Iconic Reimagined: Dubai Launches All-New 5 Series with i5 and 520i Models

AGMC, the exclusive importer of BMW Group vehicles in Dubai, Sharjah, and the Northern Emirates, leads the Middle East market by being the first to launch the latest BMW 5 Series and the all-new BMW i5 in the region.The authorised dealer hosted the launch of these remarkable vehicles to its exclusive clientele in a private villa at the resort setting of Nikki Beach in Dubai. The two vehicles unveiled elevate all the elegance and performance quotients that the globally renowned carmaker is known for. Delivery of these exceptional vehicles to customers will begin from the end of November 2023.The icon of executive sedans since its inception in 1972, the launch of the new BMW 5 Series, now in its eighth generation, continues to uphold the tradition of leadership in its segment.The 5 Series lineup now available in Dubai, Sharjah and the Northern Emirates includes petrol models, with electric models to follow shortly afterwards. Regardless of the powertrain, the new 5 Series maintains its signature style while offering increased dynamic performance and exceptional comfort.The new 5 Series embodies clear, reduced design language and athletic proportions. It unveils key design highlights, including a bold aesthetic that features a larger, illuminated kidney grille and sleek body lines, giving it a contemporary and commanding presence. The BMW Iconic Glow headlights illuminate the road ahead with brilliance. The Hofmeister kink design feature in the rear pillar, with its embossed number 5, adds a touch of artistry to the sedan’s profile. This transitions into the powerful rear end, adorned with LED flat light units, leaves a lasting impression.Luxurious interiors feature the driver-centric BMW Curved Display with the new BMW iDrive that enhances the in-car experience, offering intuitive control and digital entertainment options and providing natural interaction through touch and voice commands via a 12.3-inch instrument display and a 14.9-inch touchscreen Control Display. All these make the beautiful cockpit an efficient mobile office as well as a space to relax.For the first time, the 5 Series comes with a fully vegan interior as standard, featuring sophisticated Veganza vegan leather. Whether you’re in the driver’s seat or the back, the 5 Series offers spacious and comfortable seating featuring sports seats with partially electric adjustment – making it an ideal choice for both business and leisure travel.The grippy standard steering wheel comes with shift paddles and integrated controls in its horizontal spokes, with a flattened bottom section that’s a first for the BMW 5 Series.The new BMW i5, in turn, represents BMW’s commitment to sustainable mobility, being the first version to feature an all-electric drive. Boasting an impressive maximum range of up to 582 km (WLTP).Elevated driving dynamicsAGMC will offer a range of models under the BMW 5 Series to cater to diverse preferences. The models available, with their respective specs, include the BMW 520i M Sport Pro and the 520iM Sport Titanium (both with 4-cylinder, 2-litre engine; 208hp, 0-100km in 7.5 seconds, max speed 230 km/h, 330 Nm torque). The additional, electric versions BMW i5 eDrive40 M Sport Pro (0 to 100km in 6 seconds, max speed 193km/h, battery capacity 84.4 kWh, battery range 497-582km, 340 hp, 430 Nm torque) and the high-performance BMW i5 M60 xDrive (0-100km in 3.8 seconds, max speed 230 km/h, battery capacity 81.2 kWh, battery range between 455-516km, 601 hp, 820 Nm torque) ensure that there’s a 5 Series for every discerning driver.For those seeking to add a sporty touch, BMW M Performance Parts offer a range of enhancements from lightweight alloy wheels to carbon-fibre accessories. While 18” alloy wheels come as standard on the 520i M Sport Pro / Titanium M Sport Pro, the i5 sports 19” alloy wheels are standard on i5 eDrive40 and the 21” BMW Individual Aerodynamics wheels are standard for the i5 M60 xDrive.Every new BMW 5 Series comes equipped as standard with Proactive Care, a revolutionary feature that acts as a virtual guardian angel by proactively anticipating and addressing the vehicle’s needs, such as spotting functional irregularities and providing hassle-free support in the event of a breakdown or accident. Through the My BMW app, Proactive Care connects owners with the BMW Service world, ensuring the vehicle’s optimal performance and safety. Also making its debut is the remote-controlled parking using the My BMW app, as part of the optional Parking Assistant Professional. The launch of the all-new BMW 5 Series and BMW i5 represents a significant step towards a more sustainable and technologically advanced future of driving. AGMC’s commitment to delivering cutting-edge vehicles and a premium ownership experience remains unwavering. As the first market in the Middle East to launch the all-new BMW 5 Series and BMW i5, AGMC continues to redefine the standard for luxury and innovation in the region.

Cloudflare unveils unified data protection suite to address increased AI

Cloudflare, Inc. (NYSE: NET), the security, performance, and reliability company helping to build a better Internet, today announced Cloudflare One Data Protection Suite, a unified set of advanced security solutions designed to protect data across every environment – web, SaaS, and private applications. Powered by Cloudflare’s Security Service Edge (SSE), customers can streamline compliance in the cloud, mitigate data exposure and loss of source code, and secure developer and AI environments from a single platform. Today’s organizations need to move away from legacy tools in order to maintain a competitive edge, decrease complexity in environments, and lessen the burden on their end users. However, the shift to emerging cutting-edge technology has introduced new risks and the daunting task of safeguarding sensitive data and intellectual property. In order to address this modern landscape and shrink the attack surface, CISOs need a fool-proof holistic strategy that will enable them to secure their entire corporate IT stack – including the rapidly increasing amount of data that is everywhere their employees’ devices, SaaS / cloud applications, and AI tools are.The Cloudflare One Data Protection Suite focuses on simplicity, extending comprehensive data controls to all aspects of an organization's internal and external applications. Built natively on Cloudflare's global network, this suite allows organizations of all sizes to:Allow programmable network architecture: Organizations can build new capabilities and adopt new security standards and protocols quickly, which ensures data protection controls address modern use cases, like protecting code in generative AI.Streamline data visibility and controls onto a single platform: With one management interface, administrators have multiple, flexible options to send traffic to Cloudflare for enforcement including API-based scans, clientless deployments of ZTNA and RBI, a single device client, direct or virtual interconnects, and SD-WAN partnerships. Enforce data protection controls with single-pass inspection: Across each of Cloudflare’s network locations – spanning more than 300 cities in over 100 countries – policy enforcement is reliable, unintrusive, and fast. This ultimately means that data controls never disrupt end-user productivity, and allow efficacy and scalability.Customize detections: DLP exact data match will equip customers with flexibility to detect organization-specific data defined in custom datasets. More predefined data detection profiles are available for source code files and protected health information (PHI). Converge API-driven CASB and DLP: Customers can discover sensitive data at rest and in line. Integrations will cover the majority of cloud collaboration, productivity, and code repository tools for enterprises.Provide risk-based data protection: Control access to data and apps based on a behavioral user risk scores, which incorporates signals from across Cloudflare One such as a user’s activities, posture, settings“Data is an organization’s most valuable asset, and protecting that data is critical. Breaches have lasting effects, and can even destroy a business when it comes to operational downtime, regulatory repercussions, associated costs. And, that doesn’t even account for the reputational damage associated with it,” said Matthew Prince, CEO at Cloudflare. “Organizations already have enough complexity, safeguarding your data doesn't need to fall in that bucket. Cloudflare provides a unique network architecture so enterprises can tackle anything from AI exposure to code leaks all in one unified platform.”“Today, Cloudflare One helps prevent our users from sharing sensitive data and code with tools like ChatGPT and Bard, enabling us to take advantage of AI safely,” says Tanner Randolph, Chief Information Security Officer at Applied Systems, a SaaS technology provider for insurance brokers. “Over the past few years, Cloudflare has been a critical partner in our digital transformation efforts and has helped us consolidate security controls across our users, applications, and networks. Going forward, we are excited for Cloudflare’s continued innovations to protect data, and in particular, their vision and roadmap for services like DLP and CASB.”

Fadi Sader joins Fusion5 as Digital Director

Fadi Sader has been signed-in as the new Digital Director at Fusion5, a diversified media solutions agency of Middle East. Fadi Sader is an experienced professional with 10 years of experience. Before joining Fusion5, he was Head of platforms and Performance Media at Wavemaker in South Africa. For him the transition from Wavemaker to Fusion5 was a calculated and passionate decision. Fusion5’s ethos, its commitment to excellence in performance marketing, and its vision for the future resonated deeply with him as an expert in developing companies. Dubai, a hub of innovation, a melting pot of cultures, and a beacon for businesses aiming for global impact, beckoned him.  He said: “As Head of Platforms & Performance Marketing at Wavemaker, Johannesburg, I designed a strategic monetisation blueprint that reduced cost per thousand reach by 62% and yielded a 5.6x revenue return. Leading a diverse team of 11, I fostered collaboration and career advancement.”Fadi Sader has worked with various companies, handling key positions. At EST8 Digital, he directed a lead generation campaign, resulting in a remarkable $9.7 million in revenue within three months and contributing to a 15% increase in annual client revenue. Similarly, at LYST Property Consultants, he was responsible for accelerating marketing and sales efforts for a $100 million property portfolio. He has a track record of innovative marketing strategies, client savings, and optimisation through analytics tools. At Fusion5, Fadi Sader aims to amplify the brand’s presence, drawing from his experiences and infusing them with the dynamism of the Fusion5 team. Natale Panella, Head of Digital at Fusion5, welcomed Fadi in the Fusion5 family.

WILD, female network platform, all set to be held in Riyadh

It is time to go WILD with WILD female leadership event in Riyandh which will be taking place on 27th September at Cipriani, Riyadh.  Trailblazing gender equality in the region, the event is open to the community and created primarily for women in real estate, construction, interiors, architecture, and engineering industries. WILD is a movement geared towards gender equality, transforming corporations and individuals through female networks, transformational private 1.1 coaching, group masterminds, and live events.Emma Burdett, Founder and CEO of WILD, in her LinkedIN post shares, “Come and join us for a WILD evening in partnership with Saudi Projects to be held at the beautiful Cipriani restaurant, Riyadh. Hear inspiring insights from female leaders in the kingdom about how they have navigated their way to success and used influence to inspire, as the region gears up to embrace SDG5 and Vision 2030 for a sustainable future. “WILD Ambassador Amal Somali, EMBA will be sharing her own, unique experiences as a Saudi National, her perception of the changes she has witnessed in the Kingdom over the last few years and informative, interesting insights of being part of the MISK cohort of 1000 leaders selected to carry forward the region's vision.Some of the female leaders who will be gracing the occasion are Samar Alamro, Director, Corporate Services, Accenture, Aisling Collins, Director Interior Architecture – Buildings, The Red Sea Development , Marta Pessanha, Design Director, Seven, Amal Al Somali, Country CIO, ABB, Marie-Joelle Ghaoui, Director Architecture & Engineering, Kuwait & Porto at KEO International Consultants and many more.

Mangomolo and Rotana initiate Fast radio channels for Arab World

Mangomolo, a world-leading full-service OTT video platform provider, and Rotana, an Arabic Media Conglomerate, have launched Free Ad-Supported Streaming Television (FAST) channels to rapidly stream radio content for users across the Arab world.With this venture, Mangomolo will enable Rotana to deliver 24-hour streaming of three FAST radio channels offering Khaleeji music, Egyptian hits and others via the Fannbox app. Using Mangomolo, Rotana can automatically and conveniently compose linear radio channels and make them available to end users ensuring a high-quality audio experience.  Mangomolo provides Rotana with an end-to-end platform that supports the delivery of radio and visual radio channels, live events, and celebrity shoutouts and special occasions. The platform enables Rotana to deploy multiple monetisation models including, FAST channels, pay-per-view and a growing number of others. Mohamed Zaghloul, Digital Product Manager at Rotana, says, “Rotana has collaborated with Mangomolo since the launch of Fannbox over three years ago. Mangomolo offers a flexible and adaptable approach to content curation, streaming, and monetisation. The launch of these FAST radio channels demonstrates how we are evolving together and catering to the changing needs of users. We’re a company that is continually pushing boundaries and offering innovative experiences, so Mangomolo is a great fit for us.”  By using Mangomolo’s unified platform, the streaming app has been able to seamlessly launch all linear channels in one simple click, allowing them to benefit from high-quality, multi-bitrate and multi-format delivery across all devices.  Wissam Sabbagh, Founder and CEO at Mangomolo, shares, “Rotana is a unique and visionary media group in the Arab world and we’re proud to support the growth and monetisation of the Fannbox app. Our platform has enabled it to move with greater agility when curating and streaming content while supporting different monetisation models. Fannbox is providing access to compelling and cutting-edge content with the ability to interact with the celebrities and shows that users love. As we expand our capabilities, we look forward to continuing to innovate in digital experience with Rotana.”

Unprecedented collaboration: nine cypherpunks, one AI company, one goal

Today marks a seismic shift in the technology landscape as Dubai-based startup Haltia.AI emerges from three months of meticulous planning and stealth operations to make its grand entry onto the global VC stage. For the first time in history, nine cypherpunks, revered as the philosophical backbone of a more secure, private digital world, are uniting to push the boundaries of what's possible in AI and privacy."Cypherpunks are more than just visionaries; they are our philosophical backbone and the best and brightest in the tech and AI fields have assembled under the Haltia.AI banner,” says Arto Bendiken, CTO and co-founder, with an illustrious track record in the European tech scene. “We've carefully curated an extraordinary dream team enriched with applauded brain capital - experts in machine learning, natural language processing, voice interaction, user experience, computer vision, core building, and fine-tuning. The inclusion of a celebrated AI psychologist and a top-tier AI ethicist amplifies our commitment to not just technology but also the ethical and emotional complexities of AI in modern society."The strategic choice of establishing Haltia.AI in the UAE amplifies the company's formidable mission. "The UAE is a tech entrepreneur's utopia, having astutely created an AI ministerial role as early as 2017," Bendiken adds. "Their foresight and robust investment in AI development have made them a global AI leader, offering cutting-edge research facilities, world-class infrastructure, and top-tier talent. The nation is synergistically aligned with our mission to not only push technological boundaries but also to make a lasting, positive impact on global quality of life."Talal Thabet, CEO and co-founder with a portfolio of successful startups, underscores the strategic advantages of the UAE. "In an ecosystem enriched by progressive government policies, such as The National Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031, we find ourselves on an accelerated trajectory towards delivering transformative AI solutions," Thabet states. "Conversations for Series A funding are already underway with potential investors in both the UAE and Silicon Valley, making the business-friendly regulatory environment in the UAE the ideal launching pad for Haltia.AI."Haltia.AI's team comprises an extraordinary blend of globally recognised pioneers, not just technologists. "We are already experiencing significant traction, as evidenced by our growing waiting list of users pre-launch," Thabet elaborates. "This positions us uniquely in the investor landscape, offering substantial partnership opportunities and allowing us to be highly selective in choosing the ideal lead investor for our Series A round."Anchored by its vision of privacy and ethical AI development, Haltia.AI is steadfast in its commitment to have a transformative impact on industries and individual lives around the world.

Huawei and Mobily Pay team up for enhanced digital payments in KSA

 In a momentous development for digital payments in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, HUAWEI Mobile Services (HMS) and Mobily Pay, a trailblazing name in digital payment solutions, have proudly unveiled their partnership at the Seamless KSA event on September 5th. This strategic alliance promises to revolutionize the mobile payment landscape for Huawei users in the region.This collaboration between HMS and Mobily Pay represents a significant milestone in the ever-evolving world of mobile payments. At the heart of this partnership lies the integration of Mobily Pay into HUAWEI AppGallery, providing Huawei users across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with seamless access to a diverse array of digital payment services.With this partnership, Huawei users now have the privilege of effortlessly utilizing Mobily Pay's extensive suite of digital payment solutions. This development is poised to simplify daily financial transactions, offering enhanced convenience, speed, and security to users in the KSA.Central to this partnership is HMS’ unwavering commitment to delivering a seamless and secure user experience. Huawei has played a pivotal role by providing vital technical support to ensure the smooth integration of Mobily Pay into the AppGallery. This technical prowess guarantees that users can engage with Mobily Pay's services without any glitches, setting new standards for digital payment convenience.Moreover, HUAWEI AppGallery will actively champion Mobily Pay, elevating its visibility and accessibility in the KSA market. This strategic move will open doors for a broader audience, enabling even more Huawei users to experience the future of digital payments.The Managing Director of Huawei Consumer Business Group, Eco Development and Operation, KSA, expressed his enthusiasm for this partnership, stating, "We are thrilled to collaborate with Mobily Pay to provide our users with enhanced mobile payment capabilities. This partnership exemplifies Huawei's commitment to delivering innovative solutions that improve the lives of our customers."Hazem Alrashed, Vice President of Mobily Pay, echoed the excitement, saying, "Our partnership with Huawei is a strategic move to bring Mobily Pay's services to a wider audience. We look forward to offering Huawei users in KSA a seamless and secure digital payment experience."This groundbreaking partnership signifies the relentless pursuit of excellence in digital payment solutions. As HMS and Mobily Pay join forces, users across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia can eagerly anticipate an elevated mobile payment experience that combines cutting-edge technology with unbeatable convenience. The future of digital payments has arrived, and it's powered by HMS and Mobily Pay ushering in a realm of exciting developments in the world of mobile finance.

