Network International announces Dounia Saidi as Group Chief Marketing Officer

Network International (Network), the leading enabler of digital commerce across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, has announced the appointment of Dounia Saidi as Group Chief Marketing Officer to strengthen its marketing wing. In her new role at Network, Dounia will be responsible for driving the marketing strategy for the group with a focus on brand management and the group product marketing strategy. She will lead the management and optimization of the group’s branding, public relations, communications, and events.Dounia brings over 24 years’ experience including leadership roles in business development, relationship management, and product development across leading financial services and payment solutions providers. Previously serving as Network’s Acting General Manager – Vice President for GCC and taking on various key customer-facing roles since joining Network, Dounia steps into her new leadership role with invaluable insight into the needs of banks, fintechs, and merchants across the MEA region.Nandan Mer, Group Chief Executive Officer at Network International, commented, “Dounia brings with her a wealth of proven expertise ranging from brand development to revenue generation, playing a pivotal role in positioning Network as a leading payments enabler. We are certain she will have an instrumental role in achieving the group’s ambition to become the largest, fastest growing, and most innovative payments enabler in the Middle East and Africa.”Dounia Saidi, Group Chief Marketing Officer at Network International, added, “I am excited to be stepping into the next phase of my journey with the MEA region’s most prominent payments enabler, and absolutely thrilled to be spearheading Marketing strategy for the group. With our best-in-class services, our aim is to position Network as a transformational payments powerhouse with the capacity to leverage immense opportunity across the digital payments space in growing and emerging markets.”

This Ramadan reconnect with your customers through retention marketing

Authored by: Gagan Uppal, Country Head - MENA, Xapads MediaEvery brand wants to hold onto consumers to win their trust and loyalty to develop a connection with it since the competition in the marketplaces intensifies brand owners because of increasing pressure to attract and retain customers. And there is no doubt in saying that, many brands also focus much on acquiring new customers but, I believe that the key to long-term success lies in retaining existing customers. Moreover, this is a constant concern for every advertiser because nobody would like his consumer to be a brand switcher wherein, Retention Marketing comes into the picture. A powerful retention strategy in place can really make a difference both in the brand presence and ROAS since it concentrates on engaging and nurturing long-term relationships with existing customers.Retention is one of the most critical aspects for the growth of any business since it's actually a blend of user satisfaction with the offerings of a brand which turns into user loyalty. Though brands focus on acquisition, I would like to say that they must simultaneously focus on retention as well in the early stages of campaign execution because doing so will reduce the chances of churn. This is because, if a user feels satisfied, valuable and gets catered with a better experience while trying and testing the goods/services of any brand, the possibility of returning to it get higher. Reports also say that loyal users are 5x as likely to repurchase as they become pretty aware of the brand’s offerings and USPs and often return to it to know what more it has in store (source: Microsoft). Therefore, in my opinion, holding onto the already existing user base is better as they are a huge asset for any brand and in fact, as Ramadan is around the corner, Retention Marketing can be a compelling factor for the brand’s growth and better ROAS as well. Let’s discuss the importance of retention in depth and how it does wonders for businesses. In my opinion, a customer's purchase or desired action doesn't mark the end of a sale. Instead, it's beneficial to offer related additional products through timely upselling or cross-selling based on the customer's past behaviors with the brand. By doing so, the brand can create effective recall and notify customers of suitable offerings during the upcoming festive season. Upselling, cross-selling and following up with users not only retain them but also enhance the value of their current purchase.However, sometimes a user stops using the app, resulting in churn which isn’t good for any business and to avoid this, Retention Marketing comes as a saviour. To prevent churn and grip the users’ interest in your brand, personalization coupled with automated product recommendations can do wonders for brand presence and recognition. When a user is catered with personalized offerings, he rarely switches brands in search of products that meet his expectations.I'd also like to point out that Retention complements Engagement because they have a direct and positive relationship. They both go hand in hand since user retention leads to repurchases and frequent repetitions of desired actions result in increasing user engagement rates. When a user gets the best of his needs and wants, he starts trusting the brand that drives quality engagement and often seeks to know more. This also helps marketers in analyzing their likes and dislikes and improvises user journey for a better experience and more tremendous impact. Retention Marketing not only enhances the existing and loyal user base, but also keeps them engaged by frequently executing storytelling campaigns that incorporate innovative tactics such as Rich Media Ads, Gamification, Rewards, Exclusive Deals and Discounts, and much more. Such aspects when incorporated into a campaign execution encourage users to spend some time on it even if they have been lapsed or inactive too. When existing users and inactive users also return to the brand, the user base starts enhancing which helps brands outperform their competitors and enable users to choose your brand over others. It is accurate to state that retention marketing plays a vital role in establishing long-term relationships with customers, boosting customer lifetime value, and facilitating the growth of a sustainable business.

We have 50% of leadership team driven by women; it’s a big example to many

Harsha Oberoi, Associate Director - Digital Marketing, Pivotroots.  speaks to BF FIROS, Associate Editor, AdgullyThe key to becoming a unicorn talent in the digital marketing industry is to be knowledgeable, adaptable, and always willing to learn and grow, says Harsha As the world celebrates Women's Day today, Harsha speaks to about the challenges as a woman leader, important digital marketing skills, the future of digital marketing, the challenging project she has worked on, the way she stays up-to-date with the latest trends, and gender-based stereotypes. In today's digital age, says Harsha, the demand for full-stack digital marketers is on the rise. “With businesses competing in a highly saturated market, finding individuals who can wear multiple hats and possess a diverse set of skills has become crucial for success. To stand out in the industry, it is important to do your research, stay informed on industry news, and continuously develop your skills,” she adds. Excerpts from the interview:As a successful woman in the digital marketing industry, what advice do you have for aspiring women in the UAE looking to advance in their careers?In today's digital age, the demand for full-stack digital marketers is on the rise. With businesses competing in a highly saturated market, finding individuals who can wear multiple hats and possess a diverse set of skills has become crucial for success. To stand out in the industry, it is important to do your research, stay informed on industry news, and continuously develop your skills.One way to stay ahead of the curve is by investing in your learning curve, continuously developing your skills can give you a competitive edge in the job market. Additionally, taking the initiative to be proactive can also set you apart from other candidates. This can mean taking on side projects or seeking out new opportunities for growth and development.All in all, the key to becoming a unicorn talent in the digital marketing industry is to be knowledgeable, adaptable, and always willing to learn and grow. By staying on top of industry trends and continuously developing your skills, you can position yourself as a valuable asset to any business.Can you share with us a challenging project you worked on, and how you overcame obstacles, if any, you faced during the process?Sure. Although each business comes with its own challenges, one of the cases to remember was with a well-known global credit card player in the market. The key challenge was to reach the right audience for their range of cards offered and reduce the overlaps between these audiences while increasing credit card purchases in the region.We initiated our go-to-market strategy with market penetration and growth opportunities; we tapped into the audience understanding and micro-segmentation for each product offered within the target market.Prioritization of the market and audience was the first step. This was further enhanced with competition analysis and seasonality uplift at the granular level. The change in audience mix based on trends and seasonality was the highlight, and the communication was also tailored to increase sales.To avoid any potential spillage, the planning details were meticulous. The results were astounding, with a 60% increase in brand SOV and a 50% increase in conversions. We followed a comprehensive and continuous research-insight-plan approach with a full-stack team structure as a process, but we were also ready for the agility to bring in the effectiveness from trends.How do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and changes in the digital marketing landscape, and how do you incorporate these insights into your work?Staying up-to-date with the latest trends and industry landscape is the key to growth in the ever-evolving digital marketing industry. Being a regular at reading industry news, use cases and knowing the beta products of the marketing industry with their possible outcomes across the globe definitely gives you an upper hand.A good strategy is to thoroughly understand the company and its objectives before developing strategic business development plans that incorporate the most relevant industry trends, leading to result-driven campaigns. Not every new trend would be a good match and you will have to make hard choices at times.I strongly recommend a B-I-T-E approach for most of my clients. BITE stands for laying down your core Business KPIs to build Insight-driven strategy further bringing in well-researched Trend-fits and finally driving Effective Planning. At the same time, regular discussions and brainstorming with your marketing and data teams are equally important and helpful in checking on any blind spots. Regularly check-in your brand uplifts, audience mix change, and media landscape change for positive outcomes.What do you believe are some of the most important skills for a digital marketer to have, and how have you developed and honed these skills over your career?Honestly, as a digital marketer, you play many roles and each of them are actually markedly different from one another. While the list is long, personally, I believe in five key skills:  a. staying on top of your campaign's data and insights,b. paying close attention to details,c. having a firm grasp of the business, market, and competitors,d. being open to seeking input from others to identify any blind spotse. striving for growth and learning.In my career, I have shouldered different responsibilities for different businesses, and it was in my early years that I started picking up these skills. Thanks to the diverse clientele base and the exposure that PivotRoots has been able to provide, I have grown and am able to function strongly with these skill-sets to deliver a difference and bring positive growth to the businesses I have worked with.Adapt, unlearn, learn, and grow is the mantra!How do you ensure that your team remains motivated and engaged in their work, and what steps do you take to foster a positive and collaborative team culture?To be honest, it is equally essential to work as a team player while being a leader. This helps motivate your team by bringing in the feeling of belongingness and being heard. Providing them with the opportunity to speak up, share their opinions, and work in a team environment where there is collaboration is essential.As an effective step, I have always encouraged giving co-workers and team members room to work. Appreciations and healthy discussions boost their engagements in their day-to-day work. Besides, a healthy encouragement to push them for a balanced work-life has their heart in what they do. As a good leader though, one must have their decisions backed by clear logic while delivering thoughtful criticism when necessary, and being open-minded is very important.What do you see as the future of digital marketing, especially in the UAE, and how do you believe marketers can prepare for and adapt to these changes?Digital marketing as an industry is growing exponentially across the globe, and the UAE is no different. It is a visionary acceleration that all marketers are witnessing today in the industry within the country. The pandemic has strongly accelerated the growth of the digital ecosystem, and the industry is set to mark new records with digital investments taking about 70% of the share by 2026, with total marketing spends and growth CAGR of about 30% in the next five years.Mobile will account for roughly 90% of SOV, with audience expectations constantly changing. Marketers will need to up their game as they are now competing with the last best experience their user has had and not just another business or a product or service. Tech innovations will drive effective results and planning, and marketers must be able to apply and scale innovations to boost their business growth.Have you faced any challenges as a woman leader in an otherwise male-dominated domain? If so, how have you overcome these challenges?Honestly, it has always been comparatively harder for women to gain their seat at the table. It truly depends on the organisation, and there are still a few stereotypical companies out there, staffed by women but the leadership is always led by men at the top management positions. However, the times are changing, and we are seeing more women in positions of power. The change is visible, especially in young and dynamic companies.Luckily, as part of PivotRoots, a highly dynamic and young company that truly believes in women's growth and leadership and values their experience, thoughts, and capabilities, workplace stereotypes are something that I haven't come across. We have 50% of our leadership team driven by women, and I believe this in itself is a big example to many companies out there!Despite all the hype about gender-neutrality, gender-based stereotypes are deeply ingrained in societies transcending geographical boundaries. How pervasive such stereotypes are in the media industry? How do you think such stereotypes can be dealt with?Well, there are still gender stereotypes at play in many workplaces, primarily promoting men's growth in taking the lead while women are only allowed to take care of the team and remain a team player. This puts women in a difficult position.Moreover, men generally don’t get the struggle that women go through at times in order to be successful in business and life. Companies need to staff capable and prepared women and have faith in their talent. Offering equal pay and benefits and growth opportunities is surely weaving the way for organisational growth in the coming days. While professional women need to have each other’s backs, be cognizant of our interactions with each other, and allow our greatness to shine. After all – Together We Are Stronger.

Abu Dhabi Cycling Club gives a boost to sports tourism in the Emirate

The Abu Dhabi Cycling Club recently announced the launch of an initiative to attract sports tourists, particularly cyclists and their families from all over the world. The aim is to strengthen the position of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi as a global tourism destination for bicycles, especially after obtaining the title “Bike City” label from the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).The Abu Dhabi Cycling Club signed a memorandum of understanding with Wilver, a leading European company in the field of sports tourism, specializing in the field of bicycles, to provide tour packages and programs to attract athletes and world champions from different countries of the world to the UAE. This is in line with Abu Dhabi’s vision of introducing advanced sports tracks and facilities, as well as tourist, entertainment and hospitality places, and consolidates the club’s efforts to encourage sports tourism.His Excellency Matar Suhail Al-Yabhouni, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Abu Dhabi Cycling Club, said that sport has turned into industry and commerce and entered the world of the economy. Sports events and tournaments have become festivals and events in which there is entertainment and fun that attracts fans. The concept of “sports tourism” is a real wealth in many countries that have invested in sports and enabled their economy to attract visitors to their stadiums, tournaments and recreational sports events.He added that the agreement stems from the keenness of the club and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council to attract athletes and fans of cycling and their families, thus contributing to stimulating tourism, as well as introducing the aesthetics of the cities that host these events.Al-Nakhira Al-Khaili, Executive Director of the Abu Dhabi Cycling Club, added: “Our wise leadership is aware of the importance of sport and its pivotal role in public health and bringing people together. This is the culmination of a clear strategy for the position we aspire to reach.“Today, we are proud of the sports facilities and landmarks that were built according to the highest international standards, for example, the paths and tracks, whether flat or mountainous, which are among the best in the world in terms of their conformity with all specifications of security and safety, in addition to passing through different tourist sites and areas. It contributes to introducing cyclists to the urban development that the country has reached.”Talal Al Hashemi, Executive Director of the Sports Development Sector at the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, appreciated the interest of the Abu Dhabi Cycling Club and the Wilver company in signing the memorandum, which will contribute to the development and strengthening of efforts to support the sports tourism fields in the country, stressing that he is the confident that the two parties will harness all their capabilities.He said: “The Abu Dhabi Cycling Club is a national sports institution that aims to support the needs of national development and encourages all members of society to practice sports for its important role in promoting community health.”Wilfer World Cycling are delighted to partner with Abu Dhabi Cycling Club and offer their members world class cycling holidays in Europe and beyond. Wilfer has been a reputation as one of the worlds leading cycling tour operators. They offer a wide range of safe cycling experiences from the elite to the beginner. They are also looking forward to creating handcrafted cycling tours in the UAE to inspire cyclist from all around the world to experience the best of the UAE.CEO Wilfer Clive Marshall: ‘I have been travelling to the UAE for over decade, in this time I have seen the growth and passion for cycling increase year on year. Abu Dhabi Cycling Club is at the very heart of this development. I have long admired it’s vision and leadership. It is a honour for us to partner with the club and I know it’s members will benefit from our staffs expertise and attention to detail’.‘The world is a big place and in today’s society we are all so busy. Time is precious. Holiday time has never been more needed as has the importance of staying active. Cycling holidays designed perfectly give you a balance of being active, exploring a country and also recharging the batteries’.‘Abu Dhabi and the UAE ARE world class cycling destinations. The quality of the roads are without equal, the weather fabulous and hospitality and cuisine superb. We are excited to create cycling experiences for our clients in the UAE. The real essence of any country not least the UAE is best discovered on two wheels’.

Jumia appoints Hisham ElGabry new CEO for Jumia Egypt

Cairo, Egypt: Jumia, the leading ecommerce platform in Egypt and Africa, has announced the appointment of Hisham ElGabry as the company’s new CEO in Egypt to take charge of the company’s business leadership in the country.ElGabry has been leading the company’s commercial team as Jumia Egypt’s Chief Commercial Office (CCO) since 2022.“I am proud to lead Jumia’s team in the Egyptian market through the upcoming stage. And I am honored to be part of Jumia’s continued success in the Egyptian market. E-commerce is growing very fast and Jumia Egypt will continue focusing on its unique strength points, most notably: striving for customer satisfaction, providing easy and safe payment methods, a strong partnership with local and international brands, banking services providers, as well as logistics partners. Most importantly, I am proud to be working with the Jumia Egypt talented team, in whom I have infinite confidence that we will together achieve our goals for the coming period” said, Hisham ElGabry, after his appointment as Jumia Egypt’s CEO.ElGabry carries 17 years of experience in the ecommerce and communication fields. Before joining Jumia, he was part of Amazon EU where he held several leadership positions including leading the UK fashion marketplace. Prior to that, Hisham has also worked with Vodafone Group, managing global relationships with Apple and Samsung across 17 countries.Jumia Egypt - The leading ecommerce platform - was ranked as one of the top 10 influential brands and the number one retail e-commerce platform in Egypt by Ipsos in 2021 and 2022. More than 1,000 employees are part of Jumia Egypt, and the online marketplace connects hundreds of thousands customers to more than 7,000 local vendors.

