industry leaders to connect and capitalise on the growing FinTech market in the region and beyond. The MENA region’s FinTech startup and venture capital landscape is booming, with over 800 FinTech startups worth $15.5 billion, according to data by Dubai alone is home to over 20% of the world’s FinTech businesses, according to the UAE Fintech Market – Growth, Trends, and Forecasts (2023 - 2028) Report by Mordor Intelligence. The FinTech Summit will feature a series of panel discussions, fireside chats, and over 100 FinTech exhibitors. Mastercard’s 2022 Digital Payments Index report reveals that digital payments are gaining traction in the MENA region. More than 85% of respondents reported using at least one emerging payment method in the past 12 months, indicating a shift away from cash-based transactions. Among MENA countries, the UAE stands out as being ready to embrace a cashless society. According to the event’s co-host sponsor Visa, 52% of UAE consumers are already cashless or plan to be by 2024. The Summit will feature a lineup of distinguished speakers from both local and international arenas. Notable speakers include HE Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, UAE Minister of Economy; Bill Winters, Group Chief Executive of Standard Chartered; Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple; Piyush Gupta, CEO of DBS Bank Singapore; Jenny Johnson, President and CEO of Franklin Templeton; and Brian Armstrong, CEO and Co-Founder of Coinbase, among others. Mohammad Alblooshi, Head of DIFC Innovation Hub and FinTech Hive, underscored the importance of the Dubai FinTech Summit. “Nearly 60% of all FinTech companies in the GCC are currently based in the city. With the industry growing at an unprecedented rate, it is crucial for stakeholders to gather and discuss the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. The Dubai FinTech Summit promises to bring together the most prominent figures in the industry, with an agenda that will captivate and inspire audiences worldwide.” The Summit will offer attendees a platform to participate in discussions and exchange ideas on emerging trends, regulatory frameworks, and future possibilities. The event will feature discussions on a range of topics, including ‘Building the Economies of the Future’, ‘Crypto and the Evolving Regulatory Framework’, ‘The World of Finance: Where are the Women?’, and ‘Building a Resilient and Sustainable Financial Sector in the Age of Disruption’. Participants will have the opportunity to gain valuable insights on these critical issues from industry leaders and experts. The panel discussions will offer a platform for experts to share their insights on current and future issues in the FinTech industry and explore how they can shape the future of the financial sector. The agenda promises to be informative and insightful, providing valuable opportunities for networking and collaboration among participants.

Saudi Arabia leads real-time payments revolution in the Middle East

Riyadh: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) continues to lead the real-time payments revolution in the Middle East as the region’s largest real-time payments market. 352 million real-time payment transactions were recorded in 2022, forecasted to climb to 1.2 billion in 2027, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.1%, according to the 2023 Prime Time for Real-Time report, published by ACI Worldwide (NASDAQ: ACIW), a global leader in mission-critical, real-time payments software, in partnership with GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.In light of the government’s support to advance the real-time payments modernization of the national payments infrastructure, Saudi Arabia has seen an accelerated shift towards non-cash payments in recent years. In 2027, the majority of payments in the Kingdom are expected to be electronic, with 7.4% being real-time payments and 48.6% other forms of electronic payments.The report also reveals that Saudi Arabia has broken into the global Top 10 for mobile wallet adoption - taking spot number 9 - with 80% of consumers in Saudi Arabia stating they are avid mobile wallet users. This can be partly attributed to the Kingdom’s response to COVID-19, as the government urged consumers to adopt new forms of cashless payments.Much of Saudi Arabia’s real-time payments success can be credited to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan, which promotes the modernization of the country’s payments infrastructure and the adoption of digital payments to foster economic growth and financial inclusion.“With two-thirds of the population under the age of 25, real-time payments are going to continue to flourish and pave the way for more economic growth and financial prosperity across Saudi Arabia,” said Santhosh Rao, Senior Vice President, MEASA, ACI Worldwide. “As an early adopter of real-time payments infrastructure, the market has seen outstanding growth over the last few years, and this is only set to continue as the country focuses on its Vision 2030 agenda. ACI has worked across the world to support governments and banks as they roll out real-time payments, and we are delighted to be a leading provider in the Middle East to help countries in the region reap the benefits of real-time payments.” The report finds that the Middle East is the fastest-growing real-time payments market globally, with transactions expected to grow from $675 million in 2022 to $2.6 billion by 2027, a CAGR of 30.6%. Saudi Arabia is currently the biggest market in the region, closely followed by Bahrain. As governments and regulators in the Middle East are setting new mandates for adoption, countries including UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman are expected to launch domestic real-time schemes soon, with innovative features and new services for consumers and businesses high on the agenda.The ACI Worldwide report confirms Saudi Arabia's position as an emerging fintech hub and highlights its commitment to promoting financial inclusion, supporting innovation and driving economic growth in the region. ACI Worldwide powers 25 domestic and pan-regional real-time payment schemes across six continents — including nine central infrastructures — providing solutions to central banks, participant banks, fintechs and other payment service providers. The Middle East is among the company’s leading regional markets — ACI is currently supporting three countries in the region to build domestic real-time payment infrastructures. This adds to ACI’s long history of success in Asia, where ACI powers the central infrastructures for Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand and supports many real-time payment schemes across the APAC region, including Singapore, Philippines and Australia.

future of entertainment sector on the cards at SLS Summit

Riyadh: From tackling the environmental impact of shows, to spotlighting women in the events industry, Saudi Light and Sound (SLS) Expo will look at how the kingdom’s entertainment industry can stay ahead of the curve, all while mapping the industry’s future and highlighting the biggest trends and challenges.Taking place from the 28th – 30th May at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Centre, SLS Expo will feature exhibitors from the pro-lighting and audio, live events, digital signage, AI, laser technology, and stage technology sector. While the two-day SLS Summit will include over 15 interactive debates, fireside chats, presentations, case studies and panel discussions from industry visionaries and experts on how to advance the events and entertainment market.“With the kingdom hosting over 120 million people at events in the last four years, the country is looking to fast track plans in its events and entertainment industry, and this year’s second edition of the SLS Expo and Summit will look to showcase these advancements,” said Mohammed Faisal, Event Manager, DMG events.The kingdom continues to create the fundamentals for a vibrant entertainment sector with 11,136 licenses issued for entertainment and supporting events since 2019, according to the General Entertainment Authority. Ernst & Young recently revealed that MENA governments like Saudi Arabia have demonstrated strong support for entertainment as part of their goal to invest in their non-oil economy and predicted that by 2030, the entertainment industry will create over 100,000 jobs with a 3% impact on the kingdom’s GDP.“KSA is rapidly becoming the most important entertainment market in the EMEA,” said Koert Vermeulen, Principal Designer & Owner, ACTLD and one of the speakers at this year’s SLS Expo Summit. “I have been working in the kingdom over the last 10-years and I’ve witnessed and experienced the growth, and the transition and openness towards a rich culture and entertainment.”The summit will also take a closer look at women in the events industry. Women’s underrepresentation in the workforce is a focus of Vision 2030, with the country already putting several initiatives in place to empower and encourage women to join the public and private sector.“I’m thrilled to be taking part in the executive session: women in the events industry – creating experiential events and I hope that the session will help shine a spotlight on the wonderful opportunities available for women and encourage them to focus on starting a career in this rewarding MICE and tourism industry,” said Dr. Debbie Kristiansen, General Manager, Exhibition World Bahrain and one of the speakers at this year’s summit.Other topics on the agenda this year include; Current trending and future tools for interactive installations and audience engagement, design principles and techniques for creating visually stunning shows, a sound-storm case study; and sound engineering and design for immersive experiences.Other speakers at this year’s event are Mark Reeves, Head of Entertainment & Events, 6 Flags Qiddiya, and Michael (Curly) Jobson, Executive Director, MDL Beast.Co-located with the Saudi Entertainment & Amusement (SEA) Expo, SLS Expo will include a 300-plus exhibitor directory including: aDawliah Electronics, Castle of Dreams, Crystal, Delta Waves, ER Productions, Kvant Show Production, Mediapro International and many more.

Abu Dhabi partners with Ranveer Singh as destination brand ambasador

Superstar Ranveer Singh will first appear in the ‘One Summer Isn't Enough’ campaign, as part of his two-year partnership aimed at inspiring visitors to discover the wide array of summer experiences available in the emirate.Abu Dhabi, May 2nd 2023: Experience Abu Dhabi has today announced Indian superstar, and pop culture icon Ranveer Singh, as an official ambassador, inspiring visitors to discover the diverse range of experiences that can be enjoyed on a trip to Abu Dhabi.During the two-year partnership, Ranveer will share his holiday highlights, inviting Indian travelers to find their pace in Abu Dhabi and enjoy everything that the destination has to offer, from an action-packed calendar of events including IIFA, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the Abu Dhabi NBA Games, to the variety of adventures and cultural experiences that can inspire, excite and restore.Ranveer commences his exciting role by starring in Abu Dhabi’s new summer campaign film, ‘One Summer Isn’t Enough’. In the film, audiences will witness Ranveer explore some of Abu Dhabi’s hotspots, from soaking up the sun in the chilled pools of Saadiyat Beach Club to taking in the wonder at Louvre Abu Dhabi and racing around the famous Yas Marina Circuit, before enjoying retail therapy at one of the city’s incredible malls.A true showman, Ranveer could not leave Abu Dhabi without perfecting the iconic Al Ayyala dance – deeply rooted in UAE culture, it involves performers using thin bamboo canes to move to the steady beat of drums.Ranveer's infectious enthusiasm and passion for Abu Dhabi is sure to inspire every traveler to add Abu Dhabi to their summer bucket list.With so many things to do, summer is an ideal time to visit the UAE capital. Just like Ranveer, Indian travellers can be inspired by Abu Dhabi’s rich culture and heritage scene across23 locations, including Qasr Al Hosn and the presidential palace of Qasr Al Watan. Alternatively, those looking for adventure can reach new heights at one of Abu Dhabi’s many theme parks including Yas Waterworld, Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.Meanwhile, couples can escape to a private and secluded desert island retreat of Nurai Island, just 15 minutes away by boat, or enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime meal at one of Abu Dhabi’s recently awarded Michelin-starred and Michelin-recognised restaurants.An exciting calendar of events will make this an unforgettable summer, including the return of IIFA in May, unrivalled family fun at Paw Patrol Live, as well as an exhilarating concert by rock legends Gun n’ Roses.Ranveer Singh commented, “I am delighted to be the destination ambassador for Abu Dhabi. This is the most fun I've had behind the camera! I've been visiting the emirate for years, and it feels like a second home to me. Now, I have the opportunity to share what makes it so special with the world. Every time I visit, there is something new to discover, and I always leave with countless memories and a strong desire to return. With so much to see and do, and just a short three-hour flight from Mumbai, Abu Dhabi is a must-visit holiday destination for everyone to experience."Her Excellency Nouf AlBoushelaibi, Executive Director, Strategic Marketing & Communication Sector, Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, commented: "We are excited to announce Superstar Ranveer Singh as our Abu Dhabi brand ambassador for the Indian market. With his energy and passion for travel, Ranveer embodies the spirit of Abu Dhabi - a destination that offers a diverse range of experiences for everyone to enjoy at their own pace. Through this partnership, we aim to share Ranveer's love for Abu Dhabi with India and the world, and showcase the destination's unique and captivating offerings, from its unrivalled family fun to its intangible heritage and culture, stunning nature and adventure, and everything in between. We look forward to an exciting two-year journey with Ranveer, as we continue to create unforgettable experiences for our visitors."As well as an action-packed calendar, visitors will be able to make the most of their summer holiday in Abu Dhabi with an exclusive, limited-time deal of ‘stay more, pay less’ for trips booked between four to seven nights. Valid from 1 May to 30 September, and available to book from 8 March, travellers can opt for a city getaway, select a gorgeous resort surrounded by turquoise waters, or book a family escape for the kids to enjoy at an amazing value.

