Beyond skyscrapers Part -1: Dubai's skyrocketing PR scene takes center stage

In recent years, Dubai has positioned itself as a global business and cultural hub, attracting attention not only for its iconic skyline and luxurious lifestyle but also for its rapidly growing public relations (PR) industry. Factors like the city's strategic location, economic diversification, and commitment to innovation have contributed to its emergence as a key player in the field of public relations in the Middle East. Recently, we have seen nationals of many countries of the Middle East prefer to open their PR companies in Dubai.Dubai, strategically located at the crossroads of the East and West, has become the focal point for PR companies aiming to navigate the varied and dynamic landscape of the Middle East.Dubai's strategic locationDubai's strategic geographical location between Europe, Asia, and Africa has made it a natural meeting point for businesses and cultures. This positioning has enabled PR companies in Dubai to serve a diverse range of clients from various industries, facilitating cross-cultural communication and understanding.The city's accessibility has also attracted multinational corporations seeking a base for their regional PR operations. The Emirate has ranked 12th globally and secured the top position in the Arab world on the list of the 100 best startup environments for companies in 2023, as per the Global Startup Environment Report. It solidifies Dubai's status as an increasingly attractive destination for businesses to thrive, which attracts businesses and consequently PR agencies to the region.What PR pros have to say about Dubai as a hub?Dubai's rapid economic growth and diversification have attracted businesses from various sectors, contributing to a demand for specialized PR services. The city's visionary leadership has transformed it into a global business hub, hosting numerous multinational corporations and emerging startups. As businesses thrive and expand, the need for effective communication strategies becomes increasingly evident, driving the growth of the PR industry in Dubai.There has been a noticeable increase in the number of PR companies in the Middle East, with professionals from various nationalities (Indians, Arabs, Egyptians, etc.) establishing offices in Dubai.Let’s hear from PR leaders:<img src='\efa3109dda20c5da2b33e93c248afe55.png' class='content_image'>Injeel Moti, Founder and Managing Director of Catch Communications: I think Dubai has functioned as a central hub for media agencies across various sectors for several years. This is due to its strategic geographical location, diverse population, and cosmopolitan nature. Public relations professionals find themselves well-placed to execute communications from the UAE. The Middle East, especially the UAE, boasts a highly multicultural population. Since the introduction of free zone ownership, professionals worldwide have favoured the UAE for establishing and operating businesses, making it a key Middle Eastern hub for their global counterparts.<img src='\33bb805dafca55179c5ddc4e563e894c.png' class='content_image'>Anastasiya Golovatenko, PR Director at Sherpa Communications: The rise of PR companies in Dubai, with professionals hailing from diverse nationalities, signifies the growing importance of the city as a global business and communications hub. Dubai's strategic location, world-class infrastructure, and business-friendly policies have transformed it into a magnet for talent and businesses. This diversity of backgrounds and perspectives enriches the PR industry by offering clients a broader spectrum of insights, cultural understanding, and access to extensive networks. Moreover, Dubai’s visionary leadership has consistently prioritized economic diversification and innovation. Government initiatives actively encourage companies to move their offices to this region.<img src='\3a293588cf7658613d148374c26fae6f.png' class='content_image'>Natasha Hatherall, Founder &CEO, TishTash Communications: Success is always dependent on results, reputation, consistency, creativity and tenacity. Dubai will continue to be a central hub, especially with the continuation of the government's efforts to attract companies specialising in digital transformation and up-skilling in this sector.<img src='\7ae17a0d55392f53cde12ae74424e308.png' class='content_image'>Alex Malouf, Executive Director, Corporate Communications and PR expert: It is understandable why the industry prefers Dubai as a hub. There’s great transportation links into the Emirate from across the world, it’s a comfortable place to live with communities for every nationality, and this makes it a good place to attract talent (of which there is so much across the Middle East and Asian regions).<img src='\df81720a0f6d2568faf4698e52dbdd5f.png' class='content_image'>Osama Tinbakji, Founder, Ishraq Communications: Dubai has always been the best hub for public relations and communications as it is the city where most of the international companies have their regional offices. We have chosen Dubai to launch our services based on over 15 years of experience we have in UAE and the GCC region. The strength of the Emirati economy is at the heart of the region’s wider economic strategy, with the UAE acting as the catalyst and symbol of what can be done if one is bold and innovative in his youthful and vibrant part of the Arab world.Competition within the PR industry"The Middle East thrives on the voices and representation of its diverse diaspora, comprising its residents. We consider ourselves fortunate to work within such a rich and varied community," says Natasha Hatherall, Founder &CEO, TishTash Communications.She adds: “PR, media and communications has always been a huge player in the regional business and startup sphere, with all the opportunities that digital transformation brings. Different nationalities, and fresh focus and specialisms are always welcome, as they should be. I personally don’t buy into the notion of “competition”. In our industry, collaboration and innovation are paramount, and the influx of more companies only brings greater opportunities for all. I wholeheartedly welcome this trend."Concurring with Natasha, Osama Tinbakji said: “In my opinion, this is very healthy for the market; this development is highly advantageous as it expands the range of options available to clients seeking services from agencies that align with their preferred budget. Moreover, it presents an opportunity for new and dynamic industry professionals to enter the market, infusing it with fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to drive impactful campaigns. The increased competition arising from this influx of talent will ultimately benefit clients, who can expect greater creativity and effectiveness in their campaigns as a result.”(Tomorrow, part two will unravel the top trends and changes in the PR industry in the region.)

GroupM Forms ad innovation accelerator to power advertising experience

GroupM, WPP’s media investment group, announced the launch of the GroupM Ad Innovation Accelerator, a first-to-market program aimed at redefining engagement between advertisers and audiences. BrightLine, Disney, KERV, NBCUniversal, Roku, Telly, and YouTube will join GroupM’s Ad Innovation Accelerator at launch. With a common vision, the working group will strategize and create scalable ad formats that are designed to be ubiquitous across ad-supported streaming environments such as Peacock, Telly, The Roku Channel and YouTube, among others. This program will first roll out in North America for GroupM clients at Mindshare, Wavemaker and EssenceMediacom.“We have to craft a future of our industry where engagement, innovation, and outcomes converge,” said Andrew Meaden, Global Head of Investment, GroupM. “As we shape the next era of media where advertising works better for people, it is critical we continue to innovate new advertising experiences with our partners around the world to ensure brands are meeting audiences where they are. With more ad-supported options emerging, advertisers must respect audiences’ preferences and use cutting-edge technology to deliver more personalized content.”Spearheaded by GroupM’s industry-leading investment team, the Ad Innovation Accelerator will aim to evolve the traditional 30-second ad spot by integrating advanced digital technologies that will enhance brand-to-viewer connections and drive measurable results for participating GroupM advertisers.“Brands advertising in ad-supported streaming environments have an incredible opportunity to engage with attentive consumers, but the rapidly evolving media landscape makes it difficult for advertisers to efficiently and resourcefully launch interactive advertising campaigns,” said Mike Fisher, Executive Director, Investment Innovation, GroupM U.S. “Our clients need a simple way to activate interoperable and attributable campaigns across the ad-supported streaming ecosystem. With key stakeholders at the same table, we will shape impactful outcomes that allow advertisers to execute creative, engaging and effective campaigns.”According to GroupM’s This Year, Next Year 2023 End-of-Year Forecast, CTV advertising will increase 14.9% in North America in 2024, accelerating from 9.4% in 2023.The newly formed working group will convene in early 2024. Partners of GroupM’s Ad Innovation Accelerator have mutually agreed to:Set recurring innovation sessions and quarterly meetings to establish goals and determine outputs for newly created advertising models and methods.Launch pilot programs in Q1 2024.Co-create advertising formats for agnostic use across the media ecosystem using test-and-learn findings.Analyze efficiency and efficacy of media campaigns using newly implemented standards and practices.“Building on a legacy of setting industry benchmarks and driving responsible media investment, our program is rooted in shared discovery, proven success and forward-thinking. We’re encouraged by our partners’ collective commitments to impactful advertising and their leadership in advancing new ad formats, specifically for streaming video,” said Matt Sweeney, Chief Investment Officer, GroupM U.S. “Uniting partners with varying objectives to streamline ad development will have a multitude of benefits for our advertisers, ultimately allowing for quick iteration and better interoperability across platforms. That’s a win-win for our industry.”Working group members will closely collaborate with GroupM advertisers that express interest in testing new formats and processes. Benchmark testing will be finalized in early 2024 ahead of 2024-2025 Upfront planning.GroupM’s Ad Innovation Accelerator will roll out to other markets throughout 2024, with the goal to develop and pilot new ad formats across existing and emerging channels.GroupM is open to collaboration with other partners interested in working together to make the ecosystem of our industry more effective and impactful for advertisers. Companies interested in joining this program can contact Additional participants of the GroupM Ad Innovation Accelerator will be announced at a later date.

Nafisa Shams Academy concludes the Costumes in Cinematic Production

Nafisa Shams Academy for Arts and Crafts, an organization that is supported by the Community Jameel Saudi Foundation, has concluded the Costumes in Cinematic Production Initiative in collaboration with the Royal Commission for AlUla, represented by the Entrepreneurship Empowerment Center, Vibes AlUla. The initiative aimed to support women in launching their businesses by providing a comprehensive training program that kicked off in AlUla province in November 2023.This initiative is aligned with the ongoing growth of the cinema and entertainment sectors in Saudi Arabia, leveraging the promising opportunities in these domains. The initiative played a vital role in supporting the film and television industry, which requires talent and innovation to create costumes that bring characters to life and reflect the director and author’s vision.For a month and a half, the initiative targeted women passionate about tailoring and fashion design, with 15 female participants selected after completing the interview stage. The training program included courses in professional marketing, entrepreneurship, and fundamentals of cinematic costume design for 60 training hours. At the end of the program, the participants received certificates accredited by the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation. The designers also got the necessary support, tools, and subscriptions to establish their e-stores on local e-commerce platforms.Dr. May Taibah, Director of Nafisa Shams Academy and Member of the Board of Trustees at Community Jameel Saudi, said: “We are proud to conclude this unique initiative successfully, which reflects the commitment of Nafisa Shams Academy and its collaboration with Vibes AlUla to empowering Saudi women. This step came as at a time where we are witnessing a rapid growth in the Kingdom’s film and entertainment industry. We believe in the ability of female craftswomen to make a positive impact in this exciting and diverse sector. The participants had gotten the necessary training and support to transform their talents into creative and inspiring artworks. We hope these efforts will help advance the field and society and enable us to realize our vision for the future.” The program was designed to provide women with the skills required in the creative industry, developing the role of women in the emerging cinematic sector in Saudi Arabia. The initiative reflects Community Jameel Saudi’s focus on empowering women to achieve financial independence, create employment opportunities, and generate income, allowing them to contribute to sustainable development and building more inclusive and prosperous societies. It comes in line with Vision 2030, especially with regard to the Human Capacity Development Program that aims to enable Saudis to enter the fields required in the labor market, and the Quality of Life Program that seeks to localize the entertainment and cinema sectors in the Kingdom.

TA Telecom unveils AI-driven AnteThink

TA Telecom, a leading force in the Middle East tech industry, has launched AnteThink, a state-of-the-art AI-driven tool that marks a significant milestone in the company's continued evolution in the tech sector. AnteThink is designed to enhance decision-making processes with advanced AI capabilities, catering to both personal and professional scenarios.Over the years, TA Telecom has profoundly influenced the technology landscape by developing advanced mobile solutions, high-volume payment platforms, and launching innovative business units in e-commerce, fintech, and analytics. Serving 40 million users and processing 15 billion transactions across its platforms, TA Telecom has solidified its status as a tech industry leader. Several of these ventures have grown into successful entities, some achieving the distinction of becoming Y Combinator companies.Sameh Ibrahim, the CEO of TA Telecom, highlights the transformative potential of AnteThink: "At TA Telecom, we're committed to leveraging technology to make a substantial impact. AnteThink epitomizes this commitment. It's crafted to instill calm, clarity, and conviction in decision-making for both personal and professional scenarios. This tool is a game-changer, not just for startup founders and executives but also for individuals navigating life decisions. AnteThink empowers them with enhanced foresight and deep insights, thereby reducing the stress and uncertainty that often accompany critical decision-making processes."Mostafa Ashour, CEO of NowPay, a Y Combinator startup, shares his experience with AnteThink: "Using AnteThink transformed our strategic planning. It helped us visualize multiple future paths and prepare for different outcomes, making our decision-making process more robust and forward-looking. It's like having a roadmap for success in the complex business world."AnteThink is a reflection of TA Telecom’s unwavering dedication to innovation, with a special focus on enhancing the startup ecosystem. The tool is expertly designed to aid leaders and executives in mastering the complexities of business management and strategic development. By offering a vivid depiction of potential outcomes, AnteThink significantly reduces uncertainty and equips decision-makers with the confidence to make informed choices.Features of AnteThink include:  Second Order Mode: Delivers comprehensive analysis of broader impacts, fostering a strategic mindset for long-term success.  Optionality Mode: Enables detailed evaluation and comparison of different choices, ensuring decisions align with strategic objectives and core values.  Inversion Mode: Focuses on identifying and mitigating potential risks, thereby strengthening preventive strategies and risk management.AnteThink's advanced AI technology guides users through the intricate maze of decision-making, reflecting TA Telecom's dedication to pioneering emotionally resonant and functionally robust solutions. Its sophisticated algorithms, user-friendly interface, and insightful analytics make it an indispensable asset for anyone seeking to make well-informed decisions.

Brands for Less Store now open at the Mall of Qatar

Brands for Less Group proudly announces the grand opening of its 6th store in Doha at the Mall of Qatar, marking another milestone in its strategic expansion across the GCC. The newly unveiled 700 square metre outlet encompasses a comprehensive array of offerings, featuring the renowned brands under the Brands for Less umbrella—Brands for Less, Toys for Less, Beauty for Less, and Homes for Less.Situated within the thriving heart of Qatar's retail landscape, Brands for Less Group's latest store at the Mall of Qatar showcases an extensive collection of clothing, beauty products, and home essentials. The store promises an unmatched shopping experience, offering customers an opportunity to explore an assortment of quality products curated to fit any occasion while ensuring affordability remains a top priority.Toufic Kreidieh, Executive Chairman of the Board and Group CEO of BFL Group expressed his enthusiasm about the brand's latest venture, stating, "We are thrilled to inaugurate our newest store at Mall of Qatar, a pivotal step in our expansion strategy across the GCC. This launch aligns with our commitment to making top-tier products accessible to everyone without compromising on quality or value. We aim to become the go-to destination for shoppers seeking diverse, premium offerings that are budget-friendly."The Brands for Less Group continues to solidify its presence as a trailblazer in the retail industry. As part of the Group's mission, each store opening serves as a testament to its dedication to delivering exceptional value and customer-centric experiences. The new store at the Mall of Qatar invites residents and visitors alike to explore its extensive selection, promising a treasure trove of possibilities for every shopper.

