UAE's startup funding show 'The Falcons' accepting applications from June 1st

Dubai:  Calling all aspiring entrepreneurs! 'The Falcons' launch event was held on 1st June at The Hilton, Al Habtoor City, Dubai. 'The Falcons,' UAE's highly anticipated startup funding show, is now open for applications. From 1st June onward, startups can seize the opportunity to secure on-the-spot investments and propel their business to new heights on this promising platform.Prashant Agarwal, Founder and CEO of HPPL, expressed his excitement about the show's launch and the opportunities it presents to UAE startups. "We are thrilled to bring this show to the forefront, offering startups a platform to gain visibility and branding opportunities. 'The Falcons' aims to foster a vibrant ecosystem for startups, and we look forward to supporting and nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs," he said.'The Falcons' will comprise eight to ten exciting episodes, showcasing a new group of startups competing for investments in each episode. Selected startups will have the unique opportunity to pitch their innovative business ideas directly to a distinguished panel of investors known as ‘The Falcons’. This direct interaction will provide invaluable feedback and potential on-the-spot investment decisions, propelling their ventures to new heights.Hosted by the dynamic Rannvijay Singha, an Indian actor, television personality, and VJ known for his contributions as a host, 'The Falcons' promises an engaging and insightful experience for both participants and viewers.Anjana Om Kashyap, an acclaimed Indian news anchor and Senior Executive Editor at Aaj Tak, was the launch event host on 1st June in Dubai. With her vast experience in journalism and her previous work with channels like Doordarshan, Zee News, and News 24, Anjana added her charisma and expertise to the mix."With 'The Falcons,' our primary objective is to create a win-win situation for both startups and investors,” said Abdul Majid Khan, CEO & Managing Director of NKN Media.Startups seeking this exceptional investment opportunity are invited to submit their applications to 'The Falcons' starting from 1st June. Startups interested in applying for 'The Falcons' can begin the application process by clicking the 'Apply Now' button on the show's official website. The registration page will prompt applicants to provide basic information about themselves and their business. Additionally, startups will be required to submit a pitch deck or video showcasing their business idea and explaining why it holds the potential for success. The Falcons team will carefully review all submissions and select the most promising startups to participate in the show.

Sidrah 2.0 kicks off second edition of Young Women’s Leadership Program

OMAN:  Sidrah 2.0, the second edition of the youth leadership program for young Omani women announced the launch of the program. Following the resounding success of its inaugural in 2022, the program aims to cultivate and enhance the skills of Oman's talented youth.Co-designed and co-run by Lahunna Oman and Outward Bound Oman, Sidrah 2.0 brings together a diverse group of young women aged 20-30 from across the Sultanate, that is all inclusive for students, fresh graduates, jobseekers, and young professionals. The program is designed to equip participants with the confidence, resilience, and leadership qualities needed to become the next generation of transformational leaders. Through a combination of experiential learning, workshops, mentorship, community building and career coaching, Sidrah 2.0 aims to create a transformative learning experience that seeps into their hearts and ignites a life-long thirst for continuous learning.Over the 6-month course of the program, participants will engage in activities and workshops that foster self-awareness, self-reliance, perseverance, networking, and effective collaboration. This will instill a sense of higher purpose and service-oriented mindsets, enabling participants to make a positive impact in their communities and beyond.Sidrah 2.0 has been enhanced with a coaching initiative in partnership with the International Coaching Federation (ICF) – Oman Chapter. Participants will benefit from 3-6 months of group and one-to-one career coaching sessions, providing invaluable support and guidance as they navigate their personal and professional journeys.Shatha Salim Al Maskiry, Lahunna’s Founder, said: “After the success of our inaugural edition, we aim to offer our young Omani women a profound journey that inspires them to own and shape their own future. After setting such a wonderful precedent last year with our partner Outward Bound Oman, we have expanded the program’s scope to allow us to properly invest in the next generation of leaders who will carry the torch of progress and play a vibrant role in serving the national priorities of Oman's Vision 2040.” She added, “Bringing onboard ICF coaches is a crucial step to serve as guiding lights by providing the participants with invaluable support to illuminate their path and unlock their true potential as they embark on a lifelong impactful experience.”Sidrah 2.0 incorporates two phases. Phase I takes the form of an 11-day experiential learning and values-based leadership workshops at Outward Bound Oman Jabal Akhdar Training centre, where participants engage in interactive sessions, simulations, roleplays and team-building activities to develop their leadership skills and discover a sense of purpose and pride in how they can positively contribute to their community. Phase II will compromise of an online module followed by 1:1 career coaching sessions with ICF coaches, to support their transition from education to the workforce, and equip them with the confidence needed to make informed personal and professional decisions to build successful lives.Mark Evans, Outward Bound Oman’s Executive Director, said, “The power of our partnership with Lahunna Oman shows that together we can create a legacy and Sidrah 2.0 aims to be a catalyst in the longer term that transforms ideas into action. We aspire to continuously carve an inspiring learning path for the youth to find their inner calling to build a brighter future for Oman.”Ali Al Lawati, SLB Managing Director for Oman, Pakistan & Yemen, said, “It is an honour to join Sidrah 2.0 as the Strategic Partner. We followed the first edition with great interest as we are firm believers in the power of investing in the young generation and in particular women. We are confident that through such programs, we are co-creating a brighter future for us all.”Sidrah was launched in Oman in June 2022 to create a safe space for young women to share their unique experiences and dissolve their self-limiting beliefs. By striking a balance between theoretical concepts and practical exercises, the program aims to equip them with future of work skills in problem-solving, change leadership, character development, and service learning, by reinforcing Omani values, social responsibility and citizenship.A number of partners are confirmed for Sidrah 2.0: SLB (Strategic Partner), Sohar Port & Freezone (Impact Partner), Oman Shell (Advocate Partner), and Al Wisal, Virgin Radio Oman and Merge 104.8 (Radio Partner).

Spheroid Universe Coin to be listed on MEXC Exchange

Dubai: Spheroid Universe, a futuristic Metaverse that augments the real world in every part of the Earth, is announcing that their token, SPH, will officially be listed on MEXC today, on June 5th.Founded in 2018, MEXC (also known as MEXC Global) is a rapidly-growing cryptocurrency exchange with more than 6 million users in over 200 countries, including the USA, UAE, Canada and Australia. MEXC is regularly featured as one the top exchanges globally for trading volume. The exchange offers one of the widest ranges of cryptocurrencies with over 1,500+ coins listed on the platform. It brings a wealth of experience listing top performing tokens, with a reach that only a handful of exchanges in Crypto have, helping Spheroid Universe go global.The move follows the company’s recent launch of ChatGPT-powered artificial intelligence (AI) Avatars that will inhabit the world around us via augmented reality (AR). This ground-breaking development will deliver breakthrough opportunities across numerous business platforms - from e-commerce and retail to advertising, sales, general customer, and consumer interactions and more.Commenting on the announcement, Andrey Almiashev, CEO, Spheroid Universe said: “Launching our token on MEXC will place SPH firmly on its trajectory towards growth as well as will bring the bandwidth that aligns with our aspirations for Spheroid Universe - putting Spheroid Universe as a leader in the metaverse projects, and the entire Extended and Augmented Reality industry.”Millions of technology enthusiasts' attention is directed towards Apple's conference today, Tuesday, with anticipation for their announcement of entirely new products related to virtual reality and augmented reality. On the other hand, Spheroid Universe aims to integrate its artificial intelligence (AI) Avatars solutions with the anticipated smart Apple glasses, which, alongside the AI avatar, will create an immersive experience on all levels.Spheroid Universe angles to be the battle-tested AR/XR platform across the entire landscape of web3, XR/VR and metaverse industries, ultimately helping to define the internet experience of the future.Brands and organizations that are looking to create an immersive digital experience will make Spheroid Universe the place where they can truly demonstrate innovative experiences.

Online floral marketplace Floranow acquires KSA’s Bloomax

Dubai:  Floranow, MENA’s leading online floral marketplace, announces its acquisition of Bloomax - the largest wholesale distributor of fresh-cut flowers in KSA, which is the GCC’s largest individual market.Floranow is acquiring 100% of Bloomax, with the transaction funded by a combination of debt and equity.The deal expands Floranow’s existing operational footprint in KSA, giving the Company a direct presence in nine KSA cities. It increases the number of companies in the KSA market buying on Floranow’s platform, to over 1,500 - and makes Floranow the largest importer/distributor of flowers in the country.Bloomax’s current chairman - Noushad Gafoor - will join Floranow’s executive team and remain in charge of KSA operations. A further strategic priority for Floranow is a greater role for KSA nationals and a specific focus on empowering KSA women.Floranow has a proven successful acquisition track record in KSA and the region. The Company’s strategy is to digitize the region’s traditional, inefficient floral market and today’s announcement complements the successful previous acquisition of KSA-based Astra Farms’ floral distribution business. The Astra Farms deal, which completed in 2021, has subsequently yielded strong organic growth and fully digitized revenue - while giving KSA retailers and wholesalers access to the largest and richest assortment of flowers and plants in one convenient marketplace.Floranow’s wider operational performance remains buoyant. To date, the Company has processed over 150,000 orders, has over 1,100 customers, and 100+ employees, which ideally positions Floranow for MENAT’s anticipated cut-flower market growth. MENAT’s current market size is $1.15 billion, with the KSA market set to grow at 6% CAGR.Charif Mzayek, Founder and CEO of Floranow, commented:“We are delighted to announce the acquisition of Bloomax. Our successful strategy remains digitizing the traditional flower market, to enable direct, transparent, and efficient transactions between sellers and buyers across the world. We like the KSA market a lot. It is the GCC’s largest, with exciting growth drivers, and one we have operated in successfully for several years now. We look forward to growing further there and - in tandem - prioritizing the career paths of KSA nationals, especially women.”Noushad Gafoor, Chairman of Bloomax, said:“We are equally delighted to complete this transaction and look forward to working with Floranow’s talented team to synergize our two companies, and enhance Saudi Arabia’s floral market. The combination of Bloomax’s existing footprint with Floranow’s transformative technologies is an exciting platform for growth, and will greatly improve the importer / distribution process. We are excited about our future together.”Founded in 2016, Floranow’s mission is to revolutionize the floral industry. Its business model combines a digital platform - ensuring smooth transactions between sellers and buyers - and a logistics stack moving products twice as fast as traditional channels, in an optimized cool chain solution.Floranow manages the supply chain from the farm to the florist, including all freight stages, customs clearance, quality control and last mile delivery - connecting growers to importers in over 20 markets.

Mindware partners with OneSpan to protect MEA organizations from digital fraud

DUBAI: Mindware, a leading value-added distributor (VAD) in the Middle East and Africa, announced today its partnership with OneSpan, the digital agreements security company. Under the agreement, Mindware will market and distribute OneSpan’s cutting-edge solutions, which encompass high-assurance identity verification, transaction signing, authentication, mobile security, streamlined e-signature workflows, and secure video collaboration tools for digital agreements and transactions.OneSpan’s mission is to accelerate customers’ digital revenue streams and operating efficiencies by enabling secure, compliant, and refreshingly easy digital agreement experiences. The company has over 30 years of experience working with the most security-conscious organizations in the world, helping them streamline and secure user experiences, which in turn allows them to drive growth, reduce risk, and unlock their business potential.Speaking about the partnership, Nicholas Argyrides, - Gulf at Mindware commented: “The pandemic has accelerated the need for digital business transactions. Along with this comes unprecedented digital challenges. OneSpan is a world leader in digital agreements security – a new type of security company built for the incoming Web3 era. OneSpan solutions protect enterprises and their customers throughout their online transactions and digital agreement processes. They provide security from the initial identity verification, all the way through storage, ensuring end-to-end protection. With cybercrime as rampant as it is today, we believe that this market will highly value the solution capabilities offered by OneSpan. As Mindware continues strengthening its security portfolio, this new partnership adds significant value to our offerings.”“We’re excited to be partnering with a leading distributor like Mindware in the Middle East and Africa. Together, we are serving a growing demand to provide secure, compliant, and frictionless customer-facing and revenue-generating business processes. This partnership will allow us to scale, and we look forward to growing together in the region,” concludes Mr. Jawad Toukna, Vice President of Sales & GM, EMEA at OneSpan.

VOX Furniture UAE expands to Dubai Festival Plaza, unveils VR experience

Dubai: VOX Furniture UAE, a member of the global brand VOX Capital Group operating in over 50 countries, has announced the opening of its first phygital store at Dubai Festival Plaza in Jebel Ali, part of Al Futtaim Malls. This expansion marks an exciting milestone for VOX Furniture UAE as it brings its exceptional furnishings and designs to the vibrant heart of Dubai, catering to the evolving needs of residents and visitors alike.With a rich history dating back to 1989, VOX has established itself as an innovative company in the furniture sector, renowned for its design thinking methodology. The brand's multidisciplinary teams, comprising designers, psychologists, ethnographers, sociologists, and end users, collaborate to create products that meet people's actual needs. VOX recognizes the profound impact of well-organized living spaces on individuals' lives and strives to offer interior designing solutions that evolve with changing times."We are thrilled to participate in the grand opening of the newest VOX store at Dubai Festival Plaza, made possible by our invaluable partners in Dubai," said Marcin Bara?ski, CEO of VOX Capital Group. "This momentous occasion fills us with immense joy and pride as we bring our vision of inspiring homes and spaces to the vibrant heart of Dubai. The new store represents a significant milestone in our journey, and we look forward to forging lasting connections with the community as we continue to redefine the art of furnishing."At the Dubai Festival Plaza store, VOX Furniture UAE introduces an immersive and innovative customer experience through cutting-edge technology. The store boasts the exclusive VOXBOX program, complemented by virtual reality (VR) technology, which empowers customers to embark on a personalized journey of home design like never before. Inspired by gaming technologies such as The Sims and Minecraft, VOXBOX allows customers to design their rooms in 3D and immerse themselves in a virtual environment to visualize their dream spaces."VOXBOX is a gamechanger in the furniture industry," said Marcin Bara?ski. "We understand that consumers now seek to actively participate in the creation of their homes. With VOXBOX, customers can comfortably design and configure their spaces from the convenience of their homes, using VR goggles to take a virtual walk through their designs. The platform aims to revolutionize the interior industry by providing a holistic customer experience that simplifies the selection process and promotes collaboration between customers, brands, and designers."In addition to the VR experience, VOXBOX also offers convenience and accessibility. The user-friendly platform is accessible online without the need for special software downloads, allowing users to quickly create visualizations and generate shopping lists. Customers can email their projects or visit the VOXBOX Studio in Dubai, where an interior designer is available to provide assistance and access to a comprehensive material library.VOXBOX Studio, previously introduced in Dubai, Mexico, and Madrid, offers limitless design possibilities in a smaller space, combining virtual and physical displays. This unique business model has been extensively tested in Poland and is now available in Dubai, marking another significant stride in making home design a creative and enjoyable experience for VOX Furniture UAE's customers.Customers visiting the new VOX Furniture UAE store at Dubai Festival Plaza, Jebel Ali can embark on an immersive journey of home design with the innovative VOXBOX platform.

