McDonald’s UAE shares its best food safety practices this World Food Safety Day

DUBAI: As part of its participation in World Food Safety Day and its ongoing commitment to integrate food safety into every aspect of its operations, McDonald’s UAE published today its Food Standards Initiative - an open guidebook, detailing McDonald’s meticulous food safety practices across its food preparation process.Established by the UN in 2018, World Food Safety Day raises attention to the importance of food safety, as well as draws awareness to food standards, inviting organizations, businesses, governments, institutions, and the general public to participate in the annual global event. This year’s theme, “Food standards save lives”, highlights the role of established food safety practices and standards, ensuring food safety and quality, which McDonald’s will be bringing forward through its guidebook in a digestible and implementable format.Guided by the core tenet that food safety runs far beyond basic kitchen practices, the guidebook sheds light on the food preparation process, putting the onus on every individual involved in the food safety process and empowering all stakeholders to take responsibility across food safety, from suppliers and transportation partners to kitchen crew and consumers. The guidebook touches on topics including food handling, temperature control, traceability, monitored safety checks, freshness and more.Commenting on the initiative, Mr. Walid Fakih, CEO at McDonald's UAE said: “Serving safe and delicious food to our customers is our topmost priority and is one of the key factors underpinning our strong relationship with the local community in the UAE. To achieve this, we work with the best partners and suppliers who ensure we deliver on this promise and reward our customers’ trust every step of the way, from farm to fork.”Across food sourcing and handling, to logistics and preparation, McDonald’s UAE has a long-established foundation in ensuring its food safety practices and hygiene protocols meet the highest uncompromising standards of excellence. The McDonald’s guidebook offers industry players insight into preparation, hygiene, and safety tips, techniques, and requirements across four main food categories: beef, chicken, oil, and vegetables.McDonald’s UAE invites businesses and consumers to join this global UN day to continue raising awareness about the importance of food safety for all.

Alteryx Unveils Powerful Generative AI for Enhanced Analytics Democratization

Dubai: Alteryx, Inc. (NYSE: AYX), the Analytics Cloud Platform company, today announced Alteryx AiDIN, the industry’s first engine that combines the power of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and generative AI with the Alteryx Analytics Cloud Platform to accelerate analytics efficiency and productivity. Alteryx now brings the most advanced models and methods to more users across the organization, enabling anyone to capture the competitive advantage of AI and ML.“Alteryx is providing new ways to interact with, improve, and reimagine analytics by integrating generative AI into its Alteryx Analytics Cloud Platform portfolio,” said David Menninger, senior vice president and research director, Ventana Research. “These are exactly the types of integrations that will help enterprises drive high quality insights from large language models.”Alteryx is combining the power of its trusted Alteryx analytics outputs with generative AI and large language models to supercharge the democratization of analytics and dissemination of insights across the organization, while still capturing the governance and observability Alteryx is known for. This announcement includes the first of many new anticipated innovations for Alteryx AiDIN, which powers:Magic Documents, a new Alteryx Auto Insights feature, that uses an enterprise-grade generative AI integration to revolutionize data insights reporting and sharing with stakeholders. This feature delivers smart, in-context data visualization summaries, as well as seamless PowerPoint, email, and message generation capabilities for tailored audiences.Workflow Summary for Alteryx Designer, enabling users to document their processes more effectively by automatically generating workflow summaries and metadata in natural language. This enables easier governance and auditability of all workflow data processes and data pipelines.The OpenAI connector, which is being designed to allow users to roll Generative AI into their own Alteryx Designer workflows. The easy-to-use drag-and-drop tool is expected to generate compelling natural language outputs from users’ data and analytics and give users the power to transform how they present and share data.These new and anticipated features in Alteryx AiDIN will bring the most robust Generative AI and ML capabilities to every user. This initiative builds on current existing innovations from Alteryx like Computer Vision and Natural Language Processing that enable customers to access more data across the enterprise to power their model outputs and reporting.Alongside innovation, trust in data security and governance of analytics processes is key to maximizing the benefits of democratization efforts. With AiDIN, Alteryx continues to deliver a solid framework for maximizing business value through implementation of effective purpose-built AI capabilities within carefully orchestrated, secure applications.“With generative AI, users unlock an entirely new way of using insights to transform their business and solve their biggest challenges,” said Suresh Vittal, chief product officer at Alteryx. “With these game-changing Alteryx AiDIN capabilities, customers can intuitively infuse data-driven insights into every decision across every function, while maintaining governance over their analytics processes.”

Google announces Google for Startups Accelerator for Climate Change

Dubai: Google is announcing today Google for Startups Accelerator: Climate Change, a 10-week, equity-free hybrid program for Seed to Series A startups tackling Climate Change with tech. In partnership with Google Cloud, the Middle East and Africa program helps high-potential startups based in the Middle East and Africa grow with the best of Google through a mix of in-person and virtual activities, 1:1 mentoring, and group learning sessions.In addition to mentorship, the Google for Startups Accelerator: Climate Change program features deep dives and workshops focused on product design, business growth, and leadership development. Selected startups will also benefit from dedicated Google Cloud technical expertise and receive credits via the Google for Startups Cloud Program.Eligibility criteria includes-Startups demonstrating traction, ideally between Seed and Series A stage.Building a scalable product or service with a significant total addressable market and defensible growth model.Focusing on sustainable technology climate solutions, cleantech and green energy.Deeply technical, preferably leveraging technologies like Machine Learning and AI.Commitment from CTO and/or technical roles to participate and engage in required program sessions.Joyce Baz, Head of Communications at Google, said: "As more organizations navigate the necessary, sustainability-driven business transformations on the horizon, they’re looking for new tools and technology to help them. We believe the global startup ecosystem plays a pivotal role in accelerating their progress, which is why we’re excited to kick-off 2023 with Google for Startups Accelerator: Climate Change programs, and encourage startups in the Middle East and Africa to apply. These programs will focus on identifying, supporting and scaling startups that are building technologies to combat climate change. This is the first time we’re running the program in MENA, we’re looking forward to welcoming participants in our region at a critical time when technology can unblock and accelerate decarbonization of the economy."Through a combination of 1-to-1 and 1-to-many learning sessions, startups will receive mentoring from experienced engineers and business experts from Google and the wider ecosystem throughout the program. This support will be specifically tailored to the needs of the startups' businesses. Along with being paired with specialized Startup Success Managers (SSM) from Google, participants will also receive further training on how to use our best practices, tools, and personnel. At the end of the program, the cohort will present their achievements in a Demo Day in front of Google teams, mentors, investors, partners and key stakeholders from the Middle East and Africa startup ecosystems. After the program ends, startups will continue to receive support via the Google for Startups Accelerator Alumni program & network.

Three out of five UAE travellers admit they struggle to switch-off on holiday

DUBAI: New research has revealed that three in five (60%) UAE-based travellers find it difficult to switch off from everyday life whilst holidaying and this is something Hilton want to help change.The feeling of not being able to “switch off” will be a familiar feeling for many people and nearly a third of those polled said they did not feel like they were officially on holiday until they were actually travelling to their holiday destination.And with 31% of UAE travellers saying that the prime reason for feeling like they needed a holiday was to escape feeling overworked and 46% saying that listening to music helped them get into holiday-mode, Hilton, which has over 7,000 hotels worldwide, has teamed up with leading psychologist and ASMR expert, Dr Giulia Poerio, to offer a solution.‘Sounds of the Stay’ is a brand new ASMR track designed to help holidaymakers rest and relax and make the most out of their stay. Hilton researched what sounds transport travellers instantly into ‘stay’ mode, with sounds they cited as relaxing and inducing a holiday feeling as gentle, crashing waves (44%), soothing lobby music (44%), and restaurant piano music (36%).These sounds inspired the unique ASMR track which also includes other aural cues that people say transport them instantly to their favourite holiday place, such as the crunch of sand underfoot (30%), the splash of your first dive into a pool (30%), laughter of children (33%) and the gentle hum of an aeroplane engine (33%).ASMR researcher, Dr Giulia Poerio, who advised on the track, commented, “The impact of everyday sounds on our levels of relaxation and wellbeing is something of increasing research interest, especially over the past few years. It makes sense then that sounds we commonly associate with holidays might help bring people closer to those sought-after feelings of rest and relaxation even before people arrive at their getaway destinations . Working with Hilton on this ASMR-inspired track has highlighted the techniques we might use to help mentally transport us in preparation for that well-deserved holiday respite, allowing us to unplug before fully switching off.”The ‘Sounds of the Stay’ ASMR track has been produced at the optimal length, pitch and frequency scientifically proven to help people relax. The steady three-minute track features a wealth of soft, slow repetitive noises - such as footsteps across crunchy sand and suitcase wheels rolling over marbled hotel floors – which are ideal for helping listeners relax and unwind.Binaural sounds, including the friendly hotel greeting upon arrival or the closeness of ruched hotel sheets when climbing into bed, help listeners to create a sense of direction, and give the impression they can close their eyes and be transported to the location they’re listening to. Patricia Page-Champion, senior vice president and global commercial director, Hilton, commented, “Having spent most of my career in and around hotels, I’ve always loved the look on people’s faces when they walk through the door - the happy feeling of a holiday about to begin. A great stay offers the opportunity to pause, reflect and reconnect, and through this track we wanted to help people get that holiday feeling even before their holiday begins.”Top sounds that help transport UAE travellers to holiday modeA friendly greeting at your hotel (46%)          Waves crashing gently (44%)Soothing hotel lobby/lift music (44%)Piano music in a restaurant (36%)    The sizzle of food being made at the hotel buffet (36%)      The laughter of children playing in a pool (36%)       The hum of an aeroplane engine getting ready for take-off (33%) Suitcase wheels along a floor (33%) Street performers playing music or singing (31%)    The crunch of sand beneath your feet (30%)The splash of someone diving into the pool  (30%)