Stellantis appoints Slaven Klarin-Smiljanic as GMD

Stellantis, one of the world’s leading automakers, today announced a new leadership team for its Middle East operations, as the company aims for regional market leadership by 2030 as part of its Dare Forward 2030 Strategy for the Middle East and Africa (MEA).With ambitious targets across industrial, commercial, product, digitization, aftermarket and purchasing fields – including moving from 25% to over 70% regional production autonomy – the group is strengthening its aims to become the regional market leader in climate change with a vehicle mix of 25% Electric Vehicles (EVs) across its portfolio of iconic American and European brands in MEA by 2030.The new appointments to the leadership team reflect the renewed focus on commercial growth and continued commitment to technological innovation in the Middle East.Slaven Klarin-Smiljanic, formerly Chief Financial Officer for the Middle East, takes the helm as Group Managing Director for Stellantis Middle East. Klarin-Smiljanic will be fully focused on the aims of Dare Forward 2030 strategy for the region, including harnessing the growth potential of the Middle East through a reinforced network and continued expansion of a tailored product portfolio.Thomas Odier has been appointed as the new Managing Director of European Brands. Odier brings two decades of international automotive experience to his new role. Odier’s move to the region signals an increased emphasis on growing presence and sales for European brands in the Middle East, which will be achieved not only by strengthening the network – which has seen the recent reentry of Citroën to Saudi Arabia, but also by capitalizing on the increased appetite for EVs. Odier and his team will aim to maximize PEUGEOT’s first mover advantage in this space, particularly in the Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) category.Samir Cherfan, Chief Operating Officer, Stellantis Middle East and Africa, said: “With a bold strategy in place for the region, as set out in Dare Forward 2030, we also need a bold team who are able to deliver on these ambitious targets. Our new, strengthened, Middle East leadership team puts us in a strong position. With our iconic portfolio of American and European brands, a pipeline of more than 55 product launches by 2030, and a newly strengthened dealer network with a focus on our customer, we are in a better position than ever to achieve market leadership.”Rakesh Nair continues in his role as Managing Director of American Brands, managing a portfolio which includes Stellantis’ biggest selling brands in the region, Jeep®, as well as fast-emerging contender Ram, and the much-loved Dodge and Chrysler brands.In September 2022, Stellantis MEA announced its contribution to the Dare Forward 2030 strategic plan spanning the industrial, commercial, product, digitization, aftermarket and purchasing fields. The MEA region’s ambition is to become the market leader in its area by 2030 with over one million vehicles sold. This will be achieved by consolidating its position in the Mediterranean Crown and the French Overseas Territories, achieving above 30% market share, and by ramping up in Middle East, South Africa and Sub Sahara with a market share above 12%.

Ooredoo Qatar Visitor SIM now gives 5GB data for international guests

Ooredoo Qatar, the nation’s leading telecom provider, proudly announces its newly upgraded Visitor SIM offerings for international guests. These SIMs are specially designed for the influx of international visitors coming to Doha, not only to explore its rich culture and sights but also to enjoy the busy football season ahead.The Ooredoo Visitor SIM, now with 5GB of local data, up from 2GB, remains priced at just QR 35. It includes 25 local minutes and is valid for 7 days. The Visitor SIM Pro, ideal for those seeking unparalleled connectivity, is priced at only QR 150. It offers 20GB of local data, along with 400 local minutes, 75 international minutes, and QR 30 of credit, valid for 30 days.Available at convenient locations in Hamad International Airport, including the Qatar Duty-Free at Baggage collection area, Ooredoo kiosks at Exits 2, 3, and 4, as well as Day2Day Store in the Arrivals Hall. They can also be purchased at selected locations at the Abu Samra border and will help ensure that visitors stay connected effortlessly during their stay in Qatar.Ooredoo’s commitment to upgrading guests’ stays in Qatar with its Visitor SIM offerings aligns perfectly with the company’s enduring mission of upgrading everyone’s world through the use of technology to provide better experiences for locals and tourists alike. The newly announced increase in data allowances, without an increase in price, positions Ooredoo’s Visitor SIMs as an ideal choice for comprehensive and cost-effective mobile connectivity during any trip to Qatar.

HOP up FitConnector’s mission to revolutionize fitness access

Home of Performance (HOP), the award-winning digital agency known for driving results, announces its partnership with FitConnector, a game-changing mobile app connecting individuals with diverse and passionate fitness professionals. With HOP’s strategic expertise, FitConnector is poised to transform how people across the region experience wellness and achieve their fitness goals.FitConnector, founded by industry veteran Rob Krizanovic, boasts a unique app platform offering personalized training with a plethora of certified coaches at users’ fingertips. Rob, with over 25 years of experience in the fitness industry, from coach to COO, understands the diverse needs of clients and believes in democratizing access to quality fitness guidance.“Throughout my career,” says Rob, “My heart has always been set on helping people achieve their health aspirations. Now, with FitConnector, I can connect individuals with an incredible network of fitness professionals who share this passion. Our app empowers users with unparalleled choice, control, and security, putting them in charge of their fitness journey.”Download the FitConnector app today and unlock a world of fitness possibilities. Choose your coach, set your schedule, and embark on a personalized journey towards a healthier you. With FitConnector and Home of Performance powering your path, achieving your fitness goals has never been more accessible or empowering.

Saudi healthtech startup Clinicy secures major ‘Series A’ funding

Saudi Arabia’s pioneering healthcare technology start-up, Clinicy, has successfully raised a significant seven-figure (USD) Series A funding round, led by Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), structured by Gate Capital and with participation from existing shareholders including Kafou Group and Fadeed Investment.The funding round is one of the largest in the history of the Kingdom’s healthtech sector and will be used to fuel Clinicy’s expansion across a market sector worth SAR 7.2 billion in Saudi Arabia alone. Clinicy’s growth includes broadening its technological reach and the development of a unique, proprietary ‘Interconnected HealthTech Ecosystem’, which will support the rapid evolution of the sector in line with Vision 2030’s goals to transform healthcare efficiency and accessibility.Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Abdullah Al Faisal, CEO and Co-Founder of Clinicy, highlighted the investment’s impact: “Clinicy is already making a real, tangible impact on redefining healthcare in Saudi Arabia, enhancing digital experiences for one million patients across the Kingdom. This latest investment will fuel expansion and it underpins our vision to deepen the quality of engagement with medical institutions and patients, ensuring that our technology makes healthcare more accessible, efficient, and user-friendly. Clinicy is proud to support the nation's digital growth and align with Vision 2030 to improve accessibility to healthcare by prioritizing innovation and financial stability. We are proud to receive the prestigious backing of Middle East Venture Partners, Gate Capital, Kafou Group and Fadeed Investment, and look forward to accelerating the future of healthcare across the Kingdom and region.”Walid Mansour, Co-Chief Executive at Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), commented: “Saudi Arabia is witnessing a rapid adoption of technology in the healthcare industry which is driven by a digitally-savvy population, continually improving standards set by the government, and growing competition between healthcare providers. Clinicy offers a seamless cloud-based platform that enables clinics and medical centers to offer digital services, run a cost-effective business, and continuously improve their healthcare standards.”Munther Hilal, Chief Executive at Gate Capital, added: “Clinicy is well-positioned to drive the digital transformation in the Kingdom’s HealthTech sector. This investment marks our first foray into the Saudi market, following the recent establishment of our Riyadh offices. We envision numerous opportunities in the Kingdom that we are committed to supporting and nurturing in the years ahead.”Clinicy was founded by Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Abdullah Al Faisal, Abdullah bin Sulaiman Alobaid and Saud bin Sulaiman Alobaid, bringing the first innovative cloud-based SaaS for medical institution management to the Kingdom. Clinicy’s solutions offer customized patient experience platforms, automating critical processes such as patient onboarding and retention. It directly addresses prevalent issues such as high patient ‘no-show’ rates and administrative inefficiencies, which cost the Saudi healthcare industry over SAR 3 billion annually. On average, medical institutions using Clinicy have reduced the rate of missed appointments by 75%. The proprietary platform also integrates clinics with regulatory bodies and the broader healthcare ecosystem, ensuring a comprehensive and versatile tool which can improve healthcare delivery for patients.

Paymob and Tamara partner to power GCC SMEs

 Paymob, the leading financial services enabler in the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan (MENA-P) has announced its partnership with Tamara, the leading shopping and payments platform in the GCC region.The strategic partnership integrates Tamara’s Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) service with Paymob’s secure gateway to power seamless payments by enabling customers to split their payments in four without any hidden fees or interest. Paymob’s omnichannel payments infrastructure serves 250,000 merchants in the region, while Tamara has over nine million registered users and more than 30,000 partner merchants. The agreement between two of the MENA region’s fastest growing fintech companies creates a payments ecosystem that enables merchants to offer more comprehensive solutions and seamless customer experiences.Both companies have partnerships with some of the region’s biggest brands, however, this agreement is designed to fuel the growth of small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) which are the greatest contributors to GDP in MENA. For businesses of any size, comprehensive payment offerings ensure increased sales and conversions. With Tamara’s BNPL solution, merchants gain a 40% increase in average order value, a 15% increase in online conversion rates, and a 50% increase in repeat purchases.The addition of Tamara’s BNPL solution to Paymob’s gateway is via a simple integration that reduces merchants’ barrier to entry and ensures transactions are processed seamlessly and securely. The partnership will initially serve merchants in KSA and the UAE in the first phase, with more countries planned to go live in later stages.Islam Shawky, Co-founder and CEO of Paymob said, "Our partnership with Tamara delivers on Paymob’s mission to fuel SME growth in the digital economy. There is a massive opportunity to enable merchants in the GCC to capitalize on the power of alternative payment methods and we are thrilled to partner with Tamara to fuel this growth in MENA.”Turki Bin Zarah, Co-founder and CCO of Tamara said, “This partnership with Paymob provides seamless access to Tamara’s services to thousands of SMEs to enable their growth across the region. As a leading commerce enabler, we are revolutionizing how people shop, pay, and bank and are thrilled to partner with Paymob as we deliver on this goal.”Tamara and Paymob are currently experiencing rapid growth fueled by recent funding. Riyadh-based Tamara secured a $150 million debt facility earlier this year from Goldman Sachs, the first deal of its kind in the region. The company is actively expanding its product lines and verticals. Paymob’s growth across the region is driven by its 2022 Series B funding which was led by PayPal Ventures. As a result, the company expanded to the UAE in 2022 and secured PTSP certification from Saudi Payments in Q2 2023 making it fully operational in KSA.

Dubai Investments Park opens registrations for the DIP Cycling Challenge 2024

Dubai Investments Park (DIP), the unique integrated commercial, industrial & residential community in the Middle East, wholly-owned by Dubai Investments PJSC has opened registrations for all cycling enthusiasts and adventurers to mark their calendars for an adrenaline-pumping event – the DIP Cycling Challenge 2024.Taking place on Sunday, January 21st, 2024, this thrilling cycling challenge offers a diverse range of distances – 40km, 20km, 10km, and 6km – catering to cyclists of all levels."As we announce the launch of registrations for the DIP Cycling Challenge 2024, we welcome cyclists of every level to join us in this exhilarating event. Events like the DIP Cycling Challenge stand as a testament to Dubai Investments Park's unyielding dedication to cultivating a vibrant and a sustainable community. At DIP, our residents' and community members' well-being takes center stage, driving us to curate spaces and events that champion a healthy and active lifestyle. This initiative underscores our commitment to crafting a community that cherishes fitness, fosters solidarity and embraces overall well-being”, said Ammar Al Duwaikh, Deputy General Manager, Commercial, Dubai Investments Park.This year, the DIP Cycling Challenge will provide cash prizes to top 20 overall winners across both male and female categories in both the 40km and 20km race, each sharing the exciting reward. Additionally, trophies will be presented to the top 3 winners in both categories, recognizing their exceptional performance.Every participant will be acknowledged for their determination and achievement with finisher medals, commemorating their commitment to the challenge.

Microsoft adds new AI key to Windows keyboard

Microsoft is shaking up the Windows keyboard for the first time in 30 years, by adding a Copilot key, a dedicated button granting instant access to the company's powerful AI helper. This is a significant step in Microsoft's embrace of AI, with ambitions to turn PCs into AI powerhouses.These PCs, equipped with advanced chips, will run AI models and apps directly on the device, offering lightning-fast performance without relying on the cloud. Analysts predict this "AI PC" revolution could revive the slumping PC market, with rapid adoption anticipated starting in 2025.The Copilot key debuts on select Windows 11 PCs at CES (January 4th-7th) and will arrive on more devices including Surface models, starting February 2024. From summarizing documents to managing your calendar, this versatile AI is ready to be your trusty sidekick through a single keystroke.

Revolutionizing SME operations in the region with cutting-edge AI solutions

The Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for Small and Medium Enterprises Development (Dubai SME), a part of Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), has joined forces with Chi-X Digital Assets (CXDA), a leading AI-based fintech platform that provides short-term debt products that help generate liquidity, facilitate investment, maximise economic growth, and enable SMEs to be bankable. Backed by JC Flowers & Co, the global Private Equity firm headquartered in New York and with US$7 billion in assets under management, CXDA offers market solutions that enable investors, originators, and borrowers to transact in a compliant and transparent marketplace. The strategic partnership with Dubai SME outlines a comprehensive roadmap emphasising key elements such as financial awareness, building business capacity, and – in line with Dubai Economic Agenda (D33) – attracting global investment into the emirate through Dubai’s SME industry. For the first time in the region, this collaboration introduces the use of AI to equip SMEs with innovative financial solutions, marking a significant milestone in the advancement of the sector. The collaboration is a further indicator of the Government’s willingness to embrace new fintech solutions, making Dubai a major innovation hub.Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME, said: “Dubai SME seeks to enhance and raise awareness of small and medium enterprises within the emirate, while playing a central role in business support and facilitating growth through necessary industry guidance. We fully understand the significance of nurturing the sector as well as the integral role SMEs hold both within society and in growing the economy. This partnership with CXDA can underpin that growth on a bigger scale by placing emphasis on the importance of offering market solutions, improving liquidity within the SME sector, and further streamlining the industry to directly contribute to wider D33 objectives.”Thierry Porte, Chairman and CEO CXDA, said “At CXDA, we believe in the massive, and yet unrealized, potential the SME sector of the economy plays. Our mission is to bring down the barriers that stand in the way of this potential and help unleash that power. We have found Dubai SME to be the leader with insightful vision, clarity of mission, and focus on success to elevate the SME sector in Dubai to the next level and contribute effectively to making the D33 agenda a reality. The CXDA platform offers innovation, strong governance infrastructure, and an ESG friendly solution. We are confident that our partnership with Dubai SME will usher in the new era of liquidity and growth to this sector and make a lasting and tangible difference.”Dubai strives to strengthen its status as a leading global economic force by concentrating on pivotal sectors, attracting investment, and nurturing a conducive business atmosphere. The SME sector, identified as an important contributor to the local economy, plays a prominent role in the D33 Agenda. By fostering innovation, diversification, and sustainable expansion, the collaboration intends to help reshape and revolutionise Dubai’s economy and the SME finance landscape based on key foundational elements:Information and Transparency: A Key Driver for Attracting LiquidityThe partnership will target the completion and standardisation of key information for SMEs from track records of companies and loans, creating the required information sets to enable entities to access finance.Seamless Onboarding and Handheld Guided SupportEnsuring an intuitive user experience coupled with dedicated, proactive customer support to help quicken loan applications, the partnership will facilitate easy form completion.Swift Decision-Making with AI: Real-Time EmpowermentPartners will utilise integration with Prime Dash’s state-of-the-art AI-Driven credit assessment tools to provide an instant outcome and evaluation of loan application.Complete Financial Analysis Available to SMEsPartners will offer unprecedented access to thorough financial analysis, including what-if scenarios, to help SMEs navigate the financial health of their business.Empowering Financial Awareness and Business Support ToolsThe partnership will also provide a platform to access a whole suite of business support tools, equipping companies with resources to navigate challenges and seize opportunities during their financial journey.

