Dubai receives 14.36 mn international visitors

Dubai’s ability to rapidly accelerate tourism growth has marked it out as a clear frontrunner in the international industry “The tourism and travel sector contributes significantly to the leadership’s aim of making the emirate a model for excellence in the global economy”- Guided by its visionary leadership, Dubai consolidates its status as the world’s most popular destination, with 97 per cent YoY increase in visitation- Tourist travel to Dubai in 2022 reaches 86 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, exceeding global recovery - levels of 63 per cent and Middle East recovery levels of 83 per cent- Stellar performance contributes to the Dubai Economic Agenda D33’s goal of consolidating Dubai’s status as one of the world’s top three cities for travel and business- Growth validates city’s ranking as No. 1 global destination in Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards for second successive year- Dubai sees one of the world’s highest average occupancy rates of 73 per cent in 2022Dubai received 14.36 million international overnight visitors in 2022, growing 97 per cent YoY from the 7.28 million tourist arrivals in 2021, according to the latest data published by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET). The growth, which enabled the emirate to surpass global and regional tourism recovery levels, contributes to the goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to consolidate Dubai’s status as one of the world’s top three cities for travel and business. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai said: “Dubai’s ability to rapidly accelerate tourism growth, which has marked it out as a clear frontrunner in the international industry, demonstrates the far-reaching vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to transform the emirate into an important global player in shaping the future of vital sectors. The remarkable rise in international visitation in 2022 supports the ambitious goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 to double the size of the emirate’s economy by 2033. The tourism and travel sector contributes significantly to the leadership’s aim of making the emirate a model for excellence in the global economy.“The exceptional growth in the inflow of visitors reflects Dubai’s continued rise as one of the world’s most connected cities and its determination to lead the world in hospitality infrastructure and service levels. The high growth shows the world that we never rest on our achievements and constantly work to raise our benchmarks. I am confident that Dubai will be an even greater catalyst for the growth of global tourism and travel connectivity in the years ahead."By closing in on its pre-pandemic visitation of 16.73 million in 2019, Dubai’s 2022 tourism performance further validated its ranking as the No.1 global destination in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2023 for the second successive year, only the second city in history to achieve the feat. The latest data from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) shows that global tourist travel in 2022 was 37 per cent lower than 2019. The Middle East saw the strongest relative increase, with arrivals climbing to 83 per cent of pre-pandemic numbers. Dubai exceeded both global and regional barometers of recovery with visitors to the city in 2022 reaching 86 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, said: “Aligned with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai the world’s most visited and re-visited destination, the performance of our industry in 2022 shows the extraordinary progress made by the city over the past two years. While the global economy remains in a state of flux, Dubai has emerged as a clear leader in the tourism industry. The robust performance is a testament to Dubai’s growing role at the vanguard of global tourism recovery. The positive momentum also shows that tourism remains a significant contributor to the city’s economic growth and sustainable development, further driving the goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 to reinforce Dubai’s status as one of world’s top three cities for tourism and business. “The effectiveness of our strategies and initiatives gives us the confidence to tap new growth opportunities in the global travel and business sectors over the next few decades. As the fastest growing city in the Middle East, Dubai’s continuous growth has been made possible by the unwavering support of our stakeholders and partners and a raft of strategic investments and federal policy reforms that have led to a steady flow of global entrepreneurs, talent, investors, and business and leisure travellers. The industry-wide success has also encouraged us to redouble our efforts to provide more opportunities for Emirati talent to contribute to the growth of Dubai’s tourism sector, aligned with our cutting-edge industry nationalisation programme to build the next generation of tourism professionals. We will continue to accelerate momentum throughout 2023 and beyond by focusing on all the key elements that have placed Dubai at the forefront of the world’s leading travel destinations – a diversified approach to markets, an evolving multifaceted destination proposition, continuous collaboration with our partners, all of which have enabled us to deliver exceptional value to visitors from around the world,” Helal Almarri added.Dubai’s international markets maintain momentumThe strong performance in 2022 features some noteworthy spikes in Dubai’s traditional key markets and strong growth across emerging markets. Dubai remained a first-choice safe travel destination for visitors from the city’s stronghold markets.From a regional perspective, Western Europe and GCC regions each accounted for a 21 per cent share of arrivals. The GCC region in particular saw an exponential increase in their share of arrivals from 13 per cent in 2021 to 21 per cent last year. South Asia contributed 17 per cent of total volumes while the MENA region contributed 12 per cent, further reinforcing Dubai’s continued appeal to travellers from proximity markets. The Americas accounted for seven per cent of arrivals while the North Asia and South East Asia region and Africa each contributed five per cent and Australasia accounted for two per cent.Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said: “As Dubai continues to grow exponentially in line with the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 launched by our visionary leadership to make Dubai one of the world’s top three cities for tourism and business, it remains committed to moving to the next level with new and unique world-class infrastructure, experiences and attractions. The sheer diversity of the destination proposition and Dubai’s growing profile as a safe, open and accessible destination saw the city being chosen as the No.1 global destination for the second year in a row in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2023.  Our partners played a pivotal role in achieving the No.1 ranking with their contributions to both Dubai’s tourism growth and the sector’s global rebound, as well as their active participation in all our global campaigns and marketing activities that have driven consideration for Dubai as the destination of choice for global travellers. The exceptional support of our public and private sector stakeholders and partners will be instrumental in raising our ability to showcase our unmatched offering designed to meet the diverse preferences and budgets of international travellers, as we gear up to welcome more visitors to Dubai in 2023.”Hospitality sector achieves significant growthDubai’s hotel sector, which continues to be integral to the emirate’s destination promise and the overall growth of the tourism industry, continued to perform strongly across all hospitality metrics.Average occupancy for the hotel sector in 2022 stood at 73 per cent, one of the highest in the world, rising from 67 per cent in 2021. The figure is just short of the 75 per cent occupancy in the pre-pandemic period of 2019. The high occupancy is particularly noteworthy as it was achieved despite a 16 per cent increase in room supply in 2022 compared to 2019. Dubai’s hotel inventory at the end of December 2022 comprised of 146,496 rooms at 804 hotel establishments, compared to 126,120 rooms available at the end of December 2019 across 741 establishments. The total number of hotels in 2022 marked a six per cent growth over 2021, with 755 hotel establishments offering 137,950 rooms, figures that highlight the continued strong investor confidence in Dubai’s tourism sector. The hotel sector outperformed pre-pandemic levels across all other key measurements – Occupied Room Nights, Average Daily Rate (ADR) and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR). Occupied room nights reached a record high of 37.43 million room nights in 2022, registering a 19 per cent increase vs. 2021 (31.47 million) and a 17 per cent increase over the pre-pandemic period of 2019, which yielded 32.11 million occupied room nights.The ADR of AED536 in 2022 surpassed the ADRs for both 2021 (AED451) and 2019 (AED415), with 19 per cent and 29 per cent increases respectively. The hotel sector’s robust performance is also evident in its RevPAR growth – an increase of 30 per cent compared to 2021 (AED391 v AED301) and an increase of 25 per cent over the pre-pandemic period of 2019 (RevPAR of AED312).Celebrity-led global campaignsOne of the driving factors behind Dubai’s success in 2022 can be attributed to captivating global campaigns conducted in collaboration with regional and international celebrities, opinion leaders, influencers and community personalities that highlighted the city’s unique appeal and brought to life the myriad experiences it offers. One such campaign is Dubai Presents, which takes a novel approach to global destination marketing, using a highly stylised movie approach to create engaging content. Shot against the backdrop of some of Dubai’s most iconic landmarks and unique hidden locations, these short films feature Hollywood stars like Jessica Alba and Zac Efron. The ‘Where the World Celebrates’ global campaign that coincided with the FIFA World Cup in Qatar featured French football star Karim Benzema.International events destinationOne of the biggest success stories of the region in 2022, Expo 2020 Dubai, made a massive contribution to the tourism industry’s outstanding performance. The six-month long event, which attracted over 24 million visits, once again proved Dubai’s ability to host mega global events and reinforced its position as an international events destination.Dubai seeks to further enhance its destination proposition across all tourism pillars, leveraging the retail and events sectors to attract more domestic and global visitors. In addition to Expo 2020, Dubai continued to host global business and leisure events across 2022 including Gulfood, the World Government Summit, Binance Blockchain Week, Gitex Global Dubai, the International Boat Show and the Arabian Travel Market. In addition to this, the city also hosted the Skift Global Forum East, the first-ever international extension of the world’s flagship travel conference, the Skift Global Forum. At this event, Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism announced the launch of an annual Dubai Tourism Summit.Every year, as part of its Retail Calendar, the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment team (DFRE) organises major festivals and events including the iconic internationally-renowned Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai Food Festival, Dubai Summer Surprises and Dubai Fitness Challenge. In 2022, DFRE also launched the inaugural Dubai Esports Festival, the largest international esports tournament to be held in the region.A leading sports tourism destination, Dubai also hosts an extensive line-up of annual global sports tournaments and events , attracting sporting icons, players and fans from around the world. In 2022 the city’s international sporting calendar included the Dubai World Cup horse race, the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship, Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby 7s, the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament and the DP World Tour championship, to name a few. Dubai pulled out all stops to enable residents and visiting fans to enjoy the FIFA World Cup 2022 at buzzing hotspots in the city. Dubai was chosen as one of six cities globally to host an official FIFA Fan Festival, making Dubai a focal point for the international football fraternity.Culinary innovation and accoladesDubai’s culinary sector was a significant driver of growth in 2022, with the city’s rich, creative and multi-cultural dining scene attracting visitors and accolades from across the globe. Dubai’s eclectic gastronomic scene features around 13,000 restaurants and cafés, ranging from homegrown eateries to gourmet institutions and fine dining restaurants, offering diverse cuisines. The city’s thriving culinary landscape was recognised with the launch of the inaugural MICHELIN Guide Dubai in June 2022. The first regional edition of the world’s most prestigious restaurant guide featured a total of 69 restaurants, including 14 Bib Gourmand winners. Further, Dubai’s restaurants and chefs were recognised in the inaugural edition of the Middle East & North Africa region’s 50 Best Restaurants list unveiled in February 2022, which celebrates culinary excellence across the region. The arrival of fine dining food critique brand Gault&Millau also contributed to the evolution of the dining scene in Dubai. In 2022, DET launched the region’s first-ever Gastronomy Industry Report, a comprehensive study of the gastronomy scene in the city and the region, reinforcing Dubai’s position as a highly sought-after global food tourism destination.Delivering on sustainability goalsWith sustainability embedded in its tourism strategy, Dubai has taken decisive measures to position itself as a top choice for holidaymakers seeking sustainable and safe destinations. Throughout 2022, Dubai worked tirelessly to achieve the city’s sustainability goals, led by Dubai Sustainable Tourism (DST), an initiative aimed at raising the city’s profile as a leading sustainable destination. DST has taken steps to contribute to the city’s broader clean energy targets and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030, as well as the UAE’s Net Zero 2050 strategy. With 2023 declared as the UAE’s Year of Sustainability and Expo City Dubai hosting COP28, the UN Climate Change conference, the year will be key for advancing Dubai’s vision to enhance sustainability and forge global cooperation to address vital issues. The last year saw the launch of ‘Dubai Can’, an innovative citywide sustainability initiative, as part of the drive to transform the emirate into a leading sustainable destination and the world’s best city to live and work.Global cruise and yacht tourism destinationCruise and yacht tourism played a crucial role in attracting international tourists and strengthening Dubai’s position as a global travel hub in 2022. The expansion of the cruise sector has further consolidated Dubai’s status as the cruise hub of the region. Similarly, with its world-class infrastructure, advanced facilities, year-round sunshine, luxury marinas, award-winning tourism offerings, rich maritime history and picturesque coastline, Dubai continues to amplify its appeal as a global superyacht hub.  New landmarks and initiatives to spur growthIn 2022, a number of new attractions and initiatives were launched as part of the ever-evolving destination proposition. These include the unveiling of the Museum of the Future, Dubai’s new iconic landmark that offers a gateway to a future world. Dubai also unveiled Expo City, the dynamic legacy of Expo 2020, an innovation-driven, human centric vision of the future, and Atlantis The Royal, a mega resort located on Palm Jumeirah.With the implementation of the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, which aims to expand the emirate’s tourism offering by over 100%, Dubai is on track to achieve its vision of becoming the city of the future. Moreover, Dubai will launch new initiatives aligned with the UAE 2031 Tourism Strategy, which seeks to attract 40 million guests by 2031 and increase the tourism sector's contribution to the emirate’s GDP to AED 450 billion.Dubai also continues to unveil strong regulatory initiatives to promote the accelerated growth of the tourism sector including hassle-free entry procedures for business and leisure travellers that streamline access to the emirate by establishing long-term engagement with the city. These include the 60-day tourist visa available from September 2022, and the Five-Year Multi-Entry Visa for employees of multinational companies, in addition to the Golden Visa, Virtual Working and Retire in Dubai programmes. In 2022, Dubai was selected as one of 20 destinations globally under Airbnb’s Live and Work Anywhere initiative to identify the world’s most remote worker-friendly destinations. Airbnb also launched the Dubai Remote Working Hub, a one-stop-shop for aspiring remote workers in partnership with Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism.

Xposure introduces 'Stage-X' for creative pros talks

 The Xposure International Photography Festival is once again set to take centre-stage, offering a week-long celebration of the art and craft of film and photography. This year the festival is adding an extra special platform through an additional area dubbed "Stage-X," taking place within the festival from 9th to 15th February, and is poised to bring together some of the most celebrated names in the industry.The new stage promises to be an inspiring experience, featuring a diverse range of activities, including film screenings, live demonstrations, talks and workshops. Film lovers will have the opportunity to enjoy contemporary cinema at its finest, while makeup and photography enthusiasts can look forward to a series of live demonstrations, including SFX Make Up and tutorials on lighting.One of the highlights of "Stage-X" at Xposure 2023 is the lineup of informative talks from leading industry professionals. Film and photography enthusiasts can look forward to engaging with experts such as award-winning cinematographer Ahmad Al Morsy as he discusses every aspect of being a successful cinematographer including landing one’s first job behind the camera; Marcel Van Luit’s universal approach to storytelling and creativity; world-acclaimed film editor Ahmed Hafez Younes covering the basics of film editing; and the ins and outs of sports photography with Red Bull’s very own Naim Chidiac.Cheb Moha will lead a talk on expanding creative horizons by exploring new avenues for expressing and monetizing talents. Ramesh Shukla will share his journey as a photographer documenting the history of the UAE. A talk on environmental conservation and the impact of documentary films will be held with Rabii Ben Brahim. Jasem Al Muhanna will discuss the importance of authentic Arab storytelling in the global film industry. Film Director Samir Siryani will delve into the technical and creative aspects of Infrared B&W photography for filmmakers.Aisha Al Zaabi will take us on a journey through the evolution of film direction and the challenges and triumphs of being an Emirati filmmaker. These speakers will share their wealth of knowledge and experience, offering valuable insights into the latest techniques and trends in the film and photography industries.In addition to these thought-provoking talks, "Stage-X" will also feature an exciting SFX makeup demonstration by Hollywood certified artists Rony Yusef and Tanios Hokayem as they reveal how to create realistic gruesome effects as well as giving hands-on tuition for creating sfx makeup looks used in film, television, photography, fashion, social media. Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting out, these inspiring and informative events are sure to expand your skills and deepen your appreciation for the art and craft of film and photography.For film and photography professionals and enthusiasts alike, the Xposure International Photography Festival has long been a premier event, and "Stage-X" continues that tradition. Over the course of seven days, attendees will have the chance to network, collaborate, and expand their skills, making this festival a must-attend event.Visitors to Stage-X can also look forward to some of the world’s biggest brands and equipment manufacturers showcasing their exciting range of products and technology, giving attendees an exclusive opportunity to learn about what makes their cameras tick as well as what may be coming in the future.The Xposure International Photography Festival's "Stage-X" is an event that promises to be both informative and thrilling. With its diverse range of activities, inspiring talks, and exciting demonstrations, this seven-day celebration is sure to be a hit with film and photography enthusiasts of all ages.