EaseMyTrip’s Dubai appoints Sameer Bagul as Managing Director

DUBAI: EaseMyTrip’s subsidiary - ( the wholly-owned subsidiary of EaseMyTrip which is India's one of the online travel-tech platforms, announced the appointment of Mr. Sameer Bagul as its Managing Director for the Middle East business. At EaseMyTrip Dubai, Sameer Bagul will be responsible for building the team and growing its Middle East business. Bringing more than 15 years of expertise in the online travel and e-commerce sectors across India and the Middle East, he has primarily been associated with Cleartrip and Holidayme. During his tenure there, he focused on expanding the business in the Middle East, building strong local brand, establishing strategic partnerships to enhance customer acquisition across all GCC countries to drive sales growth, and made significant contributions to overall business expansion. For the last three years, he has been an integral part of Traveazy, an online global distribution B2B platform, where he played a key role in their global expansion efforts.Demonstrating strong skills across business analytics, business strategy, corporate finance, fundraising, digital marketing, and brand development, he has a passion for travel and enjoys engaging with startups, particularly in the areas of fundraising, strategic planning, and growth marketing.Sameer Bagul, Managing Director, Middle East - EaseMyTrip, said, “Drawing on my prior expertise, I am excited to bring my strategic management and business development skills to the table at EaseMyTrip. Witnessing the remarkable growth of the brand over the years, I am thrilled to join this rapidly expanding company and contribute to its continued success. With a deep understanding of the industry and a passion for driving growth, I am eager to collaborate with the talented team at EaseMyTrip and propel the company to new heights.”Rikant Pittie, Co-Founder, EaseMyTrip, says, “We are thrilled to welcome Mr. Sameer to our team with open arms. His proven track record of effective leadership and business acumen is truly commendable. We have great confidence in his abilities to drive our organization towards new heights of success. With his expertise and innovative mindset, we are eager to collaborate with him on various strategic initiatives and witness his valuable contributions first hand. Together, we aim to achieve remarkable milestones and create a prosperous future for our company.”

Havas ME promotes Fabio Silveira and Dana Tahir as Managing Directors

Dubai: Havas Middle East announced the promotion of senior leadership within its Creative and PR divisions, Havas Creative and Red Havas. Fabio Silveira, the head of Havas Creative, and Dana Tahir, the head of Red Havas, have both been promoted to Managing Directors. They shared their promotions on LinkedIn, expressing their pride and gratitude for their respective roles and the support they received from their colleagues. Silveira acknowledged his 14-year journey with the Havas Creative Network, while Tahir highlighted her 15 years with the Havas Middle East network and the integration of Red Havas. “15 years with the Havas Middle East network, and I am humbled to have been part of the journey and transformation of the agency through the years, particularly with our integration into the global Red HAVAS network,” Tahir posted. Both credited CEO Dany Naaman for his leadership and thanked the network for empowering them. Havas Middle East consists of three divisions: Havas Creative, Havas Media, and Red Havas, led by Silveira, Houda Tohme (CEO of Havas Media), and Dany Naaman respectively.

UAE's tourism expenditure soars to AED 108 billion in 2022

Dubai: The UAE continues to establish itself as a global tourism powerhouse, as it witnessed a remarkable tourism expenditure of AED 108 billion ($29.42 billion) in 2022, according to Fever, the leading global live-entertainment discovery platform. This achievement solidifies the UAE's position as the world's top destination for international traveler expenditure, surpassing Doha's AED 62 billion ($16.79 billion) by a significant margin.With a steadfast commitment to attracting 40 million tourist visits by 2030, the UAE's tourism sector has emerged as a vital contributor to the nation's economy. The projected economic contribution of AED 450 billion ($123 billion) to the country's national GDP highlights the profound impact of tourism on the UAE's growth and development[1]. Moreover, the leisure and entertainment (L&E) sectors in the UAE and the broader Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are reaping the benefits.The L&E sector in MENA currently generates approximately AED 30 billion ($8.2 billion) in revenue[2]. Through substantial investments in tourism infrastructure and compelling marketing campaigns, countries such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia have successfully elevated the region's status as a globally renowned tourist destination.The UAE's consistent momentum is evident from the remarkable figures for the first quarter of 2023, with the country already welcoming 4.7 million tourists[3]. Furthermore, KSA has positioned itself as the world's fastest-growing tourism destination, surpassing its 2019 visitor count of 17.5 million people with 7.8 million tourists in the first three months of this year alone[4].The influx of tourists in the region has resulted in an increased demand for leisure and entertainment offerings. Rachid Laurent Elameri (pictured above), General Manager of Fever Middle East, commented: "Tourism brings significant revenue and contributes to a country's overall economic growth, as seen firsthand in countries like the UAE, where tourist spending increased by 70% last year." Elameri emphasized the importance of the financial infusion from tourists, stimulating the local economy and creating opportunities for businesses to invest in the development and expansion of leisure and entertainment offerings.Fever recognizes the potential for further growth in the MENA region. Since its inception in 2014, Fever has been dedicated to democratizing access to culture and entertainment. With over 125 million users worldwide and $200 million in funding from Goldman Sachs in 2022, Fever expanded to the GCC region and is committed to showcasing experiences and artists in the UAE and beyond.As the UAE continues to set new benchmarks in tourism and entertainment, companies in Dubai and the wider region have a unique opportunity to contribute to the growth and success of the leisure and entertainment industry. By investing in the development and expansion of offerings, they can support the UAE in maintaining its leading position across all industries, particularly in the thriving space of leisure and entertainment.

Like Digital & Partners appoints David O'Sullivan as VP of Commercial, MENA

DUBAI: As Like Digital & Partners continues its rapid expansion into the GCC market and beyond, the award-winning digital transformation agency has announced the appointment of David O'Sullivan as VP of Commercial for the MENA region.With more than 19 years of experience in the digital sector, cultivated in the UK and the Middle East, David has a proven track-record of winning and delivering outstanding digital transformation projects for a variety of global brands, while leading high-performing teams to deliver profitable results for clients.Having worked in the MENA region for the past six years, David has refined his knowledge of what it takes to grow and nurture a well-rounded digital portfolio for a global agency in this highly competitive marketplace.His client experience includes award-winning work for global brands such as The Kraft Heinz Company, Mercedes-Benz, Emirates Dnata Group, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, JLL, NBC Universal, Collinson Group (LoungeKey/Priority Pass), The AA, LG Electronics, World Duty Free Group, Wagamama, Marks & Spencer, PizzaExpress, Take-Two Interactive (Rockstar Games), and Warner Bros.Commenting on the appointment, Alex Tovey, Chief Commercial Officer of Like Digital & Partners said, “We are delighted to welcome David to the Like Digital & Partners team as VP of Commercial for MENA. David has every attribute we seek in a Like Digital & Partners team member. He is deeply knowledgeable as to the digital landscape, considerate of client needs, and strategically minded when problem solving. We couldn't be happier to welcome him into the business.” In accepting the position, David said, “Like Digital & Partners’ dedication to the region and its sustained expansion across MENA is something that immediately resonated with me. I’m looking forward to working with an established team in the Middle East that is agile and responsive to client needs in the ever-changing digital landscape.” “As well as securing new client opportunities and establishing and strengthening partnerships in the MENA region, I’m also looking forward to analysing the current needs of the brands already in the agency’s enviable portfolio.”With offices in Dubai, London and Paris, and a new office opening in Riyadh in Q2, Like Digital & Partners comprises an award-winning team of expert designers, e-commerce strategists, growth planners, developers and content marketers. As experts in the luxury, fashion and hospitality industries, the agency services some of the world’s leading luxury brands including Mulberry, One&Only Resorts, Chalhoub Group, Majid Al Futtaim Group, Atlantis Royal, Atlantis The Palm, La Perla, and De Beers, among others. The agency’s core competencies lie in Digital Transformation Strategy, Brand and Content Marketing, Growth Strategy, UX & UI Design, and Technology & Development.

Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy attracts 30 tech startups to Dubai during Q1 20

Dubai: Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy, one of the three chambers operating under Dubai Chambers, has unveiled details of its key achievements during the first quarter of 2023. The announcement underlines the chamber's commitment to boosting the digital economy in the emirate and supporting the ambitious Dubai Economic Agenda D33.During the first three months of this year, Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy successfully cooperated with relevant government entities to attract 30 startups with strong potential in the technology sector as part of its efforts to develop the digital economy and enhance Dubai’s appeal to tech investors.The chamber has also launched a new initiative to enhance communication with key stakeholders in digital business community, and organised a series of 10 interactive workshops for the private sector focusing on specific areas of the digital economy. The workshops explored the challenges facing the targeted sectors and helped develop appropriate solutions to support companies in improving their performance and competitiveness.H.E. Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications and Chairman of Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy, confirmed that realising the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for the emirate to be a global capital of the digital economy remains a top priority for the chamber both now and in the future, and that the private sector is a key player in achieving this objective.“A main focus for the UAE is strengthening constructive dialogue with key segments of Dubai’s digital business community to determine opportunities, challenges, and recommendations,” H.E. Al Olama stated. “We aim to chart a roadmap for strengthening the emirate’s digital infrastructure, develop legislation that supports the growth of tech companies, and enhance the digital economy’s competitiveness and contribution to Dubai’s overall economic growth.”The series of interactive workshops covered a wide range of digital economy sectors including 3D printing, social media, venture capital and business incubators, ecommerce, video games, the gig economy, financial technology (FinTech), the metaverse, cryptocurrencies, healthtech, artificial intelligence, and software development.Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy is committed to supporting Dubai’s digital transformation and elevating the emirate’s position as a global capital of the digital economy. The chamber’s ambitious strategy aims to attract 300 new digital startups in the coming years. As part of these efforts, Dubai Chamber of Digital economy will host the Expand North Star Summit in October. The event, which is the region’s largest gathering of startups, will showcase growth opportunities emerging in Dubai’s digital economy and serve as a strategic catalyst to expand the future of digital economy.

The Elite Cars launches limited edition AED 8mln Zenvo hypercar

Dubai: The Elite Cars Group, one of the leading multi-brand luxury car dealerships in the UAE becomes the authorized distributor of the Danish carmaker Zenvo Automotive - manufacturing next-generation hypercars - for the first time in the Middle East. The announcement of this partnership was held at Caesars Palace Hotel, Bluewaters, along with a debut showcase of its bespoke TSR-S model in Dubai.Zenvo Automotive plans to firmly establish a presence in the region ahead of the reveal of an all-new car, Aurora, this August through The Elite Cars. A reveal event featuring the hand-built TSR-S highlights the brand’s renowned attention to detail and quality for an engaging and intimate driving experience.With over 25 years of experience having exclusive partnerships with global automotive brands, The Elite Cars offerings comprise a wide range of top-quality new and pre-owned high-end ultra-luxury vehicles from some of the world's most prestigious brands. The Elite Cars group offers customers an exceptional buying experience. Their team of knowledgeable and professional sales consultants are dedicated to helping customers find the perfect car to meet their needs and exceed their expectations.Commenting on the partnership, Mr. Tamer Abu Khalaf, Partner at The Elite Cars said, "With a commitment to quality, service, and customer satisfaction, The Elite Cars Group has been the undisputed leader in the luxury automotive industry for over 25 years. We are confident that this will bring success to both our organizations and we will redefine the boundaries of automotive innovation and set a new standard for performance cars.”Commenting on this latest partnership with The Elite Cars Group, Zenvo’s chief commercial officer and chairman of the board, Mr. Jens Sverdrup said: “After a successful 12 months developing the brand in North America and Canada, we are keen to continue with our strategic plan to grow the Zenvo brand globally. At Zenvo, we are thrilled to be working with The Elite Cars Group as our authorized distributor to firmly establish the brand in the Middle East. The Elite Cars echoes our commitment to providing customers with the best possible end-to-end experience. “With all the recent TSR-GT models sold out, Zenvo UAE will register interest in the all-new V12 powered hypercar, Aurora, featuring a modular design chassis with carbon monocoque and carbon subframes, plus Zenvo’s own gearbox with integrated hybrid drive. Hand-built in Præstø, Denmark, Aurora will be an all-new 6-litre, twin turbo, V12 engine. Aurora Tur will deliver a road focused, GT driving experience with a limited top speed of over 400kmh, while Aurora Agil will feature more aggressive aero designed for maximum capability on the racetrack. Danish-developed Zenvo Automotive focuses on limited-edition artisan-made hypercars, available to those interested in completely bespoke manufacturing experiences and unique driving abilities.With the announcement of this partnership, The Elite Cars group is looking forward to a successful future for Zenvo Automotive in the UAE, and to provide its loyal clientele with the greatest in luxury and performance.

The rise of gamification marketing in India

Authored by Bhavesh Talreja, Founder & CEO, Globale MediaWith the widespread adoption of digital technologies, people spend more time online and engage with various digital platforms. This has led to markets figuring out new interactive and entertaining ways to capture the attention of users. One such way is Gamification.Gamification marketing is a strategy that involves integrating game-like elements, mechanics, and dynamics into marketing campaigns and experiences. In simple words, it is the use of game elements in non-game activities or making boring things more fun. It utilizes elements of gameplay to engage and motivate consumers, encouraging them to participate, interact with a brand, and take desired actions.The term “gamification” was coined by British computer programmer Nick Pelling, but it first gained widespread usage in 2010. Although the trend may have become commonplace in marketing circles in recent times, the concept of gamification and its influence on human behavior has always been there. We all remember how legos and puzzles played an instrumental role in fuelling curiosity and developing cognitive skills. Or how Monopoly gave a simplistic understanding of capitalism. So, the original concept of using games for encouraging participation and learning is not unusual.Gamification taps into the fundamental principles of human psychology and motivation. It leverages elements such as rewards, challenges, achievements, and competition, which are known to drive engagement and encourage desired behaviors.Gamification marketing aims to enhance user engagement, create memorable experiences, and drive specific behaviors or outcomes. By tapping into people's natural inclination for competition, achievement, and rewards, gamification marketing can capture attention, increase participation, and foster a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction.According to shopping preference surveys, 70% of shoppers want gaming elements in online shopping, and 36% would like gaming elements while shopping in-store.The global gamification market size was estimated at USD 10.5 billion in 2021 and it is expected to reach around USD 96.8 billion by 2030.Some common elements and techniques used in gamification marketing are:? Points, Badges, and Leaderboards: Users earn points or badges for completing certain tasks, reaching milestones, or demonstrating desired behaviors. Leaderboards display rankings based on user performance, creating a sense of competition and motivation. This is a great way to encourage users to actively participate and spend more time with the brand.? Challenges, Quests, Rewards: Users are presented with specific challenges or quests that require them to complete certain actions or achieve specific goals. This element adds a sense of excitement, progression, and accomplishment. Users receive rewards, incentives, or prizes for their participation or successful completion of tasks. These can include discounts, exclusive content, virtual goods, or tangible rewards.A great example is the Starbucks Rewards app, which gives customers the ability to earn “stars” for every purchase which can be redeemed for drinks or food. In the star-based Rewards app, customers are encouraged to follow through the entire process, right from scanning their member barcode to adding funds and paying with their digital Starbucks Card. According to QSR Magazine, this membership program accounted for 52% of all US store sales in 2021.? Progression and Unlockable Content: Users progress through levels or stages, unlocking new content, features, or experiences as they advance. This creates a sense of achievement, curiosity, and motivation to continue engaging with the brand.Gamification marketing often incorporates social elements, such as allowing users to share their progress and achievements, or invite friends to participate. This not only fosters social interaction and competition but also exponentially increases brand visibility through word-of-mouth publicity. Real-time feedback and progress indicators provide users with immediate feedback on their actions, motivating them to continue or improve their performance. Gamification marketing can be implemented across various channels and platforms, including websites, mobile apps, social media campaigns, events, and loyalty programs. It is used by businesses to enhance customer engagement, drive brand loyalty, increase sales, promote product adoption, and gather valuable data insights.In India, an essential avenue for gamification is fantasy sports. With an 18-crore user base, almost thrice the size of North America, India is already the world's largest and fastest-growing fantasy sports market and gamification will be the icing on the cake.With gamification, even traditional card games like online rummy which seem mundane, can become viral sensations. But unlike the rewards system, players can compete for real money or prizes, thereby making it a profession. Online rummy is the hottest pick in the ecosystem, with just the top four companies making a combined revenue of ?4000 crores. In 2019, Online rummy accounted for 335 million USD in India's online gaming market and is estimated to reach 1.4 billion USD by 2024.Many international brands have already tried out different types of gamification marketing. 1. Elon Musk’s Tesla partnered with Tencent during the launch of Model 3 and Model X in China. The two companies entered into a partnership for Tesla cars to be included in PUBG, which is rebranded as ‘Game of Peace’ in China. This marketing campaign allowed players of the game to actually drive the new special edition Tesla electric vehicles within matches. This type of gamification marketing is also known as Brandification, which is as simple as advertising real-world products within video game spaces.2. In 2010, when M&M’s launched the pretzel-flavored version of the candy, they incorporated an eye spy game into their marketing campaign, where users had to find? a single pretzel hidden in the sea of M&M's. This simple gamification strategy garnered 25,000 new likes on the brand’s Facebook page, in addition to 6,000 shares and 10,000 comments.Thus, by leveraging the principles of gamification, brands can create immersive and enjoyable experiences that resonate with their target audience, resulting in increased brand awareness, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, business growth.India is a land of games. Many games, including Chess, Polo, Snakes and ladders, have been born in India and are recognized globally. So, it should come as no surprise that India is one of the leading countries when it comes to gamification. Plus, with the Indian gaming industry valued at $2.6 billion in 2022 and expected to grow four-fold by 2027, the rise of gamification marketing will also be unstoppable. In India, there are avenues awaiting implementation of gamification such as the edtech market. Levels, points, badges, awards, quick feedback, time limitations, challenges, contests, avatars, leaderboards, and rankings can completely change the way people learn.After all, it's not always about competing to win, but sharing how you won.