KSA leads groundbreaking autonomous vehicle innovation, says Arthur D. Little

Autonomous mobility led the new transport hype in the last decade, but it appears to have suffered from both internal limitations and external issues in recent years. The lasting global semiconductor chip shortage and greater supply crisis have also shifted automaker attention towards the installation of more critical functions in their vehicles. While the technology exists and has proven to be functional both in testing grounds and in real life conditions, the lack of suitable infrastructure and unoptimized cost structures, seem to have deterred innovation-driven use cases. Arthur D. Little (ADL), the leading management consultancy firm with the longest-standing presence in the Middle East region, elaborates on this and many other findings in their new Autonomous Mobility Journal, the series’ fourth edition. The journal comprises exclusive coverage of the latest autonomous mobility developments in the world, including KSA, shedding light on industry dynamics, prominent use cases, and the importance for smart mobility solution providers and governments to meet sustainability goals by 2030.“Following a lot of anticipation over the potential of autonomous vehicles over the last decade, promising silver linings are starting to appear. While autonomous mobility is still not accessible or even available to most users on the roads globally, companies operating in this space have continued their work in the background to advance the technology. Additionally, the growth of other mobility-related technologies and use cases are expected to pave the way and facilitate the uptake of autonomous mobility,” said Antonio Semeraro, Senior Principal at Arthur D. Little Middle East.According to the International Energy Agency, electric vehicle sales reached two million units in the first quarter of 2022, representing a 75% increase compared to the same period in 2021. Compared to traditional internal combustion engines , electric vehicle hardware and software are significantly more suited to accommodate for autonomous driving features, and autonomous driving technology is more prevalent across electric vehicles than internal combustion vehicles.Developed in line with research conducted regionally and internationally, the publication details the latest innovation-led projects across the urban landscape. Examining the situation from KSA's stance, the Transport General Authority (TGA) plays a leading role in ensuring that KSA's transport sector adheres to stringent safety and quality levels, while also promoting investment and sustainable development through the strategic use of data and technology. By aligning with the Kingdom's Vision 2030 socio-economic goals, TGA is at the core of a modern and efficient transportation ecosystem that is poised for long-term success. The latter was underlined in the ‘Interview of the semester’ segment by Prof. Omaimah Bamasag, Deputy of Transport Enablement at the Transport General Authority of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).Prof. Omaimah Bamasag said: “Over a decade after its inception, the regulatory position of TGA in the Kingdom makes its role essential to the Kingdom’s vision. Saudi Arabia’s goals for autonomous vehicle transport are very ambitious and can be seen from the giant projects based on autonomy, such as NEOM and the Red Sea projects. These smart cities are designed to be sustainable across new transport systems for passengers and goods based entirely on autonomous mobility, such as autonomous aerial vehicles, autonomous pods and robo-taxis.”TGA is working on two tracks. The first entails promoting and adopting new transportation modes through testing and piloting, R&D, and partnering with governmental and private entities, universities, and research bodies to formulate an enabling regulatory framework for these technologies. In the second track, TGA prepares economic, social, and environmental feasibility studies through which it determines the stages of imposing certain regulations on operators and providers of public transport services and goods transport.In a nutshell, while TGA has the ability to swiftly implement regulations, it is crucial to conduct a thorough analysis of any possible effects that may arise from their implementation. This proactive approach ensures that any regulations align with the Kingdom's Vision, and ensures positive outcomes for the transport industry and society as a whole. TGA is also collaborating with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence to elevate the underlying communication infrastructure’s readiness, including 5G, data privacy and security. In parallel, TGA’s Investment and Competitiveness unit looks to create investment opportunities for the private sector and to pave the way for new horizons in the local market for autonomous vehicles.Autonomous Mobility Journal details the strategic elements critical to the project, providing recommendations on how transport authorities can streamline their operational launch efforts.

The future of work is female: KSA survey respondents envision women at the helm

61% reveal their current organization has diversity, equity, and inclusion targets, however, only 15% of those claim that these have been publicly announced. Riyadh, KSA – Half of Saudi residents recently surveyed by leading management consulting firm, Kearney, see the future leader of their current organization to be a woman, with 54% highlighting that more women in leadership roles will positively impact the business. The study conducted ahead of International Women’s Day 2023 explored the sentiment around women in leadership positions, the path to progress and the challenges faced, highlighting that while there have been positive strides towards a more equitable work environment, leaders in the private sector still have work to do to pave the way for female talent.In the past five years, the Kingdom has introduced and implemented several policies and initiatives that support inclusivity and diversity aimed at facilitating women’s entry into the labor market. In 2022, female labor participation reached 37% , up from 17% in 2016, highlighting significant progress in this area. The recent study by Kearney reveals that women’s ambitions are high, with 76% stating that the opportunity to progress to top leadership positions is key for them. While 71% of the women surveyed feel they have opportunities to lead at their workplace, 81% claim it’s difficult for them to get the support they need to take on such roles. “Vision 2030 places an emphasis on the growing role of women in the national economy. The unparalleled spike in female participation in the workforce is driven by the legislations and host of national initiatives,” commented Wiam Hasanain, Director at Kearney Middle East & Africa. “The research revealed business leaders harbor unconscious biases, that affect hiring, promotion, and retainment of women. Organizations have a responsibility to rid their HR systems of such biases, enabling a competent and diverse set of leaders at the table in the future.”When questioned on how their organization supports their career development, only a quarter (25%) claimed that they receive regular training and development and 24% said they are offered opportunities for regular career reviews and/or promotions. When asked about the challenges faced, a third (33%) of women stated their workplace goals are too ambitious, 21% felt the organizational culture at their current workplace does not encourage them to lead, and 19% stated they face discrimination by their coworkers. Having a leadership team that is genuinely committed to diversity and inclusion was flagged as a key priority for 74% of respondents (both men and women), emphasizing the important role that current business leaders play in accelerating the achievement of a more diverse and equitable workplace. 61% reveal their current organization has diversity, equity, and inclusion targets, including having more women at the board level. However, only 15% of those claim that these have been publicly announced. A quarter (24%) believe the organization does not have such targets. “Currently, it is not mandated for private sector companies to publicly state their targets around having a more inclusive workforce, however, it is an important step towards instilling accountability. This will ensure that the leadership team proactively works towards hiring and nurturing female talent to provide them with the skills, tools and opportunities needed to progress, ultimately contributing to the development of the local economy in support of Vision 2030, as well as the realization the UN SDG Goal 5 of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls,” concluded Norah Alajaji, Manager at Kearney Middle East.

Online banking threat: More than a quarter of users in Saudi Arabia lost money

According to the Kaspersky Digital Payment survey, 26% of respondents from Saudi Arabia experienced financial losses associated with threats when using online banking and mobile wallet services. The majority of users (88%) lost up to USD $1,000 as a result of these incidents, while (12%) of the respondents reported a loss of more than USD $1,000.According to Kaspersky Security Network, more than 1.8 million financial threats were blocked in the Middle East by the company, 540,224 of them in Saudi Arabia. These attacks were aimed at stealing financial information such as credit card numbers and login credentials and usually rely on social engineering tactics to lure victimsHowever, the impact of a cyber threat targeting digital payments does not just impose a financial burden on consumers, but also affects them psychologically. For example, 53% of respondents said that they lost sleep and were very anxious about getting their money back. More than half (58%) of users reported that their trust in digital payment providers have become lesser. While 56% also stated that they became more vigilant after experiencing a cyber incident, 69% installed security solutions like an antivirus on their infected devices.A spokesperson from Lulu Exchange’s IT team, said, “Digital payments are the backbone of modern commerce, and have come to become a prime target for cyber threats. It is the responsibility of all stakeholders, including various service providers and customers, to remain vigilant and take proactive measures against security threats. From an organizational perspective, building a strong cyber governance framework is one of the surest ways to operate securely, responsibly, and ethically while safeguarding the trust of customers and stakeholders."“Since the beginning of the pandemic 64% of users in Saudi Arabia faced at least one incident when using digital payments. That’s why it’s increasingly important to know how to interact securely with any emerging technologies, including online banking and mobile wallet services. And all stakeholders, like government, digital payment providers, users and even cybersecurity companies need to come together to create a sustainable and secure payment ecosystem”, said Emad Haffar, Head of technical experts at Kaspersky.To help users in Saudi Arabia embrace digital payment technologies securely, Kaspersky experts suggest the following:Do not share your PIN, password or any other financial information with anyone online or offline.Avoid using the public Wi-Fi to make any online transactions.Use a separate credit or debit card to make online transactions. Set a spending limit on the card which can help keep a track of financial transactions.Shop from trusted and official websitesUse reliable security solution such as Kaspersky Premium on all your devices which are used for financial transactions. It helps to detect fraudulent or suspicious activity and check the security of visited websites.For developers, banks and companies involved in providing digital payment services, Kaspersky recommends:Invest in holistic cybersecurity solutions that can help detect fraud across multiple levels of online payment processes and consumer touchpoint.Complex attacks by APT groups on financial institutions are also on a rise. In-depth visibility and threat intelligence are a necessity to keep customers protected and to ensure business continuity. Using the Kaspersky Threat Intelligence service is helpful to support your IT teams in analysing and mitigating threats.Conduct cyber awareness training for employees continuously. This will help employees know the red flags to look for when an organization is under attack and to understand their role in protecting the organization.MethodologyThe Kaspersky Digital Payment survey studies our interactions with online payments. It also examines our attitudes towards them, which hold the key to understanding the factors that will further drive or stem the adoption of this technology.The study was conducted by research agency Toluna across the Middle East, Turkiye, South Africa, and Nigeria. Survey responses were gathered in 2022 with a total of 2,004 respondents surveyed across the stated countries.

Yas Island Abu Dhabi announces two exciting offers to enjoy Guns N’ Roses’ live

 Yas Island Abu Dhabi sets to delight Rock and Roll fans with a daycation and staycation package to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as legendary rock band Guns N’ Roses makes history at Etihad Arena on June 1. With the iconic band kick-starting their world tour live from the heart of Abu Dhabi, Yas Island is offering fans the chance to avail a daycation package which comprises a ‘Dine and Event’ bundle starting AED 1,450, and a staycation package starting AED 1,590 which includes a hotel stay at one of Yas Island’s leading hotels from May 31 to June 4, both valid for booking on Yas Island’s website until May 31, subject to availability. The packages count with a Floor Standing Ticket and young spirits under the age of 12 are excluded within the ticket category. Yas Island Abu Dhabi will be entertaining Rock and Roll fans with an unforgettable experience as Guns N’ Roses return to rock the stage at Etihad Arena in their first performance in the UAE since 2018.

Dubai International Chamber launches New Horizons Trade Mission to Central Asia

Dubai International Chamber, one of the three Chambers operating under Dubai Chamber, launched today “New Horizons”, a new initiative to drive international expansion of its members to new markets.'New Horizons' allows companies to join roadshows to gain first-hand knowledge of how to establish and do business in various select countries and priority markets.The first in a series of ‘New Horizons’ events will see a large delegation of Dubai business leaders heading to Central Asia between 14 – 21 March, 2023, to better understand and explore business opportunities in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.The delegation, headed by Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah, President & CEO of Dubai Chambers, will feature 26 Dubai-based companies representing 16 sectors. The delegates gathered today at Dubai Chambers headquarters for a pre-Trade Mission briefing, during which details of the trip, and further information on the economic outlook of the three nations was revealed.New Horizons builds on the ‘In Focus’ scheme. Both initiatives aim to assist in driving members’ international expansion while supporting Dubai’s plan toincrease the emirate’s foreign trade to AED2 trillion by 2026. One of the Chamber's key objectives is to support 100 businesses to expand globally within the next two years.'In Focus' events, held in Dubai, aim to connect Dubai businesses with public and private sector leaders of select countries to drive their interest in those regions as potential destinations for international business expansion and guide them through every stage of their international growth journey. The first In Focus event was held in December 2022 and put Central Asia market under the spotlight.Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah, President & CEO of Dubai Chambers, said: "The In Focus and New Horizon initiatives reflect our ongoing efforts to connect our members to new opportunities for business growth in priority markets worldwide. Through the events in Dubai and in the market or country in focus, we aim to encourage domestic businesses to build an international presence, while promoting Dubai as a thriving global investment hub and encouraging FDI and new partnerships from the markets we visit."Lootah added that the upcoming Trade Mission will provide the participating business leaders from Dubai with insight, information, and guidance on exporting to or investing in Central Asia. “We will soon embark on this exciting Trade Mission which includes local expert talks, pre-arranged business matching activities, networking meetings and site visits to industrial and economic zones, alongside cultural and engagement activities. New Horizons to Central Asia will enable us all to engage in focused and meaningful discussions with decision makers from the government and private sectors in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan,” he added.In the three nations, the largest contributors to GDP include manufacturing, trade, transport, agriculture and construction. UAE exports to these Central Asian nations include electronics, vehicles, machinery and tobacco. Central Asia is already an important market for Dubai: in 2021, Dubai’s non-oil trade with the three countries reached US$2.4 billion.The trip offers the chance for companies in a variety of sectors to seek out trading partners and develop new bilateral trade agreements. Several opportunities exist for Dubai-based businesses in areas including agriculture, metallurgy, tourism and construction.The Trade Mission is a golden opportunity to engage with both public and private sector leaders to promote cross-border partnerships and drive mutual business growth. The eight-day roadshow takes in four cities: Tashkent, Uzbekistan; Astana and Almaty, Kazakhstan; and Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan.Dubai Chambers is committed to supporting its members to globally expand into strategic markets across the world as well as attract foreign investments and international companies – including those from Central Asia - to the emirate and enhance Dubai’s reputation as a global business and trade hub.

UAE, Saudi Arabia to lead IPO MENA markets: EFG Hermes

EFG Hermes Holding announced that it expects the UAE and Saudi Arabia to lead the Initial Public Offering (IPO) markets in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in 2023.‘’The IPO markets in MENA have seen strong momentum last year led by GCC countries, especially UAE and Saudi Arabia,'' stated Karim Awad, Group Chief Executive Officer of EFG Hermes Holding, on the sidelines of the 17th EFG Hermes One-on-One Conference in Dubai today, attended by senior government officials, high-profile regional business leaders, investors, and listed companies.He said that his group is working on five diverse sectoral IPOs in the GCC market which will be launched between the second and fourth quarters of the year.Headlined “Outplaying Challenges,” the conference hosted thousands of one-on-one meetings between executives representing some of the region’s most compelling prospects and regional and global institutional investors, allowing them to gain insights into key trends impacting frontier and emerging markets today to explore value-accretive investment prospects.This year’s conference, which will run until 9th March, will witness 179 companies in numerous key sectors across 29 countries hold direct meetings with over 561 institutional investors and fund managers representing 247 international institutions.Karim Awad, Group Chief Executive Officer of EFG Hermes Holding, commented, “The conference continues to act as a growth catalyst for capital market investment across FEM, opening direct communication channels between investors and the most promising listed companies. Leveraging decades of on-the-ground expertise in these markets, we provide investors with the tools, unique insights, and unfettered access they need to maximise returns — maintaining our position as a financial enabler of corporate success."He said, "This year, the UAE is also preparing to host COP 28, making it an optimal time for companies to inform the conversation on how investors can play a role in the journey toward net-zero by weaving responsible investment practices and frameworks into their financial considerations to secure a better future that guarantees sustainable development for societies, economies, and the planet.”"2022 was a year rife with macroeconomic volatility due to persistently high inflation rates, a challenging interest environment driven by Fed-supersised rate hikes, and soaring commodity prices caused by the Russia-Ukraine crisis that dampened global capital market activity and investor sentiment.“Meanwhile, the first quarter of 2023 saw a slight reversal, with a slowdown in commodity price jumps as alternative supplies came on stream and China’s reversal of economically stifling zero-COVID policies spurring investors to pour into emerging market securities at a near-record rate. The GCC in particular has demonstrated resilience against global turbulence, driven by a solid crude oil market and government initiatives that have collectively deepened the region’s capital markets,” he noted.Mohamed Ebeid, Co-CEO of the Investment Bank at EFG Hermes Holding, stated, “Since the start of the year, the MSCI EM equities index has been trading at 20 percent or more above last year’s low as emerging economies look set to grow faster than advanced ones this year, with EM GDPs expected to expand by 1.4 percentage points more than the rate in advanced economies. The GCC has, in recent months, proven to be a key investment hub for regional and global investors — a transformation we’ve been incredibly successful in capitalising on by capturing a large share of ECM and M&A deals, particularly in the UAE. As we look ahead, we are confident we can continue ramping up our equity, debt, and M&A transaction pipeline and unlock unmatched prospects for clients and investors alike."