Hertz UAE takes the lead on electric vehicle, digital transition

Dubai: Part of the Al-Futtaim Automotive Group, Hertz UAE is the official franchise of Hertz - one of the world’s largest car rental brands. The well-established national franchise now aims to be at the forefront of the green mobility transition, having already become the first car rental brand in the country to introduce fully electric vehicles in its portfolio.Today the car rental giant has over 11,000 vehicles in operation in the UAE, 15% of which are either fully electric or hybrid vehicles. Volvo and Polestar feature within Hertz’s green mobility portfolio, with plans to soon include the BYD range. BYD is the world’s leading new energy vehicle (NEV) manufacturer having sold nearly 3 million NEVs till date; the brand was recently introduced into the UAE with Al-Futtaim Automotive as their regional distributors.Hertz UAE has plans to further electrify the range, which makes a definitive statement, as they have the most diverse car rental offering in the market - ranging from small sedans to luxurious full-size SUVs, from commercial pick-up trucks to large passenger buses. Conducting nearly 20,000 transactions a month from its widespread network of 13 branches across the country, Hertz UAE has the capability to drive EV adoption at scale. The company believes the UAE is the perfect platform to steer this transition, as the country is strongly committed to making headway towards the UAE Net-Zero 2050 Strategic Initiative and shape a modern, digital economy with sustainability at its core.Taking a cue from the future mobility aspirations of the country, Hertz UAE also launched its digital platform early in 2021 and introduced new products like Drive Green part of the Flexible Monthly Packages to meet the rising demand for innovative mobility solutions from customers. Today, 70% of new business opportunities come from the digital channels while online booking has nearly doubled since the platform’s launch.Hertz is participating at the Arabian Travel Market 2023, the region’s leading travel and tourism event that is putting a spotlight on Net Zero Travel this year as its main theme.Hertz UAE is also present at the event to showcase the new fully-electric Polestar 2 for its fleet partners and share how they are localizing Hertz’s global sustainable mobility strategies. Managing Director of Al-Futtaim Finance and Hertz UAE, Alexander Maas shared, “Electrification, technology, and innovation are the inevitable future of the mobility sector. We are proud to have partners like Hertz who believe in setting bold strategies to continue leading the way forward. Our focus remains on fulfilling our electric vision by ensuring we deliver a whole support system, a fully functioning ecosystem, to all our electric and hybrid vehicle customers – be they corporate or individual renters. At Al-Futtaim Automotive, we have also introduced our own brand of charging technology and unique new packages like Drive Green, which allows customers to rent electric or hybrid vehicles from one month to several months on their own terms, completely hassle-free. This will help make the switch to green mobility, more convenient and seamless.”Starting from 1st May, for two weeks, Hertz UAE will feature its Drive Green service with a cutting-edge display of electric and hybrid vehicles including the Polestar 2 and the Volvo XC40 at The Zone by Al-Futtaim – the new automotive experiential hub located at City Walk Boulevard, Building 10.

Bain & Company’s study sheds light on sustainable tourism in MENA

DUBAI: Following a dip in 2020, tourism globally is again on the rise and is expected to reach $17 trillion in size by 2027, compared to $11 trillion prior to Covid-19. Bain & Company’s new research study, Sustainable Tourism: An Untapped Opportunity for Green Growth, reveals that there is an increasing appetite for more sustainable tourism among leisure travelers across the globe, who will choose destinations and providers (airlines, hotels, restaurants, and tour companies) based on their sustainability records and are starting to pay a premium for it. On the other hand, research shows that some travelers feel that the travel and tourism sector is making little or no effort to be more sustainable, indicating that there is still much room for the sector to respond and make a difference.“The uptake in sustainable tourism is driven by an appetite to travel sustainably and make more responsible choices. Bain has developed a framework defining the components of a sustainable tourism experience around three pillars: environmental impact (e.g., eco-friendly transportation and accommodation options), social responsibility (e.g., DEI standards), and community engagement (e.g., contract with locals)” says Karim Henain, Partner at Bain & Company Middle East.There is a significant opportunity among the “sustainability enthusiasts” segment of travelers interested in visiting the MENA (Middle East and Northern Africa) region. The study’s aim is to better understand the behaviors and preferences of relevant travelers interested in MENA as a destination. The research covered consumers from six markets: Germany, Italy, France, the UK, Saudi Arabia, and China.Overall, more than two-thirds of consumers surveyed in the selected markets consider sustainability aspects to be important or extremely important when traveling for leisure, and 73% expect sustainability to become more important over the next five years. In addition, they state that sustainability considerations influence their choices (64%), are willing to pay extra for more sustainable offerings (66%) and would recommend a holiday destination based on sustainability considerations (57%). Among the respondents, Bain identified sustainability enthusiasts: those who consider sustainability “extremely important,” both in their daily life and when traveling for leisure (~30% of survey respondents).Sustainability enthusiasts were found in all markets, but demographics varied by country. For example, sustainability enthusiasts from China and Saudi Arabia were predominantly highly educated millennials, whereas their European counterparts were almost equally spread across age groups, income, and education levels.Importantly, compared with the rest of the survey respondents, sustainability enthusiasts were:4x more likely to consider sustainability aspects as “extremely important” when choosing a holiday destination7x more likely to recommend a holiday destination driven by sustainability considerations1.6x more willing to pay for more sustainable choices, at a premium of 15 to 20 percentage points compared to non-enthusiastsTo further analyze the potential that sustainable tourism has in Egypt, Bain & Company worked closely with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to develop insights about the travel and tourism industry in the country. On that note, H.E Ghada Shalaby, Vice Minister for Tourism - Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities Arab Republic of Egypt said: Contributing to such valuable reports as this one provides priceless insights and recommendations that will guide our efforts to promote sustainable tourism in Egypt and create a more resilient and inclusive industry for the future. These insights should continue being a part of our decision-making processes as they will further refine the industry.Egypt has several assets to leverage, but still has some work to doEgypt has already launched several initiatives to improve the sustainability performanceof its travel and tourism sector. Examples include Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Egypt’s Tourism (MBDT), Green Star Hotel (GSH), as well as flagship initiatives promoting Egypt’s holiday destinations across sustainability pillars, such as the town of El Gouna, “the first place in Africa and the Arab region to receive the UN-sponsored Global Green Town award,” which recognizes cities that display “substantial efforts and progress towards environmental sustainability and a greener community.” El Gouna has a zero-waste system where more than 85% of all waste is reused and recycled.To evaluate how travelers perceive Egypt’s sustainability efforts, the survey respondents were asked to rank Egypt’s sustainability performance vs. the main competing destinations in MENA (Greece, Turkey, Tunisia, UAE, Morocco). Sustainability enthusiasts perceived Egypt’s sustainability performance more favorably compared to competing destinations as they ranked Egypt 2nd, however, overall survey respondents ranked Egypt 4th.Balancing the right mix of “bass notes” and “high notes” is important for Egypt’s sustainable tourism. While bass notes – broad important topics such as sustainability certificates and green infrastructure – are critical, customers tend to follow the high notes, which are topics that create differential competitive advantage. For Egypt, an example of high notes would be to enhance the preservation of its cultural and natural assets across key eco-tourism zones.The opportunity that sustainable tourism presents to Egypt’s tourism sector is sizable and requires a coordinated effort across the entire ecosystem in order to capitalize on this opportunity. The roadmap should include:Targeting the sustainability enthusiastsDialing up Egypt’s high notes by repackaging existing tourist offerings to highlight sustainability aspects, defining new sustainable offerings, and launching flagship initiatives to improve the perception of Egypt’s sustainability performanceAttending to bass notes, including pursuing certificates, enhancing infrastructure, and distributing benefits to local communitiesNurturing the tourism ecosystem by stimulating businesses and local communities to adopt sustainable practices while securing the necessary funding“It is important to go green in the tourism sector as it allows tourism growth, environmental conservation, and social well-being to be mutually reinforcing – green/sustainable tourism will eventually help create jobs, support the local economy, and reduce poverty,” said Jenny Davis-Peccoud, Global Head of Sustainability & Responsibility Practice at Bain & Company.

The UAE Cyber Security Council and Oracle sign agreement

Dubai: A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed today by His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Al Kuwaiti, Head of Cyber Security Council, United Arab Emirates and Nick Redshaw, Senior Vice President - Tech Cloud, Middle East and Africa, UAE Country Leader, Oracle to extend cooperation between the two organizations in the field of cybersecurity. The agreement was signed at the Oracle CloudWorld Tour Abu Dhabi event.Under this MoU, the UAE Cyber Security Council and Oracle have agreed to work together to help strengthen the UAE's Cyber Security framework by exchanging information on IT security risks, providing updates on latest cybersecurity technology solutions, sharing educational material, and conducting continuous training on cybersecurity related topics across all sectors.His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Hamad Al Kuwaiti said: “The UAE is at the forefront of creating a state of the art and secure digital infrastructure to help drive the country's digital economy growth.”He added that "we at the Cybersecurity Council are determined to build a cybersecurity system that protects all vital sectors in the country, supported by a safe and efficient environment in accordance with international best practices. We also work continuously in cooperation with partners, institutions and individuals to enhance cybersecurity in all vital sectors through an advanced and resilient digital security system that strengthens the UAE's leading position globally in various fields."Al-Kuwaiti explained that this MoU with Oracle is a key milestone on the journey to strengthen the UAE's cybersecurity preparedness.He said: “This Collaboration will help us explore global best practices, promote joint development of innovative solutions, and effectively train our executives on key cybersecurity developments.”Nick Redshaw said: “Oracle is fully committed to helping the UAE achieve its development objectives with latest cloud technologies, and we look forward to working with the UAE Cyber Security Council to help the country build a modern, secure, and agile IT infrastructure that is geared to responding to evolving cyber threats.

BDSwiss appoints Hassan Ibrahim as MENA Head of Business Development

Dubai: Global – The quickly expanding, global online trading firm BDSwiss is pleased to announce the appointment of Hassan Ibrahim as the brokerages new Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Head of Business Development. With over a decade's worth of finance industry experience, Hassan will play a key role in expanding BDSwiss' operations in the Middle East and North Africa region.As the MENA Head of Business Development, Ibrahim will be reporting directly to the firms MENA CEO Daniel Takieddine and will be responsible for developing and strengthening relationships with clients and partners in the GCC and across the Middle East as well as creating and executing strategic plans to grow the business. He brings a wealth of expertise in sales and business development, having previously held senior positions in global financial firms. He has also worked with the British Red Cross and works as a volunteer as an Arabic Interpreter."We are thrilled to have Hassan join our team," said BDSwiss' MENA CEO Daniel Takieddine. "His extensive experience and proven track record in the finance industry make him the perfect candidate to lead our MENA expansion plans. We are confident that he will contribute greatly to the growth and success of our company. His collaboration with other teams within the company, such as marketing and product development, will ensure even smoother alignment on our business goals and strategies. He has a diverse background working in business development but also compliance, with government bodies and working on humanitarian projects which will support us in our future growth plans."Hassan Ibrahim, the new MENA Head of Business Development for BDSwiss commented: "I am excited to be joining BDSwiss and look forward to working with the team to drive growth and deliver exceptional service to our traders and partners. I’m also looking forward to building and maintaining relationships with traders, partners, and other stakeholders in the industry to continue strengthening our ties in the industry. The MENA region presents immense opportunities, and I am confident that with BDSwiss’ already strong brand and expertise, we will continue to thrive in the region."With Ibrahim’s appointment to the team that focuses on the Middle East, BDSwiss reinforces its commitment to providing outstanding financial services to clients in the MENA region. BDSwiss is quickly growing and expanding the team - they recently hired Mazen Salhab who joined the brokerage as their new Chief Market Strategist for the Middle East and North Africa region.