iDreamSky explores potential collaborations with Oman's gaming payment landscape

DUBAI: iDreamSky, a leading China based gaming and digital entertainment company, is actively exploring avenues for potential partnerships in the MENA region and collaborations in Oman's gaming industry. As part of its ongoing commitment to innovation and user satisfaction, iDreamSky is keen to explore opportunities that will revolutionize the gaming payment landscape in Oman.While iDreamSky acknowledges the significance of forging strategic alliances to drive industry advancements. The company is engaging in serious exploratory discussions and evaluating potential synergies that may arise from various collaborations.iDreamSky's impressive track record of over 13 years in the gaming industry, combined with its commitment to developing top-quality games, makes it an ideal candidate for partnerships in the payment solutions domain. By exploring opportunities in Oman, iDreamSky aims to leverage its expertise to create a seamless and secure gaming payment platform that caters to the evolving needs of the next generation of gamers."We are excited to begin exploring the potential collaborations and opportunities in Oman's game payment landscape with Mamun. We see lots of similar pain points that the industry and players are suffering. Our discussions with Mamun have been very productive and I am looking forward to solidifying it further with Mamun as our main local partner as we secure more infrastructure partners within Oman" said Jeff Lyndon president and cofounder at iDreamSky. "By joining forces with like-minded entities, we are confident we can enhance the gaming experience for users and contribute to the advancement of the industry in Oman together with Mamun. “This cutting-edge platform aims to meet the surging demand from gamers, developers, and publishers in the region. By leveraging the expertise and resources of iDreamSky and Mamun, in conjunction with strategic partnerships with leading telcos, this joint initiative seeks to revolutionize the gaming payment landscape in Oman. The platform will offer a comprehensive suite of secure and seamless financial services tailored specifically for the gaming industry. Through this groundbreaking collaboration, iDreamSky and Mamun endeavor to enhance the gaming experience, foster innovation, and support the growth of Oman's gaming ecosystem and beyond."In the dynamic gaming payment ecosystem, we see significant challenges that hold immense potential for growth. Our unwavering commitment lies in positioning Oman at the forefront of this vertical, and Mamun's fintech infrastructure platform technology will serve as a crucial conduit to seize these opportunities. With iDreamSky's prominent operating position in Asia and global reach of game developers, they are the perfect partner. It's essential for the sector to recognize that payments transcend mere gateways; the future entails a comprehensive financial services experience, and fintechs are poised to deliver much more than vanilla payment services." said Mohammed Al Tamami, Co-Founder & Chief Commercial Officer at mamun.“We are thrilled to witness the collaboration between local Omani startup, Mamun, and renowned international game development player, iDreamsky, as they join forces to pave the way for a thriving future in game development and the digital economy in Oman. This partnership marks a significant milestone in fostering growth and innovation within the Omani gaming industry, showcasing the immense potential and opportunities that lie ahead” said His Excellency Dr Ali Shidhani, Undersecretary for Communications and Information Technology at the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology.iDreamSky and Mamun extend their heartfelt gratitude to the Ministry of Transport, Communications, and Information Technology in Oman for their unwavering commitment to fostering the growth of the gaming industry in the country. The Ministry's emphasis on developing and promoting this sector has created an environment conducive to innovation and collaboration. Additionally, iDreamSky and Mamun express their sincere appreciation to Invest Oman for their instrumental role in bringing the two parties together. Their facilitation and support have been invaluable in establishing the start of this strategic partnership, which aims to elevate Oman's gaming payment landscape to new heights. The combined efforts of the Ministry of Transport, Communications, and Information Technology, and Invest Oman are instrumental in positioning Oman as a prominent player in the gaming industry, driving economic growth, and attracting international investments.

West Indies, UAE start World Cup preparation with historic bilateral series

DUBAI: West Indies and the UAE will compete in a historic three-match ODI series in the UAE. This is the first time that the two sides will face each other in a bilateral series. All the matches will be played at Sharjah, with the first ODI on June 4, second ODI on June 6 and the third ODI on June 9. Both teams will be looking to get their combinations right ahead of the all-important ICC World Cup qualifiers that are scheduled to be held later in the month. Shai Hope will lead the West Indies squad, which also includes the likes of Roston Chase, Odean Smith and Keemo Paul. Former West Indies captains Carl Hooper and Floyd Reifer have been named as Assistant Coaches in the white ball teams to work alongside new Head Coach Daren Sammy. James Franklin, the former New Zealand allrounder is the third Assistant Coach.Speaking on his appointment, Hooper said, “When I was initially approached by Daren about the potential opportunity, I immediately confirmed my interest, as I really want to help with the challenge and make a meaningful impact. I firmly believe that it is time for West Indies Cricket to ascend, and I am confident in my ability, knowledge, and experience to aid in this endeavor.

Dish Catering and Foodie Brands announce new head office location

Dubai: United Arab Emirates Dish Catering and Foodie Brands, subsidiaries of Foodie Holdings Limited, announce the opening of their new head office location in Dubai, UAE. "The move represents a significant milestone in our company's growth and marks a new chapter in our commitment to serving our customers," said Cody Barrett, Vice President of Meal Plans & FMCG.Dish Catering and Foodie Brands KitchenWith a state-of-the-art tasting & test kitchen, the new office, located in Rawabeh Commercial Building, Al Quoz 1 (near Al Serkal Creative Zone), is designed to offer more convenience for their valued clients. It is situated near major transportation hubs alongside Sheikh Zayed Road, between Equity and On-passive metro stations."Our new office is a reflection of our continued dedication to providing the highest level of service to our customers," said Kelly Dyason, Partner and Managing Director of Dish Catering. “We’re excited about the possibilities it brings and look forward to growing our presence in the Middle East.”Dan Jimenez, Partner and VP of Catering said, “We are delighted to have our workforce housed under one roof. Together there's no stopping us to create even better catering and events experiences for our clients. We have grown over the years since we first joined Foodie Brands in late 2019, and this move signifies our scalable presence across the UAE."The new head office is an addition to the multiple existing kitchen and warehouse facilities of Foodie Brands and Dish, encompassing catering, meal plans, desserts & pastry production, and FMCG manufacturing. The management team is delighted to welcome clients and guests to visit and host their food tasting and events planning requirements at this new location.

Tech companies need to adopt a global approach to unlock the GCC digital economy

DUBAI: GCC countries are developing tech champions to accelerate the growth of their digital economies and establish the region as a significant player in the global tech industry. However, for some GCC tech companies, the path to success is challenged by hurdles in several areas– namely, innovation and talent. According to the latest report by Strategy& Middle East, part of the PwC network, entitled Think Globally to Succeed Locally, to overcome these fundamental obstacles to growth, tech firms need to think differently, evolve away from regional standards, and adopt a global approach.“We are seeing the regional tech sector become increasingly more advanced, with a swathe of new supportive regulatory regimes, policies, and initiatives to encourage private sector innovation. However these aren’t enough. GCC tech firms need to change the way they think and operate” said Diana Dib, Partner with Strategy& Middle East.“Most tech firms in the GCC will recognize that talent and innovation are two of the greatest hurdles,” said Chady Smayra, partner with Strategy& Middle East. “But they can attract talent through structural changes like long-term equity incentives and hybrid working models. They also need to effectively source and internalize product and services IP. These are integral to tech companies’ ability to innovate and require a rethink of their corporate structures”, he added.Finding and hiring tech talent, such as machine learning engineers, data solutions and supply chain architects, to work for GCC companies is proving difficult. Yet there are opportunities on the horizon. The slew of layoffs from major global tech companies presents an occasion for GCC tech companies to entice tech workers to the region.When it comes to innovation, GCC companies are slow to develop proprietary digital solutions and intellectual property (IP). Their P&Ls are still over reliant on traditional IT and white-labeling solutions sales. A looming bear market, however, means the chance to acquire targets amid lower valuations and unappealing initial public offering markets.When building their talent model, regional tech companies should adopt three global practices.First, they must follow in the footsteps of global tech players by offering equity-based long-term incentives and stock purchase programs tied to company performance.Second, organizations must satisfy changing employee expectations around where and how they want to work. For many, this means adopting a hybrid working model. Tech champions can do so while ensuring the business runs effectively, productively, and securely by, for instance, setting up satellite and regional offices.Third, companies should offer enticing career advancement and development opportunities. They can join forces to create clusters of innovation, enable intercompany mobility for talent, and use artificial-intelligence-based systems to match employees with internal roles that fit their interests and needs.For many tech companies, sourcing new intellectual property is a priority – and that can be done by tapping into innovation hubs, with the right combination of strategic investments, M&A, partnering, IP licensing and monetization deals.“Most tech firms in the GCC have an opportunity to accelerate their innovation capabilities by capitalizing on innovation hubs, centers of excellence, and digital labs,” said Fawaz BouAlwan, Principal with Strategy&.GCC tech firms can also establish corporate investment funds or corporate venture arms to help secure IP, attract talent, and gain exposure to new sectors.In parallel, these companies need to press ahead with an appropriate corporate structure and geographic footprint to enable their talent and innovation models.Aspiring GCC tech companies have an opportunity to reimagine how they do business by thinking differently, taking a global approach to talent and innovation. Success in these areas, alongside a solid corporate structure and location strategy, can enable these companies to grow into tech champions.

Wallan Group inks groundbreaking partnership with Renault Group

Riyadh: The Wallan Group, a dominant player in the Kingdom's automotive sector for more than 45 years, today announces an exciting new partnership with Renault Group. As of 1st June 2023, Wallan Group becomes the official distributor for Renault in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, marking a major step forward in the Kingdom's automotive industry.This strategic alliance brings together two industry powerhouses with a shared vision to offer the best in automotive excellence. Wallan Group continues to build on its strong reputation for forging global partnerships with top-tier manufacturers.Fahad Al-Wallan, Chairman of Wallan Group, said, "We are thrilled to join hands with Renault, a company known for its outstanding innovation, quality, and performance. This alliance allows us to extend our services to our Saudi customers, meeting their evolving needs and desires with world-class vehicles from Renault. This partnership also supports our goal to diversify and expand our business in Saudi Arabia.”Renault, a leading French automaker, boasts a rich history of groundbreaking vehicles and technological innovations, including the introduction of the first mass-produced electric vehicle in Europe. Renault's alignment with Wallan Group reinforces its commitment to satisfying the needs of the new generation of customers in the Kingdom.An analysis conducted by Wallan Group showed that Renault vehicles, known for their innovative features and reliability, align with the demands of Saudi consumers. This strong reputation and customer demand made Renault an ideal choice for the Wallan Group's new partnership.HIGHLIGHTAn analysis by Wallan Group revealed that Renault's innovative and reliable vehicles align with the needs and aspirations of Saudi consumers, solidifying the rationale behind this strategic partnership.“Our aim has always been to bring the best of the automotive world to the Kingdom,” Fahad Al-Wallan continued. “With Renault’s commitment to technological innovation and our proven experience in the local market, we are confident this partnership will offer a unique and enriched experience to Saudi customers."As part of the partnership, Wallan Group will be opening new Renault showrooms in Jeddah, Riyadh and Alkhobar, along with integrated service centers for after-sales services in these cities. More locations are planned to follow in line with the partners' commitment to enhancing accessibility and service quality for Renault customers in Saudi Arabia.Jerome Pannaud, Managing Director of Renault operations in Africa-Middle East and Asia Pacific region, commented, “We are delighted to partner with Wallan Group, whose market expertise and strong customer focus align perfectly with our brand. This partnership will provide an excellent platform for us to showcase Renault’s innovative line-up and engage with our valued customers in the Kingdom."

Meta unveils next-gen VR headset Meta Quest 3

DUBAI: Meta has unveiled Meta Quest 3, the next-generation virtual and mixed reality headset. Set to launch later this year, Quest 3 promises a host of exciting advancements, including improved resolution, enhanced performance, breakthrough Meta Reality technology, and a sleeker, more comfortable design. The headset will be available in all countries where Meta Quest is currently supported starting this fall, with the 128GB SKU priced at $499.99 USD. Additional storage options will also be offered for users requiring extra space. Meta Connect, returning on September 27, will feature further announcements and details regarding Meta Quest 3.Quest 3 is a cutting-edge, wire-free, all-in-one headset that brings together the best of virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) experiences. Powered by Meta's Meta Reality technology, this device seamlessly blends the physical and virtual worlds, offering users a truly immersive and interactive experience. With the ability to intelligently understand and respond to objects in the user's physical space, Quest 3 enables natural and intuitive navigation, opening up limitless possibilities for exploration. Whether it's playing a virtual board game on a kitchen table, decorating a living room with virtual art, or engaging in fully immersive experiences, Quest 3 delivers unparalleled opportunities for users.The Meta Quest 3 headset boasts the highest resolution display and pancake optics, resulting in stunning visuals and an unparalleled level of detail. To power the additional pixels, Quest 3 is the first headset to feature a next-generation Snapdragon chipset developed in collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies. With more than twice the graphical performance of its predecessor, users can expect smoother gameplay and incredibly crisp visuals in immersive games.In addition to its technological advancements, Meta announced, Quest 3 has undergone a complete redesign for enhanced comfort and control. With a 40% slimmer optic profile compared to Quest 2, the headset offers a sleeker and more ergonomic form factor. The redesigned Touch Plus controllers provide a streamlined experience, while TruTouch haptics ensure users can feel the action like never before. Hand tracking is also supported out of the box, enabling users to interact with virtual objects using just their hands.Furthermore, Quest 3 is fully compatible with the existing Quest 2 catalogue of over 500 VR games, apps, and experiences, making it the headset with the world's best library of immersive content right from day one. To celebrate the launch of Quest 3, Meta is hosting the Meta Quest Gaming Showcase, where exciting new games and updates for the Quest Platform will be revealed, including a sneak peek at Quest 3's flagship adventure.While Quest 3 sets a new standard for mixed reality and immersive gaming, Meta recognizes the continued popularity and affordability of the Quest 2. Therefore, starting June 4, the price of Quest 2 will be reduced to $299.99 USD for the 128GB SKU and $349.99 USD for the 256GB SKU. Moreover, both Quest 2 and the forthcoming Quest Pro will receive a performance upgrade through an upcoming software update, improving CPU and GPU capabilities and enabling Dynamic Resolution Scaling for enhanced visual quality.