Lenovo appoints Abdullah Bahanshal as new Country Manager for Saudi Arabia

Lenovo has announced the appointment of Abdullah Bahanshal as the new Country Manager for Saudi Arabia within Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions Group (ISG).In his new leadership role, Abdullah will be responsible for managing and growing country revenue within the Kingdom. He will also support customers with insights backed by his years of experience in IT and Digital Transformation.Abdullah brings with him over 20 years of experience in the ICT industry especially around leadership, strategic sales and development. He comes to Lenovo ISG from Honeywell, where he was the Country Sales Leader for the Productivity Solutions and Services (PSS) sales team. He also focused on end user relationship through channel parties across the Kingdom, while also developing country growth strategic plans. Prior to that, he worked with global ICT brands like Huawei, Cisco Systems and Cerner. During his tenure at previous ICT firms, he won awards for performance, sales and strategy, while also being one of the first Saudi nationals to be certified as an ICF coach.Abdullah comes from a diverse academic background as he holds a BSc in Pharmaceutical Science and MSc in Health Informatics from King Saud University, KSA. He is also certified in Project and Program Management (PMP & PgMP) while also being an ICF certified coach specialized in Personal and Career Coaching. He is currently pursuing his MSc studies in Psychology. He also volunteers part time with Monsha’at to help and support entrepreneurs.Alaa Bawab, Lenovo General Manager Middle East and Africa said: “Abdullah brings with him years of senior experience in the ICT industry and has worked with some of the biggest names. His knowledge, talent and skill make him a vital part of our expansion into the Kingdom. We believe in his leadership experience and are confident that he can take forward our presence in the Kingdom to new heights and establish Lenovo as an industry leader.”Abdullah is also an avid traveller and reader, who spends his free time writing short stories, visiting museums and watching soccer. He also actively provides coaching sessions for career and personal coaching.

SVC invests in 35 Funds. VC Investments in Saudi Arabia Grew 17 Times

 Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC), a subsidiary of the Small and Medium Enterprises Bank (SME) , one of the development banks affiliated with the National Development Fund, released today its recent Impact Report, which revealed SVC’s contribution to achieving record growth rates. The report highlighted the impact of SVC on the Venture Capital (VC) and Private Equity (PE) ecosystem in the Kingdom since the company’s establishment in 2018.The SVC Impact Report revealed that the total committed investments of SVC amounted to $560 Million since its inception, while the total committed investments including partners are estimated at $3.9 Billion. SVC invested in 35 funds that have invested in 525 startups through 904 deals so far, including several vital sectors such as e-commerce, fintech, information and communication technology, education, delivery, and transportation.The impact report showed that SVC’s strategy contributed over the past four years in increasing the number of investors in Saudi startups and SMEs, encouraging existing and new financial companies to establish VC and PE funds, and motivating regional and global funds to invest in Saudi startups and SMEs.The report revealed that the funding deployed into Saudi Arabian startups grew 17 times to a record-high close to $1 Billion in 2022 versus $59 Million in 2018 when SVC started operation.Commenting on the report, CEO and Board Member at SVC Dr. Nabeel Koshak said: “We at SVC are committed to supporting the development of the VC and PE ecosystem in Saudi Arabia and continue stimulating private investors to provide support in turn for startups and SMEs to be capable of fast and high growth, which leads to diversifying the national economy and achieving the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030”.

Four New Sponsors join Gov Games 2023

The Organizing Committee of the Gov Games has signed sponsorship agreements with four national entities including the First Abu Dhabi Bank, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du), Dubai Design District (d3), and Lululemon from Majid Al Futtaim Group to support the fourth edition of the high-energy team-building challenge.The new set of sponsors will join the Main Sponsor, DP World, and the Golden Sponsor, Emarat General Petroleum (EMARAT) in their efforts to contribute to the expansion of the Gov Games tournament, which is scheduled to be held from 2-5 March 2023, in d3.Marwan bin Issa, Director of Gov Games, said: “Ever since His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council, launched the Gov Games in 2018, the event has received tremendous support from the public and private organizations across the UAE. This contributed to positioning Dubai as a sports destination, and one of the most active cities in the world.”Bin Issa added: “We appreciate the role of the sponsoring entities in supporting sporting events and activities, and celebrating the values of teamwork, represented by the private sector companies such as the First Abu Dhabi Bank, Du and Lululemon, in addition to Dubai Design District, one of the most important destinations in Dubai, which will host the tournament next month.”Khadija Al Bastaki, Senior Vice President of Dubai Design District (d3), part of TECOM Group, said: “Dubai Design District is thrilled to host the fourth edition of Gov Games. As a member of TECOM Group, d3 is committed to building upon our Group’s unique community culture by helping create opportunities for further engagement. Dubai’s Gov Games shares our spirit of team building and collaboration. Sports promote healthy people and lifestyles and simultaneously strengthen communities and shared values. With this year’s edition going global, we’re delighted for d3 to provide a platform for participating teams to Rethink the Regular, one competition at a time. May the best team win!”Ahmed Abu Rahima, Senior Vice President – Government Relations at du, said: “At du, we are proud to support the fourth edition of the Gov Games, which has become one of the most prominent team-building events within the sports agenda in Dubai. This sponsorship reinforces our commitment to support the vision of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council, to transform Dubai into one of the most vibrant and active cities in the world. The objective of the Gov Games is in line with our vision to participate in various sporting events and encourage our employees and the wider community to adopt healthier and safer lifestyle.”Tracy Faulkner, Group Chief Communications & External Relations Officer at First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), said: “Every year the Gov Games play a meaningful role in uniting community members from the UAE by putting their mental and physical endurance to the test. At FAB, we are proud to sponsor the Gov Games as this strongly connects with our objective to contribute to social and human development. We believe the Gov Games bring out the very best in people, be it through collaboration, diversity, tolerance, or teamwork. As we look to the future, FAB will continue to partner with events and competitions that inspire growth in communities whether through sports, youth, education or sustainable living.”Fahed Ghanim, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle, said: “We are delighted to be chosen as the official Clothing Sponsor for the fourth edition of the Gov Games. Through this partnership, we aim to encourage the society to adapt healthy and vibrant lifestyle which comes in line with Dubai's health objectives and to contribute to the UAE’s efforts to promote teamwork and harmony spirit within the society. This stems from our vision aimed at inspiring and motivating community members to practice sports and engage for a better life.”The fourth edition of Gov Games will feature a newly announced category, Battle of the Cities, where teams from 28 major cities across the world will compete to win the global Gov Games title. In addition, the Gov Games includes the Government categories for men and women from the local and federal government entities, beside the Community category. Registration is still open to join the games until February 9, 2023. For more details about the Gov Games, visit the event’s official website at, or its social media accounts on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok (@GovGames).

Dubai Customs, Dubai Chambers discuss cooperation

Dubai Customs and Dubai Chambers discussed means of cooperation in support of business and private sector and to enhance the emirate’s competitiveness following Dubai strategic plans and vision.These were the highlights of the meeting between Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, Director General of Dubai Customs, CEO of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation and Dubai Chambers’ delegation headed by Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah, President & CEO of Dubai Chambers at Dubai Customs main building.The two sides discussed their shared plans and strategies including electronic integration of services, and development of new services to consolidate Dubai’s position as a major global economic hub in the next ten years, and empower the new generation of Dubai traders in different sectors and support their expansion plans.Dubai Customs and Dubai Chambers had previously signed a memorandum of understanding on integration of the risk engine in what is related to the documents of origin and the ATA Carnet.“We spare no efforts to foster our partnerships with local and external entities, business groups and the private sector as part of the emirate’s vision of doubling external trade to AED25 trillion in the next decade, adding 400 new cities to the Dubai’s network, and attracting more investments,” said Musabih. “Dubai Customs provides advanced services to streamline procedures, and grow ROI’s for businesses.We are happy with this meeting with Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah and the Dubai Chambers’ delegation as we have discussed very important topics to push forward our partnership towards more sustainable development and economic prosperity in Dubai.” On his part, Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah highlighted the significance of the strategic partnership with Dubai Customs describing it as a model example to be followed in reinforcing Dubai and the private sector’s competitiveness, supporting companies in the emirate in their expansion efforts and delving into new markets.Lootah added; “Dubai Chambers is committed to achieve a number of strategic objectives to serve the private sector and enhance the emirate’s position as a preferred global hub for business. This includes opening new offices in promising markets around the world in support of the development plans and Dubai external trade.Our continuous dialogues and meetings with Dubai Customs are fruitful and essential within our common goal to augment the business environment, attract global firms and investments, support digital economy and facilitate Dubai companies’ global expansion.”

Business confidence hits two-year high as output growth strengthens

Confidence among non-oil private sector firms in Saudi Arabia climbed to a two-year high in January, according to latest PMI® survey data, as firms gave a robust forecast for the year ahead supported by strong inflows of new orders, high capacity, rising activity and softening cost pressures. Output and new business growth accelerated on the month, but job creation slowed from December’s near five-year high as firms continue to reduce their backlogs. Purchasing activity increased sharply and supply chains showed further signs of improvement, whilst inflationary pressures on both costs and charges softened from December. The headline figure is the seasonally adjusted Riyad Bank Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers’ Index™ (PMI®). The PMI is a weighted average of the following five indices: New Orders (30%), Output (25%), Employment (20%), Suppliers’ Delivery Times (15%) and Stocks of Purchases (10%). For the PMI calculation the Suppliers’ Delivery Times Index is inverted so that it moves in a comparable direction to the other indices. The headline index rose from 56.9 in December to 58.2 in January, posting firmly above the 50.0 value that separates growth from contraction. Moreover, the reading was the second-highest recorded since September 2021, following the recent high in November. The uplift was driven by positive directional influences from the Output, New Orders and Stocks of Purchases sub-indices, with all three seeing a pick-up in growth rates from the previous survey period. A slower rise in employment and a greater reduction in delivery times acted against the headline index. New order inflows continued to rise at a marked pace in January, as firms typically commented on improving demand conditions and stronger client orders. The rate of increase quickened from December and was the second-sharpest in 16 months. Demand from foreign clients increased rapidly and to a greater degree than at the end of 2022. Subsequently, non-oil activity levels expanded sharply in January, with around a third of all surveyed companies seeing an uplift on the month. Notably, the rate of growth was only slightly softer Rapid uplifts in output and new business Business optimism rises to two-year high Cost and charge inflation ease Comment Naif Al-Ghaith PhD, Chief Economist at Riyad Bank, said: “Saudi Arabia is continuing its strong performance and outperformed the global economic trends for activity and demand. The non-oil sector is starting this year with a strong headline growth at 58.2 in January, recording the second highest growth since September 2021. This growth confirms the Saudi position as the fastest-growing economy among the Group of 20 countries despite economic headwinds. "This month, Saudi Arabia has also recorded a very strong future confidence level which climbed to a two-year high in January. This was driven by the ongoing improvement in the business environment, private-sector employment, and increased foreign investment with governance and labour market reform. "Inflation is expected to soften in the upcoming months with the reduction in input cost pressures and the continued improvements in supply chains. We have started to see weaker increases in output prices corresponding with input costs. The rise in output prices was the softest in nearly a year, despite the growth in new orders which remained marked in January.” Data were collected 12-23 January 2023. Business confidence hits two-year high as output growth strengthens Riyad Bank Saudi Arabia PMI 2023 S&P Global Riyad Bank Saudi Arabia PMI than November’s over seven-year high. In addition, businesses gave a stronger projection for activity levels in the upcoming year. The degree of positivity picked up to the highest level since January 2021, as panellists largely expect demand growth to continue and market conditions to improve. Meanwhile, surveyed firms continued to report an appreciable degree of spare capacity in January, allowing them to complete work on time and reduce backlogs. Outstanding business levels fell for the eighth month running. As a result, hiring growth moderated from December’s near five-year record and was only slight. Conversely, input purchasing rose to a sharper degree as firms mentioned increased efforts to build inventories in anticipation of future sales. Supply chain conditions remained relatively healthy at the start of 2023. Vendor performance improved at a solid pace as suppliers responded positively to requests for faster deliveries. At the same time, purchase price inflation softened and was less marked than the series average, as only a few panellists highlighted an increase in raw material prices. With staff costs up only fractionally, overall cost pressures were subdued and the softest for three months. Consequently, businesses raised their output prices only slightly and at the weakest rate in nearly a year. If you prefer not to receive news releases from S&P Global, please email To read our privacy policy, click here. Naif Al-Ghaith Chief Economist Riyad Bank T: +966-11-401-3030 Ext.: 2467 Bader Al-Abdulqader Senior Economist Riyad Bank Tel.:+966-11-401-3030 Ext.: 2469 Contact PMI Sources: Riyad Bank, S&P Global, GaStat. -15 -10 -5 0 5 10 15 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 '11 '12 '13 '14 '15 '16 '17 '18 '19 '20 '21 '22 '23 The Riyad Bank Saudi Arabia PMI® is compiled by S&P Global from responses to questionnaires sent to purchasing managers in a panel of around 400 private sector companies. The panel is stratified by detailed sector and company workforce size, based on contributions to GDP. The sectors covered by the survey include manufacturing, construction, wholesale, retail and services. Data were first collected August 2009. Survey responses are collected in the second half of each month and indicate the direction of change compared to the previous month. A diffusion index is calculated for each survey variable. The index is the sum of the percentage of ‘higher’ responses and half the percentage of ‘unchanged’ responses. The indices vary between 0 and 100, with a reading above 50 indicating an overall increase compared to the previous month, and below 50 an overall decrease. The indices are then seasonally adjusted. The headline figure is the Purchasing Managers’ Index™ (PMI). The PMI is a weighted average of the following five indices: New Orders (30%), Output (25%), Employment (20%), Suppliers’ Delivery Times (15%) and Stocks of Purchases (10%). For the PMI calculation the Suppliers’ Delivery Times Index is inverted so that it moves in a comparable direction to the other indices. Underlying survey data are not revised after publication, but seasonal adjustment factors may be revised from time to time as appropriate which will affect the seasonally adjusted data series. For further information on the PMI survey methodology, please contact economics@ihsmarkit. com.

NBK provides its customers exclusive discounts on eco-friendly products

Reflecting its consistent endeavors to provide customers with unique offers, concurrently with advancing its sustainability initiatives, National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) is providing 2% discount, in addition to 10% NBK KWT Points, on customers’ purchases of eco-friendly products from Eureka, when using the NBK KWT Visa Infinite Credit Card for payment.Customers can choose from a variety of eco-friendly appliances and gadgets for in-store shopping at Eureka using the NBK KWT Visa Infinite Credit Card.On this occasion, Mr. Hisham Al-Nusif, Deputy General Manager of Consumer Banking Group, National Bank of Kuwait, said: “NBK strives to embed ESG standards into all its activities and businesses, including the banking products and services provided to customers, as well as the exclusive offers and rewards that are tailored to meet their needs and expectations.”Al-Nusif stressed that NBK Consumer Banking Group plays a leading role in this regard, with its initiatives, most notably the endeavors to transform all branches to be eco-friendly.“We constantly strive to maintain our leading position in the banking sector when it comes to adhering to our responsibilities towards society, as we place promoting sustainability as a key consideration placed at the heart of our strategy and all our products and services,” he added.“NBK is committed to supporting the government’s agenda, especially in its endeavors to achieve net-zero emissions, in a step to promote environmental, social and economic prosperity, which comes in line with the Country’s recent pledge to become carbon neutral by 2060,” he concludedNBK KWT Visa Infinite Credit Card combines an exclusive package of exceptional rewards with a design inspiring national pride, making it a card like no other. In addition, it gives its holders a unique lifestyle thanks to the benefits and offers it provides which are tailored to fit their needs and expectations.It is worth mentioning that NBK plays a leading role in actively contributing to the transition to a sustainable and low-carbon economy. In this context, it recently announced transforming its branch network to be eco-friendly by installing solar panels as a supplemental source of energy in its local branches in Kuwait, which will immensely contribute to its efforts to effectively reduce carbon emissions. This initiative underscores the bank’s fast-paced strides to achieve sustainable growth enshrined in New Kuwait Vision 2035 and the National Development Plan.NBK has gone a long way in transitioning to supporting the initiatives to combat climate change and adopting sustainability practices across all its operations by taking several initiatives aimed at reducing energy consumption, including energy optimization, auto switch off technologies, heating and cooling auto savings technologies, highly efficient (LED) fixtures, and the Tarsheed annual campaign for reduction of electricity and water consumption.