Attackers finding new ways to to deliver malware: Netskope

Dubai: Netskope, a leader in Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), today unveiled new research confirming that attackers are finding new ways to evade detection and blend in with normal network traffic using HTTP and HTTPS to deliver malware. In its latest Cloud & Threat Report: Global Cloud and Web Malware Trends, Netskope identified that on average, five out of every 1,000 enterprise users attempted to download malware in Q1 2023, and new malware families and variants represented 72% of those malware downloads.Social Engineering and Search Engine Data Voids on the RiseIn the research, Netskope uncovered that nearly 10% of all malware downloads in Q1 were referred from search engines. These downloads mostly resulted from weaponized data voids, or combinations of search terms that have very few results, which means that any content matching those terms is likely to appear very high in the search results. This represents just one of many social engineering techniques that attackers are accelerating.Social engineering as a whole continues to dominate as a leading malware infiltration technique with attackers abusing not only search engines, but email, collaboration apps, and chat apps to trick their victims. As the top two malware types, Trojans accounted for 60% of malware downloads in Q1 and phishing downloads accounted for 13%.Evaluation of Primary Communication Channels for AttackersFor the first time in its quarterly cloud and threat reporting, Netskope analyzed attacker communication channels. Researchers found that attackers, in order to consistently evade detection, have used HTTP and HTTPS over ports 80 and 443 as their primary communication channel. In fact, of the new malware executables analyzed by Netskope that communicated with external hosts, 85% did so over port 80 (HTTP) and 67% did so over port 443 (HTTPS). This approach enables attackers to easily go unnoticed and blend in with the abundance of HTTP and HTTPS traffic already on the network.Additionally, to evade DNS-based security controls, some malware samples sidestep DNS lookups, instead reaching out directly to remote hosts using their IP addresses. In Q1 2023, most malware samples that initiated external communications did so using a combination of IP addresses and hostnames, with 61% communicating directly with at least one IP address and 91% communicating with at least one host via a DNS lookup.“Job number one for attackers is finding new ways to cover their tracks as enterprises put more resources into threat detection, but these findings indicate just how easy it still is for attackers to do so in plain sight,” said Ray Canzanese, Threat Research Director, Netskope Threat Labs. “As attackers gravitate towards cloud services that are widely used in the enterprise and leverage popular channels to communicate, cross-functional risk mitigation is more necessary than ever.”Extended Look into Global Cloud and Web Malware TrendsOther notable findings uncovered by Netskope’s research team include:55% of HTTP/HTTPS malware downloads came from cloud apps, up from 35% for the same period one year earlier. The primary driver of the increase is an increase in malware downloads from the most popular enterprise cloud applications, with Microsoft OneDrive tracked as the most popular enterprise app by a wide margin.The number of applications with malware downloads also continued to increase, reaching a high of 261 distinct apps in Q1 2023.Only a small fraction of total web malware downloads were delivered over web categories traditionally considered risky. Instead, downloads are spread out among a wide variety of sites, with content servers (CDNs) responsible for the largest slice, at 7.7%.As enterprises work to defend against the onslaught of malware, cross-functional collaboration across multiple teams is required, including network, security operations, incident response, leadership, and even individual contributors. Some of the additional steps organizations can take to reduce risks include:Inspect all HTTP and HTTPS downloads, including all web and cloud traffic, to prevent malware from infiltrating your networkEnsure that security controls recursively inspect the content of popular archive files and that high-risk file types are thoroughly inspectedConfigure policies to block downloads from apps that are not used in your organization to reduce risk surface.Get the full Netskope Cloud & Threat Report: Global Cloud and Web Malware Trends here.For more information on cloud-enabled threats and our latest findings from Netskope Threat Labs, visit Netskope’s Threat Research Hub.

Telr Payment Gateway a Bronze Sponsor at Dubai FinTech Summit 2023

Dubai: Telr, the award-winning online payment gateway, has announced its participation in the Dubai FinTech Summit 2023 as a Bronze Sponsor, which will take place on May 8-9, 2023, at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. Telr will showcase its latest advanced payment services and methods as part of the event.The summit, organized by the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), is a platform for thought leaders and industry experts to discuss the most pressing challenges and technological advancements in the financial services sector. Telr's participation as a Bronze Sponsor is a testament to its commitment to innovation and its mission of enabling customers to go cashless and digitize how they accept payments.Khalil Alami, Founder, and CEO of Telr, expressed his enthusiasm about participating in the Dubai FinTech Summit 2023, stating that "Dubai is one of the world's top FinTech hubs, and we are thrilled to be part of that. At Telr, we constantly strive to innovate and offer our customers the most advanced and secure payment solutions." Alami added, "We are looking forward towards engaging with a diverse pool of fintech players and forming new partnerships at the Dubai FinTech Summit 2023."Telr's team will be at booth B2, interacting with consumers and demonstrating how Telr's one-stop-shop mindset provides comprehensive solutions for the e-commerce world. Their solutions include payment links, QR Codes payments, digital invoicing, Buy Now Pay Later service (BNPL), a merchant financing program, and an easy-to-use tool called Telr shops for creating an online store in five minutes.With a mission that entails contributing towards the transition to digital payments and achieving a cashless society, Telr continues to be at the forefront of the UAE's FinTech sector, providing its customers with access to over 120 currencies and 30 languages with the highest level of security.

e& reports consolidated revenue of AED 13.0bln in Q1 2023

Dubai: e&’s consolidated revenues reached AED 13.0 billion. At constant exchange rates, revenue increased by 6.6 per cent. Consolidated net profit recorded AED 2.2 billion while consolidated EBITDA reached AED 6.2 billion, resulting in an EBITDA margin of 48 per cent.In the UAE etisalat by e& recorded 13.9 million subscribers an increase of 6 per cent compared to the same period of last year, The Group’s aggregate subscribers reached 164 million, a YoY increase of 3 per cent.The Group's focus on expanding its digital offering and launching innovative new solutions and partnerships with leading technology companies around the world as part of its drive to become a global technology player has driven business growth.Through a series of prudent mergers and acquisitions, e& is strengthening its position focused on delivering innovative solutions and driving digital transformation.The financial performance in Q1 2023 further strengthened e &'s global position as the most valuable telecoms brand portfolio in the Middle East and Africa, according to 2023 Brand Finance, while the Group's largest telecoms brand, etisalat by e&, continued to deliver outstanding innovative services as one of the three top telecoms brands in the world, and retained its position as the strongest telecom brand across all categories in the MEA region.Hatem Dowidar, Group CEO, e&, said: "The Group’s performance in the first quarter indicates growth in the number of subscribers, revenues, and profits in local currencies, but was impacted by the strong fluctuations in the currency exchange rate within the Egyptian and Pakistani markets. This growth can be attributed to the Group's flexibility and efforts to provide innovative business solutions and the latest technologies to the communities we serve. Furthermore, the Group has succeeded in building unique digital experiences supported by strategic investments, to enhance our business portfolio.“etisalat by e& Egypt and PTCL in Pakistan successfully achieved their strategic goals by enhancing their customers' digital experience while achieving growth based on local currency revenues, the strong fluctuations in the exchange rates of the Egyptian pound and the Pakistani rupee, coupled with the unprecedentedly high inflation rates in the two markets, have negatively impacted revenues and profits reported in AED. As a result, these effects were evident in the Group's consolidated results."With a vision to create a more progressive business model, we have continued to explore new avenues, expand our offerings and forge new partnerships. Our recent investment in Careem's Super App is another strategic step in our transformation into a global technology group by bringing more digital services into our customers’ daily lives.“We will continue to explore future technologies and develop new verticals that will accelerate digital transformation, positively impacting businesses and people’s lives while maximising value creation for our shareholders."Key operational highlights and developments for Q1 2023e&The Group recently signed a binding agreement with Uber Technologies, Inc ("Uber") and its subsidiary Careem to acquire a majority stake in Careem's Super App spinout with an investment of $400 million, as part of e&'s strategic ambition to expand its digital consumer offering and accelerate its transformation into a global technology and investment group.e& has successfully completed the acquisition of ServiceMarket, expanding the range of digital services on the Smiles online marketplace and offering more everyday services to its customers. It has further strengthened its global positioning this year, being recognised as the most valuable telecoms brand portfolio in the MEA region, worth over $14 billion, according to the 2023 Brand Finance Global 500 Report.e& has taken further steps in the use of cutting-edge technologies by partnering with E-Space to develop satellite-based cloud-native digital and IoT solutions optimised with edge AI to maximise the value of borderless smart connectivity and digital solutions across land, sea, and air applications.The Group has also partnered with Intel to focus on the deployment of edge data centres with a focus on a net zero carbon footprint, incorporating the latest 4th generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors.In addition, e& also announced its intention to integrate Microsoft Azure OpenAI GPT into its internal operations and processes, as well as a potential service to improve the customer experience and support the media industry in its daily tasks. etisalat by e&The telecoms arm of e& maintained its position as the strongest telecoms brand in any category in the MEA region this year, achieving a score of 89.1 out of 100 and an AAA rating. It was also ranked in the top three telecoms brands globally according to the 2023 Brand Finance Global 500 report.Embracing digital experiences and cutting-edge solutions, etisalat by e& teamed up with Samsung to extend the existing partnership beyond smart devices and collaborated with Huawei to successfully deploy and test the 5G Portable Private Network MEC (Multi-access Edge Computing) by e& also announced the implementation of the first 5G SatComs in the region with the EUTELSAT QUANTUM satellite solution to extend 5G network capabilities on a software-defined satellite and to meet future applications that require higher throughput.To provide the best innovative solutions, etisalat by e& opened a new Mobile Security Operation Centre (MSOC) in collaboration with the UAE Cybersecurity Council to provide business customers with real-time protection services to safeguard mobile phones from malicious attacks. etisalat by e& also deployed the private Microsoft Azure Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC) solution for enterprises as one of the first operators in the MENA region.e& internationale& international continued to drive its portfolio of telecom and digital assets while focusing on higher resilience in a challenging macro-economic environment. This included an acute focus on adapting existing business parameters to new realities, as well as, focusing on diversification of the product portfolio in order to generate new digital revenue streams, and maintaining leadership in customer experience.e& international OpCos continued to relentlessly improve their customer experience and most achieved number one position in their markets in the quarter. It also launched the ‘e& partner networks’ to support the growth of global telecom operators, offering access to market best practices, cutting-edge services, and the benefits of e&'s scale to telecom operators around the world.Tunisie Telecom became the first company to join the ‘e& partner network’ programme, supporting the future growth of the Tunisian national by e& in Egypt partnered with the Sovereign Fund of Egypt (TSFE) to launch a new fintech company, ‘Erada Microfinance’ with the aim of enabling a wide range of financial services for micro and small enterprises. In line with e&’s aim to enable a greener future, it deployed a Smart Connected Site solution, which will allow e&’s subsidiary in Egypt to reduce fuel costs and CO2 emissions by up to 40 per cent as well as decrease reliance on fossil fuels.PTCL and Vodafone have initiated a strategic collaboration to develop and deliver a full suite of end-to-end IoT services aimed towards accelerating enterprise digital enablement and improving the adoption of connected services in Pakistan.e& lifee& life made more innovative solutions and services available to its customers to help them in their daily lives. Its fintech arm and financial Super App e& money partnered with Mastercard to enable payments worldwide via an exclusive prepaid card, offering the flexibility and convenience of using both virtual and physical cards, and becoming the first issuer supported by a telecom operator in the UAE.evision, the media and entertainment arm of e&, has launched the 24/7 GolfLife channel to broadcast live golf in the region and has acquired exclusive MENA rights to the PGA TOUR, the DP World Tour, the Ryder Cup, the Presidents Cup, and cricket's most anticipated event, the TATA Indian Premier League 2023. evision successfully launched OTT platforms in Pakistan with SHOQ TV for PTCL and TWIST TV for Etisalat Egypt by e&. evision also secured a strategic agreement for StarzPlay and e& OpCos with WATCH IT, a leading video-on-demand for Arabic content.e& enterpriseLeading the digital transformation journey across the business sector, e& enterprise has achieved remarkable milestones by going the extra mile to deliver the best technologies that empower businesses across the region.The company has launched its Sustainability As-a-Service offering to help businesses in their sustainability journey by partnering with Microsoft to implement the Microsoft Sustainability Manager as a key component of the proposition.Help AG, the cybersecurity arm of e& enterprise, launched its new SaaS platform UNIFY to integrate with the ever-evolving cybersecurity technology landscape and deliver a seamless, unified customer experience.e& enterprise IoT & AI joined hands with Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) with an aim to explore the opportunity to develop a commercial model to take MBRSC’s models and predictions to the market also enabling e& enterprise to leverage the space centre's expertise in AI and predictive models, while the Centre will benefit from the former’s resources and capabilities. e& capitalThe tech investment arm of e& led a pre-series C round raising $10 million for almentor, a leading online video learning platform in Arabic. The proceeds will be used to accelerate almentor’s growth towards its goal of serving ten million learners in the MENA region and use the funds to increase its investment in the B2C segment while expanding into Saudi Arabia.