UAE Journalists Association to organise ‘Arabic Thought and Culture Forum’

The UAE Journalists Association (UAEJA) is organising the 11th edition of the Arabic Thought and Culture Forum on 9th March, 2023, in Abu Dhabi, in cooperation with the Secretariat-General of the Alliance of Arab Thought and Culture Centres, and in coordination with the Office of the Vice President of the Board of Trustees of the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research.The announcement was made during a press conference held at the headquarters of the UAEJA in Abu Dhabi, which was attended by Mohamed Al Hammadi, President of the UAEJA, Assistant President of the Federation of Arab Journalists and Chairman of the Forum’s Organising Committee, and Fawaz Ahmed Suleiman, Member of the Board of Trustees and Secretary-General of the Alliance of Arab Thought and Culture Centres.The event is held under the patronage of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, under the them ''Tolerance and Peaceful Coexistence''.Al Hammadi said that the event was organised to promote the values of tolerance, coexistence and human fraternity, which is a social responsibility, adding that the media is a key partner in promoting this culture in Arab communities.The three-session event will include several pillars that comprise the values of coexistence and tolerance in the Arab region and their impact on the future of Arab countries, the role of Arab governments in promoting tolerance and coexistence, and the impact of promoting the culture of tolerance on social and economic development.Suleiman said that the forum’s current edition would highlight the importance of the principles of human fraternity, tolerance and peaceful coexistence in building and advancing societies.The forum was held twice in the UAE and Morocco, three times in Bahrain, and once in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, he added.

EDUBA & ChatGPT partner to revolutionize AI-powered education technology in Iraq

Eduba, a leading EdTech startup with a focus on enhancing the learning journey, announced a potential integration with ChatGPT, a state-of-the-art AI language model. This integration aims to provide students with personalized support and guidance in real-time, ultimately enhancing the overall learning experience through improved engagement, performance, and time-saving benefits.The integration would allow students to interact with a ChatGPT-powered chatbot that provides tailored recommendations based on their learning history, preferences, and needs. With natural language processing capabilities, students can ask questions and receive immediate responses in a natural language format, making the learning experience more intuitive and engaging. Additionally, ChatGPT's advanced AI technology can improve students' performance, increase engagement, and make some tasks easier for teachers, such as automated grading. Founder and CEO of Eduba, Azad Hassan, expressed excitement about this potential integration, stating that it will allow Eduba to take its mission of enriching the learning journey to the next level.This integration will also benefit educators by providing them with more accurate insights into student learning and progress through ChatGPT's natural language processing capabilities, which can analyze and interpret student responses, providing real-time feedback and insights to improve teaching effectiveness. It is important to note that the potential integration is still in the planning stages and has not been confirmed. The expected completion date for the integration is October 2023, and additional details will be provided as they become available. announces partnership with The Entertainer and Credimax, the fast growing online shopping platform, is pleased to announce its latest partnership with The Entertainer and Credimax, two well-known names in the discount and payment industries, respectively. The partnerships will allow to offer even more savings and benefits to its customers.The first partnership is with The Entertainer, a popular discount network that provides exclusive offers to its customers across a wide range of categories, including dining, leisure, and entertainment. Through this collaboration, customers who are also members of The Entertainer will now be able to enjoy a 25% discount on all purchases made on the platform."We are thrilled to partner with The Entertainer and offer our customers even more opportunities to save on their purchases," said Mr. Meliksah Topbas, founder of "This collaboration will not only benefit our customers, but also help us reach a wider audience through The Entertainer's vast network."The second partnership is with Credimax, a leading payment solution provider in the region. Under this collaboration, customers will be able to enjoy an additional 15% deduction at the check-out on top of other general discounts that the website is offering under various sale programs."We are excited to partner with Credimax to offer our customers even more value for their money," added Mr. Topbas. "This collaboration will not only enhance the shopping experience for our customers, but also streamline the payment process, making it more convenient and secure." is committed to providing its customers with the best deals and discounts in the market. The partnerships with The Entertainer and Credimax are just the latest examples of this commitment.

Kaspersky blocks 500 million phishing attempts globally

Kaspersky’s anti-phishing system prevented more than 500 million attempts at accessing fraudulent websites globally in 2022. This is twice more compared to 2021 figures. In the Middle East, 7.2% of individuals and corporate users faced phishing attempts, according to Kaspersky’s Spam and Phishing in 2022 report.CountryShare of usersQatar9.5%Bahrain9%Jordan8.5%Kuwait7.8%UAE7.5%KSA7.3%Oman6.9%Egypt6.9%Although spam and phishing attacks are not necessarily complex from a technological standpoint, they rely on sophisticated social engineering tactics, making them highly dangerous to those who are not aware of them. Fraudsters are skilled at creating phishing web pages identical to the original websites that collect private user data or encourage the transfer of money to fraudsters targeting both individuals and organizations. Kaspersky experts discovered that throughout 2022 cybercriminals increasingly turned to phishing. The company’s anti-phishing system successfully blocked 507,851,735 attempts to access fraudulent content globally in 2022, twice the number of attacks thwarted in 2021.The sphere most frequently targeted with phishing attacks was delivery services. Fraudsters send fake emails pretending to be from well-known delivery companies and claim there is an issue with a delivery. The email includes a link to a fake website, which asks for personal information or financial details. If the victim falls for the scam, they could lose their identity and banking information, which may be sold to websites on the dark web.Kaspersky experts have also highlighted a global trend in the phishing landscape of 2022: an increase in the distribution of attacks through messengers, with the majority of blocked attempts coming from WhatsApp, followed by Telegram and Viber.There is also growing demand among cybercriminals for social media credentials, with criminals exploiting people's curiosity and desire for privacy by offering fake updates and verified account status on social media platforms.An example of phishing page mimicking a social media alertMoreover, the experts found that cryptocurrency scams and the ongoing pandemic are still being used by phishing attackers to steal sensitive information from people who are afraid and worried. These scammers are taking advantage of people's fears and concerns to steal their sensitive information."Phishing is one of the most prevalent and pernicious threats in the cybersecurity landscape. Being the gateway to many of the worst cyber threats, phishing pages are the first step in a long chain of events that can result in identity theft, financial loss, and reputational damage for both individual consumers and businesses. It's crucial for everyone to understand the threat and take action to protect themselves," comments Olga Svistunova, security expert at Kaspersky.In order to avoid becoming a victim of spam or phishing-based scams, Kaspersky experts advise the following:Only open emails and click links if you are sure you can trust the senderWhen a sender is legitimate but the content of the message seems strange it is worth checking with the sender via an alternative communication channelCheck the spelling of a website’s URL if you suspect that you are faced with a phishing page. If you are, the URL may contain mistakes that are hard to spot at first glance, such as a 1 instead of I or 0 instead of OUse a proven security solution when surfing the web. Thanks to access to international threat intelligence sources, these solutions are capable of spotting and blocking spam and phishing campaigns.

Presight AI announces intention to list on ADX via Initial Public Offering

Presight AI Holding, a G42 company and a big data analytics company powered by artificial intelligence (AI), today announced its intention to carry out an Initial Public Offering (IPO) and subsequently list its shares on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange’s (ADX) first market.On 3rd March 2023, the UAE Securities and Commodities Authority approved the Company’s application for the IPO.Presight, a public company limited by shares, incorporated in the Abu Dhabi Global Market, supports public services and commercial businesses of all magnitudes by unlocking positive societal impact with omni analytics and AI to deliver insight-driven decision-making across every sector at scale.The Company’s solutions are deployed across three core sectors with significant potential for impact and innovative market growth; public services, finance, and sports. Presight continues accelerating into priority sectors, channelling advanced data analytics to predict environmental impact, enable efficient infrastructure use, and transform educational outcomes.The Company’s proprietary Transformative Analytics Quotient (TAQ) platform has enabled Presight to deliver unmatched digital transformation for its customers across the globe.TAQ integrates all-source data into adaptive AI algorithms to deliver actionable insights across the sectors in which Presight operates. The platform enables clients to understand historical performance effectively, forecast more accurately, and make timely decisions in the best interests of customers and the public at large.Presight has entered into a cornerstone investment agreement with International Holding Company (IHC), through which IHC has committed to invest in the planned IPO. This cornerstone investment agreement demonstrates the confidence IHC has in Presight’s growth trajectory and paves the way for further collaboration and growth opportunities regionally and globally.Mansoor Al Mansoori, Chairman of Presight, said, “Presight was initially conceived in 2020 to deliver analytics-driven, cloud-first AI-enabled solutions for public and private businesses in the Middle Eastern ecosystem. Presight’s journey has evolved rapidly since its inception. It is now positioned as the region’s leading big data analytics company powered by AI, trusted with country-level strategic mandates to drive digital transformation and innovation."Through our proprietary Transformative Analytics Quotient platform, Presight enables insight-driven decision-making to unlock positive societal impact with omni-analytics and AI.”Since its establishment, Presight has demonstrated an exceptional track record in combining big data, analytics and AI expertise to deliver solutions. The Company has successfully delivered numerous high-impact projects with business and societal value creation at the core. Presight was integral to managing the COVID-19 pandemic in the UAE and to welcoming 24 million visitors safely to Expo 2020 Dubai.Thomas Pramotedham, CEO of Presight, said, “We have delivered a strong track record of profitability, with the highest net margins amongst leading AI and cloud organizations with similar digital products and services. We are complemented by a sophisticated leadership team with deep sector expertise and highly predictable revenue streams. Through our long-term committed contracts, we are well positioned to deliver strong returns to shareholders and stakeholders throughout the business.”With TAQ at the core, powering 10 flagship solutions and more than 100 AI models, Presight supports its clients and partners to unlock positive societal change through insight-driven decision marking.

Tagger Media strikes exclusive partnership with YAAP

YAAP, a Dubai-based specialized influencer marketing company, today announced an exclusive partnership with data-driven social intelligence platform Tagger Media. The landmark partnership marks the US-based company’s official entry into the Middle East. Tagger’s platform combined with YAAP’s market expertise is set to usher in a new era of excellence in data-driven influencer marketing. Tagger’s foray into the Middle Eastern influencer marketing ecosystem further expands its global presence which spans six continents and 17 global offices. YAAP, with its extensive operational experience and a large network of clients in the Middle East, complements Tagger’s best-in-class technologies and platform, creating an outstanding synergy that brands and individual entities in the Middle East have longed for. “Global innovation meets local excellence in the partnership between Tagger Media and YAAP. The data-driven approach embodied by Tagger’s one-stop platform and the market knowledge of YAAP are poised to revolutionize influencer marketing in the Middle East. This market possesses a sizeable appetite for social intelligence and insight-led influencer marketing, and we will soon be catering to this demand,” said Atul Hegde, Founder of YAAP. An award-winning entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience working with global brands, Atul is the driving force behind YAAP’s success. The company has posted an impressive top-line growth of 97% and a 5X jump in profitability in FY21-22. Its client portfolio includes Bayut, Visit Dubai, Apparel Group, Fitbit, Kaya Skin Clinic, RuPay, American Express, Disney, Amazon, and Square Enix, among other leading brands in the Middle East & India.Tagger Media, for its part, boasts a client roster that includes Omnicom, Bose, Tinder, HBO Max, and Pepsico. Over the years, Tagger has emerged as the market leader in end-to-end influencer marketing services by leveraging real-time data and helping clients build campaigns for maximized ROI and impact. Its easy-to-use platform provides access to data points of over 15 billion high-quality social posts and over 278,000 brands worldwide. “Tagger Media was built on the promise of data. Over the years, we have augmented the platform with customization, workflow integration, linguistic, multi-currency payments and CRM capabilities. Today, our database is unparalleled in the influencer marketing ecosystem, giving our clients the edge in an ever-competitive market. I believe we have timed our entry into the Middle East well, taking into account the exemplary digitalization and burgeoning influencer culture in this growth market,” said Dave Dickman, CEO of Tagger Media. In a YouGov survey, 94% of in-house marketers in the UAE said they believe that social media influencer marketing plays a major role in the success of their brands. However, brands often find it challenging to reconcile the influencer marketing budget with the expected ROI due to a lack of insights, and challenges in accurate forecasting and business intelligence visualization. Tagger’s integrated platform, which offers a full suite of services while ensuring the highest-level security standards and utmost compliance with GDPR, CCPA and the like, has thus found takers across global markets. Incidentally, it is the creation of full-suite services that recently led YAAP to fully acquire Crayons Communications, a reputable advertising agency in the Middle East. Following the acquisition, YAAP also launched a first-of-its-kind Metaverse Grant, offering up to a million dirhams for UAE-based companies to fast-track their metaverse and Web 3.0 adoption. The exclusive partnership with an organization of Tagger Media’s calibre is yet another testament to YAAP’s purpose-driven growth strategy.

Rakuten Symphony and Zain KSA announce MoU

Rakuten Symphony and Zain KSA announced today the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enable strategic collaboration in building next-generation telecommunications networks based on open standards and network infrastructure provided by Rakuten Symphony.Rakuten Symphony assists telcos worldwide with the deployment of fully cloud-native network services based on open standards and advanced automation and orchestration, enabling companies to easily build secure and open mobile networks at high speed and low cost. The signing of the MoU was announced at MWC23, held in Barcelona from February 27 until March 2.Under the terms of the MoU, Rakuten Symphony and Zain KSA will collaborate to accelerate the delivery of mobile network services through the use of open technology that will facilitate and revolutionize wireless infrastructure, with the potential to deliver cost-effective solutions in a quick and efficient manner. Rakuten will work with Zain KSA on a blueprint for a cloud-native, fully virtualized, new-generation radio access solution architecture, which will be Open RAN 4G and 5G-based with advanced automation capabilities.Zain KSA Chief Technology Officer, Eng. Abdulrahman Al-Mufadda, said: “We are delighted to work closely with Rakuten Mobile and Rakuten Symphony to drive innovation and deliver top-class services that meet and anticipate the ever-growing demand for reliable, secure, and ultramodern network experiences from our individual and enterprise customers. This collaboration will leverage and maximize the strengths of Zain KSA and Rakuten to accelerate innovation and drive the Saudi ICT sector toward achieving Saudi Vision 2030’s goals to transform the Kingdom into a digital hub that fosters a digital economy and hyper-connected society.”“We are very excited to collaborate with Zain KSA and share our expertise in building next-generation telecommunication networks,” said Tareq Amin, CEO of Rakuten Mobile and Rakuten Symphony. “We believe that Rakuten Symphony’s network automation and orchestration solutions for cost-effective network transformation and timely deployment of next-generation network services will help Zain KSA deliver a superior experience to their customers.”The signing of this MoU is in alignment with Zain KSA’s digital-first strategy and its goal of accelerating the inclusive digital transformation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia while driving business growth and scaling up user experiences through a wide range of applications across sectors.