Al-Futtaim Automotive appoints Antoine Barthes as Vice-President

Dubai: In a move to reinforce and consolidate its strong leadership position, Al-Futtaim Automotive has announced the appointment of Antoine Barthes as the automotive conglomerate’s Vice-President.Antoine takes the reins of the business with full responsibility for the leadership and development of the business operations across all regions and segments such as passenger and electric vehicles, motorcycles, commercial vehicles, industrial equipment and agricultural products.The appointment signifies the automotive giant’s clear intent on continuing growing and diversifying the portfolio, underpinned by its core customer-centric approach.Bringing with him 25 years of diverse experiences, Antoine will play an integral role in devising  strategies to maintain the company’s leadership across the 10 countries they operate in.Antoine will also steer the company on the sustainability and digitalization path to ensure Al-Futtaim Automotive achieves its mission to become the new category leader in green mobility and Mobility-as-a-Service.Antoine has previously helmed some of the biggest global automotive operations, overseeing the growth of major manufacturers such as Ford Motor Company and Nissan across Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. He spent two decades managing the full portfolio of brands for Nissan Motor Corporation. He was also in charge of Nissan’s biggest operations based in China, with more than 1 million cars sold annually.He arrives with an extensive mix of expertise covering the entire automotive value-chain, including sales and marketing, product development, operations, logistics, network and distribution, and corporate management.Prior to joining Al-Futtaim Automotive, he was Nissan’s Corporate Vice-President and Head of Global Sales, Dealer Network Development, and Customer Quality, based at the manufacturer's Global headquarters in Japan.Al-Futtaim Automotive is a distinct player in the UAE auto industry, with exclusive distribution rights to brands such as Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Volvo, Jeep, RAM, and Dodge. The company is also the sole distributor for BYD, the world’s leading new energy manufacturer, and the Swedish performance all-electric - Polestar, with the recently launched Al-Futtaim Electric Mobility Company.Al-Futtaim Automotive is one of five divisions within the Al-Futtaim Group which provides quality products and services that enrich people’s lives and aspirations each and every day.

Bridgestone MEA appoints Gurhan Cevikel as new Head of Marketing

DUBAI: Bridgestone Middle East and Africa (MEA), one of the global leaders in tyres and sustainable mobility solutions, has appointed Gurhan Cevikel as its new Head of Marketing to spearhead the organisation’s marketing strategies in the region.Gurhan assumed his new role as the Head of Marketing for the Middle East and Africa region on May 1, 2023. In his new role, he reports directly to Jacques Fourie, Vice President and Managing Director of the MEA region, and has a dotted line reporting to Thierry Jupsin, Vice President of Brands Marketing for the Europe, Middle East, India, and Africa (EMIA) region.As the Head of Marketing - MEA, Gurhan is in charge of defining, coordinating, and executing the marketing strategy for the MEA region in line with the BSEMIA Marketing Guidelines and MEA strategic priorities. He oversees all marketing activities - including Brand Platforms Activation, Trade Marketing, Communication, Digital Marketing, Pricing, and Strategic Planning.Gurhan said, “I am honoured to join Bridgestone MEA as the Head of Marketing, embarking on a thrilling journey of innovation and growth. I look forward to contributing to the efforts of Bridgestone MEA to position itself a leading global mobility solutions provider and will dedicate my expertise to further develop the company by delivering high-quality solutions to customers. Together, we will redefine the boundaries of marketing, steering our brand towards unrivalled success.”Gurhan brings with him over 18 years of extensive experience in sales, marketing, business development, consulting, deal making, channel management, B2B/B2C, strategic planning, digital transformation, and team management. He has worked in various markets across the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Asia, contributing to his deep understanding of the region's diverse business landscape. Gurhan's previous roles include serving as the Global Marketing Director - Retail Lubricants at Shell, where he led go-to-market strategies, pricing and portfolio choices across multiple markets, and communication plans. He later moved on to become the Head of Market Intelligence & Consulting at GfK Middle East & Africa LLC being based in Dubai UAE.Commenting on Gurhan's appointment, Jacques Fourie stated, “We are delighted to welcome Gurhan to Bridgestone MEA as the new Head of Marketing. His diverse background and proven track record in sales and marketing make him a valuable addition to our team. We are confident that Gurhan's leadership and strategic vision will drive our marketing efforts and contribute to the continued growth and success of Bridgestone in the MEA region.”

Get to know us,’ 92% of UAE consumers tell brands: ServiceNow survey

Dubai: Almost all UAE consumers expect commercial brands to understand and cater to their individual needs, according to a report released today by ServiceNow (NYSE: NOW), the leading digital workflow company making the world work better for everyone.The study — in which researchers interviewed 13,000 adults across EMEA, including 1,000 in the UAE — revealed the critical success factors for the nation’s brands as they compete to deliver the best customer experiences. Some 92% of respondents said it is important that brands understand them.The findings come at a time when brand loyalty is at an all-time low — 91% of consumers surveyed in the UAE (15 percentage points higher than the EMEA average) said they are less loyal to brands now than they were two years ago. Almost one in four (23%) attribute this to disappointing experiences.“Some of the findings are not surprising,” said Ali Kaddoura, Country Manager, GCC, at ServiceNow, of the report, which revealed that 93% of UAE consumers expect seamless service and 94% expect customer service reps to resolve problems easily. “But what really stands out is that more consumers than ever expect their brands to really know them and cater to their personal preferences.”When asking about specific expectations, researchers found 79% of the UAE sample population saying it was important that brands were consistently aware of shoppers’ purchasing habits. And 86% said companies should remember their preferred communication channel. Almost everyone (91%) called for the offering of personalized discounts and 86% urged brands to display tailored recommendations during an engagement session.“Given the tech-savvy propensity of the UAE consumer base, we found it interesting that consumers here had a technology-based incentive to be loyal to a brand,” Kaddoura said, citing a finding that 86%, or 15 percentage points higher than the EMEA average, considered it important that brands provide a customer experience underpinned by the latest technology. An almost equal number — 85%, or 21 percentage points higher than the EMEA average — said they would likely be more loyal to a brand that invested in tech to provide a better customer experience.“Whether we zero in on consumers’ direct calls for better tech, or their implied calls for it through their urgings for more personalized experiences, it is clear that UAE organizations need better tech,” said Kaddoura. “Brands must invest in a unified foundational technology platform for all enterprise digital workflows, allowing them to maximize the value of their existing technology investments and connect siloed systems, departments, and processes.”He advised brands in the UAE to look to the two top-ranked sectors for customer experience — healthcare and government.“Consider the UAE government’s implementation of the trusted identity system, UAE Pass,” he added, “or its response to the COVID crisis, starting with the management of lockdowns and culminating in the app-driven rollout of vaccines — all driven by technology. And let’s not forget the country’s healthcare system and how it used tech to rally under COVID-related pressures, the advent of telemedicine being just one example. Other industries can look to these shining examples of how to leverage tech to deliver exceptional customer experiences.”ServiceNow’s customer experience report did not just reveal sentiment regarding consumers’ own experiences. In the age of ESG, consumers also spared some thoughts for how brands treat their employees. Most (91%) of those surveyed in the UAE said this was important to them, and three quarters said they would be less likely to engage with a company if they knew its employees were unhappy.“We often talk about the link between employee and customer experience, but this latest study really drives the point home,” said Mark Ackerman, Area VP for the Middle East and Africa at ServiceNow. “It is really heartening to see that we humans, in some way, are coming to realize that we are all consumers, but we are also all employees. We cannot just provide exceptional experiences to consumers; we must also make sure our internal ‘consumers’ are happy — whether that is through better salary and benefits, or through better technology and resources, or through better development opportunities. Nowadays, if you ignore any of this, your brand loyalty will suffer. The data tells us so.