XP Music futures and Youtube collaborate to support Saudi’s music industry

Dubai : XP Music Futures, one of MDLBEAST flagship events, the Saudi music entertainment company, and YouTube announced today their partnership in support of Saudi Arabia’s music industry and emerging artists from the Middle East.The partnership will see YouTube sponsor the XPERFORM initiative, which aims to discover and nurture emerging musical talent in the Middle East. YouTube will also run a bootcamp to help artists reach a wider audience using YouTube’s multiple formats. The partnership comes as part of YouTube’s efforts to support Saudi Arabia’s music & entertainment industry and emerging artists. XP Music Futures, the 3-day annual conference on 7, 8 & 9 Dec, Riyadh KSA, launched XPERFORM in 2022, a music competition for vocalists. The competition allows applicants to share their vocal talent and the opportunity to potentially grow their music careers with MDLBEAST Records, the company’s record label arm which produces and distributes music by local, regional and international artists.YouTube offers a platform for emerging artists from across Saudi Arabia to share their vocal talents with the world using different formats, including long-form, Shorts or livestreams. Globally, YouTube surpassed 80 million Music & Premium subscribers including trailers and over 2 billion logged in viewers watch a music video each month on YouTube as of June 2020.YouTube’s multiple formats are also supporting musicians & musical artists. In January 2023, fan-created Shorts increased the average artist's audience of unique viewers by more than 80% globally. Meaning that fans on Shorts are nearly doubling an artist’s total reach, so artists can spend more time doing what they do best: making great music. YouTube also shared that in January 2023, artists active on Shorts saw more than 50% of their new channel subscribers coming directly from their Shorts posts on average."We are thrilled to partner with YouTube on XPERFORM this year, to discover and nurture the next generation of musical talent in the Middle East," said Nada Alhelabi, XP Music Futures Director."This initiative aligns with our mission to create opportunities for artists and showcase the vibrant music scene in the region."Commenting on the partnership, Liliana Abudalo, The MENA head of YouTube Music said “We’re excited about our partnership with XPERFORM and the opportunity to support the music industry in Saudi Arabia, whether labels, music artists or producers. We know that YouTube is where creators make the deepest connections with their audience at scale: creators including artists tell us that the relationships they build with their fans here are deeper, more lasting and more meaningful than anywhere else. We hope that through the multiple formats YouTube has to offer more music artists in the Kingdom can reach a wider audience”XPERFORM applications will open between April 30th and May 20th. The top 25 applicants will be invited for a live audition day on June 25th, at the Music Hub, a music educational center part of the Music Commission in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The selected contestants will be tasked to sing acapella or with an instrument in front of the 5 XPERFORM judges. The judges will then select the top 10 contestants, who will participate in an exclusive boot-camp that involves one-to-one coaching from YouTube on how to utilize and reach a wider audience using YouTube’s multiple formats including Shorts, livestream and long form content. The bootcamp will also help coach the artists on channel optimization to increase their reach on YouTube and how best to prepare for the next stage of the competition.The 10 finalists will then go through a popularity contest on YouTube Shorts where the audience will be able to vote for their favorite contestant via Shorts to help the judges decide on the top 5 contestants who will perform at XP Music Futures. This collaboration between XP Music Futures and YouTube will provide aspiring musicians with an opportunity to showcase their talent and connect with both a local and a global audience.The Saudi singer, Asayel was discovered through XPERFORM in its ‘22 edition and has signed with MDLBEAST Records.

Avaya enters next chapter of accelerated growth and innovation

Dubai: Avaya Holdings Corp. (“Avaya” or the “Company”), a global leader in customer experience solutions, today announced that it has successfully completed its financial restructuring and emerged from the Chapter 11 process with a growth-oriented capital structure that includes approximately $650 million in liquidity and a net leverage ratio of less than 1x. This milestone completes a critical step in the Company’s business transformation.Alan Masarek, Avaya’s Chief Executive Officer, said, “Today, we turn the page and enter a new future for Avaya, our people and our customers. We are excited to fully realize the hard work we’ve put into our business transformation. We are moving ahead with significant financial resources to accelerate investment in our portfolio as we continue delivering innovation without disruption to our customers. Our customers are at different stages of their cloud journey. They want to move at a pace that meets their business needs – and in a way that allows them to adopt advanced functionality without business disruption. Avaya’s new, streamlined product roadmap was intentionally designed to do just this, incorporating input from our customers about the capabilities most meaningful to them. At a time when innovation has never been more important to an organization’s success, we are proud to be an answer to our customers’ most pressing challenges.”Avaya is focused on building on its iconic brand, global customer footprint and massive partner ecosystem to deliver innovation without disruption on a global scale. The Company’s product innovation investments will continue to focus on the Avaya Experience Platform, which enables organizations to enhance their customer experience capabilities across myriad communications channels. Since the start of the year, the Company has rolled out more than 150 new product features and enhancements across its portfolio and launched Avaya Enterprise Cloud, a dedicated instance of Avaya’s core contact center, collaboration and unified communications software solutions for large enterprises. Avaya remains poised to capitalize on its product development momentum and address the current and future needs of its customers.Mr. Masarek continued, “We are also pleased to welcome a new Board of Directors with extensive industry and financial leadership experience that will help Avaya usher in a new era of growth and operational excellence. Our incoming Board members bring decades of relevant expertise, insights and skillsets to support Avaya as we invest in driving the next wave of innovation in enterprise communications and providing our customers and partners with true omnichannel customer experience solutions.”The Avaya Board of Directors now comprises nine directors, including:Alan Masarek is an industry innovator with over 30 years of experience leading communications, information technology and business services companies.Patrick Bartels, Managing Member of Redan Advisors, LLC, brings over 20 years of experience driving value for stakeholders of private and public companies through governance, incentive alignment, management evaluation, finance, capital markets and M&A.Patrick Dennis, Chief Executive Officer of ExtraHop, brings nearly 25 years of experience leading high-growth public and private companies in the software and information technology industries, including as CEO of Alvaria and Guidance Software and in leadership roles at EMC and Oracle.Robert Kalsow-Ramos, Partner in Private Equity at Apollo Global Management, Inc., is an experienced investment professional with deep expertise in the technology and services sectors and a successful track record of working with management teams to drive growth, innovation and stakeholder value creation.Marylou Maco, most recently Executive Vice President, Worldwide Sales and Field Operations at Genesys, brings three decades of industry experience and expertise in driving revenue and expanding market share in enterprise software, cloud services and network computing for global organizations.Aaron Miller, Partner in Private Equity at Apollo Global Management, Inc. and Head of Apollo Portfolio Performance Solutions, brings three decades of operational expertise driving successful company transformations across sectors.Donald E. Morgan, III CFA, Chief Investment Officer, Managing Partner and Portfolio Manager at Brigade Capital Management, LP, co-founded the firm in 2006 and has been instrumental in driving the firm’s growth, which has approximately $26 billion in assets under management.Tod Nielsen, most recently President and Chief Executive Officer of TalkWalker, is an industry veteran with decades of leadership experience connecting customers to SaaS and software platforms, including in executive roles at Salesforce, VMWare, Heroku, Oracle and Microsoft.Jacqueline Woods, Chief Marketing Officer at Teradata, is a technology and marketing executive with a strong track record of leading corporate transformations and growing successful businesses by enriching customer experiences.Mr. Masarek added, “I appreciate the strong support that our investors have demonstrated throughout this process, and I thank our customers, partners, team members and other stakeholders for their unwavering commitment and trust in Avaya.”AdvisorsKirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal counsel to Avaya, Evercore Group L.L.C. served as financial advisor and AlixPartners, LLP served as restructuring advisor.Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Centerview Partners LLC and Alvarez & Marsal LLP served as legal counsel, investment banker and financial advisor, respectively, to an ad hoc group of Avaya’s first lien lenders. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP served as legal counsel and FTI Consulting, Inc. served as financial advisor to an ad hoc group of Avaya’s first lien lenders. Debevoise & Plimpton LLP served as legal counsel to certain holders of Avaya’s secured exchangeable notes.

Big data is transforming hospitality for the better but human intervention

Dubai: Big data is having a transformative effect on hospitality across the Middle East and beyond. However, leading hoteliers speaking on the opening day of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2023, which will run at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) until Thursday 4 May, emphasised that human intervention remains essential if owners and operators wish to derive genuine value from the information being gathered.‘Hospitality Debate: What More Can Big Data Unlock?’ featured a range of expert insights into the power of data to improve guest experiences within the Middle East’s hospitality sector. Moderated by Paul Clifford, Group Editor – Hospitality & Design at ITP Media Group, the session saw Chris Hartley, CEO of Global Hotel Alliance; Tommy Lai, Chief Executive Officer at General Hotel Management Pte Ltd; Sandeep Walia, Chief Operations Officer – Middle East at Marriott; and Nicolas Huss, CEO of Hotelbeds, take to the ATM Global Stage to share their views.Commenting on advancements in the hospitality sector’s data capabilities over the past decade, General Hotel Management Pte Ltd’s Lai said: “It used to be you’d need a lot of people for analysis, but now, you can collect data and AI will decipher it for you. Big data and AI are evening the playing field between small groups and larger brands.”Speaking on the importance of interpretation, Marriott’s Walia said: “This technology can help guests to narrow down the hotels they would like to stay in,” noting that big data – when used in combination with AI – can help to identify the best options for customers. “But ultimately, guests have to connect with us to make the booking, so the balance between AI and the human touch is equally important and can’t be forgotten.”Reiterating the importance of quality over quantity, Global Hotel Alliance’s Hartley said: “Acquiring data is one thing but that isn’t ‘big data’. It’s what you do with the data that’s critical. We’ve known for years, for example, that credit card companies have a huge amount of data on spend – way beyond the hotel. This tells you a lot more about the customer than they might reveal to you during a one-off stay.”Hotelbeds’ Huss agreed but warned that an ethical approach is essential in order to realise the full potential of this information. “I think there are several rules,” he said. “The first is that everything has to be anonymous. The second is that we must ensure that the data we have adds value to the guest experience. And finally, we must acknowledge that the way we behave when we’re staying at a hotel doesn’t always reflect what we do when we leave that environment. We will only thrive if we have the best data and some form of human care.”Day one of ATM 2023 featured 20 sessions across the Global Stage, Travel Tech Stage and Sustainability Hub. Other highlights from the day included the Technology: The Enabler of Sustainable Travel session, the funding of sustainability and Enhancing the Customer Experience Through AI. The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance also touched on the importance of protecting the locations, livelihoods and communities in which hotels are based, in the Achieving Net Positive Hospitality session.The 30th edition of ATM is taking place as part of Arabian Travel Week (1-10 May 2023), a festival of events dedicated to enabling industry professionals from all over the world to collaborate and capitalise on market opportunities through exhibitions, conferences, breakfast briefings, awards, product launches and networking events.Those attending ATM 2023 in person can get involved in the conversation online by using the hashtag #ATMDubai when posting on social media channels.ATM 2023 is being held in conjunction with Dubai World Trade Centre, and its strategic partners include Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) as the Destination Partner, Emirates as the Official Airline Partner, IHG Hotels & Resorts as the Official Hotel Partner, and Al Rais Travel as the Official DMC Partner.The latest ATM news stories are available at