Beautyworld Middle East 2023: Booming industry brings brands to Dubai

The 27th edition of Beautyworld Middle East – the region’s largest international trade fair for beauty, hair, fragrance and wellbeing will take place at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from 30th October – 1stNovember 2023. The exhibition is one of the most influential and visited trade shows in the world, playing a pivotal role in the growth and development of the industry. Bringing together a global beauty community of over 50,000 industry attendees for a dynamic exchange of ideas, innovation, and collaboration, the exhibition will champion the influence and opportunity for the business of beauty in the Middle East. With the MEA’s beauty and personal care market projected to reach $47 billion by McKinsey & Company, the region is attracting interest from key industry players around the world. Capitalising on the success of the previous year's edition, Beautyworld Middle East 2023 will be the industry’s chosen platform for connection, inspiration and global trade under this year’s theme “Uncover Beauty. Maximise Opportunity.”  With last year’s Beautyworld Middle East the most successful and best-attended edition in the event’s long 26-year history, spread across fifteen halls, this year’s event is bigger and bolder than ever, growing 20% in size and expected to welcome over 1,600 exhibitors from around 60 countries, across various sectors including Supply Chain & Services, Fragrance, Cosmetics & Skincare, Beauty Tech, Personal Care & Hygiene, Hair, Nails and Salon Supplies and Clean + Conscious.  Some highlights of what to expect at Beautyworld Middle East 2023 include:A diverse showcase of products and solutions from beauty tech, cosmetics and skincare, fragrance, personal care and hygiene, hair, nails and salon supplies, supply chain and brand new sectors, Prestige Pack; focusing on premium packaging innovation and the newly evolved Clean + Conscious sector.  Beautyworld Middle East recognises today’s consumer is more environmentally and socially aware than ever before with natural, sustainable, and ethical beauty products emerging as one of the primary growth drivers alongside the traditional beauty industry. Taking a more holistic approach to the shift in values of today’s consumers, Beautyworld Middle East has evolved its Natural & Organic segment of the show with the launch of Clean + Conscious, the new home for brands committed to making a difference to both people and the planet. Front Row by Nazih Group is a crowd favourite stage that captures the spirit of Beautyworld Middle East. Featuring educational talks, demonstrations, and expert panels across the three-day show, attendees can enjoy an engaging and entertaining avant-garde setup showcasing the latest in hair, make-up, nails, and more. 15 of the top international fragrance houses will create their interpretation of a signature scent that captures the essence of the region’s largest international trade show. Visitors will be able to test these blends in a blind sampling using the latest technology from AirParfum and vote for the one that best captures the essence of Beautyworld Middle East 2023.‘Quintessence – the art of perfume' is the exclusive platform at Beautyworld Middle East devoted to niche fragrance. Some of the world’s most unique brands and creators will showcase their creations in this bespoke and luxurious environment. The ‘Next in Beauty Conference’ offers an array of sessions that encompass market intelligence, emerging trends and revolutionary technologies reshaping the regional and global beauty sector. Listen to the many panel sessions that will discuss fresh viewpoints, new insights and advanced business strategies on a range of topics including innovation, market trends and the business landscape in the Middle East. The prestigious Beautyworld Middle East Awards 2023 celebrate the very best of the beauty industry, from innovative products and cutting-edge technologies to exceptional brands and talented individuals. Recognising and honouring the hard work, creativity, and dedication of beauty professionals and brands that have made a significant impact in the industry, this year’s edition features new categories including Hair Product of the Year, Luxury Packaging of the Year, Independent Retailer of the Year, Popular Retailer of the Year, and more. Winners will be selected by a panel of esteemed judges including industry experts, influencers, and beauty journalists.   Beautyworld Middle East 2023 promises an unparalleled opportunity to expand professional networks, discover new products and unlock the tremendous business potential in one of the world’s key trade hubs. Stay ahead of the curve in this dynamic and fast-evolving market and mark your calendars for 30 October – 1 November to unlock a world of possibilities at Beautyworld Middle East 2023.

Launchpad X: Majid Al Futtaim fuels MENA startup global expansion

Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, has announced the opening of Launchpad X a dynamic concept store for local startups. The new concept store includes local startups and winners from Majid Al Futtaim’s Launchpad Accelerator Programme, which launched last year as an initiative that nurtures entrepreneurship, and supports small and medium entreprises in the pursuit of innovation, creativity and growth.  Located in City Centre Mirdif, the brand-new Launchpad X concept store is home to a diverse range of local brands that have displayed outstanding innovation, creativity, and growth potential. It connects these budding businesses with the unparalleled go-to-market opportunities offered by Majid Al Futtaim shopping malls. With ‘X’ symbolising the spirit of collaboration, the inauguration of Launchpad X aligns with Majid Al Futtaim’s constant endeavour to support homegrown brands in their journey to become globally recognised businesses. The eclectic mix of brands at Launchpad X includes start-ups that are already part of Majid Al Futtaim’s pioneering Launchpad Accelerator Programme, as well as additional small and medium businesses from around the region with demonstrated new product or service capabilities. Launched in 2022, Majid Al Futtaim’s Launchpad Accelerator Programme is all about uplifting start-ups and SMEs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in strategic categories. It offers successful participants access to innovative technology, mentorship, training, and go-to-market opportunities.The brands showcased at Launchpad X include the leading luxury home fragrances company Wallace & Co; sustainable luxury fashion and home essentials brand Reform; premium active and loungewear brand LC; healthy snacks for families Koala Picks; the upcoming sneaker and streetwear boutique HypeSelection; premium matcha and coffee drinks spot Blue Matcha; the fashion line and women’s boutique Bambah; and Egyptian sustainable and ethnic crafts brand Kiliim. Commenting on the occasion, Fuad Mansoor Sharaf, Managing Director of the UAE Shopping Malls at Majid Al Futtaim Properties said: “We are delighted to announce the inauguration of Launchpad X, the region’s first truly collaborative commercial store for start-ups and entrepreneurs. The launch of this concept store marks the next major milestone in Majid Al Futtaim’s strategic focus to help unlock the incredible potential of startups in the region. It builds on the extraordinary success of our Launchpad Accelerator Programme over the past couple of years.”“We are confident that Launchpad X will not only connect the region’s leading start-ups to new opportunities that strengthen their commercial footprint but also be a catalyst for innovation and a powerful force for driving the region’s economic development.”In partnership with AstroLabs, Microsoft and DIFC Launchpad, Majid Al Futtaim’s Launchpad Accelerator Programme unlocks value by partnering with and investing in innovative startups and SMEs that benefit from the reach and scale of the Majid Al Futtaim ecosystem. Catering to homegrown brands across segments such as fashion and lifestyle, leisure, climatetech, and community, the Launchpad programme is a pillar of support for local entrepreneurs. Nearly 50% of its initial cohort of winners were female entrepreneurs, who gained access to tangible growth opportunities with Majid Al Futtaim, such as accelerating customer acquisition, improving operational efficiencies, and access to new revenue streams.Programme winners who earlier had the opportunity to introduce their innovative solutions within Majid Al Futtaim’s portfolio through fully funded pilot programmes, can now explore a commercial customer base with the rollout of Launchpad X, in line with the group’s vision of building a meaningful and globally integrated business environment. The new winners for the second edition of Majid Al Futtaim’s Launchpad Accelerator Programme will be announced by September 27, and will cater to homegrown and climatetech segments.

TV’s sharp decline: Kantar Media's report reveals its fall from grace in 2023

Kantar Media has released its Media Reactions 2023 report, revealing some remarkable insights for the media industry:  1. Television's Decline: Television, previously a top choice for marketers, has plummeted from its third-place position last year to the 12th position in 2023. TV sponsorship has also dropped from 12th to 20th place. This decline is attributed to a lack of innovation, making it less competitive for marketers.  2. Global Survey: The report is based on a consumer survey conducted in 23 markets and includes around 16,000 interviews. It also includes insights from approximately 900 marketing professionals from advertiser, agency, and media companies worldwide.Key Findings:  3. Audience Receptiveness: Advertising campaigns are seven times more impactful when targeting receptive audiences.  4. Online Video Dominance: From a marketing perspective, online video has claimed the top spot, followed closely by sponsored events, digital out-of-home ads (DOOH), video streaming ads, and social media story ads.  5. Consumer Preferences: For global consumers, sponsored events rank first, followed by cinema ads and out-of-home (OOH) ads.  6. Preferred Ad Platforms: Amazon is the most-preferred ad platform for consumers, followed by Google, TikTok, Instagram, and Spotify. For marketers, YouTube takes the top position, and Amazon does not make the list.  7. In-Person Media Preference: "In-person media channels" are preferred by consumers, with the top five channels requiring people to go out. Traditional magazines have fallen out of the top five, and outdoor advertising, including digital out-of-home (DOOH), has gained prominence for both consumers and marketers due to its innovation.  8. Metaverse Discrepancy: The report suggests that marketing in the metaverse, a 3D virtual space powered by technology, has not lived up to the hype. While 61% of marketers claimed they would increase spending in the metaverse in 2023, the actual net increase was only 12%. For 2024, a net of 22% of marketers plan to increase their metaverse investments.  9. Online Video Popularity: Online video remains the most preferred media channel for marketers for the fourth consecutive year. A net 74% of marketers plan to increase their spending in this channel in 2024.  10. YouTube's Rise: YouTube has surpassed Instagram's previous lead, jumping two spots in 2023. Established brands like YouTube and Google are trusted and well-received by marketers, but they may not always resonate with consumers' top choices, where YouTube is absent from the list.These findings offer valuable insights into the evolving preferences and trends in the media industry, highlighting the dynamic landscape that both marketers and consumers navigate.

Union Coop: Stores and e-commerce portals enhance market captivation

Dubai-based Consumer Cooperative ‘Union Coop’ has affirmed that the present market saturation with stores and e-commerce portals has enhanced competitiveness in the markets, especially in the retail outlets that now employ innovative methods to promote products and offer discounts that sometimes reach up to 50% to 70% to stimulate online purchases and motivate consumers to take advantage of the promotions. In its report, the Cooperative stated that the growth of e-commerce has led to an increase in the number of consumers using online platforms, as the percentage of online sales is steadily increasing on a monthly basis, as per the statistical data reported by each store. This is due to the time and effort saved for consumers, who can now see all the available offers from different outlets at once, whether at work or at home, and compare them before making a purchase. The majority of outlets have started offering online purchasing with either ‘on-site pickup’ or free home delivery, subject to certain conditions such as the purchase ratio and invoice amount, and this is exactly what the Cooperative has implemented and offered to all consumers.Union Coop emphasized that consumers have a high level of trust in e-commerce platforms due to the services provided that protect their rights, offer attractive alternatives, and provide reasonable pricing, especially for highly demanded electronic products, food, and non-food items.It should also be noted that retail outlets have increased their competitiveness through these platforms by reducing delivery time and fees, preserving the right to return goods if they do not meet specifications, providing shopping wallets, and earning loyalty points to reach a wider range of consumers and boost their sales.The Cooperative disclosed that it handles more than 1,100 online orders daily, offering a wide variety of products in its smart store. New products are added and updated daily, in line with the retail sector developments. It also mentioned that the ‘Dubai Chamber of Commerce’ predicts that e-commerce’s share of retail sales in the UAE will reach 12.6% of total retail sales by 2026, indicating promising growth opportunities in the e-commerce market and the rapid adoption of e-commerce in the UAE. This analysis indicates an increase in price transparency by providing price comparisons for products sold through online platforms.Furthermore, it continued to highlight that all indicators suggest significant interest in e-commerce within the retail sector, with continuous updates to sales platforms through their applications or smart websites to keep up with ongoing developments in this field and provide better services to enable continuous growth of this sector.

Survey reveals strong demand for Netflix cloud gaming services

A significant portion of dedicated gamers, approximately 33%, hailing from seven different global markets, have already ventured into the realm of cloud gaming services, reveals new research findings carried out in June 2023 by market research firm Savanta. Additionally, it was discovered that 10% of casual gamers have also dipped their toes into this technology.The study enlisted a diverse and representative sample of approximately 12,000 gamers. These gamers were broadly defined as individuals who engage in electronic gaming across various devices. The study encompassed seven prominent markets, namely Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, the UK, and the US.Netflix, in a soft launch, introduced game downloads through its mobile application in November 2021. Intriguingly, 22% of the individuals within Savanta's research pool have already taken the plunge by downloading at least one game through Netflix, and a significant 77% expressed their likelihood of doing so again. A substantial 45% of respondents who had not been previously acquainted with Netflix's gaming offerings indicated their readiness to utilize the existing service.Shaun Austin, the Senior Vice President of Media at Savanta, highlighted an interesting perspective on the matter. He noted: “The failure of Google’s Stadia service suggests the committed gamer segment, one that obsesses over technical details like frame rates and data usage caps, is always going to be a tough one to crack,” said Shaun Austin, senior vice president media at Savanta. “Netflix is taking a very different strategy in following the likes of Facebook to target the casual market and positioning games as a value add, rather than a destination.”Netflix's foray into cloud gaming coincides with a time when a notable 20% of respondents revealed that purchasing video games is the first luxury they would relinquish in the face of rising living costs. This preference ranked ahead of other entertainment expenditures, such as magazines and gaming subscriptions, each at 15%, as well as TV and film streaming subscriptions, which garnered 12% of the vote.While the survey unearthed that nearly 44% of less enthusiastic gamers and 26% of passionate gamers had no prior knowledge of cloud gaming, the concept holds substantial appeal. Among those who had yet to try it, Spanish gamers displayed the greatest openness, with 44% expressing a willingness to explore cloud gaming, followed by the US at 36%, and the UK at 30%.

Customer Commitment Reinforced: New Regional Call Center and Exclusive Offers

 London-based technology company Nothing Tech, recently stepped up its customer-centric commitments with the opening of a GCC-dedicated call center and new trade-in offers with extended warranties for its entire product lineup, including its flagship smartphones, the Nothing Phone (1) & (2).The new call center joins Nothing’s global list of support centers, which will offer customer Arabic call service for general inquiries as well as product concerns and troubleshooting. The call center will also tackle all kinds of software related issues but will defer back to local distributors for physical repairs. The first call center was opened in the home grounds of the UK and as of today, Nothing has 4 call centers globally, each of them delivering support via live chat, calls and emails.In addition to the new call center, Nothing Tech is also offering its UAE and KSA customers with a new trade-in program, where they can bring in any old phone to Nothing’s retail partners to avail a voucher of up to AED 200 on top of the old phone value to purchase a new Nothing Phone (2) or AED 100 for the Nothing Phone (1). Customers in KSA can avail a voucher of SAR 400, limited to the Nothing Phone (2) only.Customers in the UAE can avail themselves of the program in Sharaf DG, Jumbo, Virgin Megastore and Eros starting from the 1st of September, while customers in KSA* can head to their nearest Jarir bookstores for the same offer.Commenting on the new commitments, Rishi Kishor Gupta, Business Lead for Middle East and Africa for Nothing said “Our customers are the center of our business and our commitments towards their user experience is the driving force our innovations. With the new call center, we aim to bring Nothing’s standard of global support to the Middle East and our new extended warranty aims to be more reassuring to the customer. With our new trade-in program, we hope that more users are encouraged to bring their old phones instead of throwing them away, a move that is beneficial from a financial standpoint for the customer as well as a more sustainable choice.”Nothing Tech has also announced an extended warranty for all of its products, which will now be valid across India and Europe for devices bought in the GCC market. The warranty extends to devices bought across both retail and online platforms. This further showcases Nothing’s commitment to its users, supported by regular software updates for undisruptive experience.

King Koil expands its reign in Saudi Arabia with opening in Al Khobar

King Koil, the internationally renowned mattress brand, has announced the grand opening of its first-ever showroom in Al Khobar, Dammam, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Located on the bustling King Abdulaziz Street, this showroom promises to bring an exceptional sleep experience to the heart of Al Khobar.King Koil has already captured the hearts of sleep enthusiasts in Riyadh and Jeddah with its premium quality mattresses, and now it is all set to offer the same luxury sleep solutions to residents of Al Khobar. The new showroom will showcase the latest collection of King Koil mattresses and beds, including the much-anticipated King Koil Intimate Collection mattresses, "Embrace" and "Affinity."What sets King Koil apart is its commitment to providing an incredible sleep experience, combined with superior quality. The brand sources high-quality raw materials from the best suppliers worldwide, ensuring not only comfort but also a healthy sleep environment.The King Koil Intimate Collection offers a sophisticated sleep comfort experience, designed to transform your relationship with tomorrow by providing a well-rested tonight. Handcrafted for ultimate comfort and intimacy, these mattresses conform to your body's unique curves, offering unparalleled support and comfort. The Swiss pocketed coil system isolates motion, ensuring undisturbed sleep, allowing you and your partner to wake up feeling closer than ever.The Intimate Collection features innovative technologies, including the Smart Cushion Aero System (SCAS) for enhanced air flow and cushioning, iFusion for temperature regulation, and Mega Foam for eco-friendliness and comfort.In addition to the extensive mattress collection, customers can explore a wide range of bedding accessories, including pillows, duvets, mattress protectors, toppers, bed linen, mattress encasements, and more, to complete their sleep experience.The grand opening of the King Koil showroom in Al Khobar marks an exciting milestone in the brand's continued expansion across Saudi Arabia. Whether you are seeking the perfect mattress or looking to upgrade your sleep experience, King Koil promises to provide the ultimate solution for a restful and rejuvenating night's sleep.On this grand opening, King Koil is also offering exciting deals and offers in-store, so you can experience the ultimate comfort and quality of our products at unbeatable prices.