BeIN SPORTS to broadcast a host of season-defining European football competition

This month promises a host of season-defining European ties and beIN MEDIA GROUP (“beIN”) will broadcast them all live, exclusive, and with multilingual coverage across the MENA region. Starting on 7 March, beIN SPORTS will show all eight second leg ties from the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, later that same week, the Europa League and Europa Conference League enter the last-16 stage with a variety of mouth-watering first-leg matches.Matches to look out for include:Chelsea vs Borussia Dortmund (7 March)Chelsea’s struggles in front of goal in the Premier League continued in the UEFA Champions League as the Blues fell 1-0 to a young Borussia Dortmund side in the first leg, despite having more than 20 attempts at goal. Graham Potter’s side now need to score if they are to progress, and they will have to do so without the suspended Mason Mount. Having suffered a London derby day defeat to Tottenham at the weekend, big-spending Chelsea must bounce back at Stamford Bridge or the pressure on Potter will ramp up further. Dortmund, meanwhile, without the suspended Julian Ryerson, know they just need to keep a fourth clean sheet in five matches to book their place in the last eight.Live studio coverage before the Chelsea versus Borussia Dortmund match kicks-off at 22:00 MECCA in Arabic on beIN SPORTS Premium 1 and beIN 4K, and in English on beIN SPORTS ENGLISH 1, leading right up to the opening whistle at 23:00 MECCA.Bayern Munich vs PSG (8 March)As PSG prepare to face Bayern Munich, all eyes will be on Lionel Messi as he looks to take the Parisian club a step closer towards its first European Cup. Fresh from being awarded FIFA’s Best Men’s Player for 2022 after his heroics at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM, all eyes will be on the Argentine in what promises to be PSG’s most-important match of the season so far. Trailing 1-0 after losing in front of the Parc de Princes faithful, Christophe Galtier’s side will face a tough trip to Munich against a Bayern side that has conceded just twice in seven Champions League games so far this campaign.Live studio coverage before the PSG vs Bayern Munich match starts at 22:00 MECCA on beIN SPORTS Premium 1 and beIN 4K in Arabic, and in English on beIN SPORTS ENGLISH 1, leading right up to match kick-off at 23:00 MECCA.Sporting CP v Arsenal (9 March)High-flying Arsenal sit top of the English Premier League and coach Mikel Arteta will need to make some difficult decisions ahead of his side’s trip to Lisbon in the Europa League Round of 16. Giving key players sufficient rest is crucial to maintain a title charge, yet against a Sporting side that dropped into the competition from the Champions League – despite beating Arsenal’s London rivals Tottenham – they must be especially careful. Sporting eased past Midtjylland 5-1 on aggregate in their playoff tie and in Marcus Edwards, they have a dynamic English player who will be desperate to knock out the league leaders of his home country.You can watch the live studio coverage before the Sporting CP vs Arsenal match starts at 20:00 MECCA in Arabic on beIN SPORTS Premium 1, and in English on beIN SPORTS ENGLISH 1, leading right up to match kick-off at 20:45 MECCA.The second leg will also be broadcast live on 16 March with an English and Arabic studio leading up to the match kick-off at 23:00 MECCA. Tune in to the live studio coverage at 22:00 MECCA in Arabic on beIN SPORTS Premium 1, and in English on beIN SPORTS ENGLISH 1.RSC Anderlecht v Villarreal CF (9 March)Champions League semi-finalists last year, Villarreal find themselves this season not only contesting the Europa Conference League, but doing so with a different head coach having replaced Unai Emery with Quique Setien. The Yellow Submarine travel to Anderlecht’s Lotto Park for the first-leg of their Round of 16 tie, with many tipping a goal fest after Villarreal’s six group games featured 23 goals. Anderlecht meanwhile only just squeezed through their playoff, requiring penalties to beat Ludogorets over two legs, and are currently languishing ninth in the Belgian league – closer to the bottom than the top. On paper, it would appear the outcome is a given, yet Villarreal have lost five of their past seven games so nothing is guaranteed.You can watch the first leg of the Anderlecht vs Villarreal match with Arabic and English commentary on beIN SPORTS ENGLISH 2 at 20:45 MECCA and the second leg on 16 March at 23:00 MECCA.Manchester United v Real Betis (9 March)Fresh from eliminating Barcelona in their two-legged Europa League playoff and then securing the first trophy of coach Erik Ten Hag’s Old Trafford tenure, Manchester United now face Spain’s Real Betis for a place in the Europa last eight. Playing the first leg away, the Spanish side will be without influential midfielder Nabil Fekir, who looks set to miss the rest of the season with an ACL injury, so the creative responsibility will fall largely on Sergio Canales. For United, Marcus Rashford meanwhile, helped by an in-form Bruno Fernandes, has scored 14 goals in 16 games – a better goal ratio than any other player in Europe.Tune in to watch the live studio coverage before the Manchester United vs Real Betis match starts at 22:00 MECCA in Arabic on beIN SPORTS Premium 1, and in English on beIN SPORTS ENGLISH 1, leading right up to the opening whistle at 23:00 MECCA.The second leg will also be broadcast live on 16 March. Watch the live studio coverage at 20:00 MECCA in Arabic on beIN SPORTS Premium 1, and in English on beIN SPORTS ENGLISH 1, leading up to the match kick-off at 20:45 MECCAManchester City vs RB Leipzig (14 March)Manchester City were first-leg favourites at RB Leipzig, but Croatian defender Josko Gvardiol’s second-half equaliser cancelled out Riyad Mahrez's opener and the two teams meet at the Etihad Arena on 15 March with the tie finely poised. The perceived success of Pep Guardiola’s time at City appears to be directly aligned to the club’s performance in the Champions League as they search for that elusive first European Cup. The Spanish coach will be determined to progress to the quarterfinals against a side City beat 6-3 at home in the Group Stages last year.You can watch the live studio coverage before the Manchester City vs RB Leipzig match at 22:00 MECCA in Arabic on beIN SPORTS Premium 1 and beIN 4K, and in English on beIN SPORTS ENGLISH 1 leading right up to match kick-off at 23:00 MECCA.Real Madrid vs Liverpool (15 March)In what was a re-run of last year’s Champions League final, Real Madrid delivered a historic defeat to Liverpool in February’s first-leg at Anfield. Liverpool had raced into an early two-goal lead, but the 14-times European champions bounced back to become the first side to put five past Liverpool at Anfield in the Champions League as they cruised to a 5-2 win. At the Santiago Bernabeu on 16 March, Liverpool will need to attack from the first whistle and while it would take a minor miracle to overcome a three-goal deficit in Madrid, if there is one club that will believe they can do it, it is Liverpool – a club with a history of turning up when seemingly down and out. Tune in to the live studio coverage before the Real Madrid vs Liverpool match starts at 22:00 MECCA in Arabic on beIN SPORTS Premium 1 and beIN 4K, and in English on beIN SPORTS ENGLISH 1, leading right up to the opening whistle at 23:00 MECCA.Napoli vs Eintracht Frankfurt (15 March)Napoli have been in scintillating form domestically this season and star men Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia will be looking to continue their stellar form in the Champions League when Eintracht Frankfurt visit on 16 March. The runaway leaders of Serie A are yet to lose in regular time at home this season and look almost certain to win their first Scudetto since the days of Diego Maradona. Taking a 2-0 lead into the second leg, Luciano Spalletti’s high-scoring side are slowly establishing themselves as a potential winner of this year’s Champions League – a possibility that would have been derisively dismissed just 12 months ago.Watch Napoli take on Eintracht Frankfurt at 23:00 MECCA with Arabic commentary on beIN SPORTS Premium 2, and with English commentary on beIN SPORTS ENGLISH 2.

Geniee of Japan buys AdPushup operator Zelto for $70 million

The Japanese marketing technology company Geniee, a member of the SoftBank Group, paid about $70 million in cash to acquire the revenue optimization platform Zelto (previously known as AdPushup), providing investors in the startup that started out in India with a 40 times return.Zelto, a 10-year-old company that gives web publishers and content creators tools to increase revenue by utilising dozens of advertising exchanges, has twice experienced near-death experiences. The acquisition represents a remarkable turnaround for the company. The startup nearly ran out of money in 2014. Ankit Oberoi, founder and CEO of Zelto, told TechCrunch that after its flagship service struggled to gain traction, the company rushed with its product offerings.Although the deal's terms were not made public, the two companies confirmed it on Thursday. Oberoi of Zelto, which has been financially successful for some time and had less than $2.5 million in outside capital throughout its beginning phase, declined to provide the specifics of the agreement. According to the company's website, some of the clients of AdPushup, Zelto's flagship product include Elle, NDTV, CNET, PCMag, Mashable, and GSMArena

BackLite Media announces further OOH expansion plans in Abu Dhabi

BackLite Media has announced its further expansion into the out-of-home media market in Abu Dhabi. In 2023, the company will launch a range of new digital billboards at Al Qana, the city’s latest waterfront destination. Its new range includes a curved screen, which will be the first Forced Perspective 3D billboard in Abu Dhabi. The FP3D billboard will offer viewers a unique and immersive experience.BackLite Media CEO James Bicknell comments: “We are deeply honored that Al Qana has partnered with us to showcase just how special their new development is. We have worked together to develop a first-class digital advertising product to enhance the unique Al Qana destination. We look forward to welcoming our first clients soon.”Spanning over 146,000 sqm, Al Qana offers a unique collection of attractions. These attractions include waterfront restaurants, cinema experiences, the Middle East’s largest aquarium, a marina, a unique fitness and wellness facility, retail boutiques, a virtual reality and e-sports arena, as well as landscaped communal areas to encourage social interaction.The project primarily targets an affluent audience of locals and high-net-worth individuals from Abu Dhabi City, with 90% of visitors currently consisting of local Emirati citizens. Our 3D screen, The Curve @ Al Qana, will feature as part of the project. The screen will be the first 3D billboard in Abu Dhabi, with visuals on a 15-second loop every 120 seconds. The Curve @ Al Qana will be fully operational starting March 21st, visible on Khaleej Al Arabi, a major highway in Abu Dhabi that is also the main road used when leaving the airport.“As well as The Curve @Al Qana, we will launch a range of advertising boards at this venue. Launching our digital billboards at Al Qana is an exciting step for BackLite Media. We are proud to be the first company to offer this technology in Abu Dhabi. We look forward to providing our clients with the best out-of-home advertising solutions. Our team is committed to providing our clients with the highest quality of service, and we are confident that our new destination will be a great success,” he added.

Investopia 2023 explores rebound of global luxury brands

The rise of ecommerce, prospects of growth and investment for the future was explored in a session titled Global Luxury Brands: Key Trends and New Governance at Investopia Conference 2023.The session hosted industry leaders Mr. Patrick Chalhoub, Group President, Chalhoub Group and Mr. Matteo Lunelli, Chairman, Altagamma.Patrick Chalhoub opened up a discussion on how quickly the fashion and beauty industry has been advancing across continents - prior to even pandemic-times with figures rising over 300 billion worldwide. He noted that customers' desires within this industry are changing rapidly; they're more focused now than ever on finding brands that are values led and engage more in purposeful purchasing habits and lean more into brands with sustainability initiatives.He continued to explain the new generation is committed to the focus on sustainability and reaffirmed his Group’s commitment towards real sustainability initiatives. He added that the whole value and supply chain has shifted. Seeing more younger customers who are extremely committed to the sustainability drive. However, even industry leaders are taking on more onus to reach net zero through the circular economy, second life and others.Mr. Matteo confirms that brands have to follow the movement, while finding a way to be relevant by understanding how the customers are evolving. He explains the industry, luxury goods, rebounded sharply after covid. The recovery is much stronger than anyone expected – globally reaching 1.3 trillion euros. The growth has been tremendous, 21% growth in 2022.He ascribes the trend of the industry and sales being driven by growing digital sales - luxury sales doubled during covid. He notes a global index his group references estimates has a market size of about 400 million people, and are expected to jump to be 500 million by 2030. It's an industry evolving rapidly he notes heavily impacted by movement towards digital and sustainably. The understanding of Luxury is changing, it's becoming more inclusive, linked to the intrinsic quality of a brand’s creations. He explains nowadays more and more people choose a brand because it represents a value in which they believe in, so it's more purpose driven decision. He added also that clients today are asking ‘us to be excellent in everything we do’- In terms of service, quality and sustainability. The company’s worldwide monitor tracking luxury goods estimates is 400 million reaching 500 million by 2030.Investopia conference 2023 focuses on the theme “Envisioning Opportunities in Times of Change” and three sub-themes: Envisioning Opportunities in Today’s Economy, The Future of the Wealth of Nations, and Growth Opportunities in Times of Decarbonization. The conference this year includes 35 sessions and roundtables, and brings together more than 2000 participants like investors, government officials, thought leaders and entrepreneurs, from more than 40 countries.

Roland Berger, Inacta Group co-operate for digital assets and Web3

Inacta Group, a leading Swiss IT solution provider with a venture building arm focused on blockchain enabled business models, and Roland Berger, a global strategy consulting firm, have disclosed that they are working on joint Web3 projects and intend to closely cooperate on many more in the future. One of the projects is for the German utility giant E.On which was announced in December 2022, another is for a pharma- and consumer goods giant based in Switzerland. Inacta is headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, in the heart of Crypto Valley, and has delivered many Digital Assets and Web3 projects for clients like AXA, InCore Bank, Swiss Post, Raiffeisen Bank and Visa. Additionally, Inacta has been one of the initiators of the fastest growing blockchain ecosystem in the world, MENA focused Crypto Oasis.Crypto Oasis has been the facilitator for this deal by connecting the stakeholders through their expert knowledge of the global Web3 network. "Many such deals, connecting global players, have been orchestrated by Crypto Oasis as we build on the strong infrastructure of the Middle East and the talent and capital migration into the region", says Saqr Ereiqat, Co-Founder of Crypto Oasis.Roland Berger has been at the forefront of advising blue-chip companies, investment funds and governments on Digital Assets, Web3 and Metaverse strategies and use cases."Inacta is a reputable company in the Web3 ecosystem. With this new partnership, we extend our offering further towards the implementation of Web3 ventures, while still maintaining the necessary objectivity to be protocol- and vendor agnostic, a key value for us when advising clients", says Pierre Samaties, Partner and Global Head of Roland Berger’s Digital Asset, Web3 and Metaverse practice."Roland Berger is a thought leader among the top strategy consulting firms in the Digital Assets and Web3 space. With our strategic partnership, we can combine strong strategy consulting skills with Web3 implementation power for our clients. We leverage this experience out of Crypto Valley and the growth in Crypto Oasis to bring more Web3 and Digital Asset solutions into the corporate world. For us, it is not about trading of crypto currencies, it is about building infrastructure for Tokenisation, Provenance and Digital Identities in several areas", says Ralf Glabischnig, Managing Partner and founder of Inacta.

Investopia 2023 annual conference hosts a session about Dubai D33

Abu Dhabi, United Arab of Emirates: Investopia 2023 Conference hosted as a session about “D33: A New Economy", in which H.E Helal Al Marri, Director General, Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism, talked about Dubai D33.Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has unveiled its strategic vision for the next decade, known as D33. His Excellency, Helal Al Marri, Director-General of DTCM, outlined the vision, which considers various initiatives and strategies to create a clear path for the future.Al Marri stressed the importance of forging partnerships between the public and private sectors in key areas, such as talent and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), as well as important sectors like finance, technology, and manufacturing. When asked about the significance of digital currencies in the strategy, Al Marri emphasized that crypto and digital currencies were just one of several new sectors Dubai was exploring. He added that web3.0 and blockchain technologies were having a significant impact on financial institutions, logistics, and other sectors.Al Marri also addressed the impact of regulations, noting that suitable regulations can accelerate growth in industries. He highlighted that the recent regulation in February has given confidence in the regulatory framework.During the conference, Al Marri also touched on the IPO pipeline for Dubai in 2023, stating that there has been a regional shift towards thinking about IPOs rather than strong pipelines. He emphasized the importance of getting governance in place to bring confidence to the market, as the UAE remains resilient to inflationary and recessionary pressures.The strategic vision of D33 has been designed to create a clear roadmap for Dubai's future growth and development. The focus on partnerships, key sectors, and suitable regulations, as well as the resilience of the UAE to economic pressures, bodes well for the future of Dubai's economy.Investopia conference 2023 focuses on the theme “Envisioning Opportunities in Times of Change” and three sub-themes: Envisioning Opportunities in Today’s Economy, The Future of the Wealth of Nations, and Growth Opportunities in Times of Decarbonization. The conference this year includes 35 sessions and roundtables, and brings together more than 2000 participants like investors, government officials, thought leaders and entrepreneurs, from more than 40 countries.