Botim becomes the world’s first “Ultra app”

Dubai: Astra Tech (Astra), the leading consumer technology holding group in MENA, has announced the launch of Botim 3.0, the world's first "Ultra app”. The term “Ultra App” has been coined to distinguish the platform from the crowded super app space. The platform aims to become an all-inclusive digital platform for its users by incubating fintech, e-commerce, GPT, and communications into a single user experience.Botim is a powerful digital tool meant to ease every user's life through access to services such as Botim Money for peer-to-peer transactions and international transfers, Botim Stores with access to 100,000+ stores including, and advanced video services such as tutoring and telemedicine later this year. Botim 3.0 is available to users around the world providing the world’s only seamless and open access to communicate and transact to and from the MENA region.The Ultra platform differs from super platforms in that it is built on top of a more frequently used case, communication, which eliminates the need for users to learn new behaviors to adapt to the platform. Through communication, many other services are enabled, leading to very high adoption rates from users.Abdallah Abu Sheikh, Co-Founder and CEO of Astra Tech, Botim’s parent company, stated: “The app space has become overcrowded over the past few years, with many platforms that are now causing a serious case of app noise and fatigue to users. We believe that a chat-based approach to offer all our services, on top of BOTIM, will provide users of all backgrounds and demographics with a single access point to the services they need, making our services inclusive and scalable.”BOTIM launched its first fintech service and the world's first in-chat international money transfer a few weeks ago with tremendous success in the UAE, India, and the Philippines, changing the remittance landscape regionally and showcasing the power of the Ultra platform. With millions of users now able to transfer money easily and securely, BOTIM is revolutionizing how people manage their finances. BOTIM is now expanding its financial services through its sister company, PayBy, to offer a fully integrated wallet that includes peer-to-peer, payments, and personal financial solutions. With licenses from the Central Bank-UAE and the largest user base in the region, BOTIM is cementing its position as a leading financial technology platform.BOTIM continues to demonstrate its innovative approach and establish itself as a top technology player by introducing the world's first executional Arabic GPT. This groundbreaking system will enable users to easily execute a wide range of tasks within the Botim ecosystem, including booking airline tickets, ordering coffee, initiating international money transfers, scheduling tutoring sessions, sending meeting invites, and more. With a global user base of over 150 million, BOTIM's executional Arabic GPT will redefine how people access and use digital services.Astra Tech holds the position of being the region's largest platform by number of users and amount of transactions. Its unrivaled technical capabilities are a direct result of its strategic acquisitions of some of the region's most important tech, communications, and e-commerce companies. The company continues to launch new innovative and cutting-edge solutions in its ambition to consolidate the consumer space under one platform.

Cultos Global launches Web3 rewards platform

Dubai: Cultos Global Inc (Est. with HQ in Dubai) has been established to scale up the global operations for its web3 rewards platform, where customers can launch branded tokens to incentivize their customers, fans or followers to drive various actions. Cultos provides custodial wallets, NFT minting and liquidity off-ramps for branded tokens through API or e-commerce integrations.Cultos cuts across segments and works with partners and businesses in Retail, Automotive, and Hospitality segments to support business growth objectives from customer acquisition, engagement and retention, thus enabling the full end to end customer journey. Mr Pavan Govindan - currently an Advisor at Cultos US Inc will take over as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Cultos Global Inc. Pavan brings 15+ years of experience and has been a Product Leader in his previous roles working in Bosch, Suzuki Digital and running different successful entrepreneurial ventures. Joining him in the leadership of Cultos Global Inc. is Mr Adib Samara who will assume the role of Chief Business & Marketing Officer (CBO and CMO). Adib has supported the growth of several notable UAE startups such as Swapp, SugarMoo Desserts and Laundrybox. Prior to that, he was the CMO at Sweetheart Kitchen, a subsidiary of Delivery Hero, and the Director of Business Development & Head of Partnerships at Careem, a UAE-based Startup that sold to Uber for 3.1 Billion USD. He has been a mentor at Techstars and is currently a consultant for Alpha Wave Incubation (AWI), a fund under Abu Dhabi’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, ADQ. Completing the leadership team and the Board will be Mr Andrew Yang, the Founder & CEO  of Cultos Inc US, recognized for being one of Forbes 30 under 30

Arab Advisors Group to host its regional 5G summit

Amman: Gearing up for its upcoming regional summit, Arab Advisors Group, a leading market research and consulting firm in the MENA region, is announcing four main tracks that are designed to guide the participants; from thought leaders to C-level executives and directors, to stakeholders, towards the summit’s foresight.Scheduled to take place on June 6, 2023, Arab Advisors Group has selected for its one-day summit four main tracks that are considered a common vision for the participating stakeholders. The tracks include 5G for a Better Future, 5G Challenges and Opportunities, The Business Case for 5G, and 5G and beyond. These tracks will explore various sub-topics, such as transitioning to 5G, innovation in the 5G era, technology partners, and the creation of a viable 5G ecosystem."We look forward to bring together industry leaders and experts to discuss the future and promised potential of 5G," said Fayez Abu Awad, Arab Advisors Group’s Chief Advisor to the Board. "5G technology is unlocking novel opportunities for industrial applications, particularly in the areas of smart cities and IoT. With the combination of 5G, cloud, AI, and big data, we have a new spectrum of capabilities at our disposal. Cross-sector collaboration will be key to achieving a true digital paradigm shift. However, unprecedented challenges accompany this shift, particularly in the area of cybersecurity. Having said that, it is rather vital to prioritize cybersecurity from the outset and not just deploy first and protect later."The 5G Summit will feature keynote speeches, panel discussions, and networking opportunities. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage with leading experts in the telecommunication industry, share ideas, and network with peers.Arab Advisors Group's 5G Summit is a must-attend event for those looking to stay ahead of the curve in the rapidly evolving world of 5G and digitization.éant-opens-19th-uae-supermarket-in-jumeirah-golf-estates

Géant opens 19th UAE supermarket in Jumeirah Golf Estates

Dubai:  A new Géant supermarket, part of GMG, has just opened in the vibrant Jumeirah Golf Estates community solidifying the area as a residential hotspot and marking an impressive spurt for the popular chain.The 2100-square-foot store, located in the heart of the community in Fairway mall, is the first duplex Géant supermarket, spread across two floors promising the widest choice of products and a seamless shopping experience once again reiterating the brand’s promise of convenience and community-centric approach.From the open produce section that greets shoppers as they enter and includes an unrivalled selection of fruits and vegetables including many from local farms to the butchery and fishery department where you can get prime cuts of meat and sustainably sourced seafood, quality is a given at Géant.Discerning residents will appreciate the large selection of organic, plant-based foods and global foods, and a mix of day-to-day and non-essentials that can be found on the mezzanine floor.The store further welcomes shoppers with an inviting in-store seating area where customers can take a relaxing coffee break overlooking the green expanses the community is known for."An exciting residential and leisure destination like Jumeirah Golf Estates deserves a neighbourhood supermarket that ticks all the boxes. From the accent on fresh and sustainable produce to the abundance of choice and quality, our new supermarket is certain to become an integral part of the busy and active lifestyle of families and individuals who live and work in the vicinity," said Marc Laurent, President of Everyday Goods at GMG.Home delivery will also be available via local delivery platforms delivering the promise of a convenient grocery experience at your doorstep.

Live events agency Identity opens two UAE offices

Dubai: Identity, a global full-service events company with over 20 years of blue-chip experience, announced the expansion of its business to the Middle East with the opening of two new offices in the United Arab Emirates. Building on the successful delivery of some of the largest HMG-led events including the G7 Summit, COP26, and the NATO Summit, Identity is bringing production expertise coupled with innovative broadcast technology to deliver the world’s largest hybrid events to the Middle East.The UAE is a hub for major events, from corporate conferences to world-class sporting events, and this launch will position Identity to continue meeting the growing demand for top-tier event planning and management in the region.Michael Gietzen, CEO, Identity Group, said, “The region is rapidly becoming a global hub for entertainment, business, and sporting events, and the UAE is a natural home for Identity’s offices. The global events industry has witnessed a positive shift, particularly in the region, with the ushering in of COP28 ascending global conversations to new heights from the heart of the UAE. As we continue to drive influential events, the appetite for human experiences beyond the digital realm is needed more than ever to strengthen the fabric of communities and society. The UAE is the perfect hotspot for the Identity team and industry practitioners alike to propel in a fast-paced region like the Middle East.”Ryan Perkins, General Manager, Identity Middle East, said, “We are thrilled to announce Identity’s UAE offices, bringing us closer to our regional partners across the Middle East. This expansion is a testament to our commitment to delivering exceptional experiences for our clients. We look forward to leveraging our expertise in delivering live experiential events and pioneering the human experience, supporting the UAE’s burgeoning position as a safe, secure, and accessible hub for global gatherings and a top choice for international business, entertainment, and cultural events.”Identity is working on significant projects won in the region alongside public sector organisations, with exciting opportunities on the horizon.Following Identity’s success in the UK and Europe, the agency has now expanded into the UAE with offices in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Shaping its organisational structure in the UAE to create new market space, Identity harnesses a unique understanding of both clients and suppliers across the spectrum of the industry continuing to design a positive impact across its UAE business.