Chairman of Entertainment Authority Board of Directors inaugurates VIA RZ

Chairman of the Board of Directors of General Entertainment Authority Advisor Turki Al AL-Sheikh yesterday evening inaugurated VIA Riyadh Zone, one of the top entertainment zones in Riyadh that includes a group of the best restaurants, brands, a hotel, and cinema within a unique architectural pattern.The area, which will officially open in mid-February, features a variety of live shows, luxury places, and lifestyles, as well as the highest hospitality, accommodation, and exceptional luxury services to give visitors outstanding and perfect experiences.The area's construction lasted 20 months and was built in the "Salmani" style, incorporating the requirements of modern life by invoking the original architectural heritage in buildings and facilities for residents and visitors of Riyadh from inside and outside the Kingdom.VIA Riyadh offers leisure enthusiasts a unique stay full of luxury elements and memorable experiences, as well as a range of menus from Mediterranean cuisines and multiple global stores.The area, located near Riyadh's Diplomatic Quarter, offers spaces designed for rest and relaxation and enjoying the views and surroundings, making it an ideal destination for exceptional leisure times.A large collection of art sculptures is spread in VIA Riyadh to add a unique character to the green area and beauty elements in its various corners and facilities.The inauguration ceremony witnessed the presence of several ministers, officials, and ambassadors accredited to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The ceremony also paid tribute to the Chairman of the Saudi Journalists Association, Khalid Al-Malik, who was honored by Al Sheikh for his contributions throughout his media career.

Yango launches its own loyalty programme in the UAE - Yango Plus

 Yango, an international ride-hailing app, announces the launch of its own loyalty programme for Dubai: Yango Plus. The programme is available for all users and aims to make each ride even more pleasant and rewarding.The programme allows any Yango user who joins it via the app to receive 10% from a ride as cashback points. These points can be spent to pay for up to 100% of the next ride. Users can receive cashback points from rides paid by card and spend them in both Business and Premier served with no limit: more rides mean more points. One Plus point is the equivalent of 1 AED.Yango is an international ride-hailing service that was launched in Dubai in September 2022. It provides users with quick car dispatch and an excellent user experience. Users can order rides via the app choosing between the Business service class, with premium class cars such as Lexus ES and experienced drivers, and the Premier service class, with luxury cars including GMC Yukon, Mercedes S-class, BMW 7 Series and supreme level of customer service for a slightly higher price.The service already operates in more than 20 countries across the Middle East, Europe, Central Asia, and Africa. Unlike other online services available, Yango app uses its own technologies, for example, smart order distribution. These technologies can help reduce the net cost of the trip and the time that a driver spends seeking a customer, ensure the efficient use of drivers’ time while providing predictable and affordable service to riders.

Dubai’s Knowledge Fund Establishment signs agreement

The Knowledge Fund Establishment (KFE) has signed an agreement with Innoventures Education to be the Knowledge Partner for DIAMUN 2023, the Dubai International Academy Model United Nations conference. The MoU was signed in the presence of Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO - KFE, and Poonam Bhojani, CEO, Innoventures Education at KFE headquarters in Academic City, Dubai. DIAMUN 2023 (March 3-5) is celebrating 15 years, and promises to be a memorable and impactful conference, hosted at the sprawling campus of DIA Emirates Hills. Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO – KFE said: “The Knowledge Fund Establishment naturally supports initiatives that provide an ideal environment for students to access quality education, which will equip them to be global citizens. We are happy to be the Knowledge Partner for DIAMUN 2023 and contribute to supporting the Dubai government’s vision of creating future leaders for the knowledge economy.”Poonam Bhojani, CEO of Innoventures Education said: “Model United Nations helps develop the skills of diplomacy, debate, and dialogue in students. A fully student-led event, DIAMUN is an enriching experience, reflecting the deep research students undertake prior to the conference. It develops leadership and collaboration in students, and they have complete ownership over their learning. Powered by the landmark partnership with KFE, we are looking forward to an even more vibrant conference this year, which will hone leadership skills, cultural wisdom and empathy in our future leaders.” As many as 800 delegates attend DIAMUN on an average every year, representing 20 countries and six continents. The largest MUN conference in the Middle East, DIAMUN is affiliated with The Hague International Model United Nations (THIMUN) Foundation, one of the largest MUN organisations in the world. With the UAE declaring 2023 The Year of Sustainability, the theme for DIAMUN 2023 is “Collaborating to Foster Sustainable Development”. A special committee instituted this year, “Special Conference on Climate Change”, is inspired by the UAE hosting COP28 from 6-17 November. The conference is entirely paperless, with resolutions and voting digitalised through the DIAMUN Web app developed by DIA Emirates Hills students.Yagiz Ozenci, Secretary-General, DIAMUN 2023 said: “With our first entirely face-to-face conference after three years, our goal is to establish an inclusive platform for youth and encourage more students to speak up. We look forward to an action-packed three days of rigorous debates on current economic, social, and political issues, through which students can polish their public speaking, writing, research, and dispute resolution abilities.”Model United Nations (MUN) simulations are popular student simulations, for those interested in learning more about the UN. Students assume roles of delegates from different nations, collaborating to resolve current global issues using the perspectives and policies of the nation they represent. Hundreds of thousands of students worldwide participate every year in MUN at all educational levels – from primary school to university. Many of today’s leaders in law, government, business and the arts participated in MUN as students. DIAMUN student leaders have gone on to pursue higher studies at universities such as Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Columbia, Oxford, Cambridge and many others.

Jean-Paul Dantil appointed General Manager at Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort

An internationally versed General Manager Jean-Paul Dantil has taken the helm of one of the world’s most iconic resorts: Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara.With more than 30 years of experience in the luxury hospitality industry from General Manager and Managing Director roles, through to leading his own business, Jean-Paul Dantil brings a wealth of knowledge of commercial, operational and brand knowledge to the award-winning resort, leading its 350+ strong team.After his start in Front Office management at hotels and resorts in Micronesia and Turks & Caicos, Jean-Paul became a Managing Partner at Chris Garrod Partnership, one of the world’s leading hotel procurement companies.From 2011, he applied his expertise to managing world-class hotels, including Ritz Carltons in Vienna and Bahrain, and a cluster of Almanac Hotels across EuropeAs opening General Manager of the Kimpton St. Honore in Paris, Jean-Paul was responsible for establishing the flagship of the brand in 2020, including recruiting an entire team and operating the 149-room-and-suite luxury hotel with its restaurant, rooftop bar, spa, and meeting rooms.His most recent role, prior to moving to Abu Dhabi was as Interim General Manager at Six Senses Ibiza from 2021, where the guided the hotel through closing and re-opening for the 2022 season. Now he steps in to lead the team at Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort with a goal to maintain and grow the destination’s world-renowned customer service by motivating its first-class team with passion and innovation.Since starting his role, Jean-Paul has already brokered several new initiatives and partnerships with local partners such as the 3Fils pop-up in The Royal Pavilion, a partnership with UK based artist Nat Bowen, and a new takeover of the resort retail space: Souk Secrets; with many more to be announced in the coming months.

Expo City Dubai to host Dubai Marathon on 12 February

The Organising Committee of the Dubai Marathon today announced that the 2023 edition of the global long-distance running event will be held at Expo City Dubai on 12th February, 2023.Organised with the support of the Dubai Sports Council and the cooperation of various government entities, the 22nd edition of the iconic race will bring together runners from across the world.With its unique architectural marvels and open areas, Expo City Dubai provides an exceptional new setting for the Dubai Marathon. The Organising Committee said the City was chosen as the venue of the Marathon because it represents Dubai’s vision of serving as a bridge between cultures and its values of peaceful coexistence and tolerance.A legacy of Expo 2020 Dubai, the global celebration of culture, technology and innovation that brought together over 190 nations and more than 24 million visitors, Expo City Dubai is a human-centric city of the future that offers a unique blueprint for sustainable urban planning. The Marathon is bringing together elite athletes from around the world after a break of two years due to the pandemic.Expo City Dubai offers extensive facilities for the Marathon’s operations as well as spacious parking areas. The Dubai Marathon features three runs: the full 42.195 kilometres marathon open to runners over 18; the 10 kilometres Road Race open to runners over 15 years; and the 4 kilometres Fun Run open to all.

Akademy announces exclusive line-up of inaugural UAE events series

 Akademy, the exclusive intellectual member’s circle, celebrated its official launch in the UAE during a private opening held yesterday at the Dubai Opera. The ceremony united the world’s finest academic, creative and business thought leaders, introducing the private club to the region. A special performance by Dana Al Fardan, Qatar’s first female composer, and singer-songwriter, took guests on a journey through neo-classical compositions matched with contemporary songwriting as she performed her latest released album INDIGO, along with a chamber orchestra, taking guests on a multi-sensory experience combining light, colour and sound.Serving as a base for the world’s intellectual, artistic and cultural circles, Akademy aims to bring together like-minded individuals who share similar interests and an infinite curiosity to learn. Akademy believes in the power of education and works to curate a membership-only programme to present unique events and lectures, raising awareness of the thriving Middle Eastern culture and showcasing the region’s rich heritage to the rest of the world.Celebrating the thriving art scene in the UAE, Akademy will partner with leading galleries and curators to provide a rich programme of events with special collaborations throughout the year. Starting in February, Akademy members will enjoy an exclusive preview of the solo exhibition of Hayv Kahraman, an Iraqi contemporary artist at The Third Line Gallery in the thriving art district, Al Serkal Avenue.Continuing the series of bespoke curated events, Akademy will be organising expert talks and private film screenings for members throughout the semesters. In April 2023, members will enjoy a private screening of the film “It Ain’t Where You Are From” presented by the Executive Artistic Director at NYU Abu Dhabi and Philip Rachid, aka Soultrotter, in a special conversation on the Middle East’s underground music culture. Members of the club will have a chance to visit the private art collection of Lebanese-born artist and collector, Noura Ali-Al Ramahi, in Abu Dhabi.Commenting on the launch, Olga Fler, co-founder and main representative of Akademy in the UAE, said: “We are proud to launch Akademy in the UAE and introduce our bespoke platform aiming to build a discerning community that entices thought-provoking conversation and debate. The cultural scene in the region is thriving and we look forward to working with our fellow members and partners to curate events to connect people, nurture minds and raise further awareness of the Middle Eastern heritage and culture.”Throughout the year, Akademy will present a curated programme of events and lectures to enrich the world of its members and spark dialogue across a wide range of topics, including science, technology, arts and culture. Since its establishment in 2020 in the UK by two prominent leaders based in London, Anastasia Belyak and Kamilia Shaimieva, Akademy continues to build a discerning community through a curated programme of events and lectures. The bespoke membership-based platform champions the power of knowledge and celebrates diverse thinking, profound reflection and appreciation of one another. In the past two years, Akademy successfully presented over 40 events in partnership with world-renowned fashion brands such as Cartier, Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana as well as leading private clubs, including Holland & Holland, Annabel’s and Savile Club in the UK, providing unparalleled access to some of the world’s leading academics and thought leaders.

Xposure 2023 screens best in independent cinema

Xposure International Photography Festival has announced its lineup of short films for the 2023 exhibition, taking place from 9th to 15th February at Expo Centre Sharjah.Taking place on Monday, 13th February, 2023, this year's film screenings will be a mesmerising journey through the lens of talented filmmakers from around the world, showcasing a diverse range of stories that are sure to inspire, educate and entertain.The films will be screened, along with a selection of other screenings of films that will be nominated for the Xposure Awards taking place throughout the festival.The film screenings will showcase a series of captivating short films, each exploring a different theme and subject matter.From "The Gold Teeth" by Alireza Kazemipour, a touching story about an Afghan refugee in Canada seeking help from an Iranian ex-dentist, to "The Great Elephant Gathering of Asia" by Dilum Alagiyawanna, a celebration of the majestic elephants and the importance of conservation efforts. "It’s Good Business: Moving Beyond Conservation" by Simone Kisiel, explores the relationship between capitalism and the environment, while "Kefsan" by Akbar Shahbazi tells the story of Rahman Mard, who suffers from paralysis that drives him to despair.For wildlife enthusiasts, "Eyes Of The Orangutan" by Aaron Gekoski is a must-see film that exposes the dark side of the wildlife tourism industry. Photography enthusiasts will be transported on a visual journey in "Obscura" by Ian Ruhtr, showcasing the beauty of wet plate collodion photography. "The Human Element" by James Balog is a powerful blend of art and science that highlights the impact of climate change on people and the planet. "The Guardian Angel of Guatemala" by Giles Clarke profiles the life of Dr. Jorge Chiu, a cardiothoracic surgeon who doubles as a paramedic in the violence-ridden streets of Guatemala City, while “Tor Seidel: Video Art Now” features selected graduate films from video art classes at the College of Fine Arts and Design at the University of Sharjah from the period 2019-2022.On Tuesday, 14th February, the festival will showcase “25 Hertz” by Beno Saradzic featuring six of his best time-lapse films. The film highlights the wonder of beautiful cityscapes interlaced with the intricacy of our modern world.

Meta annual study reveals behavioral insights on UAE observers & shoppers

Ramadan is a global moment observed by almost two billion people. Falling on the ninth month of the lunar Islamic calendar, it’s a time widely associated with fasting, prayer, and reflection - culminating with the celebratory feast of Eid.To better understand the behaviours of people who observe Ramadan and who shop for this season, Meta has released the results of its annual global consumer research titled “Meta Ramadan Moment Study”. The study was conducted in partnership with YouGov during Ramadan 2022 with over 18,000 adults in 12 countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.At its core, Ramadan is a time for community and kindness. It’s the single kindest moment on Meta technologies, with over 7.8M interactions containing the word “kindness” taking place on Facebook on the final day of Ramadan last year.On Instagram, there were over 13.4M interactions mentioning togetherness, connection and community during the month-long period, while 91% of surveyed shoppers or observers in the UAE said they like to see content that promotes community and togetherness across both Facebook and Instagram during Ramadan and Eid; in addition to 81% of shoppers or observers in the UAE participated in charitable activities during Ramadan and Eid.Fares Akkad, Meta’s regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, commented: “As a seasonal moment, the focus on unity and kinship during Ramadan is unmatched. For marketers, this creates an opportunity to connect with audiences through positive, emotionally-rich messaging.”Here are three tips for businesses to create meaningful connection this Ramadan: Connecting through brand storytelling There are more ways than ever to create meaningful connections this Ramadan. With brand storytelling tools - such as Reels, in-stream video, branded content, and augmented reality - businesses can bring communities together through rich and immersive experiences. 58% of shoppers or observers in the UAE said they felt more connected to a brand after seeing Ramadan or Eid content on Facebook or Instagram.The influence of creators in discovery on social media has grown over the past three Ramadan seasons. Creators are a trusted gateway to inspire audiences and align with Ramadan values. 58% of shoppers or observers in the UAE are more likely to trust a brand that partners with a trustworthy creator.Personalising connection with Discovery CommerceAs shoppers are exploring different product categories during Ramadan than the rest of the year, they are increasingly looking for personalised recommendations to help navigate their purchasing decisions. 71% of shoppers or observers in the UAE agree it’s easier to complete their Ramadan shopping with personalised product and gift suggestions.Strengthening connection with business messagingConversations are a powerful gateway to connection and commerce, especially during Ramadan. For many, instant messaging provides a more accessible way to communicate with businesses, 67% of shoppers or observers in the UAE feel more connected to a brand through instant messaging during Ramadan and Eid.Beyond providing a more accessible customer experience, business messaging can also be a significant commerce enabler during high-traffic times. It provides a quick and easy route to address any queries or concerns, helping take customers from consideration to purchase in minutes.