Madinah Modest Wear launches niche e-commerce portal

DUBAI: Madinah Modest Wear, a pioneering e-commerce fashion project ‘By Women, For Women’, proudly announces the launch of its new online portal offering a wide range of scarves, hijabs, and accessories. With a mission to empower women and preserve cultural heritage, Madinah Modest Wear has been developed by entrepreneurs Hina Bakht, Founder and Managing Director of Madinah Modest Wear based in Dubai, and Nodira Tursunova, Partner and Executive Director based in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. This exciting venture signifies the ongoing business collaboration between the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan, both driven by a vision to power the digital economy through innovation and collaboration.According to Hina, Madinah Modest Wear's primary objective is to provide meaningful business opportunities to tribal and rural women through its e-commerce platform tapping into the potential of cross-border cooperation. “By showcasing their talent, skills, and craftsmanship, the portal aims to uplift rural communities while preserving their rich cultural heritage through digital transformation.”The company is committed to fair trade practices, offering training and support to foster economic independence, enhance self-esteem, and contribute to the sustainable development of marginalized communities, particularly in Uzbekistan and other parts of Central Asia.From a consumer perspective, Madinah Modest Wear aims to provide the freedom and choice to women to embrace their unique style while adhering to their cultural and regional values. Recognizing the growing demand for modest fashion worldwide, the company aspires to become a prominent global player in the industry.Hina, who is a highly accomplished business and revenue management professional, brings over 20 years of expertise in digital marketing and e-commerce to her role as Founder and Managing Director of Madinah Modest Wear. Holding a Master’s Degree from Delhi School of Economics, Hina has further augmented her knowledge and skills through specialized certifications from renowned institutes. These certifications include Blockchain for Financial Services from INSEAD, Leadership: Creating Public Value from Harvard University, Online Distribution, Revenue, and Demand Management Specialization from ESSEC Business School, and AI Applications in Marketing and Finance from the University of Pennsylvania.Hina stressed, “The positive social impact of our project is substantial, starting with the local rural community. By supporting local businesses, Madinah Modest Wear aims to foster economic growth, encourage entrepreneurship, and strengthen the regional economy. The growth of Madinah Modest Wear's portal will create numerous employment opportunities for residents, benefiting individuals and families across various regions across Central Asia. This, in turn, will enhance their livelihoods, contribute to poverty reduction, and promote economic stability. With improved living standards, individuals and families will be able to invest in education, healthcare, housing, and actively participate in the local economy.”Environmental sustainability too is a core value for Madinah Modest Wear. Minimizing its ecological footprint, the company is dedicated to implementing sustainable practices throughout its operations, utilizing energy-efficient technologies, renewable energy sources, and responsible waste management strategies. Madinah Modest Wear aims to preserve the natural beauty of the environment and protect local ecosystems. Showcases its commitment to promoting a greener and more sustainable fashion industry, Madinah Modest Wear proudly features garments made from organically grown cotton and silk, which are cultivated without the use of harmful pesticides and chemicals.The global modest wear market is experiencing rapid growth, driven by increasing cultural diversity, evolving fashion trends, and rising awareness of modest fashion. According to industry reports, it is projected to reach $484 billion by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.6%. With a focus on quality, diversity, and affordability, Madinah Modest Wear is poised to capture a notable market share in this expanding industry.

New generative AI-powered Zoom IQ features are now available to users

Dubai: Today Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZM) launched key features of Zoom IQ, a smart companion that empowers collaboration and unlocks people’s potential through generative AI. Now available through free trials for customers in select plans,[1] the Zoom Meeting summary and Zoom Team Chat compose features will help teams improve productivity, balance workday priorities, and collaborate more effectively.“With the introduction of these new capabilities in Zoom IQ, an incredible generative AI assistant, teams can further enhance their productivity for everyday tasks, freeing up more time for creative work and expanding collaboration,” said Smita Hashim, chief product officer at Zoom. “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to large language models, and with Zoom’s federated approach to AI, we are able to bring powerful capabilities to our customers and users through Zoom’s own models as well as our partners’ models.”Zoom’s federated approach to AI leverages its own proprietary large language AI models, those from leading AI companies — such as OpenAI and Anthropic — and select customers’ own models. With this flexibility to incorporate multiple types of models, Zoom’s goal is to provide the most value for its customers’ diverse needs.The first set of Zoom IQ capabilities is now generally available to Zoom customers in select plans as free trials:Meeting summary: Zoom Meeting hosts can now create a summary powered by Zoom’s own large language models and share it via Zoom Team Chat and email without recording the conversation. Hosts receive automated summaries and can share them with attendees and those who didn’t attend to improve team collaboration and speed up productivity.Chat compose: Zoom Team Chat users can now use the generative AI-powered compose feature, which leverages OpenAI’s technology, to draft messages based on the context of a Team Chat thread in addition to changing message tone and length as well as rephrasing responses to customize text recommendations.Zoom is committed to empowering customers with the tools they need to control their data. In order to use these features, customers will need to go to the Zoom admin console and opt into the free trials for each feature. As part of the opt-in, customers will also select data-sharing options with Zoom. Account admins may change this data-sharing selection at any time. Customer data will not be used to train third-party models. More information can be found here.To further help our customers and users, Zoom will continue to enhance its products with Zoom IQ capabilities. The next set of generative AI-powered features, scheduled to be released soon, will allow users to draft email content, summarize Team Chat threads, organize ideas, and draft whiteboard content:Email compose: Harnessing the power of generative AI, users will get email draft suggestions in response to the conversational context from prior Zoom Meetings, Zoom Phone calls, and email threads. Initially available in Zoom IQ for Sales, sales professionals can now quickly follow up with customers based on the context of their last conversation. Email compose will be generally available in the coming weeks.Zoom Team Chat thread summaries: Ever step away from the computer only to come back to a flurry of Team Chat messages? Available in the coming months, Team Chat thread summaries will allow users to catch up with the click of a button.Meeting queries: Joining a Zoom Meeting late can be both disruptive and confusing for the latecomer, but not anymore. Meeting queries will allow users to catch up quickly without disrupting the meeting flow by discreetly submitting a query via the in-meeting chat and receiving a generative AI-created summary of what they missed. The meeting queries feature is expected to be generally available in the coming months.Whiteboard draft: Who hasn’t experienced the “cold start” problem? A slow start to a brainstorming session can put a damper on idea generation, but with whiteboard draft, teams will be able to get a set of initial ideas, simply using text prompts. The whiteboard draft feature is expected to be generally available in the coming months.Whiteboard synthesize: Brainstorming sessions typically end with a lot of ideas that need to be organized in order to execute. The whiteboard synthesize feature automatically organizes ideas into categories, so teams can get to work faster. This feature is expected to be generally available in the coming months.