4th SAIA is shaking up UAE’s VC landscape

Dubai: The 4th Edition Sharjah Advanced Industry Accelerator (SAIA) is creating waves in the UAE’s venture capital (VC) landscape. This is reflected in the phenomenal figure of 3,536 applications it received from over 40 countries in just two months.The highest number of applications was from India, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Mexico, United Kingdom and France. Interestingly, there has been a significant increase in interest from women-led startups compared to last year. Another unique aspect is that there has been a rise in applications from sustainable tech startups.Mr. Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTIP, said: “We are thrilled by the unprecedented response to our Accelerator program from startups from different parts of the world. This is a reflection of the growing importance of the MENA region, and high ranking of the UAE when it comes to funding of startups due to progressive economic policies and supportive innovation ecosystems.“At SRTIP we are happy to play the role of providing the right environment and framework for startups to grow and scale. The SAIA program, now in its fourth year, is proud of the pivotal role it is playing in nurturing startups.”The unique Acceleration program will run from September to Nov 2023, closing with an Investor & Demo Day on Nov 27, running up to COP28 in Dubai, where some of the cohort startups will be able to showcase their innovations and leverage the many opportunities that COP presents. The final day for submitting applications is May 23.The strong response to SAIA 2023 comes at a time when the region is witnessing unprecedented flow of venture capital, promising a thriving future for startups.Total financing from venture capital funds in the Middle East surged 132 per cent to almost $2 billion last year, with the total number of deals up 5 per cent to 410, according to Magnitt.Startups in the MENA region raised $3.94 billion in 2022 across 795 deals, a rise of 24 per cent in investment value when compared to 2021. The UAE stood on top, fetching the most investments to the tune of $1.85 billion across 250 deals, a rise of 5 per cent in terms of investment value, the Magnitt report revealed.The UAE aims to become home to 20 unicorns – startups worth above $1 billion each -- by 2031, in its push to become a regional centre for innovation and entrepreneurship. Last year, the country launched the Entrepreneurial Nation initiative, which aims to offer support through a series of public-private partnerships that help entrepreneurs to set up operations in the Emirates, expand their businesses, export products and tap into online sales.Hosted by the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP), SAIA presents startups and innovative companies a gateway to funds, networking, expertise, resources, projects and a thriving ecosystem conducive to innovation.

Aurora Labs launches Aurora Cloud in the MENA region

Dubai:  Aurora Labs , a leading EVM compatible blockchain on NEAR Protocol, is proud to announce the official launch of its new product, Aurora Cloud in the MENA region.  The platform is designed to integrate blockchain technology to their business without friction or the need for expert teams, significant resources, or large investments in time. With Aurora Cloud, businesses can connect their existing products to their own blockchain, allowing for a seamless end user experience that still looks familiar to what their customers use every day.Aurora Cloud's Crypto Native teams offer expertise in blockchain technology and integration requirements, which helps businesses in the MENA region to operate with greater ease and efficiency. The platform's business model agnostic approach allows companies to expand and grow their revenues seamlessly without the need to implement any commercial changes across their organization.Aurora Cloud provides a number of unique features that are not available on other blockchains. The platform enables businesses to choose to operate on their own private blockchain, known as an Aurora Silo, implementing KYC/KYB access restrictions and dictating which apps and tokens are available to trade and use, allowing for a bespoke and tailored experience. The ability to control whether they or their customers are responsible for gas fees is another game-changing feature that provides total commercial flexibility and a strong incentive to both businesses and their consumers.Whilst Aurora Cloud is largely an industry agnostic solution that can provide blockchain benefits across a wide range of industries, we see significant benefits for Fintech companies, brokers, banks, investment funds, the energy sector, and those operating within the luxury goods and retail spaces."The launch of Aurora Cloud is an exciting moment for Aurora Labs and the wider blockchain industry. With our unique products and innovative approach, we are breaking down the technical barriers and increasing the transition of traditional businesses to the blockchain," said Alex Shevchenko the CEO of Aurora Labs. "We are confident that Aurora Cloud will position us at the forefront of this shift and provide the industry with a much wider pool of potential customers and partners."Aurora Cloud places a strong emphasis on security and privacy for its users. It employs all the security capabilities of the NEAR protocol and boasts a battle-hardened track record of successfully managing billions of dollars in user capital over the past two years.

Employees preparing for a tech-focused world: Pearson Skills Outlook

Dubai: Globally, workers are focused on developing their human skills, even as they see a future dominated by technology-driven work and automation, according to a new study from Pearson, the world’s leading learning company. For the latest edition of the Pearson Skills Outlook series, Pearson partnered with Google to examine how and why people across different regions are looking to upskill as they face a rapidly changing economy.Pearson Skills Outlook: Employee View, the survey of 4,000 workers, revealed that people are most interested in careers in the tech and business-related fields such as e-commerce, software services, data science, and financial services. However, they believe that they will need to focus on human skills to land these jobs or advance in their current role. They believe human skills – like problem solving, leadership, and teamwork – are the most attractive to employers now and in the future.According to the report, problem solving, decision-making, teamwork, and leadership are the key human skills that workers are actively prioritizing developing and maintaining to advance their careers. Looking to the future, most skills workers want to train for remain focused on human skills such as Leadership; Entrepreneurial skills and Project management [Tie], Problem solving, Language skills, Coding / Programming, Data processing, and Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning [Tie].The report also signals that in non-English speaking countries, learning English is emerging as a key skill for employees to advance in their careers, according to 85 percent of Indians and 77 percent of Brazilians.“This valuable new research shows that job seekers are prioritizing human skills at a time when machine learning and artificial intelligence are having an increasing influence on work,” said Mike Howells, president of Pearson Workforce Skills. “Human skills are proving critical to personal and organizational success, and workers are motivated to sharpen and develop those skills to stay competitive and advance their careers.”The study also found that the majority of workers (73 percent of Americans, 68 percent of British, 89 percent of Indians and 70 percent of Brazilians) also say they prefer to learn via their employer. And an even higher number expect their employer will increase or maintain learning and development opportunities.In a world where people are living and working longer, and having multiple careers, the Skills Outlook series provides guidance to employers, employees, and job seekers on where they should focus their training, education, and learning. While Pearson’s second Skills Outlook report, conducted in September 2022, examined skilling through an employees’ lens, the first study identified the most in-demand skills from an employer’s perspective.

Multiply Group Reports Net Profit Excluding Fair Value Gains

Dubai: Multiply Group, an Abu Dhabi-based investment holding company, reported a net profit excluding fair value gains (losses) of AED 266 million, a 241% growth compared to the same period last year. The Group generated AED 303 million of dividends from its public market portfolio.Notably, revenue from its operating business reached AED 269 million during Q1, an 11.6% growth year-on-year with over 50% gross margin. This reflects the Group’s continued focus on building its verticals.Fair Value Losses of AED 265 million were incurred in Q1. It is imperative to note that these fair value changes are largely unrealised, and the short-term movements do not impact the Group’s long-term view of these assets. From a total invested amount of AED 12.6 billion, the Group’s current public market portfolio stands at over AED 33 billion, a 166% appreciation. Multiply Group’s investment portfolio is a key part of its asset base, and it has been an important growth driver.Multiply Group sees more value accretive acquisition opportunities emerge globally across its operating verticals and investment arm. The Group has a strong cash flow position with over AED 1.2 billion, very healthy debt to equity and debt to assets parameters, and access to over AED 6 billion in financing capacity. In parallel, across operating businesses several measures including tech infusion, bolt-on acquisitions are being lined-up to enhance organic growth. Multiply Group is well-positioned and focused on generating a more robust and sustainable EPS growth.Q1 2023 highlightsEmirates Driving Company launched the first test of Auve Tech’s autonomous vehicles in the Middle East, which will significantly strengthen and improve Abu Dhabi’s mobility sector. The new partnership symbolises EDC’s growing focus on smart mobility systems and its contribution to making Abu Dhabi a smarter, safer and more sustainable city. EDC also held its second engaging edition of the ‘EDC - Innovation Lab' with a selected group of external experts, partners and the company’s professionals to discuss various topics about the future of mobility under the theme of ‘Future Mobility: Where To’.Omorfia Group, which comprises personal care and beauty companies, expanded its Bedashing Beauty Lounge brand reaching 23 locations with the opening of two new branches, one in Al Taif entering Fujairah market and another one in Al Jada, its second branch in Sharjah. More recently, Omorfia Group opened the 9th branch of Jazz Lounge Spa in Port de la Mer, Dubai.International Energy Holding’s Kalyon Enerji commenced operations of the Kalyon Karap?nar Solar Plant after receiving the certificate of acceptance of the final section of the power plant, issued by the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MENR) in Turkey. Kalyon Enerji also received a development impact assessment from J.P. Morgan’s Development Finance Institution for the Kalyon Karap?nar Solar Power Plant and has set a series of development objectives that are expected to advance four of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): SDG #7: Affordable and Clean Energy, SDG #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG #13: Climate Action and SDG #15: Life on Land. The company also started development of 390 MW Solar - ANKA Project, 200 MW Wind - STORM Project, and 1 GW YEKA Wind Project (Kalyon shareholding 40%).Meanwhile, Viola Communications, a fully-integrated marketing and communications solutions provider successfully arranged and managed multiple big scale events, such as ADAA’s International Ethical Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) under the theme "Building the Ethical Foundations for Sustainability”, the launch of Sea La Vie - a luxurious residential project at Yas Bay that will be developed by Nine Yards, and the open-air art gallery, DIFC Sculpture Park, featuring immersive experiences and artworks from over 70 local and international artists at DIFC.Inclusion In IndicesThe quarter saw the Group being upgraded from Mid Cap Index to Large Cap Index in FTSE Global Equity Index Series (FTSE GEIS) in its March 2023 semi-annual review.

FINTECH announces Chanelle Tsoka joins as South Africa Country Director

Dubai: Global:, the rapidly expanding FinTech and financial services provider has today announced it is further expanding its team by putting Chanelle Tsoka in charge of its Africa expansion plans as she joins the international brokerages as the new South Africa Country Director.With over a decade of experience in the online trading and FinTech industry, Chanelle has held a range of positions including Head of Sales and Country Manager. Her diverse background has equipped her with a deep understanding of the industry, as well as the leadership skills required to drive growth and innovation.In her new role, Chanelle will be heading's regional operations and will be leading a team of business development managers, customer service representatives, and marketing specialists."We are excited about this new chapter for the Group. I cannot think of anyone more suitable than Chanelle to join us on this next step in our journey to become the leading, global online trading brokerage.” said Mohamad Ibrahim, Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at about the firm’s new hire.He continued: “Chanelle will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of our operations for this important part of the world, including developing and executing our strategic plan for South Africa - ensuring it is in line with XS Group’s overall objectives. She will be in charge of identifying new business opportunities, building relationships with local partners and stakeholders, as well as ensuring that’s products and services meet the needs of the local market."Chanelle Tsoka’s new South Africa Country Director commented on her joining the global FinTech firm:"I am delighted to be joining as the brokerages new South Africa Country Director. This is an exciting time for the country and the XS Group as South Africa is a large and growing market with the most developed economy on the African continent and a population of over 60 million people. As the new Country Director I will be ensuring that provides excellent customer service and trading support to our clients in South Africa and across the continent.”She continued: “I’m excited to be leading our local team and monitoring our local metrics to ensure we deliver our services effectively and efficiently to suit our growing regional client base."Chanelle Tsoka holds a degree in Investment Management from the University of Pretoria, Johannesburg and majored in accounting, economics, statistics, and investment management. Since then, she has been working within the FX industry and has specialized in South Africa’s market, refined her business development skillset, has become a sales specialist, and has gathered extensive experience in customer retention and team leadership.Throughout recent months showed its commitment to expanding its team on a global scale – the last two hires included adding industry veteran Andreea Ilies to the team as their new Global Head of Events and Despina Iapona who joined the marketing department as the new Head of PR and Branding.