Dubai SME partners with AI-based fintech platform CXDA

Qashio, a leader in fintech innovations, in partnership with CredibleX, MENA’s pioneering embedded finance platform, has announced the launch of 'Qashio Financing'. This new initiative marks a significant step forward in providing flexible and accessible financing to businesses of all sizes.'Qashio Financing' is designed to help businesses accelerate growth, bridge cash flow gaps, and enhance operational efficiency with ease. The service delivers quick access to funds, competitive rates, and a streamlined, user-friendly process for Qashio’s SME customers, powered by CredibleX. "Qashio is committed to empowering SMEs and businesses with dynamic financial tools, to seamlessly manage critical processes and essential business needs, 'Qashio Financing' is a testament to this commitment. Through this partnership with CredibleX, we deliver a solution that not only addresses the immediate financial needs of our customers but also supports their long-term growth objectives," said Armin Moradi, Co-Founder and CEO of Qashio. Ahmad Malik, Co-Founder of CredibleX added: "Our partnership with Qashio is a game-changer for SMEs, bringing together instantaneous credit decision-making, a choice of financing options for SMEs and a seamless, embedded journey within Qashio’s application. In this way, SMEs can access a highly tailored and efficient financial support system that addresses their unique challenges. The 2023 Mastercard SME Confidence Index indicates a positive outlook in the MENA region, with 72% of SMEs expecting stable or growing revenue with 92% emphasising the need for access to a wider range of financial services. In response to this, 'Qashio Financing' stands out with its key features designed to meet the diverse needs of businesses. It offers quick financing options, ensuring timely access to funds when businesses need them the most. The service provides competitive rates to support and facilitate business growth. Its streamlined process provides an easy-to-navigate application experience, ensuring a hassle-free approach to financing. Additionally, 'Qashio Financing' is characterised by its flexibility, offering solutions that cater to a wide range of business needs and sizes. Qashio and CredibleX invite businesses to explore how 'Qashio Financing' can catalyse their growth and success. For more information and to apply, please visit

GameCentric showcases its gaming prowess at MOTB 2023

GameCentric, a leading player in the gaming industry, is a key sponsor of the gaming zone set to elevate the gaming experience at this year's Market Outside The Box (MOTB) festival in Dubai. With a dedicated Gaming Zone organized by GamersHub, GameCentric aims to captivate the audience with an array of thrilling games and activities for attendees of all ages.Key Highlights of GameCentric's Gaming Zone at MOTB:1. PC and Console Games Galore: Immerse yourself in the world of gaming with popular titles such as Fortnite, Roblox, COD: Warzone 2.0, Street Fighter 6, and more. A diverse range of games will cater to both PC and console enthusiasts.2. Virtual Reality (VR) and Simulation Racing: Experience the future of gaming with cutting-edge VR technology and realistic sim racing setups.3. Just Dance Area: Show off your dance moves and compete with friends in the lively Just Dance Area.4. Arcade Games Extravaganza: Take a trip down memory lane with classic arcade games, adding a nostalgic touch to the gaming festivities.5. On-the-Spot Prizes: Stand a chance to win gaming accessories from Glorious and cash prizes worth AED 10,000. The excitement doesn't stop, and surprises await lucky participants.Event Details:When: 5th - 14th JanWhere: MOTB Festival, Dubai Design DistrictMonday – Thursday - 4pm to 10pmFriday – 4pm to 12amSaturday and Sunday - 12pm to 12am

Hyundai charts sustainable growth through 'Consistent Change'

Hyundai Motor Group (the Group) held its 2024 New Year address today at Kia AutoLand Gwangmyeong, the first dedicated electric vehicle (EV) plant in Korea, looking forward to the year ahead and outlining the Group’s key areas of focus. Under the theme ‘Together, a Valuable Start,’ Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Euisun Chung and executives from the Group’s affiliates shared New Year’s messages and the Group’s future vision. In his New Year’s message, Executive Chair Euisun Chung highlighted, “Our mission this year will be ‘Consistency and Sustainability’ consistently strengthening our capabilities, which will allow us to scale any challenges and achieve sustainable progress.” Chung stressed that ‘consistent change’ and ‘sustainable growth’ are the key words for the Group’s success in the face of increasing global uncertainty and growing competition. Focusing on 2024 and beyond, Chung said, “I am excited about the series of innovations in electrification that will start here at AutoLand Gwangmyeong, the Group’s first EV-dedicated plant, and expand to Ulsan, the United States and beyond. The Group will complete the redevelopment of the Kia AutoLand Gwangmyeong EV Plant in the second quarter of this year, which will produce the brand’s EV3, a compact EV, for domestic and international sales. Subsequently, Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America (HMGMA), Kia’s AutoLand Hwaseong EV Plant, and the Hyundai Motor Ulsan EV Plant will be brought online sequentially to introduce innovative EVs to the global market, with an overall Group strategy to become a top three global EV manufacturer by 2030. “Last November, I was conferred the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire as Honorary Commander (CBE) in recognition of my contributions to strengthening the cooperation and friendship between the UK and the Republic of Korea,” said Chung, adding, “It is the same Order that was bestowed upon the Founding Chairman Ju-yung Chung, who laid the foundation of the Hyundai-UK partnership in the 1970s.” He expressed his deep gratitude to the Group’s members by saying, “This recognition is the result of the outstanding work and professionalism of all our employees, and I applaud all of you who fully deserve this honor.” Executive Chair Chung added that he is particularly pleased that the Group’s ‘challenging spirit’ has been passed on like a timeless medal, originating with Founding Chairman Ju-yung Chung and continued by Honorary Chairman Mong-Koo Chung. Referring to the Group’s ability to overcome numerous crises, Executive Chair Chung emphasized the importance of a healthy character for its companies. He said, “Weakness will make you stumble but strength allows you to maintain your balance, defy the odds and come out stronger. A company should do the same by making continuous efforts to strengthen itself.” “Oftentimes it is a painful process,” he added, “but it is absolutely necessary in order to succeed. Only when we, as a company, strengthen ourselves can we conquer our challenges and lay the foundation for sustainable growth.” Flawless customer satisfaction through consistent and constant change Chung outlined the importance of consistent change for the clearly established rationale of the Group – its customers. “Consistent change is the key to innovation,” said Executive Chair Chung, adding, “The act of stepping out of your comfort zone may seem unsettling at first, but it is proof that you are actually moving in the right direction.” Stressing the need for creative thinking and a challenging spirit to achieve the Group’s commitment to consistent change, Chung outlined that “We need to foster a corporate culture that actively encourages innovation. We must not fear failure but be weary of not trying. “The best strategy is earning the full trust of our customers, not quickly following our competitors,” he added. “I urge you to stay competitive by harnessing creativity in all areas of our corporate activity encompassing the quality, safety and cost competitiveness of our products and services.” Sustainable future growth for customers and humanity Reinforcing the Group’s vision for a better planet, Executive Chair Chung also highlighted that “Through consistent innovation, we can achieve sustainable growth. This is a mission that we must realize not only for our customers and company, but for humanity.” Chung emphasized that the Group would focus on sustainable growth by embracing social responsibility for the environment, prioritizing customer satisfaction and trust through high-quality products and services, and instilling a sense of security to safeguard competitiveness in the future. Commenting on the Group’s environmental responsibilities, Chung said, “Humanity has always been concerned with sustainability for its own survival, but we must redouble our efforts now,” and insisted, “We must take greater interest in carbon neutrality and the circular economy for the sustainable progress of humanity. “We can help nurture a global hydrogen ecosystem and strengthen carbon-neutral activities through our Small Modular Reactors and clean energy solutions. In addition, we can take the lead in social responsibility as a global enterprise, by revitalizing the circular economy that recycles resources, such as EV batteries,” he said. The Group holds the distinction of being the world’s first organization to commercialize hydrogen fuel cell EVs and utilize hydrogen energy effectively. Furthermore, the Group is developing a hydrogen business ecosystem, encompassing the entire lifecycle, from hydrogen production to transportation, storage, and utilization through connecting the hydrogen business capabilities of each Hyundai affiliate.  Hyundai Engineering & Construction (E&C) is rapidly advancing its renewable energy power brokerage and trading business, as well as the construction of next-generation nuclear power plants, including small nuclear reactors.  Meanwhile, Hyundai Motor and Kia are actively working to reduce carbon emissions in their manufacturing processes. This involves a significant increase in the usage of renewable energy, including the implementation of solar power generation systems at both domestic and overseas production sites, to become carbon-neutral by 2045. Hyundai Motor and Kia also recently signed a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) with Hyundai E&C to procure solar renewable energy. The group is actively fostering a circular economy, establishing a domestic and international cooperation system to create a circular ecosystem for EV batteries and expanding the use of recycled plastics. In the pursuit of sustainability, Executive Chair Chung also underscored the levels of customer satisfaction and trust that stem from significant quality.  “Quality is ultimately what wins the trust of customers,” he said. “The quality of our products and services must always surpass customers' expectations. There can be no compromise on quality, as only those companies genuinely dedicated to quality will survive. We must strive to differentiate ourselves by adding our own value to our solutions and go the extra mile to provide the highest possible satisfaction to our customers.” Chung emphasized a sense of security as the third direction for sustainability, stating, “The knowledge and information we have accumulated over the years is what drives our competitiveness in this era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It is everyone’s responsibility to strengthen the system that protects our corporate intellectual assets.” This strongly indicates the need to form and uphold a consensus that security is a critical issue linked directly to success across all areas of the Group. Preparation key to accurate and agile decision making Executive Chair Chung concluded by focusing on the importance of a ‘culture of preparedness’ Facing economic uncertainty and increasing instability, he stressed, “In order to turn these external challenges into opportunities and achieve long-term sustainable growth, we must be prepared.  “We need to cultivate skills and knowledge that will allow us to make rational decisions even under pressure,” he added. “At Hyundai Motor Group, we will tirelessly strengthen our systems and capabilities, and I will fully support this endeavor.” His address emphasized the importance of constantly learning and preparing for changing future trends, new technologies, and economic and social shifts so that the Group can proactively respond to crises by making quick decisions. Chung restated his belief in the Group’s employees’ ability to meet the challenges he outlined, saying, “I have deep respect and pride in all of you who worked hard together to achieve one of our highest operating profits last year. As we usher in the New Year, I ask that you continue to dedicate yourself to the growth of our Hyundai Motor Group family with pride and confidence. “Instead of fearing what comes next, let us rise to the challenge. Let us keep reinventing and innovating ourselves to usher in a brighter and more sustainable tomorrow,” Chung added to end his New Year address. This year’s ceremony to highlight the Group’s focus for the year ahead was held at Kia AutoLand Gwangmyeong, a facility that embodies constant change and innovation. Kia AutoLand Gwangmyeong was established in 1973 as Korea’s first integrated automobile factory with a conveyor belt production process, ushering in the era of full-scale automobile production in the country. In the first half of this year, Hyundai will complete the construction of Korea’s first dedicated EV factory at the site, writing a new chapter in the history of future mobility.  This year also marks the 80th anniversary of Kia’s founding and the 50th anniversary of the launch of Kia’s first passenger car, the Brisa, which was produced at Kia AutoLand Gwangmyeong. Following Executive Chair Chung’s New Year address, Kia President Ho Sung Song explained the dedicated EV plant at Kia AutoLand Gwangmyeong and the factory’s operation plan to employees; AAM (Advanced Air Mobility) Headquarters President Jaiwon Shin presented the mid- and long-term plans for AAM; and head of the Global Strategy Office (GSO) and Executive Vice President Heung-soo Kim presented the Group’s for robotics.

TCL to showcase leading technology portfolio & solutions at CES 2024

TCL Electronics, a leading consumer electronics brand and the world's top two TV brand, today announced its presence at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), taking place in Las Vegas in January 2024. The company will showcase over a hundred cutting-edge products, demonstrating its leading technology portfolio spanning 15 product categories, including QD-Mini LED TVs, TCL FreshIN air conditioners, TCL Free Built-in Series refrigerators, washing machines, feature-rich mobile devices, AR glasses, commercial displays, one-stop smart energy solutions and more.     As a leading company in premium large-screen TVs and Mini LED technology, TCL is set to present its latest breakthroughs in display technology at CES 2024 and unveil one of the world’s largest QD-Mini LED TVs to audience in the North American region for the first time.In addition to the award-winning home theater systems, the company will introduce one of the industry’s first smart connected mobile device entertainment solutions which combine smartphones, tablets, smart glasses, and other devices. Among these, the latest NXTPAPER display technology optimized for the human eyes and the RayNeo AR glasses with revolutionary full-color 3D head-up display and powerful AI capabilities will be revealed.Together with its renowned partners worldwide, TCL continues to inspire greatness for global users through a variety of groundbreaking collaborations, including its role as the Official TV Partner of the National Football League (NFL) in the United States. In addition, TCL will demonstrate its commitment to a greater and more sustainable future through its latest environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives.TCL has witnessed consistent growth throughout the first three quarters of 2023. Notably, TCL TVs ranked first in overall shipment in the Philippines, Australia, Myanmar, and Pakistan. Shipment of TCL TVs in the North American region increased 11.4% YoY, placing the company third in terms of shipment in the United States. Elsewhere, TCL TVs were second in France and third in the Czech Republic and Sweden in terms of shipment. For mobile devices, TCL smartphones ranked top three in Android phone shipment in North America. Other TCL products including air conditioners and RayNeo’s AR and XR glasses are also leading global markets with their latest, innovative features.