Major increase, integration of women in GCC workforce: Report

DUBAI: A new report from Bain & Company, a global consultancy, has revealed that while the GCC has seen never-before change in terms of women representation in the workforce, proactive and measurable gender equity still needs to be achieved.The Advancing Gender Equity in the Middle East Workforce report includes the results of a survey of 1,150 professional men and women and diagnostics of 25 of the largest GCC organizations, in addition to focus groups and interviews with 50 female leaders in the GCC.Regional data from the report shows that governments across the GCC have played a significant role in catalyzing gender equity across sectors. Qatar at 60% and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at 53%, continue to lead the region when it comes to females participating in the workforce. Saudi Arabia has seen the fastest pace of change, reaching 37% female participation in the first quarter of 2023, exceeding the country’s Vision 2030 targets more than seven years ahead of schedule.Despite these significant strides, the GCC still faces one of the largest gender gaps in the world, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index.The gap is most evident at the leadership level. For example, approximately 7% of board seats are held by women in the GCC, versus 20% globally.By taking a closer look at the underlying causes, Bain & Company’s research highlights that 70% of women mention gender bias and stereotypes as the primary challenge, along with inadequate hiring processes, lack of mentorship, training, and support for work-life balance. These challenges hinder women’s corporate leadership advancement in the region, and similar challenges are faced globally.Research shows that teams that are gender and geographically diverse make better business decisions 87% of the time and 70% of top performing teams in the GCC have a higher percentage of women.Anne-Laure Malauzat, Partner and Chief DEI officer at Bain & Company Middle East, said: “Women have been changing the face of the workforce in the GCC, with a growing number of organizations reaching the tipping point of 30% representation. The government push for gender equity has been a massive trigger of this change and more organizations have seen the clear benefits of gender diversity and added it to their agenda in the last 5 years as a result. What is inspiring is that several of these organizations are homegrown and pioneering gender equity practices and policies at a global level in a way that is uniquely reflective of the region’s cultural and societal context.”Bain & Company has developed an approach rooted in research and experience that helps organizations gain an understanding of their starting point and decide on the best path forward, in terms of practices. This approach encompasses five key pillars:Holistic gender equity strategy, vision, and leadership commitmentWorkplace culture, inclusion, and belongingTalent journeyCompensation and benefitsExternal engagement with customers, suppliers, the community plus governments, and clear measurable goals supported by practical organizational policies and programsBased on our extensive research on these practices, three key models emerge along different maturity stages of the gender equity journey:Tier 1: Emerging Adopters are organizations just starting their equity journeyTier 2: Determined Learners are businesses that are picking up on their journeyTier 3: Trailblazers are the earliest global pioneers in gender equity practicesBain’s analysis showed that 50% of GCC organizations fall into Tier 1, while 40% are Tier 2, and less than 10% demonstrate Tier 3 attributes.Karen Khalaf, Partner and Women@Bain lead at Bain & Company Middle East said: “Women can add significant value to the workplace, but there are still too few women reaching board and corporate leadership positions in the region. There are so many levers organizations can pull to begin or further their gender equity journey; and if all organizations play their part – and learn from each other – we can further build on the momentum of the region and close the gender gap.”

Hopscotch reaffirms its global reach with new Saudi office

Riyadh: HOPSCOTCH Groupe, a leading communications consulting group and a major player in Digital, Public Relations, Influence, and Events, expands its presence with the launch of a new office in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. To mark its Saudi debut, HOPSCOTCH Saudi, has taken part in Saudi Entertainment and Amusement (SEA) from May 28th to May 30th May.This strategic move reflects HOPSCOTCH’s ongoing growth and market influence, as well as its commitment to meeting the increasing demand for its high-quality services in Saudi Arabia, in support of Saudi Vision 2030. With this expansion, HOPSCOTCH’s integrated international network now spans 37 offices across 5 continents, positioning the company’s capacity to engage and support clients on a global scale.His Excellency the Ambassador of the Republic of France to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ludovic Pouille, graced the opening of Hopscotch Saudi office and expressed his warm welcome for the launch. He stated, “We are thrilled to witness the official launch of HOPSCOTCH Groupe, a leading French-based Global PR, in Saudi Arabia. We strongly believe that Hopscotch’s presence in the region will further strengthen the successful cooperation between France and Saudi Arabia, while actively supporting Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. The French-Saudi cooperation is diverse, offering great opportunities for French companies, especially in the areas of sustainable cities, energy, healthcare, education, digital economy, hospitality, and tourism sectors”.“The expansion of HOPSCOTCH is in line with our strategy of providing the most creative and innovative communications solutions. The opening of our Riyadh office represents a significant milestone for our Group as we continue to expand our network and influence in the region. As part of our commitment to support Vision 2030, we have been operating in the Middle East, collaborating with high-end clients in Saudi and the GCC on a number of projects.” states Frédéric Bedin, Managing Director and President of the Management Board of Hopscotch Groupe.As part of HOPSCOTCH’s operations in Saudi Arabia, the company has actively participated in the Saudi Entertainment and Amusement Expo (SEA). This global event brought together professionals from around the world in the fields of entertainment and attraction under one roof, creating a unique global experience for like-minded individuals.Pierrick Moizan, Hopscotch’s Middle East Director, expressed “The establishment of our new Riyadh office provides us with the opportunity to further support our clients in Saudi and the GCC, enabling their visibility and reputation through fresh, innovative, and tailored communication strategies. As we support our clients in their international growth, we had the pleasure of participating in the Saudi Entertainment and Amusement Expo (SEA). I greatly enjoyed contributing to various influential panels, sharing Hopscotch’s best practices and success stories with industry peers.”Marie-Laure Boulot de Vomecourt, has been appointed as Managing Director of Hopscotch Entertainment and Communication. Marie has over 20 years of experience in both France and Saudi Arabia.

e& Enterprise-Bespin Global JV to empower METAP with cloud services

Dubai: e& Enterprise has announced the successful formation of a joint venture (JV) with Bespin Global, known as "Bespin Global MEA." The JV officially commenced operations on May 25, 2023, offering public cloud managed and professional services in the Middle East, Turkey, Africa, and Pakistan (METAP) region.Under the terms of the agreement, e& Enterprise owns a majority stake of 65% in the joint venture, while Bespin Global holds a 35% ownership share. The formation of Bespin Global MEA marks an important milestone for both companies, solidifying their commitment to expanding their presence in the METAP market.In addition to the establishment of the JV, e& Enterprise has made a significant investment of USD 60 million in Bespin Global. This strategic investment has resulted in e& Enterprise acquiring a stake of approximately 10% in Bespin Global, strengthening the partnership between the two organisations.As of May 2023, the joint venture will be accounted for as a subsidiary of e& Enterprise. This integration allows for closer collaboration and synergy between e& Enterprise and Bespin Global, facilitating the delivery of enhanced cloud services and technology solutions to clients in the METAP region.With its expertise in cloud technology and digital transformation solutions, e& Enterprise is well-positioned to support the growth and development of Bespin Global MEA. The joint venture will leverage the combined strengths of both companies to provide comprehensive and tailored public cloud managed and professional services, catering to the unique requirements of businesses operating in the METAP region.By joining forces, e& Enterprise and Bespin Global aim to drive innovation, accelerate digital transformation, and empower organizations in the Middle East, Turkey, Africa, and Pakistan. The partnership reflects their shared vision of delivering exceptional cloud services and creating long-term value for customers across various industries.Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

Kaspersky study reveals UAE kids' digital interests

DUBAI: On International Children’s Day, a new Kaspersky Safe Kids study published on Kaspersky Daily reveals children’s digital interests & preferences. Over the last months, the three most popular apps on Android among children in the UAE were YouTube (37,8%), Chrome (14,2%) and WhatsApp (11,6%). On Windows, the most popular apps were Google Chrome (54,4%), Microsoft Edge (15,7%) and Zoom (7,8%).The new study covers the period from May 2022 to April 2023 and is based on anonymized data – search queries, apps most often used, and websites most visited. The data was voluntarily provided by Kaspersky Safe Kids users. Analyzing the data helped to understand children’s interests throughout the year.Globally on YouTube children most often searched for channels and bloggers that create entertainment content (for example, challenges or lifestyle clips; these amounted to 19% of all queries). Cartoons, TV shows and anime (17%) were the second most popular topic. The third place went to music videos (15.7%). Game bloggers accounted for 15,5% of the searches, and other game content for 10%.MrBeast and SSSniperWolf were the trendiest globally among bloggers and channels.Among cartoons, kids most frequently searched for Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir season 5, and MSA previously My Story Animated. Chainsaw Man, Demon Slayer, and One Piece became the leaders in the number of anime inquiries. And the most beloved films among children were Super Mario Bros. Movie, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Rock Dog 3: Battle the Beat.Baby Shark was the most often searched for song among children. In terms of musical preferences, Korean pop groups BLACKPINK and BTS, Puerto Rican artist Bad Bunny, and the rap genre in general were the leaders.

Mastercard, Dapi partnership for seamless A2A payments to UAE

Dubai: Dapi, a UAE-based fintech company, part of Hub71’s global tech ecosystem, is thrilled to announce a strategic partnership with global technology company Mastercard, aimed at introducing account-to-account (A2A) payments on Mastercard Payment Gateway Services (MPGS). The agreement was signed at Seamless Middle East, the largest event covering the changing landscape of digital commerce.This collaboration will harness Dapi's expertise in open banking and Mastercard's extensive payment options to provide businesses in the UAE with a secure and streamlined A2A payment solution within the MPGS ecosystem, addressing evolving consumer needs and enhancing the overall payment experience. The partnership was facilitated through Hub71, as part of its efforts to facilitate commercial and market opportunities between its corporate partners and its startups.Through this collaboration, both parties aim to create an ecosystem that fosters financial inclusion, while driving innovation and growth in the region's digital economy. This partnership promises to instantly elevate the payment experience for hundreds of thousands of merchants, redefining seamless financial transactions on an unprecedented scale.Mastercard and DAPI will soon announce the official launch date for the A2A payment solution."Today marks a new chapter in our journey to reshape the financial landscape," shared Ihsan Al Hayek, co-founder of Dapi. "This is a significant milestone for the open banking agenda and the regional payment landscape, and our strategic alliance with Mastercard fortifies our influence in the MENA region, driving financial inclusion and ensuring a sustainable and inclusive digital economy for all.”Commenting on the partnership, J.K. Khalil, Cluster General Manager, MENA East, Mastercard said: "Embedding Dapi's advanced open banking solution within MPGS forms an integral part of our strategic blueprint to enrich and expand the payment methods available to our customers. We envision a future where secure, efficient A2A payments transcend from being merely aspirational to everyday reality, providing seamless transaction experiences for our customers."Earlier last year, Dapi joined the inaugural cohort of the Mastercard Start Path Open Banking program as the first Open Banking player from the MENA region. While in the program, Dapi leveraged Mastercard’s open banking expertise and engaged with Mastercard’s ecosystem of banks, merchants, partners, and digital players across the globe to deliver enhanced open banking solutions to the region and beyond.Part of the Hub71 ecosystem since 2019, Dapi is backed by prestigious local and global venture capitalists, and has been serving a number of fintech companies and enterprises in the UAE and is steadily expanding its global network. This partnership with Mastercard is a significant step in Dapi’s global ambition, reinforcing the company's commitment to technological evolution in financial services.

Sharjah Media City and Smartt. Studio forge strategic partnership

Dubai: Sharjah Media City (Shams) and Smartt. Studio have joined forces in a strategic partnership to revolutionise and dominate the global e-commerce landscape in the MENA region. This groundbreaking collaboration aims to deliver an all-encompassing solution for global conglomerates, retailers, and entrepreneurs, offering a seamless one-stop-shop for direct-to-consumer (D2C) platforms and marketplaces in the Middle East.The strategic partnership between Shams and Smartt. Studio empowers businesses within the Shams community, enabling them to elevate their online presence, amplify revenue streams, and expand their customer base exponentially. Leveraging Smartt. Studio's unparalleled expertise in global e-commerce solutions, businesses will benefit from captivating and user-friendly e-commerce websites, meticulous product listing optimisation, highly effective marketing strategies, and an unrivaled online shopping experience."This strategic partnership between Shams and Smartt. Studio perfectly aligns with our vision to establish an unrivaled digital commerce landscape on a global scale. We are committed to equipping the business community with the essential digital tools and resources necessary for their triumph," said HE Shihab Alhammadi, Managing Director of Sharjah Media City ‘’Shams’’. "By uniting with Smartt. Studio, we can effectively empower businesses to flourish in an exceedingly competitive market, offering them best-in-class product photography and unparalleled global e-commerce services. Our ultimate goal is to drive sustained economic growth and foster innovation throughout the region." Concluded.Setting this collaboration apart is Smartt. Studio's world-class team of skilled photographers, equipped with cutting-edge technology to capture breathtaking images that showcase the distinctive features and compelling benefits of each product. These visually striking images will seamlessly integrate into online retailers' platforms through Smartt. Studio's state-of-the-art, AI-driven tailor-made content management system.Kartik Jobanputra, a well-accoladed and published serial entrepreneur, a member of the Forbes Business Council, and a part of the Entrepreneur Leadership Network, and Founder & CEO of Smartt. Studio, added, "The pivotal factor for the success of small business owners and entrepreneurs lies in presenting their products to customers in the most extraordinary manner. We are thrilled to collaborate with the Sharjah Government, as our shared objective is to fuel economic growth in the region. Through our streamlined one-window approach to online selling in the MENA region, Smartt. Studio's dedicated team will seamlessly support global brands and retailers seeking market entry."The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) formalising this partnership was signed by His Excellency Shihab Alhammadi, Managing Director of Shams, and Kartik Jobanputra, Founder & CEO of Smartt. Studio in the presence of Dr Khalid Omar Almidfaa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City “Shams”.Shams and Smartt. Studio will jointly spearhead targeted marketing initiatives to generate substantial interest among global retailers, brand owners, homegrown entrepreneurs, e-commerce platforms, marketplaces, and communities.

Digitas ME appoints Kareem Monem as CEO

Dubai: Publicis Groupe Middle East has announced the arrival of Kareem Monem as the new Chief Executive Officer of Digitas ME, the pioneering marketing transformation agency. Monem's mission is to supercharge the agency's growth by seamlessly blending data-driven insights, captivating creativity, and cutting-edge technologies to create unparalleled hyper experiences that bridge the gap between brands and consumers.Bassel Kakish, Group CEO for Publicis Groupe Middle East & Turkey, said: “Digitas has witnessed remarkable growth over the past few years, and we are confident that under Kareem’s leadership, we will continue on this accelerated path of growth. With his wealth of experience driving digital innovation and transformation for multinational and private entities across the region, Kareem will unlock new opportunities across Digitas to propel the Groupe forward.” Kareem joins Digitas ME after his successful tenure as the Regional Managing Director at Valtech. Prior to this, he spearheaded the introduction of Publicis Sapient in the region and held a partner position at PwC. Internationally, Kareem has collaborated with esteemed organizations such as AstraZeneca, the Bank of England, and Vimplecom. He also co-founded a groundbreaking modular banking platform that revolutionized digital transformation for institutions across the Middle East and Africa, including renowned entities like King Abdullah Financial District, Central Bank of Egypt, and Miral.Kareem Monem, CEO of Digitas added, “I feel incredibly fortunate to be returning to Publicis Groupe after a four-year hiatus. The Groupe has gone through an incredible transformation, attracting world-class talent, creating award-winning work, and most importantly, delivering on the transformational commitment to its clients. I look forward to contributing to its continued success and being part of a phenomenal brand.”

MENA Data Centre expected to be led by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt

Dubai: As Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries have grown and their built environments continued to expand and develop with a particular focus on smart cities, we have seen strong expansion in the region’s data centre market.Although historically national operators have largely dominated the market, we are seeing increased levels of investment and interest from international operators who are looking to capitalise on the region’s growing need for data processing and storage.Whilst on a broader level we have seen strong levels of investment in recent years throughout many MENA countries, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are now registering the vast majority of interest from international operators. These three countries’ strong fundamentals are driving activity levels, along with their marked improvements in ease of doing business and data protections laws and also in their subsea cable connectivity.Today, the Data Centre capacity of these three markets is estimated to total around 336 MW. As these countries continue to develop, it is estimated that this is expected to grow to 707 MW by 2025, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE expected to add the bulk of the additional capacity. This forecast growth will mean that from a real estate perspective, data centres will become a core asset class in the alternative real estate market sector in all three of these countries, where we expect that future activity will largely be led by join-venture partnerships.Jonathan Briggs, Head of Industrial & Logistics at CBRE in Dubai, comments: “Today, the clear upfront delivery of power and the potential ramp up and costs to the data centre operator are becoming increasingly necessary earlier on in the land/site acquisition process, and considering the current pipeline of projects in the Middle East region, we welcome any increase in power capacity across these key markets.”Taimur Khan, Head of Research – MENA at CBRE in Dubai, comments: “Looking ahead, we expect a more supportive set of regulatory environments to develop in these markets. We envisage that this will take place in both the telecom and infrastructure segments. This will help further drive interest from international operators and also from developers, which in the long run will grow the sector’s real estate asset pool, where it will become a notable asset class globally.”