Lights, camera, streaming! Kareena Kapoor Khan shines in 'Jaane Jaan' on Netflix

Adgully is thrilled to announce the launch of our brand-new column, "Star Talk." Get ready for exclusive celebrity interviews, where we delve into the lives and stories of your favorite stars!In a dazzling shift from the glitzy world of Bollywood to the captivating realm of streaming, Kareena Kapoor Khan is poised to make her much-anticipated OTT debut with Sujoy Ghosh's thrilling creation, "Jaane Jaan," exclusively on Netflix. Joining her in this venture are the talented Vijay Varma and the enigmatic Jaideep Ahlawat.Kareena Kapoor Khan, known for her audacious career choices and an unerring knack for reinventing herself, reveals the compelling reasons that drew her into "Jaane Jaan." With a gleam in her eye, she says: "I have always strived to explore new horizons in my career. When I glanced across the landscape of the OTT world, I couldn't help but notice the incredible storytelling that was unfolding there. A thriller has been on my bucket list for quite some time, and collaborating with Sujoy Ghosh, someone I've yearned to work with, felt like a dream come true. 'Jaane Jaan' brought together all my desires in one irresistible package, so naturally, I couldn't resist."What's even more intriguing about this film is the synchronicity of the leading trio. Both Vijay Varma and Jaideep Ahlawat happen to be alumni of FTII, sharing a common journey through the corridors of cinematic excellence. Kareena candidly confesses: "When I discovered that my co-stars would be the formidable Jaideep Ahlawat and the incredibly talented Vijay Varma, I must admit, I was a tad nervous. I remember Saif advising me to be on my toes, warning that both of them are masters at improvisation during takes."With an illustrious career spanning over 23 years in the film industry, Kareena admits that her OTT debut has her feeling more jittery than ever before. She reflects: "The OTT space is distinct from the silver screen. As I watched the 'Jaane Jaan' trailer on my television screen, it dawned on me that the audience would see me up close and personal. There are no elaborate song-and-dance sequences to provide a respite; not even a popcorn break."Asked about the most challenging aspect of being an actor, Kareena, with her trademark confidence, remarks: "Actors are frequently asked what's tough and challenging in their profession. I find that nothing is truly tough because we're actors, and challenges make our craft all the more exhilarating. Besides, I believe the Kapoor Khandaan simply thrives in front of the camera."Despite her impressive repertoire of films, Kareena's fans often associate her with iconic characters like Poo from "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham" and Geet from "Jab We Met." She explains: "I believe the youth connect with Poo and Geet due to their vibrant costumes, memorable songs, and infectious dance moves. However, the intense roles I've portrayed over the years hold a special place in my heart."While many of Kareena's contemporaries have ventured into Hollywood, she remains firmly rooted in Bollywood. She explains: "I don't feel the temptation to explore Hollywood at the moment. My children are still young, and they need me here. Besides, I have exciting projects in the pipeline. We've even dabbled in a small English film titled 'The Buckingham Murders,' directed by Hansal Mehta. It's a gripping atmospheric thriller, delving into themes of loss, closure, and the immigrant experience. What makes it even more exceptional is that it's one of the three Indian films featured at prestigious festivals."As the clock ticks toward the release of "Jaane Jaan" on September 21st, an auspicious date coinciding with Kareena's birthday, we couldn't help but inquire about her birthday celebrations. She smiles warmly and says: "It's less about extravagant parties and more about cherishing moments with my children and family."Kareena Kapoor Khan, the epitome of versatility, is undoubtedly set to captivate the OTT audience with her gripping performance in "Jaane Jaan." The countdown to this electrifying OTT debut has officially begun, promising a thrilling cinematic experience for viewers worldwide.

Dubai's sensational September & October: A symphony of stars and hits

Dubai, known for its dazzling skyline and tourism gems, is now set to shine even brighter as the ultimate musical hotspot this September and October. With an incredible lineup of international maestros and chart-topping stars descending upon the city, it's no surprise that tickets are vanishing like desert mirages!‘Dubaites’ are in for a full music extravaganza for the months of September and October this year. The musical show will be starting on September 8 and would be concluding on October 22 with lot of fun and gaiety. Some of the musical maestros and pop starts who will be setting the stage on fire are listed below:Asha Bhosle: The most awaited is surely the Bollywood legend, Asha Bhosle, who will be returning to her second home, Dubai, to enthrall her fans with a musical extravaganza titled “Asha @ 90: Live in Concert” on Friday September 8, 2023, at Coca-Cola Arena. Asha Bhosle, better known as the ‘last Mughal of the Indian film industry,’ will be celebrating her birthday with the audience of the city. She calls herself as ‘the last Mughal’ on account of her illustrious career spanning over more than 80 years. Renowned for her golden voice and versatility, the iconic Indian playback singer landed in Dubai with her family a few days ahead of her concert. In the concert, Asha Bhosle will be introducing her granddaughter, Zanai Bhosle, who will be performing on stage. Dubai is a second home for Bhosle; so it came as no surprise to fans when the celebratory concert was announced at the beginning of 2023. The versatile singer has performed multiple times in the UAE over the decades. It will be a surprise to her fans that this legendary singer is an entrepreneur also, with her own chain of Indian restaurants: Asha’s. Her first restaurant was inaugurated in Dubai around two decades back. Since then, Asha’s has become an international brand with around 20 outlets in the GCC and the UK. <img src='\58c47bdb3d80545946e2ff868abe88b5.png' class='content_image'>Jay Sean, Manj Musik, Juggy D, and RaghavJay Sean started his career as part of the UK’s Asian Underground scene in 2003. Since then he has released many iconic hits such as 'Down', 'Do You Remember', and 'Ride It’. He will be joined by Manj Musik, known for 'We Doin It' and 'Daddy Da Cash', created by his former group RDB (Rhythm, Dhol, Bass). Juggy D, from England, who has performed alongside Jay Sean and other singers such as Britney Spears, Ricky Martin, and Craig David, will also be performing at the event. Raghav, from Canada, is ready to treat audiences to his hits such as 'Angel Eyes' and 'Desperado'.They all will be performing at 'Indie Vibes' on September 9 at the Coca-Cola Arena. <img src='\cdb09e4452bb140f40d6e4a7d9105c39.png' class='content_image'>Ben&Ben Ben & Ben would be returning to the UAE in October for a unique performance on October 14. Ben&Ben is a folk-pop band based in the Philippines. Formed in 2017, the band has since been known for their hit songs, "Kathang Isip," “Maybe The Night”, “Leaves”, “Paninindigan Kita”, “Araw-Araw”, and "Sa Susunod Na Habangbuhay" among others. It has over a billion online streams and is recognized as Spotify's 'Most Streamed Artist' in the Philippines for 2020.Blue, Five, and Boyzlife It is going to be a treat for ’90s boy band fans. The three of the biggest boy bands to top the charts are set to perform in Dubai’s Duty-Free Tennis Stadium on October 20. Blue, Five and Boyzlife (Keith Duffy and Brian McFadden, who previously appeared as members of Boyzone and Westlife) will be performing their iconic songs like such as 'All Rise,' 'One Love,' 'Guilty,' ''Everyone Get Up,' and 'Uptown Girl'. Sean PaulOn October 21, the Grammy-award-winning artist, Sean Paul, will ignite the stage at Coca-Cola Arena. The popular artist, who is behind the iconic tracks 'Get Busy', 'Temperature', and 'Got To Luv U, is famous for his genre-skipping music, from reggae-infused anthems to hip-shaking dance tracks.Neha KakkarThe last but not the least is Neha Kakkar, the popular Bollywood singer who will perform on her greatest hits at the Coca-Cola Arena on October 22. Neha Kakkar shot to fame after appearing on the singing reality show Indian Idol. She is behind some of the most famous Hindi songs of the past few years, including 'Kar Gayi Chull' and 'Sunny Sunny' with Yo Yo Honey Singh.

EIH Ethmar International Holding acquires majority stake in 9Yards Communication

 EIH Ethmar International Holding PJSC "EIH" and 9Yards Communications, two leading companies based in Abu Dhabi, have together announced EIH’s acquisition of a majority stake in 9Yards Communications.The acquisition aims to broaden EIH’s investment portfolio in the capital and expand its presence into vital new sectors. This will be achieved by executing operational plans that effectively contribute to expanding the service offerings and client portfolio of 9Yards Communications, aligning with the vision of the UAE’s leadership to boost and develop various sectors of the economy, within the framework of Abu Dhabi's Economic Vision 2030.EIH has a successful track record, characterized by remarkable growth, diversity, and profitability. The company has cultivated a diversified, innovative, and sustainable investment portfolio, comprising over 40 successful companies across various sectors, including energy, real estate, alternative investment, technology, healthcare, hospitality, travel & tourism, and automotive and trading. On the other hand, 9Yards Communications holds a prominent position in the media and marketing sector in Abu Dhabi and the UAE, boasting a successful track record and a broad client portfolio encompassing government entities and private organizations both domestically and internationally. Ali El Gebely, Managing Director and Group CEO of EIH, commented "We are delighted to announce this strategic acquisition of a majority stake in 9Yards Communications, as it represents a significant step in line with our expansion plan. It also aligns with our vision of investing in new, dynamic, and vital sectors. This step will positively impact our future plans, boosting our group's portfolio with one of the most successful media, marketing, and events management companies in Abu Dhabi and the UAE." "This acquisition reaffirms our commitment to diversify our investments across various sectors, relying on the immense capabilities and extensive experience of 9Yards Communications. Through this partnership, we aim to expand their range of services and enter new markets across the region and the world," El Gebely added.Commenting on the acquisition, Hussam Al Mulhem, Founder and CEO of 9Yards Communications, said: "Over the years, we have accomplished numerous milestones and have established a prominent position in the media, marketing, and event management sector, particularly in Abu Dhabi, the UAE, and the region. Today, we announce EIH’s acquisition of a majority stake in 9Yards Communications, which signifies the culmination of extensive and dedicated efforts spanning several years. Through this partnership, we seek to reach new markets and expand our clients’ portfolio and services." "9Yards Communications relies on over 120 professionals working in its offices, representing some of the best talents available in the markets where we operate. This has allowed us to become one of the leading providers of media, marketing, and event management services for government and non-government entities. We have achieved significant accomplishments over the years, offering various services, including integrated marketing strategies, event management, public relations, and digital media services. We are excited about this partnership with EIH and look forward to embarking on a new chapter." Al Mulhem added.

LFC renews official retail partnership in Dubai

Liverpool FC has renewed its official retail partnership in Dubai with Seventy8 Sports and plans to strengthen its commercial presence in the Middle East and Africa.Seventy8 Sports – a retailer and distribution company - are now in their third term with LFC as a retail partner and has signed up to a new joint venture in the region with EIGHTClouds private equity firm.Together they will explore new territories to expand the LFC international retail business with LFC official merchandise in the Middle East and Africa.Mike Cox, Senior Vice President Merchandising at Liverpool FC, said “We’re thrilled with this new partnership and delighted to renew with Seventy8 Sports for a third term. The addition of EIGHTClouds will help to strengthen our outreach in new territories.  “We have an incredible fan base all over the world and we’re always trying to bring our retail concepts globally, working with partners in market is a great way to do this and bring our retail concepts to them locally.”This positive partnership’s growth will include retail concepts in market for in store and online. The new stores will mirror the remodelling of the new Liverpool L1 store as LFC rollout the retail experience to match the UK business.Craig McKelvie, CEO of Seventy8 Sports said, “I am super excited to be signing this new 5-year deal with Liverpool FC, and at the same time to be partnering with EIGHTClouds Private Equity to accelerate the growth of Seventy8 Sports. We will work closely together to develop retail, e-commerce, and wholesale opportunities across the GCC to achieve our mission of bringing Liverpool fans closer to their icons.  These new deals are a testament to the teamwork of all those involved and the incredible passion and support of Liverpool fans across the GCC region. YNWA!”Recent LFC retail launches include the new home, away and third kit which are out now and available at the Dubai Mall.For more information and to find out about new product launches, in-store events and exclusive offers, visit or follow @LFCRetailUAE on Instagram.

UAE has smoothest shopping journey of any country: PYMNTS Visa cybersource study

A recent survey conducted by PYMNTS and Visa Cybersource has revealed that UAE shoppers continue to be the most mobile-centric and omnichannel consumers globally. The study, titled "The 2023 Global Shopping Index: UAE Edition," focuses on consumer behavior and preferred payment methods to provide retailers with actionable insights to be successful in the UAE market.The UAE consumers’ penchant for digital shopping is a truism that local merchants know well. Retailers in the UAE offer far more of the digital shopping features that consumers want. In fact, the UAE has the highest Global Digital Shopping Index (GDSI) score among all countries surveyed, indicating that local merchants offer seamless shopping and payment experiences. The country's eCommerce merchants scored 134, significantly higher than the average score of 125 across all countries. The UAE's GDSI scores have also increased over time, with local merchants scoring 11% higher in 2022 than they did in 2021, thanks to rising consumer awareness of available features such as online purchases and price matching.The survey, which involved 13,349 consumers and 3,124 merchants across Brazil, India, Mexico, UAE, United Kingdom, and United States, unearthed several key findings that highlight the unique characteristics of the UAE market.Salima Gutieva, Vice President and UAE Country Manager – Visa, emphasized the importance of catering to the needs of mobile-centric shoppers. "We are thrilled to see the UAE emerging as a leading country where consumers embrace and utilize digital shopping features with utmost enthusiasm. With the highest global digital shopping index score, it is evident that local merchants have successfully crafted seamless shopping and payment experiences for their customers." Gutieva added: "The fact that 94% of adult UAE shoppers have incorporated at least one digital feature during their recent shopping journey highlights the strong digital adoption in the market. As we witness this growing trend, Visa remains committed to partnering with UAE merchants to optimize their offerings and continue meeting the evolving needs of tech-savvy consumers."Key findings from the survey include:UAE consumers like shopping online because they believe the deals and experiences are better. UAE consumers prefer online shopping because of free shipping (50% of the respondents), better prices (44%) and an easy checkout process (43%).In contrast, the ability to obtain products immediately and find them quickly are important factors for consumers when shopping in-store, although it is less important for UAE shoppers than it is for other countries. Only 40% of those who prefer physical stores in the UAE consider immediate availability as essential, which is lower than the 54% and 53% averages in the U.S. and U.K., respectively.Nearly twice as many UAE shoppers value payment choice than rewards or free shipping when selecting a merchant. UAE shoppers value payment choice most when choosing a merchant, with nearly double the importance of rewards or free shipping. When asked to pick one option only, preferred payment methods, in particular, was the top preference for 11.4% of consumers in the UAE, followed by rewards (6.9%) and free shipping (6.6%).UAE shoppers use mobile phones as their shopping sidekick — especially when shopping in-store.Mobile shopping is highly prevalent in the UAE, with 28% of consumers making their most recent retail purchase on their smartphones — the highest in any country, second only to India.Both men and women shop on mobiles, with 33% of women and 27% of men making purchases exclusively from their phone.UAE consumers also use their smartphones to enhance their in-store shopping experience. Men, at 55%, are more likely than women — 45% — to use their smartphones to enhance their in-store shopping journeys.UAE merchants recognize the importance of digital shopping features and offer consumers smoother shopping experiences than other country.UAE consumers use more digital shopping features than consumers in any other country, with 94% having used at least one during their most recent shopping journey.Merchants’ investments in digital shopping features and local shoppers’ keen awareness of those offerings make for a powerful combination. UAE merchants’ broad array of digital shopping features, including those that consumers can use in-store, has helped provide their shoppers with the smoothest overall shopping experience of any country in our study.Our research uncovered an overall increase in consumers’ awareness of which shopping features local merchants offer. Consumers appear to be more on the lookout for cost-saving features than they have been in the past. Fifty-one percent more local consumers were aware of coupons, promo codes or rewards in 2022 than in 2021. We also found that shoppers in the UAE tend to overestimate how many features merchants offer.To learn more about which mobile- and digital-first shopping features merchants must provide to gain traction in the UAE market, download the report.