UAM Fight Night K1 Pro Kickboxing Championship Set For February 11

The UAM Fight Night K1 Pro Kickboxing Championship will be held on February 11, organisers have confirmed. Featuring an elite line-up of men and women, the event will mark the UAE Muay Thai & Kickboxing Federation's (UAEMTKF) first event of a new season packed with exciting competitions across various categories.The championship will be held at Etihad Arena and see 28 male and female athletes from 18 countries compete across several weight classes. The headline bout is a highly anticipated lightweight showdown between Briton Michael "The Punisher" Wakeling and UAE champion Ilyass Habibali.The UAM Fight Night K1 Pro Championship will draw participants from 18 countries, including UAE, Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, France, Italy, England, Belgium, and Turkey, demonstrating the international participation in this championship as well as the strong global reputation the UAE now enjoys as a preferred destination for kickboxing. Simultaneously, Abu Dhabi has proven over the past 10 years that it is capable of hosting the most prestigious international competitions in a variety of sports.The packed fight card brings a number of highly competitive bouts, especially the anticipated bout featuring Habibali and Wakeling, as both athletes hope for a well-earned victory. Over the course of his career, "The Punisher" has won 32 times throughout his career, including 14 victories of which came by way of knockout. UAE hero Habibali also has a stellar record, with 19 victories, five knockouts, and three defeats.Meanwhile, the super welterweight fight between Moldovan Lilian Porcireanu and Vedat Hoduk of Turkey is also likely to produce fireworks. Hoduk has 25 KOs from his 36 wins.Spectators will be able to enjoy the stellar performance of their favourite athletes across the day’s action-packed bouts, which will also feature two female bouts, proving great turnout of women practicing in this type of combat sports. Abdullah Saeed Al Neyadi, President of the UAEMTKF, said both Muay Thai and kickboxing are gaining popularity among Emirati society and the wider UAE population. “Kickboxing enjoys a distinct demand from different nationalities and age groups,” he said. “This is in keeping with the vision and objectives of the Federation, which also aims to increase the reach of the sport and the number of participants. The UAE and specifically Abu Dhabi have significantly contributed to the growth of the sport at a regional and international level courtesy of the unwavering support of the country’s wise leadership and long-term vision for both the sport and its players.“Bringing together an elite group of male and female players so early in the season reflects the growing status of kickboxing in the country. Perhaps this championship represents an important milestone for many upcoming events that will be included in the new season’s agenda, which aims to advance the readiness of the national team players and prepare them to compete in regional, continental, and international events. Welcoming all participants from all countries of the world and wishing them a pleasant stay in Abu Dhabi.”

Jordan Ahli Bank appoints Dr. Ahmad Awad Abdulhalim Al-Hussein as its CEO & GM

Dr. Ahmed Awad Abdul Halim Al-Hussein has been named the new General Manager and CEO of Jordan Ahli Bank, taking over for Mr. Mohammed Musa Dawood as his seven-year journey of service at the bank has come to an end.In order to finish the path of achievement and lead the National Bank towards further progress and prosperity, Dr. Ahmed Al-Hussein will begin performing the duties of his new position today, Wednesday, corresponding to the first of February 2023.The chairman of the board at Jordan Ahli Bank, Mr. Saad Nabil Muasher, expressed his delight and pride in the appointment of Dr. Ahmed Al-Hussein as the Chief Executive Officer / General Manager of Jordan Ahli Bank, emphasizing that he has rich banking experience that spans for over 33 years in all areas of the bank, which will enable him to complete the implementation of plans, the bank's strategy, achieve its objectives, and will work to improve our operations and elevate them to better levels.From his side, Dr. Ahmad Al-Hussein remarked, "I feel very proud and happy to complete my journey which I started about 7 years ago as Deputy Chief Executive Officer / General Manager, during which all areas of the bank worked together in the spirit of one team. I look forward to achieving the bank's plans for reaching its noble objectives in a manner that helps it reach its vision and strategy and grow on multiple fronts and levels. In addition to that, I have no doubt that we will be successful in taking the bank to new heights and bringing honor to its long history”.Lastly, Dr. Al-Hussein has an impressive academic background having earned a PhD in Finance Management from Amman Arab University, a master's degree in Finance Management from the University of Jordan and a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Economics from the same institution. He is also a part of a number of companies whose successes we admire.

Stc pay's CEO to participate as KS at the 2nd edition LEAP 2023 GTIC

stc pay, the Saudi digital payments company and the largest digital wallet in the MENA region, and a leading regional operator of innovative digital technology and financial services, is preparing to participate in the second edition of the LEAP 2023 Global Technology Innovation Conference.Building on the great success of the first edition of the conference, LEAP 2023, whose main theme this year is “Into New Worlds", LEAP will bring together a group of experts and technology leaders globally with the aim of addressing the world's technical challenges. The conference is an important opportunity to meet more than 100,000 technical innovators and experts from all over the world to discover creative and pioneering ideas, build new partnerships, as well as connect with investors and inspirational people.The CEO of stc pay, Mr. Nizar Al-Tuwaijri, will participate as a keynote speaker on the fourth day, February 9, 2023, whose topic corresponds to “LEAP into the Future”, in which several industry leaders will participate, to highlight the future of financial technologies and innovative digital business products, and build a more innovative future for all.  In addition to the company's readiness to transform from a digital payment’s wallet and to STC Bank, stc pay continues its pursuit of leadership in providing the latest and best services and solutions in the world of financial technologies.On this occasion, Nizar Al-Tuwaijri, CEO of stc pay, said: "We are pleased to participate for the second year in a row in this major event, and the conference is an important opportunity for us to review and discuss the latest developments, innovations and remarkable progress witnessed by the financial technology sector in the Kingdom and around the world. LEAP brings forth an opportunity for those in the field and in various sectors and disciplines to exchange ideas, opinions and experiences, in an effort to transform the Kingdom to occupy the highest ranks of technical and technological progress globally."LEAP 2023 will take place from February 6 to 9, 2022, with many startups and more than 500 expert speakers expected to participate, from today's tech-savvy footballers to tech-savvy investors to industry speakers. The conference will also include several sessions and workshops, which will address important topics focused on building a more innovative and creative future and many other topics.

One step closer to making UAE the region’s startup hub - ZIC

Innovation through collaboration remains the name of the game as Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) launches the fourth edition of the Zurich Innovation Championship – the largest global open innovation contest with startups in the insurance sector.Following past successes, Zurich is inviting startups once again to compete for the opportunity to collaborate on solutions tailored to the needs of customers and the insurance industry.“The Innovation Championship fosters a new way of thinking and allows us to get access to ideas and solutions we may not yet have ourselves,” said Ericson Chan, Group Chief Information & Digital Officer. “For the participants, it is an opportunity to grow their business and pitch technology-driven solutions that can help meet emerging and evolving customer needs."The Zurich Innovation Championship is an important initiative that will enhance the UAE startup segment to further position it as a launchpad for local entrepreneurs across all industries. The UAE, renowned for its pioneering achievements, has launched "UAE Innovates", an initiative led by the Central Bank of the UAE to recognize and foster innovation and innovators and unite efforts of the public and private sectors and the residents to help create an extensive culture of progression and innovation. “As a strategic player in the UAE insurance market, we are encouraging homegrown startups to take full advantage of this remarkable opportunity. This is arguably not just one of the most sought-after platforms for participants in the region, but an opportunity to grow their business, pitch technology-driven solutions and actualize society-impacting ideas that can help ultimately meet emerging and evolving customer needs," said Mufazzal Kajiji, Chief Executive Officer of Zurich International Life.According to Mufazzal, this competition ties in well with the month-long UAE Innovates 2023 initiative and is expected to contribute to its objective by inspiring and nurturing startups to ultimately become successful organizations in the long run.The championships are also encouraging participation from startups based in Qatar and Bahrain as it seeks to promote innovation from the wider Middle East region.Startups can sign up in one of five categories – Customer Experience, Commercial Insurance, Distribution Partnerships, Digital Enablement and Sustainability."Previous championships have shown that the most value comes from startups with ideas to disrupt single parts of the value chain, or enablers, rather than challengers looking to disrupt the whole industry,” said Paolo Mantero, Group Chief Strategy Officer. “Our goal is collaborating together and bringing together the best of what we and the startups have to offer. This is where innovation can make a real difference.”The Zurich Innovation Championship has become an integral part of Zurich’s innovation drive. Since the first edition in 2018, there have been more than 4,500 submissions, and Zurich is now collaborating with 30 of the participating startups.For more details and sign up, please click here 1.The five challenges to be solved:Customer experience: How might Zurich provide customers with solutions and experiences that are as sophisticated and customized as the best-in-class?Commercial insurance: How might Zurich deliver innovative, tailored insurance solutions and risk services as risks evolve and secure the trust of its clients?Distribution partnerships: How might Zurich elevate its partnerships and attract new distribution partners and ecosystems to meet changing customer needs?Digital enablement: How might Zurich use technology to achieve greater agility and efficiency and underpin the right customer and employee experience?Sustainability: How might Zurich help society transition to a more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable world?A yearly program to champion innovationThis year, the Zurich Innovation Championship is developing into a year-long tournament from January to December. Ten members of Zurich’s global leadership team will pick 2-3 winning initiatives per category by end-April. In the subsequent accelerator phase, stretching four months from end-May to end-September, project funding of up to USD 100,000 will be provided for each of the winning startups, together with mentorship from Zurich leaders and external experts. This will allow the startups, working closely with Zurich’s leaders and businesses, to validate how their joint solution can meet evolving customer needs and prepare an operational business plan to adopt across the Group. By end-December 2023, the proven initiatives will have kicked off, bringing to life the joint proposition.The Zurich Innovation Championship is once again working with leading players in the startup ecosystem, including F6S, Plug and Play, and SOSA. The potential for collaboration is outlined in a recent Zurich white paper from December 2022, “The Future of Insurtech Collaboration”.1- Submission open till February 27, 11:59 p.m. CETZurich Insurance Group (Zurich) is a leading multi-line insurer serving people and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Founded 150 years ago, Zurich is transforming insurance. In addition to providing insurance protection, Zurich is increasingly offering prevention services such as those that promote well being and enhance climate resilience.Reflecting on its purpose to ‘create a brighter future together’, Zurich aspires to be one of the most responsible and impactful businesses in the world. It targets     net-zero emissions by 2050 and has the highest-possible ESG rating from MSCI. In 2020, Zurich launched the Zurich Forest project to support reforestation and biodiversity restoration in Brazil.The Group has about 56,000 employees and is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. Zurich Insurance Group Ltd (ZURN), is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and has a level I American Depositary Receipt (ZURVY) program, which is traded over-the-counter on OTCQX. Further information is available at, Zurich Innovation Championship

Al Tamimi & Company strengthens its corporate commercial practice across MENA

Al Tamimi & Company has appointed Nick Watson as Partner and regional Head of its Corporate Commercial department. With over 25 years of international law firm experience, Nick has spent the majority of his career being in the Middle East region. And for the leading law firm in the Middle East and North Africa, the two hires further strengthen its capabilities throughout its 17 offices spread across 10 countries.Nick has spent a number of years undertaking leadership responsibilities for both corporate practices, and the growth and development of Middle East business. He is highly regarded and experienced in leading cross border and domestic M&A, and capital markets transactions, advising on corporate law issues, and he has significant exposure to the UAE, Oman, and KSA markets. Nick will be based at the firm’s Dubai office; however, his role will include working with all the Corporate Commercial Partners across each of Al Tamimi & Company’s locations.Nick is joined by Suhail Mirza, who comes on board as Partner in the firm’s Corporate Commercial Practice in Dubai. Suhail has been practicing in the UAE for over 15 years specialising in M&A, Infrastructure and Technology (including fintech digital payment and e-commerce) transactions. Both appointments further emphasise the value Al Tamimi & Company places on delivering the best knowledge, experience, and expertise to its clients across the region.Commenting on the new Corporate Commercial hires, Samer Qudah, Managing Partner at Al Tamimi & Company said:“The Corporate Commercial practice is built on our knowledge and depth of understanding the Middle East and North Africa legal and regulatory landscape, and with their experience Nick and Suhail will add significant value to the team and the firm.“Our Corporate Commercial practice has been growing over the years and boasts a one-of-a-kind footprint across the region’s transactional markets. We wanted to bring on board experts with exposure to the region, and in Nick we have found the right person to lead our Practice. Along with Suhail, and our other 17 experienced Corporate Commercial Partners, the team will add more value and deepen our existing offer and enable us to meet our commitment to the success of our clients”.New Partner, and regional Head of Corporate Commercial, Nick Watson said:“I am delighted to come on board to lead Al Tamimi & Company’s Corporate Commercial Practice. The firm’s reputation is undisputable as a leader across the entire Middle East and North Africa, and this practice area is a cornerstone for the firm.“We want to continue to grow the reputation of the Corporate Commercial practice across the MENA region, and ensure our clients have access to leading practitioners, and a strong knowledge base that offers the optimum solutions. I look forward to working with my fellow Partners and colleagues across our offices, to provide clients with excellent legal services and intelligence that is synonymous with Al Tamimi & Company”.On joining Al Tamimi & Company, new Corporate Commercial Partner, Suhail Mirza commented:“Having been in the region since 2008, I have come to admire the full service offering that Al Tamimi & Company has to offer. Increasingly, clients in the region require a depth of experience and expertise that only a few law firms can offer on a regional basis. With its footprint of offices across the MENA region, I am delighted to be part of a law firm that can provide a seamless integrated service in all the key regional markets”.As the firm bolsters its Corporate Commercial practice with these prominent hires, it highlights its commitment to ensure clients have access to the best expertise and experience in the market and demonstrates the firm’s desire to achieve its ambitious vision, to be the leading law firm in the Middle East and North Africa.