Gensler survey shows new trends in the definition of an effective workplace

Dubai: Gensler, the world’s leading design and architecture firm, has conducted a survey of 2,000 office workers in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait to determine how Middle Eastern employees are adapting to the post-pandemic work environment. The survey reveals a shift in employees' mindsets regarding what constitutes an effective workplace.The Gensler Research Institute has conducted several global surveys in the past 20 months, using the insights to uncover strategic design solutions for our clients. From these surveys, several central themes have emerged. According to the latest data, employees are returning to the office seeking a conducive atmosphere to focus on their work. This marks a significant shift from the pandemic era when office workers cited working in-person with teams and colleagues as the most important reason to come into the office."We are seeing a trend where employees are seeking out the office environment to focus on their work that can be challenging to achieve at home," said Jose Faine, Principal and Design Director – Workplace Design of Gensler. "Employees reported that they need to be in the office significantly more than they currently are to maximize their productivity. This is a significant shift that highlights the importance of the workplace in providing the right conditions for optimal productivity."According to the survey, the office is more conducive for in-person collaboration, learning, and socializing, but less effective for working alone. Compared to pre-pandemic times, employees now spend less time working solo and more time working in-person with others, learning, and socializing. However, despite the significance of individual work to job performance, the effectiveness of spaces for individual and virtual work have declined. On average, workers report that 67% of the time spent working individually requires a high level of concentration.The data also shows that highly effective workplaces that allow for employees to have more choice in where they work within the office results in a more positive workplace experience, positively impacting individual, team, and organizational outcomes, leading to job satisfaction, career advancement, personal wellness, and a sense of community. This is compared to less effective workplaces where employees have limited options and are restricted to working in designated areas.In addition, the survey identified that the most innovative organizations provide a diverse range of work activities and spaces, unlike less innovative companies. These leading companies offer designated areas for focused work, collaboration, learning, socializing, and relaxation. Such a variety of spaces provides employees with greater autonomy and options, allowing them to select the workspace that best suits their current task."The survey highlights the importance of a flexible and diverse workplace environment that caters to the needs of the modern workforce," said Tim Martin, Principal and Managing Director of Gensler Middle East. "Companies need to focus on creating spaces that allow employees to choose where and how they work, and provide a range of spaces for different activities. This approach can lead to better outcomes for individuals, teams, and organizations."The survey's findings offer valuable insights for organizations aiming to establish a productive work environment, emphasizing the significance of a flexible, diverse, and efficient workplace that meets the demands of today's workforce. Through the creation of workspaces that offer employees a range of options and autonomy, organizations can attain improved outcomes for individuals, teams, and the organization as a whole, resulting in job satisfaction, career growth, personal well-being, and a sense of community.

Multiply group reports net profit excluding fair value gains

Dubai: Multiply Group, an Abu Dhabi-based investment holding company, reported a net profit excluding fair value gains (losses) of AED 266 million, a 241% growth compared to the same period last year. The Group generated AED 303 million of dividends from its public market portfolio.Notably, revenue from its operating business reached AED 269 million during Q1, an 11.6% growth year-on-year with over 50% gross margin. This reflects the Group’s continued focus on building its verticals.Fair Value Losses of AED 265 million were incurred in Q1. It is imperative to note that these fair value changes are largely unrealised, and the short-term movements do not impact the Group’s long-term view of these assets. From a total invested amount of AED 12.6 billion, the Group’s current public market portfolio stands at over AED 33 billion, a 166% appreciation. Multiply Group’s investment portfolio is a key part of its asset base, and it has been an important growth driver.Multiply Group sees more value accretive acquisition opportunities emerge globally across its operating verticals and investment arm. The Group has a strong cash flow position with over AED 1.2 billion, very healthy debt to equity and debt to assets parameters, and access to over AED 6 billion in financing capacity. In parallel, across operating businesses several measures including tech infusion, bolt-on acquisitions are being lined-up to enhance organic growth. Multiply Group is well-positioned and focused on generating a more robust and sustainable EPS growth.Q1 2023 highlightsEmirates Driving Company launched the first test of Auve Tech’s autonomous vehicles in the Middle East, which will significantly strengthen and improve Abu Dhabi’s mobility sector. The new partnership symbolises EDC’s growing focus on smart mobility systems and its contribution to making Abu Dhabi a smarter, safer and more sustainable city. EDC also held its second engaging edition of the ‘EDC - Innovation Lab' with a selected group of external experts, partners and the company’s professionals to discuss various topics about the future of mobility under the theme of ‘Future Mobility: Where To’.Omorfia Group, which comprises personal care and beauty companies, expanded its Bedashing Beauty Lounge brand reaching 23 locations with the opening of two new branches, one in Al Taif entering Fujairah market and another one in Al Jada, its second branch in Sharjah. More recently, Omorfia Group opened the 9th branch of Jazz Lounge Spa in Port de la Mer, Dubai.International Energy Holding’s Kalyon Enerji commenced operations of the Kalyon Karap?nar Solar Plant after receiving the certificate of acceptance of the final section of the power plant, issued by the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MENR) in Turkey. Kalyon Enerji also received a development impact assessment from J.P. Morgan’s Development Finance Institution for the Kalyon Karap?nar Solar Power Plant and has set a series of development objectives that are expected to advance four of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): SDG #7: Affordable and Clean Energy, SDG #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG #13: Climate Action and SDG #15: Life on Land. The company also started development of 390 MW Solar - ANKA Project, 200 MW Wind - STORM Project, and 1 GW YEKA Wind Project (Kalyon shareholding 40%).Meanwhile, Viola Communications, a fully-integrated marketing and communications solutions provider successfully arranged and managed multiple big scale events, such as ADAA’s International Ethical Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) under the theme "Building the Ethical Foundations for Sustainability”, the launch of Sea La Vie - a luxurious residential project at Yas Bay that will be developed by Nine Yards, and the open-air art gallery, DIFC Sculpture Park, featuring immersive experiences and artworks from over 70 local and international artists at DIFC.Inclusion In IndicesThe quarter saw the Group being upgraded from Mid Cap Index to Large Cap Index in FTSE Global Equity Index Series (FTSE GEIS) in its March 2023 semi-annual review.

DC Aviation Al-Futtaim adds two new aircraft to its managed fleet

Dubai:  DC Aviation Al-Futtaim (DCAF), a leading business aviation services provider, has expanded its fleet under management with the addition of two aircraft – a Bombardier Global 6000 and Global 5000. DCAF will operate the new aircraft on behalf of the private owners. The addition of these aircraft brings DCAF’s total number of managed aircraft to 11, further reinforcing its position as one of the fastest-growing private and business jet operator in the Middle East.The management contracts will see DCAF provide full Flight Operational Aircraft Management services, Continuous Airworthiness Management Organization (CAMO), hangar parking and FBO handling at its facility at Al Maktoum International Airport, in addition to providing maintenance services for the two aircraft. Commenting on the new additions to the fleet, Holger Ostheimer, Managing Director of DCAF, said: “We have had a very strong start to the year with the addition of the Global 6000 and Global 5000 aircraft. The addition of these two exceptional business jets in addition to the Global 7500 earlier this year, in our 10th year of operation, reinforces our position as one of the leading operators in the Middle East. Asset owners continue to believe in our commitment to transparency, quality and delivery of service, as well as our unmatched expertise in aircraft management and we look forward to delivering on our promises.” DCAF’s core areas of business include Aircraft Management, Maintenance, FBO and Ground Handling and Business jet charter. For more information on DCAF’s hangar and services, please visit or call +971 4 870 1800.

The e-marketing of books provides a host of expanding opportunities

Dubai: During a session titled “Expanding Your Digital Footprint: How UK Booksellers Use Online Platforms to Grow Book Sales,” panellists discussed the importance of creating an online presence and expanding digital footprints to boost book sales. They also highlighted the importance of building a strong community of book lovers and using social media platforms effectively to connect with customers and promote books.The informative session featured Mark Thornton from “”, Sara Dennis from “Mostly Books” and “Borzoi Bookshop”, and Jo Coldwell from “Red Lion Books,” and was presented during the first day of the International Booksellers Conference, which is having its second edition at Sharjah Expo Centre, after a successful inaugural event last year.Connecting with the world and expanding the bookselling marketMark Thornton is the Bookshop Partnership Manager for, an ecommerce platform designed to help physical bookshops. With over 550 independent bookshops on the platform, Thornton is responsible for supporting and promoting them, including running online events to enhance booksellers' sales and digital skills.Thornton revealed one of the ways their platform supports the industry saying, “ gives 10% of our sales through non-booksellers to a dedicated ‘shared pool’ which ultimately goes back to independent booksellers, and all sales on the platform are carbon neutral, meeting our sustainable goals.” The platform has won several awards, including Best for the World as a certified B corporation. In the US, the platform has helped independent booksellers earn over $25 million, and in the UK, over £2.8 million.The platform is designed to meet the challenge of the long-term trend in online purchases, with 35% of online purchases starting on Google, 25-35% of sales generated through emails and newsletters, and 49% of purchases produced through social media. Advising businesses entering the online world, Thornton stated, "Be authentic and use original content, be sustainable and offer multiple buying options, and be flexible.”Connecting with your passion through the power of communityJo Coldwell, who manages the day-to-day running of the award-winning Red Lion Books, discussed the importance of book clubs and fostering a love of reading within the community. She believes that booksellers should continually adapt in their practices but not forget the reasons they got into the industry.Expanding on this, Coldwell stated, "As booksellers, we need to make decisions about our businesses and practices on a daily basis to keep ahead of an ever-changing world. Having a strong digital footprint ironically gives me the resources and energy to focus on what I truly love, connecting directly with people and providing them with quality reading material."Create a distinctive customer experience for your customersSara Dennis, the owner of two award-winning independent bookshops "Mostly Books" and "Borzoi Bookshop," stressed the significance of creating a distinctive customer experience and building strong relationships with customers. According to her, "Each individual bookshop has its unique selling points, atmosphere, and communities." She also acknowledged the importance of social media and its benefits in reaching new customers and showcasing the personality of the shop. However, she believes that the best way to connect with customers is still through in-person interactions at the physical store.In response to the pandemic, Sara Dennis emphasised the significance of community support for local bookstores. While online sales have increased, she still observed the strength of the local bookstore community, where customers chose to buy from independent bookstores instead of cheaper online alternatives. She also highlighted their online book club as a means of strengthening their community and providing another interface for customers.The International Booksellers Conference is an impactful initiative by the Sharjah Book Authority and aims to promote and support the book industry in the region by bringing together leading professionals and publishing houses from around the world to share their expertise and knowledge. The conference runs from May 1st to May 2nd at the Expo Centre Sharjah and has already proven to be of great value to all in attendance.

Mirchi launches world’s first AI presenter

Dubai: Mirchi, the UAE-based radio station, is breaking new ground with what it claims to be the world’s first AI presenter on a commercial radio station. AIRAH (Artificial Intelligence Radio Host), the station's latest addition, is set to revolutionize the way we listen to radio. AIRAH is a text-to-speech AI presenter based on voice cloning technology powered by Deepsync Technologies. The station has already launched a show called "Mirchi on AI," hosted by AIRAH, which covers topics related to technology and social media.The station's content director, Preeti Phalke, spoke about how radio has evolved over the years, providing entertainment in all formats across languages. With the addition of AIRAH, the station is taking another leap forward in the entertainment industry.AIRAH's special programming show will be available for three months, during which the station plans to explore partnerships with brands to "conceptualize something unique." However, the station has made it clear that AI will not be playing or selecting music to play on air, as the station pre-selects the music that is played.Brand manager Trena Doris said that AIRAH is not meant to replace traditional radio hosts, and nothing can replace the live and real-time interactions that radio hosts share with their listeners.The UAE has been at the forefront of many world-first innovations, and Mirchi's AI presenter is just another example of the region's commitment to future-ready technologies. The station's AI presenter is sure to attract attention and interest from radio enthusiasts worldwide, and we can't wait to see what the future holds for AIRAH and Mirchi.