Redington accelerates the Digital Twin Experience

 Redington, the leading technology integrator and innovation powerhouse, is accelerating the uptake of its ground-breaking B2B e-commerce platform. This effort is reshaping digital distribution and convenience across 10+ countries, reflecting Redington’s commitment to delivering a faster and simpler way of doing business. With everything in one platform, the company is spearheading seamless user experiences and transforming the future of technology distribution.Redington’s B2B e-commerce platform, often referred to as Redington's “digital twin”, delivers an unprecedented online journey for channel partners in the ever-evolving digital landscape. It is designed to empower partners with greater control over their business by simplifying transactions and giving them the freedom to conduct business at their convenience.Viswanath Pallasena, CEO, Redington Middle East and Africa, said, "At Redington, we're not just keeping up with the digital age, we're pioneering it. Our B2B e-commerce platform is not only a demonstration to our adaptability but also a reflection of our commitment to delivering cutting-edge solutions that redefine customer and partner experiences. We are observing a surge of momentum from our partner community and high receptiveness to getting onboarded to the e-commerce platform."With a dynamic interface and user-centric design, the platform presents a comprehensive range of technology products and solutions, catering to diverse industries and customer needs. The B2B e-commerce platform encapsulates Redington's expansive portfolio, bridging the gap between supply and demand in the digital era. It includes offerings from its business units such as Technology Solutions Group, Enterprise Solutions Group and Mobility Solutions Group.The B2B e-commerce platform is operative across 10 countries, extending Redington’s global reach and enhancing its capability to serve a wider audience. The strategic expansion ensures that customers across these countries can now access and acquire technology solutions with utmost convenience, supported by Redington's expertise and seamless logistical network.As Redington embraces the future of technology distribution, its digital twin, the B2B e-commerce platform stands as a testament to its role as a transformative enabler for businesses, partner communities, and the overall advancement of the digital landscape.

KEYSS Project Teams Up with Microsoft Arabia to Foster Innovation in SA

Microsoft Arabia and KEYSS Project today signed a new partnership to accelerate the digital transformation of startups and SMEs across the Kingdom and foster innovation in line with the Saudi Vision 2030.This partnership will provide entrepreneurs and startups trained by the KEYSS Project with access to the Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub, a platform that helps startups radically accelerate innovation by empowering them with industry-leading services, expert guidance, and the essential technology needed to build a future-proofed startup.Zainab Alamin, VP of Digital Transformation & Sustainability at Microsoft, expressed her enthusiasm about the partnership with the KEYSS Project as it aligns with Microsoft’s mission to empower the startup ecosystem in the Kingdom. “Through this partnership, young entrepreneurs and startups will have access to the latest technologies and digital skills needed to innovate, bring their ideas to life, and advance their business growth and success.” Alamin also noted that the partnership supports Microsoft’s efforts to be the preferred and trusted partner for innovation across all sectors of the economy in the Saudi market.Entrepreneurs and innovators in Saudi Arabia will also have access to the latest learning tools to enable them to leverage the latest cloud technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and data analytics to launch successful businesses, improve performance, boost productivity, reduce costs, and meet their sustainable development goals.Commenting on this partnership, Dr. Sarah Mohammad Ghaleb, Founder of the KEYSS Project, noted that startups often struggle with limited resources and gaining the proper guidance, especially when starting a business. “We have trained thousands of youths across the Kingdom to be more confident in their skills as civic leaders. Through our collaboration with Microsoft, we are providing them with access to the latest technologies and digital skills.”She added: “We are very excited about this collaboration as it will enable us to reach more young people and provide them with the resources that they need to direct positive impact in our communities.”By leveraging Microsoft’s cutting-edge technologies and expertise, the KEYSS Project will also empower startups to achieve their sustainability targets and accelerate progress towards Saudi Arabia’s SDG goals.The KEYSS Project is a Saudi female-led initiative that aims to empower Saudi youth by helping them find their purpose and supporting them to learn and practice new skills while engaging in impact projects within their communities.

DNI welcomes AR Srinivasan as new CEO

Dubai National Insurance (DNI), one of the leading insurance companies in Dubai, has appointed A R Srinivasan as its new Chief Executive Officer. With a career spanning over 37 years in the insurance industry, Srinivasan brings a wealth of experience, leadership, and strategic insight to his new role.H.E. Khalaf Al Habtoor, Chairman of DNI, said: "We are delighted to welcome Mr. Srinivasan to the DNI Insurance family. The entire team at DNI Insurance is excited about the new chapter under Srinivasan's leadership. His depth of knowledge, strategic vision, and proven ability to drive transformation align seamlessly with the company's commitment to excellence and innovation. Under Mr. Srinivasan's guidance, DNI Insurance is poised to reinforce its position as a pioneer in the insurance sector, delivering innovative solutions and outstanding service to clients while achieving new heights of prosperity.”AR Srinivasan, CEO of DNI, said, "I am honoured to be appointed as CEO of DNI, and I look forward to leveraging my experience and expertise to drive transformative growth, build lasting partnerships, and deliver unparalleled value to our clients and stakeholders. Together, we will navigate the evolving landscape and chart a course towards continued success."Srinivasan continued: “I thank Mr. Al Habtoor and the board for this opportunity and for their confidence in my skills to lead the company and I look forward to working closely with the board, the team and the business partners.”Srinivasan is a distinguished Chartered Accountant from India, a Chartered Insurer (ACII, London), and a Fellow of the Insurance Institute of India. His vast expertise extends across various domains within the insurance sector, making him a standout leader in the field. He has spent the last 29 years serving in senior managerial capacities within the Middle East, providing him with an intricate understanding of the region's insurance landscape.His comprehensive knowledge of the Middle East market dynamics and his deep insights into Insurance and Reinsurance Operations make him an invaluable asset to DNI Insurance. Throughout his career, Mr. Srinivasan has fostered strong relationships with major reinsurers, brokers, and clients, underscoring his commitment to building trust and collaboration within the industry.Srinivasan has consistently demonstrated his ability to transform companies and enhance profitability. His track record of success in leading organisational change and his expertise in Company Transformation, Mergers, and Acquisitions makes him an ideal choice to steer DNI Insurance towards continued growth and innovation.Prior to joining DNI Insurance, Srinivasan played a pivotal role in establishing the DIFC Subsidiary of MNK Re Limited, a prominent Lloyd's Broker based in London. His vast insurance experience has spanned across India, Oman, Dubai, and Bahrain, encompassing leadership roles such as CEO of DAR Al TAKAFUL in Dubai, CEO of Arabia Falcon in Oman, and Al Ahlia Insurance Oman.

64,8% employees in Saudi Arabia believe the meta will revolutionize industries

According to Kaspersky research, the majority of employees in Saudi Arabia believe that the metaverse is the future of internet and will revolutionize entire industries (64,8%). Only few were skeptical of the metaverse and thought that it is a trend that will pass (19,5%). Many employees said their companies already have projects related to the metaverse (32,3%) or have specific plans for such projects (42,5%). However, with the metaverse come new cybersecurity challenges.The metaverse is a virtual, interconnected universe that merges physical and digital realities. In it, people can interact, socialize, work and engage in other activities through immersive technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality. The metaverse is often envisioned as the next-generation internet, blurring the boundaries between the online and offline worlds and offering limitless possibilities for social, economic, and entertainment experiences.Kaspersky experts warn that new phenomena like the metaverse bring cyber risks. VR headsets can be attacked to manipulate content, virtual assets earned in the metaverse can be stolen and whole virtual economies compromised. There are new privacy concerns as well: extensive data about users' actions, preferences, and behaviors is collected, which could be exploited for identity theft or surveillance. Protecting individuals' privacy in such a vast and interconnected digital space is a significant challenge. As the metaverse continues to evolve, cybersecurity strategies will need to adapt to address emerging threats and vulnerabilities.“When we discuss linking the metaverse and real-world objects and devices, technically we talk about the rising importance & new roles of IoT in the metaworld. Hence the attractiveness of the ‘Internet-of-Everything’ for global cybercrime increases as well,” comments Victor Ivanovsky, KasperskyOS Business Development Lead. “This is why IoT vendors should consider implementing a next generation cybersecurity approach on their devices. Kaspersky pioneers the Cyber Immune approach, where devices are able to be designed and developed with innate, built-in protection that would make them virtually impossible to compromise. For instance, Kaspersky IoT Secure Gateway is designed to serve as a secure gateway for the Internet of Things in Industrial IoT networks, Smart Cities and other modern use cases on the boundaries of the metaverse.”To keep your company protected from cyber threats in traditional and virtual environments, Kaspersky experts recommend:Organizations should conduct regular cyber skill checkups among employees and offer competent training. Kaspersky Security Awareness portfolio offers flexible ways to train staff, is easily customizable and scalable to meet the needs of any company size.Corporate users should be educated on potential privacy risks when working in virtual environments. Organizations should implement best practices in safeguarding personal and corporate data.Install updates for the firmware used on digital devices (including virtual headsets) as soon as they become available.Use Cyber Immune solutions for IoT protection on corporate networks. Use a dedicated IoT gateway that ensures inbuilt security and reliability of data transferring.Use Kaspersky Threat Intelligence to block network connections originating from malicious network addresses detected by security researchers.

Tech Innovation Institute Launches Falcon 180B: World's Mightiest Open LLM

The Technology Innovation Institute (TII) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is pushing the boundaries of generative AI once again with the launch of Falcon 180B, an advanced iteration of its flagship large language model (LLM). This groundbreaking release strengthens the UAE's dominance in AI, offering Falcon 180B as an open access model for research and commercial purposes.Following the remarkable success of Falcon 40B, an open source AI model that swiftly ascended to the top of the Hugging Face Leaderboard for LLMs in May 2023, TII, the applied research pillar of Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC) continues to lead the charge in generative AI. Falcon 40B marked one of the first instances of open source models for both researchers and commercial users, and it was considered a pioneering leap in the field.H.E. Faisal Al Bannai, Secretary General of the Advanced Technology Research Council, emphasized the positive impact of Falcon on the AI landscape and said: “We envision a future where the transformative power of AI is within everyone's reach. We are committed to democratizing access to advanced AI, as our privacy and the potential impact of AI on humanity should not be controlled by a select few. While we may not have all the answers, our resolve remains unwavering: to collaborate and contribute to the open source community, ensuring that the benefits of AI are shared by all.”With a staggering 180 billion parameters and trained on 3.5 trillion tokens, Falcon 180B soars to the top of the Hugging Face Leaderboard for pretrained LLMs. It outperforms notable competitors like Meta’s LLaMA 2 in various benchmarks, including reasoning, coding, proficiency, and knowledge tests.Among the best closed source LLMs, Falcon 180B ranks just behind OpenAI's latest GPT 4 and is on par with the performance of Google's PaLM 2 Large, the model powering Bard – despite being half the size of the model. The licensing framework for the model is established on ‘Falcon 180B TII License’, which is based upon Apache 2.0.Dr. Ebtesam Almazrouei, Executive Director and Acting Chief Researcher of the AI Cross-Center Unit at TII, said: "The launch of Falcon 180B exemplifies our dedication to advancing the frontiers of AI, and we are thrilled to share its limitless potential with the world. Falcon 180B heralds a new era of generative AI, where the potential of scientific advancement is made available through open access to fuel the innovations of tomorrow. As we delve into frontiers of science and technology, our vision extends far beyond innovation; it's about nurturing a profound connection to address global challenges through collaborative breakthroughs.”With over 12 million developers adopting and deploying the first release of Falcon, this significant upgrade is poised to become the premier model for various domains, from chatbots to code generation, and beyond.Falcon 180B is compatible with the following major languages: English, German, Spanish, and French, with limited capabilities in Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Dutch, Romanian, Czech, and Swedish.

Nostalgia Meets Action: SRK's 'Jawan' Scores Big at the Box Office

'80's - '90s Bollywood ka masalaUss par South cinema ka tadka. That sums up Shah Rukh Khan (SRK)'s latest blockbuster Jawan. In fact, it seems like a Tamil movie in which SRK tries to do a Rajinikanth!! No kidding ya, he even flips a cigarette to match the famous 'Thalaivar' swag. The end result is an over the top action drama, which entertains aplenty!! Truly, after the independence weekend blockbuster Gadar 2, which raked in some five hundred plus crores at the domestic box office, Jawan has all the ingredients to take it forward from here. It's massy. Its fun. Its pure unadulterated entertainment. There's also a social message thrown in through SRK's brilliant monologue where he directly converses with the audience... wow!! Admittedly, the plot is oft repeated and seen before type!! Without giving away spoilers, Jawan is a frothy mix of multiple masala movies rooted in the '90s. The vigilante against corruption angle is liberally borrowed from Kamal Haasan's Indian (1996) (Hindustani in Hindi) as well as Akshay Kumar's more recent Gabbar is Back (2015). There is also an added dash of Mammootty's Bollywood turnip called Dhartiputra (1993). In fact, the entire jail sequences of the mother (Deepika Padukone) and her infant son are a direct lift from this Iqbal Durrani directed disaster. Also, let me put those rumours of Jawan being a modern day remake of Amitabh Bachchan's Aakhree Raasta (1986) to rest. Nope, Aakhree Raasta it ain't!! Having said that, the mass masala works big time and makes for a satisfying watch even at close to three hours of run time. Inspite its evident South cinema hangover, the action and song choreography are imminently catchy. The production values are expectedly avant-garde. On the flipside, Anirudh's songs (except the 'Zinda Banda' number) don't meet the humongous expectations though his background score for most parts is striking. The cast deserves full marks. Nayanthara in her Bollywood debut, looks super gorgeous and conjures a great chemistry with SRK. Deepika Padukone leaves a mighty impression even in a special appearance. Sunil Grover is noteworthy. Vijay Sethupathi playing the main antagonist named Kaali, is simply super duper. Note his scene with Deepika in jail. Awesome!! Finally, Jawan is an out and out SRK film and the Bollywood superstar sinks his teeth in to the dual role emerging the clear winner. Donning multiple avatars and juggling between a complex father and son character, he is just outstanding. From the TV series Fauji (1989) to Jawan, SRK has indeed come full circle as an actor and a self made superstar. The last decade was harsh on him mainly due to his choice of films. With Pathaan and now Jawaan, it is safe to say that SRK is back and here to stay. I betcha!! Ratings on some key aspects* : 1. Acting : 5/5 (SRK)2. Direction : 3.5/53. Music : 2.5/5 4. Story, Screenplay and Dialogue : 3/55. Cinematography : 4/56. Editing : 4/5 7. Costume Design : 4/58. Special Effects and VFX : 4/59. Action : 4.5/510. Production Quality : 4.5/5 #SNRating for #Jawan : 3 & 1/2 stars out of 5. - Sumeet Nadkarni * - The overall film rating is not a simple average of all ratings on key aspects but a weighted average of the ratings where some crucial aspects (like direction, acting, story and screenplay etc) are assigned more weightage than others. #Jawan #ActionThriller #HindiMovie #BollywoodFilm #SRK #Atlee #Nayanthara #DeepikaPadukone #VijaySethupathi #BollywoodReview #Filmreview #TheatricalRelease #OTTRelease #Netflix #SNRatings #SNRatings barometer:1 star = Poor1 & 1/2 star = Below average/ Avoidable2 stars = Average2 & 1/2 stars = Above average/ Risk it3 stars = Good enough/ Watchable 3 & 1/2 stars = Definitely worth a theatrical watch4 stars = Very good5 stars = Masterpiece/ Outstanding.