Embed partners with AWS

Transforming the business of fun since 2001, Embed, the ultimate cashless solutions provider for the amusement, entertainment, and leisure industries, will showcase their latest groundbreaking tech innovation at the DEAL SHOW in Dubai from March 14 – 16.The Tech of TransformationIn its commitment to technology innovation, Embed makes history every year – launching industry-firsts and breakthrough innovations for more than 20 years to enable, empower, and ease the business of fun. Since launching the Mobile Wallet virtual game card in 2019, it’s still the only non-banking, non-finance, and non-loyalty brand to sit in customers’ Apple Wallet or Google Pay.This year, Embed is adding to its tech innovation legacy in the industry with its Tech of Transformation – a roster of integrated hardware and software solutions developed with only the biggest names in the tech sector.“It’s our continuous pursuit to develop tech solutions that will propel businesses to become FECs of the Future. In line with this goal, we partnered with the largest and most respected tech brand in America, Amazon, to create a software solution that will transform FECs’ operations, revenue landscape, and consumer journey,” says Renee Welsh, CEO at Embed.To introduce this new line of solutions, Embed is kicking off with STATS, a brainchild development with none other than Amazon Web Services (AWS).STATS is the game-changing business intelligence dashboard that will make business insights work hard for operators - so they won’t have to. This Software as a Service (SaaS) solution is a response to an ever-growing challenge that FEC operators face in the industry’s transition from coins to cashless; from traditional to digital:“Even now, a lot of businesses find data analysis daunting. Operators need these collated and analysed instantly to make informed business decisions immediately. STATS was designed specifically to produce customisable, tailor-fit, real-time reports in a snackable, easy-to-access format according to specific business needs – minus the tech intimidation and data overload,” shares Renee Welsh.“Given that FECs come in single or multiple locations, we worked closely with both small-medium and large FEC customers to understand their needs; the deep data insights they wanted from their Embed system. We combed through their data sets, and created ones that will suit the needs of any organisation. Out of these efforts, demos, and trials came a dashboard so flexible and versatile that it won’t matter what size of FEC is using it – they can maximise it,” shares Andy Welsh, CTO at Embed.Embed’s current data reports solution REPORTS, an analytics platform, allows operators to access 150 different reports. “While REPORTS is already a smart data powerhouse in itself, STATS is a step towards more in-depth, dynamic data reporting. Our customers who use this are heavily reliant on REPORTS to address challenges with inventory management, loss prevention, and revenue management,” explains Renee Welsh. “Research shows that staff who are assigned data analytics work spend 90% of the work week on nitty-gritty data-related tasks – and this does not include the analysis required to gain actual insights that drive business decisions. The STATS dashboard is our commitment to being part of the solution; developing this automated dashboard with flexible widgets will help eliminate the counterproductive data work operators struggle doing,” she continues. Embed worked with AWS, the world’s leading provider of cloud platforms, to develop STATS’ backend on QuickSight, enabling FECs to access these ready-made dashboards. This cloud-based solution does not need to run on any server that can cause downtimes and lags. Cloud connectivity also ensures accessible and secure data.“We are excited about this partnership collaboration because it gives both AWS and Embed the opportunity to help an entire industry go digital. A non-technical person should not be weighed down with software data extraction to arrive at data-driven business decisions. STATS will handle the numbers; operators can focus on growing their business,” says Conor McNamara, ASEAN Managing Director at Amazon Web Services.Savvy, Simple, and in a SnapGet smart, near-real-time reports in a state-of-the-art viewer that you can access easily – data anytime, anywhere, across single or multiple business locations, attractions, and various consumer touchpoints.Track and YieldFind business strength in numbers. Track game and guest activities and get deep insights on:Games performance and revenueGuest activity, average dwell time, and spending habitsManpower managementInventory managementA Cloud for Your JudgmentMake data-driven business decisions stat! Keep reports handy and secure with this cloud-based solution, powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) QuickSight.Tactical PlanningWith its intuitive analysis, use STATS for reports on operational planning and forecasting game revenue and sales based on retro data. Learn more about the business as it grows.Stacks on StacksIncrease profitability as STATS gives a free hand to customise a business dashboard with interactive widgets called STACKS. This way, data becomes bite-sized and easy-to-interpret to identify key revenue management areas with tangible ROI.Additional Innovations: eShop & Staff MerchandiseJoining STATS in Embed’s Tech of Transformation roster are two new innovations that will ease operations:eShop is an online shopping portal where Embed customers can conveniently purchase hardware, parts, and accessories anytime, anywhere in just a few clicks. The only one of its kind against competitors, this one-stop shop features 24/7 service to enable customers to customise and maximise their existing Embed solutions, as needed, with brackets, adapters, server parts, scanners, and even product kits and bundles.As a response to an issue FECs are facing on missing staff passes and essentials, Embed is also introducing Staff Merchandise, a series of customisable wristbands, key fobs, and lanyards to match an FEC’s theme - giving the manpower a makeover with a consistent look that stands out.Visit booth #3-C24 OF DEAL SHOW AT DUBAI WORLD TRADE CENTRE and catch free demos of these latest releases from the Embed Mavericks, along with the rest of the breakthrough innovations like the KIOSK+, the award-winning Mobile Wallet, the integrated cloud-based software solution TOOLKIT, the smartTOUCH arcade debit game card reader, and a full range of wearables and game cards from Embed’s famous Bling Bar!

Zain KSA and Huawei sign MoU to build a global 5.5G pioneer network "5.5G City"

 During MWC23 in Barcelona, Huawei and leading Saudi Arabian telecommunications operator Zain KSA signed a strategic cooperation Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for "5.5G City" joint innovation project. The MoU was signed during MWC23 held in Barcelona from February 27 to March 2.Under the MoU, both parties will work together to promote technological innovation for 5.5G evolution and expand scalable offerings to individual, enterprise, and government customers. Additionally, they will strengthen the digital infrastructure and build a global 5.5G evolution pioneer network, providing a strong engine to achieve the national digitalization goals outlined in Saudi Vision 2030.Zain KSA and Huawei will collaborate to enhance technological innovation, improve user experience, and develop new use cases. The collaboration will involve providing a seamless gigabit experience in both indoor and outdoor scenarios through the large-scale deployment of MetaAAU and 5G carrier aggregation, as well as LampSite digital indoor solutions. Additionally, initiatives will be taken to enhance the performance of Massive MIMO networks and to develop end-to-end autonomous network operation and optimization capabilities. Both parties will also work together to develop new use cases for the Internet of Things (IoT) and private network solutions. Finally, the partnership will explore innovative cooperation in areas such as ultra-compact site and green energy solutions, among others.Zain KSA's Chief Technology Officer, Eng. Abdulrahman Al-Mufadda, commented: "Our commitment to driving digital transformation in the Kingdom has been made possible by combining innovative technology investments with pioneering digital solutions across multiple fields, including cloud computing, fintech, business support, and drone technologies. Zain KSA is on a mission to empower a digital society and support the transition towards a digital economy, in line with Saudi Vision 2030 and the Kingdom's digital transformation strategy. By partnering with global ICT leaders, including Huawei, we are committed to enhancing Zain KSA's end-to-end network through our joint innovation on 5G-Advanced technology and by incubating a range of vertical services for industry digitalization."Ritchie Peng, President of Huawei's 5G Product Line, said, "We are committed to providing leading products and solutions for operators and helping them build high-quality mobile networks through continuous technical innovations. We are excited to work with Zain KSA on this 5.5G City project and hope that this cooperation will allow our innovative products and solutions to create business and social value. Our vision is to help Zain KSA build better 5G networks and more importantly, leading digital infrastructure."MWC Barcelona 2023 ran from February 27 to March 2 in Barcelona, Spain. Huawei showcased its products and solutions at stand 1H50 in Fira Gran Via Hall 1. Together with global operators, industry professionals, and opinion leaders, Huawei delved into topics such as 5G business success, 5.5G opportunities, green development, digital transformation, and our vision of using the GUIDE business blueprint to lay the foundation for 5.5G and build on the success of 5G for even greater prosperity. For more information, please

Samsung and du ink agreement to meet UAE customers’ demands in 2023

Samsung Gulf Electronics and du, from Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to expand their existing partnership and grow the market for Samsung products through the du retail network. Currently, Samsung is the strategic smart device vendor for du, a relationship that has greatly benefited du customers while addressing all their device needs.The agreement was signed by Karim Benkirane, Chief Commercial Officer of du and Doohee Lee, President of Samsung Gulf Electronics. The MoU will make du shops a one-stop-shop for the entire Samsung range of consumer and business smart devices and solutions. In addition, it will extend Samsung’s exclusive products and offerings to more than 40 categories to include the entire consumer and business portfolio, such as smart home solutions, enterprise solutions, accessories, and more.Doohee Lee, President, Samsung Gulf Electronics, said: “We never stop innovating, not just in the technology and design of our products, but through the whole customer journey. We are therefore aligned with du in putting the customer experience first. Working together, we can offer our customers more value and a elevated customer experience.”         Karim Benkirane, du, Chief Commercial Officer, said: “Our partnership with Samsung provides a framework for our customers to benefit from more options and a better customer experience. Customers can purchase a variety of Samsung devices from the shops throughout the rest of the year, and the staff is well-trained to handle any requests for customer service. Samsung has always been known for its quality products and the durability of its devices, so its customers can rest assured that the products they buy are high-quality and reliable. Through our collaboration, we will provide our customers with access to a wider range of products and services, as well as increased customer service options.”Under the terms of the comprehensive agreement, du will elevate Samsung as its Preferred Partner, For 2G project. On its part, Samsung will extend all the necessary support, from stock allocations, sales support, and other requirements, to make du its leading UAE partner. In parallel to scaling up sales in Samsung’s smartphone brands, the two parties will also collaborate in product portfolio expansion, leveraging Samsung’s wide product range, du expects to avail the full Samsung ecosystem experience, including tablets, watches, and portable projectors, in its shops by Q1.

Netflix Launches Creative Producer Training Program in Saudi Arabia

Netflix has launched a Creative Producer Training program that will help upskill 15 professional Saudi television creative producers. The seven  week program will be available exclusively through the University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinematic Arts (SCA)  and will take participants through the process of creating, forming, and executing a TV pitch, pilot script, and writer’s room and is led by SCA alumni and award winning film/television writer & producer, Jason Shuman.Netflix worked with USC to design the program, which aims to develop the talent pipeline in the Kingdom, and generate a qualified network of talent for the regional and global film industry. The training will provide the necessary skills and opportunities to Saudi producers to break new ground and advance their career in film and television.The program kicked off with an intensive 3-day, in-person training in Riyadh covering the full range of skills required to develop quality TV shows. Participants deep-dived into the qualitiesof a good writer and producer, the development process for different formats, going from pitch to script and script to series, and finally, producing the pilot and series. A series of online workshops are currently underway, covering the development and production process, followed by pitches and a hands on writer’s room experience.Speaking of the launch, SCA alumni and award winning film/television writer & producer, Jason Shuman, said, “The entire program was beautifully put together. I was thoroughly impressed with the passion and professionalism of both the Netflix and SCA team. The students in attendance may have been born and raised far from Hollywood, but their love and appreciation for the arts, especially in the medium of television, was as genuine as I’ve ever seen. I am excited for the future of storytelling in Saudi Arabia.”  Nuha El Tayeb is the Content Director Middle East, Turkey, and Africa at Netflix, “The booming entertainment industry in Saudi Arabia presents an incredible opportunity for aspiring creatives to grow, learn, and advance their careers. Knowledge transfer is critical to building this thriving creative community, and partnerships like the one with USC, allow us to expose promising talent to the tools and industry insight needed to create best in class content. Some of the producers participating in this training program have worked on shows and films currently streaming on Netflix, and we hope that through continued industry collaboration and initiatives such as this will help amplify their work further and create more avenues for Arab talent to shine on the global stage.”Through training programs, Netflix is committed to adding value to creative communities in the Arab world, regularly working with industry partners to catalyze skills advancement and provide creators with the tools they need to tell the best version of their stories. In October 2022, Netflix signed a partnership with SPT in Saudi Arabia to help train and upskill 15 young talents in Saudi through on set training and workshops focused on art department and production roles.

Sarah Maina joins Appsflyer as partner development manager

Sarah Maina has been appointed as Appsflyer’s Middle East partner development manager.As part of her new role, Maina will be responsible for developing the company’s agency and media partner ecosystem, growing AppsFlyer’s partnerships in the region, and unlocking opportunities for its partners.In most organisations’ multi-channel marketing mix, mobile apps have become a cornerstone. Many marketers, however, struggle to accurately correlate marketing spend and app engagement with revenue. Maina’s collaboration with key regional partners, like Meta, Google and TikTok, will empower the company’s customers with the solutions they need to accurately calculate ROI across the marketing journey as they maximize their own media channels.Maina will be based in Dubai. She has more than 12 years of experience in the AdTech industry. Having held leadership roles at prominent organisations such as Millennial Media, AOL, Tempr, and Singular, she has extensive experience developing and managing partnership ecosystems.

3rd annual MENA Conversational AI summit 2023

Conversational AI encompasses a multitude of technologies that work cohesively to encourage efficient, automated communication via text, speech, or other mediums in order to decipher consumer intent, decipher language context, and respond using humane mannerisms. It has been successfully used in marketing, retail, and even banking in order to enhance the customer experience.With this momentum, Verve Management is proud to present the 3rd Annual Conversational AI Summit on the 14th and 15th of March, at the Swissotel Al Murooj Dubai, UAE. The summit will be a gathering of digital strategy and consumer experience professionals, with the event featuring a diverse line-up of speakers who will delve into the latest challenges, developments, and opportunities the world of Conversational AI has to offer.The 3rd Annual Conversational AI Summit will bring together top industry, leaders, experts, and innovators to share their insights and experiences on the current state of Conversational AI and its expected future trajectory. Attendees will have the chance to hear from keynote speakers, and participate in networking with the leading professionals of the industry and other like-minded individuals.The event will range in a variety of topics, including Conversational AI and its impact and collaboration with the Metaverse, the reach of AI into the arena of banking and automated consumer experiences, with the inclusion of Conversational AI and blockchain technologies and its impact on the consumer experience. The concept of Conversational AI’s reach today in improving our consumer interaction, problem-solving, and service delivery is also a focus of what the summit has to offer. Immerse yourself into the world of Conversational AI and learn more about its role in shaping the world, and how it can be leveraged into pioneering a positive shift in society.A brief mention of only some of the speakers set to speak at the summit, to lead worldly discussions of our new reality are:Srinivasan Sampath - Acting Chief Technology Officer, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB)Sachin Gadoya - Co-founder & CEO, & Musafir BusinessWael Khaleel AbuRizq - AI & Advanced Analytics Advisor, Abu Dhabi Digital AuthorityRob Beswick - Managing Director, Virgin Mobile UAELubna Salah Zaitouni - Senior Specialist - Economics, Ministry of Economy“As we accelerate into the future of banking, we need to leverage the latest innovations to underpin our ongoing digital transformation efforts to meet our customers’ increasing digital needs,” said Srinivasan Sampath - Acting Chief Technology Officer at First Abu Dhabi Bank. This showcases our objective for this event: a world where Conversational AI is recognized, utilized and innovated for the seamless integration and provision of the most refined consumer experience in the dynamic arena of consumer satisfaction.Join us for the 3rd Annual Conversational AI Summit and delve deeper into the minds of some of the leading professionals of today and absorb what they, and the discussions yet to come, have to offer.

DMCC Crypto Centre and DWF Labs collaborate to attract a new stream

DMCC – the world’s flagship free zone and Government of Dubai Authority on commodities trade and enterprise – has partnered with DWF Labs, a global digital asset market maker and multi-stage web3 investment firm, to offer a new USD 5 million growth platform for web3 and blockchain businesses at the DMCC Crypto Centre.As a new ecosystem partner, DWF Labs will establish the DWF Ventures Studio, which will support nascent web3 and blockchain businesses using the DMCC Crypto Centre and Dubai as a hub from which they can scale their operations locally, regionally and globally. The partnership was announced during the “Sunset Meet and Greet” event organised by DWF Labs on 24 February 2023 in Dubai.Building on the Crypto Centre’s wide offering, the DWF Venture Studio will provide multiple benefits for early-stage startups based in DMCC, including consultancy services, increased connection to global venture capital, market making services on tier one and two exchanges, a range of workshops and direct capital investments.DWF aims to invest in 50 startups operating in the web3 space, with multiple additional investments for best performing companies, and a USD 500,000 investment for the cohort’s most prominent business.Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, DMCC, said: “Dubai’s leading position as a hub for web3 technologies is known the world over. The DMCC Crypto Centre has been a fundamental part of the emirate’s successful crypto journey, housing the largest concentration of web3 and blockchain businesses in the region. Partnering with one of the top names in the global industry further exemplifies the maturity of the crypto business community that we have built, as well as the significant commercial opportunities that Dubai presents.”DWF Labs is part of the broader Digital Wave Finance (DWF) platform, which is one of the world’s largest high-frequency cryptocurrency trading entities. By trading volume, DWF is one of the top five trading entities that trade on the top 40 exchanges, trading over 2000 different types of the digital asset.Andrei Grachev, Managing Partner, DWF Labs, added: “DWF Labs’ core goal is to invest in and support innovative entrepreneurs within the web3 space. For this reason, partnering with DMCC and its Crypto Centre is the right step as we expand our footprint both in Dubai and globally. The ecosystem that DMCC has built offers a strong pool of crypto talent that we are looking forward to being part of, building upon, and ultimately further facilitating its success.”The DMCC Crypto Centre is a comprehensive ecosystem for companies that develop web3 and blockchain technologies, and associated value-added services, providing everything that crypto businesses and entrepreneurs need to set up and scale their operations. Home to over 550 businesses operating in the web3 and blockchain space, the DMCC Crypto Centre represents the highest concentration of crypto firms in the region.