Football fever returns to Qatar with the AFC Asian Cup

Following the immensely successful delivery of the FIFA World Cup 2022TM tournament in Qatar, which was voted the best this century, Qatar is gearing up to welcome the world once more with the AFC Asian Cup 2023TM from January 12 - February 10, 2024.The AFC Asian Cup 2023TM demonstrates Qatar’s ongoing sporting legacy and showcases Qatar’s ability to host large-scale events and welcome visitors from across the globe with its world-class tourism infrastructure, which includes an award-winning airport Hamad International Airport and national airline Qatar Airways, metro and tram network (which carried over 18.2 million passengers during the FIFA World Cup2022TM), inviting hotels, and leisure attractions. In addition, Qatar will be abuzz with some of the biggest events of the year during the AFC Asian Cup 2023TM, providing visitors and residents with a packed itinerary of things to do and see pre- and post- matches.On this occasion, His Excellency, Mr. Saad Bin Ali Al-Kharji, Chairman of Qatar Tourism, said: "We are pleased to host the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023TM this year, with its events extending from 12th January to 10th February. Visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy exciting times and explore many tourist attractions in Qatar. Qatar Tourism will offer a rich array of exciting events and festivals that will amuse both Qatar's residents and its visitors. The kickoff of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023TM coincides with the organization of various festivals and events, including Shop Qatar, Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE), Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF), Qatar Kite Festival, and International Horticultural Doha Expo 2023, which continues until late March. Additionally, there will be a series of musical and entertainment events that together form an unforgettable and exceptional experience."He added, "Over the past years, Qatar has successfully become a distinguished sports tourism destination, due to its advanced infrastructure, sports facilities, and medical facilities. This is in addition to the diversity of sports events it hosts, especially FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. Qatar has demonstrated to the world its hospitality, exceptional organization, complemented by the presence of luxurious tourist facilities and the picturesque landscapes that characterize the destination."KEY EVENTSShop Qatar 2024Shop Qatar will be running from January 1 to 27, 2024, with incredible discounts in stores, raffle draws, and entertainment spread out in malls. There are a total of 13 malls and shopping districts participating, which residents can explore, with 100s of shops featuring different offers and entertainment.Qatar International Food Festival 2024The all-time fan favourite, Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF), is set to return on February 7 – 17 at Family Zone Expo at Al Bidda Park this time. With one of the broadest ranges of cuisine in one space, QIFF is one of the most popular events in Qatar, with over 100 dishes for people to choose from. Head over to the QIFF after a game to satisfy your cravings and socialise with other food enthusiasts.Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition 2024 DJWEThe Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition 2024(DJWE) will be held at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center from February 5 to 11, 2024, with unique displays and products. Immerse yourself in the highest-quality, most aesthetic and luxurious jewellery at this exhibition.Doha Expo 2023One of the main events of 2023 continuing into 2024 is the Doha Expo 2023, which will run until March 28. Doha Expo 2023 has been a platform for people in Qatar to engage with local and international agricultural organisations. It is the first ever A1 international horticultural exhibition in the MENA region. Residents can enjoy several other events at the Expo as well, such as immersing themselves in virtual reality, participating in innovative workshops, exploring the botanic garden, or simply sipping on some coffee in the Cultural Zone.Museums and ExhibitionsThe Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art is hosting several exhibitions until March 2024, to satiate one’s curiosity of arts and culture. Some of these include Mehdi Moutashar: Introspection as Resistance, Distilled Lessons: Abstraction in Arab Modernism, Cities Under Quarantine: The Mailbox Project, and De/Constructed Meanings.Close to Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium is the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum in Al Samriya. Fans who have some time to spare pre- or post-match can learn about His Excellency Sheikh Faisal, one of the most influential and revolutionary businessmen in Qatar. The museum boasts traditional Syrian craftsmanship, artefacts dating back to the Jurassic age, antique automobiles, and rustic carpets, to name a few.Nature escapesBalancing football cheers with moments of solitude, fans can take respite at the Aspire Park, Qatar’s biggest park with lush green spaces, walking tracks and cozy cafes. In Education City, there is Oxygen Park, which has walking tracks and football fields to practice, and the Qu’aranic Botanic Garden, a unique garden which features plants mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah.Alternatively, if you are looking for a nearby place to relax and rejuvenate post-matches, you can also visit the Heenat Salma Farm, which is a 20-minute drive away from the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium. The farm offers organic products, crafts, creative workshops and vocational training, and wellness spas, making it a perfect spot for a relaxing weekend retreat, or simply a visit to stimulate your artistic side.Concerts and MusicFor those with the appreciation of the art that is music, Qatar is hosting various music artists across three locations in the country. At Hotel Park in West Bay, visitors and residents can enjoy Arab singer Wafeek Habeeb’s music on January 17, electronic music by ‘Swedish House Mafia’ on January 19, performances by the renowned band ‘Backstreet Boys’ on January 26, and internationally-recognised pop band ‘OneRepublic’ on February 1. For tickets, visit: the Katara Ampitheatre, music lovers can watch performances by Arab singers Modi and Rehab Al Shamrani on January 27, Lebanese artist Najwa Karam on February 1, Moroccan-French performer Amine Boudchar on February 8, and Egyptian singer Amal Maher on February 11. For tickets visit: Qatar National Convention Centre will be hosting the established artist Nassif Zeytoun on February 3.Hello AsiaAs the pleasant winter weather sets on the country, the Lusail Boulevard and Plaza is welcoming fans for its ‘Hello Asia’ festival which will take place on January 10– February 10, 2024. The Boulevard is getting ready to be decked with stunning lighting, cultural flags and décor, and F&B kiosks to entertain and encourage fans to show support for their countries’ teams. There will be 24 country zones, such as Qatar, China, India, South Korea, and Lebanon to name a few. Fans are welcome to enjoy entertainment, and to show support for the national teams through this artistic parade and exhibit at Lusail.Modern ArchitectureQatar is no stranger to modern architecture. Fans headed to Education City Stadium will get a close-up look with the Qatar National Library (QNL) which is structured as a shell made by folding two pieces of paper, or the contemporary design of the Education City Mosque, Minaretein. Both QNL and Minartein are worth exploring on the inside with the library’s café, 3D printing, music studio, and reading nooks, and the mosque’s guided-tour. At Al Wakrah is the Abu Manaratain Mosque, with unconventional architecture from the 1940s to appreciate.AttractionsThe Meryal Waterpark recently opened at Qetaifan Island North, with rides designed to reflect the oil and gas industry’s omnipresence in Qatari culture. One of its rides, the Icon Tower is world’s highest tower of its kind. The annual Winter Wonderland Lusail is now operating on Al Maha Island, near the Lusail Stadium, with 50 rides which encompass 25 family rides, 15 children’s rides, 10 thrill rides, the 395-rollercoaster, and the 150 ft tall Ferris Wheel.Night Markets and BazaarsWithin the premise of the Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium is the Duhail Night Market, Qatar’s pioneering night market, with the finest selection of popular finger foods, coffee, and karak. In Al Waab, there is ‘The Downtown’, a new night market at Aspire Park offering different drive-thru restaurants and cafés, where visitors can snack on delicious finger foods and of course, coffee.During the weekend, residents can explore the Torba Farmer’s Market, held every Saturday, in Education City. The market offers local, artisanal products and fresh food for visitors to enjoy. Near Al Janoub Stadium you will find the Souq Al Wakrah, where you can take a stroll by the sea in the serene winter weather, indulge in a range of cuisine, primarily seafood, and explore shops selling traditional Arabian products.For Animal LoversA 20-minute drive away from Ahmed bin Ali Stadium is Al Shahaniya Camel Racetrack, which hosts multiple camel racing events throughout the year. Here, you can enjoy both races and camel training, the latter of which takes place every morning at the centre. Al Shaqab, near Education City Stadium, is also a popular destination for equestrian fans to watch horseback riding events, post-matches. In addition, the Katara International Arabian Horse Festival will run from February 1 till 11, and will showcase different purebred horses in competition with each other. These horses are known to symbolize strength and pride in Arab culture.SportsThe World Aquatics Championships 2024 is taking place from February 2 – 18, 2024 at Aspire Dome, Old Doha Port, and Hamad Aquatic Center. This tournament will be hosting 2, 600 top athletes, from over 190 countries, for 75 medal events, with an opportunity for athletes to quality for Olympic Games Paris 2024. Sports include swimming (including open water and artistic), diving and high diving, and water polo. Residents can witness top-class aquatic performances from athletes from all over the world.

Baims Education Platform acquires Egyptian Orcas Edtech

Baims, a leading education technology (EdTech) company, announces a strategic move to acquire Orcas Edtech to capture the flourishing $100 billion education market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. This transformative consolidation establishes Baims and Orcas as the go-to provider of a holistic and adaptive EdTech platform, catering to both K12 and university learning.Baims, founded by Yousef AlHusaini & Bader AlRasheed acquired Orcas, founded by Hossam Taher & Amira El Gharib in a 100% acquisition deal.Together, Orcas and Baims have raised over $11 million, backed by prominent investors including Access Bridge Ventures, Algebra Ventures, NFX Ventures, AlWazzan Educational Group, Rasameel Investment Company, Seedstars International Ventures, and AK Holding, establishing the new consolidated company as the number one EdTech player to watch in the MENA region.Regional Edtech DominanceAs education in the MENA region undergoes a transformation towards hybrid learning models, Baims and Orcas are dedicated to providing comprehensive education solutions that encompass both synchronous and asynchronous formats (live and recorded). This positions Baims as a dominant player with a distinctive offering, addressing the profound challenges that students encounter in the region."By acquiring Orcas Tutoring, we are not just expanding our reach; we are redefining the EdTech landscape in MENA," says Yousef AlHusaini, CEO of Baims. "This consolidation enables us to offer a comprehensive learning experience, combining our online tailored recorded courses with Orcas Tutoring's personalized one-to-one tutoring platform."Product and market expansionBaims specializes in providing online tailored recorded courses for university students in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Jordan. The acquisition of Orcas signifies a strategic move to further enhance their offerings by incorporating Orcas’ personalized tutoring services into their platform, creating a well-rounded and adaptable educational experience for students across the MENA region."Our aim is to establish product and market synergies by introducing personalized K12 tutoring services in the GCC and subsequently expanding our portfolio to cater to the diverse needs of university students." - Hossam Taher, CEO of Orcas Tutoring.Expansion in MENA with a focus on Saudi ArabiaWhile expanding in the GCC is Baims’ plan, focusing on the growing Saudi Arabian market is a priority. Recognizing Riyadh as the future startup hub of the region where the government is investing a significant amount in emerging talents, Baims aims to solidify its presence in this dynamic market. Saudi Arabia holds a strategic position, acting as a key connector between North Africa and the GCC, boasting the region's most substantial and influential market. Capitalizing on its dominant market share in Saudi Arabia, Baims is poised to launch a specialized AI-driven test preparation product. In addition to this, the company plans to augment its offerings by incorporating one-to-one tutoring services and expanding to more universities in KSA demonstrating a commitment to addressing the specific needs of students.A Stronger Team with solid Edtech experienceThe newly consolidated company aims to realize its product, market expansion, and regional dominance objectives through the efficient integration of both teams. This strategic acquisition presents Baims with the valuable opportunity to augment its workforce with seasoned professionals boasting over 35 years of combined experience in the EdTech space. Joining the Baims team alongside Hossam Taher as Chief Strategy Officer and Amira El Gharib as Chief Operations Officer are Shams Adly, Orcas’s Chief Marketing Officer, and Mohammed Khalaf, Orcas’s Chief Technology Officer. Their inclusion in Baims' leadership is set to drive further advancements in the venture.Shareholders upside & Edtech Sector potentialThe strategic acquisition has garnered support from investors who recognize the potential of the consolidated entity in transforming education in the MENA region. "We are thrilled by the immense potential within the Education sector in our region, evident in our initial investment in Orcas. As the regional landscape evolves, the strategic consolidation among visionary startups, guided by strong leaders, is poised to fortify the foundation for regional excellence and a more robust EdTech ecosystem. We look forward with great enthusiasm to the promising path that lies ahead." commented Issa Aghabi, Managing Partner at Access Bridge Ventures. “Today marks a monumental day for Edtech in the Middle East and the globe. The acquisition of Orcas by Baims proves once again that Edtech is fast growing in the region and further positions Baims as one of the premier companies in the entire ME region. With this strategic expansion, adding Orcas' outstanding one to one tutoring, Baims will offer more comprehensive educational tools for hundreds of thousands of students across Kuwait, Saudi, Jordan and now expanding to the large Egyptian market.” added Abdullateef AlThuwaini from AK Holding, a prominent investor in the EdTech sector. The creation of this new consolidated player is proof that the Edtech sector has yet a lot to offer. Unconquered Territory: MENA's $100 Billion Education MarketDespite the immense potential, MENA's $100 billion education market remains largely untapped. The magnitude of the education problem in the MENA region is profound, affecting students in various ways. "Education is not just about acquiring knowledge; it's about empowering individuals to thrive in the workforce," emphasizes Bader AlRasheed, Baims co-founder." Insufficient access to quality education limits opportunities in the job market, and our consolidated platform aims to bridge this gap by fostering skill development and preparing students for success."The Impact on the Employment MarketBaims also envisions contributing to job creation in the MENA region. "Our goal is not only to solve the education problem but also to create more job opportunities in KSA, Kuwait, EG, UAE, and Jordan," notes AlHusaini. "We aim to provide educators with a chance to make a meaningful impact and improve their incomes." Egyptian Founders Exit Revives Hope In a challenging environment with several devaluations over the last year, the Egyptian startup ecosystem has been grappling with multiple issues. However, with a persistent focus on identifying expansion opportunities, the Orcas exit led by CEO Hossam Taher emerged as a beacon of hope for the region.Hossam Taher & Amira El Gharib founded Orcas in 2019, addressing the private tutoring problem in Egypt by offering a personalized learning experience to K12 students in International Schools. Taher remarks, "Our journey with Orcas has been about empowering students and teachers, and with Baims, we see this impact expanding even further."Baims and Orcas invite the media, stakeholders, and the public to follow this exciting journey as it unfolds. The group company is eager to contribute to the transformation of education in the MENA region and believes that this consolidation is a significant step towards realizing that vision.

The cookie crumbles on Chrome, officially!

Google finally took the first bite out of the third-party cookie on January 4, 2024. A 1% of Chrome users globally, around 30 million people, are now cookie-less, paving the way for a fully cookieless Chrome by the end of this year. This comes after multiple delays and false starts.It's a slow rollout, Google says, to give advertisers, publishers, and ad-tech firms time to "test our readiness for a web without third-party cookies."Safari, Apple, and Firefox beat Chrome years ago in cookie deprecation.Google’s plan is to come up with privacy-focused alternative technologies for advertisers. The new Tracking Protection feature, automatically cuts off a website’s access to third-party cookies.Google vice president Anthony Chavez said that the tech giant is taking a responsible approach to phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome.“If a site doesn't work without third-party cookies and Chrome notices you're having issues... we'll prompt you with an option to temporarily re-enable third-party cookies for that website."Though Google announced the decision to do away with cookies from Chrome in 2020, the plan was postponed twice.Google's cookie deprecation announcement caused tremors in the ad world, triggering widespread skepticism about ‘Privacy Sandbox’ filling the gap. Fears abound that these untested substitutes will prove inadequate, further entrenching Google's already-dominant position in online advertising.Understandably, publishers’ online ad businesses rely heavily on the granular data gleaned from third-party cookies, enabling them to personalize ads and maximize revenue. Google's replacements like Privacy Sandbox are raising concerns about their ability to deliver the same level of targeting and revenue generation.And the industry is witnessing different technologies as alternatives to third-party cookies. Brands are slowly shifting to cookieless alternatives such as contextual targeting, geo/location-based targeting, first-party data, etc. to target customers. All these are privacy-centric targeting methods.Using AI and machine learning to analyse user behaviour patterns and make accurate predictions about user preferences without relying on individual user-level data.AI and operational machine learning will be increasingly used to analyse user behaviour patterns and predict user preferences without taking recourse to personal-level data.This is an ongoing process with no immediate answers. While challenges abound, the quest for a more privacy-respecting online advertising landscape is a positive step for both users and publishers. By fostering open dialogue and collaboration, the industry can hopefully navigate this transition and create a future where targeted advertising thrives alongside user privacy.

ATL Media broadens its sales team with four new Sales Heads

ATL Media, a part of ZEE Network Enterprise based out of Dubai for the region of Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Turkey, has made some big appointments in the UAE and KSA regions. The company has appointed Amer El Daouk as Ad Sales Senior Director – Arabic Channels (UAE), Basanth Bhaskaran as Ad Sales Director – Asian Channels (UAE), Samer El Hajj as Sales Director – KSA market and Rajshree Das as Ad Sales Director – Retail Business (UAE).Amer El Daouk (Ad Sales Senior Director – Arabic Channels, UAE): Amer is thrilled to join Zee during an exciting period in 2024. He sees Zee as a dynamic broadcaster with an impressive portfolio and ambitious growth plans. His focus is on contributing to Zee's continued growth in the region.Basanth Bhaskaran (Ad Sales Director – Asian Channels, UAE): Basanth expresses personal excitement about returning to Zee, describing it as a homecoming. He looks forward to leading sales for Zee's flagship channels in the MENA region.Samer El Hajj (Sales Director – KSA Market): Samer is excited to announce his return to Zee Entertainment, emphasizing that this is more than a role; it's a homecoming. His focus as the Sales Director for the KSA market is on amplifying the Zee experience and overseeing operations in the dynamic Saudi market.Rajshree Das (Ad Sales Director – Retail Business, UAE): Rajshree is enthusiastic about leading the retail business for Asian and Arabic channels in Zee Network. She looks forward to gaining a perspective on the diverse MENA market and partnering with clients for meaningful campaigns.