Zoom introduces Zoom AI Companion

Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZM) announced that Zoom AI Companion (formerly Zoom IQ), the company’s generative AI digital assistant, is now included at no additional cost with the paid services in their Zoom user accounts1. AI Companion reinforces Zoom’s vision to deliver limitless human connection on one platform, empowering people by increasing their productivity, enhancing their skills, and improving team effectiveness. Zoom also announced today that Zoom IQ for Sales, its conversational intelligence software, will be renamed Zoom Revenue Accelerator.Since Zoom introduced generative AI in early June, thousands of companies have benefited from free trials of Team Chat compose and Meeting summary. Beginning this fall, Zoom will significantly expand its generative AI offering across its platform with the launch of AI Companion, at no additional cost with paid Zoom user accounts.Zoom’s federated approach to AI delivers high-quality results and lowers costs by dynamically incorporating its own large language models, along with third-party models such as Meta Llama 2, OpenAI, and Anthropic.Rooted in this unique approach, Zoom AI Companion delivers powerful, real-time digital assistant capabilities to help users improve productivity and work together more effectively. Zoom customers can expect to see AI Companion throughout the entire platform, from Meetings, Team Chat, Phone, Email, and Whiteboard, with additional features on the roadmap.“We are transcending the hype in generative AI by delivering tangible products and disrupting the industry’s pricing model, making it easy for businesses and people like you and me to leverage generative AI’s full benefits in our day-to-day work,” said Smita Hashim, chief product officer at Zoom. “We were founded on doing what’s right for our customers, and we firmly believe that offering Zoom AI Companion at no additional cost to our paid Zoom user accounts delivers tremendous value as we all navigate the challenges facing us today. We are excited to see our customers and users start using AI Companion and about our strong roadmap for further innovation underpinned by a commitment to responsible AI.”How Zoom is Putting Customer Privacy First with Generative AIZoom’s goal is to invest in AI-driven innovation that enhances user experience and productivity while prioritizing trust, safety, and privacy. In August, Zoom shared that it does not use any customer audio, video, chat, screen-sharing, attachments, or other communications-like customer content (such as poll results, whiteboards, or reactions) to train Zoom’s or third-party artificial intelligence models. Additionally, AI Companion is turned off by default — account   1 Select verticals and geos may be excluded.owners and administrators control whether to enable these AI features for their accounts. Zoom provides admins and users control and visibility when AI features are being used or activated. By putting its customers’ privacy needs first, Zoom is taking a leadership position, enabling its customers to use AI Companion and its capabilities with confidence.Modern Work Powered by Zoom AI CompanionAI Companion makes it easy and frictionless to collaborate and become more productive, removing repetitive tasks and distractions, and helping teams collaborate more effectively.AI Companion incorporates several new real-time AI capabilities immediately, with additional capabilities expected to launch over the next few months. AI Companion is transforming modern work in the following ways:With Zoom Meetings, users can watch recordings faster through highlights and smart chapters, and review summaries and next steps, so they can easily catch up on a missed meeting. In the meeting, if enabled by the meeting host, attendees can catch up quickly without disrupting the meeting flow by discreetly submitting questions via the in-meeting AI Companion side panel to receive an AI-generated answer on what they missed. Post- meeting, hosts can receive an automated meeting summary to share with attendees and those who were unable to attend a meeting. These capabilities help team members who may be in different time zones catch up asynchronously. Planned for spring 2024, users will also have the ability to receive real-time feedback on their presence in meetings, as well as coaching on their conversational and presentation skills.Zoom Team Chat is critical for real-time and asynchronous work, but it is easy to get lost in the volume of messages. AI Companion allows users to quickly draft messages based on the context of a chat thread, as well as change tone and length, so they can spend less time composing replies. In the coming weeks, users will be able to catch up on long chat threads through generative AI summarization, and by early 2024, users will have the ability to auto-complete chat sentences and schedule meetings from a chat.This fall, Zoom Whiteboard users will get help from AI Companion with generating and categorizing ideas, and by spring 2024, users will be able to harness their whiteboard content to generate images and populate whiteboard templates.Additionally, in early fall, Zoom Mail users will be able to get draft email suggestions. By spring 2024, users will be able to add meeting summaries to Notes and summarize SMS threads and calls with Zoom Phone.In spring 2024, users will be able to interact with AI Companion through a conversational interface that will be able to understand the context of questions and support users with their content across the Zoom platform, such as prior meetings, chats, and select connected third-party apps, even initiating actions on their behalf. For example, users will be able to interact with AI Companion to get help with:Pre-meeting preparation: Ask AI Companion to find the status of key projects to prepare for an upcoming customer meeting. AI Companion will be able to surface knowledge from meetings, chats, whiteboards, emails, documents, and, withusers’ permission, from third-party applications on behalf of the user, to provide the latest updates.In-meeting real-time support: Ask AI Companion real-time questions during the meeting to catch up on key points in the discussion, create and file a support ticket on an issue raised during a call, or provide a draft response to a question raised during the meeting.Post meeting: Ask AI Companion to summarize the meeting that was held, automatically identify action items and key stakeholders, and surface the next steps to the relevant stakeholders in Team Chat or, with users’ permission, in their third-party applications.Easy intuitive interfaceUsers will be able to access AI Companion from within their existing workflows such as within Zoom Meetings, Zoom Team Chat, and Zoom Whiteboard for capabilities such as Meeting summaries, Team Chat compose, and Whiteboard generation with a simple, easy-to-use experience. Starting now, users can additionally have interactive capabilities with AI Companion via a side panel by accessing these directly within the Meetings experience; this capability will expand across the Zoom platform in spring 2024, as capabilities are added.

Amazon is consumers preferred ad platform for a second year in a row

Kantar, the world's leading marketing insights and analytics company, today reveals Amazon has once again taken the title of consumers’ most preferred ad platform. According to Kantar Media Reactions 2023, most consumers consider ads on Amazon to be relevant and useful, with few negative qualities. Despite not being one of the top five favourite platforms for marketers globally, Amazon is building trust among this group – with a 10% year-on-year rise in trust scores. The e-commerce giant also tops the charts in Brazil, Germany and Mexico, three of the 23 markets included in the study.Kantar Media Reactions 2023 report uncovers the attitudes of consumers and marketers to ad platforms and channels. The annual study, now in its fourth year, is based on interviews with around 16,000 consumers in 23 markets and 900 senior marketers globally.Among marketers, YouTube has leapfrogged to the top of the charts, improving trust by 6% compared with last year. The rise of YouTube demonstrates marketers’ preference for established, brands, even if it does not register in consumers’ top five platforms.Top ranking media brandsThis year’s analysis also reveals that “in-person” touchpoints dominate consumers’ preferred channels – with sponsored events taking the lead for the second year in a row. The rest of the top five also comprises channels that are experienced in-person, including cinema ads, point of sale, and out-of-home/digital out-of-home. Top-ranking media channelsThe study shows there’s significant contrast between marketers’ and consumers’ most preferred channels, with marketers inclined towards newer channels while consumers prefer channels that cause the least interruption to their lives.TV or not TV? Notably, TV, the traditional lynchpin of ad campaigns, is absent from the ranking of marketers’ preferred ad channels this year. While TV has never been rated highly among consumers, it has historically performed strongly among marketers. However, it has fallen from 3rd place in marketers’ preferred channels last year to 12th place in 2023, and TV sponsorship has fallen from 12th place to 20th. Just 6% of marketers say they will increase TV spend in 2024.  Gonca Bubani, Global Thought Leadership Director - Media, Kantar, said “Successful advertising today seamlessly integrates into consumers’ lives: in their scrolling, viewing or simply while they go about their days. This year, consumers have spoken up and said they strongly prefer advertising that they see out-of-home, like at sponsored events or the cinema. So why is there such a huge mismatch between the advertising consumers enjoy and what marketers are spending their precious budgets on? We know advertising campaigns are seven times as impactful among receptive audiences, so for marketers, it’s crucial to understand the strengths and weaknesses of different ad platforms and invest their money where it will make an impact.”The marketers’ mindset The Kantar Media Reactions 2023 survey of around 900 marketers around the world also quantifies how trends and changes in the media landscape shape their attitudes. Key highlights include:• The Metaverse continues to be an unfulfilled promise – In 2022, a net 61% of marketers claimed they would increase spend in the metaverse, but only a net of 12% actually did. In the 2023 study, only one in five (22%) state they will raise their budget for Metaverse advertising next year.• Twitter, the end of an era – X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, has suffered reputational damage among marketers, the research shows. X, the latest incarnation of the platform, does not feature in the list on marketers’ top 5 preferred ad platforms. A decline in perceptions of innovation (now 16%, down from 28% in 2021) and trustworthiness (now 7%, down from 11% in 2021), is accompanied by a net 14% of marketers saying they will reduce their ad investment on the platform in 2024. • The race for attention – Marketers continue to invest in channels that consumers don’t think are attention-grabbing. For marketers, influencer content is king in terms of delivering attention, but it doesn’t make the top 5 for consumers. Furthermore, a staggering 50% of marketers do not see attention as important as brand or sales outcomes, despite the evidence that it helps build brands and drives sales. According to the study, cinema ads, sponsored events and digital out-of-home are among the few channels that both consumers and marketers believe are attention-grabbing. Both groups are in agreement that TikTok is the most attention-grabbing media brand.

Saudi Arabia leads Middle East in digital experience AI investments

 Enabling Middle Eastern organisations to embark on a forward-thinking digital business strategy to attain category leadership, the leading digital experience (DX) event of the Middle East, ‘The Digital Experience Show Middle East 2023,’ commenced in Riyadh. The event’s inauguration was accompanied by the unveiling of the highly insightful ‘Digital Experience Intelligence Report’.This report offers profound insights into the investment plans and digital strategies of Saudi Arabian and Middle Eastern organisations, charting their course for the year 2024.A compelling trend emerged from the report - companies across the Middle East and Africa are intensifying their investment in artificial intelligence. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Intelligent Automation (IA) are proving to be potent instruments to enhance customer loyalty, drive growth, and optimise efficiency.In line with this, a staggering 81% of companies are ramping up their investment in AI. Additionally, 46% of companies are re-evaluating Chatbots, 27% are reconsidering CRM platforms, and 23% are enhancing Natural Language Translation.The event spotlighted the pivotal role of digital experience in conferring a true competitive advantage, evident in sustained commercial triumph and elevated customer satisfaction. Ayusha Tyagi, Managing Director of Customer Experience Live, the organisers of the event, underscored this, stating, “These technologies, when combined, empower companies to understand customer behaviour, converting interactions into actionable insights. This predictive capability enables systems to anticipate and fulfill customer needs, delivering distinctive and enriched experiences.”Moreover, as organisations emphasise the cultivation of customer loyalty and accelerated growth, the significance of adopting cutting-edge technologies to amplify digital interactions cannot be overstated. A resounding 76% of business leaders affirm that customers expect a continuous stream of innovation through digital products and services that provide substantial value. Correspondingly, 74% of organisations are actively developing more digital experiences, and 63% of companies report an augmented investment in Digital Experience Technology.The report also provides insights into budget allocation for technological deployment. Notably, 68% of companies confirmed plans to invest over $200,000 in customer experience (CX) in 2024. Furthermore, an assertive 28% have committed to an investment exceeding $1,000,000 for the same purpose.Majed Rafed Al-Argoubi, CEO of the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones affirmed, "MODON believes that embracing and optimizing digital interactions is a strategic imperative for organizations aspiring to thrive in today's dynamic environment."The event's sponsors include Verint, Uniphore, channels by stc, Riyadh Airport Company, ccc by stc, Silah Gulf, Konnect Insights, Aurus, and 2 Ring. Thought-provoking perspectives were shared by aramco, The Coca-Cola Company, Tawuniya, Riyadh Municipality, NEOM, flyadeal, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Human and Social Development, Virgin Megastore, and others, providing invaluable insights and expertise on harnessing digital experience.Mamoun Alamouri, Vice President of Uniphore, illuminated their mission, “Uniphore is dedicated to transforming every aspect impacting customer journeys, driven by our commitment to provide the planet’s most engaging customer and employee experiences through a unified Enterprise-class multimodal AI and data platform.”Acknowledging exceptional accomplishments, the Digital Experience Awards, held on 6 September at the event, honored prominent regional organizations that have invested to yield remarkable outcomes in CX and digitization, including the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing, Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones (MODON), Riyadh Airports Company, solutions by stc, Bupa Arabia, Mobily, Emkan Finance Company, Cobone, and Silah Gulf.

STC Group buys 9.9% stake in Spanish telecom giant Telefonica

STC Group, Saudi Arabia's largest telecom operator, has acquired a 9.9% stake in Telefonica, valued at 2.1 billion euros ($2.25 billion), as part of its strategy to become the largest shareholder in the Spanish telecommunications giant.This investment in Telefonica marks STC's second venture into Europe's telecom market, following its agreement to acquire tower infrastructure worth 1.2 billion euros from United Group in April. Telecom groups in the Gulf region are expanding their overseas investments, with Emirates Telecommunications Group (EAND.AD), also known as e&, increasing its stake in Vodafone Group (VOD.L) to 14% in March.STC disclosed this investment after trading hours on Tuesday. This stake comprises 4.9% of Telefonica's shares and financial instruments that provide an additional 5% of economic exposure to the company. STC intends to obtain voting rights for this 5% economic interest through financial instruments once regulatory approvals are granted.STC's CEO Olayan Alwetaid stated: "We view this as an attractive investment opportunity, leveraging our strong financial position, all while maintaining our dividend policy." He emphasized that STC has no intentions of gaining "control or a majority stake" in Telefonica.Telefonica responded to STC's investment, characterizing it as "friendly" and stating that it was informed of the move on Tuesday. STC collaborated with US investment bank Morgan Stanley (MS.N) to establish this position, according to sources familiar with the matter. Legal advisory services were provided by Linklaters for STC and Allen & Overy for Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanley, Linklaters, and Allen & Overy declined to comment on the matter.In Madrid, Telefonica's shares saw a 2.9% increase to 3.86 euros as of 0725 GMT. STC's shares remained relatively stable, with a 0.1% increase to 39.60 riyals ($10.56) at the opening of the Riyadh market.STC has subsidiaries and stakes in companies operating in Kuwait and Bahrain. It is majority-owned by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), a key component of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 initiative aimed at diversifying the economy away from oil dependence.Telefonica is scheduled to present a new strategic plan on November 8, with a focus on growing the company's free cash flow, which its CEO anticipates could reach 4 billion euros this year. Like its European competitors, Telefonica has faced challenges to profitability due to intense competition and substantial investments in 5G and optic fiber infrastructure. To fund these initiatives, the company has been selling stakes in more mature businesses such as submarine cables and mobile masts.

Haris Munif unveils the AI avatar revolution in UAE marketing

AI-driven avatars and virtual influencers are taking center stage in the UAE at a time when technology and innovation continually redefine marketing norms. Adgully sat down with Haris Munif, an Advisory Board Member of CMO Council Middle East and Co-founder of SPRK Digital, to gain insights into how these digital entities are reshaping the advertising and marketing industry in the UAE. Haris delves into their unique opportunities, successful campaigns, cultural sensitivities, ethical considerations, and future trends, offering a comprehensive view of this transformative landscape. A prominent figure in the UAE’s marketing landscape, Haris Munif says that marketers and brands should keep in mind the cultural nuances and diversity of the UAE, which is a confluence of various cultures. “It’s best to ensure that your AI avatar is culturally sensitive and to steer clear of cultural stereotypes. Embrace diversity and represent it authentically in your campaigns,” he says. Excerpts:How do you see virtual influencers and AI-driven avatars reshaping the advertising and marketing landscape in the UAE? What unique opportunities do they offer compared to traditional marketing approaches?The UAE has developed a reputation for always being a step ahead of the curve, so virtual influencers and AI avatars fit perfectly into this landscape. They have the potential to reshape the local advertising and marketing scene by adding a level of personalization and engagement that traditional approaches can rarely match.Traditional marketing is not enough in today's rapidly evolving digital world. Virtual influencers and AI avatars allow brands to create highly personalised and engaging experiences. Imagine an AI avatar speaking multiple languages to engage with the diverse population in the UAE. That's a game changer right there for the customer service industry.But, let's not forget, authenticity is still king. Even with AI and virtual influencers, authenticity and genuine connections matter in the UAE, just like everywhere else. It's about striking that balance between innovation and staying true to your brand and values.Can you share examples of successful campaigns or initiatives that have leveraged virtual influencers or AI-driven avatars in the UAE? What were the key factors contributing to their success?One such example is the NooNouri Virtual Influencer Burj Khalifa Virtual Shoot. The virtual influencer wore a stunning made-to-measure dress by Zuhair Murad for a virtual shoot in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, with the city’s stunning skyline in the background. The digital avatar, with more than 400,000 followers on Instagram, was created by CGI influencer Joerg Zuber and has also been featured in campaigns for big-name brands including Balenciaga, Dior, Miu Miu, Valentino and Versace. The key to success is always to put the audience first and leverage technology to enhance their interactions with your brand or product.In a region known for its diverse culture and values, how do virtual influencers and AI avatars adapt to local sensitivities and preferences? What strategies should marketers employ to ensure cultural relevance and authenticity?Cultural sensitivity is absolutely vital. Before launching any such experiment, it's essential to thoroughly research and understand the local culture, values, and traditions. The UAE is a melting pot of various cultures; so it’s best to ensure that your AI avatar is culturally sensitive and to steer clear of cultural stereotypes. Embrace diversity and represent it authentically in your campaigns. When done right, this approach can create a genuine connection with your audience and lead to long-term brand loyalty.What are the key challenges and ethical considerations associated with using virtual influencers and AI avatars in advertising and marketing, and how are these being addressed in the UAE?Maintaining authenticity is the primary challenge. It's imperative to be transparent about the virtual nature of influencers and avatars. Addressing this issue is crucial to foster trust and credibility among consumers, ensuring that audiences are well aware when they are interacting with virtual entities.As the UAE continues to embrace technological innovation, it remains committed to upholding ethical standards in advertising and marketing, safeguarding consumer interests, and fostering a thriving and responsible marketing ecosystem.With the rapid advancements in AI and technology, what trends do you anticipate in the evolution of virtual influencers and AI-driven avatars in the UAE's advertising and marketing industry over the next few years? How should businesses prepare for these changes?The future of virtual influencers and AI-driven avatars in the UAE's advertising and marketing industry is incredibly promising. A few such anticipated trends are:Enhanced personalization: AI avatars will become even better at understanding individual preferences and delivering highly personalized marketing experiences. Businesses could invest in data analytics and AI technology to gather customer insights and offer tailored content and products.Multilingual avatars: Given the diverse population in the UAE, we can expect to see AI avatars speaking multiple languages. To prepare, businesses should ensure that their AI avatars are capable of engaging with a wide range of cultural backgrounds.Virtual retail assistants: AI avatars will play a more prominent role in e-commerce, acting as virtual retail assistants. They'll help customers browse, recommend products, and answer questions. Businesses could consider integrating these avatars into their online stores.Interactive content: Virtual influencers and avatars will be used in more interactive content formats, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Businesses should explore opportunities for such immersive experiences.Integration with social media: Virtual influencers will continue to proliferate within social media platforms. Businesses should consider collaborations with virtual influencers to reach wider and more engaged audiences. Miquela is perhaps the most prominent virtual influencer in existence, partnering with brands like Samsung, Calvin Klein, and Prada.