Jotun Middle East launches dust-resistant exterior paint finishes

Dubai: Jotun Paints UAE, the region’s leading paint manufacturer, has introduced two innovations to its ‘Jotashield’ range of premium, high-quality exterior paints with long-lasting protection and advanced colour performance properties. Developed regionally by the brand’s Research & Development (R&D) team, the paints have been formulated for durability and dust resistance to protect homes and buildings from damage caused by the region’s harsh climes.Based on the latest market needs and trends, the paints are available as smooth and textured finishes to reflect customers' aesthetic styles and preferences. Each finish blocks dust particles from penetrating the paints’ film, better protecting exterior walls against weathering and fading, reducing the need for regular maintenance.The smooth finish, Jotashield Eterna, has been expertly tested with superior binder technology and weather-stable pigments that create long-lasting, beautiful exterior walls. Designed to stay cleaner for longer with highly resistant washability properties, and pioneering anti-dust technology, Eterna is available in over 500 colours. Its active protection additives slow down the paint’s ageing by fighting free radicals generated by the extreme effects of UV exposure. Eterna has received 15 quality assurance certifications from global third-party labs, including C02 diffusion, QUV accelerated weathering, water permeability, and salt spray testing.Jotashield Kanva is the paint manufacturer’s first heavy textured premium exterior finish which offers a range of prominent surface design capabilities, in addition to instant colour-tinting options in over 100 colours across Jotun stores. Developed with a one-coat reducing application costs, the paint’s washability feature also ensures that dust build-up is cleaned off the surface effectively, resulting in textures that stand out and stay as vibrant and clean as the day there were painted.Commenting on the launch of the Jotashield innovations, Christian Omvik, Regional Category Manager, Jotun MEIA, said: “When a specific challenge arises in our market, we set out to find a solution. Through our regional headquarters in the UAE, we can stay connected to our region’s markets and quickly respond to evolving local market trends with pioneering products - Jotashield Eterna and Kanva are examples of just that”.As an industry pioneer, Jotun constantly works to strengthen its entire product portfolio by combining the best quality with constant innovation and creativity. New product ideas are developed and refined through the company’s innovation network which involves testing the new concept before an innovation board to determine its potential and efficacy.

Fawry partners with Infobip to enhance electronic payment services

Dubai: Fawry, the leading payments and fintech company in Egypt, has partnered with Infobip, a global cloud communications platform, to enable payments through META channels. This partnership will offer Fawry’s customers a seamless payment experience, while also enabling Infobip to expand its reach in the Egyptian market.Through this partnership, Fawry will be able to leverage Infobip’s omnichannel engagement, contact center, chatbot and identity solutions to streamline the payment process for its customers. Infobip’s platform will enable Fawry to build connections across all stages of the customer journey, providing a more efficient and effective payment experience.“We are excited to partner with Infobip to enable payments through META channels,” said Heba El Awady, CBO of Fawry. “This partnership will help us to continue to deliver innovative payment solutions to our customers, while also expanding our reach in the market.”Fawry has been at the forefront of driving digital transformation in Egypt’s payments landscape, offering a range of innovative payment solutions to meet the evolving needs of its customers. This partnership with Infobip will enable Fawry to further enhance its capabilities and provide a more comprehensive payment experience to its customers.“We are thrilled to partner with Fawry to enable payments through our different communication channels,” said Amsal Kapetanovic, Sales Director of Infobip Middle East and Africa. “This partnership is a testament to our commitment to providing innovative solutions that help businesses and partners overcome the complexity of customer communications to grow business and increase loyalty.”

Black Ice AI, Presight sign MoU to target Kazakhstan market

ABU DHABI: Black Ice AI Inc., a US-based Delaware C Corporation and Presight, a G42 company, and the region’s leader in big data analytics powered by artificial intelligence (“AI”), have signed a strategic MOU to enhance their respective offerings and capabilities for the financial services and the public service sector solutions.The MoU was signed by Elisar Nurmagambetov, Chief Executive Officer of Black Ice AI and Thomas Pramotedham, Chief Executive Officer of Presight, at Astana Hub, Kazakhstan.Under this agreement, Presight and Black Ice AI will leverage their expertise and respective offerings to jointly develop and market solutions and platforms to further enhance finance operational efficiencies, strengthen compliance efforts, and improve public services, enabling customers to navigate the evolving landscape in these industries.Elisar Nurmagambetov, Chief Executive Officer of Black Ice AI commented, “The world is changing at a rapid pace, driving both private and public sectors to reactively navigate unprecedented risks and unknown threats. Presight and Black Ice AI partnership offers tailored solutions that will help global organizations and government agencies address these challenges proactively and efficiently, leveraging timely intelligence and the latest advancements in AI.Thomas Pramotedham, Chief Executive Officer ofc, said, "Through our strategic partnership with Black Ice AI, we will enhance our analytics solutions within the public service and financial sectors. The added insights will further drive the impact of leveraging big data analytics and AI within organizations.”

Chinese-speaking phishing ring behind latest fake fee scam targeting UAE

Dubai : Group-IB, a global cybersecurity leader headquartered in Singapore, has attributed a recent wave of scams impersonating UAE public bodies to a Chinese-speaking phishing gang, codenamed PostalFurious. The threat actor, documented for the first time by Group-IB in April 2023, has been targeting users in the Asia-Pacific by impersonating postal brands and toll operators. Now, Group-IB can confirm that the group has extended its operations to the UAE.In early May, UAE authorities warned the country’s residents about a scam campaign that saw threat actors impersonate a local road toll operator. Group-IB’s Digital Crime Resistance Center in Dubai was able to attribute this campaign to PostalFurious, along with a second scam scheme that targeted UAE residents under the guise of a postal service. As part of its commitment to fighting cybercrime, Group-IB has shared its findings on the group with the Dubai Police Force and issued notifications for the impersonated brands.Make it a double In the aforementioned fake toll payment scheme, UAE residents receive fake messages asking them to urgently pay a vehicle trip fee to avoid additional fines. The text messages contain a shortened URL to obscure the true phishing address. Once a user clicks on the link, they are redirected to a fake branded payment page.The scammers’ goal is to compromise users’ payment data. According to Group-IB’s cyber investigations team, the campaign has been active since at least April 15, 2023.Too Fast Too FuriousGroup-IB’s cyber investigators, who regularly assist in INTERPOL-led operations in the MEA region, attributed both campaigns to a Chinese-speaking phishing ring dubbed PostalFurious.PostalFurious, codenamed by Group-IB’s cyber investigations unit in early 2023, has been active since at least 2021. The name was drawn from the group’s decision to impersonate postal brands as well as their ability to quickly set up large network infrastructures, which they also change quite frequently to avoid detection by security tools.The phishing resources for both UAE campaigns were hosted on identical web servers and their fake payment pages had the same design. The infrastructure behind these two scam schemes also shared many elements and code that were observed in previously analyzed PostalFurious campaigns targeting the APAC region. In attacks targeting both the UAE and APAC markets, Laravel is used as an administration panel. The source code of the phishing sites targeting the affected UAE bodies contained comments written in simplified Chinese, which has previously been seen by Group-IB researchers during their prior research into PostalFurious. Group-IB researchers underline that PostalFurious registers new phishing domains every day to rapidly expand their reach.“Phishers are becoming more prolific and elaborate,” says Anna Yurtaeva, Senior Cyber Investigation Specialist at Group-IB’s Digital Crime Resistance Center in Dubai. “They can no longer be detected and stopped by automated blocking. People should stay vigilant and aware of ongoing scams. PostalFurious operations demonstrate the transnational nature of organized cybercrime and emphasize the need for a coordinated joint response that involves the general public, private sector, and government.”How not to get scammedEnsuring strong digital hygiene practices and exercising vigilance while online is crucial in preventing phishing and scams. Phishing emails or SMS messages often mimic legitimate messages from banks, credit card companies, or other organizations. It is essential not to rush into submitting your personal information. Find the company’s official website, look for reviews, and call customer support. An extra handful of seconds to double-check the URL or page name could make all the difference. If the website is demanding too much personal information, especially credit card information, be sure to ask yourself whether it is truly necessary.Scammers usually impersonate legitimate brands. Brand owners should proactively monitor for and block scam and phishing websites upon detection. Group-IB’s Digital Risk Protection solution, part of the Unified Risk Platform, can reveal fraudulent infrastructure at early stages and initiate the takedown process.The most effective way to stop cybercrime is to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Group-IB’s Cyber Investigations team has conducted over 1,200 successful investigations all around the world helping private companies and international law enforcement organizations to combat advanced digital crimes.

FITOUT and Gurian unite to bring Italian luxury furniture to the UAE

Dubai: THE FITOUT, one of the leading providers of comprehensive interior solutions in the Middle East and a subsidiary of Union Properties, has collaborated with the Gurian, an Italian furniture manufacturing company, to expand its product offerings and introduce Italy's finest luxury furniture to the UAE market.With a shared vision of offering high-quality products and exceptional customer service, the collaboration aims at bringing Italian furniture craftsmanship and design to the UAE, catering to the growing demand for luxury interior solutions in the region.Under this partnership, THE FITOUT will be the exclusive distributor in the UAE for the Italian furniture manufacturer, which creates its own sofas, armchairs, and other items using 100 percent Italian leather, as well as materials such as fabric with wooden or metallic framings.Sherif Nagy, General Manager of THE FITOUT commented: “We are delighted to partner with Gurian, a company that produces authentic Italian upholstered furniture. With similar business philosophies and strategies, we were able to form a strategic alliance with Gurian, which we strongly believe will lead to long-term profits and growth. Gurian offers a collection of exceptional models of Italian furniture, crafted with the ideal balance between artisan accuracy and technological precision.”He added: “Through this partnership, we hope to provide our customers with exceptional quality products crafted by Gurian’s specialised artisan talents, which combines higher levels of comfort and elegance. Being in the industry for around 36 years, we understand the evolving customer preferences and constantly strive to keep up with the trends and innovations in the sector to provide exceptional offerings to our customers. Through this partnership, we hope to provide a wide range of customers with novel and distinctive concepts and products. We are confident that this partnership will produce fruitful outcomes and help us achieve our objectives of drawing in more customers in the region during the upcoming months.”THE FITOUT has been exploring innovative avenues to partner with various possible industry-relevant entities beyond the GCC, especially high-quality material firms, in order to penetrate new markets and expand its clientele. The strategic cooperation with Gurian provides THE FITOUT with access to additional resources as well as a competitive advantage in terms of the material since Italian upholstery is the most authentic and best of its kind in the upholstery industry.Franco Vittor, Business Development, GCC at Gurian said: “We are pleased to enter into this strategic partnership with THE FITOUT, which is known for delivering exquisite interiors crafted with meticulous attention to detail and precision. Through this strategic cooperation with THE FITOUT, we intend to introduce our curated collection of designs and furniture with exceptional Italian workmanship to the growing industry of the UAE and transform spaces with luxurious styling and comfort. Since we both share the common objective of offering services with superior quality and value, we are happy to have THE FITOUT as the exclusive distributor of Gurian in the United Arab Emirates. We look forward to a prosperous partnership that will yield a number of exceptional results.”Additionally, the demand for furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) has also witnessed a significant surge owing to a variety of factors - including the expansion of the hospitality and tourism sectors. With more hotels, resorts, and other hospitality properties being constructed, there is an enormous requirement for high-quality FF&E supplies to furnish these spaces. Furthermore, the growth of working places also contributes to the rising demand for FF&E. For the purpose of providing employees with a relaxing as well as a productive working environment, these spaces require a quality workspace design with proper office furniture, as the aesthetics of a workspace significantly influence employee productivity. THE FITOUT will contribute to meeting this growing demand by delivering exquisite products and services.

Ooredoo unveils exciting summer offers

Kuwait City:  Ooredoo, the leading telecommunications provider, has launched its exclusive "Your Summer On Us" offer for postpaid subscribers, carefuly designed to ensure exceptional summer experiences tailored to customers' diverse needs and preferences.This special offer includes various plans that provide 3 months of free subscription and device installments, aiming to offer a worry-free summer for customers.With these added benefits, Ooredoo is dedicated to ensuring their customers can fully enjoy their summer without financial concerns, making the most of their time and creating lasting memories.Customer-Centric SIM Plans Tailored to Suit Their NeedsOoredoo is offering three different SIM plans, providing flexibility and choice for customers. Starting at just 10KD monthly, these plans come with a wide range of benefits that will keep customers connected throughout the summer.Experience the Latest Samsung Smartphones: A Series & S SeriesAs part of the "Your Summer On Us" offer, Ooredoo introduces the latest Samsung Smartphones A Series & S Series with plans starting at 11KD monthly, for those seeking cutting-edge technology and unparalleled performance.With benefits including 5G internet, roaming data, minutes of international calls, and unlimited SMS and local minutes, customers can immerse themselves in a world of limitless possibilities.Embrace Innovation with iPhonesOoredoo understands the allure of the iconic iPhone to Apple users, which is why the "Your Summer On Us" offer includes the latest iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro.Priced from 25KD monthly, these devices come bundled with exceptional benefits including 5G internet, roaming data, international calls, and unlimited SMS and local minutes. Customers can experience the epitome of elegance and functionality with the iPhone, all while staying connected throughout the summer."Our goal with the 'Your Summer On Us' offer is to provide our customers with unbeatable value and a wide range of options," said Naser Al-Abdullah, Director of Marketing Communications at Ooredoo Kuwait. "We want everyone to enjoy a remarkable summer by staying connected to their loved ones and having access to the best devices and plans available."Customers can visit any Ooredoo store and explore the postpaid plans and devices that suit their lifestyle. They can connect, share, and experience the season like never before with Ooredoo.