Sophos details first fake apps found on Apple’s App Store

Sophos, a global leader in innovating and delivering cybersecurity as a service, today released new findings on CryptoRom scams—elaborate financial fraud schemes that prey on and trick dating app users into making fake cryptocurrency investments—in its latest report, "Fraudulent Trading Apps Sneak into Apple and Google App Stores.” The report details the first fake CryptoRom apps —Ace Pro and MBM_BitScan— to successfully bypass Apple’s strict security protocols. Previously, cybercriminals used workaround techniques to convince victims to download illegitimate iPhone apps that were not sanctioned by the Apple App Store. Sophos immediately notified Apple and Google; both have since removed the fraudulent apps from their respective stores.“In general, it’s hard to get malware past the security review process in the Apple App Store. That’s why, when we originally began investigating CryptoRom scams targeting iOS users, the scammers would have to persuade users to first install a configuration profile before they could install the fake trading app. This obviously involves an additional level of social engineering—a level that’s hard to surmount. Many potential victims would be ‘alerted’ that something wasn’t right when they couldn’t directly download a supposedly legitimate app. By getting an application onto the App Store, the scammers have vastly increased their potential victim pool, particularly since most users inherently trust Apple,” said Jagadeesh Chandraiah, senior threat researcher, Sophos. “Both apps are also not affected by iOS’ new Lockdown mode, which prevents scammers from loading mobile profiles helpful for social engineering. In fact, these CryptoRom scammers may be shifting their tactics—i.e., focusing on bypassing the App Store review process—in light of the security features in Lockdown.”To lure the victim who was conned with Ace Pro, for instance, the scammers created and actively maintained a fake Facebook profile and persona of a woman supposedly living a lavish lifestyle in London. After building a rapport with the victim, the scammers suggested the victim download the fraudulent Ace Pro app and the cryptocurrency fraud unfolded from there.Ace Pro is described in the app store as a QR code scanner but is a fraudulent crypto trading platform. Once opened, users see a trading interface where they can supposedly deposit and withdraw currency. However, any money deposited goes directly to the scammers. In order to get past App Store security, Sophos believes the scammers had the app connect to a remote website with benign functionality when it was originally submitted for review. The domain included code for QR scanning to make it look legitimate to app reviewers. However, once the app was approved, the scammers redirected the app to an Asian-registered domain. This domain sends a request that responds with content from another host that ultimately delivers the fake trading interface. MBM_BitScan is also an app for Android, but it is known as BitScan on Google Play. The two apps communicate with the same Command and Control (C2) infrastructure; this C2 infrastructure then communicates with a server that resembles a legitimate Japanese crypto firm. Everything else that is malicious is handled in a web interface, which is why it is hard for Google Play’s code reviewers to detect it as fraudulent.CryptoRom, a subset of family of scams known as sha zhu pan (???)—literally “pig butchering plate”—is a well-organized, syndicated scam operation that uses a combination of romance-centered social engineering and fraudulent crypto trading applications and websites to lure victims and steal their money after gaining their confidence. Sophos has been tracking and reporting on these scams that reap millions of dollars for two years.Learn more about the criminals behind the CryptoRom rings and these fraudulent apps in “Fraudulent CryptoRom Trading Apps Sneak into Apple and Google App Stores” on

Abu Dhabi Chamber launches its new strategy for 2023-2025

The Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ADCCI) launched its new 3-year strategy today spanning from 2023 to 2025, which centres on serving the Abu Dhabi Economy and solidifying its position as the “Voice of the Private Sector”.In line with its new strategy, the Abu Dhabi Chamber aims to empower the private sector in Abu Dhabi and enhance its competitiveness, making Abu Dhabi the first choice in the MENA region for doing business by 2025.The announcement was made during a launch ceremony organized by the Abu Dhabi Chamber, which was attended by Abdulla Mohamed Al Mazrui, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Chamber; Dr. Ali Saeed bin Harmal Al Dhaheri, First Vice Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Chamber; and other board members. The event was also attended by a number of officials and dignitaries, strategic partners, diplomatic representatives, business councils, members from the private sector, and media.The Chamber's strategy is the result of an extensive exercise that was led by its Board of Directors after their appointment in July 2021 by Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, as they identified the need for a transformation that will allow the Chamber to provide exceptional services to support the private sector and the Abu Dhabi Economy. Furthermore, the strategy aims to establish the Chamber as a credible partner for both the private sector and government with adding value to all stakeholders. It was also anchored in the needs of the private sector and aims to foster collaboration with local and federal partners for a successful and prosperous Abu Dhabi.Strategic ObjectivesIn its 2023-2025 strategy, the Chamber focused on six strategic objectives. These include: (i) being the #1 advocator for the private sector’s needs and the main communication channel between the private sector and the Abu Dhabi government.; (ii) being the leader of the primary private sector committees in Abu Dhabi.; (iii) being the go-to entity for identifying relevant business partners, locally and abroad; (iv) being the #1 platform for ecosystem navigation; (v) being a best-in-class and fully digital service provider for Abu Dhabi businesses; (vi) and becoming the go-to entity for private sector data and insights.Strategy DevelopmentCommenting on the launch of the Chamber’s new strategy, Abdulla Mohamed Al Mazrui, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Chamber, said: “The development of a comprehensive, integrated, and ambitious strategy for the Abu Dhabi Chamber is a major step that supports the directives of our wise leadership by connecting the public and private sectors. The Chamber already went through an organizational transformation on an internal level, which will play a key role in driving productivity and excellence to overcome any upcoming challenges.”“The Abu Dhabi Chamber's new strategy is focused on empowering the private sector in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and supporting it in reaching its full potential in a competitive business environment, by facilitating trade exchange opportunities and driving the growth of the economy in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Through advocacy, innovation, and digitization, the Chamber contributes to making Abu Dhabi the top choice in the MENA region for business by 2025, and consolidating the Chamber's reputation as one of the best chambers of commerce in the region and the world,” His Excellency added.Rashed Abdulkarim Al Blooshi, Undersecretary of Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, said: “The Abu Dhabi Chamber's new strategy will contribute to making more achievements in economy and trade, for the benefit the emirate of Abu Dhabi and the UAE. The Chamber seeks to have a stronger influence in the formulation of policies, and serve as a channel of communication between the private sector, the government and the concerned parties.”His Excellency added: “The launch of the new strategy is a major step for growing Abu Dhabi’s economy, especially that the Chamber works closely with the private sector and is aware of the sector’s needs and concerns. The Department of Economic Development - Abu Dhabi is committed to supporting the execution of the Abu Dhabi Chamber's strategy during the next stage, to drive the growth of the emirate's economy and create more opportunities for future generations.”Dr. Ali Saeed bin Harmal Al Dhaheri, First Vice Chairman at Abu Dhabi Chamber, said: “Supported by our wise leadership, the Abu Dhabi Chamber has made great achievements since its establishment, growing its membership base to more than 133,000 members. This reflects Abu Dhabi’s position as a leading destination for doing business. Abu Dhabi Chamber’s new strategy aims to enhance the competitiveness of the private sector and expedite its growth and contribution to the national economic development.”The Start of a New PhaseKarl Magnus Olsson, Board member at the Abu Dhabi Chamber, said: “The Abu Dhabi Chamber’s new strategy aims to fulfil our duty towards the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and its business community. We will work together to make the objectives and vision of the new strategy a reality by 2025, and continue moving forward with our journey with excellence and efficiency.”Amer Fayez Kakish, Board Member at Abu Dhabi Chamber, added: “We are certain that the new strategy will bring about outstanding results for the private sector in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. We are keen to proceed with events, meetings, and conferences that bring the private sector and the government together, to gauge the satisfaction of businesses in the Chamber’s new strategy and enhance their contribution to influencing regulations that drive the private sector forward.”His Excellency Mohamed Helal Almheiri, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Chamber, said: “Since its establishment in 1969, the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry has provided a supportive, flexible, and inclusive environment to businesses in Abu Dhabi. With our new strategy, we look forward to starting a new phase that focuses on uncovering opportunities for the business community, by providing services that benefit the Emirate and make it one of the best and most dynamic business destinations in the world for living, working, and establishing businesses.”“Over the past three years, Abu Dhabi’s private sector has witnessed rapid growth, driven by the guidance of our wise leadership, and Abu Dhabi Chamber’s support. For the next three years, the Chamber aims to achieve further success by bringing the private and public sectors together. This aims to strengthen the contribution and impact of Abu Dhabi’s business community on the sector’s development, and maintain its active presence in the local and national economy, to enhance Abu Dhabi's reputation and its leading position on the regional and global forums,” His Excellency added.A newly transformed and Global Arbitration CenterIn line with the objectives of the new strategy, the Abu Dhabi Chamber is preparing to soon launch a newly transformed Arbitration Center that will bring together international best practices for the region and local businesses to take full advantage of Alternative Dispute Resolution practices. This will further support the business environment in Abu Dhabi, making Abu Dhabi a preferred hub for Alternative Dispute Resolution in years to come.Chamber servicesAccording to the new strategy, the Chamber will play three key roles: Being a Policy Advocator, a Networker, and a Service Provider.By being a policy advocator, the Chamber will be serving as the interface between the private sector and the government, and run sectorial committees and working groups through leading the Economic Collaboration Committee, liaising with its government partners accordingly to provide a platform for the private sector to discuss the best ways to overcome challenges, propose new ideas, and raise policy recommendations. The Chamber will also organize regulation consultations and campaigns that aim to support the private sector in understanding relevant regulations and contribute to the establishment and modification of laws before they are issued. Moreover, the Chamber will organize B2G conferences, and provide credible data and research to private sector and government partners.As part of its role as a networker, the Chamber will work with different stakeholders with the aim of uncovering opportunities within the ecosystem. The Chamber will continue to organize B2B matchmaking events, which aim to bring together local companies with relevant local and international companies/organizations to promote trade and contribute to economic growth. Aside from this, the Abu Dhabi Chamber will be hosting focused topical events to support networking and discuss the most pressing topics in the business environment The Chamber will also support international delegations to facilitate trade, investments and collaboration for the private sector.As part of its role as a service provider, the Chamber aims to be a trusted platform for economic ecosystem navigation and will offer best in class digital and advisory services including, legal advice, legal mediation, attestation, and official documentation services like the certificate of origin. The Chamber conducted a complete digital transformation exercise recently and all its services are 100% digital and can be accessed through the TAMM platform.The Chamber has stressed that its role is to complement the efforts of the government through private sector engagement and this new strategy with its objectives, service offering and dedication from the Board of Directors, Chamber management, and employees. The ultimate aim is to support Abu Dhabi and realize its future vision, to strengthen the private sector and Abu Dhabi economy through advocacy, innovation, and digitization, making Abu Dhabi the number one choice in MENA for business and talent by 2025.

Renaissance appoints Chief Communication and Marketing Officer

Renaissance Services has appointed Mohana Prabhakar as Chief Communication and Marketing Officer. Mohana took up the role in December 2022, bringing to Renaissance her comprehensive and strategic skills in media, content creation and delivery, publishing, marketing communication and brand building.In the over three decades of her career, 21 years of which have been in Oman, Mohana has held several roles - as equity researcher, business analyst, first CEO of Apex Press and Publishing, editor, columnist and events planner. Her underlying commitment across these domains has been to differentiate, maintain quality and focus and always look for a fresh approach.Renaissance CEO, Stephen Thomas, said, “Mohana has made a transformational difference to the company’s communications from a consultancy perspective over recent years. We are now delighted to have her join us in the C-suite leadership team, where her transformative skills may be applied beyond communications. Renaissance is committed to DEI and we are seeing more and more female colleagues joining our team at every level, making a positive difference to our outlook and delivery.”Commenting on her new role, Mohana said, “Renaissance has always stood out in Oman’s corporate landscape because of its consistent focus on excellence and efficiency without compromising on the essential tenets of worker welfare and ESG. The company has many inspiring stories to tell but always with an eye on the future as we go on the Renaissance 2.0 transformation journey. It’s exciting to join at a time where I hope to contribute my experience and expertise in enhancing Brand Renaissance.”

Cinema in Oman: Nearly $2.6mln revenue in 2021

The revenues of cinemas in Oman touched two million OMR during the year 2021, according to the National Centre for Statistics and Information, (NCSI).The average movie revenue in 2021 amounted to about 4,155 OMR, compared to 7,245 Omani riyals for the year 2020.Registering a growth of 720,000 OMR, the income of films and cinematic shows for 2021 increased to about 1,953,000 OMR from 1,239,000 OMR in 2020, according to the Cultural Statistics of the NCSI. The number of films shown in cinemas in 2021 was about 470, compared to 171 films shown in 2020. The number of cinemas increased by one multiplexes 2021, to reach 14, compared to 13 in 2020.The data for the year 2021 included a breakdown of the number of films shown by governorates, the number of viewers, and cinema seats. Overall in 2021, 470 films were shown, watched by about 807,000 spectators, and the number of cinema seats was 10,390.Cinema in MuscatMuscat came first in terms of the number of cinema seats, which exceeded 6,200 seats, and 100 films were shown, which were watched by about 539,000 viewers.While in the second place came the Governorate of North Al Batinah, with more than 1,800 seats for cinemas, and 100 films were shown, which were watched by about 96,000 people.In third place was the Dhofar Governorate, with more than 690 seats, and 75 films were shown, which were watched by about 40,000 people.The Al-Buraimi governorate had as 60 films shown, watched by an audience of 18,000 , and the number of cinemas in the governorate reached 628 seats.

MENA’s open banking platform Tarabut Gateway announces two senior appointments

Tarabut Gateway, MENA’s leading regulated open banking platform, announces two new appointments to its management team.  Oussama Bouhcine joins as Vice President of Customer Success and Services and Derek Lakin joins as Vice President of Engineering.With over a decade of experience in project management for technology companies, Oussama is a seasoned expert in B2B customer success management. He spent five years at software giant Microsoft, where he served as a Delivery Project Manager and successfully managed multi-million-dollar projects with major corporate clients. Prior to joining, Oussama held the role of VP of Customer Success at Dutch cyber security SaaS provider Zivver. During his tenure, he revamped the customer success management system, and established customer operations for over 7,500 clients.Similarly, Derek Lakin is a highly experienced Engineering Leader with over 20 years of experience in the software industry, having worked at renowned global technology companies such as Meta, Skype, and Skyscanner. At Meta, Derek held a leadership role in the Ads organisation in the UK and later at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, California. While at Skype and Skyscanner, he led teams of engineers in the development of new applications and the improvement of existing software services, with a focus on user experience and cloud-native systems at scale.These senior hires are part of Tarabut Gateway's approach to building the company’s talent pool combining local sector expertise with international experience. These appointments follow a transformative year for the open banking platform. In December 2022, The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) approved Tarabut Gateway for its regulatory sandbox; the platform was recently selected as the Dubai International Financial Centre’s (DIFC) preferred partner for its Open Finance Lab; it entered partnerships with four leading KSA banks; and became the first regulated open banking service provider in the UAE in April of last year.Abdulla Almoayed, Chief Executive Officer of Tarabut Gateway, said:“We are thrilled to welcome Oussama and Derek as Vice Presidents to our growing team. With formidable track records at world-class software companies, they bring valuable experience to meet our high standards for technical excellence and ensure the highest level of customer satisfaction. As Tarabut Gateway looks to strengthen its presence in key markets like Saudi Arabia, and expand to new ones, Oussama and Derek are a fantastic addition to our senior leadership team, and we are proud to have them on board.”Tarabut Gateway plays a vital role in building the open banking ecosystem’s infrastructure in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain. Using the company’s platform-agnostic solutions, traditional financial institutions and fintechs can connect and build their own apps in tandem with Tarabut Gateway’s platform, to power payment services, digital wallets, and other use cases, in addition to a unified and easy-to-use developer portal. Working closely with regulators, Tarabut Gateway enables seamless and secure data flows and connectivity between banks and fintechs, supports the creation of a thriving ecosystem, and ultimately provides a better consumer experience.