New blockchain technology research reveals value potential for emerging markets

Dubai: Agile Dynamics, a research-based consultancy service that helps businesses to better understand and harness the potential of new technologies to achieve digital transformation, has announced the launch of its latest research paper. Entitled 'Disrupt and Innovate: Harness the Power of Blockchain', the paper examines how to unlock growth via layer 1 blockchain protocols, focusing in particular on the advantages for emerging markets.Amongst other insights, the research reveals that customised layer 1 blockchain protocol offers potential benefits such as increased financial inclusion, reduced transaction costs, and improved transparency - all of which align with the concept of technology sovereignty. It empowers entities to have ownership and control of their data, while safeguarding their sovereignty, reducing dependence on external entities, being more competitive on the global stage, and both encouraging and supporting domestic technology companies.With multiple applications across all sectors, and as a driving component of Web 3.0 technologies, blockchain has proven to be massively valuable to the global economy. It is estimated that blockchain technology will boost global gross domestic product (GDP) by US$2.1 trillion of the projected global GDP in 2030. Approximately half (49%) of the US$2.1 trillion will come from growth markets.As of 2023, estimated global ownership rates of cryptocurrency - which is enabled by blockchain technology - is at an average of 4.2%, with over 420 million crypto users worldwide. Around 7.5% of these are in growth markets, including the UAE, India, China, and Egypt.The Agile Dynamics report finds that 73% of study respondents consider that a reduction in operational costs will be one of the main advantages of blockchain technology. This is followed closely by 67% of respondents believing that a key advantage of blockchain will be improving speed and efficiency. Other advantages noted include improving security and privacy (55%), bringing innovation (50%), and financial processes (44%).Blockchain technology's ability to drive value by reducing cost across a wide array of functions is another key aspect explored in the report. The strongest applicability is in Operations and IT - which typically comprise 30-50% of most organisations' cost structure, though departments including Finance, Sales and Marketing, and Risk Management will also benefit. Advantages in this respect include more efficient data management; elimination of redundant infrastructure, systems and processes; a shift to self-service solutions, and a reduced cost of data handling, amongst other benefits.Cost reduction is a main strategy value of blockchain technology, particularly in the short term. This is followed by revenue generation and capital relief. These advantages have led more than 90% of major banks based in Europe, North America and Australia to test and invest in blockchain solutions. Achieving long term value, however, will only be realised if commercially viable solutions can be deployed at scale. According to Agile Dynamics' report, this is likely 3-5 years away.One obstacle that blockchain technology must overcome in order for full value to be unlocked is a challenge referred to as the 'Blockchain Trilemma'. This refers to a situation in which there are three options available - in this case, security, scalability, and decentralisation - but only two of them can be achieved simultaneously. As stated by the report, if the architecture does not overcome this challenge, then the blockchain application is set to fail at some point. To achieve all three options, a fullycccnetwork that is both secure and scalable is necessary.Within the report, Agile Dynamics examines the growing world of blockchain, including an analysis of different blockchain platforms. The report focuses on 10, selected based on criteria such as Total Value Locked (TVL), Total Active Users, Technical Metrics, Technical Properties, and more. Aspects such as technical designs, blockchain and ecosystem data, and the individuals and organisations behind each platform are taken into consideration to draw insights into what the future of the broader smart contracting platform landscape could look like.While there are definite merits to each of the platforms analysed and some of them can meet the demands and requirements of developing world markets, the report finds that, ultimately, they don't necessarily meet the full needs of growth markets. This leaves considerable space for further development of the sector, which will lead to greater outcomes for platform owners and users alike.Agile Dynamics explores what the future of blockchain technology could look like, including next generation technology characteristics. The report maps out three stages of the blockchain technology maturity journey, which it names as Emerging Blockchain Technology, Next-Gen Blockchain, and Fourth Generation Chain. In the latter, a permissionless, decentralised, scalable blockchain protocol will be achieved. It will be focused on interoperability challenges, designed to provide the fastest and most efficient cross-chain interoperability, speed, scalability, and security. It will also integrate micro-validation and tokenisation, amongst numerous other benefits.Speaking on the report and its contents, Paul Lalovich, Managing Partner at Agile Dynamics, said: "The world of blockchain is evolving rapidly, and is becoming an increasingly vital component of our ultra-connected world. Our report demonstrates how blockchain could be the most effective solution to begin a technology sovereignty journey, thanks to its ability to support the concept through providing decentralisation, data ownership and privacy, open source principles, trust and security, interoperability and more. By leveraging blockchain, you have the ability for more control and autonomy over your technology infrastructure and systems. This reduces dependence on external entities, and helps to safeguard your sovereignty. Blockchain is also a distinct and cost-effect means to stimulate innovation and foster growth, particularly in an economic context, and it has been demonstrated to be more cost-effective than any other technology for building out a project with the highest forecasted compound annual growth rate through to 2030."Lalovich continued: "Agile Dynamics is committed to helping organisations to harness the power of technology, to achieve digital transformation and to create differentiation by applying technology in a practical business context. We use deep insights derived from data, as demonstrated in 'Disrupt and Innovate: Harness the Power of Blockchain', in combination with extensive experience across industries and applications to help our clients realise business opportunities for growth."

Manchester City named world’s most valuable football club brand

Abu Dhabi:  Manchester City has been named the most valuable football club brand in the world. The Club has topped the Brand Finance Football 50 2023 Report for the first time.The report details a 34% positive growth in City’s brand value since the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Premier League champions overtaking Real Madrid for the top position. This is the first time an English club has held the number one spot in six years.A decade of dominance on the pitch and the highest revenue of any of club in the report were outlined as key drivers for City’s rise in the rankings.This comes at the climax of a remarkable season for Manchester City both on and off the pitch. On Saturday, City lifted the FA Cup to complete a domestic double after winning a third successive Premier League last month. The Club will be looking to add more silverware to this historic season as it competes in the UEFA Champions League Final this weekend.This season the Club has also topped the Deloitte Money League for the second successive year after announcing a record revenue of £613 million and profits of £41.7 million, the latter being more than double the previous Club record. It has also been a strong year for City’s commercial portfolio with a number of new partners and long-term renewals announced across the season. City’s retail operation has also continued to break records with incredible demand for the 2022/23 season kits and the most recent kit launch seeing a new shirt sold every 12 seconds on the first day of sales.The popularity of the Club is also reflected in its huge growth and engagement levels across social media, most notably with City being the most popular European club on YouTube for active users and video views this season.  Looking to the future, Manchester City has submitted a planning application to Manchester City Council for the development of a best-in-class fan experience and year-round entertainment and leisure destination at the Etihad Stadium. This project would add a further £300m to City Football Group’s investment and regeneration work in East Manchester.Roel de Vries, Chief Operating Officer at City Football Group, said: “Being recognised as the world’s most valuable football club brand reflects the phenomenal growth story that Manchester City has had in recent years. This achievement recognises the evolution of not just the brand, but the Club as a whole. The Club has been performing consistently and has broken records on and off the pitch this season, whilst operating in a way that promotes financial sustainability.“As we look to the future, we want to keep investing in the right things – our football talent, the city of Manchester and our local community, infrastructure and fan experience. We have a proven track record of innovation and are excited for the next chapter in this Club’s great history.”sibility or could have foreseen any such dama

FOO unveils the Middle East’s newest prepaid travel card solution

Dubai: FOO, an award-winning B2B fintech solutions provider headquartered in the UAE, has unveiled its latest innovation: a customisable, out-of-the-box travel card solution. The prepaid card and digital wallet enables banks to harness the power of fintech to deliver a seamless and cost-effective purchasing experience for their customers, whether at home or abroad.The travel card solution includes an instantly issued prepaid card that can be topped up from anywhere and at any time. It also includes a white label digital wallet app, equipped with sub-wallets for multiple foreign currencies, to facilitate real-time card and currency management. To cater to the specific requirements of the partnered bank, additional modules can also be seamlessly integrated. These optional modules encompass a range of features such as digital onboarding and ATM withdrawals, enhancing the overall offering.Consumers will be able to instantly transfer funds from their main bank account onto the prepaid card and convert their money into various currencies using the accompanying app, without incurring costly transaction or exchange fees. They can conveniently monitor expenses and manage their multiple sub-wallets within one easy-to-use app. When it comes to making purchases in different currencies, the card will automatically draw funds from the corresponding sub-wallet, streamlining the process for the cardholders.This solution will help banks meet consumer demands for cost-effective, secure, and convenient methods of conducting purchases while traveling. What’s more, FOO specializes in offering financial microservices developed in-house, employing a modular ‘plug and play’ model. As a result, FOO’s super-personalized products provide the added advantage of an exceptionally fast time-to-market. Depending on the desired level of customization, FOO’s travel card solution can be ready to launch in as little as 6 weeks.Ghady Rayess, Managing Partner at FOO, comments: “With the boom in business and leisure travel since the pandemic, the multi-currency prepaid card has emerged as an indispensable digital payment solution for travelers. As such, global payment solutions are no longer simply a value added benefit. Consumers expect a seamless experience across various touchpoints, both in their daily life and while traveling abroad. We are excited about the opportunities this innovation brings to the industry and look forward to helping partner banks thrive in today’s dynamic market.”

Aldar Education unveils Aldar Academies’ fresh identity

Abu Dhabi: Aldar Education, a leading education provider in the UAE, today unveiled a new brand identity for Aldar Academies. This reflects the education group’s commitment to innovation, signifies its remarkable progress, and commemorates 15 years of providing high-quality education.The refreshed brand identity captures the growth and evolution of Aldar Academies’ educational offerings while highlighting the individuality of each academy. Under the new brand strategy, each academy now carries the name of the curriculum it offers, including American, British, and International Baccalaureate, with dedicated colours representing each Academy’s unique visual identity.The new names of schools within Aldar Academies are as follows:Pearl British Academy, formerly known as The Pearl Academy, offers an English National curriculum serving early years, and primary students.Muna British Academy, formerly known as Al Muna Academy, offers an English National curriculum serving early years, and primary students.Al Ain British Academy, formerly known as Al Ain Academy, offers an English National curriculum serving early years, primary, and secondary students.Yasmina British Academy, formerly known as Al Yasmina Academy, offers an English National curriculum serving early years, primary, and secondary students.Mamoura British Academy, formerly known as Al Mamoura Academy, is a co-educational primary school until Year 7 and girls-only secondary school, offering an English National curriculum.Bateen World Academy, formerly known as Al Bateen Academy, welcomes primary and secondary school students and offers the UK curriculum, PYP programme and IB Diploma Programme for Years 12 and 13.Yas American Academy, formerly known as West Yas Academy, is the first of the network’s academies to teach the complete American Massachusetts State Curriculum – the most highly regarded curriculum in the United States.The revitalized names and the associated visual identities reflect Aldar Academies' commitment to offering diverse educational pathways while preserving the distinctiveness and heritage of each curriculum.Sahar Cooper, Chief Executive Officer at Aldar Education, said: “Our journey started in 2007 with a single school in Abu Dhabi and 250 students. We have grown over the past 15 years into a renowned educational network, shaping the future of over 8,700 students across seven academies. Now, as we embark on a momentous rebranding initiative, we are excited to unveil a fresh chapter in our evolution. Through this move, we aim to create an even more engaging, inclusive, and inspiring educational environment that will further empower the leaders of tomorrow. This is a promising time for our students as we unlock new opportunities and contribute to the development of a knowledge-based economy in the UAE.”Since establishing its first school, the Pearl Academy in 2007, Aldar Academies has rapidly evolved into a leading provider of private education across a network of seven academies. This extensive network enables each school to access expertise and support, further elevating the quality of education provided.Aldar Academies continues to work towards its promise of delivering the highest standards of education and inspiring a love of learning, with plans to grow its current schools and expand its student capacity in the coming years.