SMARTIES MENA Awards: Celebrating marketing excellence in MENA

Dubai: The esteemed SMARTIES MENA Awards, presented by the MMA, have unveiled their triumphant victors. These prestigious accolades aim to laud avant-garde and efficacious modern marketing endeavors from the dynamic Middle East and North Africa region.The illustrious industry gala unfolded in all its splendor at the illustrious Rixos, JBR. This annual competition strives to illuminate the crème de la crème of marketing campaigns from the year 2022. With a staggering 90 trophies bestowed throughout the night, this event marked the organization's most colossal gathering to date.The World Advertising Research Center (WARC) bestows recognition upon the victorious campaigns.The paramount triumph of the evening went to Yas Island and Initiative MENA / Momentum MENA, emerging victorious in an astounding five categories, including 'Brand Experience,' 'Cross Platform – Digital Only,' 'Social Media Marketing,' 'Audio / Voice / Sonic Branding,' and 'Short or Long Form Video.' Collectively, Yas Island and Initiative MENA / Momentum MENA clinched a remarkable seven trophies: four gold, one silver, and two bronze.The highly acclaimed 'YAS YAS Baby, by Yas Island' campaign, masterminded by Initiative MENA & Momentum MENA, claimed the ultimate accolade as the best in show, as deemed by the discerning panel of judges.Another fiercely contested category, 'Purpose Driven Marketing – Sustainability (Brand & Product & Initiative),' witnessed a riveting clash of contenders. TikTok's TikTok Climate Action campaign was honored with the silver award.Consequently, the 'Marketing Impact – Brand Experience,' 'Purpose Driven Marketing – Cross Platform,' and 'Purpose Driven Marketing – Digital' categories showcased fierce competition. Among the three most fiercely contested categories, a total of thirty campaigns made the shortlist, with eighteen trophies being distributed during the gala. Notably, six companies emerged victorious in the 'Marketing Impact – Brand Experience' category. Ithra by Aramco and Leo Burnett KSA / Ithra by Aramco with Inspire Your World, alongside Yas Island and Initiative MENA / Momentum MENA with Yas Yas Baby, both seized gold awards, firmly establishing their prowess.Melis Ertem, Regional Director of MMA, said: “It has been a spectacular year for the MENA SMARTIES. We saw a record number of submissions across all categories with exceptionally high quality campaign results throughout. The success of MENA SMARTIES is proof of a thriving marketing industry, demonstrating our belief that collaborative working can shape the future. I congratulate all the winners for their hard work and look forward to next year.’

Homesmiths partners with MoEngage to drive insights-led personalized engagement

Dubai: Homesmiths, a home improvement, storage & organization, cleaning and kitchenware retailer, has partnered with MoEngage, an insights-led customer engagement platform, to enhance customer retention with personalized engagement.Founded in 2016, Homesmiths offers a wide range of products across categories such as Storage and Organization, Houseware, Cleaning and Accessories, Kitchenware, and many more. The brand will look to leverage the full capabilities of MoEngage to drive more awareness about Homesmiths and balance the offline and online business.“At Homesmiths, we strongly believe in our vision of “Heart Your Home.” Our endeavor to provide a curated and personalized experience has led to our partnership with MoEngage. Using MoEngage’s engagement platform, we plan to enhance our CLTV and work upon data-driven marketing metrics.” said Hinoj Mohanan, Head of E-commerce, Homesmiths.The home and kitchenware brand will also plan to leverage the single analytics platform to cover all the channel metrics.“We are proud to join hands with Homesmiths. The brand has kept customer experience at its heart, and we want to assist them in their endeavor of driving personalized customer experience with omnichannel engagement.”, said Sweta Duseja, Director of Customer Success, Middle East, MoEngage.Homesmiths joins the growing list of 1200+ global companies across 35 countries, such as Azadea Group, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Landmark Group, Apparel Group, Airtel, Ola, Oyo, and Mashreq, that trust MoEngage to deliver a consistent experience across multiple devices and touchpoints.

Easygenerator unveils EasyAI: Revolutionizing e-learning authoring with AI

Dubai: Easygenerator, a leading e-learning authoring tool, is proud to announce the launch of its latest innovation, EasyAI. With this launch, Easygenerator promises to revolutionize the e-learning industry and empower employees worldwide. For the first time ever, the majority of the content will be created by the AI in an eLearning authoring tool.The launch aligns with the UAE's visionary focus on harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to drive technological advancements. As the United Arab Emirates continues prioritizing AI as a critical pillar of its national strategy and vision for the future, Easygenerator embraces this paradigm by introducing EasyAI.Easygenerator, which is among the top 5 e-learning authoring tools in the world, is a cloud platform that enables anyone to create e-learning content, without the need for any prior knowledge of instructional design. With Easygenerator employees can share can start sharing their knowledge in the organization rapidly, efficiently, and effectively."At Easygenerator we believe knowledge sharing should be easy and accessible for everyone. We are inspired by the UAE's visionary approach to AI and innovation, and with the release of EasyAI, we aim to contribute to this journey by empowering e-learning authors with AI-driven content generation," said Jan Kees de Jager, CEO of Easygenerator.EasyAI enables Easygenerator authors to create high-quality e-learning content by automating tasks such as ideation, simplification, summarization, bullet point creation, and question generation. EasyAI significantly reduces the time and effort required to produce impactful e-learning materials. Easygenerator's commitment to being the most user-friendly and intuitive platform ensures that EasyAI empowers authors of all skill levels, to create relevant content that increases the learner’s engagement in any organization.Users can already create quality content rapidly with Easygenerator, with a drag-and-drop sidebar, thousands of templates, audio & video recording features, and much more. But now EasyAI takes away the fatigue of designing courses and authors can only concentrate on sharing knowledge. The integration of AI not only accelerates the content creation process but also ensures that learners receive relevant and high-quality e-learning experiences that drive engagement and information retention in any organization.

Co-Production Salon at CABSAT 2023 Spurs High-Value Deals

Dubai: HCONSULT, a leading content market specialist in the Arabic-speaking MENA region, successfully concluded the highly anticipated second edition of its exclusive initiative, Co-Production Salon, in collaboration with CABSAT, at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).CABSAT, the flagship event for content creation, production, distribution, digital media, satellite communication and space technology, teamed up with HCONSULT to host the second annual MENA region’s Co-Production Salon at the 29th edition of the show, which was held from May 16-18, 2023.The first Co-Production Salon, held in 2022, witnessed the participation of over 40 companies, including reputed international platforms, TV channels, production houses, and private investors. This year's edition, located in an invite-only area of the three-day show, offered a dedicated meeting lounge to encourage investments in long-form entertainment content to and from the MENA region, including series and films, through collaborative efforts between the largest regional and international media entities.Kicking off the event, the first day set the stage for productive and engaging experiences. Key highlights included an exclusive presentation by the founder of the Co-Production Salon, Arabic content market expert Heba Korayem, who shared valuable insights on the MENA region's Ramadan peak TV month, which is estimated to be worth a staggering USD 0.5 billion . This was followed by an analysis by Rafal Radawiec, CEO of Polish AI-powered security company Vestigit, of piracy’s impact on the Ramadan content production industry in 2023. Additionally, insights on the growth of FAST (Free Ad-Supported Streaming Television) and ad-supported content monetisation in MENA were shared by Maria Rua Aguete, Senior Research Director of UK-based research company Omdia.Tony Saab, SVP of Content and Strategic Partnerships at Starzplay, emphasised the value of Co-Production Salon in the sector, stating: " The industry needs an initiative like the Co-Production Salon. Finding appropriate potential content partners was made simpler for us as the businesses selected to join have already been pre-filtered using a set of criteria.”Around 20 companies, selected based on specific criteria such as number of hours produced, ability to co-fund/invest or having produced for a broadcasting entity excluding social media, participated in the Salon, which facilitated over 240 high-quality meetings, encouraging discussions on co-funding and rights sharing. Leading platforms and production houses actively sought high-quality producers to commission new projects and explore innovative ideas.Prominent media entities participated at HCONSULT’s Co-Production Salon at CABSAT, including the MENA region's biggest Arabic production houses, such as Cedars Art, MBC Studios, Eagle Films, VOX Studios, Arab Telemedia Group, and over 20 other Arabic production powerhouses spanning Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Oman. Along with Starzplay, all major regional streaming platforms were present, from Shahid to OSN, and Jawwy (Saudi Telecom), and 10 others. Additionally, major international companies like Paramount, Entertainment Studios from the US, Greenstone from New Zealand, Zee Entertainment from India, and Yandex from Russia attended, demonstrating a global interest in the initiative.Elena Brodskaya, Head of International Content Strategy at Yandex, a MENA-based entertainment super app and one of the leading platforms in the CIS region, expressed her enthusiasm for the venture. She said: "For Yandex, as a newcomer to the market, attending the Co-Production Salon at CABSAT was extremely insightful. Meeting with best-in-class producers, top managers of leading streaming services and creators at one place was the best way to get a deep dive into the market, learn the latest local trends and make invaluable professional connections."William Page, Chief Strategy Officer of 1001, the fastest-growing VOD platform in Iraq, also expressed the value of participating, adding: "It was an honour to participate in the MENA region's second Co-Production Salon workshop at CABSAT in Dubai, which was meticulously organised by Heba Korayem. At 1001, we are relentlessly committed to delivering diverse, engaging and high-quality content to our rapidly expanding viewer base. Our participation in this workshop was primarily centred on identifying content partners that align with our mission and our viewers' needs. The selection of companies at the Co-Production Salon precisely mirrored our requirements, positioning us on the right track towards achieving our objectives of building robust partnerships and further accelerating our growth."Korayem expressed her satisfaction with the event, stating: "The second edition of the Co-Production Salon has once again showcased the immense potential of collaboration in our industry. The engagement and interest from companies in this edition have been exceptional. We’ve recorded over 240 meetings taking place, and from our previous experience, due to the quality of pre-arranged meetings, the ratio is that one deal is closed for every five to six meetings held. So, we’re anticipating around 40 major partnership deals to be announced over the coming year, not just straightforward acquisition-type announcements that take place during content markets..”The Co-Production Salon’s 2023 edition successfully cultivated an environment of collaboration, innovation and investment in the MENA entertainment industry, paving the way for exciting new ventures and partnerships. HCONSULT remains committed to driving the growth and development of the region's content market and looks forward to future editions of the Co-Production Salon at CABSAT.

Oobit welcomes Phillip Lord as its president

Dubai: Oobit, a fintech company that is disrupting the crypto payments industry, has just announced the appointment of Phillip Lord as President. An experienced investment banker, serial blockchain investor, and non-exec director at Luna PR, Lord brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Oobit's leadership team. In his role as President, he will focus on driving strategic partnerships, business development, and executing powerful marketing strategies.With over 25 years in global capital markets, Lord boasts a deep understanding of the United States, European, Asian, and Australian markets and is an expert in crypto markets, with knowledge of everything from coin/token issuance to centralized and decentralized exchanges/platforms.Lord is thrilled to join Oobit, expressing his positive sentiment in a recent statement: "I'm extremely excited to join Oobit and support Co-Founders Arman Adar and Aharon Miller, who are solving a huge consumer problem in crypto, making it simple to use and spend anywhere. I look forward to using my experience and knowledge to help grow Oobit's business and build its brand."Oobit is revolutionising payments with its cutting-edge technology that will enable users to use tap payments with crypto anywhere, anytime, and with an Apple Pay-like experience. With Oobit, merchants will be able to receive fiat settlements just like any other credit card payment. Currently, Oobit is active with over 200k users, providing easy access to buying, selling, and spending digital assets, putting the power back in users' hands. As a fast-growing fintech startup, Oobit is dedicated to driving the mainstream adoption of digital assets in everyday life."We are delighted to welcome Phillip Lord to the Oobit fam" said Co-Founder Arman Adar. "His extensive experience in investment banking, blockchain investments, and marketing will be invaluable as we continue to grow and expand our business."With Lord on board, Oobit is poised to continue its upward trajectory in the cryptocurrency industry, offering a more streamlined and intuitive platform for users worldwide. The company's commitment to simplicity and accessibility has already set it apart from competitors, and with Lord's guidance, Oobit is well-positioned to become a major player in the crypto space.

Should I stay or should I go: How major gangs’ shutdown affected ransomware

Dubai: Ransomware has been making headlines for several years in a row. In their quest for profit, attackers have targeted almost every type of organization, from healthcare and educational institutions to service providers and industrial enterprises, affecting nearly every aspect of daily life. This year, these groups are still managing to come up with new, elaborate techniques or even attribute features of former gangs among top players that have currently ceased operations. Kaspersky has released a new report reviewing last year’s ransomware predictions and providing insights for 2023.In 2022, Kaspersky solutions detected more than 74.2M attempted ransomware attacks, a 20% increase over 2021 (61.7M). At the same time, at the beginning of 2023 we saw a slight decline in the number of ransomware attacks – however, they became more sophisticated and targeted. Moreover, the top five most influential and prolific ransomware groups have drastically changed over the last year. The deceased REvil and Conti, that placed second and third in H1 2022 respectively in terms of attacks, in Q1 2023 were replaced by Vice Society and BlackCat. The remaining ransomware groups that formed TOP5 in Q1 2023 are Clop and Royal.The review of last year’s ransomware trends shows that all of them persisted. In the course of 2022 and at the beginning of 2023, there were several cross-platform ransomware modifications that caught researchers’ eyes, such as Luna and Black Basta. Ransomware gangs have also become more industrialized, with groups such as BlackCat adjusting their techniques over the year. For now employees of victim organizations must check to see if they are listed in the stolen data, thus increasing the pressure on the affected organization to pay a ransom. The geopolitical situation has seen some ransomware groups take sides in conflicts – including the Eternity stealer. The group behind it created a whole ecosystem, with a new ransomware variant.For 2023, Kaspersky experts have presented three key trends for ransomware threat landscape development. The first refers to more embedded functionality used by various ransomware groups such as self-spreading functionality or an imitation of it. Black Basta, LockBit, and Play are among the most significant examples of ransomware that spreads on its own.The next trend to recently emerge is driver abuse for malicious purposes – an old trick. Some of vulnerabilities in AV driver were exploited by AvosLocker and Cuba ransomware families, however, Kaspersky experts’ observations show that even the gaming industry can fall victim to this sort of attack. Reportedly, the Genshin Impact anti-cheat driver was used to kill endpoint protection on the target machine. And the trend continues to be watched with high-profile victims such as government institutions in European countries.Finally, Kaspersky experts draw attention to how the largest ransomware gangs are adopting capabilities from either leaked code, or code sold by other cybercriminals, which may improve their malware’s functions. Recently LockBbit group adopted code, at least 25 percent of the leaked Conti code, and issued a new version based entirely on it. These types of initiatives provide affiliates with similarities and facilities to work with ransomware families that they were previously used to working with. Such moves can strengthen their offensive capabilities – and that should keep in mind in companies’ defense strategy.“Ransomware gangs continually surprise us, and never stop developing their techniques and procedures. What we’ve been watching throughout the last one and a half year is that they are gradually turning their services into full-fledged businesses. This fact makes even amateur attackers quite dangerous,” comments Dmitry Galov, senior security researcher at Kaspersky’s Global Research and Analysis Team. “So, to make your business and your personal data safe, it’s very important to keep your cybersecurity services updated.”Read the full report on Securelist.Kaspersky encourages organizations to follow these best practices that help safeguard against ransomware:Always keep software updated on all the devices you use to prevent attackers from exploiting vulnerabilities and infiltrating your network.Focus your defense strategy on detecting lateral movements and data exfiltration to the internet. Pay special attention to outgoing traffic to detect cybercriminals’ connections to your network. Set up offline backups that intruders cannot tamper with. Make sure you can access them quickly when needed or in an emergency.Enable ransomware protection for all endpoints. There is a free Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool for Business that shields computers and servers from ransomware and other types of malware, prevents exploits and is compatible with already installed security solutions.Install anti-APT and EDR solutions, enabling capabilities for advanced threat discovery and detection, investigation and timely remediation of incidents. Provide your SOC team with access to the latest threat intelligence and regularly upskill them with professional training. All of the above is available within Kaspersky Expert Security framework.Provide your SOC team with access to the latest threat intelligence (TI). The Kaspersky Threat Intelligence Portal is a single point of access for Kaspersky’s TI, providing cyberattack data and insights gathered by our team for over 20 years. To help businesses enable effective defenses in these turbulent times, Kaspersky has announced access to independent, continuously updated and globally sourced information on ongoing cyberattacks and threats, at no charge. Request access to this offer here.