Aramex partners with RajKumar Hirani’s ‘Dunki’ starring Shah Rukh Khan

Aramex, the leading global provider of comprehensive logistics and transportation solutions, announced a collaboration with the movie, Dunki starring the superstar Shah Rukh Khan. The partnership marks Aramex as the official brand partner for the movie and is a showcase of the brand’s commitment to expanding its presence in India.In a scene from the film, Khan’s character receives a package from Aramex at a hotel, putting a spotlight on the brand’s global delivery services. Additionally, a co-branded feature promoting the film & the brand, showcases Shah Rukh Khan talking about Aramex as “your perfect delivery partner” for sending packages safely to any corner of the world, before encouraging viewers to download the Aramex app.The collaboration with the film Dunki is a significant step in Aramex’s ongoing efforts to strengthen its brand awareness in India.Mike Rich, Group Chief Marketing Officer at Aramex, commented on the partnership, saying, “Partnering with the film 'Dunki' was an incredible opportunity for Aramex to strengthen our positioning in India. We seized the opportunity to collaborate with one of India's biggest production houses that produced the film, its renowned director Rajkumar Hirani, and arguably the global icon, Shah Rukh Khan. The movie is also filmed across different countries, aligning perfectly with our own global footprint.”Aramex’s association with the film Dunki is strategically designed to resonate with Indian audiences, leveraging the country’s deep-rooted affinity for cinema and love for storytelling. “In India, with its vast cultural diversity and varied regional film industries, movies are a fundamental aspect of the country’s social and cultural fabric. Given this context, we believe that brands endorsed through associations with films with involvement of the lead actors and actresses gain significant trust among consumers.”Aramex is also offering an exclusive promotion in India, wherein customers can enjoy a 60% discount on shipments sent through the Aramex app using the promo code ‘DUNKI’.Dunki features an ensemble cast with colorful characters portrayed by exceptionally talented actors, including Boman Irani, Taapsee Pannu, Vicky Kaushal, Vikram Kochhar, and Anil Grover, starring alongside Shah Rukh Khan. Dunki was released on December 21, 2023, in cinemas.

Viewers open to ads on streaming platforms: Hub study

Viewers are open to and tolerant of advertising on streaming platforms – especially when ad loads are reasonable, when users’ bills are lower, and when they have the option to choose a premium ad-free options if they so desire, according to Hub Entertainment Research’s TV Advertising: Fact vs Fiction study.As more and more streaming services adopt an ad-supported model, the importance of understanding advertising’s role in the TV ecosystem – and in viewer’s subscription and viewing decisions – has never been more important. While Netflix, Disney+, and Max work to draw subs to their new ad tiers, Amazon and AMC+ recently announced their push to ad commercials to their streams. Soon there may be few truly ad-free streamers left – if any.Time and again consumers are seen choosing content first – whether or not they can watch it ad-free.The sixth wave of the study continues to track use, viewing behaviors, and perceptions of ad-supported TV, exploring the interplay between advertising, cost, and content.Consumers, who were intolerant to ads in 2023, are now open opt to ad-supported services to save money.Contrary to popular belief, consumers' patience for advertising has its limits. In a level playing field, nearly four out of ten viewers would opt for a streaming service with fewer ads. Additionally, advertisers benefit from reduced ad loads, as almost half of consumers pay more attention when ad breaks are shorter. A streaming service with a more reasonable ad load tends to elevate the perceived quality of its advertisers.The consensus among viewers is that two standard-length ads per break constitute a reasonable amount of advertising. Viewers generally find ad breaks acceptable if they last one minute or less, but the tipping point occurs at ninety seconds, beyond which most viewers deem the break unreasonable.There remains substantial potential for streaming platforms to expand their ad-supported offerings. A significant proportion of consumers remain unaware of the lower-cost ad-supported options provided by most streaming services.Consumer acceptance of advertising in streaming video is on the rise, presenting growth opportunities for ad-supported offerings. The Hub TV Advertising: Fact vs. Fiction survey consistently indicates that a majority of viewers prefer an ad-supported video subscription if it costs less than an ad-free one over the past two years. In the latest survey, this preference is notably higher than it was in June 2023.The acceptance of advertising in streaming video is widespread, and there is still untapped potential to attract new subscribers. Many consumers are unaware that streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, and Max have introduced more affordable ad-supported tiers. Aggressively marketing these economical options can draw in viewers who have not subscribed due to perceived high costs.

Jeremy Helfand takes the helm at Amazon Prime Video advertising

Amazon has appointed Jeremy Helfand as the new leader of Prime Video Advertising, marking a significant move for the e-commerce giant into the integrated advertising space within its streaming platform.With a rich background in the streaming industry, Jeremy Helfand brings five years of executive experience at Disney and Hulu, where he most recently served as Executive Vice President of Advertising & Data Platforms at Disney Entertainment & ESPN Technology. Prior to that, he joined Hulu in 2018 as Vice President and Head of Advertising Platforms, contributing to the platform's success in the evolving landscape of streaming services.Starting later this year, Prime Video subscribers will experience a new dimension to their content consumption as advertisements will be seamlessly integrated into scripted films and TV shows on the platform. This move positions Amazon Prime Video as the latest participant in incorporating brand messages into its scripted content, following in the footsteps of industry leaders like Netflix and Disney+ who introduced ad-supported tiers over the past year.In an era where streaming services are exploring various revenue models, Prime Video subscribers will now encounter ads unless they choose to opt for an ad-free experience by paying an additional $3 per month. This flexible approach allows users to tailor their viewing experience based on their preferences.Jeremy Helfand officially announced his move to Amazon in a LinkedIn post, expressing his excitement for the next chapter. "In 2018, I joined Hulu to be part of the emerging streaming TV revolution, and it has been an incredible journey, ultimately leading to Disney. Now, it's time for the next chapter, and I'm excited to share that I've joined Amazon to spearhead Prime Video Advertising. Collaborating with a team of dedicated business builders, my focus is on creating something exceptional, starting with our upcoming launch!"Helfand's departure from Disney coincides with the media giant's preparations for a significant presence at the upcoming CES in Las Vegas. While the company is set to host its annual Tech and Data Showcase for advertisers, Helfand's move to Amazon underlines the dynamic shifts in the streaming and advertising landscape.

IMI elevates Abdou Gadallah to Editorial Director & appoints Nadim Koteich as GM

International Media Investments (IMI) announced two significant leadership changes. Abdou Gadallah has been promoted to the role of Group Editorial Director across the group, while Nadim Koteich has been appointed as General Manager of Sky News Arabia (SNA). Both are newly created positions, and both executives will report directly to Rani R. Raad, the recently appointed IMI CEO.Raad joined IMI last September with a brief to transform the company and its media brands and to grow its assets both regionally and globally. "These appointments strengthen our commitment to upholding the highest standards of editorial integrity whilst we grow and strengthen our relationships with our audiences" stated Rani R. Raad, IMI CEO. “Our mission is to deliver a full and comprehensive picture of what is happening in our region and beyond, so our audiences can make informed decisions and have the facts to form their own opinions. Technology is offering us the opportunity to reach more and more people and to change how we interact with them. But it is our engaging and differentiated content that is at the heart of our relationship with them. With Abdou and Nadim in these roles we are going to start to redefine what makes a great news product.”Previously, Gadallah served as the Head of News at Sky News Arabia, responsible for the channel's coverage of major events, as well as overseeing day-to-day newsroom operations. He first joined Sky News Arabia in 2012, taking on various editorial leadership positions, with a focus on building and upskilling the channel's digital and social media teams and output. Before joining Sky News Arabia, Gadallah served as Media Advisor to the US Embassy in Doha, Qatar.Nadim Koteich will continue to host his own show on SNA, 'Tonight with Nadim' and will be tasked with both the editorial tone and making sure the channel's content is optimised across all platforms. SNA is expected to launch a number of new programming initiatives over the next few months and Koteich will be responsible for expanding its coverage into new genres. Koteich brings more than 20 years of experience in the media industry and has played an instrumental role in shaping the landscape of political dialogue and commentary in Middle Eastern media. He has worked with a variety of regional outlets across print, broadcast, and online platforms, including hosting his acclaimed ‘DNA’ program which aired on Future TV and Al Arabiya, as well as contributing to a weekly political column on Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.Both appointments are effective immediately.

Century Financial appoints Ulas Akincilar as Chief Product Officer

Century Financial, the pioneering investment services company in the United Arab Emirates, is pleased to announce the appointment of Ulas Akincilar as its new Chief Product Officer. Mr. Akincilar brings with him nearly a decade of experience in the global FX and trading technology sector, making him a valuable addition to the senior team at Century Financial.Prior to joining Century Financial, Ulas Akincilar held key positions at several leading CFD and FX players in the industry. Most recently, he served as the Head of Trading at Infinox Capital, a UK-headquartered Forex brokerage. His extensive career also includes a stint as Head of Trading and Risk Management at the FCA-regulated brokerage firm House of Borse Limited (HoB).Ulas Akincilar holds a bachelor's degree in geomatics engineering from Istanbul Technical University in Turkey, reflecting his strong educational background and expertise in the trading technology and financial sector.In his new role at Century Financial, Mr. Akincilar will be based at the company's Dubai office and will assume leadership in the areas of Product Innovation & operations along with Platform Enhancement. His responsibilities include driving the development of innovative products, leveraging cutting-edge technology, and staying attuned to market trends to enhance Century Financial's offerings. Additionally, he will oversee the optimization of Century Financial's trading platforms, ensuring a seamless and user-friendly experience for clients."We are delighted to welcome Ulas Akincilar to Century Financial as our Chief Product Officer," said Mr. Bal Krishen, Chairman & CEO at Century Financial. "His extensive experience in the global FX and trading technology industry makes him the ideal candidate to lead our product development strategy. We look forward to the valuable contributions he will make to further enhance our client services and trading platforms."Ulas Akincilar assumed his role at Century Financial in January, and his appointment marks a significant step in Century Financial's commitment to providing world-class investment services to its clients.

Tinder launches new creative ads, ahead of ‘Dating Sunday’

Tinder, the popular dating app, is strategically capitalizing on the surge in dating activity that typically occurs at the beginning of the year, often referred to as "Dating Sunday." The company is leveraging this trend by launching a new round of creative content for its "It Starts With A Swipe" campaign. The campaign aims to dispel some of the stereotypes associated with Tinder as just a hookup app and instead focuses on the potential for meaningful connections.The creative content includes colorful advertisements that tell stories highlighting various aspects of relationships formed through Tinder. These stories range from couples finding shared interests and building a life together to the diversity of Gen Z relationships. The ads also showcase the platform's ability to facilitate connections beyond initial physical attraction.Tinder's efforts to diversify its advertising may be aimed at forming a stronger connection with the younger demographic, reflecting the fluid and diverse nature of relationships among Gen Z. Stephanie Danzi, the Senior Vice President of Global Marketing at Tinder, emphasizes that the work reflects the diversity of Gen Z relationships, reinforcing Tinder's commitment to providing meaningful connections for all.In addition to its focus on positive relationship stories, Tinder has engaged in other creative endeavors, including partnerships to raise awareness about toxic behavior and online financial scams. These initiatives demonstrate the platform's commitment to addressing broader issues in the online dating landscape.By actively participating in cultural events like World Romance Scam Prevention Day and collaborating with figures like Jonathan Bennett from "Mean Girls," Tinder aims to stay relevant and promote a positive image of online dating while addressing potential challenges and concerns within the industry.

Saudi minister lauds Cabinet for designating 2024 as ‘Year of the Camel’

Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah appreciated the Council of Ministers’ decision to designate the year 2024 as the “Year of the Camel” to celebrate the unique cultural value that camels represent in the lives of the people of the Arabian Peninsula.It consolidates their solid position, and enhances their presence locally and internationally, as an authentic cultural heritage and an essential component in building civilization.Prince Badr thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman for the generous care and unlimited support that culture and cultural figures receive, saying that this gives Saudi culture its right of pride and celebration with its solid roots, values and authentic cultural elements, and presenting them to the world.The ministry will supervise the Year of the Camel 2024 celebrations and will work through it to highlight the value of camels and their connection to the Saudi identity. This will be through various initiatives and programs, implemented by the ministry in cooperation with its partners, to enhance national efforts to develop the camel sector and increase the level of its contribution to national development.

TikTok, Peloton join hands to launch #TikTokfitness Peloton hub

Peloton (NASDAQ: PTON), the leading connected fitness platform, and TikTok, the leading destination for short-form mobile video, today announced an exclusive partnership to bring Peloton's world-class workout content to the TikTok community. Together the two brands will merge culture and creativity to inspire a new generation of fitness content and creators.This will result in a new fitness hub on TikTok – #TikTokFitness – on which Peloton will have a dedicated, co-branded hub that houses custom Peloton content: #TikTokFitness Powered by Peloton. This marks the first time Peloton will produce bespoke social content for a partner outside of Peloton-owned channels. Content will include select live Peloton classes with and without equipment required, original Instructor series, ongoing creator partnerships, Peloton class clips, and celebrity collaborations, all accessible via the #TikTokFitness hashtag, curated on the Peloton hub."Peloton and TikTok both move at the speed of culture to better serve our respective audiences," said Oli Snoddy, Vice President of Consumer Marketing at Peloton. "We collectively recognize the way people engage with fitness is constantly changing. Our team is excited to complement TikTok's already burgeoning fitness content by introducing the magic of Peloton to new audiences, and in completely new ways." With 1 billion active TikTok users globally, #TikTokFitness has the potential to deeply inspire and positively impact content in the wellbeing space in a new and creative way. Peloton's recent Anyone. Anytime. Anywhere. brand evolution – which will prominently ground the look and feel of the Peloton hub – will be authentically integrated into the curated content hub, reinforcing the brand's commitment to making fitness more accessible. "Culture, communities and conversations live on TikTok and this offers brands an opportunity to deeply connect with their audiences. When it comes to the fitness category, we have thousands of communities coming together to connect on everything from #thefitnessjourney to bonding as #runnersoftiktok," said Sofia Hernandez, Global Head of Business Marketing at TikTok. "We're thrilled that this partnership will bring inspirational fitness content and entertain Peloton users who come to TikTok to learn, connect with instructors, share fitness journeys, and find community."

TikTok unveils content planning guide for marketers

TikTok has recently released its 2024 Content Planning Guide, providing marketers with a comprehensive resource featuring essential dates, insightful pointers, and notes to facilitate timely execution of their campaign strategies. Unlike traditional content calendar templates, this guide adopts a unique approach by emphasizing the optimization of specific events.According to TikTok, the aim is to equip marketers with the most pertinent tools and easily applicable advice, enabling them to prioritize key moments in their 2024 marketing strategy. In pursuit of this goal, TikTok has crafted bespoke calendars tailored to major regions across North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Additionally, the guide incorporates valuable tips for maximizing TikTok's potential throughout the entire year.The guide not only outlines key dates but also provides additional guidance on utilizing TikTok's diverse ad tools and functions. Each date period offers an overview of significant events, supplemented by pointers on leveraging various TikTok marketing elements.Furthermore, the guide includes a campaign planner template towards the end, complete with links to relevant tools. This feature is designed to streamline efforts and enhance campaign effectiveness. In essence, the guide deviates from conventional calendar listings, offering a more focused approach to spotlight specific tools and processes that can steer your campaigns in the right direction.

The New York Times sues OpenAI, Microsoft for copyright infringement

The New York Times (NYT) has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft, alleging the unauthorized use of its content for the training of generative artificial intelligence and large-language model systems.Last year, a group of US writers sued OpenAI accusing it of copyright infringement.The latest suit by NYT, filed in a Manhattan federal court, seeks damages that could amount to billions of dollars.NYT contends that while OpenAI and Microsoft amassed information from various sources to develop their AI systems, they placed "particular emphasis" on New York Times content. The complaint asserts that the companies aim to benefit from the Times's substantial investment in journalism without permission or compensation, posing a significant threat to the newspaper's ability to provide its essential services.Highlighting the importance of independent journalism to democracy, the lawsuit emphasizes the "vital" role of The Times's reporting in society and deems it "increasingly rare and valuable." The legal action further stresses the alleged "unlawful use" of the paper's copyrighted materials, including news articles, investigations, opinion pieces, reviews, and more, in the creation of AI products.The lawsuit addresses concerns about AI models generating inaccurate information, commonly referred to as "hallucinations."The Times alleges that Microsoft's Bing Chat misidentified content as originating from The Times, citing examples such as search results for "the 15 most heart-healthy foods."The lawsuit does not specify a monetary claim. However, it holds OpenAI accountable for "billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages."Additionally, the lawsuit urges the companies to destroy any chatbot models and training data using copyrighted material from The Times.