Dubai witnesses surge in e-commerce market

Dubai: Tradeling, the largest business-to-business (B2B) marketplace in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), has witnessed a strong surge in the region’s e-commerce sector as multiple reports have cited an expected consistent growth for the industry in both Dubai and the MENA region.According to a recent interview with Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah, President and CEO of Dubai Chambers, Dubai has witnessed a recent surge in the e-commerce market due to several factors, including a 97% year-on-year growth for the number of international visitors, which reached 14.36 million in 2022 in comparison with the previous year (2021). This is in large part due to the resilience of the UAE government, who have reacted as well as anyone to the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and was able to re-open the market to everyone under the right safety measures. Another strong reason is the evolution of retail and e-commerce as Dubai has seen an entry into the metaverse, with stores and malls opening in the Web3 space. Retail outlets have been able to adjust very smoothly and effectively in bridging the gap between the digital and actual world with all the advanced technology provided to them, and UAE residents are able to take advantage of the opportunity and incorporate it as part of their daily lives. This trend is continuously becoming the new norm for shoppers in using the internet as their main platform for the majority of their purchases.The sector has also reached a high-growth era for the entire MENA region, with significant progress in sales, logistics, and payments, nearly reaching $37 billion in 2022, according to a report by EZDubai, with the expectation to reach almost $57 billion by 2026 at a compound annual growth rate of 11%. This is in large part due to increasing internet and mobile penetration, rising consumer demand for convenience and value, as well as the emergence of innovative business models.Marius Ciavola, CEO of Tradeling commented on this: “The region’s focus on innovation, while embracing advancements in technology and adopting a digital-first approach has fuelled the growth of the e-commerce sector in the region. This is spearheaded by Dubai which is always looking to maximize all opportunities and unlock its full potential across all industries, with e-commerce being one of the main growth pillars. The UAE has always been a leader in accepting and utilising technology to its full advantage and the first step to this was digitalising its economy in 2013, resulting in a continuous increase in the e-c0mmerce sector, as the majority of the population has adopted the idea of a cashless society with all transactions implemented more efficiently without the requirement of a physical presence. The sector has been able to grow exponentially during and after the pandemic,  and continue to push on this strong momentum with additional support by the rising demand for online shopping and steady investment in the sector’s infrastructure.”As the MENA’s dominant B2B marketplace, Tradeling is playing an instrumental role in the UAE’s e-commerce rise. The company has grown rapidly since its inception three years ago with a wide selection of more than 1.7 million unique products across 14 categories and more than 200,000 registered buyers and sellers from 55 countries. Partnerships with local entities such as Wio Bank and Food Tech Valley, as well as global ones like Mastercard, are further solidifying Tradeling’s presence while simultaneously helping to prop up the country’s economy.

Cisco unveils new solution to detect advanced cyber threats & automate

Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO), the leader in enterprise networking and security, unveiled the latest progress towards its vision of the Cisco Security Cloud, a unified, AI-driven, cross-domain security platform. Cisco’s new XDR solution and the release of advanced features for Duo MFA will help organizations better protect the integrity of their entire IT ecosystem.Threat Detection and ResponseCisco’s XDR strategy converges its deep expertise and visibility across the network and endpoints into one ?turnkey, risk-based solution. Now in Beta with General Availability coming in July 2023, Cisco XDR simplifies investigating incidents and enables security operations centers (SOCs) to immediately remediate threats. The cloud-first solution applies analytics to prioritize detections and moves the focus from endless investigations to remediating the highest priority incidents with evidence-backed automation.Fady Younes, Cybersecurity Director, EMEA Service Providers and MEA, Cisco, said: “Across our region and beyond, the threat landscape is becoming more and more complex. To quickly identify and mitigate threats before they cause damage, security teams need to have a unified view of the entire attack surface. Cisco’s new XDR solution is responding exactly to that need. It is designed to help our customers simplify safeguarding IT environments and providing them with increased visibility across the network and endpoint. By leveraging automation, XDR empowers decisionmakers to respond to and remediate threats before any widespread impact.” While traditional Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) technology provides management for log-centric data and measures outcomes in days, Cisco XDR focuses on telemetry-centric data and delivers outcomes in minutes. It natively analyzes and correlates the six telemetry sources that Security Operations Center (SOC) operators say are critical for an XDR solution: endpoint, network, firewall, email, identity, and DNS. On the endpoint specifically, Cisco XDR leverages insight from 200 million endpoints with Cisco Secure Client, formerly AnyConnect, to provide process-level visibility of where the endpoint meets the network.In addition to Cisco’s native telemetry, Cisco XDR integrates with leading third-party vendors to share telemetry, increase interoperability, and deliver consistent outcomes regardless of vendor or technology. The initial set of out-of-the-box integrations at general availability include:Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR): CrowdStrike Falcon Insight XDR, Cybereason Endpoint Detection and Response, Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, Palo Alto Networks Cortex XDR, SentinelOne Singularity, Trend Micro Vision OneEmail Threat Defense: Microsoft Defender for Office, Proofpoint Email ProtectionNext-Generation Firewall (NGFW): Check Point Quantum, Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation FirewallNetwork Detection and Response (NDR): Darktrace DETECT™ and Darktrace RESPOND™, ExtraHop Reveal(x)Security Information and Event Management (SIEM): Microsoft SentinelZero Trust and Access ManagementAs attackers increasingly target gaps in weaker multi-factor authentication (MFA) implementations, Cisco is redefining what is essential for access management. Every business needs three key pillars for their access management strategy: enforcing strong authentication, verifying devices, and reducing the number of passwords in use. This is why, beginning on May 1st, Cisco is adding Trusted Endpoints to all its paid Duo Editions. Previously just available in Duo’s highest tier, Trusted Endpoints allows only registered or managed devices to access resources. By delivering Trusted Endpoints alongside Single Sign On, MFA, Passwordless, and Verified Push within the entry-level Duo Essentials edition, Cisco is delivering the most secure, cost-effective, and user-friendly access management solution on the market.

Elevatus appoints David Gurle to Board of Directors to drive growth & expansion

RIYADH: Elevatus, the global leader in AI-powered recruiting solutions, is pleased to announce the appointment of David Gurle to its Board of Directors. Gurle's extensive experience in leadership roles at companies such as Microsoft, ThomsonReuters, Skype and Symphony, coupled with his track record of scaling businesses at all growth stages, will be instrumental in guiding Elevatus through its next phase of growth.As a recognized leader in recruitment software, Elevatus has streamlined the hiring process for over 150 enterprise companies worldwide, attracting and hiring top talent more efficiently and cost-effectively. Gurle's appointment to the Board of Directors strengthens Elevatus' commitment to delivering world-class recruitment solutions across different industries. His strategic vision and expertise will be crucial in guiding Elevatus as it continues to revolutionize the recruitment landscape with the latest advancements in AI, science, and technology."Elevatus is thrilled to welcome David Gurle to our team as an advisor and board member," said Yara Burgan, CEO of Elevatus. "With decades of experience in the tech industry and a proven track record of success at some of the biggest names in the business, David brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. His dedication to innovation and invaluable guidance and insights on strategy, operations, and product development will be crucial as we continue our journey of growth, innovation, and scaling."Gurle expressed his excitement about joining the Elevatus family, stating, "I am honored to contribute to Elevatus' mission of changing the way companies hire top talent. Elevatus has built an impressive platform that is transforming the recruitment industry, and I am thrilled to be a part of this exciting journey. With their passion and dedication to their customers and team members, I am confident that we can take Elevatus to new heights."With recent industry accolades and a successful Series A funding round, Elevatus is well-positioned to build upon its success and continue to expand its reach. Gurle's appointment to the Board of Directors, combined with Elevatus' commitment to innovation and customer satisfaction, highlights the company's dedication to revolutionizing the recruitment industry.

ME's influencer marketing domain will hit $1.3-billion valuation in 2023

Dubai: YAAP, a new-age specialized content and influencer marketing company, has launched ‘The State of Influencer Marketing in UAE 2023’ report, in conjunction with the leading media and news outlet Khaleej Times. The comprehensive report, a first-of-its-kind deep dive into Middle East’s burgeoning influencer marketing domain, was launched at Khaleej Times’ marketing conclave, TRIBE - The CMO Connect, held on 27th April.Launching the report, Sadia Akhter, Partner at YAAP, said the ‘The State of Influencer Marketing in UAE 2023’ holds a mirror to the status quo of the domain in the region. “Influencer marketing has gained significant ground in the Middle East, particularly the UAE, necessitating marketers cut across sectoral lines to explore its viability for their businesses. At this juncture marked by heightened interest, lingering hesitancies, and a lack of clarity on potential ROI, our detailed report will be of great consequence, providing much-needed answers and little-known statistics,” Akhter opined. The report estimated the Middle East’s Influencer Marketing domain to reach a valuation of $1.3 billion by 2023 while underlining the supporting trends, technologies, and tailwinds. YAAP’s research methodology included attaining sector-wide perspectives of CMOs, marketing heads, and digital marketers from leading brands in the region. A few findings reinforced the UAE’s competitive edge globally in influencer marketing and the absorption of supporting technologies. A resounding 76.9% of marketers said that influencer marketing is a top priority for their brand after social media, revealing the growing traction of “influencing” within the branding and advertising industries. While overall influencer marketing budgets have grown considerably in 2023, about 76.5% of marketers have channelled the investments from TV, print, and outdoor to influencers, in a telling revelation about the domain’s prospects.  Interestingly, a whopping 79.3% of respondents felt mid-tier influencers are most important to deliver their brand message, with a majority also underscoring the prominence of socially conscious influencers. The technological imperative found emphasis as 71.8% of marketers expressed they measure the engagement of their influencer marketing campaigns. Broadly, the research hinted at the increasing role of AI in influencer marketing in 2023, with virtual or CGI influencers primed for an uptake. “Today, influencer marketing is like Facebook was in 2008 — at its nascency compared to its full potential, with early movers gaining a competitive edge and others experiencing a fear of missing out (FOMO). For the marketing industry, it is a tangential moment with influencers beginning to chart a new course. ‘The State of Influencer Marketing in UAE 2023’ report is a reliable guide for those aspiring to venture in that direction with greater clarity and actionable insights,” expressed Arshad Zaheer, Senior Partner at YAAP. YAAP was recently in the news following its strategic partnership with leading US-based influencer marketing agency Tagger Media. That development was preceded by the acquisition of Crayons Communications, a reputable advertising agency in the Middle East, and an impressive top-line growth of 97% and a 5X jump in profitability for FY21-22. YAAP’s portfolio includes esteemed clients such as Coca-Cola, Visit Dubai, Lufthansa, RuPay, American Express, Disney, Amazon, and Square Enix.

Brill Collective's model connects freelance consultants, traditional agencies

Dubai: Designed to bridge the gap between freelance consultants and traditionally structured agencies within the marketing and communication industries, its unconventional model offers flexibility and scalability to both its clients and consultants.Established by former Head of PR at M&C Saatchi UAE, Amy Brill, The Brill Collective responds to each client request by curating a bespoke team of consultants based on their experience and specialities. From planners to publicists, content creators to copywriters, and everything in between, its army of consultants have been carefully vetted to combine best-in-class knowledge, reach and influence.As a full-service business, The Brill Collective manages clients end-to-end, from interpretation of briefs to delivery of exceptional output. In a similar way to traditionally structured agencies, it takes full responsibility for the work and provides the ease of working with a single entity, offering the best of both worlds.For freelancers within the marketing and communication industries, The Brill Collective provides exposure to a greater number of work opportunities, as well as a network for collaboration, without the bureaucracy they may be familiar with. There is no obligation on the consultants’ part, who each remain in total control of their time, earnings, and choice of projects.     Founder, Amy Brill, said, “This model takes everything I’ve loved and learnt from the agency world and matches it with the increasing number of incredibly talented consultants choosing to freelance. It is a new, agile way of servicing clients that’s balanced with valuing consultants as entrepreneurial business owners and recognising how the working world has, and will continue to, change.”The Brill Collective launches with over 40 consultants and foundation clients including Georgetown University, Dulsco Group and Cove Beach.Image by Stefan Schweihofer from Pixabay