Choppershoot Productions featured in global launch film of DJI’s new Inspire 3

Dubai: DJI, the world’s leader in civilian drones and creative camera technology, has partnered with CHOPPERSHOOT Productions, a leading UAE based Aerial Filming Company, amongst other notable global aerial film professionals, for the highly anticipated launch of the DJI Inspire 3. DJI set a new standard for cinematic-grade aerial filming systems with last month’s launch of the all-in-one DJI Inspire 3, a streamlined, precise, full-frame 8K cinema drone to meet the needs of top-level movie productions. As the only UAE based film company to be selected as part of the global launch campaign, CHOPPERSHOOT is featured in the global launch film of the DJI Inspire 3, which has garnered over 1.5 million views on DJI’s YouTube channel to date. The film also showcases iconic landmarks and landscapes in the UAE, captured by the CHOPPERSHOOT team on the Inspire 3, including the Burj Khalifa in Downtown Dubai, Museum of the Future, Al Qudra Racecourse and beautiful desert landscapes. It also features Liam Allen, Managing Partner of CHOPPERSHOOT, who shares his insights on the new drone’s performance and stand out features for filmmakers.Hatim Saleh, Managing Director of CHOPPERSHOOT commented: “We are delighted to showcase the newest drone technology from DJI, to a global community of filmmakers. The Inspire 3 is a powerful drone that will elevate our aerial production capabilities in the region. It is also an honor for us to be featured in DJI’s Inspire 3 launch film, which gave us the opportunity to capture stunning visuals of Dubai’s iconic landmarks and landscapes, for a global audience.” For almost a decade, DJI’s Inspire drones series has been the standard on film sets in the UAE and around the world. And with early, exclusive access to the DJI Inspire 3 in the UAE, the CHOOPERSHOOT team have already put to use this latest technology in aerial cinematography, by completing filming for Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff’s Bollywood film 'Bade Miyan Chote Miyan’, in Abu Dhabi this month. CHOPPERSHOOT has been at the forefront of aerial filming in the UAE since 2005 and is now one of the largest drone filming companies in the country. As a pioneering provider of drone and helicopter services, the company has been involved in a range of notable projects and productions in the UAE. These include the aerial and ground filming of 'Sonic the Hedgehog 1' in Abu Dhabi, a widely-shared advert for Emirates airline featuring a woman on top of the Burj Khalifa, and drone footage for the Bollywood movie 'Pathan'. Other projects have included work for Red Bull, Dubai Tourism's TV campaign featuring Zac Efron and Jessica Alba, and a David Guetta live show on the Burj Al Arab helipad.

Hertz renews its sponsorship of the Saudi Rowing Federation Championship

Jeddah: Hertz Car Rental has renewed its partnership contract with the Saudi Rowing Federation in its ongoing support for Saudi sports and encouraging champions to achieve international titles that enhance the Kingdom's global reputation. The partnership includes sponsorship of championships and domestic and international activities throughout the coming year. Hertz will provide logistical support to athletes and technical, administrative, and union officials while creating an environment conducive to achieving further accomplishments.The sponsorship agreement was signed between Asaad Atyani, Managing Director of Wasila Company, and Youssef Jleidan, CEO of the Rowing Federation, at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah. The signing ceremony occurred during the Kingdom's widely participated Kingdom Indoor Championships.Ali Hussein Alireza, President of the Saudi Rowing Federation, expressed his pride and gratitude for the wise leadership's significant support to the Saudi sports sector. He also acknowledged the continued attention and interest of the Minister of Sports and President of the Olympic Committee, His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal. Alireza affirmed that the partnership between sports federations and the private sector would drive Saudi sports to international recognition. He emphasized that the sponsorship contracts signed by the Rowing Federation will support the champions during their international participation. Alireza highlighted the recent achievement of the Saudi Rowing Team, which won the bronze medal at the World Rowing Championships in Mississauga, Canada. This accomplishment reflects the team’s tremendous efforts and determination to elevate the country's name.Asaad Atyani stated that Al Wasila company and its representative, Hertz car rental, have long been committed to establishing solid partnerships with sports and athletes. This commitment aims to support champions and encourage them to represent the nation and achieve the best results. He added, "Besides sponsoring the renowned rally champion Dania Akeel, the female Saudi ambassador, Hertz has developed a strong relationship with the successful Saudi Rowing Federation." The renewal of the sponsorship agreement for championships and federation activities reflects the significant responsibility that the company undertakes in supporting sports and contributing to raising the Kingdom's name high in all areas.

Healthlove brings fantastic activations to Times Square Center this June

Dubai: #HEALTHLOVE is back bigger than ever this June 17th, with a full day of free happenings for the community. Running from 10am to 7pm, Times Square Center will be transformed with various zones for different activations including the main stage for talks, screening and health check area, self-love pamper zone for some much needed feel good, as well as workshops and activities throughout. With M&S, Fruitful Day, and Privee as sponsors, it is a unique blend of local and global companies wanting to support and champion women and family health through this free event. On the pop-up front, women can expect self-care from Bedashing, health checks from Dubai London Clinic and Valeo, fertility testing by Ovasave, breast checks by Blended Wellness, bra fits by M&S, aesthetic consultations by BodySmart and more. The workshop zone will offer, activities including Inner child healing meditation, a mindset coach to talk about how to be your own cheerleader, a talk on shifting out of survival mode: working with stress and anxiety, and even upcycling old t-shirts into funky tote bags or making dog toys to donate to K9 Animal shelter by Thrift for Good.On the main stage, guests can learn about egg freezing, how women can work with their hormones to thrive and enhance their well-being, discover mindful eating for weight loss, explore the path to empowerment, how to overcome trauma to move forward with your life, and much more from experts. #HealthLove will take place at Times Square Center on Saturday, June 17th from 10am to 7pm and a full itinerary of timings and activations will be released across social media

CrowdStrike introduces Charlotte AI to deliver generative AI-powered

DUBAI: CrowdStrike (NASDAQ: CRWD) today introduced Charlotte AI, a new generative AI cybersecurity analyst that democratizes security and helps every user of the CrowdStrike Falcon platform — from novice to security expert — become a power user. Customers can use Charlotte AI to address many of the most critical challenges facing the security community, including closing the cybersecurity skills gap and speeding the response time to stay ahead of adversaries.Utilizing the world’s highest-fidelity security data that is continuously improved through a tight human feedback loop, Charlotte AI lets customers ask natural language questions – in English and dozens of languages – and receive intuitive answers from the CrowdStrike Falcon platform. With Charlotte AI, every user, regardless of skill level, becomes faster and more efficient responding to events of all types, including advanced threat detection, investigation, hunting, remediation and more.Bringing the Generative AI Era of Cybersecurity to LifeCurrently available in private customer preview, Charlotte AI initially addresses three common use cases:Democratizing Cybersecurity - Every User Becomes a Power User: With Charlotte AI, everyone from the IT helpdesk to executives like CISOs and CIOs can quickly ask straightforward questions such as “What is our risk level against the latest Microsoft vulnerability?” to directly gain real-time, actionable insights, drive better risk-based decision making and accelerate time to response. Elevate Security Analyst Productivity with AI-Powered Threat Hunting:  Charlotte AI will empower less experienced IT and security professionals to make better decisions faster, closing the skills gap and reducing response time to critical incidents. New security analysts, such as a Tier 1 member of a SOC, will now be able to operate the CrowdStrike Falcon platform like a more advanced SOC analyst.The Ultimate Force Multiplier for Security Experts: Charlotte AI will enable the most experienced security experts to automate repetitive tasks like data collection, extraction and basic threat search and detection while making it easier to perform more advanced security actions. It will also accelerate enterprise-wise XDR use cases across every attack surface and third-party product, directly from the CrowdStrike Falcon platform. Hunting and remediating threats across the organization will be faster and easier by asking simple natural language queries.Generative AI and the CrowdStrike Data DifferenceGenerative AI has the power to be a democratizing force in cybersecurity, but its ultimate impact will be determined by the quality, context and completeness of the underlying data. Charlotte AI utilizes the world’s highest-fidelity security data, which includes the trillions of security events captured in the CrowdStrike Threat Graph, asset telemetry from across users, devices, identities, cloud workloads and CrowdStrike’s industry leading threat intelligence. The most critical set of data — and one unique to CrowdStrike — is CrowdStrike’s human-validated content. Charlotte AI will uniquely benefit from a continuous, human feedback loop from across CrowdStrike® Falcon OverWatch™ managed threat hunting, CrowdStrike Falcon® Complete managed detection and response, CrowdStrike Services, and CrowdStrike Intelligence. This massive data set of human intelligence used to stop breaches in the real world is wholly unique to CrowdStrike, and as it has with AI from the start, only CrowdStrike brings this powerful combination of security telemetry, threat intelligence and human-validated content together into cybersecurity’s most powerful data fabric.“Since our founding, CrowdStrike has pioneered the use of artificial intelligence in cybersecurity to identify adversary behavior and combat sophisticated attacks to stop breaches. With the introduction of Charlotte AI, we’re delivering the next innovation that will help users of all skill levels improve their ability to stop breaches while reducing security operations complexity,” said Mike Sentonas, President of CrowdStrike. “Our approach has always been rooted in the belief that the combination of AI and human intelligence together will transform cybersecurity. We believe our continuous feedback loop on human-validated content is critical, and because of this, no other vendor will be able to match the security and business outcomes of CrowdStrike’s approach to generative AI.”

Dubai Chamber engages with Asian startups and tech talent during visit

Dubai: Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy, one of the three chambers operating under Dubai Chambers, has successfully concluded a roadshow to Hong Kong, the Philippines, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Japan to scout for startups to participate in the Expand North Star event in Dubai.During the roadshow, the Chamber introduced 481 startups to doing business in Dubai and highlighted the role it plays in providing support to businesses within the ecosystem. In addition, the Chamber hosted a pitch competition designed to drive participation in Expand North Star. The winner will receive a fully sponsored visit and participation in the upcoming event.As part of the Asian tour, Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy also held a total of 17 private meetings with MNCs, unicorns, and incubators to explore potential collaborations within each market.Expand North Star is the largest start-up event in the world, uniting more than 1,400 exhibitors and 1,000 investors at Dubai Harbour from 15 – 18 October 2023. The event aims to ramp up the start-up entrepreneurship momentum, transcending geographic industries and intellectual boundaries as it connects government partners, investors, and corporate accelerators with innovators and tech stars from every continent.Dubai is embracing Web3 and the metaverse as part of efforts to drive the UAE’s digital economy forward, as well as fully integrating blockchain and AI technology across the public sector and investing in fintech and digital assets. Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy is working to accelerate the growth of Dubai’s digital economy and attract promising digital businesses to the emirate.Expand North Star will bring together startups from across the globe to connect with industry leaders, government officials, venture capitalists, and other potential investors. The event also supports the tech community by hosting forums and initiatives that bring together international and local tech companies, entrepreneurs, investors, and other key stakeholders.Expand North Star plays a critical role in attracting and connecting the global tech community to Dubai by providing a supportive platform for innovation and collaboration. The event will feature a series of summits, innovation challenges, conferences, and exhibitions showcasing the latest technological advances. The initiative provides opportunities for networking and collaboration while further cementing Dubai’s position as a leading hub for innovation and technology, as well as driving economic growth and development both in the emirate and globally.

Amazon Saudi launches new fulfillment center in Riyadh

Riyadh: The Chief Executive Officer of the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program (NIDLP), Eng. Suliman Almazroua and delegations from the Ministry of Transport and Logistics Services, the Transport General Authority, and Monsha’at – Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises today witnessed the inauguration of Amazon’s latest Fulfillment Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Following the ceremony, Abdo Chlala, Country Manager, Amazon Saudi Arabia, along with Prashant Saran, Director of Operations, Amazon Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Dr. Hatem Samman, Public Policy Lead, Amazon Saudi Arabia, guided the dignitaries on a tour of the facility.Eng. Suliman Almazroua commented, “Saudi Arabia has made remarkable progress in developing world-class infrastructure and business-enabling policies that aim to place the Kingdom at the forefront of investor attractiveness. Amazon’s expansion supports Saudi Arabia’s logistics sector - one of NIDLP’s four key sectors – bringing the latest innovations and technologies in ecommerce operations to the country. The new Fulfillment Center in Riyadh will further unlock the value of the Kingdom’s resources by empowering local startups and entrepreneurs with improved global connectivity and access to new markets.”As the Kingdom accelerates towards a digital economy with a growing ecommerce market, the new Fulfillment Center will double Amazon’s total storage capacity in Saudi Arabia. The facility spans 390,000 square feet across five floors – approximately the size of five football fields. The center will be able to store over 9 million products, enabling Amazon to delight customers with a wider selection of products across electronics, appliances, groceries, fashion, books, and more.H.E. Eng. Saud bin Rashid Al-Askar, the Deputy Governor of Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization (SASO), said, “As Saudi Arabia progresses towards sustainable development in tandem with regional and international markets, we affirm the company’s keenness, in cooperation with other sectors, to ensure consumer safety by conforming its products received through e-commerce. We are happy to see Amazon’s expansion in the Kingdom as the company continues its efforts to bring global standards and processes to the ecommerce sector in Saudi Arabia.”Abdo Chlala, Country Manager, Amazon Saudi Arabia, said, “Our expansion and investment in our network underscores our commitment to delivering an enhanced shopping experience for customers, providing Saudi businesses with greater access to Amazon’s expertise in fulfillment, reliable countrywide delivery, and customer service, and unlocking opportunities for local talent. Led by a diverse cohort of talented Saudi nationals in managerial positions, we expect this Fulfillment Center to support the Kingdom’s digital economy goals.”In support of Saudi Arabia’s rising entrepreneurship culture and rapid development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the enhanced capacity will empower independent sellers to scale their businesses online. In order to reach a wider customer base faster and more efficiently, Saudi sellers can take advantage of the Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) offering that allows them to store, pick, pack and ship customer orders through Amazon. The company has been working closely with Monsha’at, Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises, to empower this segment of the economy, with an aim to host 40,000 Saudi sellers by 2025 on Saran, Director of Operations for Amazon MENA, said, “Technology is at the heart of our operations, and with the opening of our most advanced Fulfillment Center in Saudi Arabia, we are all set to bring an enhanced fulfillment offering to Saudi sellers. At Amazon, we relentlessly innovate on behalf of our customers and continue to strengthen our operations with state-of-the-art technology and global processes and programs in order to ensure a fast, convenient and reliable shopping experience.”The new Fulfillment Center is Amazon’s most advanced in Saudi Arabia and brings 25+ years of global logistics technology and innovation in line with the Vision 2030 goal of establishing the Kingdom as the go-to logistics hub for the region. The new facility incorporates innovative solutions powered by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in its operations and more than two and a half kilometers of conveyance equipment to ensure seamless fulfillment operations.To ensure local talent is able to grow and advance their careers, Amazon offers an array of training, upskilling and mentoring programs that empower employees to reach their full potential. Today, Saudi women at the center occupy a variety of leadership roles within operations, human resources, learning and development, and information technology, among other departments. Further, the facility provides various accommodations for people with disabilities that aim to ensure their full and active participation. Amazon continues its relentless focus on the safety and well-being of its employees, deploying cutting-edge technology to assist employees and keep them safe while delivering for customers.As part of Amazon’s commitment to be net-zero carbon across its business by 2040, the facility is powered 100% by electricity, including its heating and hot water systems, avoiding the use of fossil fuel combustibles and with energy efficiency as a top priority. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) is controlled by a building management system that ensures a comfortable working environment for employees while reducing unnecessary energy consumption. In addition, LED lighting adjusts according to natural light availability and building occupancy, and indoor air quality is constantly monitored.Since the launch of in 2020, the company has continued to invest in Saudi Arabia, supporting the Kingdom’s vision to accelerate a digitalized and diversified future. Today, Amazon Operations’ network in the country comprises 2 Fulfillment Centers, 3 Sort Centers, a footprint of over 25 owned and third-party delivery stations, and a network of small and medium businesses working as Delivery Service Partners across Saudi Arabia.