Remembering Disney Legend Glynis Johns

Disney Legend Glynis Johns passed away from natural causes on Thursday, January 4, in Los Angeles, her manager confirmed. She was 100 years old.Perhaps best known to Disney fans as feminist Winifred Banks in the Academy Award®-winning Mary Poppins (1964), Johns became everyone’s favorite sister suffragette. Walt Disney himself personally selected her to play the career-defining role, having been drawn, like many a moviegoer, by her sparkling screen persona. His choice of casting was spot on, as film critic Leonard Maltin pointed out in his book The Disney Films: “She lights up the screen the minute she appears [in Mary Poppins],” he wrote. “She makes every minute count, and her amusing suffragette song is most enjoyable.”Inducted as a Disney Legend in 1998, Johns was born to Welsh parents on October 5, 1923, in Pretoria, South Africa. She made history when she received a degree to teach dance by age 10. By 12, she won 25 gold medals for dance in England and, by 13, appeared in her first film, South Riding (1938). Her first adult role came in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 49th Parallel (1941), released in America as The Invaders and starring Laurence Olivier, Leslie Howard, and Raymond Massey. By 19, she became the youngest actress to play the lead role in the theatrical production of Peter Pan.She became associated with The Walt Disney Studios in the early 1950s, when it began to produce live-action films in England.She starred as the capricious Mary Tudor in 1953’s The Sword and the Rose, co-starring Richard Todd. As Helen Mary MacGregor in Rob Roy, the Highland Rogue (1953), she played the spirited wife of a Scottish freedom fighter. A decade later, in 1964, she returned to Disney to star in Mary Poppins. The hit musical amassed 13 Academy Award® nominations and garnered five Oscars®.Johns also starred in such television shows as General Electric Theatre and The Cavanaughs, as well as her own series, Glynis. She appeared in other series including Batman, Cheers, and Murder She Wrote, starring another Disney Legend, the late Angela Lansbury.In 1960, Johns won an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mrs. Firth in The Sundowners, starring Robert Mitchum. Later, she received a Tony Award® in 1973 for her stunning stage performance as Desiree Armfeldt in the original cast of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. About Johns, Sondheim once said that her rendition of “Send in the Clowns” remained his favorite.In all, she performed in more than two dozen theatrical productions and more than 50 feature films, including Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband (1947) starring Paulette Goddard and Dear Brigitte (1965) starring James Stewart. She also appeared in a children’s TV anthology version of The Secret Garden alongside Derek Jacobi, for ABC.In 1994, Johns returned to The Walt Disney Studios to co-star in the Touchstone comedy The Ref. The next year she appeared in Hollywood Pictures’ smash hit While You Were Sleeping, starring Sandra Bullock. Johns was also featured in archival footage in the documentary Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious: The Making of ‘Mary Poppins’ (2004) from Buena Vista Home Entertainment and the HBO documentary Six by Sondheim (2013).

Optimism pervades the ad industry in 2024: Mediaocean

 Mediaocean, the mission-critical platform for omnichannel advertising, has released its 2024 Advertising Outlook Report, with all signs pointing to a prevailing focus on innovation and creativity in the new year. Overall, the findings show that despite macroeconomic headwinds holding over from 2023, optimism pervades the advertising industry. Omnichannel marketers, in particular, anticipate an active year, affirming their intent to maintain or increase spending in nearly every channel.Examining key trends in media and advertising, the survey revealed that certain platforms stand to grow most significantly in 2024. For example, the report shows that not unsurprisingly, social media, digital display/video, and connected TV (CTV) are the frontrunners heading into the year, based on a sustained, surging investment that naturally mirrors consumer engagement and time spent. Specifically, 69% of survey-takers report that in 2024 they will increase social media spending, 65% for digital display/video, and 56% for CTV in 2024. At the same time, the number of marketers maintaining their investments in these channels is 28%, 30%, and 36%, respectively.“There is a lot to dissect in this year’s survey with regard to the marketing funnel and the consumer journey. For instance, even though direct-response campaign performance remains a top priority for marketers tasked with delivering tangible ROI, brand advertising is gaining momentum,” said Aaron Goldman, Chief Marketing Officer at Mediaocean. “Companies are taking a longer-view approach to driving customer loyalty and lifetime value. Even so, marketers are very aware that a prevalent gap remains between creative and media execution. If not addressed, this gap negatively impacts team workflow, messaging relevance, and market intelligence. So, resolving this gap and embracing the tools and systems required for doing so absolutely will be the largest growth opportunity for brands this coming year. ”Overall, the highly-anticipated report highlights the forces driving the advertising economy as seen by industry leaders, including the macroeconomic spending trends of 2023. This is the fifth installment of bi-annual market reports produced by Mediaocean and features the largest base of respondents, nearly 1,100 total, delving into key media and technology trends as well as channel-specific 2024 projected advertising investments. Mediaocean primarily surveyed marketers and agencies but also included perspectives from media companies, measurement firms, tech platforms, and other industry cohorts. "2024 will be a most consequential year and deliver unprecedented innovation in the advertising industry," said Bill Wise, Chief Executive Officer at Mediaocean. "As we navigate the challenges of data deprecation, antitrust regulation, and privacy protection, there is a massive opportunity for brands to reduce their reliance on Big Tech and leverage independent technology for everything from media buying to ad serving to omnichannel measurement. Embracing the scaled tools and systems required for this alignment will be the key to driving customer loyalty and lifetime value." In addition to illuminating overall optimism and positive spend trends across channels, the survey underscored a rising focus on AI and waning interest in the Metaverse. The report highlights that Generative AI has not only captured everyone’s attention but has also led to a shift in focus and resource allocation. The analysis suggests that 2024 promises to be the year that AI moves from speculative use cases to practical, day-to-day applications, particularly in the areas of data analysis and market research. Respondents indicated that AI will become an increasingly integral part of daily workflows and serve functionals well beyond content generation. For a full review of all key takeaways, please visit to download the complete Mediaocean 2024 Advertising Outlook Report. Additionally, Mediaocean will present the research during a webinar on January 18 with Joanna O’Connell, EVP Innovation at R3, and agency executives from dentsu, Initiative, and Jellyfish sharing their assessments of the imperatives for marketers. Please visit to register.

Forbes Middle East unveils the Middle East’s top 100 CEOs 2023

Forbes Middle East has released its third annual list of the Top 100 CEOs in the Middle East, spotlighting the business heads that are running the region’s biggest and most influential homegrown companies. Combined, the 100 CEOs managed revenues of over $1 trillion in 2022. Their firms are collectively worth more than $5 trillion.Amin H. Nasser, President and CEO of the world’s largest crude oil producer Saudi Aramco, topped the ranking. ADNOC Group’s Sultan Al Jaber and Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group rounded up the top three spots. These three executives have retained their ranking for the third consecutive year.The 2023 cohort represents leaders from 22 nationalities. Emiratis dominated with 23 entries, followed by Egyptians with 19 and Saudis with 18. These three groups comprise 60% of the ranking, signaling positive momentum for localization. With 17 CEOs, the banking sector claimed the most entries, followed closely by real estate and construction with 14 and telecommunications with nine. Among the top 10 alone, six different industries are represented, illustrating the sector diversity in top leadership.Against the recurring priority of sustainability this year, the leaders on this ranking have accelerated their corporate sustainability measures to align with global commitments. Majid Al Futtaim – Holding’s Ahmed Galal Ismail led the group to achieve an 82% reduction in single-use plastic consumption in the first half of 2023. At the COP28 held in Dubai, ADNOC Group’s Sultan Al Jaber served as the president-designate of this year’s climate change conference for global transformative climate action. Meanwhile, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority’s (DEWA) Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer intends to increase its water desalination capacity to 730 million imperial gallons per day by 2030, up from 490 million in 2023.To construct this ranking, Forbes Middle East assessed the CEOs using various metrics, including the individual's accomplishments and implemented innovations over the past year, size of their company, and their impact on their firm and the wider industry. Only CEOs of companies headquartered in MENA were considered.Top 10 CEOs In The Middle East 2023Amin H. NasserNationality: SaudiPresident & CEO, Saudi AramcoSultan Al JaberNationality: EmiratiGroup CEO & Managing Director, ADNOC GroupAhmed bin Saeed Al MaktoumNationality: EmiratiChairman & Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & GroupSaad Sherida Al-KaabiNationality: QatariDeputy Chairman, President & CEO, QatarEnergyIsam Jasem Al-SagerNationality: KuwaitiVice Chairman & Group CEO, National Bank of Kuwait (NBK Group)Nawaf S. Al-SabahNationality: KuwaitiDeputy Chairman & CEO, Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC)Sultan Ahmed Bin SulayemNationality: EmiratiGroup Chairman & CEO, DP World Olayan AlwetaidNationality: SaudiGroup CEO, stc GroupSyed Basar ShuebNationality: EmiratiCEO & Managing Director, International Holding Company (IHC)Hatem DowidarNationality: EgyptianGroup CEO, e&

Average 1,700 posts with corporate data surface on the dark web monthly

Kaspersky Digital Footprint Intelligence team has over the past two years uncovered almost 40,000 dark web posts about the sale of internal corporate information. These posts – created by cybercriminals – are used to buy, sell, or distribute data stolen from various companies through cyberattacks. The number of posts offering access to corporate infrastructure has seen a 16% increase compared to the previous year. Worldwide, every third company was referenced in dark web posts associated with the sales of data or access.Kaspersky Digital Footprint Intelligence experts observed an average of 1,731 dark web messages per month about the sale, purchase and distribution of internal corporate databases and documents, totaling almost 40,000 messages between January 2022 and November 2023. The monitored resources encompassed dark web forums, blogs, and also shadow Telegram channels.Another category of data available on the dark web is access to corporate infrastructures allowing cybercriminals to purchase pre-existing access to a company, enabling attackers to streamline their efforts. According to Kaspersky’s research, more than 6,000 dark web messages have been advertising such offers in January 2022-November 2023. Currently, cybercriminals are increasingly offering access, with the average number of corresponding monthly messages witnessing a 16% rise from 246 in 2022 to 286 in 2023. While the number of messages may not seem high, it doesn’t diminish the potential magnitude of the issue. With the looming threat of supply chain attacks in the coming year, even breaches targeting smaller companies could escalate to impact numerous individuals and businesses globally.“Not every message on the dark web contains new and unique information. Some offers can be repetitive; for instance, when a malicious actor aims to quickly sell data, they may post it on different underground forums to reach a larger audience of potential criminal buyers. Moreover, certain databases might be combined and presented as new. For instance, there are ‘combolists’ - databases that aggregate information from various previously leaked databases, such as passwords for a specific email address,” explains Anna Pavlovskaya, expert at Kaspersky Digital Footprint Intelligence.To further enhance security of businesses worldwide, Kaspersky Digital Footprint Intelligence experts tracked mentions of 700 random companies related to corporate data being compromised in 2022, providing information about cyberthreats originating from the dark web.The findings revealed that 233 organizations – one-in-three companies – were mentioned in dark web posts related to the illicit exchange of data. These references specifically involved topics such as data breaches, stolen access to infrastructure, or compromised accounts.More statistics about dark web discussions are presented on Securelist, while the Kaspersky Digital Footprint Intelligence website provides a comprehensive incident response playbook for handling leak-related incidents. To avoid threats related to data breaches, it is worth implementing the following security measures:Swift identification and response to data breaches is essential. Those facing a crisis should start by verifying the source of the breach, cross-referencing internal data, and assessing the information’s credibility. Essentially, a company must gather evidence to confirm the attack occurred and that data has been compromised.Continuously monitoring the dark web allows for the detection of both fake and real breach-related posts, as well as the tracking of spikes in malicious activity. Given the resource-intensive nature of dark web monitoring, external experts often take on this responsibility.It's beneficial to prepare a communications plan in advance to interact with clients, journalists, and government agencies.Developing comprehensive incident response plans that include designated teams, communication channels, and protocols allows for the prompt and effective handling of such incidents when they occur.

Win AED 1mln at Majid Al Futtaim malls this DSF

Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, is offering one lucky shopper the spectacular opportunity to become part of the millionaires’ club during the ongoing Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF).Customers can enter the draw in the most fun way possible – by indulging in a shopping spree at Mall of the Emirates or City Centre malls in Dubai.The millionaire campaign runs until 14 January to coincide with DSF. Shoppers at Mall of the Emirates, City Centre Mirdif, City Centre Deira, City Centre Me’aisem and City Centre Shindagha are eligible to enter.To enter this draw, visitors who spend Dh300 or more during the campaign period need to scan their receipts on the SHARE Rewards app. This automatically enters them into the draw to win the grand prize of AED 1 million. One e-coupon will be granted for every receipt worth AED 300 and above – whether single or cumulative – made at any of the participating stores at the mentioned malls.The grand prize winner will be announced at the end of Dubai Shopping festival through a draw. This marks the first time that Majid Al Futtaim malls is rewarding winners in cash instead of SHARE Reward points.

HOP welcomes Tahir Kheshgi as Digital Director, Mohamed Ballout SM Head

Home of Performance (HOP) has welcomed Tahir Kheshgi as Digital Director and Mohamed Ballout as Head of Social Media. The appointment reflects the agency's commitment to enhancing its digital capabilities and social media presence. Both Kheshgi and Ballout bring valuable experience and skills to the agency. Tahir Kheshgi's background as the former Head of Digital at Americana showcases his expertise in leading digital transformation initiatives. His successful track record in driving digital innovation and growth aligns with Home of Performance's plans to expand its digital offerings. Kheshgi is expected to play a crucial role in strengthening the senior leadership team alongside Managing Director John von Hofsten and Strategy Director Warren LaRey.Mohamed Ballout, who previously worked at AKQA, has established himself as a social media leader. His knowledge of the social landscape and proficiency in crafting engaging campaigns position him well to lead and accelerate Home of Performance's social media growth. As Head of Social Media, Ballout will leverage his creative vision and strategic thinking to enhance the impact and reach of the agency.John von Hofsten, the Managing Director at Home of Performance, expressed enthusiasm about the new additions to the team. He highlighted their exceptional talent, proven track records, and passion for excellence, emphasizing how Kheshgi's strategic leadership and digital expertise, along with Ballout's creative spark and social media know-how, will contribute significantly to the agency's growth and innovation. The management is confident that both Kheshgi and Ballout will play pivotal roles in propelling Home of Performance to greater heights.