Bybit joins DMCC as ecosystem partner to accelerate crypto, Web3 adoption

Dubai: Bybit, the world's third most visited crypto exchange, has announced a strategic partnership with the leading global business district, the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) to accelerate the mass adoption of crypto in Dubai and deliver on its promise of investing in the Web3 ecosystem in the emirate. The collaboration will see Bybit become an official Ecosystem Partner for the DMCC Crypto Centre, the largest concentration of crypto and Web3 businesses in the MENA region.Bybit and DMCC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to support the growth of the crypto community in the region. The agreement follows the unveiling of Bybit's global headquarters in Dubai on April 17 when it alluded to further localization efforts in the region.The MOU includes Bybit's pledge of financial support in the amount of AED 500,000 to kickstart the growth journeys of 15 new Web3 companies at the DMCC Crypto Centre. To qualify for this opportunity, start-ups must successfully pass the standard compliance and due diligence checks required by DMCC.Bybit will also serve as DMCC's crypto listing partner and assist in other blockchain-related projects. The exchange will play an active advisory and guidance role at the DMCC Crypto Centre, sharing first-hand insights and technical know-how to help young projects succeed and get listed on the Bybit platform. Currently on the roadmap are two hackathons in the DMCC's crypto and gaming centers. These hackathons will convene developers, entrepreneurs, and industry experts to collaborate and foster ground-breaking ideas to shape the crypto and Web3 industries.The DMCC Crypto Centre will provide Bybit with another avenue for collaboration with innovative crypto and Web3 entrepreneurs and founders. Bybit will also contribute to the Centre's efforts in knowledge sharing and capacity building in the digital economy through webinars, curated courses, educational content, and awareness campaigns. As the world's "Crypto Ark," Bybit will be available to DMCC Crypto Centre members' companies where appropriate to help them bring their ambitions to fruition.Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive of DMCC, said: "Dubai has truly cemented its position as a global hub for crypto and Web3, with the DMCC Crypto Centre boasting the highest concentration of crypto firms in the region. This status has only been bolstered by Bybit's presence in the emirate, so we are excited to have them on board as an official Ecosystem Partner. Thanks to Bybit's industry-leading expertise and financial contribution, this partnership will see the acceleration of the impact that Dubai's game-changing crypto and Web3 businesses are having on the industry."The MOU underpins the partners' shared vision to develop a vibrant hub of blockchain-based activity and connectivity. It also gives Bybit access to the broad membership of DMCC as an Ecosystem Partner, which includes technology partners, government bodies, investors, incubators/accelerators, and service providers."We are delighted to be partnering with such a prestigious organization as the DMCC," said Ben Zhou, co-founder and CEO of Bybit. "We are committed to enriching the Web3 ecosystem on our journey to become the world's 'Crypto Ark' and want to do our part in advancing innovation and competition in the digital economy. We look forward to bringing our own brand of next-level opportunities to the UAE's burgeoning crypto community."??"Congratulations to the partnership. I am very pleased to have a part in this momentous partnership between Bybit and DMCC. This partnership is a classic example of what Web3 collaboration and support looks like. I'm excited to see how this partnership will add value to the web3 ecosystem. My core focus has always been to enrich and interconnect the Web3 ecosystem in the UAE and will continue to give my support by leveraging our immediate network," said Feras Al Sadek, Managing Partner, Ghaf Capital Partner & Ghaf Labs.

Bridgestone MEA appoints Gurhan Cevikel as new Head of Marketing

Bridgestone Middle East and Africa (MEA), one of the global leaders in tyres and sustainable mobility solutions, has appointed Gurhan Cevikel as its new Head of Marketing to spearhead the organisation’s marketing strategies in the region.Gurhan assumed his new role as the Head of Marketing for the Middle East and Africa region on May 1, 2023. In his new role, he reports directly to Jacques Fourie, Vice President and Managing Director of the MEA region, and has a dotted line reporting to Thierry Jupsin, Vice President of Brands Marketing for the Europe, Middle East, India, and Africa (EMIA) region.As the Head of Marketing - MEA, Gurhan is in charge of defining, coordinating, and executing the marketing strategy for the MEA region in line with the BSEMIA Marketing Guidelines and MEA strategic priorities. He oversees all marketing activities - including Brand Platforms Activation, Trade Marketing, Communication, Digital Marketing, Pricing, and Strategic Planning.Gurhan said, “I am honoured to join Bridgestone MEA as the Head of Marketing, embarking on a thrilling journey of innovation and growth. I look forward to contributing to the efforts of Bridgestone MEA to position itself a leading global mobility solutions provider and will dedicate my expertise to further develop the company by delivering high-quality solutions to customers. Together, we will redefine the boundaries of marketing, steering our brand towards unrivalled success.”Gurhan brings with him over 18 years of extensive experience in sales, marketing, business development, consulting, deal making, channel management, B2B/B2C, strategic planning, digital transformation, and team management. He has worked in various markets across the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Asia, contributing to his deep understanding of the region's diverse business landscape. Gurhan's previous roles include serving as the Global Marketing Director - Retail Lubricants at Shell, where he led go-to-market strategies, pricing and portfolio choices across multiple markets, and communication plans. He later moved on to become the Head of Market Intelligence & Consulting at GfK Middle East & Africa LLC being based in Dubai UAE.Commenting on Gurhan's appointment, Jacques Fourie stated, “We are delighted to welcome Gurhan to Bridgestone MEA as the new Head of Marketing. His diverse background and proven track record in sales and marketing make him a valuable addition to our team. We are confident that Gurhan's leadership and strategic vision will drive our marketing efforts and contribute to the continued growth and success of Bridgestone in the MEA region.”Gurhan holds a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Bogazici University and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Yeditepe University. His educational background, combined with his broad experience, positions him well to lead Bridgestone MEA's marketing efforts in the region. He is fluent in English and Turkish, enabling effective communication across Bridgestone MEA's diverse markets.

16 new content creators announced in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi: Leading digital marketing and transformation company MAGNITUDE announced the new stars of its groundbreaking ‘Digital Stars’ content creator learning program, a first of its kind in Abu Dhabi that aimed to elevate the skills and knowledge of digital storytellers in specialized fields.The program’s 16 content creators were recognized for their exceptional contributions to promoting various untouched industries on social media platforms, including general education, sports, community affairs, cybersecurity and coding, space and astronomy, general education, sustainability, technology, real estate, and finance, among others.‘Digital Stars’ was launched last February for a period of one month to enable video creators, streamers, and social media influencers the opportunity to train on posting meaningful, high-impact content that adds positive value to the community. Candidates were able to benefit from trainings across scripting, storytelling, filming, editing, branding, strategizing, and digital marketing.Selected through a rigorous process that evaluated their skills and contributions, the content creators were chosen based on their dedication to producing impactful and educational content that adds positive value and knowledge and contributes to the communities in their specialized fields."We are thrilled to celebrate the content creators who have been selected as part of our ‘Digital Stars’ program," said Namrata Raina, Managing Director of MAGNITUDE. "We believe that supporting emerging online leaders is essential for the growth and development of the digital marketing industry, and by exposing them even further and giving them the recognition they deserve, we hope to inspire more people to explore new and exciting opportunities in these industries."Untouched industriesThe ‘Digital Stars’ content creators have touched on content that is not typically seen in their respective regions, bringing attention to industries that have been largely overlooked."It is inspiring to witness the ingenuity and creativity of the content creators as they bring attention to underrepresented industries and subjects like cybersecurity, space, and sustainability, for instance," said Namrata. "This shift towards more practical and educational content is reflective of the changing needs of society and highlights the potential of social media as a tool for learning and professional development."During the process, MAGNITUDE provided the content creators with the latest industry insights and best practices, ensuring that they were well-prepared to produce high-quality content that would allow them to embark on their journey."Their commitment to producing high-quality and innovative content that pushes the boundaries of traditional storytelling is a testament to their talent and unwavering dedication. Moreover, their unique perspectives and insightful analysis shed light on important industries that are often overlooked in social content," she added.In the next steps, MAGNITUDE will continue to contribute to the success of the content creators."Now that the program is completed and the creators are well-equipped with the needed digital knowledge, we will still be contributing to the journey of the selected content creators in leading the industry by planning their social media strategies, introducing them to the top government and private entities, and giving them all the needed support to reach the summit of the digital world", said Alexandre Ghanem, head of the influencer marketing department at MAGNITUDE.The content creators are Naema AlShehhi, Mohammed AlNaqbi, Rayan AlRaeesi, Ali AlBlooshi, Ali AlHammadi, Fatmah AlHantoubi, Alhasan Farajallah, Mohammed AlHeera, Anas Alhamoud, Nadine Zidani, Wafa Yahya, Saeed AlZubaidi, Ahmed AlKhawaja, Mahmood AlHosani, Yousif AlHammadi, and Fatma AlBlooshi.