SME conference hosts final round of Entrepreneurship World Cup

Biban, Saudi Arabia’s largest start-up, SME, and entrepreneurship conference, takes place between March 9 and March 13, 2023, at the Riyadh Front Exhibition & Conference Center.Biban held its first edition in 2017, and is organized by Monsha’at, the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.This year, international audiences will benefit from more highlights than ever before, with the forum strongly positioned to foster tangible opportunities.Biban 2023 will host the Global Finals of the Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC), one of the biggest and most diverse start-up pitch competitions and support programs of its kind. Since its inception, over 400,000 entrepreneurs from 200 countries have registered. This year, the finalists will compete for up to $1 million in cash prizes.At Biban 2023, international guests can network and collaborate with government authorities, entrepreneurs, and investors - from the Kingdom and beyond. Additionally, the forum provides access to growing markets, including E-Commerce, FinTech, F&B, and others.Attendees can also learn about the support - financial and other kinds - that are available to foreigners starting a business in Saudi Arabia.Making up the engaging themed areas at the forum are nine “Doors”, which include:Start-up Door: Featuring incubators, business accelerators and start-upsEnablement Door: Hosting agencies that enable entrepreneurial business ownersFunding Door: Providing start-ups and SMEs with information on where to secure funding and how to overcome financial challengesGrowth Door: Educating SME owners on areas that help grow their businesses - marketing, strategy, innovation, and much moreBiban 2023 also welcomes a roster of over 350 speakers from the Kingdom and across the world, which include:HE Lee Young: Minister of SMEs and Start-ups, Republic of KoreaSteve Chen: CTO and Co-Founder of YouTubeJeff Hoffman: Chairman of the Board, Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN)Chris Barton: Founder and Creator of ShazamSaudi Arabia is emerging as a key player in the global start-up scene. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s (GEM) 2022 National Entrepreneurship Context Index reported that the Kingdom is now the second-best economy in the world to start a business, reflecting a rapidly advancing start-up ecosystem, and a wealth of business opportunities for local and international entrepreneurs.

ADIB appoints Bushra Al Shehhi as Chief Human Resources Officer

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), a leading financial institution, announced today the appointment of Bushra Al-Shehhi as the new Chief Human Resources Officer. Bushra will now oversee the management of human resources affairs, operations, and related strategies for the entire Group, including branches and institutions outside the country that support the bank's business plan and strategic directions for the next phase of ADIB’s growth plan 2025.Commenting on the appointment, Nasser Al Awadhi, Group CEO of ADIB, said: "We are pleased to appoint Bushra to this important role. Her vast experience in the field of human resources makes her the ideal person to lead our team and support the continued growth and success of our bank. Her appointment is a testament to our commitment to promoting Emirati leadership and women, and we hope that Bushra's appointment will inspire others to pursue leadership roles and contribute to the success of their organizations."Bushra is a seasoned professional and a master’s degree holder in human resources management. Having worked in the Human Resources field for over 20 years working in both the public and private sectors, and during her tenure at ADIB, she has contributed significantly to creating a positive and productive work environment for the bank's employees by launching various initiatives. She helped advance the bank’s Emiratisation efforts, providing UAE nationals with the tools and skills to flourish within the financial services industry.Commenting on her new role, Bushra Al Shehhi, Group Chief Human Resources Officer, said: “I am deeply honoured to lead the human resources team at ADIB and excited to work alongside such a talented group of individuals. My goal is to build upon the already impressive work that has been accomplished, and to make ADIB an exceptional workplace for all employees. A strong human resources function is integral to the success of any organization, and I am committed to facilitating employee learning and development, improving hiring practices, and promoting a thriving company culture. I am thrilled to be a part of ADIB's ongoing achievements."ADIB is dedicated to fostering local talents within the UAE, with approximately 45% of its workforce comprised of Emirati nationals. In line with the National Employability Agenda, ADIB’s leadership development programs, Tamkeen and Qiyadat, serve to further develop ADIB’s diverse talent pool.

How Dice is changing the game for multinationals in the region

Amid the global distress in today's markets and the lingering financial threats caused by the economic shifts in the world, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is leading its way. Under the progressive leadership of Saudi Arabia, the international monetary fund reported in 2022 that the new Kingdom is now considered to be one of the world's fastest-growing economies. Reports are forecasting a rise in the country's GDP by 7.6 percent, the fastest growth in almost a decade, according to the IMF Article IV consultation report.From investing billions of dollars in healthcare, hospitality, digital economy and other sectors, the authorities are evidently committed to implement Saudi's Vision 2030. Heading towards this direction, the country is diversifying and liberalizing the economy and thus is paving the way to more stable growth, improving the business environment, attracting foreign investments, and reforming the private sector scene for endless opportunities of development across all sectors.In line with the massive expansion of the Kingdom's economy, Saudi startups, small-sized businesses, and marketing agencies are also leading their way. With the colossal amount of registered Saudi businesses, one cannot overlook the series of successes that Dice, a Saudi-born fully fledged marketing agency, has achieved in almost a decade.Founded in 2013, Dice has shifted the game for agencies and businesses in the Saudi market. The agency kicked off its business journey from a small office in Riyadh with a team of four, and despite its initial size, Dice won its pitch to a renowned multinational IT company, Hewlett Packard (HP).Today, heading towards its 10th anniversary, the agency has a team of almost 60 profound creative professionals, executed projects beyond the Saudi borders, and opened two other offices in Lebanon and Egypt. Notably, the agency has witnessed a peak in its growth odyssey during the pandemic as it now works with above 50 large Saudi corporations, governmental entities, and multinationals to prepare brands for the new Saudi Arabia's market standards and support their alignment with the upcoming scene of the country's economy.Setting the Benchmark For a good measure, corporations and multinationals in Saudi are increasingly realizing the importance of working with local agencies. The strategic demand is rooted from the local agencies' awareness of Saudi's consumer behavior, the Kingdom's culture and traditions, and the diversity of the 13.5 million expats living in the country. Consequently, the market competition in this industry is high and there is pressure on local agencies to abide by the highest standards of service."Our goal from the get-go was to set a benchmark to the quality of work we provide. In 2013, we faced some hesitancy from multinational and large corporations to hire local small agencies. They worked with international agencies for years so trusting the capacity of startup agencies in promptly delivering large projects was on the horns of a dilemma. At the time, the digital age was emerging, and marketing strategies were shifting. We had to take a leap of faith and hustle to compete with other agencies in the quality and practicality of services we provide," explained Sari Kazma, Managing Director of Dice.Mr. Kazma added that Dice identified a market gap in Saudi's marketing industry. The agency realized that there was a very limited number of 360, fully fledged marketing agencies in the country. Accordingly, Dice established a comprehensive set of services to corporations through a unified interconnected team including: creative and strategy, experimental experiences, social and digital, and content creation."We realized the hassle that companies go through when working with different agencies on a marketing campaign. The lack of communication between agencies, confusion in deliverables, and the set of problems that companies face when they are trying to execute one project through different entities. Quickly responding to the evident market need, we designed a fully-fledged set of services that could make our clients' marketing odyssey easier. So, we started off on low-cap projects and focused all our efforts to not only deliver the projects in the highest form of quality but to set a unique benchmark for the agency's name in the market," stated Mr. Kazma.           Market Positioning"Our first project was our very first branding opportunity to uniquely position Dice in the market. At that point, our goal was to create a brand identity for Dice through its quality of service and impact of work," stated Mr. Kazma.Two business values shaped Dice in the Saudi market: quality and impact. Dice's branding happened through a result-driven approach that led the agency to reportedly close off its first year wining a pitch to a multinational company for a project worth USD 1.3 Million (SAR 4.8 Million), notably after starting off the same year executing a project worth USD 10,000 (SAR 37,500).In the span of soon-to-be ten years, Dice has worked on key projects in the Saudi market that provided room for the agency to not only grow in the market and get more clients but to also be selective on the types of projects the agency works on. Explicitly, it all started with branding Dice through its results and positioning the agency in the market for its quality and impact.Dice worked with international tech companies such as Motorola, Cisco, Schneider Electric, and Xiaomi and established a diverse pool of clients in other fields. Notably, the agency was the kitchen behind various large campaigns and projects that happened in Saudi Arabia. The agency was recently selected by Marafiq to work on its brand revamp. Another key project that Dice managed was the inauguration of Deloitte Digital Academy in Saudi Arabia in 2019, which was attended by the c-suites of Deloitte Global and Saudi's Minister of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), His Excellency Eng. Abdullah Bin Amer Al Swaha."One of the other factors that contributed to the agency's success is that we are not financially driven. We have a huge appetite for interesting and meaningful projects and our agency culture thrives to unleash the maximum potential of our team members to come up with a completely new form of success. For example, the campaign we've executed for HPI to promote its sprocket printer in 2017. The campaign didn't only promote the printer in an unusual manner but it also led the company to make a Guinness World Record for the HP product. And, that's the type of marketing we do. Completely out of the box, high-quality, and impactful," added Mr. Kazma. (HP Campaign link)As the agency positioned itself strongly in the market, Dice gradually changed the game for multinationals in the country. Companies started to witness the impact of Dice's glocalized campaigns that can be easily received by the locals."We glocalize the ideas, visions, and language of multinationals in a way that would influence the behavior of the Saudi customer. For example, we executed a campaign for Novo Nordisk on the International Women Day in 2020. The produced multimedia content for the campaign had the Saudi ingredient in many ways, yet it was also appealing for the global audience. The campaign was so successful that the brand published it on its international page," explained Mr. Kazma. (Campaign link)Market Adaptability"There is no doubt that the role of agencies today is shifting, and agencies need to therefore be very flexible to cope with the volatility of the digital market and its demands. There are no theories and a set of strategies anymore. Customers, market trends, and interests of the audience change so fast. Saudi's culture and market is also changing very fast. Agencies therefore need to establish a dynamic business model that would swiftly adapt to those changes while offering creative, practical, and cost-effective solutions. A hard formula but doable," said Mr. Kazma.In the golden age of marketing, agencies were the brains of the most powerful brands in the pre-pandemic era. However, it has been depicted that the concept of marketing itself is changing and brand building has become a vexing challenge.Numerous business articles highlighted the matter and the Marketing Week, a forty years old prominent marketing weekly journal, also tackled the apparent issue. After surveying 50 agency CEOs and 50 brand CMOs about the changing role of agencies, it was found that 'agency structures, processes and pace of delivery' are not developing at the same rate of the emerging markets, new media, and brands given the old-school management and market approach.Given that Dice is owned and operated by millennials, there is no doubt that the agency's higher management are able to understand the untraditional shifts of the emerging market. Accordingly, the higher management anticipated the digital era ahead of time and established a cost-effective business model to rapidly grow while maintaining its top-notch quality of service.To cut operational costs, Dice inaugurated its first office outside the Saudi borders in 2017. The small office was established in Lebanon and has a team of ten digital marketing gurus and tech savvy professionals supporting clients based in Saudi Arabia remotely. Gradually, Dice Lebanon became a standalone agency serving clients in Beirut, Kuwait, London, and Africa in addition to its back-office support to Dice KSA, specifically to Saudi clients who are on a limited budget."During the pandemic, our portfolio of clients has widely increased given Dice's signature work in the digital sphere throughout the past years. The pandemic happened as we were organizing a crucial event for Saudi's Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. Luckily, our team was able to find effective solutions and organized the ministry's virtual closing ceremony and award ceremony, which were viewed by more than 7,000 users and gathered Saudi's tech champs," reported Mr. Kazma.He added that the agency launched its third office in Egypt to increase the team capacity, expand its presence in the region, and quickly adapt to the market demands. Mr. Kazma underscored that the new office came as part of Dice's commitment towards expanding a Saudi-born agency in different markets to align with the Kingdom's economic vision (Saudi Vision 2030) and foster economic and foreign investments in the local market. He explained that the agency enjoys a diverse culture bringing together a team of different nationalities, age groups and backgrounds, while maintaining a fair percentage of Saudi personnel to integrate the Kingdom's culture in the work developed and executed in the market. Mr. Sari also stressed on the importance of exposing all team members to markets beyond Saudi Arabia in order to enrich their expertise and support their professional growth.  Though the industry of advertising and marketing agencies has significantly transformed in the past few years due to numerous factors, Dice has demonstrated a leading example of strategically capitalizing on challenging situations and turning them into opportunities of growth and evolution. Setting the benchmark for its work in the market, positioning itself through a result-oriented approach, and swiftly adapting to the volatile market conditions has played a huge role in Dice's successful business journey.

Zain KSA signs MoU with Cisco to boost digital transformation in the Kingdom

Zain KSA, the leading digital service provider, announced signing a Memorandum of Understanding (“MoU”) with Cisco to collaborate on the development of network automation and service orchestration to improve network service outcomes. The MoU was signed during its participation at Mobile World Congress (MWC23), which was held in Barcelona from February 27 until March 3.Through this MoU, Zain KSA and Cisco plan to work together to develop an automation blueprint that is aimed at simplifying day-to-day network operations, including maintaining, monitoring, and optimizing the system, with sophisticated automation tools, with the aim of supporting the Kingdom’s digital transformation, and enabling the community to enjoy a smarter mobile lifestyle, using advanced technologies so that Zain KSA will be the preferred digital partner for its clients, including individuals, and the business sector.Commenting on the MoU, Zain KSA’s Chief Technology Officer, Eng. Abdulrahman Al-Mufadda, said: “The expansion of the use of 5G technologies, the significant increase in networked devices, and the increasing consumption of content services have led to increasing pressure on networks, and our cooperation with Cisco is an important step to keep pace with this development and accelerate the digital transformation journey.” He added: “This MoU is in line with our strategy to innovate, deliver integrated digital experiences to our customers, and enhance their experiences across the Kingdom, accelerating the realization of Saudi Vision 2030’ goals.”Adam MacHale, Vice President, Service Provider EMEA, at Cisco, commented: “Cisco's model-driven approach to network automation with open API’s and service orchestration will help Zain KSA simplify operations and deliver services more quickly across the entire lifecycle. This will enable Zain KSA to improve the quality of its services and continue to deliver a superior customer experience over broadband through reliable and high-speed connectivity.”

Nokia selected by Ooredoo Group to deploy 5G-ready network in Algeria & Tunisia

Nokia today announced that it has been selected by Ooredoo Group to upgrade its existing radio access networks (RAN), as well as deploy new sites in Algeria and Tunisia. This will improve the network performance and help Ooredoo Group to prepare for a launch of 5G services in the future. In addition, Nokia will modernize Ooredoo’s IP network, and modernize and extend its Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network in Tunisia. These initiatives will transform Ooredoo Group’s networks by enhancing the mobile user experience thanks to better data speeds and capacity. Nokia will deploy its latest, energy-efficient AirScale portfolio including base stations supporting multiple generations of radio technology from 2G, 3G and 4G to 5G; massive MIMO Adaptive Antennas for urban and wide-area coverage; dual-band Remote Radio Heads (RRH); as well as AirScale indoor Radio (ASiR) small cell solution for seamless indoor coverage. These solutions will deliver an enhanced mobile user experience with high bandwidth, ultra-fast speeds and low latency.Under the deal, Nokia will replace the existing radio network for Ooredoo Tunisia, as well as expand the network with the addition of new radio sites. Nokia will increase its share in Ooredoo Algeria’s network to almost 50 percent, and in Ooredoo Tunisia’s network to around 40 percent.Nokia will also provide its AirFrame and CloudBand Application Manager (CBAM) solution for the network upgrade and deployment in Algeria and Tunisia. In addition, in Tunisia, Nokia will deploy its 7750 Service Router for the modernization of Ooredoo’s IP network and its GPON fiber broadband solution to upgrade the existing FTTH network, increasing its share in these domains to 100 percent in Ooredoo Tunisia’s network. Ahmad Al Neama, Group Regional CEO at Ooredoo Group, said: “Nokia has been our technology partner for many years and has been a part of our network evolution. Under this renewed partnership, we are taking our network to a new level of transformation to further improve our network performance and service experience for our customers. This will further empower our customers in Algeria and Tunisia for knowledge, business, entertainment and make competitive for a whole new lifestyle in the digital age.”Amr K. El Leithy, SVP, Middle East and Africa Market, Nokia, said: “Our vision is to create technology that helps the world act together. To realize this vision, we deliver secure, reliable and sustainable networks today – and work with valued operators such as Ooredoo Group to create the digital services and applications of the future. We are proud to be part of these large-scale network modernization and expansion projects with Ooredoo in Algeria and in Tunisia to unleash rich digital experiences and new value creation opportunities.”