MAGRABi Retail Group unveils new leadership structure

MAGRABi Retail Group, the Middle East's leading eyewear retailer, marks the beginning of an inspiring new chapter for 2023 and beyond, with the unveiling of its strategic expansion plans, timed with a newly formed leadership structure.The official appointments, which have taken effect as of January 1, 2023, include:Amin Magrabi, having served as Chief Executive Officer for 14 years, will now assume the role of Chairman of the Board. This pivotal seat in the new leadership structure, will see him lead the business forward and oversee strategic expansion goals in the Middle East and beyond, with a new progressive Board of Directors setup. Yasser Taher has held the position of Chief Operating Officer for 14 years, where his entrepreneurial spirit, along with a disciplined approach to strategic implementation, have contributed to propelling MAGRABi Retail Group to its current stature. As the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer, Yasser becomes the first non-family member to hold this position in the history of MAGRABi Retail Group. He will drive the Group's transformation with his unrelenting vision, to position it as a world class leader in its category.Ahmed Ghobashi, formerly Chief Financial Officer, takes over the role of Chief Operating Officer with a big focus on client-centric strategies, aiming to amplify the culture of luxury and excellence across omnichannel operations at every point in the client journey, and elevate standards to compete on the international stageCherine Magrabi, formerly Vice President of Marketing, becomes Chief Marketing Officer. Cherine's entrepreneurial nature and profound understanding of the Middle Eastern client, will lead the fusion of data and creativity and the development of innovative homegrown omnichannel marketing strategies.Sabine Volcic, previously Vice President of Buying and Merchandising, will now assume the role of Chief Merchandising Officer, fostering agile strategies that adapt to the fast-evolving ambitions of clients and markets, as well as driving vertical integration, and elevating the Group's position on the global scene of luxury and fashion-forward eyewear.Its ambitious new leadership structure mirrors the transformation within the Group, and will be followed by the announcement of an innovative and progressive Board of Directors structure. These shifts are also strategically aligned with the Group's accelerated gender equity commitments, targeting a 50:50 gender balance at all levels of the organization by 2025.Amin Magrabi commented on these organizational changes:"Leading MAGRABi as CEO over the last 14 years has been the greatest of privileges. Together with Yasser Taher and with an exceptional team of leaders, we have managed to grow into the Middle East's leading eyewear retailer. This organization, born from the vision of one person 96 years ago, thrives on the passion and commitment of nearly 1500 people today. I am pleased to embark on this new journey alongside our new inspiring C-suite Executives and our new Board of Directors, balanced from a gender standpoint."Yasser Taher also commented: "Having dedicated over 20 years of my career to MAGRABi Retail Group, I have watched it evolve under Amin's leadership into an organization that has the power to move the industry forward. My vision is to consolidate our leading position across the Middle East, and capitalize on the team's exceptional skills to expand the Group further."

Ithra enters the metaverse with immersive digital technologies program

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) bridges the physical and virtual worlds to launch the third edition of its Creative Solutions initiative. Focused on creating immersive digital content, the Cycle 2 cohort will showcase 10 prototypes to potential investors at Ithra's landmark building and on a virtual platform on February 1, 2023.The initiative focuses on building an ecosystem of innovators working on immersive technologies including virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, haptics and immersive audio. The Creative Solutions program is designed to boost Saudi's creative economy by empowering digital content creation, and the latest crop of projects span the education, healthcare, tourism, art, technology and gaming industries. They were selected from hundreds of proposals by an international panel of judges led by Bafta- and Emmy-winning immersive storyteller Kim-Leigh Pontin, whose credits include Marvel's Eternals AR adventure, and Anne McKinnon, Cofounder and CEO of metaverse platform Ristband, the digital space where the demo day will be hosted.Participants received a grant and mentorship through an 18-week development phase, which included a technical track in collaboration with HOST Unity Centre of Excellence and an entrepreneurship track in collaboration with The Bakery."Immersive technologies have transformed how we work, play and communicate," said Miznah Alzamil, Head of Creativity and Innovation at Ithra. "We are proud of our program participants' contributions and excited to unveil their innovative products."The top proposals that made it to prototype stage demonstrate the spirit of innovative thinking driving the creative economy forward and propelling us further into a future guided by the Kingdom's talent. This truly is a global showcase of Saudi innovation."The demo day making the end of the second year in the program, also announces the start of the initiative's third cycle. Ithra's Creative Solutions program is designed to bolster professional skills development in the Kingdom, while promoting knowledge sharing and the development of original creative content and marketable solutions. The program is open to all citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia over the age of 18. Proposal submissions for Creative Solutions 2023 are open until April 13.For more information on Ithra and its programs, visit For Ithra's media kit, visit

Chiva-Som welcomes Heinrich Morio to Zulal wellness resort

Chiva-Som International Health Resorts, a global pioneer in wellness and transforming lifestyles, is delighted to welcome Heinrich Morio as General Manager at its newest wellness destination in Qatar, Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som.Zulal Wellness Resort is the Middle East’s largest and first full immersion wellness destination incorporating Traditional Arabic & Islamic Medicine practices and the world’s first family-oriented wellness offering. Heinrich brings over 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry to his new role, having worked across an array of hotels in different markets, including Europe, the United States, the Indian Ocean, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Over the years, he has worked in many different functions in operations, giving him hands-on knowledge across a variety of areas, allowing him to train staff and implement new procedures to ensure guests have a memorable experience. This in-depth experience puts him in a strong position to deliver positive business results and tangible outcomes for Zulal Wellness Resort, ensuring guests have the same transformational experience they have come to expect as the Chiva-Som standard. Krip Rojanastien, Chairman of Chiva-Som International Health Resorts said, “We are pleased to welcome Heinrich to the Chiva-Som family. His professional experience and his personal wellness journey will be a great asset to the team."     “His ability to bring out the best in people and commitment to delivering the highest standards of service are just some of the reasons why we asked him to lead the team. Under his sharp leadership and with a keen eye for detail, we are confident that his expertise will prove invaluable in ensuring that Zulal Wellness Resort delivers an unparalleled wellness experience, along with the highest level of service and satisfaction to our guests,” he added.Heinrich has a strong personal ethic when it comes to wellness, which is what attracted him to Zulal Wellness Resort. His determination shows in his ‘walk-the-talk’ in terms of wellness. He has progressed from team sports to more individual pursuits, once enjoying long distance running but now using the gym more and swimming on a regular basis. On his appointment, Heinrich commented, “As people age, they begin to realise that fitness alone is not enough – therefore developing an understanding and awareness that diet and nutrition are the biggest contributors to wellness and they are anti-aging in their own right. Following my own tests for food intolerance, I can see clearly the impact of food on health. I am excited and honoured to be working with the wellness professionals and the kitchen team at Zulal Wellness Resort to lead the pursuit of wellness to guests from around the world.”At Zulal Wellness Resort, Heinrich will be responsible for overseeing all areas of operations, sales, commercials and marketing. With a culture of wellness at the forefront, every aspect of his service delivery will be focussed on providing an environment that encourages healthy lifestyles and wellbeing.Zulal Wellness Resort boasts a tranquil backdrop, surrounded by the Arabian Gulf in the north of Qatar, incorporated with Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine throughout each to restore the body, mind and spirit in a sustainable manner.Led by a team of wellness consultants, nutritionists, spa and holistic therapists, physiotherapists and personal trainers, every retreat begins with a personal health and wellness consultation to help guests set their goals. This is combined with complimentary daily activities; therapeutic treatments; full access to the resort’s wellness centre including hydrothermal area, Himalayan salt room and hammam; and personalised herbal supplements for guests to take home to support their continued wellness journey.Zulal Wellness Resort is managed by Chiva-Som, globally acclaimed pioneer and transformational leader in health and wellness for over 27 years.

Mohamad Ibrahim joins as Group CEO, the multinational FinTech and financial services provider for brokers as well as retail and institutional traders today announced a new addition to the team - Mohamad Ibrahim - who has joined the international online trading firm as the new Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO).Ibrahim will be responsible for driving’s growth strategy, develop new products and services, and ensure customer satisfaction. He will be based out of Dubai, UAE but will spend time equally across all offices and place a strong focus on penetrating new was originally founded in Australia in 2010. Today the long-established brokerage has its headquarters in Cyprus, where the multi-asset trading institution provides traders, brokers, and partners from around the world with access to trade a wide range of financial products including Shares, Indices, Metals, Energies, Commodities, Currencies and Cryptocurrencies.Sakis Paraskevov, Group COO at commented on the new hire:“Having Mohamad Ibrahim join our brokerage as our new Group CEO is something myself and our leadership team are very excited about. Mohamad brings with him a great wealth of experience and is seen as an innovator and thought leader within the global financial markets. He is an expert in providing solutions for trading a range of asset classes, has built up financial services companies from the ground up and understands trading systems and the regulatory factors that accompany their framework.” Mohamad Ibrahim, Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at at said:“I’m excited to have joined the XS brand at a time when they are reinventing themselves to become a globally connected business whilst being a more technologically advanced, and faster moving FinTech firm. I’m delighted to be joining the brokerage at a time when so many exciting changes and new hires are taking place. My role will include spearheading the brokers global expansion strategy as I take on the responsibility for driving the new vision and leading on some impressive expansion plans.”Ibrahim will influence the innovative direction of and positively contribute to the business with the experience he has gathered from working within the financial services sector in senior leadership and high-level management roles for over a decade. He has held a range of positions with different financial institutions including Regional Director for the MENA region, Head of Global Sales, and Head of Business Development.

UAE Padel Association launches Mashreq Padel Tour 2023

The UAE Padel Association (UAEPA), which governs the sport of padel across the UAE, has launched the Mashreq Padel Tour 2023 – the country’sfirst dedicated community tournament series for amateurs. Comprising 20 tournaments over eight competition weeks running February to December,the Mashreq Padel Tour 2023 carries a total prize purse of AED 350,000 in its debut season. The scale of the inaugural Tour and its significant prize pool underscores the UAEPA’s ambitious blueprint for growing the sport nationally by increasing adoption of the world’s fastest growing sport across all nationalities, age groups, genders, and abilities.“The popularity of padel in the UAE has exceeded all expectations at the recreational level, and we are embracing this unparalleled growth by introducing a nationwide event to further elevate the padel community, tournament standards, and players’ competitive experience,” said Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum, UAEPA President. “The Mashreq Padel Tour 2023 represents a new era for UAE padel and underlines ourcommitment to develop the sport nationwide. The inaugural Tour will be a strategic enabler to realise the Association’s objectives of fostering increased standards for players, organisers, and clubs, as well as aiding the national vision of a more active population regularly pursuing healthy sporting pursuits,” added Sheikh Saeed. The Mashreq Padel Tour will traverse four Emirates in its first season, with registered players in men’s, women’s or open categories receiving ranking points linked to their final standing in three competitions: UAEPA10, UAEPA100, and UAEPAE&E, which must featuretwo-player teams comprising an Emirati and an expatriate. A fourth competition for U-16s that is open to boys or girls depending on the tournament will not be ranked. Six padel clubs in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Ajman will host the eight tournament weeks, starting with the Mashreq Padel Tour 2023 opener at World Padel Academy in Dubai from February 17-19. The kick-off event will feature three competition categories: UAEPA10(men’s), UAEPA100 (men’s), and U-16s (open). Commenting on the padel tour, Ahmed Abdelaal, Group Chief Executive Officer, Mashreq, said: “The Mashreq Padel Tour 2023 is a testament to our commitment to supporting the growth and development of sports in the UAE. We are proud to be associated with the UAE Padel Association and this exciting new tournament series, which will provide a platform for amateur players to showcase their skills and compete for a substantial prize purse. From its early roots, padel tennis has become one of the most beloved, and it aligns with our diverse offerings at Mashreq.” First place winners in each of the UAEPA10, UAEPA100, UAEPAE&E tournaments will receive AED 4,000, AED 12,000, and AED 15,000, respectively. Second-placed teams will receive AED 3,000, AED 6,000, and AED 8,000, while the third and fourth-placed teams will win AED 2,000, AED 4,000, and AED 4,000.Classification: PublicThe UAEPA has implemented restrictions to protect the Mashreq Padel Tour’s sporting integrity and ensure competitive balance across the community-centric amateur tournaments. As a result, professional coaches, national team representatives, and professional players in the world Top-30, or players boasting a UAEPA ranking, are excluded from entering UAEPA10 tournaments. To find out more about the Mashreq Padel Tour 2023, or to enter tournaments, players can visit Mashreq Padel Tour 2023 calendar: VENUE / CITY DATE CATEGORY & ENTRYWorld Padel Academy, Dubai February 17-19 UAEPA10 (MEN)UAEPA100 (MEN)U-16 (BOYS)NAS Complex, Dubai March 23 – April 4 UAEPA10 (MEN)UAEPA10 (WOMEN)UAEPA100 (OPEN)UAEPAE&E (OPEN)U-16 (BOYS)Padel Arena, Sharjah May 12-14 UAEPA100 (MEN)Padel Square, Ajman May 19-21 UAEPA10 (MEN)Padelae September 8-10 UAEPA10 (MEN)UAEPA100 (OPEN)UAEPAE&E (OPEN)Al Forsan International SportsResort, Abu DhabiOctober 13-15 UAEPA10 (MEN)World Padel Academy, Dubai October 10-12 UAEPA100 (OPEN)UAEPAE&E (OPEN)U-16 (BOYS)NAS Complex December 8-10 UAEPA10 (MEN)UAEPA100 (OPEN)U-16 (BOYS)

Titan Eye+ announces regional entry and first international store

Titan Eye+, India’s largest eyewear company, has launched its first international store in the UAE, adding to its footprint of 860+ Titan Eye+ stores across 300 different cities in India.The brand, which has an annual production capacity of close to two million lenses and one million frames, has also announced a robust regional expansion plan with entrance into other markets in the GCC on the agenda too.Centrally located in BurJuman, the 1100 square foot flagship store will house Titan Eye+’s unparalleled range of high-quality eyewear, contact lenses, accessories, and sunglasses. A strong tech and style focus in the product mix blends seamlessly with empathy-driven in-store services to give you an eyecare retail experience that covers all bases.The UAE, with its 100+ nationalities, offers the brand a unique opportunity to tap into key insights and learn from a truly global group of customers and a tried and tested location like BurJuman is perfect as it attracts this diverse and discerning audience."Having firmly established a leadership position in India, Titan Eye+ now enters GCC with its first store in Dubai. Expertise and Empathy are the core values that drive everything at Titan Eye+, from customer service to product innovation. Our demonstrated ability to amalgamate expertise in optometry, product design and manufacturing and most importantly our obsessive affection for our customers sets us apart. While our Red Dot winning designs - Signature Frames, ClearSight and Ultima lenses are testimony to our expertise, our Google rating of 4.9/5 by 0.6 million customers epitomises our empathy. Most of our customers see us as the experts who care. This is what we bring to Dubai," said Saumen Bhaumik, CEO of Titan Eye+.In-store services include the Zero Error Eye Test promising 100 percent accuracy designed through a technological partnership with world-renowned eye hospital Sankara Nethralaya. Till date, Titan Eye+ has trained about 4500 optometrists across India in this regard.Also available will be Titan’s range of Clear Sight Lens that promise spectacle users crystal clear vision thanks to several key features. The lens has 99.2% clarity over a broadband light spectrum with the lowest colour distortion to ensure HD viewing. It is designed to protect the eyes from the harmful effects of UV rays and blue light from gadgets. It also provides 97% transparency as compared to standard coating, and better fog resistance than a standard lens. Discerning customers will appreciate the timeless style of the Titan Signature collection of frames exquisitely crafted with wood and titanium. And if new-age tech is what drives your purchasing choices, look no further than the Titan Ultima lens, a dynamic and power-packed with three technologies that allow for high image stability by reducing distortions, flatter, and thinner lenses and personalization as per the wearer’s lifestyle.Customers who visit the store can enjoy an introductory offer of 15 percent off on purchases above AED 500.