Phishing scammers lure victims with fake giveaways: Kaspersky

“The most wonderful time of the year” is known for its generous sales, holiday cheer, and the notion of miracles around the corner. Unfortunately, it’s also a hot time for scammers, who steal personal data and money, precisely when everyone is having fun and letting their guard down.At this time of year, Kaspersky experts identified cases of phishing built around the Christmas and New Year season of giving: scammers are disguising the theft of personal data and funds as holiday giveaways.Phishing scams targeting personal accountsSome phishing sites aim to obtain data by infiltrating users' personal social media and messenger accounts under various guises. They request information and once it is submitted, it is transmitted directly into the hands of the scammers.One of these phishing incidents was recently reported in Singapore. Scammers created a sophisticated phishing site targeting individuals with the promise of payments in the new year purportedly from Singapore's Ministry of Finance. This deceptive site was designed to mimic the ministry's branding, giving it an air of credibility. To receive the payout, visitors were prompted to enter their Telegram account details.Once the user enters the Telegram account details, fraudsters can then gain full access to the account, potentially leading to the digital identity theft, access to private conversations, and the ability to impersonate the victim for further malicious activity.Phishing sites mimicking banks for the New Year giveawaysAnother phishing technique designed to trap those who believe in miracles is a lottery featuring banks. As New Year's Eve is a time of lucrative offers and gifts, fraudsters have created phishing sites that invite users to participate in giveaways aimed at obtaining victims' bank details to steal from them.  One instance of the New Year's scam was specifically targeted at Filipino citizens. In this scheme, individuals were lured to a website where they were enticed to spin a wheel for a chance to win a sum of money. After the spin, users were shown their supposed winnings and asked to select between various banks where the alleged funds could be deposited. After they made the selection, users found themselves on phishing sites designed to mimic legitimate online banking interfaces. This deceptive tactic was the final move in the scam, aiming to swindle the victims by gaining access to their banking credentials and ultimately their funds.Fake New Year's crypto gift-boxes with no Pokémon  The stakes in the cryptocurrency market are very high. Stealing a wallet with even a few tenths of a bitcoin already brings scammers significant profit, so they put a lot of effort into creating believable phishing emails and sites, thus making it harder for the user to notice something wrong.The fraudsters in one such case created a phishing page copying the official offer of, a website that allows users to convert physical collectibles into tokens. The original site invited users to register and purchase a New Year's Eve box containing a Pokémon card. So, scammers created a phishing page with the same offer, however, to receive the surprise box, visitors had to connect a crypto wallet, resulting in the theft of their funds. “Scammers are inventive and cunning. In response we need to double check all those special offers that come through from unknown emails. Luckily, we can have a reliable ally here – a comprehensive cybersecurity solution that will protect personal data and money, and prevent malicious actors from stealing our holiday” Comments Olga Svistunova, Senior Web Content analyst at Kaspersky.To avoid scams connected to the season of giving, Kaspersky experts share some simple tips:Verify the source. Before engaging with any special offer, verify the legitimacy of the source. If it's from a known brand or organization, check their official website or social media channels to confirm the giveaway campaigns.Type the URL into the address bar.  Don’t open the link from the email: it could be a phishing link. Whenever there is a need to open a web site, it is always better to type its URL into the address bar avoiding any links in email.Look for the red flags in the offer. Be wary of offers that seem too good to be true, like winning a large sum of money or expensive prizes with little to no effort. This is especially tricky when it comes to cryptocurrency transactions: scammers will do their best to make an offer look valid.Do not share personal information. Legitimate giveaways rarely ask for sensitive personal information upfront. Be cautious of any request for details like your bank account numbers, passwords, or Social Security numbers.

UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar lead Middle East's Quantum computing drive

The rapid advancement of quantum computing has ignited a fierce race for the next era of computing innovation globally and across the Middle East, according to new research from Frost & Sullivan. While the United States and China hold the top positions in quantum computing and cryptography development, the growing prominence of quantum computing in the Middle East region will be discussed in detail at Intersec 2024, which takes place from 16-18 January 2024 at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).Quantum computing has the potential to revolutionise cybersecurity by improving secure communication with advanced encryption. Yet, it also challenges current encryption methods, so preparing for this quantum era is vital to protect data from new risks.Although quantum computing is still in its early stages, it will likely impact fields like scientific research, cryptography, finance, supply chains, logistics, and drug discovery as it develops further.Speaking ahead of the Cyber Security Conference at Intersec 2024, Rajarshi Dhar, Principal Consultant, Security, Frost & Sullivan, said: “Quantum computing represents a revolutionary leap in computational power, promising to transform industries. While still nascent, this technology holds immense potential for solving complex problems faster and more efficiently than classical computers. As we continue to advance our understanding and capabilities in quantum computing, it is clear that this field will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of science, technology, and society at large.”Frost & Sullivan's analysis predicts a significant surge in the quantum cryptography market over the next five years, with more than half of the revenue expected to come from businesses, followed by the government and defence sectors.“This growth is propelled by the imminent threat posed by the commercialisation of quantum computers, making current security and cryptography outdated. Upgrading security systems is crucial, requiring future-proof cryptography capable of withstanding both quantum and sophisticated attacks,” Dhar added.Although the United States holds the top position in quantum computing and cryptography development, China is following closely behind and is anticipated to impact technological advancement significantly in the future.Meanwhile, the UAE has also been in a race for quantum computing and quantum cryptography development with its own Quantum Research Centre and UAE’s institutes working towards productisation. In September 2023, the Technology Innovation Institute developed cryptography estimators that evaluate the security of Post-Quantum Cryptography (PQC) schemes.Similarly, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are making substantial steps in the quantum computing space with a US$ 10 million investment from the Qatari government towards the Qatar Centre for Quantum Computing. Saudi Arabia recognises the need to establish the Quantum Computing Council for Saudi Arabia.The implications of quantum computing will be discussed in detail at the two-day Intersec 2024 Cyber Security Conference, which will gather experts, thought leaders, practitioners, and innovators as they collectively chart the course for cyber security excellence in the years to come.Other notable regional and international speakers include His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Al Kuwaiti, Head of Cyber Security, UAE Government; Fadhel Al Marri, Security Systems Officer, Dubai Electronic Security Center; Craig Jones, Director – Cybercrime, Interpol, Singapore; and Sergi Marcen, Secretary of Telecommunications & Digital Transformation, Government of Catalonia, Spain.Grant Tuchten, Portfolio Director at Intersec organiser Messe Frankfurt Middle East, said: "The Cyber Security Conference allows the industry to deepen its understanding of cyber security risks and enhance cooperation among stakeholders to counter these risks effectively. Intersec will also host world-leading cyber security exhibitors within the in{:cyber} Pavilion, including Fortinet, Moro Hub, Alpha Data, and ManageEngine."The Intersec 2024 in{:cyber} Pavilion features the Hack Arena, a three-day challenge for Middle East cybersecurity experts hosted by Malcrove Participants demonstrate skills in web exploitation, digital forensics, cryptography, exploit development, and reverse engineering. Also, the Intersec Innovators Arena (IIA), powered by Unipreneur Inc, offers startups a platform to showcase products to potential investors.Workshops within the pavilion include the ITU-led Scenario Based Exercise, analysing attack scenarios, and the Table Top Exercise, simulating cyber-attacks on financial institutions.Intersec's 25th edition, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansoor Bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, marks a quarter-century of innovation in security tech. With 1,000 exhibitors from 60 nations and 45,000 trade visitors, the event is a global hub for security, safety, and fire protection industries.

Penguin Media inks MoU with SkyBlue Media

Penguin Media -a subsidiary of 9Yards Communications- a premier outdoor advertising specialist offering innovative brand visibility solutions in Abu Dhabi, has today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with SkyBlue Media Group, a Malaysian company specializing in digital out-of-home (OOH) marketing services, with the intent of redefining the future of outdoor media advertising across Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.Under the agreement, Penguin and SkyBlue will collaborate to manage several key advertising locations, with this being SkyBlue’s first move into the Abu Dhabi and Al Ain markets. This follows an agreement between the Malaysian outdoor advertising company with the Road and Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai. Under the partnership contract with RTA, SkyBlue has the exclusive advertising and naming rights for RTA’s 1,400 buses, 886 bus shelters, 523 mupis, and 22 bus stations.Commenting on the MoU, Hussam Al Mulhem, Founder and CEO of Penguin Media, said: “We are delighted to formalize this strategic partnership with SkyBlue Media, a truly pioneering company with over 15 years of experience in Malaysia’s outdoor advertising sector, and one that continues to be at the vanguard of its industry – transforming the OOH market by integrating new technology such as AI.”“This collaboration marks a pivotal moment in Penguin Media’s journey, combining the power of traditional outdoor advertising with cutting-edge technology. This synergy exemplifies our commitment to being pioneering industry leaders, delivering unparalleled value to our clients and a seamless integration of outdoor advertising experiences – for both advertisers and consumers alike,” Al Mulhem added.Also commenting on the partnership, Dato Manikandamurthy Velayoudam, Group Chairman & Managing Director of SkyBlue Media Group, said: "The synergy between SkyBlue Media's OOH expertise and Penguin Media's robust local presence is poised to revolutionize outdoor advertising in Abu Dhabi. Together, our unique strengths will seamlessly blend, adding unparalleled value to the industry and transforming the advertising landscape for a truly extraordinary experience."Committed to client success and guaranteeing wide brand exposure, Penguin Media -subsidiary of 9Yards Communications- has since its inception, continued to push boundaries and employ cutting-edge technology into its service offering. It also provides a highly skilled team who are committed to transforming the vision of a company’s advertising needs into compelling visual reality.

AudioSwim partners with EMPIRE Distribution

AudioSwim, Dubai-based avant-garde music management agency, has partnered with EMPIRE Distribution, a global force in independent music distribution. This strategic collaboration is set to redefine talent management, providing artists with unparalleled freedom, fair opportunities, and a transparent journey.In a bold move towards global impact and cultural fusion, AudioSwim has created a unique platform for artists to shape the future sound. With a focus on non-exclusive management, strategic marketing, brand development, and personalized support, AudioSwim is poised to lead a new era in the music industry.Key Features of the partnership:Non-exclusive management deals: AudioSwim's commitment to artist freedom is highlighted by its non-exclusive management deals, enabling artists to explore and innovate without constraints.Strategic marketing and brand development: AudioSwim will provide artists with expert services in strategic marketing and brand development, ensuring enhanced visibility and a lasting impact.Strategic negotiation: AudioSwim, leveraging its extensive industry network, will engage in strategic negotiations to secure advantageous deals for artists,   opening doors to collaborations and opportunities beyond the ordinary.Personalized support and consultation: Artists partnering with AudioSwim can expect personalized support and consultation, creating an environment where artistic vision meets strategic advancement."We at AudioSwim are thrilled to embark on this transformative journey with EMPIRE Distribution. This partnership signifies a new era for artist empowerment and the global impact of music. We are excited about the possibilities that lie ahead, and we are particularly proud to introduce a diverse array of talented artists under our wing, including Sandra Hussien coming from the emerging musical hub of Denmark, Laaawwd hailing from the vibrant music scene of Texas, Flashy OTR representing the dynamic energy of New York, and Kir bringing his unique sound from the streets of Philadelphia. We are committed to crafting success stories, redefining talent management, and shaping the future sound. The fusion of cultures and musical styles from around the world is something we are eager to explore and amplify. This collaboration is a testament to our dedication to providing artists with freedom, fair opportunities, and a transparent journey. We believe in the power of music to connect people globally, and we look forward to creating a rich tapestry of opportunities and resources for our artists to thrive creatively and commercially," said Albert M. Carter, CEO, AudioSwim.

Massive Media launches as the first online pr agency in the Middle East

 Massive Media was launched today as the first fully-fledged online Public Relations (PR) agency in the Middle East region, committed to delivering essential PR services tailored for startups and SMBs.With a mission to empower entrepreneurs and drive business growth, Massive Media introduces affordable, accessible, and reliable PR services tailored to the unique needs of emerging businesses.The entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Middle East, especially the UAE, experiences unprecedented growth, Massive Media emerges as a strategic ally for startups and SMBs, offering comprehensive PR solutions designed to enhance brand visibility, establish credibility, foster growth, and attract new customers and investors."At Massive Media, we support and understand the dynamic nature of the startup ecosystem in the Middle East. We believe that every startup is founded by an entrepreneur with a unique vision and the determination to bring about change. Our aim is to amplify their voices, ensuring that their stories and innovations receive the attention and recognition they deserve," said Mohammad Shaban, Founder and Managing Director of Massive Media.Massive Media aims to introduce intrapreneurs to the transformative power of PR, helping them navigate the competitive business environment. To this end, the agency offers free press release distribution, editing, and monitoring services, ensuring that emerging businesses have the tools and resources to effectively get their initial press releases published.Massive Media also provides a diverse range of PR services, focusing primarily on strategic communications, reputation management, media training, social media management, and digital services. Each service is chosen to address the distinct challenges and opportunities faced by startups in the Middle East, enabling them to navigate the complex business landscape with confidence and agility.The strength of Massive Media lies in its exceptional team of PR executives, strategists, copywriters, translators, and designers who collectively possess over two decades of experience within international agencies in the UAE, KSA, and Qatar. Their deep insights and nuanced understanding of the social, cultural, and economic intricacies of the Arab world enable Massive Media to offer strategic PR solutions that resonate with the diverse audiences of the region."Our team's profound understanding of the Middle East complexities positions Massive Media as a trusted partner for startups and SMBs seeking to establish a compelling brand presence. We leverage our expertise to craft tailored PR strategies that drive tangible results and foster sustainable growth”, said Samer Mohamed, Operations Manager, Massive Media.Startups and SMBs across the region are invited to explore the comprehensive range of PR services offered by Massive Media. By leveraging the agency's expertise and resources, emerging businesses can unlock their full potential, establish a compelling brand presence, and seize new opportunities in the vibrant regional market.

Stuart Brazier appointed CEO of Advanced Inhalation Rituals

Stuart Brazier began his new appointment as CEO of Advanced Inhalation Rituals (“AIR”), the global leader in shisha and heat-not-burn products, yesterday. He succeeds Reinhard Mieck, who has been CEO since 2021, who assumes the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors for AIR.Since 2021 AIR has grown from the global leader in shisha molasses, built around a single brand, Al Fakher, to a consumer-centric, lifestyle company built around a portfolio of leading brands and platforms. In a market which is demonstrating strong growth, AIR has considerably grown its capabilities, extended its brand leadership and international footprint, and successfully launched OOKA, the charcoal free heat-not-burn shisha device which is revolutionizing shisha markets. AIR has transformed into a company with an exciting brand portfolio and an expanding D2C business to complement and supplement its existing go-to-market models.Stuart Brazier has been with the business as CFO since 2019 and is ideally suited to take on the CEO role. Stuart has been instrumental in shaping and growing the business into the company it is today: the Group supplies over 100 countries with high quality branded shisha molasses and enjoys almost 50% share of the shisha category in the markets in which it operates. With a net turnover of over USD 400mn and an EBITDA of circa. USD 150mn, the Group consistently delivers double digit top line growth per annum and continues to invest significant amounts in developing next generation products for the category.Previously, Stuart spent 22 years with BAT in various general management and finance roles and finally as Head of Finance for BAT’s Europe and North Africa division, a circa. £6.0 billion net turnover business unit that delivered annual profits of circa £2.3bn to the Group.Bassem Lotfy will succeed Stuart and is appointed CFO. Bassem joined AIR in July 2020 after a long and successful career at British American Tobacco, where he last held the role of Finance Director, Central Europe North, the second biggest revenue and profit generator for the BAT Group. The AIR Group operates in a $15-20bn market which is forecast to grow at 7-10% CAGR driven by social and cultural trends. AIR’s brands include global market leader Al Fakher, Shisha Kartel, the fastest growing brand in Europe, the tobacco free Zodiac brand of shisha molasses as well as the category redefining charcoal free OOKA system. AIR is larger than its next 4 competitors combined.