Kitopi announces the acquisition of leading F&B group AWJ

Kitopi, the world’s leading tech-powered, multi-brand restaurant, announced today that it has acquired leading F&B group - AWJ, in one of the largest F&B transactions of the GCC region. A highly successful Dubai-founded F&B group, AWJ is the holding company behind hugely popular delivery and dine-in brands such as Operation Falafel, Catch 22, Awani, Sushi Do and more. AWJ’s unique concepts were created and developed by Co-Founding Director Mr Manhal Naser, who since incorporation acted as the Group’s CEO. Co-Founding Director Mr Tamer Bazzari chaired the corporate vehicle of the fund and the Investment Manager. The group opened its first outlet in Dubai in 2014, and has since expanded its portfolio to more than 10 brands (delivery and dine-in), and 32+ outlets across the UAE and KSA. Today, Operation Falafel serves over 2 million customers globally, per year. AWJ also has franchises in New York and London, and is headquartered in Dubai, UAE with over 1300 employees.The acquisition announcement comes as part of Kitopi’s continued strategy to invest in and grow, much-loved regional brands and take them global, as it continues to dominate the F&B space. Primarily known as a cloud kitchen, today Kitopi defines itself as a tech-powered, multi-brand restaurant with over 100 brands, operated in 200+ locations across 5 markets.The deal which occurred for an undisclosed amount, will see the AWJ group of brands eye expansion in new markets where Kitopi has a solidified presence and a vast network of locations, unlocking new opportunities and access to more customers. AWJ will also benefit from Kitopi’s pioneering tech SKOS (Smart Kitchen Operating System), one of the founding factors for the company’s early success. On the acquisition, Manhal Naser, Group CEO and Co-Founding Director said, “It has been an honour to establish, lead and work so closely with the AWJ team whom I consider as family. We have built on our core fundamentals, raising the bar and setting the business up for a sustainable future - thanks to our 1300+ team champions, our supporting shareholders, the unique brands we have created, and the millions of consumers we serve. It is now time for a new chapter and having worked closely with Kitopi and Mohamed Ballout, the co-founder and CEO, I believe they are best positioned to take AWJ to the next level.” Mohamad Ballout, CEO and Co-founder of Kitopi commented, “With a purpose to satisfy the world’s appetite to create joy, we always strive to bring the best to our customers. To this end, we are incredibly proud to have acquired AWJ and its portfolio of brands. The co-founders and leaders of AWJ have done a remarkable job in building its iconic brands and bringing them across borders. AWJ have built some of the region’s much-loved brands, and it is going to be a privilege to continue to innovate, elevate and expand its success.” While AWJ will welcome a new CEO, AWJ will retain their original team that led to its success, and operate as a separate vertical to Kitopi’s on-demand business. Founded in Dubai, UAE, in January 2018, Kitopi has 5000+ employees, and has offices in KSA, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. It also operates its engineering hub in Krakow, Poland, its global customer experience center in Dubai, UAE, and its Robotics Hub in Odense, Denmark.

Etisalat by e& launches the MENA region's first enhanced 5G Standalone network

etisalat by e& today announced the first commercial deployment of comprehensive 5G Stand-Alone (SA) network in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) for consumers and businesses. This marks a significant improvement over the previous generation of 5G Non Stand Alone (NSA) currently available in the market. etisalat by e& first launched the previous generation of 5G NSA commercially in 2018, which was the first of its kind in the region. With this deployment, etisalat by e& has transitioned from using a 5G radio access network on an existing 4G LTE network to a more advanced 5G network.The latest version of the 5G network will provide customers with access to a dependable nationwide standalone network that can support a wide range of applications. These applications include massive machine-to-machine communication solutions, real-time device-to-device networking, ultra-reliable, low-latency functionality for autonomous devices and next-generation Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Standalone 5G technology offers additional capacity and significantly lower latency, making it essential for innovative use cases such as Industry 4.0, industrial IoT, commercial augmented and virtual reality, and large-scale digital sensing.The etisalat by E& 5G Stand Alone (SA) service is designed to offer a more satisfying and productive user experience. Users can enjoy high-speed broadband connectivity comparable to fibre-optic connections, which provides an enhanced experience for high-demand applications such as 4K video streaming, high-quality music streaming, and cloud gaming. In addition to providing individuals with a more efficient broadband experience, the service can also serve as an alternative broadband option for businesses. By leveraging the advantages of 5G SA Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), companies can improve their operations and customer experience.Khalid Murshed, Chief Technology & Information Officer of etisalat by e&, said: "We are pleased to announce our successful investment in 5G Standalone technology. This is a significant milestone as we look to deliver end-to-end 5G solutions in UAE, providing our customers with the latest digital innovations and superior experience and laying the foundation for new revenue streams. The 5G Standalone network will allow us to offer our customers the latest in high-speed and low-latency connectivity. Our recent collaborations have enabled us to increase the quality of our services, while creating a more reliable and cost-effective experience for our customers. We are proud to be leading the way in 5G technology and are committed to continuing our efforts to provide the best services in the industry."This commercial deployment of a comprehensive 5G Stand-Alone network is based on Service Based Architecture (SBA), including the capability of edge computing, network slicing, 3GPP SA (defining standard for 5G) guided network orchestration and service-based architecture. Launching the 5G Stand-Alone Fixed Wireless Access (5G SA FWA) as the first service will open a new era of commercial use cases with a multi-vendor 5G Dual Mode network to enhance the broadband offering to customers.The technology of 5G SA will enable subscribers to enjoy higher uplink bandwidth with special case scenarios for enterprise applications where uplink throughput is equally important as downlink. In other cases, requiring lower user-traffic latency, it will address critical gaming issues and experience futuristic technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) and cloud gaming. The technology also has high-security levels that utilise best industry practices to maintain a robust network.The solution is further enriched with network exposure, slicing, edge computing and orchestration. Network slicing is a way of virtualising the 5G network, allowing it to be partitioned into multiple, logically isolated networks for different customers based on their needs. It allows for greater efficiency and flexibility in the deployment of 5G networks. Edge computing is a way of bringing computing resources closer to the users, reducing latency and improving the performance of applications. The 5G SA will co-exist efficiently with existing networks using dual-mode 5G core technology.

Vodafone Oman signs agreement with digital virgo

 Making waves at this year’s MWC Barcelona, Vodafone Oman signed strategic partnership with Digital Virgo that will revolutionise the company’s digital services, paving the way for Vodafone Oman to offers even more exclusive content tailored for today’s young customer needs and lifestyles.  Capitalizing on Digital Virgo global expertise, Vodafone will unlock a myriad of instant trendy, premium value-added content including video streaming, gaming, entertainment and more, all available through its award-winning My Vodafone App.At the signing ceremony in Barcelona, Bader Al Zidi, CEO, Vodafone Oman, said: “We have gained valuable insight from our customers during our first year of operations. Most importantly is that the value-add of yesterday is the basic of today and we need to bring a new dimension to the table. Catering to a digital savvy young population, our agreement with Digital Virgo is key to allowing us to offer enhanced, cutting-edge digital services, beyond voice and data and we look forward to seeing the fruit of this agreement come to life in the next few months.”Guillaume Briche, CEO, Digital Virgo, said: “We are very excited to be partnering with Vodafone, which is one of the most innovative telco operators in the Middle East. Through this agreement, we are keen to deploy our expertise in supporting the company further enhance its digital services in Oman, giving customers fast easy and secure access to quality content.”At MWC Barcelona, Vodafone’s delegation will also be attending key sessions and meetings, exploring new technologies and partnerships with industry leaders. Since its launch, Vodafone has been committed to building a digital business model, from its fully digital onboarding and eStores; to highly customised digital solutions, fully integrated IT and networks and subscription-based services. Today, Vodafone in Oman is 100% digital with a network that was constructed as one of the only fully cloud-based networks in the region.

Marketplace & D2C Conference 2023 will be held in Dubai in March

The Marketplace & D2C Conference will be held in Dubai on 7th March, 2023. The event will promote exchanges of experience between global and regional experts working in marketplaces and D2C e-commerce in the MENA region. The Marketplace & D2C Conference will be organised by e-commerce analytics tools Sellematics & and held in partnership with the Dubai-based grocery delivery YallaMarket, quick-commerce-as-a-service solution, YallaHub.The event will connect 350+ leaders and professionals across MENA’s e-commerce industry with international expertise and the latest ideas and innovations in foodtech. The main speakers of the summit are: Ishneet Kaur, Head of E-commerce in Lenovo; Ali Shah Bukhari, top-seller on and with with revenues of more than $10 million, Leo Dovbenko, CEO and Co-Founder of YallaMarket & YallaHub; Daria Tkachenko, CEO & Co-founder of Sellematics and, Anshuman Anand, Vice President of Apparel Group; Jonathan Flender, Digital & Ecommerce General Manager at Al-Futtaim.Attendees will learn more about the analytics, advertising and promotion on marketplaces and D2C channels in the MENA region, and the main challenges in the industry in 2023. They will have the opportunity to learn from case studies of YallaMarket & YallaHub, one of the key foodtech players in the area, lecture-discussions from successful brand representatives and well-known marketers, and analysis of cases in groups with experts in the field of e-commerce.“It's an honour for us to participate in and be a partner of the the Marketplace & D2C Conference 2023, in which will unlock new possibilities for startups, investors and everybody who has passion for marketplaces and D2C e-commerce in the MENA region,” said Leo Dovbenko, CEO and Co-Founder of YallaMarket and YallaHub. “The MENA Marketplace & D2C Conference comes at a challenging time as the global economy stands in the face of ongoing challenges. We believe that together we could gain and discuss insights on key trends influencing e-commerce not only in MENA, but all around the globe.”

Makadi Heights & Stryx Sports Dubai collaborate to reshape town’s sports scene

Makadi Heights, one of Orascom Developments' fully integrated towns in the Red Sea Governorate, and Stryx Sports, Dubai's leading sports services provider, have signed a cooperation protocol to provide unparalleled sports programs to support Egypt’s emerging national athletes.The agreement was signed by Tamer Dewidar, CEO of Makadi Heights and Byoum El Fayoum and interim CEO of O West, and Seif Tawfik, CEO of Stryx Sports. The agreement entails Stryx Sports managing Makadi Heights' sports facilities, such as the football, tennis, padel courts, and swimming pools. In addition, Stryx Sports will introduce and manage multi-sport camps for kids ages 3 to 12. This agreement paves the way to further expansion plans introducing academies, after-school activities, sports events and competitions in Makadi Heights.Tamer Dewidar, CEO Of Makadi Heights said, “Our partnership with Stryx Sports represents yet another significant milestone in Makadi Heights’ progression plan. This strategic collaboration aims to provide premium services and facilities that offer an array of unforgettable experiences for residents, visitors, and tourists alike. Makadi Heights is committed to create special moments for homeowners and residents that will last a lifetime at this ultimate family destination at the Red Sea Governorate.”Seif Tawfik, CEO of Stryx Sports, “We are pleased to be expanding our services to Egypt specifically in Makadi Heights. We have been firm believers that sports are an essential component of any society’s well-being. Thus, we are keen to see our seeds sprout and reap the benefits of our efforts to manage world-class sports facilities and create the most engaging sports camps and programs for the Red Sea community.”He added: “For 15 years, Stryx Sports has been using the power of sports to drive positive change in young people. Our mission is two-fold: we aim not only to develop their athletic skills but also to build character and resilience – qualities through running multi sports camps to keep kids active and to learn core values that will stay with them long after they leave our program. We're proud that our efforts have made us a key player across the Middle East, as this region boasts huge potential for sports talent development.”Makadi Heights is a proud supporter of Egyptian sports, having been actively involved for a long period, Makadi Heights’ organized a football tournament that witnessed an impressive total of 410 players competing - consisting of 30 male and 10 female teams with contestants ranging from 18 years old upwards.Stryx Sports has been operating in Dubai since 2008. It established the Barca Academy, bringing FC Barcelona coaches to the country to ensure excellent training. Moreover, Stryx Sports has also established NBA Basketball School in the UAE in 2019.It is worth noting that Makadi Heights is known for its strategic location 15 minutes from Hurghada and 20 minutes from the airport. It is also an unbeatable family destination, with events and activities suitable for all family members — bringing everyone together in one community with its premium experiences and facilities. Makadi Heights started its first phase's delivery, in which 248 units were delivered. The town managed to deliver 126 units ahead of schedule, and 122 as per promised delivery dates. In addition, Makadi Heights delivered “Bayou lagoon” in 2022 two years ahead of its planned date.

Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr impact in retail sales and consumer spending

According to a study conducted by Toluna, a leading provider of market research and consumer insights, the United Arab Emirates market has projected higher expenditure estimates for the Holy Month of Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr in 2023 compared to 2022.As per the study, consumer shopping intention in the UAE for the upcoming period will increase by 33% this year compared to last year. The increase can be seen across all sectors, including entertainment (up by 25% from last year), and groceries (up by 23%), socializing (up by 24%), traveling abroad (up by 21%), staycation (up by 28%), food delivery (up by 28%), and cosmetics (up by 28%).The survey shows that the majority of respondents, 91%, plan to give Eid presents this year, with children (64%), parents (52%), and friends (45%) being the primary recipients. Specifically, 39% of respondents plan to increase their spending on Eid gifts, 48% aim to make the occasion more special this year to compensate for the pandemic years and to treat themselves and their loved ones. 41% noted that prices are higher this year, and as a consequence they plan on spending more on gifts, and 33% intend to give gifts to more people this year.Sweets, toys, cash, and perfumes ranked high on the list of most popular Eid gifts for family members: sweets, dates, and chocolates (57%), cash money (Al Ayadi-48%), toys and games (37%), and perfumes (48%), followed by cosmetics and beauty products (28%), and fashion clothing (42%).Additionally, the poll found that purchasing for fashion, toys, and games is migrating to e-commerce, with 100% planning to do more shopping for these items online during the Holy Month this year; 36% of respondents shop online multiple times each week, mostly for fashion, toys, and games.Consumer expectations regarding brands during RamadanWhen asked which factors influenced their decision to purchase during Ramadan, 53% chose deals and promotions above price (56%). According to the study, consumers would like to see brands be more generous during the Holy Month, with 49% wanting to see better promotions and special deals; for example, (67%) would like to receive product discounts when purchasing car insurance, and (56%) are interested in free gift vouchers. Although 59% anticipate banks to give discounts on shopping during Ramadan, 49% expect discounts on dining out and 43% on delivery.Moreover, 42% preferred brand advertising to be inspired by the spirit of the month and focused on charity and donations, while 41% preferred brand marketing to be centered on positive values. "We saw a considerable rise in plans to spend, with customers prioritizing purchases connected to food, apparel, and gifts for their loved ones," said George Akkaoui Enterprise Account Director, Toluna MEA , commenting on the survey’s findings. “During Ramadan, brands must understand the cultural importance of the month and customize their marketing activities accordingly. By giving unique discounts, promotions, and producing content that is aligned with the spirit of the season content, organizations may engage with customers on a deeper level and embed brands in the community, since the impact they make during this Holy Month can have a long-term influence on customer loyalty".