Carrefour brings self-checkout service to Bahrain

 Carrefour, owned and operated by Majid Al Futtaim in the Kingdom of Bahrain, and in collaboration with CrediMax, has launched the Self-Checkout service — a first-of-its-kind service in the Kingdom at Carrefour City Centre and Bahrain Mall Hypermarkets. The innovative feature provides customers full autonomy and ease of shopping, enabling them to scan and bag purchases as they journey around Carrefour stores using a hand-held device, easily accessed through a bank card, or a smartphone.Self-Checkout underlines Carrefour’s ongoing commitment to creating seamless shopping experiences for all its customers. The new service will allow them to skip the inconvenience of long queues. Moreover, it enables a truly contactless shopping journey as customers only need a bank card or smartphone, and are also encouraged to utilise their own bags to carry around as they shop.Using the scanning device, customers can scan the barcode of each product they would like to purchase at the dedicated Self-Checkout area to process their payment — via a debit/credit card or MyCLUB points — within minutes.Laurent Hausknecht, Regional Director of Gulf, at Majid Al Futtaim Retail said: “At Carrefour, we take great pride in offering the most convenient and integrated shopping experiences possible. We understand that today, more so than ever, customers want a premium on convenience and quality customer service. The Self-Checkout service enables us to provide that, empowering customers with more autonomy and control. Its use of cashless payments limits unnecessary contact with other customers and touchpoints, offering shoppers avoidance of longer queues and added comfort.”Ahmed A. Seyadi, Chief Executive of CrediMax commented: “We are pleased to be able to contribute and support our client’s digital journey by providing convenient seamless payment channels. Enabling users to enrich their card payment experience in their day to day lifestyle comes within CrediMax’s framework to provide innovative digital solutions that serves the Kingdom of Bahrain and its digital transformation vision.”Carrefour’s new Self-Checkout service is incredibly easy to use: when completing any transaction, customers simply scan and bag their items at the dedicated self-checkout counters. There is an option to scan a MyCLUB card barcode and select a preferred payment method. Then, shoppers can exit by scanning the barcode on their printed receipt at the dedicated gate scanner.

UAE’s national digital economy set to grow by US$140 billion by 2031

Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy, one of the three chambers operating under Dubai Chambers, has issued a recent report detailing plans to drive the emirate’s digital economy ambitions, as part of its efforts to strengthen the digital economy ecosystem in Dubai and achieve the goals of the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33).The report estimates the national digital economy will grow to well over US$140 billion in 2031, up from today’s nearly US$38 billion. The study underlined the importance of Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy’s efforts, and the collaboration between various stakeholders and digital startups, to firmly position Dubai as the next digital economy capital of the world.Published in collaboration with Entrepreneur Middle East and titled ‘Dubai’s Digital Economy and its Thriving Startup Ecosystem’, the report explains the fundamental role of the Chamber in supporting digital economy strategies and achieving the wise leadership’s objectives to cement Dubai’s position as a global capital of the digital economy.Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications, Chairman of Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy, said that doubling the contribution of the digital economy to the UAE’s GDP from 9.7% to over 20% by 2031, reflects Dubai’s endeavours to establish itself as a key tech hub and leading global destination for digital companies. Al Olama stressed that the UAE’s pioneering initiatives to build the economy of the future help create a world-class digital infrastructure and support the dynamic start-up ecosystem. “Our strategic plans will also focus on achieving the objectives of the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33), especially in terms of driving digital transformation, developing a sustainable business sector, and adding an average of AED100 billion per year in economic value to the emirate’s economy,” he said.“Raising the business community’s awareness about challenges and future trends is a key priority, as is highlighting the importance of digital transformation as an engine of sustainable growth for the business sector,” he added.The report provides insight into Dubai’s digital economy startups and why Dubai will become the next digital economy capital of the world. Dubai has always been known for its strong entrepreneurial spirit. Approximately 96% of all funds raised in the UAE since 2017 have been raised by startups headquartered in Dubai. In 2021, all startups across the entire country raised US$1.2 billion, the vast majority of which went to Dubai-based startups. The emirate’s startups raised more than US$2 billion in 2022, more than double the funding figures in 2021.In addition to highlighting the key strategies, drivers, and stakeholders behind Dubai’s digital economy, the report also features interviews with iconic homegrown startups, as well as recent Dubai transplants from various industries.The study goes on to reveal some of the Chamber’s upcoming plans and strategies, which include attracting 300 digital startups to Dubai by the end of 2024; attracting 100 international experts in advanced technologies; improving laws and policies that would support the growth of the digital economy; organising an international conference on the new digital economy; promoting digital transformation across national companies; and enhancing the business environment to attract global digital firms.

Fremantle partners with AI dubbing start-up Papercup

Fremantle partners with AI dubbing start-up Papercup. The two-year deal will see Papercup localize hundreds of hours of video entertainment content from Fremantle’s catalogue of world-famous talent shows into Arabic.This content – from world-renowned Fremantle formats including Idols, Got Talent, and The X Factor – will be available on Talent World. The YouTube channel, which will be known locally as ???? ???????, will use Papercup’s AI technology to automatically translate and dub Fremantle video content into Arabic, in a move that aims to reach millions of new viewers across the Arab world over the two-year partnership. The move is set to bring a huge new audience to Fremantle’s high-quality content at scale, without the costs and barriers associated with traditional studio dubbing.The partnership follows the successful launch of Fremantle’s Spanish YouTube channel in collaboration with Papercup. The company’s patented AI Dubbing platform localized hours of Los Mejores Talentos En Español (The Best of Got Talent Spain) and the channel amassed millions of views in its first few months after launch.Founded in 2017, Papercup offers an AI and machine learning-based system that localizes videos into other languages using synthetic voices with true emotional depth. Content that has been AI dubbed by Papercup has already reached over 350 million people in the last 12 months alone, in non-English speaking territories.By deploying its bespoke systems to create expressive synthetic voices specifically suited for video, Papercup generates engaging translated content that outperforms subtitled offerings and can be delivered at a speed and price that traditional dubbing struggles to match.The cutting-edge AI tools will allow Fremantle to localize hundreds of hours of content in a high-quality and scalable way.Robert Cocker, Head of Social and Digital Platforms, Fremantle said: “Our talent shows are loved by audiences all over the world, and we are delighted that this partnership with Papercup will allow us to bring our content to even more fans. With over 216m YouTube subscribers and 182Bn views, Fremantle has an incredible track record in building engaged audiences, and we are excited to see how Talent World will grow.”Jesse Shemen, CEO of Papercup said: “At Papercup our mission is to make all the world’s videos watchable in any language. We empower global companies to reach an international audience eager to watch videos in their native language which they couldn’t access before. With the proliferation of entertainment content out there, competition for viewers’ attention is ever-increasing. By partnering with Fremantle to localize content with high viewership in existing markets, we enable them to sustainably scale that success in new markets.”

Xposure 2023 ‘Trade Show’ to offer promotions, discounts & activities

Xposure International Photography Festival is back and better than ever, bringing together some of the most trusted and innovative photography brands in the industry. From world-renowned companies such as Leica, Sony, Nikon and Canon, to local retailers such as Hot Cold Studio and Ibrand Connect, Xposure is set to be the ultimate destination for photography enthusiasts. With a wide range of activities, workshops, discounts, and competitions on offer, visitors are sure to leave the festival inspired and equipped with the latest tools and techniques to take their photography to the next level.The products, brands and technology on show at the Xposure Trade Show is aimed at all sorts of customers, from enthusiasts and amateurs all the way through to industry professionals. Whether the visitor is somebody who likes to take snaps on a mobile phone or is the world’s leading Director of Photography, there will be many things to grab attention and interest at the Trade Show this year. The festival’s product platform gives people a chance to talk and network directly with suppliers, manufacturers and technology experts giving visitors and smaller retailers a chance to gain information about the products and the market, while also experiencing exclusive discounts and promotions one can only find at Xposure.Leica, one of the most iconic brands in photography, will be showcasing their latest range of cameras and lenses, offering visitors the chance to get hands-on with the latest technology. Fuji Film will be hosting a live photo studio competition, with the winner being awarded an exciting prize. Nikon will have a section of their booth dedicated to encouraging visitors to touch and try their latest camera and lens models, as well as hosting Nikon School Workshops. Sony will be hosting their own workshops live on the Xposure website, besides offering prizes for their portrait, video, and wildlife photography contests.Hot Cold Studio will be offering a range of discounts on their products, including on the Tether Tools Rock Solid Series, Capture One PRO 23 licences and all demo tripods. GrandStore will also be offering discounts on all their products.Ibrand Connect will be showcasing a wide range of brands, including H&Y Filters, Leofoto, Yc Onion, Shimoda Designs, TourBox, Video Spinny, Hollyland, YoloLiv, Western Digital and BenQ. They will also be offering significant discounts on these brands, in addition to creating a reel studio in the middle of the stand for interviews.Advanced Media will be featuring Godox photography equipment for all your lighting needs and Canon will be offering exclusive promotions and discounts on their cameras and lenses. Samsung will also be participating in Xposure’s Trade Show, hosting 3 Galaxy Smartphone Workshops at the screening room and a ‘Nightography’ Workshop featuring their new night mode hosted by influencer, ‘Croydan’ at the screening room. Spacetoon will be hosting activities for kids as well as live shows, while BHM Store will be offering exclusive discounts for all Xposure visitors, as well as free giveaways during their photo talks.Other brands such as Kinokuniya, Action Filmz Rentals & Studios, Gamma Production Services, Future Art Broadcast Trading, Analog The Room, Instant Photography Class/Activation will also be showcasing their products and services, and offering discounts and special promotions.Those coming to the 7-day festival are encouraged to visit the Trade Show and take advantage of the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of photography during the Xposure International Photography Festival at Expo Centre Sharjah from 9-15 February. With so much on offer, it's an event not to be missed!

17 countries participate in the Asian Badminton Championship

The Dubai Sports Council and the Emirates Badminton Federation announced the organization of the Asian Championship for Mixed Teams for Badminton, which will be held under the patronage of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence in the UAE, Honorary President of the Emirates Badminton Federation, and with the support of the Dubai Sports Council and the Emirates Badminton Federation The plane, organized by Beyond Bounders Sports Consultancy in Expo City from 14 to 19 February 2023, with the participation of 17 Asian countries.This came during a press conference held at the headquarters of the Dubai Sports Council, in which Saeed Mohammed Hareb, Secretary General of the Dubai Sports Council, Jassim Kenso, Vice President of the International Badminton Federation, and Noura Al Jasmi, President of the Emirates Badminton Federation, spoke in the presence of Nasser Aman Al Rahma, assistant. Secretary General of the Dubai Sports Council, and members of the Board of Directors of the Emirates Badminton Federation.He also spoke at the press conference, Musa Nashed, Secretary General of the Asian Badminton Federation, and Dr. Satya Menon: CEO of the Blue Ocean Corporation Group, and the Indian badminton player PV Sindhu, ranked 6th in the world, who won the silver of the 2016 Rio Olympics and the bronze of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.During the press conference, the championship trophy was unveiled, and the draw ceremony was held for the participating teams, namely: China, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, India, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, Kazakhstan, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Uzbekistan, Syria, Lebanon, and Pakistan in addition to the UAE. The tournament includes competition in the categories of men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, women's doubles, and mixed doubles. The tournament opens with group matches, followed by the knockout stage. The tournament will give players the opportunity to qualify for the World Badminton Championships, which are the Sudirman Cup, Thomas Cups, Uber and other major tournaments. Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of the Dubai Sports Council, congratulated the Emirates Badminton Federation on the assumption of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan as honorary presidency of the federation, stressing that the federation is on the threshold of a new stage of development and prosperity, and he welcomed the attendees, as well as the Olympic champion, the world player B.V. Sindu, ranked 6th in the world. World, and he said: "We are proud to cooperate with the Asian Badminton Federation and the Emirates Badminton Federation to host this great continental event in which 17 Asian countries, including the world's strongest countries, participate in this Olympic sport, and this championship comes as an extension of the world badminton championships that Dubai was a pioneer in In hosting it, where 4 world championships were held in the Hamdan Sports Complex, it was the finals of the world championships that were held for four consecutive years.Saeed Hareb added: “Badminton enjoys great interest in the United Arab Emirates in general, and in Dubai in particular, as it is an Olympic sport. Danish Viktor Axelsen, who trained in Dubai and managed to win the gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and we hope that this championship will inspire a number of young men and women in the country to practice and develop in it, leading to honorable representation of the country in world championships and Olympic tournaments.Hareb concluded: "The organization of the tournament in Expo City will increase the splendor of the competitions, and will inspire the competitors to present their best. We support all efforts to spread this sport and provide means of success for its championships in cooperation with the UAE Badminton Federation, which will contribute to enhancing the diversity that the Dubai Sports Council is keen on." And event organizers in order to provide an opportunity for sports fans and the public of more than 200 nationalities to follow different sports tournaments.Noura Al Jasmi, President of the Emirates Badminton Federation, thanked the wise leadership, and praised the role of the Dubai Sports Council and the support of the General Sports Authority, and explained that the event is being organized for the first time in Dubai, and the Dubai Expo headquarters was chosen as a global tourist destination, and the participating teams are staying at the Roof Hotel. Expo, which is close to the competition site, and emphasized the provision of all means of support to the participating teams by the Emirates Badminton Federation and the Beyond Boondreas company organizing the event.Noura Al Jassmi said: "The UAE has strengthened its position as a leading sports center. We are honored and pleased this time to host the Asian Mixed Team Badminton Championship. We are very happy with the reactions we have received so far, and we expect the number of fans to be large, befitting such a big event." My best wishes to the Emirates Badminton Team.Jassem Kanso said: We are happy that the tournament will be held for the first time in Dubai, which gives the tournament great weight, thanks to Dubai's position on the global sports map, and the International Federation is pleased to provide all means of support for the tournament.Speaking about the tournament, Asian Badminton Federation President Anton Sopowo said: “We are proud that the first major badminton event in Asia will be held in West Asia. Hosting the 2023 Asian Mixed Team Championship in Dubai will create new excitement among the participating members, especially More importantly, this event will be a major contribution to the growth of badminton in the West Asian region, and this is the first time that the UAE will host the Asian Badminton Championship, which will gain it importance as a qualifying window for the Olympic Games. ".On the other hand, said Dr. Sathya Menon, Lung.

Agthia Group sees 14% increase in net profit during 2022

Agthia Group PJSC today announced preliminary and unaudited results for the fiscal year ending 31st December, 2022, reporting a rise of 14 percent year-on-year (YoY) in net profit to AED 247 million.According to its report, the Group's net revenue increased 33 percent YoY to AED 4.07 billion, with growth of 97 percent on a two-year basis. Revenue growth from our Snacking and Protein segments increased by more than 70 percent YoY, with high single-digit growth in our agri-business and continued market leadership in UAE bottled water.Net operating income grew faster than revenue, up 39 percent YoY to AED 351 million, with greater scale and diversification across the business supporting product and channel optimization and further cost and production efficiencies.Agthia Group’s total assets stood at AED 6.8 billion by end-2022, with total shareholders’ equity of AED 2.8 billion.Khalifa Sultan Al Suwaidi, Chairman of Agthia Group, said, “Agthia’s strong performance this past year, in a challenging external environment, clearly demonstrates management’s ability to acquire and consolidate value accretive businesses while leveraging synergies and maintaining a profitable core. I am confident that Agthia will continue to deliver value for all stakeholders in both the near and longer-term as it executes its strategy.”Alan Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Agthia Group, said, “The strong revenue and profit growth over the past year, across both recently acquired and legacy businesses, is a testament to the tireless efforts and agility of all our colleagues across the Group. Our strategy to acquire, integrate and grow attractive businesses in value-add categories continues to bear fruit, and two years into our transformative journey to a leading food and beverage company in the MENAP region and beyond, we are far bigger, more efficient and have greater capabilities than ever before.”