Dubai Duty Free leverages Alipay+ solutions

Dubai Duty Free, one of the world’s largest travel retail operators, today announced its partnership with Alipay+ to power a seamless travel and checkout experience for international visitors.Consumers from South Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Mongolia, Italy as well as Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao are now able to access promotions and pay with their home digital apps at duty-free stores at Dubai and Al Maktoum International airports.Dubai Duty Free is among the latest retailers and tourism facilities that leverage Alipay+ cross-border payment technology and marketing solutions to boost convenience and efficiency for international visitors.Through simple integration, Alipay+ e-wallet and bank partners that are accepted across the UAE include Alipay, AlipayHK, MPay (Macao SAR, China), GCash from the Philippines, Kakao Pay?Naver Pay and Toss Pay from South Korea, OCBC from Singapore, TrueMoney from Thailand, Hipay from Mongolia and Tinaba from Italy.In Dubai, the vast majority of international tourists are now able to pay for their taxi fares, and shop cashless at big malls in downtown and at airports with their home e-wallets and banking apps, in home currencies. Upon scanning the QR code at merchants’ end or pulling out their individual QR code to be scanned, the purchase would be completed within seconds, with transaction details displayed at their home digital app in real time.The partnership also comes as Dubai Duty Free celebrates its 40th Anniversary in December by unveiling a series of promotions and pre-Christmas deals for major categories including perfumes, cosmetics, liquor, watches, jewelry, confectionery, and leather goods.Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman & CEO, Colm McLoughlin commented: “"At Dubai Duty Free, we strive to provide a convenient and excellent shopping experience for our customers. We are therefore very excited about this partnership with Alipay+ to provide a seamless travel and checkout experience for them. For key travelers from Asia and Europe, it is of great advantage to be able to use their choice of payment, which they already use at home, without any exchange of cash.”Guoming Cheng, general manager of Ant Group in Europe and Middle East“We are thrilled to launch Alipay+ cross-border payment technology and marketing solutions at fast-growing global retailers like Dubai Duty Free to support convenient digital payment options so that international passengers can enjoy a seamless experience just the same way they do at home. From Dubai taxis to Dubai Duty Free and more tourism facilities, we are looking forward to upgrading the checkout experience across the region and support the growth of smart travel.”

Mastering the digital wave: Injeel Moti unveils Catch Communications' blueprint

In the 21st century, marked by unprecedented technological advancements, every sector is under the influence of digital transformation. Public Relations, in particular, must seamlessly integrate with social media and adapt to the ever-evolving tech landscape. In today's interview, we sat down with Injeel Moti, the Founder & Managing Director at Catch Communications & Catch Academy, to gain insights into how her brand is making strides in the year 2024. Moti sheds light on the crucial synergy between Public Relations and social media, emphasizing the brand's adeptness in embracing new digital innovations for continued success. Excerpts:With the growing importance of digital channels and social media, how is your PR agency planning to leverage new communication technologies and platforms by 2024?We are big on learning / training and staying on top of what’s happening around us not just regionally but internationally too. Also employing a young team who are adept and stay on top of new digital innovations comes in very handy. We typically kick off the year with a series of training sessions that are carried out by seasoned professionals, which allows the team to absorb, learn and incorporate creativity and innovation in campaigns.What strategies are in place to enhance client visibility and reputation management in the evolving digital landscape of 2024?As a business we have continually evolved with the changing needs of the market and will keep that up in 2024 too. Any successful communication campaign today is a multi-platform blend of different tactics and we ensure all our client campaigns encompass a variety of marketing tactics that help penetrate their target customers segments in the most effective way possible.With the rise of influencer marketing, how is your PR agency incorporating influencer partnerships into your communication strategies by 2024? What metrics do you prioritize to measure the impact of influencer collaborations on brand perception and audience engagement in 2024?Influencer partnerships have been an active part of our campaigns for clients for several years now. The influencer landscape, however, has evolved tremendously; we have gone from looking at following count to engagement and perceptions, the shift of mega influencers to micro, nano and non-traditional influencers has switched up things drastically. A lot of our campaigns today focus on non-traditional influencers who may not fit into a conventional mold, but are gaining popularity and reshaping the future of influencer marketing. Nontraditional influencers are individuals who possess a following and have the ability to influence their followers’ behaviors. Unlike traditional influencers, they may not have millions of followers, but they possess a dedicated and engaged audience that trusts their opinions.Having said that, each brand is unique and therefore must associate with faces that represent them in the best manner possible, which is where we come in.

R/GA Global CSO Tom Morton resigns after eight years

Tom Morton has left his role as the Global Chief Strategy Officer at R/GA and is embarking on a new chapter in his career. He joined R/GA in 2016, initially serving as the US head of strategy before climbing the ranks to become the Chief Strategy Officer, US, and eventually the Global Chief Strategy Officer.In his LinkedIn post, he writes: “After eight remarkable years, I'm moving on from R/GA. R/GA's purpose is to design businesses and brands for a more human future. And I think we lived up to it.We made a success of radical collaboration between different forms of strategy: brand, consulting, data, media, research, social, user experience. Our brand consulting work always led to interface and innovation. User behavior, search and data signals changed our campaign work. The insights really did come from the intersections.”He further mentioned about his achievements, writing: “We developed strategy for more technology clients than any other company: Airbnb, Amazon, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, Samsung, Twitter, Uber, Verizon. We invested in a better future, backing ventures programs for startups in data privacy and women's sports, bringing social responsibility to media buys, successfully campaigning to reform criminal records laws that hurt millions of New Yorkers.”Morton further expressed his future plans, which include writing, consulting, and helping others build better future for businesses and brands. His career in the United States began in 2011 when he joined Havas as the chief strategy officer. Subsequently, he held roles at Goodby Silverstein & Partners and co:collective. Before making the move to the US, Morton worked in London at TBWA\Worldwide and later at Publicis London, both times as the chief strategy officer.Reflecting on his time at R/GA, Morton expressed gratitude to key figures at R/GA, including founder Bob Greenberg, former Global Chief Strategy Officer Barry Wacksman, former Global Chief Creative Officer Nick Law, and former R/GA president, US, Sean Lyons, for providing him with a "career-defining opportunity."

Amr Diab joins OPPO as MEA brand ambassador

Global technology brand OPPO has announced renowned recording artist Amr Diab as the brand ambassador for the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region. This partnership between OPPO and Amr Diab is aimed at reinforcing the connection between innovation and creativity. The focus will be on highlighting OPPO's portrait-centric smartphone, the Reno series.OPPO's portrait photography technology, recognized as "The Portrait Expert," has achieved notable success, with over 100 million devices sold since its introduction in 2019. The collaboration with Amr Diab aims to marry technological expertise with the emotional depth of music, underlining the brand's dedication to offering inspiring and elegant experiences for its users.Chi Zhou, President of OPPO MEA, explained that Amr Diab was a natural choice as the MEA Brand Ambassador due to his groundbreaking and visionary contributions to the music industry. The collaboration signifies the amalgamation of innovation, passion, and a commitment to creating meaningful experiences.Amr Diab stated: "I am honored to collaborate with OPPO, a brand that resonates with my commitment to breaking barriers and pursuing excellence. Together, we aim to create meaningful experiences for users, blending the worlds of art and innovation."The collaboration goes beyond the initial announcement, with a series of projects planned throughout the year. These projects include exclusive events, digital engagements, and a dynamic blend of technology, photography, and music. The overarching goal is to craft a memorable and inspiring journey for OPPO users, enriching their overall experience with the brand.

Geely Auto appoints Quill as strategic and creative partner

Geely Auto Middle East has announced the appointment of Quill, an integrated marketing communication agency, as its strategic and creative partner. This collaboration aims not only to develop comprehensive regional creative and communication campaigns but also to manage high-quality social media content, enhancing Geely Auto Middle East's digital presence.Cook Xue, representing Geely Auto Middle East, underscores the commitment to crafting a mobility experience resonating with the local culture. This signals a dedication to understanding the unique fabric of the Middle East and ensuring Geely's creative ethos reflects the region's spirit and aspirations.Maan Bou Dargham, CEO of Quill, expresses the agency's honor in being entrusted with Geely Auto Middle East's creative and strategic ambitions. Quill's recent expansion with new offices in Beirut, Riyadh, and Jeddah positions them well to provide an integrated communication approach for Geely Auto.Leveraging Quill's extensive expertise across departments and aiming to drive Geely Auto's brand growth indicates a holistic partnership. The emphasis on a bespoke, strategic framework and the application of Quill's IQ model (Insights, Imagination, Integration) highlights their commitment to delivering innovative solutions for Geely Auto.The Geely Bidding Committee's comprehensive and competitive evaluation process led to Quill's selection. Tony Saade, CSO at Quill, outlines the agency's approach focused on creating engaging customer experiences and enhancing Geely Auto's brand presence across all channels.This partnership signifies a substantial expansion of Quill's client portfolio, marking a new phase for both Quill and Geely Auto Middle East in terms of strategic communication and creative endeavors

Invest Qatar launches Ai.SHA, an Azure Open AI GPT-powered chatbot

The Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (Invest Qatar) has partnered with Microsoft to develop Ai.SHA, an innovative AI-powered assistant harnessing GPT capabilities through the Azure OpenAI service. This groundbreaking initiative positions Invest Qatar as one of the first investment promotion agencies (IPA) in the world to adopt advanced technology, paving the way for transformative changes in professional interactions between investors and businesses in Qatar.The introduction of Ai.SHA underscores Invest Qatar’s commitment to advance its cutting-edge digital offering, by harnessing the potential of innovative technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to create a unique experience for investors. Ai.SHA serves as a comprehensive resource for informed decision-making in business endeavours. It addresses inquiries on Qatar's business opportunities, investment ecosystem, business setup and expansion amongst much more. It also leverages data from partner entities, including the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Qatar Financial Centre, Qatar Science and Technology Park and Qatar Free Zones Authority.This initiative builds on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Invest Qatar and Microsoft last year. The MoU shares the common goal of fostering innovation within Qatar's digital sector and advancing a knowledge-based economy in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030 (QNV 2030).Hamad Rashid Al-Naimi, Strategy Manager at Invest Qatar, said: "We are confident that Ai.SHA will open new avenues for interested investors and streamline the decision-making process, enhancing its accessibility and efficiency. We are always interested in bringing new ways to innovate the investment landscape and Ai.SHA is a testament to Invest Qatar's unwavering commitment to creating a supportive and conducive environment for investors.”Amr Samir, Public Sector Director, Microsoft Qatar, said: "We are thrilled to collaborate with Invest Qatar to launch their first AI-powered assistant, an unprecedented leap into transformative opportunities for Qatar's investment scene. This collaboration showcases the game-changing impact of generative AI, redefining how investors and entrepreneurs engage with opportunities and strengthening Qatar’s position as a global investment hub."The launch of Ai.SHA was also supported by Information & Communication Technology W.L.L. (ICT), a Microsoft partner, and Applab, a Qatari company specialising in online platform development. ICT was responsible for designing and implementing the chatbot's foundational framework, including complex natural language processing algorithms, conversation flows and data integration. Applab enhanced the chatbot's user interface and integration with the website, while Invest Qatar conducted in-depth research and data verification to create Ai.SHA's distinctive visual identity.The introduction of Ai.SHA marks a significant milestone in Invest Qatar's expanding digital investment relations offering. The Agency recently unveiled the "Invest Qatar Gateway," a pioneering digital platform tailored for investors in Qatar. This free online resource serves foreign investors and companies by streamlining the search for new business partnerships, uncovering opportunities in both public and private sectors and providing essential resources to foster the development of businesses in Qatar.Through the platform, investors gain access to a comprehensive database of current tenders, enabling them to connect with fellow platform members and engage directly with the Invest Qatar Investor Relations team. This direct line of communication ensures tailored support for establishing or expanding their business ventures across various sectors.

Unveiling tomorrow: Natasha Hatherall-Shawe on TishTash's 2024 vision

In an era dominated by digital channels and social media, the role of public relations has evolved significantly. In this interview with Adgully Middle East, Natasha Hatherall-Shawe, the Founder and CEO of TishTash Communications, shares insights into the agency's journey and strategies for embracing new communication technologies by 2024. As the founder of TishTash Communications, Natasha Hatherall-Shawe has been a trailblazer in recognizing the evolving landscape of communications. With a keen eye on the future, Natasha discusses the agency's digital prowess, its foray into new territories, and the strategies in place to navigate the dynamic digital landscape of 2024. Excerpts:With the growing importance of digital channels and social media, how is your PR agency planning to leverage new communication technologies and platforms by 2024?In my opinion, no agency can solely focus on public relations in this current era. Eight years ago, my agency, TishTash Communications, began diversifying its service offerings within the communications space. This strategic decision was driven by a clear understanding of the industry's trajectory and future direction. Today we’re a fully integrated communications agency offering traditional PR, influencer engagement, events, digital marketing, social media and content creation and design/branding under one roof. We pride ourselves on innovating; we’ve won a lot of awards which we’re proud of, and I believe our agency, TishTash Communications, stands out as one of the most robust and comprehensive integrated service providers in the region.Our agency boasts a high level of proficiency in digital and social platforms. Even within the realm of traditional PR, we've formulated a robust digital PR strategy. Constantly, we emphasize the significance of a strong digital footprint to our clients, actively educating them on maximizing these opportunities.In the contemporary landscape, more than 80% of the PR coverage we secure for our clients is online. This strategic shift aligns with the belief that bolstering online presence is paramount. Unlike print coverage, online features tend to endure over time, contributing significantly to a sustained and lasting impact.Next year I’m focusing on creating a strong affiliate offering for our agency, as this goes hand in hand with digital marketing and influencer marketing and our market is very behind compared to other global markets. I’m determined to be at the forefront as our region plays catch up. I’ve hired some brilliant talent from the UK, and we’re working on some pilots as we speak for key brands in the e-commerce space.Also, as traditional media outlets dwindle, we will see more brands and companies launch their own media outlets and content platforms so they can choose to become their own distributors. This is an area we are working on ourselves with the launch of and one we plan to drive forward in 2024.What strategies are in place to enhance client visibility and reputation management in the evolving digital landscape of 2024?Transparency and authenticity are the backbone of all our communication strategies. Social proof is everything, and earned media opportunities are key in reputation management. Proactive reputation management is about clear and consistent storytelling, news and commentary that cement a brands credibility with the public. We advocate this and a strong digital and digital PR strategy with every client we work with to drive positive results. This will come from a blend of communication tactics, including traditional PR, owned social channels and content including LinkedIn and Wikipedia, third party collaborations and also a supporting paid for strategy.With the rise of influencer marketing, how is your PR agency incorporating influencer partnerships into your communication strategies by 2024?Influencer marketing is no longer new as it’s been a part of our ecosystem for a while now, gaining in appeal after the launch of Instagram in 2010. Whilst we’ve seen its popularity explode, for our agency I’d say it’s accounted for 60% of the work we do for clients for the last 7 years. If anything, I’d say there is some movement away from influencers now after a bumpy few years with trust and ethics in this sector and I am interested to see what the next 2-3 years has in store in this area as I expect a lot of changes globally and regionally.How and what brands use influencers for is definitely changing and it will continue to evolve. As ‘influencer fatigue’ sets in, genuine customer content (User Generated Content – UGC) is a vital preponement and endorsement for social media campaigns with consumers wanting and demanding authenticity. I expect to see a lot of development and interest in this area, as I’m already having a lot more conversation about this with clients.What metrics do you prioritize to measure the impact of influencer collaborations on brand perception and audience engagement in 2024?Measurement and impact of influencer campaigns (and PR/comms as a whole being honest) is always a hot topic and one of much debate. The lack of agreed reporting and ability to assess ROI has always been one of the biggest sticking points our industry has faced and the metrics our clients required varied greatly and were largely dependent on whether a paid or barter campaign.Finally clients are looking at and listening to advice over and above follower numbers alone. We have tools and the degree of insight we are able to provide clients with today is significant and we find more want this degree of detail and want to look at engagement levels, audience insights and more.We’ve believed in the power of the micro and nano influencer for a long time and we truly are getting the best results from those with 3,000 – 30,000 followers. When it comes to the large macro influencers not only are they expensive to work with, but there is a lot of wastage in their audience in terms of hitting your target audience and their engagement levels are typically lower than that we see with the highly bought in audiences micro and nano influencers have.For many clients now it’s not about numbers at all. Unique content is what they need as it costs a lot of money to create content for them to utilize across their channels, as well as to support their messaging being out there with their target audience, and working with influencers can be a cheap way to create content. Hence, this explains the rise in User-Generated Content (UGC) we’re seeing and will continue to in the year ahead. Aligning with those who create content that represents a brand in the way it wishes to be seen is extremely important.