BeIN SPORTS scores exclusive media rights for Qatar Classic Squash Championship

BeIN SPORTS, one of the world’s leading sports broadcasters, has secured the media rights to the Professional Squash Association (PSA) QTerminals Qatar Classic set to take place at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex in Doha from 9-16 September. For the first time since 2015, the annual squash championship will also feature a women’s draw.beIN SPORTS will broadcast 14 matches live across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) , the USA and Canada, as well as event highlights, news and views from around the week-long tournament. This year’s men’s draw will be headed up by World No.1 Ali Farag, a four-time World Champion and two-time winner in Doha. The Egyptian triumphed in the Qatari capital in 2018 and 2020 but was surprisingly eliminated last year in the third round. He will face compatriots Mohamed Abouelghar, Fares Dessouky, and 2019 World Champion Tarek Momen in his first three matches.In the women’s tournament, World No.1 Nouran Gohar will make her debut at the QTerminals Qatar Classic, headlining the 48-player female draw of what is the second PSA World Tour Platinum event of the 2023-24 season. Gohar, a 25-year-old Egyptian, has received a bye to the second round, where she will face either Wales’ Emily Whitlock or Latvia’s Ineta Mackevica. “The QTerminals Qatar Classic is one of the oldest annual international events on the Qatari sports calendar having been first held in 2001,” said Mohammad Al-Subaie, CEO of beIN – MENA. “We are delighted to be able to showcase this fantastic, fast-paced event once again on beIN SPORTS, especially with the return of the women’s draw following an eight-year absence. Since 2019, our beINSPIRED campaign has been giving a global platform to events and talent that haven’t, historically, been given the exposure they deserve, so to be able to promote squash – and women’s squash – to our audiences is one more important addition to our portfolio.”  In MENA, coverage will be available on beIN SPORTS’ free to air channel starting at midday MECCA on 13 September, with the women’s quarterfinals broadcast live with Arabic and English commentary. The following day’s coverage starts with a 30-minute pre-studio before two of the men’s quarterfinals get underway at 14.30 MECCA. Coverage of the first women’s semifinal starts at 15.45 MECCA followed by studio analysis. The afternoon’s coverage of the two remaining men’s quarterfinals and the other women’s semi-final concludes with a post-studio segment at approximately 19:45 MECCA.On 15 September, coverage of the men’s semifinals will start with a pre-studio at 15.30 MECCA, followed by studio coverage until the end of the women’s final, with a post-studio segment expected to continue until approximately 19.30 MECCA. Finally, on 16 September, the men’s final will have a pre-studio and post-studio, with coverage starting at 17.30 MECCA.

24 startups join Flat6Labs’ StartMashreq Growth Track Program

 Flat6Labs, the MENA region’s leading seed and early-stage venture capital firm, announced the selection of 24 startups for its StartMashreq Growth Track program.The startups - founded in Jordan, Lebanon & Iraq - operate in diverse sectors such as fintech, healthtech, e-commerce, and agritech, also including 5 startups cofounded by female entrepreneurs, operating in Edtech, Energy Tech, and Proptech.The startups collectively generate a total annual recurring revenue of USD 20.8 million and have raised a total of USD 38.5 million along with creating around 700 direct job opportunities across the three countries. By joining the StartMashreq Growth Track program, they have the ability to access new markets, scale their operations, provide more job opportunities and increase their impact on their respective economies.“We are delighted to partner with Flat6Labs to support these promising startups from the Mashreq region, especially those founded by women,” said Abeer Shalan, Senior Operations Officer at the International Financial Corporation (IFC). “Mashreq startups can demonstrate resilience and innovation in the face of challenging circumstances and prove their ability to create value for their stakeholders by venturing into new markets. By providing them with funding and resources, we hope to help them reach their full potential and contribute to the development of the regional startup ecosystem.”Ragia Amr, Program Director of StartMashreq at Flat6Labs, said: “We are very excited to welcome the 24 startups to our Growth Track program. We have been impressed by the quality and diversity of the applications we received and we are confident that they have what it takes to succeed in their markets. Through our program, we will offer them tailored support and guidance to help them overcome their challenges and achieve their goals. We look forward to working with them over the next six months and beyond.”The StartMashreq Growth Track program kicked off in June 2023 and will run until December 2024. The program is part of StartMashreq's broader vision to inspire and support displaced entrepreneurs, empower female-led startups in the Mashreq Region, create more investment-ready businesses, and integrate the regional startup ecosystem. This will be fulfilled through a myriad of activities, exposure, and legal support. The activities will include workshops and mentorship by international experts, business networking events, investor mixers, and participation in international events and roadshows.The 24 startups, who joined StartMashreq’s Growth Track program, are:LebanonCompost BaladiEcomzKamKalimaMoodfitPresentailPurplShelvzIraqKESKLezzooMidient/PadashOrderiiToolmartJordanAlgebra IntelligenceArab TherapyDinarakHello World KidsInvoiceQJordilightKonn TechnologiesLittle Thinking MindsNestromPalmearRepzoShop4Me

Puma, and us and BlackBox join hands for new campaign for Al Hilal

Football fever is gripping Saudi Arabia with the world’s greatest players being selected to play for the most indomitable club: Al Hilal Football Club. Seeing this as a perfect opportunity to make an enchanting campaign, and us Agency and BlackBox Studio in partnership with Puma have launched a campaign for Al Hilal Saudi Football Club. Saudi Arabia’s most popular club will now include global players like Neymar, Mitrovi?, Malcom, Koulibaly, Rúben Neves, and Milinkovi?-Savi?.The core idea of this powerful campaign drew its inspiration from the club's name, "Al Hilal," which in Arabic translates to "the crescent," symbolizing the club’s relentless strive for progress, unity, and resilience.Ricardo Amaral, Team Head, Marketing GCC at PUMA, remarks, “Introducing Al Hilal’s striking new 3rd kit in bold black, the campaign heralds a new lunar phase, symbolizing the club's adaptability and readiness for fresh beginnings and challenges.”Fadi Yaish, CEO and Creative Chairman, And Us Group, said, “We wanted to create a body of work that reflects the new energy and vibes in the world of sport and entertainment today, anchored in Saudi Arabia through the great opportunity Puma and Al Hilal have introduced to us. The result marks a new and exceptional standard of work, that we hope attracts more interest in elevating the marketing and communication of sport and entertainment to higher ground, in parallel to the ambition of Saudi Arabia.” With the club’s remarkable transformation over the summer, highlighted by the notable international signings and a record-setting number of titles and trophies within Saudi Arabia and Asia, it's evident that this campaign marks the beginning of a new chapter, building upon the club's iconic history, leading into the next, unparalleled streak of triumph.Saymon Medeiros, Creative Director of ? and us, adds, “The accompanying film for this campaign mirrors the indomitable spirit of Al Hilal Saudi Football Club, urging everyone to raise their heads and open their eyes to the journey ahead. Al Hilal is the crescent moon, creating ripples that drives the club forward, casting darkness over rivals, while illuminating the sky for the fans.”

Stc Group presents its digital fintech solutions during Seamless Saudi Arabia 23

stc Group, the engine of digital transformation in the region, took part in the "Seamless Saudi Arabia 2023" exhibition and conference held in Riyadh. Over 500 exhibiting companies, both local and international, along with 2000 company representatives and 300 speakers, convened at the conference. The group's primary focus revolved around its position as a digital transformation engine for fintech, e-commerce, retail, and payments industries, achieved via avant-garde digital Group exhibited its digital and technical offerings, including implementing Standard and Soft POS through smart devices and payment systems. Additionally, stc provided ATM monitoring services and utilized VR technologies within the Metaverse. Notably, stc leveraged AI technologies for geographical analysis, fraud detection, Anti-Money Laundering, and contact points, among other applications.Channels by stc expanded its offerings by leveraging its logistics arm, dal, to provide last-mile solutions. The company also entered into strategic agreements with key players in the market, including Jahez Company, Alinma Bank, and Basalah e-commerce platform, to solidify its position and ensure sustainability in the market. The services and products offered by myStore were also part of this expansion.During the conference, stc Group entered two MOUs with Saudi Bright Ware, a company specializing in Software Development and System Integration as well as payment solutions. The MOU will facilitate financial and payment services for stc's business sector clients.In addition, stc has entered a second MOU with Paytabs, a company that specializes in providing payment solutions for business transactions between corporations and organizations. The MOU encompasses the exploration of ways to enable financial services and the discussion of payment system development. Moreover, the MOU aims to enhance the innovation prospects in fintech and provide a payment gateway service designed explicitly for stc within the business's participation in the "Seamless Saudi Arabia 2023" conference and exhibition is a testament to its dedication to revolutionizing the fintech, e-commerce, retail, and payments landscape. The group is channelling its resources towards developing cutting-edge payment solutions that optimize digital payment platforms for individuals and the corporate sector across diverse industries. stc remains committed to empowering various sectors digitally and advancing progress by providing state-of-the-art solutions.

Extreme Networks launches regional data center in UAE

Extreme Networks, Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR), a leader in cloud networking, today announced the launch of a new regional data centre (RDC) in the UAE, to meet growing business needs for faster data transmissions, easy access to cloud solutions and heightened data security. Through AI and machine learning functionality with the ExtremeCloud IQ platform, the RDC enables both government and enterprise customers to run their operations more efficiently while in accordance with local data laws.The new RDC is one of 18 regional data centres established by Extreme Networks and is expanding the company’s cloud footprint globally. It includes the company’s industry-leading cloud management platform ExtremeCloudIQ, which provides network insights and analytics that help organizations streamline operations, gain visibility into network performance and troubleshoot issues.The need for data centres in the region continues to grow as local and global companies face added demand for cloud computing, smart services, next generation e-commerce experiences and remote work capabilities. The UAE also recently announced a landmark federal data protection law in 2022, that requires stricter data protection and storage efforts and also has a “Cloud First” policy, which requires government entities to prioritise cloud solutions when procuring IT services. Extreme’s RDC is crucial to ensuring reliable and low latency services and greater data security and sovereignty.Here is a sampling of what Extreme Networks customers are saying:Abdulrahman Khaiwi- Head of IT - Emirates National Schools.“The wireless network is the central nervous system of our operations, educational platform and communications. By deploying Extreme solutions, we've been able to establish a high performing, highly available network which becomes the foundation for us to offer advanced curriculum. More importantly, it’s easy to manage and gain visibility into the Wireless infrastructure. We can easily add new devices, manage applications and users and leverage insights that allow us to continually optimize performance and identify anomalies before they become bigger issues. Knowing that our data to be hosted within the new UAE Data Center provides us with additional peace of mind that we’ll benefit from increased speed, performance, and security.”Executive PerspectiveMaan Al-Shakarchi, Regional Director, Extreme Networks, META."The launch of our new regional data center in the UAE is proof of our investment in the Middle East’s digital acceleration and our commitment to responding to present and future business needs for large enterprises, schools, government agencies and hospitals, among others. Our solutions provide a digital foundation for businesses to thrive and evolve in an ever-changing technological landscape and with the regional RDC our customers will benefit from increased performance and security. Extreme makes networking simple and flexible and we help our customers make their network a strategic asset to their organization.”

Multiply Group secures 55% majority stake in Media 247 strengthening its profile

Multiply Group (ADX: MULTIPLY), an Abu Dhabi-based investment holding company, confirmed today the completion of its acquisition of a 55% majority stake in Media 247, a leading outdoor advertising firm in the UAE, for AED 225 million. This strategic move follows Multiply Group’s announcement in April 2023 regarding its intent to invest, subject to regulatory approvals, which has since been secured. The acquisition price has been adjusted as a result of the Company’s strong financial performance during the first half of 2023, where it overachieved its revenue and profitability targets by about 10% and 37%, respectively.Media 247, known for its extensive portfolio of over 45 exclusive outdoor premium hoardings, unipoles, and 3D structures across Dubai’s most prominent locations, further solidifies Multiply Group’s position in the media and advertising sector. The company’s diverse service offerings, ranging from media management and printing services to transit media solutions across Dubai’s largest taxi fleet, have made it a preferred partner for many top-tier advertisers and agencies both locally and internationally.Media 247's resilience, especially during challenging times such as the pandemic, further underscores its value proposition and the soundness of Multiply Group's investment decision.Samia Bouazza, Group CEO and Managing Director at Multiply Group, commented on the acquisition, stating: “Our investment in Media 247 underscores our strategic commitment to grow our verticals through the addition of high-value assets that yield sustainable recurring returns. The global media and communications industry, valued at US$ 2 trillion, is undergoing a seismic shift due to rapid digital transformation, immediate content dissemination, and heightened user engagement, presenting unprecedented growth avenues. By integrating a majority stake in Media 247, one of the largest in Dubai, into our portfolio – Multiply Media is poised to emerge as a leading integrated multi-brand media powerhouse in the UAE.”“Our vision is clear. We are committed to making continued value accretive investments in this vertical, with the overarching goal of propelling Multiply Media to the appropriate valuation to list on the local stock exchange,” she added.The acquisition of Media 247 aligns with Multiply Group’s ‘buy and build’ strategy, which focusses on acquiring profitable companies, fostering portfolio-wide synergies, driving bolt-on investments, and enhancing scalability and margins.Multiply Group, with its dual investment arms: Multiply and Multiply+, continues to showcase its financial acumen by targeting high-yield opportunities across diverse asset classes, reinforcing its reputation as a leading investment entity in the region. Multiply operates and invests in four current verticals - Mobility, Energy and Utilities, Media and Communications, and Beauty and Wellness, while Multiply+, its sector-agnostic and opportunistic investment arm, looks to target double-digit returns across asset classes.

Qashio and Carasti join forces to transform leasing and corporate expense in UAE

Qashio, a pioneering Dubai-based Fintech company offering an Award-Winning Corporate Card and Expense Management Solution, is thrilled to announce its strategic partnership with Carasti, a leading car subscription service in Dubai. This collaboration aims to redefine the leasing landscape and enhance the corporate expense experience for organizations across the UAE.As organizations increasingly embrace alternative approaches to vehicle ownership, Qashio and Carasti have come together to offer an innovative solution that not only streamlines the leasing process but also provides immediate benefits for businesses. Through this partnership, any sign-up for a vehicle leasing agreement with Carasti using Qashio's Corporate Cards will receive an instant cashback, demonstrating the commitment of both organizations to offer tangible value to their clients.Armin Moradi, Co-Founder & CEO of Qashio, expressed his enthusiasm about this collaboration: "At Qashio, we are dedicated to transforming financial processes for organizations by offering cutting-edge solutions that enhance efficiency and convenience. Teaming up with Carasti aligns perfectly with our mission to simplify processes and provide real benefits to our clients."Mr. Claudio Esposito-Aiardo, Co-Founder & CEO of Carasti, shared his insights on the partnership: "Carasti is proud to partner with Qashio to deliver a unique proposition to our corporate clients with our more flexible leasing solution in the form of Car Subscriptions. We’re seeing huge demand from the corporate world as car subscription is a great way to lower the overall cost of ownership and minimise upfront costs for businesses needing vehicles. The instant cashback is a testament to our commitment to making Car Subscription not only accessible but also rewarding for businesses.” We're excited to work together with Qashio in providing added value to our clients' vehicle leasing experience."With a growing trend among orgaizations to incorporate leasing as part of their employee benefits packages, this partnership aims to streamline the leasing process, empower businesses to manage their fleets efficiently, and ultimately make vehicle leasing more accessible and cost-effective through Carasti’s Car Subscription program. Moreover, the collaboration between Qashio and Carasti extends beyond immediate benefits. Both organizations share a vision of a more sustainable future. Qashio is driving a shift towards cashless and paperless financial processes, while Carasti is leading the way by offering Electric Vehicles to the market. Mr. Esposito-Aiardo noted, "We have observed a rising demand for electric cars from businesses seeking to embrace environmentally friendly alternatives in their leasing choices."The Qashio-Carasti partnership signifies a significant step forward in reshaping leasing and corporate expenses in the UAE. Together, these innovative companies are working towards a future where business solutions are not only efficient but also environmentally conscious.