TOD to offer month full of exciting sport season finals

Doha: Streaming platform TOD is all set to offer its subscribers a month full of exciting sport season finals. It starts with UEFA Europa League’s much-anticipated May 31st clash between six-time UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League winners Sevilla and 2021/22 UEFA Europa Conference League winners Roma. Fans will be able to stream every minute of the action live from Budapest’s 65,000-seater Puskas Arena.On Saturday, June 3, the action will switch to what promises to be a thrilling and memorable Manchester derby FA Cup final between Manchester United and Man City, with City eyeing to replicate their iconic treble. The same day, TOD will be showing all ten final day fixtures from France, including two Ligue1 matches live and exclusive on the platform. June 3 will also see TOD stream the UEFA Women's Champions League final from Eindhoven's PSV Stadium when former champions Barcelona take on the might of Germany’s Wolfsburg.On 4 June, TOD will be streaming the feisty Istanbul derby - Galatasaray v Fenerbahce, live and exclusive, a top match from the Turkish Super Lig. TOD will also be showing three LaLiga games live and exclusive, thus streaming all ten final day games from Spain.Fans will also be able to follow the CAF Champions League final first leg on June 4 and second leg on June 11, and the UEFA Europa Conference League final on June 7.June 10 will see streaming of the 2023 UEFA Champions League Final live from Istanbul's Atatürk Olympic Stadium with football fans witnessing the might of Man City come up against the Italian style of Inter Milan. Soon after, on June 12, TOD will be streaming the UEFA u-20 World Cup final. Additionally, basketball enthusiasts from the region will be able to enjoy NBA final playoffs throughout the whole of June. The platform will also keep tennis buffs riveted to their screens with the Roland Garros French Open Women’s Final on June 10, followed by the Men’s Final a day later. John Paul McKerlie, VP Marketing and Sales at TOD said, “These stand-out football clashes will complement our regular schedule of major fixtures from Spain’s La Liga, the English Premier League, the French Ligue 1 and Germany’s Bundesliga making for a fantastic month of sports action. Our subscribers won’t miss any of the crucial moments from these key games with our interactive timelines, match highlights and watch-from-the-start feature.”TOD can be streamed across MENA on iOS and Android devices, including most of the leading smart TVs such as Apple, Samsung, Sony, LG, and Hisense, to name a few. The TOD app can be downloaded from the App Store or Play Store and linked to up to 5 devices, with pin protection enabled personalization options.

Mawdoo3, ArabyAds team up for digital advertising growth

Dubai:  ArabyAds, the leading global technology company, today announced that it has further strengthened its partnerships by becoming the exclusive media representative for Mawdoo3 – the region’s largest online Arabic content publisher.The partnership marks a significant development in the digital advertising landscape as it brings together the deep technology expertise and advertiser base of ArabyAds and ThePubverse, with the massive audience reach and uniquely valuable content of Mawdoo3.Mawdoo3, with over 100 million organic unique monthly visitors globally and 32 million unique visitors from the GCC, along with 25 million social followers across all platforms, offers valuable and trusted Arabic content across various platforms. The company is committed to enriching the Arabic content online and providing reliable information for audiences in areas such as health, parenting, education, and entertainment, utilizing artificial intelligence technology to enhance the user’s day-to-day experience.ThePubverse ecosystem enhances publisher outreach through behavioral targeting, enabling efficient monetization of traffic for publishers in the MENA region. By deploying ThePubverse ecosystem across Mawdoo3’s leading platforms, ad monetization across markets will be strengthened, benefiting all stakeholders.Commenting on the development, Mahmoud Fathy, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of ArabyAds said, “I am delighted with this partnership as it opens up new opportunities for the ecosystem. Advertisers across the region will now be able to access a massive, highly engaged Arabic-speaking audience cohort through Mawdoo3’s penetration in the region, and consumers will be able to get relevant ads as recommendations based on their interests, context, age group, and affinities. This is yet another step that aligns with our vision to create value, bridging the gap between advertisers, platforms, and consumers through technology and innovation.”Adding to the development, Imad Sarrouf, CEO of ThePubverse said, “This is a big step towards strengthening a technology-first ecosystem that lays its foundations on building for the advertising landscape. ThePubVerse’s AI-led platform will aim towards maximizing eCPMs (effective Cost per thousand impressions) for Mawdoo3, while its data-science engine would work on mapping audience to relevant ads as non-intrusive recommendations. What’s noteworthy is the platform’s capabilities to do this at scale, with Mawdoo3’s massive audience base. I am looking forward to strengthening this partnership for growing the business.”Rami Al-Qawasmi, CEO of Mawdoo3, expressed his excitement about the partnership, highlighting its potential to expand business reach and enhance the advertising experience in the region. “This step aligns with our vision to create value for both readers and advertisers. With our cutting-edge landscape and sizable audience base, merged with ThePubverse’s experience in the digital landscape, advertisers can have access to a highly engaged Arab audience, while delivering relevant ads as recommendations based on their interests.”Mawdoo3 has been helping more than 1000 brands reach their target audience and achieve their business goals throughout the years. In addition, it has been continuously inspiring Arab audiences with online content on multiple and wide range of topics.

Nearly 8 in 10 UAE shoppers seek better personalized offers: Adyen

Adyen (AMS: ADYEN), the global financial technology platform of choice for leading businesses, is publishing economic research that finds that retailers could potentially boost loyalty of 69% of UAE shoppers if they switched to a unified commerce approach and stopped operating in silos.More than half of UAE shoppers are seeking a flexible shopping journey that offers their favourite payment methods, buying online and returning in store and purchasing an out-of-stock item and shipping them directly home.Adyen commissioned Opinium LLP to survey 1000 UAE consumers out of 36,000 globally, and Censuswide to survey 500 UAE merchants out of 12,000 globally. The goal was to understand how recent are impacting businesses worldwide, with a specific focus on markets like the UAE. This research also explores changes in shopper behaviour across various markets and delves into the preferences of UAE shoppers, as well as the current performance of retailers. Economic modelling conducted by the Cebr shows how unified commerce, which involves connecting online and offline payments in one system, supports greater retail resilience in a demanding and competitive retail environment.The overwhelming majority 80% of UAE consumers globally said they spend more time searching for the best deals and prices[1], while almost one third 30% wait for big calendar moments like Black Friday before making a purchase. In response, 52% of UAE merchants believe the impact of inflation is such that they need to offer discounts to consumers year-round. The research found that in face of the rising cost of living personalisation and loyalty have become increasingly important. 78% of UAE consumers want to see more discounting at retailers they shop with and 67% say they want businesses to remember their preferences and previous shopping experiences so that browsing is more tailored. UAE Retailers are finding it hard to deliver on this, with 58% suggesting it’s now harder to categorise customers.The tech advantage69% of UAE consumers say that they’d be more loyal to retailers that let them buy online and return in-store, and nearly two-thirds 64% suggested they’d have better shopping experiences if a business enables them to shop in store and finish online or vice versa.Further, when consumers were asked about how technology makes them feel when shopping in-store, the result is overwhelmingly positive. Little less than half 43% said they were happier because shopping was quicker, and slightly more than one-third 36% said they would visit a store more frequently as a result of its technology implementation.UAE retailers are recognizing the significance of connecting all sales channels. In fact, this region is familiar with unified commerce, as 50% of retailers have already begun investing in this strategy in the past year, and 45% are considering its implementation.“We have always recognized the potential of unified commerce for businesses and its ability to elevate the shoppers' experience. It's great to witness that in the UAE, over half of the retailers have also acknowledged its potential and chosen to invest in it," said Sander Maertens, Head of the Middle East. “And despite the significant changes in consumer behaviour over recent years, retailers who have embraced unified commerce will find it easier to navigate and adapt to these shifts.""Through Adyen's financial technology platform, businesses leverage unified commerce, bringing together all payment data into a powerful system. This integrated approach provides valuable insights into customer behaviour, enabling organisations to meet their shopping expectations effectively. In the dynamic world of the retail sector, where speed is crucial, technology proves vital in building operational resilience amidst the ever-changing landscape."

UAE-based AI start-up School Hack hits one million users in just four months

Dubai: School Hack, the UAE-based Chat-GPT powered edtech platform that equips students to work with AI and helps develop the skills for the jobs of tomorrow, has hit one million users. Founded in January 2023 and launched in February 2023 by Muhammed Khalid, School Hack’s user growth already rivals some of the fastest growing apps of all time such as Instagram and Tik Tok. No app from the Gulf region has ever grown as fast before, and School Hack is currently outstripping any other app in the world in terms of the volume of words it is putting through OpenAI’s Chat GPT – with 150 million words a day and rising.The School Hack business consists of two products, the student-focused School Hack app – available on Apple and Android – and the SHP 2.0 platform focused on educators as well as students. SHP 2.0’s interactive AI portal is a breakthrough in helping schools to regulate and oversee AI usage, ensuring students harness its potential fully and responsibly. It helps prepare students for the future of work in an age of AI, and allows full visibility for teachers on how students are using AI – preventing cheating and plagiarism. The advanced AI detector ensures that students stay within the system and cannot exploit external AI platforms to bypass safeguards. These innovations have led Bloom World Academy to introduce School Hack’s SHP 2.0 platform across seven schools.The School Hack products have been in development for two years, anticipating ChatGPT and other AI products by 18 months and giving the app and the portal a massive advantage over a suite of AI products that are hitting the market. Advanced SHP 2.0 features include “Smart Media” which revolutionizes the way students interact with videos, lectures, and podcasts – it can convert any video or audio instantly to text. This is complemented by the “Ask me Anything” feature, which fosters curiosity and empowers students to take charge of their learning journey, and the “SmartDocs” feature which transforms the way students engage with documents and creates a personalized learning experience. The Social Study Group allows students to work together within the app and encourages collaborative learning and global connections.Muhammed Khalid, CEO and Founder said that as AI disrupts education students need the right tools to understand how to make the most of this game-changing technology. “I have always been passionate about education and I have been developing a number of ed-tech products over the last few years. As different AI tools emerged I could see the integration potential. Because we had existing products in development, School Hack has a different level of sophistication over other AI-powered apps and a natural head-start – which has been reflected in the overwhelmingly positive feedback we have seen and the record user growth we have witnessed.”

BM Studio founders launch "The Originals" creative house

Dubai: BM Studio founders, Benjamin and Julien Monie, along with Antoine Croise, founder and former director of Auditoire Dubai, recently announced the launch of a new creative house called The Originals.The Originals will operate in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.This creative house will provide events and content creation services for artistic digital installations, immersive experiences, large-scale multi-media cultural shows, and events.The team at The Originals has two decades of experience in designing and delivering major events across the region for leading brands.Located in Al Quoz, The Originals embraces and promotes the Dubai government's vision for the Al Quoz creative zone project. With a strong commitment to inspiring and nurturing the next generation of creative talent, we actively contribute to the realization of this vision.Benjamin Monie, Co-Founder of The Originals, stated: “The Originals is committed to supporting the rapid development of the Middle East’s cultural ecosystem. We have always been fascinated by our continually evolving world and the people we encounter which is an infinite source of inspiration for us. We aim to explore new territories and craft our original experiences and content with like-minded partners which is why we prioritise creating our own Ips, as well as co-creating original concepts with relevant partners in the region.”The Originals Co-Founder Julien Monie said: “The Originals is more than a traditional agency. We are a platform for the creative economy and a social space that brings people together to connect, collaborate and explore new ideas. This enables us to be physically connected to what is happening now and to what is coming next.”The Originals Co-Founder Antoine Croise said: “We don’t want to do events just for the sake of doing events. We want to make sure that the projects we develop have a positive social and cultural impact and also leave a legacy. The projects we work on are carefully selected based on this core value.”The Originals operates through three pillars: The Agency, The Studio, and The Society.The Agency focuses on producing interdisciplinary projects that revolve around art, culture, and technology, with the aim of offering unique experiences. Currently, they are working on various projects, including large-scale multi-media cultural shows, artistic digital installations, immersive experiences, and events.The Studio collaborates with artists, producers, and studios to produce animation, films, special effects, and music for their projects. Additionally, they offer talk shows, podcast series, and music production. The studio is equipped with facilities such as the first Dolby Atmos studio in the UAE, a podcast studio, a music recording studio, a video recording studio, and a graphic studio.The Society acts as a social space and community that brings together members of the creative economy. They organize regular events such as talks, masterclasses, social gatherings, and music showcases to foster connections and facilitate collaboration.

Gaming revenues in MENA to reach USD 6 billion by 2027

Dubai: Gaming revenues are expected to almost double by 2027 from 2021 in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, reaching USD 6 billion, according to DMCC’s latest Future of Trade 2023 report titled ‘Gaming in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA): Geared for growth’. A young and digital-savvy population, high levels of digital connectivity, and government support are driving the region’s emergence as a consumer and creator hub. Gaming and esports are both fast growing consumer segments, benefiting from rapid advancements in technology as well as broader and more inclusive audiences. The UAE and Saudi Arabia lead the region, supported by high income levels, strong digital engagement, and public investment initiatives. Globally, Asia Pacific constitutes the largest market share and China, the US, and Japan are the largest individual markets. The report gathers contributions from key industry leaders including Jad El Mir, Partner at Strategy&, and Klaus Kajetski, CEO and Founder of YaLLa Esports, to establish the critical drivers of the industry’s accelerated growth in the MENA region and beyond. It also examines the impact on gaming and esports from a technology, culture, and business perspective, covering global consumer trends, the emergence of MENA as a gaming and esports hub, and the key challenges that the industry needs to address to increase revenues further. Guiding the global industry’s accelerated growth from nearly USD 200 billion in revenues in 2021 to USD 340 billion in 2027, the report outlines a set of key recommendations for governments and businesses, namely: - Diversify esports revenue streams from sponsorship to new direct-to-fan monetisation models – including digital merchandising, loyalty programmes and training platforms for amateur gamers – to boost revenues.- Develop appropriate regulatory safeguards to ensure privacy, security and safety online in the digital gaming ecosystem and provide a business-friendly environment – including smoother visa systems to allow esports professionals and audiences to attend live events – to attract talent into the region and elevate it into a global industry leader. Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, DMCC, said: “Gaming has come to the fore of entertainment globally, driving rapid growth especially in the MENA region, which now constitutes 15% of the global player base. The rise of gamification in areas such as education, healthcare, and other sectors has demonstrated gaming’s role in facilitating economic activity more broadly. Ensuring the accelerated growth of the gaming sector will have a measurable impact on the future of markets around the world, as well as the future of trade. As DMCC seeks to solidify Dubai’s reputation as a global trade and economic hub, efficiently activating opportunities within the gaming sector will prove essential.” Among the most closely watched segments is esports, which is expected to post revenue growth of 23.3% between 2019 and 2024 in MENA. Fuelling this is the region’s young demographic, engagement from international broadcasters and sponsors, and government support. Tapping into this economic potential, DMCC partnered with YaLLa Esports, the Dubai-based professional esports organisation, to launch the DMCC Gaming Centre in December 2022. The Centre supports the growth of the industry in Dubai by providing gaming businesses with access to global capital, leading industry talent, and an ecosystem that allows them to operate efficiently and with confidence. Due to the UAE’s strong business environment and infrastructure, as well as its status as a gateway to the Middle East and Asia Pacific regions, various international gaming developers have set up their regional headquarters in the country. Ubisoft is based in Abu Dhabi, while the gaming giant Tencent set up its MENA HQ in Dubai along with Riot Games. In Saudi Arabia, the kingdom has included gaming as a core element of its Neom project and has already made investments worth over $1.7 billion on the gaming industry.This special edition of DMCC’s Future of Trade report follows the launch of its flagship biennial report in July 2022, which set out the key drivers of global trade over the next decade. The Future of Trade report series has been downloaded and viewed a total of 1.3 million times.