CNN debuts all-new hi-tech hub in Abu Dhabi

 CNN will go live from its brand-new state-of-the-art broadcast facility in Abu Dhabi today, marking a new chapter in the network’s commitment to the Middle East.Situated in twofour54’s Yas Creative Hub, the home of media, entertainment and gaming in Abu Dhabi, the new CNN bureau increases the scale and scope of its operation in the UAE. As one of the network’s key international production hubs, alongside Atlanta, New York, London, and Hong Kong, it also marks the latest of several major investments in technology and editorial production for CNN.Mike McCarthy, EVP and General Manager, CNN International, added: “CNN Abu Dhabi is a vital part of our global newsgathering and programming operation. This new investment underscores that importance, and we are excited to share what it will bring to our audiences around the world.”The new multi-million-dollar Abu Dhabi hub incorporates the very latest broadcast technology. Its 80 square metre studio, which will be home to CNN International’s flagship current affairs programme, Connect the World with Becky Anderson, incorporates 10 million pixels of video wall and a suite of fully robotic cameras. The facility also has four dedicated craft edit suites and utilises hybrid digital and IP video/audio workflows to enable the highest quality, fully integrated production.Becky Anderson, Anchor & Managing Editor, CNN Abu Dhabi, said: “This new facility really supercharges our operation in Abu Dhabi. Everything we have built here enhances our ability to tell stories from this region and beyond, from the state-of-the-art studio and production facilities, through to the workspace itself, which is geared towards collaborative, multi-platform content creation. We’re also very happy to be part of the new creative community developing here in the Yas Creative Hub.”Abu Dhabi has been a key hub in CNN’s global operation since 2009, when the network first opened its bureau in the Emirate, at twofour54’s previous campus. It has been the base for Connect the World with Becky Anderson since 2014 and is also home to some of CNN’s best-known feature programming, including Decoded, and Marketplace Middle East, as well as key CNN Digital properties, such as the network’s Meanwhile in the Middle East newsletter.It is also home to CNN Academy Abu Dhabi, which recently welcomed its second cohort of academicians. In 2022, the hub welcomed 88 budding journalists from 12 countries, giving them a grounding in a range of newsgathering techniques and principles, and challenging them to investigate and report on a fictional breaking news story in a realistic, fast-paced setting via a hi-tech newsroom simulation.The new Abu Dhabi bureau is the latest new facility for CNN in recent years. The network began broadcasting from its new studios in New York in 2019, followed closely by its hi-tech facilities in London in 2020, and will soon broadcast from brand new studios in Atlanta.

Intigral selects ThinkAnalytics to enhance its streaming services

ThinkAnalytics today announced that Intigral, the media arm of stc Group, the Saudi Arabian Telco Conglomerate, and the leading provider of digital entertainment and sports content in MENA, has selected the Think360 personalized content discovery and viewer engagement platform for its stc tv and Jawwy TV streaming services. As well as launching personalized user experiences that increase engagement on these services, Think360 will underpin Intigral’s Master Aggregation strategy to provide all the top entertainment to its users, in one destination.Using Think360, Intigral will offer its subscribers across the region a frictionless and innovative way to discover content across services. Intigral’s deep entertainment library will be aggregated with content from regional and international partners for a seamless experience across all devices in multiple languages.With a significant increase in standalone OTT video offerings, Intigral looks to take advantage of its Master Aggregator business model to offer its users an intuitive browsing and viewing experience (content discovery, personalized recommendations, etc). Intigral chose to partner with ThinkAnalytics because of Think360’s proven success with major TV operators worldwide resulting in enhanced user experiences, and its success delivering advanced functionality including super-aggregation and contextual engagement.ThinkAnalytics is providing a fully managed service running on AWS for Intigral, delivering personalized live TV, on-demand entertainment and sports content across multiple platforms and devices. The premium stc tv service features over 200 live channels as well as a very large SVoD and TVoD library. It runs on platforms including mobile, Android TV, set-top boxes, Samsung and LG smart TVs, Xbox, and Apple TV in stc Group territories (KSA, Kuwait and Bahrain). The Jawwy TV streaming service is available for consumers across the wider MENA region, outside of stc Group footprint.Intigral will deploy the full suite of Think360 products available in the portfolio for both stc tv and Jawwy TV, including search and discovery, ThinkEditorial campaign management system, ThinkUX and ThinkInsight. With ThinkUX, the Intigral editorial team can select use cases to dynamically change the user experience across all devices. Intigral will use ThinkInsight to analyze large, complex data sets about viewing and content, and A/B testing, to better meet its business KPIs.William Sharp, Chief Technology Officer at Intigral, said, “We are constantly looking for ways to improve our service in order to provide the best streaming experiences possible. With Think360 we will achieve these goals by giving subscribers a personalized user experience with seamless search and discovery across our own content and third party services.”Samuel Sweet, CEO EMEA & APAC at ThinkAnalytics, commented, “One of the reasons for our roaring success in the MENA region is the quality and quantity of our multi-lingual capabilities including metadata in Arabic, which makes it easy for users to find content with a unified, personalized experience across all screens. We look forward to a long partnership with Intigral as we bring the most comprehensive and engaging experiences to its subscribers.”

6 in 10 UAE drivers looking to buy a car this Ramadan

60% of UAE residents are looking to purchase a new or used car during the Holy Month of Ramadan according to a survey commissioned by Audi Abu Dhabi. The survey explored consumer sentiment towards new car purchases and electric vehicle (EV) adoption ahead of what is considered a peak season for car purchases.Of the 60% looking to purchase a vehicle, petrol cars dominated the demand at 33% while 13% are considering an EV and 14% are still undecided.While the immediate prospect of EV purchasing is still niche, the survey revealed a growing number of consumers (52%) in the UAE are eager to buy an EV as their next car or in the coming three years. Almost half of the respondents also reported that they would purchase an EV if certain concerns related to EV ownership are addressed, such as improved charging infrastructure (28%) and understanding how much EVs total cost of ownership is (24%).Commenting on the findings, Audi Abu Dhabi General Manager, Mark Austin, said, "The rapid increase in the adoption of EVs in the region aligns with the country’s plans for sustainability. Audi is proud to play its part in the UAE government’s vision by having an ever-expanding range of e-trons. The potential customers looking to buy EVs in the near future is significant, with their adoption helping to fast-track and contribute to the UAE’s Net Zero 2050 initiative.”The Audi Abu Dhabi dealership offers a range of electric models under the Audi e-tron umbrella, reflecting the brand’s commitment to advancing electrification and finding sustainable ways to strive forward. The latest to join the line-up this year will be the new Audi Q8 e-tron, Audi’s top-of-the line electric SUV model. The new e-tron will offer the best in luxury comfort, an optimised drive concept, improved aerodynamics as well as better charging performance and battery capacity.The survey was conducted in conjunction with YouGov and polled over 1,000 UAE residents aged 18-50 years old.

Regional experts to share best practices and insights on immersive marketing

Organizer NordStella today announced the details of the upcoming MENA Effie Thought Leadership Program (TLP) Dubai, scheduled for 3rd March 2023, at the Conference Hall, Dubai Knowledge Park. Part of the long-running MENA Effie Awards, the prestigious event revolves around the theme, ‘Leveraging the Full Potential of Immersive Marketing: Challenges and Opportunities’, and is designed to help marketers communicate and differentiate, using the power of marketing. “MENA Effie TLP Dubai’s central theme for this year, immersive marketing, can be likened to a fork in the road, where marketers have to make choices that will have far-reaching implications for the industry. This juncture calls for scholarly deliberations, a merging of varied perspectives, effective knowledge flows, and a coming together as a community — which is the key objective of the event,” said Sahar Rafique, Managing Director of NordStella, a company specializing in hosting and publishing meaningful, insight-rich, and in-depth-yet-entertaining content.The latest edition of MENA Effie TLP Dubai boasts over 15 speakers who are leading some of the marquee brands in the region: Tahaab Rais, Chief Strategy Officer at Publicis Groupe, and Vishal Badiani, Head of Creative Strategy at Snap, will feature in the long line-up of speakers. NordStella has planned an exciting repertoire of keynotes, panel sessions, and deep-dive discussions pertaining to immersive marketing. Entering its third year, the TLP series has garnered immense interest and admiration from the marketing community for its proven ability to not only delve deep into marketing niches and emerging technologies but also give it a strong regional context. The TLP series builds on the 13-year pedigree of the MENA Effie Awards, one of the region’s biggest and most-celebrated marketing events. After the Dubai edition, the series is set for a KSA debut on 6th March 2023, in Riyadh, owing to popular demand and requests from local marketing professionals. “The meteoric traction of the TLP series in a short span reflects the need for domain-specific knowledge-sharing, community building, and networking. And we are committed to delivering even more value to serve this need-gap,” explained Rafique.

Rana Almaeeli appointed as new CE of Sinnad company

 Bahrain-based SINNAD Company, a leading Card Processing Payment Solutions and Digital Payments in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region is pleased to announce the appointment of Mrs. Rana Almaeeli as its Chief Executive, effective February 2023. This appointment comes as part of SINNAD’s efforts to drive its digital strategic vision and scale their business offerings across the GCC and the African market.Mrs. Rana Almaeeli has held a range of senior managerial positions at SINNAD and has a long history of excellence in the Card Processing, Payment Solutions, and digital payments realm. Rana has also worked as a General Manager at SINNAD for over 11 years, where she leveraged her extensive expertise in digital payments and Payment Solutions.It is also worth noting that Rana received the HRH Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa award in December 2015, under the theme “Women in the Financial and Banking Sector,” for the youngest General Manager in the banking sector.SINNAD, a subsidiary of The BENEFIT Company, was founded with the aim of supporting banks in growing their business with high efficiency, low operating cost and increased profitability by outsourcing their services. Through best-in-class technology and know-how, it provides banks with reliable, efficient and easy-to-use card issuings, ATM and Merchant Acquiring complete solutions from systems outsourcing to full operations. Over the years, SINNAD has established itself as one of the leaders in digital payments and Card processing in the MEA region.Commenting on the appointment, Mohamed Ebrahim AlBastaki, Chairman of SINNAD said, “I would like to congratulate Rana on her new role as CE and express my best wishes for her. Rana has been a valuable asset at SINNAD for over a decade now and has consistently shown her commitment and dedication to the firm through her work experience and invaluable contributions. She played an integral role in shaping SINNAD and helped to set many of the foundational cornerstones that it was built upon. We are confident in her ability to lead SINNAD’s further growth and evolution.”Addressing the promotion, Mrs. Rana Almaeeli commented, “I would like to express my sincerest gratitude towards the Board of Directors , senior management and my colleagues for their unwavering support throughout the years. I am honored to have been a part of SINNAD since the beginning of its journey. We have achieved incredible growth and reached countless milestones over the years, and I look forward to leading our future endeavors as CE.”“I am certain that my extensive knowledge and skills in fostering a progressive, strong financial services environment equips me to lead SINNAD into its next phase, and it is a great privilege to contribute to its success story in the Middle East and Africa regions.”

Digital-media veteran Sadia Akhter joins leading marketing company YAAP

YAAP, a Dubai-based specialized influencer marketing company, today announced the appointment of seasoned media professional Sadia Akhter as a Partner. In a career spanning over 19 years across key verticals such as digital media, programmatic and influencer marketing, and advertising, Akhter has helmed successful campaigns for reputable brands, fostered and led multiple teams, and delivered measurable results. “Sadia Akhter joins us at a watershed moment characterized by growing partnerships with local and global agencies, expansion pan-GCC, and a foray into emerging avenues such as Web 3.0. Her stellar track record and wealth of experience accrued through an evolutionary period in digital media complement YAAP’s ambition of becoming synonymous with influencer marketing in the region,” commented Arshad Zaheer, Senior Partner, YAAP. Before joining YAAP, Sadia Akhter was leading Sociallyz, a data-driven influencer marketing company she co-founded. She was instrumental in driving the company’s influencer-marketing efforts for household names such as Microsoft and Pizza Hut. Her cross-cultural experience was shaped by stints across the UK and MENA, where she worked for organizations such as Monster, Vibrant Media, Ikoo, Addictive Mobility, and FreakOut Pte. Ltd.Commenting on her new role, Sadia Akhter said: “YAAP’s roadmap in the region and beyond aligns with my professional aspirations, especially in terms of my vision for influencer marketing and its prospects. My focus in the short term is to build an effective and agile influencer vertical through effective technology adoption, talent recruitment, and client onboarding. Over the long haul, I intend to support influencers become better subject-matter experts while positioning YAAP as a market leader.”YAAP’s pursuit of excellence saw it acquire Crayons Communications, a reputable advertising agency in the Middle East, last year after it posted an impressive top-line growth of 97% and a 5X jump in profitability for FY21-22. Its client portfolio includes Coca-Cola, Visit Dubai, Lufthansa, RuPay, American Express, Disney, Amazon, and Square Enix, among other leading brands in the Middle East and beyond. Sadia Akhter will work closely with Senior Partner Arshad Zaheer and Founder Atul Hegde as the company continues to enhance its full-suite services and blaze a new trail in data-driven influencer marketing in the region.

BFL Group strengthens presence in KSA as retail activities increase in country

Brands For Less (BFL) Group, one of the leading off-price and multi-brand retailers of the region, expanded its footprint in Saudi Arabia with the launch of a new store in Othaim Mall Rabwa, Riyadh; in light with the increasing retail activities across the country. The new store was inaugurated on February 22, 2023, as part of BFL Group’s plan to strengthen its market presence across the country.Retail activities in major cities across the Kingdom have been witnessing exponential growth within the past months. This expansion is in line with the country’s National Transformation Programme that prioritises the development of the retail sector. Moreover, the country’s retail market has been creating robust business opportunities for both international and regional players. The new BFL store aims to leverage new opportunities presented by the retail sector and embark on catering to the local needs of the Saudi market. According to reports, Saudi Arabia’s retail industry is forecasted to witness exponential growth leading to the year 2030. The catalyst to this growth is expected to be driven by the entry of new competitors to the market, future acquisitions and the advancement of the e-commerce platforms.  Toufic Kredieh, CEO and Co-Founder of BFL Group, said: “Opening our new store in Saudi Arabia is a notable achievement for us. Saudi Arabia’s economy is currently witnessing remarkable developments and several reports indicate that the country’s apparel and accessories sales have nearly topped among other products during 2022. The apparel and accessories market – in KSA is expected to continue this growth during the coming months, due to the evolving needs of the consumer base. We are optimistic that the high footfall at the mall will help us reach new sales records. We are committed to further expand our quality offerings to meet customer demands.” The new store, which is located on the second floor of the mall, combines BFL’s diverse brand offerings. Attributing to its strategic location, the new store is anticipated to welcome a high number of shoppers, maximising the overall growth of the group.Othaim Mall offers BFL the perfect opportunity to deliver a distinct shopping experience to its customers. The mall, which expects an increased footfall in 2023 amidst the vastly improving market conditions and the strong retail landscape of the country, will enable the company to further its business growth.

Media Mix Advertising acquires SZR with Ferrari World

Ferrari, a UAE themed Park, dominated a 30-km stretch on Sheikh Zayed Road. along with Media Mix Advertising’s 21 unipoles.You can find Ferrari while you’re cruising on Sheikh Zayed Road (SZR) as the theme park.Media Mix implemented its unique strategy :a total takeover of 21 SZR Unipoles from Jebel Ali to Abu Dhabi.Media Mix previously attained 21 unipoles in July 2022 after which it coined the special execution “Total Takeover”.Media Mix has been successful in executing four takeover campaigns that featured Etisalat, Warner Bros, Hayatna and now Ferrari.

myco, partners with MoEngage to enhance viewer and creator engagement

myco, a web3 video streaming, funding, production, and distribution platform, announced a partnership with MoEngage, a leading customer engagement platform. The partnership aims to enhance myco's viewer and creator engagement by leveraging MoEngage's insights-led platform, which includes push notifications as a channel.myco empowers viewers and creators in a fully decentralized video ecosystem with live monetization, crowdfunding, gating NFTs and fractional ownership of content. myco also pioneers an elevated content experience through the creation of the Cineverse (cinema in the metaverse). In the past year, myco has seeded, funded, and curated more than 40 film & TV productions through its self-sustaining ecosystem."myco's mission is to empower viewers by providing them with a decentralized and fair ecosystem for content creation and consumption. Our partnership with MoEngage allows us to take this mission to the next level by enabling first-party data and providing a level of personalization that is unmatched in the industry." said Tariq Jaser - Digital Marketing Manager at myco.MoEngage's insights-led customer engagement platform will allow myco to better understand its audience, their preferences and behavior and deliver tailored content that meets their needs. This not only enhances the viewer and creator experience but also allows myco to continue to innovate and push the boundaries of what is possible in the video streaming industry.“myco is revolutionizing the content industry by providing power to the viewers and creators alike through their decentralized and fair ecosystem for content creation and consumption. Their innovative use of blockchain technology to empower all stakeholders in the ecosystem is truly groundbreaking. We are excited to partner with myco and be a part of this revolution, helping them to enhance viewer and creator engagement through our platform and continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in the content industry.” said Sweta Duseja, Director of Customer Success, at MoEngage.myco joins the growing list of 1200+ global companies across 35 countries, such as Azadea Group, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Landmark Group, Apparel Group, Airtel, Jazeera Airways, GMG, Mashreq Bank, Alamar Foods, and many more, that trust MoEngage to deliver a consistent experience across multiple devices and touchpoints.