ATM 2024 to explore how entrepreneurship is empowering innovation in the ME

Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the Middle East’s leading event for inbound and outbound travel and tourism professionals, has unveiled its next theme: ‘Empowering Innovation: Transforming Travel Through Entrepreneurship.’ The 31st edition of the show will take place at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from Monday 6 to Thursday 9 May 2024.Over the last 15 years, the travel and tourism industry has secured only 1 percent of total funding for startups across all industries, according to analysis from McKinsey. This is despite the fact that the sector accounted for more than 10 percent of global GDP in 2019. With exhibitors from the fields of aviation, accommodation, hospitality, attractions, technology and more, ATM 2024 will explore how innovators in the travel and tourism space are working to attract greater levels of funding to further increase the sector’s overall contribution to global GDP.The 31st edition of ATM will once again host policymakers, industry leaders and travel professionals from across the Middle East and beyond, encouraging them to forge new relationships, exchange knowledge and identify innovations with the potential to reshape the future of global travel and tourism. From startups to established brands, the upcoming show will highlight how innovators are enhancing customer experiences, driving efficiencies and accelerating progress towards a net-zero future for the industry.Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director, Arabian Travel Market, said: “The Middle East’s travel and tourism sector has demonstrated impressive resilience and growth in recent years, but we must continue to innovate and adapt in order to achieve the industry’s long-term goals. Thanks to ATM 2024’s theme, ‘Transforming Travel Through Entrepreneurship’, we have a golden opportunity to showcase expert insights, cutting-edge technologies and commercial opportunities with the potential to completely reshape the sector.”Building on ATM 2023’s theme of ‘Working Towards Net Zero’, environmentally responsible travel will represent a key focus during the show’s upcoming edition. Informed by the UAE’s Year of Sustainability and the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), which will take place in Dubai later this year, ATM 2024 will explore how innovation can be leveraged to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by building a greener travel and tourism sector for future generations.More than 40,000 travel trade professionals, including 30,000 visitors, attended the 30th edition of ATM in May 2023, setting a new show record. The exhibition attracted more than 2,100 exhibitors and representatives from over 155 countries, providing a global platform for the unveiling of ATM’s net-zero pledge.ATM 2024 will empower the global travel and tourism community to harness entrepreneurism, helping to catalyse innovation, increase revenues and maximise sustainability over the long term. The UAE aims to attract $150 billion in foreign investment by 2030, making it the perfect environment for these activities. With an emphasis on technological innovation, the nation plans to strengthen its position as an international hub for start-ups – a focus that looks set to benefit entrepreneurs operating in the region’s travel and tourism sector. By exploring the ways in which an entrepreneurial mindset can lead to positive change within the industry, ATM 2024 will enable attendees to identify strategies for growth across a range of key industry verticals.“As a global leader in innovation, the UAE offers the perfect environment in which to explore these trends and identify new avenues for growth,” Curtis added. “Following the record-breaking levels of attendance witnessed during ATM 2023, my colleagues and I cannot wait to welcome the global travel community to Dubai once again next year.”Held in conjunction with Dubai World Trade Centre, ATM 2024’s strategic partners include Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), Destination Partner; Emirates, Official Airline Partner; IHG Hotels & Resorts, Official Hotel Partner; and Al Rais Travel, Official DMC Partner.

Gulf Air group holding strengthens management team to elevate aviation

Manama: Gulf Air Group Holding (GFG) has strengthened its senior management team to support the growth of Bahrain’s aviation.Bringing on board a wealth of diverse experiences in their respective fields, the management team is poised to drive the company’s strategic vision of advancing Bahrain’s economic agenda whilst bolstering its position as a global aviation industry leader. The management team is led by Dr. Jeffrey Goh, Gulf Air Group Holding Chief Executive Officer.Ahmed Naeemi will join the group as Chief Technology Officer in September 2023, Ahmed is a veteran in IT and Digital Management, who is set to spearhead technological advancements and cutting-edge solutions in line with the Group’s business ambitions. He joins the group from the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance.The appointment of Ahmed Naeemi follows the appointment of Adnan Hashim as Chief Financial Officer, exceptional financial leader with a proven track record, who will be playing a pivotal role in driving the Group’s financial strategy, business planning and operational growth, and the appointment of Sawsan AlMutawa as Acting Chief People Officer, a proven track record of HR across diverse companies, will be instrumental in nurturing leadership, improving productivity, and optimizing efficiency within the Group.This strategic move comes in line with the Gulf Air Group Holding’s increased focus on accelerating its business growth by implementing cutting-edge solutions and creating customer satisfaction and advocacy to align with the company’s aspirations.Commenting on their appointments, Jeffrey Goh, Gulf Air Group Holding Chief Executive Officer said: “We are delighted to announce our exceptional senior management team, who will be instrumental in driving our future growth while enabling us to adapt to the ever evolving aviation landscape. Each of the leaders are highly capable, having extensive knowledge of their domain and understanding of the Group's vision. I look forward to collaborating with them in our transformative journey to shape Bahrain's aviation future with the Kingdom's economic visionWith an ambitious new team at the helm, the Group aims to synergize its core departments in order to strengthen Bahrain’s aviation sector and go above and beyond for the Kingdom’s economy.

Nearly three in five global board members view generative AI as security risk

Dubai: Proofpoint, Inc., a leading cybersecurity and compliance company, today released its second annual Cybersecurity: The 2023 Board Perspective report, which explores board of directors’ views on the global threat landscape, cybersecurity priorities, and relationships with CISOs. The findings reveal that nearly three-quarters (73%) of those surveyed feel at risk of a material cyber-attack, a notable increase from 65% in 2022. Likewise, 53% feel unprepared to cope with a targeted attack, up from 47% the previous year. Interestingly, recent research from Proofpoint illustrates similar sentiments are shared by CISOs in the Middle East, with 55% of KSA CISOs and 75% of UAE CISOs admitting they feel at risk of experiencing a material cyber-attack in the next 12 months. Half of CISOs in the Middle East believe their organization is unprepared to cope with a targeted cyber-attack. This year-over-year change may reflect the ongoing volatility of the threat landscape, including lingering geopolitical tensions and rises in disruptive ransomware and supply chain attacks. The emerging risk of artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as ChatGPT may also be contributing to these sentiments: 59% of board members believe generative AI is a security risk for their organization.Global board members have those concerns even though 73% view cybersecurity as a priority, 72% believe their board clearly understands the cyber risks they face, and 70% believe they have adequately invested in cybersecurity. The Cybersecurity: The 2023 Board Perspective report examines global, third-party survey responses from 659 board members at organizations with 5,000 or more employees across different industries. In June 2023, more than 50 board directors were surveyed in each market in each of the following 12 countries: the U.S., Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, Singapore, Japan, Brazil, and Mexico.The report explores three key areas: the cyber threats and risks boardrooms face, their level of preparedness to defend against those threats, and their alignment with CISOs based on the sentiments Proofpoint uncovered in our 2023 Voice of the CISO report. We found a similar year-over-year increase in the number of CISOs who feel at risk and unprepared, and a closer alignment than before between board directors and security leaders.“The newfound alignment between board members and their CISOs on cyber risk and preparedness is a positive sign that the two sides are working closer together and making progress. However, this growing alliance hasn’t yet delivered significant changes in cybersecurity posture, despite boards feeling good about the time and resources they’re investing to combat this risk,” said Ryan Kalember, executive vice president of cybersecurity strategy at Proofpoint. “Our findings show that it remains a challenge to translate increased awareness into effective cybersecurity strategies that protect people and data. Growing even stronger board-CISO relationships will be instrumental in the months ahead so directors and security leaders can have more meaningful conversations and ensure they’re investing in the right priorities.”Key global findings from Proofpoint’s Cybersecurity: The 2023 Board Perspective report include:? Generative AI has the boardroom’s attention: with tools such as ChatGPT getting much of the spotlight in recent months, 59% of those surveyed view this emerging technology as a security risk to their organization.? Year-over-year comparison shows board members’ increasing concerns about cyber risk: 73% of those surveyed feel their organization is at risk of a material cyber attack, compared to 65% in 2022.? Awareness and funding do not translate into preparedness: 73% of directors agree that cybersecurity is a priority for their board, 72% believe their board clearly understands the cyber risks they face, 70% think they have adequately invested in cybersecurity, and 84% believe their cybersecurity budget will increase over the next 12 months; however, these efforts are not leading to better preparedness—53% still view their organization as unprepared to cope with a cyber attack in the next 12 months.? Board members and CISOs have similar concerns about their biggest threats: board members ranked malware as their top concern (40%), followed by insider threat (36%) and cloud account compromise (36%). This is only slightly different from CISOs’ top concerns of email fraud/BEC (33%), insider threat (30%), and cloud account compromise (29%).? Directors are not completely aligned with CISOs in the areas of people risk and data protection: while most directors (63%) and CISOs (60%) agree that human error is their biggest risk, board members are much more confident in their organization’s ability to protect data 75% of directors share this view, compared to only 60% of CISOs.? Bigger budgets, additional cyber resources, and better threat intelligence top boardrooms’ wish lists: 37% of board directors said their organization’s cybersecurity would benefit from a bigger budget, 35% would like to see more cyber resources, and 35% would like better threat intelligence.? Board-CISO interactions and relationships are gradually improving: 53% of directors say they interact with security leaders regularly. While an increase from last year’s 47%, it still leaves nearly half of all boardrooms without strong CISO-C-suite relationships. Board members and CISOs are generally closely aligned when they do interact, however, with 65% of board members saying they see eye-to-eye with their CISO and 62% of CISOs agreeing. From a regional lens, previous Proofpoint research shows that 63% of CISOs in the UAE and 45% of CISOs in KSA agree that board members saw eye-to-eye with them on cybersecurity issues. ? Personal liability is a concern for boards and CISOs alike: 72% of board directors expressed concern about personal liability in the wake of a cybersecurity incident at their own organization and 62% of CISOs agree.“Board members are taking cybersecurity matters seriously, demonstrating they have no illusions about human risk and the impact cyber threats pose to an organization’s bottom line. They are making strides in their relationships with security leaders, understanding that strong board-CISO partnerships are more critical than ever,” said Kalember. “But this is not a time to grow complacent. Boards must continue to invest heavily in improving preparedness and organizational resilience. This means pushing for even deeper, more productive conversations with CISOs to ensure directors are making informed, strategic decisions that drive positive outcomes.”

Amazon is consumers’ preferred ad platform for a second year in a row

Dubai: Kantar, the world's leading marketing insights and analytics company, today reveals Amazon has once again taken the title of consumers’ most preferred ad platform. According to Kantar Media Reactions 2023, most consumers consider ads on Amazon to be relevant and useful, with few negative qualities. Despite not being one of the top five favourite platforms for marketers globally, Amazon is building trust among this group – with a 10% year-on-year rise in trust scores. The e-commerce giant also tops the charts in Brazil, Germany and Mexico, three of the 23 markets included in the study.Kantar Media Reactions 2023 report uncovers the attitudes of consumers and marketers to ad platforms and channels. The annual study, now in its fourth year, is based on interviews with around 16,000 consumers in 23 markets and 900 senior marketers globally.Among marketers, YouTube has leapfrogged to the top of the charts, improving trust by 6% compared with last year. The rise of YouTube demonstrates marketers’ preference for established, brands, even if it does not register in consumers’ top five platforms.The study shows there’s significant contrast between marketers’ and consumers’ most preferred channels, with marketers inclined towards newer channels while consumers prefer channels that cause the least interruption to their lives.TV or not TV?Notably, TV, the traditional lynchpin of ad campaigns, is absent from the ranking of marketers’ preferred ad channels this year. While TV has never been rated highly among consumers, it has historically performed strongly among marketers. However, it has fallen from 3rd place in marketers’ preferred channels last year to 12th place in 2023, and TV sponsorship has fallen from 12th place to 20th. Just 6% of marketers say they will increase TV spend in 2024. “While TV as a preferred channel is losing steam amongst global marketers, it remains a key channel in the Middle East and the lynchpin of ad campaigns for marketers in the region. So while online gains traction, traditional channels are here to stay. Marketers also need to understand that the Middle East is not an homogenous region - one size does not fit all, and different media mixes are needed to cater to a wider melting pot of people in the UAE and KSA,” comments Sagar Dhal, Media Lead, Middle East, Kantar.The marketers’ mindsetThe Kantar Media Reactions 2023 survey of around 900 marketers around the world also quantifies how trends and changes in the media landscape shape their attitudes. Key highlights include:The Metaverse continues to be an unfulfilled promise – In 2022, a net 61% of marketers claimed they would increase spend in the metaverse, but only a net of 12% actually did. In the 2023 study, only one in five (22%) state they will raise their budget for Metaverse advertising next year.Twitter, the end of an era – X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, has suffered reputational damage among marketers, the research shows. X, the latest incarnation of the platform, does not feature in the list on marketers’ top 5 preferred ad platforms. A decline in perceptions of innovation (now 16%, down from 28% in 2021) and trustworthiness (now 7%, down from 11% in 2021), is accompanied by a net 14% of marketers saying they will reduce their ad investment on the platform in 2024.The race for attention – Marketers continue to invest in channels that consumers don’t think are attention-grabbing. For marketers, influencer content is king in terms of delivering attention, but it doesn’t make the top 5 for consumers. Furthermore, a staggering 50% of marketers do not see attention as important as brand or sales outcomes, despite the evidence that it helps build brands and drives sales. According to the study, cinema ads, sponsored events and digital out-of-home are among the few channels that both consumers and marketers believe are attention-grabbing. Both groups are in agreement that TikTok is the most attention-grabbing media brand.Gonca Bubani, Global Thought Leadership Director - Media, Kantar, concludes “Successful advertising today seamlessly integrates into consumers’ lives: in their scrolling, viewing or simply while they go about their days. This year, consumers have spoken up and said they strongly prefer advertising that they see out-of-home, like at sponsored events or the cinema. So why is there such a huge mismatch between the advertising consumers enjoy and what marketers are spending their precious budgets on? We know advertising campaigns are seven times as impactful among receptive audiences, so for marketers, it’s crucial to understand the strengths and weaknesses of different ad platforms and invest their money where it will make an impact.”Download a copy of the Media Reactions 2023 study and register to watch the webinar “Kantar Media Reactions 2023: Braving the battleground” on demand at

Guy Marks appointed CEO of PHD Worldwide; Succeeds Philippa Brown

Omnicom Media Group (OMG), the media services division of Omnicom Group, has appointed OMG EMEA CEO Guy Marks as the CEO of PHD Worldwide. He will be succeeding Philippa Brown, who will step down from the role after almost five years. In his new role effective October 1, Marks will be headquartered in London and will be reporting to OMG global CEO Florian Adamski. His successor as leader of OMG EMEA is expected to be named in the following week.Marks joined OMG in 2014 following Omnicom’s acquisition of Mobile5, the global UX, design and tech consultancy service that he co-founded. As CEO of OMG EMEA, he helped establish Omnicom’s Transact connected commerce and retail media consultancy in the region, and co-architected the expansion of OMG’s TRKKN analytics and cloud consultancy from five European countries to 20 markets across APAC, EMEA and North America.Guy Marks said, “As the CEO of PHD – an agency that was born from a transformative concept of media as a strategic tool, my priority will be assuring that every PHD account team around the world have the talent, tools, technology and collective commitment to excellence they need to deliver the transformative ideas, solutions and service that drive growth for our clients, our agency, and our people.”Florian Adamski commented, “Guy is one of our industry’s most entrepreneurial leaders, with an approach that transformed first OMD’s and subsequently Omnicom Media Group’s offering in EMEA over the past six years. The fact that, at the same time, he was also one of the network’s key people coordinating Omnicom’s boots-on-the-ground Ukrainian relief and rescue efforts tells you everything you need to know about both his character and his leadership skills.”