Radio Bahrain Company receives three awards at the 2023 Transform Awards MEA

Manama: Radio Bahrain Company – a portfolio company of Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company “Mumtalakat” – received three awards at the 2023 Transform Awards MEA, which was held in Dubai recently.The company received the Gold award for ‘Best visual identity from the technology, media and telecommunications sector’ and the Bronze award for both ‘Best use of a visual property’ and ‘Best use of copy style or tone of voice’. Radio Bahrain launched its new brand in collaboration with local branding agency Unisono last year.Commenting on the awards, Radio Bahrain CEO Omar Khalifa Shaheen said: “This recognition reflects our commitment at Radio Bahrain to continue to be at the forefront of 21st century radio and offer our listeners an exceptional entertainment experience. The rebrand marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter as we look ahead to the future. We are committed to continuously raising the bar and delivering entertainment excellence to our listeners.”Radio Bahrain broadcasts 24 hours a day, providing audiences of all ages and backgrounds an eclectic mix of the latest music, local and global news, and entertainment that reaches an audience of 6.5 million listeners.

Samsung unveils 2023 TV line-up for smart homes in Dubai

Dubai: Samsung Gulf Electronics introduced the Smart House of Entertainment concept in Dubai to showcase how its 2023 TV line-up is best suited for the evolving lifestyle needs of consumers. At an exclusive event in Dubai, Samsung demonstrated how it is leading in home entertainment innovation, delivered through seamless smart connectivity and an exclusive range of ultra-large screens that puts the TV at the heart of the smart home experience.This focus on premium Smart TVs has seen Samsung uphold its unparalleled leadership in the TV industry for nearly two decades. Data from research firm Omdia reveals that Samsung again topped the global TV market in 2022, making it the 17th year in a row that the company ranked first in the global TV market.Samsung showcased the Smart House of Entertainment concept in a luxury villa at Nikki Beach – Dubai. Spanning four rooms, the concept offered visitors a glimpse of how Samsung's 2023 TV line-up provides premium entertainment experiences for consumers. Each room featured different Smart TVs, including Neo QLED 8K, OLED, The Freestyle, The Frame, The Serif and The Sero. Additionally, all the rooms were powered with Samsung's SmartThings home automation technology, positioning the TV as the smart hub of every room in the house. With many homes having TVs in each room today, the Smart House of Entertainment demonstrates how Samsung empowers each family member with powerful, intelligent technology to define their personal entertainment experience.The Smart House concept aligns with the increased interest in smart homes among UAE residents and, more broadly, with UAE's vision for Smart Cities. By connecting various devices and appliances throughout the house, Samsung demonstrates how users can create a smart lifestyle tailored to their needs.   Nikola Aksentijevic, Head of Visual Display Group, Samsung Gulf Electronics, said: "Through innovation and listening to our customers, Samsung continues to lead the industry as the world's leading TV brand, particularly in the large screen segment. With the Samsung Smart House of Entertainment concept, we can demonstrate how we are accelerating our customers' adoption of cutting-edge smart home experiences. In this journey, our content partners play a fundamental part in the Samsung TV offering, and we will continue working together to bring the best customer experience and content for all."     Starting in the living room, guests were able to experience top Arabic content on Shahid on the 98-inch Neo QLED, which instantly transforms the room into a home cinema. It is powered by the Neo QLED 4K and features Quantum Mini LEDs that produce a billion colours and intense contrast with 1.5 times more lighting zones than Samsung's Quantum Matrix Technology. This is complemented by lifelike sound with Dolby Atmos, Object Tracking Sound Pro and Symphony 3.Gaming enthusiasts experienced epic gaming with the Neo QLED in the Gaming Zone powered by Xbox. The TV features the Motion Xcelerator Turbo+, which brings high-speed games and high-octane movies to life with crisp visuals at blazing-fast speeds, with up to 144hz refresh rate with compatible PC-connected content. Meanwhile, the Freestyle projector offers easy connectivity with PC or gaming console, turning any flat surface into a Full HD 100" gaming screen. To enable gamers to make the most out of their games, the 2023 Neo QLED 4K features the Samsung Game Bar with helpful information such as the current refresh rate and input lag. Gamers can also change the screen's aspect ratio to widen their field of view for more compelling gameplay.On to the family room powered by OSN, guests experienced how the 2023 OLED 83” delivers bold contrast, dramatic sound, and vibrant colours. Its proprietary Quantum HDR OLED+, boosted by Quantum Dots, delivers bold contrast, dramatic sound, and vibrant colours, elevating OSN+ content to a whole level. The powerful AI processing technology transforms ordinary content into colourful 4K video while Dolby Atmos audio provides immersive surround sound.In the adjoining master bedroom, guests marvelled at STARZPLAY content on The Frame 75” which combines the innovation and picture quality of a Samsung QLED 4K with the ability to customize the stylish bezel to fit the home décor. When idle, The Frame turns into your personal art exhibition, featuring some of the world's most beloved masterpieces, curated by Samsung in conjunction with leading museums and galleries.Through product innovation, Samsung is driving the premium TV market, attracting more content partners to its entertainment ecosystem. At the Samsung Smart House of Entertainment event, regional and global partners such as STARZPLAY, Anghami, Shahid, OSN, Disney+, YouTube and Microsoft Xbox, and more collaborated with Samsung to showcase their blockbusters, leveraging the New QLED and OLED's cutting-edge visuals, true-to-form color reproduction and high-quality surround sound. By pursuing such effective collaborations, Samsung leads the industry in content partnerships and alliances, adding more value and entertainment options for customers.  By focusing on bigger, better screens, Samsung is delivering premium entertainment experiences for customers while aligning with customers' needs. The Omdia report reveals that Samsung dominated the global ultra-large TV market segment in 2022, reporting a 36.1% and 42.9% market share for TVs over 75 and 80 inches, respectively. For the premium TV market priced over $2,500, Samsung retained the largest market share by revenue at 48.6%.

Apparel Group receives best CSR Initiative Award in the retail sector

Doha: Apparel Group, a leading retail fashion and lifestyle conglomerate, has been honored with the prestigious CSR Award for Exemplary Corporate Social Responsibility in the Retail category at the Qatar CSR Summit. The summit, held under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, took place from May 16–18 at Qatar University. Hosted by the Qatar National Program, the awards gala dinner celebrated organizations that have demonstrated outstanding commitment to corporate social responsibility.Apparel Group’s receipt of the CSR Award is a testament of the group’s significant contributions to the community and showcases its dedication to environmental stewardship and social welfare. As a strategic partner of UN Global Compact, Apparel Group continues its commitment to corporate social responsibility initiatives aimed at creating a positive and sustainable impact.The summit brought together CSR experts and professionals to explore the incorporation of economic, social, and environmental goals into organizational operations. Apparel Group actively promoted its CSR activities during the summit, fostering transformative learning and exchanging best practices in the field.Mr. Neeraj Teckchandani, CEO of Apparel Group said: “The recognition received by Apparel Group at the Qatar CSR Summit reinforces the company's commitment to corporate social responsibility and its dedication to forging solid cross-sector collaborations. Through partnerships with organizations such as the Red Crescent and Qatar Charity, Apparel Group strives to create a positive impact on both the environment and society. As Apparel Group continues to drive sustainable practices and corporate social responsibility, the company remains dedicated to making a lasting and positive impact on the community and the environment.”Over the years, Apparel Group has actively engaged in multiple charitable endeavors, including substantial donations to organizations such as Qatar Charity, Hamad Medical Center, DEAP, and local schools. The group has also supported meal distribution programs, promoting social welfare and addressing pressing community needs.One of the company's notable initiatives aligns with Qatar's efforts to ban plastic usage, reflecting its commitment to combat plastic waste. Apparel Group has actively participated alongside multiple organizations in supporting this national endeavor, emphasizing the importance of environmental responsibility and sustainable practices.In 2023 alone, Apparel Group has made significant strides towards sustainability including organizing beach cleanups, participating in Earth Hour initiatives, and contributing to earthquake relief funds. The company continues to champion long-term sustainable practices within the region, fostering ethical behavior, minimizing waste, and raising awareness about sustainable practices among individuals and businesses.

SLS Expo opens reveal ambitious outlook for KSA’s entertainment industry

Riyadh: Local and international experts, government authorities, and industry professionals gathered at the opening of the region’s largest entertainment and leisure trade show, the Saudi Light and Sound (SLS) Expo, which opened its doors yesterday at the Riyadh International Convention & Exhibition Centre.Inaugurated by Majed AL Hukair CEO – Al Hokair Group, the SLS Expo not only revealed the latest event technology, prolighting design, AV and audio innovations in the sector, but also mapped out the future of the industry in KSA.“We expect a great number of specialists and others to be among the visitors, with rich sessions in all disciplines, and we hope that the exhibition will contribute to creating a shift in the entertainment industry in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said Al Hukair, following the inauguration of the SLS Expo, co-located with the Saudi Entertainment and Amusement Expo.“In line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals to grow the entertainment and leisure industry over the next several years, SLS Expo 2023 has ramped up efforts to reveal the current entertainment, cultural and leisure landscape and propel the industry forward through its exhibition and summit,” said Mohammed Faisal, Event Manager, DMG events.“Prolight and sound are industry mainstays for creating memorable events and experiences and with an emphasis on live events of the future, these tools have the power to really change the outcome of the entertainment industry. And with the hundreds of exhibitors displaying the newest AV, professional lighting and sound technologies, the stage is set for the future of this industry,” he added.Saudi talent and performance arts were central to the summit conversations with Tahani Alghureiby, CEO at NEO Theatro Productions and Tom-Naylor Davis, Director and Partner at Theatre Projects Consultants, who both delved into development and challenges of performance arts in KSA yesterday.While Mark Reeves, Head of Entertainment and Events and Andrew Campbell, Director – Creative Production at Six Flags Qiddiya addressed summit delegates on the importance of storytelling and narrative development for prolight and sound shows.The second day of the summit today will tackle the prolight and sound industry by focusing on current trending and future tools for interactive audience engagement, discuss the role of women in the industry and take a closer look at two case studies: Sound storm presented by Michael Jobson, Executive Director – MDL Beast, and storytelling and design for live experiences in Saudi Arabia – A country in transition by Daan Oomen, Founder of Live Legends and Koert Vermeulen, Founder and Principal Designer at ACT Lighting Design.Over the next three days, global and regional exhibitors at the show will reveal services and solutions, meet influencers in the entertainment sectors while networking with government officials, investors, and the region’s top players. In addition, the Expo will display a variety of tools and technologies in sound engineering and design for immersive experiences and offer the industry an inside-look into the latest technologies all while stressing the importance of sustainability and the environmental impact of prolight and sound shows.Co-located with the Saudi Entertainment and Amusement (SEA) Expo, SLS Expo brings together manufacturers, distributors, industry buyers, and professionals from around the world to the kingdom and offers a platform for the advancement of professional lighting and audio, digital signage, virtual, augmented, mixed reality, and laser technology.SLS Expo includes a 300-plus exhibitor directory including: MA Lighting International, Provision AVL, Venue Tech, aDawliah Electronics, Halwani Audio Visual, Castle Robe Middle East, Clay Paky, SLS Production, ER Productions, and many more.

Sherpa Communications named the most trusted B2B agency in the MENA Region

Dubai: Sherpa Communications, a strategic public relations and communications agency in Dubai providing PR services for companies within the UAE and the Middle East, was awarded the Most Trusted B2B PR Agency in the MENA Region as a recognition of its constant support and guidance to its clients at Estesmarat Magazine’s Sixth Award Ceremony at Atlantis the Palm, Dubai. Anastasiya Golovatenko, Account Director at Sherpa Communications, received the award by His Highness Sheikh Salim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Department of Civil Aviation in Ras Al Khaimah, in the presence of Mr. Mohamed Shams El Din, the Chairman and Founder of Estesmarat Emirati magazine and Future Forum for Arab Investments FF22020AI.In a room engulfed with potential and filled with prominent personalities, such as H.E Khalifa Saif Al Muhairbi, Chairman of Arabian Gulf Investment Group, H.E Ali Rashid Al Jarwan, CEO of Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company, and Mustafa Agha, TV Presenter in MBC, Sherpa’s representatives felt empowered, and this has strengthened Sherpa to keep working on presenting its clients in the best way and helping them secure prominent presence in the GCC media.Over the course of the past year, each member in Sherpa Communications has worked their absolute best to support experts who operate in a spectrum of industries: Technology & Digital | Data Analytics & Cloud Management | Crypto & Metaverse, Blockchain | Fintech | Healthcare & Pharma| Construction & Real Estate | Smart Logistics & Warehousing | Information security | Automotive & Smart Mobility | Esports | Education | Interior Design amongst others. On this occasion, Anastasiya Golovatenko, Account Director, Sherpa Communications, said: “We supported our experts to secure tier 1 media coverage across print, online, and broadcast verticals, helped them bring their vision for the business to life, and catalyzed their growth in this region and in international markets. Our efforts had a positive impact and our clients were able to close multi-million dollar contracts, secure funding, increase brand visibility, and develop a strong regional presence.”She added: “Trust in business means everything. We are delighted to receive the Most Trusted B2B PR Agency in the MENA Region award by Estesmarat Magazine, recognizing Sherpa Communications team as a trusted partner to businesses, especially in the B2B space, which we specialize in. We are honoured to work with multinational organizations across various industries as well as support homegrown SMEs with their campaigns and communications across the Middle East and Africa regions.”Additionally, the agency’s Senior Public Relations Executive, Mechelin Wehbi received the Individual Achievement in PR and Communication Award, celebrating her contribution to the Sherpa team and the industry.