Global Chess League unveils six franchises for debut edition

DUBAI: The Global Chess League (GCL), a joint venture between Tech Mahindra and FIDE, today unveiled the six participating franchises for its highly anticipated first edition. The league, set to revolutionize the chess ecosystem, will commence with a players' draft where franchise owners will select players for their respective teams.The GCL aims to redefine the world of chess by bringing together the brightest stars in the game, including Viswanathan Anand, Ding Liren, Magnus Carlsen, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Hou Yifan, Kateryna Lagno, and other renowned players, alongside distinguished sports entrepreneurs as franchise owners. U SPORTS, Insurekot Sports (ISPL), Punit Balan Group, Triveni Engineering & Industries Ltd., Chingari App, and APL Apollo-led SG Sports are the franchises committed to propelling the chess revolution forward. The league is scheduled to take place from June 21st to July 2nd, 2023, at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.The FIDE President, Arkady Dvorkovich, said, “Tech Mahindra Global Chess League started as a dream, and as we are heading towards its actualisation, we have found the right partners who believe in the vision. We are excited that such reputed entrepreneurs have joined the ranks of GCL. We want to welcome all the owners and their teams to the GCL family and look forward to making the league a big success.”Jagdish Mitra, Chairperson of the Global Chess League Board said, "GCL, the world's first and largest official franchise league of its kind, blends traditional chess with the new era, aiming to enhance fan experience through digitization, innovation, and technology. The joint-team format, encompassing men, women, and U21 players, demonstrates our commitment to equal opportunities for all. With a cutting-edge broadcast reaching 600 million viewers in 160 countries, GCL will captivate new fans worldwide. We are delighted to have found the right partners to establish GCL's strong presence across continents and look forward to creating a lasting legacy."Joining the GCL bandwagon are three experienced sports entrepreneurs U SPORTS, Insurekot Sports, and Punit Balan Group. They are renowned for their successful investments in various franchises across leagues. Apart from the seasoned owners, three new names, Triveni Engineering & Industries Ltd., Chingari App, and APL Apollo-led SG Sports, have joined the franchise owners' ranks. U SPORTS, led by Ronnie Screwvala, renowned for its sporting successes in sports like Kabaddi, Table Tennis, and eSports in India, will make its international debut with the upGrad Mumba Masters team in the GCL.Suhail Chandhok, CEO, U Mumba & upGrad Mumba Masters said, "Chess is a sport that resonates with all of us, and being a part of something as revolutionary as the Global Chess League really does excite us at U Mumba. The collaboration between Tech Mahindra and FIDE has done an exceptional job of expanding the reach of chess to a wider audience. The star-studded lineup that the GCL promises thrilling matchups that will captivate and mesmerize spectators & we are thrilled to witness the incredible growth of this sport and proud to contribute to its flourishing future."The second franchise of the tournament will be Ganges Grandmasters, led by Insurekot Sports (ISPL), an entity owned by Suresh Kotak. ISPL also owns the Pro Kabaddi League team & Ultimate Table Tennis League team, Puneri Paltan.Kailash Kandpal, CEO, Insurekot Sports Private Limited said, “We have always been dedicated to promoting sports with immense growth potential. While chess has a rich history, it has yet to establish itself as a mainstream spectator sport. GCL has the power to change that, and we eagerly wait for the league to start.”The third in this list of illustrious owners is the Punit Balan Group (PBG) which will own the team, Balan Alaskan Knights. Led by entrepreneur, businessman and sportspreneur, Mr Punit Balan, the Punit Balan Group has invested heavily across various sports leagues in India over the last two years and aims to contribute to India's journey of becoming the sporting powerhouse globally.Punit Balan, Owner - Punit Balan Group said, “GCL is a vision that will attempt to change how Chess has been viewed and perceived globally. As a sporting brand, we at Punit Balan Group (PBG) wanted to be part of this historic milestone and represent India in the world of Chess as part of this game-changing global league. PBG supports multiple sports and Chess is a game which had its inception in India, it is something we always wanted to be part of and inspire more sporting enthusiasts to take up the game of chequered squares. We applaud the efforts of Tech Mahindra and FIDE in envisioning the League and look forward to a successful first season.”Triveni Engineering & Industries Limited, one of the largest integrated sugar manufacturers in India and a leading player in engineering businesses comprising Power Transmission business and Water & Wastewater treatment solutions  and Triveni Turbine Limited (TTL), a focused, growing and market-leading corporation with core competency in industrial heat & power solutions and decentralized steam-based renewable turbines up to 100 MW size, make their sports debut with Triveni Continental Kings in the GCL.Dhruv M. Sawhney, Chairman, Triveni Engineering & Industries Ltd., and Triveni Turbine Ltd., said, “We are excited to make our sports debut with Triveni Continental Kings in the Global Chess League (GCL). Chess is renowned for its strategic thinking and intellectual prowess that aligns perfectly with our core values. We are known for our rich legacy and nation-building initiatives through years of innovation and this venture marks another significant step in establishing global recognition for India. Our aim is to create meaningful connections with chess enthusiasts and the global chess community, nurture talent, and contribute to the growth of chess worldwide. Moreover, the association of Tech Mahindra with GCL reinforces our trust and confidence that the first-of-its-kind chess tournament will be a remarkable global success.”Chingari App (Tech4Billion Group), the world's fastest-growing Web3 Social Networking App, whose popularity has skyrocketed since the pandemic, will also debut in the sports business with its team Chingari Gulf Titans in the GCL.Sumit Ghosh, Co-founder & CEO, Chingari said, “GCL lies at the intersection of celebrating the legacy of chess yet using technology to create new standards of fan engagement for the sport. At Chingari, we have always followed a similar philosophy, and hence, we have been able to bring the stories of content creation from the remotest parts. We have always envisioned foraying into sports as the ecosystem grows each day, but only GCL made us believe it is the right time to take our first step into sportspreneurship.”The sixth in this list of illustrious owners is APL Apollo-led SG Sports, one of India's largest and most trusted building material company, which will join the GCL bandwagon with its team SG Alpine Warriors.Sanjay Gupta, Group Chairman said, "GCL, as a concept, will bring a new level of excitement to chess. SG Sports is honoured to be a part of the league's inaugural season, and our partnership with the league will help strengthen our position as India's leading sports brand. We are convinced by the vision proposed by Tech Mahindra and FIDE, and we look forward to a successful first season."With a strong vision and long-term commitment to establishing a solid foundation, the Global Chess League (GCL) has unveiled plans to kick off its first two seasons with the participation of six dedicated franchises.The annual GCL tournament will introduce a unique mixed-team format, wherein each of the six franchises will engage in a total of 10 matches played in a double round-robin style. In this exciting setup, the winner of each match will be determined through a best-of-six board scoring system, played simultaneously. The top two teams emerging from these thrilling encounters will then proceed to the final, scheduled to take place on July 2, 2023, where the ultimate honour of being crowned the World Champion Franchise Team awaits.

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

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

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

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

Spheroid Universe Coin to be listed on MEXC Exchange

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

Online floral marketplace Floranow acquires KSA’s Bloomax

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

Mindware partners with OneSpan to protect MEA organizations from digital fraud

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

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

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

iDreamSky explores potential collaborations with Oman's gaming payment landscape

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

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

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

Dish Catering and Foodie Brands announce new head office location

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

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

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

Wallan Group inks groundbreaking partnership with Renault Group

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

Meta unveils next-gen VR headset Meta Quest 3

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

Major increase, integration of women in GCC workforce: Report

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

Hopscotch reaffirms its global reach with new Saudi office

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

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

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

Kaspersky study reveals UAE kids' digital interests

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

Mastercard, Dapi partnership for seamless A2A payments to UAE

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

Sharjah Media City and Smartt. Studio forge strategic partnership

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

Digitas ME appoints Kareem Monem as CEO

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

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

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

Jotun Middle East launches dust-resistant exterior paint finishes

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

Fawry partners with Infobip to enhance electronic payment services

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

Black Ice AI, Presight sign MoU to target Kazakhstan market

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

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

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

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

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