Brands For Less Group is set to open first logistics distribution centre in SA

 Brands For Less Group announces the forthcoming launch of its first Brands For Less Group Logistics Distribution Centre, located at Sudair City for Industry and Businesses in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The state-of-the-art facility will manage the Group’s strategic executions and assist in managing retail operations. This will mark a significant leap in its mission to provide top-notch products and services to meet the evolving demands of the Saudi market.A significant milestone in the company's expansion strategy, the establishment of this the Logistics Distribution Centre has been marked by a momentous signing ceremony between Majed Al Argoubi, CEO of MODON, and Toufic Kreidieh, Executive Chairman & Group CEO of Brands For Less Group on 5 September, 2023 at the MODON Head Office.The centre will feature a fully-automated technology system to help streamline operations and optimize processes by handling inventory management and logistics precision and speed. This will minimize human error and overall elevate customer experiences. Boasting 38,000 square meters, the facility will employ around 350 skilled professionals and showcase prominent storage capabilities for up to 3 million products.This step underlines Brands For Less Group's unwavering commitment to catering to the ever-evolving needs and preferences of consumers in the dynamic Saudi market. Encompassing a network of over 20 stores across Saudi Arabia and more than 100 stores worldwide, BFL Group has been on an aggressive expansion strategy while still committing to maintaining the highest standards of service and operational excellence.Expressing his anticipation regarding the launch, Toufic Kreidieh, Executive Chairman & CEO of Brands For Less Group said, "We are thrilled to collaborate with MODON in launching BFL Group's first Logistics Distribution Centre in KSA with an investment of over SAR 60 Million. This step is a testament to our ongoing commitment to the Saudi market and our relentless pursuit of innovative solutions igniting a new era of retail excellence. With offerings catering to all ages, occasions, seasons, and styles, we will continue to redefine the shopping experience, ensuring that quality products are accessible to all.”Majed Al Argoubi, CEO of the Saudi Industrial Property Authority (MODON) commented, "We are excited to partner with Brands For Less Group in shaping the retail industry and commerce in KSA. This collaboration exemplifies our commitment to fostering the ‘Saudi Vision 2030’ towards a future where technology and commerce converge seamlessly to serve our nation's dynamic needs.”The ceremony not only symbolizes the partnership between Brands For Less Group and MODON but also underscores the unity in their vision to contribute to the evolution and transformation of retail developments in the region.

Deliveroo UAE reveals new top-up feature

Deliveroo UAE has just unveiled a new in-app feature designed to help customers create their perfect delivery in a single order. The newest feature grants customers the ability to seamlessly top-up their takeaway orders with additional grocery items from Deliveroo’s rapid grocery HOP sites. Deliveroo is kicking off the new feature with HOP with plans to extend the service to include other groceries in the future as well. Whether it’s elevating game-night takeaway with a pack of crisps or enhancing a lunch order with some fruit for a healthy afternoon snack, or ordering that extra milk because you know you will need a refill soon, Deliveroo customers now have the flexibility of adding grocery items to their takeaway without having to place a new order. The new feature allows for customers to satisfy all their food cravings and stock up on necessities all in one go.Developed in response to customer demand, Deliveroo’s in-app top-up feature was designed based on the observation that numerous customers often initiate a second order within minutes of placing their first. Through this newly introduced functionality, once a customer initiates an order with a restaurant, the order tracker page seamlessly facilitates the capability for them to top-up their order from the nearest Deliveroo HOP site. The brand new feature remains accessible for up to 10 minutes following the placement of the original order. Takeaway top-ups have been made possible through the latest innovations in Deliveroo’s tech capabilities. The company remains committed to investing in world-class technology to ensure that customers receive an unparalleled delivery service that seamlessly connects them with Deliveroo’s delivery-only grocery service, HOP. Following a successful trial in the UK, the feature is being rolled out across the UAE and will ensure that thousands of customers within HOP catchment across Dubai can benefit from this innovative offering.  Ziad Zein, Growth and Commercial Director at Deliveroo UAE, said “At Deliveroo we are committed to becoming the definitive on-demand food delivery company by creating the ultimate experience for our customers. With our state-of-the-art technology, we’ve empowered our customers to tailor their perfect takeaway basket. Whether it’s merging their preferred restaurant dishes with a head start on tomorrow’s breakfast, or ensuring they’re prepared for an eventful evening, Deliveroo’s new top-up feature allows us to provide a seamless delivery experience.” Deliveroo is dedicated to helping customers discover a world of food at their doorstep. The top-up feature is now live for customers to effortlessly place orders on the Deliveroo app.

73% of users in Saudi Arabia do not post photos with spouses and partners

According to the Digital Superstitions survey by Kaspersky, more than half of the respondents in Saudi Arabia (73%) do not post photos with their partners or spouses on social networks. Kaspersky is shedding light on how users feel about posting photos with their loved ones.Posting personal photos on social media can have certain negative consequences. Due to data breaches, photos can get accessible to unintended audiences, risking personal information exposure. Cybercriminals might use photos to gather information for identity theft or phishing attacks. Location data embedded in photos can even compromise physical security by revealing a user's whereabouts.Users provide different reasons for refraining from posting photos with their loved ones. In most cases (61%) people do not want anyone to know about their personal life. Every eighth (16%) respondent does not like how they look on the photos. 24% of respondents said that their partner does not want the joint photos shared publicly (men voiced this opinion more often than women). Apart from that, 25% of people surveyed are afraid that they or their relationships may get jinxed if photos are shared publicly.“In some cases, photos on social networks can become a source of information for intruders and cybercriminals – especially if they are accompanied by explicit captions or geotags. One of the possible risks is to face doxing. This is a phenomenon in which ill-wishers publicly post information about a person in order to harm their reputation or cause persecution. Doxers use, for example, personal photos or videos that can put a person in an awkward position, fragments of personal correspondence - usually taken out of context, home address, phone number, information about the place of work, etc. Therefore, before posting a photo with a description – personal or shared with another person – it is important to think about whether such a publication can do harm, and ask permission to post a post," says Emad Haffar, Head of Technical Experts at Kaspersky.To ensure that posting photos on social networks brings only joy, Kaspersky recommends:do not upload photos with confidential data, such as scans of documents;do not share information about your friends and family members on social networks if the account is public;check your privacy settings on social networks: it is better to keep your profile private and add people you know personally as friends;use strong and different passwords for each account, change them periodically, and use password managers to create and store them;set up two-factor authentication in those services that allow it;do not transfer data about other people without their consent to third parties.

GoDaddy Studio adds AI-powered instant video capabilities

 Ask any entrepreneur and they will tell you that running a small business is time-consuming, but of all the things owners do, posting to social media and creating content is one of the hardest. That’s why GoDaddy (NYSE: GDDY) is introducing Instant Video to help small business owners become confident content creators. Instant Video is a new AI-powered feature within the GoDaddy Studio app that can quickly and easily meet the growing need for video-based digital marketing and social commerce, all at no additional cost. GoDaddy Studio already provides all of the resources entrepreneurs need to create beautifully designed content for websites, social media, marketing and more. With thousands of templates to choose from, small business owners can create branded and professional assets for use across their social platforms, website, and email marketing to drive customer engagement and sales. “Branded video marketing is key to standing out online and GoDaddy Studio’s AI-powered Instant Video makes it easy for small business owners to create social media and video content quickly, without the need to be tech-savvy,” said Laka Sriram, Vice President of Product Management for GoDaddy. “By using the latest technology, entrepreneurs will now be better equipped to maximize social media platforms’ algorithms, which favors videos, and increase engagement to grow their business.” With the addition of AI, GoDaddy Studio customers will now be able to choose the most relevant video style and create and post watermark-free, influencer-quality videos, acting as the perfect companion for social media promotion, product demos, tutorial videos, and more. The app also uses AI to auto-generate slogans based on the video clips or images users upload. No prior design experience is required, with tools available for seamless plug-in of both entrepreneur-owned video and photos, along with content available in GoDaddy Studio’s built-in library. Exporting the video is simple and can be done directly from the Instant Video editor. Creators can produce videos that convey their unique brand personality by using royalty-free music through a partnership with Melodie – meaning all music available within GoDaddy Studio is created by small, independent artists and supports musicians around the world. Also new within GoDaddy Studio: Entrepreneurs looking to expand their online presence can now purchase a domain name directly within the app and add a free version of Website Builder, and have the ability to upgrade to a matching email address. GoDaddy Studio PRO users will have additional access to stock photos and videos within the GoDaddy Studio library. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to experiment with included licensed music and pre-designed transitions, adding brand logos, colors, and fonts alongside millions of available graphics and stickers to heighten social media engagement.

New report unveils initiative for digital transformation of SMEs in Saudi Arabia

The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution- in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (C4IR-KSA) and the World Economic Forum (WEF) have jointly with the Saudi Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources (MIM) and the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones (MODON) and Arthur D. Little (ADL), launched a report titled "Modernizing Small & Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Saudi Arabia." It is a comprehensive guide for policymakers, industry leaders, and stakeholders – offering a roadmap to support industrial SMEs to adopt the Fourth Industrial Revolution, drive their growth and enhance their competitiveness.Empowering SMEs in the Digital AgeWith the aim of building a regional industrial hub and creating a diversified economy, the Kingdom's National Industry Strategy (NIS) emphasizes that the application of advanced digital technologies is a key enabler in achieving Vision 2030 objectives for KSA’s industrial sector. The report, led by the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution- in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (C4IR-KSA) as part of the Centre’s project (Accelerating the Impact of Industrial Internet of Things for Small & Medium Enterprises), Co-branded with the World Economic Forum (WEF), and Co-authored by the Saudi Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources (MIM), the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities (MODON), and Arthur D. Little (ADL), focuses on the key efforts currently in place to promote the digital transformation of SMEs in the Kingdom. It highlights the pivotal role of technology in transforming industries and enabling them to be more efficient, productive, and resilient.Eng. Albadr Adil Foudeh, Deputy Minister for Industrial Development at the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources of Saudi Arabia (MIM), said: "The digital transformation of SMEs is crucial for the economic growth and competitiveness of Saudi Arabia. This report provides valuable insights and recommendations on how to leverage Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies to enhance productivity, innovation, and competitiveness among SMEs."The analysis finds that advanced manufacturing technologies powered by cutting-edge digital tools are transforming industries by paving the way for connectivity, automation, and artificial intelligence to bolster manufacturing production efficiency, increase productivity, and improve resilience for businesses.Dr. Basma AlBuhairan, Managing Director of the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in affiliation with the World Economic Forum, emphasized the importance of supporting SMEs in their digital transformation journey. She said, "SMEs play a vital role in the national economy, and it is crucial that they are empowered to adopt and benefit from digital technologies. This report showcases successful case studies and offers valuable insights on how to overcome challenges and bridge the technology gap in SMEs."The public and private sectors play a crucial role in overcoming challenges while industrial policies, investment in infrastructure, and technical support are among the key factors that can bridge the technology gap and drive wider adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies.Successful Case Studies Showcase Transformative Power of Digital TechnologiesThe report features three compelling case studies from Saudi Arabia, showcasing initiatives and strategies that have facilitated the digital transformation of SMEs. These case studies include Future Factories Program (FFP), the Knowledge-based Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Network (KAMIN) program, and the National Productivity Program (NPP), brought in consecutively by Dr. Majid Algwaiz (MIM), Dr. Ibrahim AlShunaifi (C4IR-KSA), and Eng. Abdulrhman Alaskar (MODON).Each case study highlights the transformative power of digital and advanced manufacturing technologies in enhancing productivity, competitiveness, and innovation among SMEs. As Saudi Arabia continues on its digitalization journey towards achieving Vision 2030, these successful case studies provide valuable insights and lessons that can be applied globally.Key Enablers for Digital Transformation of SMEsSMEs play a critical role in economies and impact larger enterprises; it is essential to ensure that they are not left behind. However, smaller enterprises face resource, technical know-how, and technological readiness constraints. By nurturing a set of key enablers, including a skilled workforce, access to finance, and Fourth Industrial Revolution awareness, SMEs can reap the benefits of digital technology.Amer Hage Chahine, Senior Principal at Arthur D. Little, Middle East, highlighted the transformative power of digital technologies on industrial SMEs. He stated, "Digital technology is fundamentally altering the way industries operate, and SMEs should not be left behind. By embracing key enablers such as creating a skilled workforce, increasing access to finance, and upgrading infrastructure, SMEs can overcome challenges and reap the benefits of the digital revolution."Governments and private sector entities can help SMEs overcome challenges, by upgrading infrastructure, strengthening supply chains, and leveraging targeted support for digital technology adoption.

Furwee: the next generation of AI-powered interactive education for kids

Dubai: Animatic Media is excited to bring to the Arabic-speaking world its groundbreaking AI innovation: Furwee. Embracing the essence of technology and education, Furwee now offers an animated, talking, and listening AI chatbot interface that not only engages in real conversations but also mirrors emotions based on a child’s input.As children converse with Furwee, they watch words form right on their screens, introducing them to phonetics, spelling, and reading comprehension, while simultaneously expanding their vocabulary.Furwee is much more than just an educational tool. Its design is rooted in blending the best of AI technology and pedagogy. Children can chat with Furwee about a plethora of subjects, including pop culture, education, and even languages. Each interaction with Furwee is a step towards a tailored learning experience, thanks to the chatbot’s capability to learn and adapt from every conversation.Introducing Furwee to the Arabic-speaking community is not just about linguistic inclusion. It's about bringing a tech-forward educational companion to millions of children. Furwee is not only a teacher but also a friend - its amicable persona makes it the ideal conversational buddy for kids aged four and beyond.Currently, Furwee is available for free in its beta version. However, future prospects shine bright with plans to evolve into a subscription model, garnished with in-app purchasing options and varied advertising prospects. Regular updates are in the pipeline to expand Furwee's offerings, which will soon include educational games centered on reading, writing, math, health, social development, and more.Scott Ownbey, CEO of Animatic Media, commented, "The interactive paradigm that Furwee introduces, especially now in Arabic, promises a unique blend of fun and learning. We envision Furwee becoming a cornerstone in ed-tech, creating personalized experiences that help children assimilate knowledge while also exploring the vastness of the world around them."With the education technology sector poised to soar, touching a staggering value of USD 123.40 billion in 2022, Furwee is right at the forefront, signaling a future enriched by AI-driven interactive learning.For a closer look at Furwee and its innovative features tailored to the modern learner, visit

Zoho becomes the first bootstrapped SaaS company to reach 100mln users

 Zoho Corporation, a leading global technology company, today announced that it is serving 100 million users across its 55+ business applications. Zoho is the first bootstrapped SaaS company to reach this milestone and has done so without any external funding.This growth comes on the heels of the company reaching 1 billion USD in annual revenue last year. Zoho now has more than 700,000 customers across 150+ countries. The company has steadily increased its traction from one million users in 2008 to 100 million—with the last 50 million users added within the past five years. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is one of Zoho's fastest-growing regions with UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt being top markets.“I want to thank all of our customers for trusting us with their business and helping us reach 100 million users worldwide," said Sridhar Vembu, Co-founder and CEO of Zoho Corp. "This is an impressive milestone for any organization, but it's particularly sweet for us as a bootstrapped company that has never raised external capital. And we are not done yet. We have an impressive innovation pipeline covering the next 10 years, investing in deep technologies to serve billions of users around the world. We're working towards it, and we want to thank all of you for your continued support."In the UAE, the company revealed earlier this year that it had grown 10 times in the country over the last five years, with a 5-year CAGR of 60%, and announced plans for investing AED 100 million into expansion in the UAE.Zoho's growth has been driven by an unwavering commitment to its 'transnational localism' strategy over the years, where it remained anchored to its roots all whilst continuing to evolve and tailor its offerings to meet local market needs across the world. In the MENA region, Zoho has achieved this through product localization, opening new offices, hiring local talent, and partnering with leading public and private entities to support governments' digitalization agendas.In recent years, Zoho has partnered with various organizations such as the Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) and Dubai Culture in order to make enterprise technology available to businesses of all sizes. It has also partnered with educational institutes like the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) and Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management (EAHM) to offer upskilling courses. Since 2020, Zoho has helped over 3,500 SMEs gain access to its cloud technology through various partnerships, investing AED 20 million in wallet credits. It also invested AED 4.5 million in upskilling initiatives for imparting digital literacy to over 200+ students and 300+ companies.The company has continued to diversify and innovate its product portfolio to meet the changing market and customer demands. This year, Zoho launched a free privacy-centered browser, Ulaa, which enables a secure browsing experience for individuals and organizations. It has also unveiled new features and capabilities in 13 apps powered by generative AI and ChatGPT that further improve businesses' productivity and efficiency.Over the past years, Zoho launched nine products with an Arabic User Interface (UI) which included top-selling products such as Zoho Books (VAT-compliant accounting software) and Zoho CRM (customer relationship management software) as well as other leading apps such as Zoho SalesIQ (live chat and website tracking app), Zoho Inventory (inventory management software), Zoho People (HRMS platform), Zoho Bigin (pipeline-centric CRM for small businesses), Zoho Desk (helpdesk software) and Zoho Creator (low-code platform). In addition, the company's commerce platform Zoho Commerce is one of the few applications to support Right-to-Left (RTL) as well as offer retailers both international and regional payment gateway options.Zoho maintains an uncompromising, privacy-centered approach where it respects user privacy and does not have an ad-revenue model in any part of its business, including its free products. The company owns and operates its data centers, ensuring complete oversight of customer data, privacy, and security. More than 100 million users around the world, across hundreds of thousands of companies, rely on Zoho every day to run their businesses, including Zoho itself.