DFM Company posts net profit of AED 147.1 million in 2022

Dubai Financial Market Company (PJSC) today announced its consolidated results for the fiscal year ending on 31st December 2022, registering an increase of 41.7% in net profit to AED 147.1 million compared to AED 103.8 million in 2021. With a total revenue of AED 351.2 million, up 19% compared to last year’s AED 294.6 million, DFM reins in a successful close to 2022.In the fourth quarter of 2022, the Company posted a net profit of AED 58.1 million compared to AED 65.7 million in the corresponding period of 2021, while its total revenue of the period reached to AED 113.4 million compared to AED 111.5 million in Q4-2021.During a Board meeting today, the Board of Directors reviewed and approved the annual results before they are presented for ratification at the Company’s Annual General Meeting, which will be held based on the approval of the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA).The Board of Directors also recommended the distribution of a cash dividend of AED 134.7 million, equivalent to 1.68% of the capital and 100% of the total retained earnings available for distribution. Moreover, the Board also resolved to submit a recommendation to the AGM to adopt a new fixed dividend policy, stipulating that the Company annually distributes a minimum of 50% of its net profit as opposed to the current practice of cash dividend every two years.Profound progressCommenting on the achievements of 2022, Helal Al Marri, Chairman of DFM Company said, “2022 has been a promising year for DFM. Our results for the fiscal year are a testament to the strength of our Company’s operating model and the profound progress we are making in transforming our business, pursuing new opportunities, and accelerating the development of UAE capital markets. We truly believe that DFM’s state-of-the-art infrastructure, pioneering regulations and dynamic business model will serve as a springboard to drive the Company’s sustained growth and position Dubai as a hotspot for global financial activity.”“Our relentless focus on our capital markets development strategy has borne fruit, making DFM one of the most active markets globally for new IPOs and listings with the successful listing of 5 IPOs for leading government-related and private companies. We also launched a new general index that provides global best practices for indices and greater transparency for investors. DFM has also intensified its efforts to diversify asset classes with the introduction of trading in crude oil contracts (Micro Oman Crude Oil Futures) and the launch of new equity futures, strengthening its position as one of the leading regional markets in terms of diversification of investment opportunities and asset classes," added Helal Al Marri.Key growth indicatorsDFM ended the year on a strong note with trading value increased by 24.5% to AED 90 billion compared to 2021, and the market capitalization of listed securities increased by41.4% to AED 582 billion. The DFM General Index also advanced by 4.4%. Foreign investors maintained their strong presence in 2022, accounting for 48.7% of DFM’s trading value with net purchases amounting to AED 5 billion. meanwhile, their share of the market capitalization was 19% at the end of the year.Over the past year, DFM has attracted 167,332 new investors. The 23 times jump compared to 2021 brought the total number of DFM investor base to over 1 million investors from 212 nationalities, in a clear indication on the success of DFM’s digital onboarding journey.

Dubai Business Women Council concludes 2nd phase of the EAP

The Executive Accelerator Programme, jointly launched by the Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC), New Metrics, a specialized consultancy firm, and Reach Digital Works, has successfully completed the second phase of its four-stage training program. This exclusive program, open only to DBWC members taking part in the 5th cycle of the Mentorship Program, brought together over 35 participants.The Executive Accelerator Programme is a comprehensive training course that includes a series of interactive training workshops. It was tailored to provide particular training that addresses the specific needs of DBWC members over a period of six weeks. It also aims to provide solutions to the challenges identified by participants during the fifth cycle of the mentorship program.The training program has completed its first and second phases with great success and positive feedback. The two phases have focused on launching and managing projects with seven training workshops being organized as part of the program.The remaining two phases will focus on developing projects and improving the digital and smart presence of companies.A team of subject-matter experts and specialists, affiliated with " New Metrics " and its partners, as well as " Reach Digital Works” is managing the entire training program, which will come to an end in mid-February.Nadine Halabi, Business Development Manager at DBWC, stated that the Executive Accelerator Programme is an innovative solution that will help participants overcome challenges in the labor market and bridge the gap between their current skills and the skills required by the job market.Halabi highlighted that the program is designed to provide participants with the essential knowledge and expertise they need to better understand the market, plan their projects, develop their skills, and grow their businesses."The council is committed to providing cutting-edge, modern training programs in line with the government's strategic goals and the evolving needs of the business world," said Halabi, adding that through the current advanced training program, the council looks forward to enhancing the abilities, expertise, and competitiveness of its members, as well as supporting women entrepreneurs in their professional pursuits.The training covers a variety of topics, such as identifying the target audience and acquiring new clients, planning a customer journey to achieve the desired impact, generating ideas, and creating and growing a business.It also focuses on maximizing financial resources and obtaining high revenues at a low cost, as well as marketing strategies, negotiation and persuasion techniques, and creating positive customer experiences.Additionally, the training will also discuss developing a governance model, creating KPIs, maintaining growth and expansion, evaluating and leveraging partnerships, promoting leadership methodologies, and developing decision-making processes. The importance of creating and maintaining a digital presence through website management and digital marketing will also be addressed.Not only will the program enhance the chances of participants obtaining the support they need, such as financing, skills, or expertise, as well as business relationships, and training, but will also provide tailored technical solutions for their services and products.For her part, Maya Omeiri, Partner at New Metrics said: “We are proud of the true impact we're making on the journey of these women. We measure the success of this program by the greater level of meaningful interactions, the stronger connections, the noticeable confidence gained in the skills and most importantly the numerous identified opportunities to move forward their businesses.”“New Metrics Team is proud to dedicate joint efforts with DBWC to help women succeed, as a business community the onus is on us to work harder to bring diversity, crucial to achieving lasting innovation and economic growth,” Omeiri added.New Metrics is a leading experience management consultancy with a presence across the EMEA region. Its partnership with the Dubai Business Women Council represents a significant step forward in providing participants in the mentorship program with advanced skills that enhance their expertise and enrich their knowledge in the workplace.Established in 2002 under the umbrella of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, the Dubai Business Women Council is the UAE’s leading platform for the personal and professional development of business women in the Emirate of Dubai. It aims to support female entrepreneurs taking their first steps in the world of business. The Council plays a vital role in enhancing the contribution of women to the country's economy and promoting economic development in all sectors of the business community.

Signings worth $7.2bln at 7th iktva Forum as Aramco Digital Company launched

Aramco signed over 100 agreements and MoU’s, valued at around $7.2 billion to help advance a diverse, sustainable and globally competitive industrial ecosystem at the 7th edition of the In-Kingdom Total Value Add (iktva) Forum and Exhibition. The program achieved 63% local content in 2022, up from 35% in 2015, when iktva was originally launched.The forum, which runs from January 30 to February 2, is held under the theme of ‘Accelerating Future Success’. It highlights collective localization efforts in key focus areas including Digital, Sustainability, Industrial, and Manufacturing. The first day of the event attracted more than 10,000 visitors and the exhibition space included more than 290 companies.The event, which was held under the patronage of HRH Prince Saud bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz, Governor of the Eastern Province, was also attended by Minister of Energy, HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz.The gathering provided a platform for the launch of Aramco Digital Company, a wholly owned subsidiary which aims to accelerate digital transformation within the Kingdom and the MENA region.Ahmad A. Al-Sa’adi, Aramco Executive Vice President of Technical Services, said: “The local supplier ecosystem is a top priority for Aramco as well as a major contributor to the Kingdom’s economy. Through this mega program we are helping to create a culture of innovation and provide high quality jobs for our growing population. The launch of Aramco Digital Company is a great example of such innovation in action, providing state-of-the-art AI and emerging technology expertise in a vital sector of the economy.”The iktva program encourages the establishment of regional headquarters in the Kingdom. Since inception, more than 150 investments have been made in Kingdom including products manufactured for the first time in Saudi Arabia. The company has also established 16 national training centers (NTCs) in 10 cities, covering more than 60 trades. To date, they have graduated more than 48,000 Saudi nationals.Major signings include:Zoom: Strategic Partnership AgreementTaulia Inc: Collaboration to implement supplier financing solutionsDHL: Intention to enter a definitive agreement to form a joint venture and offer procurement and supply chain servicesMinistry of Investment of Saudi Arabia: Development and promotion of investment opportunities and the Regional Headquarters ProgramAccenture: System Integration and Digital Solution ServicesHassana Investment Company: Establishment of a facility management national championAchilles: Development and localization of Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) rating services2023 iktva award winners:Best in Overall iktva: (Services): SLBBest in Overall iktva: (Construction): Nesma & Partners Contracting Ltd. Best in Overall iktva: (Manufacturing): Siemens EnergyBest in Training & Development: HalliburtonBest in Supplier Development: Baker Hughes CompanyBest in Saudization (Services): ARO DrillingBest in Saudization (Manufacturing): Cameron Al Rushaid Co. Ltd.Best in Exports (Services): JGC Gulf International Co. Ltd.Best in Exports (Manufacturing): Jubail Energy Services Company (JESCO)Best in ESG: Samsung Saudi Arabia Co. Ltd.Best SME Award: Engineering Corner for Inspection Co. Ltd.Best SME Award: Saudi GeophysicalBest SME Award: Techno Rubber Company Limited

DIFC announces ‘DIFC Metaverse Platform’

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) today announced the launch of the ‘DIFC Metaverse Platform’, in line with the Dubai Higher Committee for Future Technology and Digital Economy’s aim to attract technology innovators from around the world.The platform is part of a comprehensive strategy being developed by Dubai International Financial Centre, the leading global financial centre in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, to accelerate Dubai’s status as a global metaverse leader.The DIFC Metaverse Platform is aligned with the Dubai Metaverse Strategy, which aims to add $4 billion to Dubai's GDP, support 40,000 virtual jobs by 2030 and attract 1,000 companies specialised in blockchain and metaverse technologies. The platform also supports the objective of the recently launched Dubai Economic Agenda D33 to generate economic value worth AED100 billion from digital transformation annually.Commenting on the announcement, Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, Chairman of the Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Higher Committee for Future Technology and Digital Economy, stated that the UAE adopts advanced technologies in its aim to keep pace with global changes, reflecting the directives of its leadership, in transforming the country and Dubai to become a leading hub for utilizing the best technology and developing capabilities.Al Olama added that this Metaverse platform is the first in a series of initiatives that aim to strengthen Dubai's position as a global platform for the latest digital trends and accelerate the pace to achieve the objectives of the Dubai Metaverse Strategy.Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC Authority, said: “The Dubai government has shown great foresight in introducing a metaverse strategy that has the objective of making the emirate a global hub for technology and innovation. The development of the integrated DIFC Metaverse Platform will accelerate the achievements of Dubai’s aspirations in this sector. The initiative is a natural extension of our Innovation Hub proposition that has shaped the technology and innovation landscape in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region.”The DIFC Metaverse Platform includes three key initiatives. The first is an accelerator programme with a dedicated physical studio for metaverse technology that will promote the development of a creator community and venture building. The platform will also address the metaverse policy development and legislation on open data, digital identity and company law frameworks in the metaverse. Further, the initiative will foster the development of a metaverse community that will explore ways to enhance the metaverse experience for customers.The Metaverse Accelerator Programme, the first initiative to be launched under the umbrella of the platform, will start accepting applications this month. In the coming years, the programme seeks to attract more than 500 applications, identify 50 of the most promising graduates from the programme and stimulate investment opportunities that will help the sector grow.The programme demonstrates DIFC’s commitment to support innovative metaverse start-ups by introducing them to the region’s largest players. The programme also helps them explore partnerships, gain exposure to investors, access a regulatory sandbox and obtain marketing support.In early November, the region’s first and largest FinTech Accelerator – DIFC FinTech Hive – hosted its annual Investor Day on the Metaverse Platform, giving the region’s finance ecosystem a first-hand experience of the technology. DIFC Fintech Hive also partnered with Emirates NBD to launch and co-create their own Metaverse Accelerator programme, which received more than 100 global applicants.The Metaverse Accelerator Programme will run over a period of six months, during which the cohort of start-ups will be introduced to training and workshops to upskill and reskill themselves in both technical and intrapersonal aspects of the metaverse. The programme also aims to facilitate partnerships between start-ups and corporates to create proofs-of-concept and new metaverse solutions.For more information, please visit: Metaverse Accelerator Programme (

Sharjah Shopping Promotions concludes with soaring sales, grand prizes

The Sharjah Shopping Promotions, organized by the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), ended on a high note, with sales soaring beyond AED 200 million, a 30% increase from previous records, serving as a testament to its success.The city-wide event culminated on Sunday at Sahara Center with a celebratory ceremony where Mohammad Qasim Hassouni from Iraq became the envy of all as he drove away in a brand-new Infiniti car, the grand prize in the final draw.The raffle draw was a celebration of winning as five lucky individuals walked away with five tourism packages, and 13 more were awarded vouchers ranging from AED 2,500 to AED 10,000. Shopping was elevated to new heights with discounts reaching 75% on top international brands, making for a truly unforgettable experience.Ibrahim Rashid Al Jarwan, Director of Economic Relations and Marketing at SCCI, stressed that this year's Sharjah shopping promotions were successful by all standards, marked by high sales and a strong turnout from visitors and tourists from around the world. This was due to the Chamber's innovative approach in partnership with strategic partners to enhance the experience of residents and visitors during the event.Al Jarwan attributed the uniqueness and continued success of the Sharjah shopping promotions to the strong partnership between the government and private sectors in Sharjah.For his part, Jamal Saeed Bouzanjal, Director of the SCCI Media Department, stated that the success of this year's promotions is yet another testament to the Chamber's continuous efforts to drive economic development in Sharjah through programs and initiatives, adding that the event was a prime opportunity for local shopping centers and shops to grow their businesses and boost revenue.Meanwhile, Hana Al Suwaidi, Head of the SCCI's Festival and Shows Department, said that during the Sharjah Shopping Promotions, the Emirate was alive with a mix of entertainment, festivities, and unique events, solidifying its reputation as a family-friendly tourist destination that caters to all family members' needs.

Rory McIlroy wins Hero Dubai Desert Classic to claim first Rolex Series title

Rory McIlroy won his first Rolex Series title with a third victory at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic after a dramatic final day at Emirates Golf Club.The World Number One has a CV to rival the greats of the game, with four Major Championships, four Harry Vardon Trophies and three FedEx Cups to his name but he arrived in the UAE still missing a triumph in one of the DP World Tour's prestige events.He put that right in fine fashion on a Monday finish over the Majlis Course, birdieing the 17th and 18th in a 68 to finish at 19 under, one clear of American Patrick Reed.Reed's 65 made for a thrilling finish as the duo went toe-to-toe over the back nine but it was McIlroy who emerged the victor to move to second in the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex.Australian Lucas Herbert - the 2020 winner of this event - finished third at 16 under, a shot clear of England's Callum Shinkwin and two ahead of Frenchman Julien Brun.

Eric Masalawala appointed Operations Manager at Premier Inn Dragon Mart

 Premier Inn MENA has kicked off the new year with the appointment of Eric Masalawala as Operations Manager at Premier Inn Dubai Dragon Mart Hotel.Eric has more than 15 years’ UAE hospitality experience, working with major international brands including Radisson Hotel Group, Ramada Hotels and Hilton Hotels & Resorts in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ajman.Born and bred in the UAE, Eric has a bachelor’s degree in hospitality from Swiss Hotel Management School in Montreux, Switzerland and an MBA in General Management from Dubai’s Emirates Aviation University.The 304-room Premier Inn Dragon Mart opened in 2019, and welcomed more than 156,000 local and international guests last year. The property is a stone’s throw from Dragon Mart – the world’s largest Chinese trading hub outside China – and its 5,000 shops, restaurants and attractions.“I am delighted to join Premier Inn and work with this exciting, much loved brand as it expands its footprint in the region,” said Eric. “I look forward to using my extensive experience to further enhance the guest journey in line with Premier Inn’s vision to be the Middle East’s hotel brand renowned for high value and high quality.”Premier Inn, the UK’s largest – and favourite – hospitality brand, currently operates seven hotels in Dubai, two in Abu Dhabi and two in Qatar.